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Friday
Mar072008

Millions of British Airline Passengers Face Mandatory Fingerprinting

For the first time at any airport, the biometric checks will apply to all domestic passengers leaving the terminal, which will handle all British Airways flights to and from Heathrow.

The controversial security measure is also set to be introduced at Gatwick, Manchester and Heathrow’s Terminal 1, and many airline industry insiders believe fingerprinting could become universal at all UK airports within a few years.

All four million domestic passengers who will pass through Terminal 5 annually after it opens on March 27 will have four fingerprints taken, as well as being photographed, when they check in.

To ensure the passenger boarding the aircraft is the same person, the fingerprinting process will be repeated just before they board the aircraft and the photograph will be compared with their face.

BAA, the company which owns Heathrow, insists the biometric information will be destroyed after 24 hours and will not be passed on to the police.

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Friday
Mar072008

U.S. Unprepared for Ongoing Cyberwar, say Top Military & Intelligence Officials

Also see: Pentagon attack last June stole an "amazing amount" of data

The United States is in the midst of a cyberwar and is not prepared to deal with it, top Defense Department and intelligence officials acknowledged this week.

"Cyberwarfare is already here.... It's one of our major challenges," said Defense Deputy Secretary Gordon England on Monday at the annual National Community Service and Legislative Conference of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

"I think cyberattacks are probably analogous to the first time, way back when people had bows and arrows and spears," he said. "And somebody showed up with gunpowder and everybody said, 'Wow. What was that?'"

England made his comments the same day that the Pentagon released a report saying that the 2007 cyberattacks against its networks and those operated by other governments around the world "appear" to come from China.

During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last week, Sen. John Thune, D-S.D., asked National Intelligence Director Michael McConnell if the United States was prepared to deal with threats against military and civil networks and information systems.

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Friday
Mar072008

Vaccine Autism Case Gets U.S. Government Compensation

The parents of 9 year-old Hannah Poling spoke to the media this week about the US government's landmark decision to pay compensation following their claim that childhood vaccines caused their daughter's autism. The government's sealed decision, made last November, was recently made public on an autism advocacy group website.

The payout, the extent of which is yet to be decided, comes from a federal fund that compensates victims of vaccine-related injuries. The ruling effectively states that Hannah's pre-existing rare mitochondrial disorder had disposed her to autism and this was "significantly aggravated" by the vaccines she received as a toddler eight years ago.

Hannah's father, neurologist Dr Jon Poling who practised in Athens, Georgia, told the press on Thursday that he and his wife, Terry, a registered nurse and former trial attorney, were " very pleased" with the decision, reported CNN.

Poling said he and his wife had endured "eight difficult and heartbreaking years since our daughter's injury".

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Friday
Mar072008

Lack of Funding Inhibits Crucial Drug Inspections!

AT LEAST 19 people died and hundreds became ill after being given heparin, a blood-thinning drug sold by Baxter International. A belated inspection of the Chinese plant where heparin's active ingredient was processed found "objectional conditions," and recent lab tests revealed an unknown contaminant in batches of the drug. Investigations so far have not identified what precisely caused the allergic reactions. Still, they have exposed major problems with how the Food and Drug Administration runs inspections that, even if not the cause of this particular catastrophe, will certainly lead to one.

Currently, 80 percent of all active drug ingredients come from abroad, but the FDA doesn't know what percentage of foreign manufacturing facilities it has inspected. Many of these plants are in developing countries that don't have infrastructure that meets U.S. safety standards. In response to the heparin case, China said ensuring drug safety is the importing country's responsibility.

The FDA has been scolded about this yawning loophole in drug safety for over a decade but has not acted to fill it. Funding is the main problem.

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Friday
Mar072008

GAO Seeks to Review Finances of CIA & Other Intel Agencies!

As he leaves his post as the nation's top auditor, David M. Walker is again asking Congress to give the Government Accountability Office the power to review the finances of the CIA and other intelligence agencies.

Walker, whose 10-year term as comptroller general concludes Wednesday, is supporting legislation that would give the GAO access to the last major area of the federal government not subject to its audits and investigations.

With some support on Capitol Hill, Walker said he is fighting powerful legislative patrons of intelligence agencies, especially the CIA, who have resisted examinations of how taxpayer dollars are spent.

"Everybody's for accountability in Washington until they're the ones subjected to it," Walker said in an interview. "There are a lot of forces that are vested in the status quo."

The GAO, Congress's investigative arm, has the power to review the finances and management of most government agencies. But the Justice Department issued a ruling in the early 1990s that restricted oversight of the CIA to House and Senate select committees on intelligence.

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Friday
Mar072008

GOP Campaign Arm Missing Cash

Authorities investigating possible fraud by a longtime GOP operative have determined that the House Republican campaign committee has lost a substantial sum of money, and several GOP lawmakers believe funds were pilfered from their campaign accounts as well, law enforcement and Capitol Hill sources said yesterday.

The National Republican Congressional Committee, the House Republicans' campaign arm, lost a "significant amount of money," said a law enforcement official who also confirmed that the FBI has begun investigating the committee's longtime treasurer, Christopher J. Ward.

An official close to the NRCC said preliminary reviews of its bank statements and reports to the Federal Election Commission demonstrate clear discrepancies between "what [money] we have and what we should have."

"We don't know if it's a big number or a small number," the official said. "It looks like something was stolen. But we don't have an accurate number. We don't know."

Ward has served as treasurer for dozens of other campaigns and political action committees during a lengthy career as a political operative.

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Friday
Mar072008

Operation Merlin: The CIA-Mossad plot against Iran

The Bush administration is prolonging the hunting season against journalists. The latest victim is James Risen, The New York Times reporter for national security and intelligence affairs. About three months ago, a federal grand jury issued a subpoena against him, ordering Risen to give evidence in court. A heavy blackout has been imposed on the affair, with the only hint being that it has to do with sensitive matters of "national security."

But conversations with several sources who are familiar with the affair indicate that Risen has been asked to testify as part of an investigation aimed at revealing who leaked apparently confidential information about the planning of secret Central Intelligence Agency and Mossad missions concerning Iran's nuclear program.

Risen included this information in his book, "State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration," which was published in 2006. In the book, he discusses a number of ideas which he says were thought up jointly by CIA and Mossad operatives to sabotage Iran's nuclear capabilities.

One of these ideas was to build electromagnetic devices, smuggling them inside Iran to sabotage electricity lines leading to the country's central nuclear sites. According to the plan, the operation was supposed to cause a series of chain reactions which would damage extremely powerful short circuits in the electrical supply that would have led to failures of the super computers of Iran's nuclear sites

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Friday
Mar072008

U.S. Wants to Keep Iraq NIE Secret

US intelligence officials say that the National Intelligence Board -- comprised of the heads of the 16 intelligence agencies and Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell -- will decide whether to publicly release the new classified estimate on Iraq or keep it secret, Washington Post reported.

The document, scheduled to be delivered to Congress before testimony in early April by Army General David H. Petraeus, the top US commander in Iraq, and US Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, is an update of a last summer's report, predicting an increasingly precarious political situation in the war-shattered country.

Although McConnell, in internal guidance issued in October, said that his policy was that they "should not be declassified", the intelligence board decided in November to make its assessment on Iran's nuclear program public.

The estimate that confirmed Iran's nuclear program is civilian undermined the Bush administration's position on Tehran.

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Friday
Mar072008

Thank You, Ron Paul!

GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul is hinting to supporters that he is ending his long-shot campaign for the presidency.

The Texas Republican congressman addressed supporters in a 7 1/2-minute video on his campaign Web site Thursday night and did not specifically say he was quitting the race.

He said that although victory in the conventional political sense is not available in the presidential race, many victories have been achieved due to the hard work and enthusiasm of his supporters.

He said that he hoped that one day he and his supporters could look back and say his campaign was a significant first step that signaled a change in direction for the country.

Paul said their job now was to plan for the next phase of their effort.

Ron Paul 2008



Thursday
Mar062008

'Frankenfoods' Giant Monsanto Plays Bully Over Consumer Labeling

Since 1901, Monsanto has brought us Agent Orange, PCBs, Terminator seeds and recombined milk, among other infamous products. But it's currently obsessed with the milk, or, more importantly, the milk labels, particularly those that read "rBST-free" or "rBGH-free." It's not the "BST" or "BGH" that bothers them so much; after all, bovine somatrophin, also known as bovine growth hormone, isn't exactly what the company is known for. Which is to say, it's naturally occurring. No, the problem is the "r" denoting "recombined." There's nothing natural about it. In fact, the science is increasingly pointing to the possibility that recombined milk is -- surprise! -- not as good for you as the real thing.

"Consumption of dairy products from cows treated with rbGH raise a number of health issues," explained Michael Hansen, a senior scientist for Consumers Union. "That includes increased antibiotic resistance, due to use of antibiotics to treat mastitis and other health problems, as well as increased levels of IGF-1, which has been linked to a range of cancers."

For its part, Monsanto is leaning on the crutch of terminology to derail the mounting threat to its bottom line: The consumer-driven revolution against recombined food. And so the St. Louis-based agri-chem giant has launched a war of words in the form of a full-court press to suppress the "rBGH-free" label at the state level. And it's sticking to its guns by obfuscating and indulging in cheap semantics.

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