- Signs of the Times Archive for Thu, 11 Oct 2007 -

Sections on today's Signs Page:

SOTT Focus

No new articles.

Best of the Web
Where Did AIPAC Come From?

Grant F. Smith
2007-10-09 00:15:00

The following is an excerpt from Foreign Agents: The American Israel Public Affairs Committee From the 1963 Fulbright Hearings to the 2005 Espionage Scandal.

AIPAC was founded by Isaiah L. "Si" Kenen, springing from the American Zionist Committee for Public Affairs Kenen registered twice with the U.S. Department of Justice under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) as a foreign agent for Israel.[i] On April 21, 1947 he registered as an agent of the American Section of the Jewish Agency for Israel.[ii] Si Kenen also registered at FARA as an agent for the "Israel Information Services" on October 12, 1948 through May 13, 1951.[iii] Kenen changed the committee's name from the American Zionist Committee for Public Affairs to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in 1959, to better reflect that it, according to him, "raised its funds from both Zionists and non-Zionists."[iv] Kenen's emphasis on a low-key, uncontroversial, and even non-descriptive organization name continued after his departure when AIPAC spawned a network of obliquely named political action committees (PACs) across the United States designed to sway the results of key elections. From a historical perspective, all of the lessons Kenen learned running the American Zionist Council with funds and guidance from the Israeli government are part of AIPAC's "institutional DNA." It is impossible to understand AIPAC without understanding its precursor, the American Zionist Council.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

U.S. News
Teen arrested in armed plot on Philadelphia, Pennsylvania school

2007-10-11 15:49:00

A 14-year-old boy armed with a rifle and home-made grenades was arrested late Wednesday after confessing to plotting a "Columbine-like attack" on a suburban Philadelphia high school, police said on Thursday.

The boy, who was not identified, told police he was a planning an attack on Plymouth Whitemarsh High School similar to the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado in which two students killed 13 people, said Joe Lawrence, deputy chief of police in Plymouth Meeting.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

California bans smoking in cars with kids

Steve Lawrence
Associated Press
2007-10-11 14:18:00

California motorists will risk fines of up to $100 next year if they are caught smoking in cars with minors, making their state the third to protect children in vehicles from secondhand smoke.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday signed a bill that will make it an infraction to smoke in a vehicle if someone under age 18 is present. But the traffic stop would have to be made for another offense, such as speeding or an illegal turn, before the driver could be cited for smoking.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Elks Lodge reinstates smoking

Sadie Jo Smokey
The Arizona Republic
2007-10-11 14:06:00

Winds of change blew through the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks Phoenix Lodge 335 last week, when members voted 78 to 71 to reinstate smoking.

In June, members of the northeast Phoenix lodge narrowly passed a vote to go smoke-free. A member made a motion to reinstate smoking at the lodge. Members voted on the issue during a two-hour meeting that included a 10-minute break for people to stretch their legs, use the restroom - or smoke outside.

Members took turns speaking for or against the motion during the meeting at 32nd Street and Acoma Road.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

City backs away from smoking ban

Angie Valencia-Martinez
Daily Bulletin
2007-10-11 13:58:00

Calabasas, California - City officials have backed off on a plan to ban smoking in all local apartments, instead reserving a small percentage of units for those who light up.

The City Council on Wednesday night reviewed an amendment to its second-hand smoke ordinance, which as originally drafted would have eventually barred all tenants from smoking inside their own apartments.

"In weighing the different rights, I feel that an individual has the right to engage in smoking inside their own residence," Mayor James Bozajian said. "I am not a smoker. I don't allow smoke in my home.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Psychiatric Patients Challenge Smoking Ban

Kim Martineau
Hartford Courant
2007-10-11 13:45:00

Smoking may be banned from Connecticut bars and restaurants, but patients at Connecticut Valley Hospital won't give up their smokes without a fight.

A ban set to take effect Monday at the state's largest psychiatric hospital has been postponed because of a lawsuit filed by seven patients.

Bryan Giordano, a military veteran and smoker, is one of six men, all longtime patients, who sued in federal court last week alleging violation of their civil rights. They contend that the smoking ban is retaliation for complaints they made to the U.S. Department of Justice - a claim CVH denies.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Alberto Gonzales hires defense attorney

Lara Jakes Jordan
Associated Press
2007-10-11 09:32:00

Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has hired a high-powered Washington lawyer to represent him in investigations of mismanagement of the Justice Department. George Terwilliger, a white-collar crime defense attorney and the second-ranking Justice official in the early 1990s, was on the White House's short list last month to replace Gonzales.

Investigators are looking into allegations that Gonzales lied to lawmakers and illegally allowed politics to influence hiring and firing at the department.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

UK & Euro-Asian News
Turkey recalls ambassador to U.S. over Armenians

Paul de Bendern
2007-10-11 15:10:00

Turkey recalled its ambassador to the United States for consultations on Thursday after a vote in a U.S. congressional committee branded killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks genocide.

"We called back our ambassador to Washington for consultations. It should not be understood that we have pulled him back permanently. He will be in Ankara for consultations in a few days," a senior Turkish diplomat told Reuters.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Russian press pokes fun at Sarkozy after visit

Agence France-Presse
2007-10-11 10:09:00

MOSCOW - French President Nicolas Sarkozy earned little more than mockery from the Russian press on Thursday after a visit to Moscow that many commentators found fawning and short on substance.

Newspapers poked fun at Sarkozy's high-heeled boots and reported delight at waking to see Red Square, while noting that nothing of substance was achieved on the key issues of Kosovo and Iran.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

US lawmakers back Armenian 'genocide' bill, Turkey warns of risk to ties

Agence France-Presse
2007-10-11 10:09:00

US lawmakers defied strident warnings by President George W. Bush by voting Wednesday to label the Ottoman Empire's World War I massacre of Armenians as "genocide" sparking condemnation from Turkey.

To cheers and applause from emotional Armenians, including elderly wheelchair-bound survivors, the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee voted for the resolution by 27 votes to 21.

A Turkish government statement Thursday said the "irresponsible" resolution was likely to endanger bilateral relations.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

UK diplomats 'face lifetime gag'

Hugh MIles
2007-10-11 00:34:00

The Foreign Office has been accused of trying to gag diplomats for life after regulations were issued stopping them from commenting on international issues even after retirement.

Serving officials have always been required to seek permission before giving media interviews, writing public letters, publishing books or taking part in conferences. This restriction applies if any of these activities would "draw upon experience gained during the course of official duties".

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Around the World
U.N. deplores crushing of Myanmar protests

Patrick Worsnip
2007-10-11 15:38:00

The U.N. Security Council overcame differences and deplored on Thursday the Myanmar government's crushing of pro-democracy demonstrations, in a statement agreed by all its 15 members, including China.

©REUTERS/John Javellana
An activist wears a mask during a pro-democracy rally in support of the recent protests in Myanmar outside the office building housing the Myanmar embassy in Manila October 11, 2007.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Afghans Crack Down on Private Security

Fisnik Abrashi and Jason Straziuso
Associated Press
2007-10-11 11:03:00

Afghan authorities this week shut down two private security companies and said more than 10 others - some suspected of murder and robbery - would soon be closed, Afghan and Western officials said Thursday.

Authorities on Tuesday shut down the Afghan-run security companies Watan and Caps, where 82 illegal weapons were found during the two raids in Kabul, police Gen. Ali Shah Paktiawal said.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Australian PM pledges vote to recognise Aborigines

Agence France-Presse
2007-10-11 10:26:00

SYDNEY - Australian Prime Minister John Howard on Thursday pledged to hold a referendum on whether to formally recognise Aborigines in the constitution if he is re-elected later this year.

Howard, who has repeatedly refused to apologise to Aborigines for historical wrongs, said in a rare admission that he was partly to blame for the failure to achieve reconciliation with indigenous Australians.

Comment: More than 200 after the British first set foot in Australia, and the Aborigines are still not recognised in the constitution!

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Renegade DR Congo general calls for ceasefire

Agence France-Presse
2007-10-11 10:11:00

KINSHASA - Renegade former general Laurent Nkunda late Wednesday called for a truce in his battle with the army of the Democratic Republic of Congo after at least 85 rebels died in four days of heavy clashes.

Nkunda also offered to send 500 of his men to a transit camp pending their integration into the regular forces -- a process he has pulled out from in the past, saying it had failed thus far.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

India PM meets IAEA head as nuclear deal clock ticks

Alistair Scrutton
2007-10-11 09:32:00

NEW DELHI - The U.N. nuclear watchdog head Mohamed ElBaradei met India's prime minister on Thursday in a long-scheduled trip as time started to run out for the government to press forward with a nuclear deal with the United States.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in India on an ostensibly technical visit, sped away from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's residence without comment.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

India government, communists step back from brink

Palash Kumar
2007-10-09 00:00:00

The India government and its communist allies stepped back from the brink on Tuesday, agreeing to meet again this month to resolve a row over a nuclear deal with the United States that threatens to spark a snap election.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Big Brother
New Scanner May Replace Metal Detectors

Eileen Sullivan
Associated Press
2007-10-11 14:48:00

The federal government will begin testing a body-scanning machine that could eventually be used instead of the metal detectors passengers walk through at airports.

Tests were scheduled to begin Thursday at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport with passengers pulled out of the security line for secondary screening. Passengers may request the full-body scan - which blurs faces so the person being screened cannot be recognized - instead of the traditional pat-down used across the country. The new machine uses radio waves to detect foreign objects.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Now the bin police get the power to take your car away

Steve Doughty
Daily Mail
2007-10-09 01:49:00

Town hall bin police are to be given powers to stop, search and seize vehicles whose drivers are suspected of fly-tipping.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Pupils risk prosecution for 'gay' slur

Stephen Adams
2007-10-11 01:33:00

Children who call their classmates "gay" risk being arrested for committing a hate crime even if they do not know what the word means, a leading charity warned last night.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Plan to enforce labor rule stalled

Juliana Barbassa
Associated Press
2007-10-10 00:00:00

SAN FRANCISCO - A federal judge on Wednesday granted a request by labor and civil liberties organizations to temporarily block the U.S. government from proceeding with a program to crack down on businesses that may be employing illegal immigrants.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Axis of Evil
Propaganda Alert! Zoellick unveils new agenda for World Bank

Lesley Wroughton
2007-10-11 01:59:00

World Bank President Robert Zoellick on Wednesday unveiled six strategic themes he said would focus the work of the world's largest poverty-fighting institution on tackling poverty in the poorest countries and also in emerging economies like China.

Comment: The world's largest poverty-fighting institution? Is it some kind of a sick joke? Almost everywhere the World Bank got involved with its "austere and radical reform" package, poverty and corruption flourished like never before that. Read this article to know more about its "impeccable ethical record."

In a speech that marked his first 100 days at the World Bank, Zoellick said the World Bank had a role in advancing "an inclusive and sustainable globalization" by helping developing countries adjust to more open economies and making sure the poor were not excluded.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Carter says Bush allows torture

Agence France-Presse
2007-10-11 00:07:00

US President George W. Bush's administration tortures detainees in defiance of international law, former US president Jimmy Carter charged Wednesday.

"I don't think it, I know it, certainly," Carter told CNN television when asked if he believed the US administration allowed the use of torture.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Middle East Madness
Change of scenery! US Marines propose moving force from Iraq to Afghanistan: report

Agence France-Presse
2007-10-11 10:38:00

The US Marine Corps wants to withdraw its entire force from Iraq to focus its combat efforts on Afghanistan, the New York Times reported Thursday, citing senior military and Pentagon officials.

The proposal made last week to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates would sharply change the structure of US forces in Afghanistan while leaving the US-led fight in Iraq in the hands of the army, the paper reported.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Hamas says Palestinian talks to resume, control of Gaza 'temporary'

Agence France-Presse
2007-10-11 10:31:00

Senior Hamas leader and former Palestinian prime minister Ismail Haniya said that talks with rival Fatah are set to resume and that his movement's control of the Gaza Strip is just temporary.

"Serious efforts are being made to relaunch this dialogue" with the Fatah party of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas which "will resume after Eid-al-Fitr" brings an end to the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Haniya said in a Gaza mosque.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

U.N. wants security guards in Iraq to face law

David Clarke
2007-10-11 09:32:00

The United Nations wants probes to determine whether private security contractors in Iraq have committed war crimes and for governments to ensure that the rule of law is applied, U.N. officials said on Thursday.

The killing of 17 Iraqis in a shooting involving U.S. security firm Blackwater last month has created tensions between Baghdad and Washington and sparked calls for tighter controls on private contractors, who are immune from prosecution in Iraq.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Attack at US base in Iraq kills 2 and wounds 40

Kim Curtis
Associated Press
2007-10-11 09:32:00

A series of rockets or mortar rounds struck Camp Victory, killing two members of the U.S.-led coalition and wounding 40 other people on the sprawling headquarters for U.S. forces in Iraq, the military said Thursday.

Most troops stationed at the base are American but there are small contingents from other countries.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Turkey Bombs Suspected Kurdish Rebels

Selcan Hacaoglu
Associated Press
2007-10-11 05:22:00

Turkish warplanes bombed positions of suspected Kurdish rebels Wednesday, and the prime minister said preparations for parliamentary approval of a military mission against separatist fighters in Iraq were under way.

A cross-border operation could hurt Turkey's relationship with the United States, which opposes Turkish intervention in northern Iraq, a region that has escaped the violence afflicting much of the rest of the country.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Kurdish guerillas launch clandestine war in Iran

Damien McElroy
2007-10-11 05:05:00

Kurdish guerrillas have launched a clandestine war in north-western Iran, ambushing troops as they seek Western backing to secure an ethnic homeland. In retaliation, the Iranian army has carried out a series of counter-attacks in the mountains, which span the border with Iraq.

Murat Karayilan, a Kurdish guerilla commander, told The Daily Telegraph that Teheran had originally tried to recruit the outlawed groups to fight coalition troops in Iraq.

Comment: The US and Israel have a long history of exploiting ethnic tensions for it's own purposes and this is just another example of it.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

The Loan Gunmen
Foreclosure Filings Nearly Double

Alex Veiga
Associated Press
2007-10-11 14:40:00

Foreclosure filings across the U.S. nearly doubled last month compared with September 2006, as financially strapped homeowners already behind on mortgage payments defaulted on their loans or came closer to losing their homes to foreclosure, a real estate information company said Thursday.

A total of 223,538 foreclosure filings were reported in September, up from 112,210 in the same month a year ago, according to Irvine-based RealtyTrac Inc.

The number of filings in September was down 8 percent from August's 243,947, the firm said.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

China resists European pressure on currency

Tony Barber and Richard McGregor
Financial Times
2007-10-11 03:58:00

The European Union and China locked horns over exchange rates on Tuesday after authorities in Beijing deflected a European call for a rise in the level of the renminbi.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Credit card debt is ready to blow

Jay Hancock
The Baltimore Sun
2007-10-10 02:06:00

After every financial crisis over the past 10 years, the Federal Reserve has cut interest rates and pumped money into the economy. Each rescue solved the problem - and created a new one.

The next bomb from this chain reaction of bailouts and blowups will be credit-card debt. Hardly anybody is talking about it yet, but banks and consumers are laying the ground for a wave of credit-card defaults, bankruptcies and asset write-offs for 2009 or so.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Britain forecasts growth slowdown amid election furore

Agence France-Presse
2007-10-10 23:44:00

The British government, under fire over its decision not to call a snap general election, admitted Tuesday that the economy was facing a sharper-than-expected slowdown due to global financial turmoil.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

The Living Planet
Our Drinkable Water Supply Is Vanishing

Tara Lohan
2007-10-11 12:40:00

Thanks to global warming, pollution, population growth, and privatization, we are teetering on the edge of a global crisis.

Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, the Hungarian biochemist and Nobel Prize winner for medicine once said, "Water is life's matter and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water."

We depend on water for survival. It circulates through our bodies and the land, replenishing nutrients and carrying away waste. It is passed down like stories over generations -- from ice-capped mountains to rivers to oceans.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Earth getting wetter and stickier

Michael Kahn
2007-10-11 02:17:00

Greenhouse gases are making the earth's atmosphere wetter and stickier, which may lead to more powerful hurricanes, hotter temperatures and heavier rainfall in tropical regions, British researchers reported on Wednesday.

The findings, published in the journal Nature, are some of the first to show how human-produced greenhouse gases have affected global humidity levels in recent decades and could offer clues on future climate change, the researchers said.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Health & Wellness
Drugmakers recall infant cough & cold medicines

Debra Sherman
2007-10-11 15:55:00

Johnson & Johnson, Wyeth and other makers of infants' nonprescription cough and cold products are recalling certain medicines in the United States because of the danger of overdose, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association said on Thursday.

A selection of the recalled products are shown in this undated handout photo.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

How Hospitals Systematically Harm People

Kim Ridley
2007-10-11 13:11:00

Visiting the hospital is supposed to heal people, but it's hard to get better in a place that uses toxic chemicals and serves processed food. Is change on the way?

The minute you're admitted into the hospital, you confront a disturbing paradox: Most hospitals aren't particularly healthy places. As a patient, you're likely to encounter toxic chemicals, eat lousy food, breathe unhealthy air and suffer stress triggered by an often-dismal and alienating environment. Even worse, you may find yourself at the mercy of drug-resistant "super bugs" or overworked staff members who make mistakes -- all in a place that's supposed to help you heal. It's enough to make you sick. And sometimes it does.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Lead found in toys, backpacks in U.S. stores

Julie Vorman and Brian Moss
2007-10-11 04:09:00

WASHINGTON - A Curious George doll bought at Toys "R" Us was found to be tainted with 10 times the legally-allowed lead level, and vinyl lunch boxes and backpacks also had high amounts of lead, the nonprofit group Center for Environmental Health said on Wednesday.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Big Pharmaceuticals now target pets! New doggy diet drug to combat pet obesity

This Is London
2007-10-11 00:54:00

A new diet drug for dogs which can cut their weight by a fifth is no substitute for a regular walks and good food, vets said last night.

Slentrol is billed as a weight loss drug for plump pooches whose owners can't resist giving them fattening treats or simply don't have time to exercise them.

But the Royal Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals said pills are not the way to tackle the growing weight problem among Britain's 6.8million pet dogs.

Comment: This is just another way for the pharmaceutical companies to make more money. It would be far healthier for the pets if owners were educated on just how much it harms pets to have excess weight. Rather then going for the quick fix, that, most likely, has unpleasant side effects.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Science & Technology
World's oldest wall painting unearthed in Syria

Khaled Yacoub Oweis
2007-10-11 15:23:00

French archaeologists have discovered an 11,000-year-old wall painting underground in northern Syria which they believe is the oldest in the world.

A view of a painting uncovered at Djade al-Mughara Neolihic site, northeast of the Syrian city of Aleppo, in this September 2007 handout photo.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Our Haunted Planet

No new articles.

Don't Panic! Lighten Up!
Dog saves family from fire blamed on cat

Associated Press
2007-10-11 10:48:00

GREENVILLE, Maine - Thumper, a black Labrador retriever, is getting credit for saving a Greenville man when a fire swept through his home.

Roland Cote said his wife and their 7-year-old grandson were away when the blaze started early Sunday in a converted two-story garage. He said Thumper grabbed him by the arm to wake him, leaving just enough time for him to dial 911 before fleeing the fast-moving fire.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Crazy kangaroo causes havoc on racetrack

Daily Mail
2007-10-10 23:24:00

This crazed kangaroo defied death when it hopped onto a racetrack and caused havoc for the drivers.

The panicking marsupial bounded into the path of several cars when it somehow found its way onto the track at Australia's premier touring car race, the Bathurst 1000, in New South Wales.

Drivers veered off the track to avoid the creature as it leapt along with the flow of the traffic for one 100 yards.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Remember, we need your help to collect information on what is going on in your part of the world!
Send your article suggestions to: sott(at)signs-of-the-times.org

Click here to return to the Signs of the Times Archive

Click here for today's Signs Page