- Signs of the Times Archive for Wed, 07 Nov 2007 -

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Beware Rudy Giuliani - George Bush With Brains

Michael Tomaskey
UK Guardian
2007-11-05 15:11:00

New York's former mayor Rudy Giuliani is living up to his reputation as someone who will do and say anything for power

People of Britain: congratulations are in order. You have now joined ferret owners, sidewalk artists, hot dog vendors, publicly funded attorneys for poor people, low-income community college students, museum curators, a couple of innocent black men shot dead by the police, the sections of the New York City charter governing rules of succession to the mayoralty and, of course, Hillary Clinton, as objects of Rudy Giuliani's demagoguery and wrath.

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The Iraq war has become a disaster that we have chosen to forget

Madeleine Bunting
Guardian Unlimited
2007-11-05 04:47:00

With the media subdued, governments have not been held to account for the biggest political calamity of our time.

"You think you are innocent, but you're not," said the British Muslim suicide bomber in the Channel 4 television drama Britz last week. As the compelling actor Manjinder Virk recited her suicide statement to camera, she went on: thousands of women and children are dying every day in Iraq and Afghanistan, and yet the governments responsible have been returned to power.

Her assertion sticks in the mind because it goes straight to the heart of how we choose to forget, choose not to understand; and how from such choices it becomes possible to imagine our innocence.

That's not to say that her own moral choices were defensible - she blew up herself, her beloved brother, fellow Muslims and plenty of women in the crowd - but the challenge even from such a morally flawed character persists. Can we claim innocence of the chaotic violence of Iraq now normalised into the background of our lives? Suicide bombs have long since become routine radio noise. We're numbed to the atrocities; except for some stalwarts, the initial anti-war activism has been crowded out by other responsibilities. Life goes on, even if in Baghdad it frequently doesn't.

And to accompany the indifference is the creeping denial of responsibility. Government ministers now talk of Iraq as a tragedy, as if it was a natural disaster and they had no hand in its making. There's a public revulsion at the violent sectarian struggles best summed up as "a plague on all their houses", as even the horror gives way to exhaustion.

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Flashback: Iran Proposal to U.S. Offered Peace with Israel

IPS News
2006-05-26 12:00:00

WASHINGTON - Iran offered in 2003 to accept peace with Israel and to cut off material assistance to Palestinian armed groups and pressure them to halt terrorist attacks within Israel's 1967 borders, according to the secret Iranian proposal to the United States.

The two-page proposal for a broad Iran-U.S. agreement covering all the issues separating the two countries, a copy of which was obtained by IPS, was conveyed to the United States in late April or early May 2003. Trita Parsi, a specialist on Iranian foreign policy at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies who provided the document to IPS, says he got it from an Iranian official earlier this year but is not at liberty to reveal the source.

The two-page document contradicts the official line of the George W. Bush administration that Iran is committed to the destruction of Israel and the sponsorship of terrorism in the region.

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U.S. News
The New Orleans Cover Up

Brasscheck TV
2007-11-07 17:46:00

After the catastrophic levee failures in New Orleans which destroyed 80% of the city and killed over 1,000 people, the Army Corps of Engineers published a study of its own performance.

To validate their findings, they hired the American Society of Civil Engineers to review their report.

Just one problem...the review came with a $1 million dollar fee attached and was filled with errors including a dramatic understatement of how many people were killed by the flooding.

The Corps is responsible for levees all over the US, many in worse share than the ones in New Orleans.

Here's a high school class in New Orleans dramatizing the situation.

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Anti-Smoking Craze in New York: Home is latest arena in fight over smoking

Staci Semrad
New York Times
2007-11-07 12:57:00

Jill and Joanie Shockley just want to breathe clean air in their homes. Neighboring tenants want to smoke in theirs.

The Shockleys are sisters who live down the hall from each other in an apartment complex in a suburb of St. Paul, where tobacco smoke from other units wafts daily into their homes.

"It's frustrating," said Joanie Shockley, 59. "I like to have my grandchildren come over, and I don't like for them to be exposed to people smoking."

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California: Murder Trial to Start Without Body Found

Michelle Locke
Associated Press
2007-11-05 12:54:00

On a late summer day, Nina Reiser shopped for groceries, dropped her two children off at her estranged husband's house in a quiet section of the Oakland hills, and vanished.

Prosecutors say there's no great mystery about what happened; they believe they can prove she was killed by her husband, Hans Reiser, even though her body hasn't been found. But the defense has maintained it's not proven Nina Reiser is dead, let alone slain, and she may very well be secretly living in her native Russia.

The challenge facing prosecutors, scheduled to move forward with opening statements Monday, is to build a convincing case out of the DNA and circumstantial evidence, said attorney Ivan Golde, who briefly discussed joining in Reiser's defense but ultimately did not get involved.

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House overrides Bush veto of water bill

Christopher Doering
2007-11-07 01:26:00

A veto last week by President George W. Bush of a popular water projects bill was overridden by the House of Representatives on Tuesday, moving Congress closer to enacting legislation that would authorize $23 billion for nearly 900 projects across the United States.

The House voted 361-54 to override the president's veto. The Senate is expected to take up the water bill as early as Wednesday.

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Microsoft Dismisses Chief Information Officer

Associated Press
2007-11-07 01:06:00

Redmond, Washington - Microsoft said Tuesday that it had fired its chief information officer, Stuart L. Scott, for violations of company policies, but a spokesman declined to give the exact reason for the dismissal.

"Stuart Scott's employment with Microsoft was terminated after an investigation for violation of company policies," a Microsoft spokesman, Lou Gellos, said, reading from a company statement.

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Voter Intimidation May Plague Election Day 2007

Steven Rosenfeld
2007-11-06 23:52:00

In a half-dozen states voting today, civil rights activists and Democrats expect to see voter intimidation and suppression.

Tough new voter identification laws, fervent anti-immigrant rhetoric, officials who won't follow federal election law, challenges to college student voter registrations, electronic voting machine failures -- these are problems that voting rights groups and Democrats will be monitoring as a handful of states vote on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

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Cheney Impeachment Resolution Sent to House Committee

Paul Kane
Washington Post
2007-11-06 22:10:00

The House voted today to send a resolution considering the impeachment of Vice President Cheney to the Judiciary Committee, a move that embarrassed Democratic leaders who were forced into the parliamentary tactic to avoid a floor debate on impeachment.

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Pregnant Woman Killed in LA Brawl

Jeremiah Marquez
Associated Press
2007-11-06 22:21:00

LOS ANGELES - A pregnant woman who had just returned from her grandfather's funeral was killed when another woman deliberately rammed her car into a crowd during a street brawl involving nearly three dozen women, authorities said.

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Missouri girl gets detention for hugging friends

Georgina Gustin
St Louis Post-Dispatch
2007-11-06 22:06:00

A 13-year-old junior high school student was given two days of detention after school officials spotted her hugging friends after school last Friday.

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UK & Euro-Asian News
At least seven dead in Finland school shooting

Sami Torma
2007-11-07 10:16:00

At least seven people died when a gunman opened fire at a school in southern Finland on Wednesday, hours after a video was posted on YouTube predicting a school massacre.

©REUTERS/Timo Jaakonaho/Lehtikuva
An image from YouTube shows what is believed to be the teenaged gunman who opened fire at a school in southern Finland

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Police break up anti-government protest in Georgia

2007-11-07 01:47:00

Georgian police armed with batons on Wednesday broke up a six-day protest outside parliament calling for the resignation of U.S. ally President Mikhail Saakashvili, but opposition leaders vowed not to be defeated.

©REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili
Opposition supporters rally in front of the parliament building in Tbilisi, November 6, 2007.

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France, US bury the hatchet with Sarkozy visit

Agence France-Presse
2007-11-07 00:49:00


Washington and Paris buried the hatchet Tuesday as US President George W. Bush warmly greeted his French counterpart at the White House, abandoning several years of strained relations over the Iraq war.

The pair toasted each other at a black-tie dinner inside the White House as Bush welcomed President Nicolas Sarkozy by saying in French: "Bienvenue a la Maison Blanche."

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Hate speech trial of Serb ultra-nationalist to open

Agence France-Presse
2007-11-07 00:29:00

THE HAGUE - Serb ultra-nationalist political leader Vojislav Seselj goes on trial at the UN war crimes court here Wednesday on accusations that his "hate speech" fanned the flames of the 1990s Balkan wars.

Sesel, who continues to head Serbia's biggest political party, the Serbian Radical Party, from his cell in The Hague on Tuesday again insisted that he was not guilty of the charges leveled against him.

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Sarkozy begins Washington visit

2007-11-07 00:22:00

Mr Sarkozy spoke warmly of French-US relations in a toast to Mr Bush

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has begun his first official visit to the United States since coming to power.

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Around the World
Sarkozy commits France to stronger world role

France 24
2007-11-07 17:37:00

Addressing the US Congress, French President Nicolas Sarkozy praised the US and said France would play a larger role in resolving the world's crises.

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Taliban stage a coup of their own

Syed Saleem Shahzad
Asian Times Online
2007-11-07 14:27:00

While the world's attention focused on the troubles of President General Pervez Musharraf following his declaration of a state of emergency in Pakistan at the weekend, the Taliban have launched a coup of their own in Afghanistan and the Pashtun areas of Pakistan.

Pakistani troops had prevented the Taliban from launching their planned post-Ramadan (Muslim holy month) offensive into Afghanistan by invading the Pakistani North Waziristan and South Waziristan tribal areas on October 7.

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Crisis in Pakistan

Laura Rozen
Mother Jones
2007-11-05 14:16:00

Interview: A former U.S. government official in the region addresses president Pervez Musharraf's state of emergency and the country's subsequent unrest. [A frequent traveler to the region, the interviewee asked to be identified only as a former U.S. official.]

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Pakistan: Big crackdown in tribal border belt

The Asian Age
2007-11-06 23:10:00

Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday gave a go-ahead for a massive military action in the restive tribal areas to crush pro-Taliban and Al Qaeda militants once for all.

Comment: The "restive tribals" that Musharraf is going after are the Pashtun, who have never been conquered or colonized.

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UN Praises Cuba's Ability to Feed People

Well Weissert
Associated Press
2007-11-07 05:50:00

A U.N. food expert hailed Cuba as a world model in feeding its population, some 18 years after the collapse of the Soviet Bloc ravaged the island's economy and sparked widespread hunger.

Jean Ziegler, who has been the United Nations' independent investigator on "the right to food" since 2000, spent 11 days in Cuba on a fact-finding mission, meeting with top officials and chatting up farmers, state managers and ordinary Cubans waiting in line for food allotted by ration cards.

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Bhutto Raises Heat on Musharraf

Zahid Hussain
The Wall Street Journal
2007-11-07 00:51:00

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto plans to meet with opposition parties today to initiate nationwide protests against the state of emergency declared Saturday by President Pervez Musharraf, according to her spokesman.

The plan is the latest indication that Ms. Bhutto, who heads Pakistan's largest political party and last month signed a preliminary power-sharing agreement with Gen. Musharraf, will play an important role in shaping the nation's response to emergency rule.

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Subliminal Advertising Is Real: Australian Network Ten 'brainwashing' viewers

Phil Han
2007-11-06 23:56:00

The use of forbidden advertising 'brainwashing' techniques by Network Ten in its Aria Awards coverage may go unpunished because Australia's broadcasting watchdog has received no complaints about the incident.

©ninemsn video
Network Ten used forbidden subliminal advertising in their music awards broadcast.

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Big Brother
Yahoo Criticized in Case of Jailed Dissident

Associated Press
2007-11-07 14:19:00

Two top Yahoo officials on Tuesday defended their company's role in the jailing of a Chinese journalist but ran into withering criticism from United States lawmakers who accused them of complicity with an oppressive Communist regime.
©Alex Wong/Getty Images
Jerry Yang, left, the chief executive of Yahoo, before a Congressional panel investigating Yahoo's role in China's jailing of a journalist. Gao Qinsheng, the journalist's mother, is behind Mr. Yang.

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ISP gets man wrongly detained for 50 days

Dan Goodin
The Register
2007-11-07 14:13:00

Police in India wrongfully arrested and detained a Bangalore man for 50 days after internet service provider Airtel mis-identified him as the person who posted images on Orkut that insulted a revered historical figure.

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Axis of Evil
Flashback: Blair 'knew Iraq had no WMD'

David Cracknell
The Sunday Times
2003-10-05 17:25:00

Tony Blair privately conceded two weeks before the Iraq war that Saddam Hussein did not have any usable weapons of mass destruction, Robin Cook, the former foreign secretary, reveals today.

John Scarlett, chairman of the joint intelligence committee (JIC), also "assented" that Saddam had no such weapons, says Cook.

His revelations, taken from a diary that he kept as a senior minister during the months leading up to war, are published today in The Sunday Times. They shatter the case for war put forward by the government that Iraq presented "a real and present danger" to Britain.

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Top US legal adviser refuses to rule out 'torture' technique to be used on U.S. citizens

Ed Pilkington
The Guardian
2007-11-05 12:41:00

The top legal adviser within the US state department, who counsels the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, on international law, has declined to rule out the use of the interrogation technique known as waterboarding even if it were applied by foreign intelligence services on US citizens. John Bellinger refused to denounce the technique, which has been condemned by human rights groups as a form of torture, during a debate on the Bush administration's stance on international law held by Guardian America, the Guardian's US website. He said he would not include or exclude any technique without first considering whether it violated the convention on torture.

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DOJ Torture Memo # 6 Identified

Scott Horton
Harper's Magazine
2007-11-07 08:13:00

I recently examined how the Bush Justice Department was developing a "Culture of Torture," that is, the Bush Administration's addiction to torture has become its defining element. Opposition to torture policies is not tolerated, as Daniel Levin and Michael Mukasey have learned. Silence can be tolerated among career employees, perhaps, but it will certainly check their advancement.

And now, courtesy of the ACLU, we learn some more about the logical corollaries of the culture of torture: secrecy and lies.

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Bush aide steps down from 'mission impossible'

Anne Penketh
The Independent
2007-11-07 07:30:00

President George Bush works in mysterious ways.

Two years ago, he appointed one of his most trusted aides, his former communications adviser Karen Hughes, to lead the administration's fight-back against Islamic extremism in an attempt to improve America's image abroad. Although well versed in PR, Ms Hughes speaks only English and a smattering of Spanish.

Now, in a decision just as perplexing, he has allowed her to desert the administration for a second time to return to her native Texas, at a time when she has failed to make any inroads in the predominantly negative perceptions of America abroad, which remain prevalent not only in the Muslim world, but also in Europe.

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Zionist Hypocrisy Alert! Israel on offensive against IAEA over Iran

Agence France Presse
2007-11-07 06:36:00

Campaigning for tougher sanctions on Tehran, Israel went on the offensive on Tuesday against the UN nuclear watchdog, accusing its chief Mohammed ElBaradei of playing into Iran's hands over its atomic drive.

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Flashback: Bush waged Iraq war by "cherry-picking" intelligence: former CIA official

Agence France-Presse
2006-02-10 12:00:00

A former CIA official who coordinated US intelligence on the Middle East has accused the Bush administration of "cherry-picking" intelligence on Iraq to justify a decision it had already reached to go to war, The Washington Post reports.

The newspaper said Paul Pillar, who was the national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia from 2000 to 2005, also accused the administration of ignoring warnings that the country could easily fall into violence and chaos after an invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

"Official intelligence on Iraqi weapons programs was flawed, but even with its flaws, it was not what led to the war," Pillar wrote in the upcoming issue of the journal Foreign Affairs.

Instead, he asserted, the administration "went to war without requesting -- and evidently without being influenced by -- any strategic-level intelligence assessments on any aspect of Iraq."

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Lord Help Us! Senate Committee Approves Mukasey Nomination

Philip Shenon
The New York Times
2007-11-06 22:43:00

WASHINGTON - The Senate Judiciary Committee voted on Tuesday to approve the nomination of Michael B. Mukasey as attorney general despite opposition from most of the committee's Democrats over Mr. Mukasey's refusal to label a harsh interrogation technique used on terrorist suspects as torture.

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U.S. Fifth Fleet in Gulf exercise for possible war in Iran

World Tribune
2007-11-05 22:35:00

The U.S. Navy launched a series of exercises in the Gulf to enhance skills required in any war with Iran which, according to British press reports, could occur in early 2008.

The U.S. Fifth Fleet conducted a crisis response exercise that included amphibious, air and medical forces. The five-day exercise by the USS Wasp, led by Commander Task Force 59, was scheduled to end on Nov. 5.

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Remaking a nation into a fascist state: Keith Olbermann on waterboarding and torture

Keith Olbermann
MSNBC via Information Clearing House
2007-11-05 19:24:00

Part One

Part Two

Full Transcript:

It is a fact startling in its cynical simplicity and it requires cynical and simple words to be properly expressed: The presidency of George W. Bush has now devolved into a criminal conspiracy to cover the ass of George W. Bush.

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Finger on the Trigger: U.S. Plan Envisioned Nuking Iran, Syria, Libya

Spencer Ackerman
TPM Muckraker
2007-11-05 13:00:00

Despite years of denials, a secret planning document issued by the U.S. military's nuclear-weapons command in 2003 ordered preparations for nuclear strikes on countries seeking to acquire weapons of mass destruction, including Iran, Saddam Hussein-era Iraq, Libya and Syria.

A briefing (pdf) on the document obtained by the Federation of American Scientists, showed that the document itself was created to flesh out a 2001 Bush administration revision of long-standing nuclear-weapons policy, known as the Nuclear Posture Review. That review was a Defense Department-led attempt to wean nuclear policy off a Cold-War focus on Russia and China, but the shift raised questions about what purpose nuclear forces would serve apart from deterring an attack. In March 2002, leaks indicated that the review would recommend preparations for nuclear attacks against WMD-aspirant states. Arms Control Today pointed out at the time that planning to attack non-nuclear states that were signatories to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty reversed decades of U.S. nuclear policy.

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The Torture of Ali al-Marri: The Last "Enemy Combatant" on the U.S. Mainland

Andy Worthington
Counter Punch
2007-11-06 18:09:00

Torture is defined in many ways. To the US administration, nothing that it ever does is torture. In keeping with the notorious "Torture Memo" of August 2002, drafted primarily by Vice President Dick Cheney's chief counsel David Addington, "enhanced interrogation techniques" (as the administration euphemistically defines its forays into torture) only actually become torture if the suffering produced is equivalent to organ failure or even death.

As a result, Dick Cheney was well within his comfort zone when, on a conservative radio show last October, he responded to a dismissively phrased question about waterboarding -- "Would you agree a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives?" -- with the response, "Well, it's a no-brainer for me." He added, "But for a while there, I was criticized as being the vice president for torture" (courtesy of the Washington Post), and concluded with the administration's predictable mantra, "We don't torture. That's not what we're involved in."

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Middle East Madness
Israel tapped international telephone calls for 30 years

Ma'an News Agency
2007-11-07 17:21:00

Israeli censors have been tapping citizens' international telephone calls for 30 years, Israeli Channel 10 TV revealed on Tuesday.

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Report: Illegal Israeli Settlements rapidly expanding

Saed Bannoura
2007-11-07 14:31:00

The Israeli group 'Peace Now' has released their semi-annual report on illegal Israeli settlements built on Palestinian land. The report covers the period from May to October 2007, and reveals that there is a much higher rate of growth in the settlements than in Israel itself.

According to the report, settlements are expanding at three times the rate of growth inside Israel proper.

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Israel: Olmert tops corruption list

Yael Branovsky
2007-11-07 13:13:00

The Sderot Conference for Social and Economic Policy presented on Wednesday its annual corruption survey.

The survey, conducted by the Maagar Mohot Institute, spanned 551 participants, who were presented with various questions regarding the performance of public officials in Israel in 2007.

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Israel: Court sentences youth center director who sexually assaulted teens to jail

Ahiya Raved
2007-11-07 13:11:00

The Haifa Magistrates Court sentenced a 48-year-old man to 23 months in prison for committing indecent acts against male teens at the youth center he managed.

Michael Hanan, who was convicted of sodomy and four counts of sexual assault, was also ordered to pay each of the victims $2,500 in compensation. He also received a 13-month suspended sentence.

In the summer of 2002, Hanan, who was then director of the Rutenberg Institute in Haifa, sodomized a 15-year-old boy, who had apparently cooperated with him, and committed a series of indecent acts.

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Egypt: Two Cops Sentenced for Torture

Nadia Abou El-Magd
Associated Press
2007-11-05 12:46:00

An Egyptian court convicted two police officers Monday and sentenced them to three years in prison for torturing a bus driver, in a case that came to light after a video of the abuse was posted on the Internet.

The victim, Emad el-Kabir, 22, rejoiced in the courtroom upon hearing the verdict against his assailants - Islam Nabih, a police captain, and Reda Fathi, a noncommissioned officer.

''God is great! Thank God!'' shouted el-Kabir. ''I regained my right. I don't want anything more than that.''

Earlier in the trial, el-Kabir tearfully recounted to Judge Samir Aboul Maati how the two officers sexually abused him and used a cell phone to film the abuse. He said they sodomized him with a stick and hit him with shoes, a whip and a gun.

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Israeli extremists mobilise against peace

Agence France Presse
2007-11-07 08:08:00

Israel's powerful settler lobby and extreme right-wing are sharpening their knives for a political fight against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert signing over land for peace with the Palestinians.

A man covers himself with a box bearing right-wing stickers during a demonstration in Jerusalem

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Judge: contractor can face Iraqi torture suit

2007-11-07 01:51:00

Iraqi torture victims and their relatives can proceed with a lawsuit against a defense contractor that provided interrogators to the U.S. military in Iraq, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday.

The lawsuit was filed in 2004 on behalf of Iraqi nationals who say they or their relatives had been tortured or mistreated while detained by the U.S. military at Abu Ghraib and other prisons in Iraq.

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The Loan Gunmen
Stocks tumble; Dow down more than 300

Tim Paradis
Associated Press
2007-11-07 16:05:00

NEW YORK - Wall Street plunged and Treasurys jumped Wednesday after the dollar sank further and credit concerns continued to weigh on investors. The Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 300 points.

The dollar swooned amid speculation that China will seek to diversify some of its foreign currency stockpiles beyond the greenback. Meanwhile, a record loss from General Motors Corp. owing to an accounting adjustment further dragged on the Dow industrials.

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Oil soars above $98 on dollar lows

Jonathan Leff
2007-11-07 07:09:00

Oil prices surged above $98 a barrel on Wednesday, ploughing deeper into record territory as the dollar plumbed new lows and traders worried about a winter fuel crunch due to thinning oil stocks and a North Sea storm.

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Record breaking $39-billion loss by GM stuns Wall Street

Ken Bensinger,
Los Angeles Times
2007-11-07 07:07:00

General Motors Corp., the world's largest carmaker, startled Wall Street on Tuesday by announcing a $39-billion charge against earnings that sets the stage for a record-breaking quarterly loss.

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Brazilian police arrest 19 in half-billion-dollar tax fraud case

Agence France-Presse
2007-11-07 00:32:00

SAO PAULO - Brazilian police on Tuesday said they arrested 19 people including two Swiss bank employees allegedly involved in a tax-dodging financial network said to have cost the state more than half a billion dollars.

Federal Police Commissioner Ricardo Andrade Saadi called the operation a "big coup."

Those arrested were two Swiss bank workers, 10 Brazilian company chiefs, six suspected blackmarket money-changers and one Brazilian bank employee, he told reporters.

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The worst crisis I've seen in 30 years

Will Hutton
The Observer
2007-11-07 00:16:00

The latest financial downturn is the final nail in the coffin of the conservative free-market world-view

I have been following the financial markets for more than 30 years. Crises have come and gone, but the one unfolding since August and which intensified last week is the most serious. It is not just that its impact is cascading around the world because of the new interconnectedness of global finance, it is that the authorities, particularly in Britain and America, have lost control and do not have the means to regain it as quickly as we might hope. With an oil price approaching $100 a barrel, we are in an uncharted and dangerous place.

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Young Adults Are Getting Hit with Enormous Overdraft Fees

Leslie Parrish and Ginna Green
2007-11-06 23:33:00

More and more consumers are finding the deck stacked against them when it comes to battling abusive overdraft fees.

Few Americans are immune to the offers of quick, cheap and easy credit that surround us these days. Indeed, when brand-new adults first arrive on their college campuses, they are often greeted by a bank or credit card company before their resident advisor.

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Supermodel Bundchen Joins Hedge Funds Dumping Dollars

Bo Nielsen and Adriana Brasileiro
2007-11-05 22:41:00

Gisele Bundchen wants to remain the world's richest model and is insisting that she be paid in almost any currency but the U.S. dollar.

Like billionaire investors Warren Buffett and Bill Gross, the Brazilian supermodel, who Forbes magazine says earns more than anyone in her industry, is at the top of a growing list of rich people who have concluded that the currency can only depreciate because Americans led by President George W. Bush are living beyond their means.

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Iowa Sen. Grassley Probes Televangelists' Finances

Justin Juozapavicius
Associated Press
2007-11-06 22:26:00

Acting on tips about preachers who ride in Rolls Royces and have purportedly paid $30,000 for a conference table, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee said Tuesday he's investigating the finances of six well-known TV ministers.

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Welcome to Year 27 of the Reagan Revolution

Mike Whitney
Counter Punch
2007-11-06 17:53:00

"The End is Nigh!" Cries Paul Volcker, as Heads Topple at Merrill Lynch and Citigroup

Last Wednesday, the Federal Reserve dropped its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to 4.5 per cent citing ongoing weakness in the housing sector. As expected, the stock market rallied and the Dow Jones Industrial Average went up137 points. Unfortunately, Bernanke's "low interest" stardust wasn't enough to buoy the markets through the rest of the week.

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The Living Planet
Disease Feared in Flooded Southeast Mexico

Antonio Villegas
National Geographic
2007-11-02 12:05:00

Military trucks hauled bottled water, food, and clothing to Mexico's flooded Gulf coast Friday, as rescue workers in helicopters and boats worked furiously to retrieve thousands of victims stranded on rooftops.

With flooding across nearly all of the Gulf coast state of Tabasco and food and drinking water scarce, health officials warned of possible epidemics of cholera and other waterborne diseases.

©America Rocio/AP
These children are among tens of thousands of people fleeing flooded areas in Tabasco, Mexico.

President Felipe Calderón said Thursday that floods in southeastern Mexico this year are "one of the worst disasters in the history of the country."

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'Island' emerges in Indonesian volcano crater

Agence France-Presse
2007-11-07 02:12:00

An island that has emerged in the middle of the crater lake of Indonesia's Mount Kelut may have been effectively plugging the volcano but it could be dislodged, scientists warned Tuesday.

The peak in East Java, whose fertile slopes are populated by thousands of people, was put on high alert on October 16 but has not fully erupted, puzzling scientists who say it is impossible to predict what may happen next.

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Update: Mexico army searches mudslide, 16 feared dead

Noel Randewich
2007-11-07 01:37:00

Mexican soldiers dug on Tuesday for victims of a giant mudslide that buried a village when torrential rains caused a soaked hillside to collapse.

©REUTERS/Tomas Bravo
A view of the mudslide that buried the village of Juan del Grijalva in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas November 6, 2007.

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New Wild Pig Species Reported in Brazil

Michael Astor
Associated Press
2007-11-07 00:40:00


A Dutch scientist thinks he has discovered a new species of wild pig nearly twice the size of other pigs in Brazil's Amazon region.

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Record opening rains for November in South Australia

Cara Jenkin
2007-11-06 22:55:00

This week's storms and heavy rains have given parts of South Australia their wettest start to November since records began - but has the River Murray benefited?

Although it is hoped the same tropical system poured into the River Murray's catchment as it flooded parts of eastern Victoria, authorities are yet to determine where any run-off will go.

©Fiona Hamilton
Lyn Craig tends to her stranded sheep in a flooded paddock in Tinamba, Victoria, yesterday.

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Hawaii soaked by heavy rains, high surf

Dan Nakaso and Suzanne Roig
Honolulu Advertiser
2007-11-05 22:47:00

The first storm of the season sent boulders crashing into two O'ahu homes yesterday, caused power outages across much of the island and triggered sewage spills totaling nearly 2 million gallons.

And more rain is on the way.

©Deborah Booker / The Honolulu Advertiser
Firefighters push a pump through the floodwater to drain driveways of homes on Kalaheo Avenue in Kailua.

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Health & Wellness
Overweight people have lower death rate

Gina Kolata
New York Times
2007-11-07 12:30:00

About two years ago, a group of federal researchers reported that overweight people have a lower death rate than people who are normal weight, underweight or obese. Now, investigating further, they found out which diseases are more likely to lead to death in each weight group.

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Beautiful Outside, Rotten Inside: Israeli Youth Addicted to Dieting

Dan Even
2007-11-07 07:26:00

The percentage of Israeli girls who are on a diet is one of the highest in the West but not because they are overweight, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Sunday, quoting a new study.

The study, conducted by Dr. Yossi Harel of the Sociology and Anthropology Department at Bar-Ilan University, included 106,119 14-year olds from 33 countries, of which 1,500 Israeli boys and 2,000 girls.

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Do Energy Drinks Jolt The Heart?

CBS News
2007-11-07 01:16:00

Energy drinks may boost your blood pressure and heart rate, as well as your vitality, researchers say.

In a small study, they found that drinking just two cans of a popular drink increased blood pressure and heart rate within four hours.

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Protestors Voice Anger Over NYC Mold, Rodents

2007-11-07 00:26:00

Apartment Conditions Trigger Childrens' Asthma

In New York City, there are more than 300,000 reported asthmatic children, and there are certain everyday factors that are triggering flare-ups. Protestors hit the streets Tuesday, demanding the city help families rid their apartments of these triggers.

"This is actually where I sleep, but I have to stop sleeping here, because every time I go to sleep, I feel like I'm suffocating and I just can't breathe," Adriana Espinal told CBS 2.

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The REAL Reasons You Want to Avoid Genetically Modified Foods

2007-11-06 23:30:00

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Science & Technology
New magnetic sensor could probe the brain

Michael Banks
2007-11-07 12:12:00

Physicists in the US have developed a tiny portable device that is sensitive enough to detect the magnetic fields from electrical signals in the brain. Consisting of a cell filled with a vapour of rubidium atoms, the sensor can detect magnetic field changes as small as 70 fT -- about one billionth of Earth's magnetic field.

Although 70 fT is not as good as superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID) magnetometers, which can detect changes as small as 3 fT, the new sensor operates at room temperature. This is an advantage over SQUIDs, which must be cooled to near absolute zero to reach such sensitivity, making them power hungry and expensive.

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Headless Skeletons Reveal Secrets of Ancient Islanders

Dave Hansford
National Geographic
2007-11-07 11:50:00

A bizarre, 3,000-year-old burial site is providing rare insights into the lives of an ancient island culture.

The site in the South Pacific country of Vanuatu includes a skull in a jar and 60 headless skeletons-one of them with three skulls arrayed across its rib cage.

In 2003 construction workers at Teouma, an archaeological site on Éfaté Island, unearthed 60 skeletons. Their skulls had been taken away by mourners some time after burial.

But a new isotope analysis of teeth left behind has given researchers new clues to the lifestyle and origins of the mysterious Lapita people, ancestors of today's Polynesians and Melanesians-roughly the peoples of the central and southeastern Pacific north and east of Australia.

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Did a collision cause comet's mysterious outburst?

New Scientist
2007-11-06 11:13:00

Comet 17P/Holmes has certainly given sky-watchers - backyard and professional astronomers alike - a thrilling chance to see a cometary outburst on a grand scale. After we posted my story about on-going speculation about what could have caused this outburst (and the one 115 years ago), many readers posted comments related to two questions: Could this have been triggered by a collision with an object in the main asteroid belt? And why can't we see more of a tail on this comet?

©Pic du Midi Observatory/Francois Colas/Jean Lecacheux/Boris Baillard

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Spaceship Mockup

Gray Creech
Space Travel
2007-11-07 01:56:00

NASA's Orion spacecraft now in development is America's first new manned spacecraft since development of the space shuttle 30 years ago. It's the centerpiece of NASA's Constellation program, which aims to take the next generation of human explorers to the moon and beyond. Orion's launch abort system, a "rocket on top of the rocket," is designed to ensure the safety of its astronaut crew by pulling the crew module away from it's booster rocket in the event of a booster malfunction, either while on the launch pad or during ascent to orbit.

©NASA photo by Tom Tschida.
NASA Dryden's mockup Orion crew module is located in Dryden's former Shuttle hangar.

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Pentagon: Our new robot army will be controlled by malware

Lewis Page
The Register
2007-11-06 22:42:00

A US defence department advisory board has warned of the danger that American war robots scheduled for delivery within a decade might be riddled with malicious code. The kill machines will use software largely written overseas, and it is feared that sinister forces might meddle with it in production, thus gaining control of the future mechanoid military.

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Flashback: Robotic Cannon Mysteriously Kills 9 Soldiers

Leon Engelbrecht
2007-10-16 22:31:00

The National Defence Force is probing whether a software glitch led to an antiaircraft cannon malfunction that killed nine soldiers and seriously injured 14 others during a shooting exercise on Friday.

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Astronomers Discover Record Fifth Planet Around Nearby Star 55 Cancri

2007-11-06 22:36:00

Astronomers have discovered a record-breaking fifth planet around the nearby star 55 Cancri, making it the only star aside from the sun known to have five planets.

The discovery comes after 19 years of observations of 55 Cancri and represents a milestone for the California and Carnegie Planet Search team, which this year celebrates the 20th anniversary of its first attempts to find extrasolar planets by analyzing the wobbles they cause in their host star.

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Our Haunted Planet

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Don't Panic! Lighten Up!
How Babel Fish almost caused a diplomatic incident

UK Guardian
2007-11-07 15:36:00

Amazing, the internet. You can feed a phrase in one of the major world languages into a translation site like Babel Fish (babelfish.yahoo.com), and out it will come another. Type, for example, "internet translation sites like Babel Fish are more trouble than they're worth", click the "English-to-French" button, and you get "les emplacements de traduction d'internet comme des poissons de Babel sont plus d'ennui que la valeur de they're". Put back into English, that yields "the sites of d'internet translation as of fish of Babel are more d'ennui that the value of they're", which, you will agree, is about as close to the original as to make no meaningful difference.

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Man nearly tosses 4.38-carat diamond

Associated Press
2007-11-07 00:16:00

MURFREESBORO, Ark. - Chad Johnson has found about 80 diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park since moving to Murfreesboro in February, but the former Iowa resident on Monday nearly threw away his largest find yet. A cube-shaped rock plucked out of his sifters turned out to be a 4.38-carat, tea-colored diamond.

"Every time someone finds a big diamond here at the park, they just get slammed with tourists," said Johnson, 36, a park regular. "This has already been a bad summer for tourists and they were looking forward to winding down and then this happened."

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Danger: Beware of Falling Cows

Associated Press
2007-11-07 00:10:00

Manson, Washington - Charles and Linda Everson were driving back to their hotel when their minivan was struck by a falling object - a 600-pound cow.

The Eversons were unhurt but the cow, which had fallen off a cliff, had to be euthanized.

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He Wasn't Calling to Say His Prayers...

Associated Press
2007-11-06 22:56:00

CLARKSTOWN, N.Y. - Isn't the 11th Commandment thou shalt not use the church's telephone to call a sex hot line? A homeless man has been charged with breaking into a Valley Cottage church by picking a lock so he could dial up some sex chat.

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Man tortured with hot cookies and bottled urine

2007-11-06 20:23:00

Two US university students kidnapped, paddled and tortured a man with freshly baked cookies after a drug deal went wrong, a court has been told.

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