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Thu, 06 May 2021
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Google turns over user data in 94% of US demands

Facebook, Yahoo!, Microsoft? Who knows?

The US government filed more than twice as many demands for data about Google users than any other other country in the past six months, according to figures the search behemoth supplied Monday.

What's more, according to the Google Transparency Report, Google fully or partially complied with the US demands in 94 percent of the cases, a rate that was higher than responses to any other government.

From July to December of last year, Google received 4,601 demands from US-based governments for information relating to one or more of its users, Monday's report stated. Brazil and India were second and third with 1,804 and 1,699 requests respectively.

People

IMF Poised to Choose France's Lagarde as Next Leader

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© Reuters / Jonathan Ernst
France's Finance Minister Christine Lagarde stops to talk to reporters as she departs after a day of meetings ahead of her potentially being named the next managing director of the International Monetary Fund, at IMF headquarters in Washington, June 23, 2011.
French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde is expected to be chosen as early as Tuesday to be the new leader of the International Monetary Fund, The Associated Press reported.

Lagarde would be the first woman to lead the organization, replacing the disgraced Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who resigned in May after being charged with sexually assaulting a New York City hotel housekeeper. Lagarde's opponent was Agustin Carstens, a Mexican central banker whose candidacy never caught fire.

Lagarde has widespread support in Europe, and a high-ranking Chinese official said Monday that Beijing supports Lagard, according to several reports.

U.S. officials haven't publicly backed a candidate, though most analysts expect the Obama administration to come out in support of Lagarde.

Together, the United States, Europ, and China hold the majority of votes on the IMF's board.

Bad Guys

Make Prince Harry Our King, Say Canadian Monarchists

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© Reuters
Prince Harry would set up his own court in Ottawa if some Canadian monarchists had their way
Even Canada's most ardent monarchists accept that the 2,300-mile gulf between London and the Queen's largest realm is something of a stumbling block.

Having a head of state who only visits the country every two or three years plays right into the hands of republicans, after all.

But as they prepare for the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge later this week, royalists in Canada have come up with a novel solution to the age-old problem: install Prince Harry as their king.

They want the Prince, who is third in line to the throne, to set up home in the capital, Ottawa, to give the Royal family a permanent presence and to silence those who believe the country should have an elected head of state.

Etienne Boisvert, the Quebec provincial spokesman for the Monarchist League of Canada, pointed out that the Royal family was "an institution that knows how to reinvent itself" and believes now may be the right time for a radical change.

"Prince Harry, who has virtually no chance of becoming king, could set himself up here and found a Canadian branch of the Royal family," he said.

Arrow Down

Ireland FM Warns Israel Against Violent Interception of Gaza flotilla

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© Agence France-Presse
The Dignitי - Al Karama (Dignity - Al Karama) ship sailing off the coast of the French Mediterranean island of Corsica on June 25, 2011 to join the new pro-Palestinian aid flotilla.
Eamon Gilmore reiterates Ireland's position that Gaza blockade is 'unjust and counterproductive' but does not advise Irish nationals to join the flotilla, which includes the Irish boat MV Saoirse.

As the second "Gaza Freedom Flotilla" gets ready to sail this week, Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore urged Israel to avoid any repeat of last year's actions against the convoy, Irish media reported Sunday.

"Israel must exercise all possible restraint and avoid any use of military force if attempting to uphold their naval blockade," Gilmore, who also holds the post of trade minister, said after meeting with Israeli Ambassador to Dublin Boaz Moda.

War Whore

PNAC-Reborn: Calling for Greater Libyan War

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Recycled PNAC sleaze: Now calling themselves the Foreign Policy Initiative, they constitute a full-time corporate and government subsidized war lobbying organization. Many of the signatories of FPI’s latest letter include members of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
War criminals from the Foreign Policy Initiative implore House Republicans to ignore the people & the Constitution for continued war with Libya.

For those that want a list of who is responsible for what ails America and the world, one could get a good start by examining the signatories of the Foreign Policy Initiative's latest signed confession.

Titled, "An Open Letter to the House Republicans" they implore House Republicans to not only support the un-Constitutional war being waged in America's name on the Fortune 500′s behalf, but to "achieve the goal of removing Qaddafi from power."

Apparently we were all lied to when we were told the goal of our intervention in Libya was to "protect civilians." As reported in May, Libya will be won at any cost, and the initial lies used to tip-toe us into the conflict were but a temporary pretense for a war of total domination.

Arrow Down

US Supreme Court Rules Against Ban on Violent Video Game Sales to Minors

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© Sony
The God of War games from Sony are considered violent, but the Supreme Court says such games still have protection as art.
Maybe it helps for the nation's highest court to say it, too?

Video games are art, and they deserve the exact same First Amendment protections as books, comics, plays and all the rest, the U.S. Supreme Court said Monday in a ruling about the sale of violent video games in California.

California had tried to argue that video games are inherently different from these other mediums because they are "interactive." So if a kid has to pick up a controller and hit the B button -- over and over again until he starts to get thumb arthritis -- to kill a person in a video game, that's different from reading about a similar murder, the state said.

The high court didn't buy that argument, however.

Interactive stories are "nothing new," Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the majority opinion (PDF). "Since at least the publication of 'The Adventures of You: Sugarcane Island' in 1969, young readers of choose-your-own-adventure stories have been able to make decisions that determine the plot by following instructions about which page to turn to."

Here's more on why the court thinks video games are art:

"Like the protected books, plays, and movies that preceded them, video games communicate ideas -- and even social messages -- through many familiar literary devices (such as characters, dialogue, plot, and music) and through features distinctive to the medium (such as the player's interaction with the virtual world). That suffices to confer First Amendment protection."

Comment: Video Games may be considered to be "art" but consider the consequences:

Study Bashes Violent Video Games, Links Them to Aggressive Behavior in Kids
Video Games Normalize Killing, Doctors Say
Video Games Linked To Poor Relationships With Friends, Family
Study: Video-game-playing kids showing addiction symptoms
Study: Violent video games affect teens' brain
Study: Too many video games may sap attention span


Dollar

The woman set to be richer than Bill Gates

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© The Australian
Gina Rinehart
You probably haven't heard of Gina Rinehart - the 57-year-old Australian widow - but you'll know the people her wealth is set to eclipse.

Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Carlos Sim are currently rated as the richest people alive by Forbes magazine, while Lakshmi Mittal is the UK's richest person and sixth-richest overall.

But Rinehart is about to leapfrog them all to the top of the list - and become the first woman to ever hold the number one spot.

Where her money's come from

Rinehart was a recently widowed mother of four in her 30s when she inherited her father's debt-laden mining firm. But she wasn't new to the business world.

She had been groomed to inherit the family firm from the age of 12 and, since taking over, has quietly gone about making it one of the world's biggest operations.

War Whore

Another Day in the Empire: US drone kills 8 in Pakistan

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The US has conducted another non-UN-sanctioned drone strike in Pakistan's troubled northwest, leaving at least eight people dead and several others wounded.

The US drone hit a vehicle in South Waziristan region, which borders Afghanistan.

The US has expanded its airstrikes in Pakistan since President Barack Obama took office in 2009.

The US often carries out such attacks on Pakistan's tribal regions, claiming that the militants are their target.

But locals say civilians are the main victims of the unauthorized US strikes. Hundreds of people have been killed in the attacks.

There have also been numerous demonstrations across Pakistan against the US drone attacks.

The issue of civilian casualties has strained relations between Islamabad and Washington with the Pakistani government repeatedly objecting to the attacks.

Handcuffs

International Criminal Court goes after another patsy, issues arrest warrant for Gaddafi

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The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant for Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi on charges of committing crimes against humanity.

"The chamber hereby, issues a warrant of arrest against Muammar Gaddafi," Judge Sanji Mmasenono Monageng said during a court hearing on Monday.

The ICC also issued warrants for Gaddafi's son Seif al-Islam and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senoussi for committing crimes against Libyan revolutionaries since the Libyan revolution in began in mid-February, AFP reported.

The warrants are a response to ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo's call on the court to issue arrest warrants for the three influential Libyan figures.

NATO is conducting airstrikes in Libya to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1973, and says that its air campaign aims at protecting civilians. However, Libyan officials say hundreds of civilians have been killed as a result of the attacks.

Experts say the main motive behind the Western attack on Libya is the vast oil reserves of the North African country.

Arrow Down

Soros: 'Eurozone on verge of economic collapse'

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Believe me, I'd know
Billionaire George Soros says Europe's debt crisis has brought the eurozone to the brink of an "economic collapse" and inevitably some of its members will leave the union.

"There's no arrangement for any countries leaving the euro, which in current circumstances is probably inevitable," Soros said at a panel discussion in Vienna, Austria on Sunday, Bloomberg reported.

He added, "We are on the verge of an economic collapse which starts, let's say, in Greece, but it could easily spread. The financial system remains extremely vulnerable."

"I think most of us actually agree that Europe's crisis is actually centered around the euro," the 80-year-old investor added.