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Cell Phone

US: Millions hit by $2billion in mystery phone charges hidden on their cell bills

© Tomas Rodriguez/Corbis
Unaware: Millions of customers are not informed they are being hit by extra charges
Millions of people have been hit with a total of more than $2billion in hidden costs on their cell phone bills, a government investigation has found.

The practice, known as 'cramming', allows third party companies to attach costs onto people's phone bills, often without authorisation, meaning customers are automatically charged for services they have never requested unless they actively opt out.

The charges are often hidden in the final few pages of customers' bills, meaning they often go unnoticed by millions of people who are far too busy, and perhaps too trusting, to inspect their bills with a fine tooth comb.

The investigation, by the Senate Commerce Committee, began in May last year after 'consumers had complained for years that they were finding mysterious charges on their telephone bills for services they had not purchased," the report stated.

The investigation found there is a loophole in the law which allows for third party billing on cell phone bills from companies which provide services such as voicemail and paid for 800 numbers.

Often customers do not know these services have been set up for them and mobile providers are reluctant to clarify the process because they make money from the extra charges, the report found.

The practice of cramming began in the 1990s when phone companies started allowing accounts to be used as credit cards.

Che Guevara

Tibetans Protest China's 60 Years of Occupation

© unknown

Tibetans and supporters rallied from the main temple Tsuglakhang and gathered at TCV Day School in McLeod Ganj despite the intermittent rains to protest the Chinese government's planned propaganda celebration this week in Lhasa, Tibet. The celebration marks 60 years of Beijing's rule over Tibet. The commemoration comes as tensions remain high in eastern Tibet where daily protests continue to take place since mid-March and Chinese security forces are engaged in an intense security clampdown.

Students for a Free Tibet (SFT), India led the action with 60 people carrying black flags representing China's 60 year of oppression & occupation of Tibet. A group of 6 people wrapped in black cloth were followed by files of people holding black flags and later young Tibetan children, dressed in Tibetan traditional clothings, unwrapped to reveal the Tibetan flags underneath at the TCV Day School, as a symbol of new generation unveiling the 'Truth' and ultimately 'freeing Tibet.' There were also distribution of black arm bands throughout the day to signify Tibetan people's oppression & resistance.

A flash-mob action was also staged at the India Gate by SFT 's Delhi-based Chapter.

"China's propaganda celebration of the so-called '60 years of peaceful liberation' is a futile attempt to legitimize their illegal occupation of Tibet. China's recent white paper on Tibet is but another of its many propaganda attempts," said Dorjee Tsetan, National Director of Students for a Free Tibet- India." Tibetans have repeatedly rejected Chinese rule and it has only been ever growing since the widespread protests across the plateau in 2008."

Star of David

Occupied Territories: Israeli forces prevent ambulance from rescuing injured man

Israeli soldiers
© Unknown
Israeli soldiers are seen during an army operation in the West Bank city of Nablus
As the Egyptian authorities continue to bar commercial traffic from using the Rafah crossing into the Gaza Strip, imports from Egypt continue to be brought inside via tunnels dug underneath the border. Israeli F-16 fighter jets carried out two raids against the tunnels near Rafah.

Elsewhere in the Occupied Palestinian territories Israeli occupation forces carried out a raid in the al-Fara refugee camp, on the outskirts of Nablus, in the West Bank. The soldiers shot a 19-year old student in the thigh, severing a main artery, then prevented an ambulance crew to reach the profusely bleeding young man, who subsequently bled to death. Cracking down on the upset neighbours, who had been forced to stay away from the bleeding victim, occupation forces broke into a series of private residence destroying property and arresting a number of citizens.


Israeli occupation authority arrests 11 Palestinian minors in Silwan

palestinian child, israeli soldiers
© NA
Israeli policemen arrested 12 Palestinians in Silwan town in occupied Jerusalem on Wednesday including 11 minors on charges they threw stones, firecrackers, and firebombs at Beit Yonatan settlement outpost.

The Hebrew daily Yediot Ahronot website said that the policemen stormed a number of suburbs in Silwan town and arrested the 11 minors who did not exceed 17 years of age.

It said that the police force also arrested a shop owner at the pretext he was selling the children material that they used in making the firebombs, which they threw at Beit Yonatan in Wadi Hilwa suburb.

Local sources said that a big number of policemen stormed the homes of those minors, adding that they range in age from 14 to 17 years old.

Bad Guys

Israel aircraft raid Gaza for fourth day in a row

An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed that an air strike had targeted a Palestinian Gaza City, Palestinian Territories: Israeli aircraft struck Gaza overnight for the fourth time in as many days, wounding a militant who was about to fire a rocket, Palestinian security sources said on Saturday.

The Palestinian was admitted to hospital but his injuries were not life-threatening, the sources said.

An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed that an air strike had targeted a Palestinian. The raid was followed by the firing of two rockets from Gaza into Israel, neither of which caused casualties or damage, she added.

Bad Guys

U.S. Congress and Its Colonialist Agenda

New members of the 112th Congress
© Talk Radio News Service / Flickr
New members of the 112th Congress on Capitol Hill, November 19, 2010.

Up until the mid-20th century, Western attitudes regarding national freedom essentially went like this: the independence of white Western nations (Great Britain, France, the United States etc.) was a given. Independence for nonwhite, non-Western nations (such as those in Africa, the Middle East and Asia), however, could only be under conditions granted by the occupying powers. The time at which these nations could be free, their specific boundaries and the conditions of their independence could only be reached through negotiations between the colonial occupiers and representatives (if approved by the colonial powers) of the conquered peoples. It was not the purview of the League of Nations, the United Nations, or any other international legal authority to adjudicate such matters, so went the argument, since the rights of those in the colonies were limited to what was willingly agreed to by the colonizers.

Based on a resolution unanimously adopted by the Senate (S.Res. 185) on July 29 and by a 407-6 majority in the House (H.Res. 268) on July 7, Congress went on record reiterating their "strong opposition to any attempt to establish or seek recognition of a Palestinian state outside of an agreement negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians." It called on Palestinian leaders to "cease all efforts at circumventing the negotiation process, including through a unilateral declaration of statehood or by seeking recognition of a Palestinian state from other nations or the United Nations." It called upon President Obama to "announce that the United States will veto any resolution on Palestinian statehood that comes before the United Nations Security Council which is not a result of agreements reached between the Government of Israel and the Palestinians" and to "lead a diplomatic effort to oppose a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state and to oppose recognition of a Palestinian state by other nations, within the United Nations and in other international forums prior to achievement of a final agreement between the Government of Israel and the Palestinians."


'Libya Tougher than Serbia for NATO'

NATO has been bombing Libya for months now, but it has not been able to break Muammar Gaddafi's grip on the oil-rich North African country.

Press TV talks with Dr. Webster Griffin Tarpley, an author and historian in Washington, who argues that it is NATO's "imperialist coalition" that is nearing its breaking point.

What follows is the text of the interview:

Press TV: This looks like just another war waged by the West that civilians are bearing the brunt of it, doesn't it?

Tarpley: Well, the difference here is of course that the NATO and the CIA have an infantry and in that case it is made of people with heavy representation from al-Qaeda, the Libyan­­­­ Islamic fighting group and various Islamist rebels and that is pretty much what the Benghazi rebel council is made up of. Their infantry is obviously a kind of rabble in arms as long as they are up in these mountains of the west and as long as they are getting plenty of arm shipments from the French which they have been getting and of course NATO airstrikes, they are able to make a certain amount of progress but what you see now as soon as they get down into that plain where Tripoli is 60 or 70 miles away they are subjected to counter attacks and I think they are going basically nowhere.


Japan's nuclear industry credibility crumbles amid email scandal

© Kyodo
An aerial view shows Kyushu Electric Power's Genkai nuclear power plant, in Genkai town, Saga Prefecture, on June 9, 2011.
A Japanese nuclear power plant has come under fire for trying to sway the outcome of a public forum on atomic safety, dealing a fresh blow to the industry's credibility four months after the world's biggest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

An employee with Kyushu Electric Power Co instructed workers at the utility and its affiliates to pose as ordinary citizens and send e-mails backing the restart of nuclear reactors in southern Japan to a televised public hearing.

A massive earthquake and tsunami crippled the coastal Fukushima-Daiichi power plant in northeast Japan on March 13, sparking a fuel-rod meltdown and the biggest nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in Ukraine in 1986.

The plant is still leaking radiation in a protracted disaster which prompted the government to go back to "scratch" on its nuclear energy policy. Only 19 of Japan's 54 reactors are still running.


Taxpayers face £42,000 public pensions bill

© Getty
The Treasury will disclose the future costs of schools and hospitals built using the Private Finance Initiative for the first time
Every household in Britain faces having to pay £42,000 to cover the cost of public sector pensions, official figures show.

The Treasury will today reveal that the liabilities from the pensions of public sector workers have jumped from £770 billion to £1,100 billion in two years. The figures are contained in full accounts for all Whitehall departments, which are being published together for the first time to show what public finances would look like if they were subjected to the same scrutiny as a private company.

The accounts will also disclose the future costs of schools and hospitals built using the Private Finance Initiative for the first time.

They will show that the costs of PFI deals have increased seven-fold, from £5.1 billion to more than £40 billion, including future liabilities, and that the total "hidden" debt of 1,500 public bodies has reached an estimated £2,000 billion.


Why Banks Aren't Lending: The Silent Liquidity Squeeze

bank bailout loans
© Mary F. Calvert / The New York Times
John Councilman, president of AMC Mortgage, at his office in Fallston, Maryland, on July 13, 2010.
Where did all the jobs go? Small and medium-sized businesses are the major source of new job creation, and they are not hiring. Startup businesses, which contribute a fifth of the nation's new jobs, often can't even get off the ground. Why?

In a June 30 article in The Wall Street Journal titled "Smaller Businesses Seeking Loans Still Come Up Empty," Emily Maltby reported that business owners rank access to capital as the most important issue facing them today; and only 17 percent of smaller businesses said they were able to land needed bank financing. Businesses have to pay for workers and materials before they can get paid for the products they produce and for that they need bank credit; but they are reporting that their credit lines are being cut. They are being pushed instead into credit card accounts that average 16 percent interest, more than double the rate of the average business loan. It is one of many changes in banking trends that have been very lucrative for Wall Street banks, but are killing local businesses.

The Travesty of the $1.6 Trillion in "Excess Reserves"

The bank bailout and the Federal Reserve's two "quantitative easing" programs were supposedly intended to keep credit flowing to the local economy; but despite trillions of dollars thrown at Wall Street banks, these programs have succeeded only in producing mountains of "excess reserves" that are now sitting idle in Federal Reserve bank accounts. A stunning $1.6 trillion in excess reserves has accumulated in bank reserve accounts since the collapse of Lehman Brothers on September 15, 2008.