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Tue, 25 Jan 2022
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Syria: Troops Renew Attacks on Pro-Democracy Demonstrators

Syria protest poster
© Associated Press
Activists in Damascus say the escalation of pro-democracy protests is piling pressure on President Bashar al-Assad.
Crackdown comes as President Bashar al-Assad rejects Turkish appeals to change tack or face fate of Muammar Gaddafi

Syrian security forces were reported to have launched another wave of violence against pro-democracy protesters on Tuesday as President Bashar al-Assad rejected a Turkish appeal to change tack or meet the fate of Libya's Muammar Gaddafi.

Human rights groups recorded at least 40 civilians dead on the day that Ahmed Davutoglu, Turkey's foreign minister, met the Syrian leader to issue what was billed as a "final warning" to end the five-month crackdown, estimated by the US as having claimed 2,000 victims.

War Whore

London riots: police 'prepare to use plastic bullets' if violence continues

London police said on Tuesday they will consider using baton rounds as calls mounted for them to use stronger measures in riots that have been sweeping the capital for the last three nights.

© PA
"That's a tactic that will be used by the Metropolitan police if deemed necessary," Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stephen Kavanagh told reporters.

Officers said they hoped they were wrong as they said they were "preparing for mass disorder again" tonight.

Senior Scotland Yard officers, led by Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin, met a number of departments last night to discuss the use of various tactics.

Asked about other tactics, such as plastic bullets or baton rounds, Mr Kavanagh said: "Through the night the Commissioner did absolutely consider that as one of the tactics available to use, a tactic used if deemed necessary.


Resources Wars: Another fabricated conflict is in the works? Israel sends drones over Mediterranean gas fields

© AP Photos/Dan Balilty, File
In this Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010 file photo, an Israeli soldier carries a drone during a large military exercise at the Shizafon Armored Corps Training Base in the Arava desert, in southern Israel. Israel has deployed reconnaissance drones on surveillance missions over its gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea due to security concerns, a defense official said Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2011
Israeli air force drones are patrolling the skies over the country's gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea due to security concerns, a defense official said Tuesday.

The deployment comes in the wake of new threats from Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group.

Israel and Lebanon have not agreed on a maritime border, and Israel's recent gas discoveries in the Mediterranean have created a new source of friction between the two countries, which have fought repeatedly.

The Israeli official would not specify the nature of the concerns or disclose when the unmanned aircraft began operating or how many were in the air. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the operation of the drones.


New Zealand: Would John Key expose Israeli spies?

© Simon Baker
Prime Minister John Key has left questions dangling after the incident involving Israelis caught in the February earthquake
It always happens. I leave the country for two weeks and miss something important.

The Southland Times' discovery that a group of Israeli backpackers were spirited out of Christchurch after one of them was killed in the February earthquake was a subject I thought would be still alive when I got back.

Instead, I was dismayed that after a few days the discussion turned to how the Prime Minister could have been so clumsy as to encourage suspicion by clamming up "in the national interest" when the story was first put to him.

His subsequent assurance that a security investigation had turned up nothing to suggest the four young fellows were nothing other than backpackers seemed to have settled all concerns.


Google points finger at human after robo car accident

One of Google's self-driving cars has driven into another car. But Google says it wasn't driving itself at the time.

As first revealed on Jalopnik, a Google robo-Prius hit someone else's non-robo Prius earlier this week. But according to a Google spokesman, the accident occurred while a human was driving the Googly automobile. "Safety is our top priority," he told us. "One of our goals is to prevent fender-benders like this one, which occurred while a person was manually driving the car."


Big US ISPs Hijack Search Traffic

Researchers at the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley, California, have uncovered a major search traffic hijacking operation instrumented by a dozen US Internet service providers and a company specialising in affiliate marketing revenue generation.

The scheme works by redirecting people's search requests through proxy servers designed and operated by a company called Paxfire. The requests are then passed to affiliate programs run by Commission Junction, the Google Affiliate Network, Linkshare, or Ask.com.

Retailers pay money through these programs to those who direct customers to their business. These affiliates earn a commission for every user who ends up making a purchase or signing up for an offer.

According to Christian Kreibich and Nicholas Weaver, the two researchers who have been monitoring this operation for months, only some particular queries like "apple," "dell," "safeway" or "bloomingdales" are being hijacked.


Asian stocks tumble after Wall Street rout

Bangkok - Asian stocks markets were thrown into a tailspin Tuesday as flustered investors fearing a possible global recession continued to flee stocks. Indexes in South Korea and Hong Kong sank about 7 percent.

Oil prices tumbled to their lowest in almost a year to near $76 a barrel on expectations that a slowing global economy could crimp demand for fuel. The dollar was lower against the yen and the euro.

The sell-off, which adds to sharp losses in the past few days, comes after the Dow Jones industrials fell 634.76 points on Monday, the sixth-worst point decline for the Dow in the last 112 years, in response to the Standard and Poor's downgrade of the U.S. credit rating.

Michael McCarthy, chief strategist at Sydney-based stockbroker CMC Markets, attributed the market turbulence to fears that the struggling U.S. economy is quickly losing momentum.

"We're clearly in fear territory," McCarthy said. "The major driver here seems to be weakness in the U.S. economy. There are fears that it's starting to stall and if that's the case, the whole global growth scenario could fall over."


Smoke and mirrors, sleight of hand? Here's a perspective, or how about 100 Ways Barack Obama Is Just Like George W. Bush?

Arrow Down

US: Wave of worry threatens to build on itself

© Michael Stravato/The New York Times
Pamela Clark of the paint and coatings maker Preservo says she will wait to see how the economy goes before she does any hiring.
Employers delaying or suspending hiring. Home buyers getting cold feet. Shoppers pulling back on spending.

Hesitation is weakening the American economy, as Monday's disastrous day on Wall Street reaffirmed what many companies and ordinary Americans have been fearing for weeks: this is too tumultuous a time for businesses or households to be contemplating expansion.

Just a few months ago, analysts were predicting that the economy would grow about 4 percent this year. The forecast is now closer to half that number as a wave of pessimism sweeps the country.

"Everybody gets into this hangdog demeanor with respect to economic expectations," said Paul Laudicina, chairman of A. T. Kearney, a consulting firm. "People sit on their wallets because they feel like everything is going to get worse, and things get worse because people are sitting on their wallets."

There are some signs of encouragement, including retail buoyancy at high-end department stores, improved car sales and even mild construction growth. But the nerve-racking situation that has put pessimists in ascendance got its statistical impetus late last month, when the government reported that the economy had grown much more slowly than originally thought during the first half of the year.

Comment: From Crashes and Empires: ".. All of this is by design.."


Nightmare on Wall Street; Dow takes 635-point tumble after S&P downgrade

© Jin Lee/AP
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Stocks slid at Monday’s opening bell amid a rout in global stocks after Standard & Poor’s downgraded the US.
New York - Fear has taken over on Wall Street.

The Dow Jones industrials fell 634.76 points, the first trading day since Standard & Poor's downgraded American debt. It was the sixth-worst point decline for the Dow in the last 112 years and the worst drop since December 2008. Every stock in the Standard & Poor's 500 index declined Monday.

But the S&P downgrade wasn't the only catalyst Monday. Investors worried about the slowing U.S. economy, escalating debt problems threatening Europe and the prospect that fear in the markets would reinforce itself, as it did during the financial crisis in the fall of 2008.

"'What's rocking the market is a growth scare," said Kathleen Gaffney, co-manager of the $20 billion Loomis Sayles bond fund. "The market is under a lot of stress that really has little to do with the downgrade." Instead, Gaffney said, investors are focused on worries about another recession and "how Europe and the U.S. are going to work their way out of a high debt burden" if economic growth remains slow.

Comment: For a truly discerning, yet simple perspective, please re-read this signs focus.


US helicopter crashed in Taliban trap: Afghan official

© Agence France-Presse
NATO-led ISAF said at a press briefing on Monday that the helicopter crash that killed 38 people, including 30 US troops last Friday represented "a tragic loss." The ISAF spokesman also played down the suggestion that the Taliban had used new types of weapons to down the helicopter.
The Taliban lured US forces into an elaborate trap to shoot down their helicopter, killing 30 American troops in the deadliest such incident of the war, an Afghan official said Monday.

US President Barack Obama pledged that the incident -- which killed 38 people -- would not keep foreign forces from prevailing in Afghanistan, and the Pentagon called the downing of the Chinook a "one-off" that would not alter US strategy.

The late Friday attack marked the biggest single loss of life for American and NATO forces since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan toppled the Taliban in late 2001, shortly after the September 11 attacks.

The loss of the Chinook during an anti-Taliban operation southwest of Kabul dealt a blow to elite US special forces, which had 25 members on board -- 22 US Navy SEAL commandos and three Air Force Special Operations Forces.

Five US Army personnel, seven Afghan commandos and an interpreter also died.