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Ex-US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld accused of torture

rumsfeld

Former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld

A US rights group has filed a lawsuit charging former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld with involvement in torturing former prisoners in American prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) catapulted the torture case into prominence on Thursday after it lodged an appeal to a court in the District of Columbia, alleging that Rumsfeld and some senior US military officials were quite aware of a torture case involving nine detainees between 2002 and 2004 in American prisons in the two countries, AFP reported.

The case initially was brought forth in December 2006, but later on was withdrawn by a federal court in March 2007 on the grounds that the ex-defense secretary and other top American military officials were immune from prosecution.

Bad Guys

Congress Quietly Prepares to Renew Patriot Act

patriot act stamp
© n/a
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) has introduced a little-noticed bill that intends to once again renew controversial provisions of the Bush administration's USA Patriot Act that are due to expire this year.

When the act was first signed into law, Congress put in some "sunset" provisions to quiet the concerns of civil libertarians, but they were ignored by successive extensions. Unfortunately, those concerns proved to be well founded, and a 2008 Justice Department report confirmed that the FBI regularly abused their ability to obtain personal records of Americans without a warrant.

The only real sign of strong opposition to the act was in 2005, when a Democratic threat to filibuster its first renewal was overcome by Senate Republicans.

Since the bill introduced by Rogers on Jan. 5 was virtually identical to the extension passed last year, its passage was seen as likely.

"Given the very limited number of days Congress has in session before the current deadline, and the fact that the bill's Republican sponsor is only seeking another year, I think it's safe to read this as signaling an agreement across the aisle to put the issue off yet again," the conservative-leaning Cato Institute's Julian Sanchez wrote.

"In the absence of a major scandal, though, it's hard to see why we should expect the incentives facing legislators to be vastly different a year from now," he added. "I'd love to be proven wrong, but I suspect this is how reining in the growth of the surveillance state becomes an item perpetually on next year's agenda."

As senator, Obama promised to support reforming the Patriot Act, but voted in favor of extending it in 2005 and 2008. Similarly, he signed last year's extension into law with little fanfare. FBI and Department of Justice officials had consistently argued that restricting their blanket authority to conduct warrantless searches would harm national security.

Cult

'Gentile Sperm Leads to Barbaric Offspring!'

rabbi dov lior
© Gil Yohanan

Rabbi Dov Lior says Jewish Law prohibits sterile couples from conceiving using non-Jew's sperm, as it causes adverse traits. On subject of single mothers he says, 'Child cannot be 100% normal'

Rabbi Dov Lior, a senior authority on Jewish law in the Religious Zionism movement, asserted recently that a Jewish woman should never get pregnant using sperm donated by a non-Jewish man - even if it is the last option available.

Lior addressed the issue during a women's health conference held recently at the Puah Institute, a fertility clinic. His conservative stance negated a ruling widely accepted by rabbis, which states that sperm donated by a non-Jew is preferable to that of an anonymous Jew, who might pose a genealogical risk.

Take 2

Righthaven extends copyright lawsuit campaign to individual Web posters

Las Vegas copyright enforcement company Righthaven LLC is now suing individual message-board posters, not just website operators.

Righthaven, which files copyright infringement lawsuits over unapproved online postings of material from the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Denver Post, filed seven infringement lawsuits Tuesday and Wednesday in U.S. District Court for Nevada, lifting its lawsuit total since March to at least 203.

Among the defendants sued Monday were message board posters identified as James Higgins and Wayne Hoehn.

Bad Guys

World Business Leaders to Discuss UFOs & Extraterrestrial Life

UFO Conference
© Exopolitics Institute

A leading business forum discussing global competitiveness will in its annual conference host a panel discussing UFOs and extraterrestrial life. The Global Competitiveness Forum is hosted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and discusses business trends and insights essential for future business investment and competitiveness. The panel is titled: "Contact: Learning from Outer Space", and features famed astrophysicist Dr Michio Kaku and a leading Islamic scholar, together with prominent UFO experts Stanton Friedman and Nick Pope. The Global Competitiveness Forum is poised to introduce, perhaps for the first time, many world business leaders to key issues concerning UFOs and extraterrestrial life, and how these impact on economic competitiveness.

The Global Competitiveness Forum (GCF) is hosted by the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority and will be hosted in the capital Riyadh from January 22-25, 2011. The GCF website says:
The Global Competitiveness Forum (GCF), the only event of its kind, is an annual meeting of global business leaders, international political leaders, and selected intellectuals and journalists brought together to create a dialogue with respect to the positive impact organizational and national competitiveness can have on local, regional and global economic and social development. It was founded in 2006 by the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), and is held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia under the patronage of HM King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.

Beaker

Organic Ag in Jeopardy, USDA Close to Approving GE Alfalfa

alfalfa
© n/a
Is GM alfalfa the new Cold War? USDA urges peaceful coexistence.

The USDA seems to be paving the way for approval of genetically modified (GM) alfalfa with pleas for coexistence and cooperation. These will be needed. Organic alfalfa is the mainstay of organic animal feed. Organic standards exclude GM. But pollen from GM alfalfa transmits GM genes to organic alfalfa.

In releasing the Environmental Impact Statement on GM alfalfa, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack used Cold War rhetoric:
We have seen rapid adoption of biotechnology in agriculture, along with the rise of organic and non-genetically engineered sectors over the last several decades... While the growth in all these areas is great for agriculture, it has also led, at times, to conflict or, at best, an uneasy coexistence between the different ways of growing crops. We need to address these challenges and develop a sensible path forward for strengthening coexistence of all segments of agriculture in our country.
USDA is working hard on this one. It held a stakeholders meeting to discuss the issues. Secretary Vilsack also wrote an open letter to stakeholders pressing the need for coexistence:
The rapid adoption of GE crops has clashed with the rapid expansion of demand for organic and other non-GE products. This clash led to litigation and uncertainty. Such litigation will potentially lead to the courts deciding who gets to farm their way and who will be prevented from doing so.

Regrettably, what the criticism we have received on our GE alfalfa approach suggests, is how comfortable we have become with litigation - with one side winning and one side losing - and how difficult it is to pursue compromise. Surely, there is a better way, a solution that acknowledges agriculture's complexity, while celebrating and promoting its diversity.

By continuing to bring stakeholders together in an attempt to find common ground where the balanced interests of all sides could be advanced, we at USDA are striving to lead an effort to forge a new paradigm based on coexistence and cooperation. If successful, this effort can ensure that all forms of agriculture thrive so that food can remain abundant, affordable, and safe.

Nuke

UK Nuke Sites Put Public at Risk

the Bomb Store
© Press TV
Construction of the Bomb Store on Thetford Heath, known as RAF Barnham began in 1953 or 1954 and was completed by 1955.
A nuclear safety watchdog says UK nuclear weapons sites pose great public and environmental risks, amid complications caused by the government's spending review.

The Ministry of Defense's nuclear safety watchdog said in a report that there are 11 bomb-making sites and ports housing nuclear submarines across the UK that pose potentially significant risks, the daily Guardian reported.

Budget cuts and staff shortages were already hurting nuclear safety before the new government began slashing government spending, the report added.

The reports warns that efforts to reduce radioactive risks have been "weak", safety analyses "inconsistent" and attempts to cope with change "poor."

The danger zones include nuclear weapons sites and the two places where nuclear submarines no longer in use are docked, nine at Devonport in Plymouth and seven at Rosyth on the Firth of Forth in Scotland, said the report.

The report also reveals that there is "no funded plan" for the decommissioning of Britain's 16 defunct nuclear submarines.

The report by Rear Adm. Nigel Guild, chairman of the defense nuclear environment and safety board, is restricted, but the newspaper said it had been allowed to look at Ministry of Defense documents.

Guild said no money has been allocated to decommission the nuclear submarines. The report, which covers 2006 and 2007, identified 11 sites, including Devonport and Rosyth, where there are "potentially serious risks" -- as well as Aldermaston and Burghfield, the nuclear weapons factories, and nuclear submarines near Glasgow.

Card - VISA

UK: Barclays Bank Chief: Bob Diamond: No apologies. No restraint. No shame.

Period of remorse needs to be over,' says Barclays chief, defying MPs over bonus culture.
Bob Diamond being interviewed
© Press Association
Bob Diamond is questioned before the Treasury select committee at the House of Commons yesterday

The time for bankers to show any remorse for the failings that dragged Britain into the worst recession since the Wall Street crash is "over", the new boss of Barclays said yesterday, as the fury over the City's forthcoming £7bn bonus binge grows.

An unrepentant Bob Diamond, who will collect a pay package worth about £8.5m this year, faced down his critics at the Treasury Select Committee. Asked if David Cameron or George Osborne had asked him during their meetings to show restraint over his own bonus, Mr Diamond said: "No."

Chess

JPMorgan: Surging Food Prices Fueling Global Inflation

Image
© unk
Rising food prices are stoking global inflation with many agricultural commodity markets driven higher by bad weather in key producing countries, a senior trader at JPMorgan said.

"If you break down the inflation numbers then the impact of food has been extremely significant," Will Shropshire, head of investor trading, product development and agriculturals for JPMorgan said in an interview.

"Increased prices for key agricultural food components (are) undoubtedly going to have an impact on inflation," he added.

High food prices have moved to the top of policymakers' agendas because of worries about the impact on inflation, protectionism and unrest.

Calculator

WikiLeaks losing half a million euros a week: Assange

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© Thomas Coex, Agence France-Presse/Getty
Geneva: Whistleblower website WikiLeaks has been losing some half a million euros a week since it began publishing confidential US cables , the founder of the site Julian Assange said in an interview appearing on Monday.

When asked about the pressure put on him over the website's move, Assange told Swiss newspapers Tribune de Geneve and 24 Heures: "From a personal point of view, no. I would say that the pressure reinforces my determination. But from a financial point of view, it's another matter.

"We have been losing more than 600,000 francs (481,068 euros, 620,053 dollars) a week since the start of the publication of the diplomatic cables. To continue our business, we would need to find a way or other to get this money back," he added.