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Fri, 01 Dec 2023
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Puppet Masters


Strauss-Kahn Case Seen as in Jeopardy

© Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News
Dominique Strauss-Kahn could be released on his own recognizance, and freed from house arrest.
The sexual assault case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn is on the verge of collapse as investigators have uncovered major holes in the credibility of the housekeeper who charged that he attacked her in his Manhattan hotel suite in May, according to two well-placed law enforcement officials.

Although forensic tests found unambiguous evidence of a sexual encounter between Mr. Strauss-Kahn, a French politician, and the woman, prosecutors now do not believe much of what the accuser has told them about the circumstances or about herself.

Since her initial allegation on May 14, the accuser has repeatedly lied, one of the law enforcement officials said.

Senior prosecutors met with lawyers for Mr. Strauss-Kahn on Thursday and provided details about their findings, and the parties are discussing whether to dismiss the felony charges. Among the discoveries, one of the officials said, are issues involving the asylum application of the 32-year-old housekeeper, who is Guinean, and possible links to people involved in criminal activities, including drug dealing and money laundering.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers will return to State Supreme Court in Manhattan on Friday morning, when Justice Michael J. Obus is expected to consider easing the extraordinary bail conditions that he imposed on Mr. Strauss-Kahn in the days after he was charged.

Red Flag

U.S. Congress about to let agribiz get liberal - with pesticides

© C.G.P. Grey
I recently wrote about a quiet but vicious fight going on in Congress to restrict the EPA's ability to regulate pesticides. It's in many ways an obscure bureaucratic turf battle, only this one is about how easy it should be to douse that turf in toxic chemicals.

It all comes down to two competing visions of how we should use pesticides -- either as much or as little as possible. For the most part, the EPA approves a pesticide when a company "lists" the chemical with the agency under the terms of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). To get a pesticide listed with the EPA, a company has to submit its own data showing that the pesticide won't cause undue environmental harm. Once a pesticide is listed, in most cases, farmers can use it as they see fit -- with one notable exception.

Bad Guys

US Senate: Cut Aid if Palestine Declares State

© Reuters
Senate to halt PA aid?
Unanimously-approved bill calls on President Obama to consider suspending assistance if Palestinians insist on UN bid, Fatah-Hamas unity deal.

The US Senate approved a bill Wednesday that calls for suspension of American aid to the Palestinian Authority if it insists on carrying out a plan to gain UN recognition for its statehood declaration in September.

The bill was approved by all 89 senators present. Its initiators are the Jewish and Democratic Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine.

It stipulates that the Senate opposes "any attempt to establish or seek recognition of a Palestinian state outside of an agreement negotiated between leaders in Israel and the Palestinians".

Cardin explained that the Senate has conveyed a clear message to the international community with the bill, which states that UN recognition of a Palestinian state at this stage does not promote peace. An accord is achievable through negotiations alone, he said.

The bill also "urges the President to consider suspending assistance to the Palestinian Authority pending a review of the unity agreement between Fatah and Hamas".

Bad Guys

Saudi Arabia's Survival Depends on Iran-US Tension: Part 1

© Unknown
Interview with Seyed Mohammad Sadeq Kharrazi Iran's Former Ambassador to France and the United Nations

Recent developments in the region, assassination of Osama bin Laden and a direct call by the US President Barack Obama on Israel to return behind 1967 borders and pave the way for the establishment of a Palestinian state are three sides of a historical triangle not only in the Middle East, but for the whole world. Some analysts believe that recent developments represent awakening of nations as a result of the accumulation of unheeded calls from those nations and suppression of their religious and national requests by despots. Others, however, allude to the hidden influence of the United States on these developments and maintain that they are in line with Washington's plan to form a new Middle East. Anyway, four months after the beginning of the Arab Spring, there are still questions as to the real nature of these uprisings, their temporary and long-term effects on regional stability and their relationship to Obama's concept of smart power and his promise for change. Perhaps, only time will respond to some of those questions. In the following interview with Khabar Online, Seyed Mohammad Sadeq Kharrazi, has discussed regional developments from a whole new angle and has explained position of Iran and its foes in the region. Iran's former ambassador to France and the United Nations maintains that under present circumstances, Iran, Turkey, and Egypt continue to be dominant powers in the region. However, certain players are trying to play a more effective role in power relations of the Middle East by banking on their relations with the United States. One of those players is Saudi Arabia.


Has UK gov lost the census to Lulzsec?

© Unknown
They've got form, let's be honest

The UK's Office for National Statistics and Lockheed Martin are racing to check if hacker group LulzSec has got its hands on this year's census data.

Such a massive data loss would be embarrassing even for a government with such an amazing record of data protection failures.

LulzSec's Twitter page has no mention of the supposed hack, but a message on PasteBin - which is open to anyone - suggests they have obtained the records.


Hackers Declare War on Government

© NY Times
Lulz Security claimed responsibility for knocking the Central Intelligence Agency’s Web site offline last week.

The Internet may be about to get a little more chaotic than usual. Over the weekend, a group of hackers declared that they are initiating cyber warfare with governments and security companies around the world.


U.S. allegedly spying on New York Times reporter James Risen

© Unknown
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist James Risen has been subjected to government surveillance and harassment that began under the Bush administration, according to a 22-page affidavit he filed Tuesday.

In his 2006 book, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration, author and New York Times reporter James Risen describes a CIA effort to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions by secretly providing them with faulty blueprints. In the end, a Russian defector working for the CIA exposed the plot.

Risen was subpoenaed twice to testify about his sources. The first grand jury was dissolved before he could be forced to testify. For reasons that have not been revealed, U.S. District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema quashed the second subpoena last year.


Libya conflict: France Air-Dropped Arms to Rebels

© Reuters
Libyan rebels in the west of the country are battling their way towards Tripoli
France has air-dropped weapons to rebels fighting Col Muammar Gaddafi's troops in Western Libya, the French military has confirmed.

Light arms and ammunition were sent to Berber tribal fighters in the Nafusa mountains in early June, it said.

Earlier, a report in Le Figaro newspaper said the arms included rocket launchers and anti-tank missiles.

France, a leading force in the Nato operation in Libya, did not inform its allies about the move, Le Figarosaid.

"We began by dropping humanitarian aid: food, water and medical supplies," said Col Thierry Burkhard, spokesman for the French general staff.

"During the operation, the situation for the civilians on the ground worsened. We dropped arms and means of self-defence, mainly ammunition," he told AFP news agency.

He said the arms were "light infantry weapons of the rifle type", dropped over a period of several days "so that civilians would not be massacred".

Bizarro Earth

UK: Right to Self-Defence in Homes to be 'Much Clearer'

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has said a householder who knifes a burglar will not have committed a criminal offence under plans to clarify the law on self-defence in England.

He told the BBC people were entitled to use "whatever force necessary" to protect themselves and their homes.

David Cameron recently said the issue should be put "beyond doubt".

Labour said the law was "already clear" and the remarks were a "smokescreen" to hide confusion over sentencing changes.

Mr Clarke has come under attack over proposed changes to sentencing policy, but has denied making a series of U-turns on key elements amid pressure from Tory MPs and sections of the media.

He has said he is committed to axing indeterminate prison sentences, despite opposition from many Tory MPs.

He said indeterminate sentences - where prisoners can be held beyond their original release date if they still pose a danger to society - had been an "unmitigated disaster" since they had been introduced by Tony Blair and suggested an alternative to them would be in place within two years.

On people's rights to self-defence in their homes, Mr Clarke said there was "constant doubt" about the issue and the proposed legislation would make this "much clearer".

Under the terms of the 2008 Criminal Justice and Immigration Act, homeowners who use "reasonable force" to protect themselves against intruders should not be prosecuted, providing they use no more force than is absolutely necessary.


Hackers steal personal data of military, gov personnel

Please don't feed the spear phishers

Hackers breached the security of a defense industry news website and stole sensitive subscriber information that could be used in attacks targeting the US military and its contractors.

Gannet Co., publisher of DefenseNews, disclosed the bad news in an advisory published Monday. Data exposed included subscribers' first and last names, usernames, passwords, email addresses, and in many cases military duty status, paygrade, and branch of service.