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UK Riots: Paratroopers Being Trained in Riot Control

teams armed with body-length shields
© Ki Price/AFP/Getty
Troops were trained into how to work as teams armed with body-length shields in driving back hostile crowds.
British troops are being trained in riot control tactics amid fears that violence and looting will return to Britain's streets this summer.

Hundreds of soldiers from 3rd battalion The Parachute Regiment spent last week learning how to contain and arrest "rioters" in a series of exercises mirroring last summers violence.

Defence sources have confirmed that if violence were to return to British cities, especially during the Olympic Games, the Paras would be "ideally placed" to provide "short-term" support to police forces around the UK.

Such a request would have to be made by the Home Office and would have to have Prime Ministerial approval, according to the source.

During the exercises at the Lydd training base in Kent, the elite troops were pelted with petrol bombs and missiles and "fought" running battles with gangs of protesters as part of the battalion's "public order training".

The battalion is the lead unit in the Airborne Task Force - the Army's premier rapid response unit and can be called on to deal with a wide range of emergency situations - from hostage rescue to riot control - around the world.


Flash-Grenades & Tear-Gas: 300 Arrested at Occupy Oakland

Occupy Oakland demonstrators
© Reuters / Stephen Lam
Occupy Oakland demonstrators confront a line of police officers during a demonstration in attempt to occupy a vacant building near Laney College in Oakland, California January 28, 2012
Police in Oakland, California, have used tear-gas and flash-grenades as a 2,000-strong Occupy Oakland march turned violent, with some protesters claiming that rubber bullets were also fired into the crowd. At least 300 people were arrested.

The demonstrators had attempted to take over vacant buildings to use as their headquarters, they also broke into City Hall and tried to occupy a YMCA. Police spokesman Jeff Thomason told media most of the arrests came around 8 pm local time. Police took many protesters into custody as they marched through the city's downtown area, with some entering a YMCA building.

Officials say, at one point protesters began tearing down perimeter fences around the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center, as some attacked police officers, throwing rocks, bottles and other objects. Police declared an unlawful assembly and used force, according to the Oakland Tribune newspaper.

While police were taking people into custody near the YMCA, about 100 officers surrounded City Hall, while others swept the inside of the building for protesters who had broken in. Inside the building, protesters burned flags, broke into an electrical box and damaged several art structures, according to Oakland Mayor Jean Quan.

Che Guevara

"Poor Because of you": Topless FEMEN protesters detained at World Economic Forum in Davos

Police detained and later released three topless protesters today after they stripped to the waist outside a World Economic Forum event in Davos, Switzerland.

The trio, from the Ukrainian group FEMEN, carried banners that read "Gangsters party in Davos" and "Crisis made in Davos" while shouting "Poor because of you."

Police stopped them at the gates of a complex as world economic and business leaders met inside.

"We came here to Switzerland to Davos to explain the position of all poor people of the world, to explain that we are poor because of these rich people who now sit in the building," FEMEN representative Inna Schewcenko told Associated Press.

Police detained them only after the attempted to climb a fence into the compound.

Eye 1

"Bush Lied to FBI to Spy on Americans"

Bush & Muller
© presstv
US Ex-President George W Bush (L) talks to FBI Director Robert Mueller.
Former US president George Bush has lied to FBI Director Robert Mueller to protect White house programs that spied on the American citizens, a new book reveals.

In his book, Enemies, former New York Times reporter, Tim Weiner reveals the extent of the FBI long-war against terrorists, spies and anyone considered as subversive, including American presidents.

After the 9/11 attacks in its so called war on terror, the Bush anti-terror program included warrant less eavesdropping of the phones and emails of the Americans, which is now known by its code name "Stellar Wind."

However, FBI director Mueller, who felt the White house was "trying to do an end run" around the law, was opposed to the program.

In March 2004, US Justice Department under Attorney General John Ashcroft ruled that the program was illegal.


UK: Light to be Shed on Mystery of MI6 Spy Gareth Williams' Death

© Associated Press
British intelligence official Gareth Williams
An inquest into the death of the spy whose body was found in a locked holdall is set to go ahead this spring, casting light on one of the most baffling mysteries in the recent history of the secret services.

It remains one of the most baffling mysteries in the history of the British secret services.

When the body of an MI6 spy was found locked in a holdall in the bath of his flat, in August 2010, it led to a rash of conspiracy theories, from the disturbing to the downright bizarre.

Nearly 18 months on, police have been unable to establish what led to the death of Gareth Williams, despite a battery of toxicology tests and an exhaustive investigation into his background and his movements.

But Dr Fiona Wilcox, the recently-appointed coroner for Westminster, has decided the time is now right to attempt to record the first official account of what happened to the 31-year-old spy.

She will hold a Pre Inquest Review (PIR) on March 29 at Horseferry Road Coroners Court. A full inquest will begin three weeks later, probably at a larger venue, and is expected to last three to four days.

Red Flag

Off The Record: A Quest For De-Baptism In France

© iStockphoto.com
Though marginal, the de-baptism movement is growing, observers say.

In France, an elderly man is fighting to make a formal break with the Catholic Church. He's taken the church to court over its refusal to let him nullify his baptism, in a case that could have far-reaching effects.

Seventy-one-year-old Rene LeBouvier's parents and his brother are buried in a churchyard in the tiny village of Fleury in northwest France. He himself was baptized in the Romanesque stone church and attended mass here as a boy.

LeBouvier says this rural area is still conservative and very Catholic, but nothing like it used to be. Back then, he says, you couldn't even get credit at the bakery if you didn't go to mass every Sunday.

LeBouvier grew up in that world and says his mother once hoped he'd become a priest. But his views began to change in the 1970s, when he was introduced to free thinkers. As he didn't believe in God anymore, he thought it would be more honest to leave the church. So he wrote to his diocese and asked to be un-baptized.

"They sent me a copy of my records, and in the margins next to my name, they wrote that I had chosen to leave the church," he says.


Fukushima mothers and activists face eviction

On Friday, January 27th, the tent occupation in front of METI in Tokyo faces eviction by order of minister Yukio Edano. The eviction order follows a controversial public meeting where government officials met with nuclear industry personnel to discuss nuclear power plant restarts, while attempting to exclude the public from the meeting. Concerned citizens who registered to attend the meeting were forcefully removed and the meeting took place behind closed doors.

The tent occupation in front of METI has lasted over 4 months through the support of women from Fukushima, and many others around Japan who oppose nuclear power. People from all over the world have visited the occupation to show their support and learn about issues surrounding nuclear power post March 11th, including the severe conditions that people in Fukushima continue to face. Currently, women of Fukushima are in the process of a "10 month 10 day" 24-hour sit-in to protest against nuclear power and the government's mismanagement of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster that continues today.

An emergency press conference will be held on January 27th at 1pm at the Japan Federation of Bar Associations' Building, Room 1006. (Access: This will be followed by a demonstration at the tent occupation from 4pm to 6pm, the hours of the eviction deadline. Please email, telephone fax minister Edano and METI ( the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) to retract the eviction order. METI (TEL) +81-3-3501-1609 METI Public Relations (FAX) +81-3-3501-6942. METI Minister Yukio Edano, (TEL) +81-3-3508-7448, (FAX) +81-3-3591-2249. (E-mail) omiya@edano.gr.jp


Who Knew What When? - The Fukushima Saga Continues

© AP Photo
Trade Minister Yukio Edano
Hot on the heels of news that the Japanese government somehow lost its records of its early meetings on the Fukushima disaster comes a leak of a document we previously reported on that outlined a worst-case scenario for the nuclear meltdown that included the evacuation of Tokyo.

The leaked report was obtained by the Associated Press earlier this week and details the recommendations of a team of nuclear experts who concluded "we can not rule out further developments that may lead to an unpredictable situation" and urged the government to prepare for the need to evacuate as many as 35 million people from a region that included Tokyo and its suburbs. Last year, then-Japanese PM Naoto Kan was quoted as saying that the report represented "a crucial moment when I wasn't sure whether Japan could continue to function as a state." Ultimately, he rejected the plan outright and publicly proclaimed that there was no need to prepare for evacuations because it would cause too much chaos.

Lost amidst the leak of this report, however, is the strange drama that unfolded earlier this week when NHK reported that the government's taskforce on the nuclear disaster "did not keep any records of its meetings after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster." As of the writing of this article, the original NHK report has been scrubbed from their website but parts of it have been preserved by the invaluable ENEnews.com.


Cancer Risk To Young Children Near Fukushima Daiichi Underestimated

Fairewinds analyzes cancer rates for young children near Fukushima using the National Academy of Science's BEIR (Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation) VII Report. Based on BEIR VII, Fairewinds determines that at least one in every 100 young girls will develop cancer for every year they are exposed to 20 millisieverts [millisievert (1 mSv = 0.001 Sv)] of radiation. The 20-millisievert/ year figure is what the Japanese government is currently calculating as the legal limit of radiological exposure to allow habitation of contaminated areas near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. In this video, Fairewinds introduces additional analysis by Ian Goddard showing that the BEIR VII report underestimates the true cancer rates to young children living near Fukushima Daiichi. Looking at the scientific data presented by Mr. Goddard, Fairewinds has determined that at least one out of every 20 young girls (5%) living in an area where the radiological exposure is 20 millisieverts for five years will develop cancer in their lifetime.

Cow Skull

University of South Florida study finds more sick fish in oil spill area than rest of Gulf of Mexico

© Steve Murawski, USF - Darla Cameron/Times
A USF survey of the Gulf of Mexico last summer found more sick fish in the area of the 2010 oil spill than in other areas. The dots show areas where fish with skin lesions were found.
A government-funded survey of the entire Gulf of Mexico last summer found more sick fish in the area of the 2010 oil spill than anywhere else, according to the top University of South Florida scientist in charge of the project.

"The area that has the highest frequency of fish diseases is the area where the oil spill was," said Steve Murawski, an oceanographer who previously served as the chief fisheries scientist of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

That doesn't necessarily mean the red snapper and other fish with nasty skin lesions were victims of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, he said. That same area has lots of oil rigs, leaky pipelines and even natural oil vents in the sea floor that could be the source of any contamination that has affected the fish.