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Iran: World nukes greatest threat to world

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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says nuclear weapons have posed "the single greatest threat" to the world for more than sixty years.

Before embarking on his trip to New York early on Sunday, Ahmadinejad told reporters that the possession of an atomic bomb has become "an instrument to serve the hegemonic and expansionist interests of a select few."

"Under the pretext of nuclear non-proliferation, certain countries exert political pressure on those merely seeking to pursue peaceful enrichment activities," said the Iranian president.

Ahmadinejad added that Iran has some practical proposals with regards to reviewing the 40-year-old Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which should be considered by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Bizarro Earth

Chinese city goes on defense after school attack

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© AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen
People gather outside the Zhongxin Kindergarten in Taixing, China
A Chinese city shaken by one of three back-to-back attacks on schools stepped up security and urged its citizens to "trust the government" Saturday, a day after parents of the injured children protested outside a local hospital.

A dozen police and security guards patrolled the lobby of the Taixing city People's Hospital the morning after marching parents chanted "We want the truth," asked to see their children and demanded a better government response to the crisis. Photos and video posted online showed hundreds of people massed outside the hospital Friday night, pushing so hard to get in that they shattered a glass door.

The school attack in Taixing came Thursday when a 47-year-old unemployed man armed with an 8-inch (20-centimeter) knife wounded 29 students aged 4 or 5 - five of them seriously - plus two teachers and a security guard.

Question

Creating deliberate "climate of distrust": Theories abound on Polish president's death

Lech Kaczynski

Lech Kaczynski
Investigators are poring over the data and voice recordings from the black boxes of the Polish Tu-154 airliner which crashed on April 10 killing Lech Kaczynski, the president, near the Russian city of Smolensk, but the accident is rapidly gaining mythic status in Poland, which may influence Polish politics and harm the recent warming in Polish-Russian relations.

Earlier this week investigators said they were pursuing four lines of investigation: a technical problem with the Russian-built airliner, pilot error, a mistake by air traffic controllers, and a terrorist attack or pressure on the pilots to land despite poor conditions. Andrzej Seremet, Poland's chief prosecutor, specifically excluded "fantastic" theories of why the aeroplane came down.

Chess

Result of the Manufactured Volcano Crisis: Europe to Fast-Track Single Sky, Compensate Airlines

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© Ian Britton / FreeFoto.com
The closure of European airspace due to the volcanic eruption in Iceland has cost the aviation industry between 1.5 billion and 2.5 billion euros (about US$1.7 billion), the European commissioner responsible for transport said Tuesday.

Vice-President Siim Kallas said, "The Commission considers that the exceptional circumstances of recent days may justify support measures to offset losses incurred," as long as compensation is granted on the basis of uniform criteria established at European level.

The International Air Transport Association applauded the announcement. "Airlines lost revenues of US$1.7 billion in just six days, with the greatest impact on European carriers," said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's director general and CEO. "These urgent measures will provide much needed assistance to airlines at a time when their financial resources are stretched."

Question

Another man stabs more children at another Chinese nursery school

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© China Daily/Reuters
Chinese residents stand outside the kindergarten where a man injured 25 children and two adults in a knife attack in Taixing, Jiangsu province.
25 pupils injured in knife attack in Jiangsu province, the third targeting children in just over a month

Two young children and three adults are critically ill and 23 other pupils injured after a man burst into a nursery in east China and stabbed them this morning in the third such attack in just over a month.

Most of the victims were only four years old, said officials in Jiangsu province. A security guard was badly hurt as he attempted to stop the man and two teachers were injured.

Police detained a 47-year-old suspect, Xu Yuyuan, officials in Taixing city said. They told a press conference that his motive was unclear.

The assault came one day after a knife-wielding man injured 16 pupils and a teacher at a southern Chinese primary school in Leizhou city, Guangdong. The suspect being held is a teacher from another school who was reportedly on sick leave due to mental health problems. A hospital official has told Xinhua that five of his victims were seriously injured but stable. There are fears that reports are sparking copycat attacks.

Nuke

Iran a Threat? I Mean, Really?

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With all the current hype about the "threat" from Iran, it is time to review the record -- and especially the significant bits and pieces that find neither ink nor air in our Israel-friendly, Fawning Corporate Media (FCM).

First, on the chance you missed it, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said publicly that Iran "doesn't directly threaten the United States." Her momentary lapse came while answering a question at the U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha, Qatar, on Feb. 14.

Fortunately for her, most of her FCM fellow travelers must have been either jet-lagged or sunning themselves poolside when she made her unusual admission. And those who were present did Clinton the favor of disappearing her gaffe and ignoring its significance. (All one happy traveling family, you know.)

USA

The Scandal of PG&E's New Meters

PG&E has been installing what they call "Smartmeters", which broadcast readings of a residence's power usage to PG&E, so that they won't need meter-readers any more. This will give them hourly information on private electric power usage. PG&E has not said why they need this kind of information, except to suggest it is for its customers own good (self-monitoring). But these new meters are a total scandal.

The scandal first emerged in the form of billing increases. Some people's bills came back double, triple, even quadruple their normal charges after the meters were installed. This has been so upsetting that, to date, four cities have instituted or are formulating moratoriums on the installation of these meters until their many problems can be resolved. What are these problems?

These meters have never been tested for accuracy.

They have not been tested for accuracy by either PG&E and the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Both simply took the manufacturer's word for it. Because of the uproar, the PUC has actually contracted with the "Structure Group" (a utility consultant in Houston, Texas) to test the meters. Though this should have halted their installation, it didn't. It is the variability in the inaccuracies that points to the problem. If the inaccuracy had been uniform, it could have been corrected centrally by PG&E. But some report usage that is double or triple a house's average, resulting in grossly elevated billing charges, while others report usage that accords with former averages. It signifies that the problem is in the manufacture of the meters.

Funding for these meters is coming from federal economic recovery moneys.

One of the benefits that PG&E will receive from these meters is that they can then dispense with all their meter-readers. They are receiving subsidies from the federal government for this meter replacement program as part of its economic recovery program. But recovery means giving people jobs so that they can earn an income, not laying more people off. PG&E is receiving recovery funds and using them against recovery.

Bizarro Earth

Airlines, European officials urge end to flight restrictions as global transport chaos grows

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© Marco Fulle
London - Civil aviation authorities in Europe came under heavy pressure Sunday to ease flight restrictions as airlines and government officials sought to limit the economic fallout from a crisis that is disrupting the global trade in goods as varied as precious gems and tropical fruit.

Airlines, which have suffered billions of dollars in uninsured losses, said test flights over Europe indicated that the ash emanating from an Icelandic volcano had cleared in some areas and suggested that aviation officials overreacted to the threat posed to jet engines. The European Union's transportation commissioner, meanwhile, called for an easing of the travel bans, which have grounded an estimated 63,000 flights since Thursday.

Despite such pleas, the decision on when to reopen the skies rests with national aviation authorities, and some -- including those in Britain -- extended near-absolute flight restrictions until at least late Monday.

Padlock

Airlines say Eurocontrol is over-reacting to Icelandic volcano eruption, "not an unprecendented event"

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© Marco Fulle, courtesy of Stromboli Online
This plane clearly had no problem circling the eruption
Europe's air industry has called for an urgent review of flight bans imposed because of volcanic ash from Iceland.

The bodies representing most European airlines and airports have questioned the need for the unprecedented curbs, which affect millions of travellers.

Airlines that have carried out test flights say planes showed no obvious damage after flying through the ash.

EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said he hoped 50% of Europe's airspace would be risk-free on Monday.

He said the current situation was "not sustainable" and European authorities were working to find a solution that did not compromise safety.

"We cannot just wait until this ash cloud dissipates," he added.

Mr Kallas also said EU transport ministers would hold a video teleconference on Monday to assess the situation. About 17 European countries have closed their airspace.

The flight bans came amid fears that the ash - a mixture of glass, sand and rock particles - can seriously damage aircraft engines. Airlines are estimated to be losing some £130m ($200m) a day.

Bad Guys

Airport Security is a Racket: The Naked Scanner Industrial Complex

Airport security is a racket
© SOTT.net
Airport Security is a Racket!
}We are a world at war. Not wars against nations as US Major General Smedley Darlington Butler was referring to when he wrote War is a Racket in 1935. Our war is a never-ending perpetual War Against Terror™, a phrase repeated ad nauseum by the Bush administration since 9/11, where you were either with the Neocons or "you were with the terrorists". Stasi-like draconian surveillance has merged with cutting edge technology to watch, catalog, record the movements, interactions, behavior, communications and interests of every citizen. In this world of precrime we are now treated as if we are potential terrorists. Whether it be a domestic extremist or a radicalized dissenter, there is a phantom enemy in our midst that is only revealed to the world when it enters the duty-free zone at airports. Where trenches marked the front-lines of wars in the past, the front-line in today's perpetual war is the airport boarding gate.

A multi-billion dollar industry has spawned surveillance and security systems with a supporting army of guards, agents, supervisors and security personnel. They keep us in line and keep us safe from the omnipresent threat of an ubiquitous, all-pervasive mythical terror. Thrust at us by a compliant media are over-hyped and sensationalized reports, hysterical speeches and horrifying attacks that almost very nearly happen or, as we are told, WILL happen, sometime soon, and are all so big and so scary that you must place your water bottle in the bin and take your shoes off to survive. It's all designed to paralyze our senses and reduce us to strip-searched carcasses as we sleepwalk along the travelators through naked scanners...

Airport security is a racket. It always has been.