Society's ChildS

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Over 700,000 people on US watch list: and once you get on, there's no way off

© AFP Photo / Saul LoebA US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent checks the identification and boarding pass of a passenger as she passes through security in the terminal at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia

The names of nearly three-quarters of a million individuals have been secretly added to watch lists administered by the United States government, but federal officials are adamant about keeping information about these rosters under wraps.

A report by the New York Times' Susan Stellin published over the weekend attempted to shine much-deserved light on an otherwise largely unexposed program of federal watch lists, but details about these directories - including the names of individuals on them and what they did to get there - remain as elusive as ever.

More than 12 years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, federal agencies continue to keep lists on hand containing names of individuals of interest: people who often end up un-cleared to enter or exit the US due to an array of activity that could be considered suspicious or terrorist-related to government officials.

In 2008, the American Civil Liberties Union claimed that an Inspector General of the Department of Justice report found at least 700,000 individual names on the database maintained by the Terrorist Screening Center, the Federal Bureau of Investigation sub-office tasked with overseeing the "single database of identifying information about those known or reasonably suspected of being involved in terrorist activity." Five years later, that number of suspicious persons is reportedly close to what it was at the time. Half-a-decade down the road, however, Americans and foreign nationals who end up on the government's radar are offered little chance to find out how they ended there, or even file an appeal.

According to some, that's just the start of what's wrong with these lists.

"If you've done the paperwork correctly, then you can effectively enter someone onto the watch list," SUNY Buffalo Law School associate professor Anya Bernstein told Stellin for this weekend's report. What's more, though, according to Bernstein, is that "There's no indication that agencies undertake any kind of regular retrospective review to assess how good they are at predicting the conduct they're targeting," suggesting that anyone can be targeted and added to such a list with little oversight to protect them.

"When you have a huge list of people who are likely to commit terrorist acts, it's easy to think that terrorism is a really big problem and we should be devoting a lot of resources to fighting it," Bernstein added. With almost no transparency and outrages aplenty, though, she argues that the government's watch lists are largely flawed and can erroneously ruin an innocent person's life.


'Fast and Furious' star Paul Walker killed in fiery car crash

© AFP/File, Leon NealUS actor Paul Walker arrives at the world premiere of "Fast and Furious 6" at the Empire cinema in Leicester Square in central London on May 7, 2013
Actor Paul Walker, best known for starring in the "Fast and Furious" film franchise, was one of two people killed Saturday in a single-vehicle crash in Santa Clarita.

Walker was 40.

Walker was a passenger in the red 2005 Porsche Carrera GT that crashed into a tree and then a light pole before bursting into flames.

Authorities said the crash occurred around 3:30 p.m. in the 28300 block of Rye Canyon Loop in Valencia.

Officials said when deputies arrived at the scene, they found the vehicle fully engulfed in flames.

After the Los Angeles County Fire Department extinguished the blaze, two victims were found inside. Both Walker and the other passenger were declared dead at the scene.

Saturday evening, the actor's Twitter and Facebook accounts confirmed his death.

KCAL9′s Cristy Fajardo said that friends heard the crash and tried to put out the flames.


Alleged 'Dissident IRA members' force innocent driver to park car-bomb in Belfast shopping center

Irish bomb squad
© BreakingNews.ieAn innocent driver was forced to drive a 130-pound bomb to the car park of the Victoria Shopping Center in the center of Belfast. The bomb failed to detonate.
Dissident IRA members forced an innocent driver to carry a loaded bomb in his car into the car park of a major Belfast shopping center on Sunday night.

The detonator on the 130-pound bomb, contained in a keg, exploded as bomb disposal experts approached in the car park of the Victoria Shopping Center, but it failed to trigger the main explosion which would have caused wide devastation and death said police.

The driver had been stopped at gunpoint in the nationalist Ardoyne area earlier by masked men in boiler suits who threatened him and told him to drive the car with the explosives to the center.

Comment: We find it VERY interesting that this happens right after BBC did an expose (of sorts, there's not actually anything new to learn for those who already know the score about what the British government has been doing in Ireland) on the British 'military reaction force' driving around pretending to be terrorists in the 70s and 80s. We suspect that if this bomb had gone off we'd be hearing that it was a 'suicide car bomb', precisely what UK and US military intelligence were doing in Iraq. Kitson's 'pseudo-gangs' are alive and well.

For a more accurate history of British involvement in the north of Ireland, read this.


How truth can fuel democracy

truth o'clock
© Can Stock Photo
The following is the text of the address I made to the Seek, Speak and Spread Truth Conference in London yesterday, 23 November. Its main thrust is about the need for citizens to become politically engaged to make democracy work (before it's as dead as the two-state solution for Israel-Palestine) in order for our children and grandchildren to have the real prospect of a future worth having.

I want to start with a promise. I won't be disturbed and you won't be disturbed by my mobile 'phone because I don't have one. I have thrown mine away because I am trying to stay human.

That said I'll give you my one-sentence overview of the state of affairs on our small, fragile, endangered planet. Modern life is a de-humanizing process which has reduced us, most of us, to units of consumption, digits in corporate computers, figures on accountants' balance sheets.

What this suggests to me is that the prime task for each and every one of us is to claim back our humanity. I'll be offering some thoughts on how we can do this, but first of all we have to address what I consider to be THE most important of all questions - the question of human nature.

What, really, is the quality of it?


Gulag! America has more prisoners than high school teachers and engineers


If sitting in a prison cell was a job, it would be one of the most common jobs in the United States. In 2012, there were some 1,570,000 inmates in state and federal prisons in the U.S., according to data from the Justice Department.

By contrast, there were about 1,530,000 engineers in America last year, 815,000 construction workers, and 1 million high school teachers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There were also 750,000 car technicians.

Bizarro Earth

Flashback Wal-Mart worker dies in rush; two killed at toy store

A woman sits outside the Toys "R" Us after Friday morning's shooting.
Three violent deaths in two stores marred the opening of the Christmas shopping season Friday.

In the first, a temporary Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death in a rush of thousands of early morning shoppers as he and other employees attempted to unlock the doors of a Long Island, New York, store at 5 a.m., police said.

In the second, unrelated incident, two men were shot dead in a Toys "R" Us in Palm Desert, California, after they argued in the store, police said. The toy company and authorities said the California shootings had nothing to do with shopping on Black Friday, which is historically one of the year's busiest shopping days. The Wal-Mart worker, whom authorities did not identify, was 34 and lived in Queens, said Nassau County police Detective Lt. Michael Fleming.

"This was utter chaos as these men tried to open the door this morning," Fleming said.


Exiled Tibetans start move to Canada under resettlement plan

© Tom Hanson/Canadian PressPrime Minister Stephen Harper thanks the Dalai Lama after exchanging Katas in Ottawa on Oct. 29, 2007. The first group of exiled Tibetans to immigrate to Canada under a federal resettlement program will arrive in Ottawa and Toronto on Friday.
Up to 1,000 exiled Tibetans are moving to Canada as part of federal program

The first group of Tibetans to relocate to Canada under a new federal program arrived by plane in Ottawa and Toronto on Friday.

When they met in 2007, Tibet's spiritual leader in exile, the Dalai Lama, appealed to Prime Minister Stephen Harper for Canada to invite in more Tibetan exiles. That meeting prompted a rebuke from the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa.

Three years later, Jason Kenney, the immigration minister at the time, announced that Canada would take in as many as 1,000 Tibetans living in exile in the northern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.

There are 17 people in the initial group that was to arrive on Friday, said Nima Dorjee, president of the Project Tibet Society, which is managing the five-year project.

By mid-2014, about 200 Tibetans will have moved to Canada under the plan, Dorjee said. Most will settle in the Toronto area, Ottawa, Calgary, B.C's Lower Mainland or on Vancouver Island.

Dollar Gold

Noam Chomsky: Modern universities designed to 'deprive you of your freedom'

The World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) released an interview with Noam Chomsky recently in which the noted linguist discussed, among other things, how high student tuition indoctrinates students into corporate culture.

"There's no economic basis for high tuitions," Chomsky said. "One of the very negative aspects of this sharp tuition rise is that it entraps students. It deprives them of their freedom."

Chomsky explained that "if you're going to come out of college with $50,000 of debt, you're stuck. You couldn't do the things you wanted to do, like maybe you wanted to become a public interest lawyer, helping poor people. You can't do it - you have to go to a corporate law firm, pay off your debt. Then you get trapped in that."

Bizarro Earth

Psych student dies of drug OD while celebrating new job aiding drug users

A 27-year-old woman in England who was in training to be a psychologist and had already published articles in a medical journal, died of a drug overdose while she was celebrating her new job - working with drug users.

A coroner's inquest in South Manchester found this week that in July, Jennifer Whiteley had nine different drugs in her system, including a so-called "legal high" known as Benzo Fury, when she broke into profuse sweats and collapsed with a rapid heartbeat at her parents' home in Greater Manchester while partying with her 29-year-old boyfriend, Andrew Tunnah.

In addition to ingesting Benzo Fury - and amphetamine-like "designer drug" which Whiteley reportedly purchased over the internet before it was outlawed in the U.K. - she had been drinking vodka and snorting cocaine.

The day before, she was offered a job with a division of Britain's National Health Service - the country's government-run health care system - where she would help patients who abused drugs and also those who suffered from depression.


Dozens hospitalized in Las Vegas with mystery illness

© Lightspring / Shutterstock
Dozens of children and adults who are in Las Vegas for the National Youth Football Championships have been hospitalized after coming down with a mystery illness.

The mystery disease shows flu-like symptoms, including vomiting. ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser says "norovirus" may be the cause.

"Norovirus is the largest cause of outbreaks of gastroenteritis stomach flu in the United States-- 20 million cases a year," Dr. Besser said. "This is the peak season."

"It's one of the nastiest germs around, 'cause it spreads from person to person through contact. It spreads through food, and also spreads from contaminated surfaces, so it's one of the most contagious ones we see," Besser said.