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Thu, 29 Sep 2022
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1,000 Innocent Victims of Big Brother Britain

© Daily Mail, UK
Eyes everywhere: David Cameron has called for greater accuracy when 'spying' on supposed suspects.
Almost 1,000 entirely innocent people were wrongly spied upon using anti-terror powers last year following blunders by officials, it emerged last night.

In two shocking cases, two members of the public were arrested and accused of being serious criminals.

Details of phone calls and texts by genuine crime suspects had wrongly been attributed to the pair in a terrible mix-up between police and an internet company.

Sir Paul Kennedy, the Interception of Communications Commissioner, said the mistakes had 'significant consequence' for the victims.

The internet provider involved was slow to report the errors and initially gave unsatisfactory explanations as to how they occurred or what was being done to stop it happening again, Sir Paul said.

He also revealed details of a council going beyond its legal powers to use snooping laws to spy on a family suspected of cheating school catchment area rules.

The council obtained details of phone calls and texts to seek to establish if the family lived where it said, the first known case of a town hall spying on a person's phone records over school catchment areas.

The unnamed council was not acting within the rules, which say officials must be seeking evidence for use in a criminal prosecution. Instead, the council wanted only to withdraw a school place offered to a child in the family.


Civilization unravel: Belfast explodes in new wave of rioting and violence - history repeat?

A night of serious rioting after rival Protestant and Catholic parades were allowed to go ahead within hours of each other in the nationalist Ardoyne district of north Belfast has left 20 police officers injured.

The chairman of the Northern Ireland Parades Commission has defended the decision to allow to parades to take place.

The Commission was established to adjudicate on contentious marches, and even though there has been major trouble at this particular Catholic/Protestant flashpoint every year for over a decade, the chairman Peter Osborne said given the circumstances, the rulings were correct.


Frog Wedding Breaks the Drought

Frog Wedding
Hopping for rain: An Indian village has held a marriage ceremony for two frogs, in hopes that the ceremony will bring some much-needed monsoon rain.
A frog couple have been joined in holy Hindu matrimony by Indian villagers hoping the custom will bring rain.

With five priests chanting scriptures, a frog groom named Punarvasu and his amphibian bride Pushala were married by villagers hoping to summon monsoon rains to their drought-stricken district.

Organiser Nandkumar Pawar says thousands of people gathered on Thursday in a massive tent in Patkhal village for the lavish wedding banquet.

He said on Saturday that the frogs were decorated with flowers and smeared with turmeric, a holy and auspicious ointment. A brass band played Bollywood film songs while the priests blessed the frogs.

The region in Maharashtra state is 400km southeast of Mumbai, India's financial capital.

Frog weddings are practiced in some parts of India and other areas of South Asia.


Egyptian Politician Urges Resumption of Ties with Iran

© Fars News
A senior Egyptian politician underscored the Iranian and Egyptian nations' abundant commonalities, and called for the resumption of relations between Tehran and Cairo.

"Iran is one of the third world countries like Egypt and we should cooperate with other countries, including Iran, regardless of religious differences," member of the secretariat of Egypt's popular socialist coalition party and deputy head of the country's al-Tajmee' party Anis al-Beya' told FNA on Saturday.

In relevant remarks last month, Egyptian new President Mohammad Mursi also underlined his enthusiasm for the further expansion of ties with Iran, and said relations between Tehran and Cairo will create a strategic balance in the region.

"The issue will create a strategic balance in the region," Mursi told FNA in June, hours before the final results of the presidential election was announced.

Earlier this month, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Mursi, in their first telephone conversation, conferred on the two Muslim countries' ties and the upcoming summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Tehran.

President Ahmadinejad said Tehran welcomes close interactions with the Egyptian government and nation, and attaches no limitations to the expansion of ties and cooperation with Cairo.

Ahmadinejad expressed Iran's preparedness to transfer capabilities, achievements and experiences in various scientific, technological, industrial and economic fields to the Egyptian people.

He also invited Egypt's first democratically-elected president to participate in the NAM summit.


Cannibal Cult Ate Brains and Made Unmentionable Soup, Papua New Guinea Police Say

Canberra, Australia -- Authorities have arrested 29 people accused of being part of a cannibal cult in Papua New Guinea's jungle interior and charged them with the murders of seven suspected witch doctors, police said Friday.

Madang Police Commander Anthony Wagambie confirmed a report in The National newspaper that said the cult members allegedly ate their victims' brains raw and made soup from their penises.

"They don't think they've done anything wrong; they admit what they've done openly," Wagambie told The Associated Press by telephone.

He said the killers believed that their victims practiced "sanguma," or sorcery, and that they had been extorting money as well as demanding sex from poor villagers for their supernatural services.

By eating witch doctors' organs, the cult members believed they would attain supernatural powers and literally become bullet-proof, he said.

"It's prevalent cult activity," Wagambie said. He said he believes there could be between 700 and 1,000 cult members in several villages in Papua New Guinea's remote northeast interior. All of them might have eaten human flesh, he said.


Thousands lose electric power in U.S. northeast as substation goes down in fire

Salina, NY -- Thousands of National Grid customers were in the dark during a major power outage on Friday. The outage had the greatest affect on customers in Syracuse and Salina, and was sparked by a fire at a National Grid substation in Liverpool. The substation caught fire around 12:30am on Friday.

A National Grid spokesperson says the fire is believed to be specifically caused by bushlings, which allow energey to pass between pieces of equipment and are a vital component of substations.


Students sue school district for violating their 'right to read'

© Unknown
Students are suing the state of Michigan and their Detroit-area school district for violating their "right to read."

The class-action lawsuit appears to be the first of its kind, and potentially signals a new wave of civil rights litigation in the United States to enforce laws intended to boost academic achievement, education law experts say.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed what it has dubbed the "right to read" lawsuit on behalf of the nearly 1,000 students in the impoverished district.

Two-thirds of 4th-graders and three-quarters of 7th-graders in the Highland Park school district are not proficient on state reading tests; 90 percent of 12th-graders fail the reading portion of the final state test administered in high school, according to the complaint. Nearly 100 percent of the district's students are African-American.

"A child who cannot read will be disenfranchised in our society and economy for a lifetime," said ACLU of Michigan executive director Kary Moss in a written statement explaining the case. The lawsuit follows a "careful process of investigation that has made clear that none of those [education officials] charged with the care of these children ... have done their jobs."

One of the plaintiffs is a student referred to as S.D. An 8th-grader who has been in the district since 1st grade, his reading proficiency level is at a 3rd-grade level at best, the complaint alleges. Yet he "has never received any individualized reading intervention or remedial instruction from an adult" in the district.


Obama campaign staffer dies after collapsing at Chicago HQ

© Unknown
Washington, July 13, 2012 (Reuters) - A 29-year-old staffer working for President Barack Obama's re-election died on Friday after collapsing at the Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago, campaign officials said.

There was no immediate word on the cause of death.

Alex Okrent had worked with the Obama team since 2004. The president, who was campaigning in Virginia ahead of the November 6 election, called Okrent's family to express his condolences and also spoke with other campaign staffers in a conference call.


Researcher Questions a Second Psychologist's Suspect Data

Lawrence Sanna departed University of Michigan amid questions over his work from 'data detective' Uri Simonsohn.

Uri Simonsohn, the researcher who flagged up questionable data in studies by social psychologist Dirk Smeesters, has revealed the name of a second social psychologist whose data he believes to be suspiciously perfect.

That researcher is Lawrence Sanna, whose former employer, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, tells Simonsohn that he resigned his professorship there at the end of May. The reasons for Sanna's resignation are not known, but it followed questions from Simonsohn and a review by Sanna's previous institution, the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill (UNC). According to the editor of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Sanna has also asked that three of his papers be retracted from the journal.

In both Smeesters' and Sanna's work, odd statistical patterns in the data raised concerns with Simonsohn, at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. But the similarity between the cases ends there. Smeesters' resignation was announced on 25 June by his institution, Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands, which undertook a review and concluded that two of his papers should be retracted. Sanna's resignation, by contrast, remains mysterious: UNC did not release the results of its review, and the University of Michigan will not explain why Sanna resigned.


Homeland Security Given Emergency Internet Control in Obama's New Executive Order

Department of Homeland Security
© Department of Homeland Security
A new executive order addresses how the country deals with the Internet during natural disasters and security emergencies, but it also puts a lot of power in the government's hands.

President Barack Obama signed an executive order last week that could give the U.S. government control over the Internet.

With the wordy title "Assignment of National Security and Emergency Preparedness Communications Functions," this order was designed to empower certain governmental agencies with control over telecommunications and the Web during natural disasters and security emergencies.