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Council of Europe calls for WHO flu handling probe

Council of Europe calls for WHO flu handling probe 24 Jun 2010 The Council of Europe called Thursday for a probe into the World Health Organisation's handling of the H1N1 swine flu outbreak, which it said led to unjustified scares and waste of public money. A council parliamentary assembly identified "grave shortcomings" about WHO transparency about its position on the flu, "generating concerns about the influence of the pharmaceutical industry on decisions taken," a statement said. The session adopted a text that says there was "overwhelming evidence that the seriousness of the pandemic was vastly overrated by WHO". Paul Flynn, British author of a report endorsed by the assembly, told the session that the WHO's June 11, 2009 declaration of a H1N1 pandemic had enabled the pharmaceutical industry to reap large profits.

Source: N.Korea set no-sail zones off west coast

Source: N.Korea set no-sail zones off west coast 25 Jun 2010 A South Korean official says North Korea banned boats off its west coast though no unusual military movement has been detected. The official with the Joint Chiefs of Staff also said Friday that South Korea is closely monitoring the North's military. He declined to give further details and asked not be named as the matter involves military intelligence.

Vast amounts of methane in Gulf spill pose threat

Vast amounts of methane in Gulf spill pose threat 18 Jun 2010 Vast amounts of natural gas contained in crude escaping from the blown Gulf of Mexico oil well could pose a serious threat to marine life by creating "dead zones" where oxygen is so depleted that nothing lives... At least 4.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas -- and possibly almost twice that amount -- have leaked since April 20. That's based on estimates from the U.S. Geological Survey's "flow team" that 2,900 cubic feet of natural gas are escaping for every barrel of oil. "This is the most vigorous methane eruption in modern human history," said John Kessler, a Texas A&M University oceanographer.

Attacks targeting Iraqi forces kill at least 10

Attacks targeting Iraqi forces kill at least 10 24 Jun 2010 A spate of attacks targeting Iraqi security forces and their allies killed at least 10 people on Thursday, half in suicide bombings in the northern city of Mosul, officials said. The worst of Thursday's violence came at a police checkpoint in the western al-Shefah neighborhood in Mosul, a city long considered 'al-Qaida's' last stronghold in Iraq.

Homeland Security to use drones along border

Homeland Security to use drones along border 24 Jun 2010 The Homeland Security Department will use unmanned surveillance aircraft and other technological upgrades in its ongoing effort to 'protect' the southern border of the United States. The department said Wednesday it has obtained Federal Aviation Administration permission to operate unmanned planes along the Texas border and throughout the Gulf Coast region. Customs and Border Protection will base a surveillance drone at the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station in Texas.

Police questioning in G20 zone leads to complaints

Police questioning in G20 zone leads to complaints 24 Jun 2010 There were signs of mounting tension between police and protesters Thursday afternoon as uniformed officers continued to question people walking through Toronto's so-called security zone ahead of the G20 summit... Const. Tim Garland, spokesperson for the Integrated Security Unit, said a regulation had passed giving police authority to question anybody coming into the restricted zone from June 14 until June 28, the day after the summits are scheduled to end.

Man with astonishing array of weapons is arrested near G20 summit in Toronto

Man with astonishing array of weapons including crossbow and chainsaw is arrested near G20 summit in Toronto 25 Jun 2010  This is the chilling array of weapons that were found in a car just a block from where David Cameron is meeting with world leaders including Barack Obama at tomorrow's G20 summit in Toronto. The car was loaded down with dangerous tools ranging from a chainsaw, crossbow, baseball bat, petrol containers, a sledgehammer and a hatchet. Its owner, a 53-year-old man, was arrested last night. Police said he had 'no reasonable explanation for the weapons that we observed were in physical plain view'.

Supreme Court decision casts doubt on former Enron CEO's conviction

Supreme Court decision casts doubt on former Enron CEO's conviction 25 Jun 2010 The Supreme Court on Thursday gutted one of federal prosecutors' favorite tools for pursuing corrupt politicians and self-dealing corporate chiefs, casting doubt on the convictions of two prominent executives snared by the law: former Enron chief executive Jeffrey K. Skilling and newspaper magnate Conrad Black. All nine justices said prosecutors have stretched too far a federal statute that makes it a crime to deprive the public or a company of the "intangible right of honest services."

CIA hires notorious Xe in Afghanistan

CIA hires notorious Xe in Afghanistan 24 Jun 2010 A report indicates that the US has hired a notorious private security contractor terrorist group to guard its facilities in Afghanistan and elsewhere despite Washington's rejection of the claim. An unnamed source told the Washington Post on Thursday the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) signed a USD 100 million contract with Xe Services, formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide. "It's for protective services... guard services, in multiple regions," the source said.

Illegal Sarah Palin defense fund must give back donations

Illegal Sarah Palin defense fund must give back donations 24 Jun 2010 A legal defense fund for former [Half] Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was illegal and must repay nearly $400,000 to donors, according to a settlement with a state-appointed lawyer announced on Thursday. While governor, Palin faced some two dozen ethics complaints, which she said left her with a legal bill of more than $500,000. Her political action committee raised a fund to pay for her defense.

Multiple G20 security arrests in Toronto

Multiple G20 security arrests in Toronto 24 Jun 2010 Canadian police made a third arrest on weapons charges in Toronto Thursday as the city gears up for this weekend's G20 summit. An suspect whose name was not reported was arrested Thursday near the site of the summit with five gas cans, pellet guns, a crossbow and explosives in his car, CNN reported... Two others were arrested this week on explosives charges.

Republicans kill Senate jobless aid measure

Republicans kill Senate jobless aid measure 24 Jun 2010 Republicans on Thursday defeated Democrats' showcase election-year jobs bill, including an extension of weekly unemployment benefits for millions of people out of work more than six months. The 57-41 vote fell three votes short of the 60 required to crack a GOP filibuster, delivering a major blow to President Barack Obama and Democrats... The rejected bill would have provided $16 billion in new aid to states, preserving the jobs of thousands of state and local government workers and providing what White House officials called an insurance policy against a double-dip recession Bush depression.

Ice Bear Project

Ice Bear Project (WWF-Canada) 24 Jun 2010 The Ice Bear, a life-sized polar bear sculpture carved from 10 tonnes of ice covering a 500 kg bronze skeleton, will be displayed in downtown Toronto on June 25 and 26, in time for the G20 Summit. The Ice Bear is intended to raise public awareness about the need for political leadership on climate change. The sculpture will slowly melt over the weekend to reveal its bronze skeleton.

Miles of oil washing up in Florida Panhandle

Miles of oil washing up in Florida Panhandle --Pensacola Beach got the worst wallop so far in Florida from the spreading Gulf of Mexico slick, with eight miles of sticky oil arriving on the area's pristine sands. 23 Jun 2010 The worst blow yet to the Florida coastline from the growing oil spill struck Wednesday in an eight-mile line of thick, sticky goo that stained the pristine sands of this Panhandle community. Workers spent the day raking up the chocolate-brown oil mats and tar patches that washed ashore, and the state ordered road graders to lift the gunk from the once-white beaches.

Green Party blocked from Texas ballot

Green Party blocked from Texas ballot 24 Jun 2010 Gov. Rick Perry's close friend and former chief of staff tried to help Green Party candidates get on the general election ballot this fall as part of a larger effort by outside groups that state District Judge John Dietz declared "an unauthorized, illegal contribution" Thursday. The judge granted the Democratic Party a temporary restraining order to block Green Party candidates from being certified for the November ballot. Democrats contended that a petition drive to put Green candidates on the ballot was actually an effort to help Perry, a Republican, by diverting votes from his Democratic challenger Bill White.

Judge refuses to delay ruling on Gulf drilling ban

Judge refuses to delay ruling on Gulf drilling ban --Judge's 2008 financial disclosure shows holdings in at least eight petroleum companies or funds that invest in them, including Transocean Ltd., which owned the Deepwater Horizon 24 Jun 2010 A federal judge who overturned a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling imposed after the Gulf oil spill refused Thursday to put his ruling on hold while the government appeals. The Justice Department had asked U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman to delay his ruling until the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans can review it. Feldman rejected that request Thursday.

Airline: Arrest threatened if Conn. plane unloaded

Airline: Arrest threatened if Conn. plane unloaded 24 Jun 2010 The pilot on a Virgin Atlantic flight that spent several hours on the tarmac after being diverted to Connecticut had asked for permission to let the passengers get off the plane, but a customs official threatened to have them arrested if they did, the airline said Thursday. Customs officials denied the airline's allegation. The trans-Atlantic flight's captain was told by a customs official at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks that passengers couldn't get off the plane until more immigration officials arrived, Greg Dawson, an airline spokesman in London, said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

5 Americans convicted of terror charges in Pakistan

5 Americans convicted of terror charges in Pakistan 24 Jun 2010 A Pakistani court convicted five young American Muslim men of terrorism charges Thursday and sentenced each to 10 years in jail, but the defendants said they had been tortured and framed by local police. The court found the men, all from the Washington, D.C., area, guilty of plotting attacks in Pakistan and providing money to a terrorist organization, lawyers said. The five men, none of whom had a criminal record, were accused of contacting an extremist linked to al-Qaida [al-CIAduh] over the Internet, who lured them to Pakistan.

Army Revokes Punishments in Wanat Firefight

Army Revokes Punishments in Wanat Firefight 24 Jun 2010 The Army has reversed a decision to punish three officers for command failures that led to one of the deadliest firefights for U.S. forces since the Afghanistan war began nearly a decade ago. Families of the Soldiers killed during the battle said they were briefed Wednesday by Army officials on their call not to reprimand the officers for dereliction of duty. They were told punishing the three would have a chilling effect on other battlefield commanders who have to make crucial decisions.

Call for reform of stop and search powers

Call for reform of stop and search powers --Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, has been ruled unlawful by the European court of human rights 24 Jun 2010 Police will need fresh powers enabling them to stop and search people at the Olympics opening ceremony, and in other sensitive circumstances, the government's independent adviser on terrorism law is expected to warn today. Lord Carlile... will argue that a replacement is needed for section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, which has been ruled unlawful by the European court of human rights. That section, which allows officers to stop and search people without grounds for suspicion, has been at the heart of disputes between civil rights lawyers and ministers.

Organisers of aid flotilla will sue Israel

Organisers of aid flotilla will sue Israel 24 Jun 2010 The organisers of a flotilla which was unable to reach Gaza in late May due to an Israeli blockade are planning to file a lawsuit with the International Court of Justice in The Hague. The lawsuit against the State of Israel and officials responsible for the raid will be run by lawyers who will collect evidence and testimonies from the passengers who were onboard the ships.

U.S. scores dead last again in healthcare study

U.S. scores dead last again in healthcare study 24 Jun 2010 Americans spend twice as much as residents of other developed countries on healthcare, but get lower quality, less efficiency and have the least equitable system, according to a report released on Wednesday. The United States ranked last when compared to six other countries -- Britain, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand, the Commonwealth Fund report found.

Supreme Court ruling weakens anti-corruption law

Supreme Court ruling weakens anti-corruption law --If there's no bribe or kickback, fraud involving 'honest services' isn't a crime, justices rule. Jeffrey Skilling and former newspaper magnate Conrad Black were wrongfully convicted on that charge, the court says. 24 Jun 2010 A Supreme Court ruling Thursday dealt a severe blow to legislation meant to fight public corruption and also could affect the recent convictions of former Enron chief Jeffrey Skilling and former newspaper magnate Conrad Black. In ruling on "honest-services fraud," the justices said Skilling and Black were wrongly convicted on that charge. All nine justices agreed that such fraud was too vague to constitute a crime unless a bribe or kickback was involved.

U.S. sending aerial drone to Texas border

U.S. sending aerial drone to Texas border 24 Jun 2010 The Obama administration announced Wednesday that it will station an aerial drone in Texas as part of its stepped-up surveillance of criminal trafficking along the Mexican border. Federal authorities also have signed an agreement to allow local police from non-border communities to temporarily "deploy" to the border region to assist with security, said Janet Napolitano, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

Pakistan Wants Life in Jail for U.S. Citizens at Terror Trial

Pakistan Wants Life in Jail for U.S. Citizens at Terror Trial 24 Jun 2010  Pakistani prosecutors will push for five Americans charged with terrorism offenses to be sent to jail for life if they are found guilty today. The U.S. citizens, aged 19 to 25 at the time of their arrest, have been on trial since being detained in December on charges they sought terrorist training from Taliban guerrillas in militant strongholds near the border with Afghanistan.

Israel faces new war crime headache

Israel faces new war crime headache 24 Jun 2010 Israeli leaders are facing more legal action from rights activists who are filing new lawsuits in connection with Israel's war crimes against Palestinians in Gaza. Two Belgian lawyers filed an indictment on Wednesday on behalf of more than a dozen Palestinians, calling for some 14 Israeli officials to stand trial for crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly committed during Tel Aviv's December 2008-January 2009 offensive against the Gaza Strip.

Gulf oil spill: Boat captain, despondent over spill, commits suicide

Gulf oil spill: Boat captain, despondent over spill, commits suicide 23 Jun 2010 William Allen Kruse, 55, a charter boat captain recently hired by BP as a vessel of opportunity out of Gulf Shores, Ala., died Wednesday morning before 7:30 a.m. of a gunshot to the head, likely self-inflicted, authorities said. "He had been quite despondent about the oil crisis," said Stan Vinson, coroner for Baldwin County, which includes Gulf Shores.

'Top hat' back in place at runaway BP well after mishap

'Top hat' back in place at runaway BP well after mishap 23 Jun 2010 Workers removed the "top hat" device collecting oil from BP's gushing Deepwater Horizon well Wednesday morning, bringing a halt for much of the day to the primary effort to capture crude escaping into the Gulf of Mexico. The "top hat" was put back in place nearly 10 hours after it was removed, BP announced. BP provided only a scant explanation for the sudden removal of the containment device, which was placed atop the well's dysfunctional blowout preventer on June 3.

Rescue ALL Sea Turtles from Burning Oil

Quick action! Rescue ALL Sea Turtles from Burning Oil (Sea Turtle Restoration Project) 24 Jun 2010 Multiple eye-witness accounts have established that endangered sea turtles are being burned alive in BP's cleanup efforts. Immediate change must occur so that ALL sea turtles are rescued from the Gulf Oil Spill as a top priority by Unified Command. BP boats corral oil every day into "Burn Boxes," restricted areas where surface oil is set on fire. Send the letter (click here) to rescue ALL sea turtles from oil before boom and burn.

Obama administration appeals decision blocking drill ban

Obama administration appeals decision blocking drill ban 23 Jun 2010 The Obama administration on Wednesday appealed a court ruling that blocked its six-month moratorium on deepwater oil drilling after a judge said it was not adequately justified despite the Gulf of Mexico spill. The administration also asked District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans to put his ruling against the moratorium on hold pending the outcome of the appeal or until the appeals court can consider a stay request.

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'We want either a hammer or a fire, to break the spell or dissolve the ice.' Artisan radical freethinker, George Jacob Holyoake, Reasoner V (1848): 2.

CLG's Michael Rectenwald, Ph.D. and Lori Price receive the Patrick Henry Think Tank's American Hero Award 02 Nov 2005 The Patrick Henry Democratic Club --A Think Tank working to give the government back to the people. "Give me liberty or give me death!"

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