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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 91804 times)
Swamprat
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« Reply #2130 on: Dec 7th, 2010, 8:19pm »

Another Australia article..... I don't know who Shaun Ryder is, but apparently some people do! cheesy


http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/tv/im_a__celebrity/3263313/Shaun-Ryder-I-saw-glowing-UFO.html

The Sun

Shaun Ryder: “I saw alien spaceship!”


By LEIGH HOLMWOOD Deputy TV Editor in Queensland,
Australia

Published: 07 Dec 2010

The “I'm A Celebrity” runner-up revealed how he saw a UFO when he was 17 years old.

Shaun - famed for his line "You're twisting my melon, man" in hit Step On - said: "It was six in the morning and pitch black and I was on my way to work as a messenger with another boy.
"We both saw this thing in the sky that was glowing - then it shot off and suddenly went boom! We looked at each other and it went 'vroom' really close - and disappeared.
I was sober, I hadn't been smoking weed or dropping acid."

He added: "One day, it will be ridiculous to say there isn't life on other planets as it is to say the world is flat."
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« Reply #2131 on: Dec 7th, 2010, 8:47pm »

on Dec 7th, 2010, 8:19pm, Swamprat wrote:
Another Australia article..... I don't know who Shaun Ryder is, but apparently some people do! cheesy


http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/tv/im_a__celebrity/3263313/Shaun-Ryder-I-saw-glowing-UFO.html

The Sun

Shaun Ryder: “I saw alien spaceship!”


By LEIGH HOLMWOOD Deputy TV Editor in Queensland,
Australia

Published: 07 Dec 2010

The “I'm A Celebrity” runner-up revealed how he saw a UFO when he was 17 years old.

Shaun - famed for his line "You're twisting my melon, man" in hit Step On - said: "It was six in the morning and pitch black and I was on my way to work as a messenger with another boy.
"We both saw this thing in the sky that was glowing - then it shot off and suddenly went boom! We looked at each other and it went 'vroom' really close - and disappeared.
I was sober, I hadn't been smoking weed or dropping acid."

He added: "One day, it will be ridiculous to say there isn't life on other planets as it is to say the world is flat."



Hey Swampy!

"Shaun - famed for his line "You're twisting my melon, man"
Is that what he said when he saw the UFO?
Kidding. Interesting that it has lost the giggle factor to an extent to admit that you've seen a UFO.

Crystal
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« Reply #2132 on: Dec 8th, 2010, 08:05am »

Guardian


WikiLeaks cables: Saudi princes throw parties boasting drink, drugs and sex. Royals flout puritanical laws to throw parties for young elite while religious police are forced to turn a blind eye.

Heather Brooke guardian.co.uk,
Tuesday 7 December 2010 21.30 GMT


In what may prove a particularly incendiary cable, US diplomats describe a world of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll behind the official pieties of Saudi Arabian royalty.

Jeddah consulate officials described an underground Halloween party, thrown last year by a member of the royal family, which broke all the country's Islamic taboos. Liquor and prostitutes were present in abundance, according to leaked dispatches, behind the heavily-guarded villa gates.

The party was thrown by a wealthy prince from the large Al-Thunayan family. The diplomats said his identity should be kept secret. A US energy drinks company also put up some of the finance.

"Alcohol, though strictly prohibited by Saudi law and custom, was plentiful at the party's well-stocked bar. The hired Filipino bartenders served a cocktail punch using sadiqi, a locally-made moonshine," the cable said. "It was also learned through word-of-mouth that a number of the guests were in fact 'working girls', not uncommon for such parties."

The dispatch from the US partygoers, signed off by the consul in Jeddah, Martin Quinn, added: "Though not witnessed directly at this event, cocaine and hashish use is common in these social circles."

The underground party scene is "thriving and throbbing" in Saudi Arabia thanks to the protection of Saudi royalty, the dispatch said. But it is only available behind closed doors and for the very rich.

More than 150 Saudi men and women, most in their 20s and 30s, were at the party. The patronage of royalty meant the feared religious police kept a distance. Admission was controlled through a strict guest list. "The scene resembled a nightclub anywhere outside the kingdom: plentiful alcohol, young couples dancing, a DJ at the turntables and everyone in costume."

The dispatch said the bar featured a top shelf of well-known brands of liquor, the original contents reportedly replaced with sadiqi. On the black market, they reported, a bottle of Smirnoff vodka can cost 1,500 riyals (£250) compared with 100 riyals (£16) for the locally-made vodka.

In a venture into Saudi sociology, the diplomats explained why they thought their host was so attached to Nigerian bodyguards, some of whom were working on the door. "Most of the prince's security forces were young Nigerian men. It is common practice for Saudi princes to grow up with hired bodyguards from Nigeria or other African nations who are of similar age and who remain with the prince well into adulthood. The lifetime spent together creates an intense bond of loyalty"

The cable claimed it was easy for would-be partygoers to find a patron out of more than 10,000 princes in the kingdom. Some are "royal highnesses" with direct descent from King Abdul Aziz, while others are "highnesses" from less direct branches.

One young Saudi told the diplomat that big parties were a recent trend. Even a few years ago, he said, the only weekend activity was "dating" among small groups who met inside the homes of the rich. Some of the more opulent houses in Jeddah feature basement bars, discos and clubs. One high-society Saudi said: "The increased conservatism of our society over these past years has only moved social interaction to the inside of people's homes."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/07/wikileaks-cables-saudi-princes-parties

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« Reply #2133 on: Dec 8th, 2010, 08:07am »

The Hill

House leadership sets vote on 2011 funding for Wednesday
By Erik Wasson
12/08/10 07:37 AM ET

The office of House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced early Wednesday that the House will take up a $1.1 trillion continuing resolution funding the government though Sept. 30.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) released a final draft of the CR at 12:30 am. Democrats plan to send the CR to the Senate where they will attempt to amend it into an omnibus appropriations bill that has been crafted by Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii).

Despite an objection from Hoyer, the bill contains a two-year freeze on federal civilian worker pay. Hoyer along with other Washington, D.C.-area representatives had sought a one-year freeze only.

Overall the Act freezes 2011 discretionary appropriations at the 2010 level providing $45.9 billion less than the president requested for the year, Obey's office said.

The bill contains billions of dollars in changes to spending at the request of the administration, but the new spending is covered by reductions in other areas, his office said. For example, $6 billion less in funding is granted to the Census Bureau which is winding down work on the 2010 census. Meanwhile $3.1 billion in new funding is given to the Veterans Adminstration for medical operations and $4.9 billion is granted the Pentagon for salary and health costs.

The continuing resolution will also carry with it the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act which passed the Senate on Nov. 30.

With this increase, the act includes $513 billion overall for the Department of Defense. It has $501.4 billion for all other appropriations, $3.5 billion below 2010.

It also includes $159 billion for the war, as the President requested and prohibits funding for Congressional earmarks that were included in 2010 spending bills.

http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/appropriations/132579-house-leadership-sets-2011-funding-vote-for-wednesday

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« Reply #2134 on: Dec 8th, 2010, 08:09am »

New York Times

December 7, 2010
Murmurs of Primary Challenge to Obama
By MATT BAI

WASHINGTON — President Obama’s compromise with Republicans on extending tax cuts for the wealthy, which his self-described progressive critics see as a profound betrayal, is bound to intensify a debate that has been bubbling up on liberal blogs and e-mail lists in recent weeks — whether or not the president who embodied “hope and change” in 2008 should face a primary challenge in 2012.

The idea seems to have little momentum for now, not least because there isn’t an obvious candidate, and because such a challenge would seem to have about as much chance of success as, say, a reality show about David Hasselhoff. That a primary is being openly discussed, though, reflects how fully Mr. Obama’s relationship with his party’s liberal activists has ruptured and the considerable confusion on the left over what to do about it.

Just last weekend, three liberal writers made the case for taking on Mr. Obama in 2012. Michael Lerner, longtime editor of Tikkun magazine, argued in The Washington Post that a primary represented a “real way to save the Obama presidency,” by forcing Mr. Obama to move leftward. Robert Kuttner, co-founder of The American Prospect and one of the party’s most scathing populist voices, issued a similar call on The Huffington Post, suggesting Iowa as the ideal incubator.

On the same site, Clarence B. Jones, a one-time confidant of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., suggested that liberals should break with Mr. Obama now, just as Dr. King and others did with Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968. “It is not easy to consider challenging the first African-American to be elected president of the United States,” Mr. Jones wrote. “But, regrettably, I believe the time has come to do this.”

Meanwhile, in Iowa, a group known as the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, originally founded to aid Democratic Congressional candidates in 2010, has started broadcasting an advertisement that shows Mr. Obama, in 2008, promising to reverse the tax cuts for the most affluent Americans. The group isn’t advocating a primary challenge just yet — but then, the choice of Iowa as a market seems intended to send a pretty clear warning to the White House.

“On issue after issue, when the public is on his side, this president just refuses to fight,” says Adam Green, the group’s co-founder. “At this point, the strategy is to shame him into fighting.”

All of this would have seemed unthinkable in 2008, when Mr. Obama’s red-white-and-blue visage seemed omnipresent on campuses and along city streets, a symbol to many of liberalism reborn. That, of course, was before the abandonment of “card-check” legislation for unions and of the so-called public option in health care, the escalation in Afghanistan and the formation of the deficit-reduction commission.

After this week’s reversal, quips the progressive commentator Cenk Uygur, it may be time for his fellow progressives to face the fact that Mr. Obama “is just not that into you.”

Of course, Mr. Obama is only the latest in a long line of Democratic presidents, going back to Franklin D. Roosevelt, to disappoint the liberal wing of his party and to at least hear rumblings of a challenge. In 1960, the hipster John F. Kennedy represented for liberals something similar to what Mr. Obama embodied as a candidate; two years later, the writer Norman Mailer acidly concluded that Kennedy stood for nothing but the pursuit of power, “without light or principle.”

Both Johnson and President Jimmy Carter faced liberal primary challenges when they stood for re-election: Mr. Johnson because of the Vietnam War and Mr. Carter because he was deemed to be ineffectual in advancing liberal ideals. Bill Clinton’s stances on issues like free trade and welfare reform similarly infuriated the left, though he managed to avoid a primary.

Echoing his Democratic predecessors, Mr. Obama seemed frustrated at a news conference on Tuesday about being pilloried by liberals who haven’t had to wrestle with the realities of governing. “I’ve got a whole bunch of lines in the sand,” Mr. Obama protested.

The White House seems to view the notion of a serious primary challenge as far-fetched, and you can see why. For one thing, there seems to be no perfect vehicle out there, no Edward M. Kennedy biding his time.

The closest approximation appears to be Howard Dean, the former presidential candidate and party chairman who criticized the president’s deal on taxes. But Mr. Dean hasn’t shown any interest to this point in running, and you might recall that his 2004 campaign, for all its passion and fund-raising prowess, yielded just two primary victories, in the District of Columbia and in his home state of Vermont.

There’s also the unique nature of this president himself, which makes the sheer math of any primary effort seem especially daunting. Mr. Obama, after all, drew his most monolithic support in 2008 from African-Americans and younger voters, two groups who are pivotal in Democratic primaries and whom you would expect to be essential constituencies for any kind of insurgent, take-it-to-the-Man candidacy.

All that said, Mr. Obama must be aware that not all primary challenges to sitting presidents are about winning. Some, like Edward Kennedy’s in 1980 and Ronald Reagan’s in 1976, are in fact designed to unseat the incumbent and capture the presidency. But other ideological challengers, like Eugene J. McCarthy in 1968 and Patrick J. Buchanan 24 years later, measure their success not by where they’re standing on Inauguration Day, but by whether they have changed the trajectory of their parties.

Such protests candidates don’t have to win more than a state or two to have an impact; they merely have to show up and sow division. It probably isn’t coincidental that none of the last four American presidents to face primaries while seeking re-election — Johnson, Gerald R. Ford, Carter and George H. W. Bush — survived to serve another term.

In other words, should the president’s progressive critics warm to the idea, it might not take a particularly credible primary challenge to weaken Mr. Obama’s chances for re-election. It might only take a challenge designed to do exactly that.


http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/08/us/politics/08bai.html?hp

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« Reply #2135 on: Dec 8th, 2010, 08:12am »

Wired Threat Level

‘Chaos’ at WikiLeaks Follows Assange Arrest
By Kevin Poulsen December 7, 2010 | 6:34 pm
Categories: WikiLeaks

The arrest without bail of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Tuesday has left the organization in a state of uncertainty, despite transition plans laid out prior to his surrender to British police, according to one dispirited WikiLeaks activist who spoke to Threat Level on condition of anonymity.

Assange left Icelandic television journalist Kristinn Hrafnsson in charge of the group in his absence, the activist said. But now the embattled organization’s secrecy and compartmentalization are apparently hindering its operations.

Specifically, midlevel WikiLeaks staffers have been mostly cut off from communicating with hundreds of volunteers whose contact information was stored in Assange’s private online-messaging accounts, and never shared with others.

“There is an ongoing plan, but that plan was only introduced to a few staffers — key staffers,” explained the source. “We are experiencing chaos.”

WikiLeaks was scrambling to produce a statement in a dozen languages Tuesday to address Assange’s arrest.

Assange appeared in Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London Tuesday. The judge cited Assange’s itinerant lifestyle and denied him bail, despite the fact that he turned himself in.

The arrest came nine days after WikiLeaks began publishing from its cache of more than 250,000 leaked U.S. State Department diplomatic cables, which are trickling out at a rate of about a hundred a day.

That publication schedule will continue uninterrupted, according to a tweet on WikiLeaks’ Twitter feed following Assange’s detention. “Today’s actions against our editor-in-chief Julian Assange won’t affect our operations: We will release more cables tonight as normal,” read one message. A second tweet added: “Let down by the UK justice system’s bizarre decision to refuse bail to Julian Assange. But #cablegate releases continue as planned.”

Assange “is accused by the Swedish authorities of one count of unlawful coercion, two counts of sexual molestation and one count of rape, all alleged to have been committed in August 2010,” British police said.

Assange indicated in court that he would fight extradition to Sweden, according to reports. He is set to appear in court again Dec. 14.

Charismatic and driven, Assange has been WikiLeaks’ public face and prime mover for four years. It was Assange who personally managed the site’s most important leaker — Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, according to Manning’s conversations with the ex-hacker who turned him in.

And when Assange’s autocratic leadership style was challenged by some staffers last year, he described his importance to the organization in no uncertain terms. “I am the heart and soul of this organization, its founder, philosopher, spokesperson, original coder, organizer, financier and all the rest.”

His absence, says the source, is being felt acutely. “The organization will most likely start to fall apart now.”

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/12/wikileaks-reels/

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« Reply #2136 on: Dec 8th, 2010, 08:17am »

Wired

Microsoft Builds Online Tracking Blocking Feature Into IE9
By Ryan Singel December 7, 2010 | 3:30 pm
Categories: Privacy


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Microsoft is building an anti-tracking function into its upcoming version of Internet Explorer. The new feature will let users easily keep lists of websites that track what they do online, and block any site from logging their web activity, the company announced Tuesday.

The new feature, called “Tracking Protection,” will be bundled into IE9’s next beta release early next year, and is intended to give users control over what widgets and scripts display — and pull in data — when they visit a given website.

The announcement comes just a week after the Federal Trade Commission castigated the online-ad industry for not regulating itself and dragging its feet on being transparent with users about the data they collect and how they use it.

The FTC also called for browser makers to build a “do not track” feature that, when turned on, would send a “no tracking, please” message to every website you visit. While the FTC lacks the authority to force companies to obey the flag, it called on advertisers to comply, with the veiled threat that it could get the power from Congress, if need be.

IE9’s Tracking Protection feature would work differently, by blocking websites and third-party plug-ins outright. People who wanted the blocks could subscribe to a “tracking protection list.” So, for instance, if the blocking list you subscribe to bans Google’s Analytics tracking service or Facebook’s Like button when you visit a webpage using those features, your browser will simply not load them and pass no information to those companies.

“These are complementary approaches, and different ways to get to the same goal of helping consumers block tracking,” said Dean Hachamovitch, the company’s vice president in charge of IE development. “This path is different in that it actually blocks the tracking now.”

Hachamovitch, along with the company’s top privacy strategist Peter Cullen, announced the feature in a webcast for reporters at the same time Google was unveiling the Chrome web store and Chrome OS. Microsoft has tried to portray itself as better on privacy than Google, which many fear knows too much about them.

Tracking protection lists can be created by anyone and published on the web, using a format that Microsoft is publishing under a Creative Commons license. So, anyone is free to make a list and other browser makers could use the lists as well, without infringing on Microsoft’s intellectual property.

The service will be turned off by default in the browser, but once it is on, users can choose to subscribe to a list, and when the creator updates the list, the browser will automatically sync with it. Lists can include both approved and verboten sites.

Microsoft said it will not ship IE9 with any lists built-in, and hopes to see a wide swath of groups and individuals create lists.

The feature is likely to be controversial for ad and tracking firms, which argue that much of the internet’s free services are dependent upon targeted advertising. Third-party advertising and tracking systems use cookies and JavaScript to watch what users do and read around the web in order to build a profile of interests about you, with the hopes of showing sports fans and knitting fanatics different ads.

Plug-ins from third parties have become increasingly popular in the last few years, and when you visit a news story on Wired.com or the Wall Street Journal your browser will load in ads, cookies, tracking beacons, content, commenting systems and scripts from sometimes dozens of third-parties.

For the most part, these tracking systems don’t know who you are, and simply create a unique ID, such as ADT187423, which it associates with that browser. Data collected over time is used to build up profiles by making guesses about you, to prevent you from seeing the same ad over and over, and to let websites understand how much traffic they get and how loyal their visitors are.

Current tools for preventing such tracking include using opt-out cookies for third-party advertising networks, browser plug-ins and, for hard-core geeks, using the computer’s host list to explicitly block sites they do not want their computer to connect to.

IE9’s new feature is most like the latter, but simplifies the process by making it easy to subscribe to other people’s lists and keep them updated over time.

One other key difference, however, is that when you visit a website, IE9 will pass along the information that you are using a “tracking protection list” to that site, which can then prompt you to unblock certain features, or even decide not to show you a news story until you do.

It’s unclear yet if the new feature will be so easy to use and widely adopted that it creates an arms race between advertisers and users.

History suggests not. Google, for instance, puts links on its display ads that take users to a page that lets them see their advertising profile, edit it and opt out if they like. But Google says that the small percentage of its massive user base who visit the page generally don’t opt out.

http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2010/12/microsoft-tracking-protection/

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« Reply #2137 on: Dec 8th, 2010, 08:22am »

Telegraph

Briton booked for speeding in London and New Zealand by same policeman.

A British man has proved there is no escaping the long arm of the law after being clocked for speeding on opposite sides of the world - by the same policeman.

By Paul Chapman in Wellington
7:00AM GMT 08 Dec 2010

When the driver was ticketed in the South Island of New Zealand he recognised Constable Andy Flitton as the officer who had booked him on the A5 in north London two years ago.

Constable Flitton, who was with the Metropolitan Police for 26 years, has since emigrated to New Zealand and is based at Rangiora, near Christchurch.

On being pulled over, the errant driver produced British and South African licences and told Constable Flitton he had also recently emigrated after living in Britain for the past 12 years.

"He asked if I had worked in London," Constable Flitton said. "I said, 'yes'.

"He asked if I used to operate the laser gun on the A5 in north London. I said, 'yes'.

"And he said, 'I thought it was you. You gave me my last speeding ticket there two years ago'.

"The minute he said it, I remembered the whole thing," Constable Flitton told the New Zealand Herald.

"We both just had a laugh."

The man told Constable Flitton he had been in New Zealand for less than two weeks and was still looking for a place to live.

"He only ever broke the law twice and both times I was the one to give him a ticket," Constable Flitton said.

"It just shows what a small world it really is."

The first speeding ticket cost the driver £60 in Britain and the second cost him 120 New Zealand dollars (£58).

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/australiaandthepacific/newzealand/8187945/Briton-booked-for-speeding-in-London-and-New-Zealand-by-same-policeman.html

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« Reply #2138 on: Dec 8th, 2010, 11:29am »






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« Reply #2139 on: Dec 8th, 2010, 4:59pm »

Intriguing radio signals picked up by Cassini near Saturn:



http://www.wimp.com/radiosignal/
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« Reply #2140 on: Dec 8th, 2010, 5:04pm »

on Dec 8th, 2010, 4:59pm, Swamprat wrote:
Intriguing radio signals picked up by Cassini near Saturn:



http://www.wimp.com/radiosignal/


Hey Swampy!
That's exciting! Thanks for the article.
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« Reply #2141 on: Dec 8th, 2010, 9:02pm »




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« Reply #2142 on: Dec 8th, 2010, 9:16pm »





Description with video:
Several witnesses to the ufo sighting said they to saw the strange object in the sky.

~

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« Reply #2143 on: Dec 9th, 2010, 07:43am »

New York Times

December 8, 2010
Officials Pressed Germans on Kidnapping by C.I.A.
By MICHAEL SLACKMAN

BERLIN — American officials exerted sustained pressure on Germany not to enforce arrest warrants against Central Intelligence Agency officers involved in the 2003 kidnapping of a German citizen mistakenly believed to be a terrorist, diplomatic cables made public by WikiLeaks show.

John M. Koenig, the American deputy chief of mission in Berlin, issued a pointed warning in February 2007 urging that Germany “weigh carefully at every step of the way the implications for relations with the U.S.” in the case of Khaled el-Masri, a German of Lebanese descent. Mr. Masri said he was held in a secret United States prison in Afghanistan and tortured before his captors acknowledged their mistake and let him go.

The United States’ concern over the Masri case was detailed in cables sent from the United States Embassies in Germany, Spain and Macedonia in 2006 and 2007.

The cables indicated what was long suspected by German opposition leaders who led a parliamentary inquiry into the case: intense political pressure from Washington was the reason that Germany never pressed for the arrest and extradition of 13 operatives believed to be from the C.I.A. who were ultimately charged in indictments issued in Spain and in Munich.

“I am not surprised by this,” said Hans-Christian Ströbele, a member of the Green bloc in Parliament who then sat on the legislative investigative committee. “It was confirmed once again that the U.S. government kept the German government” from seeking the arrest of the agents.

In one cable, written before Mr. Koenig’s warning to Germany’s deputy national security adviser, the embassy in Berlin reported that diplomatic officials had “continued to stress with German counterparts the potential negative implications for our bilateral relationship, and in particular for our counter-terrorism cooperation, if further steps are taken to seek the arrest or extradition of U.S. citizens/officials.”

In 2006 and 2007, the Masri case was one of the most difficult issues between Washington and Berlin, exposing to public scrutiny secret tactics used in the Bush administration’s antiterrorism efforts that were sharply criticized both in the United States and in Europe. At the time, political pressure was mounting in Germany to investigate and expose the practice of extraordinary rendition, which involved capturing suspects and sending them to third-party countries for questioning in secret prisons.

Mr. Masri was seized on Dec. 31, 2003, as he entered Macedonia while on vacation; border security guards confused him with an operative of Al Qaeda with a similar name. He says he was turned over to the C.I.A., which flew him to Afghanistan, where he says he was tortured, sodomized and injected with drugs. After five months, he was dropped on a roadside in Albania. No charges were brought against him.

The case drew widespread attention in Europe. The cables show that the United States was especially concerned about cooperation between Spanish and German prosecutors. The Spanish courts became involved because they concluded that the plane that transported Mr. Masri had traveled through Spanish territory.

“This coordination among independent investigators will complicate our efforts to manage this case at a discreet government-to-government level,” read a cable sent from the embassy in Madrid in January 2007.

The cables’ release has created a stir in Germany mostly because the documents contain American diplomats’ caustic comments about German officials and because they show that the embassy had informants in one of the governing parties. The Masri case, however, has already been so thoroughly discussed in public, and the degree of Washington’s pressure on Berlin is so well known, that it has not gained much attention.

The one cable that has caught the attention of some in the German press was written on Feb. 6, 2007, by Mr. Koenig, the second-highest-ranking diplomat in the embassy, under the title “CHANCELLERY AWARE OF USG CONCERNS.”

Rolf Nikel, Germany’s deputy national security adviser, told Mr. Koenig that the two governments had differences over Washington’s antiterrorism methods, including German opposition to the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and to rendition. Mr. Nikel said, according to the cable, “the Chancellery is well aware of the bilateral political implications of the case, but added that this case ‘will not be easy,’ because of the intense pressure from the parliament and the German media.”

Mr. Koenig said that while Washington “recognized the independence of the German judiciary,” he added that “to issue international arrest warrants or extradition requests would require the concurrence of the German Federal Government.”

His point was that the case could be stopped.

The prosecutor’s office in Munich issued warrants for the arrest of the C.I.A. operatives, but Germany’s government did not press for arrests or extraditions.

“We already dealt with this, including in the Bundestag, about why the German federal government did not take further action to carry out the arrest warrant,” said Mr. Ströbele. “How one deals with the fact that he was taken into custody and tortured — whether more will be revealed on that — what was done in order to keep it a secret: that is what interests me.”

Diana Aurisch contributed reporting.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/09/world/europe/09wikileaks-elmasri.html?ref=world

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« Reply #2144 on: Dec 9th, 2010, 07:45am »

New York Times

December 8, 2010
China’s Answer to Nobel Mystifies Its Winner
By EDWARD WONG

BEIJING — The newly created award, named after the venerated Chinese sage whose teachings have been recited for thousands of years, was meant to rival the Nobel Peace Prize, and to lend an air of respectability and gravitas to China’s rise on the world stage.

But those lofty goals appeared lost on the Taiwanese politician honored as its first winner. In fact, on Wednesday, the politician, Lien Chan, had yet to hear officially that he had won. Or that he was to appear at the ceremony in Beijing on Thursday to claim $15,000 in award money. Or that there was even such a thing as a Confucius Peace Prize.

“Are you asking about the peace prize thing?” Mr. Lien’s office director said in exasperation when reached by phone. “Regarding this event, our answer is ‘no comment,’ because we know nothing about it. Nobody has ever contacted us on this issue, and we only have secondhand information from journalists.”

So went the attempt by a group of patriotic Chinese to steal the thunder of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which in Oslo on Friday will bestow this year’s Nobel Peace Prize and its promise of $1.5 million on a Chinese dissident, Liu Xiaobo, who is serving an 11-year sentence for writings demanding political reform, human rights guarantees and an independent judicial system.

In contrast, the designated winner of the Confucius prize has an agenda closer to China’s heart: pushing for closer ties between Taiwan and the Chinese Communist Party.

The origins of the group behind the Confucius prize are still a mystery, but it was first conceived only a few weeks ago here in Beijing, as the Nobel ceremony began to loom.

Tan Changliu, the leader of the Confucius prize committee, said in an interview on Wednesday that the new award had considered a variety of candidates who had made major contributions to world peace, before settling on Mr. Lien. A former Kuomintang Party chief, Mr. Lien visited China in 2005 in the highest-level exchange between Taiwanese and mainland politicians since the Kuomintang fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing the Chinese civil war.

“Bill Gates is one of our candidates for his effort in bridge the gap between the rich and the poor,” Mr. Tan said. “Jimmy Carter is also a candidate. He continues contributing to world peace, even at such a senior age. Chinese people love Americans, and we hope Americans love us back. Sino-U.S. peace means world peace.”

Mr. Carter, the former American president, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. Mr. Tan said other candidates for the Confucius prize included Nelson Mandela, the former South African president who also received the Nobel; Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president; and the Panchen Lama supported by the Chinese government. (A separate Panchen Lama endorsed by the Dalai Lama was abducted as a child by Chinese officials.)

Word of the Confucius prize first emerged late on Tuesday night in a report by The Associated Press. Mr. Tan told The A.P. that his group was not a government organization, though it worked closely with the Ministry of Culture.

Mr. Tan and his colleagues are apparently patriotic Chinese who agree with the government line that the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Mr. Liu is an attempt by Western nations to belittle an ascendant and authoritarian China. Mr. Liu was arrested and tried last year because of his role as one of the main authors of Charter 08, a manifesto on the Internet that calls for gradual democratic reforms. His wife, Liu Xia, is under house arrest and cannot travel to Oslo to collect the award on behalf of Mr. Liu. In recent weeks, security officials have also prevented other Chinese intellectuals from leaving the country.

The idea for the Confucius prize was apparently first voiced by Liu Zhiqin, the Beijing representative of a Swiss bank, in a commentary published Nov. 17 by Global Times, a patriotic populist newspaper. He criticized the Nobel award and advocated the establishment of a Confucius Peace Prize “to show the world our comprehension of peace and perception on human rights.”

In a telephone interview on Wednesday, he said that he had not been contacted by Mr. Tan’s group and that he had not received an invitation to the ceremony on Thursday. But he said he supported the new prize and asserted that its winner would truly represent the goal of world peace, in contrast to that of the Nobel Peace Prize.

“The Nobel Peace Prize should set an example for the world’s people to follow it, to learn from this winner,” he said. “Can you tell me what we can learn from Liu Xiaobo about world peace? We can learn nothing.”

Zhang Jing contributed research.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/09/world/asia/09china.html?ref=world

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