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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 44918 times)
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3060 on: Feb 23rd, 2011, 7:36pm »

"What peanut?"


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« Reply #3061 on: Feb 23rd, 2011, 8:01pm »

Reuters

By Michael Holden
LONDON | Wed Feb 23, 2011 6:50pm EST

LONDON (Reuters) - A British court is expected to rule on Thursday whether WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should be extradited to Sweden where he is accused of sex crimes.

During three days of legal argument earlier this month, lawyers for Assange, who has angered the U.S. government by releasing thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic cables on his website, argued he would not get a fair trial in Sweden.

They also said the 39-year-old Australian computer expert, if he is extradited from Britain, may wind up being sent to the United States where he could face execution.

Swedish prosecutors want to question Assange about allegations of sexual misconduct, which he denies, made by two WikiLeaks volunteers during his time in Sweden last August.

One alleges he sexually molested her by ignoring her request for him to use a condom during sex.

The second woman has said Assange had sex with her while she was asleep and that he was not wearing a condom.

Prosecutors say the second allegation falls into the least severe of three categories of rape in Sweden, carrying a maximum of four years in jail, and are seeking his extradition from Britain under a fast-track European arrest warrant.

The court, based in London, can only refuse such requests for specific legal reasons, such as a warrant not being properly issued, or because it would breach Assange's human rights.

Assange's legal team offered a lengthy case in which they accused Sweden's Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt of creating a "toxic atmosphere" in Sweden and damaging his chances of a fair trial by portraying him as "public enemy number one."

However, lawyers prosecuting the case at London's top-security Belmarsh Magistrates' Court argued the warrant complied with the legal requirements.

They also dismissed suggestions Assange could be extradited to the United States, saying Britain would have to give its consent first to such a move.

Judge Howard Riddle is expected to give his decision on Thursday and if he agrees to extradition, Assange, who has been free under strict conditions since he was released him on bail in December, must be extradited within 10 days.

However, the WikiLeaks founder would have seven days in which to launch an appeal to London's High Court.

(Editing by Michael Roddy)


http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/23/us-britain-wikileaks-idUSTRE71M7PH20110223

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« Reply #3062 on: Feb 24th, 2011, 09:19am »

New York Times

February 24, 2011
Qaddafi Massing Forces in Tripoli as Rebellion Spreads
By KAREEM FAHIM and DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK

BAIDA, Libya — Forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi were reported to be striking back in several cites surrounding Tripoli on Thursday, as rebellion crept closer to the capital and defections of military officers multiplied.

The minaret of a mosque in Zawiya, a city 30 miles west of Tripoli where protesters had claimed victory, was blasted by heavy weapons in a morning attack, killing or wounding protesters who had been using the building as a refuge, a witness told The Associated Press by telephone. And in Sabratha, about 50 miles west of the capital where a government crackdown has been under way for several days, gunshots rang out as military troops filled the town, a witness said. With journalists banned from the area, it was impossible to independently verify these reports.

“We are not afraid; we are watching,” said the witness in Sabratha, a doctor reached by telephone. The city was under lockdown, he said, with no stores open, and the buildings of the police and Col. Qaddafi’s revolutionary committees were in ruins, he said, burned by protesters. “What I am sure about,” he said, “is that change is coming.”

Clashes were also reported 130 miles east of the capital near Misurata, a city where opposition forces had claimed control. Tripoli, meanwhile, remained in a state of lockdown, even as Colonel Qaddafi called on thousands of mercenaries and irregular security forces to defend his bastion, in what residents said was a desperate and dangerous turn in the week-old uprising.

Distrustful of even his own generals, Colonel Qaddafi has for years quietly built up this ruthless and loyal force. It is made up of either special brigades headed by his sons, segments of the military loyal to his native tribe and its allies, and legions of African mercenaries he has helped train and equip. Many are believed to have fought elsewhere, in places like Sudan, but he has now called them back.

Witnesses said on Wednesday that thousands of members of this irregular army were massing on roads to the capital, Tripoli, where one resident described scenes evocative of anarchic Somalia: clusters of heavily armed men in mismatched uniforms clutching machine guns and willing to carry out orders to kill Libyans that other police and military units, and even fighter pilots, have refused.

Some residents of Tripoli said they took the gathering army as a sign that the uprising might be entering a decisive stage, with Colonel Qaddafi fortifying his main stronghold in the capital and protesters there gearing up for their first organized demonstration after days of spontaneous rioting and bloody crackdowns.

The fall of other cities to rebels on Wednesday, including Misurata, left Colonel Qaddafi more embattled — and his opponents emboldened. By Thursday, there were also reports that Zuara, 75 miles west of the capital, was under the control of antigovernment militias. To the east, at least half of the nation’s Mediterranean coast, up to the port of Ra’s Lanuf, appeared to have fallen to opposition forces, a Guardian correspondent in the area reported. Colonel Qaddafi’s hometown of Surt, believed to still be under government control, lay between there and the capital.

“A message comes to every mobile phone about a general protest on Friday in Tripoli,” one resident of Tripoli said. Colonel Qaddafi’s menacing speech to the country on Tuesday — when he vowed to hunt down opponents “house by house” — increased their determination “100 percent,” the resident said.

Dozens of checkpoints operated by a combination of foreign mercenaries and plainclothes militiamen lined the road west of Tripoli for the first time on Wednesday, witnesses said, requiring not only the presentation of official papers but also displays of flag-waving, fist-pumping enthusiasm for Colonel Qaddafi, who has long fashioned himself as a pan-African icon.

“You are trying to convince them you are a loyalist,” one resident said, “and the second they realize that you are not, you are done for.”

The overall death toll so far has been impossible to determine. Human rights groups say they have confirmed about 300 deaths, though witnesses suggested the number was far larger. On Wednesday, Franco Frattini, the foreign minister of Italy — the former colonial power with longstanding ties — said that nationwide more than 1,000 people were probably dead in the strife.

Egyptian officials said Wednesday that nearly 30,000 people — mostly Egyptians working in Libya — had fled across their border. People fleeing west into Tunisia said the rebellion was now taking off far from its origins just a week ago in the eastern city of Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city, which fell over the weekend.

There were reports for the first time of protests in the southern city of Sabha, considered a Qaddafi stronghold.

Protesters had claimed victory in Zawiya, where local army units are said to have joined them. In Sabratha, home of an important Roman archaeological site, witnesses had reported a heavy deployment of machine-gun toting foreign mercenaries and Qaddafi loyalists known as revolutionary committees.

“The revolutionary committees are trying to kill everyone who is against Qaddafi,” said a doctor fleeing Sabratha at the Tunisian border, declining to give his name for fear of reprisals if he returned.

In the latest blow to the Libyan leader, a cousin who is one of his closest aides, Ahmed Gadhaf al-Dam, announced on Thursday that he has defected to Egypt in protest against the regime’s bloody crackdown against the uprising, denouncing what he called "grave violations to human rights and human and international laws,” The A.P. reported.

But amid spreading rebellion and growing defections by top officials, diplomats and segments of the regular army, Colonel Qaddafi’s preparations for a defense of Tripoli also reframed the question of who might still be enforcing his rule. It is a puzzle that military analysts say reflects the singular character of the society he has shaped — half tribal, half police state — for the past 41 years.

“It is all shadow and mirrors and probably a great deal of corruption as well,” said Paul Sullivan, a professor at Georgetown who has studied the Libyan military.

Colonel Qaddafi, who took power in a military coup, has always kept the Libyan military too weak and divided to do the same thing to him. About half its relatively small 50,000-member army is made up of poorly trained and unreliable conscripts, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Many of its battalions are organized along tribal lines, ensuring their loyalty to their own clan rather than to top military commanders — a pattern evident in the defection of portions of the army to help protesters take the eastern city of Benghazi.

Colonel Qaddafi’s own clan dominates the air force and the upper level of army officers, and they are believed to have remained loyal to him, in part because his clan has the most to lose from his ouster.

Other clans, like the large Warfalla tribe, have complained that they have been shut out of the top ranks, Professor Sullivan noted, which may help explain why they were among the first to turn on Colonel Qaddafi.

Untrusting of his officers, Colonel Qaddafi built up an elaborate paramilitary force — accompanied by special segments of the regular army that report primarily to his family. It is designed to check the army and in part to subdue his own population. At the top of that structure is his roughly 3,000-member revolutionary guard corps, which mainly guards him personally.

Then there are the militia units controlled by Colonel Qaddafi’s seven sons. A cable from the United States Embassy in Libya released by WikiLeaks described his son Khamis’s private battalion as the best equipped in the Libyan Army.

His brother Sa’ad has reportedly used his private battalion to help him secure business deals. And a third brother, Muatassim, is Colonel Qaddafi’s national security adviser. In 2008 he asked for $2.8 billion to pay for a battalion of his own, to keep up with his brothers.

But perhaps the most significant force that Colonel Qaddafi has deployed against the current insurrection is one believed to consist of about 2,500 mercenaries from countries like Chad, Sudan and Niger that he calls his Islamic Pan African Brigade.

Colonel Qaddafi began recruiting for his force years ago as part of a scheme to bring the African nations around Libya into a common union, and the mercenaries he trained are believed to have returned to Sudan and other bloody conflicts around Africa. But from the accounts of many witnesses Colonel Qaddafi is believed to have recalled them — and perhaps others — to help suppress the uprising.

Since the Libyan military withdrew from the eastern border, Egyptian officials said, tens of thousands of Egyptians — many of whom had worked in Libya’s oil-propelled economy — have fled back to Egypt. About 4,200 crossed over on Sunday, a similar number on Monday, and about 20,000 on Tuesday, when border security collapsed.

more after the jump
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/25/world/africa/25libya.html?_r=1&hp

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« Reply #3063 on: Feb 24th, 2011, 09:19am »

back in a bit....
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« Reply #3064 on: Feb 24th, 2011, 10:53am »

New York Times

February 24, 2011
Rough Waters Strand Americans in Libya
By J. DAVID GOODMAN

Hundreds of Americans seeking to flee the widening chaos in Libya remained stuck in the capital, Tripoli, on Thursday as high seas prevented an evacuation ferry from departing for Malta, an American official said. Because of the rough weather, the ferry probably would not begin the six-hour voyage until Friday.

“The seas are quite bad,” said Elijah J. Waterman, a spokesman for the American Embassy in Malta. “They’re just holding in place right now.”

The United States sent the seagoing ferry — a tourist vessel with flat-screen televisions and a small casino — on Wednesday to transport about 600 people, mostly Americans, after being turned down for permission to land a chartered plane in Tripoli. The passengers would remain on the ferry, which has been secured, and were being provided with food and water, Mr. Waterman said.

The State Department has said several thousand United States citizens, most of them holding dual citizenship, were in Libya when the uprising against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi began.

Meanwhile, two Greek ferries sent to help evacuate 4,500 Chinese workers departed from the eastern city of Benghazi on Thursday and headed for the island of Crete despite the churning Mediterranean waters, The Associated Press reported. The Greek government is helping China to evacuate many of its 30,000 workers from Libya.

Whether by plane or bus, ferry or foot, tens of thousands of foreign citizens continued to scramble for a way out of Libya on Thursday as forces loyal to Colonel Qaddafi fought to maintain control of a shrinking portion of the oil-rich country.

Turkey appeared to have had the most success so far in spiriting its people out of the country, packing more than 5,000 onto ferries and planes that left over the last several days.

As some nations rushed to coordinate rescues, migrant workers from poorer nations in the Middle East, Asia and Africa — the majority of the work force in Libya, according to an immigration expert — were often fending for themselves, with their home countries unable to organize evacuations. In buses piled high with luggage and in rented cars, many streamed over the borders into Tunisia and Egypt.

Those fleeing the country, as well as those who had not yet found a way out, described scenes of chaos and deprivation. Protesters claimed that the opposition was taking control of cities close to Tripoli, where Colonel Qaddafi has mobilized mercenaries and militiamen to defend his stronghold.

One worker, Suang Upara from Thailand, reported that Libyans had burglarized the place where he was living with other migrants.

“They used knives to threaten us and stole everything from us,” Mr. Upara, 29, said in a phone interview from Benghazi, where more than 200 people were reported to have been killed in a government crackdown.

He said that he was subsisting on one small loaf of bread each day and dirty water filtered through tissue paper.

Chinese reports said that a site run by a Chinese construction company in eastern Libya had been attacked by armed looters who forced nearly 1,000 workers out of their dormitories.

The daunting nature of the evacuation led several nations to turn to others for help. Turkey, which said it had mounted its largest evacuation effort ever, said 21 countries including Russia and the United States had asked for assistance in helping their citizens to leave. Officials in Ankara said that a 27-year-old Turkish worker had been killed in Tripoli, but they gave no details.

Israel, meanwhile, agreed to allow about 300 Palestinians to enter the West Bank from Libya even though they did not have residency documents for the territory. While the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, welcomed Israel’s offer, he said he had asked for thousands more to be allowed entry, according to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa.

The International Organization for Migration, an intergovernmental agency, estimates that as many as 1.5 million migrants were working in Libya at the start of the strife, which appears to have led to the deaths of hundreds of people. Many of the migrants went there to work in construction, which had been booming, and in Libya’s rich oil fields.

Fears grew in Europe that countries like Italy would be flooded with needy people fleeing Libya; Italy’s foreign minister spoke of a possible “biblical exodus.”

Though Turkey had rescued thousands of its citizens by Wednesday, about 25,000 were still stranded in Libya. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that Turkey would keep ferries running nonstop and was expecting at least some of the ferries it dispatched to Libya to carry medical and food supplies to Libyan civilians.

With scheduled flights overwhelmed by the number of people trying to leave and some airlines canceling service, governments around the world were trying to send ships and chartered aircraft.

Two Italian naval vessels headed to eastern Libyan ports to rescue citizens from cities like Benghazi whose airports were damaged.

Jean-Philippe Chauzy, chief spokesman for the International Organization for Migration, said that many migrants from poorer nations were “bunkering down for the moment.”

“Over the past 18 hours,” he said on Wednesday, there were “only four nationals from Guinea who have made it to Tunisia.”

“That’s certainly not representative of the sub-Saharan Africans employed in Libya,” he said. “It’s a trickle.”

On Wednesday, Italy’s foreign minister, Franco Frattini, warned lawmakers that as many as 300,000 migrant workers in Libya could seek refuge in Europe, with many ending up in nearby countries, including Italy and Greece.

“We are not asking Europe to distribute the immigrants across its territory, but we are asking for a serious mechanism on how to split the economic and social burden of an immigration wave,” he said. “Europe needs to assume its duties.”

But Mr. Chauzy said those sorts of warnings were premature. For those who cannot flee by air or sea, the major points of exit will continue to be Egypt and Tunisia, he said.

As migrants poured across both borders, Mr. Chauzy said there were reports that African workers desperate to leave but lacking money were trying to reach Libya’s southern border with Niger — a desert trek of more than 1,000 miles.

“It’s pretty awful,” he said, “even in the best of times.”


Reporting was contributed by Sebnem Arsu from Istanbul; Brian Knowlton from Washington; Isabel Kershner from Jerusalem; Poypiti Amatatham from Bangkok; Mona El-Naggar from Cairo; and Rachel Donadio from Rome.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/25/world/africa/25evacuate.html?ref=world

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« Reply #3065 on: Feb 24th, 2011, 10:56am »

Reuters

Brent backs off $120, eyes on Libyan, Saudi supply

By Christopher Johnson
LONDON | Thu Feb 24, 2011 10:24am EST

LONDON (Reuters) - Oil surged more than 7.5 percent to its highest since August 2008 on Thursday on concern that uprisings in Libya could spread to other major oil producers in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia.

Brent crude oil for April spiked up $8.54 a barrel to a peak of $119.79 before easing to around $114.40 by 9:50 a.m. EST. U.S. crude futures for April rose as high as $103.41, the highest September 2009. They were up $1.70 at $99.80 at 8:50 a.m. EST.

Unrest in the world's 12th-biggest exporter has cut at least 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) from Libya's 1.6 million bpd output, according to Reuters calculations.

ENI Chief Executive Paolo Scaroni said Libyan output had fallen much more dramatically, estimating it was putting 1.2 million barrels per day less into the market.

The Financial Times quoted an unnamed senior oil official on its website as saying Saudi Arabia was in "active talks" with European oil refiners who might be hit by the disruption in Libyan exports.

That would be the clearest sign yet that OPEC's most influential member is readying action to respond to the cut in Libyan output.

The kingdom had asked refiners "what quantity and what quality of oil they want," the FT quoted the senior Saudi oil official saying on condition of anonymity.

Goldman Sachs said the spread of unrest to another producing country could bring oil shortages and require demand rationing.

"The market cannot accommodate another disruption, in our view," analyst Jeffrey Currie said in a research note.

EYES ON SAUDI

Major banks joined the chorus of calls on Thursday for OPEC to act quickly on fears the strong oil prices could derail the fragile economic recovery.

Barclays Capital and Citi said it saw no downward pressure on prices until more oil comes to the market.

"Unless we see an explicit move from ... producer countries, i.e. Saudi Arabia, I don't think there is necessarily going to be any downward pressure on prices," said BarCap analyst Amrita Sen.

Eugen Weinberg, Commerzbank's head of commodities research, said the situation called for "some extraordinary measures."

"This is an opportunity for OPEC to prove whether they are really able to (step) into this production gap," he said.

Eastern areas holding much of Libya's oil have slipped from the control of Muammar Gaddafi, who has unleashed a bloody crackdown on protesters to keep his 41-year grip on power.

The cuts in Libyan oil output represent the first disruption to supply as a direct result of protests that have swept through the oil-producing regions of north Africa and the Middle East.

The concern for oil markets is how unrest might affect Saudi Arabia, which not only pumps around 10 percent of the world's oil but is also the only holder of significant spare crude production capacity that can be used to plug outages.

The FT report said Saudi Arabia was waiting for a response from European customers before making a decision on whether or not to increase output. It said options included pumping more oil through an East-West pipeline or boosting shipments to Asia in order to free up West African crude for Europe.

Without Saudi Arabia's 4 million bpd of spare capacity, there is little margin in the global oil supply system.

To date, Saudi Arabia has escaped popular protests that have raged across the Arab world, toppling the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia and spreading as far as Saudi neighbor Bahrain.

Saudi King Abdullah has unveiled benefits for Saudis worth $37 billion in an apparent bid to insulate the oil exporter from protests in the region. However, hundreds of people have backed a Facebook page campaigning for a 'day of rage' across the kingdom on March 11 to demand reforms and greater democracy.

Weekly U.S. oil inventory data from industry group API showed on Wednesday that petroleum stocks had risen by 163,000 barrels last week, after analysts polled by Reuters had forecast a bigger rise of 1.2 million barrels.

Distillate inventories fell a less-than-expected 534,000 barrels and gasoline supplies fell 1.6 million barrels, API data showed, bucking analyst expectations for a rise.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration's weekly inventory data were due to be released at 11 a.m. EST on Thursday.

(Additional reporting by Nia Williams, Emma Farge, Claire Milhench and Dmitry Zhdannikov in London; Editing by Jason Neely)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/24/us-markets-oil-idUSTRE71192R20110224

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« Reply #3066 on: Feb 24th, 2011, 11:01am »

Telegraph

Robots start painfully slow marathon

An epic four-day robot marathon has begun in Osaka, Japan.





1:48PM GMT
24 Feb 2011

The robots, will need to run around the 100 metre (328 feet) course 422 times to complete the 26.2 mile marathon.

While the robots, which are are controlled by humans, can be tweaked for repairs and their batteries swapped but have to get up on their own if they fall over.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/8344560/Robots-start-painfully-slow-marathon.html

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« Reply #3067 on: Feb 24th, 2011, 11:07am »

Wired Danger Room

CIA Spy Sparks Conspiracy-Palooza
By Adam Rawnsley
February 24, 2011 | 9:43 am
Categories: Spies, Secrecy and Surveillance





Al-Qaeda’s nuclear arms dealer? The top recruiter for the Pakistani Taliban? A terrorist “mastermind?” These are just some of the explanations that have been picked up by the Pakistani press ever since Raymond Davis, an employee of the U.S. embassy in Pakistan, shot two Pakistani men he claimed were menacing him on the streets of Lahore.

The nature of Davis’ work — now acknowledged to be on contract for the CIA — and the prolonged vacuum of information regarding it has invited in a host of outlandish theories to fill the void.

Early on in the Davis affair, The European Union Times, an online news site printed a transparently silly story about Davis running weapons of mass destruction for al-Qaeda. You see, a Russian intelligence report indicated that Davis had documents detailing U.S. shipments of”nuclear fissile material” and “biological agents” to al-Qaeda for the purpose of starting a world war that would restore the American economy to global dominance. Absurd as it is, the story has since been picked up by Pakistan’s The Nation, as well as by Pakistani journalists on press listservs and Twitter.

The narrative of the U.S. colluding with terrorists to attack Pakistan was later taken up by the Express Tribune , which ran a story claiming that Davis had gone rogue on the U.S. and started working for the Pakistani Taliban. “Davis was instrumental in recruiting young people from Punjab for the Taliban to fuel the bloody insurgency,” according to an anonymous senior police official from Punjab quoted in the story. The source called Davis’ arrest a “blessing in disguise” because he was suspected of “masterminding terrorist activities in Lahore and other parts of Punjab.”

In support of the allegations, the Tribune quotes more anonymous sources claiming Davis’ cell phone records indicate he was in contact with members of the Pakistani Taliban the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, another Pakistani terrorist group.

Of course, those phone records, if valid, could also be the hallmarks of someone spying on, rather than recruiting for, Pakistani terrorist groups, as the CIA now claims was Davis’ job.

But the choice of interpretation speaks to a deep distrust among the Pakistani public of the United States and its covert war in the country. Last week, Pakistani sources claimed (fairly dubiously) that the Davis shootings were responsible for a month-long halt in drone strikes. Now, as Pakistan’s intelligence service warns of a “split” with the CIA over the incident, all eyes are again looking to see whether the already tense relationship will buckle under the weight of public outrage, distrust and the rumors that help fuel it.

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/02/cia-spy-sparks-conspiracy-palooza/

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« Reply #3068 on: Feb 24th, 2011, 11:13am »

Wired Threat Level

British Court Orders Wikileaks’ Assange Extradited To Sweden
By John C Abell
February 24, 2011 | 7:49 am
Categories: WikiLeaks


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Julian Assange and his lawyer Jennifer Robinson arrive for his extradition hearing at Belmarsh Magistrates' Court in London, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011.
(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)



A British court Thursday ordered Wikileaks founder Julian Assange extradited to Sweden to face sex charges. His attorneys immediately said they would appeal the decision, a process which could take months.

The Australian reported that Assange, 39, “showed no emotion when the judge issued his verdict.”

Assange is being sought for questioning in Sweden on rape and coercion allegations stemming from sexual relations he had with two women in that country last August. One woman has claimed that Assange pinned her down to have sex with her and intentionally tore a condom he wore. The second woman claims that he had sex with her while she was initially asleep, failing to wear a condom despite repeated requests for him to do so. Assange has disputed their claims.

He was arrested in the UK on December 7. That was nine days after WikiLeaks began publishing from its cache of more than 250,000 leaked U.S. State Department diplomatic cables, which were trickling out at a rate of about a hundred a day. Nine days after that, Assange was released from jail on $300,000 bond.

While wanted for questioning, Assange has not been charged in Sweden with a crime and has denied any wrongdoing.

He has been living under house arrest in the large country estate of Vaughan Smith, whom The Guardian has described as “a former army officer, journalist adventurer and rightwing libertarian.” After Thursday’s ruling, the Court continued to allow Assange to remain free on bond under the same conditions, which include wearing an electronic ankle bracelet, reporting to police every evening in person and honoring a curfew.

Defense attorneys have claimed that Assange would not get a fair trial in Sweden, since rape trials in that country are sometimes held behind closed doors. They have also argued that Assange could somehow find himself extradited to the United States, where, they theorize, he could face execution for leaking secrets.

Judge Howard Riddle, however, avoided the larger overtones of the Assange situation and ruled narrowly.

“I have specifically considered whether the physical or mental condition of the defendant is such that it would be unjust or oppressive to extradite him,” Riddle told London’s top-security Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court. “I am satisfied that extradition is compatible with the defendant’s (European) Convention rights, I must order Mr. Assange be extradited to Sweden.”

UK Court Agrees Assange Extradition To Sweden [Reuters]: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/24/us-britain-wikileaks-idUSTRE71M7PH20110224?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/02/british-court-orders-wikileaks-assange-estradited-to-sweden/

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« Reply #3069 on: Feb 24th, 2011, 12:15pm »

Posted 24 February 2011




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« Reply #3070 on: Feb 24th, 2011, 2:09pm »




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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3071 on: Feb 24th, 2011, 2:25pm »

on Feb 24th, 2011, 11:13am, WingsofCrystal wrote:
Wired Threat Level

British Court Orders Wikileaks’ Assange Extradited To Sweden
By John C Abell
February 24, 2011 | 7:49 am
Categories: WikiLeaks


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Julian Assange and his lawyer Jennifer Robinson arrive for his extradition hearing at Belmarsh Magistrates' Court in London, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011.
(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)



A British court Thursday ordered Wikileaks founder Julian Assange extradited to Sweden to face sex charges. His attorneys immediately said they would appeal the decision, a process which could take months.

The Australian reported that Assange, 39, “showed no emotion when the judge issued his verdict.”

Assange is being sought for questioning in Sweden on rape and coercion allegations stemming from sexual relations he had with two women in that country last August. One woman has claimed that Assange pinned her down to have sex with her and intentionally tore a condom he wore. The second woman claims that he had sex with her while she was initially asleep, failing to wear a condom despite repeated requests for him to do so. Assange has disputed their claims.

He was arrested in the UK on December 7. That was nine days after WikiLeaks began publishing from its cache of more than 250,000 leaked U.S. State Department diplomatic cables, which were trickling out at a rate of about a hundred a day. Nine days after that, Assange was released from jail on $300,000 bond.

While wanted for questioning, Assange has not been charged in Sweden with a crime and has denied any wrongdoing.

He has been living under house arrest in the large country estate of Vaughan Smith, whom The Guardian has described as “a former army officer, journalist adventurer and rightwing libertarian.” After Thursday’s ruling, the Court continued to allow Assange to remain free on bond under the same conditions, which include wearing an electronic ankle bracelet, reporting to police every evening in person and honoring a curfew.

Defense attorneys have claimed that Assange would not get a fair trial in Sweden, since rape trials in that country are sometimes held behind closed doors. They have also argued that Assange could somehow find himself extradited to the United States, where, they theorize, he could face execution for leaking secrets.

Judge Howard Riddle, however, avoided the larger overtones of the Assange situation and ruled narrowly.

“I have specifically considered whether the physical or mental condition of the defendant is such that it would be unjust or oppressive to extradite him,” Riddle told London’s top-security Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court. “I am satisfied that extradition is compatible with the defendant’s (European) Convention rights, I must order Mr. Assange be extradited to Sweden.”

UK Court Agrees Assange Extradition To Sweden [Reuters]: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/24/us-britain-wikileaks-idUSTRE71M7PH20110224?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/02/british-court-orders-wikileaks-assange-estradited-to-sweden/

Crystal






Is that Dr Who with a companion....?

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3072 on: Feb 24th, 2011, 5:26pm »

on Feb 24th, 2011, 2:25pm, drwu23 wrote:
Is that Dr Who with a companion....?

wink



Hi drwu23,

Yes! It must be, look at that scarf! grin

Crystal
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3073 on: Feb 24th, 2011, 6:01pm »

Seattle Times

Boeing wins huge Air Force tanker contract

The Air Force awarded its $35 billion air-refueling tanker contract Thursday to Boeing.

By Dominic Gates
Seattle Times aerospace reporter
Originally published February 24, 2011 at 11:30 AM | Page modified February 24, 2011 at 3:34 PM


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artists conception/Boeing


The Air Force awarded its $35 billion air-refueling tanker contract Thursday to Boeing, surprising many defense analysts and bringing relief and delight to advocates for Washington state.

Boeing will build its 767 tanker on a newly opened assembly line at the back of its Everett widebody jet plant.

Winning the tanker contract secures what Boeing says are 11,000 direct and indirect jobs in Washington state. That figure includes not only projected jobs at Boeing and at its in-state suppliers, but also at any kind of business — from bars to bakeries — serving the aerospace workforce.

Boeing was originally awarded a tanker contract in 2001, but that deal, which was never open to competitors, was swamped in controversy. It was canceled after a procurement scandal that sent Boeing's then-chief financial officer to jail.

In 2008, after an open competition, the contract was awarded to a joint bid from Northrop Grumman and Airbus parent company EADS. The award was canceled after Boeing challenged the procedures leading to the decision.

This time around, Northrop withdrew and it was a straight head-to-head contest between Boeing and EADS.

Though the Air Force award will draw the ire of politicians in southern states that would have benefited from an EADS win, the decision may finally bring the decade-long saga to a close.

EADS now has three days to ask for a debriefing as to why exactly it lost. That debriefing must take place within five days, after which EADS has another five days to decide if it wants to formally protest the decision.

Ralph Crosby, head of EADS North America, recently told the Press-Register newspaper in Mobile, Ala., that absent "some egregious process error," his company was unlikely to contest a Boeing win.

The outcome is a bitter disappointment for EADS.

The European planemaker had hoped to establish itself as a peer with U.S. companies in bidding for major defense contracts in the future.

It had also wanted a manufacturing facility in the U.S. that would have brought revenue in dollars — valuable as the euro rises against the dollar.

With expectations that Airbus could price its plane lower than Boeing, and leaks suggesting that the EADS A330 had outscored the Boeing 767 on a key mission evaluation that was part of the Air Force assessment, analysts had recently been predicting an EADS win.

With the outcome reversed, the happiest man at Boeing may be commercial airplanes chief Jim Albaugh, who was on a flight back from Texas to Seattle as the announcement was made.

Albaugh took over the defense side of the company in 2002 and closely shepherded Boeing's tanker bid afterward.

Having switched roles to head Boeing's commercial jet division in the fall of 2009, Albaugh will now get to oversee the building of the tanker.

Boeing stock rose $2.52, or 3.6 percent, to $73.28 in early after-hours trading.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/boeingaerospace/2014320058_tanker25.html

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3074 on: Feb 24th, 2011, 7:21pm »

Wired Danger Room

Did a Top General Run Psy Ops on Senators?
By Spencer Ackerman and Noah Shachtman
February 24, 2011 | 3:40 pm
Categories: Info War


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Lt. General William Caldwell IV
Photo: U.S. Army



Aides to a prominent general are insisting that their boss didn’t run a psychological operation on members of Congress. But the e-mails they provided to Danger Room to back up their denials appear to reinforce the initial charges: that Lt. Gen. William Caldwell IV, head of training in Afghanistan, used propaganda personnel to “spin” visiting U.S. Senators.

It’s a potentially serious offense. If Caldwell did order the operation, it could violate a decades-old law called the Smith-Mundt Act, which forbids the government from targeting propaganda at American citizens. Caldwell’s boss, Gen. David Petraeus, announced on Thursday that he’ll investigate the “facts and circumstances” of a potentially improper use of information operations.

The accusations come from Lt. Col. Michael Holmes, the leader of an information operations unit in Afghanistan, who tells Rolling Stone that Caldwell’s staff retaliated against him after he balked at their efforts to use him to influence American dignitaries.

One of Caldwell’s aides says that Holmes wasn’t acting in an “Information Operations,” or “IO,” capacity when dealing with the visiting legislators. Holmes may have been trained in psychological operations. But, at the time, Holmes was functioning as a garden-variety staff officer for Caldwell. According to the aide, they prepared some briefing books and talking points in advance of the dignitaries’ visits — nothing more, nothing less.

“Conducting research on important issues for individual VIP visitors to tailor talking points and connect with their interests and concerns is not IO. I guarantee all senior commanders have staff performing this kind of work. It’s merely being prepared and doing your homework,” the aide e-mails.

According to this version of events, only after Holmes found himself in hot water in an investigation did he run to Hastings with a story of a propaganda-happy Caldwell.

But internal e-mails from Caldwell’s command, known as NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan (NTM-A), show that Holmes routinely worked on information operations for the general.

First, a disclosure: Both Michael Hastings, the author of the Rolling Stone piece, and Caldwell are longtime friends of this blog.

According to Hastings’ piece, Caldwell asked Holmes for information on visiting legislators that a quick googling could retrieve: voting records, pet issues and “pressure points we could use to leverage the delegation for more funds [and] more people,” Holmes recounted to Hastings — the Afghanistan training effort still needs more training and personnel. Holmes initially cooperated. But in mid-March 2010, according to an NTM-A timeline obtained by Danger Room, Holmes “expressed concern” that the tasking was an “illegal” psychological operation.

That prompted Caldwell’s chief of staff, Col. Joseph Buche, to investigate. On March 30, an NTM-A lawyer determined “evidence” that Holmes and a subordinate, Maj. Laural Levine, were in an “inappropriate relationship” in which they wore civilian clothes and drank alcohol off-base, in violation of a military restriction on boozing it up in Afghanistan. The investigation had a new target.

In the e-mails reviewed by Danger Room, Holmes defends his trips off base in civilian clothing as necessary to conduct information operations. One e-mail from May 10, 2010, refers to a documentary NTM-A wanted to make about “community policing.” Referring to the documentary as the work of an IOTF — Information Operations Task Force — Holmes says that for the film to be persuasive, “there should be no open military presence either on film, or in the area during the shooting.” That means getting the men in “sportscoats and chinos” and the women in headscarves. In his e-mail signature, Holmes refers to himself as chief of an “IO FST” — an Information Operations Field Support Team.

A different e-mail explains that the Afghan government also sought to get U.S. military personnel in civilian garb, so they’d be less conspicuous. On May 4, 2010, a State Department official affirmed that a spokesman for President Hamid Karzai wanted U.S. forces at a Kabul media center to “strive to be in civilian clothing whenever possible.”

Jack Kem, Caldwell’s top civilian deputy, balked at having military personnel in civvies, for fear that their “concealed weapons” would be legally problematic if the service members were captured. Holmes continued to argue in his defense that he was asked to wear civilian clothes at weekly meetings with an Information Operations Task Force.

Ultimately, Holmes departed Afghanistan in September, after calling the inquiry into his civilian clothing a “kangaroo court.” He now runs a consulting firm specializing in “strategic communications” — another cousin of propaganda — in Texas, according to the firm’s Facebook page.

The clothing issue is less important than what it shows: that Holmes was indeed working on information operations for Caldwell. Caldwell’s staff argues that Holmes wasn’t working on information ops when he was dealing with U.S. senators or congressmen. But Caldwell’s aide conceded that he can’t document that claim.

Ultimately, it’ll for Petraeus to determine. But in Holmes’ case, the already-blurry lines between spin and propaganda got muddied by having an information operations officer involved in congressional glad-handing. Psychological operations are supposed to muddle the messages of foreign enemies or disrupt their communications. (Think the Air Force’s Commando Solo spy plane, which can disrupt an adversary’s broadcasts and replace them with pro-U.S. propaganda.)

But many a commander has lamented that messages from insurgents can chip away at domestic U.S. support for a war, while American hearts and minds aren’t supposed to be targeted by the U.S. military. In reality, the military has workarounds. Every single military command wants to influence Congress to protect their budgets, missions and turf. Sponsored trips to tour the war zones for legislators, think-tankers and even journalists are coordinated events to put the best spin possible on the war effort. Is that spin or propaganda?

The distinction is supposed to be enforced by staffing — that is, keeping the information operations folk out of the public-relations game. “It is a pretty big old red line,” says Bob Mackey, a retired Army officer with intelligence experience; Smith-Mundt is supposed to block the military from even using “truthful IO” on Americans. Petraeus will have to determine if Holmes’ involvement in Caldwell’s congressional outreach maintained that bulwark or eroded it.

For what it’s worth, one of the targets of the alleged psy-ops campaign, Sen. Carl Levin, is calling no harm, no foul. Levin’s long been an advocate of boosting training for the Afghan security forces so U.S. troops can withdraw. “I have never needed any convincing on this point,” he said in a statement. He expressed confidence that “the chain of command will review any allegation that information operations have been improperly used in Afghanistan.”

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/02/did-a-top-general-run-psyops-on-senators/

Crystal
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