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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 25567 times)
WingsofCrystal
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« Reply #5955 on: Jan 14th, 2012, 08:37am »

Deadline Hollywood

Copyright Infringement: British Man Faces Extradition To U.S.

By THE DEADLINE TEAM
Friday January 13, 2012 @ 9:39pm PST
Tags: Criminal Copyright Infringement, Richard O'Dwyer, TV Shack

A 23-year-old British student faces possible extradition to the United States for trial on charges of copyright infringement for hosting a website that pointed visitors to illegal download sites. Richard O’Dwyer’s website TV Shack listed links to other websites where users could access movies and TV shows but did not host any content himself.

O’Dwyer, a college student, said he undertook TV Shack as a project to improve his skills and job marketability. O’Dwyer sold $230,000 worth of advertising, which he says was necessary because of the massive server fees. “When you’ve got a website with over 300,000 people a month visiting, there’s a need for infrastructure to support that.” O’Dwyer’s attorney said the young man had done nothing more than Google or Yahoo search engines. Ben Cooper, an extradition lawyer, described O’Dwyer as a “guinea pig” because no British citizen has ever been extradited to the United States for a copyright offense. Nonetheless, a London judge upheld the extradition request and sent it to Britain’s Home Secretary for a final decision. O’Dwyer plans to appeal.

http://www.deadline.com/2012/01/copyright-infringement-tv-shack-extradition-to-u-s/

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« Reply #5956 on: Jan 14th, 2012, 08:45am »

The Hill

White House sends GOP another batch of Solyndra documents

By Andrew Restuccia and Ben Geman
01/13/12 05:38 PM ET

The White House on Friday sent more internal documents to Republicans investigating the $535 million loan guarantee to failed solar firm Solyndra, arguing that the cache of emails should satisfy GOP investigators.

The emails show senior White House aides discussing the need to coordinate messaging with the Energy Department and others ahead of Solyndra layoffs that occurred in early November 2010.

Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have been pressuring the White House for weeks to release more Solyndra documents, after officials provided about 135 pages of emails in response to a GOP subpoena.

The newly released documents will likely provide fodder for the ongoing, months-long Republican investigation into the loan guarantee. House Republicans have signaled that they intend to make it a top political priority when Congress returns next week.

The White House sent 66 additional pages of documents to the committee Friday in an effort to quell persistent Republican allegations that the administration approved the Solyndra loan guarantee for political reasons.

“The additional documents we are providing to the committee today further demonstrate that the decisions about whether to grant a conditional commitment to Solyndra and then to close and restructure the loan guarantee, were made on the merits by [the Energy Department],” the White House’s top lawyers wrote in a letter obtained by The Hill from a government source.

“There is no support for the allegations of political favoritism and improper White House interference that were the initial focus of the committee’s concerns.”

Solyndra filed for bankruptcy in September 2011, about two years after receiving the $535 million loan guarantee, and set off a political firestorm in Washington. Republicans have used the company’s collapse to raise questions about the White House’s green agenda, and have alleged that the administration approved the loan to please President Obama’s campaign donors.

So far, the GOP investigation has uncovered more than 180,000 pages of documents from the White House and various federal agencies. But the probe has yielded no evidence that the administration approved the loan for political reasons.

Committee Republicans requested Solyndra documents in 11 categories. But the White House said many of the categories were too broad.

“Such broad requests, which do not appear to be tailored to address any legitimate oversight interests of the committee, unreasonably intrude on longstanding institutional interests of the White House,” the administration lawyers wrote in their letter.

The White House said it “attempted to accommodate the committee by taking a more focused approach to these overbroad requests based on the legitimate issues we understand the committee to be pursuing, namely decision-making with respect to the Solyndra loan guarantee.”

The additional documents, the White House said, should “more than satisfy the committee’s legitimate oversight interests and aid its legislative function.”

Layoffs ‘no es bueno’

The internal emails the White House released Friday afternoon again show that high-level Obama administration officials were keenly aware of the political optics surrounding Solyndra, the first company to receive a loan guarantee under a stimulus-backed renewable-energy program.

The Energy Department and the White House strongly promoted Solyndra as a highlight of the administration’s push to create green energy jobs, and President Obama visited the company in May 2010.

The emails show senior officials in late October and early November 2010 discussing looming layoffs at the solar panel manufacturer — and how they would manage the fallout.

In one message, Obama energy aide Heather Zichal warned officials including White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer and top communications aide Jennifer Psaki of Solyndra’s upcoming announcement.

“We will all be coordinating with DOE and others on the press message but given the fact that the Administration has made this such a high profile [American Recovery and Reinvestment Act] investment, we wanted you to be aware that this was coming,” Zichal wrote.

Officials copied on the message include then-White House energy czar Carol Browner and Ron Klain, a former chief of staff to Vice President Biden. An Oct. 29 email from Joseph Aldy, another former White House energy aide, to Browner and others noted that upcoming layoffs were “not a good start for the first closed loan guarantee.”

Zichal, in reply, warned of 200 planned layoffs, but also noted that “according to DOE they have a good product.”

“Clearly they are going to need to do something differently,” she wrote. In an Oct. 27 email to Browner and others, Zichal flagged coming layoffs with the phrase “no es bueno.”

Documents released earlier by the Obama administration suggested that DOE urged the company to delay the layoff announcement until after the Nov. 2, 2010, midterm election.

But the newly released messages do not show that the White House sought a delay after learning of the planned layoffs from DOE.

Solyndra ultimately announced on Nov. 3, 2010, that it would close a manufacturing facility in Fremont, Calif., prompting the layoff of 40 workers and 150 contractors.

— This post was updated at 5:55 p.m.

http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/e2-wire/204149-white-house-sends-house-gop-more-solyndra-documents

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« Reply #5957 on: Jan 14th, 2012, 10:53am »

on Jan 13th, 2012, 09:27am, WingsofCrystal wrote:
LA Times

U.S. boosts its military presence in Persian Gulf

Additional troops and warships are in place in the event a crisis
erupts in the standoff with Iran over its nuclear program, officials say.

By David S. Cloud, Los Angeles Times
6:07 PM PST, January 12, 2012
Reporting from Washington

The Pentagon quietly shifted combat troops and warships to the Middle East after the top American commander in the region warned that he needed additional forces to deal with Iran and other potential threats, U.S. officials said.

Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis, who heads U.S. Central Command, won White House approval for the deployments late last year after talks with the government in Baghdad broke down over keeping U.S. troops in Iraq, but the extent of the Pentagon moves is only now becoming clear.

Officials said Thursday that the deployments are not meant to suggest a buildup to war, but rather are intended as a quick-reaction and contingency force in case a military crisis erupts in the standoff with Tehran over its suspected nuclear weapons program.

The Pentagon has stationed nearly 15,000 troops in Kuwait, including a small contingent already there. The new deployments include two Army infantry brigades and a helicopter unit, a substantial increase in combat power after nearly a decade in which Kuwait chiefly served as a staging area for supplies and personnel heading to Iraq.

The Pentagon also has decided to keep two aircraft carriers and their strike groups in the region.

This week, the American aircraft carrier Carl Vinson joined the aircraft carrier John C. Stennis in the Arabian Sea, giving commanders major naval and air assets in case Iran carries out its recent threats to close the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic choke point in the Persian Gulf through which one-fifth of the world's oil shipments passes.

"There's enough going on in that part of the world that you can see the merit in having a robust presence," said a senior Pentagon official, speaking on condition of anonymity about military movements.

Navy officials say Iran might be able to temporarily block tanker traffic through the strait using antiship missiles and other weapons, but U.S. commanders say they can reopen the waterway quickly if necessary.

Gen. Ataollah Salehi, head of Iran's army, warned the John C. Stennis not to return to the Persian Gulf after the aircraft carrier passed through the strait this month. The ship is scheduled to return to the U.S. soon, but officials said it will be replaced by the Enterprise in order to keep two carriers in the volatile region.

U.S. officials are divided over how much to publicize the deployments. Regional allies tend to dislike public discussion about their cooperation with Washington. But the Pentagon wants Iran's rulers to know that the U.S. still has adequate forces available in the event of a crisis.

They include the Army's 1st Cavalry Division's 1st Brigade, which shifted to Kuwait from Iraq when the last U.S. forces left last month. The brigade, which has more than 4,500 soldiers and is equipped with tanks and artillery, has been designated a "mobile response force" for the region, according to Col. Scott L. Efflandt, the brigade commander.

A National Guard brigade from Minnesota has been in Kuwait since August, and a combat aviation brigade arrived in December. Another major unit is heading to Kuwait shortly, though officials would not provide details.

Despite the buildup in Kuwait, the total number of U.S. troops in the region has declined with the withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq and the drawdown of U.S. troops that began last summer in Afghanistan.

Also Thursday, the Obama administration imposed sanctions on three companies that sell gasoline to Iran. Although Tehran is the world's third-largest exporter of oil, it has limited refining capacity and must import most of its gasoline.

The State Department said it would bar U.S. export licenses and most U.S. financing for the Zhuhai Zhenrong Co., which is based in China and is the largest seller of gasoline to Iran. Also sanctioned was Kuo Oil Pte. Ltd., an energy trading firm based in Singapore, and FAL Oil Co., an independent energy trader based in the United Arab Emirates.


http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-us-persian-gulf-20120113,0,5991473.story

Crystal
My youngest son is going there in March.He has given me limited info as to WHY.From what I am able to discern,there is a good possibility the USA is heading into another drawn out processional war.I hope not.
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« Reply #5958 on: Jan 14th, 2012, 12:10pm »

on Jan 14th, 2012, 10:53am, journryman57 wrote:
My youngest son is going there in March.He has given me limited info as to WHY.From what I am able to discern,there is a good possibility the USA is heading into another drawn out processional war.I hope not.


From your mouth to God's ear Journryman57!
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« Reply #5959 on: Jan 14th, 2012, 4:40pm »

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« Reply #5960 on: Jan 14th, 2012, 5:23pm »

Look at that old VW bug!!!! shocked

Thanks Gort! grin

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« Reply #5961 on: Jan 14th, 2012, 5:49pm »

Palm Beach Post

The top consumer scams of 2011

Posted: 5:31 PM
Last Updated: 1 hour and 9 minutes ago
Susan Salisbury
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

We want a better deal, a way out of debt, a job, a cure-all for our health or something for nothing.

Factor in the challenging economy and more sophisticated crooks, and the stage is set for more and more people to be taken advantage of by con artists.

Often, people who haven't been seeking anything are victims of hackers who steal credit information and make fraudulent charges to their bank accounts or credit or debit cards.

Michael Galvin, vice president of communications for the West Palm Beach-based Better Business Bureau of Southeast Florida and the Caribbean, said the BBB investigates thousands of scams every year. Some have been around for years, and others are new.

The best defense against the scammers is to be aware of what's going on, Galvin said. It pays to do your homework and check to see if any problems have been reported about a company or product before doing business. Go the BBB's resource on investigations from BBBs around the country at www.bbb.org/scam . You can sign up to receive scam alerts by e-mail. Check further at www.sunbiz.org to see if a business is legitimate and registered with the state.

"People are more vulnerable than ever," Galvin said. "The general population is aging. There will be more people targeted by scammers."

Galvin advises using a credit card instead of a debit card, because you will have a third party on your side to help get rid of any fraudulent charges. Also, don't do business with or give any information to someone who calls you on the phone or contacts you by email out of the blue wanting to help solve your debt, foreclosure or other problem. Instead, deal directly with a local firm after checking it out.

Desperation about finances is another reason people are taken by a scam. When a letter arrives in their mailbox telling them they've won a lottery somewhere, perhaps Spain or France, they believe it and are duped into sending account information or money.

"The most expensive word in the world is the word 'free,' " Galvin said.

People who have signed up for "free trials" for items such as acai berry supplements online have learned this. They pay shipping and handling and soon, their credit card is hit with additional charges. The charges recur each month and are difficult to stop.

"If it seems too good to be true, walk away," Galvin said.

The BBB has picked the top scams of 2011 in major categories. They are:

Job scam:

A person applying for a job online is told that in order to start the job, the candidate has to fill out a "credit report" or provide bank information for direct deposit of their "paychecks." The online forms are nothing more than a way to capture sensitive personal data - Social Security number, bank accounts, etc. - that can easily be used for identity theft. And, of course, there is no job, either.

Sweepstakes and lottery scam:

Last year's top sweepstakes scam was undoubtedly the email claiming to be from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announcing that the recipient was the winner of $1 million from the popular social networking site. These kinds of scams often use celebrities or other famous names to make their offer seem more genuine. If you aren't sure, don't click on the link but instead go directly to the homepage of the company mentioned. If they are really giving away $1 million, there will be some kind of announcement on their website.

Social media/online dating scam:

Viral videos claiming to show everything from grisly footage of Osama bin Laden's death to the latest celebrity high jinks have shown up on social media sites, often looking as if they have been shared by a friend. When you click on the link, you are prompted to "upgrade your Flash player," but the file you end up downloading contains a worm that logs into your social media account, sends similar messages to your friends, and searches for your personal data. The next time you see a sensational headline for the latest viral video, resist the urge to peek.

Home improvement scam:

This centers on so-called home improvement contractors who often leave your home worse than they found it. They usually knock on your door with a story or a deal - the roofer who can spot some missing shingles, the paver with some leftover asphalt who can give you a great deal on driveway resealing. A large percentage of BBB's accredited businesses are home contractors who want to make sure you know they are legitimate, trustworthy and dependable. Find one at www.bbb.org/search .

Check cashing scam:

Two legitimate companies - craigslist and Western Union - are used for an inordinate amount of scamming these days, and especially check cashing scams. Here's how it works: Someone contacts you via a craigslist posting, maybe for a legitimate reason like buying your old couch or perhaps through a scam like hiring you as a secret shopper. Either way, they send you a check for more than the amount they owe you, and they ask you to deposit it into your bank account and then send them the difference

via Western Union. A deposited check takes a couple of days to clear, whereas wired money is gone instantly. When the original check bounces, you are out whatever money you wired and you're still stuck with the old couch.

Phishing scam:

"Phishing" is when you receive a suspicious phone call asking for personal information or an email that puts a virus on your computer to hunt for your data. The most pernicious phishing scam last year disguised itself as official communication from the National Automated Clearing House Association, which facilitates the secure transfer of billions of electronic transactions every year. The email claims one of your transactions did not go through, and it hopes you react quickly and click on the link before thinking it through. It may take you to a fake banking site "verify" you account information, or it may download malware to infiltrate your computer.

Identity theft scam:

You get a call in your hotel room in the middle of the night. It's the front desk clerk, very apologetic, saying the hotel's computer has crashed and he need to get your credit card number again, or he must have gotten the number wrong because the transaction won't go through, and could you please read the number back so they can fix the problem? Scammers are counting on you being too sleepy to catch on that the call isn't from the hotel at all, but from someone outside who knows the direct-dial numbers for the guest rooms. By the time morning rolls around, your credit card has been on a major shopping spree.

Financial scam:

Since the federal government announced or expanded several mortgage relief programs, all kinds of sound-alike websites have popped up to try to fool consumers into parting with their money. Some sound like a government agency, or even part of BBB or other nonprofit consumer organization. Most ask for an upfront fee to help you deal with your mortgage company or the government (services you could easily do yourself for free), and almost all leave you in more debt than when you started.

Sales scam:

Penny auctions online are very popular because it seems like you can get something useful - cameras, computers, etc. - for way below retail. But you pay a small fee for each bid (usually 50 cents to $1) and if you aren't the winner, you lose that bid money. Winners often are not even the top bidder, just the last bidder when time runs out. Although not all penny auction sites are scams, some are being investigated as online gambling. BBB recommends you treat them the same way you would legal gambling in a casino - know exactly how the bidding works, set a limit for yourself, and be prepared to walk away before you go over that limit.

BBB phishing scam:

Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of people have gotten emails that look very much like an official notice from BBB. The subject line says something like "Complaint Against Your Business," and the instructions tell the recipient to either click on a link or open an attachment to get the details. If recipients do either, a malicious virus is launched on their computer. The virus can steal banking information, passwords and other critical pieces of information needed for cybertheft. The BBB is working with security consultants and federal law enforcement to track down the source of these emails and has shut down dozens of hijacked websites. Anyone who has opened an attachment or clicked on a link should run a complete system scan using reputable anti-virus software. If your computer is networked with others, all machines on the network should be scanned, as well.

http://www.wptv.com/dpp/news/the-top-consumer-scams-of-2011

Crystal
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« Reply #5962 on: Jan 14th, 2012, 7:08pm »

on Jan 14th, 2012, 5:23pm, WingsofCrystal wrote:
Look at that old VW bug!!!! shocked

Thanks Gort! grin

Crystal


Me want!
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« Reply #5963 on: Jan 14th, 2012, 7:31pm »

on Jan 14th, 2012, 7:08pm, Festivus wrote:
Me want!


I saw it first!!!
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« Reply #5964 on: Jan 14th, 2012, 8:04pm »

on Jan 14th, 2012, 7:31pm, WingsofCrystal wrote:
I saw it first!!!


Damn.

Oh well, I probably couldn't afford it anyway. smiley
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« Reply #5965 on: Jan 15th, 2012, 09:15am »

on Jan 14th, 2012, 8:04pm, Festivus wrote:
Damn.

Oh well, I probably couldn't afford it anyway. smiley


Since there is more than one on the street, how about you have it! cheesy

I'll get the one across the street.

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« Reply #5966 on: Jan 15th, 2012, 09:19am »

The Hill

Jailed ex-Marine becomes pawn in escalating fight between Iran, US

By Jeremy Herb
01/15/12 06:10 AM ET

A former U.S. Marine who has been sentenced to death by Iran for allegedly spying for the CIA is caught in the middle of increasing hostilities between Iran and the United States.

Amir Hekmati, an American-Iranian who was arrested in the summer, was given a death sentence in Iranian court on Monday, in the midst of escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran over Iran’s nuclear ambitions and threats to close the Strait of Hormuz, a vital oil waterway.

Two days later, an Iranian nuclear scientist was assassinated in a car bombing, further inflaming relations and bringing calls for retaliation from Iranian media. Senior U.S. officials firmly denied any involvement.

Iran has jailed U.S. citizens before — including three students in 2009 accused of being spies after they were arrested hiking along the Iran-Iraq border — but Hekmati’s death sentence, coming amid a war of words with the U.S., raises the stakes. Iran considers Hekmati an Iranian because they don’t recognize dual citizenship.

Military analysts say Iran is using Hekmati as a bargaining chip against the U.S. and European allies who are poised to impose punishing economic sanctions against the country.

Iran has amped up its rhetoric in response to the sanctions, threatening to shut down the Strait of Hormuz and warning U.S. ships to stay out of the Persian Gulf. Iran also announced it would move uranium operations underground.

Michael Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said the timing of Hekmati’s sentence was not likely coincidental, as Iran had painted itself into a corner by threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz when the U.S. called the bluff.

“They were in a position where they were going to be embarrassed if they backed down,” said Rubin. “By handing down the death sentence when they did, they can in effect demonstrate their own bluster and strength to their people, and at the same time try to depict the U.S. as impotent and weak.”

The State Department condemned Hekmati’s death sentence and said he’s been falsely accused. Hekmati’s mother, Behnaz Hekmati, said that her son was in Iran visiting relatives for the first time.

“Amir is not a criminal. His very life is being exploited for political gain," she wrote in an email to the Associated Press. “We pray that Iran will show compassion and not murder our son.”

Hekmati, a former U.S. Marine, works at a New York-based video game company that specializes in war games, according to the AP.

In Michigan, where Hekmati’s family lives, Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) joined the State Department in condemning the sentence.

“Iran has a history of falsely accusing Americans of being spies, and this new action by the Iranian government only further escalates tensions and isolates them from other countries,” Stabenow said in a statement.

The assassination of the nuclear scientist on Wednesday could complicate efforts to get Hekmati’s death sentence revoked.

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, and the CIA of carrying out the attack, despite the U.S. categorically denying any involvement. Israel has not issued such strong denials.

"This cowardly assassination, the perpetrators of which will never dare to admit or accept responsibility for it, like other acts of the international state terrorism, has been planned by the services of the CIA and the Mossad,” Khamenei said Thursday, according to a translation from an Iranian student news source.

The disputes all stem from one thing, analysts say: Iran’s nuclear program. The U.S. and other Western allies say Iran is trying to acquire a nuclear weapon, though Iran insists its nuclear sites are only working to produce energy.

“The primary thing driving tensions is Iran’s continued progress on its nuclear program,” said Matthew Kroenig, a former Pentagon adviser and fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “These things are really more an effect of the impending standoff than a cause.”

Kroenig said there are several scenarios where tensions with Iran could escalate into a military conflict. While Iran’s threat to close the strait has died down somewhat, he said, its continued progress enriching uranium could prompt either the U.S. or Israel to launch an attack.

The other scenario is if the economic and political pressure from sanctions becomes so great that Iran does actually follow through and try to close the strait, Kroenig said.

Iran’s domestic issues are also at work in the country’s posturing, as parliamentary elections are being held this spring — the first major elections since the contested 2009 presidential election.

Rubin said the disputes with the West are a useful way to distract Iranians from the country’s economic problems.

“If you’re in trouble at home,” Rubin said, “try to rally people around the flag, try to make a national issue out of it.”

http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/policy-and-strategy/204189-jailed-ex-marine-becomes-pawn-in-escalating-fight-between-iran-us

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« Reply #5967 on: Jan 15th, 2012, 09:22am »

LA Times

Canada's tightening immigration policy may be felt in U.S.

The revelation that an L.A. arson suspect entered the U.S. after losing an asylum bid in Canada
has focused attention on stringent policies that could force more immigrants to seek refuge in the U.S.

By Kim Murphy, Los Angeles Times
10:46 PM PST, January 14, 2012
Reporting from Vancouver, Canada

For years, Canada has had one of the most generous immigration policies in the world, welcoming tens of thousands of asylum applicants who claim to be fleeing persecution in their homelands.

But Canada's Conservative government has begun rolling up the welcome mat, stepping up efforts to track down and deport thousands of asylum-seekers whose applications have been denied.

The clampdown is likely to be felt not only across Canada, but in the United States.

Fresh from the revelation that Los Angeles arson suspect Harry Burkhart traveled to the U.S. from Vancouver after losing his nearly three-year bid for refugee status, immigration analysts here warn that the United States could become a new destination for thousands of asylum applicants soon to be pushed out of the pipeline in Canada.

"This is about to become a staging inventory for potential illicit entry into the United States," said Richard Kurland, an immigration policy analyst and attorney in Vancouver.

The most dramatic change is set to take effect at the end of June, with a $540-million "balanced refugee reform" program designed to speed up the asylum review process and start slicing through a backlog of more than 42,000 refugee cases, many of which have been awaiting a decision for years.

The tough new timelines call for asylum applicants to be given a hearing within 90 days, or even less for refugees from some countries, with most appeals heard within an additional 120 days, accompanied by stepped-up enforcement to eject those who fail to prove they would be persecuted if sent home.

U.S. officials say that asylum claimants who are denied refugee protection in Canada will not be automatically turned away at the U.S. border, despite a 2004 agreement between the countries that bars new arrivals in either from entering the other to claim asylum. That pact was put in place to halt the flow of asylum-seekers from the U.S., with its comparatively tough immigration policies, into Canada, where winning asylum had been easier.

The agreement was intended to target new arrivals, not those who had already gone through Canada's asylum process and faced potential deportation, said Mike Milne, spokesman for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office in Seattle, which supervises the western U.S.-Canada border.

"Anybody seeking asylum or claiming a credible fear of persecution gets to articulate their case to an asylum officer. We would take them into detention and they would have the same right as anyone seeking asylum to a hearing," Milne said.

Canadian officials say that's far from clear, and suggest it's more likely that anyone showing up at the U.S. border after failing to win asylum would be quickly returned to Canada, and then deported, under the 2004 agreement.

"Canada and the U.S. have a strong record of cooperation with respect to migrant, refugee and asylum issues and the management of our shared border," said Nancy Caron, spokeswoman for Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the nation's chief border enforcement agency.

In any event, U.S. officials say they do not anticipate a massive increase — at least in the number of those seeking to cross the border through legal channels — because they expect that Canada will allow some failed applicants to stay under other exemptions and will deport as many as possible of those deemed not at risk of persecution in their home countries.

But with Canada typically granting about 40% of asylum petitions, the prospect of moving more rapidly through 42,000 pending cases and the more than 124,000 already targeted for deportation, analysts say, is bound to make migration patterns much more unpredictable.

"If you deprive a large number of people of asylum options, they're going to look for the next place to go, in large numbers," Kurland said. "So it is utterly incomprehensible to not figure out that come June-July 2012, when the new rules kick in, there will be a drive to seek sanctuary somewhere else, such as the largest neighbor in North America."

In at least one case, that may already have happened: Officials in both the United States and Canada, citing privacy laws, have refused to say when or how Burkhart and his mother, Dorothee, traveled to the U.S., though it is likely they arrived as tourists with the aid of their German passports.

Most failed asylum applicants in Canada hold passports from nations that would require them to have a visa to enter the U.S. But Kurland said even the Burkharts, though they wouldn't have needed a visa, should have triggered an alert for U.S. immigration authorities after having been rejected for asylum in Canada.

"If they can't catch two obvious refugee claimants who spent years in Canada in the refugee system, how can we trust them to deal with the potential of thousands of folks turned away from Canada because of the new changes?" he said.

Lack of funding until now has prevented the Canadian Border Services Agency from making much headway against the more than 124,000 immigrants targeted for deportation, most of them failed asylum claimants. At least 44,000 have ignored orders to leave and are facing arrest.

"Once all avenues of appeal have been exhausted, persons are expected to abide by our laws and leave Canada. It is extremely challenging, since most people facing removal have no desire to comply," said Renee Ribout, spokeswoman for the border services agency.

Refugee advocates, meanwhile, worry that the stepped-up timelines enshrined in the new law, while purportedly designed to help immigrants by giving them a speedier decision, could hurt more than they help.

The 90-day deadline for holding hearings gives applicants little time to find lawyers and prepare the complex paperwork required to build their case files, which often number hundreds of pages and must delve into the complex political and social situations that may have put the applicants at risk in their homelands.

"They're responding to a real problem, that the process is taking too long, but there's a balance in the middle; you need to give people enough time," said Janet Dench, executive director of the nonprofit group Canadian Council for Refugees.

"We're primarily concerned about women who've survived sexual violence, [as well as] gays and lesbians, victims of torture," she said. "A very fast process will actually compromise the possibilities of protection for some of these most vulnerable groups."


http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-canada-immigration-20120115,0,4032232.story

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« Reply #5968 on: Jan 15th, 2012, 09:28am »

Speaking of the border:

The Northern Light

Three arrested after Blaine cocaine bust

Published on Wed, Jan 11, 2012
by Jeremy Schwartz

Three Canadian citizens are being held in Seattle after being arrested while allegedly trying to smuggle cocaine across the U.S./Canadian border in east Blaine.

Homeland security agents arrested two men and one woman near the Smuggler’s Inn Bed and Breakfast after a plan to smuggle approximately 23 pounds of cocaine into Canada was interrupted. If convicted, all three face a minimum of 10 years in prison.

According to a complaint filed by homeland security agent Joshua Barnett in federal district court in Seattle on December 16, homeland security agents received information from a confidential informant that a smuggling operation was likely to take place on the evening of December 15, 2011, near the Smuggler’s Inn. The inn is less than 100 feet from the U.S./Canadian border.

At about 8 p.m. on December 15, Barnett and other law enforcement agents saw a black GMC Yukon arrive at the inn. Bob Boule, owner of Smuggler’s Inn, was driving the SUV with a man and the woman in the vehicle, Barnett wrote in court documents. The woman was later identified as Jasmin Klair, while the man was a guest at the inn.

“Klair is a Canadian citizen, and she appeared to be very nervous and agitated when I asked her basic questions about her identity,” Barnett wrote. “I asked her if the large, white box located in the back of the Yukon belonged to her. Initially, Klair stated the box was not hers.”

After Barnett asked the others in the SUV about the box, Klair admitted it was hers. Barnett took Klair into the inn for further questioning, and after being read her rights Klair said she would fully cooperate with homeland security agents.

With Klair’s permission, Barnett opened the box and found about 23 pounds of a substance field-tested to be cocaine divided into nine bricks. During questioning, Klair received numerous text messages and phone calls from a man she knew as “Jason.”
Klair said she met “Jason” and another man, later identified as Gurjit Singh Sandhu, through a work friend in late November. After initial phone conversations with Sandhu on December 14, Klair said she agreed to transport a duffle bag full of what she understood to be “illicit substances” across the border for $4,000.

On December 15, Klair said she and a man she knew as “Tim” met Sandhu at a Canadian Tire store in Surrey, B.C. Sandhu gave Klair $600 and told her to pay for a room at Smuggler’s Inn. Sandhu also told Klair to pay for the inn’s car service to pick her up in Bellingham and take her to the inn.

Later on December 15, Klair and “Tim” drove into the U.S. through the Peace Arch border crossing to meet a man named “Jay” at a Jack in the Box parking lot in Burlington. Once in Burlington, Klair met “Jay,” who put a large, white box into the trunk of Klair’s car. Klair and “Tim” then drove to the Pizza Hut on Samish Way where Sandhu called Klair, telling her to schedule a ride to Smuggler’s Inn.

At about 6:15 that evening, Boule arrived at the Pizza Hut to pick up “Tim” and Klair. The inn’s owner helped move the large white box from Klair’s car to his SUV and drove the pair to the inn after picking up an uninvolved individual at Bellingham Airport.

Once under arrest at the inn, Klair continued to keep in contact with Sandhu as agents monitored the room she was staying in. Klair put the white box outside the door of her room as agents watched. Klair said Sandhu told her he would come for her and the box and that they would run back across the border together.

At about 11:45 p.m., agents saw a Volkswagen Jetta slow down while driving on 0 Avenue just across the border, about 100 feet away from the inn. Sandhu and a man later identified as Narminder Kaler crossed the border on foot and ran toward Klair’s room. Agents approached the two men as they neared the inn and arrested them after they attempted to run back into Canada.

After being read his rights, Kaler told agents he was going to receive $2,000 for the contents of the box once he was back in Canada. Kaler said he needed the money to pay off a $325,000 debt incurred after losing a 115-pound loaf of cocaine a year and a half ago.


http://thenorthernlight.com/news/article.exm/2012-01-11_three_arrested_after_blaine_cocaine_bust

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« Reply #5969 on: Jan 15th, 2012, 09:37am »

Scientific American

Russian Mars Probe to Crash Soon, With World Watching

At most, 20 to 30 fragments of Phobos-Grunt, weighing a total of less than 200 kilograms,
may reach Earth’s surface, most likely the ocean.

By Leonard David and SPACE.com
Friday, January 13, 2012

A coordinated global campaign is monitoring a wayward Russian Mars probe that's slated to crash to Earth in the next few days, the European Space Agency has announced.

The doomed Phobos-Grunt spacecraft, which Russian officials estimate will re-enter Earth's atmosphere between Saturday and Monday (Jan. 14-16), is now officially a target for the 12-member Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee, or IADC for short.

"An IADC re-entry prediction campaign is ongoing since January 2. Phobos-Grunt was identified to be no high-risk object," said Heiner Klinkrad, head of the space debris office at the European Space Agency's (ESA) European Space Operations Centerin Darmstadt, Germany. "Hence, this will be adopted as our annual 'test campaign' for 2012," he told SPACE.com.

The determination that Phobos-Grunt is not a high-risk piece of space junk is due to the relatively low dry mass of the errant spacecraft—just 2.5 tons. There is about 11 tons of toxic propellant onboard, adding up to the probe’s total mass of 13.5 tons.

According to ESA, studies by the Russian space agency (known as Roscosmos) and NASA indicate that Phobos-Grunt's fuel tanks should burst high above the Earth, releasing a load of propellant that will subsequently dissipate. [Photos of the Phobos-Grunt mission]

"Because it was stuck in low Earth orbit rather than heading towards Mars, this has meant that it's full of fuel too," said Alice Gorman, a lecturer in the School of Humanities, Department of Archaeology at Flinders University in South Australia.

Gorman specializes in space archaeology and noted that the fuel tanks, according to the Russian space agency, are made of aluminum.

"More than 50 percent of all re-entered spacecraft material is titanium, beryllium or steel, which has a melting point twice that of aluminum, so the likelihood of the fuel tanks surviving is very low,” Gorman said. "The fuel is reported to be hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide, which boil at 113 degrees Celsius and 21 degrees C respectively, so it will evaporate at high altitude once the tanks go."

Phobos-Grunt leftovers

Roscosmos has said that, at most, 20 to 30 fragments of Phobos-Grunt, weighing a total of less than 200 kilograms, may reach Earth’s surface. However, given that most of our planet's surface is covered by water, the probability that these pieces will fall onto populated terrain is seen as very small.

Phobos-Grunt also carries a small Chinese Mars orbiter called Yinghuo-1. Chinese state media declared the Yinghuo-1 probe a loss back in mid-November.

ESA’s Space Debris Office in Darmstadt hosts the IADC database that's used to exchange orbit data and re-entry predictions among IADC members, a membership roster that includes NASA and Roscosmos.

IADC member agencies also include European national agencies and the Chinese, Canadian, Japanese, Ukrainian and Indian space agencies.

Results from the Phobos–Grunt monitoring campaign will be used by IADC members to improve their models and make future predictions of space debris re-entry more accurate, officials said.

"Taking this step demonstrates the increasing trend by space actors to take voluntary cooperative action to protect the space and Earth environments and share risk," said Joanne Irene Gabrynowicz, director of the National Center for Remote Sensing, Air, and Space Law at the University of Mississippi School of Law.

"It is a practical application of the legal fact that outer space is a global commons," Gabrynowicz told SPACE.com.

Survivable return capsule

Predicting the exact time that Phobos-Grunt will slip into Earth’s atmosphere—and over what part of the Earth the craft will re-enter—is anybody’s guess at the moment.

"Right now, due to the large number of uncertainties in the orbit and space environment affecting the satellite, the indications are that Phobos-Grunt could re-enter between January 13-17, between 51.4 degrees north and 51.4 degrees south," Klinkrad said in a recent ESA statement.

Phobos-Grunt launched on Nov. 8 (Nov. 9 in Moscow). The probe was supposed to land on Phobos—one of two moons circling the Red Planet—collect soil samples and then send those specimens back to Earth in 2014 ("grunt" means "soil" in Russian).

However, shortly after launch, the probe failed to boost itself out of Earth orbit on an interplanetary trajectory.

That's LIFE

The wayward Russian probe carries a nose-cone-shaped descent vehicle that was designed to haul back to Earth bits and pieces of Phobos. That hardware is likely to survive re-entry, since it was built to plunge through Earth’s atmosphere and make a hard landing.

The return capsule was supposed to touch down at the Sary Shagan missile test range in Kazakhstan.

Tucked inside the capsule is the Living Interplanetary Flight Experiment (LIFE) designed and built by the Planetary Society, a United States-based nonprofit organization. This biomodule was devised to assess how spending years in deep space affects organisms.

"Because we can’t predict the details of the re-entry, we can’t predict whether the Phobos LIFE biomodule will survive re-entry, and certainly we can't predict whether it will land somewhere it could be recovered," said the Planetary Society’s Bruce Betts, LIFE project manager.

"In the unlikely event the Phobos LIFE biomodule is recovered, we would want to study the organisms inside," Betts told SPACE.com. "Though the primary goal of 34 months in deep space will not have been achieved, there would be some scientific value to study the organisms after two months in low-Earth orbit."


Leonard David has been reporting on the space industry for more than five decades. He is a winner of last year's National Space Club Press Award and a past editor-in-chief of the National Space Society's Ad Astra and Space World magazines. He has written for SPACE.com since 1999.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=russian-mars-probe-to-crash

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