Friday, January 13, 2006

Norway building a Doomsday Vault on an Arctic Island

With friggin laser beams on their heads!

Norway is planning to build a "doomsday vault" inside a mountain on an Arctic island to hold a seed bank of all known varieties of the world's crops.

The Norwegian government will hollow out a cave on the ice-bound island of Spitsbergen to hold the seed bank.

It will be designed to withstand global catastrophes like nuclear war or natural disasters that would destroy the planet's sources of food.

Seed collection is being organised by the Global Crop Diversity Trust.

"What will go into the cave is a copy of all the material that is currently in collections [spread] all around the world," Geoff Hawtin of the Trust told the BBC's Today programme.

Mr Hawtin said there were currently about 1,400 seed banks around the world, but a large number of these were located in countries that were either politically unstable or that faced threats from the natural environment.

"What we're trying to do is build a back-up to these, so that a sample of all the material in these gene banks can be kept in the gene bank in Spitsbergen.

The Norwegian government is due to start work on the seed vault next year, when it will drill into a sandstone mountain on Spitsbergen, part of the Svalbard archipelago, about 966km (600 miles) from the North Pole.

Permafrost will keep the vault below freezing point and the seeds will further be protected by metre-thick walls of reinforced concrete, two airlocks and high security blast-proof doors.

The number of seeds and types of plants in the bank would be determined by the countries wishing to use it.

Posted by crimnos @ 8:10 AM :: (3) comments

Vampire Candidate 'Won't Hide Evil Side'

I really don't have much to say here...this is just hilarious. You should definitely check out his website, too!

Vampire Candidate 'Won't Hide Evil Side'
Thursday, January 12, 2006

MINNEAPOLIS — One gubernatorial candidate in Minnesota is giving a whole new meaning to the "dark side" of politics. A man who calls himself a satanic priest plans to run for governor on a 13-point platform that includes the public impaling of terrorists at the state Capitol building.

Jonathon Sharkey, also known as "The Impaler", plans to launch his gubernatorial campaign on — when else? — Friday the 13th. He'll make the announcement in Princeton.

"I'm going to be totally open and honest," said the 41-year-old leader of the "Vampyres, Witches and Pagans Party."

"Unlike other candidates, I'm not going to hide my evil side," he said.

In Minnesota, anyone who pays the $300 filing fee can get on the gubernatorial ballot and it seems that every year a few eccentric candidates make the rounds.

Sharkey raises the bar. For one thing, he told the Star Tribune in an e-mail that he drinks blood.

Including the impaling of terrorists, rapists, drug dealers and other criminals, Sharkey's platform includes emphasis on education, tax breaks for farmers and better benefits for veterans.

Sharkey said he worships Lucifer and, while he says he has nothing against Christians, he calls the "Christian God the Father" his "mortal enemy."

Posted by crimnos @ 8:07 AM :: (4) comments

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Alito Believes in an All-Powerful Presidency

From the Independent:

Bush Nominee 'Believes in an All-Powerful Presidency'
By Rupert Cornwell
The Independent UK

Wednesday 11 January 2006

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee accused President Bush's latest Supreme Court nominee of being far too deferential to executive power and invariably favouring the state over the rights of the individual.

Edward Kennedy, the party's liberal standard bearer, told Judge Samuel Alito as the committee got down to serious questioning yesterday: "Your record shows you believe in the supremacy of the executive branch and an almost all-powerful presidency." .

To make his argument, Senator Kennedy cited several cases from Judge Alito's 15-year stint on the federal appeals bench in which, he claimed, the judge had sided with the state even when some of his conservative colleagues disagreed.

Along with abortion, the issue of abuse of executive power and the judiciary's role as the last line of defence against such abuse, have emerged as a potential stumbling blocks to Judge Alito's confirmation.

The row has been propelled on to the front pages by last month's revelation that President Bush has allowed the National Security Agency to conduct wiretapping without warrants against US citizens, bypassing a special domestic court that normally authorises such procedures. The White House, Mr Kennedy charged, was "abusing power, excusing and authorising torture and spying on American citizens." Judge Alito, he said, "has to speak out on his commitment to constitutional values and liberties".

On abortion, Judge Alito sought to pacify his critics by indicating he would be in no rush to rule against the 1973 Roe v Wade decision upholding a woman's right to have an abortion. He had "an open mind" on the issue.

These Supreme Court hearings are arguably the most important in a generation. Judge Alito would replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, frequently the key swing vote on the nine-member court. Democrats and civil liberties groups say his confirmation would tilt the body decisively to the right.

Posted by crimnos @ 2:13 PM :: (1) comments

A Peek Behind the Curtain at Gitmo

So Amnesty International just released some testimony from Gitmo detainees, and boy, is it hairy. Don't have time to delve into them properly, but this one seems, at first glance, to be standard (and terrible):

They started beating us and took pictures of us on a camera; I could see the flash. I had a violent pain in my stomach – I had had an operation on my stomach and there was a piece of metal in it; when I complained about the severity of the pain, a soldier came and started kicking me in my stomach with his military boot until I vomited blood.
Once I fell when I fainted and found my head under the boot of a soldier who started beating me severely. I fainted again and woke only to find the soldier urinating on my head and back; he was roaring with laughter. I was still lying on my stomach; he raised my head by the hair and started kicking me in my face with his boot and put it inside my mouth until my face and my lips were cut, my face was swollen and my blood was flowing copiously. Then he started hitting me on my eye; I almost went blind, were it not for the grace and mercy of Allah. We were in this situation for a long time. Then the soldiers started taking us one by one to another tent. When it was my turn, a soldier came, he had an electric saw with him and he cut off the Pakistani shackle and replaced it with an American one. They took me to that tent pulling me by my face. In that tent, there was an Egyptian interpreter with a dirty tongue who cursed us, our families and our honour in strong terms. He shouted at us, "you’re from Al Qaeda, you’re terrorists, you’re dogs" and other insults that I am loathe to repeat. Then they made me and the other prisoners take off all our clothes, most of which were torn from the severe beating we had received. Then they photographed us and examined us. My blood was everywhere, my face was swollen from being beaten and kicked and I had cuts all over my body. All of this was captured on video and I have pictures of myself in this state; an investigator showed me some of these pictures during a subsequent investigation session in Cuba. We were not allowed to talk or complain; anyone who complained was beaten severely. Most of the beating was concentrated on sensitive areas, like the eyes, the nose and the genitals. Then they took us to an old metallic building designed for plane maintenance at the airport. Inside, they had divided it into several enclosures fenced off by barbed wire. They made us all enter one of the enclosures which looked like a sheep pen. While the soldiers were taking me to this part of the tent, they beat me really brutally and banged my head against the iron building. I was not wearing shoes, I was walking barefoot and they made walk on the barbed wire.
"During that time, I was moved to the camp clinic because of the terrible state of my health. They would take me for investigations which were mostly held at night; they would beat me severely and tell me to confess that I was a terrorist!! Once, from the excessive and severe beatings, one of my foot shackles broke. Once, they poured boiling hot liquid on my head and the investigator stubbed his cigarette out on my foot. I said to him, "why are you treating me like this?" He then took a cigarette and stubbed it out on my right wrist and said, "in the name of Christ and the Cross I am doing this". Once, they had beaten me so severely that my clothes were ripped and my genitals were exposed. I tried to cover myself up but they started kicking me with their boots. They stripped me of my clothes and lay me flat on the ground. One of the soldiers urinated on my head and my face after one of the other soldiers had raised my head by the hair. After that, a soldier brought petrol and injected it into my penis. I screamed because it was extremely painful. They took me back to the camp after a long night of torture. I was bleeding where they had injected the petrol and it was very swollen so I asked to see the doctor. When I met the doctor and told him what had happened, he became very angry and said, "you’re a liar and a terrorist and you deserve worse than this". He left me and went away. When it was almost sunset, they took me to the investigation tent, the torture tent, and beat me as they were taking me there. I saw the investigator and he was really angry with me; he said, "you’ve been complaining to the doctor about us?! We’ll show you what we’ll do to you" and they hit me really hard all over my body. They started kicking me with their boots and then they took me to another camp while I was blindfolded. I heard an Afghani prisoner scream; he was crying and saying, "O Allah, O God", in Afghani and other words in his language that I did not understand. When I approached the door of the camp, they took off the blindfold. I saw an Afghani brother in his fifties, he had a lot of white hair in his beard, and he was tied to the ground. Soldiers were holding on to his shackles and he was naked and lying on his stomach. One of the soldiers was sexually assaulting him. One of the soldiers had a video camera with him and was taping this distressing scene. The investigator said to me, "he was with the Taliban and he doesn’t want to confess" They made me really scared; I became hysterical and I almost went mad out of fear. They put the blindfold back on my eyes and took me back to the same tent where they were beating me. The investigator said to me, "if you complain again or talk about what happens here, we will do the same thing to you that we did to that Afghan terrorist". Then he hit me very hard and they took me back to my tent.
Once, while being tortured, the investigator brought a small device like a mobile phone but it was an electric shock device. He started shocking my face, my back, my limbs and my genitals.
"As for the Emergency Reaction Forces (ERFs), one could go on forever but I will only mention some general incidents that happened. There was a group of soldiers whose emblem and badge was 9/4. These soldiers were the most detestable and abusive and abused our rights...There were other groups as well who all had the same hate for us. They would deploy the ERFs for the most trivial matter so that there was an excuse to attack us and vent their secret hate with the blessing of their officers in charge. If they went into the cage of a detainee, his blood would be sure to flow or they would break his bones; seldom would they exit without injuring the defenceless detainee. Perhaps I will mention some of the incidents I saw myself here. They went to a detainee and put his head in the toilet. The toilets in Camp Delta are iron, Turkish-style toilets and then they flushed his head down the toilet until he almost died. They went to a detainee and started beating his head against the toilet rim until he lost consciousness and he could not see for more than 10 hours. He suffered facial spasms as a result. They went to a detainee when he was praying the maghrib (sunset) prayer and beat him severely. That was in isolation block I India. On that same day, they came and beat me. At that time, we were angry because the duty chief supervisor cursed Allah and banged on the doors of our cells and said, "Merry Christmas"; that was on Christmas day 2002. There were many, many attempts to gouge the eyes of the detainees and to hit them in their private parts. They would beat them when they were ill and would hit them on their injuries. One detainee, called Abdul Aziz Al-Masri, was ill and was asleep in the hospital. These soldiers went and beat him very badly in the hospital in front of the doctors and nurses. His injuries were excessive and caused his spine to break. He is now hemiplegic. They are now trying to operate on him but he is refusing out of fear that they will play with his back and make it worse rather than make it better as their operations often do. These kinds of incidents happen often. They would make sending them to the detainees an excuse for incidents in which we would suffer extensive injuries, severe disfiguration and fractures as there was no one monitoring or following up their actions. Rather, their officers and officials gave them the orders. They tortured the detainees in the name of the law. There are too many incidents to mention or even count. Perhaps those I have mentioned are enough because many of these incidents have been mentioned in the media.

Posted by crimnos @ 11:18 AM :: (0) comments

NSA Whistleblower Alleges Illegal Spying

The Bush/NSA domestic spying scandal intensifies today as we finally have a whistleblower who is willing to testify before Congress. The tinfoil side of me wonders how long this guy has to live, but then I remember that he doesn't matter, because, once again, nothing will happen because of it, and am therefore depressed.

The story implies that they're automaticaly scanning all phone traffic that goes through the routers where they have their software. If this is true, it's inherently illegal - to wiretap someone, the government needs a specific warrant tied to one individual or phone line. Again, not that Congress is going to actually do something about this. Of course, if such an elaborate system is already in place over a difficult medium (phone conversations), what are the odds that its scouring the internet right now? Hmmm, I can't imagine...

NSA Whistleblower Alleges Illegal Spying

Former Employee Admits to Being a New York Times Source

Jan 10, 2006 — Russell Tice, a longtime insider at the National Security Agency, is now a whistleblower the agency would like to keep quiet.

For 20 years, Tice worked in the shadows as he helped the United States spy on other people's conversations around the world.

Watch the full report on Nightline at 11:35 p.m. ET.

"I specialized in what's called special access programs," Tice said of his job. "We called them 'black world' programs and operations."

But now, Tice tells ABC News that some of those secret "black world" operations run by the NSA were operated in ways that he believes violated the law. He is prepared to tell Congress all he knows about the alleged wrongdoing in these programs run by the Defense Department and the National Security Agency in the post-9/11 efforts to go after terrorists.

"The mentality was we need to get these guys, and we're going to do whatever it takes to get them," he said.

Tracking Calls

Tice says the technology exists to track and sort through every domestic and international phone call as they are switched through centers, such as one in New York, and to search for key words or phrases that a terrorist might use.

"If you picked the word 'jihad' out of a conversation," Tice said, "the technology exists that you focus in on that conversation, and you pull it out of the system for processing."

According to Tice, intelligence analysts use the information to develop graphs that resemble spiderwebs linking one suspect's phone number to hundreds or even thousands more.

Tice Admits Being a New York Times Source

President Bush has admitted that he gave orders that allowed the NSA to eavesdrop on a small number of Americans without the usual requisite warrants.

But Tice disagrees. He says the number of Americans subject to eavesdropping by the NSA could be in the millions if the full range of secret NSA programs is used.

"That would mean for most Americans that if they conducted, or you know, placed an overseas communication, more than likely they were sucked into that vacuum," Tice said.

The same day The New York Times broke the story of the NSA eavesdropping without warrants, Tice surfaced as a whistleblower in the agency. He told ABC News that he was a source for the Times' reporters. But Tice maintains that his conscience is clear.

"As far as I'm concerned, as long as I don't say anything that's classified, I'm not worried," he said. "We need to clean up the intelligence community. We've had abuses, and they need to be addressed."

The NSA revoked Tice's security clearance in May of last year based on what it called psychological concerns and later dismissed him. Tice calls that bunk and says that's the way the NSA deals with troublemakers and whistleblowers. Today the NSA said it had "no information to provide."

ABC News' Vic Walter and Avni Patel contributed to this report.

Posted by crimnos @ 7:54 AM :: (2) comments

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Bush to Slash Gas Subsidies for Iraq

First of all, my apologies for missing updates the past few days, as I've been suffering from a cold the likes of which I have not seen in many, many years. I still have hired hands combing the deserts for my left lung, and had to go the doctor this morning to get my eye reattached after it popped out during a tragic coughing episode. To sum it up: my weekend sucked.

Yes, I know, Alito hearings are going on, and I'm going to cover them in more depth in future updates. For now, I'm hurried.

Now, then. Looks like Bush is going to cut gas subsidies for Iraqis:

WASHINGTON, Jan 10 (Reuters) - President George W. Bush said on Tuesday reforming Iraqi gasoline subsidies was a necessary step for economic reform.

"Until recently government subsidies put the price of fuel in Iraq at artificially lower prices, really low prices," Bush said. "Changing these subsidies is a necessary step on the path for economic reform."

Now, Sally Forth me if I'm wrong, but, prior to us invading their country, wasn't Iraqi gas unsubsidized and cost about 25 cents per gallon? What is wrong with this picture?

Posted by crimnos @ 11:42 AM :: (2) comments