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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bin Laden Raid Kill Photos WARNING GRAPHIC PHOTOS

COMPLETE SLIDESHOW
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The man is not Osama bin Laden. It is one of several said to have been sold to Reuters by an anonymous Pakistani security official. The close-cropped pictures do not show any weapons on the dead men, according to Reuters.



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Purported “Bin Laden Raid Kill Photos Released”

Kurt Nimmo
Infowars.com
May 4, 2011
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In an ongoing effort to bait the hook and heighten the drama around the release of photos the government will eventually offer as definitive proof Osama bin Laden was killed by Nay Seals, the corporate media has released a gruesome photo of a dead man in Pakistan. A second photo shows the trash-strewn grounds of the compound where the government alleges Bin Laden was hiding out.

Earlier today, Obama announced he will not release photographs taken by the U.S. military after it purportedly executed Osama bin Laden, members of his family, and others at a house located in the military garrison town of Abbottabad, just north of Pakistan’s capital.

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Schweich Audit Attacks Nixon

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Schweich audit attacks Nixon for shifting staff, travel costs
By Jo Mannies, Beacon political reporter   
www.stlbeacon.org
May 4, 2011
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State Auditor Tom Schweich's latest audit takes a swipe at Gov. Jay Nixon's habit of having some of his administration's various department and agencies cover some of his travel and other costs.
The audit, released today, focused on the Department of Revenue (DOR). Among other things, the audit "found that the department paid nearly $26,000 in salaries and other costs related to the governor's office and the Office of Administration (OA)."
"In fiscal year 2009, the funds went toward one staff member in the governor's office. In fiscal year 2010, the funding increased to three members of staff in the governor's office and two in the OA," the audit said. "It appears these employees were located in, and supervised by, the governor's office and the OA and performed functions related to those offices."
"The DOR also paid over $9,500 for 35 flights of the governor's office, only four of which included DOR personnel," the report continued. "The audit questions the appropriateness of these costs because the travel did not always benefit the DOR and department employees were frequently not on the flights. As previous audits have indicated, paying costs of other state agencies like this circumvents the appropriations process."
Nixon's office has yet to respond. But the Missouri Republican Party used the audit as an opportunity to once again jab at the governor's frequent travels. Republicans have been attacking Nixon for months over his travel bills, which included
"At a time when Missourians are cutting back and the state government is tightening its belt, Jay Nixon has deprived cash-strapped state agencies of valuable resources by forcing them to pay for his costly trips on the state plane. Instead of putting more dollars towards job creation and educating our children, Nixon has skimmed half-a-million in taxpayer funds to pay for his flights of fancy," said Lloyd Smith, Executive Director of the Missouri Republican Party. "Now, Missouri’s top government watchdog is once again blowing the whistle on Jay Nixon’s travel and his efforts to bury the costs in other departments."

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Was Bin Laden Assault A Pat Tillman-Style Fable?

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Was Bin Laden Assault A Jessica Lynch-Style Fable?


Paul Joseph Watson
Infowars
May 4, 2011
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The myriad of inconsistencies that continue to be unearthed in light of the White House’s ever-changing account of the alleged capture and assassination of Osama Bin Laden are beginning to resemble two other war propaganda fables that were presented to the American people as heroic episodes of US military might yet turned out to be nothing less than outright deceptions used to generate contrived pro-war patriotism – the “rescue” of Jessica Lynch and the death of Pat Tillman.
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First Bin Laden was armed, then he was not. First Bin Laden used his wife as a human shield then he did not. First Bin Laden was shot on sight then he was shot only after being captured first. First Bin Laden’s compound was a plush million dollar mansion then it was a dirty house with no air conditioning worth a quarter of that.
The truth behind the raid and the alleged assassination of Bin Laden is moving further away from the dramatic tale President Obama told the nation on Sunday night with each passing day. But that’s to be expected from a US military-industrial complex that has a habit of manufacturing fables to dupe the American public into accepting the delusion that is the “war on terror”.
Take for example the gargantuan psychological warfare salvo that the US government launched against its own people in the immediate aftermath of the Jessica Lynch “rescue”.
In crafting the Jessica Lynch fable, “The Pentagon had been influenced by Hollywood producers of reality TV and action movies,” reported the Guardian, including Black Hawk Down director Jerry Bruckheimer, who visited the Pentagon personally on numerous occasions before the event to discuss how occupations overseas could be humanized for means of better mass consumption on behalf of the American public.
The result was a complete fabrication of the Jessica Lynch story in an attempt to turn Lynch into a patriotic pro-war icon based on lies about how she was rescued by US forces in a dramatic siege from the clutches of Iraqi soldiers who had killed nine of her comrades.
According to the scripted version of the fable, Lynch had been shot and stabbed in an ambush by Iraqi soldiers before later being tortured and mistreated in the local hospital. The fearless Lynch had single-handedly fended off her attackers with a hail of gunfire. In reality, she had hid inside the truck before being rescued by Iraqi hospital workers.
American troops then descended on the hospital in military choppers as part of a daring raid not too dissimilar to the descriptions now being parroted about the Bin Laden siege.
“It was like a Hollywood film. They cried ‘go, go, go’, with guns and blanks without bullets, blanks and the sound of explosions. They made a show for the American attack on the hospital – action movies like Sylvester Stallone or Jackie Chan,” said hospital worker Dr Anmar Uday.
It took over a month for the truth to emerge, that Lynch had suffered a broken arm, a broken thigh and a dislocated ankle, and had been well cared for by doctors at the Iraqi hospital. Her truck had overturned, and she had not been in any kind of shootout with Iraqi troops.
When the US army launched the fable and broadcast the edited footage to the world’s media, General Vincent Brooks, US spokesman in Doha, said: “Some brave souls put their lives on the line to make this happen, loyal to a creed that they know that they’ll never leave a fallen comrade.”
And yet the Iraqi soldiers had fled the hospital the day before it was stormed by US forces, the only people inside the building when US troops stormed in and began kicking down doors and pointing guns were innocent doctors and nurses.
“Hassam Hamoud, a waiter at a local restaurant, said he saw the American advance party land in the town. He said the team’s Arabic interpreter asked him where the hospital was. “He asked: ‘Are there any Fedayeen over there?’ and I said, ‘No’.” All the same, the next day “America’s finest warriors” descended on the building,” reported the Guardian.
In addition, two days before the raid, hospital staff had tried to deliver Lynch to US soldiers but had to turn back after they were fired at.
Lynch later testified in front of a Congressional committee that the Rambo image cultivated around her circumstances was “misinformation,” “hype” and “lies”. Within 18 months of the events, four of the people involved in “rescuing” Lynch from the hospital had died, including one in a drive by shooting, another of suicide, and another who was involved in a car accident.
“The American strategy was to ensure the right television footage by using embedded reporters and images from their own cameras, editing the film themselves,” reported the BBC.
The entire story behind the rescue of Lynch was a complete fable, a scripted work of fiction, graciously swallowed up and regurgitated ad infinitum to the American people by the corporate media in an effort to generate pro-war fervor and phony patriotism, almost identical to what we’re seeing now with the Bin Laden sideshow.
The official story behind the death of Pat Tillman in April 2004 was also a complete fairytale that was carefully packaged by the mass media so as to elicit a resurgence of support for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at a time when public sentiment had begun to turn against the occupations.
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Tillman sacrificed the good life and a multi-million dollar football career in the belief that he was defending his country from outside enemies, and soon after 9/11 turned down a contract offer of $3.6 million over three years from the Cardinals to enlist in the U.S. Army.
It was during Tillman’s second deployment to Afghanistan, after previously serving in Iraq, that he was killed by what the U.S. military initially claimed was a Taliban ambush. It later emerged that the ambush story had been concocted by the Pentagon in an attempt to exploit Tillman’s death for pro-war propaganda. Subsequent investigations claimed that Tillman was killed as a result of a friendly fire accident.
However, in July 2007, the results of an Army medical report found that Tillman had been shot three times in the head with an M16 from a mere 10 yards away, clearly suggesting that the incident was a targeted assassination.
“Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman’s forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether the former NFL player’s death amounted to a crime,” reported the Associated Press.
“The medical evidence did not match up with the, with the scenario as described,” a doctor who examined Tillman’s body after he was killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2004 told investigators. “The doctors – whose names were blacked out – said that the bullet holes were so close together that it appeared the Army Ranger was cut down by an M-16 fired from a mere 10 yards or so away.”
The report also states that “No evidence at all of enemy fire was found at the scene – no one was hit by enemy fire, nor was any government equipment struck.”
The article also reveals that “Army attorneys sent each other congratulatory e-mails for keeping criminal investigators at bay as the Army conducted an internal friendly-fire investigation that resulted in administrative, or non-criminal, punishments.”
The doctor who autopsied Tillman’s body tried to pursue an investigation into the question of whether Tillman was murdered but was prevented from doing so by higher-ups at the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division.
The motive for the murder would undoubtedly have been Tillman’s plans to return to the U.S. and a vocal critic of the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions.
The evidence points directly to it and the motivation is clear – Tillman abandoned a lucrative career in pro-football immediately after 9/11 because he felt a rampaging patriotic urge to defend his country, and became a poster child for the war on terror as a result. But when he discovered that the invasion of Iraq was based on a mountain of lies and deceit and had nothing to do with defending America, he became infuriated and was ready to return home to become an anti-war hero.
In September 2005, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that a friend of Tillman had set up a meeting with author and prominent war critic Noam Chomsky, which was scheduled to take place after Tillman’s return from Afghanistan. Chomsky confirmed that the meeting was arranged.
As far back as March 2003, immediately after the invasion of Iraq, Tillman famously told his comrade Spc. Russell Baer, “You know, this war is so fucking illegal,” and urged his entire platoon to vote against Bush in the 2004 election.
During a July 2007 appearance on Keith Olbermann’s MSNBC show, four star General Wesley Clark stated that “the orders came from the very top” to cover-up the nature of Tillman’s death as he was a political symbol and his opposition to the war in Iraq would have rallied the population around supporting immediate withdrawal.
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Missouri House Overrides Governor's Redistricting Veto, Still Needs Senate Veto

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Mo. House overrides governor's redistricting veto

May 4, 2011 
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri House has voted to override Gov. Jay Nixon's veto on proposal to redraw the state's congressional district.
The House overrode the veto Wednesday by a vote of 109-44. Overriding the veto required a two-thirds majority.
Nixon vetoed the proposed redistricting map Saturday.
Missouri lawmakers are redrawing the state's congressional districts after the 2010 census because the state's population growth over the past decade has not kept pace with the rest of the nation. The map vetoed by Nixon essentially eliminated the district of Democratic U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan.
The Senate also would need to override the veto.


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Freedom of Information Act Top Expert: Obama Could Be Forced to Release the Osama Death Photos

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Ex-Justice Department Official: Obama Could Be Forced to Release the Osama Death Photos



May 4, 2011
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Barack Obama has finally decided against releasing a photo of Osama bin Laden's corpse as proof of his death. But the former chief freedom of information expert for the U.S. government tells Gawker that he may not have that choice.
Up until a few moments ago, when CBS News reported Obama's decision, the Administration had issued mixed signals on whether it intended to release graphic evidence of Osama's demise. CIA director Leon Panetta stated that he expected a photo would eventually be released, while Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton were reportedly opposed. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said yesterday that "there are sensitivities here in terms of the appropriateness of releasing photographs of Osama bin Laden in the aftermath of this firefight."
But all the agonizing may have been for naught. According to Daniel Metcalfe, the former chief of the Department of Justice's Office of Information and Privacy—a post that effectively made him the government's top expert in the Freedom of Information Act—the odds are better than even that a FOIA lawsuit seeking the photo's release would succeed.
"If someone brought a FOIA complaint seeking the photo, and the government had improperly classified it, I think the government would lose," Metcalfe, who supervised the defense of more than 500 FOIA and Privacy Act lawsuits for the U.S., told Gawker. He is now the executive director of the Collaboration on Government Secrecy at American University's Washington College of Law.
Under the FOIA, government agencies—but not the White House itself—can be compelled to turn over any document, photo, video, or other record as long as there's no statutory reason for withholding it. If Obama decides against releasing a bin Laden photo, he faces two obstacles to keeping it secret: 1) Since it was (presumably) taken by a Navy SEAL working on a joint mission of the CIA and Department of Defense's Joint Special Operations Command, it was originated by a federal agency subject to the FOIA and 2) There doesn't appear to be a good reason under the FOIA to keep it secret.
"As far as photos of the corpse go," said Kel McClanahan, the executive director of National Security Counselors, a law firm specializing in litigating secrecy issues, "there's nothing I can reasonably think of that would exempt that, unless someone classified them." The government could conceivably try to deny a FOIA request for the photos based on the statute's privacy exemptions, but that would put it in the awkward position of going to court to protect Osama bin Laden's surviving family members' privacy.
So classification is the best bet. Trouble is, you can't simply classify things because you don't want them released. There has to be a reason. And according to Metcalfe, it's hard to imagine a good reason to classify a simple photograph of bin Laden's corpse.
"I don't know of the basis upon which such a photo could properly be classified," Metcalfe says. "It might be classified in a gross sense—as in, 'this entire series of images in a DOD or CIA digital camera, taken during a highly classified operation, is classified.' But I can't imagine on what basis a single image of Osama bin Laden could be classified on its own." According to the executive order governing classification, information can be classified if its "disclosure could reasonably be expected to cause identifiable or describable damage to the national security" and it pertains to a list of sensitive subjects including military plans, foreign governments, or nuclear weapons. If Obama decides thinks release of the photos could inflame the Middle East, he could claim that national security is at risk. And the executive order does allow for the classification of "intelligence activities (including covert action)," which would seem to cover such a highly secretive mission.
Trouble is, federal law defines covert action as "an activity or activities of the United States Government to influence political, economic, or military conditions abroad, where it is intended that the role of the United States Government will not be apparent or acknowledged publicly" [pdf]. The role of the United States in killing Osama bin Laden is apparent and has been acknowledged publicly, and was clearly always intended to be acknowledged. It wasn't a covert action.
The FOIA only allows properly classified records to be withheld. "If it is classified, and it was classified improperly, then it is highly challengeable in court," Metcalfe says. "It's a tough row to hoe for a FOIA litigant to overcome a classification decision, but there have been cases where courts second-guessed them. It happened just last month in a D.C. District Court case involving the Office of U.S. Trade Representative. I think the odds are very high that the classification action would be rejected, despite the tremendous deference courts give on such matters."
McClanahan is less sanguine, arguing that courts would likely give Obama the benefit of the doubt in a FOIA case over the images: "Classified is classified. I can only think of a handful of cases where something is determined to be improperly classified."
The last time Obama faced a decision about whether to release potentially explosive images, it was the FOIA that forced his hand. In 2009, the Defense Department was trying to keep dozens of photographs and four videos showing detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib from being released to the ACLU under a FOIA complaint. The government argued that the photos could be withheld under an exemption for law enforcement records that could cause harm to a person if released—the harm in this case being potential riots in the middle east or anticipated retaliation against U.S. soldiers. But the Second Circuit Court of Appeals rejected that argument and ordered the Defense Department to hand them over. Before the Supreme Court could address the issue, Congress passed a special law barring their disclosure. But that law was tailored specifically to the Abu Ghraib photos, and so wouldn't cover Osama. And since there was no law enforcement element to the raid, the government's failed argument in that case couldn't be raised here to see if the Supreme Court will accept it.

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MoDOT: Transportation Funding Crisis in Missouri

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MoDOT Announces More Cuts

by dfox
www.klpw.comMay 4, 2011
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Missouri Department of Transportation Director Kevin Keith outlined plans Wednesday to eliminate 1,200 staff members statewide, and shutter three district offices.
"We are facing a transportation funding crisis in Missouri," Keith told the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission. "Over the past year, we have worked hard to reduce the size of our workforce and cut costs, but it isn't enough. We must take further action to become the right size to serve our customers given the severe reduction in funding for transportation."
MoDOT will close its district offices in Macon, Joplin and Willow Springs, but will continue to maintain area offices in those cities and have a strong presence in every county in the state, Keith said.
This consolidation, coupled with the combination of several Central Office divisions, will enable the department to reduce the size of its workforce by 1,200, the number of its facilities by 135 and its equipment inventory by more than 740 pieces, according to MoDOT. The staff reduction will occur through attrition and transfers, and, as a last step, layoffs.


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Damaged Reactors Continue to Emit Radiation: Japan Fukushima Nuclear Plant

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While You Were Distracted by Osama’s Corpse Fukushima Disaster Continues

Infowars.com
May 4, 2011
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While we are having our collective chain yanked by the government and the corporate media in the dead Osama affair, the damaged reactors at Fukushima continue to smoke and emit radiation. News about this has all but fallen out of the massaged news cycle.
Consider the following video, posted yesterday.
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Dollar Tumbles to Three Year Low

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Dollar Falls to Three Year Low

Steven C. Johnson
Reuters
May 4, 2011
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The dollar fell to a fresh three-year low on Wednesday and the euro briefly rose above $1.49 as weaker-than-expected U.S. employment data convinced investors that U.S. interest rates would remain low this year.
The yen also hit a six-week high against the dollar after data showed the pace of growth in the dominant U.S. services sector also slowed unexpectedly in April, another sign the U.S. economy may be hitting a soft patch. See [ID:nN04186623]
With markets worried about a yawning U.S. budget deficit, traders said signs of slower growth will only add to trouble for the dollar, which fell to a three-year low against major currencies Wednesday. It has lost 7.7 percent in 2011.

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Obama Will Not Release Osama bin Laden Death Photos

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Obama: I won't release bin Laden death photos

Posted by Brian Montopoli   
May 4, 2011
www.cbsnews.com  
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In an interview with Steve Kroft for this Sunday's 60 Minutes, President Obama says he won't release post-mortem images of Osama bin Laden taken to prove his death.
Video of the comments will appear on the CBS "Evening News" on Wednesday.
Republican House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers said Wednesday that the Obama administration should not release the gruesome post-The killing of Osama bin Ladenmortem images, saying it could complicate the job for American troops overseas. Rogers told CBS News he has seen a post-mortem photo. 
"The risks of release outweigh the benefits," he said. "Conspiracy theorists around the world will just claim the photos are doctored anyway, and there is a real risk that releasing the photos will only serve to inflame public opinion in the Middle East."
"Imagine how the American people would react if Al Qaeda killed one of our troops or military leaders, and put photos of the body on the internet," he continued. "Osama bin Laden is not a trophy - he is dead and let's now focus on continuing the fight until Al Qaida has been eliminated."
Skeptics have called on the United States to release photos of bin Laden, who officials say was shot in the face during a raid on his compound, in order to prove that the al Qaeda leader is really dead.
The White House had said it was debating whether to release the photographs, which are believed to be extremely graphic. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday that the photos could inflame anti-American sentiment.
CIA director Leon Panetta told CBS News Tuesday that he thought a photo would be released, though he said the White House will make the final decision. Panetta told NBC News that "I don't think there was any question that ultimately a photograph would be presented to the public."
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Six Planets At One Time Now Aligned in the Dawn Sky

Six planets and the waning crescent moon arrayed in the dawn sky on Saturday April 30, as seen from Los Angeles, California.
CREDIT: Starry Night Software

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Six Planets Now Aligned in the Dawn Sky

Geoff Gaherty, Starry Night Education,
Space.com

May 4, 2011
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If you get up any morning for the next few weeks, you’ll be treated to the sight of all the planets except Saturn arrayed along the ecliptic, the path of the sun through the sky.
For the last two months, almost all the planets have been hiding behind the sun, but this week they all emerge and are arrayed in a grand line above the rising sun. Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter are visible, and you can add Uranus and Neptune to your count if you have binoculars or a small telescope.
This sky map of the six planets shows how they should appear at dawn to observers with clear weather and an unobstructed view.
Astrologers have always been fascinated by planetary alignments, and the doomsayers of 2012 have been prophesying a mystical alignment on Dec. 21, 2012.
The modern tools of astronomers, such as planetarium software, show otherwise: absolutely no alignment at any time in 2012. But they also reveal a beautiful alignment visible during the month of May this year. [Planet Skywatching Guide for 2011]
 
Six planets at one time

While astrologers view planetary alignments as foretellers of disasters, modern amateur astronomers look forward to them as nothing more than grand photo ops.
If you go out any morning for the next four days, you’ll be treated to a view of the crescent moon and all but one of the naked eye planets.
Because the moon moves rapidly from one morning to the next, it will only be part of the lineup for the next four mornings, but the four naked-eye planets will be there for the next few weeks.
Venus is, as always, the brightest and most visible of the planets, and it can be your guide to spotting the others. About half way between Venus and the rising sun is Jupiter, the second brightest planet.
Mars will be a tiny speck just above Jupiter, and Mercury another tiny speck about half way between Jupiter and Venus. Uranus is slightly more than one binocular field above and to the right of Venus, and Neptune is much farther to the right, about 40 degrees away in Aquarius. The Moon will be just above Venus on Saturday morning, and just above Jupiter and Mars on Sunday morning.

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Is Your Cell Phone Spying On You ?

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Is Your Cell Phone Violating Your Rights?

Margaret Ng Thow Hing
Voice of San Diego
May 4, 2011
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To say that cell phones are widely used in the U.S. is a gross understatement.
According to CTIA – The Wireless Association, an organization representing the interests of the wireless communications industry, cell phones were used by 96% of the U.S. and territorial population (including Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands) in December 2010.

A recent Nielsen survey reported that almost one third of U.S. cell phone users are utilizing smartphones. While the growing adoption of smartphones is good news for phone manufacturers, the advanced computing capabilities and wireless connectivity of smartphones raise new concerns regarding privacy rights.

Smartphones provide users continuous mobile access to the Internet. As a result, smartphones contain a treasure trove of personal information, including banking information, travel plans and family photos.

However, while use of advanced security software is commonplace on our computers, many of us are not safeguarding the personal information stored on and transmitted through our smartphones. While there is security software for smartphones including anti-virus and encryption software, it is not available for all models of cell phones and has not been widely adopted.

A recent study conducted by mobile security company AdaptiveMobile discloses that 2010 saw the highest number of Smartphone malware (short for malicious software) infections, up 33% from 2009. AdaptiveMobile expects to see an exponential increase in such attacks in the next year as the adoption of smartphones becomes more widespread. In a society well aware of computer viruses and identity theft, why are we not protecting our smartphones from such attacks?

It is not only hackers and cyber criminals who may be interested in the information stored on our cell phones. It was recently revealed to the public that Apple iPhones and Google Android smartphones are regularly tracking our locations and recording this information in a hidden file stored on our phones. Anyone able to access our phones can use the stored locational information to reconstruct our daily travels and routine.

Access to such information could be of great interest to the police and the government or even an employer or suspicious spouse. Police use of such information may be of particular concern in light of the recent accusations that police officers in Michigan are using data extracting devices to secretly obtain information from cell phones during routine traffic stops.

In addition to being stored on our smartphones, this locational information is being transmitted back to Google and Apple. It is currently unclear what these companies are using this information for, although the companies have stated that this information is transmitted anonymously and that the tracking and ability to opt out by disabling location services is disclosed in the privacy policies agreed to by the users. Such policies, however, are often lengthy and confusing and it is common for users to agree to such privacy policies without actually reading them. Furthermore, a recent test conducted by The Wall Street Journal revealed that locational data continued to be collected and stored on Apple's iPhone even when the location services were turned off.

The news of smartphone tracking activity and data collection has raised a number of privacy concerns. These concerns have lead U.S. and foreign lawmakers to request further details from Apple and Google regarding these practices. In addition, representatives from both Apple and Google have been summoned to participate in a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law. The hearing is to be held in May and will be focused on mobile device privacy.

While many are concerned over the implications of such locational tracking on privacy rights, others note that tracking a person's location through their cell phone is nothing new. Some smartphone users state that they are not concerned because they have nothing to hide and note that such tracking is required for many of the useful programs on their smartphones to function. Numerous smartphone apps, such as those that can recommend a nearby restaurant, locate the nearest Starbucks or allow a user to map out travel routes, require tracking the location of the smartphone user.

Amongst the continued confusion over what information is being tracked by our cell phones and the debate over whether this tracking is helpful or harmful, what remains clear is that many of us are largely uninformed when it comes to the information that is being stored on our cell phones.

In addition to failing to protect personal information stored on cellphones from access by others, many smartphone users are also unwittingly broadcasting their personal information to the world. Geotagging is the addition of geographical information to media such as photographs or video. If geotagging is enabled on your smartphone, uploading media to the Internet simultaneously uploads your location. By uploading geotagged images you may be sharing your home address, details of your daily routine or the fact that your house is empty while you are out of town. It is easy to see how this information can be used and misused for everything from targeted marketing to targeted crime.

Most troubling is that many users have no idea that geotagging is occurring on their phone. Many smartphones come with geotagging automatically enabled. As geotags are generally invisible unless specific software is downloaded to enable visualization of the tags, many users are completely unaware that they are sharing more than pictures and videos when they upload media files to the Internet.

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1 in 7 in U.S. Receive Food Stamps, Nanny State Keeps Growing

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About 1 in 7 in U.S. Receive Food Stamps

May 4, 2011
The Wall Street Journal 
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Growth in the food stamp program appeared to reach a plateau in February — with 14.3% of the population relying on the safety net program.
The number of food stamp recipients was essentially flat in February, the most recent month available, with 44.2 million Americans receiving benefits, according a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. (See a sortable breakdown of the data here.)
The food stamp program ballooned during the recession as workers lost their jobs or saw their hours and income reduced. The rise in recipients has begun to flatten in recent months, which may mean that as the economy is improving fewer Americans are seeking to join the program. Enrollment in the program is still high though, with 11.6% more people tapping benefits in February than the same month a year earlier.
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Mississippi Flooding Heading South

May 3: Part of the 130,000 acres of farmland flooded by an intentional break in the Birds Point levee is seen in Mississippi Country, Mo.
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Flood Unease Builds South Along the Mississippi

May 04, 2011

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Flood worries that prompted the U.S. government to blast open a Missouri levee to ease pressure on some towns are rippling down the Mississippi River, prompting more evacuations and unease as the Army Corps of Engineers weighs whether to purposely inundate more land with water.
The breach of southeastern Missouri's Birds Point levee was heralded by some Illinois towns along the Ohio River as a needed relief from record flooding, and the man who ordered that action says he may do the same with other Mississippi River spillways as flood prospects mount.
Maj. Gen. Michael Walsh said he understood the frustration at the corps' decision to sacrifice the levee Monday and send a wall of water over 130,000 acres of farmland the state of Missouri tried suing to save. "But this was one of the relief valves for the system," he added. "We were forced to use that valve."
That calculation to draw down the Mississippi and Ohio rivers in the nation's midsection appeared to do its job. On Tuesday night, the Ohio at Metropolis, Ill., measured 54.7 feet — about the same level it had been at the time of the blast. Without that breach, the river was forecast to have steadily crept up to a crest of more than 58 feet.
In Cairo, the Ohio had dropped to 60 feet, about a foot and a half lower than it was at the time of the breach. Cairo, a town of about 2,800 residents, is at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Downstream of Cairo — in southeast Missouri, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana — concerns are growing as the Mississippi River continues to rise.
Memphis, where the Mississippi was at 43.8 feet Tuesday, could see a near-record crest of 48 feet on May 11, just inches lower than the record of 48.7 feet in 1937. Water from the Wolf and Loosahatchie rivers already has seeped into parts of the suburbs, and some mobile home parks were swamped.
Flood fears prompted an emergency declaration for 920,000 residents in Shelby County, where authorities blocked some suburban streets and about 220 people were staying in shelters. Emergency officials there estimate that some 5,300 homes and businesses could be affected by flooding blamed at least partly on more than 11 inches of rain that have soaked the Memphis area since April 25.
Flooding already has begun in Dyersburg, which is about 70 miles north-northeast of Memphis. Mayor John Holden said that people in parts of that city near the North Fork of the Forked Deer River should evacuate. Farther south, the lower Mississippi River was expected to crest well above flood stages in a region still dealing with the aftermath of last week's deadly tornadoes.
Forecasters say the river could break records in Mississippi set during catastrophic floods in 1927 and a decade later. Gov. Haley Barbour started warning people last week to take precautions if they live in flood-prone areas near the river, comparing the swell of water moving downriver to a pig moving through a python.
With tornados and the threat of rivers gone wild, "we're making a lot of unfortunate history here in Mississippi in April and May," said Jeff Rent, a Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokesman.
Because the maximum-security Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola is particularly flood-prone, the state plans to evacuate the most medically vulnerable inmates by next Monday, then other inmates later.
Walsh has made clear he may use of other downstream "floodways" — basins surrounded by levees that can be intentionally blown open to divert floodwaters — to try to rein in the trouble.
Among those that could be tapped are the 58-year-old Morganza floodway near in central Louisiana and the Bonnet Carre floodway about 30 miles north of New Orleans. The 4-mile-wide Morganza has been pressed into service just once, in 1973. The Bonnet Carre — christened in 1932 — has been opened up nine times since 1937, the most recent in 2008.
Unlike the Missouri levee, these floodways can be opened using gates designed for the purpose, not explosives that unleashed the rush of floodwater into Birds Point that damaged or destroyed as many as 100 homes and washed away crop prospects for this year. Walsh said there are no homes in the Bonnet Carre floodway and only scattered homes and farmland in the Morganza one.
On Tuesday, a group of 25 farmers sued the U.S. government in Missouri, arguing that their land near Birds Point had been taken without adequate compensation.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said farmers with crop insurance will be eligible for government reimbursements if their land was flooded. Other help will be available for livestock producers and tree farmers under the same programs designed for natural disasters. People who lost homes may also be eligible for rural housing loans.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said state leaders would push to have the Birds Point levee rebuilt and restore the farmland's productivity. Walsh acknowledged it could be late summer or early fall before the water fully drains off the land, and sediment and moisture could do lasting damage.
After Memphis, the Mississippi is expected to crest May 12 at Helena, Ark., and further south in the following days. Forecasters predict record levels at the towns of Vicksburg and Natchez, Miss.
High water already has shut down nine river casinos in northwest Mississippi's Tunica County, where about 600 residents have been evacuated from flood-prone areas on the inside of the levee, county spokesman Larry Liddell said.
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Suhr reported from Metropolis and Cairo, Ill. Associated Press writers Jim Salter in Sikeston, Mo., Cain Burdeau in New Orleans, Erik Schelzig in Dyersburg, Tenn., and Holbrook Mohr in Jackson, Miss., contributed to this report.


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Nieves, Lembke, Schaaf, Kraus Play Holier than Thou Card

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Guns, marriage and the Bible highlight Senate filibuster 
By Jason Rosenbaum, special to the Beacon, and Jo Mannies, Beacon political reporter
May 4, 2011
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At 10 p.m. Tuesday, state Sen. Brian Nieves, (below, far left) R-Washington, was discussing gun rights and the differences between bibliographies and footnotes. And whether to use his "NPR voice."
nieves100brianlembke100jimEarlier, state Sen. Jim Lembke, (left) R-Lemay, spent part of his self-proclaimed "shift" reading from the Bible.
So it was on the Missouri Senate floor as four Republicans filibustered a bill -- HB 18 -- that allocated $580 million in federal stimulus money for various projects. Their maneuver has serious consequences, if the bill isn't passed by Friday.
The four -- Nieves, Lembke, Sens. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, and Will Kraus, R-Lee’s Summit -- contend that they're trying to force GOP state Senate leaders to stick by a deal that they thought had been struck weeks ago.
That deal, they believe, called for turning away $250 million in federal stimulus money to send a message about overspending in Washington. In exchange, the four dropped their earlier filibuster against $105 million in federal unemployment benefits.
But now, the four contend that some fellow Republicans are seeking to ignore that agreement and accept all the federal money.
All told, HB 18 initially focused on roughly $580 million in stimulus money, which was to be allocated for such projects as: weatherization and improved energy efficiency, improvements to wastewater infrastructure and the expansion of health care information technology.
The four agreed to drop their filibuster if roughly $41 million worth of spending was taken out of the bill. That money, Lembke said, was for projects that were not under contract or not committed. Earlier, the Senate had agreed to trim out about $114 million in stimulus money that either has been spent, or is deemed to be no longer needed.
Lembke’s initial course of action Wednesday was to offer a series of amendments taking federal funding out of the bill.  But when his first amendment -- to cut about $8 million for expansion of rural broadband -- failed around 4:30 p.m.,  the four launched their filibuster.
Lembke said on the floor that his opposition is rooted in sending a message that the federal government is spending too much.
"That’s exactly what’s going on here – it’s legal plunder," Lembke said in an exchange with Schaaf. "And we’ll be talking about that concept of 'legal plunder' for a long time."
schaeffer100kurtAppropriations chairman Kurt Schaefer, (right) R-Columbia, said he sympathized with the quartet's sentiment, but believed their course of action was wrongheaded.
"I think you’re trying to solve a problem as a state senator that we cannot control, that’s coming out of Washington, D.C.," Schaefer said. "I agree that the federal government has been reckless and out-of-control in its spending. But I also believe that taking away that appropriation authority does nothing to alleviate that problem."
The filibuster prompted a flurry of lively exchanges, and not just on the Senate floor. Legislators and reporters were busily Tweeting updates for hours.
The Senate must pass budget bills by 5 p.m. on Friday. And, as Nieves noted on the floor, blocking HB 18 might lead to its entire demise.
"I think this is the decision that each and every senator has to make: Are the rest of the dollars in House Bill 18 that we’re not going after, are those dollars more or less important than the dollars in this amendment?" Nieves said, in a filibuster exchange with Lembke.
"Because I don’t have a crystal ball, I don’t know what’s going to happen with our final outcome of this whole thing. I cannot predict that we’re going to be successful or fail."
But then he added, "II can say with some certainty that we are going to be here a very, very, very, very long, long time talking about House Bill 18. And there’s a good chance that House Bill 18 will never come up for a vote."
At 10:30 p.m., Nieves was offering a vivid -- and occasionally gory -- account of his 10-year career in the Marines.



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Osama Bin Laden: Daughter Claims US Forces Captured Her Father Alive but Shot Him Dead in Front of Family Members

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Bin Laden’s daughter confirms her father shot dead by US Special Forces in Pakistan

By MUSHTAQ YUSUFZAI
Special to Al Arabiya
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Senior Pakistani security officials said Osama bin Laden’s daughter had confirmed her father was captured alive and shot dead by the US Special Forces during the first few minutes of the operation carried out at the huge compound in Bilal Town, Abbottabad. 
 


Besides recovering four bullet-riddled bodies from the compound, Pakistani security agencies also arrested two women and six children, aged between 2 and 12 years, after American forces flew toward Afghanistan. Some reports suggest 16 people, including women and children, were arrested from the house, most of them Arab nationals.

A Pakistani security source told Al Arabiya that Bin Laden family members had been transported to Rawalpindi, which is near Islamabad. He added, “They are now under treatment in the military hospital of Rawalpindi, where they have been transported in an helicopter.” A source told Al Arabiya that Bin Laden’s had been injured either in her leg or her shoulder.

He added that the members of the household were children and Bin Laden’s wife, in addition to a Yemeni woman. He added that the woman might be the personal doctor of the family. Bin Laden was known to be afflicted with renal failure.

Sources speculated that US Forces could not arrest these family members because there weren’t enough places for them in the helicopter, after they lost another chopper during the operation.

About the slain woman: officials said she could either be Bin Laden’s wife or a close family member since she offered to sacrifice her life for him. “As per our information, she shielded Bin Laden during the operation and was killed by American commandos,” an official said.

The US Special Forces only took two bodies with them in the military chopper; one is said to be Bin Laden’s and the other his son’s. By the time Pakistani security agencies and soldiers arrived at the spot, the US commandos were flying over the mountains in the Pakistani tribal belt, well on their way to Afghanistan. 



Sources said one of the two women taken into custody from the compound by Pakistani forces was one of Osama bin Laden’s several wives.

“She is Yemeni and became unconscious during the operation,” said an official. Pleading anonymity, he said the woman was provided necessary medical aid till she became conscious. 



“During preliminary investigations, the lady said they moved to the Abbottabad house five to six months ago,” the Pakistani official said, adding that she did not provide further information about bin Laden or his shifting to the house. 



The official said a 12-year-old daughter of bin Laden was among the six children rescued from the three-storey compound.

The daughter has reportedly told her Pakistani investigators that the US forces captured her father alive but shot him dead in front of family members. 



According to sources, Bin Laden was staying on the ground floor of the house and was dragged on the floor to the helicopter after being shot dead by US commandos. 



There were conflicting reports about the second person the US forces took along with them. Some Pakistani officials say it was one of Bin Laden’s sons injured by the US commandos and thrown onto a separate military chopper; others say he was killed in the operation and it was only his dead body that they took along. 



The officials say not all children rescued from the house belonged to the al-Qaeda leader. All were being kept at a safe place. The US has not been given access to the detained women and children, the officials claimed. About the second woman, many officials feel she could be a close relative of Osama or his servant. 



Similarly, according to information Pakistani officials collected from detained persons, Osama was neither armed nor did inmates at the compound fire at the US choppers or commandos.
“Not a single bullet was fired from the compound at the US forces and their choppers. Their chopper developed some technical fault and crashed and the wreckage was left on the spot,” a well-informed official explained. 


Meanwhile, Pakistani security forces maintained a cordon around the compound and its surrounding areas and did not allow the media access to the area until the remaining wreckage of the US military chopper was removed. Some media were given access to the spot but no one was allowed to enter the compound.

The Pakistan Army has sealed two main entrances of the house and deployed military and police for its protection. 



A sizeable number of national and international journalists have arrived in Abbottabad to cover the extraordinary story. Before opening the area to the media, Pakistani soldiers shifted two buffaloes, a cow and around 150 hens from the compound to an unknown location. 



Security officials said they did not recover any arms and explosives during their detailed search of the compound on Monday and Tuesday. Also, they said, it was a simple house comprising 13 rooms, six on the ground floor and the remaining on the first and second floors.

“There was no bunker or tunnel inside the house and that’s why I don’t understand why the world’s most wanted man would have decided to live here,” a senior official said. 



He said two brothers, Arshad Khan and Tariq Khan, owned the house. Both belonged to Tangi area in Charsadda district. Officials said they had no information about the two brothers and their business. 



According to a neighbor, the dwellers of the compound never mixed with anyone.

“It was a very reserved family and never attended any wedding or funeral ceremony in the area,” said Qari Mastana Khan of Bilal Town. “But they were kindhearted and would provide clean drinking water and food to poor neighbors. During the holy month of Ramadan, they invited us for Iftar dinner at their house and served us delicious food. Arshad Khan had three kids and his brother Tariq four,” Khan added. 



Another interesting aspect, which the residents shared about the house and its inmates, was the strict behavior of the family, who in the last six years, had never allowed women of the neighborhood to enter their house or permitted their own ladies to visit neighbors. Also, children playing in the streets and nearby fields were never allowed into the compound, not even when their balls inadvertently went across. 



“Usually, when their ball falls past the wall of a house, the children just go there and pick it up but they were never allowed into this particular house. Whenever their ball fell there and the children went to retrieve it, whoever opened the door gave them money to buy a new ball instead of allowing them to enter and search for their ball,” said an elder of the area, Mohammad Fayaz. 



He said all these details made him suspicious but were not enough to make him believe the world’s most wanted man was hiding in his neighborhood.

(Al Arabiya’s correspondent in Islamabad relayed this article.)
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