The Taliban is paying Afghans $5 to surrender their voter cards before tomorrow’s election

 

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (June 13, 2010) — Tribal...

Saturday’s election will bring the first democratic transfer of power in war-torn Afghanistan and an end to the rule of President Hamid Karzai.

The Taliban have launched a violent campaign to disrupt this weekend’s presidential election in Afghanistan, but in a restive eastern corner of the country they are paying villagers to surrender their voting cards. Continue reading “The Taliban is paying Afghans $5 to surrender their voter cards before tomorrow’s election”

China accuses Japan of interfering in naval drills

Nov. 01, 2013 – 06:17AM JST

BEIJING —

China’s Defense Ministry said on Thursday it has lodged a formal diplomatic complaint over what it called “dangerous provocation” by Japan for shadowing Chinese military exercises in the western Pacific.

Sino-Japanese ties have been strained for months by a dispute over tiny islands in the East China Sea believed to be surrounded by energy-rich waters. They have also been overshadowed by what China says is Japan’s refusal to admit to atrocities committed by Japanese soldiers in China between 1931 and 1945.

Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said that a Japanese naval and air patrol disrupted a Chinese live ammunition military drill last Friday, without giving the precise location.

Yang also said Japanese patrols of ships and aircraft were gathering information about the exercises.

“Not only did this interfere with our normal exercises, but endangered the safety of our ships and aircraft, which could have led to a miscalculation or mishap or other sudden incident,” Yang told a news briefing.

“This is a highly dangerous provocation, and China’s Defense Ministry has made solemn representations to the Japanese side,” he added, according to a transcript of his remarks on the ministry’s website.

Diplomatic complaints are normally lodged by the Foreign Ministry, so the Defense Ministry’s unusual move signals the military’s anger.

A former Japanese military officer told Reuters this week that the situation in the East China Sea was worrisome.

“As the Chinese are getting more active, we have more opportunities to confront each other,” he said. “If something happens accidentally, it may very seriously deteriorate the bilateral relationship.”

Ties between the two countries took a hit in September 2012 after Japan bought two of the disputed islets from a private owner, setting off a wave of protests and boycotts of Japanese goods across China.

China on Saturday criticised a Japanese media report saying Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had approved a policy for Japan to shoot down foreign drones that ignore warnings to exit its airspace.

Abe has said Japan is ready to take a more assertive stance toward China.

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2013.

 

http://www.japantoday.com/category/politics/view/china-accuses-japan-of-interfering-in-naval-drills-2

Halliburton pleads guilty to destroying Gulf spill evidence

Thursday Sep 19, 2013   |   Reuters

Aerial photograph shows continuing preparations to drill a relief well at the Macondo oil spill site in the Gulf of Mexico

Credit: Staff Photographer / Reuters/Reuters
NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) – Halliburton Co pleaded guilty on Thursday to federal charges of destroying evidence, stemming from its role in the 2010 BP oil disaster that killed 11 men and sent more than 4 million barrels of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico.A former Halliburton cementing technology director in Texas also was charged on Thursday with destroying evidence.

U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo in New Orleans accepted the company’s guilty plea from Halliburton legal counsel Marc Mukasey, imposed the agreed-upon maximum fine of $200,000 and placed the company on a three-year probation term.

Mukasey did not make a statement on the company’s behalf.

The Macondo disaster, the worst-ever offshore oil spill in U.S. history, so far has cost BP about $42.4 billion in charges on its balance sheet from payouts, cleanup and restoration costs and ongoing litigation.

The plea deal with Halliburton was first announced by the company and the U.S. Department of Justice on July 25. The U.S. Justice Department revealed the single count of destroying evidence filed against the former Halliburton manager, Anthony Badalamenti, of Katy, Texas, on Thursday.

In its plea, Halliburton admitted to the misdemeanor charge of “intentionally causing damage without authorization to a protected computer.”

Halliburton provided cementing services for BP at the ill-fated Macondo drilling operation. Those services included placing “centralizers,” or huge plugs, at various points in piping as it was placed inside the drilled well. Centralizers help ensure cement properly seals a well.

Halliburton had recommended BP use 21 centralizers in the Macondo well, and BP chose to use six. Halliburton later claimed that if BP had followed its recommendation to use more, the well would have been more stable.

According to court documents, the government alleged that in May 2010, as part of Halliburton’s review of the disaster, Badalamenti directed another manager to run computer simulations comparing performance of 21 centralizers with that of six. In June that year, Badalamenti allegedly directed a second manager to run a similar comparison.

Both times, the simulations indicated there was little difference between use of 21 centralizers as opposed to six. Prosecutors allege that both times, Badalamenti ordered the managers to delete the simulation results from their computers, and both complied.

The judge noted that a company executive had directed employees to preserve material related to Macondo.

In an ongoing, multi-phase civil trial over the cause of the well explosion in federal court in New Orleans, both the government and BP contend that faulty cement work by Halliburton contributed to the disaster.

BP also contends that Halliburton destroyed computer evidence that would have shown those errors.

China calls on Japan to stop scrambling its fighters

National Apr. 19, 2013 – 06:40AM JST ( 40 )

BEIJING —

China called on Japan on Thursday to stop sending jets up against Chinese aircraft after Japan said it had scrambled its fighters twice as often in the past year amid a territorial dispute.

The number of scrambles against Chinese planes nearly doubled to 306 in the year that ended in March. That accounted for the increase in the overall number from 425 to 567, the highest level in 22 years, Japan’s Defense Ministry said.

China and Japan have been involved in an increasingly acrimonious stand-off over a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, called the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

“We all know that when it comes to the Diaoyu Islands issue Japan has been continuously taking provocative actions to raise tensions. This is the root cause of the present very tense situation over the islands,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing.

Japan, she said, should instead “show more sincerity and take practical steps to work hard with China to find a way to appropriately manage and resolve the problem through dialogue, talks and consultations. This would be best for both countries.”

The waters around the disputed islands are rich fishing grounds and have potentially huge oil and gas reserves.

The dispute has escalated in recent months to the point where China and Japan have scrambled fighter jets while patrol ships shadow each other, raising fear that an unintended collision could lead to a broader clash.

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2013

 

http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/china-calls-on-japan-to-reduce-jet-scrambles

Bank of America accused of spying on Activist: “Even more amusing is the keyword list that was found, containing trigger words like ‘jihad’ or ‘homosexual’.”

 

Anonymous leaks ‘Bank of America secrets’ in spy revenge hack

Hacktivists enraged by suggestion financial giant snooped on them

By John Leyden

Posted in Security, 27th February 2013 16:34 GMT

Free whitepaper – IDC Report: Lost in the Cloud? Automate with Cisco

Miscreants affiliated with hacking collective Anonymous have dumped online a huge cache of data supposedly lifted from insecure systems at a Bank of America contractor.

The self-styled Anonymous Intelligence Agency (Par:AnoIA) leaked 320MB of emails and other information that suggests the banking giant is running an online intelligence gathering operation against hacktivists.

The cache includes memos from IT contractor TEKsystems to the bank’s security staff, reporting chat room and social network reconnaissance. The data dump also supposedly includes the source code for OneCalais – a natural language processing (NLP) text analytics and data mining package from Thomson Reuters subsidiary ClearForest. The story goes that the software was used to make sense of data harvested from chat rooms.

“We were amused by the fact that there are actually paid analysts sitting somewhere reading the vast amount garbage that scrolls by in large public channels like #anonops and #voxanon,” Par:AnoIA said in a statement [1] accompanying the leak. “Even more amusing is the keyword list that was found, containing trigger words like ‘jihad’ or ‘homosexual’.”

The Anons alleged that the “overall quality of the research is poor and potentially false”.

“The data clearly shows that the research was sloppy, random and valueless. Apparently a keyword list was used to match items of interest on IRC, Twitter and other social media,” it claimed in its announcement [PDF] [2].

The released archives, totalling well over 6GB, apparently also include salary and bonus details on hundred of thousands of executives and employees from various corporations all around the world, including Google supremo Eric Schmidt – although his income is publicly known.

The Anonymous Intelligence Agency claimed the swiped records were lifted from a “misconfigured server” hosted in Israel that was “basically open for grabs” rather than seized using security exploits and conventional hacking. Par:AnoIA claimed it received the info wad via an unnamed source. How this handler got hold of the data – especially the salary information – remains unclear.

The information disclosure, dubbed Operation Keyword, was followed by the release of a rough’n’ready video by Anonymous [3] in which the financial giant is accused of acting against the interests of US homeowners.

Bank of America has previously been linked to attempts to gather intelligence on members of Anonymous and associated organisations, most notably the proposals put forward by former HBGary Federal chief exec Aaron Barr.

Barr proposed a disinformation campaign against WikiLeaks in the run up to the planned publication of Bank of America documents by the whistle-blowing website. He also planned to expose members of Anonymous. In retaliation, members of the collective hacked into HBGary Federal’s systems, defaced its website, took over Twitter accounts and exposed 68,000 emails, including a presentation put together by the company along and two other data intelligence firms for Bank of America in 2010. ®

Anonymous group claims Bank of America monitored activists

Feb 28, 2013 13:56 Moscow Time

26.01.2012 Анонимус Anonimous Бельгия Европарламент

Photo: EPA

The famous hacktivist group, Anonymous, has released data that it claims shows how Bank of America employed security firms to monitor hackers and activists.

They unveiled some 14 Gigabytes of data, code and software that allegedly “shows that Bank of America and others are contracting other companies to spy and collect information on private citizens,” adding the “overall quality of the research is poor and potentially false.”

Hacktivists said they didn’t need to break into any BofA accounts as all the documents were stored on a misconfigured server and were effectively “open for grabs.”

Leaked data reveal that TEKSystems assembled reports on Occupy Wall Street online activity and hackers in 2012.

Voice of Russia, SALON

 

http://english.ruvr.ru/2013_02_28/Anonymous-group-claims-Bank-of-America-monitored-activists/

U.S., Japan to hold joint military drill amid island row with China

NATIONAL OCT. 31, 2012 – 06:30AM JST ( 26 )

TOKYO —

Japan and the United States will hold a biennial joint military exercise in Japan in November in a move likely to further anger China amid heightened tensions between the two Asian giants over disputed islets in the East China Sea.

About 37,400 military personnel from Japan will join some 10,000 U.S. troops in the Nov 5-16 drill, an official at Japan’s Self-Defense Forces said Tuesday.

China’s Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said last week China was “paying close attention to the relevant moves by the Japanese”, when asked about a joint military exercise between the United States and Japan.

Yang also accused Japan of “manufacturing tensions in the region”.

In recent weeks, both Japan and China have sent patrol ships to waters near the uninhabited islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, raising concerns that an unintended collision could develop into a larger clash.

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012

The popular insect repellent deet is neurotoxic: Urgent Action Needed

2009 Report posted for filing

Contact: Graeme Baldwin
graeme.baldwin@biomedcentral.com
44-203-192-2165
BioMed Central

The active ingredient in many insect repellents, deet, has been found to be toxic to the central nervous system. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Biology say that more investigations are urgently needed to confirm or dismiss any potential neurotoxicity to humans, especially when deet-based repellents are used in combination with other neurotoxic insecticides.

Vincent Corbel from the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement in Montpellier, and Bruno Lapied from the University of Angers, France, led a team of researchers who investigated the mode of action and toxicity of deet (N,N-Diethyl-3-methylbenzamide). Corbel said, “We’ve found that deet is not simply a behavior-modifying chemical but also inhibits the activity of a key central nervous system enzyme, acetycholinesterase, in both insects and mammals”.

Discovered in 1953, deet is still the most common ingredient in insect repellent preparations. It is effective against a broad spectrum of medically important pests, including mosquitoes. Despite its widespread use, controversies remain concerning both the identification of its target sites at the molecular level and its mechanism of action in insects. In a series of experiments, Corbel and his colleagues found that deet inhibits the acetylcholinesterase enzyme – the same mode of action used by organophosphate and carbamate insecticides. These insecticides are often used in combination with deet, and the researchers also found that deet interacts with carbamate insecticides to increase their toxicity. Corbel concludes, “These findings question the safety of deet, particularly in combination with other chemicals, and they highlight the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to the development of safer insect repellents for use in public health”.

###

Notes to Editors

1. Evidence for inhibition of cholinesterases in insect and mammalian nervous systems by the insect repellent deet
Vincent Corbel, Maria Stankiewicz, Cedric Pennetier, Didier Fournier, Jure Stojan, Emmanuelle Girard, Mitko Dimitrov, Jordi Molgo, Jean Marc Hougard and Bruno Lapied
BMC Biology (in press)

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