Japan, China trade claims over latest aerial provocation


by Reiji Yoshida and Mizuho Aoki

Jun 12, 2014

Tokyo and Beijing traded blame Thursday over the second close and potentially dangerous encounter in just over two weeks between Chinese SU-27 fighter jets and Japanese reconnaissance planes over the East China Sea.


The close encounter took place Wednesday where the air defense identification zones of China and Japan overlap due to their claims to the Senkaku Islands, a defense official told The Japan Times.

Senkaku Islands(Diaoyu Islands) Left:Uotsuri J...

Continue reading “Japan, China trade claims over latest aerial provocation”

Jordan destroys armored vehicles at Syrian border

Jordanian air forces destroyed a number of armored vehicles on Wednesday as they crossed the border from war-torn Syria, the army said in a statement. Continue reading “Jordan destroys armored vehicles at Syrian border”

Turchynov Demands Self-Proclaimed Crimean Authorities Free All Hostages, Stop Provoking Ukrainian Troops By 21:00 On Wednesday

(19:32, Wednesday, March 19, 2014)



Ukrainian News Agency

Parliament Speaker/acting President Oleksandr Turchynov has demanded that the self-proclaimed Crimean authorities free all hostages and stop provoking Ukrainian troops by 21:00 on Wednesday, the acting president’s representative office announced in a statement.

“If all provocations against Ukrainian troops are not stopped and Admiral Haiduk and all other hostages – both military and civilian – are not released by 21:00, the authorities will take adequate measures, including measures of technical and technological nature,” Turchynov said. Continue reading “Turchynov Demands Self-Proclaimed Crimean Authorities Free All Hostages, Stop Provoking Ukrainian Troops By 21:00 On Wednesday”

Dozens of US nuclear missile officers caught up in drug and cheating scandals

– 11 air force officers are suspected of illegal drug use, and 34 officers have been implicated in cheating

– Missile-launch officers work in part in underground bunkers on bases equipped with nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles. Affected ICBM sites included bases in Minot, North Dakota, and Great Falls, Montana

Investigation that began with accusations of illegal drug use expands into allegations of cheating on proficiency exams

in New York

theguardian.com,              Wednesday 15 January 2014 17.26 EST

Air force drug investigation
Air force chief of staff General Mark A Welsh testifies about pending legislation regarding sexual assaults in the military. Photograph: Larry Downing/Reuters

A US air force investigation into illegal drug use by officers charged with overseeing and launching nuclear missiles expanded on Wednesday when the military announced the suspension of dozens of additional officers for cheating on proficiency exams. Continue reading “Dozens of US nuclear missile officers caught up in drug and cheating scandals”

Japan’s population falls by record 244,000 in 2013

National Jan. 02, 2014 – 06:20AM JST

Japan's population falls by record 244,000 in 2013
Japan’s population fell by a record 244,000 in 2013, according to health ministry estimates released on Wednesday, highlighting concerns over an ever-dwindling workforce supporting a growing number of pensionersAFP


Japan’s population fell by a record 244,000 in 2013, according to health ministry estimates released on Wednesday, highlighting concerns over an ever-dwindling workforce supporting a growing number of pensioners. Continue reading “Japan’s population falls by record 244,000 in 2013”

Only 100,000 ‘select’ Obamacare plans in October and fewer than 27,000 have made it through

13  Nov    2013
Washington (AFP)

Only 100,000 people have enrolled in the new US Obamacare health plan so far, and fewer than 27,000 have made it through a faulty federal sign-up website, the government said Wednesday.

The figure of 106,185 registrations represents only 1.5 percent of the estimated total sign-up for the plan by the end of the enrollment period in March, the Health and Human Services Department said.

Obamacare website security at ‘high risk’ before launch -memo / ” sensitive data, such as Social Security numbers, email addresses, phone numbers and birth dates that could be used by criminals “

Source: Reuters – Wed, 30 Oct 2013 10:02 PM

Author: Reuters

By Jim Finkle

BOSTON, Oct 30 (Reuters) – The security of the Obama administration’s healthcare website was at “high risk” because of lack of testing before it opened for enrollment on Oct. 1, according to a government memorandum reviewed by Reuters on Wednesday.

The HealthCare.gov site collects a trove of sensitive data, such as Social Security numbers, email addresses, phone numbers and birth dates that could be used by criminals in an array of schemes.

A government spokeswoman said on Wednesday that steps to mitigate security concerns have been implemented since the memo was written on Sept. 27 and that consumer data is secure.

“From a security perspective, the aspects of the system that were not tested due to the ongoing development exposed a level of uncertainty that can be deemed as a high risk,” said the  memo from Department of Health and Human Services officials James Kerry and Henry Chao.

The memo recommended the creation of a dedicated security team, weekly testing of servers, daily scans and a full security assessment within 60 to 90 days of launch. It provided for a temporary, six-month authority to operate the system.

According to the document, the recommendation was approved by Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the lead agency at HHS managing the 2010 Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare.

The law, Obama’s signature domestic policy, was passed in his first term and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court last year. It mandates everyone have health insurance or pay a fine and created online marketplaces for people to choose plans.

The Sept. 27 memo came up during a U.S. House of Representatives hearing on Wednesday to question HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about technical problems that have stalled access to the website for millions of consumers. Sebelius confirmed its main points and said the plan to ensure security was underway.

Sebelius said that the site had a temporary certificate, known as an “authority to operate” and that the agency would issue a permanent certificate once security concerns were alleviated.

Yet HHS spokeswoman Joanne Peters said that during the interim the public need not worry about the security of data entered on the site, which helps them identify and enroll in health insurance plans.

“When consumers fill out their online Marketplace applications, they can trust that the information they’re providing is protected by stringent security standards and that the technology underlying the application process has been tested and is secure,” she said.

Meanwhile, Connecticut’s state-run online exchange disclosed on Wednesday that it had experienced five attempted cyber attacks, including two from a foreign country.

“We had to get the NSA involved,” Kevin Counihan, executive director of the exchange that is known as Access Health CT, told reporters on a conference call.

A spokeswoman for the National Security Agency declined comment. Counihan said the exchange had passed cybersecurity tests before it opened on Oct. 1.



China’s rich get richer despite slowing economy: Forbes



Wednesday, Oct 16, 2013

SHANGHAI – China’s 400 richest people became US$150 billion (S$186.64 billion) wealthier this year, Forbes magazine said Wednesday, despite a slowdown in the world’s second largest economy.


The vast increase – an average of almost US$400 million each – highlights the growing inequality between the Communist country’s superrich and the millions who still live in poverty.

“The rich are getting richer,” Forbes Shanghai bureau chief Russell Flannery told a press conference as the magazine unveiled its annual China rich list.

“The rapid growth of wealth in China seems to be out of line with the Chinese economic slowdown,” he said.

The net assets of the top 100 richest people in China soared 44 per cent from a year earlier to US$316 billion, the magazine said, while the number of dollar billionaires rose to a record high of 168.

That came even as China’s economy has slowed. The Chinese economy expanded 7.7 per cent last year, the worst performance since 1999.

Forbes attributed the increase in wealth to growth in select industries, such as the Internet, auto, entertainment and property sectors.

Wang Jianlin, head of property giant Wanda Group and buyer of US cinema chain AMC Entertainment, topped the list with a net worth of $14.1 billion.

His fortune leaped from US$8 billion last year, helped by a rebound in property prices and his investment in AMC.

Forbes had already announced last month that Wang had taken the top spot.

Another ranking by the independent Hurun Report also put him at number one.

Last year’s leader, beverage tycoon Zong Qinghou, slipped to second place in the Forbes list, even though his wealth increased 12 per cent to US$11.2 billion.

Robin Li, founder of China’s homegrown search engine Baidu, dropped to third but his wealth jumped 37 per cent from last year to US$11.1 billion.

In a surprise new entry to the ranking Li Hejun, chairman of clean energy firm Hanergy Holding Group, appeared for the first time in fourth place with a net worth of $10.9 billion.

Yang Huiyan, who inherited a majority stake in property developer Country Garden, was China’s richest woman with a fortune of US$7.2 billion giving her seventh place.

As well as Robin Li, two other Internet billionaires made the top ten.

Ma Huateng, owner of social gaming and networking company Tencent, took fifth place with net worth of $10.2 billion, jumping nearly 60 per cent year-on-year due to a surge in his Hong Kong-listed firm’s share price.

And Jack Ma, founder of China’s leading e-commerce firm Alibaba, ranked eighth as his fortune more than doubled to US$7.1 billion from US$3.4 billion last year.

Copyright © 2012 – 2013 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd . Co. Regn. No. 198402868E. All rights reserved.

Undercover NYPD Cop Arrested for Role in Assault on SUV Driver: Worked Undercover on Occupy Wall Street

The officer, who was not on duty, came forward several days after the Sept. 29 fight to say he was present, according to a source

By Shimon Prokupecz
|  Wednesday, Oct 9, 2013  |  Updated 9:07 AM EDT
An NYPD officer who was on a deep undercover assignment when a violent fight erupted between a group of motorcyclists and a man driving a Range Rover in Manhattan is seen on new video smashing a window on the SUV, sources say. Tracie Strahan reports.

NBC 4 New York

An NYPD officer who was on a deep undercover assignment when a violent fight erupted between a group of motorcyclists and a man driving a Range Rover in Manhattan is seen on new video smashing a window on the SUV, sources say. Tracie Strahan reports.

Undercover Cop Seen in New Biker…

Biker Suspect in SUV Driver Beating Surrenders to Police: Officials

Two men who may have played a role in the road rage attack surrendered to authorities on Friday. Brynn Gingras reports.

Police Search for Witnesses in SUV-Bike Dispute


As the investigation into Sunday’s SUV-versus-motorcycle attack continues, police are shifting their attention to two men who may have witnessed the beating. Tracie Strahan has more.

More Photos and Videos

An NYPD officer who was on a deep undercover assignment when a violent fight erupted between a group of motorcyclists and a man driving a Range Rover in Manhattan has been arrested, police say.

Detective Wojciech Braszczok, 32, turned himself in to police Tuesday evening and was charged with riot and criminal mischief, according to police. He was with his attorney when he surrendered and is expected to make a court appearance Wednesday.

Braszczok has spent 10 years with the NYPD, the last five as an undercover, including during the Occupy Wall Street movement, according to a law enforcement official.

During his time with Occupy Wall Street, he participated in demonstrations, attended meetings and essentially lived like a protester to provide information to the NYPD, according to the official.

His attorney, Phil Karasyk, has declined to comment.

Braszczok was seen on new video punching the SUV, shattering its rear window, a law enforcement official told NBC 4 New York earlier Tuesday.

Braszczok, who was not on duty, came forward last Wednesday, several days after the Sept. 29 chase that ended in a fight, to say he was present, according to a source, and did not call 911 when the assault was taking place.

The video that just recently surfaced shows the undercover smashing the window, but not participating in the assault. He rides off when the driver is pulled from the SUV, according to a person familiar with the investigation. The video has not been made public.

Sources say Braszczok was not truthful with investigators about his role.

NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said earlier in the day that a detective had been placed on modified duty and that his involvement is under investigation.

Undercover officers are required to immediately report being a witness to a crime. Uniformed officers are required to take police action if they see a crime occurring, but the rules are murkier for undercover officers who face blowing their cover, confusing civilians who don’t realize the undercover is really a cop and ruining years-long investigations.   It is not clear why Braszczok was riding with the group of motorcyclists.

Five bikers aside from Braszczok have been criminally charged; the latest two were arraigned Tuesday on gang assault and other charges.

Those two motorcyclists were identified by police as Craig Wright and Clint Caldwell. Prosecutors say Wright punched the SUV driver through the broken window and joined in stomping him on the street. A judge set Wright’s bail at $100,000.
Wright’s lawyer, Mitchell Elman, cautioned against any “rush to judgment” in the highly scrutinized case.
“Mr. Wright, obviously, has every right to fight these charges,” he said.
Attorney information for Caldwell was not immediately available.

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State Dept Admits It Doesn’t Know Who Ordered Syria’s Chemical Strike

Posted By Elias Groll                          
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 - 10:24 PM


With the United States barreling toward a strike on Syria, U.S. officials say they are completely certain that Bashar al-Assad’s government is responsible for last week’s chemical weapons attack. They just don’t know who in the Syrian government is to blame.

On Wednesday, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf admitted as much. “The commander-in-chief of any military is ultimately responsible for decisions made under their leadership, even if … he’s not the one that pushes the button or said, ‘Go,’ on this,” Harf said. “I don’t know what the facts are here. I’m just, broadly speaking, saying that he is responsible for the actions of his regime. I’m not intimately familiar with the command and control structure of the Syrian military. I’m just not. But again, he is responsible ultimately for the decisions that are made.”

On Tuesday, The Cable reported that U.S. officials are basing their assessment that the Assad regime bears responsibility for the strike largely on an intercepted phone call between a panicked Ministry of Defense official and a commander of a Syrian chemical weapons unit. But that intelligence does not resolve the question of who in the government ordered the strike or what kind of command and control structures are in place for the use of such weapons.  “It’s unclear where control lies,” one U.S. intelligence official told The Cable Tuesday. “Is there just some sort of general blessing to use these things? Or are there explicit orders for each attack?”

Because of that lack of clarity, Harf took a beating on Wednesday. In a testy exchange during her daily briefing, Harf very nearly admitted that it makes no difference who in the Syrian government ordered the attack, a reflection of the lack of certainty that still shrouds U.S. understanding of the chemical attack that may have left as many as 1,000 people dead.

In effect, Harf was left arguing that because no one else could have carried out the attack, it must have been the Syrian government. “The world doesn’t need a classified U.S. intelligence assessment to see the photos and the videos of these people and to know that the only possible entity in Syria that could do this to their own people is the regime,” she said.

Given that U.N. inspectors with a mandate to investigate chemical weapons use were on the ground when the attack happened, the decision to deploy what appears to have been a nerve agent in a suburb east of Damascus has puzzled many observers. Why would Syria do such a thing when it is fully aware that the mass use of chemical weapons is the one thing that might require the United States to take military action against it? That’s a question U.S. intelligence analysts are puzzling over as well. “We don’t know exactly why it happened,” the intelligence official said. “We just know it was pretty fucking stupid.”

Pressed on whether the United States would still consider itself justified in launching a punitive strike if the chemical weapons were deployed by a “rogue officer,” Harf said, “yes,” before quickly adding a caveat: “But that’s also a wildly conjecturous question.”



27 killed as rioting hits Xinjiang


Knife-wielding mobs attacked police stations, the local government building and a construction site, stabbing people and setting fire to police cars. -China Daily/ANN

Cui Jia, Wang Xiaodong
Thu, Jun 27, 2013     China Daily/Asia News Network

XINJIANG – Riots left 27 people dead in a remote town in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region early on Wednesday, local authorities said.

The riots happened at about 6 am in Lukqun township, Shanshan county in Turpan prefecture, about 250 km from the regional capital Urumqi.

Knife-wielding mobs attacked the township’s police stations, the local government building and a construction site, stabbing people and setting fire to police cars, officials with Xinjiang’s regional Party committee said.

Seventeen people – nine police officers and security guards and eight civilians – were killed before police opened fire and killed 10 rioters, the officials said.

Three rioters were seized at the scene and police were chasing those who fled, the officials said without clarifying how many were at large.

Three people were injured by the mobs and were being treated at a hospital.

The incident happened two months after a deadly attack by suspected terrorists in Bachu county, Kashgar prefecture, on April 23, in which 21 people, including 15 community workers and police officers, were killed.

“This is another typical terrorist attack in Xinjiang,” Li Wei, director of the Institute of Security and Arms Control Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said on Wednesday.

“Such terrorist attacks that happen in Xinjiang are closely related to separatist forces abroad.”

Police investigations into similar cases have found that the attackers in Xinjiang usually receive training and instructions from separatist forces abroad, Li said.

Minister of Public Security Guo Shengkun, who arrived in Xinjiang on Wednesday afternoon to guide the investigation, said earlier that the ministry is working with the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, the top legislature, on new legislation to deal with terrorism, organised crime and criminal activities masterminded through the Internet.

The potential laws, which China urgently needs in view of the current situation, will help safeguard national security and maintain social stability, he said.

Guo was delivering a report to the Standing Committee.

China does not have a specific law to deter terrorist activities, although the top legislature in 2011 approved a State Council document to allow the government to verify a list of terrorists and terrorist organisations, and freeze their assets.

In April 2012, the Ministry of Public Security released a list of six terrorists. Since then, the list has grown to at least 25 people. Their assets have been frozen.

Last week, nine people in Xinjiang stood trial at a court in Aksu prefecture for instigating ethnic hatred.

Ahetam Heli, one of the accused, was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment after he was found to have used the Internet to promote religious extremism and to call for a “holy war” in November 2011.

Li Wei said police have been the primary target in terrorist attacks in Xinjiang.

He also said that Wednesday’s rioting shows that attackers have turned to eastern Xinjiang, which has long been peaceful, after security was strengthened in southern Xinjiang, where several similar attacks occurred in recent years.



Crowd of 30,000 overruns police cordon ahead of Brazil football match (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

  Published time: June 19, 2013 22:34     Edited time: June 20, 2013 00:07                                                                            

Anti-riot police officers carry a wounded demonstrator as clashes erupt in Fortaleza on June 19, 2013.(AFP Photo / Yuri Cortez)Anti-riot police officers carry a wounded demonstrator as clashes erupt in Fortaleza on June 19, 2013.(AFP Photo / Yuri Cortez)

Violent clashes have erupted in the northern city of Fortaleza in the hours leading to a Confederations Cup match with Mexico. Dozens were hurt as riot police unleashed tear gas and barrage of rubber bullets at a crowd of some 30,000 Brazilian protesters.

Images and video of the demonstration just outside of the  north-eastern city depicted throngs of protesters marching down a  road towards the stadium hosting Wednesday’s match. One person  was reported to have suffered an eye injury and another was taken  away on a stretcher.
The protesters were marching against government spending on the  World Cup and the Olympics. During the Fortaleza protest,  demonstrators carried banners reading “a teacher is worth more than  Neymar,” a reference to one of Brazil’s star players  slated to appear in Wednesday’s game.
Despite some rhetoric targeting players, in addition to FIFA, the  global football governing body, Brazil’s national team players  expressed solidarity with demonstrators.
“After seeing the people on the  streets claiming for improvements, it makes me feel like joining  them,” striker “Hulk” (Givanildo Vieira de Souza)  was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.
“They are doing the right  thing, what they are saying makes sense and we have to hear them.  Brazil needs to improve, we all know that,” he added.

Riot police officers clash with protesters who blocked access to the Castelao Stadium in Fortaleza, where Brazil is to play Mexico in a FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 football match, to denounce the events' $15 billion price-tag, on June 19, 2013.(AFP Photo / Vanderlei Almeida)Riot police officers clash with protesters who blocked access to the Castelao Stadium in Fortaleza, where Brazil is to play Mexico in a FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 football match, to denounce the events’ $15 billion price-tag, on June 19, 2013.(AFP Photo / Vanderlei Almeida)


Anti-riot police officers carry a wounded demonstrator as clashes erupt in Fortaleza on June 19, 2013 .(AFP Photo / Yuri Cortez)Anti-riot police officers carry a wounded demonstrator as clashes erupt in Fortaleza on June 19, 2013 .(AFP Photo / Yuri Cortez)


The Confederations Cup, which is still underway, had the  misfortune of beginning in tandem with planned hikes for public  transportation fares, which were the catalyst for demonstrations  nationwide. Brazilians are focusing much of their ire on what  they say is
In response to the protest in Fortaleza, FIFA president Sepp  Blatter, urged protesters not to “use football to make  their demands heard.”
The fact that vast sums were spent on new stadiums and the  refurbishment of existing venues ahead of the World Cup in  Brazil, while many in the country still live in poverty, is seen  by many as a symptom of their government’s ineptitude.

An anti-riot police officer walks in a street of Fortaleza after being injured during a protest against corruption and price hikes on June 19, 2013.(AFP Photo / Vanderlei Almeida)An anti-riot police officer walks in a street of Fortaleza after being injured during a protest against corruption and price hikes on June 19, 2013.(AFP Photo / Vanderlei Almeida)


As the world’s football governing body and organizer of the  World Cup, FIFA has found itself in the delicate position of  having to acknowledge public discontentment in the country, while  still protecting the interests of the massively popular and  extremely lucrative sport.
Brazil’s government had warned that it would deploy the National  Public Security Force, the country’s national guard, in the five  cities hosting the Confederations Cup: Rio de Janeiro, Belo  Horizonte, Salvador, Fortaleza and the capital Brasilia.
On Tuesday the mayors of Cuiaba, Recife, Joao Pessoa and other  cities had already announced a reduction in bus fares in response  to this week’s protests. On Wednesday, the municipalities of Sao  Paulo, the country’s largest city, along with Rio de Janeiro were  prepared to follow suit and also cancel proposed fare  hikes.

Riot police officers clash with protesters who blocked access to the Castelao Stadium in Fortaleza, where Brazil is to play Mexico in a FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 football match, to denounce the events' $15 billion price-tag, on June 19, 2013.(AFP Photo / Vanderlei Almeida)Riot police officers clash with protesters who blocked access to the Castelao Stadium in Fortaleza, where Brazil is to play Mexico in a FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 football match, to denounce the events’ $15 billion price-tag, on June 19, 2013.(AFP Photo / Vanderlei Almeida)


Protesters demonstrate as a group clashes with the riot police while trying to block access to the Castelao Stadium in Fortaleza, where Brazil is to play Mexico in a FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 football match, to denounce the events' $15 billion price-tag, on June 19, 2013.(AFP Photo / Yuri Cortez)Protesters demonstrate as a group clashes with the riot police while trying to block access to the Castelao Stadium in Fortaleza, where Brazil is to play Mexico in a FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 football match, to denounce the events’ $15 billion price-tag, on June 19, 2013.(AFP Photo / Yuri Cortez)


Demonstrators in Fortaleza display a banner with a message in solidarity with law enforcement before being fired upon with tear gas (http://lualencastro.wordpress.com/)Demonstrators in Fortaleza display a banner with a message in solidarity with law enforcement before being fired upon with tear gas (http://lualencastro.wordpress.com/)



DOJ Wants More for Prisons Than U.S. Security




WASHINGTON (CN) – President Obama’s proposed 2014 budget for the Department of Justice will spend $4.1 billion more on prisons than on “national security,” the Justice Department revealed Wednesday.

Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday released the proposed 2014 budget for the Department of Justice: $27.6 billion – $1.6 billion less than the FY 2013 Justice budget, due to sequestration.

President Obama’s proposal for the Justice Department is up 3 percent from the FY 2012 proposal, but less than this year’s budget, the Department of Justice said in a statement.

According to the Justice Department statement, the proposal includes:

$8.5 billion for federal prisons and detention;

$4.4 billion for national security;

$395.1 million for (undefined) protection from gun violence;

$92.6 million enhancement for cyber security;

$55 million increase for investigating and prosecuting financial and mortgage fraud;

$25 million increase for immigration enforcement;

$258.6 million for civil rights;

$2.3 billion in assistance to state, local and tribal law enforcement;

$561.4 million in federal program offsets and rescissions.

Holder called the last item “efficiencies,” required by the budget sequestration.


Wal-Mart’s Nude Child Photo Policy Hits 9th : Lost Custody of daughters over photos developed at Wal Mart


(CN) – A couple who briefly lost custody of their children after developing bath-time photos told the 9th Circuit that Wal-Mart should have disclosed its “unsuitable print policy.”

Lisa and A.J. Demaree say they photographed their daughters, who were 5, 4 and 1 1/2 at the time, in the bathtub while on a family trip to San Diego in 2008. The couple then returned home to Arizona and dropped off the camera’s memory stick at a Wal-Mart in Peoria to have the photos developed.

Wal-Mart employees later reported the photos to the Peoria Police Department, which called in the Arizona Child Protective Services Agency (CPS). The Demarees ended up losing custody of the girls for more than a month while they fought to prove their innocence. A Maricopa County Superior Court judge eventually reunited the family after finding the photographs were not pornographic.

The Demarees sued Wal-Mart in 2009 for consumer fraud, alleging that it has a secret “unsuitable print policy” for handling nude photos of perceived minors, and that it should inform customers that it might turn over unsuitable photos to the police.

Their attorney, Richard Treon with Treon, Aguirre, Newman & Norris, said at the time that seven of the 150 photos on the memory stick showed the girls “with a towel around and in various portions of nudity.”

A federal judge in Phoenix ruled for Wal-Mart, finding that Arizona’s immunity statutes relieve employees of civil liability for reporting suspected child pornography. The Demarees appealed the case to the 9th Circuit, which held oral arguments on Wednesday during a special sitting at the University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law in Tucson.

“These were innocent bathtime photos,” Treon said Wednesday.

Judge N. Randy Smith opened the hearing by asking Treon if the Demarees’ claims were not “akin to arguing that Wal-Mart failed to explain the law to your client?”

Smith was joined on the panel by Judge William Canby and U.S. District Judge Larry Burns, sitting by designation from the Southern District of California.

“Wal-Mart had the duty to tell the truth,” Treon said, adding that Wal-Mart had for decades warned its customers that it reserved the right to call the police over a photograph, but stopped doing so in 1989. That’s when a change in the law made the possessor of nude photographs potentially guilty of possessing contraband.

“Wal-Mart adopted this policy not because they are concerned about being the ‘police of the world,’ but rather because their employees did not want to print photographs that showed nudity, in addition to which Wal-Mart did not want to have on its premises photographs that could be held to be contraband,” Treon said.

Judge Burns asked Treon “what warning should Wal-Mart be giving?”

“The same one they gave 25 years ago,” Treon said. “We reserve the right to review your photographs as you provide them to us, and if they contain nudity, be warned that our clerks will review them and if they decide they are bothersome or troublesome, they will have the right to report them to police. That’s their policy. And they should tell the customer the truth about that.”

Treon added that Wal-Mart does provide such a warning on its website, but not in its stores.

For Wal-Mart’s attorney, Lawrence Kasten of Lewis and Roca, the case boils down to simple immunity.

Under Arizona statute, an employee who makes a report of child abuse without malice is immune from prosecution.

“It would be a significant hole in the immunity statutes if they left out consumer fraud,” Kasten said.

He said that there is no evidence of malice in the record, and that the three employees involved in reporting the photographs had all testified that they did so out of concern for the children,.

“My reaction is different from saying they were simple bathtime photos,” he said.

Kasten warned that a reversal in this case could upset the clear intention of the immunity statutes, which is to prevent employees from ignoring red flags out fear of legal action.

“I fear that what may happen after this case is [that the] employee will sit there and say, boy, if I turn these over my employer is going to spend millions of dollars in legal fees, and I’m going to get hauled in front of a deposition for eight hours, [so] maybe I’ll just stick them back in the envelope and not worry about them,” he said.

“Immunity is supposed to prevent exactly that from happening.”


Economic Official Sperling Warned Woodward

The meaning of the word “regret.”

posted on February 27, 2013 at  9:39pm EST

Ben Smith   BuzzFeed Staff posted   a few minutes ago
Economic Official Sperling Warned Woodward

The White House official who Bob Woodward charged had crossed a line by saying he would “regret” printing his version of a set of Washington negotiations was Gene Sperling, the director of the White House Economic Council, a source familiar with the exchange told BuzzFeed Wednesday.

The email from Sperling to Woodward, which Woodward read to Politico on Wednesday, has transfixed Washington, with Republicans and some in the press charging that it embodies a White House lording it over a cowed press corps.

Woodward, Politico reported, called the top official — identified to BuzzFeed as Sperling — to tell him that he would question Obama’s account of negotiations leading to the “sequester” — automatic cuts set to take effect next month.

The aide “yelled at me for about a half hour,” Woodward said, and then sent a follow-up email that read, in part: “You’re focusing on a few specific trees that give a very wrong impression of the forest. But perhaps we will just not see eye to eye here. … I think you will regret staking out that claim.”

Officials often threaten reporters that they will “regret” printing something that is untrue, but Woodward took the remark as a threat.

“They have to be willing to live in the world where they’re challenged,” he told Politico. “I’ve tangled with lots of these people. But suppose there’s a young reporter who’s only had a couple of years — or 10 years’ — experience and the White House is sending him an email saying, ‘You’re going to regret this.’ You know, tremble, tremble. I don’t think it’s the way to operate.”

Sperling, a former aide to Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin who held the same position in Clinton’s second term, is a veteran Democratic budget wonk and party insider. Remarked one friend Wednesday, he is “not exactly cut from the classic, no-drama Obama cloth.”

Sperling didn’t respond to an email inquiry about the exchange; a White House spokesman declined to comment on the authorship of the email to Woodward.

Greek protesters seize ministry office

Jan 30, 2013 21:32 Moscow Time

20.12.2011 Греция ПАМЕ забастовка митинг

Photo: EPA

Greek anti-austerity protesters from the PAME group seized Labor Minister Yannis Vroutsis’s office Wednesday after he had voiced plans to introduce tougher pension reforms.

Some 40 protesters broke into the building and seized the office.

Police fired teargas and used batons to disperse the demonstrators who rallied outside the ministry.

Voice of Russia, TASS

Kuwait detains Twitter users for insulting emir

By Agence France-Presse Sunday, November 18, 2012 20:44 EST

Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, image via AFP

Kuwait’s public prosecution on Sunday ordered the detention of four Twitter users for 10 days for allegedly insulting the ruler of the oil-rich Gulf state, a rights group said.

The four were arrested on Wednesday and remanded in police custody pending further investigation before the prosecution issued its detention order, Kuwait Human Rights News Centre said on its Twitter account.

Three other Twitter users, including a woman, who were arrested with them were each freed on bail of $3,550.

The seven, described as opposition sympathisers, were interrogated on allegations of tweets deemed offensive and critical of Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah.

The clampdown on users of the social network was strongly criticised by opposition figures, with Hamad al-Matar, a member of the scrapped 2012 parliament, saying Kuwait was becoming a “police state”.

Last week, the emirate’s secret service police detained for two days two members of the Al-Sabah ruling family on accusations of writing tweets deemed offensive to the emir.

Several former opposition MPs and activists are facing trial over similar charges. Public criticism of the ruler is illegal under the Kuwaiti constitution.

Kuwait has plunged into a deep political crisis after the government amended the electoral law ahead of the December 1 general election which the opposition has decided to boycott.

The Islamist, nationalist and liberal opposition has been staging street protests in which about 150 protesters and 24 police were slightly wounded. It plans more protests and is urging voters to shun the ballot.



Turkish government authorises raids against Syria

Fears of major conflict grow as parliament approves ‘deterrent’ measures in wake of cross-border incident on Wednesday

  • Martin Chulov in Beirut
  • The Guardian, Thursday 4 October 2012 14.18 EDT
Turkish parliament

Turkey‘s parliament has given legal authority to the military to launch cross-border raids into Syria in response to Wednesday’s deadly mortar strikes that killed five civilians and edged the two former allies closer to a big conflict.

Claiming that the move was only a deterrent against Syrian strikes, the legislature voted to authorise the Turkish military to cross into Syria at any time during the next year. The vote was passed 320-129.

Ankara claims to have received an apology from the Syrian regime on Thursday, relayed by the UN, and an assurance that such an incident would not occur again.

The moves followed a day of high tension on the restive frontier and at least 12 hours of artillery fire from southern Turkey at targets deep inside north Syria.

Observers outside the country who had spoken to activists in Tal Abiyad, about nine miles from the border, claimed an unknown number of Syrian soldiers had been killed by the Turkish fire and that others had withdrawn from their bases.

As the shellfire ceased shortly after sunrise Thursday, officials in Ankara announced that the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, would turn to parliament for the same sort of legal backing that underpinned the country’s operations against Kurdish groups in north Iraq.

Erdogan’s motion said the shelling had been “on the threshold of an armed attack” and was a “serious threat to Turkish national security”.

The statement said: “As part of the military operations being conducted by the Syrian Arab republic armed forces, starting from [20 September] aggressive actions have been directed against our country’s territories too. These actions have continued despite our repeated warnings and diplomatic initiatives.

“Therefore, the need has developed to act rapidly and to take necessary precautions against additional risks and threats that may be directed against our country.”

Besir Atalay, the deputy prime minister, later said: “The bill is not for war. It has deterrent qualities.”

On Thursday Turkey moved troops and armour to the area near the town of Akcakale, which had been hit, late Wednesday afternoon, by at least two shells fired from Syria. Officials said radar tracks had shown that the firing point was about six miles inside Syria, near a military base used by regime troops.

The Syrian strike was roundly condemned by Nato, of which Turkey is a member state, as well as the UN and US.

Russia, a staunch ally of Damascus and backer of Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s president, in the uprising, said it had asked its ally to explain what had happened and to apologise for any “mistake”.

Atalay later claimed to have received the indirect Syrian apology. There was no immediate comment from Damascus.

Both countries had edged towards conflict in the summer when a Turkish jet was downed by a missile fired from Tartous, in Syria. On that occasion, Turkey invoked the Nato treaty that can require the powerful security body to defend a member state under attack. Ankara did not retaliate at the time but said it would do so against future provocations.

Syria has accused Turkey of arming and sheltering the Free Syria army, its main adversary in the now blazing civil war. Syrian officials brand the rebel forces terrorists and say they are backed by foreign powers.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Nato’s chief, reiterated to the Guardian on Monday that Nato would not support a Libya-style military intervention in Syria. “Syria is a very, very, complex society. Foreign military interventions could have broader impacts.”

An urgent meeting of Nato ambassadors hours after the Syrian strike produced a strongly worded statement condemning Damascus, but offered no hint that its anti-intervention stance had changed.

“The alliance continues to stand by Turkey and demands the immediate cessation of such aggressive acts against an ally, and urges the Syrian regime to put an end to flagrant violations of international law,” it said.

Meanwhile, close to 100 people were reported to have died across Syria on Thursday as fighting continued to rage in most parts of the country.

The popular uprising, inspired by the Arab spring, which by earlier this year had morphed into an intensive armed insurrection, has now claimed in excess of 30,000 lives and shows no signs of abating.

Aleppo and Damascus are battle zones, as are most secondary cities and towns. The deteriorating situation in Syria poses an ever increasing risk to neighbouring states, including Turkey, which is already battling an insurgency led by restive Kurdish groups in Iraq and Syria.


Iran currency crisis sparks Tehran street clashes: Rial has lost a third of its exchange value against the dollar in a week

Police use teargas and batons on demonstrators and Tehran bazaar closes as value of rial plunges

  • Saeed Kamali Dehghan The Guardian,   Wednesday 3 October 2012 14.32 EDT
Iran currency crisis

Iran’s rial has lost a third of its exchange value against the dollar in a week.  Photograph: Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA

Hundreds of demonstrators in the Iranian capital clashed with riot police on Wednesday, during protests against the crisis over the country’s currency. Police used batons and teargas to try to disperse the crowds.

The day after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appealed to the market to restore calm, the Grand Bazaar – the heartbeat of Tehran’s economy – went on strike, with various businesses shutting down and owners gathering in scattered groups chanting anti-government slogans in reaction to the plummeting value of the rial, which has hit all-time lows this week.

“Mahmoud [Ahmadinejad] the traitor … leave politics,” shouted some protesters, according to witnesses who spoke to the Guardian. Other slogans were “leave Syria alone, instead think of us,” said opposition website Kaleme.com.

Iran‘s alleged financial and military support for the regime of Bashar al-Assad appears to have infuriated protesters in the wake of the country’s worst financial crisis since the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.

Angry protesters and foreign exchange dealers were demonstrating near the bazaar in the south of the capital, where many exchange bureaux are located.

“The Bazaaris shouted Allahu Akbar [God is great] as they closed down their shops in the morning,” said a witness. “It’s impossible to do business in the current situation.” Amateur videos posted on YouTube which appeared to have been taken from Wednesday’s protests, showed demonstrators encouraging Bazaaris to close down shops in solidarity. Security forces were soon sent to quell the protests.

“They used teargas to disperse demonstrators in Ferdowsi Street and also blocked the streets close to the protests in order to prevent people joining them,” said another witness, who asked to remain anonymous. “Some shop windows in that area have been smashed and dustbins set on fire.” A number of demonstrators had been arrested, according to Kaleme.

A Bazaar official, Ahmad Karimi Esfahani, denied that the “turbulences” were linked to the business owners, claiming shops were closed for security reasons and not part of a strike. “The Bazaar will open tomorrow as normal,” he told the semi-official Ilna news agency. A conservative website, Baztab, described the clashes as “suspicious”, denying Bazaaris were involved.

The rial’s devaluation and soaring prices of staple goods are the latest signs that a combination of western sanctions targeting the regime’s nuclear programme and government mismanagement are compounding the country’s economic woes.

On Wednesday, many foreign exchange dealers and bureaux across the country refused to trade dollars and some currency-monitoring websites refused to announce exchange rates.

Some Iranians expressed anger on social networking websites to the national TV’s blackout of the protests, saying it discussed the European financial crisis with little, if no coverage, of Tehran’s unrest. The authorities were also reported to have jammed signals of the BBC’s Persian service as the protest unfolded.

The government has failed to bring the rial under control despite several attempts. It has lost 57% of its value in the past three months and 75% in comparison with the end of last year. The dollar is now three times stronger than early last year. The economy minister, Shamseddin Hosseini, said the government planned to “gather up” the unofficial currency market in the latest desperate ditch to curb the crisis.

On Tuesday Iranian authorities announced they would send security services to calm the market but Wednesday’s developments appear to show that the move has backfired.

Ahmadinejad was bombarded with questions about the currency crisis on Tuesday as he spoke to reporters in a press conference but the embattled president, who is under fire from his conservative rivals, rejected the suggestion that it was the result of his economic policies or government incompetence.

Instead, he blamed the rial’s slump on his enemies abroad and opponents at home, saying his government was the victim of a “psychological war”. Ahmadinejad acknowledged western sanctions have contributed to the crisis.

An opinion poll posted on a conservative website, Khabaronline.ir, showed that more than 90% of those participated were not convinced with Ahmadinejad’s responses on Tuesday.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, speaking to elites on Wednesday, said the country was under pressure because “it did not yield to the demands of tyrannies”.

Iran is one of the world’s largest oil producers and relies on crude sales as the main source of its the foreign currency reserves. The latest US and EU embargo on the imports of Iranian oil has affected that reserve, sending the rial tailspinning and making the dollar hard to come by.

Commenting on Iran’s currency slump, the US secretary of state, Hilary Clinton, said that sanctions could be “remedied” switfly if Tehran were cooperating with the international community to address the questions about its disputed nuclear programme.

“They have made their own government decisions – having nothing to do with the sanctions – that have had an impact on the economic conditions inside of the country,” Clinton told reporters.

“Of course the sanctions have had an impact as well, but those could be remedied in short order if the Iranian government were willing to work with the P5+1 [the five security council members plus Germany] and the rest of the international community in a sincere manner,” she added.


Revealed: Ringleader behind ‘al-Qaeda attack that killed U.S. ambassador was former Guantanamo inmate handed over to Libya by America’

  • Sufyan Ben Qumu was classified as a ‘medium  to high’ national security risk before his release from American  custody
  • Qumu reportedly was Osama bin Laden’s driver  and worked for the al-Qaeda founder’s company in Sudan
  • Libyans promised to keep him behind bars,  but he was released in 2010
  • Qumu was a former Libyan army tank driver  and became a leader of the rebels during the uprising

By Michael Zennie

PUBLISHED:17:42 EST, 19  September 2012| UPDATED:20:28 EST, 19 September 2012

Sufyan Ben QumuLeader: Sufyan Ben Qumu, who has known extremist ties,  became one of the top commanders of rebel forces in Benghazi

A former al-Qaeda terrorist released from  Guantanamo Bay is believed to be the leader of the attack on the US consulate in  Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including the US Ambassador, it was  revealed on Wednesday.

Sufyan Ben Qumu, who was reportedly once  Osama bin Laden’s driver, was let out of the US military detention center in  Cuba in 2007 and turned over to the government of Muammar Gaddafi on the  condition he be kept behind bars.

Now, Fox  Newsreports he may have led the  September 11 attack on the American  consulate that resulted in the death of  John Christopher Stevens — the  first US Ambassador killed by violence overseas  since 1979.

The US military characterized him as a  ‘medium to high’ risk to national  security while he was in US custody and he  refused to cooperate with  authorities and explain his past associations with  Islamic extremists.

Qumu, 53, is a Libyan army veteran  who was  jailed by Qaddafi and later escaped and moved to Sudan, where he worked  for one  of Osama bin Laden’s holding companies.

According to some reports, he was bin Laden’s  driver during his time at the company. However, he denies this.

Later, he moved to Pakistan and slipped  across the border into Afghanistan,  where he began working at a charity that  was a front for al-Qaeda in the summer of 2001.

He was arrested in Pakistan by local  authorities shortly after the US invasion of Afghanistan. He was taken  to the  Guantanamo Bay detention center and held there for six years.

Attack: Qumu was characterized by the US military as a 'medium to high' national security riskAttack: Qumu was characterized by the US military as a  ‘medium to high’ national security risk

Deadly: Four people died, including US Ambassador Christopher Stevens, during an assault on the US Consulate in Benghazi, LibyaDeadly: Four people died, including US Ambassador  Christopher Stevens, during an assault on the US Consulate in Benghazi,  Libya

Despite his lengthy association with  extremists, including the 9-11 mastermind and al-Qaeda leader himself, the  military recommended in a 2005 report sending him back to his home country of  Libya.

In 2007, Qumu was released from Gitmo and  turned over to Gaddafi on the condition that he be kept in prison.

But, in 2010 Gaddafi freed him from  the  notorious Abu Salim prison in Tripoli, along with 37 other  prisoners, to  celebrate the dictator’s 41st year in power.

During the uprising, Qumu emerged as a leader  of the rebels.

He was a tank driver during his time in the  Libyan army, though he had been arrested several times on drug and alcohol  offenses.

Tragic: John Christopher Stevens is the first US Ambassador to be killed by violence overseas since 1979. He apparently died of smoke inhalation after the attack on the consulate in Benghazi Tragic: John Christopher Stevens is the first US  Ambassador to be killed by violence overseas since 1979. He apparently died of  smoke inhalation after the attack on the consulate in Benghazi

Sean Smith was a foreign service computer expertGlen Doherty

Victims: Sean Smith (left), 34, was a foreign service  computer expert who had previously been posted to Baghdad. Glen Doherty, 42, was  a former US Navy SEAL who was working as a private security  contractor

The report came as a senior US official  called the assault on the American diplomatic outpost a ‘terrorist  attack.’

It was the first time the White House has  referred to the deadly incursion as terrorism and it undermines the US position  that it was  ‘spontaneous.’

‘Yes, they  were killed in the course of a  terrorist attack on our embassy,’  Director of the National Counterterrorism  Center Matt Olsen told a  Senate hearing on Wednesday.

Wrecked: The consulate was badly damaged in the attack that forced US personnel to fleeWrecked: The consulate was badly damaged in the attack  that forced US personnel to flee


Extremists: The Libyan government blamed the attack on Islamic extremists angry over the release of a trailer for an American anti-Islam movieExtremists: The Libyan government blamed the attack on  Islamic extremists angry over the release of a trailer for an American  anti-Islam movie

In addition to Mr Stevens, who friends said  devoted his life to promoting peace and cultural understanding, three other  Americans were killed when a mob attacked and burned the consulate in former  rebel stronghold city.

Sean Smith, a foreign service officer, was a  34-year-old father of two. Glen Doherty, 42, was a former US Navy SEAL who was  working at the consulate as a private security contractor.

The attack on the consulate came after the  release of a trailer for the controversial movie ‘The Innocence of Muslims,’  which paints a portrait of Islam that many in the Muslim world find deeply  offensive.

Destruction: The White House maintains that attack was the work of a mob of Islamic extremists, not organized terroristsDestruction: The White House maintains that attack was  the work of a mob of Islamic extremists, not organized terrorists


Protests: Unrest remains high in Libya after the release of 'The Innocence of Muslims'Protests: Unrest remains high in Libya after the release  of ‘The Innocence of Muslims’

The White House maintains that there was no  evidence the attack was preplanned by a terrorist group — rather, they say, it  appears to have been a spontaneous mob of Islamic extremists.

‘We are looking at indications that  individuals involved in the attack may have had connections to Al Qaeda or Al  Qaeda’s affiliates, in particular Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb,’ Mr Olsen  told the Senate.

However, he added, ‘the facts that we have  now indicate that this was an opportunistic attack on our embassy, the attack  began and evolved and escalated over several hours.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2205825/Sufyan-Ben-Qumu-Former-Gitmo-inmate-planned-al-Qaeda-attack-Libyan-consulate.html#ixzz26yJtXfG5 Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook