Controlled drugs dumped uncontrolled into water

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – In a frustrating quirk in government policy, the most tightly controlled drugs – like painkilling narcotics prone to abuse – are the ones that most often elude environmental regulation when they become waste.

Federal narcotics regulators impose strict rules meant to keep controlled pharmaceuticals out of the wrong hands. Yet those rules also make these drugs nearly impossible to handle safely as waste, say hospital environmental administrators.

Many would like to send controlled substances to landfills or incinerators to keep them out of waterways as much as possible. Instead, they are nearly always dropped into sinks and toilets by hospitals, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

The problem is huge, because more than 365 medicines are controlled by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration – almost 12 percent of all prescriptions, the agency says. They include widely used narcotics, stimulants, depressants and steroids – drugs like codeine, morphine, oxycodone, diazepam (often sold as Valium) and methylphenidate (often sold as Ritalin).

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Home Office: Car journeys to be stored on a national database for five years


CCTV cameras, converted to read ANPR data, capturing people’s movement. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Reuters

The police are to expand a car surveillance operation that will allow them to record and store details of millions of daily journeys for up to five years, the Guardian has learned.


Paul Lewis on police plans to store car surveillance records Link to this audio

A national network of roadside cameras will be able to “read” 50m licence plates a day, enabling officers to reconstruct the journeys of motorists.

Police have been encouraged to “fully and strategically exploit” the database, which is already recording the whereabouts of 10 million drivers a day, during investigations ranging from counter-terrorism to low-level crime.

But it has raised concerns from civil rights campaigners, who question whether the details should be kept for so long, and want clearer guidance on who might have access to the material.

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Scottish activist films Israeli navy shooting at Gaza fishermen

Claims of 14 deaths in previous incidents

A SCOTTISH human rights activist has filmed the Israeli navy firing machine guns at unarmed Palestinian fishing boats in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of the Gaza Strip.

The footage, taken on September 6 by Andrew Muncie, who is from the Highlands, shows an Israeli gunboat engaging fishing boats while international observers hold their arms in the air and scream for them to stop firing.


Source: YouTube

No-one was injured in the incident, but Palestinian fishermen claim 14 colleagues have been murdered at sea by the Israeli navy since the onset of an economic blockade imposed after Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007. Israel says patrolling these waters is a vital security measure to stop weapons being smuggled into Gaza.

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Pakistani troops fire on US soldiers near Afghan border, reports say

Security officials say soldiers were trying to enter South Waziristan by helicopter


Pakistani soldiers near the Afghan border. Photograph: Matiullah Achakzai/EPA

Pakistani troops opened fire on US soldiers trying to enter the country’s lawless tribal area today, according to reports, marking a dangerous further deterioration in relations between the two anti-terror allies.

Details of the incident, in South Waziristan, are unclear. According to local security officials and tribesmen, however, two US helicopters breached Pakistani airspace in the early hours but were forced to retreat when they came under fire.

The US forces were likely to have been on a hit-and-withdraw mission against suspected militants in the area, similar to the first documented US ground raid into the tribal territory earlier this month, when choppers flew in commandos. That enraged the Pakistani army and public.

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Bolivia’s President Morales declares martial law in rebellious state


Supporters of Bolivia’s President Evo Morales burn dolls representing Leopoldo Fernandez, governor of the opposition state of Pando, in La Paz, Monday, Sept. 15, 2008. Several opposition provinces are seeking greater autonomy from Morales’ government and insist on the cancellation of a Jan. 25, 2008 referendum on a new constitution that would help him centralize power, run for a second consecutive term and transfer fallow terrain to landless peasants. At least 30 people have been killed in clashes this week, according to authorities (AP Photo/Juan Karita)

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) – South America’s presidents converged on Chile for an emergency summit Monday aimed at preventing the collapse of Bolivia, whose leftist president has lost control of about half the country and said bloody unrest there amounts to an attempted coup.

Evo Morales said he would explain to his fellow presidents how his political foes in Bolivia’s rich eastern lowlands have mounted a “civic coup,” inciting “crimes against humanity by groups massacring the poorest of my country.”

At least 30 people were killed in political violence last week, prompting Bolivia’s first indigenous president to declare martial law in the rebellious state of Pando – where Morales says thugs used machine guns against his supporters – and seek the arrest of its governor.

Gov. Leopoldo Fernandez denied any responsibility for the deaths, calling it an armed clash between rival groups and accusing Morales of “mounting a farce.”

Morales has lost control over most of eastern Bolivia, where protests have blocked highways and closed border crossings and pipeline sabotage has forced a cutoff of nearly half his nation’s natural gas exports to Brazil.

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Chinese Baby Formula Scandal Widens

BEIJING — China’s Ministry of Health on Monday announced that two babies have died in recent months and 1,253 others have been sickened by contaminated milk powder in a widening food safety scandal that has exposed persistent weaknesses in the country’s regulatory system.

More than 340 infants remain hospitalized, including 53 in serious condition. Inspection teams are visiting dairy farms and processing centers in the country’s four main milk-producing provinces to ensure that producers are not violating safety standards.

The Chinese authorities have confirmed that the tainted baby formula was laced with melamine, a chemical additive sometimes used to make plastics and fertilizer. Last year, after thousands of pets became ill in the United States, the same chemical was found in pet food and traced to a Chinese ingredient.

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The Army’s Totally Serious Mind-Control Project


Army scientists want to cram this array of brain-wave reading sensors into a helmet.

Soldiers barking orders at each other is so 20th Century. That’s why the U.S. Army has just awarded a $4 million contract to begin developing “thought helmets” that would harness silent brain waves for secure communication among troops. Ultimately, the Army hopes the project will “lead to direct mental control of military systems by thought alone.”

If this sounds insane, it would have been as recently as a few years ago. But improvements in computing power and a better understanding of how the brain works have scientists busy hunting for the distinctive neural fingerprints that flash through a brain when a person is talking to himself. The Army’s initial goal is to capture those brain waves with incredibly sophisticated software that then translates the waves into audible radio messages for other troops in the field. “It’d be radio without a microphone, ” says Dr. Elmar Schmeisser, the Army neuroscientist overseeing the program. “Because soldiers are already trained to talk in clean, clear and formulaic ways, it would be a very small step to have them think that way.”

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China Detains 19 as Toxic Formula Sickens Hundreds of Infants

SHANGHAI – China said Saturday that 19 people had been detained by the police as part of an investigation into how baby formula had become contaminated with an industrial chemical. The formula is implicated in the death of one infant, and at least 432 others have been afflicted with kidney problems.

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Deposit insurance system may face WaMu test

Attention has focused on the danger presented by the failure of Lehman Brothers. But the failure of a commercial bank such as Washington Mutual can have systemic consequences if it threatens a run on other weak banks.

Washington Mutual – the sixth largest bank in the US – has lost more than a third of its market value recently as investors fear it lacks liquidity and capital to survive the credit crisis.

The failure of a bank its size would test the strength of the US deposit insurance system and its ability to maintain the confidence of the nation’s savers.

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Jobless set to top two million as the UK economy heads for meltdown


A JobCentre office

The true scale of the jobs disaster facing Britain is revealed today as experts issue dire warnings that up to half a million workers will lose their jobs over the next two years, as companies cut costs and scale back investment plans to survive the economic downturn.

Official figures are widely expected to reveal this week that the number of people out of work and claiming benefits increased for a seventh successive month in August.

Finance companies based in London’s Square Mile have already laid off thousands of workers since the US mortgage crisis unleashed chaos in the world’s markets last summer; and the 5,000 UK-based staff at crisis-hit investment bank Lehman Brothers are awaiting news this weekend about how many of them will be made redundant.

Read moreJobless set to top two million as the UK economy heads for meltdown