US: New regulation for tourists requires online registration

From January 2009, short-term visitors will only be granted entry to the US once they have registered on the website of the Electronic System Travel Authorization. This replaces the current procedure of filling out a green form handed out during the flight.

The move is meant to place greater emphasis on defending the country’s borders against the threat of terrorism. The new system is also seen as a response to the perceived growth of religious extremism in European countries, whose citizens are able to enter the US more easily.

It is hoped the new requirements will highlight people with questionable backgrounds before they leave their home country. Currently, they are able to fly to America, only to be sent back straight away by customs officials if deemed not suitable for entry.

The revamped system will affect the 27 nations covered by the visa waiver program, which includes Great Britain, and gives citizens the right to remain in the US for short periods of time without a visa. All the information filled in on the website will be held by US authorities for 15 years.

Those who fly regularly across the Atlantic stand to benefit as an approved application remains valid for up to two years, or until the traveller’s passport has run out. It also entitles the holder to multiple entries to the US during this period.

Read moreUS: New regulation for tourists requires online registration

G8 Hypocrites: Excessive cost and lavish consumption at the food shortages summit

As the food crisis began to bite, the rumblings of discontent grew louder. Finally, after a day of discussing food shortages and soaring prices, the famished stomachs of the G8 leaders could bear it no longer.

The most powerful bellies in the world were last night compelled to stave off the great Hokkaido Hunger by fortifying themselves with an eight-course, 19-dish dinner prepared by 25 chefs. This multi-pronged attack was launched after earlier emergency lunch measures – four courses washed down with Château-Grillet 2005 – had failed to quell appetites enlarged by agonising over feeding the world’s poor.

The G8 gathering had been seen as a “world food shortages summit” as leaders sought to combat spiralling prices of basic foodstuffs in the developed world, and starvation in the developing world.

But not since Marie Antoinette was supposed to have leaned from a Versailles palace window and suggested that the breadless peasants eat cake can leaders have demonstrated such insensitivity to daily hardship than at the luxury Windsor hotel on the Japanese island of Hokkaido.

After discussing famine in Africa, the peckish politicians and five spouses took on four bite-sized amuse-bouche to tickle their palates. The price of staple foods may be soaring, but thankfully caviar and sea urchin are within the purchasing power of leaders and their taxpayers – the amuse-bouche featured corn stuffed with caviar, smoked salmon and sea urchin, hot onion tart and winter lily bulb.

Guests at the summit, which is costing £238m, were then able to pick items from a tray modelled on a fan and decorated with bamboo grasses, including diced fatty tuna fish, avocado and jellied soy sauce, and pickled conger eel with soy sauce.

Hairy crab Kegani bisque-style soup was another treat in a meal prepared by the Michelin-starred chef Katsuhiro Nakamura, the grand chef at Hotel Metropolitan Edmont in Tokyo, alongside salt-grilled bighand thornyhead (a small, red Pacific fish) with a vinegary water pepper sauce.

They have told their people to tighten their belts for lean times ahead, but you feared for presidential and prime ministerial girdles after the chance to tuck into further dishes including milk-fed lamb, roasted lamb with cepes, and black truffle with emulsion sauce. Finally there was a “fantasy” dessert, a special cheese selection accompanied by lavender honey and caramelised nuts, while coffee came with candied fruits and vegetables.

Leaders cleverly skated around global water shortages by choosing from five different wines and liqueurs.

Read moreG8 Hypocrites: Excessive cost and lavish consumption at the food shortages summit

UN: 1 Million In Myanmar Not Getting Aid

More than 1 million people still don’t have adequate food, water or shelter a month after a devastating cyclone swept through Myanmar, and the military junta’s policies are hindering relief efforts and driving up the cost of aid operations, the United Nations said Tuesday.

Humanitarian groups say they continue to face hurdles from Myanmar’s military government in sending disaster experts and vital equipment into the country. As a result, only a trickle of aid is reaching the storm’s estimated 2.4 million survivors, leaving many without even basic relief.

Compounding these problems, the junta’s refusal to allow the use of military helicopters from neighboring countries is driving up relief costs, an official from the World Food Program said.

Aid groups are unable to provide 1.1 million survivors with sufficient food and clean water, while trying to prevent a second wave of deaths from malnutrition and disease, the U.N. said in its latest assessment report.

Read moreUN: 1 Million In Myanmar Not Getting Aid

Depleted Uranium Shells Worse Than Nuclear Weapons

(NaturalNews) The use of depleted uranium (DU) munitions by the U.S. military may lead to a death toll far higher than that from the nuclear bombs dropped at the end of World War II.

DU is a waste product of uranium enrichment, containing approximately one-third the radioactive isotopes of naturally occurring uranium. Because of its high density, it is used in armor- or tank-piercing ammunition. It has been fired by the U.S. and British militaries in the two Iraq wars and in Afghanistan, as well as by NATO forces in Kosovo and the Israeli military in Lebanon and Palestine.

Inhaled or ingested DU particles are highly toxic, and DU has been classified as an illegal weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations.

The United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority has estimated that 50 tons of DU dust from the first Gulf War could lead to 500,000 cancer deaths by the year 2000. To date, a total of 2,000 tons have been generated in the Middle East.

Read moreDepleted Uranium Shells Worse Than Nuclear Weapons

NASA employee suspended for political blogging

Feds investigate other employees who mix politics and their jobs

WASHINGTON — Any employee can get in trouble for personal blogging on company time, but U.S. government workers, as one NASA employee has discovered, can get into a special kind of legal trouble if they also write about politics. They risk violating a 1939 law called the Hatch Act, which requires federal employees to keep their jobs and political activities separate.

A National Aeronautics and Space Administration employee was suspended for 180 days for “numerous” blog posts about politics, sending “partisan e-mails” and soliciting for political contributions, according to an announcement last week by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC). The employee wasn’t identified.

The intent of the Hatch Act is to prohibit “the use of the mechanism of government from influencing the outcome of an election,” said James Mitchell, an OSC spokesman. If a person is seeking money for candidates on company time and on company equipment, “that person might as well have been soliciting within the office,” he said.

The suspension was the result of agreement reached with NASA by the special counsel. The employee, whose suspension began March 30, could have been fired from his job.

The OSC is investigating similar cases at other agencies, Mitchell said. In some instances, the practice may be due to intra-office e-mails about particular candidates.

“We have a lot of cases open right now in this election year,” Mitchell said. The NASA case, which involved a midlevel employee at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, may be a defining one, he said.

Read moreNASA employee suspended for political blogging

Lieberman Demands YouTube Censorship

Joe Lieberman, senator and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee chairman, wants to censor what you watch on Google and YouTube. Lieberman has sent a letter to Eric Schmidt, Google CEO, accusing the corporation of allowing “offensive material” on its site, namely “videos produced by al-Qaeda and other Islamist terrorist groups.” Joe wants these taken down immediately and demands Google “prevent them from reappearing.” No word if Schmidt has responded, but a letter sent by a bigwig commissar such as Lieberman is nothing to take lightly. Schmidt and his corporate lawyers have likely confabbed.

“Today, Islamist terrorist organizations rely extensively on the Internet to attract supporters and advance their cause. The framework for much of this Internet campaign is described in a bipartisan staff report released last week by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, which I am privileged to chair, titled Violent Islamist Extremism, the Internet, and the Homegrown Terrorist Threat,” writes Lieberman. “The report explains, in part, how al-Qaeda created and manages a multi-tiered online media operation that produces content intended to enlist followers in countries all over the world, including the United States. Central to this media campaign is the branding of content with an icon or logo to guarantee authenticity that the content was produced by al-Qaeda or allied organizations like al-Qaeda in Iraq, Ansar al-Islam (a.k.a Ansar al-Sunnah) or al-Qaeda in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb.”

Or how about an “allied organization” such as the CIA, military intelligence or one of its cutouts? An expert computer analyst has presented evidence that so-called ‘Al-Qaeda’ tapes are routinely digitally doctored and has also unwittingly exposed an astounding detail that clearly indicates a Pentagon affiliated organization in the U.S. is directly responsible for releasing the videos,” Paul Joseph Watson wrote last August. Neal Krawetz, a researcher and computer security consultant, examined the image quantization table of a 2006 Ayman al-Zawahiri tape and made a fascinating discovery – al-Qaeda’s As-Sahab logo (supposedly the media arm of al-Qaeda) was placed on the tape at the same time as the IntelCenter logo. As it turns out, IntelCenter, notorious for releasing al-Qaeda videos, is run by Ben Venzke, former director of intelligence at a company called iDefense, a Verisign company. Jim Melnick, a senior military psy-op intelligence officer who worked directly for Donald Rumsfeld, is billed as iDefense’s director of threat intelligence. In short, there is a distinct possibility the al-Qaeda videos mentioned by Lieberman are fake.

Read moreLieberman Demands YouTube Censorship

NATIONAL DRILL: U.S. Tests Response To Set of Calamities

Executive Branch ‘Runs’ Government From Outside D.C. as Mock Crises Mount

Thousands of key federal employees are being whisked from the Washington area by helicopter and car for a three-day test of their ability to run the government from remote locations during a disaster.

The exodus, which began yesterday and will continue today, involves the White House and other parts of the executive branch. Congress and the judiciary are not part of the exercise, which is being overseen by the Department of Homeland Security.

Since the late 1990s, every federal agency has been required to have a plan to quickly resume operations after a catastrophe. But the response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks raised doubts about many agencies’ preparations.

This week’s “continuity of government” drill is one of the largest by the federal government since 9/11, officials said. It is part of a national eight-day exercise in which officials are responding to a cascade of nightmarish events. The drill started Thursday, with terrorists sabotaging a tanker carrying poisonous gas in Washington state.

Read moreNATIONAL DRILL: U.S. Tests Response To Set of Calamities

UN secretary-general calls food price rise a global crisis

VIENNA, Austria – A sharp rise in food prices has developed into a global crisis, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Friday.

Ban said the U.N and all members of the international community were very concerned and immediate action was needed.

He spoke to reporters at U.N. offices in Austria, where he was meeting with the nation’s top leaders for talks on how the United Nations and European Union can forge closer ties.

“This steeply rising price of food — it has developed into a real global crisis,” Ban said, adding that the World Food Program has made an urgent appeal for additional $755 million.

“The United Nations is very much concerned, as (are) all other members of the international community,” Ban said. “We must take immediate action in a concerted way.”

Ban urged leaders of the international community to sit down together on an “urgent basis” to discuss how to improve economic distribution systems and promote the production of agricultural products.

An estimated 40 percent increase in food prices since last year has sparked violent protests in the Caribbean, Africa and South Asia.

On Thursday, U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization chief Jacques Diouf said immediate efforts should focus on helping farmers in developing countries grow more crops.

Josette Sheeran, the World Food Program’s executive director, has likened the price increases to a “silent tsunami,” and said requests for food aid are coming in from countries unable to cope with the rising prices.

She noted that the price of rice has more than doubled since March. The World Bank estimates that food prices have increased by 83 percent in three years.

By VERONIKA OLEKSYN, Associated Press WriterFri Apr 25, 12:44 PM ET

Source: AP

Engineer Charged In Giving Israeli Consulate Nuclear Weapons Documents

MyFoxNY.com — New York — A U.S. Army mechanical engineer has been arrested on charges that he slipped classified documents about nuclear weapons to an employee of the Israeli Consulate.

The arrest of Ben-ami Kadish is being detailed Tuesday by the U.S. attorney in Manhattan and FBI officials.

A criminal complaint says the activities occurred from 1979through 1985. Kadish worked at the U.S. Army’s Armament Research,Development and Engineering Center in Dover, N.J.

The complaint says Kadish took home classified documents several times, and the Israeli government worker photographed them in Kadish’s basement.

The documents included information about nuclear weapons, a modified version of an F-15 fighter jet, and the U.S. Patriot missile air defense system.

Tuesday, 22 Apr 2008, 11:35 AM EDT

Source: Fox