A New Zealand resident who sent $5000 to his ill uncle in India had the money frozen for nearly a month because his name matched that of several men on a terrorist watch list.
When Mohammad Abbas’ uncle desperately needed a kidney transplant, the Mt Roskill resident quickly sent money for the operation through Western Union to India.
But Western Union held it, waiting for confirmation that Mr Abbas was not a terrorist.
“Is my religion, the fact that I’m Muslim, and my name a reason to be discriminated against?” said Mr Abbas, a native South African who became a permanent New Zealand resident early last year.
The 22-year-old TelstraClear employee said it took a few days before Western Union – an American money-transfer company – gave him a vague explanation of why his money was being held.
Meanwhile, his dying uncle, on holiday in India from his home in South Africa, waited in a hospital.
Mr Abbas said Western Union told him his money was being investigated by the company’s legal team in the United States, and he would have to wait.
“It was a life-or-death situation,” Mr Abbas said. “They did not care.”
On Friday, a month after Mr Abbas tried to transfer the money, he got it back with the help of his MP, Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff.
Tip: avoid US companies when whatever you’re doing doesn’t involve the USA.
A wounded journalist, with the Al-Arabiya TV channel, talks on the phone following a blast at the nearby television office in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, October 30, 2004. A bomb exploded outside the office of Dubai-based Al Arabiya television in western Baghdad Saturday, wounding 16 employees, the channel said. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ top contracting official on Friday called the government’s grant of multi-billion dollar contracts to oil services giant Halliburton the worst case of contracting abuse she has ever seen.
“It was misconduct, and part of that misconduct was blatant,” said Bunny Greenhouse, in an interview on NBC’s Nightly News program.
Greenhouse has already demanded an investigation into the contracts that last year were granted to Halliburton, the energy services firm run by Vice President Dick Cheney from 1995-2000. According to her attorney, the FBI has since asked her for an interview on the matter.
A spokesman for President Bush on Friday said the president expects a full investigation into allegations of wrongdoing in how Iraq-related contracts were awarded to Halliburton.
“If there is wrongdoing, the president expects it to be investigated fully and dealt with,” White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters traveling with Bush to New Hampshire.
A key U.S. anti-terrorism law threatens the privacy of Canadians and rigorous steps are needed to protect private medical and financial information, a government study said Friday.
Current safeguards are not sufficient to prevent the FBI from using the USA Patriot Act to force U.S. firms and their foreign subsidiaries to turn over private data even if doing so violates Canadian law, the province of British Columbia’s privacy commissioner said.
The study is among the first to examine the foreign impact of the Patriot Act, which was passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Reaction to the study is being watched closely as governments move to contract their data storage work to private firms — many of which are U.S.-linked.
B.C. privacy commissioner David Loukidelis said it is unrealistic to try to ban “outsourcing” of government data-keeping, but tougher privacy protections are needed because the problem involves more than just public-sector data
Making it illegal for Canadians to subscribe to television programming via foreign satellite systems infringes on their freedom of expression, a long-awaited judgment concluded yesterday.
Quebec Court Judge Danielle Cote handed down a 153-page ruling that found two sections of the federal Radiocommunication Act violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Those sections deal with so-called grey-market satellite systems for decoding an encrypted programming signal.
“(Cote) had to invalidate the law because the law itself was such an infringement,” said Jacques D’Argy of Drummondville, who sought the court order.
D’Argy and his brother-in-law, Richard Theriault, were charged in December 1998 with using DirecTV, a U.S. satellite system, to access U.S. signals.
Cote acquitted them in September 2000.
In June 2001, Superior Court Justice Jean-Guy Boilard rejected an appeal by government lawyers.
But in May 2002, the Quebec Court of Appeal overturned the acquittals and sent the case back to Cote.
The Supreme Court of Canada declared in 2002 that anyone who sells technology allowing consumers to access encrypted signals from U.S.-based satellite systems is committing a federal offence.
D’Argy, representing himself throughout all the court proceedings, said yesterday he always wondered “why can I import the New York Times but not (the U.S. television network) Fox.”
He also noted that, at one time, “I could have spent a year in jail for watching the American Congress on C-SPAN. Does that make sense?”
“I have no ambition whatsoever to use [the 9/11 attacks] as a political issue”.
George W. Bush.
Fundrace Block Party searches political donor databases and, with the input of your address and zip code, will give you a map (and spreadsheet if you like) which tells you the names and addresses of your neighbors who have supported national political candidates, and how much they contributed. You can use this information to have a block party!
few months ago, I had to do some work on the road, so I signed up for an AOL trial. I forgot to cancel it, so it showed up on my credit card bill. I called yesterday to cancel it and found myself in the middle of a lengthy — and creepy — exit interview. It went something like this.
ME: I’d like to cancel this account.
AOL: Alright. Sorry you’re leaving us. How do you usually connect to the internet?
ME: I have a cable connection.
AOL: And what do you usually use the internet for?
ME: I don’t want to answer these questions.
AOL: Are you ashamed of what you use it for?
If this is part of AOL’s customer service script, I’d like to ask them to remove it. If it is not, I’d like to ask that John Ashcroft be reassigned to tech support. Thank you.
Supporters of US President George W. Bush tear up a sign from a protestor that said “Republicans for Kerry” during a campaign rally at Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire.(AFP/Stephen Jaffe)
“I want you to stand, raise your right hands,” and recite “the Bush Pledge,” said Florida state Sen. Ken Pruitt. The assembled mass of about 2,000 in this Treasure Coast town about an hour north of West Palm Beach dutifully rose, arms aloft, and repeated after Pruitt: “I care about freedom and liberty. I care about my family. I care about my country. Because I care, I promise to work hard to re-elect, re-elect George W. Bush as president of the United States.”
I know the Bush-Cheney campaign occasionally requires the people who attend its events to sign loyalty oaths, but this was the first time I have ever seen an audience actually stand and utter one. Maybe they’ve replaced the written oath with a verbal one.
…Can I invoke Godwin’s Law on reality?
A Lower Makefield woman said she received a rude awakening Wednesday when she tried to get tickets to see President Bush today in Lower Makefield.
Simi Nischal got a ride with a co-worker to pick up tickets for herself, her husband, Narinder, and their two children. But just as the tickets were about to be placed in her hands, she was escorted from the Yardley gristmill and told to leave, she said.
” ‘I deny you the right to attend this rally,’ ” Nischal said a Bush-Cheney campaign worker told her.
Apparently, Nischal’s ride was a Kerry-Edwards supporter. Her car sported a bumper sticker for the Democratic candidates.
One of the latest incidents came when John Sachs, 18, a Johnston High School senior and Democrat, went to see Bush in Clive last week. Sachs got a ticket to the event from school and wanted to ask the president about whether there would be a draft, about the war in Iraq, Social Security and Medicare.
But when he got there, a campaign staffer pulled him aside and made him remove his button that said, “Bush-Cheney ’04: Leave No Billionaire Behind.” The staffer quizzed him about whether he was a Bush supporter, asked him why he was there and what questions he would be asking the president.
“Then he came back and said, ‘If you protest, it won’t be me taking you out. It will be a sniper,’ ” Sachs said. “He said it in such a serious tone it scared the crap out of me.”
Sachs stayed at the event, but he was escorted to a section of the 7 Flags Events Center where he was surrounded by Secret Service and told he couldn’t ask questions. “I was just in a state of fear,” he said. “I was looking at the ceiling and I didn’t know what to expect, I was so scared.”
Six months after the fall of Baghdad, a vast Iraqi weapons depot with tens of thousands of artillery rounds and other explosives remained unguarded, according to two U.S. aid workers who say they reported looting of the site to U.S. military officials.
The aid workers say they informed Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the highest ranking Army officer in Iraq in October 2003 but were told that the United States did not have enough troops to seal off the facility, which included more than 60 bunkers packed with munitions.
“We were outraged,” said Wes Hare, city manager of La Grande, who was working in Iraq as part of a rebuilding program. A colleague who also visited the depot, Jerry Kuhaida, said it appeared that the explosives at the Ukhaider Ammunition Storage Area had found their way to insurgents targeting U.S. forces.
“There’s no question in my mind that the stuff in Ukhaider was used by terrorists,” said Kuhaida.
When I read last Sunday’s New York Times story of the missing explosives from the Iraqi weapons storage facility south of Baghdad at Al Qaqaa, it brought back memories from my time with the Army National Guard’s 223rd Military Intelligence Battalion in Iraq last year. Bad memories. In the Times story, Iraqi scientists who worked at Al Qaqaa described how the facility was looted of almost 400 tons of high explosives right after the American troops swept through the area in April 2003 and failed to secure the site.
But Al Qaqaa is not the whole story. The same month it was being looted, I learned of another major weapons and ammunition storage facility, near my battalion’s base at Camp Anaconda, that was unguarded and targeted by looters. But despite my repeated warnings — and those of other U.S. intelligence agents — nothing was done to secure this facility, as it was systematically stripped of enough weapons and explosives to equip anti-U.S. insurgents with enough roadside improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, for years to come.
Camp Anaconda, where I was stationed with the 223rd from April through October, 2003, is a sprawling logistical supply base located 50 miles north of Baghdad which once served as one of Saddam’s largest air force bases. It is now home to over 22,000 U.S. troops, mostly Army but some Air Force personnel as well, and serves as the main supply point for American forces throughout Iraq. Hundreds of heavy trucks in long convoys enter and leave the two main gates every day, 24 hours a day, hauling every conceivable item that an army at war might need.
Osama Bin Laden pulled off an October surprise yesterday by butting into the presidential race just four days before the national election.
“American people!” Bin Laden began his rant. “My speech to you is about the ideal way to avoid another Manhattan.”
“Despite the fact that we have entered the fourth year from Sept. 11, Bush is still misguiding you by hiding the real reason from you,” he said in what seemed to be a deliberate effort to influence Tuesday’s election.
“Therefore, the factors necessitating the repeat of what happened are still standing.” President Bush and John Kerry both broke away from their campaigns to say they were united in their intention to capture or kill Bin Laden – and America would not be intimidated by him.
(it appears both candidates had the right response to the tape)
With the knowledge that the minority vote will be crucial in the upcoming presidential election, Republican Party officials are urging blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities to make their presence felt at the polls on Wednesday, Nov. 3.
“Minority voters should make their unique voices heard, especially the African-American voting bloc, which is always a major factor in every election,” said Florida Republican Party voter-drive organizer Mark Monreal, as he handed out flyers at a community center in the mostly black Miami neighborhood of South Farms. “That’s why we put up hundreds of brightly colored banners featuring Martin Luther King Jr. and the ‘Vote November 3′ reminder. We needed to make sure they know when we want them at polling places.”
“You can’t walk through a black neighborhood here in Miami without seeing our ‘Don’t Forget Big Wednesday!’ message up on a billboard, tacked to a phone booth, or taped to a bus shelter,” Monreal added. “The Republican Party has spared no expense in this endeavor.”
(the Onion also has some great tips on voting in the same issue)