Transatlantic talks over the US grab for European personal data in its war on terror are floundering, the European Parliament heard yesterday.
US negotiators have told the Europeans that an agreement over its demand for Passenger Name Records isn’t necessary, possibly putting a deal beyond the reach of the German Presidency of the European Union.
Hans Jurgen Forster, lead negotiator for the Presidency, told a public hearing of the European Parliament last night: “A new agreement will potentially run into the Portuguese Presidency. This is something the Americans will need to be made aware of.”
A combination of factors could hinder attempts to strike a deal before the current, interim PNR agreement runs out on 31 July, just a month after the Portuguese Presidency begins.
“People expected the negotiations to be difficult and they are,” said Forster.
“The US doubt the need for a new PNR agreement. They even think a short extension of the existing interim agreement is unnecessary,” he said.
The US wants to ditch the old agreement, which is using provisions based on the first PNR deal, signed in 2003: “The US feel that it is up to them to decide on things like data retention. They feel it is a matter of national sovereignty.”
And it is. OUR national sovereignty.
The key phrase in the interview:
The Gizmondo guy asks “There’s no way to get both, right?”, to which she replies “No, you wouldn’t want them both.”
Oh, really? So if I’m in the middle of a phone call and want to lookup a piece of information, or take down a piece of information, or do something as terribly extreme as using a calculator app, then I’m out of luck?
She must be working in marketing, she seems to know much better what I want than I could ever know myself. Instead of saying “No, there is a technical limitation” she responds with something more along the line of “People smarter than you decided this is how you are going to use your phone”.
Well, Samsung, wrong choice.
N the end it was David Hicks himself, and not the Australian or US governments, who ended the uncertainty.
By pleading guilty, Hicks will serve a fixed sentence with the knowledge that there is an end in sight.
Had Hicks pleaded not guilty, he may still have been found guilty by the military commission.
He would also have risked a sentence of life imprisonment, the maximum penalty for providing material support for terrorism.
Instead, the prosecution and defence have agreed upon a sentence that will be presented to the commission today.
The guilty plea means that Hicks should soon be able to return to Australia.
Last year, Australia and the United States agreed to permit prisoners such as Hicks, who have been sentenced by a US military commission, to serve their time in an Australian prison.
Hicks’ guilty plea could be cast as a victory by the Australian and United States Governments.
They can now point to a successful prosecution in the military commission.
After five years, they have finally achieved their first conviction. But that this has been brought about by Hicks’ plea, and not after a trial, is significant.
It bypasses the many questions about the fairness of the process, such as the potential to use hearsay statements or evidence that was obtained by coercion.
However, it seems that not even Hicks can end the debate. People are already questioning the integrity of his plea.
This week, Hicks’ Australian lawyer, David McLeod, indicated that an option Hicks was considering was how to get out of Guantanamo Bay at the earliest opportunity.
It also says a lot that members of the Greens and National parties are singing from the same song sheet.
Procter and Gamble Co. does not worship Satan, according to a US court ruling that revolves around a decades-old urban myth targeting the world’s biggest consumer goods company.
P&G said late Monday it had won 19.25 million dollars in a civil suit brought against four former distributors of direct-selling company Amway who were accused of spreading false rumors.
Last Friday’s jury award in Salt Lake City represents the latest in a long line of court battles between P&G and Amway over the devil-worshipping claim, which has taken on new currency in the Internet era.
“This is about protecting our reputation,” Jim Johnson, P&G’s chief legal officer, said in a statement.
“We will take appropriate legal measures when competitors unfairly undermine the reputation of our brands or our company,” he said.
The former distributors were accused of rehashing a rumor that dates from at least 1981, to the effect that P&G is in league with the Devil.
According to the false urban legend, the global company’s logo contains a “666″ symbol, its bosses have appeared on television talk shows to declare their love of Beelzebub, and part of its profits go to the Church of Satan.
Satan could not be reached for comments.
In the category “things that get my hope in humanity up”, there’s this.
If you’re part of the Minutemen, here is an excellent geography lesson for you.
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales’s senior counselor yesterday refused to testify in the Senate about her involvement in the firings of eight U.S. attorneys, invoking her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Monica M. Goodling, who has taken an indefinite leave of absence, said in a sworn affidavit to the Senate Judiciary Committee that she will “decline to answer any and all questions” about the firings because she faces “a perilous environment in which to testify.”
Comments Of Sen. Patrick Leahy:
“It is disappointing that Ms. Goodling has decided to withhold her important testimony from the Committee as it pursues its investigation into this matter, but everybody has the constitutional right not to incriminate themselves with regard to criminal conduct.
“The American people are left to wonder what conduct is at the base of Ms. Goodling’s concern that she may incriminate herself in connection with criminal charges if she appears before the Committee under oath.”
That was the question I was asked: how would you prove to a blind man, that photography exists?
I knew what he was getting at. We had been discussing psychics. He was a firm believer in psychic powers, had had psychic experiences, and regularly visited a psychic. His point was, since I had not experienced psychic powers, I would never be able to believe in what he “knew” to be true. You could never prove to a blind man that photography exists, and likewise no one would ever be able to demonstrate to me that psychic powers were real.
It took me about ten seconds to think of a way to show he was wrong. This is what I said. Give the blind man a camera, a tripod and a remote shutter release. (Ideally the camera is a Polaroid, or a digital with an instant picture facility.) Everyone leaves the room but the blind man. He takes a picture of himself, and holds up a number of fingers (1 to 5) at random. The sighted person comes back into the room, looks at the picture and says “you were holding up X fingers”. If he gets the right number, and continues to do so every time this experiment is performed, the blind man will eventually conclude that photography is real. Technically, he will conclude the hypothesis that “a camera can record a visual image”, might be true.
He will want to repeat the experiment with different rooms and different sighted people. He will want to tighten his controls to make sure no one can see through the window or the keyhole. He will want other blind friends of his to do the same experiment successfully. But essentially, he will be convinced by this method.
Typisch nederland. Administratieve boetes zijn belangrijker dan het opsporen van overvallers.
Diebold Election Systems Inc. , one of the country’s largest manufacturers of voting machines, is scheduled to argue in court today that the Office of the Secretary of State wrongly picked another company to supply thousands of voting machines for the disabled.
Diebold says it will ask a judge to overturn the selection of AutoMARK , a Diebold business competitor, because the office of Secretary of State William F. Galvin failed to choose the best machine.
The contract is valued at about $9 million.
William M. Weisberg , a lawyer representing Diebold, said in an interview yesterday that the company wants a review of the internal records showing how Galvin’s office came to select AutoMARK earlier this year.
“We compete against AutoMARK around the country all the time,” Weisberg said. “Based on the criteria set out by the Commonwealth, we had a fair degree of confidence we’d come out on top, and nothing we heard during the process dissuaded us of that confidence.”
In other words, Diebold wants to see the proprietary scoring format used to judge who should be awarded the contract.
Why does that sound familiar?