At a covert forward operating base run by the US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in the Pakistani port city of Karachi, members of an elite division of Blackwater are at the center of a secret program in which they plan targeted assassinations of suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives, “snatch and grabs” of high-value targets and other sensitive action inside and outside Pakistan, an investigation by The Nation has found. The Blackwater operatives also assist in gathering intelligence and help direct a secret US military drone bombing campaign that runs parallel to the well-documented CIA predator strikes, according to a well-placed source within the US military intelligence apparatus.
But there is one thing I think I can say, and it’s about this:
One of the concerns raised by the military intelligence source is that some Blackwater personnel are being given rolling security clearances above their approved clearances. Using Alternative Compartmentalized Control Measures (ACCMs), he said, the Blackwater personnel are granted clearance to a Special Access Program, the bureaucratic term used to describe highly classified “black” operations. “With an ACCM, the security manager can grant access to you to be exposed to and operate within compartmentalized programs far above ’secret’–even though you have no business doing so,” said the source. It allows Blackwater personnel that “do not have the requisite security clearance or do not hold a security clearance whatsoever to participate in classified operations by virtue of trust,” he added. “Think of it as an ultra-exclusive level above top secret. That’s exactly what it is: a circle of love.” Blackwater, therefore, has access to “all source” reports that are culled in part from JSOC units in the field. “That’s how a lot of things over the years have been conducted with contractors,” said the source. “We have contractors that regularly see things that top policy-makers don’t unless they ask.”
I don’t know anything about this particular case. But that is an all-too-plausible arrangement. If you read Tim Weiner’s Legacy of Ashes — or, say, my review of it last year in The Nation — you’re familiar with the theme of presidents just wanting a meddlesome priest to be gone and not caring about how it happens. A related dynamic is that top-level presidential aides interpret their mandate as keeping knowledge of the dirty work as far away from the Oval Office as possible.
Cars and trucks slammed into each other 28 times at Western Avenue and 63rd Street in 2006, the year before the Daley administration installed red-light cameras there in the name of safety. In 2008, the year after cameras went in, accidents at the Southwest Side intersection soared to 42, according to state data.
It was not an aberration. Cameras are said to reduce accidents, but collision records compiled by the Illinois Department of Transportation indicate that accidents increased at many city intersections the year after red-light cameras were installed. In fact slightly more intersections saw an increase than a decrease, the data show.
The city tells a very different story. Crash statistics compiled by the city reflect broad success in reducing accidents with cameras, and the city could not explain why the numbers are so different.
How about “it’s in our own best interest if the numbers turn out that way”?
Or how about “we’re not using accidents but revenue to measure effectiveness”?
The issue has been festering for months: Why were AIG’s counterparties—including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and UBS—paid 100 cents on the dollar when the feds rescued the insurance giant, helping raising the cost of the bailout to nearly $200 billion? A new report issued by Special Inspector General Neil Barofsky now reveals that government officials, notably then-New York Fed President and current Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, grievously damaged the nation and capitulated to the very banks they should have been supervising.
Barofsky’s report reads like a case study in failed negotiation. The New York Fed didn’t have the backbone to stand up to Wall Street, didn’t understand its capacity to protect taxpayers, and didn’t appreciate that its responsibility was to taxpayers.
A quick hand washing could keep hospital staff from spreading germs that lead to nearly two million in-hospital infections a year. The HyGreen system reminds them to scrub—and keeps a record of who doesn’t. After cleaning their hands with alcohol-based sanitizers, doctors and nurses place them under the HyGreen sensor that sniffs for alcohol, which kills 99.99 percent of germs, and sends a wireless “all clean” message to a badge worn on the person’s shirt pocket.
A wireless monitor on patient beds searches for the message—if it’s absent, the badge vibrates, reminding the wearer to sanitize his hands. During a five-month field test of HyGreen at the University of Florida’s medical center, infection rates dropped to zero.
The first person jailed under draconian UK police powers that Ministers said were vital to battle terrorism and serious crime has been identified by The Register as a schizophrenic science hobbyist with no previous criminal record.
His crime was a persistent refusal to give counter-terrorism police the keys to decrypt his computer files.
The 33-year-old man, originally from London, is currently held at a secure mental health unit after being sectioned while serving his sentence at Winchester Prison.
A full forensic examination found nine nanograms of the high explosive RDX on his left hand, but JFL was given police bail. His passport was seized, however.
JFL says he does not know how the RDX, which has has military and civil applications, came to be on his hand. A result of five nanograms or less is routinely discounted by forensics and no charges were ever brought over his result of nine nanograms.
He returned to Paddington Green station as appointed on 2 December, and was re-arrested for carrying a pocket knife.
In his final police interview, CTC officers suggested JFL’s refusal to decrypt the files or give them his keys would lead to suspicion he was a terrorist or paedophile.
“There could be child pornography, there could be bomb-making recipes,” said one detective.
“Unless you tell us we’re never gonna know… What is anybody gonna think?”
If I ever make plans to visit the UK, stop me. Here’s another reason why:
Police officers are now routinely arresting people in order to add their DNA sample to the national police database, an inquiry will allege tomorrow.
The review of the national DNA database by the government’s human genetics commission also raises the possibility that the DNA profiles of three-quarters of young black males, aged 18 to 35, are now on the database.
My biggest problem with Bing Cashback is a hidden “feature” that I’m calling “negative cashback.” Here’s a quick demo:
Step 1: Use Bing to find pricing for a fairly popular product, the Canon Vixia HV40.
Step 2: Expand the listing for Butterfly Photo. The store price is listed as $758 with 2% cashback, giving a total price of $742.84.
Step 3: Click through to Butterfly Photo, and verify Bing has the correct price. Yes, the prices matches.
Step 4: Open a different web browser or clear your cookies from butterflyphoto.com in your current one. Go directly to their site and check the price. $699!
So, if I go directly to butterflyphoto.com, I pay $699 with 0% cashback. If I use Bing Cashback, I pay $758 with 2% cashback, or $742.84. Using Bing cashback has actually cost me $43.84, giving an effective cashback rate of
-6.27%. Yes, negative cashback! Is this legal? False advertising? I don’t know, but it’s pretty sketchy.
After being pointed to this post by a writer over at InformationWeek, a Microsoft spokesperson said, “With more than 1,000 retailers and 17 million product offers, the Bing cashback program aims to ensure Bing customers get the best available deal on the Web. Within the cashback program, each retailer sets the allocation of products and pricing of those products, which are delivered to Microsoft through a realtime data feed. We have tools that will catch discrepancies, and in this particular case, there was an error in the information delivered to us. When we notice an inconsistency or one is reported to Microsoft, we work with the merchant to correct the issue immediately. Overall, this case is an isolated instance within the larger Bing cashback and we are working with Butterfly Photo to resolve this specific issue as soon as possible.”
If you participate in any such program, from Microsoft or others, always do your homework and double check prices.
You’ve probably read this news about a cluster of Antarctic icebergs were heading towards New Zealand.
Here’s how a Dutch news paper reported.
You don’t need to be able to read dutch to see what’s wrong with it, take a look…