Archive for March, 2010

Vatican defends Pope Benedict in German abuse scandal

Sunday, March 14th, 2010


The Vatican has denounced attempts to link Pope Benedict XVI to a child abuse scandal in his native Germany.

Spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said there had been “aggressive” efforts to involve the Pope, but added: “It’s clear that these attempts have failed.”

The Holy See’s prosecutor meanwhile said that “to accuse the current Pope of hiding [cases of abuse] is false”.

The Pope’s former diocese earlier said he once unwittingly approved housing for a priest accused of child abuse.

The episode dates back to 1980 when he was archbishop of Munich and Freising, and known as Joseph Ratzinger.

However, a former deputy said he – not the future Pope – had made the decision to re-house the priest, who later abused other children and was convicted.


Shame on pols for letting 9/11 compensation fund expire – it’s time to treat victims fairly

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

New York Daily News

Tear it up.

Tear up the settlement for the 9/11 workers and revive that rarest of government programs, one actually efficient and responsive to the needs of those it was supposed to serve.

That program was the federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. It disbursed more than $7 billion to 5,560 claimants, while generating overhead costs of only 3%.

The fund was prepared to continue indefinitely, rightly predicting that people might not fall ill until years after exposure to the Pit’s poisons and carcinogens.

But such foresight and efficiency had no place in government.

Congress let the fund expire at the end of 2003, even though lawmakers had to know many more recovery workers would get sick and that some would die.


Fake Russian invasion broadcast sparks Georgian panic

Sunday, March 14th, 2010


A television station in Georgia triggered a panic when it broadcast a mock half-hour report about a Russian invasion of the country.

Emotions are still raw in many parts of Georgia after Russian tanks, troops and armored vehicles advanced into the former Soviet Republic in August 2008.

That invasion was triggered after Georgian troops attacked pro-Russian separatists in the breakaway republic of South Ossetia. In the fighting that ensued, each side offered conflicting figures on how many people died.

On Saturday night, the pro-government Imedi TV in Georgia broadcast what it called a “simulation” of what a fresh invasion would look like. And the broadcast ended with a note that the events in it were not real.

However, the show did not run any on-screen notes during the half-hour broadcast to alert viewers that what they were watching was not real.


MI5 ‘would still have used US information from waterboarding’

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

MI5 would have acted on the intelligence gained by waterboarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the architect of the September 11 attacks, even if they had known how it was gained, sources say.

London Telegraph

A security source has told the Daily Telegraph that the intelligence gained saved lives and as such, they were obliged to use it.

In most cases they are not aware of the source of the information they are given by foreign intelligence agencies, and where they are aware, they are rarely told about how it was obtained.

Nevertheless, they are obliged to act on it where it could save lives, sources say.

One of the key details to have come from the US interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was his reference to a man called Esa al-Britani – a man later identified as the terrorist Dhiren Barot.

It remains unclear whether this information was gained after the waterboarding.

Barot, from Willesden, North West London, was planning an attack on hotels in London using gas canisters packed into limousines in a plot he called the “gas limos project.”

Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, who was the director general of MI5 at the time of Mohammed’s arrest, told a meeting on Tuesday that she did not realise Mohammed was being tortured.

“I said to my staff, ‘Why is he talking?’ because our experience of Irish prisoners and terrorist was that they never said anything.

“They said the Americans say he is very proud of his achievements when questioned about it. It wasn’t actually until after I retired that I read that in fact he had been waterboarded more thah 163 times.”