Sunday, December 24, 2006

Cocaine on 94 percent of Spanish banknotes

Cocaine on 94 percent of Spanish banknotes
Sun Dec 24, 2006 10:45 AM ET

MADRID (Reuters) - Traces of cocaine can be found on 94 percent of banknotes
in Spain, a country that has one of the world's highest rates of users,
according to a study published on Sunday.

The 100 notes tested were collected in gyms, supermarkets and pharmacies
across Spain, where increased affluence and falling street prices have made
the drug more and more accessible.

Cocaine now sells for as little as 60 euros ($80) a gram, or 5 euros ($7) a
line, and it is regularly used by 1.6 percent of Spaniards, up from 0.9
percent in 1999, a government report said this month.

Law enforcement agencies say cocaine is getting cheaper and more popular in
Europe because of efforts to boost production by Colombian paramilitaries and
rebels who need money for weapons. Spain is a major entry point to Europe for
the smugglers.

It was not clear how many of the notes had been used to snort cocaine and how
many had picked up traces from other bills, according to the study by the
Sailab laboratory, published in the daily El Mundo.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Condoms 'too big' for Indian men

An embarrassing difficulty.
Last Updated: Friday, 8 December 2006, 13:08 GMT
Condoms 'too big' for Indian men
By Damian Grammaticus
BBC News, Delhi

Condom factory
There is a "lack of awareness" over condom sizes
A survey of more than 1,000 men in India has concluded that condoms made according to international sizes are too large for a majority of Indian men.

The study found that more than half of the men measured had penises that were shorter than international standards for condoms.

It has led to a call for condoms of mixed sizes to be made more widely available in India.

The two-year study was carried out by the Indian Council of Medical Research.


Over 1,200 volunteers from the length and breadth of the country had their penises measured precisely, down to the last millimetre.

The scientists even checked their sample was representative of India as a whole in terms of class, religion and urban and rural dwellers.

India Aids health promotion
The problem affects HIV prevention

The conclusion of all this scientific endeavour is that about 60% of Indian men have penises which are between three and five centimetres shorter than international standards used in condom manufacture.

Doctor Chander Puri, a specialist in reproductive health at the Indian Council of Medical Research, told the BBC there was an obvious need in India for custom-made condoms, as most of those currently on sale are too large.

The issue is serious because about one in every five times a condom is used in India it either falls off or tears, an extremely high failure rate.

And the country already has the highest number of HIV infections of any nation.

Mr Puri said that since Indians would be embarrassed about going to a chemist to ask for smaller condoms there should be vending machines dispensing different sizes all around the country.

"Smaller condoms are on sale in India. But there is a lack of awareness that different sizes are available. There is anxiety talking about the issue. And normally one feels shy to go to a chemist's shop and ask for a smaller size condom."

'Not a problem'

But Indian men need not be concerned about measuring up internationally according to Sunil Mehra, the former editor of the Indian version of the men's magazine Maxim.

"It's not size, it's what you do with it that matters," he said.

"From our population, the evidence is Indians are doing pretty well.

"With apologies to the poet Alexander Pope, you could say, for inches and centimetres, let fools contend."

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

No Shi'ite, Sherlock: "US 'not winning conflict in Iraq'"

No Shi'ite, Sherlock: "US 'not winning conflict in Iraq'

For some reason this was headline news:
US Defence Secretary nominee Robert Gates has told a Senate committee that the US is not winning the war in Iraq
In other news, the Japanese emperor announced that his country was definitely not winning World War II, and Al Gore conceded that it is unlikely he would win the 2000 presidential elections, and the Governor of Alabama conceded that it was unlikely that the Confederate States of America  would win the Civil War.
Could you imagine if Gates had said the US is winning the Iraq war?
S. Sharer

Saturday, December 2, 2006

North Dakota Tribe Barring Church Protesters

North Dakota Tribe Barring Church Protesters
By James MacPherson
The Associated Press

Saturday 02 December 2006

Bismarck, North Dakota - A church group that protests at military funerals
around the country will be barred from services for an American Indian soldier
on a reservation, tribal officials say.

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., planned to
demonstrate at National Guard Cpl. Nathan Goodiron's funeral on Saturday at
the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation.

Church members say the deaths of soldiers are punishment from God for the
country's tolerance of homosexuals.

Tribal leaders passed a resolution Friday that prohibits the group from
protesting on the reservation, said Marcus Wells Jr., chairman of the Three
Affiliated Tribes.

"We will not tolerate any harassment that is intended to provoke ill
feelings and violence," he said.

Shirley Phelps-Roper, daughter of the Rev. Fred Phelps Sr., pastor of
Westboro Baptist, said her group planned to protest outside the reservation
"on public rights of way."

"We don't get into anyone's private area," said Phelps-Roper, the church's
attorney and its spokeswoman. "We don't go on private land."

Goodiron, 25, of Mandaree, known on the reservation as Young Eagle, was
killed Thanksgiving Day in Afghanistan when a grenade struck his vehicle while
he was on patrol. He was a member of the 1st Battalion of the North Dakota
National Guard's 188th Air Defense Artillery.

Tribal officials said he was the first member of the Three Affiliated
Tribes to be killed in the war on terror.

American and tribal flags are being flown at half staff on the reservation
to honor Goodiron.

"We recognize and respect the right to free speech and the public's right
to assemble, but we want everyone to know that the Three Affiliated Tribes, as
a sovereign tribal government, has the right to regulate any person or persons
who harass and show disrespectful conduct towards our members, within our
boundaries," Wells said in a statement.

Wells said tribal police would prevent the protesters from coming on the

Friday, November 24, 2006

Is Russia back to being Russia??

Not for nothing did President Putin observe that his years as a KGB
agent were good training for his new career as ruler of Russia.

Spy's death-bed Putin accusation

Russian ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko has accused Russian President
Vladimir Putin of involvement in his death, in a statement dictated before he
Mr Litvinenko, 43, who died in a London hospital on Thursday evening and
is thought to have been poisoned, said his killer was "barbaric and ruthless".

Protest from around the world "will reverberate, Mr Putin, in your ears
for the rest of your life," he said.

The Kremlin has dismissed allegations it was involved as "sheer

Scotland Yard said officers were now investigating "an unexplained

Anti-terror police are leading the investigation, and it is still
unclear what killed the former KGB agent.

Friends have said he was poisoned because of his criticism of Russia.

'Barbaric and ruthless'

In the statement, read out by his friend Alex Goldfarb outside
University College Hospital, London, Mr Litvinenko said he had a "message to
the person responsible for my present condition".

"You may succeed in silencing me, but that silence comes at a price.

"You have shown yourself to be as barbaric and ruthless as your most
hostile critics have claimed."

"The howl of protest from around the world will reverberate Mr Putin in
your ears for the rest of your life," the statement added.

The statement was dictated on 21 November, when Mr Litvinenko realised
he could die.

Mr Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov reiterated the Kremlin's earlier
dismissal of allegations of involvement in the poisoning as sheer nonsense.

"Any death is always a tragedy," he said.

"Now it's up to the UK law enforcement agencies to investigate what

'Excruciating death'

After Mr Goldfarb had read out the statement, Mr Litvinenko's elderly
father, Walter - who flew to the UK from Russia this week - said his son had
been killed by a "tiny nuclear bomb".

"It was an excruciating death, he was taking it as a real man," he said.

"Even before his death, in such a state, he never lost his human

Mr Litvinenko had recently been investigating the murder of his friend,
Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, another critic of the Putin government.

Russian dissident Oleg Gordievsky, a former KGB colonel and friend of Mr
Litvinenko, maintained that the poisoning had been the work of the Russians.

The Russian security service had "sent a man with a poisonous pill to
Britain", put a pill into Mr Litvinenko's tea and killed him, he told BBC

Intelligence analyst Glenmore Trenear Harvey said Mr Litvinenko had
"made a lot of enemies" when he had been tasked with fighting corruption
during his time with the Federal Security Service (FSB) - the KGB's successor.

Mr Harvey also said the poisoning could have been carried out by the
"Russian mafia", made up of former-KGB men who had formed the group when the
service broke up.

"So I think that while one could say they were trained by the KGB this
is not in any way a Russian intelligence service hit," he told BBC News.

London meetings

Before Mr Litvinenko's death, police said they suspected "deliberate
poisoning" was behind his illness.

Investigators have been examining two meetings he had on 1 November -
one at a London hotel with a former KGB agent and another man, and a later
rendezvous with Italian security consultant Mario Scaramella, at a sushi
restaurant in London's West End.

Mr Litvinenko, who was granted asylum in the UK in 2000 after
complaining of persecution in Russia, fell ill later that day.

In an interview with Friday's Telegraph newspaper, former KGB bodyguard
Andrei Lugovoi said he had met Mr Litvinenko at the Millennium Hotel in
Grosvenor Square but vigorously denied any involvement in the poisoning.

Mr Scaramella, who is involved in an Italian parliamentary inquiry into
Russian secret service activity, said they met because he wanted to discuss an
e-mail he had received.

Speaking in Friday's Times, film-maker Andrei Nekrasov said that, before
he fell unconscious for the last time, his friend had told him: "I want to
survive, just to show them. The bastards got me but they won't get everybody."

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Sexual Consent

Too bad Hayim Ramon, Bill Clinton and Israeli President Moshe Katsav didn't
see this one:

They should see this. Bill Clinton too.

Group scraps attempt to smoke biggest joint

Group scraps attempt to smoke biggest joint
Wed Nov 22, 2006 9:29 AM ET

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A plan to roll and smoke the world's largest joint was cancelled at short notice in Amsterdam when the organizers realized they could be breaking the law.

"We have now read the small print and realize there could be problems," Thijs Verheij, one of the organizers, was quoted as saying by ANP news agency after consulting Dutch drugs laws.

The group had wanted to roll a five-foot-long pure-weed joint, stuffed with more than a pound of marijuana and containing no tobacco, and smoke it in a bar.

It had initially thought the attempt would be legal if 100 people each brought along the five grams of the drug tolerated by Dutch authorities for personal use.

"Unfortunately it looks like this will not be possible," Verheij said. The attempt had been planned for Wednesday.

A police spokesman said: "We would definitely have investigated this. If you make a single joint with half a kilo of cannabis in it, it would cross the line."

Verheij said the group had hoped to beat a record set with a joint containing 100 grams of marijuana.

Pervert Power

I have always thought that this group is unfairly discriminated 
against.... (of, by with - ending sentences with prepositions is
something up with which I will not put, as Winston Churchill said. 

Pedophiles of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your clothing!

Political aspiration of paedophiles

Seeing is believing, they say. I am seeing it, but the believing part comes harder.

There is outrage in the Netherlands after paedophiles launched a political party to push for a cut in the legal age of consent. The Charity, Freedom and Diversity (NVD) party wants the age dropped from 16 to 12, before having it scrapped completely, and also wants child pornography and sex with animals to be legalised, sparking a massive backlash in the liberal country. The vast majority of the Dutch public now believe the government should step in and outlaw the group.

I am not at all sure about outlawing. This is too easy and the only thing it does is get these nice folks to go underground. I would fulfill their wish re sex with animals, under a few simple conditions: that a) said sex will be enforced on the party members and continuous; b) the animals in question be donkeys (specifically jacks) over age of consent for donkeys; c) subject to ASPCA approval; d) any necessary tools of restraint be employed in case of refusal.

Upon second thought, there is another condition related to the following picture of the wannabe party founder Ad van den Berg:

To ease the ASPCA agreement, an additional condition is proposed: that the party members' faces be covered at all times to avoid mental damage to the participating donkeys.

The only curious item in the above linked article is:

The party also said everybody should be allowed to go naked in public and promotes legalising all soft and hard drugs and free train travel for all.

Google & Sex

Notice that in some blogs it says "blogthis" in the bar  Google  places at the top of the blog? That bar is there by force majuer of course. Even Google has the "We know better than you what is good for you" big corporation syndrome it seems. Well if you look at the bar at  the top of this blog it says "Flag This" - so you can rat on me if you find the content objectionable.
Of course, Google has no problem listing Stormfront and similar Web sites. That's free speech. I wonder what is "objectionable content" that they would not host?  
Is Google on the Pacific coast in the 21st century or back in Salem in the 17th century?

Khamenei: Beware of watching non-Muslim women - Don't Masturbate during Ramadan

This is more about the Sex part of this site... I promissed...
Khamenei: Beware of watching non-Muslim women,7340,L-3321137,00.html

In new web ruling, Iran's supreme leader warns of 'vile consequences' of
looking at non-Muslim women

Yaakov Lappin Published: 10.29.06, 22:01

Looking at non-Muslim women can lead to "vile consequences," Iran's supreme leader Sayyid Ali Khamenei warned a reader on his website.

The question and answer session is the most recent in a series of online religious rulings made by the Islamic Republic's highest religious and
political authority.

The questions sent in by readers cover a wide range of topics, and illustrate the intervention of the Iranian government in the everyday affairs of its

"Is it permissible to look at the body parts — excluding the two private areas — that a non-Muslim woman used to show? And in this regard is there a
difference between seeing in the flesh or in movies?" a reader asked Khamenei.

"There is no objection to unintentional looking at the non-Muslim woman's body regarding the amount they are used to uncover," Khamenei said. He added: "Of course, It is even haram (forbidden) to intentionally look at that in case it is sexually exciting, is associated with fear of falling victim to that which is haram or leads to vile consequences."

Sexual intercourse with a Christian woman?

Another reader asked Khamenei whether he could hold sexual intercourse with a Christian woman who was still married: "I am a young man living in a foreign country. Sometime ago I contracted a temporary marriage with a Christian girl, but after a while I came to know that she was (already) married. What about my relationship with her?"

"…She is permanently forbidden for you no matter whether she finishes divorce matters in the court of law after that or not," Khamenei told the reader.

Another reader told Khamenei: "I heard that it is allowed to eat meat which has been slaughtered by a Jew, is it correct?"

"The meat of the animal slaughtered by a non-Muslim is not halal (permissible to eat) even though all other conditions required for Sharia (Islamic law) slaughtering are observed," the supreme leader said.

Khamenei also went on to rule against providing "children with musical instruments to be used in songs," and "singing/humming to oneself."
Khameini: Don't masturbate during Ramadan

Iran's supreme leader answers questions on masturbation and other topics on his website,7340,L-3311189,00.html

Yaakov Lappin Published: 10.04.06, 19:55

Deliberate masturbation during the month of Ramadan renders a fast invalid, Iranian Supreme Leader Sayyid Ali Khameini has ruled.

Khameini, who is Iran's most powerful political and religious figure, was asked on his website : "If somebody masturbates during the month of Ramadan but without any discharge, is his fasting invalidated?"

"If he do not intend masturbation and discharging semen and nothing is discharged, his fasting is correct even though he has done a ḥarām (forbidden) act. But, if he intends masturbation or he knows that he usually discharges semen by this process and semen really comes out, it is a ḥaram intentional breaking fasting," the Iranian leader said, posting the reply on his website.

Another reader asked: "Once in the holy month of Ramadan, I forgot to brush my teeth, and some tiny bits of food remained in my mouth. I swallowed the bits unintentionally. Do I have to perform the qaḍa (repent) for that day's fast?"

"If you did not know that some bits of food remained between the teeth, or you did not know that they would reach the throat, and they were swallowed
unknowingly and unintentionally, then you are not liable to make (repent) of the fast," said Khameini.

'Drink water while standing'

On the website, Khameini also tells Iranians that only jockeys are permitted to gamble on horse races.

He is also asked whether it is permissible for a man to marry a woman only in order to be able to live in his wife's country. "Can a man conclude a marriage
contract for a year with a European girl after getting her agreement with the purpose of going to her country?" A reader asked.

"There is no problem in that if they are serious in contracting marriage and  it is done with her father's permission if she is virgin," Khameini ruled.

The Iranian leader also told readers they were allowed to "to drink water while standing" at nights. It was "not permissible" to take part in meetings attended by both men and women, he told another reader.

A Nation is born.. Quebec

Admission and denial:
"Do Quebecers form a nation within a united Canada? The answer is yes,"
Harper on Wednesday told a cheering House of Commons to numerous standing
ovations. "Do Quebecers form an independent nation? The answer is no -- and
it will always be no."
Once the right of self determination is admitted, how could it not be implemented?
Coming up next - Popular Front for the Liberation of Quebec;Katyusha rockets on Toronto.
PM declares Quebec nation 'within Canada'

November 23, 2006

TORONTO, Ontario (AP) -- Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's stunning
motion recognizing Quebec as a nation within Canada has reignited a debate
over the divisive issue, with some supporters cautiously viewing it as a
bold political step while critics described it as a recipe for tearing apart
the country.

Harper's comments in Parliament seemed to pre-empt a planned motion by the
Bloc Quebecois that states the French-speaking province is a nation. The
wording of that motion, however, does not include the words "within Canada,"
leaving federalists worried it could be misinterpreted.

Harper said the Bloc Quebecois motion was an "unusual request" that could
lead to another referendum for Quebec independence.

"Do Quebecers form a nation within a united Canada? The answer is yes,"
Harper on Wednesday told a cheering House of Commons to numerous standing
ovations. "Do Quebecers form an independent nation? The answer is no -- and
it will always be no."

Newspaper editorials weighed in on the issue Thursday, with the liberal
Toronto Star saying that Harper's "intervention" in the debate simply fuels

"The surprise bombshell that Harper dropped yesterday ... will never placate
Quebec separatists, even as it potentially weakens Canada by handing them
another argument the next time -- and there almost certainly will be a 'next
time' -- they seek to break up this country," said the newspaper.

"Harper's unwise intervention in this debate promises to embolden
separatists and create division and bitterness."

While Quebecers have twice voted down referendums seeking independence from
Canada, the last one -- in 1995 -- was narrowly defeated, and separatists
rumblings continue in the province.

The issue resurfaced when Michael Ignatieff, a front-runner for the Liberal
Party leadership, said the French language, history and culture mark
Quebecers as a separate people who should be recognized as a nation under
the constitution.

The Quebec wing of the Liberals adopted a resolution last month recognizing
Quebec as a nation "within Canada" and called for the creation of a task
force to advise the next leader on how to make that status official.

Harper's motion, which will be debated later in the week, comes as his
Tories languish in third place in Quebec polls, behind the Bloc Quebecois
and the Liberals.

On the provincial government level, the response was guarded. Alberta
Premier Ralph Klein dismissed Harper's announcement, saying he had no idea
what the prime minister's motivation was and that it "might be politics."

"First of all it's not legislation," Klein said. "He can say what he wants
to say, as I say what I want to say from time to time, and until it's
legislation, there's no need to worry about it."

Manitoba Premier Gary Doer appeared to not be supportive of Harper's motion.

"To me Canada is one nation, one country," said Doer. "I understand Quebec
is unique in terms of language, culture and law, but Canada is one country."

Some people in francophone communities on the Prairies said that they have
always recognized Quebec as a distinct part of the country.

"Quebec is really the center of the francophonie in Canada, and I don't
think there's any problem with that," said Daniel Boucher, president of the
Societe Franco-Manitobaine.

"I think it's important for Canada to have a strong Quebec, and it's also
important for Canada to have strong [francophone] communities outside

The liberal Toronto Sun voiced a measure of caution, saying that Harper
"made a brilliant political move" by putting forward the motion. "But
whether it will be good for national unity is another matter."

"... Is this a backdoor way of recognizing Quebec as a 'distinct society?'
If not, if it's merely a token gesture to make Quebecers 'feel good' about
Canada, how will that help?" the editorial said.

"... Harper's move may make the Conservatives more popular in Quebec, for
now. But it's long term consequences are unknown and therefore cause for
major concern."

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Muslim scholars join rare anti-female circumcision summit in Cairo

Last update - 13:19 22/11/2006   

Muslim scholars join rare anti-female circumcision summit in Cairo
By The Associated Press
CAIRO - Prominent Muslim scholars from around the world, including conservative religious leaders from Egypt and Africa, met Wednesday to speak out against female genital mutilation at a rare high-level conference on the age-old practice.
The meeting was organized by a German human rights group and held under the patronage of Dar Al-Iftaa, Egypt's main religious-edicts organization. It was held at the conference center of Al-Azhar, the highest Sunni Islamic institution in the world.
Al Azhar's grand sheik, Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, attended as well as Egypt's Grand Mufti, Ali Goma'a, whose fatwas are considered binding religious edicts.
It is rare for such religious figures in Egypt to attend such a conference on an issue that remains sensitive and controversial here. An estimated 50 percent of schoolgirls in Egypt are thought to undergo the procedure, according to government statistics.
At the conference, Tantawi said circumcision, another name for the practice, was not mentioned in the Islamic holy book, the Quran, or in Islam's Sunna - which are sayings and deeds of the prophet Mohammed. Those are the two main religious texts followed by Sunni Islam.
"In Islam, circumcision is for men only," he told the conference. "From a religious point of view, I don't find anything that says that circumcision is a must [for women]."
Female genital mutilation usually involves removal of the clitoris. Those who practice it believe it lowers a girl's sexual desires and thus helps maintain her honor. With age-old cultural roots, it is practiced today in parts of sub-Saharan Africa and Egypt and other parts of the Arab world such as Yemen and Oman.
Laws against the practice exist in many of the regions where it is practiced, but poor enforcement and publicity can hinder the laws, some human rights groups and women activists say. They say laws aren't effective unless those practicing the tradition are first made aware of its physical and mental damage.
In Egypt, there is no law that specifically bans the practice, although it can be prosecuted under other laws related to assault and bodily harm.
Senior clerics from Africa and as far afield as Russia also were invited to the conference by the German human rights group, TARGET, founded in 2000. The group contends that practitioners in Africa and elsewhere often use the Quran to justify the practice.
UNICEF says an estimated 3 million women and girls undergo female genital mutilation each year and that the age at which it is carried out is getting lower in some countries. A survey conducted in 2000 in Ethiopia indicated 80 percent of women between 15-49 years of age there had been circumcised.
In Egypt, a recent study of schoolgirls by the Ministry of Health and Population found 50 percent of girls ages 10-18 had been circumcised.
"Our mission today is not easy, because we're fighting against rumors and habits and traditions and ideas that have been established for long centuries," said Moushira Khattab, secretary general of Egypt's National Council for Childhood and Motherhood, which is headed by the wife of Egypt's president, Suzanne Mubarak.
Egypt is sensitive to outsiders intervening in controversial religious and cultural issues and the conference was expected to raise some dissent.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Sex and Terror as promissed

What the....???

Don't say "cheese", you terrorist you!

This story has definitely expanded my understanding of what is terrorism.

A couple's ill-concealed sexual play aboard a Southwest Airlines flight from Los Angeles got them charged with violating the Patriot Act, intended for terrorist acts, and could land them in jail for 20 years.

"Persing was observed nuzzling or kissing Sewell on the neck, and ... with his face pressed against Sewell's vaginal area. During these actions, Sewell was observed smiling," reads the indictment filed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Nuzzling, kissing on the neck and even, I will be so bold as to submit, merely pressing one's face against above mentioned vaginal area - all this could be classified as an act of passion.

But smiling during the latter is definitely a proof of prior intent, subversive leanings and, looked upon in a right light and at a right angle, aviation terrorism and maybe even anti-American activity.

As a matter of curiosity: were the perps in this case Democrats or Republicans?

I also wonder: which paragraph of the Patriot act deals with in-flight BJs? And what if a BJ is aggravated by smiling?

Now try to Say "cheese"!

[News] Blair hit by Saudi 'bribery' threat

Another instance of "getting away with it".
Blair hit by Saudi 'bribery' threat
David Leppard The Sunday Times November 19, 2006,,2087-2459780,00.html

SAUDI ARABIA is threatening to suspend diplomatic ties with Britain unless Downing Street intervenes to block an investigation into a GBP60m "slush fund" allegedly set up for some members of its royal family.

A senior Saudi diplomat in London has delivered an ultimatum to Tony Blair that unless the inquiry into an allegedly corrupt defence deal is dropped, diplomatic links between Britain and Saudi Arabia will be severed, a defence
source has disclosed.

The Saudis, key allies in the Middle East, have also threatened to cut intelligence co-operation with Britain over Al-Qaeda.

They have repeated their threat that they will terminate payments on a defence contract that could be worth GBP40 billion and safeguard at least 10,000 British jobs.

The Saudis are furious about the criminal investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) into allegations that BAE Systems, Britain's biggest defence company, set up the "slush fund" to support the extravagant lifestyle of members of the Saudi royal family.

The payments, in the form of lavish holidays, a fleet of luxury cars including a gold Rolls-Royce, rented apartments and other perks, are alleged to have been paid to ensure the Saudis continued to buy from BAE under the so-called Al-Yamamah deal, rather than going to another country. Al-Yamamah is the biggest defence contract in British history and has kept BAE in business for 20 years.

At least five people have been arrested in the probe. They include Peter Wilson, BAE's managing director of international programmes, and Tony Winship, a former company official who oversaw two travel and service firms that are alleged to have been conduits for the payments. Both deny any wrongdoing.

The Saudi threat was made in September after the royal family became alarmed at the latest turn in the fraud inquiry. Sources close to the investigation say the Saudis "hit the roof" after discovering that SFO lawyers had persuaded a magistrate in Switzerland to force disclosure about a series of confidential Swiss bank accounts.

The sources said the accounts relate to substantial payments between "third party" offshore companies that may have received large sums in previously undisclosed "commissions". Fraud office sources say they are now trying to get more documents that will tell them who benefited from the accounts. The trail is said to lead to the Saudi capital Riyadh.

The Saudis learnt of this development only when they were contacted by the Swiss banks in the late summer. "They hit the roof," said a source close to the investigation.

The Saudi royal family, which effectively controls the government, instructed a senior diplomat, said to be Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf, its London ambassador, to visit Downing Street. He held a meeting with Jonathan Powell, Blair's chief of staff, according to the sources.

The diplomat is said to have delivered a 12-page letter drawn up by a Saudi law firm demanding a detailed explanation of why the investigation was still continuing.

The Saudis had been given the impression during a meeting with Blair in July last year that the inquiry would be stopped, say the sources.

"The Saudis are claiming in this letter that the British government has broken its undertaking to keep details of the Al-Yamamah deal confidential," said a source who has read the document.

"It regards the disclosure of these documents to the SFO from Switzerland, and from the Ministry of Defence, as a totally unacceptable breach of that undertaking. They are claiming the deal is protected by sovereign national immunity and that the British have no right to poke around in their private financial affairs.

"It is a really infuriated letter demanding a full and open explanation, pending which the Al-Yamamah contract is suspended and all payments would stop."

A defence official said that the preliminary contract, signed last August,  to sell the first 24 of 72 promised Typhoons, better known as Eurofighters, was then temporarily suspended. That contract alone is said to be worth GBP11 billion and would safeguard 9,000 jobs at the Eurofighter's UK headquarters in Warton, Lancashire, for the next decade.

Downing Street is said to have persuaded the Saudis to reverse for the time being their decision to suspend the Typhoon payments. However, the Saudis made clear they would carry out their threats unless the demands in their  letter were met.

During the meeting with Powell the Saudi diplomat is said to have issued a threat to sever all diplomatic and intelligence ties. Such a move would be damaging for Britain's strategic interests in the volatile region.

It would involve the Saudis withdrawing their ambassador to London, and the British ambassador in Riyadh would be sent home. Direct communications between the two countries on political, economic and security issues would have to be conducted through a third country.

"It was the Swiss stuff that sent the Saudis over the top. The threat to cut off diplomatic and intelligence ties was a very real one," said the defence official.

The row will put renewed pressure on Lord Goldsmith, the attorney-general, to intervene. Earlier this year Goldsmith, who is the "superintending" minister for the SFO, was asked to determine whether its inquiry was "in the public interest". That request followed earlier Saudi pressure on the Ministry of Defence.

A spokesman for Goldsmith said: "We do not comment on ongoing investigations."

Al-Yamamah, meaning "the Dove" in Arabic, has kept BAE in business for 20 years. It was signed in 1985 when Britain agreed to sell 72 Tornados and 30 Hawks to Saudi Arabia.

The deal was renewed in 1993 when the Saudis agreed to buy another 48 Tornado warplanes. In a third stage of the contract signed last year, Britain is selling up to 72 more planes, the Typhoons.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "We don't speak about ongoing investigations and we don't speak about discussions with other countries."

Monday, November 20, 2006

O.J Simpson can get away with it, but can't get too rich from it

What it says in most places:

O.J. book and TV specials canceled,1,1908587.story?coll=chi-news-hed
By Phil Rosenthal
Tribune staff reporter
Published November 20, 2006, 3:46 PM CST

Responding to widespread criticism, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. has dropped plans to publish "If I Did It," a hypothetical confession by O.J. Simpson on the 1994 murder of his ex-wife and her friend, as well as a pair of TV specials to promote the book.

"I and senior management agree with the American public that this was an ill-considered project," Murdoch, chairman of News Corp., said in a statement. "We are sorry for any pain that this has caused the families of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson."

The book was to be released Nov. 30 by ReganBooks, an imprint of News Corp.-owned Harper Collins run by Judith Regan, whose interview with Simpson was to form the basis of two one-hour Fox Broadcasting specials set for Nov. 27 and 29. Both HarperCollins and Fox Broadcasting are News Corp. companies.

So divisive were the Simpson projects that on News Corp.-owned Fox News Channel, commentators went to pains to separate themselves from the book and TV shows after they were announced last week.

"Here's a man many believe did kill those two Americans, Nicole Brown Simpson being mother of his two children, yet Simpson is participating in a project that is exploiting the murders," Bill O'Reilly said on his Fox News Channel program, calling the Fox Broadcasting program "simply indefensible, and a low point in American culture" and asserting "Fox Broadcasting has nothing to do with the Fox News Channel."

At least a dozen Fox affiliates had said already they wouldn't run the special, scheduled for two of the final three days of the November ratings period. The trade publication Broadcasting & Cable editorialized against the show, urging Fox to "cancel this evil sweeps stunt." The bookstore chain, Borders Group Inc., intended to donate any profits it made from sales of the book.

Simpson was acquitted of the double murder in 1995, but the former football star, actor and advertising spokesman was later found responsible for the deaths in a civil trial.
That's the official version. Isn't it heart warming that a big corporation did not want to cause distress? Simpson was acquitted because of things like the prosecuting attorney, Marcia Clark, not wearing any underwear.  The book was widely considered to be his confession. Cool. First he done it. Then he got away with it. Then he confesses to it and rakes in the $$$. His book would have sold 400,000 copies. Not bad for a guy with his education. How many copies of Ulysses did James Joyce sell in the first printing? But Mr. Bad was foiled by a corporation with a golden heart.
The real truth is that Fox news was not so altruistic. This is what really happened folks:
Natasha Roit, a lawyer for the Brown family as well as the Nicole Brown Foundation, said the announcement by News Corp. came within an hour of the family's having declined money from the network.
Roit said New Corp.'s Fox Broadcasting division sought the Brown family's blessing in exchange for the payout, but the family refused. Fox also wanted to be able to say that some of the proceeds from the broadcast would go to the victims' families, Roit said.
"It was millions of dollars," Roit said. "And the Browns told them no. ... They told them resolutely that it's not going to happen."
Representatives for the Goldman family could not be reached for comment. A News Corp. spokesman also was not immediately available for further comment.
Yes, I too am hoping there really is a judgement day.  


Global orgasm for peace

20 November 2006

Global orgasm for peace

Two peace activists conceive Global Orgasm for Peace and set goal of having everyone in world have an orgasm Dec. 22 while focusing on world peace.
That's one blessed initiative. Pity I am a bit too old for this one. On the other hand:
The Global Orgasm for Peace was conceived by Donna Sheehan, 76, and Paul Reffell, 55, whose immodest goal is for everyone in the world to have an orgasm Dec. 22 while focusing on world peace.
More about that here: 

"Make Love - Not War"

Alexa is watching you

Alexa has a tool bar and search engine that a lot of people use. Alexa uses their tool bar and search engine like Neilsen uses the little box in the television set - to check what sites people go to. Alexa publishes these data as rankings of Web sites and viewers per million. See for more info.
You can also compare relative rank of sites:

Check it out.

Microsoft is giving away money - No Joke

OK - a bit of a hoax actually. Microsoft is giving away the Beta version of 
Microsoft Expression Web Designer.  This may be the best thing that happened to Web design since html (or not). The most important feature is the ability to design dynamic templates that have features that can be used (and modified) in all pages - you no longer have to edit 1000 pages to change the buttons on your Web site or change the look. They also provide better management of styles than previous, and implement a lot of widgets and doohickeys that let you insert form buttons, "onhover" events for mice and so on. The afficianados and purists may be satisfied with notepad or Dreamweaver. For the rest of us, this application may be very helpful. And no, I am not a big fan of Msoft.

The downside that I discovered so far is slow performance (you thought frontpage was slow...) and apparent absence of a real WYSIWYG preview. The design view is probably adequate for most things though.

Where do you get it?

First post

Google Sex Maps is a place to put my views about this that and the other for public consumption. It is is called Google Sex Maps because these search words happen to be popular right now. Howzzat?