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sensitive data for 25 Million Britons is lost by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs November 21, 2007

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No doubt you must have by now read/heard and seen the news in which the Government has admitted losing sensitive personal data for half of the UK’s population, 25 million Britons.

Surprised? (but just wait, there is more to come):

Any family in the UK who has a child under the age of 16 are officially at risk of ID fraud for decades.  The information that has gone missing includes:

  • National Insurance Number
  • Name, Address and Date of Birth,
  • Partners Details,
  • Name, Sex and age of Children
  • Bank and savings account details

It’s Britain’s worst personal data security lapse, second only to the US government losing data on 26.5 million former servicemen last year. And it comes at a politically sensitive time; the British government is preparing to further centralize data as it roles out national ID cards next year.

The worst and scary part is:

At Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, a junior member of staff has a level of access to data such that they can transfer the entire data set for 25,000,000 individuals to their workstation and burn it onto a couple of CDs.

Can you imagine that, the level of access given to a junior staff at HMRC is the worst crime.  How many other staff at HMRC lower than a junior level had access to it?

No doubt this is just a tip of the ice burg, more will be revealed………

…and this government was scaring the whole nation into submission and into accepting the new ID cards with the excuse of protecting everyone from terrorism.  But who has just aided terrorism….

 

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The mouse that shook the world November 3, 2007

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It can run for hours at 20 metres per minute without getting tired. It lives longer, has more sex, and eats more without gaining weight. Could the science that created this supermouse be applied to humans?

By Steve Connor, Science Editor
Published: 02 November 2007

Scientists have been astounded by the creation of a genetically modified “supermouse” with extraordinary physical abilities – comparable to the performance of the very best athletes – raising the prospect that the discovery may one day be used to transform people’s capacities.

The mouse can run up to six kilometres (3.7 miles) at a speed of 20 metres per minute for five hours or more without stopping. Scientists said that this was equivalent of a man cycling at speed up an Alpine mountain without a break. Although it eats up to 60 per cent more food than an ordinary mouse, the modified mouse does not put on weight. It also lives longer and enjoys an active sex life well into old age – being capable of breeding at three times the normal maximum age.

American scientists who created the mice – they now have a breeding colony of 500 – said that they were stunned by their abilities, especially given that the animals came about as a result of a standard genetic modification to a single metabolism gene shared with humans.

They emphasised that the aim of the research was not to prepare the way to enhance the genes of people. However, they accepted that it may be possible to use the findings to develop new drugs or treatments that could one day be used to “enhance” the natural abilities of athletes.

The professor of biochemistry at Case Western Reserve University at Cleveland in Ohio, Richard Hanson, said that the physical performance of the supermouse can only be compared to supremely fit athletes like the cyclist Lance Armstrong, who won the Tour de France seven consecutive times from 1999 to 2005. The genetic alteration to a gene involved in glucose metabolism appears to stimulate the efficient use of body fat for energy production. At the same time, the mice do not suffer from a build up of lactic acid – which causes muscle cramps – a feature also seen in the best endurance athletes.

Professor Hanson said yesterday: “They are metabolically similar to Lance Armstrong biking up the Pyrenees. They utilise mainly fatty acids for energy and produce very little lactic acid. They are not eating or drinking and yet they can run for four or five hours. They are 10 times more active than ordinary mice in their home cage. They also live longer – up to three years of age – and are reproductively active for almost three years. In short, they are remarkable animals.

“On the downside, they eat twice as much as control mice, but they are half the weight, and are very aggressive. Why this is the case, we are not really sure.”

Professor Hanson, who led the 15-strong team of researchers, said that the first supermouse was created about four years ago by injecting a highly active form of a gene for an enzyme called phosphonenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PEPCK-C) into a mouse embryo. The results of studies on the mice are published for the first time today in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Professor Hanson said: “We humans have exactly the same gene. But this is not something that you’d do to a human. It’s completely wrong. We do not think that this mouse model is an appropriate model for human gene therapy. It is currently not possible to introduce genes into the skeletal muscles of humans and it would not be ethical to even try.”

However, it may be possible for pharmaceutical companies to use the findings to develop new drugs that enhance muscle performance, which may benefit certain patients. Professor Hanson accepted that it was possible athletes might misuse any future drug developed in this way.

He said: “It’s very possible. It’s a different approach to putting a gene into a human. I would only do that to help anyone who suffers from disorders such as cystic fibrosis.”

The aim of the research was to gain a greater understanding of the PEPCK-C enzyme, which is present mainly in the liver and kidneys. As a result of the genetic modification, the mighty mice have up to 100 times the concentration of the enzyme in its muscles compared with ordinary mice.

Professor Hanson said: “The purpose of our experiment was to study energy metabolism in the mice and the role that a single, metabolically important enzyme might play in a tissue in which it is not normally expressed at high levels.”

He said that the physical and behavioural changes in the modified mice were completely unexpected. Usually, scientists have to carry out blood tests to see if there has been any effect of altering the genes, but these mice were noticeably different at a very early age.

He said: “We could spot them at just a few weeks after birth. They popped around the cage like popcorn. We found that they were about 10 times as active as ordinary mice.”

Further research on the mice could shed light on the link between high-calorie diets and cancer, and low-calorie diets and longevity. He said: “Our animals live longer and eat almost twice as much as ordinary mice – this is a model to study.”

A risky business: previous attempts at genetic modification
Genetic modification is a 30-year-old technology that has been used extensively on a range of animals for basic research and the production of agricultural or pharmaceutical products. It involves inserting an extra gene or modifying the expression of an existing gene within the DNA of the animal. Famous examples of GM animals include:
The Beltsville pig
An early experiment involving the insertion of a gene for human growth hormone into pigs to make them grow faster. They suffered severe bone and joint problems and could not walk properly without pain.
Oncomouse
Created by scientists at Harvard. Engineered to develop cancer, it enabled researchers to use it as a model of the disease. It was involved in one of the earliest patent applications on an animal.
Knock-out mice
Probably the most common use of genetically modified animals. The mice have a gene modified or destroyed so that scientists can study the outcome. Has created a revolution in the understanding of mammalian genes.
Spider-silk goats
Spider-silk protein gene is inserted into goats to extract the substance from their milk. The silk is stronger than steel, so could be used in industry.
Spinach pigs
Japanese scientists have created pigs with an added gene from spinach. They say it cuts fat – making them healthier to eat.
Humanised cattle
A range of experiments have tried to introduce important human genes into cattle so that pharmaceutical proteins can be extracted from their milk.
The green pig
Scientists are trying to introduce a bacterial gene into pigs that will make their faeces less toxic, cutting farm pollution.

[source]

UK spies seen trying to damage Russia November 3, 2007

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MOSCOW (Reuters) – The man wanted by Britain for the murder of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko says British secret services are trying to destabilise Russia.

Former KGB officer Andrei Lugovoy, speaking exactly a year after meeting Litvinenko on the day he fell ill, said he had been caught in a web of intrigue that senior figures in Britain were using to damage Russia.

“For the past 15 years in particular, they have been doing everything they can to abase Russia and discredit her on the world stage,” Lugovoy told reporters on Thursday.

Lugovoy met Litvinenko at a London hotel on November 1 last year with another Russian, Dmitry Kovtun. Later that day, Litvinenko complained of feeling ill. He was admitted to hospital and died on November 23 from polonium 210 poisoning.

In a posthumous letter, Litvinenko accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of being responsible for his death, a charge the Kremlin has repeatedly dismissed as nonsense.

Litvinenko’s wife, Marina, said Lugovoy should be brought to justice for killing her husband.

“I will not speak about Sasha today, this is not his day. This is the day of his killers,” she said in a statement.

“The President of Russia, who has been named by Sasha as the instigator of his murder, is obstructing the investigation and backing the suspect with the full clout of Russia’s statehood.”

Lugovoy again denied any involvement in the murder. Russia has refused to extradite him to Britain citing its constitution, which bans handing over its own citizens.

BRITISH SPIES

Lugovoy repeated allegations that Litvinenko, a former FSB officer, had been working for Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, known as MI6, after working for Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky. Lugovoy once also worked for Berezovsky.

“LitvineNko had serious material problems, stemming in large part from Berezovsky having sacked him. And Litvinenko was trying to earn money any way he could,” Lugovoy said.

He said he was using his role as a parliamentary candidate for the nationalist Liberal-Democratic party to draw attention to what he called the abasement of Russia by foreigners.

“I felt that I have to demonstrate to the entire Russian government what can happen to a Russian citizen, what may happen to the whole country, if we allow anybody to smear the Russian people any further,” Lugovoy said.

Litvinenko’s wife said Lugovoy’s rise to prominence shed a bad light on modern Russia.

“Presidential support has turned the accused murderer into a national hero,” she said. “He is about to become a member of the Duma. With heroes, presidents and a parliament like that, Russia is destined to a sad future.”  [source]

IS IT POSSIBLE THAT THE LOBBY LIED TO US ABOUT ISLAM November 3, 2007

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‘They’ tell us that ALL Muslims are bad. ‘They’ tell us that ALL Muslims are terrorists. ‘They’ point their fingers at all of them… without exception, humiliating them, dehumanising them…
BUT… Right here, right now, just a week after the infamous Islamo-Fascist Week ‘celebrations’ sponsored by the Lobby in America, a group of Jewish Israelis honoured Muslims that saved their lives during the nazi occupation of Albania.

Yes, Muslims…. believers in ISLAM….. Hmmmm… what else has the Lobby been lying about??

Yahoo News carried the following

Exhibition honors Muslims who saved Jews

JERUSALEM – Tears welling in his eyes, an elderly Holocaust survivor on Thursday embraced the son of the Albanian man who saved him from the Nazi death camps, highlighting the little-known role played by European Muslims in helping Jews during World War II.

The two met for the first time at a photography exhibition at Yad Vashem, Israel’s official Holocaust memorial, honoring Albanians who sheltered Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution. Albania, a tiny European country with a Muslim majority, sheltered about 1,000 Jews who, except for one family, survived Nazi occupation, according to officials.

“This is a very unique story,” said Yehudit Shendar, the exhibition’s curator. Though Islam has an anti-Jewish image, these were “Muslims who endangered their own lives to save Jews,” she said. Six million Jews were killed by the Nazis during World War II.

Albanians sheltered between 600 and 1,800 Jewish refugees, risking death or imprisonment, officials said. At the end of the war, Albania was the only European country with a larger Jewish population than before the war.

Yoshua Baruchowic, 84, wore a grim smile as he retold the harrowing story of his rescue. He stood next to Enver Alia Sheqer, the Albanian whose father saved him.

For decades, Baruchowic exchanged letters with Sheqer, 50, and his father, Ali Sheqer Pashkaj, who died in 2004. They often sent family photos, and he called Sheqer his “brother.”

Despite many invitations, Baruchowic, who moved to Mexico after the war and became a dentist, refused to visit Albania while the communists were in power, and later because of political turmoil.

Meeting Sheqer on Thursday, he said, “It’s glorious. It’s something I waited to do all my life.”

In 1941, a Nazi convoy transporting Jews passed the Sheqer family’s general store deep in the Albanian mountains. Sheqer’s father offered the soldiers food and wine. When they became drunk, he handed a message — hidden in a melon — to one of the prisoners, the 18-year-old Baruchowic.

Though they had never met, Baruchowic agreed when Ali Sheqer urged him to flee to the woods. The young Jew hid while Sheqer’s father feigned ignorance as he repeatedly stared down a Nazi gun barrel. He held out until the Germans left and then retrieved Baruchowic, hiding him for three years.

“My father was a devout Muslim,” Enver Sheqer said. “He believed that to save one life is to enter paradise.”

He said his father had to help Baruchowic because of the Albanian code of “Besa,” which means “to keep the promise.”

The exhibition is named after that code and features black and white photographs of Albanians holding family photos and awards honoring their heroism. Israel has honored 63 Albanians as “Righteous Among the Nations,” a title granted to non-Jews who helped Jews escape Nazi persecution.

The photo exhibit is the product of five years of “headhunting” by American Jewish photographer Norman Gershman, who said he was inspired culling the archives at Yad Vashem. Working through several organizations, Gershman spent four years in and out of Albania tracking down survivors.

“It started at Yad Vashem and now it’s going to take off from here,” he said. The exhibition is next going to the United Nations headquarters in New York for a display on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27, he said.

At the exhibit Thursday, Baruchowic and Enver Sheqer stood beneath a photo of Sheqer sitting at the foot of a statue of the Albanian national hero Skanderbeg, a resistance general who led the fight against the Muslim Ottoman Empire in the 15th century.

In the picture, Sheqer delicately clutches his chest while a furrowed brow looks poised for tears. A similar look covered his face as he struggled to the find words to describe meeting Baruchowic for the first time.

“I have such a good feeling,” Sheqer said. “I can’t begin how to describe.” [read more]

Iran, World War III, and the Madness of President George November 3, 2007

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Put a straight-jacket on them. That seems to be Los Angeles Times columnist Rosa Brooks’s position on President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney.

As she explains, “We’re in the middle of a disastrous war in Iraq, the military and political situation in Afghanistan is steadily worsening, and the administration’s interrogation and detention tactics have inflamed anti-Americanism and fueled extremist movements around the globe.” Yet Bush and Cheney appear to want another war, this one against Iran.

It does seem mad. Iran has more territory, a larger population, bigger GDP, and more effective military than did Iraq. Tehran possesses missiles capable of hitting Israel and is aligned with America’s client government in Iraq. If any regime is capable of destabilizing Arab regimes allied with the U.S., it is Iran. A cakewalk such a war would not be.

In contrast, being concerned about a nuclear-armed Iran is not mad. Tehran unsettles the world for obvious reasons. It is hard to find anyone anywhere who believes that a nuclear-empowered mullocracy would be a good thing. Although the Islamic republic has behaved as a rational actor for three decades and seems subject to deterrence like other, more normal, states, a residue of doubt remains.

But concern about an unlikely future threat is not the same as a clear and present danger. The former certainly does not justify the kind of rhetoric tossed around by President Bush and Vice President Cheney. They might not be mad in a clinical sense, but they are pretty nutty if they really believe their rhetoric.

First, the vice president said the administration would not stand by in the face of “the Iranian regime’s efforts to destabilize the Middle East and to gain hegemonic power.” This is, to coin a phrase, a hoot. It has been more than two centuries since Iran, or a nation resembling Iran, attacked anyone. The last war in which Tehran was involved was started by Iraq – which was supported in its aggression by America and several American allies.

Second, the administration, through its invasion of Iraq, has destabilized the Mideast. If Iran is poised for regional hegemony, it has that opportunity only because Washington was kind enough to take out both of its principal enemies: the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Washington also urged Israel on in its botched war against Lebanon, which weakened Israel and strengthened Iran’s ties to Hezbollah. [read more]

Bahrain to re-open "israel boycott office" November 3, 2007

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Manama: A parliamentarian committee has sidestepped requests by the foreign minister to uphold international agreements and called for the reopening of the Israel boycott office.

“Now that the committee has agreed on reopening the office, we request the foreign ministry to support the decisions by the representatives of the people and to put an end to all forms of contact between Bahrain and the Zionist entity,” Adel Al Mouawda, the chairman of the foreign affairs, defence and national security committee in the lower house, said yesterday.

“The authorities should also allow the reopening of the Israel boycott office and ban any form of communication with the Zionist entity,” he said in a statement to the press following a meeting with Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa.

The minister has been facing a barrage of criticism after he said that he met his Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni last month on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. [read more]