Friday, May 12, 2006

Hello. Jean here. I realise that this is all over the news. But the idea that phone companies were just releasing their records to the government, has put a bee in my preverbial bonnet. For those who don't know, I'm American...hailing from Michigan. And I am horrified by this. Truthout via the AP has this article on the issue Bush says that he is not going against our fourth amendment rights (search and seizure). I shouldn't be too surprised. It's not the first time that my constitutional rights have been trampled over by the government. Sigh. Good for Qwest Communications though for being the only big dog phone company to not just roll over and give the NSA the records. This is an excerpt from the article in USA Today:

One major telecommunications company declined to participate in the program: Qwest.

According to sources familiar with the events, Qwest's CEO at the time, Joe Nacchio, was deeply troubled by the NSA's assertion that Qwest didn't need a court order - or approval under FISA - to proceed. Adding to the tension, Qwest was unclear about who, exactly, would have access to its customers' information and how that information might be used.

Financial implications were also a concern, the sources said. Carriers that illegally divulge calling information can be subjected to heavy fines. The NSA was asking Qwest to turn over millions of records. The fines, in the aggregate, could have been substantial.

The NSA told Qwest that other government agencies, including the FBI, CIA and DEA, also might have access to the database, the sources said. As a matter of practice, the NSA regularly shares its information - known as "product" in intelligence circles - with other intelligence groups. Even so, Qwest's lawyers were troubled by the expansiveness of the NSA request, the sources said.

The NSA, which needed Qwest's participation to completely cover the country, pushed back hard.

Trying to put pressure on Qwest, NSA representatives pointedly told Qwest that it was the lone holdout among the big telecommunications companies. It also tried appealing to Qwest's patriotic side: In one meeting, an NSA representative suggested that Qwest's refusal to contribute to the database could compromise national security, one person recalled.

In addition, the agency suggested that Qwest's foot-dragging might affect its ability to get future classified work with the government. Like other big telecommunications companies, Qwest already had classified contracts and hoped to get more.

Unable to get comfortable with what NSA was proposing, Qwest's lawyers asked NSA to take its proposal to the FISA court. According to the sources, the agency refused.

The NSA's explanation did little to satisfy Qwest's lawyers. "They told (Qwest) they didn't want to do that because FISA might not agree with them," one person recalled. For similar reasons, this person said, NSA rejected Qwest's suggestion of getting a letter of authorization from the U.S. attorney general's office. A second person confirmed this version of events.

In June 2002, Nacchio resigned amid allegations that he had misled investors about Qwest's financial health. But Qwest's legal questions about the NSA request remained.

Unable to reach agreement, Nacchio's successor, Richard Notebaert, finally pulled the plug on the NSA talks in late 2004, the sources said.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

On email today.
Congratulations to a company with more balls than most...(?)
---------------
HALLIBURTON SOLVES GLOBAL WARMING
SurvivaBalls save managers from abrupt climate change

An advanced new technology will keep corporate managers safe even
when climate change makes life as we know it impossible.

"The SurvivaBall is designed to protect the corporate manager no
matter what Mother Nature throws his or her way," said Fred Wolf, a
Halliburton representative who spoke today at the Catastrophic Loss
conference held at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Amelia Island, Florida.
"This technology is the only rational response to abrupt climate
change," he said to an attentive and appreciative audience.

Most scientists believe global warming is certain to cause an
accelerating onslaught of hurricanes, floods, droughts, tornadoes,
etc. and that a world-destroying disaster is increasingly possible.
For example, Arctic melt has slowed the Gulf Stream by 30% in just
the last decade; if the Gulf Stream stops, Europe will suddenly
become just as cold as Alaska. Global heat and flooding events are
also increasingly possible.

In order to head off such catastrophic scenarios, scientists agree we
must reduce our carbon emissions by 70% within the next few years.
Doing that would seriously undermine corporate profits, however, and so
a more forward-thinking solution is needed.

At today's conference, Wolf and a colleague demonstrated three
SurvivaBall mockups, and described how the units will sustainably
protect managers from natural or cultural disturbances of any
intensity or duration. The devices - looking like huge inflatable
orbs - will include sophisticated communications systems, nutrient
gathering capacities, onboard medical facilities, and a daunting
defense infrastructure to ensure that the corporate mission will not
go unfulfilled even when most human life is rendered impossible by
catastrophes or the consequent epidemics and armed conflicts.

"It's essentially a gated community for one," said Wolf.

Dr. Northrop Goody, the head of Halliburton's Emergency Products
Development Unit, showed diagrams and videos describing the
SurvivaBall's many features. "Much as amoebas link up into slime
molds when threatened, SurvivaBalls also fulfill a community
function. After all, people need people," noted Goody as he showed an
artist's rendition of numerous SurvivaBalls linking up to form a
managerial aggregate with functional differentiation, metaphorically
dancing through the streets of Houston, Texas.

The conference attendees peppered the duo with questions. One asked
how the device would fare against terrorism, another whether the
array of embedded technologies might make the unit too cumbersome; a
third brought up the issue of the unit's cost feasibility. Wolf and
Goody assured the audience that these problems and others were being
addressed.

"The SurvivaBall builds on Halliburton's reputation as a disaster and
conflict industry innovator," said Wolf. "Just as the Black Plague
led to the Renaissance and the Great Deluge gave Noah a monopoly of
the animals, so tomorrow's catastrophes could well lead to good - and
industry must be ready to seize that good."

Goody also noted that Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ocean Futures Society
was set to employ the SurvivaBall as part of its Corporate Sustenance
(R) program. Another of Cousteau's CSR programs involves accepting a
generous sponsorship from the Dow Chemical Corporation, whose general
shareholder meeting is May 11.

Please visit http://www.halliburtoncontracts.com/EPDU/ for photos,
video, and text of today's presentation.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

FOE Australia launch new website on nanotechnology risks New website focusing on the implications of nanotechnology for society and environment. Nanotechnology is being heralded as the basis of the next industrial revolution, yet, amidst the hype there are serious questions about the health, environmental and social impacts of this powerful new technology. Friends of the Earth Australia's nano project aims to catalyse debate on what is set to be one of the defining issues of our time. The FoE nanotechnology project website can be found at http://nano.foe.org.au repost from Biotech IMC

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Gordon Brown in oil doublethink shocker!

BBC News Online 22 April - 'Climate change fight “moral duty”... Chancellor Gordon Brown has spoken for the first time of the "moral need" to tackle climate change.'

But don't get too excited. Unfortunately, 'Mr Brown resisted calls for higher fuel tax, saying he had to balance economic needs with environmental ones.' So, there's a moral need to deal with the problem, but economics means I won't.

Just where Brown's real allegiance lies (if there was any doubt) comes clear in another link from the BBC News front page this morning, 'G7 warning over rising oil prices' where Brown is quoted again, '...demand pressures on oil are such that we need a long-term solution to this, better transparency, more production, more drilling, more investment, more petrochemical investment in particular,'. Hasn't anyone told him that burning oil causes climate change? This article doesn't mention climate change at all, but then, it does appear in the 'Business' section, where one can't really expect much recognition of something so nebulous as 'moral need' when oil prices are at stake.

Touchy-feely comment for the masses, hard-nosed business-as-usual for the oil companies, just two clicks apart. Truly Brown is all things to all people, and the BBC is the home of cutting-edge systemic analysis.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

NEW IRAQ ALLEGATIONS POINT TO DANGERS OF PRIVATE SECURITY COMPANIES The Iraqi Minister of the Interior has accused private security companies of being mixed up in Iraq’s dirty war. Speaking to the BBC about the increase in death squad activities and kidnapping, Bayan Jabr ’implicated the involvement of about 30,000 civilian security guards operating in Iraq.’ BBC news 12/04/06 British companies’ major involvement in Iraq’s private security forces was set out in Corporate Watch’s recent report Corporate Carve-up. Dozens of companies, many led and staffed by ex-British army officers, are being used by UK and US governments and corporations. Our report flagged up the potential dangers of such large forces in Iraq, unregulated and privately run. However, this is one of the first times that we have heard direct accusations that private security personnel may have been involved in undercover operations in Iraq. Loukas Christodoulou, the main author of the report says ’British security companies such as Aegis are doing very well in war-torn Iraq. However, there remain grave doubts as to the effect that these companies are having on the conflict. By hiring large numbers of ex-military men for their protection, UK diplomats and corporations could be adding fuel to the kidnappings and assassinations that are destabilising Iraq.’

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

First ever Nanotech product recall as over 70 made ill A nanoparticle based cleaning spray "Magic Nano" has been with drawn from the market by its German manufacturers Kleinmann GmbH. 79 people in Germany have been taken ill after acciendentally inhailing the spray which contains manufactured nanoparticles of silica. With serious concerns about safety, 100s of products already on the market and no adequate regulation anywhere in the world the case for a moratorium on the use of manufactured nanoparticles gets stonger and stronger. for more information see: http://www.etcgroup.org/article.asp?newsid=559 http://www.giz-nord.de/php/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=125&Itemid=134 http://www.bfr.bund.de/cms5w/sixcms/detail.php/7699
Public Library Of Science publish report on the Corporate Sponsored Creation of Disease The corporate sponsored creation of disease—“disease mongering”—turns healthy people into patients, wastes precious resources, and causes iatrogenic harm, say the guest editors of a special issue of PLoS Medicine devoted to how drug companies sell sickness. New diseases are being defined by panels of specialists who are often funded by industry. Such diseases are then promoted by industry-sponsored “disease-awareness campaigns,” usually designed to sell drugs rather than inform the public about preventing illness or maintaining health. examples include: *Aspects of ordinary life, such as sexuality, are being medicalized and turned into illnesses. Joel Lexchin (University of Toronto) argues that Pfizer marketed Viagra not just for treating erectile dysfunction due to medical problems like diabetes, but as a drug that “normal” men could use to enhance their potency. *Mild problems, such as everyday irritability in children, are portrayed as serious illnesses needing powerful drugs. David Healy (University of Wales) looks at how companies are “selling” bipolar disorder, leading to a surge of diagnoses of bipolar disorder in American children, some as young as two. “Drugs such as Zyprexa and Risperdal are now being used for preschoolers in America with little questioning of this development,” he says. * Health problems are routinely being framed as extremely common. Steven Woloshin and Lisa Schwartz (Dartmouth Medical School) analyze the news coverage of a little-known condition called “restless legs syndrome,” a compelling urge to move one’s legs. The authors found that the media exaggerated the prevalence of the condition and the need for treatment, and failed to consider the problems of over-diagnosis. read full report at http://collections.plos.org/diseasemongering-2006.php

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Open About Defence

The Open University and Cranfield University are working in partnership to deliver postgraduate education to members of the armed forces.

According to sesame, the Open University's student magazine, approximately "400 defence personnel annually will study MBA [Master of Business Administration] courses with the OU in conjunction with the Defence College of Management and Technology...the centre for postgraduate education for military personnel."1 The full story is on the Open University's media pages.

If you don't fancy a post graduate course, there are myriad courses available from the Army Training and Recruiting Agency (ATRA). In the 2004-2005 period, ATRA had 60244 students and recruited 11083 enlisted cadets and officers2 more on their courses can be found here.

For more information on other defence and corporate involvement in education, see 'Universally Challenged' in Corporate Watch newsletter 27.

To take action regarding defence and arms trade involvement in education, check out the Campaign Against Arms Trade's 'University Clean Investment' campaign.

1P7, 'Defence Contract' in sesame 229, Spring 2005

2 P.17 ATRA 2005 Annual Report

The Truth At Last Last week Spinwatch reported on a German nuclear industry spin doctor's candid defence of lying as a valid public relations tactic. The aptly named Klaus Kocks has stated in an interview that he is 'strongly opposed to discriminating against lying' and that to 'discriminate against' and 'delegitimise' lying is but 'a neurotic obsession of calvinistic witch hunters'. At last, the truth about PR. Unless he's spinning a line of course. Corporate Watch is reminded of the PR Week ethics survey of 2000 in which a quarter of PR practitioners surveyed admitted to lying in their job. And they were just the honest ones...