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from the DailyMail

A pink light described as a “strange alien-like cloud” appeared in the sky over London around 8:30p.m. on October 21st and hung around for about an hour before dissipating.

Though many thought it might have come from a UFO government officials stated that it was nothing more than city lights reflected in a cloud.

Some people, in the comments section, wondered about the light green object shown near the church. is this a reflection off the camera or is this a UFO itself?

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There are over 200 comments left at this article and many are a good read.  🙂

‘Smoking police’ hit the streets to shock people into quitting

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 2:06 AM on 20th September 2008

POTENTIAL SMOKING POLICE TARGETS

Smokers will be stopped in the street and asked to take a carbon monoxide test in London’s most hard-hitting anti-smoking campaign.

‘Smoking police’ will target people at betting shops, bus stops and shopping centres to shock them into giving up cigarettes.

They will be asked to breathe into a monitor to show how much carbon monoxide is in their bodies, and could then be signed up to local stop-smoking services and given access to counsellors.

Pro-smoking group Forest described the campaign as a humiliating infringement of civil liberties.

Ealing Primary Care Trust, which is funding the £75,000 scheme, said it could help 2,400 people to give up.

A team of 11 young people have been employed to approach smokers, in a similar way to charity fund-raisers  –  nicknamed ‘chuggers’  –  who ask passers-by for donations.

Project spokeswoman Fran Pearce admitted: ‘They will have to be careful when approaching smokers in case they become aggressive, but we are interested to see how it pans out. If someone says no, they will not pressure them to take the test.’

Project manager Phil Robinson of Ealing Stop Smoking-Service said: ‘The law to ban smoking in public places was hugely effective, but since then some focus has been lost.

‘We want to put stopping smoking back on the agenda, so 50 per cent of our current activity is about personalising and localising our campaign and taking our message direct to smokers.’

He added: ‘We will be focusing on betting shops, transport stops, walk-throughs, shopping centres and leisure areas where most smoking takes place.’

There are 75,000 smokers in Ealing, and it is hoped 7,500 will take the new test, with 2,400 going on to quit completely.

Forest spokesman Neil Rafferty said: ‘It shows the authorities think they have a blank cheque to treat smokers how they want  –  to harass, humiliate and victimise them.

‘This is an outrageous abuse of freedom and privacy. It is the health Nazi equivalent of chuggers.’

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From Ananova

2/23/08 News headlines at 21:33

Passengers travelling on domestic flights or between European Union countries could have to hand over up to 19 pieces of information including their credit card details and mobile phone number.

airflight.jpg

The proposal is revealed in a draft of EU anti-terror plans that would cover every air passenger entering or leaving EU countries seen by the Guardian.

It reports that Britain wants to extend the plan to include sea and rail travel, all domestic flights and those between EU countries.

The Home Office says a pilot of the passenger name record system has already resulted in more than 1,400 arrests, but the scheme has been denounced by civil libertarians and data protection officials.

The newspaper reports that according to a questionnaire circulated to EU members by the European Commission, the UK is the only country of 27 EU member states that wants the system used for “more general public policy purposes” besides fighting terrorism and organised crime.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “We broadly welcome the commission’s proposal. This is a key opportunity to share data safely and responsibly in order to improve the security and integrity of our borders.”

The scheme would work through national agencies collecting and processing the passenger data and then sharing it with other EU states. The Guardian reports Britain also wants to be able to exchange the information with third parties outside the EU.

Liberal Democrat MEP Sarah Ludford told the newspaper: “Where is this going to stop? There’s no mature discussion of risk. As soon as you question something like this, you’re soft on terrorism in the UK and in the EU.”

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In his controversial new book, Nick Davies argues that shadowy intelligence agencies are pumping out black propaganda to manipulate public opinion – and that the media simply swallow it wholesale

The letter argued that al-Qa’ida, which is a Sunni network, should attack the Shia population of Iraq: “It is the only way to prolong the duration of the fight between the infidels and us. If we succeed in dragging them into a sectarian war, this will awaken the sleepy Sunnis.”

Later that day, at a regular US press briefing in Baghdad, US General Mark Kimmitt dealt with a string of questions about The New York Times report: “We believe the report and the document is credible, and we take the report seriously… It is clearly a plan on the part of outsiders to come in to this country and spark civil war, create sectarian violence, try to expose fissures in this society.” The story went on to news agency wires and, within 24 hours, it was running around the world.

There is very good reason to believe that that letter was a fake – and a significant one because there is equally good reason to believe that it was one product among many from a new machinery of propaganda which has been created by the United States and its allies since the terrorist attacks of September 2001.

For the first time in human history, there is a concerted strategy to manipulate global perception. And the mass media are operating as its compliant assistants, failing both to resist it and to expose it.

The sheer ease with which this machinery has been able to do its work reflects a creeping structural weakness which now afflicts the production of our news. I’ve spent the last two years researching a book about falsehood, distortion and propaganda in the global media.

The “Zarqawi letter” which made it on to the front page of The New York Times in February 2004 was one of a sequence of highly suspect documents which were said to have been written either by or to Zarqawi and which were fed into news media.

This material is being generated, in part, by intelligence agencies who continue to work without effective oversight; and also by a new and essentially benign structure of “strategic communications” which was originally designed by doves in the Pentagon and Nato who wanted to use subtle and non-violent tactics to deal with Islamist terrorism but whose efforts are poorly regulated and badly supervised with the result that some of its practitioners are breaking loose and engaging in the black arts of propaganda.

Like the new propaganda machine as a whole, the Zarqawi story was born in the high tension after the attacks of September 2001. At that time, he was a painful thorn in the side of the Jordanian authorities, an Islamist radical who was determined to overthrow the royal family. But he was nothing to do with al-Q’aida. Indeed, he had specifically rejected attempts by Bin Laden to recruit him, because he was not interested in targeting the West.

Nevertheless, when US intelligence battered on the doors of allied governments in search of information about al-Q’aida, the Jordanian authorities – anxious to please the Americans and perhaps keen to make life more difficult for their native enemy – threw up his name along with other suspects. Soon he started to show up as a minor figure in US news stories – stories which were factually weak, often contradictory and already using the Jordanians as a tool of political convenience.

Then, on 7 October 2002, for the first time, somebody referred to him on the record. In a nationally televised speech in Cincinnati, President George Bush spoke of “high-level contacts” between al-Q’aida and Iraq and said: “Some al-Q’aida leaders who fled Afghanistan, went to Iraq. These include one very senior al-Q’aida leader who received medical treatment in Baghdad this year, and who has been associated with planning for chemical and biological attacks.”

This coincided with a crucial vote in Congress in which the president was seeking authority to use military force against Iraq. Bush never named the man he was referring to but, as the Los Angeles Times among many others soon reported: “In a speech [on] Monday, Bush referred to a senior member of al-Q’aida who received medical treatment in Iraq. US officials said yesterday that was Abu al Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian, who lost a leg during the US war in Afghanistan.”

Even now, Zarqawi was a footnote, not a headline, but the flow of stories about him finally broke through and flooded the global media on 5 February 2003, when the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, addressed the UN Security Council, arguing that Iraq must be invaded: first, to stop its development of weapons of mass destruction; and second, to break its ties with al-Q’aida.

Powell claimed that “Iraq today harbours a deadly terrorist network headed by Abu Musab al Zarqawi”; that Zarqawi’s base in Iraq was a camp for “poison and explosive training”; that he was “an associate and collaborator of Osama bin Laden and his al-Q’aida lieutenants”; that he “fought in the Afghan war more than a decade ago”; that “Zarqawi and his network have plotted terrorist actions against countries, including France, Britain, Spain, Italy, Germany and Russia”.

Courtesy of post-war Senate intelligence inquiries; evidence disclosed in several European trials; and the courageous work of a handful of journalists who broke away from the pack, we now know that every single one of those statements was entirely false. But that didn’t matter: it was a big story. News organisations sucked it in and regurgitated it for their trusting consumers.

So, who exactly is producing fiction for the media? Who wrote the Zarqawi letters? Who created the fantasy story about Osama bin Laden using a network of subterranean bases in Afghanistan, complete with offices, dormitories, arms depots, electricity and ventilation systems? Who fed the media with tales of the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, suffering brain seizures and sitting in stationery cars turning the wheel and making a noise like an engine? Who came up with the idea that Iranian ayatollahs have been encouraging sex with animals and girls of only nine?

Some of this comes from freelance political agitators. It was an Iranian opposition group, for example, which was behind the story that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was jailing people for texting each other jokes about him. And notoriously it was Iraqi exiles who supplied the global media with a dirty stream of disinformation about Saddam Hussein.

But clearly a great deal of this carries the fingerprints of officialdom. The Pentagon has now designated “information operations” as its fifth “core competency” alongside land, sea, air and special forces. Since October 2006, every brigade, division and corps in the US military has had its own “psyop” element producing output for local media. This military activity is linked to the State Department’s campaign of “public diplomacy” which includes funding radio stations and news websites. In Britain, the Directorate of Targeting and Information Operations in the Ministry of Defence works with specialists from 15 UK psyops, based at the Defence Intelligence and Security School at Chicksands in Bedfordshire.

In the case of British intelligence, you can see this combination of reckless propaganda and failure of oversight at work in the case of Operation Mass Appeal. This was exposed by the former UN arms inspector Scott Ritter, who describes in his book, Iraq Confidential, how, in London in June 1998, he was introduced to two “black propaganda specialists” from MI6 who wanted him to give them material which they could spread through “editors and writers who work with us from time to time”.

In interviews for Flat Earth News, Ritter described how, between December 1997 and June 1998, he had three meetings with MI6 officers who wanted him to give them raw intelligence reports on Iraqi arms procurement. The significance of these reports was that they were all unconfirmed and so none was being used in assessing Iraqi activity. Yet MI6 was happy to use them to plant stories in the media. Beyond that, there is worrying evidence that, when Lord Butler asked MI6 about this during his inquiry into intelligence around the invasion of Iraq, MI6 lied to him.

Ultimately, the US has run into trouble with its propaganda in Iraq, particularly with its use of the Zarqawi story. In May 2006, when yet another of his alleged letters was handed out to reporters in the Combined Press Information Centre in Baghdad, finally it was widely regarded as suspect and ignored by just about every single media outlet.

Arguably, even worse than this loss of credibility, according to British defence sources, the US campaign on Zarqawi eventually succeeded in creating its own reality. By elevating him from his position as one fighter among a mass of conflicting groups, the US campaign to “villainise Zarqawi” glamorised him with its enemy audience, making it easier for him to raise funds, to attract “unsponsored” foreign fighters, to make alliances with Sunni Iraqis and to score huge impact with his own media manoeuvres. Finally, in December 2004, Osama bin Laden gave in to this constructed reality, buried his differences with the Jordanian and declared him the leader of al-Q’aida’s resistance to the American occupation.

JONATHAN GRUN, EDITOR,PRESS ASSOCIATION

The Press Association’s wire service has a long-standing reputation for its integrity and fast, fair and accurate reporting. Much of his criticism is anonymously sourced – which is something we strive to avoid.

ANDREW MARR, BROADCASTER AND JOURNALIST

Thanks to the internet there’s a constant source of news stories pumping into newsrooms. Stories are simply rewritten. It produces an airless cycle of information. Papers too rarely have news stories of their own.

IAN MONK, PR

The media has ceded a lot of the power of setting the agenda; the definition of news has broadened to include celebrities and new products (the iPhone is a big story). But I don’t join in the hand-wringing or say it’s desperate that people outside newspapers have got a say.

JOHN KAMPFNER, EDITOR, NEW STATESMAN

Davies is right to point to the lack of investigative rigour: the primary purpose of journalism is to rattle cages. I was always struck at the extent to which political journalists yearned to be spoon fed. Having said that, I think he uses too broad a brush.

DOMINIC LAWSON, FORMER EDITOR SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

I’m not saying this is a golden age, but there’s a strong investigative drive in the British press. A lot of papers put a strong value on such stories. I suspect we’re about the most invigilated establishment in Europe.

CHRIS BLACKHURST, CITY EDITOR, EVENING STANDARD

I’m disappointed that a book which has as its premise the dictation of the news agenda by PRs should contain in it an anonymous quote from a PR criticising theStandard’s coverage of the Natwest Three.

HEATHER BROOKE, JOURNALIST

It’s not entirely true what Davies is saying. In the past, we just got scrutiny from newspapers and now think tanks publish results of investigations. But there’s an assumption that the public aren’t interested in government, just Amy Winehouse.

FRANCIS WHEEN, JOURNALIST/ AUTHOR

Davies is spot on. It’s reasonable that newspapers carry PA accounts of court hearings, but he’s right that there’s more “churn” now. Reporters don’t get out of the office the way they did once – partly a reflection of reduced budgets.

This is an edited extract from “Flat Earth News: an award-winning reporter exposes falsehood, distortion and propaganda in the global media”, published by Chatto & Windus, price £17.99. To order this title for the special price of £16, including postage and packaging, call Independent Books Direct: 08700 798 897

Independent.co.uk

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By Patrick Hennessy and Laura Donnelly

Last Updated: 5:08pm GMT 13/01/2008

Gordon Brown has thrown his weight behind a move to allow hospitals to take organs from dead patients without explicit consent.

  • Bishop speaks out against Brown’s organ donation plan
  • First bioartificial heart may signal end of organ shortage
  • Your View: Should organ donation after death be opt-in or opt-out?
  • Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, the Prime Minister says that such a facility would save thousands of lives and that he hopes such a system can start this year.

    The proposals would mean consent for organ donation after death would be automatically presumed, unless individuals had opted out of the national register or family members objected.

    But patients’ groups said that they were “totally opposed” to Mr Brown’s plan, saying that it would take away patients’ rights over their own bodies.

    There are more than 8,000 patients waiting for an organ donation and more than 1,000 a year die without receiving the organ that could save their lives.

    The Government will launch an overhaul of the system next week, which will put pressure on doctors and nurses to identify more “potential organ donors” from dying patients. Hospitals will be rated for the number of deceased patients they “convert” into donors and doctors will be expected to identify potential donors earlier and alert donor co-ordinators as patients approach death.

    But Mr Brown, who carries a donor card, has made it clear he backs an even more radical revamp of the system, which would lead to donation by “presumed consent”. The approach is modelled on that of Spain, which has the highest proportion of organ donors in the world.

    “A system of this kind seems to have the potential to close the aching gap between the potential benefits of transplant surgery in the UK and the limits imposed by our current system of consent,” Mr Brown writes.

    Continue reading here.

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    Hi-tech ‘satellite’ tagging planned in order to create more space in jails
    Civil rights groups and probation officers furious at ‘degrading’ scheme

    By Brian Brady, Whitehall Editor

    Published: 13 January 2008

    Ministers are planning to implant “machine-readable” microchips under the skin of thousands of offenders as part of an expansion of the electronic tagging scheme that would create more space in British jails. Amid concerns about the security of existing tagging systems and prison overcrowding, the Ministry of Justice is investigating the use of satellite and radio-wave technology to monitor criminals.But, instead of being contained in bracelets worn around the ankle, the tiny chips would be surgically inserted under the skin of offenders in the community, to help enforce home curfews. The radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, as long as two grains of rice, are able to carry scanable personal information about individuals, including their identities, address and offending record.

    The tags, labelled “spychips” by privacy campaigners, are already used around the world to keep track of dogs, cats, cattle and airport luggage, but there is no record of the technology being used to monitor offenders in the community. The chips are also being considered as a method of helping to keep order within prisons.

    A senior Ministry of Justice official last night confirmed that the department hoped to go even further, by extending the geographical range of the internal chips through a link-up with satellite-tracking similar to the system used to trace stolen vehicles. “All the options are on the table, and this is one we would like to pursue,” the source added.

    The move is in line with a proposal from Ken Jones, the president of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), that electronic chips should be surgically implanted into convicted paedophiles and sex offenders in order to track them more easily. Global Positioning System (GPS) technology is seen as the favoured method of monitoring such offenders to prevent them going near “forbidden” zones such as primary schools.

    “We have wanted to take advantage of this technology for several years, because it seems a sensible solution to the problems we are facing in this area,” a senior minister said last night. “We have looked at it and gone back to it and worried about the practicalities and the ethics, but when you look at the challenges facing the criminal justice system, it’s time has come.”

    Continue reading here.

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