May 17, 2007

News You Might Have Missed * Vol. 6, No. 20

Important but overlooked news from around the world.

QUOTED:

“I will be satisfied when I can get a tour of the Folsom Street building and I can see the equipment has been ripped out … They have embedded spying into the infrastructure of the Internet. I’m not sure people are fully conscious of what is going on.”

— Whistleblower Mark Klein says NSA spying gear remains in AT&T’s San Francisco headquarters (see “Privacy,” below).

CONTENTS:

*Top Stories*
Trouble follows Korea bride business
Depressed? The Army still wants you
Prejudice, abuse in India’s top medical school

*Privacy*
Domestic spying expansion would exonerate AT&T

*Gun Control*
Little progress for gun opponents

*War & Terrorism*
From Iraq to Nepal, child militants swell the ranks


TOP STORIES

Trouble Follows Korea Bride Business

Business is booming for commercial marriage brokers in South Korea, where a surfeit of bachelors seek brides from Vietnam, China, and the Philippines. Some agencies even arrange a five- day package tour which includes a lineup of women to choose from, as well as a wedding ceremony and one-night honeymoon.

But beatings, alcoholism and divorce are also on the rise, and one legislator has sponsored a bill prohibiting “reckless matchmaking” by commercial agencies.

Depressed? The Army Wants You

An undercover reporter in Tennessee was told by staff in three different Army offices that concealing his use of the anti- depressant Zoloft would enable him to avoid being disqualified as a potential recruit. Now, a local Congressman has asked for a federal investigation into what he says could be a nationwide practice by Army recruiters.

Prejudice, Abuse in India’s Top Medical School

Dalit, or “untouchable,” students in India’s premiere medical school say teachers and students alike discriminate against them. They say they are beaten, segregated in dorms and dining halls, and given failing grades based on their social background.

State-funded schools are required by law to admit a significant percentage of Dalits, who make up about 25 percent of India’s population.

Sources:

“International marriages — and divorces — surge in S. Korea”
Agence France-Presse, May 11, 2007

“Reports: Army recruiters said lie”
Associated Press, May 11, 2007

“India: Low-caste Hindus at top hospital treated as untouchables”
Asian Age, May 11, 2007


PRIVACY

Domestic Spying Expansion Would Exonerate AT&T

The Justice Department wants to further loosen domestic spying laws under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to permit the monitoring of U.S. residents suspected of receiving terrorist communications.

The FISA “update” would also grant legal immunity to telecom companies that cooperate with the government — such as AT&T, which faces five major civil liberties suits for opening its networks to the National Security Agency.

The ACLU said proposed immunity for telecom companies (which would be retroactive to September 11, 2001) amounts to a “get out of jail free card,” according to CSMonitor.com.

Democrats shot down the proposal, noting that the White House refuses to release details about the NSA program or issue a document proving the surveillance is legal.

The FBI also refuses to reveal how many “national security letters” it issued in 2006 and 2007 to access personal data.

The letters bypass the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which issues warrants to spy on U.S. residents suspected of terrorist activity.

The court already has a permissive attitude, allowing 2,176 such warrants in 2006 and denying only one.

Mark Klein, a retired technician who blew the whistle on a secret Internet monitoring room allegedly installed by the NSA in AT&T’s Folsom Street offices in San Francisco, says that the room is still up and running.

In an interview with Wired.com, Klein said he is frustrated that Congress has not stopped the program or provided immunity to other whistleblowers who would like to testify.

Sources:

“Spying in the Death Star: The AT&T whistle-blower tells his story”
Wired.com, May 10, 2007

“White House seeks expanded domestic-spying powers”
Christian Science Monitor, May 3, 2007

“Secret court OKs all but one domestic spying request”
Associated Press, May 1, 2007


GUN CONTROL

Little Progress for Gun Opponents

Lawmakers raced to propose tougher gun control laws following the Virginia Tech and Montreal school shootings, but each has drawn criticism — and not just from the usual suspects.

New rules in Virginia forestall people who have been referred for mental health counseling from buying a gun. The rules are meant to close a “loophole” in the law that let Seung-Hui Cho buy his weapons.

But mental health advocates worry it stigmatizes all mentally ill people as violent instead of dealing with a lack of state- run mental health treatment programs.

Pennsylvania lawmakers are looking at tightening state gun laws but aren’t likely to pass restrictions like Virginia’s.

An aide to the governor points out that the man who killed five girls in an Amish schoolhouse in Lancaster County last year had no history of mental illness, and the state could not have stopped him from buying a gun.

After last September’s gun rampage in Dawson College, Canada’s Liberals want to drastically limit access to firearms by forcing gun owners to leave their weapons in shooting clubs.

Critics say such a cache would be irresistible to burglars and expensive to protect.

Sources:

“Quebec to propose tougher gun control bill”
CTV.ca, May 7, 2007

“New rules on gun-sale checks”
Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA), May 10, 2007

“Pa. unlikely to follow Va. on mental health gun restriction”
Associated Press, May 6, 2007


WAR & TERRORISM

From Iraq to Nepal, Child Militants Swell the Ranks

Thousands of Iraqi children earn $3 to $7 a day making bombs, cleaning guns and transporting weapons for Shiite and Sunni militias in Baghdad.

The chlorine bombs burn the children and sometimes detonate, but insurgents say they can’t be blamed for something that parents have consented to.

Iraqi parents blame a lack of work, or say their children are threatened if they don’t follow orders.

One father justified sending his sons to make bombs by saying it puts food on the table and helps fight the Americans.

In India, militias are recruiting hundreds of child soldiers to fight rebels along the India-Myanmar border.

They are the first line of defense, loaded with drugs to make them fearless and ready to kill on command — even targeting their families if so ordered.

In Nepal, hopes that an estimated 6,000 to 9,000 Maoist child soldiers would return to school following a peace deal have been dashed for now. Guerrillas refuse to let U.N. monitors inspect their camps for evidence of child soldiers, as was agreed in the peace bargain.

And Reuters reports that the Maoists have continued to recruit child soldiers following the ceasefire.

Sources:

“IRAQ: Poverty drives children to work for armed groups”
IRIN (United Nations), May 10, 2007

“Child soldiers in northeast raise concerns”
NDTV (India), May 5, 2007

“Nepal Maoists urged to free child soldiers”
Reuters, May 8, 2007


Editors: Julia Scott, Josh Wilson

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One thought on “News You Might Have Missed * Vol. 6, No. 20

  1. There is one factor that is left out of the discussion of the massacre at Virginia Tech and that is what is the major cause of the non-familial autism and schizophrenia that the Seung-hui Cho manifested. Of course there could be family members with these disorders, but we do know that his father was 38 or 39 when he was born. This factor should be discussed because so many men are fathering babies in their later 30s and beyond, way beyond. There is a great deal of information in this article on the role of advancing paternal age causing the mutations in the sperm making cells of older men leading to autism and schizophrenia in offspring.

    http://www.schizophreniaforum.org/for/curr/Malaspina/default.asp