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Mullah Atiqullah captured in Afghanistan
Today's Headlines
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Postal vote fraud in UK is an urgent and dangerous issue
At the European elections, less than a year ago, the electoral roll of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets contained 148,970 names. By January this year, it had shot up to 160,278. And in the past month alone, a further 5,000 new names have mysteriously appeared on the voting lists. There are only two possibilities here. Either Tower Hamlets is growing twice as fast as the fastest-growing city in China, or it is the target of massive and systematic electoral fraud. We can have a guess at the answer from the fact that some three-bedroom flats in the borough appear to have 12 adults on the roll. The real occupants, when approached on the doorstep, have never heard of their 10 new flatmates.

Elections in Tower Hamlets have always been a scandal. In 2006, an entire tower block had its postal votes stolen. But this time it's more serious. In a close election, Tower Hamlets – and other places like it – could help tip the balance of power. And there are now rather too many other places like it, with dozens of police inquiries under way in inner-city seats across the country. At the time of writing, I don't know how Britain has voted. But under some scenarios, the real and frightening possibility is that this election was decided by fraud.

There are local factors, too. As the Telegraph has documented, the Islamic Forum of Europe, a radical Islamist group based at the hardline East London Mosque, has been accused of secretly infiltrating the Tower Hamlets Labour Party – and is seeking to consolidate its control by having the borough run by a directly elected mayor. A referendum on the mayoral proposal was also held yesterday.

I have no evidence that the IFE is behind the fraud in Tower Hamlets. But its favoured candidates have done remarkably well lately. At the last London mayoral election, Ken Livingstone, for whom leading members of the IFE vigorously campaigned, saw his share of the vote in one ward rise from 29.6 per cent to a rather improbable 68.1 per cent.

The problem is simple. Panicked by falling turnout, Labour allowed postal voting on demand. But a postal vote is a thousand times easier to rig than a vote cast in person. At a polling station, you need a different body for each fake voter. With a postal vote, all you need is a different envelope, and perhaps not even that.

Non-existent electors are only the half of it. By all but abolishing the secrecy of the ballot, postal voting opens the door to threats, pressure and outright vote-buying. If you vote in a polling station, nobody can make you show them your ballot paper. Nobody can know if you've obeyed orders or not.

Worst of all, though, is that the authorities don't seem to care. Police inquiries seldom get anywhere. After the 2006 scandals, one minister said that allegations of electoral fraud risked "undermining confidence". In the most dishonest press release I have ever seen, the Islamist-influenced Tower Hamlets council claimed that an election tribunal had found "no evidence of electoral fraud in Tower Hamlets". Actually, the judge ruled that there was "clear, prima facie evidence" for it.

Our rulers have tiptoed round this subject because voting fraud is mostly a problem – for now – in Asian areas. But what they're actually saying, if you think about it, is that it's all right for Asians to have their votes stolen – not a view that most Asian voters would share.

To avoid "undermining confidence" in democracy itself, we need change. For future elections, postal voting on demand should be suspended in Tower Hamlets, in Birmingham, in the Northern mill towns and anywhere else where problems arise. Nobody in these places is more than a short walk from a polling station. If we do not act, we are effectively in league with the
Posted by: ryuge || 05/07/2010 09:45 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6464 views] Top|| File under:

#1  Impersonation and false entries on the electoral role are also a serious problems where people don't have some kind of secure identity (card).

Both used to be rampant in Northern Ireland, where putting people on the electoral role at birth was the norm in some areas, and the phrase 'vote early and vote often' was in common use, as was 'getting out the graveyard vote'.
Posted by: phil_b || 05/07/2010 21:28 Comments || Top||

#2  Just like Chicago, phil?
Posted by: Barbara Skolaut || 05/07/2010 21:46 Comments || Top||

Lessons from another 'long war'
The British stood their ground when they were under terror siege.
By Peggy Noonan
Posted by: ryuge || 05/07/2010 08:53 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6470 views] Top|| File under:

Hung parliament: paralysed Britain
As opinion polls point with increasing certainty to the likelihood of a hung parliament, top historian Dominic Sandbrook asks: have we learned nothing from history?

Here, he outlines the five years of political paralysis, economic meltdown and national humiliation that were the legacy of the last hung parliament - and how uncanny the parallels are with today.

Posted by: tipper || 05/07/2010 00:00 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6466 views] Top|| File under:

#1  Hung parliament means no serious budget cuts, which means the IMF's a-gonna come a-knockin' sooner than you tink, which means...


Our reckoning will come in due course. Buckle your seatbelts.
Posted by: lex || 05/07/2010 0:46 Comments || Top||

#2  If Cameron were a REAL conservative instead of some upper crust fop, the Conservatives would likely have gotten their majority.
Posted by: OldSpook || 05/07/2010 1:08 Comments || Top||

#3  The whole notion of contagion and the idea that it somehow spreads from one country to another is false.

Even if Greece didn't exist, Spain and Portugal's debt pile wouldn't change by one Euro.
Posted by: phil_b || 05/07/2010 3:30 Comments || Top||

#4  Hang smang. 305 + 61 > 326. (You're not gonna insists that Nick will stand on principle---are you?)
Posted by: g(r)omgoru || 05/07/2010 3:51 Comments || Top||

#5  Phil, finance is ultimately a confidence game. Falling confidence => panic aka contagion.

Add to this the concentration of assets in a few global mega-banks and huge hedge funds, and it becomes possible for a collapse in Asia to affect Russia, or a US housing bubble to tank German banks. Very difficult to ring-fence one market from another.

I don't see any way this situation will get better. I think we're in for another huge hit, and a market crash.
Posted by: lex || 05/07/2010 3:57 Comments || Top||

#6  I dont think the Tories will go with Clegg and the Lib Dems for the now , their policies are too far out .

I suspect Cameron will be looking towards the Unionist parties in Northern Ireland as the first port of call to drag up some extra 'teamies'

I really hope they can get enough without Clegg and his crowd , but I also dont want them scrapping votes from pond life either

As it stands at 9am gmt
Party Seats Swing %
Conservative 288 +90 36.2
Labour 241 -84 29.0
Liberal Democrat 51 -6 23.0

Poor show by Lib Dems really .. UKIP didnt really figure , and in some areas (including mine) BNP got a larger share of the vote , but they havent won a seat anywhere .
Posted by: Oscar || 05/07/2010 4:12 Comments || Top||

#7  I think I'll claim asylum in Texas.
Posted by: Bright Pebbles || 05/07/2010 7:01 Comments || Top||

#8  As of right now the UKIP has about 900K votes, or a little over 3%, and no seats. Apparently their votes are too spread out over the country.
Posted by: Steve White || 05/07/2010 8:02 Comments || Top||

#9  As I understand it, there just aren't enough MPs in the Ulster fringe parties to make up a majority.

Can elected MPs break free like they do in Canada, or are they shackled to their parties?
Posted by: Mitch H. || 05/07/2010 10:01 Comments || Top||

#10  Old Spook: Cameron and the Tories got 100 new seats. That's no small feat given that Labour pro'ly does electioneering as well as our Democrats + ACORN. Give the man his due.
Posted by: Steve White || 05/07/2010 11:22 Comments || Top||


This article shows why Britain is in a mess with Labour in charge as they rely on high unemployment/immigrant areas-

Posted by: Paul D || 05/07/2010 16:35 Comments || Top||

#12  The whole notion of contagion and the idea that it somehow spreads from one country to another is false.

What happened at the stock exchange yesterday then?
Posted by: bigjim-CA || 05/07/2010 16:59 Comments || Top||

#13  Paralysis would actually be a good thing for the UK right now. All of the major parties are big government liberal parties. At the very least, paralysis would stop Cameron, Clegg and Brown's replacement (as party leader) from enacting any more grand social experiments.
Posted by: Zhang Fei || 05/07/2010 17:04 Comments || Top||

#14  It's a holding action. Gridlock is our friend. Keep from spending money and making more dip$hit laws. There is not alot of good news.
Posted by: Alaska Paul || 05/07/2010 20:58 Comments || Top||

Home Front: WoT
Miranda and public safety
By Charles Krauthammer

"(Law enforcement) interviewed Mr. Shahzad ... under the public safety exception to the Miranda rule. ... He was eventually ... Mirandized and continued talking."
-- John Pistole, FBI deputy director, May 4

All well and good. But what if Faisal Shahzad, the confessed Times Square bomber, had stopped talking? When you tell someone he has the right to remain silent, there is a distinct possibility that he will remain silent, is there not? And then what?

The authorities deserve full credit for capturing Shahzad within 54 hours. Credit is also due them for obtaining information from him by invoking the "public safety" exception to the Miranda rule. But then Shahzad was Mirandized. If he had decided to shut up, it would have denied us valuable information -- everything he is presumably telling us now about Pakistani contacts, training, plans for other possible plots beyond the Times Square attack.

The public safety exception is sometimes called the "ticking time bomb" exception. But what about information regarding bombs not yet ticking but being planned and readied to kill later? Think of the reason why we give any suspect Miranda warnings. It is not that you're prohibited from asking questions before Mirandizing. You can ask a suspect anything you damn well please. You can ask him if he picks his feet in Poughkeepsie -- but without Miranda, the answers are not admissible in court.

In this case, however, Miranda warnings were superfluous. Shahzad had confessed to the car bombing attempt while being interrogated under the public safety exception. That's admissible evidence. Plus, he left a treasure trove of physical evidence all over the place -- which is how we caught him in two days. Second, even assuming that by not Mirandizing him we might have jeopardized our chances of getting some convictions -- so what? Which is more important: (a) gaining, a year or two hence, the conviction of a pigeon -- the last and now least important link in this terror chain -- whom we could surely lock up on explosives and weapons charges, or (b) preventing future terror attacks on Americans by learning from Shahzad what he might know about terror plots in Pakistan and sleeper cells in the United States?

Even posing this choice demonstrates why the very use of the civilian judicial system to interrogate terrorists is misconceived, even if they are, like Shahzad, (naturalized) American citizens. America is the target of an ongoing jihadist campaign. The logical and serious way to defend ourselves is to place captured terrorists in military custody as unlawful enemy combatants. As former anti-terror prosecutor Andrew McCarthy notes in National Review, one of the six World War II German saboteurs captured in the U.S., tried by military commission and executed was a U.S. citizen. It made no difference. But let's assume you're wedded to the civilian law-enforcement model, as is the Obama administration. At least make an attempt to expand the public safety exception to Miranda in a way that takes into account the jihadist war that did not exist when that exception was narrowly drawn by the Supreme Court in the 1984 Quarles case.

The public safety exception should be enlarged to allow law enforcement to interrogate, without Mirandizing, those arrested in the commission of terrorist crimes (and make the answers admissible) -- until law enforcement is satisfied that vital intelligence related to other possible plots and threats to public safety has been sufficiently acquired. This could be done by congressional statute. Or the administration could, in an actual case, refrain from Mirandizing until it had explored the outer limits of any plot -- and then defend its actions before the courts, resting its argument on the Supreme Court's own logic in the Quarles case: "We conclude that the need for answers to questions in a situation posing a threat to the public safety outweighs the need for the (Miranda) rule." Otherwise, we will be left -- when a terrorist shuts up as did the underwear bomber for five weeks -- in the absurd position of capturing enemy combatants and then prohibiting ourselves from obtaining the information they have, and we need, to protect innocent lives.

My view is that we should treat enemy combatants as enemy combatants, whether they are U.S. citizens (Shahzad) or not (the underwear bomber). If, however, they are to be treated as ordinary criminals, then at least agree on this: no Miranda rights until we know everything that public safety demands we need to know.
Posted by: ryuge || 05/07/2010 08:58 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6470 views] Top|| File under:

#1  The simple rule (should) apply: In the US, you Mirandize. Outside of the US, you do not, unless they are a US citizen on US soil, such as a US embassy or ship, or belong to the US military.

(If they are military, the come under UCMJ Article 31, and given a branch "rights" document to sign, which in the Army is DA Form 3881.)

However, federal judges are omnivorous as far as any possible jurisdiction goes, and always leap at the chance to butt in, and have since Thomas Jefferson's time. They have long itched to have control over any prisoners of the US military, and to treat them as common criminals.
Posted by: Anonymoose || 05/07/2010 9:53 Comments || Top||

#2  Agree with Moose. As I said yesterday, I want a firewall against taking away the rights of American citizens.

Shahzad is an American citizen. That he shouldn't have been granted citizenship is a mistake that can't be corrected now. He's an American. He gets Miranda, a lawyer and a fair trial.

Giving politicians the right to strip citizenship or do away with Miranda is contagious -- like eating a big dish of ice cream, they're not going to stop, and they're going to come back for more.

We need to maintain the firewall.
Posted by: Steve White || 05/07/2010 11:40 Comments || Top||

#3  OK let me toss the grenade into the room here. First, we do not need to mirandize him. It is not a requirement to do this, hold hold. If we do not mirandize him, any information gained can not be used against him in court. So lets interrogate him and get the needed intell for the war. When we get what we need mirandize him and question him in relation to just his single act.
Posted by: 49 Pan || 05/07/2010 12:06 Comments || Top||

#4  When we get what we need mirandize him and question him in relation to just his single act
Apply that logic to some scum like Gary Ridgeway and what is your response?
As despicable as terrorists are and what they stand for, to manipulate the system as suggested is only one step away from some dictatorship.
'Moose nails it. short, sweet.
Posted by: USN, Ret. || 05/07/2010 14:27 Comments || Top||

#5  Dictatorship is a bit harsh there. There is no manipulation of the law here. The intent of the law is to protect the person from authorities extracting information to be used agaist him in court. Everuthing gained would not be admissable. But our OGA's could certainly use it in Afghan or Jordan to help them with their targeting of camps and terrorists.
Posted by: 49 Pan || 05/07/2010 14:39 Comments || Top||

#6  With Moose and Steve. Tread lightly here. We have something uniquely precious. Don't take chances with it.
Posted by: lex || 05/07/2010 16:23 Comments || Top||

#7  "Shahzad is an American citizen. That he shouldn't have been granted citizenship is a mistake that can't be corrected now."

Why not, Steve?

It isn't like he born here and has no place else to go. Why can't (after due process, of course) we revoke his naturalization? After he finishes his prison sentence (if he ever does), he should be stripped of his gift of citizenship and deported back to that land he apparently loves so much (and whose habit of murdering infidels he never gave up).

He's a sleeper, and a traitor.
Posted by: Barbara Skolaut || 05/07/2010 17:21 Comments || Top||

Science & Technology
Neanderthals live on in modern man
All contemporary Europeans and Asians are a bit Neanderthal but Africans are not, scientists announced on Thursday.
Posted by: tipper || 05/07/2010 05:41 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6477 views] Top|| File under:

#1  The link won't work, Tipper.
Posted by: no mo uro || 05/07/2010 6:01 Comments || Top||

#2  Sorry, looks like you have to register.
The draft sequence of the Neanderthal genome, obtained from DNA fragments extracted from 40,000-year-old bones, shows that ancestors of modern Eurasians interbred to some extent with the Neanderthals they encountered as they moved out of Africa between 50,000 and 80,000 years ago.

The discovery, published in the journal Science, contradicts the previous view of most palaeontologists that there was no interbreeding between Neanderthals and modern humans.

A large international research effort, led by Svente Pääbo of the Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, has succeeded in deciphering about 60 per cent of the Neanderthal genome.

“The results show that 1 to 4 per cent of the DNA in people of non-African ancestry is from the Neanderthals,” said Prof Pääbo. “The Neanderthals are not totally extinct. In some of us a little bit of them lives on.”

The researchers’ main raw material was pill-sized samples of powder extracted from three fossilised bones found in a Croatian cave. Other bones excavated in Spain, Germany and Russia contributed small amounts of DNA too.

The scientists used several gene sequencing technologies – and powerful computer programs – to piece together the degraded fragments of genuine Neanderthal DNA and extract them from all the bacterial and other contaminants that built up in the bones over tens of thousands of years.

The result is a scientific tour-de-force. “Until six or seven years ago, I thought it would be impossible in my lifetime to sequence the… Neanderthal genome,” said Prof Pääbo.

Gregory Hannon, a geneticist at Cold Spring Harbour Lab in New York, called it “a watershed event, a major historical achievement.”

The interbreeding conclusion comes from comparing the Neanderthal genome with genomes of modern humans of European, Asian and African origins. To their surprise, the researchers found that everyone of Eurasian origin – including people from East Asian and New Guinea where Neanderthals never lived – carried a similar amount of Neanderthal DNA, while sub-Saharan Africans had none.

The likely solution to this puzzle is that the main interbreeding occurred in the Mediterranean region or Middle East when small bands of modern humans first moved out of Africa 50,000 to 80,000 years ago, before they dispersed across Eurasia. The two species may also have mated when they lived in close proximity in Europe until the Neanderthals died out about 30,000 years ago, but if so this later interbreeding left no impact on the modern human genome.

Racists may make something of the 1 – 4 per cent of Neanderthal DNA carried by modern Eurasians but not by Africans, Prof Pääbo said, but such arguments would not be valid.

His collaborator Ed Green of the University of California, Santa Cruz, said preliminary analysis suggested that nothing of functional significance came over from the Neanderthals. “The [Neanderthal] signal is sparsely distributed across the genome, just a ‘break crumbs’ clue of what happened in the past. If there was something that conferred a fitness advantage, we probably would have found it already by comparing human genomes.”

Beyond proving that there was no biological barrier to Neanderthals mating productively with modern humans, the research shows that the two human species were genetically very similar in other ways. “The astonishing implication of the work,” said Prof Hannon, “is that we are incredibly similar to Neanderthals at the level of the proteome, which is the full set of proteins that our genes encode.”

Analysis of the genetic differences between Neanderthals and modern humans is just beginning. They include genes involved in cognitive development, skull and bone structure, energy metabolism, skin morphology and wound healing.

Prof Pääbo would not be drawn on whether the traditional view of Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis as separate species, based largely on anatomical differences between their skeletons, remains valid. “I would rather describe them as different forms of human and leave it to others to say whether they are different species,” he said.

The Neanderthal genome’s publication caps a fruitful few months of research into human origins. In March Prof Pääbo’s team published genetic evidence that another type of hominid – neither Neanderthal nor modern human – was living in Siberia 40,000 years ago. His lab is racing to sequence its genome.

Other groups have found important bones of much older hominid species in Africa, which might be our ancestors, including Ardipithecus living 4m years ago and Australopithecus sediba 2m years ago . But no traces of DNA remain on these fossils.
Posted by: tipper || 05/07/2010 6:54 Comments || Top||

I take it these researchers have met my Brother in law.
Posted by: Parabellum || 05/07/2010 8:06 Comments || Top||

#4  ancestors of modern Eurasians interbred to some extent with the Neanderthals they encountered

even then, the ugly chicks were easy
Posted by: Frank G || 05/07/2010 8:37 Comments || Top||

#5  Adding further credibility that man will mate with anything, including mud.
Posted by: Procopius2k || 05/07/2010 9:05 Comments || Top||

#6  Beer goggles
Posted by: Beavis || 05/07/2010 9:47 Comments || Top||

#7  I guess the Neanderthals had the study-bunny gene then?
Posted by: rjschwarz || 05/07/2010 10:18 Comments || Top||

#8  Racists may make something of the 1-4 per cent of Neanderthal DNA carried by modern Eurasians but not by Africans, Prof Pääbo said, but such arguments would not be valid.

Quite the contrary. The discovery of human evil Eurasian inbreeding, [comely young female slaves and domestic help no doubt] simply reinforces the generally held negative connotations of the term Neanderthal. This revelation clearly explains African exceptionalism. I'm already beginning to feel guilt.

Posted by: Besoeker || 05/07/2010 11:12 Comments || Top||

#9  Full "papers" may be read and/or downloaded here: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/328/5979/710 and http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/328/5979/723

interesting reading.
Posted by: ~dnt || 05/07/2010 12:52 Comments || Top||

#10  Well this at least explains the financial services sector.
Posted by: bigjim-CA || 05/07/2010 16:29 Comments || Top||

#11  Adding further credibility that manneanderthal will mate with anything, including mud.

There, fixed it for ya.
Posted by: Thing From Snowy Mountain || 05/07/2010 20:01 Comments || Top||

#12  mating call: "look, I brought you a rock"
Posted by: Frank G || 05/07/2010 21:10 Comments || Top||

#13  Explains my pronounced brow ridge. It also explains my above average cranial cavity capacity, resistance to mental disorders, my gentle nature, my affinity to arts.

I am (partially) Neanderthal and proud of it!
Posted by: twobyfour || 05/07/2010 21:48 Comments || Top||

#14  Where does the urge to crack animals bone open for a marrow snack originate from?
Posted by: Thrurt Barnsmell7160 || 05/07/2010 22:16 Comments || Top||

#15  I'm guessing where lobster, steak, and free-range chicken weren't available? Think North Korea
Posted by: Frank G || 05/07/2010 22:37 Comments || Top||

#16  Even jackels crack the bones for marrow. I imagine genus Homo had been doing that since we came down from the trees, long before sapiens and neaderthalus thought of evolving.
Posted by: trailing wife || 05/07/2010 23:16 Comments || Top||

Home Front: Culture Wars
"Stinko" de Mayo - Or whose country is it anyway?
Posted by: Besoeker || 05/07/2010 01:35 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6465 views] Top|| File under:

#1  Precis: Educators no longer teach civic pride, but stoke grievances and assign shame and guilt.
Posted by: Anguper Hupomosing9418 || 05/07/2010 7:22 Comments || Top||

#2  So the Mexican beer companies dreamed up a holiday celebrating a victory over the French. What the heck is so special about that. Even the French have beaten the French
Posted by: Cheaderhead || 05/07/2010 18:33 Comments || Top||

#3  It's the East Bay in Cal-eeee-forn-ya. I almost expect the Anglo Kids wearing the American Flag will: (1.) be sent to diverrrrrrrrrrsity classes; (2.) be sued by Jerry Brown, LULAC and the Aztlan punks for hate speech; (3.) be denied access to the University of California system; (4.) have to learn to sing The International in Spanish.

"Press One for English... Press Two to dump California into the Ocean..."
Posted by: Dash Riprock || 05/07/2010 20:37 Comments || Top||

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Two weeks of WOT
Fri 2010-05-07
  Mullah Atiqullah captured in Afghanistan
Thu 2010-05-06
  Death sentence for Kasab
Wed 2010-05-05
  Iraqi Troops Arrest Head of Qaeda-Linked Ansar al-Islam
Tue 2010-05-04
  Pakistani-American Arrested in Times Square Plot
Mon 2010-05-03
  Somali rebels seize pirate haven of Haradhere
Sun 2010-05-02
  Pakistani Taliban claim credit for failed NYC Times Square car bombing
Sat 2010-05-01
  Explosions inside a Somali mosque kill at least 30
Fri 2010-04-30
  Two New York men charged with trying to help al Qaeda
Thu 2010-04-29
  Hakimullah Mehsud no longer dead
Wed 2010-04-28
  Egypt court convicts 26 men of links to Hezbollah
Tue 2010-04-27
  French cops seize five jihad suspects
Mon 2010-04-26
  Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri Nabbed?
Sun 2010-04-25
  AQI confirms death of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayyub al-Masri
Sat 2010-04-24
  DR Congo: Lord's Resistance Army Rampage Kills 321
Fri 2010-04-23
  50 killed, 85 wounded in series of Baghdad blasts

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