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Archive for April, 2011|Monthly archive page

Bobby Kennedy assassin brainwashed by ‘girl in polka dot dress’

In Americas on April 30, 2011 at 12:49 pm

By Andrew Osborn

The man convicted of assassinating Robert F. Kennedy in 1968 was brainwashed into shooting him by a mysterious girl in a polka dot dress, his lawyer have claimed.

In a bizarre twist more than forty years after the high-profile killing, lawyers for Sirhan Sirhan, the Palestinian man convicted of the shooting, have submitted new evidence which they say shows their client was manipulated by the mystery girl and had no sense of what he was doing.

“I thought that I was at the (rifle) range more than I was shooting at any person, let alone Bobby Kennedy,” Mr Sirhan told a hypnotist hired by his legal team to interview him about the murder. “I didn’t know that I had a gun.”

The papers, which have been filed in a federal court, suggest that Sirhan was used as a decoy and a second person actually shot and killed Kennedy.

The assassination of Bobby Kennedy at a hotel in Los Angeles on 5 June 1968 rocked the US political establishment, robbing the Democratic party of a promising presidential candidate and came just five years after his brother, President John F. Kennedy, was shot dead.

Now aged 67 and serving life in prison, Mr Sirhan is mounting a fresh attempt to…

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Hackers claim to have PlayStation users’ card data

In Tech on April 30, 2011 at 12:48 pm

By Nick Bilton

Security researchers said Thursday that they had seen discussions on underground Internet forums indicating that the hackers who infiltrated the Sony PlayStation Networklast week may have made off with the credit card numbers of Sony customers.

The comments indicated that the hackers had a database that included customer names, addresses, usernames, passwords and as many as 2.2 million credit card numbers, the researchers said.

Kevin Stevens, senior threat researcher at the security firm Trend Micro, said he had seen talk of the database on several hacker forums, including indications that the Sony hackers were hoping to sell the credit card list for upwards of $100,000. Mr. Stevens said one forum member told him the hackers had even offered to sell the data back to Sony but did not receive a response from the company.

Although several researchers confirmed the forum discussions, it was impossible to verify their contents or the existence of the database.

When asked about the hackers’ claims, Patrick Seybold, senior director of corporate communications and social…

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Can traumatic memories be erased?

In Tech on April 30, 2011 at 12:47 pm

By Kurzweilai.net 

Life scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles, have discovered that long-term memory in the marine snail can be erased by inhibiting the activity of a specific protein kinase (PKM) associated with memory.

The study may be relevant to veterans of war, rape victims, and people who have seen other horrific crimes.

The scientists studied a simple kind of reflexive memory called sensitization. They administered electric shocks to the snails’ tails. Following this training, when the scientists gently touched a snail’s siphon (an organ in their mid-section used in respiration), the animal responded with a reflexive contraction that lasted about 50 seconds. A week later, when the scientists touched the siphon, the reflex still lasted 30 seconds or more, rather than just the second or two the reflex normally lasts without the shock training. This constituted a long-term memory.

Once the marine snail had formed the long-term memory, the scientists injected an inhibitor of PKM into the snail and 24 hours later touched the siphon; the marine snail responded as though it had never…

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Superman renounces his Citizenship in 900th issue

In Americas on April 29, 2011 at 12:29 pm

By Holley Mckay

Superman is no longer an American.

In “Action Comics’” new record-breaking 900th issue,  the fictional iconic superhero renounces his U.S citizenship following a clash with the federal government.

The Man of Steel, created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in 1938, has always been recognized as a devoted American warrior who constantly fought evil, but as of Thursday, he is no longer the country’s own to claim.

No word yet if Superman will change his red and blue suit, or his longtime motto “truth, justice and the American way” – but the landmark issue is certainly sparking controversy.

“Besides being riddled with a blatant lack of patriotism, and respect for our country, Superman’s current creators are belittling the United States as a whole. By denouncing his citizenship, Superman becomes an eery metaphor for the current economic and power status the country holds worldwide,” Hollywood” publicist and GOP activist Angie Meyer told…

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Will the royals pay for their own security?

In Europe News on April 29, 2011 at 12:28 pm

By Ryan W. McMaken

Of course not, and it looks like their wedding will cost the taxpayers at least 80 million dollars. This isn’t much compared to the untold billions that democratic politicians waste on their own profligacy, but it’s still a fleecing of the taxpayer for a totally unnecessary and ultimately political spectacle.

So the taxpayers will pay millions for untold numbers of government police and soldiers to parade around as the royals ride by in some former despot’s carriage on their way to a party.

The royal family is quick to point out that the party itself is being paid for by the royals themselves. The reception costs, which are themselves tiny compared to the security funded by the taxpayers, will be paid out by the royals to the tune of one or two million dollars.

Fair enough, but that money isn’t really “private” either. The only reason the royals have all that property and money at all is because their ancestors stole it from the taxpayers of yesteryear. Long-dead Brits and subjects of the empire of long ago, who ran factories or worked in coal mines, paid for all that, and they were taxed all their lives to…

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France and Italy get backing for changes to EU border rules

In Europe News on April 29, 2011 at 12:28 pm

By Honor Mahony

Several member states have indicated they are prepared to back attempts by France and Italy to make it easier for countries to re-instate border controls, following an influx of migrants from north Africa.

Germany, the Netherlands, Greece and Malta have all given their blessing to Paris and Rome’s call for adjustments to be made to the Schengen Agreement on passport-free travel within most of the EU, while underlining the importance of an “open Europe”.

“If you can improve the Schengen system then that is good and you should,” German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle said Wednesday, reports AFP. “But travel freedom in Europe is such an important achievement that it should not be up for renegotiation.”

In a parliamentary debate, Dutch Immigration Minister Gerd Leers said: “I will resist those who call for simply re-instating border controls, for that goes against an open Europe, but I welcome the debate on how to strengthen and improve the Schengen rules to combat illegal immigration, especially in these times of turmoil. “

Malta and Greece stressed the need for other member states to show ‘solidarity’ with southern rim EU countries. The tiny Mediterranean island of Malta is often a first port-of-call for migrants from Africa while Greece is struggling to…

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AFP: US released ‘high-risk’ Guantanamo detainees

In Americas on April 28, 2011 at 6:18 pm

By FOCUS News Agency

The United States released dozens of “high-risk” Guantanamo inmates and held over 150 innocent men for years, a fresh trove of classified military files released to select media groups showed,AFP learned.

The 779 documents, part of a massive cache of secret memos leaked to whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks last year, were made available to a select group of media organizations, including The New York Times, The Daily Telegraph, El Pais, Le Monde, Der Spiegel and La Repubblica.

They were said to reveal that most of the 172 prisoners who remain at the US naval base in southern Cuba — 130 of them — have been rated as posing a “high-risk’ threat to the United States and its allies if they are freed without being rehabilitated or supervised appropriately.

Even more of the George W. Bush-era “war on terror” suspects — about a third of the 600-some men who have already been transferred to third countries — were also branded “high-risk” before being released or handed to other governments, the Times noted.

In a troublesome revelation as the United States and its allies seek to back anti-government forces in Libya who are fighting to oust longtime strongman Moamer Kadhafi, the documents showed one of the rebels’ presumed trainers has closer ties to Al-Qaeda than previously…

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Rio World Cup demolitions leave favela families trapped in ghost town

In Americas on April 28, 2011 at 6:18 pm

By Tom Phillipe

Homes are being torn down and pests and squatters are taking over the rubble of Favela do Metrô, but hundreds of families remain with nowhere else to go.

From the roof of his home in the Favela do Metrô, Eomar Freitas enjoys one of the best views in town. Look south and you see the Christ the Redeemer statue towering over Rio’s mountains. To the north stands the green and pink headquarters of Mangueira, the city’s best-loved samba school.

And in between, one of the world’s top sporting venues, the blue and grey Maracanã stadium, which will host the final of the 2014 football World Cup.

“We worked hard to build this place,” said Freitas, 35 and unemployed, whose family moved to Rio from Brazil‘s impoverished north-east 20 years ago. They built a four-storey home where their wooden shack once stood. “It was a great place to live,” he said.

Not any more. Since February, nearly all of the buildings surrounding Freitas’s home have been levelled as part of work to revamp the city’s infrastructure before the World Cup and the…

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Dollar Loses More Ground

In Americas on April 28, 2011 at 6:17 pm

By Stephen L. Bernard

The beleaguered dollar extended its broad decline after U.S. economic data pointed to a dismal employment picture and slowing growth, bearing out the Federal Reserve’s reluctance to tighten monetary policy anytime soon.

The U.S. Dollar Index was lower for the day, but off the depths it reached overnight.

U.S. jobless claims unexpectedly jumped last week and the government reported the pace of economic growth in the country slowed sharply in the fourth quarter, further adding to the negative dollar sentiment permeating the market.

“There’s no fundamental justification to be long dollar right now,” said Paresh Upadhyaya, director of G10 FX Strategy at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch in New York.

In midday trade, the euro was at $1.4802 from $1.4794 late Wednesday. The dollar was at ¥81.55 from ¥82.04, while the euro was at ¥120.66 from ¥121.37. The U.K. pound bought $1.6637 from $1.6636, while the dollar traded at 0.8727 Swiss franc from 0.8738 franc.

The ICE U.S. Dollar Index, which touched its lowest levels since August 2008 earlier in the global session, was most recently at 73.253. It ended Wednesday at 73.519 and fell as low as…

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France questions fundamental European principles

In Europe News on April 26, 2011 at 2:30 pm

By Vadim Trukhachev

France seems to have questioned one of the fundmental EU principles – freedom of movement within the EU. The possibility of revising the Schengen agreement by French was on the agenda in connection with the influx of refugees from North Africa, particularly from Tunisia.

The discussion about a possible withdrawal of France from the Schengen area is the key point of the leader of the ultra-right “National Front” Marine Le Pen. However, until last weekend other politicians did not ask this question so radically. The situation has changed on April 17, when the French authorities did not allow a train from Italy into the country. The train was transporting hundreds of refugees going from Tunisia who received temporary documents from the Italians allowing them to freely move through the Schengen area. The situation boiled down to a scandal in the Franco-Italian relations.

Violation of the rules on freedom of movement on the territory of the European Union stated in the Schengen agreement is obvious. However, the EU leaders actually took the side of France, explaining that…

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