June 30, 2005

News for June 30, 2005

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Al-Jazeera kills Arizona border reports (June 30, 2005) - The Arab television network Al-Jazeera pulled the plug Monday on a series of news reports about the Arizona-Mexico border amid criticism that the information could help terrorists slip into the United States. Al-Jazeera planned to launch the series this week with coverage of a Phoenix rally by the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, a volunteer civilian border-watch group that has attracted international media attention. “I wanted to cover the story from the human point of view,” said Nasreddine Hssaini, the Washington, D.C.-based Al-Jazeera reporter behind the series. “I wanted to go to Tombstone and Sasabe. I wanted to tell the story of democracy in action.” The network canceled the project, Hssaini said, after Minuteman organizer Chris Simcox refused to cooperate and then notified the Border Patrol and members of the state’s congressional delegation about Al-Jazeera’s plans. more...


Human-tracking Goes Mainstream Link Lost (June 30, 2005) - Martha Stewart wears an ankle bracelet. Sprint announces a new “Business Mobility Framework” for employers to track employees. School officials in Sutter, California, order students to hang RFID tags around their necks; parents object and the principal backs down. Already, school children in Osaka, Japan, are required to wear similar tags tucked in their belongings. The government of Mexico tracks court officials with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags implanted in their shoulders. Finland changes national laws to allow cell phone tracking of children. A woman in Kenosha, Wisconsin, discovers her estranged husband has hidden a GPS tracker in her car. All are current news items. Once viewed as a futuristic nightmare, human-tracking is now affordable and available without restriction. For $200 plus a monthly service fee of $20, anyone can purchase an electronic device that puts George Orwell’s 1984 surveillance technology to shame. They’re marketed as “kid-tracking” devices, though some ads also mention pets and senior citizens. In vivid shades of doublespeak, one company offers service plans named “Liberty, Independence, and Freedom,” but surveillance and control are their purpose. more...


India, U.S. sign landmark defense pact (June 30, 2005) - India and the United States signed a 10-year defense pact agreement that a statement said takes the relationship to “unprecedented levels of cooperation.” Tuesday’s deal signed by Indian Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee and U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will help facilitate joint weapons production, cooperation on missile defense and the transfer of technology. “The United States and India have entered a new era,” the two sides said in a statement. “We are transforming our relationship to reflect our common principles and shared national interests.” The deal comes amid warming ties between the two countries and a visit to Washington next month by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.


Sharon: Government Must Take ‘Every Measure’ To End Extremists’ Acts (June 30, 2005) - “The battle now is not over the disengagement plan, but over the image and future of Israel, and under no circumstances can we allow a lawless gang to try to take control of life in Israel,” he said. “The country’s citizens must understand this danger, and every measure must be taken to end this rampaging.” Sharon’s remarks came at the end of a day in which disengagement opponents throughout the country clashed with both the security forces and Palestinians. The events included an attempted lynching of a 16-year-old Palestinian by right-wing extremists in Gaza; clashes with soldiers who came to evacuate the extremists’ Tal Yam stronghold on the Mawasi coast, near the Gush Katif settlement bloc; and demonstrations that blocked 10 major roads throughout the country. more...


Egypt, Israel to sign landmark gas deal (June 30, 2005) - Egypt and Israel are due to sign a much-delayed deal for Egypt to supply natural gas to the Jewish state, hailed as major step in strengthening sometimes icy ties between the two neighbors. more...


Israeli commandos storm Gaza hotel (June 30, 2005) - Israeli police commandos stormed a hotel in a Gaza settlement on Thursday to eject radical Jews from a bastion of resistance to Israel's planned pullout from the occupied territory, witnesses said. more...


Student gets F grade for mentioning God (June 30, 2005) - A college in southern California is now investigating the case of a student who says she was given an F for mentioning “God” against the expressed wishes of her atheist instructor. Bethany Hauf, a freshman at Victor Valley Community College near San Bernadino, wrote the G-word 41 times in a paper titled “In God We Trust,” examining the role of religion in government. She included “God” despite being told not to by adjunct English instructor Michael Shefchik. “He said it would offend others in class,” Hauf, 34, told the Daily Press. “I didn’t realize God was taboo.” more...