Khaama Press (KP) | Afghan News Agency » Europe http://www.khaama.com The largest news and information source in Afghanistan Sat, 20 Dec 2014 11:53:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 Three men arrested in Belgian hostage siege after police lockdown http://www.khaama.com/gunmen-storm-apartment-in-ghent-of-belgium-2504 http://www.khaama.com/gunmen-storm-apartment-in-ghent-of-belgium-2504#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 12:01:37 +0000 http://www.khaama.com/?p=42813 Read the full article...]]> MAIN-Belgium-seige-gunmenThree men were arrested by Belgian police after they allegedly stormed an apartment building and took a hostage in the city of Ghent on Monday.

But police say a hostage allegedly held by the men was released unharmed. 

The alleged motive remains unclear but Belgian authorities have been at pains to say it was “nothing political”. 

Federal police spokeswoman Annemie Serlippens said: “There appears to be nothing political.” 

“We are sure that it has nothing to do with terrorism. We think it might be drug related.”

She later added: “This isn’t the same sort of incident as events in Sydney.”

Four armed men had been reported entering the apartment block early on Monday in the working-class neighborhood, prompting police to set up a large security operation to keep bystanders away.

After several hours, at least two men left the building with their hands up. It was unclear how the third man came out or whether police were still looking for more suspects.

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Muhammad becomes the most popular name for boys in UK http://www.khaama.com/muhammad-becomes-the-most-popular-name-for-boys-in-uk-8819 http://www.khaama.com/muhammad-becomes-the-most-popular-name-for-boys-in-uk-8819#comments Mon, 01 Dec 2014 17:19:26 +0000 http://www.khaama.com/?p=42096 Read the full article...]]> Mohammad most popular name in UKA new research in United Kingdom has revealed that the name Muhammed has become the top boys’ name chosen by parents in Britain following a huge surge in popularity last year.

The annual data by United Kingdom’s top baby names website – BabyCentre shows the name Muhammad at the top of the list of the most used boys’ name in 2014.

According to the research by BabyCentre, the name has risen 27 places from last year to claim the number one spot for the boys.

This comes as Oliver was the number one name until the spellings of 3,499 Muhammads, 2,887 Mohammeds and 1,059 Mohammads were combined, giving a total of 7,445 babies.

However, the latest research puts Oliver in to second place, Jack in to third place while Sophia took top spot for girls.

The managing editor of BabyCentre Sarah Redshaw said traditionally Mohammed is often given to the first-born boy in Muslim families.

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European Parliament voted at Google break up http://www.khaama.com/european-parliament-voted-at-google-break-up-3456 http://www.khaama.com/european-parliament-voted-at-google-break-up-3456#comments Sat, 29 Nov 2014 05:54:23 +0000 http://www.khaama.com/?p=42003 Read the full article...]]> Google to be broken up in EuropeThe European Parliament members have voted that the Google should be broken up, as it favours its own services in search results, BBC reported.

US trade bodies and politicians have expressed their objection and disagreement at the vote.

Google has almost covered 90% of the market share for search in Europe and its rivals have asked Margarethe Vestager, the European Union commissioner who will take the final decision, to investigate the following four areas:

  • The manner in which Google displays its own vertical search services compared with other, competing products
  • How Google copies content from other websites – such as restaurant reviews – to include within its own services
  • The exclusivity Google has to sell advertising around the search terms people use
  • Restrictions on advertisers from moving their online ad campaigns to rival search engines

Many believes that the Commission may not order for the company break-up, as there has never been such an order before.

This comes as Google’s rivals had lodged an anti-competitive case in 2010.

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WikiLeaks founder arrested http://www.khaama.com/wikileaks-founder-arrested http://www.khaama.com/wikileaks-founder-arrested#comments Tue, 07 Dec 2010 10:43:52 +0000 http://www.khaama.com/?p=1243 Read the full article...]]> LONDON — Police say WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been arrested on a Swedish warrant.

Assange was arrested at 9:30 a.m. (0930 GMT) Tuesday and was due to appear at Westminster Magistrate’s Court later in the day.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

LONDON (AP) – WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is expected to surrender to British police Tuesday as part of a Swedish sex-crimes investigation – one of a host of international legal, financial, and security challenges closing in on the secret-spilling website.

Lawyer Mark Stephens has said that Assange, who has been hiding out at an undisclosed location in Britain since WikiLeaks’ began releasing hundreds of U.S. diplomatic cables to the Web last week, would soon meet with officers from London’s Scotland Yard.

The police force said Tuesday it wouldn’t comment until an arrest had been made.

The Internet-based organization’s room for maneuver is narrowing by the day. It’s been battered by web attacks, cut off by Internet service providers and been subjected to a barrage of muscular rhetoric out of the United States.

In the latest development, Swiss authorities closed Assange’s bank account, depriving him of a key fundraising tool. MasterCard has also pulled the plug on payments to the site, according to technology news website CNET. A European representative for the credit card company didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

The attacks appeared to have been at least partially successful in stanching the flow of secrets – WikiLeaks has not published any new cables to the Internet in more than 24 hours, although stories about them have continued to appear in the New York Times and The Guardian, two of the papers given advance access to all 250,000 documents.

WikiLeaks Twitter feed, generally packed with updates, appeals, and pithy comments, has been silent since Monday night, when the group warned that Assange’s arrest might be imminent.

The 39-year-old Australian’s legal troubles stem from allegations leveled against him by two women he met while in Sweden over the summer.

Assange is accused of rape and sexual molestation in one case and of sexual molestation and unlawful coercion in another.

Assange denies the allegations, which Stephens has said stem from a “dispute over consensual but unprotected sex.” Stephens said the two women involved made the allegations only after they became aware of each other’s relationships with Assange.

Although unrelated to WikiLeaks’ mass disclosures, which have infuriated U.S. officials, Assange and his lawyers have suggested that the prosecution is being manipulated for political reasons.

Assange’s arrest could happen within hours. Depending on whether Assange decides to fight the extradition attempt, as Stephens has said he was likely to, the process could drag on for weeks or months.

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Source: Washington Post

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Denmark will remain committed to Afghanistan http://www.khaama.com/denmark-will-remain-committed-to-afghanistan http://www.khaama.com/denmark-will-remain-committed-to-afghanistan#comments Thu, 02 Dec 2010 04:40:11 +0000 http://www.khaama.com/?p=1192 Read the full article...]]> “Denmark will remain committed to Afghanistan”: Minister for Foreign Affairs visits Helmand and Kabul.

Denmark’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Lene Espersen, has completed a two-day visit to Afghanistan. On the first day, Mrs. Lene Espersen visited the Helmand Province together with His Royal Highness Crown Prince Frederik and the Danish Minister of Defence, Mrs. Gitte Lillelund Bech. On the second day, Mrs. Espersen was in Kabul.

During her visit to Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Espersen emphasized that Afghanistan is a top Danish foreign policy priority. Afghanistan is one of the largest recipients of Danish development assistance. Mrs. Espersen stressed that Denmark will remain committed to Afghanistan in the years to come.

In Helmand, the Danish high-level delegation had the opportunity to speak with the Danish battle group and key military and civilian actors in Helmand. “The visit to Helmand was a welcome opportunity to discuss the security situation and the civilian and development efforts on the ground. In the years to come, we will gradually transition to Afghan security responsibility”, Mrs. Espersen said.

 

The Foreign Minister also held meetings with the provincial governor of Helmand, Mr. Gulab Mangal, and she visited the police training center in Helmand, which is supported financially by Denmark. Foreign Minister Espersen said: “Building a capable Afghan police force is a high priority. I will look at how Denmark can do more to help educate and train the Afghan police. Compared to when I visited Helmand in March 2010, I have also witnessed significant progress with regards to governance and development, which is encouraging.

In Kabul, the Foreign Minister had the opportunity to meet with General Petraeus, the ISAF commander in Afghanistan; Mark Sedwill, NATO’s senior civilian representative; and chairman of the High Peace Council Rabbani. The Foreign Minister said: “There is no doubt that the situation in Afghanistan is complex and that major challenges remain. It is important that we continue to look at how we best support the building of the Afghan capabilities – both military and civilians. It is the key to transition.”

Also in Kabul, the Foreign Minister attended a meeting with Afghan women from key civil society organizations, parliament, the High Peace Council and government. The event focused on political empowerment, the legal sector, and women’s role in achieving peace and security. The Foreign Minister underlined that “Denmark will continue the work to promote women being empowered and obtaining influence in the Afghan society. The role of women in peace and security in Afghanistan is critical to create a stable country. Denmark will continue to support Afghan women’s networks, civil society and human rights institutions“.

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Prince William and Kate: What Wedding Gift Should Our Country Give them? http://www.khaama.com/prince-william-and-kate-what-wedding-gift-should-our-country-give-them http://www.khaama.com/prince-william-and-kate-what-wedding-gift-should-our-country-give-them#comments Thu, 02 Dec 2010 04:02:37 +0000 http://www.khaama.com/?p=1181 Read the full article...]]> By: Moe Riyasat

The thought of a wedding gift won’t have crossed our minds if the media hadn’t turned the news into a feeding-frenzy.

The news had just broken: the royal engagement was announced. Prince William finally proposed to Kate Middleton, and what began as a slow day for the media, turned into feverish, bee-hive, activity. The media hounded us, pounded us, and then shifted the story into hyper-drive.  CNN told us, David Letterman told us, the tabloids told us, and even if we still didn’t hear, the village idiot would’ve told us. 

But don’t be distracted by media noise. The real tooth-and-claw action is in trying to get an invitation to the royal wedding: the hottest ticket in the world; and some people are going out of their way to snag it. Old boys’ networks are unearthed and dusted off, favours are called in, buttons pushed, and if all else fails, indecent proposals traded.   

      However, the elusive invitation is frustrating everyone, especially leaders of countries who’re hell-bent on getting it.  You’ll find Presidents, Prime Ministers, and imposters, worldwide, making burnt offerings at dawn, praying that their names are on the guest-list for the wedding, while their spouses are out-sprinting their ancient butlers to check the mailboxes daily, for the royal invitation. They’re all obsessed, becoming basket cases.

       While they’re busy on the lookout for the royal-sealed envelope, it’s in our best interest to help the leader of our country choose the perfect gift for the soon-to-wed couple. After all, we have a stake in it: the gift would represent us too, courtesy of our tax dollars.

       In helping our leader choose the perfect gift for Prince William and Kate, we’ll need to brainstorm and ask a few probing questions, similar to these:

Does size matter?

      We know that the British monarchy has been in existence for centuries. This means that they have thousands upon thousands of paintings, sculptures, handicrafts and keepsakes, gathering dust; and nothing is ever thrown out. As a result of the hoarding problem, there’s a shortage of real estate in the castle and only a couple of bedrooms remain free of stuff. 

So since space is critical, size matters.  

Is it made in China?

      These days, just about everything is made in China. It goes without saying that if we give something “Made in China” to the couple, then it becomes a Chinese gift. A Chinese leader could always show up at the wedding empty-handed, and claimed that it came from him. Could we say otherwise?

The moral of the story: before selecting an item as a present, check where it’s made.

Can it be duplicated? 

       Imagine going to a party and another person wears the same outfit you have on. Think of the emotional shock. Likewise, suppose another leader takes a similar gift as ours, to the royal wedding? The result: our gift won’t stand out and won’t be remembered.

       So the rule of thumb becomes: if it can be duplicated, ditch it, let it go, get rid of it. No hoarding allowed here.  

How expensive should it be?

       The Prim & Proper Advice Column reminded us that at a wedding, it’s polite to give a gift worth more than the cost of a plate of food served at the wedding.

      We can easily get the cost of a plate of food from a simple question: what is the cost of two sprigs of asparagus fencing-in a scrawny chicken leg and resting on an oversized Royal Doulton dinner plate?

      Using that cost as the bare minimum amount to spend, and the maximum amount being our national budget, we could go as expensive as needed, as long as it doesn’t cause taxes to rise or cause a peasants’ revolt.

Is it creative?

       A set of tall beer glasses bought at the dollar store, as the gift, may not identify who we’re as a nation, even if the tall glasses are frosted and dimpled. 

      Our gift should be creative, unique, representing the psyche of the country and coming from deep within our culture.  We could look for guidance from our artisans, sculptors, painters, etc.

                                             

And, will it wow the royal couple?

       An oil painting of two chimpanzees scratching their lower body parts, and grinning, may not impress the royal couple, regardless of the price of the frame. It may even rile up the Royal ancestors.

       In wowing Prince William and Kate, our gift should be something unexpected, something  desirable, and something to be treasured.

In closing:

      After we’ve brainstormed, probed, and thought of the perfect gift, it’ll be in our best interest  to suggest it to our leader in time for the wedding. Hopefully, they will listen to us (as was their election promise), and give a gift that will personalize the nation and do us all proud. Equally important, the gift should make Price William and Kate ecstatic and their families thrilled.

 Best wishes on your choice of a gift.

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Virat Kohli inspires India to victory over New Zealand http://www.khaama.com/virat-kohli-inspires-india-to-victory-over-new-zealand http://www.khaama.com/virat-kohli-inspires-india-to-victory-over-new-zealand#comments Wed, 01 Dec 2010 04:08:38 +0000 http://www.khaama.com/?p=1175 Read the full article...]]> Virat Kohli struck his third limited overs century as India secured a 40-run victory over New Zealand in the first one-day international in Guwahati.

Kohli scored 105 in 104 balls, ably assisted by Yuvraj Singh (42), as India were dismissed for 276, with Andy McKay taking 4-62 for the tourists.

New Zealand’s innings began slowly but Ross Taylor injected impetus with 66.

But his team-mates could not provide sufficient support as India took a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.

India’s victory margin would have been wider had Nathan McCullum (35) and Kyle Mills (32) not staged an ninth-wicket rally.

Mills joined McCullum at the wicket with the score at 169-8 as the pair mounted an entertaining 71-run ninth-wicket stand before both men were dismissed in successive deliveries in the 46th over as India wrapped up victory.

The hosts, led by stand-in skipper Gautam Gambhir, gave wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha, in for the rested Mahendra Singh Dhoni, his one-day debut, as they were put into bat by New Zealand, temporarily captained by Taylor.

Gambhir (38) and Murali Vijay (29) wasted good starts but Kohli, batting at three, took control of the middle orders to notch his second successive one-day century following on from his 118 against Australia at Visakhapatnam last month.

“It feels good. I had a kind of a lean patch in Sri Lanka recently, the team-mates and coach backed me. I would like to thank them,” said the 22-year-old.

“I try to probably stop myself if I feel like playing a big shot and enjoy the singles.”

Kohli was eventually dismissed when he spooned a catch to Jamie How in the covers off a slower Mills delivery, one of three wickets for the seamer.

And the hosts lost their next five wickets for just 26 runs as McKay wrapped up the tail.

New Zealand’s progress was regularly checked by the regular fall of wickets, with only Taylor able to contribute a significant innings, smashing three sixes and three fours, before he was caught off Yuvraj in the 34th over.

McCullum and Mills briefly provided late lusty blows to reduce the margin of defeat as India cruised to victory.

The second one-day international takes place in Jaipur on 1 December.

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Source: BBC News

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UK and France agree to joint nuclear testing treaty http://www.khaama.com/uk-and-france-agree-to-joint-nuclear-testing-treaty http://www.khaama.com/uk-and-france-agree-to-joint-nuclear-testing-treaty#comments Tue, 02 Nov 2010 04:40:57 +0000 http://www.khaama.com/?p=477 Read the full article...]]> (BBC) – The UK and France are to sign treaties agreeing to military cooperation including testing of nuclear warheads.

The plans will see one centre set up in the UK to develop technology and another in France to carry out testing.

Prime Minister David Cameron and President Nicolas Sarkozy will also outline plans, at a London summit, for a joint army expeditionary force.

Downing Street called the measures “practical”, but Labour said they left “big questions” over the UK’s defences.

A Downing Street spokesman said: “This summit marks a deepening of the UK-France bilateral relationship. Ours is now a strategic partnership tackling together the biggest challenges facing our two countries.”

The summit comes two weeks after the UK government announced cuts to its armed forces, in the first strategic defence review since 1998, as part of savings aimed at reducing the country’s budget deficit.

Under the plans £750m will be saved over four years on the Trident nuclear missile system by cutting the number of warheads.

Harrier jump jets, the Navy’s flagship HMS Ark Royal and planned Nimrod spy planes will also be axed, but two new aircraft carriers were spared.

Mr Cameron and Mr Sarkozy are to sign two treaties – one on greater general military co-operation and the other on nuclear weapons.

Speaking about greater military co-operation, Defence Secretary Liam Fox said there had been a “great deal of hysteria” in the media about the idea of British troops coming under French command.

He said: “Under the existing Nato system our troops could come under Turkish or Polish command. There’s nothing new about that.

“This does not affect our special relationship with the United States. It gives us economies of scale and helps us to welcome France back fully into Nato.”

Asked whether there might be a situation in the future, during a political crisis in which Britain and France did “not see eye to eye”, when British planes were dependent on a French aircraft carrier, he said: “That’s very unlikely to happen.”

“This is not about interdependence. It’s about interoperability,” he added.

Operational veto

The nuclear treaty will establish a centre in the UK to develop technology and another one in France to carry out the testing.

It is understood that each country will still control its own warheads, and that nuclear secrets will not be shared.

The other treaty will allow the setting up of a “combined joint expeditionary force”, thought to involve a brigade of about 5,000 soldiers from each side.

Each country will retain a veto for each operation, which will operate under one military commander to be chosen at the time.

The UK and France have also agreed to keep at least one aircraft carrier at sea between them at any one time.

Each will be able to use the other’s carrier in some form, certainly for training and possibly operations.

Meanwhile, France is to use British A400M fuelling aircraft when there is spare capacity, with plans in place for common maintenance and training.

‘Deepening ties’

Joint work on drones, mine counter-measures and satellite communications is also proposed.

In a statement, the French presidency said the test centre in Valduc, eastern France, would start operations in 2014.

The Valduc laboratory would work with a French-British research centre based in Aldermaston, Berkshire, it added.

Together the facilities would involve “several dozen” French and British experts and cost both countries several million euros.

It said scientists from both countries would be able to ensure the “viability, safety and security in the long term of our nuclear arsenals”.

Mr Cameron told MPs on Monday: “I do seriously believe that this link-up with the French over defence is in the long term interests of both our countries.

“And to those who worry that this might in some way lead to… European armies, that is not the point. The point is to enhance sovereign capability by two like-minded countries being able to work together.”

The UK’s shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy said: “I support the government’s emphasis on international co-operation, taking forward the good work of the last government.

“We share common threats with countries such as France, from terrorism to privacy to cyber-attack. Deepening military ties is an essential part of modern defence policy.

“Interdependence, however, is different from dependence, and binding legal treaties pose some big questions for the government.”

Mr Murphy also questioned whether the the UK was entering “an era where we are reliant on our allies to fill in the gaps in the government’s defence policy”.

Michael Clarke, director of the Royal United Services Institute think tank, said Anglo-French military initiatives dated back to Dunkirk and he said: “Both (countries) have got similar problems. They have both got similar interests… and the fact is that if both powers are determined to play a role in the world with military force they are going to find ways of pooling their relatively common force structures if they are going to have some effect.”

Asked about hypothetical scenarios where France and Britain disagreed politically, Professor Clarke said: “You can’t rule them out but they are not the most likely outcome. Most things that happen in the world at the moment – in Afghanistan, in southern Europe, in relation to instabilities in eastern Europe – are things that the British and French do share common interests on.”

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Source: BBC

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Istanbul blast injures at least 22, may be suicide bomb http://www.khaama.com/istanbul-blast-injures-at-least-15-may-be-suicide-bomb http://www.khaama.com/istanbul-blast-injures-at-least-15-may-be-suicide-bomb#comments Sun, 31 Oct 2010 10:46:00 +0000 http://www.khaama.com/?p=392 Read the full article...]]> (BBC) – The blast occurred near the independence monument in Taksim Square

Police say 22 people have been injured in what appears to have been a suicide bomb attack in the centre of Istanbul.

Television pictures from Taksim Square showed body parts lying on the ground.

No group has said it carried out the attack, but a two-month-old ceasefire by Kurdish rebels was due to expire later on Sunday, says the BBC’s Jonathan Head in Istanbul.

Riot police stationed in the square may have been the target, a police spokesman said.

Nine police officers have been injured, some very seriously, he added. Six civilians were also hurt.

A large explosion was heard throughout central Istanbul just after 0900 GMT.

Past attacks

The explosion took place right next to the independence monument on Taksim Square, which is always crowded with people, our correspondent says.

There are usually squads of riot police posted at this part of the square, as it is often the site of demonstrations.

A police spokesman has said he believes they were the target of the explosion, which he said may have been caused by a suicide bomber.

Eyewitness Aris Virkas told the BBC that he was walking through Taksim Square when he heard the blast.

“I turned around and saw policemen with blood on their face and someone lying on the ground,” he said. “People, including police, were running around in panic.

“There was a big bus with maybe 20 police officers: they ran out of the bus, trying to find out what’s going on.

“After a couple of minutes, they started asking people to step back. I think I think I heard a few gunshots afterwards, but I can’t be certain it wasn’t something else.”

Our correspondent says suspicion is likely to fall on Kurdish separatist factions, or groups linked to al-Qaeda.

The Kurdish separatist PKK party has carried out bomb attacks in Istanbul in the past, as have extreme left-wing and Islamist groups.

Our correspondent says al-Qaeda-linked groups are small but active in Turkey, and police make frequent arrests.

A group with ties to al-Qaeda carried out the bombing of the British consulate in Istanbul in 2003 in which 28 people died.

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Source: BBC

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UK MPs question Google over Street View data breaches http://www.khaama.com/uk-mps-question-google-over-street-view-data-breaches http://www.khaama.com/uk-mps-question-google-over-street-view-data-breaches#comments Sat, 30 Oct 2010 06:42:13 +0000 http://www.khaama.com/?p=346 Read the full article...]]> (BBC) – MPs have accused Google of deliberately collecting wi-fi data for commercial gain.
It is another twist to events kicked off by the search giant collecting of millions of pieces of sensitive information via its Street View cars.
Discovery of the data triggered investigations around the globe.
Google has always maintained that the data was collected in error because of code being mistakenly included in the Street View software.
The code was created by a Google engineer as part of a wider project to map wi-fi hotspots but should never have found its way into Street View cars, the search giant said.
 
Google’s head of PR told the BBC’s Today programme this week that there was code incorporated into Street View which was intended to map wi-fi hotspots in order to improve Google’s location-based services.
But it was never the intention that any part of it would also suck up personal and sensitive information relating to unsecured wireless networks, he said.
“This data has never been used in any Google product, was never intended to be used by Google and will never be used,” he said.
He added that Google had now stopped collecting any wi-fi data, had “isolated” the personal data and wanted to delete it as soon as investigations by information commissions around the world had concluded.
During a two-hour parliamentary debate on privacy, MPs questioned Google’s version of events.
Conservative MP Robert Halfon questioned Google’s insistence that the details were sucked up by Street View cars as a result of code being accidentally included in the software.
“I find it hard to believe that a company with the creative genius and originality of Google could map the personal wi-fi details, computer passwords and e-mail addresses of millions of people across the world and not know what it was doing,” he said.
“My own feeling is that this data was of use to Google for commercial purposes and that is why it was done.
The question is whether the company underestimated the reaction of the public, and many governments around the world, once it had been revealed what it had done.”
Google said that the allegations were “completely untrue”.
Graham Cluley, a senior consultant at security firm Sophos, told the BBC that he found it “surprising” that Google staff did not realise that the Street View cars were storing more than just the location of wi-fi hotspots.
“If you were competent then it would be surprising that you wouldn’t know that you were storing far more than you actually needed,” he said.
Refuge pictures
During the two-hour parliamentary debate, there was wider criticism of the Street View service, which offers detailed maps of the country on a street-by-street basis.
Conservative MP Mark Lancaster cited a women’s refuge in his constituency which had asked to be removed from Street View.
“Imagine their great concern when on entering the name of the organisation on Google, a picture of the building the refugees use and also their addresses appear on the search engine,” he said.
He said that requests to Google to remove the refuge from the map had received no response.
“I find it staggering that such an invasion of privacy on an organisation whose purpose is to protect others is allowed to occur,” he said.
Google told the BBC that it was unaware of this particular case.
“Anyone can request an image for removal using our simple ‘report a problem’ tool in Street View. When they do we remove the image quickly,” said a Google spokeswoman.
No investigation
In June Privacy International made a complaint to the UK Metropolitan police, saying the data collection put Google in breach of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa).
Broadband minister Ed Vaizey revealed during the debate that the police had “decided that it would not be appropriate” to launch a criminal investigation in the matter.
But he said that he planned to meet with Google to discuss the data breaches.
MPs also criticised the way the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) had handled the matter, describing it as “lily-livered”.
In July, the ICO said that Google did not harvest “significant” personal details when the data was collected.
But as more details have emerged about the nature of the data it is reassessing its position.
“Earlier this year the ICO visited Google’s premises to make a preliminary assessment of the ‘pay-load’ data it inadvertently collected.
Whilst the information we saw at the time did not include meaningful personal details, we have continued to liaise with, and await the findings of, the investigations carried out by our international counterparts,” it said in a statement.
“Now that these findings are starting to emerge, we understand that Google has accepted that in some instances entire URLs and e-mail and passwords have been captured,” it added.
In the light of this the ICO said it was “deciding on the necessary course of action, including a consideration of the need to use our enforcement powers”.
Investigations conducted by the Canadian information commissioner revealed that Google had collected some highly sensitive information including complete e-mails, lists of names of people suffering from a certain medical conditions, telephone numbers and addresses.
Its findings go against Google’s initial assertion that all the information collected was “fragmentary”.
The Canadian investigation found that Google was in breach of privacy laws but said no further action would be taken if Google tightened up its internal privacy policies.
Medical conditions
The US Federal Trade Commission ended its investigation yesterday, welcoming changes Google has recently announced to its internal processes.
On Friday Google revealed that it would be creating a director of privacy and offering more training and better procedures regarding privacy.
“Every engineering project leader will be required to maintain a privacy design document for each initiative they are working on,” Google said in a statement.
But it still faces on-going investigation in the US, with a lawsuit looming and a large scale enquiry backed by 38 states demanding detailed explanations about the process which led to so much personal data being stored by Google.
It has pressed Google to name the engineer responsible and to explain in full how the code he designed came to be incorporated in Street View.
Google has never publicly named the engineer.

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Source: BBC

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Russian anti-drugs chief applauds Afghan heroin haul http://www.khaama.com/russian-anti-drugs-chief-applauds-afghan-heroin-haul http://www.khaama.com/russian-anti-drugs-chief-applauds-afghan-heroin-haul#comments Sat, 30 Oct 2010 05:48:38 +0000 http://www.khaama.com/?p=341 Read the full article...]]> Moscow, Russia (CNN) — Russia’s joint operation with the United States to destroy Afghan drugs laboratories marks the first time it has deployed security forces in the region since the Soviet military withdrew in 1989, Russia’s anti-narcotics chief said Friday.

The operation in Nangarhar Province, eastern Afghanistan on Thursday was jointly conducted by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the Department of Defense, NATO, the Afghan Ministry of Interior and the Russian drug control agency.

It involved raids on four laboratories associated with a significant dugs trafficker in the province. Approximately one metric ton of heroin worth $250 million was seized, along with a smaller quantity of opium and items used in drug production, U.S. authorities said.

“This is the first operation in Afghanistan in which Russian drug police officers took part,” said Victor Ivanov, head of Russia’s federal drug control agency.

But he stressed they were not in Afghanistan as a military unit, but part of an agreement between Moscow, the Afghan government and the U.S. DEA to share information about the flow of drugs into Russia via its vast southern borders with Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

“For the first time our officials handed over information about the location of drug laboratories, which was confirmed by the Afghan Interior Ministry and the U.S. DEA,” he told CNN.

Planning for the operation took three months, during which time coordinates, names, locations, and other valuable data was established, he added.

According to officials, 70 people were involved in the raid close to the Pakistan border, with helicopter gunships and Afghan police providing air and ground cover.

“It was a huge success which became possible as a result of our joint well-coordinated work,” as well as a result of the “resetting” of Russian-U.S. relations,” he told reporters at a news conference in Moscow, in quotes carried by Russia’s Interfax.

Ivanov was referring to the Medvedev-Obama commission, a working group set up in 2009 by the leaders of the U.S. and Russia to improve communication and cooperation between the two former foes.

Russia, estimated by the United Nations to have between one-and-half and six million heroin addicts, has long targeted the poppy fields of Afghanistan as the source of the problem, calling on the U.S. and its NATO allies to do more to eradicate the opium trade.

However the strategy of destroying the poppy fields of southern Afghanistan, which yield much of the heroin flooding out of the country, is viewed as counterproductive by the U.S.-led coalition because it drives farmers into the hands of the Taliban.

The [Afghan] farmers are the hostages of the situation. They are forced to work like slaves in order to survive.
–Victor Ivanov

Ivanov disputes this, pointing out how successful the campaign has been to eradicate the crops used to produce cocaine in Colombia, one of the world’s biggest producers.

“The [Afghan] farmers are the hostages of the situation,” he told CNN. “They are forced to work like slaves in order to survive. They are working on the plantations they do not own. If they were presented with the alternatives, they would accept them.”

With vast quantities of heroin and opium flowing into Russia, Ivanov stressed Moscow was keen to cooperate further with NATO-led forces in Afghanistan.

“We are interested in further cooperation in destroying drug laboratories,” he told reporters, in quotes carried by Interfax.

“According to our sources, in Badakhshan alone, there are more than 400 drug laboratories and a large number are located in Helmand. The number of laboratories is huge, as we see.”

But any future could be contingent on Russia helping NATO with its training activities and transit roots into Afghanistan, an issue Ivanov says makes many Russians uneasy.

“I get around 100,000 letters every year from citizens asking questions about drug trafficking and drug production,” he told CNN. “A lot of people have started to ask if Russia is doing the right thing in allowing NATO to use its corridors to Afghanistan, considering it presents a bigger and bigger threat to Russian society.”

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Source: CNN Blog

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Students aim to bolster French protests http://www.khaama.com/students-aim-to-bolster-french-protests http://www.khaama.com/students-aim-to-bolster-french-protests#comments Tue, 26 Oct 2010 05:26:29 +0000 http://www.khaama.com/?p=234 Read the full article...]]> (BBC) – French students will stage protests on Tuesday to try to bolster opposition to the government’s pension reforms amid some signs of cracks in the movement.

The numbers could be a litmus test, correspondents say, after three of 12 national oil refineries voted to end their action and a rubbish collectors’ strike in Marseille was suspended.

The row comes to a head this week.

Parliament is expected to hold a final vote on Wednesday, while a nationwide strike has been called for Thursday.

The vote in parliament is expected to bring into law an increase in the minimum retirement age from 60 to 62.

The BBC’s Christian Fraser in Paris says the students are supposed to be on half-term break but instead are planning a series of marches around the country in opposition to the plan to increase the minimum retirement age.

President Nicolas Sarkozy will be hoping the vote – and the 10-day school holiday – will take the sting out of the protest.

But our correspondent says the students will be out to prove him wrong and how many come out will be the litmus test of where this protest is heading.

On Monday, all of France’s 200 fuel supply depots were cleared of strikers.

And unions said that rubbish collectors in the southern port of Marseille would end their high-profile two-week strike on Tuesday.

However, our correspondent says that seven French refineries are still closed, buffer stocks of petrol and diesel are almost exhausted and unless refineries reopen, France could face an even more serious fuel crisis by the end of the week.

‘French exception’

The government has warned that the disruption is threatening the country’s fragile economic recovery.

Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said on Monday that the strikes were costing France up to 400m euros (£350m; $560m) a day.

The president says the reform is an “inevitable” measure in the face of France’s rapidly ageing population and growing budget deficit.

His defence of the deeply unpopular reforms has seen his approval ratings plummet to a record low of 29%, according to a poll published last Sunday.

However, the vote in parliament is almost certain to pass.

An MP from Mr Sarkozy’s party, Pierre Mehaignerie, said: “We must be aware that in a world without borders we can’t have a French exception… that exists nowhere else.”

But millions of people have come out on to the streets in a series of protests over the past few weeks and French trade unions have called another nationwide strike on Thursday.

That will be followed by yet another on 6 November, the unions say, unless Mr Sarkozy withdraws the pension law or opens negotiations.

Are you striking? Send us your comments and experiences using the postform below:

At no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws. In most cases a selection of your comments will be published, displaying your name as you provide it and location unless you state otherwise. But your contact details will never be published

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Source: BBC

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In Russia, it’s an honor to be a deported spy http://www.khaama.com/in-russia-its-an-honor-to-be-a-deported-spy http://www.khaama.com/in-russia-its-an-honor-to-be-a-deported-spy#comments Mon, 18 Oct 2010 13:12:46 +0000 http://www.khushnood.org/?p=46 Read the full article...]]> (CNN) — Nearly four months after a Russian spy ring in the U.S. was unmasked and the spies deported, Russia’s president awarded the spies top state honors.

The ceremony took place Monday in the Kremlin, according to a statement from Kremlin spokeswoman Natalya Timakova. The awards were given to employees of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), she said, “including the intelligence officers who were working in the United States and returned to Russia in July.”

The event was reported in the Russian media but video and pictures were not shown.

Shortly after news of the spy scandal broke President Dmitry Medvedev, trying to downplay repercussions, said any attempt to destroy warming relations with the U.S. would fail.

In August, however, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, himself a former intelligence agent in Germany during the Cold War, boasted that he met with the spies after their return to Moscow and sang “patriotic songs” with them. He also criticized U.S. authorities for “going out of control” in dealing with the affair.

Eleven intelligence personnel, living and working in the U.S. as “sleeper” agents, were arrested and later allowed to return to Moscow as part of a spy swap. A twelfth was arrested in Cyprus and escaped.

Perhaps the most famous member of the group, 28-year-old year old Anna Chapman, has been relentlessly covered by international media and portrayed as a glamorous spook.

Now, according to the Russian media, she is a consultant to a Russian investment bank and was most recently spotted October 7 at the Baikonur space station working on space exploration projects. Russian media report she also is writing a book on “new internet resources.”

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