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  • Pilots of private aircraft face tough new restrictions on flying over much of southeast England from midnight as security measures are stepped up for the Olympic Games. They will be banned completely from some parts of central London, and will need to liaise with the Royal Air Force (RAF) if they want to fly in controlled airspace, with military air traffic controllers watching their movements. Group Captain Rich Jacob told Sky News: "We need to understand what is flying in the airspace above London. "Therefore the pilots are going to be required to pass details of their flights in advance, have that flight approved, and then once they're airborne they need to remain in contact with air traffic control throughout their flight in the restricted airspace." Failure to comply could result in RAF Typhoon jets or military helicopters being sent up to intercept them and guide them back on course. Unidentified aircraft which do not respond could be shot down as a last resort. "Every effort will be made to identify that aircraft and every opportunity will be given to the pilot to regain his planned route," Capt Jacob said. "If that didn't happen, we already ensure the security of UK airspace 24/7 throughout the year, and what we would do then is build on existing measures to take further action if necessary." The draconian rules have been introduced to cope with both the potential security threat to Olympic sites and to help maintain some control at a busy time for air traffic controllers. Paul Haskins, the London general manager of the National Air Traffic Services, said: "London's airspace is one of the most complex and busy in the world. We handle about 3,500 flights a day just through London alone.
  • The BBC is facing criticism after it accidentally used a picture taken in Iraq in 2003 to illustrate the senseless massacre of children in Syria. Photographer Marco di Lauro said he nearly “fell off his chair” when he saw the image being used, and said he was “astonished” at the failure of the corporation to check their sources. The picture, which was actually taken on March 27, 2003, shows a young Iraqi child jumping over dozens of white body bags containing skeletons found in a desert south of Baghdad. It was posted on the BBC news website today under the heading “Syria massacre in Houla condemned as outrage grows”. The caption states the photograph was provided by an activist and cannot be independently verified, but says it is “believed to show the bodies of children in Houla awaiting burial”. A BBC spokesman said the image has now been taken down.
  • It's been working its way through Congress for years, but according to Car and Driver, an event recorder mandate could soon become law. The Senate has already voted to adopt a transportation bill that would make the so-called "black boxes" mandatory by the 2015 model year. According to the report, the House of Representatives is also expected to pass a similar statute. While the specifics of the bills are "vague" – to use C/D's words – they're also likely to change before becoming law. What probably won't, according to the report, is the standard data set that the Department of Transportation has set forth, 15 measurements that include direction of acceleration, throttle position, and time that the airbags fired, among others. This raises the specter of government snooping, of course. The Senate version at least specifies that the data contained in the little electronic box is actually owned by the owner of the vehicle, according to the report. Johnny Law can still come around with a warrant to gain access to it, however, and first responders and paramedics would be able to do so without the warrant, provided they needed the information to respond to the emergency.
  • Former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi had agreed to fund French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign – to the tune of 50 million euro, a new report says. The Paris-based investigative website Mediapart published “documentary evidence” that Gaddafi was ready to stump up tens of millions of dollars to help Sarkozy win the French presidential race. Mediapart claimed Saturday that the 2006 document was provided by "former senior [Libyan] officials, who are now in hiding." They further claim the document came “from the archives of the secret service,” and was signed by Gaddafi’s former intelligence chief and later foreign minister, Moussa Koussa. In it, Koussa noted “an agreement in principle to support the campaign for the candidate for presidential election, Nicolas Sarkozy, for a sum equivalent to 50 million euro." Sarkozy attempted to deflect the allegations when confronted by a TF1 presenter, saying, "If [Gaddafi] had financed it, I wasn't very grateful." Sarkozy’s sarcastic comeback was in reference to France’s lead role in the NATO campaign that led to Gaddafi’s brutal demise. 'It's obviously an attempt to draw away attention after Dominique Strauss-Kahn is back on stage,' Nicolas Sarkozy told the French media. On Friday the former IMF-chief, who was once tipped to win France's presidential vote, but dropped out of the race after a sex scandal, claimed Sarkozy and other political rivals orchestrated his downfall. 'This only plays into Socialists' hands as they don't want to be reminded that they were going to make him the next French president,' Sarkozy added. It’s not the first time the French president denies allegations his 2007 campaign was sponsored by Tripoli. In March 2012 Sarkozy also rejected claims he took €50 million from Muammar Gaddafi. The scandal with alleged finance from Libya dates back to March 2011 when Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam demanded that Sarkozy return the money his family had given for the 2007 campaign: “He's disappointed us. We have all the bank details and documents for the transfer operations and we will make everything public soon," – threatened Saif al-Islam in a TV interview during the NATO-backed military campaign in Libya.
  • Spain is suspending visa-free travel arrangements envisaged by the Schengen Treaty during the summit of the European Central Bank (ECB), opening in Barcelona May 3, and has temporarily re-established border controls with France for a week. Immigration controls will be stepped up at several border crossings, including at Barcelona and Girona airports. The Schengen agreement has been suspended in the past for royal weddings, important sports events and international summits. Echo Moskvy
  • In Henan Province, in central China, millions of people have been tuning in every week to watch an extraordinary talk show called Interviews Before Execution, in which a reporter interviews murderers condemned to death. The show ran for just over five years, until it was taken off air on Friday. Every Monday morning, reporter Ding Yu and her team scoured court reports to find cases to cover on their programme. They had to move quickly, as prisoners in China can be executed seven days after they are sentenced. To Western eyes the show's format may seem exploitative, but Ding disagrees. "Some viewers may consider it cruel to ask a criminal to do an interview when they are about to be executed. "On the contrary, they want to be heard," she says. "Some criminals I interviewed told me: 'I'm really very glad. I said so many things in my heart to you at this time. In prison, there was never a person I was willing to talk to about past events.
  • "The troops of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday stormed the stronghold of the Syrian opposition -- the city of Homs, told the Arabic television station Al Arabiya . During the operation, they detained the French military. Meanwhile, in Homs for the first time since the beginning of military operations visited Russian journalists who were able to verify: tired of the protracted conflict with the opposition, the authorities do not stand on ceremony -- the artillery continually shelled by the rebels occupied neighborhoods." "Capture of the French military nor Damascus, nor Paris has not yet commented. According to local media during the interrogation the French said they were captured by the opposition. But no specific purpose of their stay in Syria, they did not say."
  • (Reuters) - A student gunman opened fire with a handgun in the cafeteria of a high school east of Cleveland on Monday, injuring five students before he was chased from the building by a teacher and gave himself up, law enforcement officials said. Chardon High School was immediately put on lockdown, according to Scott Wilson, spokesman for the regional office of the FBI, which sent a SWAT team to the school. The Ohio shooting is the worst at a U.S. high school in 11 months and the worst in Ohio since late 2007, according to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. The five injured students -- four boys and one girl -- were taken to area hospitals, according to officials from the Geauga County Sheriff's Department. Three were flown to the trauma center at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland. Two others were at Hillcrest Hospital in Mayfield Heights, a suburb of Cleveland. A spokeswoman for Hillcrest Hospital said on CNN that one of the students taken there was in serious condition and the other was stable. Emergency vehicles rushed to the scene, where students streamed from the building to meet parents. The entire school district was closed for the day. "All of our high school students are now safe," Joseph Bergant, superintendent of Chardon schools said on local television, which was relayed by CNN. Chardon is about 35 miles east of Cleveland. "The alleged person who did the damage is in custody," Bergant said.
  • The Turkish Foreign Ministry denied on Sunday a report that claimed dozens of Turkish intelligence officers have been captured in neighboring Syria. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Selçuk Ãœnal told Today's Zaman that similar allegations surfaced earlier as well, adding that they did not reflect the truth. Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported this weekend that more than 40 Turkish intelligence officers have been captured by the Syrian army and that Turkey has been conducting intensive negotiations with Syria in order to secure the intelligence officers' release. Syria, on the other hand, says the Turks' release is conditioned on the extradition of officers and soldiers that defected from the Syrian army to join the opposition, who are currently in Turkey, the report said. Syria also conditioned the continuation of the negotiations on Turkey's blockade of weapon transfers and passage of soldiers from the rebels' Free Syrian Army through its territory, Haaretz said. It also demanded that Iran sponsor the negotiations to release the Turkish officers.
  • Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, the foreign minister of Cyprus, complained on Wednesday about the threatening behavior of Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean, saying it was an attempt to intimidate Israeli and Cypriot cooperation on natural gas exploration. Ankara’s “provocative” military exercises and “bullying behavior” were “unacceptable”, she said. No surprise there; Turkey and the Greek Cypriots are about as full of love for each other as Hamas and Likud. But these days they have more to quarrel about than olive groves and beaches: There are lots of hydrocarbons under the waters they (and the Turkish Cypriots) jointly claim. To make matters more interesting still: Syria, Lebanon and Israel also have claims. These are not small deposits: “Beneath the seabed of the eastern Mediterranean are natural gas deposits potentially so vast that the economic map of the region is already being redrawn, even as tensions flare”, reported the FT in October.
  • A potential bridge between Israel and Cyprus is the discovery of huge offshore natural gas deposits in the Mediterranean Sea. The same U.S. company, Noble Energy, is leading the exploration efforts in both countries. The blossoming of relations is prompted by a mutual interest in gas and oil exploration, and comes as their respective ties with Turkey deteriorate. During Netanyahu’s one day trip — the first by an Israeli prime minister to the east Mediterranean island — he is due to discuss energy cooperation and regional security, but without putting specific proposals on the table
  • Hackers that claim to have stolen the source code of Symantec's pcAnywhere software have attempted to extort $50,000 from the anti-virus firm, in exchange for keeping the code offline. However, after negotiations broke down, the group uploaded the source code to The Pirate Bay. It has also released a log of the email exchange with Symantec -- but the virus-hunting firm has said that the emails were a sting operation, with law enforcement officials posing as a Symantec employee. The email exchange is from January 2012 and kicks off with a hacker called YamaTough -- spokesperson of Indian hacker group Lords of Dharmaraja, which is affiliated with Anonymous' Op AntiSec. He's talking to a Symantec "employee" named Sam Thomas -- actually a law official, says Symantec. At first, Thomas wants assurances that the hackers actually have their code. Thomas suggests uploading it using FTP. Yama thinks this is a trick -- "If you are trying to trace with the FTP trick it's just worthless," he says. "If we detect any malevolent tracing action we cancel the deal." Yama threatens the anti-virus firm. "We have many people who are willing to get your code. Don't fuck with us." The hacker asks Symantec to name a price. "How much do you consider enough to pay us in order to work all the issues out?" Stalling, Symantec asks how the money transfer will be made. Yama suggests payment processor Liberty Reserve, though "wire transfer to a bank account in Lithuania or Latvia is also an option." "What assurances can you provide that once we pay, you will actually destroy the code and not ask for more money?," Thomas asks. "None of course," Yama bites back. "If we were really bad guys we would have already released or sold your code." Symantec tries to make a smaller payment of $1,000 through PayPal to keep the hacker happy. Yama says no: "we can wait till we agree on final amount." So Thomas comes back with his final offer: "We will pay you $50,000.00 USD total." That's about £32,000.
  • In 2006 Adam Curry initiated and won the first ever lawsuit centering around the use of a Creative Commons licensed work (English). Back then the Dutch gossip-mag ‘weekend’ had published photos from Curry’s flickr account without asking Curry for permission and the Amsterdam court of first instance decided that this use was explicitly prohibited by the non-commercial condition of the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license that Curry uses for his Flickr pictures. One would assume that other gossip-mags would learn from this and refrain from using photos from Adam’s Flickr stream, but exactly that happened 2 weeks ago when ‘Privé‘ used another picture to illustrate an article without Adam permission. As in the previous case Adam immediately reacted, this time by demanding that the publisher of Privé pay him a compensation for the unauthorized use or he would take them to court. Back then Adam wrote: Instead of taking them directly to court I added twist this time, and gave them the option of paying 5000 euros directly to the War Child Foundation and my legal costs. Failure to comply by June 2nd and I will take them to court. It’s national news, lead story on the 6:30 news and all that good stuff :) According to a public response from the magazine’s editor, they will ‘see me in court’ as they believe they have ‘fair use’ rights because of the picture’s ‘news value’. Pretty funny coming from a gossip rag. While the deadline set by Curry passed without an official reaction from Privé it turns out that the defiant reaction form the magazines editor was not worth the paper it was printed on. Today Adam received a mail from from his lawyers indicating that Privé has settled along the terms provided by Curry in order to avoid the court hearing that was scheduled for the 23rd of June [translation from Dutch original by Creative Commons Netherlands]: Dear Adam, the conflict between Telegraaf Tijdschriften Groep (“TTG”), the publishers of among others Privé and yourself has been settled in your favor. TTG wil pay you an amount of compensation and TTG has signed a declaration (backed up by a penalty) that in the future they will no more infringe on copyrights held by Adam Curry in photos published by him on You will donate the compensation received to Warchild and STOP AIDS NOW!. Given the above, the court hearing scheduled for the 23rd of july will not take place. Creative Commons congratulates Adam Curry with this victory that once again illustrates that when necessary the Creative Commons licenses offer enough legal protection against unauthorized used of the licensed works. Thanks again Adam!
  • The UK has handed out 46 new licences to explore for oil and gas in the North Sea, the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) revealed on Friday. Shell, Wintershall, GDF Suez and Hurricane are amongst a plethora of companies to be offered the licences in what was the second tranche of awards from the 26th offshore oil and gas licensing round. Maersk, Nexen, Centrica and Encore were also successful in the latest round of offers which was originally announced in October 2010 when 144 licences were dished out. The blocks which were awarded on Friday had been held back in the first tranche of offers "due to the need for further assessment on Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs)," the DECC wrote on Friday. Amongst the latest receipients of awards were also RWE Dea, Infrastrata, Elixir, Dana, Suncor and Volantis. They were joined by Sendero, Echo, Stratic, Sterling, Holywell, Trap Exploration and Fairfield. Hansa, NP Solent, Burlington Resources, Serica, Stelinmatvic, Bridge Energy, NWE Mirrabooka were also given awards with Hydrocarbon Resources, Volta Energy and P R Singleton rounding off the list. Announcing the awards, UK Energy Minister Charles Hendry said he was looking forward to a "prosperous year" for the country's oil and gas industry. “Oil and gas remains crucial to the UK economy – contributing around 2% to the country’s GDP. Our innovative licensing system continues to make the UK one of the most attractive places to do business," he wrote in the DECC statement.
  • More than 20 years after Soviet tanks and soldiers pulled out of then-Czechoslovakia in Eastern Europe, Russian influence is on the rise in what was once its imperial backyard. Where guns and bullets failed, rubles are succeeding.
  • Until now the use of security scanners has been done under a patchwork of different national operational procedures and standards and in a limited way. As a common EU-wide framework, the new legislation legally allows Member States and airports to replace current security systems with security scanners. It also ensures the uniform application of security rules at all airports and provides strict and mandatory safeguards to ensure compliance with fundamental rights and the protection of health.
  • Former European Central Bank vice-president Lucas Papademos has been named as Greece's new prime minister, following days of negotiations.
  • AMMAN, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Western powers would cause an “earthquake” in the Middle East if they intervened in Syria, President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview published on Sunday, after protesters demanded outside protection from a crackdown that has killed 3,000 people.
  • The young female, identified as Zainab al-Hosni, declared, however, that she had run away from her home in the city of Homs and decided to speak out after seeing a report that she had been killed. The Syrian girl held an identity card showing her picture and name. She explained that she went into hiding to escape the suffering she endured from beatings at the hands of her brothers.
Stats & Atts.

Good for the environment.