Comcast sued over Web interference
SAN JOSE, Calif. – A San Francisco Bay area subscriber to Comcast Corp.’s high-speed Internet service has sued the company, alleging it engages in unfair business practices by interfering with subscribers’ file sharing.
Subscriber Jon Hart based his claims on the results of an investigation by the Associated Press published last month that showed Philadelphia-based Comcast actively interferes with attempts some high-speed Internet subscribers to share files online.
Hart’s lead lawyer, Mark N. Todzo of San Francisco, said his client suspected before reading the AP report that Comcast was interfering with his Internet traffic.
“What the AP report did was just confirm to him that it wasn’t just him who was suffering from the problem,” Todzo said. “There was this confluence of events where everyone seemed to reach the same conclusion, which was that Comcast was engaging in this activity.”
Other users claimed they had seen interference with some file-sharing applications. Subsequent tests by the Electronic Frontier Foundation confirmed the AP’s tests, which showed that Comcast is causing software on both ends of a file-sharing link to believe the connection has been dropped.
A coalition of consumer groups and legal scholars formally asked the Federal Communications Commission early this month to make Comcast stop interfering with file sharing. Two of the groups also asked the FCC to fine Comcast $195,000 for every affected subscriber.
Comcast is the country’s largest cable company and second-largest Internet service provider with 12.9 million Internet subscribers.
The company denies it blocks file sharing. But it acknowledged after the AP report was published that it delays some of the traffic between computers that share files.
- US general: Roadside bombs down sharplyBAGHDAD – Iran’s commitments to stem the flow of weapons and explosives into Iraq “appear to be holding up” and have contributed to a sharp drop in roadside bombs across the country, a U.S. general said Thursday.
Bhutto hopes for national unity
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Detained opposition leader Benazir Bhutto said Thursday she hopes to form a national unity government to replace President Gen. Pervez Musharraf ahead of elections, and is contacting other opposition parties to get them on board.
“I am talking to the other opposition parties to find out whether they are in a position to come together,” she told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from the home in Lahore where she is under house arrest. “We need to see whether we can come up with an interim government of national consensus to whom power can be handed.”
Bhutto left open the question of whether she, or someone else, would lead such a government, saying it was a subject that would have to be worked out in negotiations.
- Russia sect holes up in cave to await end of world
MOSCOW (Reuters) – At least 30 members of a Russian doomsday cult have barricaded themselves in a remote cave to await the end of the world and are threatening to commit suicide if police intervene, officials and media said on Thursday.
“They have covered the entrance and refuse to come out and are threatening to blow themselves up,” an official in the local prosecutor’s office told Reuters by telephone. “They threaten to detonate a gas tank and blow themselves up.”
The cult members, who include 29 adults and four children, are hidden inside a snow-covered hillside in the Penza region of central Russia. A Penza police spokeswoman said they had moved into the dug-out on November 7.
“No one wants to take on the responsibility of provoking them … because our information is that there are children among them,” said the official.
They are thought to have taken food and fuel supplies in with them and Russian television pictures from the scene showed smoke or steam coming out of a hole in the snow-covered ravine where it was built.
A police patrol was guarding the area to prevent anyone provoking them.
“They are simple Christians,” a local priest, Father Georgy, told NTV television station. “They say: ‘The church is doing a bad job, the end of the world is coming soon and we are all saving ourselves’.”
Media reports said the cult members believed the world would end sometime in May next year. Police expected them to emerge when their supplies ran out.
- LAPD Shelves Muslim Mapping Plan
LOS ANGELES (AP) – A police plan to map out Muslim communities, a proposal that civil rights groups sharply criticized as racial and religious profiling, has been shelved, a police spokeswoman said Wednesday.
The LAPD planned to have its counterterrorism bureau identify Muslim enclaves to determine which might be likely to become isolated and susceptible to “violent, ideologically based extremism.”
Several Muslim groups and the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California criticized the plan and sent a letter to Deputy Chief Michael P. Downing expressing their concerns.
“There was a clear message from the Muslim community that they were not comfortable with it. So we listened,” said Mary Grady, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Police Department. She couldn’t immediately say when the plan might resume.
Grady said the remaining part of the initiative, which includes outreach efforts to strengthen ties with Muslim communities, would continue, and police planned to meet with Muslim leaders Thursday.
In a statement, Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, praised the decision.
“I am glad to hear (Downing) is putting the plan aside,” Al-Marayati said. “All Muslim organizations are united in purpose to defend the rights of Muslim Americans while developing a positive and constructive relationship with the LAPD.”
Clinton Says No to Licenses for Illegals
WASHINGTON (AP) – Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday came out against granting driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, after weeks of pressure in the presidential race to take a position on a now-failed ID plan from her home state governor.
Clinton has faced criticism from candidates in both parties for her noncommittal answers on New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s attempt to allow illegal immigrants in his state to receive driver’s licenses. Spitzer abandoned the effort Wednesday.
“I support Governor Spitzer’s decision today to withdraw his proposal,” Clinton said in a statement. “As president, I will not support driver’s licenses for undocumented people and will press for comprehensive immigration reform that deals with all of the issues around illegal immigration including border security and fixing our broken system.”
Clinton stumbled when asked about the issue during a Democratic debate two weeks ago, and her new position comes the day before another debate where opponents are expected to raise the issue again.
Rival campaigns made clear they were not letting go of the issue.
“When it takes two weeks and six different positions to answer one question on immigration, it’s easier to understand why the Clinton campaign would rather plant their questions than answer them,” said Barack Obama spokesman Bill Burton, referring to the Clinton campaign’s admission that aides had staged a question for her at an Iowa event.
Ron Paul Collecting Fans, Big Money
WASHINGTON (AP) – Those who dismissed Rep. Ron Paul as a joke in the Republican presidential primary campaign aren’t laughing so hard these days.
The Texas libertarian’s rise in the polls and in fundraising proves that a small but passionate number of Americans can be drawn to an advocate of unorthodox proposals such as returning to the gold standard and abolishing the income tax, CIA and Federal Reserve.
Paul, 72, recently set a one-day, online GOP presidential fundraising record, and pulled slightly ahead of Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee in a New Hampshire poll, where he had 8 percent of the Republicans’ support. In Iowa, he tied John McCain for fifth place, with 4 percent each.
Paul remains a very long shot for the nomination. But as the only Republican candidate backing a prompt troop withdrawal from Iraq – and an airing of possible impeachment charges against Vice President Dick Cheney – he appeals to a mix of liberals and conservatives who feel alienated and deeply distrustful of the government.
- No Remembrance, No Remorse for the Fallen of Iraq
On Remembrance Day 2007 – Veterans Day in America – the great and the good bowed their heads at the Cenotaph. Generals, politicians, newsreaders, football managers and stock-market traders wore their poppies. Hypocrisy was a presence. No one mentioned Iraq. No one uttered the slightest remorse for the fallen of that country. No one read the forbidden list.
The forbidden list documents, without favor, the part the British state and its court have played in the destruction of Iraq. Here it is:
1. Holocaust denial
On 25 October, Dai Davies MP asked Gordon Brown about civilian deaths in Iraq. Brown passed the question to the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, who passed it to his junior minister, Kim Howells, who replied: “We continue to believe that there are no comprehensive or reliable figures for deaths since March 2003.” This was a deception. In October 2006, the Lancet published research by Johns Hopkins University in the US and al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad which calculated that 655,000 Iraqis had died as a result of the Anglo-American invasion. A Freedom of Information search revealed that the government, while publicly dismissing the study, secretly backed it as comprehensive and reliable. The chief scientific adviser to the Ministry of Defense, Sir Roy Anderson, called its methods “robust” and “close to best practice.” Other senior governments officials secretly acknowledged the survey’s “tried and tested way of measuring mortality in conflict zones.” Since then, the British research polling agency, Opinion Research Business, has extrapolated a figure of 1.2 million deaths in Iraq. Thus, the scale of death caused by the British and US governments may well have surpassed that of the Rwanda genocide, making it the biggest single act of mass murder of the late 20th century and the 21st century.
The undeclared reason for the invasion of Iraq was the convergent ambitions of the neocons, or neo-fascists, in Washington and the far-right regimes of Israel. Both groups had long wanted Iraq crushed and the Middle East colonized to US and Israeli designs. The initial blueprint for this was the 1992 “Defense Planning Guidance,” which outlined America’s post-Cold War plans to dominate the Middle East and beyond. Its authors included Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz and Colin Powell, architects of the 2003 invasion. Following the invasion, Paul Bremer, a neocon fanatic, was given absolute civil authority in Baghdad and in a series of decrees turned the entire future Iraqi economy over to US corporations. As this was lawless, the corporate plunderers were given immunity from all forms of prosecution. The Blair government was fully complicit and even objected when it looked as if UK companies might be excluded from the most profitable looting. British officials were awarded functionary colonial posts. A petroleum “law” will allow, in effect, foreign oil companies to approve their own contracts over Iraq’s vast energy resources. This will complete the greatest theft since Hitler stripped his European conquests.
3. Destroying a nation’s health
In 1999, I interviewed Dr. Jawad Al-Ali, a cancer specialist at Basra city hospital. “Before the Gulf War,” he said, “we had only three or four deaths in a month from cancer. Now it’s 30 to 35 patients dying every month. Our studies indicate that 40 to 48 per cent of the population in this area will get cancer.” Iraq was then in the grip of an economic and humanitarian siege, initiated and driven by the US and Britain. The result, wrote Hans von Sponeck, the then chief UN humanitarian official in Baghdad, was “genocidal … practically an entire nation was subjected to poverty, death and destruction of its physical and mental foundations.” Most of southern Iraq remains polluted with the toxic debris of British and American explosives, including uranium-238 shells. Iraqi doctors pleaded in vain for help, citing the levels of leukemia among children as the highest seen since Hiroshima. Professor Karol Sikora, chief of the World Health Organization’s cancer program, wrote in the BMJ: “Requested radiotherapy equipment, chemotherapy drugs and analgesics are consistently blocked by United States and British advisers [to the Sanctions Committee].” In 1999, Kim Howells, then trade minister, effectively banned the export to Iraq of vaccines that would protect mostly children from diphtheria, tetanus and yellow fever, which, he said, “are capable of being used in weapons of mass destruction.”
Since 2003, apart from PR exercises for the embedded media, the British occupiers have made no attempt to re-equip and resupply hospitals that, prior to 1991, were regarded as the best in the Middle East. In July, Oxfam reported that 43 per cent of Iraqis were living in “absolute poverty.” Under the occupation, malnutrition rates among children have spiraled to 28 per cent. A secret Defense Intelligence Agency document, “Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities,” reveals that the civilian water supply was deliberately targeted. As a result, the great majority of the population has neither access to running water nor sanitation – in a country where such basic services were once as universal as in Britain. “The mortality of children in Basra has increased by nearly 30 per cent compared to the Saddam Hussein era,” said Dr. Haydar Salah, a pediatrician at Basra children’s hospital. “Children are dying daily and no one is doing anything to help them.” In January this year, nearly 100 leading British doctors wrote to Hilary Benn, then international development secretary, describing how children were dying because Britain had not fulfilled its obligations as an occupying power under UN Security Council Resolution 1483. Benn refused to see them.
Prophet’s Love and Tolerance for Mankind
The Prophet Muhammad is introduced in the Qur’an in these words:
[And We have not sent you forth but as a mercy to mankind.] (Al-Anbiyaa’: 107)
This shows that his distinctive quality was that he was a blessing incarnate in word and deed.
According to a tradition recorded in the Sahih of Imam Muslim, when the Prophet’s opponents greatly increased their persecution, his Companions asked him to curse them. At this the Prophet replied, “I have not been sent to lay a curse upon men but to be a blessing to them.” His opponents continued to treat him and his Companions unjustly and cruelly, but he always prayed for them.
Once he was so badly stoned by his enemies that the blood began to spurt from all over his body. This happened when he went to Ta’if, where the Hijaz aristocracy used to while away their summer days. When he attempted to call them to Islam, instead of listening to his words of wisdom, they set the street urchins upon him, who kept chasing him till nightfall. Even at that point, when he was utterly exhausted and bleeding from head to foot, all he said was, “O my Lord, guide my people along the true path, as they are ignorant of the truth.”
His heart was filled with intense love for all human kind irrespective of caste, creed, or color. Once he advised his Companions to regard all people as their brothers and sisters. He added, “You are all Adam’s offspring and Adam was born of clay.”
All this tells us what kind of awareness he wanted to bring about in man. His mission was to bring people abreast of the reality that all men and women, although inhabiting different regions of the world, and seemingly different from one another as regards their color, language, dress, culture, etc., were each other’s blood brothers. Hence a proper relationship will be established between all human beings only if they regard one another as sisters and brothers. Only then will proper feelings of love and respect prevail throughout the world.
According to a hadith, the Prophet once said, “A true believer is one with whom others feel secure. One who returns love for hatred.” The Prophet made it clear that one who would only return love for love was on a lower ethical plane. We should never think that we should treat people well only if they treat us well. We should, rather, be accustomed to being good to those who are not good to us and to not wronging those who harm us.
The Prophet once borrowed some money from a Jew. After a few days the Jew came to demand payment of his debt. The Prophet told him that at that moment he had nothing to pay him with. The Jew said that he wouldn’t let him go until he had paid him back. And so the Jew stayed there, from morning till night, holding the Prophet captive. At that time the Prophet was the established ruler of Madinah and could have easily taken action against him. His Companions naturally wanted to rebuke the man and chase him away. But the Prophet forbade this, saying, “The Lord has forbidden us to wrong anyone.” The Jew continued to hold the Prophet captive until the following morning. But with the first light of dawn, the Jew was moved by the Prophet’s tolerance, and he thereupon embraced Islam. In spite of being a rich man, he had detained the Prophet the day before on account of a few pence. But now the Prophet’s noble conduct had had such an impact on him that he was willing to give all his wealth to the Prophet, saying, “Spend it as you please.”
Blacks divide along class lines
WASHINGTON — A majority of black Americans blame individual failings — not racial prejudice — for the lack of economic progress by lower-income African Americans, according to a survey released Tuesday — a significant change in attitudes from the early 1990s.
At the same time, black college graduates say the values of middle-class African Americans are more closely aligned with those of middle-class whites than those of lower-income blacks, the poll by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center found.And 40% of those surveyed said African Americans could no longer be viewed as a single community.
The report said that in 1994, 60% of African Americans believed racial prejudice was the main thing keeping blacks from succeeding economically. Only 33% blamed the individual. Though views on the issue have shifted over time, this was the first year that a majority of blacks, 53%, said individuals were responsible for their own condition.
At the same time, the survey found that most blacks believed racial prejudice was still a widespread problem in America.
Pew President Andrew Kohut said that about 60% of African Americans surveyed said blacks often faced discrimination when they applied for jobs or looked for housing. Just 20% of whites agreed with the employment assessment of blacks and 27% with the housing.
One result of shifting views on individual responsibility may be changes in blacks’ attitudes toward immigrants. In 1986, 74% of blacks said they would have more economic opportunities if there were fewer immigrants; today, 48% feel that way.
- White children more positive toward blacks after learning about racism, study shows
AUSTIN, Texas—Challenging the idea that racism education could be harmful to students, a new study from The University of Texas at Austin found the results of learning about historical racism are primarily positive. The study appears in the November/December issue of the journal Child Development.
Psychologists Rebecca Bigler and Julie Milligan Hughes found white children who received history lessons about discrimination against famous African Americans had significantly more positive attitudes toward African Americans than those who received lessons with no mention of racism. African-American children who learned about racism did not differ in their racial attitudes from those who heard lessons that omitted the racism information, the study showed.
“There is considerable debate about when and how children should be taught about racism,” says Bigler, director of the university’s Gender and Racial Attitudes Lab. “But little research has examined elementary-school-aged children’s cognitive and emotional reactions to such lessons.”
To examine the consequences for white and African-American children of learning about historical racism, the researchers presented biographical lessons about 12 historical figures (six African Americans and six European Americans) to two groups of children ages 6-11.
For each group, some lessons provided information about racism, such as racially biased hiring practices and segregation, while others omitted this information. After the lessons, the children were interviewed about their racial attitudes and reactions, including guilt, defensiveness and anger.
Both white and black children who learned about racism were more likely to value racial fairness and to express greater satisfaction with the lesson. White children whose lessons included information on discrimination showed more defensiveness, had more racial guilt (if they were older than 7) and were less likely to accept stereotypical views about African Americans.
While the study shows learning about racism is beneficial to both black and white children, Bigler notes the lessons did not present information about the most violent forms of racial prejudice (for example, lynching).
“Additional work on the topic is needed so that we know how to best present to children some of the more abhorrent truths from U.S. history,” Bigler says.