Parliament’s human rights committee has delivered a robust response to the justice and security green paper
Central to the justice and security green paper, roundly criticised on Wednesday by parliament’s human rights committee, is Britain’s “special relationship” with the US. And central to that relationship is the sharing of intelligence.
The Bush administration told the Labour government that it would restrict the amount of intelligence the US passed to MI5 and MI6 if British courts were allowed to disclose such intelligence. The threat was prompted by an appeal court ruling in 2010 that a brief summary of CIA information about Binyam Mohamed, a British resident brutally treated in Pakistan, Morocco, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay, should be disclosed.
MI5 and MI6 responded to the threat by telling Labour ministers, and subsequently the coalition government, that a law must be introduced to prevent any intelligence information from ever being disclosed in court. They said they had been forced, in another case, to pay millions of pounds in compensation to UK citizens and residents incarcerated in Guantánamo in an out-of-court settlement. That, they claimed, was the only way to prevent sensitive intelligence from emerging in court. MI5 and MI6 are defending the “control principle” whereby the original gatherer of intelligence must decide whether or not it can ever be disclosed, not those subsequently provided with it. Thus the CIA, and the CIA alone, decides whether intelligence it passed to MI5 or MI6 can be revealed.
The joint parliamentary human rights committee of MPs and peers makes it clear what it thinks of such a principle. “An absolute exemption cannot in our view be considered to be consistent with the rule of law,” it states.
“Often the individuals seeking the disclosure are fighting not only for their liberty but for their life. Binyam Mohamed himself was facing the possibility of the death penalty in the US when he first sought disclosure of the material in the possession of the UK government which would help him to contest the charge.”
The government, it says, appears to want “to be able to give a cast-iron guarantee to the Americans that any intelligence shared with the UK will never be disclosed without the Americans’ consent”.
Three years ago, high court judges hearing the Mohamed case said the CIA material which the US and British governments were fighting to suppress “could never properly be described in a democracy as ‘a secret’ or an ‘intelligence secret’ or a ‘summary of classified intelligence’”. Rather, what it revealed was “admissions of what officials of the US did to BM [Mohamed] during his detention in Pakistan”.
The judges added that it was “impossible to believe” President Obama would take action against the UK if the summary of CIA material was disclosed. Publication was “necessary to uphold the rule of law and democratic accountability”, the judges continued. “A vital public interest requires, for reasons of accountability and the rule of law in the United Kingdom, that a summary of the most important evidence relating to the involvement of the British security services in wrongdoing be placed in the public domain in the United Kingdom.”
The appeal court judges noted later: “In principle, a real risk of serious damage to national security, of whatever degree, should not automatically trump a public interest in open justice when it concerned UK knowledge of unlawful interrogation techniques used by US officials.”
The appeal court added: “Dealing with this appeal as a matter of practical reality rather than abstract legal theory, unless the control principle is to be treated as if it were absolute, it is hard to conceive of a clearer case for its dis-application than a judgment in which its application would partially conceal the full reasons why the court concluded that those for whom the executive in this country is ultimately responsible were involved in or facilitated wrongdoing in the context of the abhorrent practice of torture.”
They concluded: “Such a case engages concepts of democratic accountability and, ultimately, the rule of law itself.”
Wednesday’s report suggests that the US appeared to believe that the British courts could never stop the disclosure of information that could damage national security. The US authorities were suffering a “misperception”, the committee says. There are other ways to prevent genuinely sensitive information to be kept secret. There was a case for clarifying the law but that must be done in a proportionate and limited way, to respond to legitimate, specific, requests from the security and intelligence agencies. …
Archive for April 4th, 2012
Posted by Xeno on April 4, 2012
Posted by Xeno on April 4, 2012
“The spin of our galaxy has a twisting effect on our local space that is a million times stronger than that caused by the spin of the Earth.” –Dr Mark Hadley, of the Department of Physics at the University of Warwick
In 2011, A University of Warwick physicist produced a galaxy sized solution which explains one of the outstanding puzzles of particle physics, while leaving the door open to the related conundrum of why different amounts of matter and antimatter seem to have survived the birth of our Universe.
Physicists would like a neat universe where the laws of physics are so universal that every particle and its antiparticle behave in the same way. However in recent years experimental observations of particles known as Kaons and B Mesons have revealed significant differences in how their matter and anti matter versions decay.
This “Charge Parity violation” or “CP violation” is an awkward anomaly for some researchers but is a useful phenomenon for others as it may open up a way of explaining why more matter than anti matter appears to have survived the birth of our universe.
Dr Mark Hadley, of the Department of Physics at the University of Warwick, believes he has found a testable explanation for apparent Charge Parity violation that preserves parity but also makes the Charge Parity violation an even more plausible explanation for the split between matter and antimatter.
Dr Hadley’s paper (just published in EPL (Europhysics Letters) and entitled “The asymmetric Kerr metric as a source of CP violation”) suggests that researchers have neglected the significant impact of the rotation of our Galaxy on the pattern of how sub atomic particles breakdown.Dr Hadley says:
“Nature is fundamentally asymmetric according to the accepted views of particle physics. There is a clear left right asymmetry in weak interactions and a much smaller CP violation in Kaon systems.
These have been measured but never explained. This research suggests that the experimental results in our laboratories are a consequence of galactic rotation twisting our local space time. If that is shown to be correct then nature would be fundamentally symmetric after all.
This radical prediction is testable with the data that has already been collected at Cern and BaBar by looking for results that are skewed in the direction that the galaxy rotates.”
It is easy to neglect the effect of something as large as a galaxy because what seems most obvious to us is the local gravitation field of the Earth or the Sun, both of which have a much more readily apparent gravitational affect on us than that exerted by our galaxy as a whole. However Dr Hadley believes that what is more important in this case is an affect generated by a spinning massive body.
The speed and angular momentum of the Milky Way’s massive spinning body creates “frame dragging” on its local space and time twisting the shape of that space time and creating time dilation effects.
When CP violation has been observed in the decay of B-Mesons the key difference observed between the break-up of matter and antimatter versions of the same particle is variation in the different decay rates.
Curiously even though researchers observe that wide variation in the pattern of decay rates when those individual decay rates are added together they add up to the same total for both matter and antimatter versions of the same particle.
Hadley believes that the “frame dragging” affect of the whole Galaxy explains all of those observations. Matter and antimatter versions of the same particle will retain exactly the same structure except that they will be mirror images of each other. It is not unreasonable to expect the decay of those particles to also begin as an exact mirror image of each other.
However that is not how it ends. The decay may begin as a exact mirror image but the galactic frame dragging affect is significant enough to cause the different structures in each particle to experience different levels of time dilation and therefore decay in different ways. However the overall variation of the different levels of time dilation averages out when every particle in the decay is taken into account and CP violation disappears and parity is conserved.
The beauty of this theory is that it can also be tested. There are predictions that can be made and tested for. The massive array of data that already exists, that shows apparent CP violation in some decays, can be re-examined to see if it shows a pattern that is aligned with the rotation of the galaxy.
The paper only addressees how galactic scale frame dragging could explain experimental observations of apparent CP violation. However the explanation it provides also leaves open the door to those theorists who believe CP violation would be a useful tool to explain the separation of matter and antimatter at the birth of our universe and the subsequent apparent predominance of matter. …
Posted by Xeno on April 4, 2012
MESSENGER’s radio tracking has allowed the scientific team to develop the first precise model of Mercury’s gravity field which, when combined with topographic data and the planet’s spin state, sheds light on the planet’s internal structure, the thickness of its crust, the size and state of its core, and its tectonic and thermal history.
Mercury’s core occupies a large fraction of the planet, about 85% of the planetary radius, even larger than previous estimates. Because of the planet’s small size, at one time many scientists thought the interior should have cooled to the point that the core would be solid. However, subtle dynamical motions measured from Earth-based radar, combined with MESSENGER’s newly measured parameters of the gravity field and the characteristics of Mercury’s internal magnetic field that signify an active core dynamo, indicate that the planet’s core is at least partially liquid.
Mercury’s core is different from any other planetary core in the Solar System. Earth has a metallic, liquid outer core sitting above a solid inner core. Mercury appears to have a solid silicate crust and mantle overlying a solid, iron sulfide outer core layer, a deeper liquid core layer, and possibly a solid inner core. These results have implications for how Mercury’s magnetic field is generated and for understanding how the planet evolved thermally.
Posted by Xeno on April 4, 2012
On the night of Feb. 6, 1975, Marine Reserve Squadron Capt. Larry Jividen was piloting a T-39D Sabreliner (see image above) combat trainer and utility aircraft with five Naval officer pilots on board for a special training flight. He didn’t know the evening would evolve into a game of “tag” with an unidentified flying object.
Jividen hasn’t spoken about that experience from nearly 40 years ago — until now.
The nine-year Marine Corps captain — and later commercial airline pilot — had taken off at twilight for a two-hour roundtrip that began and ended at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla.
“At about 9 o’clock, we were descending from a high altitude — around 33,000 feet — and I looked off to the right side of the airplane where I saw a solid red light at our 1:00 o’clock position and altitude,” Jividen told The Huffington Post.
“It was not flashing like normal anti-collision lights flash on airplanes. I thought it might be some other traffic, but I wasn’t sure, so I called Pensacola Approach Control and said, ‘Understand we’re cleared for the approach, but we have traffic off to our right, and who’s first for the approach?”
The traffic that Jividen and the other five crew members saw was mutually described as “a solid, circular object about the relative size of a kid’s marble held at arm’s length,” Jividen recalled.
When they were informed that ground control had no other traffic in their vicinity, Jividen became concerned that the mysterious object hadn’t shown up on radar. So he asked for clearance to deviate from their approach and turn directly toward the bright red UFO “just to see what it does.”
As he turned toward the object, Jividen says it turned toward his plane.
“It suddenly flew from right to left, across the nose [of our plane], and just stopped at our 11:00 o’clock position. At that point, I started to speed up to see if I could close on the object, and as I sped up, it was pacing me in front. In other words, as I’d speed up, he’d speed up.
“So, I decided to descend to place the object against a star field to make sure that it was actually solid, and then I climbed so that I could silhouette the object against the Gulf of Mexico.”
Jividen says the five-minute encounter came to an end when the reddish UFO sped away at a very high rate and disappeared over the horizon in the direction of New Orleans.
After the crew returned to Pensacola, Jividen filled out an incident form and that was the last he heard of the episode.
And nobody else heard about it for more than three decades.
Jividen’s story is now being told in a new edition of “UFOs: Myths, Conspiracies and Realities,” written by retired Army Col. John Alexander.
“I did some background checks on [Jividen] and one of the first things that came back was his distinguished flying crosses for doing really heroic things. He is who he says he is and very straightforward,” Alexander told HuffPost.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt that it was something. I take him as a highly credible witness, much more so than many other ones.”
Alexander’s unique top-secret clearance granted him by the U.S. government gave him access in the 1980s to a variety of official documents and first-person UFO accounts. He also created a special group of top-level government officials and scientists who studied the UFO phenomenon.
In the end, Alexander determined that the U.S., indeed, had evidence pointing to UFO reality, but he couldn’t find any signs that the government deliberately kept this information from the public, or that contact had been made with alien life.
“One of the things we are seeing are physical characteristics that we don’t understand, capabilities that are beyond our technological options at this time, i.e. extremely fast acceleration and high-G turns that living organisms, as we know it, would not survive,” he explained. …
Posted by Xeno on April 4, 2012
When most people think of Jesus fish, they might think of fishes and loaves or bumper stickers.
Erika Scheldt, 24, got a lot more literal when she photographed a stingray last Friday while playing on the beach at James Island, S.C.
When a dead cownose ray washed up on the beach, Scheldt took a photo of it, fascinated by the strange image on its back that looked vaguely familiar.
“I just kind of thought it looked like a bearded homeless man,” Scheldt told IslandPacket.com “But when I posted pictures on Instagram, one of my friends was like, ‘That’s Jesus.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, my God. You’re right.’”
Since encountering this ray of hope, she says she and other members of her family have been trying to come up with a name. So far, the top choice is Ray Rey, since “Rey” means “king” in Spanish.
Scheldt, a Catholic who is getting married this summer, doesn’t think the ray sighting has any special message, but does see some interesting coincidences.
Posted by Xeno on April 4, 2012
Yuka was found with many bones missing and cuts that may have been made by ancient hunters
The discovery of a well-preserved juvenile woolly mammoth suggests that ancient humans “stole” mammoths from hunting lions, scientists say.Bernard Buigues of the Mammuthus organisation acquired the frozen mammoth from tusk hunters in Siberia.Scientists completed an initial assessment of the animal, known as Yuka, in March this year.Wounds indicate that both lions and humans may have been involved in the ancient animal’s death.
“Already there is dramatic evidence of a life-and-death struggle between Yuka and some top predator, probably a lion,” says leading mammoth expert, Daniel Fisher, professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Michigan.”Even more interesting, there are hints that humans may have taken over the kill at an early stage.
“If further investigation by Mr Buigues, Professor Fisher and fellow scientists at the Sakha Academy of Sciences in Yakutsk confirms this analysis, it will be the first carcass to show signs of interaction with ancient humans found in this part of the world.
The Yuka mammoth was filmed as part of the BBC/Discovery Co-Production programme Woolly Mammoth: Secrets from the Ice.By analysing the teeth and tusks, the team estimate Yuka was about two and a half years old when it died.Teeth, tusks and bone are the most common ways extinct animals such as mammoths are studied, as these parts of the body take a relatively long time to decompose.Soft tissues such as muscle, skin and internal organs decompose far quicker, and are very rarely found on old carcasses. This means that vital information is usually lost.But much of Yuka’s soft tissue as well as its woolly coat has remained intact, well-preserved in its icy tomb for possibly more than 10,000 years.
Kevin Campbell, associate professor of environmental and evolutionary physiology at the University of Manitoba said: “These are remarkably rare finds and have huge significance.”One of the most striking things about Yuka is its strawberry-blonde hair, he said.The possibility of mammoths having lighter coat colours was proposed in 2006 after scientists studied the genes extracted solely from a mammoth bone.
Yuka provides direct evidence that mammoths did have lighter-coloured coats.Associate Professor Campbell said the find “will be a boon to researchers as it will help them link observed phenotypes morphological features that we can see with genotype DNA sequences”. …
Healed scratches found on the skin indicate a lion attack that Yuka survived earlier in its relatively short life.
However, similar deep cuts that had not healed suggest a subsequent lion attack that either caused or happened very near the time of Yuka’s death.
Also, when moving one of Yuka’s legs, Professor Fisher recognised evidence of a freshly broken leg when it died and suggested this may have occurred as Yuka tried to flee from attackers.
“Did we know lions hunted mammoths? Well, we guessed they did. But could we ever have expected to see such graphic evidence? No – but here it is,” explained Professor Fisher. …
via BBC Nature – Woolly mammoth carcass may have been cut into by humans.