McCain ad questions Obama’s benefit to families

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The latest advertisement for United States Republican presidential candidate John McCain is questioning Democrat Barack Obama’s benefit to families.

Last week the BBC reported that the McCain campaign had released an advertisement comparing Obama to American celebrities Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, calling him “the biggest celebrity in the world.”

McCain’s newest advertisement, released early this week, continues along those same lines.

“Is the biggest celebrity in the world ready to help your family?” the narrator asks, according to The Boston Globe and a video of the ad displayed on its website. “The real Obama promises higher taxes, more government spending. So, fewer jobs.” With images of wind turbines in the background, the narrator says, “Renewable energy to transform our economy, create jobs and energy independence, that’s John McCain.”

The Boston Globe reports that McCain’s latest ad does not acknowledge that Obama’s economic policy, especially the proposed rollback of current president George W. Bush’s capital gains tax cuts, would largely affect the wealthiest of America, not the middle class.

Obama, the BBC reports, is quoted as calling McCain “cynical,” “desperate” and “in the pocket of Big Oil.”

The latest Obama video, shown on the USA Today website, touts McCain as “just more of the same” politics employed by George W. Bush. The ad cites a May 22, 2003 Fox News Channel interview where McCain says “the President and I agree on most issues. There was a recent study that showed I voted with the President over 90 percent of the time.” The ad then criticizes McCain’s policies on tax cuts, money for oil companies, and “tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.”

USA Today does note that “[w]hile the ad shows McCain touting the fact that he had voted “with” President Bush more than 90% of the time, the Arizona senator did criticize the administration’s conduct of the war in Iraq — calling early on for more troops to be sent there. He also voted against the president’s original tax cut plan — though McCain now says he supports extending those tax cuts. And, he proposes cuts in all kinds of corporate taxes, not just those on oil companies.”

McCain is set to appear at an Ohio furniture plant Wednesday to reinforce the messages in his latest advertisement.

“America has the second highest business tax rate in the entire world,” he plans to say, according to prepared remarks issued by his campaign, and released by The Boston Globe. “Is it any wonder that jobs are moving overseas when we are taxing them out of the country? Unfortunately Senator Obama’s plans would raise taxes on businesses even more. He has promised tax increases on income, tax increases on investment, tax increases on small businesses. This is exactly the wrong strategy. Raising taxes in a bad economy is about the worst thing you could do because it will kill even more jobs when what we need are policies that create jobs.”

Obama spokesman Bill Burton responded:

“Is the biggest proponent of George Bush’s tired, failed policies ready to bring about change? Another day brings another dishonest attack from John McCain. While Senator McCain knows that Senator Obama has proposed cutting taxes for 95% of American families, what he’s not telling us is that he wants to give $4 billion in tax breaks to the oil companies, continue giving tax breaks to corporations that ship our job overseas, and provide no direct tax relief for more than 100 million middle-class families. It’s time to retire these old policies and bring new energy to … Read More

Microsoft buys online ad firm Aquantive for $6 billion

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Microsoft have today paid $6 billion (£3 billion) for the online marketing firm Aquantive. The takeover will pave the way for Microsoft to expand into the $40 billion online advertising market currently dominated by Google and Yahoo!.

Kevin Johnson, the head of Microsoft’s platforms and services division, said “This deal takes our advertising business to a new level” and follows the recent acquisitions by Google and Yahoo who bought DoubleClick for $3.1 billion, and the remaining 80% of Right Media Exchange for $680 million respectively.

Aquantive will remain at its base in Seattle with its current staff of around 2.600, but will work as part of Microsoft’s online operations.

The deal is expected to be completed by early 2008, subject to regulation.<br style="clear … Read More

Abducted Richmond Hill, Ontario man walks into police station

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A Richmond Hill, Ontario man is currently released after he was abducted and escaped last night.

Chee Kian Jeff Chan, 28, was forced by three people into a black Mercedes SUV (which was caught on security camera) in the parking garage of his condominium at 23 Oneida Cresant in the Yonge Street and High Tech Road area. A small amount of blood was found at the scene. He was dropped off at an unnamed location in Toronto Wednesday night.

The suspects were wearing black clothes and balaclavas covering their faces at the time of the incident. The licence plate number of the Mercedes SUV is not known because there was no plate on the front of the vehicle.

Chan walked into the Major Mackenzie Dr. W. police station, at about 6:45 p.m. last night, suffering from injuries and went to a hospital for examination.

York Regional Police say that he is a poker player, after hearing about a man with the same name that took seventh place at the River Rock Casino Resort near Vancouver, British Columbia on November 19, 2005, earning him $44,753.

No ransom note was received and police believe that it was an extortion attempt.

“He was unaware of a lot of things during his ordeal,” Constable Laurie Perks said. “He didn’t know what they looked like. His vision was concealed and so he therefore didn’t know where he was through most of his ordeal.”

It is believed that Chan’s three captors released him after 28 hours because of the media coverage surrounding his disappearance.

The investigation is stil … Read More

Lesbians, heterosexuals banned from gay bar in Australia

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The Peel Hotel, located in Melbourne, Australia has been given permission by the Victorian State Civil and Administrative Tribunal to ban lesbians and heterosexuals from going into their bar which is catered specifically for gay men.

Owner of the hotel Tom McFeely, said he went to the tribunal in order to protect gay males by providing them with a bar that has a friendly atmosphere and where the men can be in a “non-threatening” situation.

“If I can limit the number of heterosexuals entering the Peel, then that helps me keep the safe balance. Heterosexuals have other places to go to; my homosexuals do not,” said McFeely adding that there are over 2,000 bars and clubs around Australia for heterosexuals to attend.

The hotel’s commissioner says that many of the gay men who attend the bar felt uncomfortable and felt like zoo animals.

“(They) also have felt as though they’ve been like a zoo exhibit with big groups of women on hens’ parties coming to the club,” said the Peels Hotel Commission Chief, Helen Szoke who also said that many of the bars gay men have been harassed or have been threatened with violence.

Lesbians and heterosexual individuals are still allowed to stay at the hotel.

Cate McKenzie, who is the chief of the Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission also supports the ruling saying, “This would undermine or destroy the atmosphere which the company wishes to create. Sometimes heterosexual groups and lesbian groups insult and deride and are even physically violent towards the gay male patrons. To regard the gay male patrons of the venue as providing an entertainment or spectacle to be stared at, as one would at an animal at a zoo, devalues and dehumanizes them.”

The Victorian Gay and Lesbian Lobby Group says that the ruling makes the Peel Hotel one of the only two establishments in Melbourne to cater specifically t … Read More

NATO to expand Afghanistan presence

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NATO has confirmed today that it intends to expand its presence in Afghanistan by sending forces into the south and east of the country in 2006. The move will see NATO take the lead role in Afghan security.

Presently, much of NATO’s 8,000-strong International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is based in the capital Kabul, with units also based in the north and west of the country.

The NATO decision has been welcomed by the United States who hope that they will be able to withdraw some of its 19,000 troops from Afghanistan. The US forces are based in the south — the centre of much of the violence against Coalition forces in the country — and are not under NATO command.

Ironically, in the aftermath of the invasion of Afghanistan, the US opposed the move amid requests by Afghans for NATO to spread across the country.

Today, Turkey handed over control of ISAF to an Italian/UK-led unit, commanded by Italian Liuetenant-General Mauro Del Vecchio. The deputy-commander is British Major-General Roger Lane of the Royal Marines, who previously served in the country in 2002.

Command of ISAF rotates every six-months. Previous ISAF commanders have been Canadian, British, French and German.

A recent surge in violence against NATO and US forces — blamed on Al Qaida and the remnants of the deposed Taliban regime — has seen nearly 1000 people killed since March.

NATO intends to send an additional 2,000 troops for the Afghanistan parliamentary elections scheduled to take place next month. Hamid Karzai became the first democratically elected president of Afghanistan after presidential elections were held on 9 October 2004.

It is believed that the British Army will deploy up to 5,000 troops next year, likely to be made up of the élite 16 Air Assaul … Read More

Bernie Ecclestone attacked outside London headquarters; no arrests made

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A spokesperson for Scotland Yard has confirmed that no arrests have been made after Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone was injured in a mugging on Wednesday. The 80-year-old billionaire was treated in hospital for head injuries he sustained in the attack, in which the four muggers stole £200,000 of jewellery from him and his 31-year-old girlfriend.

The attack occurred as Ecclestone visited his company’s office with girlfriend Fabiana Flosi—who was reportedly “shaken” but uninjured—in central London. “There can be little doubt that this was a targeted robbery because of who Mr. Ecclestone is,” a police source said. “The muggers were callous and showed little regard for the victims. They need to be caught.”

Police confirmed that “[a] man was taken to a west London hospital for treatment to a minor head injury and was subsequently discharged. There were no reports of any other injuries. Officers from W … Read More robbery squad are investigating. There have been no arrests and inquiries continue.” Four years ago, Ecclestone was mugged as he parked his car outside his £10 million home in Chelsea Square; two wheels were taken from the car.

Mozilla Foundation rolls out second security update for Firefox browser

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The Mozilla Foundation released the second major security update this week for their flagship browser Firefox. The fix patches a serious flaw in the way Firefox handles animated GIF image files. Firefox browsers infected by malicious code could experience a buffer overflow, temporarily locking up or “freezing” a user’s computer, or even executing arbitrary code which could take over a user’s computer.

The flaw was discovered and reported by Internet Security Systems, Inc. The upgrade was the second major security fix in less than a month for the browser, which has grown in popularity to ten percent of the browser market in the United States.

Although there were no known exploits of the bug, Chris Hoffman, director of engineering at Mozilla, told reporters, “[because] Mozilla is committed to delivering the most secure product possible, we decided to quickly issue an update to patch the bug.”

The Mozilla Foundation did not offer any details about the issue of vulnerability, but a second major security overhaul in such a short time underscores challenges faced by the nonprofit foundation as it goes head-to-head with the market leading Internet Explorer browser by Microsoft.

The new release, Firefox version 1.0.2, “illustrates the dedication of the strong community of developers working on the product,” according to Hoffman. “…we’re able to turn around patches much faster than a traditional corporation,” he added.

Users can download the update at no charge, and can find additional information at the Mozill … Read More

Lawsuit accuses Chicago priest of molesting 13-year-old boy

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Rev. Chester Przybylo has been accused in a civil law suit of molesting a 13-year-old boy almost 20 years ago, when he was serving at Holy Martyrs parish in Chicago.

The plaintiff said the abuse took place in the apartment of a friend of Rev. Przybylo and the rectory of Five Holy Martyrs, and continued for more than a year. Rev. Przybylo supposedly threatened to have the plaintiff’s mother, a Polish immigrant, deported if he resisted.

The plaintiff says that he told a bishop and another pastor about the abuse, but he said, “I was yelled at and told to go to confession as if I sinned.”

Rev. Chester Przybylo is currently the pastor at Shrine of Christ the King church in western Chicago, a conservative Catholic congregation which is not officially recognized by the Roman Catholic hierarchy.

Rev. Przybylo has denied the al … Read More

Dance party broken up by police in Utah, USA

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About 90 law enforcement officers from multiple agencies broke up what they said was a rave party on public and private property in the Diamond Fork area of Spanish Fork canyon, an hour outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, at about 11:30 p.m. Saturday (5:30 Sunday UTC).

According to the county, the Sheriff’s Office had been investigating similar parties since the beginning of the season. In a press release from the Sheriff’s Office in Utah County, the department states that previous allegations of sexual abuse at other raves, as well as various firearm and theft violations, were reasons for the investigation. The release continues on to state that the proper permit was not obtained before the event started. The promoters deny this allegation and insist that all permits were legally obtained before the event.

Armed with semi-automatic assault rifles, tasers, and tear gas, the police used dogs to sweep the crowd for narcotics. At least one helicopter was used in the operation, which served as a large spotlight for the ground teams. Prior to raiding the show, several unnamed police informants had reportedly told police that they had observed some “illegal activities”.

The promoter says the party took place on private property, named Child’s Ranch, with express permission from the owner. The property owner has apparently had at least one previous lawsuit with police over a similar event. Utah County requires a permit, bond and county commission approval for all gatherings with more than 250 people present and which can be expected to continue for 12 hours or more. DJ time slots and Pro Audio and Lighting contracts show that the party was scheduled to go on for no more than ten hours. According to a DJ at the event, “They presold 700 tickets and they expected up to 3,000 people total.” He added that by the time police arrived “the crowd was about 1,500”.

The police have publicly stated that only a permit from the health department was obtained, and that a Utah mass gathering permit was needed. The promoters have stated that they had the required permit, and have given a permit number (# 2005-11). Jay Stone, who handles mass gathering permits for the Utah County Health Department’s Bureau of Environmental Health Services, has confirmed that the permit was applied for and granted for the party. Officials also claim that the party had spilled over onto public land, and that more than 60 arrests were made in total – for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, underage drinking, drug possession and distribution, resisting arrest, assault on a police officer, disorderly conduct, and one instance of a weapons offense, a pistol which was found in the home of the private property owners. Among the confiscated items and drugs found were cocaine, ecstasy, marijuana, mushrooms, alcohol, and drug paraphernalia. Some of the drugs may include those confiscated from attendees by private security guards – who were also arrested.

Amateur video from the scene shows a number of SWAT police (Sheriff’s press release places the figure at 90) screaming orders at the DJs to “Shut it down now!” and yelling at others to “get out now, or I’ll kick your ass in jail.” Armed police are also seen tackling two attendees, Alaisha Matagi and Paul Maka. It is unclear from the video footage whether these actions were provoked or not. However, those shown on the two-minute long footage that are being forced to the ground do not appear to be resisting arrest. Both Matagi and Maka are charged with failure to obey a police officer and resisting arrest – Maka is also charged with interfering with police. Sheriff Jim Tracy stated in an email that both of them were tackled and arrested after assaulting a deputy, however, neither of them are being charged with assaulting a police officer.

A first hand account from a DJ booked to play at the party stated that while police were arresting a man accused of possession, the suspect was beaten to the ground and continually “kicked in the ribs” by four armed “soldiers” dressed in camouflage. The item was not shown on the video footage. According to the account, nobody resisted the policemen, and the crowd was orderly, but tear gas was thrown at the partiers as they attempted to leave as instructed. The DJ also states that police were attempting to confiscate video equipment, but an amateur video has still surfaced on the internet (see sources below). The video appears to have been taken near the DJ stand before it was moved to show more of the action.

Several attendees felt they should have the right to attend an event where drugs may be present, so long as they don’t personally use them. “While it may be true that some individuals choose to take drugs at said events like this, myself as well as many others choose to go for the music. Just like anything, you have bad apples, but you shouldn’t cut down the tree,” said one attendee. “Raves are not the only musical gatherings where drugs are used and distributed,” said another.

Other event-goers felt that the use of force in the shutdown was excessive – numerous eyewitness accounts by concertgoers describe people being beaten, tasered, or attacked with dogs. An email from Sheriff Jim Tracy stated that dogs and tasers were present at the raid, however, he also states that the tasers were not used on anyone, and that no dogs were deployed against concertgoers.

One account from an attendee, identified as “Colby”, states:

“I saw at least two people being beaten on the ground while barking, snarling dogs are held just a few feet from them. Weapons were being pointed at unarmed, peaceful civilians. A friend of mine was forced at gunpoint to put his hands on his head and turn around, because he asked if he could get his things from the tent.”

Utah County sheriff’s Sergeant Darren Gilbert also alleged that a 17-year-old girl was found overdosed on ecstasy, and was treated and released to her parents. According to an advertisement for the event, an attorney was present at the party. The local sheriff is scheduled to appear o … Read More