Fighting linkrot one article at a time.


+= =+


The Bellman


+= =+


Zwichenzug


+= =+

Archives


February 2004  

March 2004  

April 2004  

May 2004  

June 2004  

July 2004  

April 2005  

May 2005  

June 2005  

July 2005  

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Zwichenzug Holding Zone

 
British Police Arrest Suspect, After Shooting Man in Subway

fulltext

By ALAN COWELL

LONDON, July 22 - One day after four attempted bombings on London's transport system, police officers pursued a man onto a subway train today and fatally shot him at close range in full view of other passengers, the authorities and witnesses said.


Police also said today they had made one arrest related to Thursday's bombings in Stockwell, south London, the same area as the scene of the shooting. And, later, police in Birmingham said they had also made an arrest under anti-terrorism laws possibly related to the London attacks at a railroad station.


The killing threatened to overshadow police efforts to trace four men wanted for Thursday's failed attacks, which recalled the far bloodier assault on London's subway trains and a bus on July 7 when four bombers suspected of being Islamic exremists killed 52 people and themselves.


On a day when the police searched at least three homes in search of the bombers, the authorities also published photographs of the four wanted men. Three were shown at subway stations and one on the upper deck of a double-decker bus. One wore a dark top emblazoned with the words "New York" as he ran along a station corridor.


It was the second time that police had published images of accused bombers. An earlier image showed the four attackers from July 7 entering a station at Luton, north of London. The four images today showed the accused bombers at separate locations. The police urged anyone recognizing them to alert the authorities but not to approach them.


"This is the greatest operational challenge ever faced by the Metropolitan police service," Sir Ian Blair, the commander of the Metropolitan Police said at a news conference where police officials discussed the shooting and displayed the suspects' photos. "Officers are facing previously unknown thereats and great danger. We need the understanding of all communities and the cooperation of all communities. We need calm."


A police statement said, "The man shot at Stockwell station is still subject to formal identification and it is not yet clear whether he is one of the four people we are seeking to identify and whose pictures have been released today."


"The man who was shot was under police observation because he had emerged from a house that was itself under observation because it was linked to the investigation of yesterday's incidents," the statement said. "He was then followed by surveillance officers to the station. His clothing and his behaviour at the station added to their suspicions."


Sir Ian said the shooting was "directly linked to the ongoing and expanding anti-terrorist operation."


"I need to make clear that any death is deeply regrettable," Mr Blair said at the news conference. "But as I understand the situation, the man was challenged and refused to obey police instructions. I can't go any further at this stage."


A witness who had been sitting on a Northern Line subway train at Stockwell station said the man had been pursued by plainclothes police officers who fired five shots at close range.


"I was sitting on the train,' Mark Whitby said. "I heard a lot of noise, people saying, 'Get out, get down.' I saw an Asian guy. He ran on to the train, he was hotly pursued by three plain clothes officers, one of them was wielding a black handgun. He half tripped. They pushed him to the floor and basically unloaded five shots into him."


As the man stumbled onto the train, Mr. Whitby told the BBC, "I looked at his face, he looked sort of left and right, but he basically looked like a cornered rabbit, a cornered fox."


"He looked absolutely petrified and then he sort of tripped, but they were hotly pursuing him," he said. The police officers "couldn't have been any more than two or three feet behind him at this time and he half tripped and was half pushed to the floor and the policeman nearest to me had the black automatic pistol in his left hand."


"He held it down to the guy and unloaded five shots into him," Mr Whitby said. Some British reports said the man's heavy clothing may have persuaded police officers that he was carrying a suicide bomb.


At his news conference, Sir Ian said he knew that "there are rumors sweeping London and I do appeal to people to listen to the facts as they emerge."


According to the Metropolitan Police, fatalities in police shootings are relatively rare in London. Between 1997 and September 2004, police opened fire on 20 occasions, killing seven people and injuring 11.


Stockwell station is in the same area south of the Thames River as Oval station, one of the targets of Thursday's attacks. Two subway lines, the Victoria and Northern lines, were suspended after the shooting, plunging London's transport system once more into a chaos that some Londoners fear will be more prevalent. Lord Stevens, a former London police chief, said today that it could take "10 or 20 years" to end the terror threat.


The attacks also alarmed the drivers of London subway trains, which carry three million passengers a day, who are now pressing for increased numbers of staff on subway trains. Bob Crow, a leader of the drivers' union, said the union would back "any of our drivers who refused to work" during terror alarms.


While Londoners have gradually become used to armed police on the streets in recent years - particularly in the heightened security atmosphere since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States - the idea of armed police killing a suspect in full public view is still shocking. A debate on a Web site run by The Guardian newspaper today pursued heated arguments about the police action.


"I just hope they shot an actual terrorist," one contributor wrote.


The impact of the killing could be all the more incendiary if subsequent investigations identify the man as a Muslim. "This operation is targeted at criminals," Sir Ian said, apparently to head off accusations that Muslims are being unfairly singled out. "It is not targeted at any community or any section of the community."


But Nakib Islam, 19, a Muslim high school student, said "I am afraid of a stronger backlash" against Muslims. He was speaking after a bomb alert at the East London mosque turned out to have been a hoax.


"We all have to use the Tube and people who look like me all became suspicious. I even don't wear my rucksack anymore when I use the Tube because of that," he said.


Inayat Bunglawala, a spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, said Muslims he had spoken to this morning were "jumpy and nervous."


"We are getting phone calls from quite a lot of Muslims who are distressed about what may be a shoot to kill policy," he said.


The rapidly unfolding events also stunned Londoners sensing a new vulnerability after Thursday's attacks.


While there were no direct casualties from the four attempts on Thursday - when detonators apparently failed to set off home-made explosives on three subway trains and a bus - some Londoners asked why the authorities had failed to protect them from a repeat bombing just two weeks after the first on July 7.


"I wonder why London is different to New York and Madrid - why is it being sustained here?" said Patricia Mitchell, 35, a call center worker. "I'm wondering if it's an easier target. It feels like London has a lot more people and a lot more public transport. But I was completely surprised. I totally thought it was going to be an attack on London and then they move on to another city."At the news conference today, Andy Hayman, a senior police officer responsible for special operations, gave the first detailed account of Thursday's bombings as he released the images of the four suspects. He said one device had been left in a subway car at Oval station, apparently by a man who had boarded one stop earlier at Stockwell.


A second device was left at the rear of the top deck of a number 26 bus in east London. A second image showed a man on the top deck of the bus "wearing a gray T-shirt with what appears to have been a palm-tree design on the frfont and a dark jacket with a white baseball cap," Mr. Hayman said.


In the third attempted bombing,a man in dark clothing was shown leaving Warren Street subway station, while, in the fourth a man in dark shirt and trousers was seen running from a subway train at an above-ground section of the Hammersmith and City Line at Shepherd's Bush station.


Even as Mr. Hayman was speaking, armed police armed with tear-gas and dogs broke into a house in west London at Harrow Road quite close to Shepherd's Bush. "There are two further addresses being entered by Metropolitan Police officers in connection with this investigation," Mr. Hayman said.


Reporting for this article was contributed by Jonathan Allen, Souad Mekhennet, Karla Adam, Hélène Fouquet and Pamela Kent.




Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
 
George Lucas aiming to release the Star Wars movies in 3D - MovieWeb

According to The Hollywood Reporter, George Lucas is such a fan of the latest 3-D technology that he is planning to remaster all of the Star Wars films for rerelease in 3-D.

Appearing as part of a sextet of high-profile directors promoting 3-D and digital cinema at ShoWest on Thursday, Lucas said he hadn't yet committed to a precise schedule but hoped to have the first film ready for the 30th anniversary of the original Star Wars movie in 2007 and that he would then rerelease one Star Wars film per year in 3-D.

Lucas was joined by James Cameron, Robert Zemeckis, Robert Rodriguez and Randal Kleiser. Peter Jackson joined the group via a pretaped 3-D segment. They all implored the exhibition community to invest in digital projectors, which would allow theaters to show their upcoming movies in 3-D. Cameron is in preproduction on the 3-D film Battle Angel, planned for a 2007 release. Zemeckis has two 3-D features in production, and Rodriguez is readying The Adventures of Shark Boy & Lava Girl in 3-D for release in the summer. Jackson, who is currently filming King Kong, announced no specific 3-D plans, but according to sources he has installed a 3-D master suite in his production offices in New Zealand.

 
Dangerrrr: cats could alter your personality

Times Online
eptember 21, 2003

The Sunday Times

Dangerrrr: cats could alter your personality
Jonathan Leake, Science Editor

THEY may look like lovable pets but Britain’s estimated 9m domestic cats are being blamed by scientists for infecting up to half the population with a parasite that can alter people’s personalities.
The startling figures emerge from studies into toxoplasma gondii, a parasite carried by almost all the country’s feline population. They show that half of Britain’s human population carry the parasite in their brains, and that infected people may undergo slow but crucial changes in their behaviour.

Infected men, suggests one new study, tend to become more aggressive, scruffy, antisocial and are less attractive. Women, on the other hand, appear to exhibit the “sex kitten” effect, becoming less trustworthy, more desirable, fun- loving and possibly more promiscuous.

Interestingly, for those who draw glib conclusions about national stereotypes, the number of people infected in France is much higher than in the UK.

The findings will not please cat lovers. The research — conducted at universities in Britain, the Czech Republic and America — was sponsored by the Stanley Research Medical Institute of Maryland, a leading centre for the study of mental illness. The institute has already published research showing that people infected with the toxoplasma parasite are at greater risk of developing schizophrenia and manic depression.

The study into more subtle changes in human personality is being carried out by Professor Jaroslav Flegr of Charles University in Prague. In one study he subjected more than 300 volunteers to personality profiling while also testing them for toxoplasma.

He found the women infected with toxoplasma spent more money on clothes and were consistently rated as more attractive. “We found they were more easy-going, more warm-hearted, had more friends and cared more about how they looked,” he said. “However, they were also less trustworthy and had more relationships with men.”

By contrast, the infected men appeared to suffer from the “alley cat” effect: becoming less well groomed undesirable loners who were more willing to fight. They were more likely to be suspicious and jealous. “They tended to dislike following rules,” Flegr said.

He also discovered that people infected with toxoplasma had delayed reaction times — and are at greater risk of being involved in car accidents. “Toxoplasma infection, could represent a serious and highly underestimated economic and public health problem,” he said.”

In Britain, concern over toxoplasma is growing among health experts — especially as the number of pet cats has grown to about 9m. Roland Salmon, an epidemiologist with the National Public Health Service for Wales, said: “The evidence is that cats are the main cause of infection.”

Toxoplasma moves in a natural cycle between rats and cats. Rats acquire it from contact with cat faeces and cats reacquire it from hunting infected rats. It has long been known that humans can become infected with the parasite through close contact with cats.

Pregnant women are advised to keep clear of the animals because the parasite can damage unborn babies. People with damaged immune systems, such as Aids victims, are also vulnerable.

Until now, however, the parasite has always been thought harmless to healthy people because their immune systems could suppress the infection. But this view seems certain to change, especially in the light of research at Oxford University.

Scientists there have found that when the parasite invades rats it somehow reprograms their brains, reversing their natural fear of cats. It is this same ability to destroy natural inhibitions that is thought to be at work in humans.

Doctors Manuel Berdoy and Joanne Webster at Oxford University are studying how toxoplasma alters rat behaviour and the chemical weapons it uses to subvert the brain.
Berdoy said: “The fact that a single-celled parasite can have such an effect on the mammalian or even human brain is amazing.”

One startling fact to emerge from research is the great differences in levels of infection. In France and Germany, for example, about 80%-90% of people are infected — nearly twice that in Britain or America.

“I am French and I have even wondered if there is an effect on national character,” Berdoy said.

Dr Dominique Soldati, a researcher at Imperial College in London, is studying ways of blocking toxoplasma from getting into cells. “Once you are infected you cannot get rid of this parasite and the numbers of them slowly grow over the years,” she said. “It’s not a nice thought.”

Copyright 2005 Times Newspapers Ltd.
 
It's Insurance a la Cart: Costco Stores to Market Health Plans

Los Angeles Times

By Debora Vrana
Times Staff Writer

June 9, 2005

Costco Wholesale Corp., the low-cost bulk supplier of breakfast cereal, motor oil and diamond rings, is adding health insurance to its warehouse shelves.

In a pilot program to be launched next month in Southern California, Costco will offer family and individual coverage to its customers who pay $100 a year for "executive" membership, company officials said. The insurance is aimed at people such as contractors, waiters and students who are self-employed or cannot sign up for plans at work.

Although other discount stores such as Wal-Mart and Target have begun offering limited health services in their stores, Costco says it will be the first to offer insurance to members. About 18 million households nationally belong to Costco, including 3.4 million who pay for executive membership.

Company officials would not quote premiums but said the insurance would be 5% to 20% cheaper than policies individuals could buy on their own. Costco expects to offer coverage statewide by the end of the year and may eventually make it available to regular members, said Dellanie Fragnoli, assistant vice president of insurance services at Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco.

"It's one of the more requested services by our members," Fragnoli said.

Since 2003, Costco has offered group health insurance to its small-business members in the West through Cypress-based PacifiCare Health Systems Inc., said Cheryl Randolph, spokeswoman for PacifiCare.

The new program, also offered through PacifiCare, will be different in that it is tailored to individuals and families.

The preferred-provider plan, also known as a PPO, which encourages members to see participating doctors, will come in two forms offering similar benefits. One option will have a $1,500 annual deductible for individuals and a $3,000 deductible for families. The other, with lower premiums, will have deductibles twice as high, Costco said.

Coverage for both plans will include prescription drugs; co-payments for most office visits will be $35. Premiums will vary depending on age, location and health status.

Initially available only through Costco's 34 warehouses in Los Angeles, Orange and parts of Riverside and San Bernardino counties, the plan will be sold over the Internet and through a call center.

Costco can offer a discount in part because of lower administration, advertising and brokerage costs, Randolph said.

"They believe they can be cheaper than everyone else, not because of the bulk or the [lack of] frills, but because they are cutting out the middlemen, the broker," said J.D. Kleinke, a healthcare economist in Portland, Ore.

Costco is licensed to sell health insurance and receives a commission, but it "is significantly lower than what is generally paid," Fragnoli said.

Kleinke said consumers didn't really care who their health insurance provider was.

"They just want the cheapest way to see their doctor," Kleinke said.

Although discount retailers selling health insurance may seem like an odd mix, it points out the need consumers have for alternatives, given the rising costs of health insurance, Kleinke said.

Other major retailers including Target Corp. and Longs Drug Stores Corp. also have moved into the healthcare arena. At some Target stores in Minneapolis, shoppers can visit walk-up clinics staffed mostly by nurse practitioners for minor ailments, such as a bladder infection or seasonal allergies, with no appointment and little or no waiting. Target is contracting with Minneapolis-based MinuteClinic Inc. to run the clinics.

In Davis, Calif., this year, Longs unveiled its own in-store clinic. And also this year, the Wal-Mart Stores Inc.-operated Sam's Club began offering a discount program to members that cuts by as much as 50% the cost of some health services not covered by insurance, such as laser eye surgery and dental care.

This area is going to continue to grow, predict healthcare specialists like Kleinke, as rising costs push people to find new ways to insure themselves.

"We're not going to solve this problem," Fragnoli said. But "there is some value in Costco being in the arena. It keeps the providers on their toes."

Copyright 2005 Los Angeles Times
 
Update: Hotels Vote to Lock Out Workers

Los Angeles Business Journal Online

By DAVID GREENBERG
Los Angeles Business Journal Staff
Six L.A. area hotels agreed to lock out 2,380 unionized workers after Unite HERE members walked off the job at the Hyatt West Hollywood, a member of a bargaining group with the other six hotels.

The Los Angeles Hotel Employer’s Council voted late Thursday in favor of the lockout after about 120 workers struck the Hyatt West Hollywood over health care reimbursements. The hotels said the lockout would not take effect until midnight Saturday, giving the union time to accept a "best and final" contract offer.

“This is what we call a defensive lockout – it comes in response to a strike,” said Fred Muir, consultant to the hotel council.

Tensions have been high since a contract between Unite HERE Local 11 and nine large hotels expired in April 2004. (Two have since dropped out.) The union has been seeking to align contract expiration dates throughout the country in 2006. The hotels have offered substantial pay increases but they want a longer contract.

The health care payments arose from earlier negotiations. To put pressure on the union, the hotels began deducting $40 in monthly health care premiums last July, but then stopped making the deductions in January. Since then, the union has been seeking reimbursement for premiums the workers paid in the interim.

David Koff, research analyst for Unite HERE, said the local’s 2,500 workers were forced to pay more than $650,000 in health care premiums.

“This has been an issue that agitated the workers from the beginning,” said Koff. “We started at this hotel but it could expand.”

The union is looking for a two-year agreement that would be retroactive to April 15, 2004, when the previous contract expired. That would line Local 11’s agreement with those in several other cities, giving the union more bargaining power.

© 2005 Los Angeles Business Journal Associates