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28 April 2005

Fake Terror - Ricin Ring That Never Was

Ricin rings in the UK? The Antagonist didn't buy it, nor did anyone else with a sense of reason, realising that it was yet another attempt by government agencies to scare the UK public just enough that they positively relish the soon-to-reappear ID cards bill, fundamental changes in UK law, and a whole host of other infringements of fundamental civil liberties.

Duncan Campbell's story of the truth about the non-existence of alleged UK ricin rings appeared, then disappeared, from the Guardian's web site and is reproduced here courtesy of Indymedia.
Fake Terror - Ricin Ring That Never Was

Yesterday's trial collapse has exposed the deception behind attempts to link al-Qaida to a 'poison attack' on London
By Duncan Campbell, The Guardian - UK 2004-15-05

Colin Powell does not need more humiliation over the manifold errors in his February 2003 presentation to the UN. But yesterday a London jury brought down another section of the case he made for war - that Iraq and Osama bin Laden were supporting and directing terrorist poison cells throughout Europe, including a London ricin ring.

Yesterday's verdicts on five defendants and the dropping of charges against four others make clear there was no ricin ring. Nor did the "ricin ring" make or have ricin. Not that the government shared that news with us. Until today, the public record for the past three fear-inducing years has been that ricin was found in the Wood Green flat occupied by some of yesterday's acquitted defendants. It wasn't.

The third plank of the al-Qaida-Iraq poison theory was the link between what Powell labelled the "UK poison cell" and training camps in Afghanistan. The evidence the government wanted to use to connect the defendants to Afghanistan and al-Qaida was never put to the jury. That was because last autumn a trial within a trial was secretly taking place. This was a private contest between a group of scientists from the Porton Down military research centre and myself. The issue was: where had the information on poisons and chemicals come from?

The information - five pages in Arabic, containing amateur instructions for making ricin, cyanide and botulinum, and a list of chemicals used in explosives - was at the heart of the case. The notes had been made by Kamel Bourgass, the sole convicted defendant. His co-defendants believed that he had copied the information from the internet. The prosecution claimed it had come from Afghanistan.

I was asked to look for the original source on the internet. This meant exploring Islamist websites that publish Bin Laden and his sympathisers, and plumbing the most prolific source of information on how to do harm: the writings of the American survivalist right and the gun lobby.

The experience of being an expert witness on these issues has made me feel a great deal safer on the streets of London. These were the internal documents of the supposed al-Qaida cell planning the "big one" in Britain. But the recipes were untested and unoriginal, borrowed from US sources. Moreover, ricin is not a weapon of mass destruction. It is a poison which has only ever been used for one-on-one killings and attempted killings.

If this was the measure of the destructive wrath that Bin Laden's followers were about to wreak on London, it was impotent. Yet it was the discovery of a copy of Bourgass's notes in Thetford in 2002 that inspired the wave of horror stories and government announcements and preparations for poison gas attacks.

It is true that when the team from Porton Down entered the Wood Green flat in January 2003, their field equipment registered the presence of ricin. But these were high sensitivity field detectors, for use where a false negative result could be fatal. A few days later in the lab, Dr Martin Pearce, head of the Biological Weapons Identification Group, found that there was no ricin. But when this result was passed to London, the message reportedly said the opposite.

The planned government case on links to Afghanistan was based only on papers that a freelance journalist working for the Times had scooped up after the US invasion of Kabul. Some were in Arabic, some in Russian. They were far more detailed than Bourgass's notes. Nevertheless, claimed Porton Down chemistry chief Dr Chris Timperley, they showed a "common origin and progression" in the methods, thus linking the London group of north Africans to Afghanistan and Bin Laden.

The weakness of Timperley's case was that neither he nor the intelligence services had examined any other documents that could have been the source. We were told Porton Down and its intelligence advisers had never previously heard of the "Mujahideen Poisons Handbook, containing recipes for ricin and much more". The document, written by veterans of the 1980s Afghan war, has been on the net since 1998.

All the information roads led west, not to Kabul but to California and the US midwest. The recipes for ricin now seen on the internet were invented 20 years ago by survivalist Kurt Saxon. He advertises videos and books on the internet. Before the ricin ring trial started, I phoned him in Arizona. For $110, he sent me a fistful of CDs and videos on how to make bombs, missiles, booby traps - and ricin. We handed a copy of the ricin video to the police.

When, in October, I showed that the chemical lists found in London were an exact copy of pages on an internet site in Palo Alto, California, the prosecution gave up on the Kabul and al-Qaida link claims. But it seems this information was not shared with the then home secretary, David Blunkett, who was still whipping up fear two weeks later. "Al-Qaida and the international network is seen to be, and will be demonstrated through the courts over months to come, actually on our doorstep and threatening our lives," he said on November 14.

The most ironic twist was an attempt to introduce an "al-Qaida manual" into the case. The manual - called the Manual of the Afghan Jihad - had been found on a raid in Manchester in 2000. It was given to the FBI to produce in the 2001 New York trial for the first attack on the World Trade Centre. But it wasn't an al-Qaida manual. The name was invented by the US department of justice in 2001, and the contents were rushed on to the net to aid a presentation to the Senate by the then attorney general, John Ashcroft, supporting the US Patriot Act.

To show that the Jihad manual was written in the 1980s and the period of the US-supported war against the Soviet occupation was easy. The ricin recipe it contained was a direct translation from a 1988 US book called the Poisoner's Handbook, by Maxwell Hutchkinson.

We have all been victims of this mass deception. I do not doubt that Bourgass would have contemplated causing harm if he was competent to do so. But he was an Islamist yobbo on his own, not an Al Qaida-trained superterrorist. An Asbo might be appropriate.

Duncan Campbell is an investigative writer and a scientific expert witness on computers and telecommunications. He is author of War Plan UK and is not the Guardian journalist of the same name.

18 April 2005

Labour Domain Name Cybersquatting Skullduggery

It seems like Labour Party HQ have been busy on the domain name registration front in a desperate bid to drum up a little more traffic to their web site from anyone checking out the toryscum.com opposition.

A cursory search for Tory leader Michael 'Hecht' Howard throws back links to MICHAELHOWARDSCV.COM and MICHAELHOWARDSCV.ORG, both of which are registered and owned by the Labour Party and redirected to their web site.

Nice touch. And it doesn't stop there.

Michael 'Hecht' Howard
has www.michaelhowardmp.com so, not to be outdone, those enterprising New Labour folk have introduced a devious third way to their web site and registered MICHAELHOWARDMP.ORG, to catch errant typists but have neglected to redirect it to the Labour Party web site.

Update: The Antagonist discovered these little factoids entirely by chance while researching the spectre of Hecht, penned this post, and then found this while waiting for a couple of new .gov.uk domain registrations come through.

Paxman To Grill Party Leaders

This week the BBC are screening a series of Jeremy Paxman interviews with the leaders of the only three political parties anyone ever hears about in the free and democratic society in which we live.

The first is being screened tonight at 1930 BST on BBC1 with Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy being the first to step up to the plate.

The two remaining Paxman Interviews will be broadcast on BBC1 at 1930 BST on Wednesday 20 April (Right Hon. Tony B.Liar), and at 1930 BST on Friday 22 April 2005 (Michael 'Don't call me Hecht' Howard).

If you have any questions you wish the Paxman team to consider posing to either of the three usual suspects, you can submit them here.

Respect Coalition Manifesto Launch

George Galloway's Respect Coalition have launched their 2005 Election Manifesto (pdf), the main points of which are as follows:
  • End the occupation of Iraq
  • End privatisation – bring public services back into public ownership
  • End the attacks on civil liberties; no identity cards
  • Comprehensive education; an equal chance to every child and young person
  • A publicly owned, democratically controlled and fully funded NHS
  • Link pensions to average earnings
  • Scrap student tuition fees
  • Raise the minimum wage to the European Decency Threshold of £7.40
  • Oppose all forms of discrimination, defend refugees and asylum seekers
  • Repeal the anti-union laws
  • Tough action to control climate change
  • Tax big business and the wealthy to fund public expenditure
All of which sounds rather good in principle and makes The Antagonist think it's a shame that democracy in the UK is little more than a two horse race.

The late and legendary Bill Hicks said it best when he said:
'I think the puppet on the right shares my beliefs.'
'I think the puppet on the left is more to my liking.'
'Hey, wait a minute, there's one guy holding out both puppets!'

UK Election Blogroll Added

Two weeks in to the run up to the UK general election, three weeks to go, and The Antagonist has finally got round to adding a living, breathing blogroll to manage the veritable cornucopia of UK Election related links.

14 April 2005

Fag Packet Politics

In the interests of fairness and equality to all political parties and one man bands, The Antagonist presents Robert Kilroy-Silk - the veritable ass known initially for stirring shit and, more recently, for being covered in shit - and his Veritas Manifesto.

The Antagonist thinks Veritass' (sic) manifesto would have been imbued with a tad more credibility and charm if it were presented on the original cigarette packet on which it was devised.

Close, but no cigar, Robert.

Skeet the Rich

$207,000 a flight! Pull!

Howard attacks Blair over ricin case

"Michael Howard sought to bring immigration and asylum issues to the fore in the election campaign today, blaming failures in government policy for allowing Algerian ricin plotter Kamel Bourgass into Britain."

Source: Guardian | Howard attacks Blair over ricin case
Minor point, but worth mentioning, tighter immigration controls in the past would have meant Michael Howard wouldn't be here now to preach his own special brand of nonsense.

Riches In The Food You Don't Eat

Two stories from BBC News:
Tesco Profits Break Through £2bn

The UK's biggest supermarket chain posted underlying pre-tax profits of £2.03bn ($3.83bn), up 20.5% on 2004.

Source: BBC NEWS | Tesco profits break through £2bn
Britons Throw Away Third of Food

Around one third of food grown for human consumption in the UK ends up in the rubbish bin, new figures reveal. Statistics from the government and food industry show each adult wastes food to the value of £420 each year.

Changes in people's habits and scares over food safety are helping wastage to increase by 15% every decade, the BBC's Costing the Earth found.

Source: BBC NEWS | Britons throw away third of food
Through the clever use of well-documented predatory pricing, supplier manipulation, and other strong-armed business tactics to close off any viable, local competition, the supermarket cartels are openly generating obscene profits from the bulk manufacture and sale of food that it seems consumers just throw away.

Endless streams of in-store offers of '3 for the price of 2' or '2 for 1' and the occasional mass-produced food safety alert make overconsumption the default activity in supermarkets. This enforced overconsumption tactic of standard supermarket practices is now producing huge profits for the supermarket chains, huge amounts of waste, and huge costs to the safety, vitality, and the diversity of the food we eat and the local communities in which we live.

To date the onus has been on local communities to justify why they have no desire for a supermarket to be installed somewhere in the vicinity of a thriving community.

Until this process is reversed, and the onus is placed on the supermarket chains to plead their case to local communities, consumers are left with little other option than to vote with their feet and stay out of the supermarkets that actively encourage this hideous waste to occur.

Now We're Talking!

With all the fuss surrounding the Conservative 2005 election posters, and the advent of the superb Conservative poster generator, The Antagonist felt obliged to enter the fray....

it's not a crime to dismantle illegitimate institutions


13 April 2005

The Humbled Apprentice

The Antagonist has been hanging fire on posting anything about this for some while, but the time has now come.

After this BBC series, if this apologist for failure ever manages to hold down a job that pays above minimum wage, much less the six-figure salary promised by Alan Sugar's Amstrad, The Antagonist will be more suprised than when Antagonist Twin Towers researchers found this photo of another Apprentice contestant in rather non-standard business attire.

Rachel - The Apprentice

Britain Forward Not Back II

Maybe it was by design...

Britain Forward Not Back

As B.Liar, Brown, and their Labour Party cronies stand in front of their

'Britain forward not back'

slogans to announce the launch of the Labour Party manifesto, The Antagonist wonders if the opening words of the Labour party slogan


are there by accident, or design.

12 April 2005

Cloned Cattle Produce 'Safe'

"Milk and meat from cloned cattle appear safe for human consumption, a pilot study has found."
Oh, really?

Last The Antagonist heard, even non-cloned cattle has its fair share of problems.

Dell: Not Quite As Advertised

Congratulations to Dell Computers for leaping unashamedly onto The Antagonist's corporate scams radar with their superb coffer-boosting efforts of hijacking a few extra pounds from unwitting consumers at the point of sale.

It would be very difficult not to spot at least some of the glut of advertising that Dell fills the world with these days, and a reader ('H', here-on in) of the Antagonist's musings, who happened to be in the market for a new PC, was no different. Inspired by a glossy, colour photograph of a fully-fledged, multimedia Dell PC, flatscreen and speaker combo, 'H' telephoned Dell to place an order.

During the conversation that ensued, the Dell representative advised that the system did not contain a sound card and that one could be fitted at an additional cost of UKP34. According to the representative, the extra expenditure would allow 'H' to "make full use of the system" and, of course, full use of the speakers that were so prominently displayed in the glossy advert that inspired 'H' to order.

So, Dell advertises what appears to be a multimedia PC, along with the price for that multimedia PC, and then tells anyone that tries to order it that they need to spend more money to get the multimedia functionality that is implied by the glossy marketing literature.

Rather unsubtly, the idea here is to exploit the fact that anyone spending the best part of UKP1000 on a PC isn't going to balk at the marginal cost of an extra UKP40 to get the implied functionality. The deal is, if you want to actually listen to the CDs and DVDs that a new Dell system will allow you to play through the speakers shown in their adverts, you have to pay more than the advertised price of that implied functionality.

The Antagonist believes that this is a highly spurious business practice and constitutes entirely misleading advertising.

Further, if you were to take this practice to its logical extension, Dell would be selling empty computer cases, screens and speakers, as shown in the glossy adverts, and then getting customers who call up to order to fill these redundant boxes with other random component parts - like motherboards, CPUs, and graphics cards, all at extra cost - so 'H' and other consumers can then "make full use of the system" displayed.

Researchers at the Antagonist Twin Towers are very interested to know how many other people have experienced this sort of unscrupulous practice at the hands of Dell...

11 April 2005

Are You Thinking What We're Thinking?

Nice bit of creative dissent and subvertising going on over at http://www.toryscum.com/, that's worth a mention - although The Antagonist feels the slight political bias implied by the name of the site rather unnecessarily excludes a lot of http://www.mpscum.com/ from their deserved limelight.

And, while we're on the subject of http://www.toryscum.com/, still not thinking what they're thinking? Then create, print and distribute your own Tory election posters.

Heck, put them in your windows and on your front doors and keep the canvassers away.

High Speed Multimedia Terrorism

Hey media industries, has The Antagonist got some news for you!

Reports of Internet transfer rates of "billion bits a second" and how "consumers could download an entire HD movie in about five minutes vs. today's 22 minutes."

Whatever evil spins the media corporates try and put on p2p or filesharing, even a click and a whopping 22 minutes to download a film wins hands down when compared to paying to sit on hold to a call centre for 22 minutes to pre-order tickets to a film - complete with additional booking fee for the privilege, of course - for which you still have to queue, possibly for another 22 minutes, to pick up when you've braved the elements and travelled, perhaps 22 or so more minutes, to get to wherever it is the film is showing. Then, after about 22 more minutes of adverts and general fluff that most of us could happily live without, along comes your film.

Which one would you choose?

In their infinite wisdom, the global media mafiaa are sticking to their clever strategy designed to see them through this passing Internet fad and have sued a few more multimedia terrorists... er... I mean a few more of the "upwards of 400 million peer to peer users worldwide".

The Antagonist will return soon with some clever statistics involving the numbers 9,000 (total law suits to date) and 400,000,000 (number of peer to peer users worldwide) just as soon as the abacus has been exponentially upgraded.

Safe Blogging

Immediately The Antagonist finishes posting about the Freedom of Expression Blog Awards 2005, along comes the EFF's How to Blog Safely (About Work or Anything Else).

There must be something in the air.

10 April 2005

Freedom of Expression Blog Awards

Freedom of expression is a good thing in the mind of The Antagonist, who lives in a place where the press purports to be free and yet which, in the majority of cases, only serves to limit the bounds of acceptable opinion and discussion.

Luckily, organisations like Reporters Sans Frontières exist and they recently launched the Freedom Of Expression Blog Awards 2005 to pay tribute to bloggers around the world who defend free expression, often in the face of adversity. Blog readers are being asked to pick from blogs in six geographical categories - Africa and the Middle East, the Americas, Asia, Europe, Iran and International.

Voting is open until
1st June 2005 and there are over 60 blogs to choose from so get reading and voting and lets try and at least keep expression free, even if precious little else is.

REVOLUTION, Revolution, Revolution

“EDUCATION, education, education” was Tony B.Liar's election war cry of 1997. He probably mentioned it a few times in 2001 but I don't recall and, for once, I can't be bothered to look it up. Suffice to say, in 1997, it was the election slogan, even though all it is is meaningless reptition of the same thing, over and over again.

Today, in the early stages of the 2005 farc... election, Tony B.Liar was seen to be sweating it a bit, in the style of Charles Kennedy during his speech last year, as he appeared before his Sedgefield constituency to outline something or other in the run up to May 5th, the day before his birthday.

Surrounded by numerous Labour Party "forward not back" slogans, and with no sense of irony, sarcasm or humour, Tony B.Liar leapt firmly forward not back to 1997 and announced his party's new commitment to, er, “EDUCATION, education, education”.

Baghdad: Mass Shiite Protest Against Iraq Occupation

In a speech to tens of thousands of Iraqis in Baghdad on the second anniversary of the city's fall to the Americans, Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr demanded US troops leave Iraq.

According to the story, Christians and students also paraded around the square with banners chanting "No! No to terrorism!" and "No! No to America!" in support of Sadr's call for national unity:
"Bush, you said the world is safer now. Bush I tell you maybe America is safer but the rest of the world is more dangerous. Why are you dismantling the weapons of our resistance and you permit Israel to have nuclear arms.

"Why are you waging war against Islam, and at the same time supporting the Jews. We don't want your security. We don't want anything good or bad from you, we want you to leave us alone."

With continued global opposition outside of Iraq and both peaceful and violent opposition to the continued occupation inside the country, how much longer can the can the occupation of Iraq* continue?

* Iraq: The, "stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history," and, “a vital prize for any power interested in world influence or domination,” as the region was described by Britain in 1947.

Global Week of Action For Trade Justice - 10th-16th April 2005

This week, 10th-16th April 2005, is Global Week of Action for Trade Justice, involving hundreds of organisations and thousands of events around the world to challenge the free trade myth, and generate awareness of alternatives, through the biggest global mobilisation of people to date.

Over 80 events are being held around the world and are listed geographically for Africa, the Americas, Asia/Pacific, and Europe. Specific details regarding events in the UK are listed on the Trade Justice Movement web site and London also has a special Wake Up To Trade Justice event which runs from 7.30pm on Friday 15 April 2005, through the night, until 8am on Saturday morning.

Organised by the World Development Movement and other coalition members of the Trade Justice Movement and Make Poverty History, the Wake Up To Trade Justice line-up includes a little something for everyone:
  • From 7:30pm: Films for Trade Justice, WDM's screening of various films for Trade Justice, including The Yes Men, The Corporation and Crowd Bites Wolf
  • From 10pm: Club night at the Marquee, including Nitin Sawhney, Radio 1 DJ Bobby Friction and Super Furry Animals' frontman Gruff Rhys.
  • 11:30pm: Lighting of candles on Whitehall
  • Stars such as Thom Yorke, Vanessa Redgrave and Ronan Keating attending the event
  • From 5am: Fairtrade breakfast
  • 6:30am: Dawn procession past Downing Street
Global week of ACTION! Let's get to it, people!

09 April 2005

It's Over For Rover (Again)

By some strange twist of bureaucratic planning, it was All Fool's Day 1999 when the BBC News web site proclaimed the future of Rover's Longbridge plant had been secured following a deal between the Government and Rover's German parent company BMW. The 'deal' involved UK taxpayers handing over £UK200 million to BMW, the private, foreign owners of Rover - a fact about which Tony B.Liar was "delighted" as he looked forward to a "world class plant for the next century".

As his is his won't in his bouts of non-specific political verbosity, Tone neglected to mention quite how far into the next century he expected this world class plant to last and, just six years later, Rover has finally collapsed amid questions about £200m of cash and assets missing from Rover's published accounts.

On Friday, contact with the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) who were originally in on the deal to save Longbridge, and then out again, was available only via their broker in London NM Rothschild.

Today it looks like the four directors of Phoenix Venture Holdings who have managed to pay themselves in excess of UK£30 million since buying Rover for UK£10 from BMW in May 2000, may be required to meet some of the cost of the £400 million shortfall which has appeared in the company’s pension fund.

Chancellor Gordon Brown said:
"There will obviously be inquiries into what has happened in Rover since the deal with BMW. I think we can look at all the consequences of what has happened in the past at a later date."
Alternatively, Gordon, we could look into all the consequence of what has happened now, while the government and people responsible are still officially in charge and while it's still relevant to workers at Longbridge.

Windsor Castle Fake Bomb Delivery Update

No, not an attempted fake-bomb-re-delivery on the day of the Royal Wedding, but an update regarding the inquiry into the Windsor Castle incident earlier this week where a journalist drove a van carrying a fake 'bomb' past Windsor Castle security and into the site of today's wedding between Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles.

As the fake 'bomb' was cunningly disguised in brown box, clearly labelled 'BOMB', and was delivered in a heavily graffiti'd and rather suspect looking van, the inquiry has deemed that the two Royal Protection Group police officers responsible for allowing entry be moved from their duties to "non firearms commands", and other tasks hopefully less challenging than spotting the bloody obvious.

07 April 2005

Ultrasonic Remote Control for Your Brain

One in the eye for those worried about the prospect of chip implants - brain manipulation without the requirement for an implant.

Not content with creating artificial desires in people via old fashioned senses like sight, sound and smell (so 'last century'), those boys at Sony obtained a patent which speaks of technology to stimulate brain activity via ultrasound, thereby creating sensory experiences such as moving images, tastes and sounds.

From the patent:
"A non-invasive system and process for projecting sensory data onto the human neural cortex.... Changes in the neural firing timing induce various sensory experiences, depending on the location...the system induces recognizable sensory experiences by applying ultrasonic energy in one or more selected patterns on one or more selected locations of the cortex."

Suddenly, all those people wearing tin-foil hats don't seem quite so silly after all.

04 April 2005

Pots, Kettles and Blackness

The US has dismissed a tour by journalists of a nuclear facility in Iran as a "staged media event."
And, of course, the U.S. should know for it was they who brought us this gem of meretricious propaganda. And it didn't stop there, either.

In this there is a lesson. Namely, whatever allegations the U.S pitches at whomever the current foe-of-the-moment is, is precisely what the U.S. is doing and hoping that no-one notices.

02 April 2005

Closer to God

After endless daily reports about Il Papa's inability to speak, breath and perform his usual gesticulatory papal duties in front of the congregated masses in St Peter's Square, the pope has died.

Don't worry folks, a new one will be along shortly.

01 April 2005

RIAA Lawsuits Draw to a Close

Washington, DC - The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) this week announced that its litigation campaign against American filesharers will now end. Explained RIAA President Cory Shoreman, "In short, we sued 'em all. All 70 million, plus their parents, grandmothers, and roommates, have been properly brought to heel, for settlements ranging from between $3,000 and their entire net worth."

Shoreman continued, "The only logical result is that a properly chastened nation will now herd - peacefully, without protest - into the local malls to purchase from dusty, bulging shelves a dozen copies each of $18 Ashley Simpson copy-protected CDs."

"Why a dozen? Why, one CD for every RIAA-designed, government-approved listening device, of course! And then on top of that you've got to buy duplicates for back-ups in case any of them get scratched."

Twirling his moustachios and straightening his top hat, Shoreman chortled, "And they said the recording industry would never adjust to the Internet era!"

Nice to see the EFF in good spirits!