Terrorism Act 2006 – website owners beware
April 14th, 2006

The newly introduced Terrorism Act 2006 has some alarming clauses relating to websites – particularly likely to affect sites where members of the public can contribute content. Unwary bloggers and forum owners could find themselves held liable (with maximum 7-year sentence) for unwitting “endorsement” of materials deemed to be terrorist in nature.

Organisations that provide web sites or other opportunities for individuals to publish on the Internet should be aware of a new notice-and-take-down requirement contained within the Terrorism Act 2006, which came into force yesterday, and ensure that they have procedures to handle any notices served on them under the Act.

Sections 3 and 4 of the Act enable a police constable to give written notice to an organisation that a particular statement they publish electronically is unlawful, because it relates to Terrorism. If the organisation does not remove or amend the statement within two working days (only Saturdays, Sundays, Bank Holidays, Christmas Day and Good Friday are excluded) then it will be considered to have endorsed the statement and thereafter be liable to prosecution for encouraging Terrorism or disseminating terrorist publications.

An organisation served with a notice is also required to take all reasonable steps to prevent future re-publication of the same or similar statements. Since the law is brand new, it is not clear how “all reasonable steps” will be interpreted, but it seems likely to require at least an investigation into who published the statement and removing that person’s ability to publish in future.

The Act can be found at:

The relevant part of the Act is at:

Parliamentary debate from February relating to this section of the Act:

Why does habeas corpus hate America?
By Jamie Holly
October 10th, 2006

Keith did a great report tonight on what the recently passed Military Commissions Act of 2006 means to America and our Constitution.

This story has been buried by Foleygate, which is a crime in itself. I had the honor of hearing Daniel Ellsberg and John Siegenthaler Sr. speak last night and the key subject was journalism in today’s political environment. We are one of the only countries in the world without an official secrets act, due in a large part to the uniqueness of our first amendment. Sadly this very bill puts us even closer to enacting such legislation and putting a muzzle on the media that would have prevented the extraordinary act of patriotism that Ellsberg exhibited, as well as those that followed in the entire Watergate scandal.

Because the Mark Foley story began to break the night of September 28th, exploding the following day, many people may not have noticed a bill passed by the Senate that night.

Our third story on the Countdown tonight, the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and what it does to something called “habeas corpus.”

And before we reduce the very term “habeas corpus” to something vaguely recalled as sounding kinda like the cornerstone of freedom, or maybe kinda like a character from “Harry Potter,” we thought a Countdown Special Investigation was in order.

Congress passed The Military Commissions Act to give Mr. Bush the power to deal effectively with America’s enemies — those who seek to harm this country.

And he has been very clear about who that is:

“…for people to leak that program, and for a newspaper to publish it does great harm to the United States of America.”

So the president said it was urgent that Congress send him this bill as quickly as possible, not for the politics of next month’s elections, but for America.

“The fact that we’re discussing this program is helping the enemy.”

Because time was of the essence–and to ensure that the 9/11 families would wait no longer–as soon as he got the bill, President Bush whipped out his pen and immediately signed a statement saying he looks forward to signing the actual law…eventually.

He hasn’t signed it yet, almost two weeks later, because he has been swamped by a series of campaign swings at which he has made up quotes from unnamed Democratic leaders, and because when he is actually at work, he’s been signing so many other important bills, such as:

The Credit Rating Agency Reform Act;

the Third Higher Education Extension Act;

ratification requests for extradition treaties with Malta, Estonia and Latvia;

his proclamation of German-American Day;

the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Act;

and his proclamation of Leif Erikson Day.

Still, getting the Military Commissions Act to the President so he could immediately mull it over for two weeks was so important, some members of Congress didn’t even read the bill before voting on it. Thus, has some of its minutiae, escaped scrutiny.

One bit of trivia that caught our eye was the elimination of habeas corpus. which apparently used to be the right of anyone who’s tossed in prison, to appear in court and say, “Hey, why am I in prison?”

Why does habeas corpus hate America… and how is it so bad for us?

Mr. Bush says it gets in the way of him doing his job.

Bush: “…we cannot be able to tell the American people we’re doing our full job unless we have the tools necessary to do so. And this legislation passed in the House yesterday is a part of making sure that we do have the capacity to protect you. Our most solemn job is the security of this country.”

It may be solemn…

Bush: “I do solemnly swear…”

But is that really his job? In this rarely seen footage, Mr. Bush is clearly heard describing a different job.

… to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Countdown has obtained a copy of this “Constitution of the United States.”

And sources tell us it was originally snuck through the Constitutional Convention and state ratification in order to establish America’s fundamental legal principles.

But this so-called Constitution is frustratingly vague about the right to trial. In fact, there’s only one reference to habeas corpus at all. Quote: “The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.”

But even Democrats who voted against the Military Commissions Act concede that it doesn’t actually suspend habeas corpus.

Leahy: The bill before the Senate would not merely suspend the great writ, the great writ of habeas corpus, it would eliminate it permanently.

And there is considerable debate whether the conditions for suspending habeas corpus, rebellion or invasion, have been met.

Leahy: conditions for suspending habeas corpus have not been met.

Kerry: We’re not in a rebellion, nor are we being invaded.

Specter: We do not have a rebellion or an invasion.

Biden: The United States is neither in a state of rebellion nor invasion.

Byrd: We are not in the midst of a rebellion, and there is no invasion.

Countdown has learned that habeas corpus actually predates the “Constitution,” meaning it’s not just pre-September 11th thinking, it’s also pre-July 4th thinking.

In those days, no one imagined that enemy combatants might one day attack Americans on native soil.

In fact, Countdown has obtained a partially redacted copy of a colonial “declaration” indicating that back then, “depriving us of Trial by Jury” was actually considered sufficient cause to start a War of Independence, based on the then-fashionable idea that “liberty” was an unalienable right.

Today, thanks to modern, post-9/11 thinking, those rights are now fully alienable.

The reality is, without habeas corpus, a lot of other rights lose their meaning.

But if you look at the actual Bill of Rights — the first ten amendments to that pesky Constitution — you’ll see just how many remain.

Well, ok, Number One’s gone.

If you’re detained without trial, you lose your freedom of religion, speech, the press and assembly. And you can’t petition the government for anything.

Number Two? While you’re in prison, your right to keep and bear arms just may be infringed upon.

Even if you’re in the NRA.


No forced sleepovers by soldiers at your house. OK. Three is unchanged.


You’re definitely not secure against searches and seizures, with or without probable cause – and this isn’t even limited to the guards.

Five… Grand juries and due process are obviously out.

Six. So are trials, let alone the right to counsel. Speedy trials? You want it when?

Seven. Hmmmm. I thought we covered “trials” and “juries” earlier.

Eight — So bail’s kind of a moot point…

Nine: “Other” rights retained by the people. Well, if you can name them during your water-boarding, we’ll consider them.

And Ten — powers not delegated to the United States federal government seem to have ended up there, anyway.

So as you can see, even without habeas corpus, at least one tenth of the Bill of Rights, I guess that’s the Bill of “Right” now… remains virtually intact.

And we can rest easy knowing we will never, ever have to quarter soldiers in our homes… as long as the Third Amendment still stands strong.

The President can take care of that with a Signing Statement.

Why the Frogs Are Dying
By Mac Margolis
Oct. 16, 2006

Draped like a verdant shawl over Costa Rica’s Tilarán Mountains, the Monteverde cloud forest has long been a nature lover’s idyll. Hidden birds flirt to the whisper of rushing streams and epiphytes tumble from the mist, while delicate flowers bloom impossibly from the jungle’s maw. With luck you might even catch the iridescent flash of the resplendent quetzal, the elegant symbol of the Central American rain forest.

There’s one member of this pageant that won’t be turning up, however: the Monteverde harlequin frog. Named after its palette of yellow, red and black, this miniature amphibian—a member of the genus Atelopus—had thrived in these Costa Rican mountains for perhaps a million years. Yet the last time

J. Alan Pounds, an ecologist who has studied the cloud forest’s wildlife for 25 years, spotted one in Monteverde was in 1988. Its cousin, the golden toad, went missing about the same time. Indeed, the more scientists search, the grimmer the situation looks. A study by 75 scientists published earlier this year in the journal Nature estimated that two thirds of the 110 known species of harlequins throughout Central and South America have vanished. And that may be just the beginning.

The loss of a species is sad enough, not least a jewel like the harlequin, which one researcher described as a tropical Easter egg. What has puzzled scientists is why. For millennia, this denizen of tropical America survived by adapting to whatever changes nature threw its way. Suckers lining the underbelly of tadpoles allow them to cling to rocks without being flushed downstream. The adult’s carnival-like costume warns potential predators to stand clear or risk a deadly dose of tetrodotoxin. But apparently there’s one peril the harlequin couldn’t trump: climate change.

Monteverde gets its lifeblood from the trade winds, which blow moisture uphill where the air cools and condenses into clouds. An ark of plants, insects and animals flourishes in the cool misty mountains. Gradually, though, a warming trend has raised nighttime temperatures and increased cloud cover, which makes for cooler days by blocking solar radiation. The subtle change, which might go unnoticed by us bipeds, is thought to have been ideal for chytridomycosis, a disease caused by a waterborne fungus that has flared up throughout tropical Central and South America. Scientists believe the chytrid disease kills the frogs by blocking their natural ability to absorb water through their porous skin (and perhaps also by releasing a toxin), essentially causing them to die of dehydration. What really frightens researchers, however, is the potential implications of the die-off. “There’s basically a mass extinction in the making,” says Pounds. “I think amphibians are just the first wave.”

For years now, eminent researchers have been warning of a gathering climate disaster. The findings at Monteverde, and scores of other research stations around the globe, have shaken people’s complacency. This was not just another computer model spitting out mathematical warnings but a whole living genus on the brink. Alarmed at the portents, a network of conservationists is trying to evacuate the remaining harlequin frogs to fungus-free zones and frog farms. But such heroics may be futile. Scientists monitoring wildlife around the world are echoing Pounds’s research. Their conclusion: many more species will perish.

A global temperature rise of a mere 0.6 degrees Celsius over the last century has sent shock waves through the animal kingdom. From the desiccating rain forests of Australia to the thawing Arctic, the warmer weather is expelling animals from age-old homelands, scrambling mating and nesting habits, and putting competitors on a prickly collision course. As habitable spaces get smaller, competition for food grows fierce. Meanwhile, insects and pests, which flourish in the heat, abound. So may the diseases they carry, like dengue fever, avian pox or cholera. Scholars are asking whether the loss of individual species could have a knock-on effect all through the food chain. “We are seeing problems from pole to pole; we see them in the oceans and we see them on land,” says Lara Hansen, chief climate-change scientist at the World Wildlife Fund. “There are very few systems that I can think of that are untouched by climate change.”

Not all the science points to disaster. Some species can adapt to the changing climate. But to what extent? “Climate change is happening a lot faster than the process of evolution can,” says biologist Camille Parmesan, at the University of Texas. “The fact that species are going extinct is telling you that they didn’t adapt.”

Still others parry that the havoc credited to climate change owes more to deforestation or diseases spread by humans. Yet to many experts, that misses the point. “We already know that all kinds of diseases respond to climate conditions. We also know that the interaction of species, especially predators and parasites, can also complicate the equation—which is something the computer climate models don’t take into account,” says Pounds. “That makes the impact of climate change difficult to predict, but probably even more severe than you’d imagine.”

The trouble at Monteverde only heightened a mystery that had scientists stumped for years: why do whole species of wildlife disappear in apparently pristine parks and nature preserves? There had been no shortage of theories to explain the demise of the harlequins, from acid rain to an overdose of ultraviolet rays. By the late nineties, attention shifted to the chytrid fungus outbreaks, which many amphibian experts concluded were the smoking gun. But Pounds wasn’t satisfied. After all, it wasn’t just harlequins, but all kinds of amphibians that were dying. And if the chytrid disease was killing the frogs, what was behind the deadly outbreak?

In time, Pounds learned that the fungus flourished in the wet season and turned lethal in warm (17 to 25 degrees Celsius) weather—exactly the conditions that climate change was bringing to the cloud forest. More important, he found that 80 percent of the extinctions followed unusually warm years. “The disease was the bullet killing the frogs, but climate was pulling the trigger,” says Pounds. “Alter the climate and you alter the disease dynamic.”

In a broad survey of scientific literature, Parmesan and Wesleyan University economist Gary Yohe recently concluded that hundreds of animals and plants had responded to climate change by jumping their biological clocks. Yellow-bellied marmots stir from hibernation 23 days later than they did in the mid-1970s, when temperatures in the Rocky Mountains were 1.4 degrees cooler. Some 65 bird species in the U.K. are laying eggs nearly nine days earlier than they did in 1971. Others have literally fled, pushing north to cooler climes or to higher altitudes. Nearly two dozen species of dragonflies and damselflies are now wandering nearly 90 kilometers north of their habitual range in the U.K. of four decades ago, while in Spain a steady warming trend has reduced the habitat of 16 species of highland butterflies by a third in just 30 years.

On a boundless planet such artful dodging would not be a problem. But climate change is beginning to crowd animals together. Canada’s red fox has moved 900 kilometers north into Baffin Island, where it is trespassing on the grounds of the Arctic fox. Scientists are reporting a complex ripple effect at Monteverde. The same warming trend that makes for hotter nights in the wet season also provokes prolonged dry spells in summer, attracting all sorts of fair-weather strangers. One is the aggressive keel-billed toucan, which has climbed from the foothills to the cloud forests, competing for food and nesting spots with the quetzal.

On the ground, Pounds’s team has noticed a dramatic decline in the population of lizards, and some snakes like the cloud-forest racer and the firebellied snake, which once fed on the harlequin frogs. The loser, again, looks to be the quetzal, which is already capturing fewer frogs and lizards—a key protein and calcium source for its nestlings. “When interactions between species are disrupted, the outcome can sometimes be devastating,” says Pounds.

Pests are the big winners in a warming world. A parasite called the nemotode, which dies off in the heat, has compensated by breeding faster, which causes fertility to plunge, or even death, among infected wild musk oxen. A kidney disease has flourished in the warming streams of Switzerland, ravaging trout stocks. Meanwhile, the oyster parasite, a scourge to shell fishermen in Chesapeake Bay, has crept all the way to Maine because of milder winters. Though there’s little hard science linking climate change to farm pests, most agricultural experts say it’s a matter of connecting the dots. “There is good evidence that warmer conditions favor more invasive species,” says David Pimentel, who studies invasive plants and pests at Cornell University. “Invasive plants can compete with native varieties and cause extinctions.”

Global warming is taking an especially heavy toll on specialists, species whose biology tailors them to specific geographic areas and narrow climate and temperature ranges. A recent casualty is the honeycreeper, a tiny songbird found only in the mountains of Hawaii. It has been decimated by a plague of avian pox carried by mosquitoes that have moved steadily farther into the highlands.

An even bleaker example is the pika, a small, mountain-dwelling lagomorph related to the rabbit, with a low threshold for heat; it starts to die as soon as the mercury tops 24 degrees, which is exactly what is happening in its native habitat. Nine of 25 pika communities known in the western United States in the 1930s have now vanished, while fully half of those that once roamed the Tian Shan Mountains of northwest China are gone.

One of the most besieged of all the specialists is the polar bear, which hunts seal from floating chunks of sea ice. Warmer currents in the Arctic Ocean have hastened the breakup of ice floes and forced the bears to swim greater distances for their meals, putting them at risk of drowning or starving. Already bear watchers say the average weight of polars in Hudson Bay has dropped from 295kg to 230kg—near the threshold below which they stop reproducing. Polar bears now top most green groups’ endangered lists.

More than polar bears will be in trouble if atmospheric temperatures rise two more degrees—far from the worst-case climate forecasts. The Greenland ice shelf would melt, posing a threat to a whole web of life that depends on ice, including plankton, which feed fish, which are eaten by seals, which are meals for both polar bears and Inuk hunters. In the Southern Hemisphere, many researchers have already linked sharp declines in penguins like the rock hopper, Galápagos, blackfoot, Adélie and the regal emperor to warmer ocean currents, which have flushed away staple food supplies like krill, a coldwater crustacean.

The loss of creatures is alarming enough. What about losing an entire ecosystem? For most of the last two decades, Stephen Williams, a tropical ecologist at James Cook University in Australia, has been studying the evolutionary biology of the Australian rain forests. The sprawling experiment was meant to plot how wildlife evolved in the mountainous cloud forests along the coast of northeast Queensland, where thousands of unique animal and plant species have thrived for 5 million years. But when Williams ran his data through a computer model, testing for a modest rise in world temperatures (3.5 degrees Celsius over a century), he was floored. By 2100, his team concluded, up to 50 percent of all species would be gone. “I expected to see an impact, but this was shocking,” says Williams.

Perhaps what is most alarming about Williams’s study is that even if not another tree ever falls to the chainsaw or bulldozer, one of the planet’s most heralded World Heritage sites will still be under silent siege. “We’re looking at losing most of the things that the protected areas were put in place to preserve,” he warns. Already the populations of the gray-headed robin and a small frog belonging to the species Cophixalusneglectus are beginning to thin, while marsupials, reptiles and a host of forest birds are fleeing the heat ever higher up the mountainside, to where the life-giving clouds have retreated. “Soon,” says Williams, “there will be nowhere to go.” Nowhere, perhaps, but heaven.

3 thoughts on “688”

  1. i’ll say what i please and president that moron bush can go to hell. if i am “disappeared” due to something i said in this blog, then it will be an indication that things have really gone too far, and anybody who reads this should leave the country immediately if they don’t want similar things to happen to them.

    i don’t know which fictional quasi-documentary to which you’re referring, but there’s a new movie, in which robin williams plays a commedian who becomes president, that’s come out recently which looks like i’m going to have to see it.

  2. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/10/16/teen_myspace_protest/

    watch with the “i am a terrorist remarks” and any other anti-bush comments 🙂

    I can’t believe that agents grabbed this girl in school and threatened her like they did. Whatever happened to free speech? Knocking your leaders has become a national sport in the west and most definitely hasn’t become illegal as far as I am concerned!

    I’m guessing the recent fictional quasi-documentary of the current president getting assassinated was also too much for the leaders of your country to bear, since most networks have turned down the chance to air this piece of FICTION !!!!

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