Michael Collins: Murdoch's Empire on the Brink as BBC Reports Gordon Brown "targeted" for Sleazy Schemes

The Times of London, Sunday Times, stands accused of tapping into former Labour Party Leader Gordon Brown's private medical records. According to the story published today by BBC, Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of the Times parent, News International, called Brown in 2006 when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer and informed him that she knew Brown's son was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Brooks was editor of the Sun at the time of the call. The Sun is a tabloid. She went on to become editor of the News of the World, Murdoch's 2.5 million circulation UK flagship. ( image/video)

"The Sunday Times is alleged to have illegally targeted the personal information of Gordon Brown when he was chancellor, the BBC has found.

"Documents and a phone recording suggest "blagging" was used to obtain private financial and property details.

T.R. Reid, Senate Finance, 'Universal' Healthcare, Media Cover

If you have time I'd highly recommend watching/listening to T.R. Reid on International Health systems today, which is part of the Health Reform Summit 2008 (Sens. Baucus + Grassley) running on C-SPAN. Notable for showing Reid's documentary (Frontline: Sick Around the World), and the discussion and reaction of the audience - Senators and staffers from the Senate Finance Committee.

Taxing Our Patience Over Tax Privacy

originally posted 2008-02-20 04:21:28 - bumped cho

Via ThinkProgress:1

A new article from the Philadelphia Inquirer has blown open the startling plans of the IRS to allow tax preparers for the first time to sell the tax returns of their customers.

The proposal came in a painfully technical tax regulation, which until now had attracted only a dozen public comments since it was announced in December. The proposal calls itself “not a significant regulatory action.” But the proposal is indeed significant, both for tax privacy and more broadly.

Until now, tax preparers could not sell tax returns to outside parties. Period. If they got taxpayer consent, they could use it for marketing, but only within their own corporate family.

The new proposal allows the tax preparers –- from your local accountant to giants such as H&R Block –- to get your signature and then give or sell the full tax return to data brokers, to your boss, to anyone. And there are absolutely no restrictions about what recipients do with the returns. The rule lets recipients post the full return to the Internet if they want.

(Hat-tip to Sarabeth from Delphiforums.)

This is not the first time that the privacy of US Tax Returns was under assault by the Republicans.

Remember the little "problem" that came to light in November of 2004, when Senator Istook slipped a provision into an Emergency Appropriations Bill that granted the chairs of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees -- and their assistants -- access to taxpayer returns, without subjecting them to any of the rules governing privacy or holding them accountable for any misuse?2

This seems to be a growing concern for Republicans. Apparently, our privacy isn't worth preserving, and exposing us to a highly increased risk of identity theft is apparently worthwhile.


Michael Gordon/IHT: Critique of postwar Iraq planning stifled by U.S. Army
"There was never an attempt to develop a single national plan that integrated humanitarian assistance, reconstruction, governance, infrastructure development and postwar security," the study said.
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Ian Traynor/Guardian: Bush orders clampdown on flights to US
The US administration is pressing the 27 governments of the European Union to sign up for a range of new security measures for transatlantic travel, including allowing armed guards on all flights from Europe to America by US airlines.
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Congress having lent it's best and brightest to the cameras and taken yet another vacation, the other two branches are left to make their own law. Which leaves us looking like those tiny bubbles in the ice: breathing, coherent, held in suspension until heat is applied.
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Comparison and Contrast: Privacy and Violation of Human Rights

As is often the case in hotly contested discussion, claims of invalid comparisons are often made alongside calls to compare "apples to apples" instead of "apples to ice buckets" or some other such mis-matched scale.

In order to help further along the discussion of why rendition, torture and individual rights to privacy, decency and proper representation in a court of law matters no matter the reason, here's two current stories that both concern the abuse of a man and a tortured penis.

Tattooed privates prove not so private:

PHOENIX - A surgeon faces a disciplinary hearing for snapping a photo of a patient's tattooed genitals during an operation and showing it around to other doctors.


"Patient privacy is a serious matter, and photographing someone in this manner without a good reason is something we will investigate down to the last detail," said Dr. Joseph Sirven...

The patient/victim stated "The longer I sit here the angrier I get."

Now compare it to this article, Lawyer: CIA Has Photos of Outsourced Torture of Gitmo Suspect:

A lawyer for a Guantanamo Bay terrorism suspect allegedly tortured in Morocco when his interrogation was outsourced by the U.S. says the CIA was present and has photographs of the physical abuse of his client.

Binyam Mohamed, a 27-year-old Ethiopian was sliced in the chest and penis by interrogators during the 18 months he was held in Morocco in 2002 and 2003, according to his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith of Reprieve, a British human rights group.

So...don't ~both~ men deserve to have their days in court? Do the crimes and offenses committed against one man compare in any way to those committed against the other, or can you justify either circumstance and let the perpetrators off scott-free?

Just a little something to think about.

For a little more to think about, make the jump.