Saturday, 13 August 2011

American Pie Lyrics - Don Mclean

London council moves to evict rioters - World (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

London council moves to evict rioters

Updated August 13, 2011 08:31:07

Public housing tenants in London are facing the possibility of eviction over their involvement in the riots and looting that tore through English cities this week.

Wandsworth Council in London's west has served an eviction notice on a council tenant whose son has appeared in court, charged over a riot at nearby Battersea.

The tenant and son are believed to be the first in the country to face the prospect of losing their council-owned home as a result of the riots.

Other councils including Manchester, Salford and Nottingham, as well as Westminster, Greenwich, Hammersmith and Fulham have threatened to take similar action.

British prime minister David Cameron backed the council's action, saying people who "loot and pillage their own community" should no longer be allowed to live in social housing.

His comments reflect the hardline stance taken as Britain comes to terms with unprecedented violence and destruction that took place over four nights of violence in London, Manchester and Birmingham.

"Obviously, that will mean they've got to be housed somewhere else - they'll have to find housing in the private sector," Mr Cameron told BBC television.

"And that will be tougher for them, but they should have thought of that before they started burgling.

"If you live in a council house, you're getting a house at a discount from what other people have to pay, and with that should come some responsibility.

"For too long we've taken a too-soft attitude towards people that loot and pillage their own community. If you do that you should lose your right to the sort of housing that you've had at subsidised rates."

More than 160,000 people have signed an online petition calling for anyone convicted of criminal acts in the unrest to have their financial benefits taken away.

Police began raiding houses across London on Thursday to make arrests over the riots, and police will flood the streets to ensure weekend drinking does not reignite the rioting.

At the same time, police have been broadcasting CCTV images of the culprits on a six-metre screen that has been travelling around Birmingham.

In a statement, Wandsworth council said the tenant had breached their tenancy agreement, which applies to everyone living in the household and prohibits them from a range of criminal and anti-social activities.

The council has flagged similar action against other public housing tenants who appear in court. It says local residents were sickened at the riots, and many saw their own workplaces trashed.

The council says it owes it to those law-abiding citizens to send a strong signal that such violence will not be tolerated.

Welfare workers say, however, throwing people out of their homes will solve nothing.

On the defence

As fears of new violence remained high, a row escalated between police and politicians as both sides sought to deflect blame for the crisis, with police chiefs defending the way they handled the riots after strong criticism from Mr Cameron.

Senior police officers hit back at suggestions that calm was eventually restored to the streets only after political intervention.

Tim Godwin, the acting head of the Metropolitan Police, pointedly noted that "people will always make comments who weren't there", and defended a perceived reluctance to crack down hard on the first riot in the north London district of Tottenham.

President of the Association of Chief Police Officers, Hugh Orde, admitted police did not have the numbers, but says they cannot get it right all the time.

"The vital distinction between policing and politics remains, and the police service will make the tactical decisions, and quite rightly and robustly we should and must be held to account."

Mr Cameron told an emergency session of parliament on Thursday there were initially too few police, and they were using the wrong tactics.

Mr Cameron has also reportedly asked former New York police commissioner Bill Bratton to act as a consultant to British police on how to curb street violence.

Mr Bratton told NBC and ABC News America he had received a call from Mr Cameron asking him to consider being a consultant to Scotland Yard, the networks said on their websites, but while he expected to take up the job soon, he would not move overseas on a permanent basis.

Home secretary Theresa May, meanwhile, said she accepted the people who got the riots under control were the brave police out on the frontline.

More than 1,500 people have been arrested over the riots, and more than 500 charged.

Second investigation

Britain's police watchdog has opened a second investigation into the after a young man in custody became sick.

The 24-year-old man was arrested by British transport police on Wednesday on suspicion of having drugs and a weapon.

He was put into custody but later fell seriously ill and was taken to hospital. He is in a serious but improving condition.

His case is being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which is already looking at the death of Mark Duggan, who was shot by police nine days ago.

Mr Duggan's death sparked protests at Tottenham in London.

The commission admitted it may have misled journalists into believing Mr Duggan had fired at police before he was killed, clarifying later that he had not done so.


Topics: unrest-conflict-and-war, world-politics, law-crime-and-justice, police, england

First posted August 13, 2011 06:48:15

Friday, 12 August 2011

Does Cannabis Make You Mad? | CLEAR

By Derek Williams, UKCIA

Reefer Madness Or A Cause For Concern?

Are the claims of a link between cannabis and mental illness prohibition inspired hype, or a genuine issue that needs serious consideration? The answer is, perhaps strangely; both.

The term “Reefer Madness” was coined in the 1930′s by a film of that name which claimed to be based on a factual account which supposedly exposed the “truth” about cannabis and mental illness. Reefer Madness wasn’t a true film and the claims it made look somewhat stupid today, they were pure propaganda and a part of the emerging war on drugs. It would be nice to think that media coverage of the whole issue has improved since those days, but it hasn’t.

More recently new claims of a link between cannabis and mental illness were made following the reclassification of cannabis which happened in 2003. On the first anniversary of that downgrading the mental health charity “RETHINK” launched a campaign to highlight the claimed risks of using cannabis.

The RETHINK campaign was, some would say, hijacked by the prohibition movement who saw the whole issue as a reason to oppose any form of cannabis law reform and the media was only too happy to help spread the alarmist stories.

Even supposedly quality newspapers joined in, perhaps the worst example being the Independent on Sunday which ran an “apology” for having previously run a “Decriminalise cannabis” campaign in 1997. The paper made some simply outlandish claims [1] including “Record numbers of teenagers are requiring drug treatment as a result of smoking skunk, the highly potent cannabis strain that is 25 times stronger than resin sold a decade ago“. This sort of rubbish became known as “Reefer madness V2″

There is a correlation between cannabis use and serious mental illness however which several studies have demonstrated; people with mental illness do tend to use a lot of cannabis and people who use a lot of cannabis seem to develop the illness more than those who don’t.

Now the subject of mental illness is one which frightens a lot of people and it’s one of the few remaining taboos – subjects we don’t like talking about. As such the claim that cannabis makes you mad was a very powerful campaigning weapon for the prohibition movement. In truth it’s a complicated issue which has been grossly oversimplified. That said a case can be made for assuming the worst and guarding against a potential causal link by protecting people who might be at risk. But it isn’t the big prohibition supporting argument we have so often been led to believe, indeed the whole issue is perhaps the strongest case for a properly regulated and controlled cannabis trade – which means legalisation.

To summarise the case made by the prohibition lobby:

1: Cannabis strength has increased massively in recent years
2: The increased strength has lead to more cases of serious mental illness
3: The age people use cannabis has dropped and now it’s common for children to be heavy users
4: The younger users start, the bigger the risk of developing serious mental illness.
5: Lax attitudes to cannabis use have increased the number of users, therefore increasing the rates of the illness.
6: Prohibition is the best way to protect people from the dangers of cannabis use.

We will look at these claims in detail here and return to them at the end.

Cannabis The Drug

All drugs used for fun or escapism “do things” in the brain, they are essentially chemicals which change or interact with the brain’s chemistry. All drugs do something along those lines, including alcohol and tobacco. Cannabis is different to most “drugs” in an important way however.

Most drug taking essentially involves the interaction of one active chemical on the brain, but the cannabis experience is the result of two major constituents known as THC and CBD. These two chemicals are very similar in structure, but the small difference means they have very different effects in the brain. Cannabis also contains a range of minor active chemicals which also “tweak” the overall experience, but THC and CBD are the most important for the issue of its effect on mental health.

THC produces psychotropic effects, whereas CBD is totally the opposite and has anti-psychotic properties. “psychotropic ” means perception altering, which is of course the reason people enjoy cannabis. The CBD is thought to moderate the workings of the THC, reducing the potential for undesirable psychotic like effects.

Research by Dr Zerrin Atakan and Prof Philip McGuire [2] concluded: “These studies show that THC and CBD have distinct effects on brain function in humans, and these may underlie their correspondingly different effects on cognition and psychiatric symptoms. Determining how the constituents of cannabis act on the brain is fundamental to understanding the role of cannabis use in the aetiology of psychiatric disorders.”

It is important to understand that the cannabis effect is not the result of just one drug, but the combined effect of the two major drugs and that cannabis can have very different effects depending on the variety or “strain” of the plant because the ratio of active chemicals is different for each strain. Although there are differences between strains, each type of cannabis can be grown to very high tolerances.

As the quote from the Independent on Sunday above shows, the media has spread a lot of misleading and downright stupid claims about the “strength” of cannabis in recent years. The difference between strains is possibly very important when it comes to the effect cannabis might have on the mental state of a person and therefore a simple measurement of strength is pointless to the degree of being misleading.

The government has always spoken of “potency”  in terms of % THC content alone when describing cannabis. This is also misleading as it takes no account of the CBD content, so let’s define the terms properly.

Strength Vs Potency

Strength is simple, it’s how much of the active chemicals you get per gram of sample. If you have a strong sample, you don’t need as much of it to get the same effect as a large amount of weak stuff, but the effect will be the pretty much same overall providing you don’t slam too much too fast.

Potency is the ratio of THC to CBD. Therefore if a potency figure is going to be quoted it needs two values: %THC and %CBD, or perhaps as a simple ratio of THC:CBD. High potency cannabis would mean a large THC figure combined with a small CBD figure.

Now, it’s easily possible for a sample of cannabis to have lot or a little of the active chemicals, so we can have strong, low potency cannabis and weak, high potency cannabis [3].
Because of prohibition it is impossible to know either the strength or the potency of cannabis being sold.

Has Cannabis Potency And/Or Strength Changed?

There has always been a range of strengths and potencies available and because of prohibition there have never been proper records kept of what people were actually buying. Therefore it’s next to impossible to be sure of how, if at all, they may have changed over time.

Some reports claim certain strains (so called “skunk”) contain a lot of THC but very little CBD, whereas the traditional forms of hash we used to get a lot of before the war on drugs seem to have had close to equal amounts of both chemicals.

It should be stressed again that it’s impossible to be certain about any changes in potency or strength over the past 30 or so years because proper records of strength and potency have simply not been made. CBD content was rarely measured in fact.

A study ordered by the UK government looked (as best it could) at the changes in cannabis and reported in 2008 [4]. The Home Office study claimed to have found a doubling of “strength” over the past few years, a far cry from the claims of 25 fold of the Independent on Sunday story.

However, this study – official as it was – comes close to the definition of “cod science” due to the way they collected the data. Samples analysed came from police seizures and used a very dubious sampling method: “For operational reasons some forces chose to send in material from only one Borough Command Unit or from one of several forces collection points. Some forces experienced internal logistics problems; others were very enthusiastic and sent in everything received during the trial period”. A scientific study is only as good as the data it collects and the old adage is always true: garbage in = garbage out. This data was garbage because of the sampling method used and therefore its conclusions should be treated with caution.

Fact is then we don’t really know what’s happened to the strength or potency of cannabis over the period of prohibition, but it might have got stronger and more potent. That said there has always been very strong cannabis – Thai stick, anyone?

There has been a general change however. Cannabis in the UK used to come mainly from North Africa in the form of hashish grown naturally in the sunshine. Because of prohibition these supplies were greatly reduced which lead to the growth of the cannabis farms industry which produces herbal cannabis grown intensively under lights. The strains of plants selected for these intensive grow ops were picked because they gave a high yield of strong cannabis grown under the artificial conditions. It is entirely possible that the CBD content has decreased due to this market change.

It is important to note however that if this change has occurred, it happened because of the workings of cannabis prohibition. Worse, it went unnoticed by the authorities for nearly 10 years until the study in 2008 because the illegal trade is totally unregulated.

What Is Mental Illness?

Mental illness is a wide term meaning illness that affects your perception of the world and your place in it.


Perhaps the worst of the brain problems, it’s often called a “split personality” but that’s wrong. It’s better to think of schizophrenia as meaning “split from reality”; ill people hear voices which aren’t there, suffer hallucinations and, put simply, don’t always experience the real world around them correctly.

Schizophrenia is what is usually understood by the colloquial term “madness” and it was claimed by prohibition supporters, large sections of the media and some scientists that cannabis caused this terrible illness.

Schizophrenia is not a new illness, it’s always existed and usually affects young (mostly male) adults in their late teens and early 20′s, there is also a form which affects old people known as “late onset schizophrenia”, which is usually less serious and doesn’t concern us here.

People can suffer degrees of the illness and no two people’s illness are the same. Most people recover but others, for whatever reason, do not.

The symptoms of schizophrenia are called a “psychosis”, which means ill people experience paranoia attacks; sometimes feeling they are being watched and people are talking about them. They can suffer auditory and visual hallucinations, seeing and hearing things that aren’t there. Hearing voices is very common.

Treatment for serious mental illness, unlike for any other forms of illness, is compulsory. If an ill person is sectioned he or she can be given medicine and be detained in hospital against their will. Ill people often suffer social exclusion and many end up in prison because the mental health services in the UK are badly under resourced.

Something like 1 in 100 people in the USA are thought to develop schizophrenia to some extent [5] and rates are probably similar here.

Does Cannabis Cause Schizophrenia?

Some of the effects of cannabis appear similar to some aspects of psychosis – such effects as changed perception – and are the reasons people find cannabis use enjoyable. Less enjoyably, occasionally cannabis can induce attacks of paranoia which again is not unlike the symptoms of schizophrenia. While not pleasant, these bouts of paranoia are mostly short lived and vanish when the drug wears off. Quite a few people who experience this effect decide cannabis is not for them – after all no-one wants to take a drug for its unpleasant effects.

However it is this similarity which has made the claims of a link between cannabis and mental illness seem plausible.

The easy way to see if cannabis is a cause of serious mental illness is to look at the rates of psychosis over the years and to see if they’ve changed along with the massive increase there has been in cannabis use. Because of the concerns raised about the use of cannabis on mental health, the UK government commissioned a study to do just that from researchers at Keele university [6].

The study carried out by researchers from Keele University for the UK government failed to show any increase in rates of psychosis which would have been expected if cannabis did cause the illness. The study concluded their data is “not consistent with the hypothesis that increasing cannabis use in earlier decades is associated with increasing schizophrenia or psychoses from the mid-1990s onwards.” [7]

As rates of serious mental illness have not changed despite cannabis use becoming widespread it is fair to conclude that cannabis is not a significant cause of schizophrenia.

What Does Cause Schizophrenia?

There isn’t a simple answer to that question, although to some extent it seems to be inherited [5] According to the US National Institute for Mental Health “Schizophrenia occurs in one percent of the general population, but is seen in 10 percent of people with a first-degree relative (a parent, brother, or sister) with the disorder. The identical twin of a person with the disorder is most at risk, with a 40 to 65 percent chance of developing the disease”.

No single, clear cut, cause of schizophrenia has ever been identified. The fact it seems to be inherited suggests a genetic link (the COMT gene) and it was proposed that cannabis may impact through this route, although some recent work hasn’t supported this [8]. Some people put birth complications as the main factor, stress and trauma are also risk factors and there are many others.

In all honestly it’s still not known what makes schizophrenia happen. It’s better to think of “risk factors” rather than simple causes – factors which increase the risk of psychosis developing. If more than one risk factor is present, the chances of developing a psychotic condition goes up, or as researchers put it, the risk factors interact.

THC might be one of these risk factors for those at risk of developing the illness, although CBD is likely to reduce the risk, therefore it is claimed high potency cannabis may increase the risk of serious mental illness developing in someone liable to it. This could go some way to explain the apparent correlation between cannabis use and mental illness.

One large study carried out in Denmark in 2008 [9] concluded: “The results agree with those of other studies that show that cannabis predominantly causes psychotic symptoms in those persons who are predisposed to develop psychosis or show signs of psychosis in the absence of cannabis use”.

Although there is no way to tell if someone is at risk of serious mental illness, a bad reaction to cannabis might be an early warning that a person is likely to develop schizophrenia.

What is undoubtedly true is that people who have schizophrenia are more likely to use cannabis at a higher rate than the population in general. They also smoke tobacco, drink alcohol and use other drugs at higher rates than the general population and this heavy drug use often makes the illness much worse.

People suffering from serious mental illness are clearly a vulnerable minority who need the protection of society. Prohibition does nothing to protect these people and much to put them at far greater risk, not just from uncertain potencies and also from violence due to encountering a criminal supply industry and of course, they may get a criminal record for drug use.

As we’ve seen, the two main constituents of cannabis – THC and CBD – have very different, almost totally opposite effects on schizophrenia. CBD is actually anti-psychotic and may even be beneficial to ill people, whereas high THC cannabis may make things worse. If the theory that high THC content cannabis is detrimental to people suffering from mental illness is true then it is important to properly regulate the trade to either allow them access to low potency supplies or restrict their access to the trade entirely, as we do with problem drinkers who can be banned from off licences or pubs. No-one would suggest that gifting the alcohol trade to the mob and supplying the trade with moonshine or bathtub gin would help problem drinkers, so why use that logic for cannabis?

Would preventing adult cannabis use reduce the incidence of serious mental illness? The answer to that is “probably not”. A study by Stan Zammit and others [10] concluded that if cannabis did cause schizophrenia then to prevent just one case in adults over 20 or so, we would have to prevent around 3,000 heavy cannabis users, or 150,000 light users.

Therefore if the aim of prohibition is to reduce the number of adult cannabis users in an effort to reduce the rates of serious mental illness, it isn’t going to work. Indeed, by making adult cannabis use illegal, all that happened was a massive uncontrolled illegal trade developed and that has spilled over to children.

Young People – Children And Teenagers

Prohibition supporters have drawn attention to the fact that the age of first use of cannabis has decreased over recent decades, and in this they are correct. When prohibition was introduced, cannabis was seen as an adult pastime. Now it’s not uncommon for children to be regular smokers in some areas. If prohibition is supposed to prevent young people getting involved in the drug trade, it has obviously failed badly. Quite how this is used to justify continued prohibition isn’t clear but it is typical of the twisted logic of prohibition supporters.

Cannabis and drug use in general presents a far bigger risk to children than to adults. A young brain develops as it learns, a process called “plasticity” [11]. If the learning process is disrupted by drug use then the brain’s ability to grow and develop properly will also be disrupted. This is true for all drugs, not just cannabis – and maybe some things that aren’t drugs such as too much TV watching or internet use.

There is some research which seems to indicate that children under 15 or so run a far higher risk of developing serious mental illness if they use cannabis and several studies seem to support this. For example one carried out by Jouko Miettunen and others and published in 2008 looked at early symptoms indicating the onset of an attack (prodromal symptoms) of psychosis in adolescence amongst young cannabis users [12]. They concluded that “cannabis use is associated with prodromal symptoms of psychosis in adolescence.”

However it should be noted that some other research [13] into children’s cannabis use carried out in Holland, where cannabis use is more open and can be properly assessed seems to indicate a far less clear association “Cannabis use, in individuals who did not have psychotic symptoms before they began using cannabis, predicted future psychotic symptoms. However, psychotic symptoms in those who had never used cannabis before the onset of psychotic symptoms also predicted future cannabis use”.

One of the features of schizophrenia is what psychiatrists call “premorbid indications”. A pre morbid indication is a bit like a consequence of an illness that hasn’t happened yet. It may be that heavy cannabis use in a young person could be one of these premorbid indicators [14] and so should be a cause for concern. All the cases of young people highlighted by the media have shown this unusual pattern of heavy use before they developed their illness.

Regardless of whether or not drug use leads to schizophrenia, it makes sense actively to protect all children under the age of 15 or so from drug use of all kinds including cannabis. That should be the primary aim of any sensible drugs policy and, indeed it’s what prohibition claims to do and is the main reason used by the government to justify its drugs policy. However, as prohibition supporters have pointed out, children have easy access to prohibited drugs under the current regime and it clearly doesn’t work.

An age limit of 18 for sales – similar to that for alcohol and tobacco – would be sensible and is urgently needed. Under prohibition the age limit for cannabis is £10, there is no protection for children.


In the UK, cannabis is usually smoked mixed with tobacco. It is known that tobacco is intensely addictive and that people with psychosis tend to be heavy tobacco smokers. If they are used to smoking cannabis with tobacco their tobacco habit could lead to them smoking far more cannabis than otherwise.

It is interesting to note that whereas many of the studies into cannabis and mental illness claim to control for other drug use, very few of them take any account of tobacco use.

A safer use campaign aimed at separating the use of cannabis from tobacco would be useful in reducing the risk to people at risk of psychosis. It would also give wider health benefits to all cannabis users. [15]

Conclusion: Cannabis And Mental Health, The Case For Reform

Concerns of a link between cannabis and mental illness areperhaps the strongest argument for cannabis law reform.

Prohibition claim 1: Cannabis strength has increased massively in recent years

It may have done, but we don’t know for sure because prohibition makes proper monitoring of the trade impossible. If it has increased, the change was brought about by the workings of prohibition. Certainly a market shift did occur and went unnoticed for nearly 10 years because of the lack of proper control. If the fears that high THC levels impact on mental health are true, prohibition has made things worse. Under prohibition, cannabis is not a controlled drug.

Prohibition claim 2: The increased strength has lead to more cases of serious mental illness

There has been no increase in the rates of mental illness. But if increased potency (not strength) has taken place, it might make existing illness worse and be bad for those at risk. The need for a better understanding of the issues of potency and strength is obvious and proper regulation of the trade would address this.

Prohibition claim 3: The age people use cannabis has dropped and now it’s common for children to be heavy users

This is true, but it’s hardly an issue to support the workings of prohibition. That children have become ensnared in the unregulated and uncontrolled cannabis trade is entirely caused by prohibition.

Prohibition claim 4: The younger users start, the bigger the risk of developing serious mental illness

We might as well assume this is true, whether true or not. Children deserve the protection of the law which only a regulated trade could provide, prohibition treats them as criminals and drives all use – including problematic use – underground.

Prohibition claim 5: Lax attitudes to cannabis use have increased the number of users, therefore increasing the rates of the illness

As rates of serious mental illness have not increased in line with the increase in cannabis use, there is no evidence to support this, but the “lax attitudes” have come about through the failure of prohibition. Proper legal control and regulation would mean an end to “lax attitudes” and the introduction of proper, workable laws.

Prohibition claim 6: Prohibition is the best way to protect people from the dangers of cannabis use.

Prohibition means we don’t know what is sold as cannabis, how strong it is or how potent it is. We don’t know if it’s contaminated either after harvest or in the growing process through overuse of pesticides for example. We don’t know who sells it, where from or in what amounts. The only qualification to be a dealer is unaccountability. Cannabis users have no recourse to the law when things go wrong and sometimes violence is used. When this happens it will be those least able to defend themselves – such as ill people – who suffer most.

Prohibition is a con, it is not drug control. The only way to achieve drug control is to control the commercial supply industry, which means proper legalisation, licensing of dealers and premises, age restrictions and strength/potency information.

Treating those you claim to want to help as criminals is, well, simply mad.


[1] Independent on Sunday – “Cannabis Apology”
[2] Institute of Psychiatry News – New research reveals how cannabis alters brain function
[3] THC, CBD and the misleading concept of “Potency”.
[4] Home Office Cannabis potency study
[5] Mental Illness – Source: USA National Institute of Mental Health. Facts about Schizophrenia
[6] Keele Study – Assessing the impact of cannabis use on trends in diagnosed schizophrenia in the United Kingdom from 1996 to 2005
Martin Frisher, Ilana Crome, Orsolina Martino, Peter Croft
[7] Further reading: Cannabis and mental illness – the Keele Study
[8] – Cannabis and smoking gene links to schizophrenia ‘unfounded’
[9] Familial Predisposition for Psychiatric Disorder
Comparison of Subjects Treated for Cannabis-Induced Psychosis and Schizophrenia
Mikkel Arendt, MScPsych, PhD; Preben B. Mortensen, DrMedSc; Raben Rosenberg, DrMedSc; Carsten B. Pedersen, MSc; Berit L. Waltoft, MSc
[10] If cannabis caused schizophrenia—how many cannabis users may need to be prevented in order to prevent one case of schizophrenia? England and Wales calculations
Matt Hickman, Peter Vickerman, John Macleod, Glyn Lewis, Stan Zammit, James Kirkbride, Peter Jones
[11] Plasticity
[12] Association of cannabis use with prodromal symptoms of psychosis in adolescence
Jouko Miettunen, Sari Tormanen, Graham K. Murray, Peter B. Jones, Pirjo, Maki, Hanna Ebeling, Irma Moilanen, Anja Taanila, Markus Heinimaa, Matti, Joukamaa and Juha Veijola
[13] Cannabis use predicts future psychotic symptoms, and vice versa
Robert F. Ferdinand, Frouke Sondeijker, Jan van der Ende, Jean-Paul Selten, Anja Huizink & Frank C. Verhulst
[14] Pre-morbid Conduct Disorder symptoms are associated with cannabis use among individuals with a first episode of psychosis.
Malcolm CP, Picchioni MM, DiForti M, Sugranyes G, Cooke E, Joseph C, McQueen G, Paparelli A, Stilo S, O’Connor J, Morgan C, Murray RM, Hodgins S.
[15] Toke pure – UKCIA anti tobacco campaign:

Gary McKinnon support website defaced • The Register

Gary McKinnon support website defaced

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Serial graffiti splasher TurkGuvenligi strikes again

By John LeydenGet more from this author

Posted in Enterprise Security, 12th August 2011 12:39 GMT

A support blog for alleged Pentagon hacker Gary McKinnon was defaced on Friday morning.

Serial defacer TurkGuvenligi posted an image of an old fella spinning a plate (which looks a bit like a flying saucer) on his finger on the FreeGary support blog. An image of the defacement can be found here. We notified's site administrators of the problem.

A separate support blog maintained by Gary's mum, Janis Sharp, is alive and well here.

TurkGuvenligi is a serial website defacer whose previous victims include Secunia. An archive of his work can be found here.

Defacers typically use search engines to search for vulnerable sites before setting on victims and uploading digital graffiti on these sites. Such hacks, by themselves, are normally trivial and seldom expose more sensitive systems.

The site was restored to normal by Friday lunchtime. ®

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TheDAKshow withJAZZ EP.7 (Closing of the Dispensary) - YouTube

Twitter finally released a “Stalkers” app? No, it’s a phishing scam | Naked Security

Twitter users are being hit today by messages claiming to link to a new app from Twitter which will track your stalkers.

However, the messages are really designed to steal your Twitter usernames and passwords.

Here's a typical message that users are seeing:

Twitter stalkers phishing message

Twitter finally released an app that tracks your "Stalkers" get it here [LINK]

If you click on the link you are taken to what appears to be a legitimate Twitter page, asking you to confirm your username and password before the "Stalkers" app can access your account.

Twitter stalkers phishing website

However, if you look at your browser's URL you will see that the page is not hosted by Twitter at all.

Twitter stalkers phishing website url

If you make the mistake of entering your username and password then you will handing over the keys to your account to phishers, who would then be able to use your account to read your private messages, send messages (perhaps spam-related or containing malicious links) to your followers.

Worst of all, if you're one of those people who uses the same password as you use elsewhere on the internet - you've now told the cybercriminals how to access, say, your Gmail, Hotmail or PayPal accounts as well.

If you found your Twitter account was one of those sending out the phishing messages, or if you made the mistake of entering your username and password, then you must change your password as soon as possible.

Not just on Twitter, but also make sure you're not using the same password anywhere else on the net.

And remember, it's important that you don't use a word from the dictionary as your password. It's easy to understand why computer users pick dictionary words as they're much easier to remember, but as I explain in this video a good trick is to pick a sentence and just use the first letter of every word to make up your password.

(Enjoy this video? You can check out more on the SophosLabs YouTube channel and subscribe if you like)

You can always use password management software such as KeePass or 1Password to remember complex passwords if you find it too difficult.

There's some other house-cleaning you should do on your Twitter account too. Visit the Applications tab in "Account Settings", and revoke access for any third-party application that you don't recognise.

Follow me on Twitter at @gcluley if you want to keep up-to-speed with the latest threats, and learn how to protect yourself.

Follow @gcluley

LinkedIn responds quickly to complaints about ‘social ads’ | Naked Security

Yesterday, I wrote about LinkedIn's recent Privacy Policy changes, by means of which the company snuck in the right to use your name and photo in adverts placed by third parties.

You weren't offered the choice to enable this new feature at will, because it was turned on by default for everyone.

And LinkedIn didn't warn you directly - which it could easily have done by email - that you might very well want to turn it off.

Crudely put, and in my own words, LinkedIn gave itself the right to mine your usage habits to determine what products and services you're interested in, and then to use your name and photo in what amounts to an endorsement for those products and services when they're advertised to other users.

If you were to put a positive spin on this sort of policy change, you might call it something like an exciting new feature which automatically improves your online experience with no cost or effort on your part.

But you might equally well describe it much less flatteringly as a terms-and-conditions land-grab or as a privacy policy bait-and-switch.

And, as regular readers of Naked Security will know, we aren't big fans of privacy changes by service providers that are used as a vehicle to introduce a brand-new 'opt-out' feature. (Opt-out means it is on by default until you get around to turning it off.)

We think that a better business standard would be to make this sort of new feature opt-in. We accept that short-term sales goals might be easier to achieve with opt-out, but we know that opt-in would be safer for users. Indeed, users with strong opinions about privacy would become strong advocates for a service provider which set this sort of standard. The privacy regulators would be pretty impressed, too.

So we feel sure that adopting an opt-in model would actually be better for a service provider's business value in the long term.

With this in mind, we invited our readers to email LinkedIn with words to this effect:

Dear LinkedIn,

Why not lead the way on privacy?

Become truly opt-in - not just on the basis that a new user opts in altogether by joining up in the first place, but on the basis that everything is locked down until a new user opens up each feature.

Many of you let us you know you'd asked LinkedIn to do just that.

The good news is that LinkedIn's Director of Product Marketing, Ryan Roslansky, has already responded publicly to the complaints the company has been receiving.

Roslansky has also recognised that the company should have been more open about its new 'social ads' feature, and has even agreed to make some changes to the system.

In particular, LinkedIn has quickly admitted that it took a step too far, respectfully conceding as follows:

Most importantly, what we've learned now is that, even though our members are happy to have their actions, such as recommendations, be viewable by their network as a public action, some of those same members may not be comfortable with the use of their names and photos associated with those actions used in ads served to their network.

And Linked has agreed to changed the look-and-feel of its ads:

I suspect that many companies would find it really hard to react this quickly - except perhaps to say, "We are taking your comments seriously and will determine a course of action after a series of internal business committees have anguished over the implications of any changes, when the economic simulations are complete, and once the lawyers are happy."

So, from Naked Security to LinkedIn, "Well done!"

There is some bad news, however. There's still no sign that LinkedIn is willing to go down the opt-in path. The company still seems happy with opt-out, though I must admit that it has made opting out of social ads fairly straightforward. A couple of clicks will do it.

Nevertheless, I'd say this is a real result. It may be just a first step towards stronger privacy standards, but it's a good for you, and it's good for LinkedIn. Respect!

Follow @duckblog

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency


August 11, 2011

HTV-2 collects unique data during several phases of second flight 

Today, DARPA attempted to fly the fastest aircraft ever built.  The Agency’s Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2) is designed to fly anywhere in the world in less than 60 minutes.  This capability requires an aircraft that can fly at 13,000 mph, while experiencing temperatures in excess of 3500F.  The second test flight began with launch at 0745 Pacific Time.  The Minotaur IV vehicle successfully inserted the aircraft into the desired trajectory.  Separation of the vehicle was confirmed by rocket cam and the aircraft transitioned to Mach 20 aerodynamic flight.  This transition represents a critical knowledge and control point in maneuvering atmospheric hypersonic flight.  More than nine minutes of data was collected before an anomaly caused loss of signal.  Initial indications are that the aircraft impacted the Pacific Ocean along the planned flight path.

“Here’s what we know,” said Air Force Maj. Chris Schulz, DARPA HTV-2 program manager and PhD in aerospace engineering.  “We know how to boost the aircraft to near space.  We know how to insert the aircraft into atmospheric hypersonic flight.  We do not yet know how to achieve the desired control during the aerodynamic phase of flight.  It’s vexing; I’m confident there is a solution. We have to find it.”

“Prior to flight, the technical team completed the most sophisticated simulations and extensive wind tunnel tests possible.  But these ground tests have not yielded the necessary knowledge.  Filling the gaps in our understanding of hypersonic flight in this demanding regime requires that we be willing to fly,” said DARPA Director Regina Dugan. “In the April 2010 test, we obtained four times the amount of data previously available at these speeds.  Today more than 20 air, land, sea and space data collection systems were operational.  We’ll learn. We’ll try again. That’s what it takes.”

According to Schulz, three technical challenges exist within this HTV-2 flight regime.  They are categorized as aerodynamic; aerothermal; and guidance, navigation and control.  And each phase of flight introduces unique obstacles within these areas. 

“To address these obstacles, DARPA has assembled a team of experts that will analyze the flight data collected during today’s test flight, expanding our technical understanding of this incredibly harsh flight regime,” explained Schulz.  “As today’s flight indicates, high-Mach flight in the atmosphere is virtually uncharted territory. ”

In the coming weeks, the assembled independent Engineering Review Board will review and analyze the data collected. This data will inform policy, acquisition and operational decisions for future Conventional Prompt Global Strike programs—the goal of which, ultimately, is to have the capability to reach anywhere in the world in less than one hour

London's burning tourism challenge | Video

DRACO: New Drug Could Cure Almost Any Viral Infection

Remember when you went to the doctor for that relentless cough, and all the doctor could prescribe was plenty of fluids and rest? Thanks to a new drug developed by researchers at MIT's Lincoln Laboratory, there might be a faster cure for the common cold--as well as potentially any viral infection.

The drug, called DRACO (for double-stranded RNA activated caspase oligomerizers), has already been tested on 15 viruses, MIT news reported. All of which, including the common cold, polio, H1N1, and a stomach virus, have been successfully killed by the treatment.

The study was published in the journal PLoS One in July, and highlights the possibilities for the drug.

A serious threat is posed by viral pathogens, including clinical viruses (HIV, hepatitis viruses, etc.), natural emerging viruses (avian and swine influenza strains, SARS, etc.), and viruses relevant to potential bioterrorism (Ebola, smallpox, etc.).

Unfortunately, there are relatively few prophylactics or therapeutics for these viruses...To overcome these shortcomings of existing approaches, we have developed and demonstrated a novel antiviral approach that is effective against a very broad spectrum of viruses, nontoxic in vitro and in vivo, and potentially suitable for either prophylactic or therapeutic administration.
Our designed to selectively and rapidly kill virus-infected cells while not harming uninfected cells.

An article by TIME Magazine's Healthland's section explained that the drug works by using the "natural defense systems" of human cells against the viral infection.

In essence, the drug combines the protein in human cells, which instigate a series of reactions that prevent the virus from multiplying, with a protein that tells the infected cells to "commit suicide," or apoptosis.

Todd Rider, a senior staff scientists at the Lincoln Laboratory, told MIT News that he is optimistic about the drug's uses.

“In theory, it should work against all viruses,” he said.

According to the study, researchers are currently testing DRACO against more viruses in mice, and hope move on to testing in larger animals and humans in the future.




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Cameron denies austerity drive caused UK riots | Reuters

Cameron denies austerity drive caused UK riots

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    1 of 30. Police officers prepare to carry out a raid in Pimlico, London, August 11, 2011.

    Credit: Reuters/Anthony Devlin/Pool

    Cameron recalls UK parliament over riots (01:26)

    By Mohammed Abbas and Adrian Croft

    LONDON | Thu Aug 11, 2011 3:03pm EDT


    (Reuters) - Prime Minister David Cameron blamed the worst riots in Britain for decades on street gang members and opportunistic looters and denied government austerity measures or poverty caused the violence in London and other major English cities.

    Cameron told an emergency session of parliament that police tactics had failed at the start of the rioting. Courts worked through the night to deal with hundreds of mostly young people arrested during the mayhem.

    "The fightback has well and truly begun," said the Conservative leader, in power for 15 months.

    "As to the lawless minority, the criminals who've taken what they can get, I say this: We will track you down, we will find you, we will charge you, we will punish you. You will pay for what you have done," Cameron said.

    Community leaders say inequality, cuts to public services by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government and youth unemployment fed into the violence in London, Birmingham, Manchester and other multi-ethnic cities.

    Cameron is under pressure from different quarters to ease his austerity plans, toughen policing and do more for inner- city communities, even as economic malaise grips a nation whose social and racial tensions exploded in four nights of mayhem.

    His statement was followed by another emergency address to parliament by the finance minister, George Osborne, in the wake of the euro zone debt crisis.

    Osborne said Britain's urgency in dealing with its budget deficit was an example to the rest of Europe but many Britons fear large job losses, benefit cuts and reduced services in the government's austerity drive.

    Cameron denied deprivation or the spending cuts, mostly not yet implemented, had caused the riots.

    "This is not about poverty, it's about culture. A culture that glorifies violence, shows disrespect to authority, and says everything about rights but nothing about responsibilities," Cameron said.

    Police have arrested more than 1,200 people across England.

    Among those charged were the daughter of a millionaire, a teaching assistant, a charity worker and an 11-year-old boy.

    At Westminster magistrates' court, one of the first cases was that of a second-year university law student accused of being part of a gang which ransacked cafes and restaurants in the upmarket area of St John's Wood.

    The initial police response was inadequate, Cameron told legislators who had been recalled from their summer break. "There were simply far too few police deployed on to the streets. And the tactics they were using weren't working."

    Defending planned police funding cuts against criticism from opposition Labor leader Ed Miliband, Cameron proposed more police powers, including the right to demand that people remove face coverings if they are suspected of crime.

    "I hope that in the debates we have on the causes we don't fall into a tiresome discussion about resources," said Cameron.

    "When you have deep moral failures you don't hit them with a wall of money."

    Hugh Orde, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said this week a 20 percent cut in police funding until 2015, planned by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, would pose great challenges.

    "I do sense, without question, resentment (among police officers) that they are now being portrayed in the routine as corrupt, unprofessional and need sorting out," he told Reuters.

    The British leader said he would maintain a higher police presence of 16,000 officers on London streets through the weekend and would consider calling in the army for secondary roles in future unrest to free up frontline police.

    The prime minister promised to compensate people whose property was damaged by rioters, even if they were uninsured. The riots will cost insurers more than 200 million pounds ($320 million), the Association of British Insurers estimated.

    Cameron, who has already authorised police to use baton rounds and water cannon where necessary, said he would explore curbs on the use of social media tools if these were being used to plot "violence, disorder and criminality."


    Many Britons were appalled at the scenes on their streets, from the televised mugging of an injured Malaysian teen-ager to a Polish woman photographed leaping from a burning building, as well as the looting of anything from baby clothes to TV sets.

    But occupying the moral high ground is tricky in a country where some lawmakers and policemen have been embroiled in expenses and bribery scandals, and top bankers take huge bonuses even as the taxpayer bails out financial institutions.

    The unrest flared first in north London after police shot dead a black man. That disturbance then mutated into widespread looting and violence.

    British leaders are concerned the rioting could damage confidence in the economy and in London, one of the world's biggest financial centers and venue for next year's Olympics.

    The prime minister said criminal street gangs were at the heart of the violence. "Territorial, hierarchical and incredibly violent, they are mostly composed of young boys, mainly from dysfunctional homes," he added.

    Arguing that police, local government and voluntary workers needed to work together to stop inner-city street gangs, as they had in American cities such as Boston, he said: "I want this to be a national priority."

    London police staged new raids on apartments Thursday recovering looted designer clothes and iPods.

    A surge in police numbers helped calm streets Wednesday night, but the previous episodes of often unchecked disorder have embarrassed the authorities and exhausted emergency services.

    Cameron's view of the rioters as thrill-seeking thugs who are indicative of a breakdown in Britain's social fabric and morals has struck a chord with many people.

    Others point to chronic tensions between police and youth, a dearth of opportunities for children from disadvantaged areas and visible inequalities where the wealthy often live in elegant houses just yards away from run-down city estates.

    Social strains have grown in Britain for some time, with the economy struggling to clamber out of an 18-month recession, one in five young people out of work and high inflation squeezing incomes and hitting the poor hardest.

    The crisis has also exposed Britain to opportunistic attack or ridicule from countries stung by frequent Western criticism of their human rights records and who now scent hypocrisy.

    Iran's hardline Kayhan newspaper likened the British riots to Arab protests against autocrats, saying the "tumult against illegitimate rule ... has found its way to the heart of Europe."

    State media in Libya have also depicted the British unrest as legitimate protests born of social deprivation.

    Libyan state television said Cameron was using Irish and Scottish "mercenaries" to tame the riots in English cities.

    The embassies of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in Britian warned their citizens visiting or living there to exercise vigilance and avoid big gatherings.

    (Additional reporting by Adrian Croft, writing by Alistair Lyon, editing by Peter Millership)

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    We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
    Comments (11)
    NordicHorde wrote:

    We can’t control the global economy – that would require a dictatorship.
    The other variable of consequence are the failed components of multiculturalism itself – the disenfranchised illiterate African youths.
    Socioeconomic inequality & immigration are not mutually exclusive; 3rd world immigration causes socioeconomic inequality within these catalytic economic conditions (the link shows the study).
    Close the Border Now – or the U.K. WILL BE implementing a REX-84 program to protect itself from the militant minority.

    Aug 10, 2011 8:38pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
    BOOWAH wrote:

    Inequality is the problem they and we both have in our countries! They are dealing with it using the best tool available… unrest! I’m proud of them. For every firebomb they throw, there’s a corresponding change in their government’s behavior! Why should the poor and middle class bear the burden of ameliorating overwhelming debt, the same having been caused primarily by the greedy rich? Why should we put up with it either? When is this country going to make me equally as proud?

    Aug 10, 2011 8:43pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
    orville76 wrote:

    It’s amazing to me as an American that Mr. Duggan is described as an African-Carribean man…i guess that means he wasn’t really English, thank God.

    I mean no disrespect and Lod knows we’ve been screwing up for centuries…but the United States successfully integrates immigrants. Why can’t Europe?

    Aug 10, 2011 8:58pm EDT  --  Report as abuse

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