Court Nixes N.J. Health Law Challenge

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 3 (UPI) — A U.S. appeals court Wednesday upheld a lower court ruling to toss a healthcare reform challenge filed by a New Jersey doctor and one of his patients.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in upholding a lower court decision, ruled he doctor and patient failed to show they would suffer “an actual or imminent ‘concrete and particularized’ injury,” The Hill reported.

The lawsuit, filed a day after the healthcare reform bill was enacted in 2010, argued that Dr. Mario Criscito and “Patient Roe” would be harmed by the new healthcare law because the anonymous patient pays directly and doesn’t rely on insurance.

The suit argued that the law’s mandate requiring that most people have insurance or pay a penalty “will have a direct, substantial impact upon Dr. Criscito’s medical practice, the manner in which he may, or may not, seek payment for his professional services and the manner in which he may render treatment to his patients.”

Cocaine Seizure Called U.K.’s Biggest Ever

SOUTHAMPTON, England, Aug. 3 (UPI) — British authorities say they seized a record amount of cocaine aboard a luxury yacht in Southampton.

The U.K. Border Agency helped Dutch police find six Dutch nationals believed to be members of an organized crime gang and they were arrested in morning raids Tuesday, officials said, the BBC reported.

The 1.2 tons of cocaine, with a street value of up to nearly $492 million, was found two months ago hidden in the 65-foot yacht, the U.K. Border Agency said.

“This has been an enormous seizure of cocaine. This is the largest we have on record,” said Brodie Clark, head of the UKBA’s border force.

The drugs had come from South America and were destined for the Netherlands, officials said.

The BBC said French officials, alerted about the “Louise” while it was in the Caribbean in May, located it in Southampton en route to Holland.

The Border Agency said officials searched the yacht for six days and found the cocaine in a compartment beneath the boat’s bathing platform.

The BBC said the cocaine is believed to have been put in the boat in Venezuela.

The confiscated drug was 90 percent pure, compared with a 63 percent average purity for cocaine seized at the U.K. border.

Authorities arrested the 60-year-old owner of the boat, his three sons and two 44-year-old men.

Controls On Fertilizer Still Not In Effect

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 (UPI) — A 3-year-old law mandating stricter controls on a fertilizer used by terrorists in explosives has yet to be implemented, officials say.

Under the law, dealers and purchasers of the ammonium nitrate fertilizer, which terrorists mix with fuel to create explosives, would be required to register with the government and be checked against a U.S. terrorist database, USA Today reports.

The law also requires dealers of the fertilizer, the main ingredient in the 1995 Oklahoma City truck bomb, to report its loss or theft.

The Department of Homeland Security, which is to enforce the law, said it is devising rules for more than 100,000 users, including agriculture, construction and mining.

The agency published proposed rules Tuesday, and industry representatives and the public will have four months to comment before the rules become final. No date has been set for making the rules permanent.

“In today’s ever-evolving threat environment, we must continually reinforce the security of substances, such as ammonium nitrate, which can be used for legitimate purposes or exploited by terrorists,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said.

Some lawmakers expressed disappointment the law hasn’t taken effect sooner, the newspaper said.

“I am disappointed that more progress has not been made to put reasonable protections in place … since we acted to fix this in 2007,” said Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson.

Last month, a 32-year-old man allegedly bombed an Oslo government office building, using an ammonium nitrate explosive, and the bombing, along with shooting, caused 77 deaths.

Mubarak’s Fate In Court’s Hands

Hosni Mubarak, on trial in Cairo for murder and fraud, may be a sacrificial lamb but he should have known what was going on during the revolution, experts say.

Hundreds of people were killed and thousands were injured during protests that eventually forced Mubarak from power after nearly three decades as Egypt’s president.

Mubarak appeared Wednesday, lying on a hospital gurney in a metal cage, in a Cairo court alongside his sons Alaa, Gamal and members of the former regime.

The 83-year-old former president has been convalescing in a military hospital in the resort city of Sharm el-Sheik since his resignation. He is reportedly suffering from severe depression and ill health.

Mubarak assumed power after the 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. His vice president, Omar Suleiman, served as the temporary authority in Cairo last year after Mubarak recovered in Germany from gall bladder surgery.

MENA, the country’s state-run news agency, said Mubarak on Wednesday denied all charges against him. Suleiman had told Egyptian prosecutors earlier this year, however, that Mubarak knew of the events unfolding during the revolution.

Daniel Serwer, a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, said in response to e-mail queries that the trail should make Mubarak’s role during the revolution clear.

“I really don’t know what Mubarak knew but I know he should have known,” Serwer said. “I suppose the trial may elucidate this question.”

Suleiman said during investigations early this year that Mubarak was receiving hourly reports from Interior Minister Habib el-Adly during the unrest in January and February.

Adly was sentenced to 12 years in prison after being found guilty of corruption and abuse of power in an earlier trial.

Sources close to the investigation had told Egyptian daily newspaper al-Masry al-Youm the Adly ordered associates to place snipers at key locations, including in his office, during the height of the unrest in January.

A government committee determined that police tied to the regime fired on protesters from the American University of Cairo and the Interior Ministry building.

Adly’s lawyers were quoted as saying that he issued orders based on false information from his deputies, meaning he wasn’t responsible for the decision to fire on protesters.

The Egyptian newspaper reported that Gamal Mubarak had told investigators that he advised his father to respect the will of the people and step aside, though Mubarak was said to fear that his resignation would result in chaos in Egypt.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the military authority that took control after the revolution, has faced increased criticism from revolutionary backers, who’ve re-occupied Cairo’s central Tahrir Square, that justice was slow to develop in the country.

Rodger Baker, vice president of strategic intelligence at Texas’s intelligence company Stratfor, said in response to e-mail queries that while his company wasn’t necessarily looking at the specific details of the trail, the military may look to secure its position through Mubarak’s case.

“The military is sacrificing Mubarak et al. to preserve the system of control that they have in place” he said.

The court adjourned Mubarak’s case to Aug. 15.
DANIEL GRAEBER || UPI Correspondent

Firm Holds 1 Million On Anti-terror List

WILMINGTON, Del., Aug. 3 (UPI) — U.S. security firm Regulatory DataCorp says it has more than 1 million people and groups on its anti-terror database that it wants to market to government and private-sector clients worldwide.

The security industry has seen a dramatic surge in business since it expanded into data processing and intelligence gathering in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

After a slackening of interest in 2010, business picked up as mounting Internet crime brought additional opportunities for security firms. Cybercrime now covers a wide spectrum of malicious and violent activity, from organized computer hacking for profit or politics, drug and gun crime to terrorism.

Regulatory DataCorp, Inc., a global provider of decision-ready intelligence and risk and compliance protection services, said its anti-terrorism database contains more than 1 million records of individuals and groups. It didn’t list the number of groups, nationalities or geographical spread.

RDC says it collects public source records on terrorist and organized crime figures and groups with minute-to-minute screening of international law enforcement watch lists, foreign and English language media, specialty publications, as well as tens of thousands of hard-to-find sources around the world.

It said the anti-terrorism data strategy is “overseen by a respected network of former officials from senior ranks” in the U.S and global law enforcement and intelligence community.

The company said it provides government and private-sector clients with “user-friendly and decision-ready intelligence on individuals and groups linked to terrorism,” continuously monitors its lists to alert customers of any changes.

Analysts said the company appeared to be seeking to build upon the work of several government and non-government services in the United States and abroad. Sensitive data and information translated from regional languages into English is a major growth industry capitalizing on corporate and government concerns.

However, data quality sold by security firms is about as good or current as it prepares clients before the next outrage, as witnessed after the attacks July 22 in Norway.

Nearly all think tanks and security analysts paraded on international television were wrong when speculating about the source of the attack in the first few hours after it happened.

RDC Chief Executive Officer Thomas Obermaier said, “We dig deep behind the headlines and turn over every rock to assemble the world’s largest public source data set on terrorism to help our users comply with the U.S. government’s mandate to disrupt the flow of funds directed to known terrorists around the world.”

The million-plus records RDC holds offer clients an unrivaled quantity and quality of rich biographic and geographic details concerning even the smallest elements of terrorist cells that operate as the building blocks of global terror organizations, Obermaier said.

RDC’s data collection strategy is built on the same foundation that allowed the company to create world’s largest public source data set on other sanctioned activities, including narcotics trafficking and transnational organized crime, the company said.

The company notes that its anti-terrorism database alone “nearly eclipses” the total holdings of other risk data providers, and will continue to grow at an accelerated rate.

“It is testimony as much to our cutting-edge technology as it is to the collective insights, expertise and relentless passion of our team concerning national security issues,” RDC said.

RDC says it continuously updates its global public source archive of key U.S., U.N., European, Canadian and Australian terrorism watch lists.

RDC is a Bain Capital and Goldman Sachs portfolio company and has headquarters in Wilmington, Del.

Maliki Can Negotiate On U.S. Troops

BAGHDAD, Aug. 3 (UPI) — Iraqi leaders are considering the possibility that some U.S. military trainers will stay in the country after the withdrawal deadline, a statement said.

Iraqi leaders met with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani to consider the status of U.S. forces in the country. All U.S. forces under the terms of a bilateral status of forces agreement signed in 2008 are to leave Iraq by the end of December.

Leaders from major political parties in Iraq emerged with a statement giving Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki permission to negotiate the status of U.S. forces with the United States.

“The leaders agreed to authorize the Iraqi government to start the talks with the United States that are limited to training issues,” a statement was quoted by al-Jazeera as saying.

U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Iraqi leaders might need to consider immunity for U.S. forces staying behind but added time was running out for Baghdad to make a decision.

Reconstruction officials in the U.S. government say Iraq is still a very dangerous place and the political system there is exceptionally slow.

The statement on U.S. trainers provoked outrage from anti-American elements in the current government. Despite the flare-ups, however, al-Jazeera notes the development is a positive first step for the country.

Libya’s TNC On Solid Ground

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 (UPI) — Diplomatically speaking, the rebel-backed Transitional National Council in Libya has made tremendous progress, a U.S. special representative said.

At a July contact group meeting in Istanbul, members of the NATO-led military effort in Libya said Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi had lost his legitimacy to lead the country.

London and other European governments have fallen in step behind the TNC, with London saying the rebel-backed leadership was the sole governmental authority in Libya.

Chris Stevens, the U.S. representative to the TNC, told reporters that despite a lengthy military stalemate in Libya, things were moving forward on other fronts.

“Diplomatically, they’ve made tremendous progress since April gaining international recognition now from about 30 countries, including, significantly, our own,” he said. “This helps them in the eyes of the world, in the eyes of their own people, in the eyes of the Libyan people who are still under Gadhafi’s rule and it also helps them in the sense that it increases the pressure on Gadhafi.”

A leader in the rebel government in Benghazi said rival factions were responsible for killing a key TNC leader last week, raising concerns opposition forces in Libya were showing signs of division.

State Department officials, however, said that while the situation in Libya was fluid, support for the TNC was on solid ground.

U.N. Envoy Wants Inside Access To Iran

GENEVA, Switzerland, Aug. 3 (UPI) — A U.N. special envoy on human rights in Iran said he’d like permission to visit the country and hopes Tehran views his authority as legitimate.

The U.N. Human Rights Council created a special envoy on human rights in Iran in March. Iranian leaders, however, objected to the measure.

Ahmed Shaheed, the U.N. special envoy on human rights, said he hoped Tehran recognized his authority and was seeking access to the country.

“I issued a written communication to the Iranian authorities to introduce myself and express my interest in visiting the country,” he said in a statement.

A video clip provided to Amnesty International in July shows what appear to be three men hanged from a bridge near the central square in Kermanshah, Iran. In the video, guards secure ropes around the necks of three men standing on buses. The video footage ends as the buses start to drive away.

Shaheed said his mandate “provides an opportunity for Iran to engage on a range of human rights issues that have been raised by the international community.”

ADL Asks Rick Perry To Drop Prayer Rally

HOUSTON, Aug. 3 (UPI) — Texas religious leaders and civil liberties groups have urged Gov. Rick Perry to cut his ties to The Response, a prayer event scheduled in Houston this weekend.

The Anti-Defamation League issued a statement signed by more than 50 leaders in the Houston area, the Houston Chronicle reported. The signatories included Christian, Jewish and Muslim clergy.

The Rev. William Lawson, pastor emeritus of the Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, not only signed the ADL statement but plans to speak Friday at a “family, faith and freedom rally” sponsored by Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas.

“Governor Perry has a constitutional duty to treat all Texans equally, regardless of race, religion or ethnicity,” the ADL statement said. “His official involvement with The Response, at minimum, violates the spirit of that duty.”

The Response, a seven-hour event, is to be held at Reliant Stadium Saturday. Perry invited his colleagues from the other 49 states but only Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas said he would attend, and newspapers in Kansas say he may have changed his mind.

Layoffs Rise For Third Month Running

CHICAGO, Aug. 3 (UPI) — U.S. companies announced 66,414 layoffs in July, the highest total in 16 months, a private consulting firm said Wednesday.

After a first half of the year with announced job losses the lowest since 2000, international outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said July’s announced layoffs rose 60 percent over the previous month and 59 percent over July 2010.

The job cuts announced in the month were “dominated by a flurry of large layoffs by a handful of private-sector employers,” the firm said.

Companies that announced layoffs in July Included Boston Scientific, Borders, Cisco Systems, Lockheed Martin and Merck & Co.

Those five firms contributed 57 percent of the total, Challenger, Gray & Christmas said.