February 2009 Archives
U.S. force in Afghanistan may grow to 60,000 11 Feb 2009 President Barack Obama will soon decide how many troops to send to Afghanistan as part of his first major deployment of forces overseas as commander in chief of the U.S. military. The new deployments are seen as the first stage in an expected build-up from the present force of 37,000 to about 60,000.
Obama Weighs Adding Troops in Afghanistan 12 Feb 2009 President Obama is facing a choice on whether to grant [Bush] commanders’ requests for additional troops in Afghanistan before he has decided on his new strategy there. The officials said that Mr. Obama may deploy one or two additional brigades, between 3,500 and 7,000 soldiers.
Britain ready to send 300 more troops to help 'surge' in Afghanistan 12 Feb 2009 Britain is preparing to send 300 more troops to Afghanistan, which could mark the extent of its contribution to the US-led "surge". Britain will deploy the specialist troops within weeks in a move being seen as an attempt to head off any larger request for British forces from President Obama.
26 killed in Kabul raids 12 Feb 2009 Taliban 'insurgents' launched suicide bomb and gun attacks on three Afghan government buildings in Kabul yesterday, killing at least 26 people in one of their most daring assaults on the capital. The defence ministry said eight suicide attackers also died in the near-simultaneous strikes on the prisons directorate, and justice and education ministries.
Same tactics used in Kabul, Mumbai attacks 12 Feb 2009 Afghan officials say tactics employed by militants in Wednesday's terrorist attacks in Kabul were similar to those used in the Mumbai carnage. Militants launched a series of attacks on government buildings in Kabul on Wednesday morning after sending text messages to the leader of their cell in Pakistan, the head of the Afghan Intelligence Service, Amrullah Saleh said.
27 killed in Iraq violence 12 Feb 2009 Twin car bombings ripped through a Baghdad bus station killing 16 people yesterday, as violence across Iraq claimed at least 27 lives. Among the incidents, pilgrims travelling by foot to the central shrine city of Karbala came under attack in two areas of Baghdad, leaving one devotee dead and 14 others wounded, security officials said. And at least five people were killed in the northern city of Mosul.
Judge deals blow to families suing Blackwater 10 Feb 2009 The survivors of four Blackwater Worldwide mercenaries killed in a grisly ambush in Iraq five years ago have suffered yet another setback in their legal battle with the company. A federal administrative law judge ruled last week the children of one of the slain contractors should receive compensation through a government insurance program known as the Defense Base Act. It prohibits those eligible for benefits from filing lawsuits against companies covered by the insurance.
US concerned over prospect of right-wing government 11 Feb 2009 US officials are publicly taking a wait-and-see approach to the formation of a new Israeli government, but privately many have expressed concern that Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu might preside over a right-wing coalition.
UN moves to charge Israel with war crimes 10 Feb 2009 The United Nations moves to set up a commission to look into Israeli war crimes and respond to its human rights violations in Gaza. After the United Nations Works and Relief Agency (UNRWA) compound became the target of GPS-guided Israeli mortars on January 15, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned "in the strongest terms this outrageous attack" and called for an inquiry into suspected Israeli war crimes.
Senate Committee Approves Panetta for CIA Director 11 Feb 2009 A U.S. Senate committee voted unanimously today to recommend that Leon Panetta be confirmed as director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Panetta, a former Democratic House member from California, was chief of staff and budget director in President Bill Clinton’s White House.
'Dirty bomb' parts found in slain white supremacist's home: Report --Four 1-gallon containers of 35 percent hydrogen peroxide, uranium, thorium, lithium metal, thermite, aluminum powder, beryllium, boron, black iron oxide and magnesium ribbon were found in home 10 Feb 2009 James G. Cummings, who police say was shot to death by his wife [?!?] two months ago, allegedly had a cache of radioactive materials in his home suitable for building a "dirty bomb." According to an FBI field intelligence report from the Washington Regional Threat and Analysis Center posted online by WikiLeaks, an investigation revealed that radioactive materials were removed from Cummings’ home after his shooting death: "On 9 December 2008, radiological dispersal device components and literature, and radioactive materials, were discovered at the Maine residence of an identified deceased [person] James Cummings." [Yeah, no Gitmo for *actual* (Reichwing) terrorists. And, you won't hear about this one, since the dirty bomb elements were not found in a Muslim home. --LRP]
Police arrest armed man with 'delivery' for Obama 11 Feb 2009 US Capitol police have arrested a man who showed up at a traffic barrier saying he had "a delivery" for President Barack Obama and then revealed he was armed, a police spokeswoman said. The man drove up to one of the barricades and "told us he had a delivery for President Obama," said Sergeant Kimberly Schneider.
Oops! Another (Fox) GOPedophile bites the dust. Fox Newser In Kiddie Porn Bust 10 Feb 2009 A Fox News producer who covered Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign for the cable network is facing child porn charges after federal agents discovered photos and videos on his computer depicting "children under the age of ten being sexually abused by adult men and women." Aaron Bruns, 29, was apparently nabbed after a Pennsylvania state police investigator conducting "pro-active undercover investigations" on an unnamed peer-to-peer network determined that Bruns's computer contained llicit images.
Panasonic orders overseas families home over flu fears --Company fears bird flu outbreak 10 Feb 2009 Panasonic has ordered the families of some of its overseas employees to return home by September, a company spokesman said Tuesday. The order, issued by Panasonic in December, leaves the employees in their overseas posts, according to Akira Kadota. The company fears an outbreak of influenza, especially bird flu.
Obama orders review of cyber security 10 Feb 2009 President Barack Obama on Monday ordered a 60-day review of the nation's cybersecurity to examine how federal agencies use technology to protect secrets and data. Obama said former Bush administration aide Melissa Hathaway will head the effort to examine all the government plans, programs and activities under way to manage massive amounts of data - everything from passport application to tax records, personal tax returns to national security documents.
FAA says Hackers broke into agency computers 10 Feb 2009 Hackers broke into the Federal Aviation Administration's computer system last week, accessing the names and Social Security numbers of 45,000 employees and retirees.
Fraud 'Directly Related' to Financial Crisis Probed --FBI Agents Could be Reassigned from National Security Due to Booming Caseload 11 Feb 2009 The FBI has opened investigations into more than 500 cases of alleged corporate fraud, including 38 that involve major firms and are "directly related" to the national economic crisis, FBI Deputy Director John Pistole told Congress today. The surge in white-collar investigations is putting such a strain on the FBI that Pistole said the bureau is considering reassigning agents from national security, which has been the bureau's priority since the [Bush] 9/11 attacks.
'It would have been the end of our economic system and our political system as we know it.' --Rep. Kanjorski: $550 billion disappeared in 'electronic run on the banks' 09 Feb 2009 The Capital Markets Subcommittee Chair, Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-PA), tells C-Span how the world economy almost collapsed in a matter of hours. In the C-Span video, Kanjorski reports on a "tremendous draw-down of money market accounts in the United States, to the tune of $550 billion dollars." According to Kanjorski, this electronic transfer occurred over the period of an hour or two. "The Treasury opened its window to help. They pumped a hundred and five billion dollars into the system and quickly realized that they could not stem the tide. We were having an electronic run on the banks. They decided to close the operation, close down the money accounts, and announce a guarantee of $250,000 per account so there wouldn't be further panic out there. And that's what actually happened. If they had not done that, their estimation was that by two o'clock that afternoon, five-and-a-half trillion dollars would have been drawn out of the money market system of the United States, would have collapsed the entire economy of the United States, and within 24 hours the world economy would have collapsed... It would have been the end of our economic system and our political system as we know it."
Congress, W.House reach deal on economic stimulus 11 Feb 2009 The U.S. Congress and the Obama administration reached a deal on Wednesday on a $789 billion economic 'stimulus' package that would mix tax cuts and new government spending to rescue the faltering U.S. economy. Senate majority leader Harry Reid told reporters negotiators had "bridged differences" between an $820 billion dollar House version of the package and an $838 billion version passed by the Senate.
Bankers face 'great deal of anger' [Not enough.] 11 Feb 2009 The gaping divide between the nation's political and financial capitals showed starkly Wednesday when lawmakers hammered eight of Wall Street's most influential chief executives about how they have so far spent billions of taxpayer money. Angry Congressmen wanted to know why their constituents cannot get loans for cars, homes and businesses even though the banks received $160 billion so far to help thaw frozen credit.
Peanut company president refuses to answer questions from Congress 11 Feb 2009 The owner of a peanut company pleaded the fifth amendment and refused to testify before Congress today after it was disclosed he urged workers to ship products tainted with salmonella. While speaking before a House subcommittee hearing Stewart Parnell, owner of Peanut Corporation of America, said: "Mr Chairman and members of the committee, on advice of my counsel, I respectively decline to answer your questions based on the protections afforded me under the US Constitution."
Peanut Corp. Knew of Salmonella Contamination in 2006 11 Feb 2009 Peanut Corp. of America’s president refused to talk to U.S. lawmakers as an internal e-mail showed he looked for a way to turn raw peanuts "into money" after salmonella-tainted peanut butter was found. The president of the closely held company, Stewart Parnell, feared losses tied to salmonella, according to e-mails released today at a House subcommittee hearing. Two executives of food testing labs told lawmakers that salmonella was found as early as 2006 at Peanut Corp.'s plant in Blakely, Georgia, and the company often asked for its products to be re-tested.
Peanut Company in Death Probe Shuts Second Factory 10 Feb 2009 Peanut Corp. of America, the closely held company facing a criminal investigation over hundreds of salmonella poisonings, shut a second factory after Texas officials said it may have produced contaminated products.
Senate Panel O.K.'s Bill to Give Washington a Voting Representative 12 Feb 2009 This could be the year that Washington gets a voting member of Congress. On Wednesday, a Senate committee approved a bill to give the city a voting member of the House of Representatives, clearing the way for the full chamber to take up the matter in the coming weeks.
Senate judges order count of 23 rejected ballots 11 Feb 2009 The judges in Minnesota's Senate trial on Tuesday ordered that 23 previously rejected absentee ballots be opened and added to the race, setting the stage for counting perhaps thousands more such ballots and giving Republican Norm Coleman a shot at erasing Democrat Al Franken's 225-vote lead.
Alaska's top lawyer, Troopergate figure, resigns 10 Feb 2009 Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg, a major figure in the abuse-of-power investigation of Gov. Sarah Palin, has resigned, the governor's office said Tuesday. Colberg, who was appointed to the post in 2006 after Palin was elected, represented seven of nine state employees who initially refused to testify before a legislative panel investigating Palin's firing of her public safety commissioner in what became known as Troopergate.
to push offshore energy drilling ban 11 Feb 2009 A day after Interior
Secretary Ken Salazar ordered a review of offshore oil and gas development, Congress
is set to hear from environmental activists and officials from coastal communities
who want to continue the ban on offshore drilling. The House Resources Committee
on Wednesday was to open the first of three hearings to air concerns about drilling
in the Outer Continental shelf waters, which for years have been off limits to
Study: Birds shifting north; global warming cited 10 Feb 2009 As the temperature across the U.S. has gotten warmer, the purple finch has been spending its winters more than 400 miles farther north than it used to. And it's not alone. An Audubon Society study to be released Tuesday found that more than half of 305 birds species in North America, a hodgepodge that includes robins, gulls, chickadees and owls, are spending the winter about 35 miles farther north than they did 40 years ago.
Koalas homeless after Australian Fires --Bushfires rage in Australia 09 Feb 2009 Firefighter David Tree shares his water with an injured Australian koala at Mirboo North after wildfires swept through the region Feb. 9, 2009. (Photo)
The life and times of Charles Darwin 12 Feb 2009 The man who gave us the theory of evolution by natural selection was born 200 years ago today. His life spanned the 19th century, a time of great invention and rapid change. Darwin's On the Origin of Species shocked his contemporaries and remains controversial in some quarters to this day. In this interactive guide, we look at the social and historic context of his revolutionary discovery.
Minister fears rise of fascism amid economic gloom --The economic crisis could spark a resurgence in the Far Right, a close ally of Gordon Brown has suggested. 10 Feb 2009 Ed Balls, the Children's and Schools Secretary, said the downturn was likely to be the most serious for 100 years, and his comments appeared to raise the prospect of a return to the Far Right politics of the 1930s and the rise of Fascism. His warning, in a speech to activists at the weekend, came after a trade union baron warned that far right parties were trying to hijack the campaign for "British jobs for British workers". The row over foreign workers has gathered momentum in recent weeks and Mr Balls seemed to suggest the recession could trigger a return to the Far Right politics that prospered in the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Balls says recession is "worst in 100 years" 09 Feb 2009 Schools Secretary Ed Balls has warned that the world is facing its worst recession in more than a century, surpassing even the Great Depression of the 1930s. In the gloomiest prediction yet made by a government minister, Balls said the pain of the economic downturn could be still be felt 15 years from now.
Senate passes $838 billion stimulus bill --Democratic leaders vow to deliver legislation to president within days 10 Feb 2009 President Barack Obama's economic recovery plan has passed the Senate and is on its way to difficult House-Senate negotiations. Just three Republicans helped pass the plan on a 61-37 vote and they're already signaling they'll play hardball to preserve more than $108 billion in spending cuts made last week in Senate dealmaking. [Legislation aside: Who cares how many Republicans voted for it? The GOP-owned/corporate-run media is obsessed with boosting their relevance, when they lost - resoundingly - in the 2008 elections. --LRP]
Geithner Says Bank-Rescue Plans May Reach $2 Trillion 10 Feb 2009 Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner pledged government financing for as much as $2 trillion of efforts to spur new lending and address banks’ toxic assets, seeking to end the credit crunch hobbling the economy. "Instead of catalyzing recovery, the financial system is working against recovery," Geithner said in unveiling the Obama administration’s financial-bailout overhaul in Washington today. "At the same time, the recession is putting greater pressure on banks. This is a dangerous dynamic, and we need to arrest it."
GOP Group Threatens to Campaign Against Republican Stimulus Backers --The National Republican Trust PAC is threatening to provide financial support for primary challengers to any stimulus-supporting Republican in the next election. 10 Feb 2009 A GOP group is putting Republican lawmakers "on notice," threatening to campaign against anyone who breaks ranks to vote for the more than $800 billion economic recovery package. The National Republican Trust PAC put out a statement Tuesday claiming it would provide financial support for primary challengers to any stimulus-supporting Republican in the next election.
GM cuts 10,000 salaried jobs, trims employees' pay 10 Feb 2009 General Motors Corp. is planning to slash another 10,000 salaried jobs this year... The Detroit-based automaker said Tuesday it will reduce its total number of white-collar workers by 14 percent to 63,000. About 3,400, or 12 percent, of GM's 29,500 salaried U.S. jobs will be eliminated. Most of the company's remaining salaried employees will have their pay cut.
Mafia millions buoying banks: UN 09 Feb 2009 Cash-rich Mafia groups have been channelling funds into banks desperate to survive the global credit crisis, the UN anti-crime chief said on Monday. Antonio Maria Costa of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said he had collected ample evidence to make such accusations.
Speaking of Nazis, Mafiosi: $3000-a-day jobs for Bush friends 10 Feb 2009 Former US president [sic] George W. Bush has appointed dozens of "friends and supporters" to lucrative jobs during his final days in office. The Washington Post wrote on Tuesday that Bush made more than 100 such appointments, tapping associates to non-confirmable, obscure posts such as the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports and the US-Russia Polar Bear Commissions. [Great. Bush's top Nazis on polar bear commissions. Hopefully, the polar bears will just eat them.]
Bush Tapped Aides, Top Donors for Appointments --Many will outlast President Obama's current term. 10 Feb 2009 Fred F. Fielding, Emmet T. Flood, William A. Burck and Daniel M. Price worked together at the White House under George W. Bush. Less than two weeks before leaving office, Bush made sure the senior aides shared a new assignment, naming them to an obscure World Bank agency called the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes... Nearly half of Bush's appointments after Election Day were filled by donors who gave a total of nearly $1.9 million to Republicans since 2003, according to an analysis of the postings. At least 20 of the positions were filled by former Bush aides, plus others filled by old hands from the regimes of Richard M. Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
Administration Backs Bush Secrecy Policy in Terror Case
10 Feb 2009 The Obama administration is backing a
US dominance over Iraq has ended: Maliki 10 Feb 2009 Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Tuesday that the era of US dominance in Iraq was over, in a broadside to Washington almost six years after the invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein. The Shiite premier, boosted by the strong showing of his allies in provincial elections, said Iraq was now taking charge of its own destiny and was making good progress towards rebuilding the war-torn country.
Petraeus Leaked Misleading Story on Pullout Plans By Gareth Porter 10 Feb 2009 The political maneuvering between President Barack Obama and his top field commanders over withdrawal from Iraq has taken a sudden new turn with the leak by CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus [Betrayus] - and a firm denial by a White House official - of an account of the Jan. 21 White House meeting suggesting that Obama had requested three different combat troop withdrawal plans with their respective associated risks, including one of 23 months. [WHY did Obama keep this traitor?]
prisoners handed over to Iraq 10 Feb 2009 Authorities in Baghdad have
received four Iraqi prisoners from the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.
According to a list released by the US Department of Defence in May 2006, eight
Iraqi nationals were
UN chief to set up panel to probe Israel's bombing in Gaza 10 Feb 2009 UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has informed the Security Council of his intention to establish a commission to look into Israel's bombing of UN facilities in Gaza, the Council's president said on Monday. The UN chief made the announcement in a closed-door briefing to the Security Council about his recent overseas visit to Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia, Japanese UN Ambassador Yukio Takasu told reporters.
Israel's election cliffhanger as Livni closes gap with Netanyahu --Rightwing parties hold key to power as a fifth of voters remain undecided on eve of poll Israelis go to the polls to elect a new government tomorrow in what is becoming a cliffhanger contest between the rightwing opposition leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his rival Tzipi Livni, the centrist [?] foreign minister. Netanyahu, leader of the Likud party, is slightly ahead, and given the combined size of the rightwing parties that would support him he is thought most likely to lead the next coalition government.
Pentagon: No More Than 30,000 Additional Troops to Be Deployed to Afghanistan 10 Feb 2009 The Pentagon needs the support of other federal agencies to win the war in Afghanistan, and will deploy no more than 30,000 additional troops to the Middle East nation, according to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen.
Blast kills two NATO soldiers in Afghanistan 10 Feb 2009 A suicide bomb hit a convoy of NATO-led troops and killed two soldiers in southeastern Afghanistan on Tuesday, officials said. Another soldier was wounded by the blast which happened in Khost province near the border with Pakistan, said a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
Russia: Nukes may come in handy 09 Feb 2009 A senior Russian military official [Nikolai Makarov] has said that nuclear warfare could be the only appropriate response against likely 'new threats'. "New threats may emerge that could only be averted with the threat of nuclear weapons," said the head of the Russian General Staff on Monday, Russian information agency RBC reported.
Obama cool on push for Bush-era 'truth commission' 09 Feb 2009 US President Barack Obama gave a cool welcome Monday to a top US senator's call for a "truth commission" to probe alleged abuses under George W. Bush -- but did not rule out possible prosecutions for wrongdoing.
calls for investigation of Bush officials 10 Feb 2009 The chairman of
the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday called for a bipartisan "truth
and reconciliation" commission to investigate potential wrongdoing by Bush administration
officials in the war
'We see the result, but not the cause. We don't know where it has come from, but people have been infected. When people are infected, in theory it should be present in birds.' China Health Ministry 'puzzled' by bird flu cases 10 Feb 2009 China's Health Ministry is puzzled by eight human cases of bird flu in January which appeared independent of any known case in birds, a spokesman said on Tuesday. Five Chinese died from H5N1 in January in far-flung regions without any reported presence of the virus in birds on the mainland. "We see the result, but not the cause. We don't know where it has come from, but people have been infected. When people are infected, in theory it should be present in birds," spokesman Mao Qunan told reporters. [See: Indonesia accuses US of bird flu plot 20 Feb 2008 The Indonesian Health Minister has said the United States and the World Health Organisation are part of a global conspiracy to profit from the spread of bird flu and the US may use samples to produce biological weapons. See: Fort Detrick Freezes Research on Dangerous Pathogens As Lab Can't Account For Them 07 Feb 2009. See: Flu 'Oddities'.]
Large-billed crow has H5N1 10 Feb 2009 Hong Kong authorities said on Tuesday that a dead Large-billed Crow found in the territory had tested positive for the deadly H5N1 bird flu strain. The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said the latest case has taken to 12 the total number of birds found to have the virus, which can be fatal to humans, since January 29.
'I believe that the probability that there are additional vials of BSAT [biological select agents and toxins] not captured in our … database is high.' Fort Detrick Freezes Research on Dangerous Pathogens As Lab Can't Account For Them 07 Feb 2009 The U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) has suspended research activities involving biological select agents and toxins. Army officials took the step on Friday after discovering apparent problems with the system of accounting for high-risk microbes and biomaterials at the Fort Detrick, Maryland, facility. The decision was announced by institute commander Col. John Skvorak in a 4 February memo to employees. The memo, which ScienceInsider has obtained, says the standard of accountability that USAMRIID had been applying to its select agents and toxins was not in line with the standard required by the Army and the Department of Defense.
Army Suspends Germ Research at Maryland Lab 10 Feb 2009 Army officials have suspended most research involving dangerous germs at the biodefense laboratory at Fort Detrick, Md., which the Federal Bureau of Investigation has linked to the anthrax attacks of 2001, after discovering that some pathogens stored there were not listed in a laboratory database. The suspension, which began on Friday and could last three months, is intended to allow a complete inventory of hazardous bacteria, viruses and toxins stored in refrigerators, freezers and cabinets in the facility, the Army Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.
Obama Administration Maintains Bush Position on 'Extraordinary Rendition' Lawsuit 09 Feb 2009 The Obama Administration today announced that it would keep the same position as the Bush Administration in the lawsuit Mohamed et al v Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc. The case involves five men who claim to have been victims of extraordinary rendition -- including current Guantanamo prisoner Binyam Mohamed, another plaintiff in jail in Egypt, one in jail in Morocco, and two now free. They sued a San Jose Boeing subsidiary, Jeppesen Dataplan, accusing the flight-planning company of aiding the CIA in flying them to other countries and secret CIA camps where they were tortured. A year ago the case was thrown out on the basis of national security, but today the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard the appeal, brought by the ACLU.
4 US soldiers killed by suicide car bomb in Iraq 09 Feb 2009 A suicide car bomber struck a U.S. patrol on Monday, killing four American soldiers and an interpreter in the northern city of Mosul, the military said. The explosion took place near a police checkpoint in Mosul, according to Iraqi police.
Iraqis Say U.S. Patrol Killed Girl, 8, in Crowd 09 Feb 2009 An 8-year-old Iraqi girl was killed Saturday and several other civilians were wounded when gunfire from an American military convoy struck a crowd of Shiite pilgrims traveling to the holy city of Karbala, witnesses and Iraqi officials said. After the short burst of [US] gunfire, the 8-year-old girl, Sa'adiya Saddam, collapsed on the ground by her wailing mother, witnesses said.
U.S. says Iran still supporting Iraq militants 09 Feb 2009 Iranians are still supporting Shi'ite militants in Iraq with weapons and training, despite a reduction in violence in Iraq, the U.S. ambassador in Baghdad said in a television interview on Monday. Ryan Crocker, who [mercifully] departs later this month after two years as the U.S. envoy in Iraq, said talks he had held with Iranian diplomats to discuss Iraq's security had been fruitless.
Israeli warplanes rain bombs on Gaza 09 Feb 2009 Israeli warplanes have bombed the Gaza Strip again, causing damage but no injuries. The action occurred after Palestinian militants fired two rockets from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip into southern Israel. Israeli aircraft supposedly intervened against a Hamas position in Gaza after militants fired about 40 rockets and mortar rounds into Israel.
Israel warplanes bomb Gaza after rocket attacks 09 Feb 2009 Israel said it launched air strikes on two Hamas outposts in the Gaza Strip on Monday in retaliation for rocket attacks on Israel. The air strikes were mounted on the eve of an Israeli election in which security is a major issue.
Gaza offensive boosted Hamas, poll concludes 06 Feb 2009 Palestinian support for the Islamist Hamas movement has soared in the wake of Israel's three-week offensive against the Gaza Strip, according to a poll released yesterday. The survey, by the independent Jerusalem Media and Communications Center, also found that the majority of Palestinians thought the group had emerged victorious from the conflict.
Rise in antisemitic attacks 'the worst recorded in Britain in decades --'British Jews' safety fears grow after Gaza invasion 08 Feb 2009 Police patrols have been stepped up in Jewish neighbourhoods following the most intense period of antisemitic incidents to have been recorded in Britain in decades. Safety fears are so acute that reports have emerged of members of Britain's Jewish community fleeing the UK with antisemitic incidents running at around seven a day this year.
27,000 Work in Pentagon PR and Recruiting By Noah Shachtman 05 Feb 2009 Forget the drone stuff. Here is your eye-popping statistic of the day: "This year, the Pentagon will employ 27,000 people just for recruitment, advertising and public relations -- almost as many as the total 30,000-person work force in the State Department." That's from an Associated Press investigation, "which found that over the past five years, the money the military spends on winning hearts and minds at home and abroad has grown by 63 percent, to at least $4.7 billion this year."
CIA warns Barack Obama that British terrorists are the biggest threat to the US 07 Feb 2009 Barack Obama has been warned by the CIA that British Islamist extremists are the greatest threat to US homeland security. American spy chiefs have told the President that the CIA has launched a vast spying operation in the UK to prevent a repeat of the 9/11 attacks being launched from Britain. They believe that a British-born Pakistani extremist entering the US under the visa waiver programme is the most likely source of another terrorist spectacular on American soil.
'Does fire have different properties in China compared to the US?' Fire Consumes WTC 7-Size Skyscraper, Building Does Not Collapse By Paul Joseph Watson 09 Feb 2009 A fierce fire consumed all 44 floors of a skyscraper in Beijing today, shooting 30 foot flames into the air, but unlike the similarly-sized 47-story WTC 7, which suffered limited fires across just eight floors, the building in China did not collapse... Compare images of WTC 7 with those of the skyscraper fire in Beijing. Note that the Beijing skyscraper appears to be leaning due to the unorthodox design of the building - it did not suffer any kind of collapse. How do the debunkers explain away this one? How come NIST's newly invented "phenomenon" of "thermal expansion" didn’t put paid to the skyscraper in Beijing? Does fire have different properties in China compared to the U.S.?
Sen. Leahy wants Bush lie inquiry 09 Feb 2009 Chairman of the US Senate's Judiciary Committee Senator Patrick Leahy has called for an inquiry into George Bush's 'lies' as President [sic]. High on Senator Leahy's proposed agenda to question the so-called Bush doctrine are the allegations against the former US president's warmongering policies, unwarranted wiretapping and the handling of suspected detainees, Reuters reported. The prominent Democratic senator likened the Bush's projected probe to the truth commissions held in South Africa to look into crimes committed during the 'Apartheid era' against the Blacks.
Coast Guard adds machine guns to helicopters 03 Feb 2009 The four Coast Guard helicopters that patrol San Francisco’s shoreline have been replaced with stealthier and better-armored choppers that, for the first time, can be armed with machine guns. The Coast Guard is replacing its national fleet of orange-and-white helicopters under one of the post-9/11 programs started by the Bush regime to better militarize the agency. The four new MH-65C Dolphin helicopters, which are stationed near San Francisco International Airport, are upgraded versions of the aircraft they replaced.
Guard copters show teeth in war game --Coast Guard also trains in the Pacific
Ocean using live ammunition 03 Feb 2009 The U.S. Coast Guard is deploying
armed helicopters to head off a possible terrorist raid on Bay Area waters. the
Coast Guard showed off its new weapon Monday in a simulated air-and-sea, small-boat
gunbattle in the choppy and windy San Pablo Bay in a training exercise. One of
Government compiles travel records database 08 Feb 2009 The Government is compiling a database to track and store the international travel records of millions of people. The intelligence centre will store names, addresses, telephone numbers, seat reservations, travel itineraries and credit card details for all 250 million journeys made in and out of the UK each year. The computerised pattern of every individual's travel history will be kept for up to 10 years.
'Bring back the guillotine...for bankers' [Others, too.] By Vince Cable 08 Feb 2009 The crass behaviour of Britain’s financial aristocracy rivals the last of the Bourbons. Marie Antoinette famously patronised the Parisian mob with her ‘let them eat cake’, while dining in luxury in the Tuileries. The City bankers who ruined their banks but have been kept in employment by the taxpayer now demand we pay them their bonuses to maintain the aristocratic lifestyle to which they have become accustomed... The financial aristocracy has to learn to respect the public who pay their wages. Otherwise we shall soon be importing French guillotines.
Billion pound bonus prompts outrage 09 Feb 2009 Reports that the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) was about to award its staff a billion pounds in bonuses prompted outrage on Sunday at a time of soaring unemployment and with a deep recession looming. Chancellor Alistair Darling vowed that bankers who had lost money would not get big cash bonuses, though he said it was too early to follow U.S. President Barack Obama's lead and put a mandatory cap on bankers' pay.
US Treasury to pump billions more into banks 08 Feb 2009 Timothy Geithner, the US Treasury secretary, will tomorrow set out the American government’s plan to inject billions of [taxpayer] dollars into the country’s troubled banks and ringfence their toxic assets. The announcement is seen in the markets as key to steering the global economy out of its deepest postwar recession, along with President Barack Obama’s $820 billion (£555 billion) fiscal-stimulus plan.
IMF may run out of cash to fight crisis in six months, Strauss-Khan warns 08 Feb 2009 The International Monetary Fund could run out of cash to firefight the economic crisis in as little as six months, its managing director has warned. Dominique Strauss-Kahn said the Fund needed an urgent cash infusion if it was to continue bailing out troubled economies in the future. Mr Strauss-Kahn also indicated that the world's advanced economies were now tipping from recession into full-blown [Bush] depression.
Stimulus bill passes Senate test vote amid GOP opposition 09 Feb 2009 The Senate held a key procedural vote this evening on the $838-billion stimulus bill, setting up Tuesday’s passage and then a conference committee with the House to determine what the final version should look like. Needing to hit a 60-vote requirement to end debate and vote on the bill, the Senate voted 61-to-36 on the legislation, which is a rewrite of the legislation sent over by the House in the last week of January.
Obama stimulus plan clears key Senate hurdle 09 Feb 2009 US President Barack Obama's economic stimulus plan cleared a Senate hurdle late Monday, as lawmakers voted to end their divisive debate and move to a vote on an 827-billion-dollar package. Senators voted 61-36 on a motion to close debate, and were to vote Tuesday on the overall package, which Obama has called crucial to pulling the battered US economy out of a paralyzing recession.
Obama Stumps for Stimulus in a City Hit Hard by Downturn 10 Feb 2009 President Obama took his case for an $800 billion economic recovery package to one of the most distressed places in America on Monday as he opened a series of campaign-style events intended to press Congress to approve the plan by week’s end. Wrapping himself in the mandate of his election last November, Mr. Obama sounded like a candidate again, scolding greedy Wall Street bankers and pointedly rejecting Republican critics for sticking with what he called a failed philosophy.
Students are revolting: The spirit of '68 is reawakening --Campus sit-ins began as a response to the Gaza attacks, but unrest is already spilling over to other issues. 08 Feb 2009 Around the UK, thousands of students have occupied lecture theatres, offices and other buildings at more than 20 universities in sit-down protests. It seems that the spirit of 1968 has returned to the campus. While it was the situation in Gaza that triggered this mass protest, the beginnings of political enthusiasm have already spread to other issues.
1st US case of Marburg fever confirmed in Colo. 08 Feb 2009 The first U.S. case of Marburg hemorrhagic fever has been confirmed in Colorado, and authorities say the patient has since recovered. The disease, caused by a virus indigenous to Africa, spreads through contact with infected animals or the bodily fluids of infected humans. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokesman Dave Daigle said no previous cases have been reported in the United States.
Seven birds test positive for bird flu in Hong Kong 07 Feb 2009 Hong Kong authorities confirmed Saturday that seven dead birds recently found in the territory all tested positive for the H5N1 bird flu strain. The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said laboratory tests confirmed that four chickens, a duck, a Peregrine Falcon and a Grey Heron found dead this month carried the deadly strain.
Worries About Gardasil Safety --Vaccine-Safety Group Study Shows Higher Instance
of Medical Side-Effects Than Another Vaccine
By Sharyl Attkisson 06 Feb 2009 There are new concerns about
'Using animals as factories to produce medications needed by humans has been a long-standing goal.' Drug Made In Milk of Genetically Modified Goats Is Approved 07 Feb 2009 Federal officials yesterday approved for the first time the sale of a drug made in animals genetically modified to secrete the compound in their milk. The drug is made by GTC Biotherapeutics of Framingham, Mass. Company scientists combined human DNA for antithrombin with goat DNA in such a way that goat's milk glands would express human antithrombin.
'Warm everywhere' in Arctic this winter 05 Feb 2009 The Arctic has been downright balmy compared to past winters. These warmer-than-normal temperatures mean that the sea ice in the Arctic is looking pretty anemic, despite the winter season. Arctic ice goes through a normal cycle of summer thaw and winter re-freeze. In recent decades, however, sea ice has become overall less extensive and thinner, leading to forecasts that in future decades the polar region will be ice-free during summer.
Obama's NSC Will Get New Power --Directive Expands Makeup and Role of Security Body 08 Feb 2009 President Obama plans to order a sweeping overhaul of the National Security Council, expanding its membership and increasing its authority to set strategy across a wide spectrum of international and domestic issues. The new structure, to be outlined in a presidential directive and a detailed implementation document by national security adviser James L. Jones, will expand the NSC's reach far beyond the range of traditional foreign policy issues and turn it into a much more elastic body.
White House mulls Pentagon oversight for nuke weapons -NYT 07 Feb 2009 The Obama administration is considering moving nuclear weapons production management from the Energy Department to the Pentagon, The New York Times reported on Saturday. The change, which the report said would end more than 60 years of civilian control over nuclear bomb manufacture, would be meant to let the Energy Department focus more on energy research, production and conservation, the Times said.
Bomb Plants Could Shift to Control of Pentagon 07 Feb 2009 The Obama administration is considering whether to shift the management of nuclear weapons production to the Pentagon from the Energy Department, a step that would end more than 60 years of civilian control over nuclear bomb manufacture.
UK government suppressed evidence on Binyam Mohamed torture because MI6 helped his interrogators 07 Feb 2009 The Government suppressed evidence on the torture of terror suspect Binyam Mohamed because the documents reveal that MI6 helped his interrogators. Material in a CIA dossier on Mr Mohamed that was blacked out by High Court judges contained details of how British intelligence officers supplied information to his captors and contributed questions while he was brutally tortured, The Sunday Telegraph has learned. Intelligence sources have revealed that spy chiefs put pressure on Mr Miliband to do nothing that would leave serving MI6 officers open to prosecution, or to jeopardise relations with the CIA, which is passing them "top notch" information on British terrorist suspects from its own informers in Britain. Mr Mohamed, 30, an Ethiopian, was granted refugee status in Britain in 1994.
Miliband wriggles in the Guantanamo net --The foreign secretary wants to draw a line under the torture row but more truth will out By Andrew Sullivan 08 Feb 2009 In retrospect, the selection of the site should have given away the real intentions – to find a place beyond the rule of law. But existing institutions and deeply held practices – the United States, after all, created the Geneva system – were America’s default mode of operation. It took real effort and real determination from Bush and Cheney to upend two centuries of American practice and turn Guantanamo into a torture camp. Their public story – that they were forced into torture by soldiers and interrogators on the ground – simply doesn’t hold up as more and more evidence emerges.
Top US lawyer warns of deaths at Guantánamo 08 Feb 2009 Lieutenant-Colonel Yvonne Bradley, an American military lawyer, will step through the grand entrance of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London tomorrow and demand the release of her client - a British resident who claims he was repeatedly tortured at the behest of US intelligence officials - from Guantánamo Bay. Bradley will also request the disclosure of 42 secret documents that allegedly chronicle not only how Binyam Mohamed was tortured, but may also corroborate claims that Britain was complicit in his treatment. But first, Bradley, a US military attorney for 20 years, will reveal that Mohamed, 31, is dying in his Guantánamo cell and that conditions inside the Cuban prison camp have deteriorated badly since Barack Obama took office.
commanders favor slower Iraq pullout 07 Feb 7, 2009 U.S. military planners
have drawn up three options to allow President Barack Obama to withdraw U.S. combat
troops from Iraq, with senior commanders favoring the slowest of the three, officials
said on Saturday. The timelines under discussion are 16 months, proposed by Obama
as a centerpiece of his presidential campaign, 19 months and 23 months, the officials
said. A U.S. defense official said U.S. Army generals Ray Odierno, the top U.S.
commander in Iraq, and David
Trial date set for Iraqi who threw shoes at Bush 07 Feb 2009 The Iraqi journalist who threw shoes at former President [sic] George W. Bush will face trial Feb. 19 on the original charge of assaulting a foreign leader, a judicial official said Sunday. Muntadhar al-Zeidi, who is considered a hero by many Iraqis for his protest, has been in custody since the Dec. 14 outburst at Bush's joint news conference with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
KBR nears guilty plea on bribery charges 07 Feb 2009 A spin-off of Halliburton Co. is on the verge of pleading guilty to federal bribery charges. Court papers filed in Houston on Friday show Kellogg, Brown & Root LLC is preparing to plead guilty to violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for promising and paying tens of millions of dollars in bribes to officials in Nigeria in exchange for business contracts between 1995 and 2004.
Obama puts brake on Afghan surge 08 Feb 2009 President Barack Obama has demanded that American defence chiefs review their strategy in Afghanistan before going ahead with a troop surge. There is concern among senior Democrats that the military is preparing to send up to 30,000 extra troops without a coherent plan or exit strategy.
Israeli jets stage mock raids in Lebanon airspace 07 Feb 2009 Israeli fighter jets have carried out mock attacks and reconnaissance missions in border regions with Lebanon, Press TV has learned. Violating the Lebanese airspace, the warplanes carried out reconnaissance flights over border regions including Hasbaya, Arqub, Shaaba farms and Western Beqaa on Friday, a Press TV correspondent reported. The military jets also overflew several other regions at low altitude and launched mock raids against Lebanese targets.
Turkey probes Israel 'war crimes' in Gaza --Turkish prosecutor launches probe into whether Israel committed genocide against humanity in Gaza. 06 Feb 2009 A Turkish prosecutor has launched an investigation into whether Israel committed genocide and crimes against humanity in its offensive in Gaza, his office said Friday. The investigation follows a complaint lodged by the human rights association Mazlum-Der against several Israeli officials, including President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Defence Minister Ehud Barak and army chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi.
Israeli animal rights group leads relief effort for Gaza Zoo 06 Feb 2009 An Israeli animal rights group is behind a relief effort to assist animals in the Gaza Zoo. The zoo came under attack during the offensive of December and January. A number of animals died while others were visibly distressed from the violence that unfolded. The Israeli group 'Let the Animals Live' persuaded Ehud Barak, Israel's defense minister, to arrange entry for trucks carrying aid to the stricken zoo. [See: Israeli troops shot and killed zoo animals 25 Jan 2009; Gaza zoo destroyed 31 Jan 2009.]
French fighter planes grounded by computer virus 07 Feb 2009 French fighter planes were unable to take off after military computers were infected by a computer virus, an intelligence magazine claims. The aircraft were unable to download their flight plans after databases were infected by a Microsoft virus they had already been warned about several months beforehand. At one point French naval staff were also instructed not to even open their computers.
U.S. Air Force jet lands safely after cockpit malfunction 07 Feb 2009 A spokeswoman says a U.S. Air Force jet landed safely at Louisville International Airport after reporting a fire in the cockpit that turned out to be an overheated electronic screen. Trish Burke, spokeswoman for the airport, said two people were on board the jet, called a military trainer, and no injuries were reported in the 5:20 p.m. EST Friday incident.
'We are not going to accept anyone treating us like a colony.' Ecuador expels US official for 'bribery' 07 Feb 2009 Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa has expelled a United States embassy official for interfering in the country's domestic affairs. The Ecuadorian president said the US official had sought to link economic aid to allowing Washington to choose the head of Ecuador's anti-contraband police. "We are not going to accept anyone treating us like a colony," the president was quoted as saying by AFP.
India says Pakistan's spy agency behind Mumbai attacks 06 Feb 2009 India has for the first time directly accused Pakistan's powerful military intelligence agency -- the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) -- of involvement in last year's Mumbai attacks. "The perpetrators planned, trained and launched their attacks from Pakistan, and the organisers were and remain clients and creations of the ISI," Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon said in a speech in Paris on Thursday that was picked up by the Indian media.
Spy centre will track you on holiday --Government says new database is essential in fight against crime, illegal immigration and terrorism 08 Feb 2009 The government is building a secret database to track and hold the international travel records of all 60m Britons. The intelligence centre will store names, addresses, telephone numbers, seat reservations, travel itineraries and credit card details for all 250m passenger movements in and out of the UK each year. The computerised pattern of every individual’s travel history will be stored for up to 10 years, the Home Office admits.
Plague-Infested Mice Missing From New Jersey Research Lab 07 Feb 2009 The frozen remains of two mice infected with the bubonic plague are missing from a New Jersey bioterror research facility, and the facility waited seven weeks to report the incident to federal and state authorities. This is the same facility [University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark] where three live plague-inflected mice went missing in September 2005.
2 dead, plague-infected mice lost by NJ lab --Missing mice used in vaccine experiments involving bacteria Yersinia pestis, the organism that causes plague 06 Feb 2009 The frozen remains of two mice injected with the organism that causes plague have not been accounted for seven weeks after being discovered missing at a University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey facility in Newark, the university said Friday. Dr. David Perlin, director of the research institute, said the experiment was part of a National Institutes of Health bioterrorism program to test a vaccine [?] for plague.
Speaking of Y. pestis: Sarah Palin's husband, aides found in contempt 06 Feb 2009 Todd Palin and nine aides were found in contempt Friday by the Alaska Senate for failing to appear to testify in the Legislature's "troopergate" investigation of his wife, [polar bear/wolf-killing terrorist] Gov. Sarah Palin, a spokeswoman for the Alaska Democratic Party said. The investigation concerns the governor's firing of the state's public safety commissioner, Walter Monegan.
Texas evangelicals helped effort to stop Palin 'troopergate' probe 07 Feb 2009 New state gift disclosures show it cost Liberty Legal Institute and the two law firms working with it $185,000 to represent six Alaska legislators in an unsuccessful lawsuit to halt their colleagues' "troopergate" investigation into whether Gov. Sarah Palin acted improperly in firing the state's public safety director. The legislators listed a $25,000 gift of services from the Texas-based Liberty Legal Institute. Liberty is the legal arm of the Free Market Foundation, which is associated with evangelical leader James Dobson's Focus on the [F*cked up] Family.
Steele's Campaign Spending Questioned --Agents Contact Sister After Ex-Aide's Claims 07 Feb 2009 Michael S. Steele, the newly elected chairman of the Republican National Committee, arranged for his 2006 Senate campaign to pay a defunct company run by his sister for services that were never performed, his finance chairman from that campaign has told federal prosecutors.
Salaries of top-paid Pa. staffers questioned 07 Feb 2009 Facing a $2.3 billion deficit, the state is preparing to cut programs statewide and is even considering layoffs, but the highest-paid employees of the state House of Representatives aren't feeling the pinch. Last year, 40 of them collected more than $100,000 in pay - seven more than in the previous year.
Tough Times at Obama Inc. By Gail Collins 07 Feb 2009 I dropped out of school for a semester to campaign for Barack Obama. And now I'm asking myself whether I spent four months living with my aunt and going door to door in Dayton, Ohio, just so we could have a stimulus plan written by a bunch of moderate Republicans and conservative Democrats in the Senate. I don’t know how many times we need to go over this, but this is actually a real-life version of what Obama promised during the campaign. Didn’t you jump up and cheer when your guy promised that he’d get Republicans and Democrats to work together? ...It was embarrassing -- the President of the United States held White House negotiations with people who had already announced that they had no intention of voting for his bill.
'The American economy is on the edge of catastrophe, and much of the Republican Party is trying to push it over that edge.' On the Edge By Paul Krugman 06 Feb 2009 Over the last two weeks, what should have been a deadly serious debate about how to save an economy in desperate straits turned, instead, into hackneyed political theater, with Republicans spouting all the old clichés about wasteful government spending and the wonders of tax cuts. It’s as if the dismal economic failure of the last eight years never happened -- yet Democrats have, incredibly, been on the defensive... Count me among those who think that the president made a big mistake in his initial approach, that his attempts to transcend partisanship ended up empowering politicians who take their marching orders from Rush Limbaugh.
Calif. Counties Threaten Tax Revolt Against State 04 Feb 2009 California counties are throwing another wrinkle into the state's cash crisis as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger [R-Nazi] and legislative leaders try to agree on a way to erase a $42 billion budget deficit. Several counties are considering some form of tax revolt -- either filing lawsuits or delaying tax payments to the state -- because the governor has proposed withholding payments to them for as long as seven months in a move to preserve cash.
Contaminated medicine kills 84 children 07 Feb 2009 At least 84 children have died in Nigeria after being given a teething mixture contaminated with the chemical diethylene glycol, which is normally used in brake fluid as an antifreeze.
US court authorises Nigerian death suit against Pfizer --Unrepentant Pfizer apologises to Nigerian families 02 Feb 2009 Pfizer drugs giant has offered an apology to Nigerian who were adversely affected by a drug study and experimentation in 1996, although they still insist that all clinical evidence points to the fact that the deaths and injuries were the direct result of illnesses and not as a result of the treatment they provided to the patients.
Scores are killed in wildfire 'hell' 08 Feb 2009 Intense fires have killed at least 96 people and are spreading rapidly across southeastern Australia as the result of high winds. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd described the disaster in Victoria state as "hell and its fury." The government put the army on standby and set up emergency relief funds, but also faced some pressure from Greens lawmakers who have been urging it to stiffen its climate-change policies to reduce the risk of more such summer disasters.
agrees to pass reduced version of Obama "stimulus" plan
By Patrick Martin 07 Feb 2009 The Obama administration reached a tentative agreement
Friday with a group of Senate Republicans and conservative Democrats to cut the
planned economic stimulus package by tens of billions of dollars, paving the way
for the Senate's passage of the legislation over the weekend... The nature of
the "compromise" agreement is best illustrated by considering the political physiognomy
of the five senators who negotiated it. They include three Republicans--Susan
Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania--Senator
Ben Nelson of Nebraska, the most conservative member of the Democratic caucus,
and independent Joseph Lieberman of
New Orleans: Elite U.S. Troops, Bombs In Urban Warfare Exercise --Bombs, choppers during military exercises startle residents 05 Feb 2009 Residents in and around New Orleans have been hearing the sounds of low-flying helicopters and what sounds like bomb blasts over the past few nights, but the sounds are part of a training exercise for some of America's elite military troops. According to military officials, it’s a training exercise that brought about 150 U.S. troops from the U.S. Special Operations Command to train in New Orleans for urban warfare. "They are regularly engaged in combat operations," said U.S. Special Operations Command staffer Kimberly Tiscione. Black Hawk and "Little Bird" helicopters are transporting troops to several locations around New Orleans, according to Tiscione. [Yeah, they know we're not going to be stimulated by the stimulus, so they are getting ready.]
Report: Nuke inspection improperly documented 06 Feb 2009 Air Force officials say the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren Air Force Base improperly documented an inspection of nuclear missiles in December. A spokeswoman for the Cheyenne base, 2nd Lt. Brooke Brzozowske, said Friday that inspectors identified "deficiencies in several areas" during the inspection. The 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren oversees dozens of silo-based Minuteman missiles in southeast Wyoming and northern Colorado.
KBR Gets Huge Contract Despite Electrocutions --KBR Inc., linked to soldiers' electrocutions, wins $35 million defense contract from Pentagon 07 Feb 2009 Defense contractor KBR Inc., which is under criminal investigation in the electrocution deaths of at least two U.S. soldiers in Iraq, has been awarded a $35 million contract by the Pentagon to build an electrical distribution center and other projects there.
US govt formally charges KBR in Nigeria bribe case 07 Feb 2009 The U.S. government on Friday formally charged engineering company KBR Inc in a $180 million, decade-long scheme to bribe Nigerian officials to secure $6 billion in contracts. But former KBR parent Halliburton Co said last month it would pay $559 million to end the investigation if the government approved the settlement, which was the largest penalty against a U.S. company for bribery charges under federal law.
Houston lawsuit blames Halliburton, KBR in Iraq death 06 Feb 2009 A Michigan woman whose father was shot to death by American soldiers while driving a truck in Iraq filed a lawsuit in Houston this week against his employers, Halliburton and KBR. Kristen Martin alleges wrongful death, fraud and conspiracy regarding the February 2007 shooting of her father, Donald Tolfree.
Italy sends more troops to Afghanistan --Government answers Barack Obama's Nato request by increasing deployment by 800 soldiers to 2,800 06 Feb 2009 Italy will send more troops to Afghanistan, becoming the first Nato member in Europe to answer Barack Obama's call for reinforcements to fight the Taliban. The Italian government may also drop restrictions on the deployment of its soldiers, the Guardian has learned.
Lavrov: Russia to allow transit of U.S. supplies to Afghanistan 06 Feb 2009 Russia is ready to allow the transit of U.S. non-military supplies to Afghanistan through its territory, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday. The U.S. administration approached the Kremlin several days ago, asking for permission to ship supplies to Afghanistan across Russia, Lavrov said.
US soldier dies in northern Iraq 07 Feb 2009 The U.S. military says an American soldier has died of a noncombat-related injury near the northern Iraqi city of Balad Ruz. A U.S. statement released Saturday said the soldier died Friday but gave no further details.
Suicide bomber kills 16 in crowded restaurant in Iraq 06 Feb 2009 A suicide bomber killed 16 people and injured 12 others yesterday after stepping into a crowded restaurant in Khanaqin, a city bordering the Kurdish-controlled region in northeastern Iraq.
Pakistan releases 'father' of nuclear bomb from house arrest 06 Feb 2009 Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani scientist accused of selling nuclear secrets, was today freed from five years of house arrest by a court and immediately declared that he can now "lead a normal life". Khan, lionised as the "father" of Pakistan's atomic bomb, confessed in 2004 to selling nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya. He was immediately pardoned but detained in his home.
Army deserter deported from Canada, placed in Whatcom County Jail 06 Feb 2009 (WA) Cliff Cornell fled the U.S. Army four years ago for British Columbia when his Georgia artillery unit was ordered to serve in the Iraq War. On Wednesday, Feb. 4, Cornell was deported from Canada, arrested in the U.S. and booked into the Whatcom County jail. Cornell, who is from Arkansas, is going to be released on his own recognizance and ordered to report to Fort Stewart in Georgia, said Gene Marx, a local peace activist and member of the Bellingham Veterans for Peace, Chapter 111. [So let me get this straight. A-bomb nuclear secret-selling guy*out* of jail - anti-war guy *in* jail. Ok, got it.]
Panetta Open to Tougher Methods in Some C.I.A. Interrogation 06 Feb 2009 Leon E. Panetta, the White House pick to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, on Thursday left open the possibility that the agency could seek permission to use interrogation methods more aggressive than the limited menu that President Obama authorized under new rules issued last month. Under insistent questioning from a Senate panel, Mr. Panetta said that in extreme cases, if interrogators were unable to extract critical information from a terrorism suspect, he would seek White House approval for the C.I.A. to use methods that would go beyond those permitted under the new rules.
Britain: Foreign Office colludes with US to cover-up torture of Binyam Muhammad By Robert Stevens 07 Feb 2009 A High Court ruling by two British judges regarding the torture of a Guantánamo detainee has unleashed a major political crisis. The judges have stated that they have been pressured by the United States into concealing evidence that should be made available in any country governed by the rule of law. This took the form of threats to withdraw security cooperation, instigated under the Bush administration and continued under Barack Obama's presidency.
Oops! Another GOPedophile bites the dust. Pueblo manager for McCain campaign arrested on molestation charges 05 Feb 2009 Police arrested the former manager of Sen. John McCain’s Pueblo presidential campaign office Wednesday on charges he sexually assaulted a 5-year-old boy left in his care so the boy's mother could attend a rally for McCain's running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, The Denver Post’s Howard Pankratz reported Thursday afternoon. It’s the second arrest on charges of sexual assault on a child by a person in position of trust in a week for Jeffrey Claude Bartleson, who has faced similar allegations at least five times since 1982 without being convicted of a crime, according to the Pueblo Chieftain’s Nick Bonham.
Stimulus deal 42 percent tax cut 07 Feb 2009 Democratic and Republican senators are close to agreement on a $780 billion (528 billion pound) economic stimulus package that would include 42 percent tax cuts and 58 percent new government spending, Democratic Senator John Kerry said on Friday. "It appears as if there's a deal," he told reporters. "Forty-two percent of this is tax cuts ... the differential is the spending. It's a good balance." [No, it is not.]
Stimulus and bank rescue hopes boost Wall Street [And f*ck everyone else.] 06 Feb 2009 Stocks rallied for a second day on Friday on hopes Washington's stimulus package and a bank rescue plan will bolster the ailing economy, even as data showed the biggest one-month job losses in 34 years. A nearly 12 percent surge in bank shares led Wall Street higher. Bank of America soared more than 25 percent the day after falling to its lowest level since 1984 on investor fears it would have to be nationalized -- a fear that the company's chief executive on Friday said was unfounded.
Charles Grassley calls for ban on hiring of foreign workers at ailing US banks 06 Feb 2009 Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) is attempting to insert wording into President Barack Obama’s near-$900bn fiscal stimulus plan that would effectively stop many banks hiring non-US citizens. Senator Grassley, working with independent Senator Bernie Sanders (VT), has introduced an amendment to the bill to ensure that workers holding H1-B visa’s cannot work for taxpayer-funded banks.
Regulators close failed banks in Ga., Calif. --Regulators close 2 failed banks in Calif., 1 in Georgia; 9 US bank failures this year 06 Feb 2009 Regulators on Friday closed FirstBank Financial Services in Georgia and two California banks, Alliance Bank and County Bank, marking nine failures this year of federally insured institutions. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was appointed receiver of the three banks.
Six hundred thousand January layoffs in US By Tom Eley 07 Feb 2009 In a clear indication the economic crisis is rapidly heading into a severe global depression, US employers purged 598,000 jobs in January, the most layoffs in a single month since 1974. January's firings raised the unemployment rate to 7.6 percent, the highest level since 1992. Layoffs accelerated even more rapidly in Canada, where 129,000 workers were fired, the highest monthly toll ever, with the unemployment rate spiking to 7.2 percent from 6.6 percent... Canadian economists, who had anticipated 40,000 layoffs, were left dumbfounded by the data from Statistics Canada.
US unemployment expected to rocket 06 Feb 2009 The US economy lost more than half a million jobs in January, official figures due out later on Friday are expected to confirm, underlining the need for President Obama’s $900bn (£615bn) plan to revive growth. The monthly non-farm payroll figures – which combine public and private sector employment – are likely to show that 540,000 jobs were lost last month, according to economists.
U.S. Economy: Jobless Rate Soars and Payrolls Plunge by 598,000 06 Feb 2009 The unemployment rate reached the highest level since 1992 and payrolls tumbled in January, with millions more likely to lose their jobs before a stimulus and emergency-lending programs temper the U.S. economy’s freefall. The jobless rate rose to 7.6 percent from 7.2 percent in December, the Labor Department said today in Washington. Payrolls fell by 598,000, the biggest monthly decline since December 1974.
State can run out of money, but can't file for bankruptcy 06 Feb 2009 Facing an ever-growing pile of bills, crushing debt and less tax money flowing into the state treasury, Illinois is broke. But could the state climb out of its nearly $9 billion budget hole by declaring bankruptcy? No, say tax and budget experts. Federal law permits individuals, businesses and local governments to file for bankruptcy reorganization and sometimes debt forgiveness. States are not covered by the law.
Arrest these f*ckers on manslaughter charges! FDA: Company Knowingly Shipped Tainted Peanut Products --Agency now reports that Peanut Corp. of America sent out supplies it knew contained salmonella 06 Feb 2009 The peanut company at the center of the nationwide salmonella outbreak that has sickened hundreds knowingly shipped tainted product, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced late Friday. The [lying sacks of sh*t at the] FDA had previously said that Peanut Corp. of America (PCA) retested the products in question after receiving an initial positive result and then sent them out from its Georgia processing plant only after follow-up testing came back negative.
Opharma to allow corpora-terrorists to run amok? FDA
OKs 1st drug from genetically altered animals 06 Feb 2009 The Food and
Drug Administration made history Friday as it approved the first drug made with
materials from genetically engineered animals, clearing the way for a new class
Obama's promised health care overhaul delayed 06 Feb 2009 President Barack Obama's push to revamp the costly and inefficient U.S. healthcare system was facing delay even before Tom Daschle, who was chosen to head the initiative, withdrew his nomination as health secretary. With the administration and Congress preoccupied with righting the foundering economy, work on Obama's promise to make affordable care available for all Americans has been limited in Obama's first weeks in power.
CITGO Sponsors Exhibit of Four Venezuelan Artists in Washington 06 Feb 2009 CITGO Petroleum Corporation is sponsoring an exhibit of the works of three Venezuelan contemporary painters and a sculptor at the Andrés Bello Hall of the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in Georgetown, which will be open to the public from February 9-26, 2009. The exhibit, entitled "Three Testimonials of Authenticity from Venezuela, with Special Guest Rosibel Ramírez" was officially launched with an artist reception earlier this evening.
Pentagon Spending Billions on PR to Sway Domestic, World Opinion 05 Feb 2009 As it fights two [illegal] wars, the Pentagon is steadily and dramatically increasing the money it spends to win what it calls "the human terrain" of world public opinion. In the process, it is raising concerns of spreading propaganda at home in violation of federal law. An Associated Press investigation found that over the past five years, the money the military spends on 'winning hearts and minds at home and abroad' has grown by 63 percent, to at least $4.7 billion this year, according to Department of Defense budgets and other documents. That's almost as much as it spent on body armor for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2004 and 2006.
Ministers 'misled' judges over torture evidence 06 Feb 2009 Evidence that a British resident was tortured before being flown to Guantanamo Bay may yet see the light of day after senior judges hearing the case were told yesterday they had been misled by the Government. The Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, argued on Wednesday that national security could be compromised if secret CIA documents detailing the interrogation of Binyam Mohamed were placed in the public domain. His comments came after the High Court refused to order the disclosure of a CIA dossier referring to the treatment of Mr Mohamed, 31, who was arrested as a terrorism suspect. It said that to do so would put the British public at risk because America had threatened to withdraw co-operation in terror cases.
DeMint Bill to Block Funding for Guantanamo Bay Closure 05 Feb 2009 U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-Sociopath-S.C.) made the following statement after he joined U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-Whackjob-Okla.) and others in sponsoring the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility Safe Closure Act. The bill would prohibit the use of any federal funds to transfer detainees currently being held prisoner at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to any facility in the United States. In addition, the bill would prohibit any funds to modify or construct any facility in the United States to house enemy combatants detained at Guantanamo Bay.
Waterboarders should not be prosecuted 05 Feb 2009 CIA Director nominee
Leon Panetta says the CIA interrogators who used waterboarding or other
Obama CIA choice nets $700,000 from rescued banks 05 Feb 2009 President Barack Obama's nominee to lead the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was paid more than $700,000 last year by businesses including struggling US banks bailed out by billions of dollars of taxpayers' money.
Blackwater offers arms training for pro athletes 05 Feb 2009 Blackwater Worldwide has started marketing a personal defense course for professional athletes. The course set for April teaches athletes how to handle a firearm and how to defend their families from a home invasion.
Soldier critical of Iraq war dies after auto wreck --Two other soldiers who signed The New York Times piece died in 2007 05 Feb 2009 A third soldier who signed on to a 2007 newspaper column criticizing the war in Iraq has died. Spc. Jeremy Roebuck, 23, of Splendora, Texas, died from injuries after a January 28 automobile 'accident' near Fort Bragg, North Carolina. A relative confirmed that he was one of the people to sign an August 19, 2007, opinion article in The New York Times that called the prospects of U.S. success in Iraq "far-fetched" and said the progress being reported was offset by failures elsewhere. Seven soldiers, members of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, based at Fort Bragg, signed the column.
Police: Suicide bomber kills 15 in Iraqi restaurant 05 Feb 2009 A suicide bomber blew himself up at a restaurant in Diyala province in northeast of Baghdad on Thursday, killing 15 people and wounding 15 others, a local police source said. "A suicide bomber blew up his explosive vest inside Dilshad Restaurant in the town of Khanaqin, killing 15 people and wounding 15 others," the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Gates Delays Troop Decision 05 Feb 2009 ABC News has learned that Defense Secretary Robert Gates has decided to delay a decision to send additional troops into Afghanistan until after the Obama administration concludes its ongoing review of the strategy for Afghanistan.
Army official: Suicides in January 'terrifying' --Number of likely suicides more than those killed in combat last month 05 Feb 2009 One week after the U.S. Army announced record suicide rates among its soldiers last year, the service is worried about a spike in possible suicides in the new year. The Army said 24 soldiers are believed to have committed suicide in January alone -- six times as many as killed themselves in January 2008, according to statistics released Thursday.
Cause unclear in death of Minot crew commander 05 Feb 2009 Minot police say they have found no sign of a crime in the death of a Minot Air Force Base missile crew commander, but area waiting more test results. The body of Capt. Jonathan Bayless was found late Friday in a field north of Minot. Police Capt. Al Hanson said an autopsy was performed Monday in Bismarck.
Abbas says Israel should pay for war crimes 05 Feb 2009 Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has addressed the European Parliament, where he said Israeli officials should be held responsible for war crimes in the Palestinian territories. Mr Abbas, on a tour of Europe to speak to governments about aid and reconstruction in Gaza, said Israel had committed war crimes during its offensive in Gaza.
Israeli tank used in deaths of four young girls 05 Feb 2009 An Israeli tank is now known to have killed the three daughters of a Palestinian doctor during the Gaza conflict. The Israeli military has concluded an investigation into the incident and has agreed two tank shells were fired at the doctor's home last month.
Ginsburg Is Hospitalized With Pancreatic Cancer --05 Feb 2009 Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had surgery Thursday after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the court said. Ginsburg, 75, had the surgery at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. She will remain in the hospital for seven to 10 days, said her surgeon, Dr. Murray Brennan, according to a release issued by the court.
Treasury to unveil 'comprehensive' bank rescue plan Monday 05 Feb 2009 Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Monday will release his "comprehensive plan" to revitalize the financial markets, a Treasury spokesman said Thursday. Geithner is expected to explain how Treasury will employ the second half of a $700 billion bank bailout package as well as other program to shock the financial markets out of the recession. [I got your bank rescue right here.]
Watchdog: Treasury overpaid for bank stocks 05 Feb 2009 The federal government overpaid for stocks and other assets in attempting to help financial institutions last year, a government watchdog said Thursday, taking further issue with the beleaguered $700 billion rescue program. Elizabeth Warren, chairwoman of the Congressional Oversight Panel for the bailout funds, told the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday that Treasury in 2008 paid $254 billion and received assets worth about $176 billion.
List of Banks Receiving Funds From $700B TARP --List of TARP recipients as of January 31, 2009 05 Feb 2009 This list includes all the banks receiving funds from the Treasury's $700B Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP).
Senate approves $15,000 tax credit for homebuyers 05 Feb 2009 The Senate has voted to award anybody buying a home this year a tax credit worth up to $15,000. The homebuyer tax credit offered by GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson would apply to any home purchased as a main residence and would cost taxpayers $19 billion. Senators approved it by a voice vote, adding the idea to President Barack Obama’s economic 'recovery' bill.
Gag me with a chainsaw! On the Brink of Bankruptcy, U.S. Auto-Parts Companies Seek Bailout 26 Jan 2009 U.S. companies that make and supply auto-parts to major carmakers are pleading for a bailout from Washington, as many are now on the verge of declaring bankruptcy. Auto-parts companies may seek between $10 billion and $12 billion in cash and guarantees from the federal government as soon as this week.
The Action Americans Need By Barack Obama 05 Feb 2009 By now, it's clear to everyone that we have inherited an economic crisis as deep and dire as any since the days of the Great Depression. Millions of jobs that Americans relied on just a year ago are gone; millions more of the nest eggs families worked so hard to build have vanished... What Americans expect from Washington is action that matches the urgency they feel in their daily lives -- action that's swift, bold and wise enough for us to climb out of this crisis.
Obama announces token executive pay limits By Tom Eley 05 Feb 2009 "This is America. We don't disparage wealth. We don't begrudge anybody for achieving success." So said President Barack Obama at a White House press conference Wednesday, as he announced new measures that purport to limit executive pay... The main purpose of the new rules is to provide political cover for a new phase in the ongoing bailout of Wall Street. In his press conference, Obama himself indicated this, linking the pay rules to a new, and vastly larger, bailout for the financial industry than the $700 billion TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program).
After freezing death of 93-year-old, Michigan city suspends electricity shutoffs By Tom Eley 30 Jan 2009 Amidst widening public outrage over the freezing death of 93-year-old Marvin Schur. which took place some time between January 13 and 17, municipal authorities in Bay City, Michigan have announced plans to temporarily suspend electricity shutoffs and the use of "limiters," devices that restrict and potentially block energy to households delinquent on electricity bills.
IBM Offers to Move Laid Off Workers to India 02 Feb 2009 The climate is warm, there's no shortage of exotic food, and the cost of living is rock bottom. That's IBM's pitch to the laid-off American workers it's offering to place in India. The catch: Wages in the country are pennies-on-the-dollar compared to U.S. salaries. Under a program called Project Match, IBM will help workers laid off from domestic sites obtain travel and visa assistance for countries in which Big Blue has openings.
Tens of thousands more jobs eliminated in the US By David Walsh 04 Feb 2009 The massive destruction of jobs, along with attacks on retirement funds and other benefits, continues in the US, with major corporations announcing layoffs on nearly a daily basis... In mid-January, the Economic Policy Institute issued a report forecasting "a catastrophic recession" if a program of adequate public spending was not organized by the federal government.
NRDC Calls On Obama Administration to Rescue the Polar Bear --Extinction is looming as soon as 2050 for Alaska's polar bears 05 Feb 2009 After eight years of the Bush Administration’s "polluters-first" policies, polar bears are on a fast slide toward extinction. NRDC is urging President Obama’s new Interior Secretary to take swift action to reverse these disastrous policies and grant polar bears full-fledged protection under the Endangered Species Act. Stand up for the polar bear and speak out now!
Hempstead school unveils Barack Obama Elementary 05 Feb 2009 The former Ludlum Elementary School was officially renamed the Barack Obama School, making it the first school in the nation to be named after the newly elected president, in Hempstead, New York. Students, teachers, parents, politicians and community leaders stood in the cold yesterday as they watched the unveiling of the new sign above the entrance of what was formerly Ludlum Elementary School.
US threat to withhold intelligence from Britain over Guantanamo evidence 05 Feb 2009 The US has threatened to withhold intelligence from Britain if evidence of the alleged torture of a British resident held at Guantanamo Bay is made public. Details of how the "terrorist" detainee was allegedly tortured - and what British intelligence services knew about it - must remain secret because of the American threats, the High Court ruled yesterday.
Evidence of torture 'buried by ministers' --Judges condemn secrecy over files detailing treatment of suspect by CIA 05 Feb 2009 The government was accused last night of hiding behind claims of a threat to national security to suppress evidence of torture by the CIA on a prisoner still held in Guantánamo Bay. An unprecedented high court ruling yesterday blamed the US, with British connivance, for keeping the "powerful evidence" secret, sparking criticism from lawyers, campaigners and MPs, who claimed the government had capitulated to American bullying.
US threats mean evidence of British resident's Guantánamo torture must stay secret, judges rule 04 Feb 2009 Evidence of how a British resident held in the Guantánamo Bay detention camp was tortured, and what MI5 knew about it, must remain secret because of serious threats the US has made against the UK, the high court ruled today. The judges made clear they were deeply unhappy with their decision, but said they had no alternative as a result of a statement by David Miliband, the foreign secretary, that if the evidence was disclosed the US would stop sharing intelligence with Britain. That would directly threaten the UK's national security, Miliband had told the court.
warns of new attacks
04 Feb 2009 Former Vice President [sic] Dick Cheney warned that there is a "high
probability" that terrorists will attempt a catastrophic nuclear or biological
attack in coming years, and said he fears the Obama administration’s policies
will make it more likely the attempt will succeed. In an interview Tuesday with
Politico, Cheney unyieldingly defended the Bush administration’s support for the
Guantanamo Bay prison and
Gaza doctors find signs of white phosphorus bombs in burn victims 05 Feb 2009 Palestinian doctors at a number of hospitals in the Gaza Strip informed foreign medical experts allowed into the area over the past two weeks that they were witnessing an unexpected deterioration in the condition of their burn victims... Researchers from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, who have spent the past three weeks in the Gaza Strip, have concluded with certainty that the white phosphorus bombs struck residential neighborhoods. The initial treatment of the burns, before the doctors in the Gaza Strip had realized that they were caused by white phosphorus, was deemed useless.
Letter: An academic boycott of Israel 02 Feb 2009 We stand in support of the indigenous Palestinian people in Gaza, who are fighting for their survival against one of the most brutal uses of state power in both this century and the last. We condemn Israel's recent (December 2008/ January 2009) breaches of international law in the Gaza Strip, which include the bombing of densely populated neighborhoods, illegal deployment of the chemical white phosphorous, and attacks on schools, ambulances, relief agencies, hospitals, universities, and places of worship... We call upon our fellow writers and academics in the United States to question discourses that justify and rationalize injustice, and to address Israeli assaults on civilians in Gaza as one of the most important moral issues of our time. We call upon institutions of higher education in the U.S. to cut ties with Israeli academic institutions, dissolve study abroad programs in Israel, and divest institutional funds from Israeli companies, using the 1980s boycott against apartheid South Africa as a model.
Fraud claim mars Iraq poll 04 Feb 2009 An official with Iraq’s main Sunni Arab political party on Tuesday accused a rival faction of inciting violence in Anbar province, a former hotbed of the insurgency, as a dispute over provincial council 'elections' threatened to escalate. The dispute erupted after leaders of the Awakening councils [US-backed terrorists], which are contesting elections for the first time, threatened to take up arms after claiming fraud in Saturday’s polls.
U.S. Humvee crushes two Iraqis to death in their car 03 Feb 2009 An American Humvee battlefield vehicle crushed two Iraqis to death as they were sitting in their car, a police source said. The Humvee speeded away following a roadside bomb attack in the northern city of Mosul, smashing the car and killing the driver and his son. The Humvee missed the explosion but 10 Iraqi civilians were injured, the source said.
Blackwater Guards Immune Under Law, Pentagon Says 02 Feb 2009 The U.S. Defense Department concluded in 2007 that Blackwater Worldwide mercenaries can't be prosecuted under federal law for a shooting incident [war crime] in Iraq that left 17 civilians dead. In a letter to North Carolina Representative David Price, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England said contractors are subject to prosecution under federal law for alleged misconduct committed overseas only when they are working for the Pentagon or supporting its mission. Blackwater was working for the State Department when the September 2007 incident took place in Baghdad.
'Terrorists' arriving from Iraq: Afghan minister 04 Feb 2009 Afghanistan is the frontline of the global "war on terror" following an influx of foreign fighters from Iraq, the defence minister said Wednesday, calling for greater international focus. General Abdul Rahim Wardak emphasised that the Afghan army would have to grow beyond a recently imposed ceiling of 134,000 to deal with threats to security, largely from Taliban fighters.
Plans Emerge for New Troop Deployments to Afghanistan --U.S. military presence will reach highest levels since 2001 04 Feb 2009 Senior U.S. commanders are finalizing plans to send tens of thousands of reinforcements to Afghanistan's main opium-producing region and its border with Pakistan, moves that will form the core of President Barack Obama's emerging Afghan war 'strategy.' Mr. Obama is likely to formally approve additional deployments this week, and Pentagon officials hope the full complement of 20,000 to 30,000 new troops will be on the ground by the end of the summer, pushing the U.S. military presence to its highest level since the start of the war in 2001.
US given ultimatum by Kyrgyzstan 03 Feb 2009 The United States has been told by Kyrgyzstan it may not be able to continue to use a base in the country for providing US and NATO forces in neighboring Afghanistan. The Kyrgyz President has told US officials he will expel US forces because the United States if the US refuses to pay more for use of the base. The base at Manas in Kyrgyzstan will be of even greater importance to the US as the US troop presence in Afghanistan nearly doubles to about 60,000.
Militants torch 10 trucks on Afghan supply route --Attack follows destruction of crucial bridge, creating transport concerns for U.S., NATO forces. 04 Feb 2009 A day after blowing up a crucial land bridge, Taliban militants today torched 10 supply trucks returning to Pakistan from Afghanistan, underscoring the insurgents' dominance of the main route used to transport supplies to Afghan-based U.S. and NATO troops.
Glasnost In London - War Fever In Washington By Eric S. Margolis 02 Feb 2009 ...[T]wo senior British officials have created a sensation by finally speaking some hard truths that contradict all the lies spewed out by Washington and London about the bogus 'war on terror.' Lord West, the security minister of Britain’s Labor government (equivalent to the US Homeland Security chief), dropped a bombshell last week by declaring that his nation’s military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan had actually fuelled global radicalism against Britain and the US as well as domestic 'terrorism' in the United Kingdom.
Report: Obama to offer Russia deal to cut nuclear arms by 80% 04 Feb 2009 U.S. President Barack Obama plans to offer Russia a deal whereby both countries reduce their nuclear weapons stockpile by 80 percent each, The Times reported on Wednesday. "We are going to re-engage Russia in a more traditional, legally binding arms reduction process," an official from Obama's administration told The Times.
US Air Force nuclear units flunk inspections --Units failed to properly document tests on nuclear-tipped missiles 05 Feb 2009 US Air Force nuclear units have failed two inspections in the past three months, providing fresh evidence that the military service that jarred the world in 2007 by 'mistakenly' transporting live nuclear weapons across the United States continues to suffer lapses in its management of intercontinental ballistic missiles.
ATF: Explosive Device Found in Arkansas Doctor's Car After Blast 04 Feb 2009 An explosive device went off in the car of a prominent Arkansas doctor as federal agents investigated the blast outside his home that critically injured him, a spokesman with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms told FOX News. The explosion happened Wednesday in the driveway of Dr. Trent P. Pierce, the chairman of the Arkansas State Medical Board. West Memphis Police Chief Bob Paudert said "some type of explosive device" was planted in the car that blew up when Pierce was leaving his West Memphis home for work.
City police sued over strip search 04 Feb 2009 A Baltimore man filed a $210 million civil lawsuit yesterday against the city Police Department, a former commissioner and several officers in connection with a 2006 incident during which he says a band of rogue cops held him at gunpoint in the street, stripped him and searched his rectum in front of about 30 onlookers. The federal suit is the second filed since March in U.S. District Court in Baltimore alleging "widespread and persistent" civil rights violations by police officers who belonged to an elite "Special Enforcement Team" that worked mainly in the southeastern part of the city.
Cash-strapped states mull seat belt law changes 04 Feb 2008 Drivers better buckle up or pay the price: More cash-strapped states want to give law enforcement officers the authority to pull over motorists just for not wearing their seat belts. More than a dozen states that are considering making the switch to primary seat-belt enforcement laws need to do so before July to be eligible for millions in federal money.
Obama names third Republican to cabinet --A further bow to the right By Barry Grey 04 Feb 2009 Barack Obama deepened his extraordinary efforts at bipartisan collaboration with the Republican Party on Tuesday with the announcement of New Hampshire Republican Senator Judd Gregg as his pick for commerce secretary... Besides naming Republicans to cabinet posts, Obama has elevated three recently retired four-star military officers to top government positions, an unparalleled representation of the military brass in a Democratic administration.
Obama: 'I screwed up' in Daschle withdrawal 03 Feb 2009 President Barack Obama on Tuesday abruptly abandoned his nomination fight for Tom Daschle and a second major appointee who failed to pay all their taxes, telling NBC News: "I screwed up." "I’ve got to own up to my mistake. Ultimately, it's important for this administration to send a message that there aren't two sets of rules -- you know, one for prominent people and one for ordinary folks who have to pay their taxes," Obama said on NBC’s "Nightly News with Brian Williams."
GOP seeks to win back Gillibrand seat 04 Feb 2009 House Republicans are making a hard push for their colleagues to pony up from their own campaign bank accounts in an effort to put Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s former House seat back in Republican hands. [Thanks a lot, Paterson - you dumb sh*t. Instead of appointing Caroline Kennedy, this idiot appoints a GOP-lite troll from upstate New York so that the House seat opens for the GOP to take. --LRP]
Obama Orders Pay Limits at Banks Getting Future Aid 04 Feb 2009 President Barack Obama called bonus payouts at banks getting rescue funds "shameful" as he and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announced the government will require financial companies getting aid in the future to cap compensation of top officials at $500,000 a year.
SEC pummeled as Madoff tipster testifies 04 Feb 2009 Harry Markopolos, a former investment manager who tried to warn U.S. regulators about Bernard Madoff, joined lawmakers in blasting the Securities and Exchange Commission but said he was forwarding more tips to the agency. Markopolos told a congressional hearing on Wednesday that SEC staff were neither willing nor able to uncover Madoff, arrested in December and charged with a record-shattering $50-billion fraud.
Obama Signs Kids Health Insurance Bill 04 Feb 2009 Joined by lawmakers, children's health advocates and ordinary families, President Obama today signed into law an expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program designed to extend government health care to roughly 4 million children.
Digital TV conversion delayed until June 12 04 Feb 2009 Television viewers who rely on sets with antennas to pick up their broadcast signals have about four extra months to get ready for the nation's switch to digital TV. The House of Representatives voted 264 to 158 today to move back the Feb. 17 deadline to June 12, sending the fast-tracked legislation to President Obama, who has promised to sign it. The vote, largely along party lines, gives approximately 6.5 million unprepared households more time to prepare for the day when all analog TV broadcasts are turned off.
Urge the Obama Administration to Protect Whales from Bush's Final Salvo (NRDC) 04 Feb 2009 Tell the Obama Administration to protect thousands of whales and dolphins from the Bush Administration's last-minute barrage of attacks. If these midnight rules are not revised, the Navy will be allowed to flood our oceans with mid-frequency active sonar -- without putting essential safeguards in place -- and to harass marine mammals more than 10 million times along the Eastern Seaboard, the Gulf of Mexico, California and Hawaii.
Air Force fails new nuclear reviews --Nuclear units failed 2 inspections in 3 months 04 Feb 2009 Air Force nuclear units have failed two inspections in the past three months, providing fresh evidence that the military service that jarred the world in 2007 by mistakenly transporting live nuclear weapons across the United States continues to suffer lapses in its management of intercontinental ballistic missiles. In all, three Air Force nuclear-missile units and two strategic-bomber units failed such inspections in 2008.
Cause unclear in death of Minot crew commander 03 Feb 2009 Minot police say they have found no sign of a crime in the death of a Minot Air Force Base missile crew commander, but area waiting more test results. The body of Capt. Jonathan Bayless was found late Friday in a field north of Minot. Police Lt. Dan Strandberg says authorities were called after a resident spotted something in the field near his home. Police Capt. Al Hanson said an autopsy was performed Monday in Bismarck. [See: Minot AFB Clandestine Nukes 'Oddities'.]
Gaza war crimes probe mulled 03 Feb 2009 The International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor in The Hague has launched a "preliminary analysis" to establish whether Israel committed war crimes in its offensive in the Gaza Strip, the prosecutor said on Tuesday. Documents also showed that the Palestinian National Authority has recognised the jurisdiction of the ICC, in a move designed to allow investigations of alleged crimes in the Palestinian territories. The ICC prosecutor's office said it had received 210 communications from individuals and non-governmental organisations regarding events in Gaza.
Gaza desperately short of food after Israel destroys farmland --Officials warn of 'destruction of all means of life' after the three-week conflict leaves agriculture in the region in ruins 01 Feb 2009 Gaza's 1.5 million people are facing a food crisis as a result of the destruction of great areas of farmland during the Israeli invasion. According to the World Food Programme, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation and Palestinian officials, between 35% and 60% of the agriculture industry has been wrecked by the three-week Israeli attack, which followed two years of economic siege.
Trial set in Ind. soldiers' KBR toxic exposure suit 03 Feb 2009 A federal judge has set a trial date for a lawsuit by 16 Indiana National Guard soldiers who claim they were exposed to a toxic chemical in Iraq. Judge Richard L. Young has set 10 days for the trial beginning May 3, 2010, in U.S. District Court in Evansville. He also scheduled a settlement conference for Aug. 17. Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 152nd Infantry filed a federal lawsuit in December against defense contractor KBR Inc., saying its employees knowingly allowed them to be exposed to sodium dichromate, a known carcinogen, while guarding a water plant in Iraq in 2003.
Third US Soldier Electocuted By KBR In Iraq --Death initially considered accidental but now classified by Army investigators as "negligent homicide" caused by Houston-based contractor KBR Inc. 02 Feb 2009 A third U.S. service member has been determined to have been electrocuted in a shower in Iraq, and Navy criminal investigators are investigating, The Associated Press has learned. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class David A. Cedergren, 25, of South St. Paul, Minn., died Sept. 11, 2004, while showering. His family was told he died of natural causes... The Naval Criminal Investigative Service has reopened an investigation into his death, Ed Buice, a NCIS spokesman, said Monday. Cedergren's death is among 18 electrocution deaths under review as part of a Department of Defense Inspector General inquiry.
Woman accused of recruiting female suicide bombers held in Iraq --U.S. and Iraqi forces also detained more than 100 people considered a threat to recent provincial 'elections' 04 Feb 2009 In the 72 hours before last week's provincial elections, U.S. and Iraqi forces targeted more than 100 people considered threats to peaceful balloting in the capital, the top American military commander in Baghdad said Tuesday. Iraqi officials also announced Tuesday the arrest of a woman they said was responsible for recruiting dozens of female suicide bombers.
Generals Seek to Reverse Obama Withdrawal Decision By Gareth Porter 02 Feb 2009 CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus, supported by Defence Secretary Robert Gates, tried to convince President Barack Obama that he had to back down from his campaign pledge to withdraw all U.S. combat troops from Iraq within 18 months at an Oval Office meeting Jan. 21. But Obama informed Gates, Petraeus and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen that he wasn't convinced and that he wanted Gates and the military leaders to come back quickly with a detailed 16-month plan, according to two sources who have talked with participants in the meeting.
Obama Administration Faces Grim Specifics on Afghan Policy 03 Feb 2009 As President Obama [insanely] prepares to formally authorize the April deployment of two additional combat brigades to Afghanistan, perhaps as early as this week, no issue other than the U.S. economy appears as bleak to his administration as the seven-year Afghan war and the regional challenges that surround it.
Secret report urges new Afghan plan 03 Feb 2009 The Pentagon’s top military officers are recommending to President Barack Obama that he shift U.S. strategy in Afghanistan -- to focus on ensuring regional stability and eliminating Taliban and Al Qaida [al-CIAduh] safe havens in Pakistan, rather than on achieving lasting 'democracy' and a thriving Afghan economy, officials said.
Nato supplies cut as key bridge blown up in Khyber Agency 04 Feb 2009 Suspected Taliban on Tuesday blew up a British-era iron bridge near Ali Masjid in Khyber Agency, leading to the suspension of traffic between Landi Kotal and Torkham border and suspending supplies for NATO and US forces in Afghanistan, officials said. Following the blast, the Pak-Afghan Highway was closed to all traffic.
Iran satellite launch raises tension, says Miliband 04 Feb 2009 The foreign secretary, David Miliband, expressed concern in Washington yesterday over Iran's claim to have broken into the global space race by launching its first home produced satellite into orbit. Miliband, speaking after a meeting with the new US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, said the launch could increase tension between Iran and the west.
Smith faces questions on MI5 torture collusion 04 Feb 2009 Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, is to be questioned over allegations that British security services colluded in the torture of terrorism suspects and operated under a "James Bond-style get-out clause". The allegations, first reported in the Guardian last year, relate to a number of suspects arrested in Pakistan at the request of British authorities between 2003 and 2007. The men say they were repeatedly tortured by agents of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI) before being questioned by MI5.
Guantanamo inmate control warning 03 Feb 2009 Placing any inmates of Guantanamo Bay who may come to the UK under control orders may be both illegal and unacceptable, it has been claimed. Lord Carlile, the Lib Dem peer who scrtunises anti-terror laws, said it was "over-simplistic" to assume such measures could be used in such cases.
15 terror suspects under house arrest in U.K. --They're planning to carry out attacks, government official says 03 Feb 2009 Terrorism suspects being held under Britain's house arrest-style detention program are in contact with extremists and plan to carry out attacks in future, the lawyer responsible for overseeing the country's terrorism laws said Tuesday. Britain's Home Office said 15 terrorism suspects are being held under the regime, which monitors suspects who are considered a risk to national security but have not been charged with a criminal offense.
Lawmaker Wants Inaugural Events' Security Checked 04 Feb 2009 The chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security has requested an independent audit of security surrounding Barack Obama's inauguration after several top donors said they were not screened for firearms or explosives between the time they left a public street and entered areas near the president.
Penn State University Plans New Biolab 02 Feb 2009 Pennsylvania State University plans to build a higher-security disease research laboratory, the Centre Daily Times reported Saturday. The 15,000-square-foot, Biosafety Level 3 facility would dedicate roughly one-third of its space to laboratory research potentially involving agricultural diseases, including a melioidosis-causing agent that [US] terrorists could tap as a biological weapon, said Mary Kennett, head of the university's Animal Resource Program.
Migratory birds suspected in B.C. avian flu cases 02 Feb 2009 Three of four of the latest avian-flu outbreaks in Canada have been in the Fraser Valley, possibly because of the region's popularity with migratory waterfowl, experts say. In the latest outbreak, that H5 strain of the virus was detected in some turkeys on a property owned by two brothers in January, and 60,000 turkeys were culled on an Abbotsford farm last week.
Three dozen farms now under quarantine for flu 02 Feb 2009 The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has put 36 Fraser Valley farms under quarantine as it tries to prevent avian flu spreading. The CFIA is testing commercial flocks within a three-kilometre radius of the infected farm, as well as other farms with links to the infected farm.
Gregg Voted to Kill Commerce Before He Agreed to Lead It 02 Feb 2009 President Obama’s new candidate to run the Commerce Department voted in favor of abolishing the agency as a member of the Budget Committee and on the Senate floor in 1995. Sen. Judd Gregg , R-N.H., whose nomination was expected to be announced Tuesday, also worked in the Senate to trim the department’s budget as head of the Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Subcommittee. [If this nutjob committed *murder,* Obama the conciliator wouldn't pull his nomination. -LRP]
Daschle Withdraws Name for HHS Secretary 03 Feb 2009 Thomas A. Daschle, President Obama's choice to be secretary of health and human services, withdrew his nomination today, citing the distractions that followed his failure to pay $146,000 in taxes in recent years.
Obama performance chief Killefer out, citing taxes 03 Feb 2009 Nancy Killefer withdrew her candidacy to be the first chief performance officer for the federal government on Tuesday, saying she didn't want her bungling of payroll taxes on her household help to become a distraction for the Obama administration.
Bailed out Wells Fargo reconsiders holding Las Vegas event 04 Feb 2009 Wells Fargo & Co, which received $25 billion from the government's bank bailout program four months ago, said it was reconsidering holding an employee event planned for Las Vegas later this month. The move came after the Associated Press said the bank had booked 12 nights at the Wynn Las Vegas and the Encore Las Vegas, two of that city's more expensive hotels, as part of a conference for top mortgage officials.
U.S. Plans to Curb Executive Pay for Bailout Recipients 04 Feb 2009 The Obama administration is expected to impose a cap of $500,000 on the compensation of top executives at companies that receive large amounts of federal bailout money, according to people familiar with the plan. Under new rules to be announced by the Treasury Department as early as Wednesday, executives would also be prohibited from receiving any bonuses above their base pay, except for normal stock dividends.
Senate approves tax breaks for new car buyers 03 Feb 2009 The Senate has voted to give a tax break to new car buyers, setting aside bipartisan concern over the size of an economic stimulus bill costing nearly $900 billion. The vote was 71-26 to allow many car buyers to claim an income tax deduction for the cost of automobile sales taxes and interest payments on car loans.
Bank Rescue Would Entail Triage for Troubled Assets 04 Feb 2009 The Obama administration's emerging rescue plan for the banking system would amount to financial triage, with the Treasury Department playing the delicate role of deciding which of the trillions of dollars in troubled assets plaguing the economy to buy, guarantee or leave in the hands of banks, sources said. The high-stakes approach would dramatically increase the investment of taxpayer money in the financial industry, and the potential losses.
Obama prepares another trillion-dollar bank bailout By Jerry White 03 Feb 2009 While most media attention is focused this week on the Senate debate on the economic stimulus package, the Obama administration is preparing to roll out a new plan to bail out the banks, involving a trillion dollars or more in public assets... Indeed, one of the purposes of the stimulus package is to provide political cover, in the form of aid to "Main Street," for the offloading of Wall Street's losses onto the American people.
School can expel lesbian students, court rules 28 Jan 2009 After a Lutheran school expelled two 16-year-old girls for having "a bond of intimacy" that was "characteristic of a lesbian relationship," the girls sued, contending the school had violated a state anti-discrimination law. In response to that suit, an appeals court decided this week that the private religious school was not a business and therefore did not have to comply with a state law that prohibits businesses from discriminating.
Let banks fail, says Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz 02 Jan 2009 The Government should allow every distressed bank to go bankrupt and set up a fresh banking system under temporary state control rather than cripple the country by propping up a corrupt edifice, according to Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize-winning economist. Professor Stiglitz, the former chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, told The Daily Telegraph that Britain should let the banks default on their vast foreign operations and start afresh with new set of healthy banks. "The UK has been hit hard because the banks took on enormously large liabilities in foreign currencies. Should the British taxpayers have to lower their standard of living for 20 years to pay off mistakes that benefited a small elite?" he said. [No. Start reading.]
Bailed Out Bank of America Sponsors Super Bowl Fun Fest --Morgan Stanley Hosts Conference at 5-Star Resort in Palm Beach 02 Feb 2009 Despite a near collapse that required $45 billion in federal taxpayer bailout funds, Bank of America sponsored a five day carnival-like affair just outside the Super Bowl stadium this past week as President Obama decried wasteful spending on Wall St. The event – known as the NFL Experience – was 850,000 square feet of sports games and interactive entertainment attractions for football fans and was blanketed in Bank of America logos and marketing calls to sign up for football-themed banking products.
Levin livid over reported Citigroup jet purchase 26 Jan 2009 Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan (D) is beside himself over a report that Citigroup is buying a $50-million corporate jet considering that when the heads of Detroit’s automakers came to Washington in private jets to ask for aid they got blasted for it. The federal government, after all, is into Citigroup for $50 billion under its package to rescue financial firms.
Homebuilder under investigation seeks stimulus tax break 02 Feb 2009 One homebuilder that's under federal investigation and has left starter home communities in Charlotte, N.C., struggling with foreclosures is vying for a tax break in the almost $900 billion stimulus bill being considered by Congress. Beazer Homes USA is one of 37 companies that signed on to a letter last week urging senators to give businesses a waiver on income taxes they'd owe on canceled debt.
Nuclear power workers join wildcat strike action over foreign labour --Contractors at Sellafield and Heysham stage unofficial walkout 02 Feb 2009 The wave of wildcat strike action that has swept across the UK escalated today as hundreds more workers walked out in the protest against foreign labour. Contract workers from the Sellafield nuclear site in Cumbria, the Heysham nuclear power station in Lancashire and a site at Staythorpe, in Nottinghamshire, joined the unofficial action over the hiring of Italian and Portuguese workers on a Lincolnshire power station project...
Greek riot police fire tear gas at farmers 02 Feb 2009 Greek riot police have fired tear gas at farmers to prevent them from driving their tractors to Athens to stage a demonstration. At least two people, including an opposition politician, were injured in scuffles between police and the protesters at the port of Piraeus outside the Greek capital. The farmers are demanding financial help from the government and the tense stand off at Piraeus is the latest twist in nearly two weeks of protests.
Iraq tribes threaten to take up arms over poll 02 Feb 2009 Tribal sheikhs who helped drive al Qaeda [al-CIAduh] militants out of Western Iraq threatened on Monday to take up arms against the provincial government because of what they said was fraud in Saturday's provincial polls.
'US wasted billions in Iraq, Afghanistan': Congressional report 03 Feb 2009 The United States has wasted billions of dollars in Iraq and is making the same mistakes in Afghanistan, warns a Congress-mandated report released on Monday. The report by a Congress-auditor, known as Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, blames both fraud and lack of planning for the waste. The report, titled "Hard Lessons", points out that the US was "unprepared and ill-equipped to deal" with post-Saddam Iraq.
Waste, fraud in Iraq being repeated in Afghanistan --Pentagon, State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development have paid contractors more than $100 billion since 2003 to support war operations and rebuilding projects in Iraq and Afghanistan 02 Feb 2009 Waste and corruption that marred Iraq's reconstruction will be repeated in Afghanistan unless the U.S. transforms the unwieldy bureaucracy managing tens of billions of dollars in infrastructure projects, government watchdogs warned Monday. The U.S. has devoted more than $30 billion to 'rebuilding' Afghanistan. Yet despite the hard lessons learned in Iraq, where the U.S. has spent nearly $51 billion on reconstruction, the effort in Afghanistan is headed down the same path, the watchdogs told a new panel investigating wartime contracts.
KBR to continue work at Camp Adder 30 Jan 2009 The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded KBR a follow-on contract for continued work on a convoy support center in Iraq. Texas-based KBR was awarded a phase II contract from the Army Corps of Engineers, Transatlantic Programs Center, based in Virginia. Under the $35.4 million deal, KBR will be expected to continue work on the Camp Adder convoy support center in Iraq.
KBR's killing spree continues: Minn. sailor electrocuted while showering in Iraq 02 Feb 2009 When a Navy medic from Zimmerman, Minn., nearing the end of his tour of duty in Iraq died on Sept. 11, 2004, family members were told he died of natural causes. They now know that Petty Officer 3rd Class David A. Cedergren, 25, was electrocuted while showering, the third U.S. service member to suffer that fate in Iraq.
Report: U.S. troops exposed to 231 KBR shock incidents 29 Jan 2009 U.S. troops in Iraq suffered electrical shocks about every three days in a two-year period surrounding the electrocution death of a Shaler Green Beret, according to an internal Defense Contract Management Agency report obtained by the Tribune-Review. The 45-page document -- a high-level request for corrective action generated last fall -- found that Texas-based military contractor KBR Inc. failed to properly ground and bond its electrical systems, which contributed to soldiers "receiving shocks in KBR-maintained facilities on average once every three days since data was available in Sept. 2006."
Obama orders additional troops for Afghanistan 03 Feb 2009 US President Barack Obama on Monday ordered three more brigade combat teams for Afghanistan. The decision was announced after a meeting of America’s three most powerful men -- President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Defence Secretary Robert Gates -- met at the White House earlier on Monday.
Obama Call for More NATO Troops in Afghanistan May Go Unheeded [What a shame!] 02 Feb 2009 President Barack Obama has made clear he is counting on America’s NATO allies for greater military contributions in Afghanistan. He may be in for a disappointment. Most European leaders have either ruled out sending more troops to buttress the fight against a resurgent Taliban, or talked about increases that number only in the hundreds.
Police seek seized American UN worker in Pakistan 02 Feb 2009 Gunmen seized an American U.N. worker as he rode to work Monday, shooting and killing his driver, U.N. and Pakistani authorities said. His Land Cruiser was found rammed against a wall, punctured by at least one bullet hole.
American U.N. official kidnapped in Pakistan 02 Feb 2009 Pakistani militants on Monday kidnapped John Solecki, a senior U.N. official, in a brazen daylight attack that killed his driver, the United Nations said. The U.N. conveyed its "extreme shock and dismay" over the attack, and said in a statement that it is "taking all possible measures to secure (Solecki's) release." [See: US provided $105 million to Pakistan for 'war on terror' 25 Jan 2009.]
Israeli aircraft attack Gaza, killing one 02 Feb 2009 Israel's Air Force has attacked southern Gaza in response to mortar fire by a group of militants, an Israeli army spokeswoman said on Monday. Local media cited Palestinian health officials as saying that the attack killed one Palestinian and wounded another three, including two passers-by.
86 Israeli war criminals are now wanted by international courts, says Raji Al-Sourani 01 Feb 2009 Palestinian human rights activist Raji Al-Sourani has disclosed Wednesday that at least 86 Israeli military officers were now wanted by a number western courts for their role in the holocaust in the Gaza Strip.
Police 'ran away' from jeering Gaza demonstrators 01 Feb 2009 Video footage posted on a website shows police officers running way from chanting demonstrators who took part in a violent protest in London against Israel's invasion of the Gaza Strip. The ten-minute amateur film shows 30 officers being chased by a crowd of up to 3,000 people who broke away from an official protest march last month.
Minot base crew commander found dead --Cause of death unclear 02 Feb 2009 The body of a missile combat crew commander from the Minot Air Force Base was found by police, and the cause of his death is under investigation, the Air Force says. A statement issued by the base Sunday said the body of Capt. Jonathan Bayless, 28, was found Friday night. Police did not give details and they are awaiting autopsy results. Col. Christopher Ayres, the base’s 91st Missile Wing commander, said Bayless was a training chief with the 91st Operations Support Squadron. [See: Minot AFB Clandestine Nukes 'Oddities'.]
Obama grants CIA permission to retain right to carry out renditions 02
Feb 2009 The banner headlines greeting President Obama’s decision to close the
detention centre at Guantánamo Bay and secret CIA prisons may have concealed how
he has retained one of the most controversial weapons in the War
Church Organization Refuses to Divulge If Pastors Are On FEMA Payroll By Paul Joseph Watson 02 Feb 2009 A large church organization has refused to divulge how many of its pastors are on the FEMA payroll, after a member expressed concerns about religious leaders being used to condition their congregation to accept the declaration of martial law... A KSLA news report confirmed that Clergy Response Teams are being trained by the federal government to "quell dissent" and pacify citizens to obey the government in the event of a declaration of martial law.
confirms Holder as attorney general 03 Feb 2009 The Senate confirmed Eric
Holder as U.S. attorney general on Monday, putting him in position to oversee
President Barack Obama's plans to overhaul U.S. legal policy in the war
Mega barf alert! Obama picks Republican senator for commerce job 02 Feb 2009 President Barack Obama will name a third prominent Republican to his cabinet on Tuesday, nominating Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire as commerce secretary, a White House official said on Monday.
Obama Alters Labor Policies 31 Jan 2009 President Obama signed a series of executive orders yesterday that he said should "level the playing field" for labor unions in their struggles with management. Union officials say the new orders by Obama will undo Bush administration policies that favored employers over workers.
Closing Dealers Stun Buyers With Liens On Trade-In 01 Feb 2009 The national wave of auto dealership closures has come crashing down on thousands of people who are on the hook for used-car loans that dealers were supposed to absolve. When a car buyer still owes money on a vehicle he is trading in, the dealer promises to pay off the outstanding loan, then resells the vehicle. But as more dealers go out of business, some are sticking consumers with the bill. Lenders can then go after the previous owner who thought the debt was paid, or repossess the car from the new owner who assumed it came with clear title.
Chinese earthquake may have been man-made, say scientists 03 Feb 2009 An earthquake that killed at least 80,000 people in Sichuan last year may have been triggered by an enormous dam just miles from the epicentre. The 511ft-high Zipingpu dam holds 315 million tonnes of water and lies just 550 yards from the fault line, and three miles from the epicentre, of the Sichuan earthquake. Now scientists in China and the United States believe the weight of water, and the effect of it penetrating into the rock, could have affected the pressure on the fault line underneath, possibly unleashing a chain of ruptures that led to the quake.
Proposed legislation in Congress would set up camps for US citizens By mcarl 31 Jan 2009 A bill proposed by Florida Democrat Alcee Hastings would set up a series of emergency centres on U. S. military installations. House Resolution 645 provides that no fewer than six such centres will be built and would give emergency aid, housing and relief services for citizens during a time of disaster or national emergency... Writing on this legislation, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) says that the bill would supplement other 'emergency powers' granted to the federal government since 9/11 and be the mechanism for imposing martial law.
AP: Bailed out banks sought foreign workers for high-paying jobs 01 Feb 2009 An Associated Press review of visa applications shows banks collecting billions of dollars in federal bailout money asked for permission to bring thousands of foreign workers to the U.S. for high-paying jobs. The dozen banks have received the biggest rescue packages, worth more than $150 billion. They tried to bring in almost 21,800 foreign workers over the past six years to fill openings that paid an average salary of nearly $91,000. [See: Arming the Left: Is the time now? By Charles Southwell 21 Oct 2003.]
Swiss police clash with anti-Davos protesters, arrest 60 01 Feb 2009 Swiss police clashed with demonstrators against the Davos forum on Saturday, firing tear gas in central Geneva after officers were pelted with bottles and fireworks. Sixty people were arrested after hundreds of protestors converged on the centre of Geneva to protest against the World Economic Forum in Davos in defiance of a ban imposed by local authorities, a police spokesman said.
Governments across Europe tremble as angry people take to the streets 31 Jan 2009 Europe's time of troubles is gathering depth and scale. Governments are trembling. Revolt is in the air.
Mediators called in as wildcat strikes spread across UK 31 Jan 2009 The government called in mediators from Acas last night in an urgent attempt to end the dispute over the exclusion of British workers from construction contracts which led to a wave of wildcat strikes across the country yesterday. The attempt to halt the protest came as it emerged that hundreds more workers were ready to join the nationwide strike action. Bosses at Sellafield nuclear power plant confirmed that 900 contractors will vote on a walkout on Monday morning in solidarity with oil industry contractors in Lincolnshire which is at the heart of the dispute after around 300 new jobs were taken by Italian and Portuguese workers.
Beshear activates 'virtually entire National Guard' --National Guard will go door-to-door to 'check on' residents, provide security 31 Jan 2009 Even as things improve, emergency management officials are just now getting a grip on the size of the disaster inflicted on Kentucky by last week’s snow and ice storms. "It’s the biggest natural disaster this state has ever seen in modern times," said Gov. Steve Beshear in announcing the call up of "virtually the entire Kentucky National Guard."
Airmen to fly to Ohio to pick up Humvees for Ky. 01 Feb 2009 Airmen from the National Guard are headed to Ohio to pick up Humvees to aid in relief efforts from the ice storm that has crippled parts of Kentucky, especially in the western region. Sgt. Phil Speck of the Kentucky Air National guard says the airmen will board a C-130 in Louisville on Sunday afternoon to fly to Columbus, Ohio. They'll drive back to Kentucky in the Ohio National Guard's Humvees and spread out to areas of western Kentucky where they are needed.
Iran will soon pose N-threat, says Israel 31 Jan 2009 Israel's ambassador to Australia has described his country's military offensives in Gaza as a "preintroduction" to tackling the military threat posed by a nuclear-equipped Iran. Israeli ambassador Yuval Rotem told a meeting of Sydney's Jewish community yesterday that he expected Iran would soon pose a major nuclear threat. Seven News reporter Sarah Cummings reported that after telling a camera operator to turn off his camera, Mr Rotem told those gathered he expected Iran to stockpile enough uranium over the next 14 months to "be at the point of no return".
Rockets hit Israel, Prime Minister Olmert vows 'disproportionate' response 01 Feb 2009 Israel has vowed a 'disproportionate' response after Palestinian militants fired up to four Qassam rockets from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel... Israeli Prime Minister [war criminal] Ehud Olmert on Sunday vowed a "disproportionate" response to the rocket fire from the Hamas-run enclave. "We've said that if there is rocket fire against the south of the country, there will be a disproportionate Israeli response to the fire on the citizens of Israel and its security forces," he said at the weekly cabinet meeting. [See: Israeli troops shot and killed zoo animals 25 Jan 2009; Gaza zoo destroyed 31 Jan 2009; Israeli Massacre Against Thousand of Chickens In Gaza By Sameh A. Habeeb 23 Jan 2009.]
Israel pays 1.5m pounds to family of British journalist killed in 2003 Gaza shooting 01 Feb 2009 Following lengthy legal discussions, Israel recently paid approximately 1.5 million pounds in damages to the family of British cameraman James Miller, who was killed in Rafah in May 2003. The British Ministry of Justice said it would not file legal claims in the case, or requests to extradite the Israel Defense Forces officer and troops said to have been involved in the incident.
Olmert: Israel will not fund institutions that discriminate against former IDF officers 01 Feb 2009 Tel Aviv University confirmed on Sunday that Israel Defense Forces Colonel Pnina Sharvit-Baruch would teach a course on international law during the spring semester as planned, despite attempts by critics of her policies to prevent her from lecturing there. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday responded to opposition to the appointment by saying Israel would no longer support institutions that discriminate against IDF officers because of their military service [war crimes].
Israel says Spain says it will amend war crimes law 30 Jan 2009 Israel said on Friday the Spanish government had said it would work to amend a law under which a Madrid court is to consider trying seven Israelis over the killing of Palestinians. Spain's High Court announced this week it would launch a war crimes investigation into a Israeli ex-defence minister and six other top security officials for their role in a 2002 attack that killed a Hamas commander and 14 civilians in Gaza. Spanish law allows the prosecution of foreigners for such crimes as genocide, crimes against humanity and torture committed anywhere in the world. [Oh dear. In other words, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Addington, Yoo, et al., are f*cked.]
Israel launches tourism campaign to market the state as a safe destination 01 Feb 2009 The Ministry of Tourism is launching a NIS 26 million advertising campaign this week that aims to present Israel as a safe destination for tourists coming from abroad. The first stage of the campaign will target Germany, Russia, Italy and France. Additional stages are planned that will target countries including the United States, Canada and Great Britain.
Obama praises peaceful Iraq polls --Thousands of soldiers and police were deployed around polling stations. 01 Feb 2009 US President Barack Obama has congratulated Iraqis for holding a largely peaceful vote for provincial councils across the country. [Uh, *five candidates* were assassinated, Barack. Is that what you call 'peaceful?']
US soldier dies in northern Iraq 01 Feb 2009 The U.S. military says an American soldier has died of a noncombat-related injury in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk. A U.S. statement says the soldier died Saturday but gave no further details.
Bush shoe-thrower sculpture given the boot in Iraq 31 Jan 2009 A huge shoe sculpture honouring the Iraqi reporter who gained global fame by throwing his footwear at former US president [sic] George W. Bush has now been dismantled, an official told AFP on Saturday. "We have removed the shoe statue of Muntazer al-Zaidi, because we received an order to do so from the governor Salaheddin province," said Shaha al-Juburi, head of the children's foundation where the bronze sculpture had been erected.
State Department to Blackwater: You're Fired, Leave Iraq by May --$1.2 Billion Contract Won't Be Renewed Following Iraqi Refusal to License U.S. Terrorists 30 Jan 2009 Blackwater has been fired by the State Department from its job protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq. Executives of the controversial U.S. security company were notified today by the State Department that its five-year, $1.2 billion contract for services in Iraq will not be renewed in May, U.S. officials tell ABC News.
Rights groups plead for Guantanamo access 31 Jan 2009 Four human rights groups Friday urged President Barack Obama to grant them access to the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay to review the conditions facing some 245 detainees there. "We write to request full access to the Guantanamo Bay detention camp so that we may independently review and report on the conditions of confinement there and make concrete recommendations for change," the groups wrote.
Afghan street protests after US raid kills 2 01 Feb 2009 Hundreds of Afghans demonstrated Sunday against an overnight U.S. military raid that one villager said killed several civilians. The American military [lying sacks of sh*t] said its forces only killed two militants. The angry protesters gathered on the main highway linking Kabul and Kandahar near the site of the raid, the latest to stir up Afghan ire against foreign forces accused of killing civilians.
Civilians suffering continuous militancy in Afghanistan 01 Feb 2009 The ongoing conflicts and Taliban-linked insurgency in Afghanistan often add to the suffering of poor Afghans and harm non-combatants as the latest suicide bombing in Afghan capital once again wounded four civilians on Sunday. In the latest wave of violence, a suicide bomber riding an explosive-laden car blew himself up next to a convoy of NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Company village at 5th precinct, injuring four passersby.
Canadian soldier killed by IED in Afghanistan 31 Jan 2009 A Canadian soldier was killed in Afghanistan Saturday as he participated in a major operation to locate 'bomb-making factories' in Taliban territory. Sapper Sean David Greenfield was killed when the armoured vehicle he was riding in struck an improvised explosive device in the Zhari district, west of Kandahar city.
Bush's War Totals --The human cost of Bush's war on the Iraqis: 1 million dead. 4.5 million displaced. 1 million to 2 million widows. 5 million orphans. Now that Bush is gone, perhaps the US can honestly face the damage we have wrought and the responsibilities we must accept from it, says John Tirman. 31 Jan 2009 We are now able to estimate the number of Iraqis who have died in the war instigated by the Bush administration. Looking at the empirical evidence of Bush's war legacy will put his claims of victory in perspective. Of course, even by his standards -- "stability" -- the jury is out.
'Obama is shackled by the same power system that purchased his ascendance.' Nests In Hell (Pakistan Daily) 31 Jan 2009 "American leadership is good for America and for the world." So reads the introduction to the Project For The New American Century (PNAC), perhaps the most important document ever ignored by so many impacted millions--the neocon blueprint for American "full-spectrum domination" of the world... Commonly accepted accounting principles show America bankrupt, our federal government’s net worth at negative $60 trillion, roughly. American leadership has turned our government into a special-interest Hydra owned and ruled by financial gangsters, the industrial military complex, and the American Israeli Public Awareness Committee (AIPAC).
In Darfur: US aid comes with Arabic bibles --US aid group, seen as cover to promote Christian missionary work, expelled from Darfur. 31 Jan 2009 A US aid group [Texas-based "Thirst No More"] has been expelled from Sudan's war-hit region of Darfur for having a large stock of Arabic-language bibles, the official SUNA news agency reported on Saturday. A Sudanese official said members of the group have admitted possessing 3,400 bibles in Arabic in violation of laws and agreements governing the work of humanitarian organisations in the country.
Bye-bye, US spies: DEA quits Bolivia on Morales' order 29 Jan 2009 The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has removed all its agents from Bolivia, complying with orders by President Evo Morales, officials said. The DEA began pulling agents out several weeks ago and the last agents left Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Republicans demand changes to stimulus bill 01 Feb 2009 Senior Republican senators warned on Sunday their party was unlikely to back President Barack Obama's economic stimulus bill without changes to cut waste and to ensure the nearly $900 billion package promptly boosts the faltering U.S. economy.
DemocRATs poised to surrender, once again: Democrats Indicate Areas of Compromise on Stimulus 02 Feb 2009 The broad outlines of how the Obama administration's near-trillion dollar stimulus package may change in the Senate began to become visible on Sunday, with Democratic senators indicating that they would be open to considering Republican amendments to the bill, particularly in the areas of housing and infrastructure spending.
Florida, Maryland, Utah Banks Shut as Financial Crisis Deepens 31 Jan 2009 Banks in Florida, Maryland and Utah were closed yesterday as regulators wrapped up the busiest month for failures since the housing slump began in 2006. Ocala National Bank in Florida and Suburban Federal Savings Bank of Crofton, Maryland, were shut by federal regulators, according to statements sent by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. MagnetBank of Salt Lake City was seized by the Utah Department of Financial Institutions. The banks had total assets of $876.4 million and deposits of $790 million.
California is told to furlough employees --A judge orders officials to implement Schwarzenegger's plan to force 238,000 employees to take two days off without pay each month. The state is expected to shut down some services on those days. 30 Jan 2009 California officials must immediately implement Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's order that state employees take two days off without pay each month, a judge ruled Thursday, denying claims by unions and the controller that the governor's directive is illegal.
Herbert Hoover Lives By Frank Rich 01 Feb 2009 Here's a bottom line to keep you up at night: The economy is falling faster than Washington can get moving. President Obama says his stimulus plan will save or create four million jobs in two years. In the last four months of 2008 alone, employment fell by 1.9 million. Do the math. The abyss is widening. Of the 30 companies in the Dow Jones industrial index, 22 have announced job cuts since October... The December job loss in retailing is the worst since at least 1939. The new-home sales rate has fallen to its all-time low since record-keeping began in 1963. What are Americans still buying? Big Macs, Campbell’s soup, Hershey’s chocolate and Spam -- the four food groups of the apocalypse.
Melting glacier shows heat under Alaska volcano 01 Feb 2009 Geologists monitoring Mount Redoubt for signs of a possible eruption noticed that a hole in the glacier clinging to the north side of the volcano had doubled in size overnight -- and now spans the length of two football fields. Scientists with the Alaska Volcano Observatory on Friday flew close to Drift Glacier and spotted vigorous steam emitted from a hole on the mountain. By Saturday, they had confirmed the area was a fumarole, an opening in the earth that emits gases and steam, that was increasing in size at an alarming rate.
Buckling Europe fears protests may spark a new revolution 29 Jan 2009 The French are revolting. Teachers, television employees, postal workers, students and masses of other public-sector workers will today be united in a hugely popular strike with car workers, supermarket staff, journalists and thousands of others in the private sector. One poll said that 75 per cent of the public supported the action, which has the backing of the large union groups and opposition socialists. It will be a big test for President Nicolas Sarkozy but, more importantly, the strike will mark the biggest protest so far in one of the world's largest economies against the grief and distress being caused by the catastrophic global downturn. A depression triggered in America is being played out in Europe with increasing violence, and other forms of social unrest are spreading. [Next stop, God willing: The United States.]
Dawn of new age of industrial unrest as wildcat strikes spread across UK --Strikes at 19 sites over 'British jobs for British workers' 31 Jan 2009 Gordon Brown’s pledge to create "British jobs for British workers" came back to haunt him yesterday when a dispute over foreign labourers sparked a wave of industrial unrest. Wildcat strikes flared at more than 19 sites across the country in response to claims that British tradesmen were being barred from construction jobs by contractors using cheaper foreign workers.
The word went out on the web: every skilled man should strike 31 Jan 2009 As the shift arrived at Aberthaw power station in South Wales yesterday morning, a crowd of workers were already shivering outside the main gates. Fifteen minutes later, at 6.30am, 400 men began to gather outside the Wilton chemical complex on Teesside behind a banner demanding "British jobs 4 British workers". At 8am 700 workers refused to enter the Ineos refinery in Grangemouth, Scotland. By mid-morning the dispute had spread to a dozen power stations, oil refineries and chemical plants.
Defense Department Establishes Civilian Expeditionary Workforce 27 Jan 2009 The Defense Department is forming a civilian expeditionary workforce that will be trained and equipped to deploy overseas in support of military missions worldwide, according to department officials. The intent of the program "is to maximize the use of the civilian workforce to allow military personnel to be fully utilized for operational requirements," according to a Defense Department statement. Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England signed Defense Department Directive 1404.10, which outlines and provides guidance about the program, on Jan. 23... The directive emphasizes that volunteers be sought first for any expeditionary requirements, before requiring anyone to serve involuntarily or on short notice.
lets CIA keep controversial renditions tool 31 Jan 2009 Under executive
orders issued by President Obama last week, the CIA still has authority to carry
out what are known as renditions, or the secret abductions and transfers of prisoners
to countries that cooperate with the U.S. The
'Around every corner, inside almost every cage are dead animals, who have been lying in their cages since the Israeli incursion.' Israeli troops shot and killed zoo animals 25 Jan 2009 The Gaza Zoo reeks of death. But zookeeper Emad Jameel Qasim doesn't appear to react to the stench as he walks around the animals' enclosures. A month ago, it was attracting families - he says the zoo drew up to 1,000 visitors each day. He points at the foot-long hole in the camel in one of the enclosures. "This camel was pregnant, a missile went into her back," he tells us. "Look, look at her face. She was in pain when she died." [Yeah, I am *so sure* the pregnant camel was working with Hamas. Why is the US funding war criminals, terrorists and Sarah Palinesque sociopaths? --LRP]
Gaza zoo destroyed --Monkeys and camels were among many animals killed by Israeli fire at a Gaza zoo. 31 Jan 2009 (Video)
Israeli Massacre Against 30 Thousand Chickens In Gaza By Sameh A. Habeeb 23 Jan 2009 (Photos)
'I can't figure out why the Israelis thought that Hamas had anything to do with ice cream.' The Devastation of Gaza: From Factories to Ice Cream 28 Jan 2009 Yaser Alwadeya wanders past a field strewn with the remnants of gaily painted ice cream carts, which were shredded by a blizzard of shrapnel. He enters the blackened innards of the Al Ameer factory, which once manufactured Gaza's tastiest ice cream and popsicles. Shaking his head, he says, "I can't figure out why the Israelis thought that Hamas had anything to do with ice cream."
Video: Gaza farmers devastated by war 29 Jan 2009 The scale of the damage caused by Israel's war on Gaza continues to emerge. Palestinian agriculture officials estimate the cost to the strip's farming sector will be more than 200 million dollars. Al Jazeera's Mike Kirsch reports from Gaza, where many farmers are devastated at having to start again from scratch. (Video)
First evidence of damage to Gaza's cultural sites emerges --Antiquities museum hit; fears grow for excavated archaeology 28 Jan 2009 After a 3,500-year history of invasions, the latest war on the beleaguered coastal strip of Gaza has once again put historic sites at risk. With the fragile ceasefire still in force, The Art Newspaper has learned that Gaza’s only museum has been damaged and other heritage sites and buildings may also be at risk.
Witnesses say Israeli soldiers deliberately targeted civilians in Gaza 30 Jan 2009 Three witnesses say Israeli soldiers shot and killed two civilians who had raised their arms after being told to stop the tractor they were driving. The incident took place on the second day of the Israeli ground offensive in Gaza. The incident has come to light as a result of an investigation by Australia's national newspaper, The Australian.
Spain to stop investigations of alleged Israeli war crimes 31 Jan 2009 A day after a Spanish court ordered an investigation into an assassination of a Palestinian militant in 2002, the Spanish government has said it will cancel the investigation, and change the law to prevent such investigations being undertaken in the future. The moves came after Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni telephoned the Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos on Friday. Livni said after the call Moratinos told her he 'would fix it.'
60 US lawmakers urge Clinton to aid Gaza --US representatives urge Clinton to express their concern over Gaza humanitarian crisis directly to Israel. 30 Jan 2009 Sixty US lawmakers have urged Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to give emergency funds to the UN relief agency for Palestinian refugees to help rebuild the Gaza Strip after its bombardment by Israel. In a letter dated Tuesday, the House Democrats also said Israel should allow critically ill patients to be transported out of Gaza and into Israel, the West Bank and Jordan for treatment.
U.S. eyeing plan for fifth brigade in Afghanistan 30 Jan 2009 U.S. President Barack Obama could eventually send five combat brigades to Afghanistan, including one devoted wholly to training the Afghan army, Pentagon officials said on Friday. The White House is expected to announce up to three new brigade-size deployments for Afghanistan as early as next week to help meet a long-standing request for additional forces from field commanders.
AFB interest in portion of cyber mission 24 Jan 2009 Air Force officials announced Wednesday that six bases are possible locations for the headquarters of 24th Air Force, a new numbered Air Force focusing on the cyber mission. The proposed bases are Barksdale Air Force Base, La.; Lackland AFB, Texas; Langley AFB, Va.; Offutt AFB, Neb.; Peterson AFB, Colo.; and Scott AFB, Ill., according to a news release from Air Force Public Affairs at the Pentagon. Barksdale and Offutt also are among six finalists, including Minot Air Force Base, for the headquarters of the new nuclear command Global Strike Command.
Beshear orders total activation of National Guard --Activation exceeds 1,600 troops activated for 1997 flood and 2,000 activated following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 31 Jan 2009 Gov. Steve Beshear today ordered the activation of all Kentucky Army National Guard units, along with selected portions of the Kentucky Air National Guard in response to this week's storms, which have left hundreds of thousands without power and paralyzed much of Western Kentucky.
Time for a new world order: PM 31 Jan 2009 Kevin Rudd has denounced the unfettered capitalism of the past three decades and called for a new era of "social capitalism" in which government intervention and regulation feature heavily. In an essay to be published next week, the Prime Minister is scathing of the neo-liberals who began refashioning the market system in the 1970s, and ultimately brought about the global financial crisis.
Exxon and Chevron made $6m an hour amid record profits 30 Jan 2009 Exxon Mobil and Chevron, the two biggest oil companies in the world, made a combined profit of almost $6m (£4.1m) an hour in the final quarter of 2008, despite a 56pc slump in the oil price during the period. Exxon... was able to push full-year net profits on from 2007's record $40.6bn to $45.2bn – the biggest ever delivered by an American company. The oil group was able to report another set of record profits as a result of the oil price soaring to $147 a barrel earlier in the year.
Exxon breaks own annual profit record 30 Jan 2009 Exxon Mobil Corp... managed to break its own profit record for a U.S. company. Exxon, the world's biggest nongovernmental oil company, reported a profit of $45.2 billion for 2008, in spite of fourth-quarter earnings dropping 33 percent from a year ago. The previous record for annual profit was $40.6 billion, which Exxon set in 2007.
Oil Giant Smashes Profit Record --US oil colossus Exxon Mobil has recorded the largest ever annual profit by a publicly listed company. 30 Jan 2009 The firm, the world's most valuable by market capitalisation, notched up profits of almost £32bn despite a recent plunge in crude prices. But the earnings were secured on the back of triple-digit price for most of 2008, rocketing to a record peak above $147 a barrel in July. The Texas-based company shattered its own annual profit record of £28bn posted in 2007 - even though the final three months of last year yielded just £5.5bn in profits.
Chevron record profit nearly $24 billion in 2008 30 Jan 2009 Chevron Corp. captured fourth-quarter profits of $4.9 billion, but the earnings were only 1 percent higher than the year before and were fueled primarily by a one-time gain of $600 million. During all of 2008, Chevron earned $23.93 billion, a record for a full year.
A Rich Income in '06 Was $263 Million 30 Jan 2009 The income of the 400 wealthiest Americans swelled in 2006, soaring nearly 23 percent from the previous year, to an average of $263 million, according to data released Thursday by the Internal Revenue Service. Since 1996, this group has nearly doubled its share of all income earned in the United States. The top 400 paid just more than $18 billion in federal income taxes in 2006, or an average of $45 million, on a record $105 billion in total income -- the lowest effective tax rate in the 15 years since the agency began releasing such data. That compares with nearly $1 trillion paid by all other individual taxpayers in 2006.
Obama and Congress Seek to Limit Pay at Bailed-Out Companies 30 Jan 2009 President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress are moving to cap Wall Street bonuses and pay. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said it’s "very safe" to assume that new rules guiding the administration’s financial rescue will address bonuses and executive pay.
Worst January on Record for Stocks 30 Jan 2009 Stocks wrapped up their worst January on record with a final plunge on Friday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished January down 8.84% on the month. Perviously, the worst January for the Dow had been that of 1916, when it fell 8.64%. Friday, the Dow dropped 148.15 points to 8000.86 after briefly dipping below the 8000 mark. The Dow has fallen five straight months and in 12 of the last 15.
California pension funds close to bankruptcy By Kevin Martinez 30 Jan 2009 The two largest pension funds in California, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), have lost billions of dollars in value. Hundreds of thousands of retiring state employees and teachers now face the stark choice of accepting much reduced pension checks or working past their retirement age.
Arming the Left: Is the time now? By Charles Southwell 21 Oct 2003 As long as we pose no REAL threat to the powers-that-be, to what is shaping up into [is] a dictatorship, we will continue to be ignored. Right now, we are ignored because we present no organized power to fight this onslaught of anti-democratic, totalitarian government that we are up against...
Steele Elected RNC Chair 30 Jan 2009 The Republican National Committee elected Michael Steele as its first African American chairman today in Washington, a decision that came after an excruciating series of ballots that displayed a level of drama rarely seen in national politics.
FDA to Approve Genetically Engineered Animals; Treat Them as Corporate Intellectual Property 30 Jan 2009 The FDA has adopted new rules allowing companies to sell genetically modified animals and their products on the market, and affirming that the DNA of such animals is private property that can be held under patent. No FDA approval will be required for cloned animals or those intended only for research or as pets.
Record-breaking heat scorches southern Australia 30 Jan 2009 Southern Australia suffered Friday from a record-breaking heat wave that has threatened rural towns with wildfires and sent ambulance crews after heat-stressed patients. Melbourne recorded its third consecutive day of temperatures above 43 degrees Celsius (109 F) for the first time since 1855, when record-keeping began, the Bureau of Meteorology said.
French strikes: Violence erupts as thousands gather to protest on 'Black Thursday' 30 Jan 2009 Hundreds of thousands of protesters marched through French cities, with violence erupting in some places, as part of a day of national strikes demanding pay rises and better protection for jobs. Labour leaders hailed the strikes and rallies, which marked the first time France's eight union federations had joined forces against the government since Sarkozy took office in 2007. "This is one of the biggest days of worker action in the past 20 years," said Francois Chereque, head of the large, moderate CFDT group. [We need 'big days of worker action' in the US.]
President Decries 'Shameful' Bonuses For Wall St. CEOs --'They Should Know Better,' He Says 30 Jan 2009 President Obama yesterday scolded Wall Street bankers who received millions of dollars in bonuses last year, calling the payouts "shameful" and chiding the executives for a lack of personal responsibility at a precarious time for the nation's economy. The president said he was reacting to a New York Times report about Wall Street executives who had given themselves almost $20 billion in bonuses in 2008, the same amount they received collectively during the much more bullish 2004. [And... Obama is doing *what* about it?]
Hidden Bonuses Enrich Government Contractors at Taxpayer Cost 29 Jan 2009 U.S. Senator Kit Bond shifted in his chair at a 2005 congressional hearing, poised with a question on national security. He turned to Treasury Secretary John Snow, who was seated at a witness table. Was Snow sure, asked Bond, a Missouri Republican, that a Treasury Department computer on order for $8.9 million would help detect terrorist money laundering? "Yes, absolutely," Snow said. A year later, in July 2006, the U.S. Treasury Department abandoned the project. The computer didn’t work. The department had spent $14.7 million -- a 65 percent increase above the original budget -- for nothing. There was a final ignominy: Under the terms of the contract, Electronic Data Systems Corp., the vendor, collected a bonus of $638,126. As the federal government’s $700 billion bailout of banks sputters, there’s an object lesson for the new administration of President Barack Obama: Federal departments, including Treasury itself, routinely squander tens of billions of dollars a year in taxpayer money as they farm out public business to private corporations.
Former minister urges downing of US drones 29 Jan 2009 If United States aircraft continue to carry out airstrikes inside Pakistan, the Pakistani Air Force should shoot them down, a former interior minister, Lt. Gen. Hamid Nawaz told journalists on Wednesday. The comments, which appear to signal a major policy shift in Pakistan-US military cooperation, came after US defence secretary Robert Gates said on Tuesday that Washington would continue with strikes by unmanned Predator drones against militants and that Pakistan was aware of this.
US provided $105 million to Pakistan for 'war on terror' 25 Jan 2009 China has provided 500 million dollars to Pakistan to improve the level of its foreign exchange reserves while the U.S. has also released 105 million dollars in connection with meeting expenses of war on [of] terror. [Ergo: The US could be paying for the shooting down of its drones.]
US president allows short-term CIA sites --Officials say temporary facilities around the world can be used for number of reasons 29 Jan 2009 Amid praise for US President Barack Obama’s decision to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Washington Times has reported a loophole in the president’s executive order closing Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) 'black sites' – a little-noticed exception that allows the spy agency to continue to operate temporary detention facilities abroad.
step unclear as judge defies Obama on Guantanamo 29 Jan 2009 The chief
judge of the Guantanamo
NATO-led troops killed around 100 civilians in Afghanistan in 2008 28 Jan 2009 The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan killed around 100 civilians in 2008, said the alliance on Wednesday. "In 2008 NATO-ISAF was responsible for 97 -- let's say, around 100 -- civilian casualties (deaths)," NATO spokesman James Appathurai told reporters.
Get Some: Obama's New Hard Line on Afghanistan (Pakistan Daily) 28 Jan 2009 The Obama administration has decided that blood and iron, not hearts and minds, will be the new focus of the American military adventure in Afghanistan. Top Obama officials – anonymous, natch -- used the front page of the New York Times as a conduit for conveying the imperial will to the rabble this week... The NYT uncritically – not to say hilariously – funnels the Obama line that Karzai is being sidelined "because corruption has become rampant in his government, contributing to a flourishing drug trade and the resurgence of the Taliban." This is pretty rich, even for Washington, where the comedy of hypocrisy never stops.
NATO High Commander Issues Illegitimate Order to Kill 28 Jan 2009 A dispute has emerged among NATO High Command in Afghanistan regarding the conditions under which alliance troops can use deadly violence against those identified as insurgents. In a classified document, which SPIEGEL has obtained, NATO's top commander, US General John Craddock, has issued a "guidance" providing NATO troops with the authority "to attack directly drug producers and facilities throughout Afghanistan." According to the document, deadly force is to be used even in those cases where there is no proof that suspects are actively engaged in the armed resistance against the Afghanistan government or against Western troops. The directive was sent on Jan. 5 to Egon Ramms, the German leader at NATO Command in Brunssum, Netherlands, which is currently in charge of the NATO ISAF mission, as well as David McKiernan, the commander of the ISAF peacekeeping force in Afghanistan. Neither want to follow it. Both consider the order to be illegitimate and believe it violates both ISAF rules of engagement and international law, the "Law of Armed Conflict."
US Special Forces Unconventional Warfare Operations: overthrowing governments, sabotage, subversion, intelligence and abduction, FM 3-05.201, Apr 2003 (Wikileaks) 27 Jan 2009 FM 3-05.201: Special Forces Unconventional Warfare Operations is current US military doctrine (policy) on the use of indigenous or surrogate forces to overthrow a foreign government and the use of sabotage, subversion, intelligence, extra-territorial abductions and similar activities, the most well known example of which is the US involvement in Nicaragua. There is also a section on legalities, including abductions ("The United States reserves the right to engage in nonconsensual abductions for three specific reasons..."). The 296-page manual was made doctrine in April 2003 by Army Headquarters, Washington DC.
candidates slain in Iraq --Rash of shootings brought to at least five the
number of candidates slain before 'polls' 29 Jan 2009 [US] Gunmen killed three
Iraqi election candidates in separate incidents on Thursday, two days before Iraq
holds provincial 'polls' that will test the war-weary country's
Iraq to Deny New License to Blackwater Mercenary Firm --U.S. Embassy's Preferred Contractor Accused of Killings 29 Jan 2009 The Iraqi government has informed the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that it will not issue a new operating license to Blackwater Worldwide, the embassy's primary security company, which has come under scrutiny for allegedly using excessive force while 'protecting' American diplomats, Iraqi and U.S. officials said Wednesday.
For first time, U.S. professors call for academic and cultural boycott of Israel 29 Jan 2009 In the wake of Operation Cast Lead, a group of American university professors has for the first time launched a national campaign calling for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel. While Israeli academics have grown used to such news from Great Britain, the formation of the United States movement marks the first time that a national academic boycott movement has come out of America.
Israel targets Hamas weapons factory in overnight strike 29 Jan 2009 Israel has claimed it had destroyed a Hamas weapons factory targeted in an overnight strike after militants fired a rocket from the Gaza strip into the Negev Desert. "An aerial attack took place against a site used to manufacture weapons in an area of the city of Rafah following the firing of a rocket into southern Israel in the evening," the Israel military said.
Panel backs Holder for attorney general 29 Jan 2009 Eric Holder's nomination as the first African-American attorney general moved to the full Senate yesterday with broad bipartisan support, as Republicans who earlier criticized the nominee determined he was qualified for the job. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted, 17 to 2, to favorably recommend Holder for the post.
ACLU tests Obama with request for secret Bush-era memos 28 Jan 2009 Dozens of secret documents justifying the Bush regime's spying and interrogation programs could see the light of day because of a new presidential directive. The American Civil Liberties Union asked the Obama administration on Wednesday to release Justice Department memos that provided the legal underpinning for harsh interrogations, eavesdropping and secret prisons.
New pornography laws 'could make comic books illegal', say campaigners 29 Jan 2009 New laws designed to tackle extreme and child pornography could make owning mainstream comics like Batman or Judge Dredd illegal, campaigners claim. They are protesting against two pieces of legislation. In a statement, comicshopvoice.co.uk, a comic fans' website, said of the rules outlawing sexual violence: "Isn't that how Batman, Punisher, Judge Dredd get anything done? "A kick in the balls or a--- would constitute this, and a kick in the balls is a well trodden part of humour."
Bush lawyer directs Rove not to talk to Congress -- once again 29 Jan 2009 Just four days before he left office, President [sic] Bush instructed former White House aide Karl Rove to refuse to cooperate with future congressional inquiries into alleged misconduct during his administration. On Jan. 16, 2009, then White House Counsel Fred Fieldingsent a letter to Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin. The message: should his client receive any future subpoenas, Rove "should not appear before Congress" or turn over any documents relating to his time in the White House. The letter told Rove that President Bush was continuing to assert executive privilege over any testimony by Rove--even after he leaves office.
Blagojevich Ousted by Illinois State Senate 30 Jan 2009 The Illinois Senate removed Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich from office Thursday, convicting him on an article of impeachment that alleged a pattern of abuse of power. The vote, 59 to 0, ended nearly two months of political spectacle in which Mr. Blagojevich, a second-term Democrat who rose from the ranks of Chicago ward politics on the strength of his charisma and the connections of his wife’s family, sought to salvage his career and reputation.
U.S. Eyes Two-Part Bailout for Banks 30 Jan 2009 The nation's top economic officials are discussing a new way to stabilize the financial system by buying a portion of banks' bad assets and offering guarantees against future losses on some of the remainder, in an effort to help banks while trying to mitigate the cost to taxpayers.
New U.S. bank bailout could cost up to $2 trillion 29 Jan 2009 U.S. government officials seeking to revamp the financial bailout have discussed spending another $1 trillion (709 billion pounds) to $2 trillion to help restore banks to health, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter. The paper said the Barack Obama administration could announce its plans within days but has not yet determined the final shape of its new proposal, and the exact details could change.
Honda third-quarter profit falls 90% to $222 million 30 Jan 2009 Honda Motor Co. said Friday its fiscal third-quarter profit totaled 20.2 billion yen ($222 million), or 11 yen a share, from 200 billion yen, or 110 yen a share, in the same quarter a year before.
Airlines report 'shocking' plunge in traffic 29 Jan 2009 The airline industry reported on Thursday an "unprecedented and shocking" plunge in global air cargo traffic. Air freight accounts for 35 per cent of the value of goods traded internationally and the International Air Transport Association said traffic volumes had fallen by 22.6 per cent year-on-year in December.
CITGO-Venezuela Heating Oil Program Launched in Washington Metropolitan Area 29 Jan 2009 The President of CITGO Petroleum Corporation, Alejandro Granado, Citizens Energy Chairman Joseph P. Kennedy II and representatives of the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the United States launched the 2009 CITGO-Venezuela Heating Oil Program here today by making the inaugural delivery of free fuel to the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House. Carried out in partnership by CITGO and Citizens Programs Corporation, the program has provided heating oil to more than one million people in need throughout the United States. [Thank you, President Chavez!]
Expert: Voting machines easily altered 28 Jan 2009 A Princeton University professor demonstrated in court today how New Jersey’s most widely used voting machines can be opened with a screwdriver and their computer chips swapped by hand. "The machines are large and heavy. They’re left in the polling places for a few days until a trucking company can pick them up," Andrew W. Appel, a computer-science professor, testified. "Many of the polling sites are unlocked. Anyone … can open it up and replace the software inside with fraudulent software."
Lackawanna County to cut voting districts 29 Jan 2009 (PA) Election officials in Lackawanna County have proposed another sweeping restructuring of the county's voting districts. In a petition filed today in Common Pleas Court, the Board of Elections asked for permission to consolidate precincts in 14 of the county's 40 municipalities, reducing the overall number of districts by 48 -- from 163 to 115.
White House Unbuttons Formal Dress Code 29 Jan 2009 The capital flew into a bit of a tizzy when, on his first full day in the White House, President Obama was photographed in the Oval Office without his suit jacket. There was, however, a logical explanation: Mr. Obama, who hates the cold, had cranked up the thermostat. "He’s from Hawaii, O.K.?" said Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Axelrod, who occupies the small but strategically located office next door to his boss. "He likes it warm. You could grow orchids in there."
Judge: Names of Prop. 8 donors must be made public 29 Jan 2009 A federal judge today denied an attempt by Proposition 8 supporters to withhold disclosure of late campaign donors to the state's same-sex marriage ban. California's Political Reform Act, approved by voters in 1974, requires disclosure of the name, occupation and employer of anyone contributing $100 or more to campaigns.
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