March 2009 Archives, Page Two
Obama plans to expand strikes against terror to Pakistan 27 Mar 2009 US President Barack Obama intends to expand the strikes against terror across the border of Afghanistan to Pakistan, which many of his team members believe has emerged as the ground zero of terrorism. The new policy, to be unveiled by Obama at the White House this evening [part of the Obama Friday evening bad news dump], would endorse more drone attacks inside Pakistan much beyond their traditional strike zones of the tribal regions of Pakistan, media reports said.
Pakistan to get billions from U.S. despite oversight concerns 27 Mar 2009 The Obama administration is planning billions in new assistance to Pakistan, yet the record of previous U.S. military and development aid to the strife-torn Muslim country has been marred by a lack of accountability and transparency, according to government reports. Two administration officials said Thursday that President Obama will back a plan to triple non-military [mercenary] aid to Pakistan to $1.5 billion a year for five years and make military aid contingent on Pakistan's efforts to cut government ties to 'insurgents.' [See: Taleban tax: allied supply convoys pay their enemies for safe passage: West funding insurgency in Afghanistan with Taleban payoff system --"We estimate that approximately 25 per cent of the money we pay for security to get the fuel in goes into the pockets of the Taleban." 12 Dec 2008 The West is indirectly funding the insurgency in Afghanistan thanks to a system of payoffs to Taleban commanders who charge protection money to allow convoys of military supplies to reach Nato bases in the south of the country. See: Billions in U.S. Aid to Pakistan Wasted, Officials Assert 24 Dec 2007; US Senate approves Pakistan aid worth $785m 20 Dec 2007.]
UN probing misuse of reconstruction funds in Afghanistan 27 Mar 2009 The United Nations has confirmed it is probing the alleged misuse of reconstruction funds in Afghanistan by a former UN official. Gary Helseth, a US national who headed the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) in Afghanistan from 2002 to 2006, reportedly supervised the expenditure of one billion dollars in aid money. Helseth allegedly improperly used hundreds of thousands of dollars in funds from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) for lavish purchases, The Washington Post reported on Friday.
Wasted On Iraq Reconstruction; Warning Raised On Afghanistan
26 Mar 2009 As much as five-billion American taxpayer dollars have been
wasted by the Bush administration on reconstruction programs in Iraq.
And similar scandals may haunt the Obama administration as it tries
Obama ready for al-Qaeda hunt 27 Mar 2009 US President Barack Obama's new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan is likely to increase troop commitments in order to destroy al-Qaeda [al-CIAduh] elements. Officials have said the goal will be to wipe out al Qaeda safe havens in Pakistan, and prevent the terrorist group from re-grouping in Afghanistan.
Obama adviser: Intelligence lacking in Afghanistan [Oh, not just there.] 27 Mar 2009 The United States needs to improve its level of intelligence support for military operations in Afghanistan, the president's chief intelligence adviser said Thursday. Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair told reporters the United States lacks a deep understanding of local power structures in Afghanistan and of the militants operating along that nation's border with Pakistan. [No, they just need to get the f*ck out. Bush's opium and gas pipeline routes will go bye-bye sooner or later - why not make it sooner?]
Obama Plans More Funding For Afghan War --4,000 Additional Troops to Deploy President Obama's new Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy will require significantly higher levels of U.S. funding for both countries, with U.S. military expenses in Afghanistan alone, currently about $2 billion a month, increasing by about 60 percent this year. Along with the 17,000 additional combat troops authorized last month, he said, Obama will send 4,000 more this fall to serve as trainers and advisers [mercenaries and corpora-terrorists] to an Afghan army expected to double in size over the next two years. [People donated $750 million for *change.* It is time to do it for free.]
Britain to send more troops to Afghanistan 27 Mar 2009 Britain is preparing to send an extra 1,700 soldiers to 'fight' the Taliban in Afghanistan, the head of the Army has indicated. The troops from 12 Mechanised Brigade will help support the US-led surge in the country to be announced by President Barack Obama today.
Afghan soldier kills two US troops 27 Mar 2009 Two American troops have been killed and another wounded when an Afghan army soldier opened fire on them, before killing himself. "One coalition service member was killed today, another died of wounds, and a third was wounded by an Afghan National Army soldier who reportedly fired upon them," a US military statement said on Friday.
Pakistani and Afghan Taliban Unify in Face of U.S. Influx 27 Mar 2009 After agreeing to bury their differences and unite forces, Taliban leaders based in Pakistan have closed ranks with their Afghan comrades to ready a new offensive in Afghanistan as the United States prepares to send 17,000 more troops there this year. In interviews, several Taliban fighters based in the border region said preparations for the anticipated influx of American troops were already being made. A number of new, younger commanders have been preparing to step up a campaign of roadside bombings and suicide attacks to greet the Americans, the fighters said.
Dozens Dead in Pakistan Bombing 28 Mar 2009 A suicide bomber brought the roof of a crowded mosque crashing down on worshipers in northwest Pakistan on Friday, setting off explosives as a cleric intoned the holy prayers and killing scores of people in what was the bloodiest attack this year. The attack was unleashed in an area that has seen intense activity by Pakistani security forces aimed at protecting [?!?] the critical Khyber Pass supply route for American forces in Afghanistan.
'I know that the US controls the airspace there.' Strike reportedly obliterates Iranian ship at sea 27 Mar 2009 Following unconfirmed reports that the US or Israel attacked a convoy of trucks carrying weapons headed for the Gaza Strip in Sudan, a new report by Sudanese sources cited an additional strike on a ship possibly making its way to Sudan from Iran. "There were indeed two strikes in Sudan, in January and February," Sudan's deputy transportation minister told Channel 10 on Thursday evening. "I cannot confirm that Israel or the US were behind the attack, but I know that the US controls the airspace there," he said. "The second strike was against a ship at sea and it was completely destroyed," another Sudanese official said.
Olmert: 'no place out of Israel's reach' --Sudan strike targeted weapons believed capable of hitting Tel Aviv 27 Mar 2009 Alluding to what foreign media reports say was an Israel Air Force strike in Sudan in January, outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned Thursday that no place is out of Israel's reach. The air strike reportedly hit a convoy of 'Iranian arms' passing through Sudan en route to the Gaza Strip. Israeli officials declined to confirm or deny Israel's involvement in the air strike in Sudan. "Everyone can use their imagination. Those who need to know, know there is no place where Israel cannot operate. Such a place doesn't exist," he said.
US troops in Iraq victims of faulty KBR wiring 27 Mar 2009 In addition to roadside bombs, insurgent [Xe] ambushes and the desert heat, US troops in Iraq have also been victims of [KBR] electrocution - while taking a shower or going for a swim, according to the US military. Following the deaths from electric shock of at least 16 US service members in Iraq, including three while showering and one in a swimming pool, a military task force has begun inspecting electrical systems at the military facilities in Iraq. Inspectors found potential electrical hazards at 15,000 of the 41,000 visited since the task force's inception in August, a US military spokesman said.
Shoddy KBR wiring 'everywhere' on Iraq bases, Army inspector says 18 U.S. troops have been electrocuted since 2003 from KBR wiring 27 Mar 2009 Thousands of buildings at U.S. bases in Iraq and Afghanistan have such poorly installed wiring that American troops face life-threatening risks, a top inspector for the Army says. "It was horrible -- some of the worst electrical work I've ever seen," said Jim Childs, a master electrician and the top civilian expert in an Army safety survey. Childs told CNN that "with the buildings the way they are, we're playing Russian roulette." Of the nearly 30,000 buildings the Army's "Task Force Safe" has examined so far, Childs said more than half "failed miserably." And 8,527 had such serious problems that inspectors gave them a "flash" warning, meaning repairs had to be completed in four hours or the facility evacuated.
Ex-Official: Bush Panicked After 9/11 --Former State Dept. Lawyer Describes Bush Regime's Gitmo Interrogations As Torture 27 Mar 2009 A former State Department lawyer tells The Associated Press that the Bush administration panicked after 9/11 and tortured prisoners. Former President [sic] George W. Bush denied anyone was tortured. But Vijay Padmanabhan is at least the second insider to publicly describe as torture the so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" used by the U.S. Padmanabhan was the department's chief counsel on Guantanamo litigation. He says it was "foolish" for the Bush administration to declare that detainees were beyond the reach of U.S. and international laws and the Geneva Conventions.
Missouri retracts report linking militias, 3rd party candidates 27 Mar 2009 The Missouri Highway Patrol this week retracted a controversial report on militia activity and will change how such reports are reviewed before being distributed to law enforcement agencies. The Highway Patrol also will open an investigation into the origin of the report, which linked conservative groups with domestic terrorism and named former presidential candidates Ron Paul, Bob Barr and Chuck Baldwin.
HIV risk at Miami VA hospital not found until 2nd review --The Miami VA, which this week said it may have exposed thousands to HIV and hepatitis by using improperly sterilized equipment, gave itself a clean bill of health in January. 26 Mar 2009 The Miami Veterans Affairs hospital, which may have exposed thousands of veterans to HIV and hepatitis by using improperly sterilized colonoscopy equipment, gave itself a clean bill of health in January, only to discover problems two months later after a more intensive review, VA officials told U.S. House members in a closed-door briefing Thursday.
Lawsuit Claims Xe Covered Up Party Slaying 20 Mar 2009 A federal lawsuit filed in San Diego claims an intoxicated employee of a private security agency randomly murdered an Iraqi vice president's guard after a 2006 Christmas Eve party and the company tried to cover it up. The suit alleges that former Blackwater employee Andrew Moonen fatally shot Raheem Khalaf Sa'adoon, 32, who was a security guard for Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi, and that several Blackwater-related defendants under the control of company Chairman Erik Prince attempted to evade responsibility.
Russia says North Korea should not test missile 27 Mar 2009 Russia said on Friday North Korea should abstain from testing a long-range missile and called for dialogue with Pyongyang to resolve the situation. "We understand that the current situation in the region of North-East Asia is tense, and this is why it would be better if our partners in North Korea abstained from this, from this launch," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Borodavkin told journalists.
Japan OKs deployment of missile defense system 27 Mar 2009 Japan's military mobilized Friday to protect the country from any threat if North Korea's looming rocket launch fails, ordering two missile-equipped destroyers to the Sea of Japan and sending batteries of Patriot missile interceptors to protect the northern coastline. Pyongyang plans to launch its Kwangmyongsong-2 satellite April 4-8. The U.S., Japan and South Korea suspect the North will use the launch to test the delivery technology for a long-range missile capable of striking Alaska.
Officer with TB who refused to deploy is convicted 27 Mar 2009 An Army chief warrant officer, who argued his health problems should have prevented him from going to war, has been convicted of failing to deploy to Iraq and disobeying an order, according to a USA Today report. Adisa "A.J." Aiyetoro -- a 19-year veteran who has active tuberculosis and suffers from back injuries -- was sentenced to six months in jail and ordered to forfeit $1,300 a month for the next six months after his conviction at a court-martial this week in Fort Richardson, Alaska, USA Today reported Thursday.
'Mumbai terrorists' say group will increase attacks on India 26 Mar 2009 The terrorist group which carried out the Mumbai massacre last November and is suspected of the commando raid on Sri Lanka's cricket team in Pakistan earlier this month has warned it is to step up its attacks on India. A spokesman for the al-Qaeda [al-CIAduh] linked Lashkar-e-Taiba (Let) said the group will carry out more "lethal" attacks in the near future. The warning came as India's army chief said the group was mounting its biggest ever infiltration into India with up to 400 terrorist commandos dispatched to cross the border.
Outcry after new Ground Zero tower loses 'Freedom' --China's Vantone Industrial Company, signed to a 21-year deal, will take the entire 65th and 69th floors and part of the 64th with a business and cultural facility dubbed the China Center. 27 Mar 2009 The owners of the skyscraper being built at Ground Zero ran into controversy Friday with the decision to strip the building of its patriotic unofficial name "Freedom Tower." "No more freedom," read the front page of the Daily News, declaring in an editorial that the site's owner, the New York and New Jersey Port Authority, was "erasing history." The Port Authority announced that the planned 1,776-foot building will instead be known by the same name as one of the twin towers destroyed in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks: One World Trade Center.
National Guard escorts emergency blood delivery --Guard activated Thursday after governor declared statewide state of emergency 27 Mar 2009 The Colorado National Guard transported stranded drivers and cleared a highway for a crucial medical shipment during Thursday's blizzard. The Colorado National Guard was activated by Gov. Bill Ritter for the first time since the Windsor tornado last year. Forces were readied by federal order during the Democratic National Convention last summer, but they were never called into action.
Lawmakers Want Cameras to Catch Speeders --Senate Proposal Would Mean Tickets of Up to $100 For Those Caught 26 Mar 2009 You could get a speeding ticket even if you're never pulled over by a squad car and stopped by a police officer. There is a new push to use stationary radar cameras to catch drivers speeding. under a bill now pending in the Illinois Senate, counties and municipalities could issue speeding tickets of up to $100 if caught by a camera positioned on the roadway.
Without Bush 'millstone,' GOP can mount comeback, leader says --Sen. Mitch McConnell says Bush was 'a millstone around our necks' 27 Mar 2009 Despite crushing defeats in the last two elections, Senate Republicans have new "energy and enthusiasm" for winning back the majority, according to their leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
U.S. Expected to Give More Aid to Automakers 28 mar 2009 The Obama administration is likely to extend more short-term aid to General Motors and Chrysler on Monday, but impose a strict deadline for bondholders and union workers to make concessions [!] that would help the ailing automakers become viable businesses and avert bankruptcy. President Obama’s auto task force is expected to say that despite its recommendation of more federal assistance for G.M. and Chrysler, bankruptcy could still be an outcome for either company, according to people with knowledge of the discussions.
EU president declares US economic policy is the "road to hell" By Stefan Steinberg 27 Mar 2009 One day after being ousted as head of the Czech government Mirek Topolanek, who currently holds the revolving chair of the European Union, openly criticised the financial policy of the US government, telling European parliamentary deputies that America was on the "road to hell".
Flood waters reach record high in Fargo, ND 27 Mar 2009 Hundreds of residents of North Dakota and Minnesota evacuated their homes on Friday as the Red River rose to its highest level in 112 years. The Red River topped its the record of 40.1 feet set in 1897 in Fargo on Friday morning and was currently at 40.72 feet (12.4 meters) as of 3:15 p.m. CDT (2015 GMT).
US deploys warships as North Korea prepares to launch missile --North Korea informed international agencies of plan to fire missile as satellite test between April 4 and 8 26 Mar 2009 The US has deployed two warships with anti-missile capabilities in the waters off Japan as tensions mount over North Korea's plans to test-fire a long-range ballistic missile capable of striking Alaska. The deployment comes as America, Japan and South Korea threaten North Korea with 'serious consequences' if it proceeds with plans to conduct the missile test in defiance of a 2006 UN resolution.
Obama's Vietnam #1: 'Obama's war' - New troops and new plan By Mike Allen 26 Mar 2009 President Barack Obama plans to commit to sending 4,200 more troops and hundreds more civilians to Afghanistan in a speech at the White House on Friday morning, and also to embrace a new system of benchmarks to measure progress. "He’s gone all in," said an official briefed on the plan. "This is Obama's war. He's pushed all the chips to the center of the table." The 4,200 troops will be trainers to help expand the Afghan army. "We'll see if we ultimately need to go beyond that," the official said. The plan is at the heavier end of the spectrum of possibilities the White House considered, according to several top officials briefed on the plan.
Reports: 4,000 more trainers heading to Afghanistan 26 Mar 2009 President Obama plans to announce a new strategy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan tomorrow, and sources are sharing some of the details with news outlets. These unnamed officials say the president plans to send 4,000 additional trainers to try to bulk up the Afghan army and to give Pakistan more financial aid if it fights Islamist militants along the border. [OMG!!! What happened to the *billions* we have already given to Pakistan in 'financial aid?']
Pakistan set to reap $35 billion windfall from terrorism 26 Mar 2009 Terrorism pays. That may well be the message the United States and its allies send out to the world this week as they line up billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan despite the country’s military and intelligence agencies being implicated by American officials in acts and practice of terrorism.
British Army chief ready to send 2,000 more troops to Afghanistan 27 Mar 2009 The head of the Army is ready to send up to 2,000 extra troops to Afghanistan amid fears that the US-led mission will struggle without significant reinforcements. General Sir Richard Dannatt told The Times yesterday that elements of 12 Mechanised Brigade -- which had been training for deployment to Iraq but were later stood down -- had been "earmarked for Afghanistan".
Obama's Vietnam #2: US general: American forces may not leave key Iraqi cities --The top commander of ground forces in Iraq says that US troops may stay longer than the June deadline in Baquba and Mosul. 27 Mar 2009 The US withdrawal from Iraq is under way. Some troops are preparing to go home and others have pulled back from outposts to bases. But the planned pullback of American soldiers from all Iraqi cities by the end of June will probably not be fully met. In an exclusive interview, the top US ground commander in Iraq says that... Iraqi officials are likely to ask for US help [!] in the key cities of Baquba and Mosul, meaning that American troops may stay there after the deadline for redeployment to major bases. Senior military commanders say US troops will also likely stay on in the southern city of Basra.
Billions wasted in Iraq reconstruction 25 Mar 2009 Between three and five billion dollars have been wasted in US 'reconstruction' work in Iraq since 2003, a US official says. Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction made the remarks before the House Armed Services Committee. He also warned lawmakers that mistakes made in efforts to rebuild Iraq were being repeated in Afghanistan.
Iraq bombing leaves 22 dead 26 Mar 2009 At least 22 civilians were killed and 38 other people were wounded Thursday in a Baghdad car bombing, the Iraqi Interior Ministry said. A parked car bomb blew up near a bus station and a hospital in Shaab, a Shiite neighborhood in northeastern Baghdad. The bombing took place around 12:40 p.m. local time (5:40 a.m. ET). Four women and three children were among the dead. On Wednesday, a roadside bomb near a primary school in northern Iraq [Xe?] killed four female students, the country's Interior Ministry said.
'Mr. Obama's legal team has found itself following many of the Bush administration's counterterrorism policies.' White House to Keep Agencies' Focus on Terrorism 26 Mar 2009 The Obama administration is moving to solidify one of the most significant shifts of resources put into place under President [sic] George W. Bush: the transformation of the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation into agencies where the top priority is counterterrorism rather than conventional law enforcement. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and other Justice Department officials have emphasized that they will not cut resources allocated to national security in the foreseeable future, and the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Robert S. Mueller III, told lawmakers on Wednesday that "we have no intention of retreating from preventing a terrorist attack on American soil as our No. 1 priority."
Director of FBI Urges Renewal of Patriot Act --Portions of Law to Expire This Year 26 Mar 2009 FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III urged lawmakers yesterday to renew intelligence-gathering measures in the USA Patriot Act that are set to expire in December, calling them "exceptional" tools to help protect national security. The law, passed shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, created divisions between proponents, who said it was necessary to deter terrorism, and privacy advocates warning that it tramples on Americans' civil liberties.
Muslim Scholar Unwelcome: Obama Lawyer By Muhammed Qasim 25 Mar 2009 Although it has made a break with many of George Bush's controversial, self-declared war on terror policies and has promised to reach out to Muslims, the Obama administration has decided to back a Bush decision to deny one of Europe's leading Muslim intellectuals entry. "Consular decisions are not subject to litigation," Assistant US Attorney David Jones told the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He asked the court to uphold a decision to bar Tariq Ramadan, an Oxford University professor, from entering the country.
'Israel treated its soldiers as guinea pigs' --Experiments carried out in light of what was defined as 'strategic threat of a surprise biological attack facing Israel' 25 Mar 2009 Israel has admitted to developing an anthrax vaccine through a secret research project involving tests on unaware army soldiers. The Israeli Defense Ministry revealed on Wednesday that the vaccine was tested on 716 soldiers while they had not been fully informed about the study, Ynet reported.
Israel admits to testing anthrax vaccine on troops --Cleared for publication: Defense Ministry admits to experimenting on 716 IDF soldiers during secret research project without disclosing full details 25 Mar 2009 Israel has admitted to developing a vaccine against anthrax, fearing it might be used as a bio-weapon by enemy nations [or, Fort Detrick] against civilians, and tested it on IDF soldiers. The story was cleared for publication Wednesday evening by the High Court of Justice. The research project, codenamed "Omer 2," was kept secret for many years.
Report: Anthrax vaccine tests on IDF troops were conducted unethically 25 Mar 2009 The testing of a trial vaccine for Anthrax conducted on IDF soldiers several years ago were managed unethically, according a report approved for release by the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
'The lack of transparency has led to some staggering boondoggles.' Why secretly funded DEA surveillance planes aren't flying 25 Mar 2009 ...The story behind why the DEA sought the three planes, only to become the second federal agency to give them up, illustrates the pitfalls of "black," or classified, budgeting in which Congress approves tens of billions of dollars for intelligence agencies outside the public's view. The twin-engine planes, manufactured by Schweizer Aircraft, likely came out of an even more shadowy funding provision known as "black earmarks," according to government officials with knowledge of the contract. The officials asked to remain anonymous because the planes, known as "Shadowhawks," received funding secretly. Black earmarks receive almost no scrutiny. Even worse, there's little accountability when the technology doesn't work.
Binyam Mohamed: Police are to investigate MI5 over torture allegations 26 Mar 2009 Baroness Scotland QC, the Attorney General, has asked police to investigate MI5 over allegations that they colluded in the torture of British former Guantanamo detainee Binyam Mohamed. Baroness Scotland QC said the evidence included open and closed court judgments of the in the case, transcripts of all evidence given by an MI5 officer known as "Witness B", the Foreign Secretary’s evidence given in secret and material from third parties about the case.
MI5 to be investigated over torture 26 Mar 2009 The British security service MI5 is to undergo a police investigation over its alleged cooperation with the US torture of 'terror' suspects. The investigation is based on complaints made by British resident Binyam Mohamed who has implicated the MI5's intelligence personnel in his ill-treatment while in American detention.
John McCain backs Texas troop request for border --Gov. Rick Perry confers with HS Sect. Janet Napolitano 26 Mar 2009 Pressure is mounting on President Barack Obama to send troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, with Sen. John McCain adding his support this afternoon. Gov. Rick Perry asked Washington last month for 1,000 National Guard troops, to free up local police and sheriffs, and federal border, immigration and customs personnel. In Arizona, Gov. Jan Brewer has also asked for troops.
Clinton Says Mexico Drug Violence Reaches 'Intolerable' Level 26 Mar 2009 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said drug violence in Mexico and border areas of the U.S. has reached an "intolerable" level that demands both countries join forces to fight back.
Somali pirates seize European tankers 26 Mar 2009 Pirates have seized two European-owned tankers with all their 44 crewmembers off the Somali coast, increasing fears of maritime insecurity. Over the past two days, the bandits have successively attacked a Greek-owned chemical tanker and a Norwegian-owned tanker, taking hold of the vessels.
Injured GIs Prefer Combat to Bragg Care 25 Mar 2009 Soldiers in a recovery unit for wounded troops at Fort Bragg told the Secretary of the Army that they feel forgotten by the military and that combat duty would be better than the treatment they get now, according to a memo obtained by the Associated Press. The memo summarized the comments of Soldiers who attended a closed-door meeting last week with Army Secretary Pete Geren. It was held after the service said it would look into complaints of overzealous discipline reported by The Associated Press.
Schwarzenegger Opens California Fairgrounds to Homeless Camp 25 Mar 2009 California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said a make-shift tent city for the homeless that sprang up in the capital city of Sacramento will be shut down and its residents 'allowed' to stay at the state fairgrounds. Schwarzenegger said he ordered the state facility known as Cal-Expo to be used for three months to 'serve' the 125 tent city residents, some of them displaced by the economic recession. The move comes after the Sacramento City Council last night agreed to spend $880,000 to expand homeless programs.
Schwarzenegger to Provide Government Camps For Homeless --Shut down and takeover of "tent cities" stokes fears of internment pretext By Paul Joseph Watson 26 Mar 2009 Plans to shut down tent cities in California and relocate homeless people to government-run facilities have stoked fears that the move could be a pretext for a wider internment of Americans in the event of a total economic collapse. "California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said a make-shift tent city for the homeless that sprang up in the capital city of Sacramento will be shut down and its residents allowed to stay at the state fairgrounds," reports Bloomberg News.
States consider drug tests for welfare recipients 25 Mar 2009 Want government assistance? Just say no to drugs. [Better yet: Just say no to the corpora-terrorist trolls in Congress who perpetuate poverty.] Lawmakers in at least eight states want recipients of food stamps, unemployment benefits or welfare to submit to random drug testing. The effort comes as more Americans turn to these safety nets to ride out the recession. Poverty and civil liberties advocates fear the strategy could backfire, discouraging some people from seeking financial aid and making already desperate situations worse.
US backing for world currency stuns markets 26 Mar 2009 US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner shocked global markets by revealing that Washington is "quite open" to Chinese proposals for the gradual development of a global reserve currency run by the International Monetary Fund. The dollar plunged instantly against the euro, yen, and sterling as the comments flashed across trading screens. David Bloom, currency chief at HSBC, said the apparent policy shift amounts to an earthquake in geo-finance.
Banks told to step up security after attack 25 Mar 2009 Banks were warned on Wednesday to take security precautions to protect their staff after vandals attacked the Edinburgh home of Sir Fred Goodwin, former chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland. A group claiming responsibility for the attack later e-mailed the Edinburgh Evening News warning of further action.
Commercial real estate loan defaults skyrocket 26 Mar 2009 With loan defaults rising, analysts say the struggling commercial real estate industry is poised to fall into the worst crisis since the last great property bust of the early 1990s. Delinquency rates on loans for hotels, offices, retail and industrial buildings have risen sharply in recent months and are likely to soar through the end of 2010 as companies lay off workers, downsize or shut their doors. [We'll ccupy the buildings rather than bail out commecial realtors. --LRP]
Geithner outlines sweeping increase in financial regulation 26 Mar 2009 Facing an angry public at home and restless allies abroad, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Thursday outlined the broad brushstrokes of one of the most sweeping overhauls of financial regulation in the nation's history. Geithner presented to the House Financial Services Committee the Obama administration's six-point regulatory blueprint for beefing up financial regulation. The plan... seeks to build on existing structures and fill in the gaping regulatory holes exposed by the current global crisis [caused by the GOP].
Let's Stop Wall Street Loan-Sharking By Senator Bernie Sanders 23 Mar 2009 The "Masters of the Universe" on Wall Street – through their greed, recklessness and illegal behavior – have plunged this country into a deep recession causing millions of Americans to lose their jobs, their homes, their savings and their hope for the future. In order to fully understand the cause of this fiasco, I have introduced legislation calling for a thorough investigation of the financial meltdown and the prosecution of those CEOs who broke the law. The culture of greed, fraud and excessive speculation must come to an end.
Pennsylvania voters ready to deny Sen. Specter a sixth term, polls show --In surveys by Quinnipiac University and by Franklin & Marshall College, the senator registers a third or less of Republican support -- a dangerously low level for a well-known incumbent. 26 Mar 2009 Illustrating Sen. Arlen Specter's uncertain political future, two new surveys suggest that Pennsylvania voters are ready to reject him, with a majority of Republicans saying he doesn't deserve reelection.
free heating oil about to flow in Alaska villages 26 Mar 2009
Millions of dollars in free heating fuel will flow through Alaska villages
early next month courtesy of a
CITGO Corpus Christi Refinery Receives 2008 OSPRA Award 26 Mar 2009 The CITGO Corpus Christi Refinery was awarded on Wednesday the Texas General Land Office’s prestigious 2008 Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act (OSPRA) Award. For the first time, the award has been bestowed on the same company for two consecutive years, as a testament to the core values of CITGO and its commitment to environmental stewardship. CITGO employees take very seriously their responsibility to comply with environmental regulations and serve as guardians of our natural resources and environment.
exploring robot killers that can fire on their own --DoD financing
studies of self-governing, armed robots that could find and destroy
targets on their own 25
Mar 2009 The unmanned
bombers that frequently cause
U.S. watchdog says billions of U.S. aid wasted in Iraq --$3 to $5 billion in U.S. aid for 'rebuilding' Iraq has been wasted since 2003 25 Mar 2009 About $3 billion to $5 billion in U.S. aid for rebuilding Iraq has been wasted since 2003, and similar problems will likely haunt development in Afghanistan, a top U.S. watchdog said on Wednesday. Stuart Bowen, the U.S. special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, told Congress that sums wasted on ill-designed or failed projects in Iraq translate into 15-20 percent of the $21 billion Iraqi Relief and Reconstruction Fund [aka the Iraqi Resources Theft and Destruction Fund] set up by Congress after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
drone kills at least 7 in Pakistan tribal area 25 Mar 2009 A
missile strike believed to have been launched by a U.S. drone aircraft
killed at least seven
US Iraq nominee issues Iran warning 26 Mar 2009 Iran remains the "real problem" for Iraq, the US nominee for ambassador to Baghdad has said, pledging to work to ensure Tehran respects Iraqi sovereignty. "The real problem in the region for Iraq is its ancient neighbour, Iran," Christopher Hill told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at a confirmation hearing on Wednesday.
Israeli use of phosphorus 'a crime' 26 Mar 2009 A report by an international rights group has said that Israel's use of white phosphorus during its recent offensive on the Gaza Strip is evidence of war crimes. Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Wednesday that the munitions were fired indiscriminately and over densely populated areas during the 23-day war, leading to many casualties.
PICD: "Arresting Journalists violates the law, must be stopped" 24 Mar 2009 The Palestine Institute for Communication and Development (PICD) issued a press released condemning the targeting and arresting of Palestinian journalists in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The PICD stated that security forces loyal to Fatah in the West Bank, and Hamas in Gaza, arrested a number of reporters.
North Korea missile on launch pad: U.S. officials 25 Mar 2009 North Korea has positioned what is believed to be a long-range ballistic missile on a launch pad in what could be a preparation for launch, a U.S. counterproliferation official said on Wednesday. "It's possible that this signals an imminent launch, but the exact time frame remains undetermined," the official told Reuters.
F-22 Fighter Crashes Near Edwards AFB 25 Mar 2009 One of the Air Force's top-of-the-line F-22 fighter jets crashed Wednesday in the high desert of Southern California. Its prime contractor, Lockheed Martin Corp., is trying to convince the Pentagon to buy as many as 20 more F-22s. [Oh. That explains the paucity of live coverage of the crash.]
Border plants to be poisoned to reveal smugglers --Detractors: Experiment reminiscent of Vietnam War-era Agent Orange (bioterror) program and raises questions about long-term effects. 24 Mar 2009 The U.S. Border Patrol plans to poison the plant life along a 1.1-mile stretch of the Rio Grande riverbank as soon as Wednesday to get rid of the hiding places used by smugglers, robbers and illegal immigrants. If 'successful,' the $2.1 million pilot project could later be duplicated along as many as 130 miles of river in the patrol’s Laredo Sector, as well as other parts of the U.S.-Mexico border.
Fanatics 'could use roadside bombs to kill VIPs in Britain' 25 Mar 2009 Terrorists could use Iraq-style roadside bombs to target VIPs in Britain, officials fear. An attack by a nuclear 'dirty bomb', which spreads radioactive material, is also becoming more likely, according to an official report yesterday. The report, unveiled by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith yesterday, refers to 'significant developments' in the IED threat to the UK, 'in particular the use of novel home-made explosives and the detonation of devices by suicide bombers'.
60,000 civilian spies to get three-hour lesson in how to spot terrorists --The Home Office plans are likely to raise questions over the effectiveness of an army of amateur 'terrorist-watchers'. 25 Mar 2009 An army of 60,000 security guards trained to watch for terrorists and deal with attacks have had just three hours training - including a coffee break. It emerged yesterday that staff at businesses taking part in ' Project Argus' are shown a multimedia presentation describing a simulated terrorist attack, followed by a question-and-answer session and group discussion. The project's website states: 'The whole event including a coffee break will last three hours.'
FBI Director Asks Lawmakers to Renew Patriot Act Provisions 25 Mar 2009 FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III today urged lawmakers to move swiftly to renew intelligence-gathering measures set to expire in December, calling them "exceptional" tools to help protect national security. The ACLU issued a report earlier this month depicting what it called "widespread abuses" of government authority under the Patriot Act, approved by Congress less than two months after terrorist strikes hit New York and Washington in 2001.
Police raid Wikileaks.de domain owner Theodor Reppe's home over 'censorship lists' 25 Mar 2009 Police have raided a Wikileaks associate's homes in Dresden and Jena after the website published a list of banned websites. Theodor Reppe owns the German domain registration for "wikileaks.de", one of the many URLs used by the whistleblowing website.
Police raid home of Wikileaks.de domain owner over censorship lists (Wikileaks) 24 Mar 2009 Shortly after 9pm on Tuesday the 24th of March 2009, seven police officers in Dresden and four in Jena searched the homes of Theodor Reppe, who holds the domain registration for "wikileaks.de", the German name for wikileaks.org. According to police documentation, the reason for the search was "distribution of pornographic material" and "discovery of evidence". Police claim the raid was initiated due to Mr. Reppe's position as the Wikileaks.de domain owner.
Australia's Web blacklist leaked --Data reveals government has blocked legitimate businesses 25 Mar 2009 The secretive Internet filter blacklist held by the communications watchdog ACMA has been leaked, revealing the government has understated the amount of banned Web pages by more than 1000. Multiple legitimate businesses and Web sites have been banned including two bus companies, online poker sites, multiple Wikipedia entries, Google and Yahoo group pages, a dental surgery and a tour operator.
Facebook could be monitored by the government --Facebook, Bebo, MySpace and other social networking websites could be monitored by the government in an attempt to tackle internet crime and terrorism. 25 Mar 2009 The Home Office is considering plans to force such sites to hold data about their users' movements to thwart criminals who use them to communicate. The information would then be stored on a central database as part of the government's proposed Intercept Modernisation Programme. The proposal follows plans to retain information about all telephone calls, emails, and internet visits made by everyone in Britain through a multi-billion pound system.
Warning after Goodwin's home attacked: 'Bank bosses should be jailed. This is just the beginning.' 25 Mar 2009 Windows were smashed at the former Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive's house in Edinburgh overnight. The windows of a Mercedes S600, parked in the driveway, were also smashed. A statement issued to media organisations shortly after the attack on Sir Fred's house said: "We are angry that rich people, like him, are paying themselves a huge amount of money and living in luxury, while ordinary people are made unemployed, destitute and homeless. Bank bosses should be jailed. This is just the beginning." The email, sent in the early hours of the morning to a number of outlets including the Press Association, came from the address bankbossesarecriminalsmail.com.
Anti-capitalist group boasts of attack on Sir Fred Goodwin's home --Many told The Times that they were upset by the "greed" of the man nicknamed Fred the Shred for his eagerness to cut jobs and costs. 25 Mar 2009 An anti-capitalist group calling itself Bank Bosses Are Criminals has claimed responsibility for an attack on the home of Sir Fred Goodwin, former chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland. The organisation warned of further action against other targets minutes after police were called to Sir Fred’s house in Edinburgh.
NBC Connecticut Obtains AIG Death Threats: 'All you motherf*ckers should be shot.' --Documents reveal the level of threats against AIG employees 25 Mar 2009 The anger in the threats against AIG executives is palpable. "Get the bonus, we will get your children," someone identified only as "Jacob the Killer" hauntingly writes in an e-mail. His is one of dozens of threats against AIG and its employees that were obtained from Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal's office under a Freedom of Information Act request by NBC Connecticut. 'All you motherf*ckers should be shot. Thanks for f*cking up our economy then taking our money.' 'If the bonuses don't stop, it will be very likely that every CEO @ AIG has a bulls-eye on their backs.'
French boss barricaded in office by employees 26 Mar 2009 Striking French workers at the US manufacturer 3M held their boss hostage amid labour talks yesterday at a plant south of Paris, as anger over layoffs and cutbacks mounted around the country. While the situation at the 3M plant outside Pithiviers was calm, worker rage elsewhere boiled over into an angry march on the presidential palace in Paris and a bonfire of tyres set alight by Continental AG employees whose car parts factory was being shut down.
Panama FTA: AIG Sues U.S. for Back Taxes Dodged in Panama Tax Haven (Public Citizen) 25 Mar 2009 We learn that American International Group (AIG) has the gall to sue the U.S. government demanding over $306 million back in taxes it paid - twice the amount of the now infamous executive bonuses. AIG is claiming that it overpaid taxes related to activities of an AIG-linked Panamanian corporation chartered in tax haven Panama. No surprise then, that none other than AIG - along with other bailed-out banks - supports a hangover Bush Free Trade Agreement with Panama.
Democrats prepare to ditch AIG bonus bill By Tom Eley 25 Mar 2009 Within days of the overwhelming passage by the House of Representatives of a bill imposing a 90 percent surtax on bonuses awarded by the insurance giant American International Group (AIG) and other firms that have received government bailout money, the Democratic leadership in both the House and the Senate have signaled they will drop the measure.
Stimulus, bailout will lead to more fraud: FBI 25 Mar 2009 The FBI is bracing for a wave of fraud and corruption cases stemming from the government's multitrillion-dollar effort to get the economy moving again, the agency's chief told Congress on Wednesday. The expected surge in economic crimes will place further strain on an agency already stretched thin as it investigates mortgage fraud, terrorism and corrupt politicians, FBI Director Robert Mueller said.
IBM to shift 'large number' of US jobs to India 26 Mar 2009 Computer giant IBM plans to cut a "large number" of US employees in its business services unit and transfer their duties to India, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday. The newspaper, citing "people familiar with the situation," said that IBM generally [hides] avoids public disclosure of layoffs and the number of US jobs being eliminated could not be determined.
More companies cut or end 401(k) plan matches 25 Mar 2009 Several new surveys of company executives show that they plan to reduce or suspend their company's retirement-plan contributions this year. Dozens of employers in the past year have already slashed such costs.
Geithner 'open' to China proposal By Ben Smith 25 Mar 2009 Geithner, at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the U.S. is "open" to a headline-grabbing proposal by the governor of the China's central bank, which was widely reported as being a call for a new global currency to replace the dollar, but which Geithner described as more modest and "evolutionary."
U.S. bill seeks to rescue faltering newspapers 24 Mar 2009 With many U.S. newspapers struggling to survive, a Democratic senator on Tuesday introduced a bill to help them by allowing newspaper companies to restructure as nonprofits with a variety of tax breaks. Senator Benjamin Cardin's Newspaper Revitalization Act would allow newspapers to operate as nonprofits for educational purposes under the U.S. tax code, giving them a similar status to public broadcasting companies.
Most electronic voting isn't secure, CIA expert says 24 Mar 2009 Appearing last month before a U.S. Election Assistance Commission field hearing in Orlando, Fla., a CIA cybersecurity expert said that voting equipment connected to the Internet could be hacked, and machines that weren't connected could be compromised wirelessly. In a presentation that could provide disturbing lessons for the United States, where electronic voting is becoming universal, Steve Stigall summarized what he described as [US/corpora-terrorists'] attempts to use computers to undermine democratic elections in developing nations [and at home].
Wrestling fans hate George W. Bush more than the sledgehammer molester By Peter Rugg 24 Mar 2009 Kendall and I attended last night's WWE Monday Night Raw show at the Sprint Center... The second [tribute] featured a message thanking the WWE and the soldiers from former President [sic] George W. Bush. The mere sight of Bush elicited thunderous boos -- even more jeering than the maniacal Randy Orton, who dropped Triple H's wife, Stephanie, on her head and kissed her while a handcuffed Triple H could only watch. Then Orton hit him with a sledgehammer. I'm going to repeat that again, just to be clear: To wrestling fans, George W. Bush is worse than a sledgehammer molester.
Palin's logo snowsuit draws an ethics complaint 25 Mar 2009 The second ethics complaint in a week filed against Gov. Sarah Palin alleges a conflict of interest when she wore Arctic Cat logo gear during this year's Tesoro Iron Dog snowmachine race. Arctic Cat sponsors Palin's husband, Todd, in the world's longest snowmachine race -- Big Lake to Nome to Fairbanks.
Barack Obama may delay signing up to Copenhagen climate change deal 25 Mar 2009 Barack Obama may be forced to delay signing up to a new international agreement on climate change in Copenhagen at the end of the year because of the scale of opposition in the US Congress, it emerged today. Senior figures in the Obama administration have been warning Labour counterparts that the president may need at least another six months to win domestic support for any proposal.
Peanut butter recalled in cancer scare 24 Mar 2009 Food watchdogs have warned that thousands of jars of peanut butter on British shelves are contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said that jars of Active Peanut Butter contain high levels of a fungus produced by an excess amount of aflatoxins, which can cause cancer. The FSA warned that the spread is "unsafe" for consumption.
New torture claims link back to Bush years 24 Mar 2009 New accounts of torture have been thrown up in the debate over whether the Bush regime should be held to account over its detention policies. Torture allegations have surfaced from a secret document whereby prisoners allege they were held by the CIA at secret locations outside the United States. Last week, The New York Review of Books published excerpts of an International Committee of the Red Cross report that had not been made public. Allegations were made to the ICRC after the men were transferred to Guantanamo Bay detention centre in Cuba in 2006.
British judges air Guantanamo details U.S. wanted kept secret 23 Mar 2009 Two British High Court judges revealed Monday that U.S. military prosecutors tried to pressure a former detainee at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, into a plea bargain -- on charges that hadn't been specified -- that would have resulted in a 10-year sentence in addition to the years he'd already been imprisoned. In a previously secret annex to a ruling they made last autumn, Lord Justice Thomas and Justice Lloyd Jones, who had access to classified U.S. documents, also revealed that American prosecutors had tried to pressure Binyam Mohamed into signing a statement that said he hadn't been tortured and wouldn't sue the U.S. government or its allies over his treatment in captivity.
Government warns of nuclear terror threat 24 Mar 2009 Britain faces a renewed threat of attack by terrorists with chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, a major new government report states. An increase in the theft and smuggling of dangerous materials means that terrorists are more likely to be able to use weapons such as a dirty bomb, according to the report. The warning comes in the Government's counter-terrorism strategy document called Contest 2, the most significant redrafting of the Government's fight 'against' violent extremists for six years.
Anti-terror strategy highlights threat of small 'terrorist groups' 24 Mar 2009 The Government's new anti-terror strategy will outline the changing nature of the threat from al-Qaeda [al-CIAduh] as it is claimed that at least 20 Britons trained by militants in Pakistan are living in the UK. Although the al-Qaeda leadership is seen to have fragmented, there is a growing fear of "self starter groups" who are inspired by the terrorist network. The Government drew up its original anti-terror strategy in 2003, but has been force to redraft the document as the nature of the terrorist threat has changed.
Holy fascist Xe(nophobic) police state, Batman! Chicago may replace some police patrols with private secrurity 24 Mar 2009 They're private security guards, already on patrol, but they may soon have the powers of Chicago Police officers. As CBS 2 reports, the private security officers now on patrol on the city's Far South Side are expected to have their powers expanded as part of a citywide ordinance now being prepared. But officials are questioning whether this means public safety is being outsourced. Mayor Richard M. Daley has already privatized many city functions.
'As a stopgap measure, you would need military forces - State Police, National Guard.' Schenectady mayor considers options, martial law over police woes 19 Mar 2009 (NY) Schenectady Mayor Brian Stratton (D) said, "We believe there are five officers now who could face possible termination..." Currently, officials are reviewing the legal options - options like a consolidated county-wide police force or bringing in the State Police. The mayor said there is another option - and that would be declaring martial law. The governor would have to declare it and then the National Guard would come in. He said, "It may be that as a stopgap measure, that you would need military forces - State Police, National Guard."
Commander confirms Netanyahu war plans 23 Mar 2009 Israel is preparing for all-out war on multiple fronts that include Iran, Syria and Lebanon, a senior military commander claims. Israeli army Home Front Command Major General Yair Golan said Sunday that Tel Aviv is preparing for "all possible scenarios", indicating that one such scenario would be to fight a simultaneous war against Iran, Syria and Lebanon.
IDF soldiers ordered to shoot at Gaza rescuers, note says --The document found in the house provides written proof that IDF commanders ordered their troops to shoot at rescuers. 22 Mar 2009 "Rules of Engagement: Open fire also upon rescue," was handwritten in Hebrew on a sheet of paper found in one of the Palestinian homes the Israel Defense Forces took over during Operation Cast Lead. A reservist officer who did not take part in the Gaza offensive believes that the note is part of orders a low-level commander wrote before giving his soldiers their daily briefing.
In NY synagogue, Israeli settler leader calls for assassination of Abbas-- and tax-deductible contributions --Mondoweiss report 19 Mar 2009 In a speech at a New York synagogue Wednesday night, Nadia Matar, a leader of the Israeli settlers' group "Women in Green," called for the assassination of Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, as a way of bringing peace to Israel. Just as Churchill understood that in order to bring peace to Europe, "he had to destroy the Nazi beast," Matar explained, "today we must destroy all the terrorist organizations. We must kill all the terrorist leaders, starting with Mahmoud Abbas and all others..." Matar then urged the crowd at the Safra Synagogue on the Upper East Side to make tax-deductible donations to Women in Green by writing checks to the Central Fund of Israel.
will send 400 more troops to Afghanistan: PM 24 Mar 2009 Poland
will bolster its 1,600-strong contingent in Afghanistan with 400 more
troops to help improve security in the leadup to an August election
there, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Tuesday. NATO Secretary-General
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said recently the NATO-led peacekeeping mission
in Afghanistan will need some 4,000 extra soldiers to
Mosque Bombing Kills At Least 5 in Southern Afghanistan 24 Mar 2009 Afghan officials say a bomb exploded in a mosque in southern Afghanistan Tuesday, killing at least five people - including the mosque's leader. Authorities say the explosion took place while the men were worshipping in the mosque in Shah Mansoor village, outside Tirin Kot, the capital of Uruzgan province.
At Least 32 Die in a Wave of Violence Across Iraq 24 Mar 2009 Violence erupted across Iraq on Monday in attacks that left at least 32 people dead and scores wounded, including a suicide bombing at a crowded wake that killed at least 19 mourners. The suicide attack took place just after sunset at a wake for the brother of an official of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party near Jalawla, a small town in Diyala Province.
B-2 Bomber Radar Spectrum Accidentally Sold, Adds to Military Bandwidth Woes By Jason Mick 23 Mar 2009 The U.S. military originally had a virtual monopoly of certain communications channels... However, with the digital revolution and the expansion of civilians onto the internet and increasing using of the digital spectrum, the military is finding adapting to the deprivation of these bands difficult. Last year during the bandwidth auction, the portion of the spectrum used by the B-2 bomber's Raytheon APQ-181 radar was accidentally [Yeah, right!] sold to an obscure multinational organization according to Military.com. As a result, U.S. taxpayers will be footing the over $1B USD bill to replace the radar in the 20 remaining jets.
Obama doesn't talk like Bush; he just acts like him By Ted Rall 20 Mar 2009 Welcome to Gitmo II -- courtesy of Barack Obama. Countless victims have been tortured by U.S. military personnel at Bagram, the U.S. air base in Afghanistan where Bush imprisoned 600 people without charges. Some were murdered in the camp’s notorious "salt pit." “Even children have not been spared,” says Amnesty International. Now Bagram is being expanded -- nearly doubled in size -- in order to accommodate 200-plus detainees from Gitmo, as well as future POWs from Obama’s expanded war against Afghanistan. As bad as Guantánamo was, conditions at Bagram are worse. Extraordinary renditions, the Times reports in a different article, will continue under Obama... Unlike the word count limit of this column, Obama's perfidy knows no limits. He's already become more dangerous to democracy and basic human rights than George W. Bush. Unlike Bush, he has no political opposition. Cheney may nitpick, but most Republicans are happy to see Bush's policies remain in place.
Senator Sanders Blocking Key Obama Nomination By Ken Silverstein 23 Mar 2009 I reported back in February on the case of Gary Gensler, the former Goldman Sachs employee and derivatives cheerleader who President Obama nominated to head the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Gensler’s nomination sailed through the Senate Agricultural Committee but Senator Bernie Sanders has placed a hold on the nomination (as has a second senator who is as yet unnamed). A statement from Sanders’s office said: While Mr. Gensler is clearly an intelligent and knowledgeable person, I cannot support his nomination. Mr. Gensler worked with Sen. Phil Gramm and Alan Greenspan to exempt credit default swaps from regulation, which led to the collapse of A.I.G. and has resulted in the largest taxpayer bailout in U.S. history. He supported Gramm-Leach-Bliley, which allowed banks like Citigroup to become "too big to fail." He worked to deregulate electronic energy trading, which led to the downfall of Enron and the spike in energy prices.
WSJ: Obama to Meet Friday With Top Bank CEOs 24 Mar 2009 President Barack Obama plans to meet Friday with about a dozen of the U.S.'s top banking chiefs in an unusual gathering designed to discuss the administration's plans to shore up the financial sector. Attendees are expected to include Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), Morgan Stanley (MS), J. P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. (C). The meeting comes as relations between Washington and Wall Street are frayed following last week's furor over bonuses paid to American International Group Inc. (AIG) employees. At the same time, the administration is relying heavily on private investors and Wall Street banks to implement its various rescue programs and needs to repair its relationship.
Obama envoy Holbrooke served on AIG's board 20 Mar 2009 Obama administration special envoy Richard Holbooke was on the American International Group Inc. board of directors in early 2008 when the insurance company locked in the bonuses now stoking national outrage. Holbrooke, a veteran diplomat who is now the administration's point man on Pakistan and Afghanistan, served on the board between 2001 and mid-2008.
Geithner Asks Congress for Broad Power to Seize Firms 24 Mar 2009 Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner asked Congress today for new regulatory authority for non-bank financial institutions such as insurance giant American International Group in order to "eliminate gaps in supervision" and avoid potentially catastrophic threats to the nation's financial system. Geithner told the House Financial Services Committee that such authority would have allowed the government to bail out AIG last year at a far lower cost to taxpayers, a position backed by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke. The government currently has the authority to seize only banks.
Stimulus? U.S. to buy Chinese condoms, ending Alabama jobs 23 Mar 2009 The U.S. Agency for International Development has distributed an estimated 10 billion U.S.-made AIDS-preventing condoms in poor countries around the world. But not anymore. In a move expected to cost 300 American jobs, the government is switching to cheaper off-shore condoms, including some made in China... The switch comes despite implied assurances over the years that the agency would continue to buy American whenever possible. A USAID official, who spoke on the condition that he would not be named, said the reasons for the change included lower prices and the fact that Congress dropped "buy American language" in a recent appropriations bill.
Wall Street celebrates government windfall for banks and big investors By Barry Grey 24 Mar 2009 Wall Street erupted in a demonstration of euphoria and greed Monday as the Obama administration announced a plan to offload bankers' bad debts that amounts to an unprecedented looting of taxpayer funds to benefit the financial elite. All of the major stock indexes soared as Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner laid out details of the administration's so-called Public-Private Investment Program--a euphemism for a scheme to bankroll private investment firms and guarantee them huge profits in return for buying failed home loans and securities from the banks at vastly inflated prices.
Tammy Bruce Calls The Obamas "Trash In The White House" 23 Mar 2009 Tammy Bruce, guest host for Laura Ingram's radio show, had some harsh words for First Lady Michelle Obama. Discussing the first lady's visit to a Washington D.C. classroom last week, Bruce incredulously recalled Obama's story about wanting to get A's in school and called out her use of a "weird, fake accent." "That's what he's married to," Bruce said. "...You know what we've got? We've got trash in the White House. [We have two dimwitted, racist whackjobs on talk radio] Trash is a thing that is colorblind, it can cross all eco-socionomic...categories... Trash, are people who use other people to get things, who patronize others, who consider you bitter and clingy..."
Republican opposes US labor bill, may doom measure 24 Mar 2009 A key U.S. Senate Republican on Tuesday announced his opposition to a bill to make it easier for employees to unionize, which could help his party block it with a procedural hurdle. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania announced his decision in a speech in the Democratic-led Senate.
Senate Confirms Locke's Nomination For Commerce Secretary 24 Mar 2009 Senate has approved former Washington Gov. Gary Locke's nomination for U.S. commerce secretary.
Jindal's List By Jeremy Alford 23 Mar 2009 Since taking office last year, Gov. Bobby Jindal has appointed more than 200 of his top contributors to influential boards and commissions, proving that 'ethics' has a limit -- and a price.
Tuberculosis Battle Hampered by HIV, Drug Resistance, WHO Says 24 Mar 2009 Tuberculosis rates aren’t falling fast enough to reach global disease-control targets, according to a new World Health Organization report that found the illness is twice as common among HIV suffers as previously estimated.
Boca Raton Tap Water Violations Trigger Health Probe --Chronic Low Pressure Problems Risk Microbial Contamination and Boil Orders (PEER) 24 Mar 2009 The Palm Beach County Department of Health is now looking into low pressure problems that compromise the drinking water supplies of Boca Raton, according to documents posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The South Florida city had fired two of its key water Quality Control staff members this past December 17th for raising similar concerns.
Climate Change Could Harm Penguins and Polar Bears --Rising temperatures could have dire consequences for the animals 23 Mar 2009 Polar bears and penguins may live poles apart, with the great white mammals ruling the Arctic areas near the North Pole and the best-known penguin varieties inhabiting the southernmost regions of the globe, in or near Antarctica. But they both depend on ice and cold for survival--a problem in a world that's warming and where temperature increases are most pronounced at the planet's northern and southern extremes.
US will appoint Afghan 'prime minister' to bypass Hamid Karzai --White House plans new executive role to challenge corrupt government [that it installed] in Kabul 23 Mar 2009 The US and its European allies are preparing to plant a high-profile figure in the heart of the Kabul government in a direct challenge to the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, the Guardian has learned. The creation of a new chief executive or prime ministerial role is aimed at bypassing Karzai. Many US and European officials have become disillusioned with the extent of the corruption and incompetence in the Karzai government [first US/Unocal coup d'etat], but most now believe there are no credible alternatives, and predict the Afghan president will win re-election in August.
US seeks 'to bypass Afghan president' 23 Mar 2009 The US and European allies plan to create a new chief executive role in Afghanistan to bypass President Hamid Karzai, a report says. The Guardian reported on Monday that the creating of the role, possibly a prime ministerial role, will be followed by planting a high-profile figure in the heart of the Kabul government. [The US tires of its CIA assets, then kills thousands or millions of people in its 'do-overs.' Witness: Saddam Hussein, al-Qaeda (literally, 'the database'), Osama bin Carlyle Group, and Unocal's Hamid Karzai.]
US unleashes robots in Afghanistan war --'BigDog' built by Boston Dynamics and funded by DARPA 23 Mar 2009 America has called out its new weapon to send into battle in Afghanistan - a terrifying pack of robotic "BigDogs". The state-of-the-art headless four-legged metal beasts have been designed to navigate the country's treacherous terrain. And - as it leaps towards the enemy on animal-inspired articulated legs - the BigDog also lets off an eerie lawnmower buzz.
Take Center Stage in U.S. War in Afghanistan [Yeah, they
also take center stage in Obama's Treasury Department.] 23 Mar 2009
The U.S. military is calling out the "BigDogs" in addition to its big
guns as it deploys more troops to
Mayor says U.S.-Afghan raid killed his staff 22 Mar 2009 United States-led coalition and Afghan troops killed five suspected militants during a raid in northern Afghanistan on Sunday, the coalition [lying sacks of sh*t] said in a statement. The local mayor offered a different version of the events, saying that his house had been targeted and that the dead included his cook and driver.
Two Coalition Troops Killed in Afghanistan 22 Mar 2009 The U.S.-led 'coalition' in Afghanistan says two of its soldiers have died in a "hostile incident" in the volatile south. A coalition statement issued Sunday says one International Security Assistance Force service member was killed and another died of wounds sustained in the incident.
military solicits mercenaries to protect bases in Afghanistan --Obusha's
Gates says mercenaries are vital to protecting U.S. bases 23 Mar
2009 The military buildup in Afghanistan is stoking a surge of
US gagged Gitmo detainee over torture - UK court --US also wanted prisoner to plead guilty to secure his freedom - even though he was never charged with a crime 23 Mar 2009 Documents presented in Britain’s High Court suggest US authorities offered a Guantanamo Bay prisoner freedom in exchange for his silence on being tortured and for agreeing not to sue the US and ‘any of its allies’. The documents, released by two judges who ruled in the High Court case, reveal that US lawyers also wanted Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian who was held at Guantanamo for more than four years, to plead guilty to secure his freedom, although he was never charged with a crime, Reuters news agency reports.
US tried to gag Binyam Mohamed with plea bargain --US authorities tried to gag Binyam Mohamed, the former Guantanamo Bay prisoner, by offering him a plea bargain under which he would gain his freedom in return for dropping torture allegations. 23 Mar 2009 The deal would have prevented Mr Mohamed suing the US, or Britain, over his alleged ill-treatment and he would have been prevented from revealing his allegations publicly to the media. Mr Mohamed refused the deal and was eventually allowed to return to his adoptive country Britain last month. Documents released by the High Court in London showed the draft plea bargain agreement was put forward last year by US government lawyers and required Mr Mohamed to plead guilty to two charges in return for a lighter sentence... Mr Mohamed would also have been required to abandon a legal attempt to obtain documents which he believed could prove his innocence.
Obama hits back at Cheney's attacks 21 Mar 2009 President Barack Obama has hit back at criticism by Dick Cheney, disputing the former vice president's [sic] claims that closing Guantanamo endangers the United States, according to interview excerpts released Saturday. "How many terrorists have actually been brought to justice under the philosophy that is being promoted by vice president Cheney?" Obama asked on the CBS program "60 Minutes," scheduled to air late Sunday. "It hasn't made us safer. What it has been is a great advertisement for anti-American sentiment."
Iraq explosion kills 25, injures 50 23 Mar 2009 Nearly 25 people have been killed and 50 others have been injured in a suicide bomb attack on a funeral tent northeast of Baghdad. Local police officials said the number of the casualties in the late Monday attack in the Diyala town of Jalawla, 115 km (70 miles) northeast of Baghdad, is expected to rise.
UK to Israel: War crimes law unchangeable now 22 Mar 2009 The British government says it cannot change for now a law that allows for the arrest of Israel's visiting authorities over war crimes. In an unofficial message to Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Britain said that due to Israel's public image in the country following its massive strike against the Gaza Strip, London believes it will be unable to pass an amendment to the legislation before next year's elections, Haaretz reported.
'IDF troops used 11-year-old boy as human shield in Gaza' 23 Mar 2009 Israel Defense Forces soldiers used an 11-year-old Palestinian boy as a human shield during the war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, a group of UN human rights experts said Monday. IDF troops ordered the boy to walk in front of soldiers being fired on in the Gaza neighborhood of Tel al-Hawa and enter buildings before them, said the UN secretary-general's envoy for protecting children in armed conflict. [WHY is there no mention of Israel's war crimes in the US mainstream media? WHY are US taxpayers funding war crimes, illegal wars, and terrorism? I mean, besides our own? --LRP]
Israel bows to U.S. pressure, lifts food restrictions on Gaza 23 Mar 2009 Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has told the United States and the European Union that Israel will lift restrictions on food items, such as pasta and cheese, entering Hamas-ruled Gaza, diplomats said on Monday. The government of U.S. President Barack Obama had protested these and other seemingly random Israeli restrictions, which held up deliveries of certain types of noodles, fruit jams and other foodstuffs to 1.5 million Palestinians in the enclave.
Canada bars British anti-war MP Galloway By Keith Jones 23 Ma 2009 Canada's Conservative government has barred British anti-war MP George Galloway from entering the country on the grounds he represents a threat to Canada's "national security." Galloway learned through an "exclusive" posted last Friday on the website of the Sun, a Rupert Murdoch-owned British tabloid, that Canadian authorities have resolved to prevent him from entering Canada.
New bill seeks to worsen conditions of incarceration for terrorists 23 Mar 2009 MK Yariv Levin (Likud) and MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) on Monday submitted a bill that would worsen the conditions of incarceration for inmates who were convicted of involvement in terrorism or membership in an organization that holds hostages, and deny them existing privileges. The bill would deprive said inmates of television privileges, bar then from the possibility of taking classes, and allow for solitary confinement for an unlimited period of time.
Al Qaeda Terrorism Manual Surfaces on Web Site 23 Mar 2009 Terrorism researchers recently discovered a terrorism recruitment manual drafted by al Qaeda [al-CIAduh] on a popular jihadi Web site that may give insight into the strength and strategy of the terrorist organization, according to National Public Radio (NPR). The 51-page manual, "The Art of Recruiting Mujahedeen," was downloaded off of the second most popular jihadi Web site, known as Ecles. Al Qaeda has posted items there before. [<g>]
Terrorism Recruiting Manual Worries Authorities 23 Mar 2009 For months now, counterterrorism officials have seen signs that al-Qaida [al-CIAduh] has been looking for new and innovative ways to recruit terrorists, including a new manual that has surfaced on the Internet. Researchers at West Point recently stumbled on [ROFL! Gotta love the 'stumble on'] the 51-page manual while they were visiting a jihadi chat room, called Ecles. It's a Web site that allows members to have interactive discussions, post videos and download manuals.
Enough is enough. JPMorgan Chase to Spend Millions on New Jets and Luxury Airport Hangar --Outraged Critics Decry the Proposal, Call For Bank to Abandon Plans 23 Mar 2009 Embattled bank JPMorgan Chase, the recipient of $25 billion in TARP funds, is going ahead with a $138 million plan to buy two new luxury corporate jets and build "the premiere corporate aircraft hangar on the eastern seaboard" to house them, ABC News has learned. The financial giant's upgrade includes nearly $120 million for two Gulfstream 650 planes and $18 million for a lavish renovation of a hangar at the Westchester Airport outside New York City. [If the bank refuses to abandon plans, people should take it down *for* them. --LRP]
Cuomo Says Most Huge A.I.G. Bonuses Were Returned 23 Mar 2009 Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo of New York announced late Monday afternoon that 9 of the top 10 bonus recipients at the American International Group had given back their bonuses. He also said 15 of the top 20 bonus recipients in A.I.G.’s financial products division had given the money back, for a total that he estimated at about $30 million.
Wall Street soars 7pc on US toxic bank debt plan 24 Mar 2009 US stocks soared and the Dow index rose nearly 7 per cent as investors cheered the US Treasury's plan on toxic bank debts The Treasury Department said that a new public-private partnership could purchase up to $US1 trillion ($1.4 trillion) in soured assets from banks, in an effort to boost their lending capacity.
US details $1trn toxic asset plan 23 Mar 2009 The United States tried to persuade private investors today to take on huge sums in banks' toxic assets, while the IMF warned of a drastic rise in unemployment that might threaten democracy in some countries or even provoke war. Wall Street jumped on the US government's offer of financing for investors aimed at unburdening banks of up to $1 trillion in soured mortgages and other distressed assets that are blocking lending and worsening the recession.
Wall Street warms to 'toxic assets' plan --Geithner's plan aims to use public and private money to clean up $500 billion to $1 trillion in bad loans. 23 Mar 2009 More than six months after the financial crisis began, the US government has a detailed plan that strikes at the heart of the overarching problem with the economy: "toxic assets" sitting on banks’ books. The government’s latest effort to try to help the troubled financial system involves setting up a mechanism by which the taxpayers and private investors buy those bad assets. The effort, announced on Monday by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, transfers part of the risk to America’s taxpayers and the federal bank insurance system. It's not clear how much money the government will ultimately need [steal] to commit to remove between $500 billion and $1 trillion in loans from the banks' books.
Financial Policy Despair By Paul Krugman 23 Mar 2009 Over the weekend The Times and other newspapers reported leaked details about the Obama administration’s bank rescue plan, which is to be officially released this week. If the reports are correct, Tim Geithner, the Treasury secretary, has persuaded President Obama to recycle Bush administration policy -- specifically, the "cash for trash" plan proposed, then abandoned, six months ago by then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. This is more than disappointing. In fact, it fills me with a sense of despair... It’s as if the president were determined to confirm the growing perception that he and his economic team are out of touch, that their economic vision is clouded by excessively close ties to Wall Street.
'By the time Obama acted, even the G.O.P. leader Mitch McConnell was ahead of him in full (if hypocritical) fulmination.' Has a 'Katrina Moment' Arrived? By Frank Rich 22 Mar 2009 Another compelling question connects all of the above: why has there been so little transparency and so much evasiveness so far? The answer, I fear, is that too many of the administration’s officials are too marinated in the insiders’ culture to police it, reform it or own up to their own past complicity with it... As the nation’s anger rose last week, the president took responsibility for what’s happening on his watch -- more than he needed to, given the disaster he inherited. But in the credit mess, action must match words.
E.P.A. Moves Toward Regulating Greenhouse Gases 24 Mar 2009 The Environmental Protection Agency has moved to declare that greenhouse gases are pollutants that pose a danger to the public’s health and welfare. That determination, once made final, will pave the way for federal regulation of carbon dioxide, methane and other heat-trapping gases linked to global warming.
Five Countries Declare Polar Bears Threatened by Climate Change 21 Mar 2009 Five countries issued a joint statement on Thursday identifying climate change as "the most important long-term threat" to the bears. Nearly forty years ago, the five countries created a treaty to protect polar bears through limits on hunting. The statement was issued at the end of a three-day meeting in Tromso, Norway, of scientists and officials from the United States, Norway, Canada, Russia and Denmark, all with territory abutting the Arctic Ocean that serves as habitat for the bears.
Death squad leader 'was top CIA agent' 23 Mar 2009 The late President Milosevic's secret police chief and organiser of Serb death squads during the genocidal ethnic cleansing of disintegrating Yugoslavia was the United States' top CIA agent in Belgrade, according to the independent Belgrade Radio B92. The claim that from 1992 until the end of the decade, Jovica Stanisic, head of Serbia's murderous DB Secret Police, was regularly informing his CIA handlers of the thinking in Milosevic's inner circle has shocked the region. Stanisic is said to have loyally served his two masters for eight years. He is facing war crimes charges at the International Criminal Court at The Hague.
UK: 60,000 civilians have been trained to deal with terrorist incidents --Brown warns of enduring 'al-Qaida' threat to UK 22 Mar 2009 Gordon Brown today warned that al-Qaida [al-CIAduh] remains the biggest security threat to the UK, as he revealed that tens of thousands of civilians have been trained to deal with terrorist attacks as part of a new strategy to combat extremists. Writing in the Observer, the prime minister previewed what he said was a "world-leading" counter-terrorist framework to be published on Tuesday. The immediate threat of terrorist attack justified a "relentless pursuit of terrorists and disruption of their plots".
We are about to take the war against terror to a new level By Gordon Brown 22 Mar 2009 We have built up not only our national policing capability but also counterterrorist police in the regions. But today, not only the police and security and intelligence officers, and our armed forces, but also the emergency services, local councils, businesses, and community groups are involved in state-of-the-art civil contingency planning. Tens of thousands of men and women throughout Britain - from security guards to store managers - have now been trained and equipped to deal with an incident and know what to watch for as people go about their daily business in crowded places such as stations, airports, shopping centres and sports grounds.
Thousands trained to deal with terror attacks 22 Mar 2009 Around 60,000 British workers, from shop staff to hotel employees, are being trained to spot the terror threat and respond to attacks, under Government plans. They are being lined up as a second line of defence against those planning atrocities against the UK [the government] beyond the traditional security and emergency services, it has emerged.
Quarter of UK's databases are 'illegal' --Little thought given to privacy, study warns 23 Mar 2009 One in four of the major government databases is almost certainly illegal and should be scrapped, a report says. The national DNA database, the proposed national identity database and the ContactPoint system, which will hold records of all children in England, are among the systems singled out for fundamental reform or abolition. Researchers called for 11 systems assessed as "almost certainly illegal" under human rights or data protection law to be scrapped or substantially redesigned.
FBI planting spies in U.S. mosques, Muslim groups say --FBI had sent undercover agents posing as worshippers into mosques 20 Mar 2009 Ten U.S. Muslim organizations threatened this week to cease working with the FBI, citing "McCarthy-era tactics" by the agency, including efforts to covertly infiltrate California mosques. The groups claim the FBI has sent undercover agents posing as worshippers into mosques, pressured Muslims to become informants, labeled civil rights advocates as criminals and spread misinformation.
Foreign Firms Eye Stimulus Dollars 23 Mar 2009 U.S. firms aren't the only ones hoping to cash in on the $787 billion stimulus program. Foreign nations and companies are stepping up their lobbying efforts in Washington and in state capitals, hoping to gain vital business in hard times. Hundreds of foreign-owned companies are selling their expertise in clean energy, high-speed transit and other technologies that undergird key aspects of President Obama's stimulus efforts. Lobbyists and consultants hired by the companies warn them to proceed carefully and to emphasize that any contracts would lead to jobs in the United States rather than overseas. [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.]
House officials: Taxing AIG bonuses may be 'dangerous way to go'
--Economic advisers: President Obama won't 'govern
out of anger' 22 Mar 2009 White House economic advisers said
Sunday that President Obama won't "govern out of anger" despite calls
for the heads of AIG executives who received bonuses, and acknowledged
that using tax law to get back
New Body to Work With Private Investors --Treasury Presses Ahead With Plan For Toxic Assets 22 Mar 2009 The Treasury Department will unveil the next step in its financial rescue efforts tomorrow, announcing that it intends to create a government body, called the Public Investment Corp., to finance the purchase of as much as $1 trillion in soured loans and toxic assets from ailing banks, according to sources. The plan calls for the new entity to combine its resources with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Federal Reserve and private investors to buy those loans and other assets. But the government will put far more money into the deals and take on more risk than the investors, which could include hedge funds, private-equity firms, pension funds and foreign investors with U.S. headquarters, the sources said. The corporation will be funded with $75 billion to $100 billion from the $700 billion financial rescue package.
toxic asset plan could cost $1 trillion 22 Mar 2009 The Obama
administration's latest attempt to
Administration Seeks Increase in Oversight of Executive Pay 22 Mar 2009 The Obama administration will call for increased oversight of executive pay at all banks, Wall Street firms and possibly other companies as part of a sweeping plan to overhaul financial regulation, government officials said. Officials said the proposal would seek a broad new role for the Federal Reserve to oversee large companies, including major hedge funds, whose problems could pose risks to the entire financial system.
The Real AIG Scandal, Continued! --The transfer of $12.9 billion from AIG to Goldman looks fishier and fishier. By Eliot Spitzer 22 Mar 2009 Goldman Sachs' public conference call explaining its trading relationship and exposure with AIG established once again that Goldman knows how to protect itself. According to Goldman, even if AIG had failed, Goldman's losses would have been minimal. How did Goldman protect itself? Sensing AIG's weakening capital position through 2006 and 2007, Goldman demanded more collateral from AIG and covered outstanding risk with instruments from other firms. But this raises two critical questions. The first is why did $12.9 billion of taxpayer money go from AIG to Goldman? What risk--systemic or otherwise--was being covered? If Goldman wasn't going to suffer severe losses, why are taxpayers paying them off at 100 cents on the dollar?
The Real AIG Scandal --It's not the bonuses. It's that AIG's counterparties are getting paid back in full. By Eliot Spitzer 17 Mar 2009 ...Why are AIG's counterparties getting paid back in full, to the tune of tens of billions of taxpayer dollars? For the answer to this question, we need to go back to the very first decision to bail out AIG, made, we are told, by then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, then-New York Fed official Timothy Geithner, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke last fall... And who were AIG's trading partners? No shock here: Goldman, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, UBS, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, Barclays, and on it goes. So now we know for sure what we already surmised: The AIG bailout has been a way to hide an enormous second round of cash to the same group that had received TARP money already.
Satire: Yankees Ask Congress To Tax A-Rod's Bonus By R J Shulman 22 Mar 2009 Taking a cue from the recent tax imposed by Congress on AIG executive bonuses, the New York Yankees are asking Washington to impose a 90 percent tax on the bonus the Yankees paid its star third baseman, Alex Rodriguez. "Its not fair to Americas pastime to reward such a large bonus when his numbers just havent come up to expectations," said Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, an early supporter of the A-Rod tax, told Congress that "it must come to the aid of the New York Yankees because they are too big to fail." (Satire)
Envoy damns US Afghan drug effort 21 Mar 2009 US efforts to eradicate opium poppy crops in Afghanistan have been "wasteful and ineffective", the US envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan says. Richard Holbrooke said the $800m (£550m) a year the US was spending on counter-narcotics would be better used in supporting Afghan farmers. He said the US also wanted to see an increase in the numbers and capacity of Afghan police. [How about just getting the f*ck out of there, and stop tossing taxpayer billions down the sewer to protect Afghan/US gas and opium routes?]
Roadside bomb kills one, wounds 11 in E Afghanistan 22 Mar 2009 One Afghan construction laborer was killed and 11 others wounded as their bus struck a roadside bomb on Sunday in eastern Afghan province of Khost, a provincial public health official said.
General Urges Confidence in Ability to Supply Troops in Afghanistan 22 Mar 2009 Thanks to billions of dollars [over]spent in road and air base construction, troops in landlocked Afghanistan will never have to worry about getting enough supplies, the Pentagon's chief of military transportation told senators last week. 'Insurgent' attacks on major supply roads into Afghanistan have disrupted U.S. delivery schedules, said Gen. Duncan J. McNabb, who directs the U.S. Transport Command.
Top officer's calls for mental tests ignored --Colonel's report on formal assessments for injured soldiers is filed away 23 Mar 2009 Urgent calls by a senior army officer that there should be targeted psychological assessment for seriously wounded soldiers returning from Afghanistan have been ignored for 18 months. In an internal document dated November 2007, Lt-Col Andrew Whiteley called for immediate action to deal with the mental anguish of troops suffering from horrendous wounds, but his appeal was met with a "deafening silence".
Iraq fired 62,000 accused of corruption: minister 22 Mar 2009 Iraq has fired 62,000 employees accused of corruption and is dismantling sectarianism among its police... Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani wrote in a US newspaper Sunday. He wrote in the Chicago Tribune newspaper that the firings occurred within his Interior ministry, which employs a half-million workers.
Israelis told to fight 'holy war' in Gaza 21 Mar 2009 Many Israeli troops had the sense of fighting a "religious war" against Gentiles during the 22-day offensive in Gaza, according to a soldier who has highlighted the martial role of military rabbis during the operation. The soldier testified that the "clear" message of literature distributed to troops by the rabbinate was: "We are the Jewish people, we came to this land by a miracle, God brought us back to this land and now we need to fight to expel the Gentiles who are interfering with our conquest of this holy land." The claim comes in the detailed transcript of a post-war discussion by soldiers, publication of which has triggered a military police inquiry into allegations about the use of lethal firepower against unarmed civilians [The use of lethal firepower against unarmed civilians' --uh, that would be war crimes.]
Effort at Border Is Readied --Obama Plans to Send Agents, Equipment
to Aid Mexican Fight 22 Mar 2009 President Obama is finalizing plans
to move federal agents, equipment and other resources to the border
with Mexico to support Mexican President Felipe Calderón's campaign
Venezuela's Chavez calls Obama "ignoramus" 22 Mar 2009 Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez said on Sunday his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama was at best an "ignoramus" for saying the socialist leader exported terrorism and obstructed progress in Latin America. "He goes and accuses me of exporting terrorism: the least I can say is that he's a poor ignoramus; he should read and study a little to understand reality," said Chavez, who heads a group of left-wing Latin American leaders opposed to the [right-wing] U.S. influence in the region.
G20 warned unrest will sweep globe 22 Mar 2009 A wave of social and political unrest could sweep through the world's poorest countries if G20 leaders fail to come to their aid, the World Bank warns today, as new research says the credit crunch will cost developing countries $750bn (£520bn) in lost output and drive millions more into poverty.
5th World Water Forum ends without declaring water human right 22 Mar 2009 The Istanbul Ministerial Statement came out on the last day of 5th World Water Forum Sunday without recognizing water as a human right. The final statement does not say water is a human right, against the wishes of some countries.
WABC radio newsman George Weber found stabbed to death in Brooklyn apartment 22 Mar 2009 Longtime New York radio newsman George Weber was found stabbed to death in his Brooklyn apartment Sunday morning, cops said. Weber, who spent a decade doing the news on WABC morning radio before being laid off last year, was found just after 9 a.m. At WABC, Weber covered the 2001 falling of the Twin Towers from the scene.
Charles Darwin's personal finances revealed in new find --This year marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin's landmark work On the Origin of Species. 22 Mar 2009 Charles Darwin spent more money on expensive shoes than books while studying at Cambridge University, newly-discovered records show. Historians at Cambridge unearthed a series of six financial record books which reveal intriguing insights into the naturalist's day-to-day college life. They show that Darwin, who studied at Christ's College between 1828 and 1831, lived the life of a 19th century gentleman and paid people to carry out tasks such as stoking his fire and polishing his shoes.
Polar bear twins: cubs born in Rhenen, the Netherlands 18 Mar 2009 These twin baby polar bears got their first sniff of the open air today at the Ouwehands animal park in Rhenen, the Netherlands (Photos)
AIG bonuses $218 million, not $165 million, A.G. says --AIG Financial Products handed out $218 million in bonuses, not $165 as had been previously reported, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said this morning. 21 Mar 2009 The ongoing AIG bonus controversy continued Saturday as Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said the total paid was actually more than $50 million higher than previously believed. The overall bonuses to employees at the embattled insurance giant were $218 million, not $165 million, he said. That number was calculated after Blumenthal's office received documents from the company on Friday.
maneuvers to protect Wall Street bonuses
By Barry Grey 21 Mar 2009 Following the passage Thursday of a bill by
the House of Representatives that would tax some bonuses at a handful
of companies that have received government bailout money, the Obama
administration is seeking to discourage passage of a similar bill by
the Senate, even as Obama feigns indignation over
Treasury, Fed Reviewed AIG Bonus Info Months Ago 20 Mar 2009 As Congress and the Obama Administration consider legislation to limit bonuses at American International Group, documents obtained by FOX Business show AIG bonuses and other compensation were reviewed and changed by officials at the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve in November, when the Treasury made its first investment of taxpayer funds -- $40 billion -- in the company... Despite their deliberations at the time, the Treasury and Fed officials, which were part of the Bush Administration, eventually decided to restrict compensation on just the top 75 company executives--and some of them may still have received hefty bonuses.
Protesters visit AIG officials' lavish Conn. homes 21 Mar 2009 A busload of activists representing working- and middle-class families paid visits Saturday to the lavish homes of American International Group executives to protest the tens of millions of dollars in bonuses awarded by the struggling insurance company after it received a massive federal bailout. About 40 protesters sought to urge AIG executives who received a portion of the $165 million in bonuses to do more to help families. In addition to AIG executive James Haas' colonial house, protesters on Saturday also visited the Fairfield home of AIG executive Douglas Poling.
American International Group 20 Mar 2009 The home of AIG executive Douglas Polling is seen Friday March 20, 2009 in Fairfield, Conn. Pillars of the community are now pariahs fearing for their safety in a ritzy area of Connecticut [LOL!] home to many executives at American International Group Inc., hit with a backlash over bonuses it paid to top brass even as it accepted federal bailout money. (Photo)
Toxic Asset Plan Foresees Big Subsidies for Investors 21 Mar 2009 The Treasury Department is expected to unveil early next week its long-delayed plan to buy as much as $1 trillion in troubled mortgages and related assets from financial institutions, according to people close to the talks. The plan is likely to offer generous subsidies, in the form of low-interest loans, to coax investors to form partnerships with the government to buy toxic assets from banks. The uproar over the American International Group's bonuses has not stopped the Obama administration from plowing ahead. The plan is not expected to impose restrictions on the executive pay of private investors or fund managers who participate.
Damn. Obama tells '60 Minutes' that Geithner's job is safe 21 Mar 2009 President Barack Obama told CBS's "60 Minutes" that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's job is safe and that Wall Street needs to appreciate the frustration on Main Street over the magnitude of executive bonuses paid by government-bailout beneficiaries during a severe economic downturn, according to a Saturday preview of an interview to be aired Sunday night. [Too bad Obama's is, too. He's demonstrated he is part of the problem.]
The Big Takeover --The global economic crisis isn't about money - it's about power. How Wall Street insiders are using the bailout to stage a revolution By Matt Taibbi 19 Mar 2009 People are pissed off about this financial crisis, and about this bailout, but they're not pissed off enough. The reality is that the worldwide economic meltdown and the bailout that followed were together a kind of revolution, a coup d'état. They cemented and formalized a political trend that has been snowballing for decades: the gradual takeover of the government by a small class of connected insiders, who used money to control elections, buy influence and systematically weaken financial regulations... There is a reason it used to be a crime in the Confederate states to teach a slave to read: Literacy is power... By making an already too-complex economy even more complex, Wall Street has used the crisis to effect a historic, revolutionary change in our political system -- transforming a democracy into a two-tiered state, one with plugged-in financial bureaucrats above and clueless customers below.
CIA Says It Has 3,000 Documents Related to Destroyed Interrogation Tapes --Government Refuses to Disclose List of Summaries, Transcripts, Reconstructions and Memoranda Relating to the Tapes (aclu.org) 20 Mar 2009 In connection with an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit seeking information on detainee abuse, the CIA today disclosed that it has a list of roughly 3,000 summaries, transcripts, reconstructions and memoranda relating to 92 interrogation videotapes that were destroyed by the agency. The CIA refused, however, to disclose the list to the public. The agency also refused to publicly disclose a list of witnesses who may have viewed the videotapes or retained custody of the videotapes before their destruction.
egregious than Blackwater-Xe, Halliburton, KBR, DynCorp, Fluor, Monsanto
(well, maybe not Monsanto), AIG, ExxonMobil, BP, Shell -- and all the
other corpora-terrorists that need to be *eradicated,* Lucky Larry ('Pull
it') wants taxpayer money to rebuild that which he had destroyed.
of 9/11 Site Seeks Aid --Mr.
Silverstein is requesting financing help on at least two of the three
21 Mar 2009 The rebuilding of the World Trade Center site is facing
fresh problems as private developer Larry Silverstein asks the government
It's hard to believe --CLG reader Mark Yannone writes to Murdoch Street Journal author of Silverstein article, Alex Frangos 21 Mar 2009 Dear Alex, Do we know yet if cash-strapped Larry Silverstein is saving a few bucks by wiring his replacement buildings with thermate shape charges and other demolition explosives during construction, instead of waiting until they can concoct a new "Islamic" NORAD/FEMA/NYFD/CIA/FBI scheme to prompt Americans to lose control of their minds and their wallets again? Sincerely, Mark Yannone.
Port Authority Could Owe Larry Silverstein $12 M.-Plus for Delays 31 Dec 2007 The Port Authority acknowledged today that it will miss its deadline of Jan. 1, 2008 to finish excavations on the bathtub for World Trade Center Towers 3 and 4, thereby owing developer Larry Silverstein more than $12 million in delay penalties given the agency’s current timeline. The Port Authority will owe Silverstein Properties $300,000 for every day until the excavations are done, and in a statement, the agency said that the bathtub would be ready for complete handover to Mr. Silverstein in about two to four weeks after mid-January (when they expect to finish excavations for Tower 4).
Lucky Larry wants $12.3 billion more for 9/11 By Jerry Mazza 03 Apr 2008 Like the proverbial bad penny, Lucky Larry Silverstein keeps popping up. He’s back and he’s bad again. Not content with the nearly $4.6 billion in insurance payments he received to cover his losses at the World Trade Center, he is now seeking $12.3 billion in damages from the airlines and airport security companies for the 9/11 attack in a suit filed in 2004. Not tainted enough by the fact that Silverstein & Partners took out a lease for 99 years in July of 2001 on the WTC, two months before the attack... not content Larry & Partners upped the insurance at that time to $3.5 billion and (presciently) to cover potential hits by airliners flown by "terrorist hijackers"... Not content that Silverstein & Partners subsequently sued the insurers for $7 billion, considering the attack a double strike because separate liners hit Towers One and Two...
The Lavi battalion produced a shirt featuring a drawing of a soldier next to a young woman with bruises, and the slogan, "Bet you got raped!" Dead Palestinian babies and bombed mosques - IDF fashion 20 Mar 2009 The office at the Adiv fabric-printing shop in south Tel Aviv handles a constant stream of customers, many of them soldiers in uniform, who come to order custom clothing featuring their unit's insignia, usually accompanied by a slogan and drawing of their choosing... Dead babies, mothers weeping on their children's graves, a gun aimed at a child and bombed-out mosques - these are a few examples of the images Israel Defense Forces soldiers design these days to print on shirts they order to mark the end of training, or of field duty... A T-shirt for infantry snipers bears the inscription "Better use Durex," next to a picture of a dead Palestinian baby, with his weeping mother and a teddy bear beside him. [Source: Israeli daily, Haaretz.]
Troops tell Gaza tales on T-shirts 21 Mar 2009 Israeli troops have begun printing racist slogans and pictures on T-shirts, admitting to various 'war crimes' during the Gaza offensive. After the recent war in Gaza, many Israeli soldiers have been ordering T-shirts and clothing with drawing and slogans printed on them which border racism. The Israeli daily Haaretz reported that a T-shirt ordered by a sniper from the Givati Brigade's Shaked battalion showed a pregnant Palestinian woman with "a bull's-eye superimposed on her belly, with the slogan, in English, '1 shot, 2 kills."
Israeli soldiers admit to deliberate killing of Gaza civilians 20 Mar 2009 The Israeli army has been forced to open an investigation into the conduct of its troops in Gaza after damning testimony from its own front line soldiers revealed the killing of civilians and rules of engagement so lax that one combatant said that they amounted on occasion to "cold-blooded murder". "That's the beauty of Gaza. You see a man walking, he doesn't have to have a weapon, and you can shoot him," one soldier told Danny Zamir, the head of the Rabin pre-military academy, who asked him why a company commander ordered an elderly woman to be shot.
Israeli soldiers admit intentionally killing Palestinian civilians 20 Mar 2009 Israeli soldiers who took part in the Gaza War in December and January say part of their mission was to kill Palestinian civilians and destroy their property. [Oh. Same as the US mission in Iraq and Afghanistan.] The rules of engagement were permissive as far as killing civilians, and to intentionally destroy the property of Palestinian civilians, was concerned, according to statements by infantry soldiers and combat pilots who were engaged in the Gaza offensive.
Iran vows response to real US change 21 Mar 2009 The Leader of the Islamic Revolution says the US must change its behavior after President Barack Obama promised "new beginnings" with Iran. In a Saturday address in Mashhad, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said a mere change in rhetoric is not enough and the White House must demonstrate change in practice. "They use the slogan of change but in practice no change is seen... We haven't seen any change," Ayatollah Khamenei said. "Did you remove the sanctions? Did you stop supporting the Zionist regime? Tell us what you have changed. Change only in words is not enough."
'Right to water' at centre of world forum debate --Israel's policies of stealing water from River Jordan, coastal aquifers bitterly resented in Middle East. 21 Mar 2009 Ministerial-level talks on the world's worsening problems of water scarcity, pollution and sanitation began here Friday amid discord over whether water should be considered a fundamental "right" or a "need." More than 100 ministers or their stand-ins from around the globe are meeting at the World Water Forum until Sunday, which is World Water Day.
Obama's video message to Iranians: 'Let's start again' --Careful words praise civilisation and culture --Khamenei hails nuclear moves in new year speech 21 Mar 2009 The Iranian leadership gave a guarded welcome yesterday after Barack Obama took the unusual step of recording a video appeal to the Iranian people for a new beginning in relations between the two countries - the warmest US message in 30 years of hostilities. Obama... sent out a carefully-worded video with Farsi subtitles to wish them a happy new year and to hope that the US and Iran could settle their differences.
US navy vessels collide near Iran --Submarine and amphibious craft collide in strait of Hormuz while heading to port for repairs 20 Mar 2009 Two US navy vessels, including a nuclear-powered submarine, collided in one of the Middle East's key oil routes today lightly injuring 15 sailors and causing oil prices to rise. The collision in the strait of Hormuz, between Iran and the Arabian peninsula, occurred in darkness when the submarine was submerged. The craft, the USS Hartford, suffered no damage to its nuclear propulsion system, a spokesman for the 5th Fleet said.
Protests in Washington, Calif. call for war's end 21 Mar 2009 Before war protesters ended their demonstration Saturday afternoon, several placed cardboard coffins in front of the offices of northern Virginia defense contractors such as KBR Inc. and Lockheed Martin Corp. as riot police stood by. "Lockheed Martin you can't hide, we charge you with genocide!" they chanted as part of a demonstration that began in Washington to mark the sixth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Arlington County, Va., authorities estimated there were 2,500 to 3,000 protesters.
Demonstrators in LA, SF press for end to Iraq war --Nationwide "Day of Action" on sixth anniversary of Iraq war included similar rallies in San Francisco and Washington D.C. 21 Mar 2009 Ron Kovic has spent 41 years in a wheelchair after a bullet pierced his spinal cord during the Vietnam War. That's why he attended a rally on Saturday to protest the sixth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, he said. Kovic, now a prominent anti-war activist who lives in Redondo Beach, Calif., was one of hundreds of protesters who gathered in Hollywood to demonstrate against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
U.S. soldier dies from non-combat incident in Iraq 20 Mar 2009 A U.S. soldier died of a non-battle related cause in Iraq, the U.S. military said on Friday. The soldier died on Thursday, a military statement said without providing details about how and where exactly the incident occurred.
Eight killed in two blasts in eastern Afghanistan 21 Mar 2009 Eight people have been killed in two separate blasts in eastern Afghanistan. In the first, one police officer and five civilians were killed when a bomber blew up an minivan filled with explosives in Nangarhar province, about 30 kilometres south of the provincial capital Jalalabad. In the second incident, two civilians were killed when a roadside bomb struck a passing car in the south-eastern province of Khost.
Soldier suicides skyrocket --But a tepid Senate hearing on Wednesday, with no testimony from lower-ranking combat troops from Iraq or Afghanistan, does little to explain why. By Mark Benjamin 19 Mar 2009 Last year the Army had its highest suicide rate on record -- 140 soldiers. But new data from the Army on Wednesday showed the number jumping even higher. Forty-eight soldiers have already killed themselves so far this year. If that rate keeps up, nearly 225 Army soldiers will be dead by their own hand by the end of 2009.
4 police officers shot in Oakland 21 Mar 2009 (CA) Two officers and a suspect have been shot after a manhunt ended in gunfire following the shooting of two other officers during a traffic stop earlier in the day.
5K evacuated after hazardous Pa. acid spill 21 Mar 2009 Evacuation orders for about 5,000 people in northeastern Pennsylvania remain in effect even as authorities say the leak of a hazardous chemical has been 'contained.' Authorities say a tanker truck carrying more than 16 tons of hydrofluoric acid overturned early Saturday near Wind Gap, about 60 miles north of Philadelphia.
Postal service to slash more than 3,000 jobs, offer early retirements 20 Mar 2009 The U.S. Postal Service will be cutting more than 3,000 jobs and offering nearly a quarter of its work force early retirement as part of its efforts to streamline operations amid the worsening economy, the agency said Friday. Among the job cuts are 1,400 district administrative staff positions and another 1,400 mail processing and management jobs nationwide.
Three Companies to Back Proposal on Union Bill 21 Mar 2009 Three big retailers are expected to back an alternative proposal next week on a bill that would make it easier to unionize workplaces, a move some experts said would bolster the legislation's chance of passage. Costco Wholesale Corp., Starbucks Corp. and Whole Foods Market Inc. are supporting the alternative proposal, according to someone familiar with the effort. Ray Krupin, a management labor lawyer in Washington said the most likely compromise would allow employees to unionize if 70% of them sign union-authorization cards, as opposed to 50% as currently proposed in the Employee Free Choice Act.
Researchers find ways to sniff keystrokes from thin air 12 Mar 2009 Researchers say they've discovered new ways to read what you're typing by aiming special wireless or laser equipment at the keyboard or by simply plugging into a nearby electrical socket. Two separate research teams, from the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne and security consultancy Inverse Path have taken a close look at the electromagnetic radiation that is generated every time a computer keyboard is tapped. It turns out that this keystroke radiation is actually pretty easy to capture and decode...
Intelligence made it clear Saddam was not a threat, diplomat tells MPs --Government left 'paper trail' in build-up to war 20 Mar 2009 A former diplomat at the centre of events in the run-up to the Iraq war revealed yesterday that the government has a "paper trail" that could reveal new information about the legality of the invasion. Carne Ross, who was a first secretary at the United Nations in New York for the Foreign Office until 2004, told MPs: "A lot of facts about the run-up to this war have yet to come to light which should come to light and which the public deserves to know..." He told the inquiry that the intelligence made it "very clear" that Saddam Hussein did not pose a significant threat to the UK, as was being claimed at the time by ministers, and that tougher enforcement of sanctions could have brought his regime down.
sued in US court over alleged cover-up 20 Mar 2009 The widow
of a 32-year-old Iraqi has filed suit in a federal court against
CACI Faces Abu Ghraib Torture Suit 20 Mar 2009 CACI International, a provider of intelligence-gathering services for the U.S. government, must face a lawsuit by four former prisoners who say they were tortured at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee in Alexandria denied the company's motion to dismiss the detainees' claims, which allege violations of U.S. law including torture, war crimes and civil conspiracy.
Israel's former president Moshe Katsav charged with rape 19 Mar 2009 Israel's former president Moshe Katsav has been charged with multiple counts of rape and sexual harassment. He has been accused of carrying out a string of attacks on an employee in his office while he was tourism minister in the 1990s. Mr Katsav is also accused of sexually harassing at least one female employee while he was president.
Israel arrests Hamas negotiators 19 Mar 2009 Arrests have been made in the West Bank following the collapse of indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas this week Israeli soldiers arrested senior members of Hamas, after they had failed to reach agreement on an Egyptian brokered prisoner swap.
'Infandous' Galloway faces Canada ban 20 Mar 2009 Respect MP [hero] George Galloway will "use all means" to fight Canada ban but immigration spokesman says "we don't want him to pee on our carpet". The Canadian immigration office has confirmed that Galloway's entry was deemed inadmissible on national security grounds and he would not be allowed into the country. Alykhan Velshi, spokesman for the immigraion minister, described the MP for Bethnal Green and Bow as an "infandous street-corner Cromwell".
NATO to resume Allied Protector 19 Mar 2009 The North Atlantic Council has approved a mandate to resume a NATO deployment to the Gulf of Aden in a move to counter the ongoing threat of piracy. With the announced approval, NATO's five-ship operation patrolling the waters off the coast of Somalia will continue.
Jobless rate at 11.2% for veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan --Army records show the service has hit 152% of its re-enlistment goal this year. 20 Mar 2009 The economic downturn is hitting Iraq and Afghanistan veterans harder than other workers -- one in nine are now out of work -- and may be encouraging some troops to remain in the service, according to Labor Department records and military officials. The 11.2% jobless rate for veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and who are 18 and older rose 4 percentage points in the past year.
U.N. panel says world should ditch dollar 18 Mar 2009 A U.N. panel will next week recommend that the world ditch the dollar as its reserve currency in favor of a shared basket of currencies, a member of the panel said on Wednesday, adding to pressure on the dollar. Currency specialist Avinash Persaud, a member of the panel of experts, told a Reuters Funds Summit in Luxembourg that the proposal was to create something like the old Ecu, or European currency unit, that was a hard-traded, weighted basket.
A.I.G. Sues U.S. for Return of $306 Million in Tax Payments 20 Mar 2009 While the American International Group comes under fire from Congress over executive bonuses, it is quietly fighting the federal government for the return of $306 million in tax payments, some related to deals that were conducted through offshore tax havens. A.I.G. sued the government last month in a bid to force it to return the payments, which stemmed in large part from its use of aggressive tax deals, some involving entities controlled by the company’s financial products unit in the Cayman Islands, Ireland, the Dutch Antilles and other offshore havens.
AIG Bonuses Contemplated By Bush Administration, TARP Inspector Says 19 Mar 2009 President [sic] George W. Bush’s administration "specifically contemplated" paying bonuses to American International Group Inc. employees in its November agreement to provide federal bailout funds to the insurance giant, the inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program said today. Neil Barofsky testified before the House Ways and Means oversight subcommittee.
Forget the bonuses: AIG can't repay its loans, GAO says 18 Mar 2009 Lost in all the shouting over the $165 million in bonuses paid to executives of disgraced insurer American International Group was this sober message delivered to Congress on Wednesday by a government watchdog: AIG's ability repay its $170 billion in loans from taxpayers has eroded significantly.
Bennet Sedacca, money manager who blew credit alarm, dies 20 Mar 2009 Bennet Sedacca, a money manager credited with being one of the first to warn that Bear Stearns Cos. - and, by extension, the U.S. economy - would be run over by a credit crisis, has died. He was 49. Sedacca, chief executive of Atlantic Advisors Llc in Winter Park, Fla., died Tuesday of a brain injury suffered in a fall at his Orlando home, according to an e-mail from Chelsea Valencia, a colleague at the firm.
U.S. Injecting Billions Into Foreign Central Banks By Ryan Grim 17 Mar 2009 For more than a year, the U.S. Federal Reserve System has been increasingly acting as the world's central bank, injecting hundreds of billions of dollars into foreign government treasuries in an effort to increase liquidity in those countries. The foreign central banks have used the U.S. currency to bail out financial institutions within their borders.
Why Are We Spending $50 Billion to Bail Out Euro Banks? By Tim Dickinson 17 Mar 2009 Yeah yeah. Fucking bonuses. But the real news to come out of the latest AIG dustup is that American taxpayers have been ponying up billions through "AIG" to make foreign banks whole, 100 cents on the Euro. AIG finally revealed its list of counter-parties -- and it seems that roughly $50 billion has paid out to Europe’s (+Montreal’s) biggest financial institutions.
Gee, they waited until even after the Friday afternoon 'bad news dump' to releaes this one: Regulators seize two large corporate credit unions --Regulator takes over credit unions to protect about $57 billion 20 Mar 2009 The National Credit Union Administration Board said Friday it has placed two large corporate credit unions into conservatorship "to stabilize the corporate credit union system and resolve balance sheet issues." The NCUA said Lenexa, Kan.-based U.S. Central Federal Credit Union and San Dimas, Calif.-based Western Corporate were placed into conservatorship "to protect retail credit union deposits and the interest of the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund."
Georgia's FirstCity Bank becomes 18th failure of 2009 --FDIC: FirstCity had $297 million in assets and $278 million in deposits as of March 18 20 Mar 2009 Stockbridge, Ga.-based FirstCity Bank was closed by regulators Friday, marking the 18th U.S. bank failure of 2009. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation said in a statement that it will mail checks to insured depositors Monday morning, and that FirstCity's direct deposits from the federal government such as Social Security and Veterans' payments will be transferred to SunTrust Banks Inc.
Banker fury over tax 'witch-hunt' 20 Mar 2009 Bankers on Wall Street and in Europe have struck back against moves by US lawmakers to slap punitive taxes on bonuses paid to high earners at bailed-out institutions. Senior executives on both sides of the Atlantic on Friday warned of an exodus of talent [!] from some of the biggest names in US finance, saying the "anti-American" measures smacked of "a McCarthy witch-hunt" that would send the country "back to the stone age". ['Exodus of talent?' Go, leeches, go! Good riddance!]
Time to get tough on bankers! 19 Mar 2009 In a Special Comment, Countdown’s Keith Olbermann expresses outrage at Wall Street over their continuing misuse of federal bailout money. Olbermann calls for the firing of bank executives and more stringent bank regulation. (Video)
France: Millions strike and march against austerity By Antoine Lerougetel 20 Mar 2009 Several million workers and youth took to the streets in 213 cities and towns throughout France yesterday in opposition to rising poverty, rapidly growing unemployment and government austerity policies involving cuts in the social services. Opinion polls have put approval ratings for the day of action at between 72 and 78 percent of the French population.
House Passes Expansion of Programs for Service 19 Mar 2009 The House voted Wednesday to approve the largest expansion of government-sponsored service programs since President John F. Kennedy first called for the creation of a national community service corps in 1963. The legislation, which passed by a bipartisan vote of 321 to 105, would more than triple the number of service positions by expanding AmeriCorps and creating volunteer programs... The Senate legislation has a simpler name: the Serve America Act.
National Service Legislation Introduced in House Establishing September 11 as an Annually Observed National Day of Service 10 Mar 2009 U.S. Congress took a major step today toward establishing 9/11 as an annually recognized National Day of Service. Language to designate 9/11 as a National Day of Service and Remembrance has been included as an important provision in the Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act, or GIVE Act, (H.R. 1388), which was introduced today and authorizes groundbreaking federal support for many innovative national service programs.
U.S. Federal Deficit Soars Past Previous Estimates 20 Mar 2009 Deteriorating economic conditions [of the Bush Depression] will cause the federal deficit to soar past $1.8 trillion this year and leave the nation wallowing in a sea of red ink far deeper than the White House had previously estimated, congressional budget analysts said today.
Fearing unionization: Wal-Mart Giving Workers $933M In Bonuses 20 Mar 2009 Retail giant Wal-Mart will hand out its largest annual award -- $2 billion -- which includes bonuses to every part-time and full-time hourly employee. The $2 billion includes 401k contributions, about $1 billion in profit-sharing, millions of dollars in merchandise discounts and $933 million in bonuses. The average cash bonus for employees will be $667.
USPS to close 2 New England district offices 20 Mar 2009 U.S. Postal Service district administrative offices in North Reading and in Manchester, N..H. will be among the six to be closed across the nation under the postal service cutbacks announced today. The USPS office in Manchester serves both New Hampshire and Vermont and its operations will be transferred to the office in Portland, Maine.
Leading climate scientist: 'democratic process isn't working' 18 Mar 2009 Protest and direct action could be the only way to tackle soaring carbon emissions, a leading climate scientist has said. James Hansen, a climate modeller with Nasa, told the Guardian today that corporate lobbying has undermined democratic attempts to curb carbon pollution. "The democratic process doesn't quite seem to be working," he said.
Conference gives polar bears just 100 years 19 Mar 2009 The international polar bear conference in Norway has warned that the animal will have practically disappeared from the wild within a century. Representatives from the United States, Canada, Russia and Denmark took part in the meeting.
WWF-Canada: Canada Reluctantly Joins With Arctic Nations and Takes Important First Step Toward Saving Polar Bears 19 Mar 2009 Five nations committed by treaty to conserve polar bears have come up with a resolution linking the future of the species to urgent global action on climate change. "We are very encouraged by the final declaration from this meeting," says Geoff York, polar bear coordinator for WWF International's Arctic Programme.
Bag a polar bear for $35,000: the new threat to the species --Hunters pay tens of thousands of dollars to kill polar bears in the Arctic 20 Mar 2009 For wealthy modern-day trophy hunters, bagging a polar bear is the ultimate kill. Fourteen days... does not come cheap: the minimum bill comes to $35,000 (£24,000). Boyd Warner is the man who helps them do it. Earlier this week, the Canadian, whose company Adventure Northwest is based in Yellowknife, sent this season's first group of hunters north to Pond Inlet, where they will track and kill up to six bears. [Not if polar bears *shoot first.* Why is this terrorist outpost *still standing?* Send in one of Obama's CIA drones. Instead of killing Pakistanis, flatten 'Adventure Northwest.']
60 Days to Save the Polar Bear 16 Mar 2009 Last week Congress passed -- and President Obama signed into law -- a bill giving Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar the authority to immediately rescind Bush administration regulations that eliminate essential protections for the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act. However, under the bill, if Salazar doesn't withdraw the Bush regulations within 60 days, the regulations stay in effect and the polar bear is deprived of the legal protections it needs to survive... Please sign the petition to Salazar and demand that he immediately rescind the Bush regulations harming the polar bear.
Obamas to Plant Vegetable Garden at White House 20 Mar 2009 Michelle Obama will begin digging up a patch of the South Lawn on Friday to plant a vegetable garden, the first at the White House since Eleanor Roosevelt’s victory garden in World War II. There will be no beets -- the president does not like them -- but arugula will make the cut. While the organic garden will provide food for the first family’s meals and formal dinners, its most important role, Mrs. Obama said, will be to educate children about healthful, locally grown fruit and vegetables.
warned of 'class war' [Too bad. It would have been nice if
it arrived as a complete surprise.] 19 Mar 2009 France faces a "class
war" that could undermine President Nicolas Sarkozy's reform efforts
and spark a period of
MPs 'deliberately' misled over causes of Iraq war, say former Government officials 19 Mar 2009 A Government expert in weapons of mass destruction who leaked information to the media ahead of the Iraq war has criticised MPs for failing to investigate the reasons behind the conflict. A former diplomat also said it was "disgraceful" that there had not been a formal inquiry. Brian Jones, an adviser to the Defence Intelligence Staff who gave evidence to the Hutton inquiry about the WMD claims, said that MPs had bowed to the Government in its desire not to have a formal public inquiry.
Foreign companies would get majority stake in Iraq oil and gas projects --Iraq would be open to bids from Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell for 75 percent stakes in new development projects 18 Mar 2009 Iraq's new government for the first time is proposing to give foreign oil companies a majority stake in projects to develop oil and gas fields. A top adviser to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki on Wednesday confirmed statements made by the Iraqi oil minister, Hussain al-Shahristani, in Vienna earlier in the day that foreign companies could bid for as much as 75 percent of the profit from new oil and natural gas development projects. The adviser also confirmed that Iraq might offer new and existing fields for development by foreign oil companies, outside of formal bidding rounds for new fields, which had previously been open to only a small number of major oil companies.
KBR keeps witness info concealed, lawyer says 18 Mar 2009 A lawyer for the parents of an electrocuted soldier on Tuesday accused defense contractor KBR Inc. of concealing information from unnamed witnesses interviewed after his 2008 death in Iraq. Court papers show those witnesses might be current or former KBR employees and subcontractors... who performed electrical work in the Radwaniyah Palace Complex in Baghdad, where Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth, 24, of Shaler, died Jan. 2, 2008. Records show his death is one of 18 electrocutions in Iraq since 2003.
Filing: Faulty pump installed by KBR 13 Mar 2009 A rooftop pump supplying water to a shower that electrocuted a Shaler soldier was installed by a plumber working in Iraq under defense contractor KBR Inc. in 2006, according to papers filed in U.S. District Court. Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth, 24, a decorated Green Beret, died Jan. 2, 2008, when an electrical current flowed through pipes and charged the water of his shower in the Radwaniyah Palace Complex in Baghdad. Papers filed by KBR's Pittsburgh counsel, attorney Joseph Luciana III, include an e-mail from an Army investigator who said a KBR plumber admitted installing the pump atop Maseth's living quarters.
'Torture' Guidelines to Be Made Public 19 Mar 2009 The Government is to reveal the guidance it gives to intelligence officers and the military about detention and interviewing of detainees overseas. In a written statement, Gordon Brown said the Intelligence Services Commissioner Sir Peter Gibson will monitor compliance with the guidance and report to him annually. The Prime Minister said he wanted to publish the guidance to protect the reputation of the country's security and intelligence services.
Judge: Abu Ghraib detainees can sue Va. contractor --Four allege torture and other crimes at the hands of CACI interrogators hired by the Army. 19 Mar 2009 A federal judge rejected a defense contractor's claims that it was immune from lawsuits by four alleged torture victims at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. In a ruling made public Thursday, U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee rejected claims made by Arlington, Va.-based CACI that it couldn't be sued because its interrogators were performing their duties as the government required... The ruling allows four Abu Ghraib prisoners -- who were later released without being charged -- to go forward with their lawsuit against CACI.
Ex-Bush admin official: Many at Gitmo are innocent 19 Mar 2009 Many prisoners locked up at Guantanamo were innocent men swept up by U.S. forces unable to distinguish enemies from noncombatants, a former Bush regime official said Thursday. "There are still innocent people there," Lawrence B. Wilkerson, a Republican who was chief of staff to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, told The Associated Press. "Some have been there six or seven years." Wilkerson told the AP he learned from briefings and by communicating with military commanders that the U.S. soon realized many Guantanamo prisoners were innocent but nevertheless held them in hopes they could provide information for a "mosaic" of intelligence.
US rejects deal to end long Gitmo hunger strike 18 Mar 2009 The U.S. has rejected a Guantanamo prisoner's proposal to end his 3 1/2-year hunger strike in exchange for easing his conditions at the American prison in Cuba, saying such a deal would undermine security [!] and encourage similar protests. A federal judge in Washington had urged U.S. authorities to consider the proposed deal in the case of Ahmed Zuhair, a Saudi prisoner who has refused to eat since the summer of 2005 and is force-fed to keep him alive.
How IDF troops 'infiltrated alleged Syria nuke site' 20 Mar 2009 An Israeli commando unit carried out a reconnaissance mission at an alleged Syrian nuclear reactor that was later destroyed by the Israel Air Force, the Swiss daily Neue Zuercher Zeitung reported Thursday. The 12-man unit was dropped by two helicopters onto the site, according to the report, where they proceeded to take soil samples and photographs.
Israel's dirty secrets in Gaza --Army veterans reveal how they gunned down innocent Palestinian families and destroyed homes and farms 20 Mar 2009 Israel was last night confronting a major challenge over the conduct of its 22-day military offensive in Gaza after testimonies by its own soldiers revealed that troops were allowed and, in some cases, even ordered to shoot unarmed Palestinian civilians. The testimonies – the first of their kind to emerge from inside the military – are at marked variance with official claims that the military made strenuous efforts to avoid civilian casualties and tend to corroborate Palestinian accusations that troops used indiscriminate and disproportionate firepower in civilian areas during the operation.
Accounts of Gaza Killings Raise Furor in Israel 20 Mar 2009
In the two months since Israel ended its military assault on Gaza, Palestinians
and international rights groups have accused it of excessive force and
wanton killing in that operation, but the Israeli military has said
it followed high ethical standards and took great care to avoid civilian
casualties. Testimony is emerging from within the ranks of soldiers
and officers alleging a permissive attitude toward the killing of civilians
and wanton destruction of property that is sure to inflame the domestic
and international debate about the army’s conduct in Gaza. On Thursday,
the military’s chief advocate general ordered an investigation into
a soldier’s account of a sniper killing a woman and her two children...
and another account of a
IDF in Gaza: Killing civilians, vandalism, and lax rules of engagement 19 Mar 2009 During Operation Cast Lead, Israeli forces killed Palestinian civilians under permissive rules of engagement and intentionally destroyed their property, say soldiers who fought in the offensive. The soldiers are graduates of the Yitzhak Rabin pre-military preparatory course at Oranim Academic College in Tivon. Some of their statements made on Feb. 13 will appear Thursday and Friday in Haaretz.
Commanders: US ready for any North Korean missile 19 Mar 2009 Two senior U.S. commanders said Thursday that the military is ready if called upon to shoot down North Korea's planned rocket launch next month. The top U.S. commander in the Pacific, Adm. Timothy Keating, told senators at a hearing that there was a "high probability" that the United States could knock down a North Korean missile. Gen. Walter Sharp, the U.S. commander in South Korea, said the threat "is real."
Gates says US may insert more spies into Pakistan 18 Mar 2009 US Secretary of Defence [war criminal], Robert Gates, has said the US may increase its covert operations in Pakistan. Saying the operation may be necessary to defeat Taliban activity in and around Quetta, the capital of Pakistan's southern Baluchistan province, he said the Obama Administration was still debating the matter.
Army Investigates Troop Use in Alabama 19 Mar 2009 The Army said Wednesday it opened an inquiry into whether federal laws were broken when nearly two dozen soldiers were sent to a south Alabama town after 11 people died in a shooting spree last week. State officials said the deployment of 22 military police officers and the provost marshal from Fort Rucker was requested neither by Republican Gov. Bob Riley nor the White House, which typically is required by law for soldiers to operate on U.S. soil. Col. Michael J. Negard of the Army Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Monroe, Va., said officials are trying to determine who ordered the soldiers to Samson, who requested them, why they were sent and what they did there.
Obama Drops Plan to Bill Veterans' Private Insurers 19 Mar 2009 President Obama yesterday abandoned a proposal to bill veterans' private insurance companies for the treatment at VA hospitals of combat-related injuries amid an outcry over the measure from veterans' service organizations and members of Congress. The proposal would have authorized the Department of Veterans Affairs to charge private companies for treating injuries and other medical conditions that are related to military service.
French unions claim 3m on street 19 Mar 2009 French unions have claimed that up to three million people have taken part in street protests amid a national strike against France's economic policies. Police gave an estimate of 1.2 million people at rallies nationwide. Schools have been closed and public transport disrupted, with demonstrations held in about 200 towns.
Auto parts workers occupy closed plant in Windsor, Canada --CAW moves to block broader struggle against layoffs By Jerry White 19 Mar 2009 Hundreds of workers rallied yesterday in front of a Windsor, Ontario auto parts plant, which autoworkers have been occupying since Tuesday night. Workers at the Aradco factory seized control of the plant a week after its parent company, Catalina Precision Products, shut it down, throwing 90 workers out of their jobs without severance and vacation pay and other benefits.
London police fear violent protests at G-20 economic meeting 19 Mar 2009 The British police are preparing to deal with violent protests as anarchists threaten to bring chaos to the Group of 20 summit meeting in London. All leave for police officers in the capital has been called off and businesses are being advised to cancel unnecessary meetings because protesters have vowed to target the financial district as the world leaders gather to discuss the financial crisis.
Citigroup May Spend $10 Million for Executive Suite 19 Mar 2009 Citigroup Inc. plans to spend about $10 million on new offices for Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit and his lieutenants, after the U.S. government injected $45 billion of cash into the bank. Some city approvals for the project weren’t issued until after Citigroup got its first $25 billion from the U.S. in October, under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, according to records available at the New York Department of Buildings. [Had enough?]
13 firms receiving bailouts owe back taxes --Rep. John Lewis: Two companies owe over $100 million apiece 19 Mar 2009 At least 13 firms receiving billions of dollars in bailout money owe a total of more than $220 million in unpaid federal taxes, a key lawmaker said Thursday. Rep. John Lewis, chairman of a House subcommittee overseeing the federal bailout, said two firms owe more than $100 million apiece. "This is shameful. It is a disgrace," said Lewis, a Georgia Democrat. "We are going to get to the bottom of what is going on here." [No, you won't. DemocRATs are too afraid to mention, let alone, blame - Bush's deregulation and giveaway of the National Treasury. Due to Obama's cowardice on that front (and electronic 'voting' machines), the GOP may sweep the 2010 and 2012 elections. By next year, the corporate-run media will have the entire collapsed economy pinned to Barack Obama and the Democrats. Witness the vitriol directed at Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut - as if *he* was/is the architect of the Bush Depression and feed the critters in the AIG swamp! --LRP]
Auto parts suppliers to get $5 billion in taxpayer aid 19 Mar 2009 The Treasury Department, trying to stabilize the battered [because they refuse to make fuel-efficient vehicles] auto industry, said Thursday it will provide up to $5 billion in financing to troubled auto parts suppliers who are linked to Detroit's carmakers. The funds would be made available from the government's Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP, said members of the Obama administration's auto task force.
Obama unveils $2.4-billion grant program to aid electric cars --In Pomona, Obama visits an electric-vehicle testing center and announces a program for companies to compete for grant money. He pledges to put a million plug-in hybrid vehicles on the road by 2015. 19 Mar 2009 On the second day of his tour of Southern California, President Obama highlighted his environmental jobs agenda with a visit to an electric-vehicle testing facility in Pomona, where he announced a $2.4-billion competitive grant program to make the electric vehicles more widely available.
US senator blocks first try to pass AIG bonus bill 19 Mar 2009 Republican Senator Jon Kyl on Thursday blocked an initial attempt by Senate Democrats to pass a bill aimed at recouping some $165 million in bonuses paid to American International Group Inc executives. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid asked senators to agree by unanimous consent to approve a Senate version to recoup the bonuses, but Kyl objected saying more time was needed to review the legislation which was introduced earlier on Thursday.
House approves bill to tax AIG bonuses at 90% 19 Mar 2009 Responding to the anger about bonuses paid to AIG traders, the House approved a bill Thursday that would impose a punitive 90% tax on bonuses paid by American International Group Inc. and other financial companies that receive federal help. The vote was 328-93. The bill would apply to bonuses of people making more than $250,000 a year, and would apply only to payments from companies getting more than $5 billion from the federal government.
Missouri report on militias, terrorists draws criticism 14 Mar 2009 A new document meant to help Missouri law enforcement agencies identify militia members or domestic terrorists has drawn criticism for some of the warning signs mentioned. The Feb. 20 report called "The Modern Militia Movement" mentions such red flags as political bumper stickers for third-party candidates, such as U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, who ran for president last year; talk of 'conspiracy' theories, such as the plan for a superhighway linking Canada to Mexico; and possession of subversive literature.
I'll be there for you: Bush offers to help President Obama --As ex-president makes Canada his first port of call on public speaking 'maiden voyage', he refuses to attack Barack Obama 18 Mar 2009 George Bush wants Barack Obama to know that he's there if he needs him. "If he wants my help he can pick up the phone," the former president [sic] noted helpfully this week, during an affable speech to the business community of Calgary in Canada, his first paid speaking engagement since leaving the White House in January. While up to 400 demonstrators chanted and threw shoes outside the venue – though police disabled a makeshift cannon rigged to fire shoes into the street – Bush steered clear of any criticism of his successor. [Yes, Bush and Obama, they're like two peas in a torture pod. I've already had it with this conciliator who asserted that he was to the 'left' of Hillary Clinton - so that he could get the Democratic nomination. --LRP. Who expected otherwise? Not I. –-MDR.]
Hundreds of New 'Civilians' to Join Afghan Surge --CIA-operated missile attacks by U.S. Predator aircraft in western Pakistan are likely to continue under new 'strategy' 19 Mar 2009 A civilian "surge" of hundreds of additional U.S. officials in Afghanistan would accompany the already approved increase in U.S. troop levels there under a new Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy being completed at the White House, according to administration officials. ...Many are expected to be hired under a provision established by the Bush regime for special employment in Iraq. Unlimited, year-long hires were permitted, with authority to renew them for up to four years. Bush extended the provision to Afghanistan under an executive order he signed Jan. 16. What one official called the "final exit strategy" is likely to take years while Afghan security forces are expanded and trained. [Why the f*ck do US taxpayers have to fund Afghan 'security' forces?]
US Army Confirms Israeli Nukes 18 Mar 2009 The Army has let slip one of the worst-kept secrets in the world -- that Israel has the bomb. Officially, the United States has a policy of "ambiguity" regarding Israel's nuclear capability. Essentially, it has played a game by which it neither acknowledges nor denies that Israel is a nuclear power. But a Defense Department study completed last year offers what may be the first time in a unclassified report that Israel is a nuclear power. On page 37 of the U.S. Joint Forces Command report, the Army includes Israel within "a growing arc of nuclear powers running from Israel in the west through an emerging Iran to Pakistan, India, and on to China, North Korea, and Russia in the east."
IDF killed civilians in Gaza under lax rules of engagement 19 Mar 2009 During Operation Cast Lead, Israeli forces killed Palestinian civilians under permissive rules of engagement and intentionally destroyed their property, say soldiers who fought in the offensive... Their testimony runs counter to the Israel Defense Forces' claims that Israeli troops observed a high level of moral behavior during the operation.
US kicks Iran war prep into high gear 17 Mar 2009 Just days after the top US commander sketched out plans to strike Iran, the US military claims Tehran sent a drone into Iraq in February. The US military on Monday claimed that American jets had shot down an Iranian unmanned surveillance aircraft 97 kilometers northeast of Baghdad in February... While the Bush administration employed go-to-war rhetoric against Iran on a regular basis, the Obama administration says it seeks a different approach. Echelons in Tel Aviv, however, have been lobbying the US in an effort to coax President Barack Obama into joining Israel in attacking Iran.
Three killed in Iraq unrest: police 18 Mar 2009 A policeman and two civilians were killed in attacks in the northern Iraqi cities of Mosul and Kirkuk on Wednesday, police officials told AFP. The police officer died and two of his colleagues were wounded in a suicide car bombing around midday (0900 GMT) in the main northern city of Mosul, Major Khalaf Mohammed said.
quietly gave Blackwater (Xe) $70M in February:
still works for U.S. in Iraq
17 Mar 2009 The U.S. State Department re-signed the
deal for Blackwater
17 Mar 2009 Days after the Baghdad government decided it no longer wanted
the mercenary contractor then known as Blackwater in Iraq, the State
Department signed a $22.2 million deal in February to keep the embattled
contractor working there through most of the summer, contract records
show. The decision keeps Blackwater - since renamed Xe - in Iraq months
longer than anyone has suggested publicly, while raising questions
about why the U.S. would pay
President Obama, Why Did You Pay Blackwater $70 Million in February? By Jeremy Scahill 17 Mar 2009 The Obama administration has paid the mercenary firm formerly known as Blackwater nearly $70 million to operate in Iraq and, according to The Washington Times, may keep the company on the payroll months past the official expiration of its Iraq contract in May. I reviewed Blackwater's recent transactions with the Obama State Department and discovered a $45 million payment to Blackwater on February 4, 2009 for "protective services-Iraq." It is described as a "funding action only." Here is the interesting part: The estimated "Ultimate Completion Date" is 5/07/2011. The Washington Times reported on a $22 million payment to Blackwater on February 2. Combined with the $45 million payment I discovered, that's nearly $67 million in 72 hours.
Clinton, Obama Tussle Over Blackwater By Noah Shachtman 29 Feb 2008 Senator Hillary Clinton's... senate office announced late Thursday that she is co-sponsoring a bill to ban "Blackwater and other private mercenary firms in Iraq." The timing of the announcement is particularly curious. It comes less than a day after the investigative journalist and Blackwater critic Jeremy Scahill published a piece in The Nation reporting that, if elected, "Obama will not 'rule out' using private security companies like Blackwater Worldwide in Iraq." The campaign also informed Scahill that Obama would not be signing on to legislation banning the use of contractors in war zones by 2009.
Pentagon to stop forced U.S. tour extension 18 Mar 2009 The Army will phase out its practice of forcing soldiers to remain on active duty past the end of their enlistment periods, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced Wednesday. Gates said the "stop-loss" policy will be used only in extreme circumstances. About 13,000 soldiers were affected by stop loss in January, the last month for which figures are available.
Military Laser Hits Battlefield Strength By Noah Shachtman 18 Mar 2009 Huge news for real-life ray guns: Electric lasers have hit battlefield strength for the first time -- paving the way for energy weapons to go to war. In recent test-blasts, Pentagon-researchers at Northrop Grumman managed to get its 105 kilowatts of power out of their laser -- past the "100kW threshold [that] has been viewed traditionally as a proof of principle for 'weapons grade' power levels for high-energy lasers," Northrop's vice president of directed energy systems, Dan Wildt, said in a statement.
U.S. judge denies bail to former "enemy combatant" 18 Mar 2009 A U.S. judge denied bond on Wednesday for an accused al Qaeda [al-CIAduh] sleeper agent after prosecutors said he used his time in America to research information on toxins and was a colleague of suspected September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Ali al-Marri, who has dual citizenship in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, was arrested in Illinois in December 2001 in an investigation of the September 11 hijacked plane attacks.
Oops! Looks like a little psy-ops project went south... people are asking questions: Who sent soldiers into an Alabama town last week? --The 131-year-old federal Posse Comitatus Act generally prohibits federal military personnel or federalized National Guard from taking on a domestic law enforcement role. 18 Mar 2009 Who sent 22 military police and an Army officer into the tiny Alabama town of Samson last week after a gunman went on a rampage that left 11 people dead? That's what the U.S. Army would like to know. The Associated Press reports that an Army spokesman says the military has launched an inquiry to find out what happened, why the troops were sent from nearby Fort Rucker, what they did while there and whether any federal laws were broken.
Army reviews domestic use of troops in Alabama 18 Mar 2009 The Army has launched an inquiry into whether federal laws were broken when soldiers were sent to an Alabama town after 11 people died in a shooting spree. The Army confirmed Wednesday that 22 military police and an officer from Fort Rucker were sent to the nearby town of Samson after slayings last week. Authorization from the governor or president is typically required for the deployment of federal troops on U.S. soil. It's not clear who ordered the troops sent to Samson. An Army spokesman says the military is trying to determine what happened. Among the questions is why the troops were sent and what they did while there.
Bank stocks soar after Fed promises to buy bonds 18 Mar 2009 Bank stocks soared Wednesday after the Federal Reserve announced plans to buy up to $300 billion of long-term Treasuries, expanding its commitment to pump money into the financial system and encourage lending. The KBW Bank Index, which tracks 24 of the nation's largest banks, surged more than 11 percent following the Fed's announcement at midafternoon.
Forget the bonuses, AIG can't repay its loans, GAO says 18 Mar 2009 Lost in all the shouting over the $165 million in bonuses paid to executives of disgraced insurer American International Group was this sober message delivered to Congress on Wednesday by a government watchdog: AIG's ability repay its $170 billion in loans from taxpayers has eroded significantly. Testilying before Congress, Orice Williams, the director of the Government Accountability Office's financial markets division, said that AIG has had only limited success in restructuring itself, despite more than $170 billion in federal aid in four separate bailouts since last September.
AIG CEO asks employees to repay some bonus money 18 Mar 2009 The head of AIG said on Wednesday he was trying desperately to prevent the company from collapsing when he allowed the payment of $165 million in bonuses that have stoked outrage stretching from the White House to Main Street. Edward Liddy, who took over as chairman and chief executive of American International Group Inc in September when the government stepped in with the first of a series of rescues, said he had asked employees receiving more than $100,000 in bonuses to repay at least half.
will 'repay' taxpayers for bonuses, Geithner says --Treasury will
deduct that amount from the $30 billion in
Business collapse can end union contracts, but not AIG bonus contracts By Chris Steller 16 Mar 2009 Contracts guaranteeing bonuses to executives at collapsing businesses -- like American International Group (AIG) -- are held inviolable, while labor union contracts regularly get voided or reneged-on when corporations declare (or even threaten) bankruptcy. Labor experts say it’s the law of the land.
Bush aide gets 30 months in prison
18 Mar 2009 A former Bush White House aide was sentenced to 2 1/2
years in prison for stealing nearly $600,000 from a government program
White House may seek to bypass filibuster rule in Senate 18 Mar 2009 A top White House official threatened Tuesday to use a congressional rule to force some controversial proposals through the Senate by eliminating the Republicans' power to block legislation. Peter Orszag, the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, said the Obama administration would prefer not to use the budget "reconciliation" process that allows measures to pass the Senate on simple majority votes.
launches bid to allay fears over GM food --PM hopes to
Shell dumps wind, solar and hydro power in favour of biofuels 17 Mar 2009 Shell will no longer invest in renewable technologies such as wind, solar and hydro power because they are not economic, the Anglo-Dutch oil company said today. It plans to invest more in biofuels which environmental groups blame for driving up food prices and deforestation. Executives at its annual strategy presentation said Shell, already the world's largest buyer and blender of crop-based biofuels, would also invest an unspecified amount in developing a new generation of biofuels.
Spectators left out in the cold at secret talks to save polar bears 18 Mar 2009 Northern nations trying to find ways to protect the world’s polar bears in a warming climate resolved to hold their talks behind closed doors despite Norway’s objections. Norway, the US, Canada, Russia and Denmark – the five nations that have polar bears on their Arctic tundra – began talks in Norway reviewing their accord on protecting the species for the first time in 28 years. The Norwegian Directorate for Nature Management said that 60 per cent of the world’s estimated 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears could disappear by 2050.
60 Days to Save the Polar Bear 16 Mar 2009 Last week Congress passed -- and President Obama signed into law -- a bill giving Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar the authority to immediately rescind Bush administration regulations that eliminate essential protections for the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act. However, under the bill, if Salazar doesn't withdraw the Bush regulations within 60 days, the regulations stay in effect and the polar bear is deprived of the legal protections it needs to survive. Secretary Salazar must act immediately... Please sign the petition to Salazar and demand that he immediately rescind the Bush regulations harming the polar bear.
Grassley Accuses AIG of 'Sucking Tit' of Taxpayer --But Senator 'tones down' criticism 17 Mar 2009 OK, so Sen. Charles Grassley doesn't really want AIG executives who accept lavish bonuses to "commit suicide," as he suggested in an interview Monday. He walked that order back a few steps on Tuesday. But the Iowa Republican had some other choice words for the bailed-out insurance giant. "From my standpoint, it's irresponsible for corporations to give bonuses at this time when they're sucking the tit of the taxpayer," Grassley explained. Grassley continued to express his displeasure with the company that is distributing $165 million in bonuses over lawmakers' objections.
Grassley Dismisses Suicide Talk As Rhetoric 17 Mar 2009 In an interview with MSNBC’s David Shuster, Sen. Grassley didn’t apologize for his comments that AIG representatives should either "resign, or go commit suicide." Instead, he dismissed the question, saying people should know "rhetoric"when they hear it. "I hope you recognize rhetoric," Grassley said, "and I shouldn't even have to answer that question…"
AIG bonus millionaires have left the company --Eleven AIG workers who received retention bonuses of $1 million or more have already left the company 17 Mar 2009 Eleven AIG workers that received retention bonuses of $1 million or more have already left the company, it was revealed today as Congress threatened to produce new taxes to claw back [LOL!] the $165 million payment. Lawmakers competed yesterday to rain down the harshest criticism on AIG, which received more than $170 billion in assistance from taxpayers, after it handed out the bonuses to 400 staff at the financial products division (AIG FP) that caused its near-collapse.
73 AIG Executives Got $1 Million Bonuses or More
17 Mar 2009 Seventy-three employees of troubled American International
Group received more than $1 million in bonuses under contracts
that guaranteed them 100 percent of their 2007 pay in 2008 regardless
of performance, New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo
said. The revelation comes a day after Cuomo subpoenaed AIG for information
regarding $165 million paid to executives and other workers in the company's
troubled financial products division, chiefly responsible for bringing
the insurance giant to the brink of collapse last year. The firm has
required $170 billion in government
CEO awarded $10.8 million
--Citigroup got a $45 billion
Citi, Morgan Stanley look to sidestep bonus caps: report 17 Mar 2009 Anticipating restrictions on bonuses, officials at Citigroup Inc and Morgan Stanley are exploring ways to sidestep tough new federal caps on compensation, the Wall Street Journal said. Executives at these banks and other financial institutions that received government aid are discussing increasing base salaries for some executives and other top-producing employees, the paper said, citing people familiar with the situation.
'Israel would attack Iran with missiles' 17 Mar 2009 If Israel chose to take military action against Iran's nuclear facilities, it might opt not to send IAF jets on a mission but rather use its arsenal of medium-range ballistic missiles, a report published by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said Tuesday. The Jericho III, Israel's most advanced version of its custom-designed ballistic missile, is capable of carrying a 1,000-1,300 kilogram conventional payload or a 750kg nuclear warhead over a distance of up to 7,000 kilometers.
Ashkenazi in U.S.: IDF must prepare to strike Iran 17 Mar 2009 Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi on Monday said that while Israel was interested in exhausting diplomatic options against Iran's nuclear program, the army must nevertheless prepare itself for a military attack. During a visit to Washington, D.C., Ashkenazi met with [sociopath] Dennis Ross, the designated U.S. envoy to the Persian Gulf, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to discuss the Iranian issue.
Israel's national security aide barred from U.S. --Former Israeli spy linked to Pentagon leak 17 Mar 2009 Uzi Arad, who is expected to serve as national security adviser in the next Israeli government, has been barred from entering the United States for nearly two years on the grounds that he is an intelligence risk. Mr. Arad, a former member and director of intelligence for the Mossad, Israel's spy service, is mentioned in the indictment of Lawrence Franklin, a former Pentagon analyst who pleaded guilty in 2005 to providing classified information about Iran in a conversation with two employees of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
Criticism of Israel dropped from Durban II draft resolution 17 Mar 2009 United Nations officials said Tuesday that Muslim-backed references to 'defamation of religion' and criticism of Israel have been dropped from a draft being prepared for next month's world racism meeting. Initial draft resolutions for the United Nations Durban II summit branded Israel as an occupying state that carries out racist policies.
Beijing raises stakes with tit-for-tat deployment in South China Sea 16 Mar 2009 Beijing has increased tension in a disputed part of the South China Sea by sending a patrol ship to protect fishing boats after the United States deployed a destroyer in the area. The American move was in response to alleged Chinese harassment of one of its surveillance vessels. The Yuzheng 311 will patrol the waters around the Paracels and the Spratly Islands, protecting Chinese fishing boats and transport vessels.
Russia to re-arm military as Nato expands 17 Mar 2009 President Dmitry Medvedev, who seeks to improve chilly ties with the United States, today said Russia would rearm its military and boost nuclear forces because US-led Nato is expanding towards Russia's borders. "Attempts to expand the military infrastructure of Nato near the borders of our country are continuing," Medvedev told an annual meeting with the Defence Ministry's staff.
U.S. soldier dies in Iraq 17 Mar 2009 An American soldier died of wounds sustained from attack in Baghdad, the U.S. military said Monday. A brief military statement said that a Multi-national Division Baghdad Soldier died on March 16 from combat related injuries while conducting a patrol in Baghdad.
Four arrested as hundreds protest Bush speech 17 Mar 2009 A crowd of roughly 400 noisy protesters gathered outside the Telus Convention Centre in downtown Calgary on Tuesday to demonstrate against a noon address by former U.S. president [sic] George W. Bush. Blowing whistles and chanting "war criminal," demonstrators carried signs and shouted "shame on you" at people attending the event at a cost of $400 each.
Protests greet Bush's first speech as ex-president 17 Mar 2009 More than 100 protesters chanted "war criminal" and flung shoes [<g>] in Calgary on Tuesday, angry that former U.S. President [sic] George W. Bush was in the Canadian city to give his first speech since leaving the White House. At least two demonstrators were hauled away by police after brief skirmishes, as 1,500 business people in the oil patch city waited outside a convention center for an hour to pass through tight security and enter the C$400-a-plate ($315) luncheon. "He is a war criminal who fought an illegal war, and there are some who say he was never elected democratically, so there are some who say he should be arrested as soon as he comes here," said a woman dressed as a Guantanamo Bay prisoner, who called herself Ivana Nomobush.
CIA director taps retired GOP senator for advice on Bush-era interrogation and detention policies 16 Mar 2009 CIA Director [Bush troll] Leon Panetta has tapped a retired Republican senator to help guide him through a Senate Intelligence Committee investigation into the agency's Bush-era interrogation and detention practices. Former Sen. Warren Rudman of New Hampshire will be Panetta's special adviser for the Senate 'inquiry.'
Obama Slow to Repudiate Bush in Race, Terrorism Court Cases [Slow? He's *useless.*] 16 Mar 2009 The change sweeping Washington has been slow to show in President Barack Obama’s legal stances on issues such as terrorism and racial preferences. The new administration’s court filings so far have been marked less by repudiation of former President [sic] George W. Bush than by nuance and in some cases continuity. Even when breaking with Bush, Obama’s lawyers often have either laid out a middle- ground position or avoided taking a firm stand.
US raises new anti-terrorism approach with EU 16 Mar 2009 The United States proposed to European Union leaders on Tuesday they adopt a joint approach to fight terrorism and set aside divisions spurred by the Iraq war and Guantanamo prison abuses, EU officials said. "It is a proposal ... to write together a memorandum of understanding enunciating the principles that should inspire our common fight against terrorism," European Justice and Security Commissioner, Jacques Barrot, said.
Greece, UK Police Step Up Anti-terrorism Collaboration 16 Mar 2009 Two U.K. police officers were due in the Greek capital Monday to reinforce anti-terrorism collaboration with Scotland Yard amid mounting violence by Greek extremist groups in recent months. Two groups - the far-left Revolutionary Struggle and the Revolutionary Sect - have multiplied their attacks here, including two recent bomb strikes against U.S.-based banking [terrorist] group Citibank, for which Revolutionary Struggle claimed responsibility.
Greek extremists threaten more bombings after Citibank attacks 12 Mar 2009 A Greek 'extremist' group known for its violent attacks has threatened to carry out more bombings in the wake of two recent strikes targeting US banking group Citibank. In an eight-page proclamation published in Greek weekly Pontiki, far-left group Revolutionary Struggle said its aim remained to foment "revolution" and use the global economic crisis against capitalism.
Emergency Crews Converge on Morehead City Port for Terrorism Training --On Monday, they practiced responding to a chemical attack on the port. 16 Mar 2009 Dozens of emergency workers from a number of different local agencies and the Army National Guard swarmed the North Carolina Port in Morehead City Monday, in a training exercise. Firefighters and EMS crews from across Carteret County and MCAS Cherry Point joined the Port Authority and the National Guard in the first day of an exercise called Eastern Shield. Aircraft from the Marine Corps are scheduled to join in the training later this week.
New generation of nuclear power stations 'risk terrorist anarchy' --Plans for more nuclear power stations increases the risk of terrorists seizing plutonium, report warns 16 Mar 2009 The new generation of atomic power stations planned for Britain, China and many other parts of the world risks proliferation that could lead to "nuclear anarchy", a security expert warned in a report published today. Governments and multilateral organisations must come up with a strategy to deal the impact of the new nuclear age, which will produce enough plutonium to make 1m nuclear weapons by 2075, argues Frank Barnaby from the Oxford Research Group thinktank in a paper for the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).
Obama drops 'war on drugs' rhetoric for needle exchanges 16 Mar 2009 The Obama administration signalled today that it was ready to repudiate the prohibition and "war on drugs" approach of previous presidents, and steer policy towards prevention and "harm reduction" strategies favoured by Europe. David Johnson, an assistant secretary of state, said the new administration would embrace policies supporting federally funded needle exchanges.
Your morning adorable: Polar bear cubs venture out at Ouwehands Zoo 17 Mar 2009 The Netherlands' Ouwehands Zoo welcomed two polar bear cubs Dec. 14. This morning, they ventured out into the zoo's main polar-bear enclosure for the first time. Their timing is excellent: Polar bears are a hot topic today, with representatives from the U.S., Norway, Canada, Russia and Denmark meeting at a three-day, closed-door [!] conference in the Norwegian town of Tromsoe to review their accord on protecting the world's polar bears.
Obama lawyers: Ex-Guantánamo detainees have no rights --The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal for the District of Columbia unanimously ruled against them early last year, saying because the men were foreigners held outside the United States, they are not covered by the definition of ''person'' protected by the act. 13 Mar 2009 The Obama administration argued in court documents filed Friday that four former prisoners at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp who have sued over their treatment have no constitutional rights. The suit was brought by four British men who say they were beaten, shackled in painful stress positions, threatened by dogs and subjected to extreme medical care [?] during their time in the lockup at the U.S. Navy base in southeast Cuba. They also say they were harassed while practicing their religion, including forced shaving of their beards, banning or interrupting their prayers, denying them prayer mats and copies of the Koran and throwing a copy of the Koran in a toilet. ['Extreme medical care.' What is that, a euphemism for 'medical experiments?']
Four British Former Guantánamo Detainees Return to Court of Appeals in Torture Suit --New Administration Argues Supreme Court Ruling Did Not Grant Rights to Detainees, Reasserts Earlier Ruling that Detainees Are Not "Persons" (ccrjustice.org) 13 Mar 2009 Four British former detainees alleging torture and religious abuse at Guantanamo filed their brief today in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Department of Justice, in its first opportunity under the new administration to address those issues, argued that detainees had no constitutional rights. The United States Supreme Court earlier granted the men’s certiorari petition and remanded the case for further consideration in light of the Supreme Court’s decision last summer in Boumediene v. Bush, which held that Guantanamo detainees had a constitutional right to habeas corpus.
Obama administration ends use of "enemy combatant" designation --A change in name only By Tom Eley 16 Mar 2009 On Friday, the Obama administration filed court papers that continue to argue for all of the Bush administration's essential policies in relationship to current and future "detainees"--including their indefinite detention without charge or judicial review... The administration departs from the Bush administration only in the latter's claim that the president, based solely on the war powers vested in his office as commander-in-chief, has the power to indefinitely hold detainees. The Obama administration still claims the right to hold the prisoners, but will henceforth base it upon Congressional legislation and resolutions, particularly the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force that was passed after the September 11th terrorist attacks.
Secret ICRC file says US practiced 'torture': report 16 Mar 2009 The International Committee of the Red Cross produced in 2007 a secret report, in which it concluded that the treatment of 'al-Qaeda' captives by CIA interrogators "constituted torture," The Washington Post reported Monday. The newspaper quotes the ICRC report as saying that the treatment of inmates at secret prisons run by the US Central Intelligence Agency amounted to "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment," which is prohibited by the Geneva Conventions.
Red Cross Described 'Torture' at CIA Jails --Secret Report Implies That U.S. Violated International Law 16 Mar 2009 The International Committee of the Red Cross concluded in a secret report that the Bush regime's treatment of al-Qaeda captives "constituted torture," a finding that strongly implied that CIA interrogation methods violated international law, according to newly published excerpts from the long-concealed 2007 document. The report, an account alleging physical and psychological brutality inside CIA "black site" prisons, also states that some U.S. practices amounted to "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment."
'US drones' target Pakistan town 16 Mar 2009 Two missiles fired by suspected US drones are believed to have killed four 'anti-government fighters' in northwest Pakistan, intelligence officials say. "The attack happened at around 10.30pm (1730GMT) near Bannu and we have reports that four militants, including two Arabs and two Pakistanis, were killed," one official said on Sunday.
Barack Obama told: help Pakistan or risk a repeat of 9/11 in America or Britain --The US president is to be told that to avoid a repeat of the devastating 9/11 attacks on America or Britain he must dramatically step up aid to Pakistan. 14 Mar 2009 A team headed by Bruce Riedel, a former CIA Middle East expert, asked to overhaul US policy on Afghanistan and Pakistan, has concluded that stabilising Pakistan is now the higher priority, a source familiar with the discussions has revealed. The report, prepared in conjunction with the National Security Council... will also urge a sharp increase in military and civil assistance. But The Sunday Telegraph has learned that the need to prevent a repeat of the September 11 attacks has become the driving force behind the review, which could be published as early as this week. [What happened to the billion$ Bush gave to Pakistan? See: Billions in U.S. Aid to Pakistan Wasted, Officials Assert 24 Dec 2007; US Senate approves Pakistan aid worth $785m 20 Dec 2007.]
10 soldiers killed in Afghanistan 15 Mar 2009 Four American soldiers were killed in eastern Afghanistan in a roadside explosion, the U.S. military said Sunday, in the worst of several attacks by 'insurgents' around the country... In Kapisa Province, also in the east, a French soldier and five Afghan troops were killed in a clash with militants, Cmdr. Christophe Prazuck, spokesman for the French Defense Ministry, said Sunday.
Suicide blast targets Afghan police 16 Mar 2009 At least 11 people, including nine police officers, have been killed in a suicide bombing in southern Afghanistan, according to police officials. The attack on Monday, which wounded another 24 people, targeted the main police building in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province.
U.S. reconsiders its '2-war' readiness strategy 15 Mar 2009 The protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are forcing the administration of President Barack Obama to rethink what for more than two decades has been a central premise of American strategy: that the nation need only prepare to fight two major wars at a time. A senior Defense Department official involved in a strategy review now under way said that the Pentagon was absorbing the lesson that the kinds of counterinsurgency campaigns likely to be part of some future wars would require more staying power than in past conflicts... Thomas Donnelly, a defense policy expert with the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said he believed that the Obama administration would be seeking to come up with "a multiwar, multioperation, multifront, walk-and-chew-gum construct."
Top officials urge dialogue with Hamas 14 Mar 2009 Nine former senior US officials and one current adviser are urging the Obama administration to talk with leaders of Hamas to determine whether the militant group can be persuaded to disarm and join a peaceful Palestinian government, a major departure from current US policy.
Riot police quell protest as water forum opens 16 Mar 2009 The World Water Forum, a seven-day arena aimed at addressing the planet's deepening [corporate-created] crisis of fresh water, was launched here Monday amid a violent protest broken up by riot police using tear gas. Anti-riot police dispersed some 300 demonstrators against the forum as they headed to the venue buildings, detaining at least 15. [See: Drought 'Oddities'.]
All travel plans to be tracked by Government 14 Mar 2009 The travel plans and personal details of every holidaymaker, business traveller and day-tripper who leaves Britain are to be tracked by the Government, the Daily Telegraph can disclose. Anyone departing the UK by land, sea or air will have their trip recorded and stored on a database for a decade. Passengers leaving every international sea port, station or airport will have to supply detailed personal information as well as their travel plans.
Motorists could be banned from leaving Britain over unpaid parking fines 16 Mar 2009 A million motorists with unpaid parking fines face being stopped from leaving the country. They risk being caught up in plans to recoup almost £1billion in outstanding fines and court orders imposed for criminal offences as well as driving ones. Ministers are examining whether to use powers to track the travel plans of everyone leaving the country under a system known as e-Borders to deal with the problem of unpaid fines.
AIG Threatened with Subpoenas Over Bonuses --NY Attorney General Cuomo Wants Names and Numbers by 4pm Monday 16 Mar 2009 The hot seat is getting even hotter for AIG Chairman and CEO Edward Liddy. ...The New York Attorney General has set a deadline of 4pm Monday for Liddy to release the names and job descriptions of those receiving bonuses stating that if the information is not received this afternoon that he will seek a subpoena to force compliance.
Obama's Outrage: President Wants Treasury to Block to AIG Bonuses --Obama: 'It's Hard to Understand How Derivative Traders at AIG Warranted Any Bonuses' 16 Mar 2009 President Obama publicly fumed today over plans by the bailed-out insurance giant AIG to reward it executives with $165 million worth of bonuses and asked his treasury secretary to "pursue every single legal avenue" to block them. "This is a corporation that finds itself in financial distress due to recklessness and greed," the president said.
Chorus of outrage over millions in AIG bonuses 15 Mar 2009 Leaders of the White House economic team and the Senate's top Republican [hypocritical scumbags and architects of deregulation, who purposefully caused the whole system to topple] bellowed about bonuses at a bailed-out insurance giant and pledged to prevent such payments in the future. From one Sunday talk show to the next, they tore into the contracts that American International Group asserted had to be honored, to the tune of about $165 million and payable to executives by Sunday, even as the company has benefited from more than $170 billion in a federal rescue. AIG has agreed to Obama administration [conciliators] requests to restrain future payments.
AIG ships billions in bailout abroad --Administration 'couldn't stop' AIG from doling out $165 million in bonuses to some of its top corporate officials – even as the company was receiving a massive infusion of taxpayer funds. 15 Mar 2009 Billions of American taxpayer dollars used to bailout insurance giant AIG are flowing to some of the largest foreign banks in the world, according to new documents released by beleaguered company Sunday. In all, AIG disclosed payments of $105.3 billion between September and December 2008. Some of the biggest recipients were European banks. Societe Generale, based in France, was the top foreign recipient at $11.9 billion, Deutsche Bank of Germany got $11.8 billion and Barclays, based in England, was paid $8.5 billion.
Britain showing signs of heading towards 1930s-style depression, says Bank 16 Mar 2009 Britain is showing signs of sliding towards a 1930s-style depression, the Bank of England says today for the first time. The country is displaying early symptoms of being trapped in a so-called "debt deflation trap" where families find themselves pushed further and further into the red every month, according to a Bank report published today. The stark warning will cause serious concerns, since it was this combination of falling prices and soaring debt burdens that plagued the US in the 1930s.
£40,000 each: The personal cost of the downturn 16 Mar 2009 The worst economic slowdown in three-quarters of a century has wiped £40,000 from the wealth of every adult in the United Kingdom, a national total of almost £2 trillion; that is £2,000bn, or £2,000,000,000,000. The research into the destructive effects of the recession by the accountant PricewaterhouseCoopers for The Independent shows that the fall in the value of property and shares owned by British households between July 2007 and February 2009 has reached the equivalent of 18 months-worth of national output...
Obama Administration Is Open to Taxing Health Benefits 15 Mar 2009 The Obama administration is signaling to Congress that the president could support taxing some employee health benefits, as several influential lawmakers and many economists favor, to help pay for overhauling the health care system. The proposal is politically problematic for President Obama, however, since it is similar to one he denounced in the presidential campaign as "the largest middle-class tax increase in history."
Salisbury mayor: Malicious blogs endangering city 13 Mar 2009 (MD) In her final State of the City address, Salisbury Mayor Barrie Parsons Tilghman warned residents of what she sees as a great danger to the city: malicious bloggers. <g> Tilghman said in her address Thursday that over the last five years, the presence of a small group of suspicious, mean-spirited people focused on the negative has grown, endangering the city's vitality.
leader Tobias files for divorce
13 Mar 2009 Randall Tobias, president of the Indianapolis Airport Authority
board [Bush war criminal], has filed for divorce from his wife of 13
years, according to Hamilton Superior Court records. According to court
documents filed Jan. 30, Tobias and his wife, Marianne Tobias, have
separated. Randall Tobias, who is the petitioner in the divorce, resigned
in 2007 as deputy secretary of state and head of the U.S. Agency for
International Development. That action was taken after
'We are alarmed by the growing number of people who have been taken to jail for simply possessing organic products.' False results put drug tests under microscope 13 Mar 2009 ...The couple were caught up in what civil libertarians, public defenders and some narcotics experts say is a growing problem: the use of unreliable field drug-test kits as the basis to arrest innocent people on illegal drug charges. The inexpensive test kits are used by virtually every police department in the country and by federal agents, including Customs officers at the nation's borders. "The tests have no validity," says former FBI narcotics investigator Frederick Whitehurst. And as more organic products come on the market, "the potential for civil rights violations when these presumptive tests are out there is phenomenal."
CDC Hunting Detroit Flight Passengers --CDC Confirms Case of TB On Flight to Detroit 15 Mar 2009 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is looking for passengers who may have come in contact Tuesday with a passenger who was infected with tuberculosis. A passenger aboard a Northwest Airlines Flight No. 51 from Frankfurt, Germany, to Detroit Tuesday had tuberculosis, the CDC has confirmed.
under fire in battle to save polar bear from extinction --Summit
to discuss limits on hunting as starvation hits numbers of Arctic kings
16 Mar 2009 A limit on the hunting of polar bears by
'The U.S. has accomplished nearly everything it set out to do.' Cheney: US achieved much of what it wanted in Iraq 15 Mar 2009 No, he won't use the phrase "Mission Accomplished" when it comes to Iraq. But former Vice President [sic] Dick Cheney says it's his opinion that nearly six years after the U.S.-led invasion, the U.S. has accomplished nearly everything it set out to do. [He's right! Exxon aims for big role in Iraq's oil sector 09 Mar 2009; Deals with Iraq are set to bring oil giants back 19 Jan 2008; Big Oil Tiptoes Back into Iraq 19 Jun 2008.]
Israel's new defence minister accused of war crime 15 Mar 2009 A hawkish general, who cancelled a trip to London four years ago because he feared being arrested on war crime charges, is expected to become Israel’s new defence minister. Moshe "Boogie" Ya’alon, former chief of staff of the Israel Defence Forces, is reported to have accepted an invitation from Binyamin Netanyahu, the incoming prime minister, to serve in the new government. Renowned as a tough-minded commander, Ya’alon’s legal problems stem from a decision in July 2002 to assassinate Salah Shehadeh, the commander of the military wing of Hamas.
badly hurt in clash with Israeli military
13 Mar 2009 An American demonstrator was critically wounded Friday in
a clash between protesters and Israeli troops over Israel's West Bank
IDF to draft civilians to maintain bulldozers in battle 11 Mar 2009 The Israel Defense Forces is planning to draft civilian bulldozer-maintenance personnel for reserve duty, marking the first time the army will be conscripting the staff of a private firm in wartime.
Bin Laden: Arab leaders 'complicit' with Israel 14 Mar 2009 Al-Qaeda [al-CIAduh] leader Osama bin Laden accused some Arab leaders of being "complicit" with Israel and the West against Muslims and urged holy war to liberate the Palestinian territories, in an 'audio tape' broadcast by Al-Jazeera television on Saturday. "It has become clear that some Arab leaders were complicit with the Crusader Zionist alliance against our people. These are the leaders that America calls moderate," said bin Laden, without singling out any leaders.
'Bin Laden' attacks Arab leaders 14 Mar 2009 A new audio message said to be from al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden [but actually produced in a lab in Langley] in accuses moderate Arab leaders of conspiring with the West against Muslims. Bin Laden, who has been America's most wanted man [hireling] since the 9/11 attacks in 2001, also renews his attacks on Israel in the recording attributed to him.
Afghan bomb targets mayor of important city 15 Mar 2009 A roadside bomb has been responsible for the death of a man who was watching an official convoy passing by. The convoy, carrying the mayor of the key city of Kandahar, was bombed by a device on the side of the road, killing the onlooker and wounding two others. The mayor of Kandahar city survived the blast.
20 NATO trucks burn in Pakistan 15 Mar 2009 About 20 vehicles have been destroyed when unknown militants fired several rockets at a NATO supply terminal in northwestern Pakistan. Local police officials told Press TV correspondent that unknown militants launched several rockets at a terminal in Peshawar in the North-West Frontier Province. They said that the attack started at midnight on Saturday and continued through Sunday.
Afghan police say victims of US raid not militants 14 Mar 2009 Afghan police disputed whether five men killed in a raid by U.S. and Afghan troops on Saturday were militants. The predawn raid took place in the Charkh district of Logar province, some 80 km (49 miles) southwest of the capital Kabul. The [lying sacks of sh*t] U.S. military said the operation aimed at disrupting a network that had been carrying out roadside bombings. Afghan police and officials, however, said the men killed were non-combatants. "I confirm that those killed by U.S. forces were civilians... four brothers and a father," said General Mostafa Mohseni, the police chief in Logar province.
Clinton announces Guantanamo Bay facilitator 15 Mar 2009 US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, has named a senior US diplomat to a post whereby he will be involved in the closing of Guantanamo Bay. Daniel Fried, who is Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, has been chosen to expedite the closure and to persuade other countries to accept detainees from the prison.
Stealth fighter and bomber deployed to Guam for first time 12 Mar 2009 For the first time, F-22 Raptors and B-2 Spirits, the only stealth platforms in the Air Force's current inventory, are deployed outside the continental United States to Andersen AFB, Guam... During these training missions, both units operate as if it were a real world event, in order to better prepare for any possible situation. Though the missions were similar when the B-52 Stratofortress' from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., was deployed here, the planning is very different.
The far right is on the march again: the rise of fascism in Austria --In Austria's recent general election, nearly 30 per cent of voters backed extremist right-wing parties. Live visits the birthplace of Hitler to investigate how Fascism is once again threatening to erupt across Europe. 14 Mar 2009 This is a neo-Nazi gathering and in the crowd are some of Austria’s most hard-faced fascists. Among them is Gottfried Kussel, a notorious thug who was the showman of Austria’s far-right movement in the Eighties and Nineties until he was imprisoned for eight years for promoting Nazi ideology. Incredibly, standing shoulder to shoulder with these hard-line Nazi sympathisers are well known Austrian politicians.
Speaking of Nazis: Blackwater's New Frontier: Their Own Private Africa By Bruce Falconer and Daniel Schulman Mar 2009 It was late October, and Zimbabwe's defense attaché, a soft-spoken, thick-shouldered lieutenant colonel, was explaining his country's freewheeling approach to business in the banquet room of the Liaison hotel on Capitol Hill. Mingling around him were representatives from some of the world's best-known private security and military contracting firms, gathered to explore their prospects in the industry's next frontier: Africa. ...[T]here were plenty of other avenues to explore, including a recent shake-up in the US military's command structure that seemed to promise new demand for firms like Blackwater (which recently changed its name to Xe), Triple Canopy, and DynCorp.
U.N.'s Water Czar to Participate in Protests at U.N.-Backed Water Conference --Barlow is a chief opponent of privatization of water 14 Mar 2009 After being appointed the United Nations' senior adviser on water in December 2008, a top U.N. official is heading off to Istanbul to take part in protests against a U.N.-backed water conference. Maude Barlow, attending the conference in her official role as the U.N.'s "water czar," will help lead at least 200 activists in protests and demonstrations against the weeklong World Water Forum, where the U.N. on Monday will unveil its flagship report on water resources.
Cheney: Obama terrorism policies make U.S. vulnerable 15 Mar 2009 Former Vice President [sic] Dick Cheney said Sunday that by jettisoning key elements of the Bush administration's approach to terrorism, President Obama had increased the risk of more attacks on the country. The criticism came in a broad-based attack on Obama during a Sunday news program in which Cheney also disagreed with expanded White House involvement in the economy and denied that President [sic] Bush was responsible for the nation's financial ills.
'As the facts came out, it became increasingly clear that the case was a government-cooked farce and that the men had no real capability or intent to do harm to the country.' Liberty City Six Judge Refuses to Pay Private Investigator After He Speaks Out By Bob Norman 10 Mar 2009 How much does freedom of speech cost when applied to the now-infamous Liberty City terror trial? For one private investigator who worked long and hard on the case, Rory McMahon, the bill came to $9,000. For making the mistake of speaking his mind, the veteran P.I. was also banned from the case. That's the punishment levied against McMahon by U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard, who handled the two previous Liberty City terrorism trials and is presiding over the third that's playing out now at the federal courthouse in Miami... McMahon's crime: He had the nerve to criticize the judge during the first trial in a story of mine in New Times ("Have Terror, Will Travel," November 22, 2007).
President Plans Team to Overhaul Food Safety --Last year, FDA inspected just 7,000 of nearly 150,000 domestic food facilities 15 Mar 2009 Describing the government’s failure to inspect 95 percent of food processing plants as "a hazard to the public health," President Obama promised Saturday to bolster and reorganize the nation’s fractured food-safety system. Mr. Obama announced the creation of a Food Safety Working Group, which will include the secretaries of health and agriculture, to advise him on which laws and regulations need to be changed, to foster coordination across federal agencies, and to ensure that laws are enforced.
Key House Democrat: AIG "Trying to Play the American People for Fools" 15 Mar 2009 Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, a member of the Joint Economic Committee, today renewed his calls for AIG CEO Edward Liddy to resign after the company said it will move forward with paying out $121 million in bonuses for senior executives. "For months, I have been calling on Edward Liddy to step down from his position leading AIG, and I loudly and clearly renew that call today," Cummings said Sunday in a paper statement. "...Mr. Liddy continues to display reckless and irresponsible behavior at the helm of this company, and we simply cannot afford to accept it any longer." Cummings first called for Liddy to resign in November. Today the Maryland Democrat accused AIG of "trying to play the American people for fools."
Summers calls AIG bonuses 'outrageous' 15 Mar 2009 "Outrageous." That's what the president's chief economic adviser calls the tens of millions of dollars in new bonuses paid out by the troubled insurance giant American International Group. AIG's chairman [and CEO Edward Liddy] says the company entered into the bonus agreements in early 2008 before getting into severe financial trouble. Summers says the government determined it could not break those contracts after the fact.
A.I.G. Planning Huge Bonuses After $170 Billion Bailout --Administration officials allowed most bonuses to go forward. [The Whore York Times pulled this line in its 'revised' version of the article. They don't want us *too angry* with the US government.] 15 Mar 2009 The American International Group, which has received more than $170 billion in taxpayer bailout money from the Treasury and Federal Reserve, plans to pay about $165 million in bonuses by Sunday to executives in the same business unit that brought the company to the brink of collapse last year. The bonuses will be paid to executives at A.I.G.'s financial products division, the unit that wrote trillions of dollars' worth of credit-default swaps that protected investors from defaults on bonds backed in many cases by subprime mortgages. [Am I the only one that has *had enough?* --LRP]
Insurance giant AIG agrees to restructure bonuses 14 Mar 2009 Insurance giant American International Group has agreed to Obama administration demands to restructure some of its corporate bonuses. However, the troubled company will still pay out millions of dollars in bonuses after the Treasury Department determined that the government did not have the legal authority to block those payments... The group of top executives getting bonuses will receive a total of $9.6 million now, with the average payment around $112,000.
Bailout money is flowing abroad --Study casts doubt on the effectiveness of Bank of England's 'quantitative easing' policy 14 Mar 2009 Much of the new money the Bank of England has "printed" to stimulate the UK economy is ending up abroad where it will be of no benefit to UK households and businesses, according to an analysis of the Bank's "quantitative easing" programme. The Bank is in the process of purchasing about £75bn of government securities, or gilts, over a three-month period, the first instalment of a massive £150bn programme. City experts analysing the scheme for The Independent say large quantities of money will simply end up abroad because so many of the gilts are held by foreign investors.
Swiss banks agree to end secrecy, after international pressure 14 Mar 2009 Wealthy individuals and companies will no longer be able to hide their riches in Zurich bank accounts after Switzerland bowed to international pressure to end the era of "no questions asked" banking. It will join Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and Andorra, which also agreed this week to share limited information on their accounts on request from foreign governments, ending 300 years of obstinate banking secrecy.
TSA Reviewing Senator's Behavior At Dulles Terminal 13 Mar 2009 Sen. David Vitter (R-Nutjob-LA) is embroiled in a different kind of classic Washington brouhaha, this one involving a federal investigation of his alleged airport rage. The Transportation Security Administration announced yesterday that it is reviewing a report that an angry Vitter set off an alarm at Dulles International Airport last week when he opened a security door to a jet bridge in his haste to make a United Airlines flight.
WWF-Canada: Polar Bear States Obliged to Take Action on Climate Change at Historic Meeting 12 Mar 2009 An agreement signed in 1973 obliges the five Arctic states with polar bear populations to take action on climate change at a meeting next week, WWF said today. For the first time in more than 25 years, the Contracting Parties to the 1973 international Agreement for the Conservation of Polar Bears and Their Habitats - Canada, Russia, US, Greenland/Denmark, and Norway - will come together for a formal meeting under the agreement.
Obama drops the verbiage, keeps the prisoners! U.S. Keeps Broad Right to Detain, Retires 'Enemy Combatant' 14 Mar 2009 The Obama administration yesterday jettisoned the Bush-era term "enemy combatant" but maintained a broad right to detain those who [allegedly] provide "substantial" assistance to al-Qaeda and its associates around the globe. The disclosure came in a court filing by the Justice Department in response to orders by federal judges, who sought clarity on the government's legal justification for holding about 241 prisoners at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
'The president has the authority to detain persons.' --U.S. Won't Label Terror Suspects as 'Combatants' 14 Mar 2009 The Obama administration said Friday that it would abandon the Bush regime’s term "enemy combatant" as it argues in court for the continued detention of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba... But in a much anticipated court filing, the Justice Department argued that the president has the authority to detain terrorism suspects there without criminal charges, much as the Bush administration had asserted. It provided a broad definition of those who can be held, which was not significantly different from the one used by the Bush administration. The filing signaled that, as long as Guantánamo remains open, the new administration will aggressively defend its ability to hold some prisoners there.
DOJ Drops Use of 'Enemy Combatant' Language --Government Reiterates Its Power to Detain as 'Needed' 13 Mar 2009 The Justice Department today told a federal court that it has the power to detain those who "substantially" supported Taliban or 'al Qaeda' forces after Sept. 11 but is dropping the legal use of the phrase "enemy combatant" to describe such prisoners. In the court filing, lawyers for the Obama administration wrote that the president based his detention authority on the Authorization for the Use of Military Force passed by Congress in 2001 after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Guantanamo detainee Binyam Mohamed insists British to blame for 'torture' --Guantanamo prisoner Binyam Mohamed has claimed British involvement was crucial in him facing extraordinary rendition and alleged torture. 13 Mar 2009 The 30-year-old alleged that MI5 assisted American agents who interrogated him and provided them with information which helped formed the basis of their questions. Describing his time in prison in Afghanistan he said: "In the dark prison I was literally dead. I didn't exist. I wasn't there. There was no day, there was no night."
US warships head for South China Sea after standoff 14 Mar 2009 A potential conflict was brewing last night in the South China Sea after President Obama dispatched heavily armed American destroyers to the scene of a naval standoff between the US and China at the weekend. Mr Obama’s decision to send an armed escort for US surveillance ships in the area follows the aggressive and co-ordinated manoeuvres of five Chinese boats on Sunday. They harassed and nearly collided with an unarmed American vessel.
Navy Sends Destroyer to Protect Surveillance Ship After Incident in S China Sea 13 Mar 2009 The U.S. Navy has dispatched a guided-missile destroyer to the South China Sea after Chinese ships allegedly harassed an American ship operating there last weekend, a Pentagon official said yesterday. The USS Chung-Hoon, armed with torpedoes and missiles, is stationed in protection of the USNS Impeccable, an ocean surveillance ship.
US president remains committed to strong military 13 Mar 2009 President Barack Obama has told an audience at the US National Defense University in Washington that the United States will continue to have the strongest military in the world. The president said the nation would continue to maintain its military dominance by doing whatever was needed to sustain a technological advantage.
Obama extends Iran sanctions 13 Mar 2009 US President Barack Obama has extended sanctions against Iran, saying the country continues to pose a threat to US national security. Mr Obama made a formal notice of renewal with a statement saying the Government of Iran was acting contrary to the interests of the United States. In a message to the US Congress, he said sanctions would be extended for a year.
Iranian president declares his country a space and nuclear power 13 Mar 2009 Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Friday that pressure from Western powers trying to keep Iran in economic isolation have in fact spurred the country to become a space and nuclear power. "Had you not been bad-tempered and blocked the way, the Iranian nation would not have been present in space, and would not have become a nuclear power," Fars news agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying at the inauguration ceremony of a natural gas deposit in the Bushehr province.
Secret emails show Iraq dossier was 'sexed up' --Intelligence chiefs criticised 'iffy drafting' of key document 13 Mar 2009 Secret Whitehall emails released yesterday provide damning new evidence that the notorious dossier making the case for invading Iraq was "sexed up". They disclose that the intelligence services were sceptical over the "iffy drafting" of government claims that Saddam Hussein could mount a missile strike on his neighbours within 45 minutes of ordering an attack. Officials privately mocked assertions that the Iraqi president was covertly trying to develop a nuclear capability and wisecracked that perhaps he had recruited "Dr Frankenstein" to his supposed crack team of nuclear scientists.
U.S. Jet Shoots Down Iranian Drone Over Iraq By Noah Shachtman 12 Mar 2009 An American fighter jet shot down an Iranian drone as it was flying over Iraq, U.S. military sources in Baghdad tell Danger Room. Details of the previously-unreported shoot-down, which occurred last month, are still sketchy.
Shoe-thrower fans unite online --Muntadhar al-Zaidi, who threw his shoes at President Bush, gains cult-like following 13 Mar 2009 They've sung his praises on social networking pages, calling him a "hero," "the greatest man of our time," "a legend." They've said he deserves to be knighted and should be decorated with medals. They've cried out for his amnesty and have even proposed serving time for him. The man many hundreds of thousands of Facebook users honor is no other than Muntadhar al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist who was sentenced Thursday to three years in prison for hurling his shoes at then-U.S. President [sic] George W. Bush. [Some may have wondered: If you're *that close* to the worst dictator in history, why waste the throw on a pair of shoes?]
CIA report: Israel will fall in 20 years 13 Mar 2009 A study conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has cast doubt over Israel's survival beyond the next 20 years. The CIA report predicts "an inexorable movement away from a two-state to a one-state solution, as the most viable model based on democratic principles of full equality that sheds the looming specter of colonial Apartheid while allowing for the return of the 1947/1948 and 1967 refugees. The latter being the precondition for sustainable peace in the region."
Israel Bans Gaza Toilet Papers, Soap 12 Mar 2009 European and American officials are protesting its blocking of humanitarian aid, including harmless goods such as cheeses, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap and toilet papers, from the sealed off Gaza Strip. "We're certainly asking the Israelis questions about this," a US official told Reuters on Wednesday, March 11.
US missiles kill 15 in Kurram --Officials say no high profile targets killed, dead mostly include Afghan Taliban 13 Mar 2009 A suspected US missile strike destroyed a Taliban training camp in Kurram Agency, killing at least 15 Taliban and Al Qaeda [al-CIAduh] terrorists, as well as injuring another 50, security officials said on Friday. Two missiles fired by an unmanned drone pulverised the den in the agency. More than 30 such strikes have killed over 330 people since August 2008, shortly before key Washington ally President Asif Ali Zardari was elected. Thursday's attack was the fifth missile strike blamed on unmanned US aircraft since President Barack Obama came to power, dashing Pakistani hopes that the new administration would abandon the policy.
Pentagon plans blimp to spy from new heights --The giant dirigible would use radar to closely and constantly monitor activity on the ground from 65,000 feet. 13 Mar 2009 The Pentagon said Thursday that it intends to spend $400 million to develop a giant dirigible that will float 65,000 feet above the Earth for 10 years, providing unblinking and intricate radar surveillance of the vehicles, planes and even people below. "It is absolutely revolutionary," Werner J.A. Dahm, chief scientist for the Air Force, said of the proposed unmanned airship -- describing it as a cross between a satellite and a spy plane.
Boeing and US Army Collaborate on Space and Missile Defense Research 12 Mar 2009 The Boeing Company and the U.S. Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command (SMDC/ARSTRAT) have launched a joint research-and-development effort to coordinate and fuse multiple types of sensor data in a secure environment for Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) and space situational awareness concept exploration.
New terror video surfaces in Germany 13 Mar 2009 A new video, in which two German Islamists call for suicide attacks in their country, has surfaced on the Internet, the government said on Thursday. The message shows two men clad in combat gear, identified as the brothers Mounir and Yassim C from the western city of Bonn but of Moroccan origin, a government spokesman told AFP.P.
/ 11 Reforms Don't Stop Passport Fakery 13 Mar 2009 Using phony
documents and the identities of a dead man and a 5-year-old boy, a government
investigator obtained U.S. passports in a test of post-9/11 security.
Despite efforts to boost
Sellers Will Be Required to Provide Thumbprint Before Deal Is Approved 12 Mar 2009 (IL) CBS 2 reports a new law will place an unusual burden on the seller. Cook County home sellers--and homeowners across the state--will soon have to provide a thumb print left some people shocked. The new law, which is set to go into effect June 1, 2009, will force anyone selling property in Cook County to provide a thumbprint from their right hand.
Heads up! IBM launches water-management services operation --IBM wants to play a wider role [!] in infrastructure services, including automobile traffic and power grids. 13 Mar 2009 IBM Corp. wants to get really deep into water. The technology company is launching a new line of water services Friday, hoping to tap a new sales vein by taking the manual labor out of 'fighting pollution' and managing water supplies. IBM says the overall water-management services market could be worth $20 billion in five years. [What might IBM do when it 'manages' the water supply? 1) Contaminate it. 2) Blame terrorists. 3) Get the US government to 'rebuild' that which IBM destroyed: Recall the KBR/Fluor model in Iraq. 4) Watch prices (and IBM profits) skyrocket to pay for steps 1-3. See: Drought 'Oddities'.]
Sony Workers Hold Execs Hostage Over Pay --CEO, Head of Human Resources In France Freed After Employees Angered Over Severance Package Give Them Earful 13 Mar 2009 Workers at a Sony factory in southwestern France freed two company executives Friday whom they had held to protest the severance package offered for when the plant shuts for good. Serge Foucher, CEO of Sony France, and Roland Bentz, the head of human resources, had been prevented from leaving the plant since Thursday afternoon.
SC Gov. Sanford set to reject stimulus millions 13 Mar 2009 South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R-Terrorist) has been the leading voice among Republican governors who have criticized President Barack Obama's $787 billion economic stimulus plan... The governor's announcement this week that he may reject nearly a quarter of the money headed to South Carolina has stirred criticism in the state and elsewhere that he has placed his own political future ahead of the needs of the state's most vulnerable citizens.
Perry will block unemployment funds 12 Mar 2009 Gov. Rick Perry (R-Sociopath) will announce today that he is blocking the state from accepting $550 million for expanded unemployment benefits as part of the federal stimulus package. The Legislature still could move to change state law to draw down the money, but those changes would be subject to a Perry veto.
Mission Accomplished! Fed reports record fall in household net worth 12 Mar 2009 The net worth of American households fell by the largest amount in more than a half-century of record keeping during the fourth quarter of last year. The Federal Reserve said Thursday that household net worth dropped by a record 9 percent from the level in the third quarter.
Madoffs were worth more than $823M, documents show 13 Mar 2009 Bernard Madoff and his wife had $823 million in assets at the end of last year, including $22 million in properties stretching from New York to the French Riviera, a $7 million yacht and a $2.2 million boat named "Bull," according to a document his lawyers filed Friday. The document, prepared for the Securities and Exchange Commission at the end of last year, was contained in papers filed with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in an effort to get Madoff freed on bail.
McCain Threatens to Oppose Interior Nominee Over Reagan Remark 13 Mar 2009 Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain today denounced as "highly offensive" remarks about [sociopath] Ronald Reagan made by President Barack Obama’s nominee for the number two spot at the Department of the Interior. At a nomination hearing for David Hayes for deputy secretary of Interior, the former Republican presidential candidate read aloud from an article that Hayes wrote in April 2006 which drew unfavorable comparisons between former President [sic] George W. Bush and Reagan.
GOP official denies prostitute report 11 Mar 2009 The former chairman of the Cook County Republican Party denied Wednesday that he was with two prostitutes when his wife allegedly attacked him over the weekend. Palatine Township GOP committeeman Gary Skoien said that two female friends were at his Inverness home around 1 a.m. Sunday when his wife assaulted him.
Scientists warn of a world on the brink 14 Mar 2009 The world is on the brink of dangerous climate change and immediate action is needed to avert it, scientists say, issuing one of the bleakest assessments yet of the current state of the planet. A strongly worded communique marking the end of a specially convened conference in Copenhagen on Thursday, European time, concluded that climate change and its effects matched or exceeded the worst fears expressed by the Nobel prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change two years ago.
Lord Stern on global warming: It's even worse than I thought --Author of definitive report on climate change sounds ominous new warning 13 Mar 2009 Lord Stern, the economist who produced the single most influential political document on climate change, says he underestimated the risks of global warming and the damage that could result from it. The situation was worse than he had thought when he completed his review two-and-a-half years ago, he told a conference yesterday, but politicians do not yet grasp the scale of the dangers now becoming apparent.
Polar bears face extinction 13 Mar 2009 Polar bears will not survive without action to tackle climate change and save their rapidly disappearing Arctic habitat, conservationists have warned. (Pictures)
Disaster declared after Australia oil spill 13 Mar 2009 Authorities declared parts of Australia's northeast coast a disaster area Friday after tons of oil from a damaged cargo ship contaminated several beaches popular with tourists. Queensland state Premier Anna Bligh declared Moreton Island, Bribie Island and southern parts of the Sunshine Coast as disaster zones after a ship lost more than 30 tons of fuel when its hull was pierced by a container washed overboard.
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