Citizens for Legitimate Government, a multi-partisan activist group established to expose the Bush Coup d'Etat and oppose the Bush occupation in all of its manifestations.

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February 2009 Archives, Page Two

Obama seeks $205 billion for Iraq, Afghan wars 26 Feb 2009 President Barack Obama requested about $205 billion in war funding through the end of fiscal 2010 on Thursday. Obama's first budget proposal asked for $75.5 billion through September, which would bring total war spending to $141.4 billion for the current fiscal year. Obama also requested a slightly smaller $130 billion to fund the wars for fiscal year 2010, which starts on October 1.

Combat Forces May Remain In Iraq Long Term --Obama's 'withdrawal plan' may leave behind as many as 50,000 troops 25 Feb 2009 Some of the U.S. forces likely to remain in Iraq after President Barack Obama fulfills forgets his pledge to withdraw combat troops would still have a combat role 'fighting' suspected terrorists, the Pentagon said Wednesday.

Britain accused of complicity in US 'rendition' programme --MPs and the public were never informed. 26 Feb 2009 Britain has been accused of complicity in the American security forces' "rendition" programme after a minister admitted that men detained by UK forces in Iraq had been transferred to a secret US jail in Afghanistan. John Hutton, the Defence Secretary, told MPs that two men held by British forces in Iraq were handed over to the Americans in 2004 and transported out of the country. They are still being held in Afghanistan today. UK officials were aware of the case in 2004. Ministers including Jack Straw, the then Foreign Secretary, were given papers referring to the transfer in 2006.

Hutton admits Iraq suspects were handed to US --Opponents want inquiry into collusion with US 26 Feb 2009 MPs were given inaccurate information regarding the extraordinary rendition of terror suspects, the defence secretary, John Hutton, admitted yesterday as he confirmed for the first time that UK forces in Iraq handed over individuals to the US, which flew them to a prison in Afghanistan. Hutton apologised but it did not satisfy opposition MPs and human rights groups, who demanded a full inquiry.

Drone Attacks Inside Pakistan Will Continue, CIA Chief Says --Panetta: Efforts begun under President [sic] George W. Bush to destabilize al-Qaeda and destroy its leadership 'have been successful.' 26 Feb 2009 CIA Director Leon Panetta said yesterday that U.S. aerial attacks against al-Qaeda [al-CIAduh] and other extremist strongholds inside Pakistan would continue, despite concerns about a popular Pakistani backlash. "Nothing has changed our efforts to go after terrorists, and nothing will change those efforts," Panetta said in response to questions about CIA missile attacks, launched from unmanned Predator aircraft.

U.S. Ready to Respond to N.Korea Missile --Admiral Keating Says U.S. Prepared to Shoot Down Missile If Obama Gives OK 26 Feb 2009 In an interview with ABC News, Adm. Timothy Keating, head of the U.S. Pacific Commands, said that the military is prepared to shoot down any North Korean ballistic missile -- if President Obama should give the order. "If a missile leaves the launch pad we'll be prepared to respond upon direction of the president," Keating told ABC News. "I'm not a betting man but I'd go like 60/40, 70/30 that it will, they will attempt to launch a satellite. There's equipment moving up there that would indicate the preliminary stages of preparation for a launch. So I'd say it's more than less likely."

Pentagon to Allow Photos of Soldiers' Coffins 26 Feb 2009 In a reversal of an 18-year-old policy that critics said was hiding the ultimate cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the press will now be allowed to photograph the flag-draped coffins of America’s war dead as their bodies are returned to the United States -- but only if their families agree. The decision, which lifts a 1991 blanket ban on such photographs put in place by former President George H.W. Bush, chiefly affects coffins arriving from Iraq and Afghanistan that go through Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

CIA Adds Economy to Threat Updates 26 Feb 2009 The daily White House intelligence report that catalogs the top security threats to the nation has a grim new addition, reflecting the realities of the age: a daily update on the global financial crisis and its cascading effects on the stability of countries through the world. The first Economic Intelligence Briefing report was presented to the White House yesterday by the CIA. The addition of economic news to the daily roundup of terrorist attacks and surveillance reports appears to reflect a growing belief among intelligence officials that the economic meltdown is now preeminent among security threats facing the United States.

Former CIA official Kyle Foggo sentenced to more than 3 years in prison 26 Feb 2009 The highest-ranking CIA officer ever convicted of a federal felony was sentenced to more than three years in prison Thursday as part of a bribery and fraud investigation that previously resulted in the conviction of a California congressman. Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, who as executive director held the CIA's No. 3 rank from 2004 to 2006, had asked the judge to spare him jail time, citing his covert work on behalf of the country over two decades at the CIA, including a supervisory stint in Iraq after the Sept. 11 attacks.

'This is religious profiling at its worst.' Man says he was informant for FBI in Orange County 26 Feb 2009 As federal authorities press their case against a Tustin man accused of lying about ties to Al-Qaeda, they disclosed this week that some evidence came from an informant who infiltrated Orange County mosques and allegedly recorded the defendant discussing jihad, weapons and plans to blow up abandoned buildings. On Wednesday, a man who claims to be that informant [Craig Monteilh] stepped forward, filing court documents saying that he had served as a confidential informant for the FBI from July 2006 to October 2007 to identify and thwart plan terrorist operations in the Orange County Islamic community.

Civil liberties campaigners meet 26 Feb 2009 Lawyers, judges, politicians, human rights supporters, anti-surveillance activists and members of the Countryside Alliance are gathering at several UK cities on Saturday to discuss their concerns about the alleged erosion of civil liberties. The Convention on Modern Liberty is being held in London, Belfast, Bristol, Cardiff, Cambridge, Glasgow and Manchester.

Palestinian olive oil bucks UK recession --Sales expected to double this year after Gaza conflict --Product gets Fairtrade certification for first time 24 Feb 2009 In an unintended consequence of Israel's offensive in Gaza last month, sales of Palestinian olive oil in Britain are soaring, importers have said. The devastating conflict, in which 1,300 Palestinians were killed, has prompted a surge in demand for the product in apparent sympathy for the Palestinians. Equal Exchange, a seller of Fairtrade products, reported a threefold increase in sales of olive oil from the West Bank in January compared with a year ago.

Lobbyists Line Up to Torpedo Speech Proposals --Health Care, Agribusiness, Mining and Defense Groups Raise War Chests to Sway Legislators and the Public 26 Feb 2009 Industries from health care to agribusiness to mining that stand to lose under President Barack Obama's policy agenda are ramping up lobbying campaigns to derail or modify his plans. The day after Mr. Obama formally laid out his policy goals in his first address to Congress, the former chief executive of HCA Inc. unveiled a $20 million campaign to pressure Democrats to enact health-care legislation based on free-market principles. [Oh, I'm sure they can buy an Obama conciliation for a lot less than that. Industries will get the usual corporate media whores to start whining on the op-ed pages of the PentaPost and Murdoch Street Urinal about Obama's lack of bipartisanship (even though they never invoked the word once during eight years of Bush dictatorship) and Obama will deliver. It's worked from day one. --LRP]

Source: Citi-gov't aid deal may come this week 26 Feb 2009 Citigroup Inc.'s bid to boost its equity capital could result in the federal government raising its stake in the troubled bank this week to as much as 40 percent, a person familiar with the talks said. Citigroup already has received $45 billion in U.S. bailout money made up primarily of debt-like preferred shares, plus federal guarantees to cover losses on some $300 billion in risky investments.

Obama Calls for End to Loan Subsidy for Sallie Mae, Citigroup 26 Feb 2009 President Barack Obama is urging an end to government subsidies for student loan providers such as Sallie Mae and Citigroup Inc., with the government becoming the sole provider of federally backed college lending. The government now offers direct loans through colleges, as well as guarantees for loans made by private lenders such as New York-based Citigroup and Reston, Virginia-based Sallie Mae, officially SLM Corp.

Obama Seeks $1 Trillion Tax Increase in Budget Plan 26 Feb 2009 President Barack Obama proposed almost $1 trillion in higher taxes on the 2.6 million highest-arning Americans, Wall Street financiers, U.S.-based multinational corporations, and oil companies to pay for permanent tax breaks for lower earners. Obama’s 2010 budget proposal, released today, would reinstate the top two Clinton-era tax rates of 36 percent and 39.6 percent in 2011, up from the 33 percent and 35 percent the richest Americans now pay. It would raise taxes on capital gains and dividends to 20 percent for top earners, up from the 15 percent [insanely] set by former President [sic] George W. Bush in 2003.

Colorado's first newspaper survives the Great Depression, but not the Bush Depression: Denver's Rocky Mountain News to print final edition Friday 26 Feb 2009 Denver-based newspaper Rocky Mountain News will publish its last edition on Friday, owner E.W. Scripps Co. said Thursday. Scripps said it was unable to fund a buyer for the paper, adding that it will continue to own and offer for sale the paper's assets. Scripps bought the paper, which is Colorado's first newspaper, in 1926.

Miles of Idled Boxcars Leave Towns Singing the Freight-Train Blues --As Slumping Railroads Run Out of Parking, an Indiana Hamlet Is Divided by Wall of Cars 23 Feb 2009 Tens of thousands of boxcars are sitting idle all over the country, parked indefinitely by railroads whose freight volumes have plummeted along with the economy. And residents of the communities stuck with these newly immobile objects, like the people of New Castle, are hopping mad about it... The looming cars have been blamed for casting shadows over homes that sit as close as 10 feet from the tracks. One woman says the lack of sunlight has turned her backyard into a mud pit.

CNBC Anchors Mortified Ron Paul Allowed Air Time --'This is not going as planned' By Steve Watson 26 Feb 2009 CNBC anchors were left dumbfounded and acted overtly cantankerous yesterday after Congressman Ron Paul's opening statement at the House Financial Services Committee was broadcast live to an audience of millions. CNBC went live to the House, clearly without knowing that the Texas Congressman had the initial Republican statement at the hearing of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke... CNBC cut back to the studio. Anchors Erin Burnett and Mark Haines were so perturbed by what they had just heard that they immediately cut to a commercial break: Haines: "This is not going as planned" Burnett: "No it is not."

Senate agrees to give D.C. residents a vote 26 Feb 2009 Residents of the U.S. capital would finally have a full voting member in Congress, heeding demands first made by democratic activists two centuries ago, under a bill passed on Thursday by the Senate. On a vote of 61-37, the Senate sent the measure to the House of Representatives, which is expected to approve a similar version next week.

Bill Requires Factories, Plants to Notify Officials During Emergency 25 Feb 2009 Industrial facilities would be required to contact emergency responders within 15 minutes of a major accident under a bill resulting from a chemical plant explosion in Institute that killed two workers. The legislation was proposed by Gov. Joe Manchin and was one of the new laws he announced in his State of the State address Feb. 11.

FEMA's "Toxic Bureaucracy" --Are FEMA Managers Holding Up Aid to Hold Onto Their Jobs? 25 Feb 2009 FEMA's been under fire from critics who claim the Gulf Coast recovery is moving too slowly. Now FEMA officials said they're investigating allegations of serious misconduct at the New Orleans office. CBS News has learned workers there accuse their bosses of intentionally holding up Katrina aid.

FEMA investigating La. hurricane recovery office --Allegations of sexual harassment, cronyism, nepotism and other ethics violations 25 Feb 2009 The Federal Emergency Management Agency is investigating allegations of cronyism and other misconduct at the New Orleans office overseeing efforts to rebuild the hurricane-battered Gulf Coast, officials said Wednesday. The agency, which has endured fierce criticism over delays in the rebuilding effort, sent a team of Washington investigators to its Louisiana office last week.

Gov. Jindal, Rising Star, Plummets After Speech 26 Feb 2009 Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana has been a rising star in the Republican Party, but his stock took a hit as he was roundly panned for his televised response to President Obama’s first speech to Congress on Tuesday night. Conservative commentators were among the harshest critics, calling Mr. Jindal’s delivery animatronic, his prose "cheesy" and his message -- that federal spending is not the answer to the nation’s economic problems -- uninspired. ['Uninspired.' That's a euphemism for 'we couldn't stop vomiting, just looking at him.']

Obama Administration Upholds Ban on Threatened Polar Bear Trophy Imports 24 Feb 2009 The Humane Society of the United States praised the decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reject a bid by trophy hunters to import sport-hunted polar bear trophies from Canada. Last year, polar bears were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, halting the flow of trophy imports. FWS' decision... closes the door on attempts by extremist trophy hunters to import the heads and hides of imperiled polar bears under a potentially disastrous misinterpretation of the law.

Appropriation Committee Moves Omnibus Appropriations Bill, Giving Obama Administration Power to Remove Bush Regulations Weakening Endangered Species Act and Rescind Harmful "Special Rule" for Polar Bear 23 Feb 2009 The U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee moved an omnibus appropriations bill today that, if passed, will give President Obama power to rescind rules weakening both the Endangered Species Act and protections for the polar bear. If the bill passes, the Obama administration will be able to rescind rules without going through a new formal rulemaking process.

GOP sociopaths want polar bears dead: Republicans protest polar bear rider in omnibus 26 Feb 2009 Language in the omnibus spending bill that would allow the Obama administration to reverse a controversial regulation on the polar bear is raising the ire of some prominent Republicans, who claim the rider could open the door for the Interior Department to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. The option for Interior to throw out the polar bear rule is generating the most ire among Republicans.

NASA's Climate Chief Calls for Civil Disobedience by Warming Advocates 26 Feb 2009 NASA's chief climate scientist is in hot water with colleagues and at least one lawmaker after calling on citizens to engage in civil disobedience at what is being billed as the largest public protest of global warming ever in the United States. In a video on, Dr. James Hansen is seen urging Americans to "take a stand on global warming" during the March 2 protest at the Capitol Power Plant in Southeast Washington, D.C.


U.S. Energy Department Cannot Account for Nuclear Materials at 15 Locations 24 Feb 2009 A number of U.S. institutions with licenses to hold nuclear material reported to the Energy Department in 2004 that the amount of material they held was less than agency records indicated. But rather than investigating the discrepancies, Energy officials wrote off significant quantities of nuclear material from the department's inventory records. A report released yesterday by Energy Department Inspector General Gregory Friedman that concluded "the department cannot properly account for and effectively manage its nuclear materials maintained by domestic licensees and may be unable to detect lost or stolen material."

Shhhhh! Top generals sign secrecy letter on budget 25 Feb 2009 Top Pentagon generals and admirals had to sign a letter promising to keep defense budget details secret if they wanted to work on the military's fiscal plan. Defense Secretary Robert Gates set the rule, requiring for the first time that each military and civilian official helping prepare the budget sign a non-disclosure statement, Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said Wednesday.

W. House: DoD Officials Must Vow Secrecy on Budget 19 Feb 2009 The Obama administration has directed defense officials to sign a pledge stating they will not share 2010 budget data with individuals outside the federal government. In an undated non-disclosure agreement obtained by Defense News, the administration tells defense officials that "strict confidentiality" must be practiced to ensure a "successful" and "proper" 2010 defense budget process.

Lawyer says Guantanamo abuse worse since Obama 25 Feb 2009 Abuse of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay has worsened sharply since President Barack Obama took office as prison guards "get their kicks in" before the camp is closed, according to a lawyer who represents prisoners. Abuses began to pick up in December after Obama was elected, human rights lawyer Ahmed Ghappour told Reuters. He cited beatings, the dislocation of limbs, spraying of pepper spray into closed cells, applying pepper spray to toilet paper and over-forcefeeding detainees who are on hunger strike.

50,000 US troops to remain in Iraq under Obama 'withdrawal' plan 25 Feb 2009 President Obama will likely announce a pullout of U.S. troops from Iraq later this week, according to a Defense Department official... The official said it appears Obama is "trending" toward troop 'withdrawal' in 19 months. While campaigning for President, then Sen. Obama pledged to drawdown U.S. forces in Iraq within 16 months. A residual force would be left behind, somewhere in the neighborhood of 50,000 troops.

Release of Iraq war minutes vetoed --Details of cabinet discussions held in the run-up to the Iraq war are to be kept secret after the Government decided to take the unprecedented step of vetoing their publication. 25 Feb 2009 Campaigners had demanded to see the minutes of two meetings, on 13 and 17 March 2003, amid allegations that the Cabinet failed to discuss properly or challenge the decision to invade Iraq. The legality of the war was also discussed at the meetings. For the first time, the Government has decided to make use of "Section 53" of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, allowing it to veto the release of the documents.

Censored: Cabinet minutes on Iraq war will stay secret 25 Feb 2009 A decision by Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, to veto the publication of key Cabinet minutes about the decision to invade Iraq has been greeted with fury. Mr Straw yesterday blocked a ruling from the Information Commissioner ordering the release of the notes documenting discussions in the days before the 2003 war.

Electrocutions, poisonings, rapes, overcharges, malfeasance profitable: KBR Q4 Profit Climbs As Revenues Surge 42% 25 Feb 2009 Engineering, construction and services company KBR, Inc. Wednesday, reported a rise in the fourth-quarter profit, helped by a 42% rise in revenue and positive contribution from LNG project change order. KBR's net income for the quarter increased to $88 million or $0.54 per share from $71 million or $0.42 per share in the comparable period.

Authorities: 1 killed in NC helicopter crash at Xe 24 Feb 2009 Authorities say one person is dead and a second seriously injured following a helicopter crash on the North Carolina campus of the private security contractor Xe (zee) terrorists, Blackwater. Currituck County spokesman Randall Edwards says the person was pronounced dead at the crash scene. He says the injured person aboard was taken to a hospital in nearby Chesapeake, Va.

Army is fighting British jihadists in Afghanistan --Top Army officers reveal surge in attacks by radicalised Britons 25 Feb 2009 British soldiers are engaged in "a surreal mini civil war" with growing numbers of home-grown jihadists who have travelled to Afghanistan to support the Taliban, senior Army officers have told The Independent. Interceptions of Taliban communications have shown that British jihadists – some "speaking with West Midlands accents" – are active in Helmand and other parts of southern Afghanistan, according to briefing papers prepared by an official security agency.

Obama says to forge new anti-terrorism strategy for Afghanistan, Pakistan 25 Feb 2009 U.S. President Barack Obama pledged on Tuesday that the United States will continue its previous efforts to fight against foment terrorism. "We will forge a new and comprehensive strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan to defeat al-Qaeda and combat extremism," said Obama in his first address to a joint session of the Congress. "I will not allow terrorists to plot against the American people from safe havens half a world away," he said.

Four British troops killed in roadside blast in Afghanistan --Troops from 1st Battalion The Rifles were on escort duty in Helmand province 25 Feb 2009 Three British troops were killed today in a roadside explosion in southern Afghanistan, and a fourth died at a military hospital in the UK as the result of wounds sustained in an incident in the same region on Monday.

US refuses to free the final British resident in captivity --Wife pleads for return of man who hasn't met youngest son 25 Feb 2009 The British wife of the final UK resident being held in Guantanamo Bay has pleaded for her husband's release so he can be united with the son he has never seen. Shaker Aamer, was separated from his family more than seven years ago while they were visiting Afghanistan. He claims to have been beaten and tortured during his detention at the notorious US Navy detention centre in Cuba.

Guantanamo veteran stopped from attending reunion party --Qatari national detained at Heathrow for failing to notify Government of arrival 25 Feb 2009 Plans for a Guantanamo reunion arranged for the newly-freed British resident Binyam Mohamed have been abandoned after Government intervention. Home Office officials detained a Qatari national [Jarullah al-Marri] yesterday who had flown into the UK to join other inmates of the notorious US Navy prison at a secret location in the British countryside, where they were to celebrate Mr Mohamed's freedom.

Mexico drug war prompts federal contingency plan 25 Feb 2009 The Department of Homeland Security has contingency plans to rush additional personnel and other resources, including the U.S. military, to parts of the southern border if law enforcement agencies on the ground are overwhelmed by spillover effects from escalating criminal violence in Mexico, department officials say.

Anthrax investigation still yielding findings --Chemical composition of spores doesn't match suspect flask. 25 Feb 2009 The deadly bacterial spores mailed to victims in the US anthrax attacks, scientists say, share a chemical 'fingerprint' that is not found in bacteria from the flask linked to Bruce Ivins, the biodefence researcher implicated in the crime. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) alleges that Ivins, who committed suicide last July, was the person responsible for mailing letters laden with Bacillus anthracis to news media and congressional offices in 2001, killing five people and sickening 17.

U.S. Army to Buy $6 Million of Riot Equipment By Steve Watson 24 Feb 2009 The U.S. Army is to invest $6 million in riot equipment, a fact that has furthered fears that troops will be used inside the U.S. in order to quell any civil unrest resulting from the ongoing economic crisis. The U.S. Army Contracting Agency, based at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, has a post on the Federal Business Opportunities website, requesting the equipment and has received several notices of interest from potential vendors.

Fight against terror 'spells end of privacy' --Former security chief warns searching personal data will 'break moral rules' 25 Feb 2009 Privacy rights of innocent people will have to be sacrificed to give the security services access to a sweeping range of personal data, one of the architects of the government's national security strategy has warned. Sir David Omand, the former Whitehall security and intelligence co-ordinator, sets out a blueprint for the way the state will mine data - including travel information, phone records and emails - held by public and private bodies and admits: "Finding out other people's secrets is going to involve breaking everyday moral rules."

Remote-controlled planes could spy on British homes --Police could soon use unmanned spyplanes like those used to track enemy troops in Iraq and Afghanistan for surveillance operations on British homes. 24 Feb 2009 The Home Office has suggested that the remote-controlled drones could be used to help police gather evidence and track criminals without putting officers at risk. The miniature aircraft could be fitted with cameras and heat-seeking equipment, allowing police to carry out aerial reconnaissance from a control room. Plans to introduce the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is outlined in the Home Office's Science and Innovation Strategy.

Is the Republican Party fomenting rebellion among the armed forces as a political tactic? By Ron Moore 25 Feb 2009 Alan Keyes' rant that soldiers should refuse orders given by President Obama has produced at least one tangible example. World Net Daily reports that Scott Easterling a U.S. soldier on active duty in Iraq has called President Obama an "impostor" in a statement in which he affirmed plans to join as plaintiff in a challenge to Obama's eligibility to be commander in chief... While this may not be a trend, it is noteworthy that the hostility is so openly practiced by those sworn to uphold the Constitution.

Petition filed over removal of Obama picture at Peterson 23 Feb 2009 Civilian workers at an Air Force Base in Colorado have filed a union grievance over the removal of a portrait of President Barack Obama from the base commissary. Obama's photograph was on a sign at the Peterson Air Force Base commissary in Colorado Springs listing the store's Presidents Day hours for Feb. 16, commissary employee Lavonda Bacon said. She said it was replaced [by racist maggots] Feb. 10 with a sign with no picture.

FDA ignored debris in syringes --Complaints of filth came in 2005; plant's microbiologist was a teenage dropout 25 Feb 2009 (NC) Months before an Angier company shipped deadly bacteria-tainted drugs, the federal Food and Drug Administration received numerous complaints about sediment and debris in the medicine. The FDA received reports about AM2PAT as early as 2005, but not until December 2007 did the agency issue recall notices to pull the drugs off the market. AM2PAT, which is now the subject of a criminal investigation, sold tainted syringes of heparin and saline that have been linked to five deaths.

Group of Rich Americans Sues UBS to Keep Names Secret in Tax Case 25 Feb 2009 UBS was sued on Tuesday in a Swiss federal court by wealthy American clients seeking to prevent the disclosure of their identities as part of a tax-evasion investigation by the United States Justice Department. The lawsuit accuses UBS and Switzerland’s financial regulator, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, or Finma, of violating Swiss bank secrecy laws and of conducting what Swiss law considers illegal activities with foreign authorities.

Obama Budget Would Create $634 Billion Health-Care Fund 25 Feb 2009 President Obama intends to release a budget tomorrow that creates a 10-year, $634 billion "reserve fund" to partially pay for a vast expansion of the U.S. health care system, an overhaul that many experts project will cost as much as $1 trillion over the next decade.

House Approves $410 Billion Spending Bill --Legislation designed to permit most federal agencies to continue operating until end of fiscal year Sept. 30 25 Feb 2009 The Democratic-controlled House approved $410 billion legislation Wednesday that boosted domestic programs, bristled with earmarks and chipped away at policies left behind by the Bush regime. The vote was 245-178, largely along party lines.

Obama nominates Locke as commerce secretary --Former two-term Washington governor experienced in international trade 25 Feb 2009 President Barack Obama today nominated Gary Locke, former governor of Washington, to serve as secretary of commerce. The former two-term Democratic governor who left office in 2005 holds experience in international trade.

'Day of Reckoning Has Arrived' --Obama Outlines Road to Economic Recovery, Stressing Education, Energy and Health Care 25 Feb 2009 President Obama offered a grim portrait of America's plight in an address to a joint session of Congress last night, but he promised to lead an economic renewal that would lift the country out of its current crisis without bankrupting its future.

President Obama Addresses Joint Session of Congress 24 Feb 2009 (Transcript)

Hearst wants 'significant' cuts at Chronicle 25 Feb 2009 The Hearst Corp. on Tuesday announced an effort to reverse the deepening operating losses of its San Francisco Chronicle by seeking near-term cost savings that would include "significant" cuts to both union and nonunion staff. In a statement, Hearst said that if the savings cannot be accomplished "quickly," the company will seek a buyer, and if none comes forward, it will close The Chronicle.

Housing Prices in 20 U.S. Cities Fall a Record 18.5% 24 Feb 2009 Home prices in 20 U.S. cities declined 18.5 percent in December from a year earlier, the fastest drop on record, as foreclosures climbed and sales sank. The S&P/Case-Shiller index’s decrease exceeded forecasts and compares with an 18.2 percent rate of decline in November.

Infringement Case Against McCain Advances 23 Feb 2009 John McCain says he was a puppet for the Republican National Committee <g> and therefore should not be held accountable for a presidential campaign commercial that used the popular song "Running on Empty" by Jackson Browne without permission. But the Los Angeles federal judge presiding over the copyright-infringement case was not buying it. The judge refused late Friday to remove the Arizona senator from the lawsuit in which he and the Republican National Committee are accused of violating the rights to Browne's 1977 hit.


'I was victim of medieval torture,' says freed Guantanamo detainee --Return of British resident after seven years fuels demands for Government to clarify role of MI5 agents 24 Feb 2009 The seven-year ordeal of a British resident who claims he was brutally tortured before being sent to Guantanamo Bay was brought to an end last night during an emotional reunion with his family. Last night Mr Mohamed’s release from US custody reignited calls for the British Government to publish secret documents that would shine further light on the involvement of MI5 agents in his interrogation and alleged torture.

Binyam Mohamed back in UK, claiming 'torturers' linked to British agents 23 Feb 2009 Guantanamo Bay prisoner Binyam Mohamed has arrived back in the UK, claiming that his "torturers" were receiving questions and material from British intelligence agents. Former prisoner Mr Mohamed alleges that he was tortured into falsely confessing to terrorist activities and claims MI5 officers were complicit in his abuse.

Terror Convictions Overturned in France 25 Feb 2009 A French appeals court on Tuesday overturned terrorist conspiracy convictions for five former inmates of the Guantánamo Bay prison camp who had been tried and convicted in 2007, after they were returned to France. The court ruled that information gathered by French intelligence officials in interrogations at Guantánamo Bay violated French rules for permissible evidence, and that there was no other proof of wrongdoing.

Terrorism case ends with 1-year fraud sentence --Authorities found money wasn't going to 'al-Qaida.' 23 Feb 2009 He was once accused of supporting terrorism. Those accusations disappeared and Sharif Omar on Monday was sentenced for something much more common in Utah -- fraud. U.S. District Court Judge Dale Kimball sentenced Omar to one year and one day in prison. In December, Omar pleaded guilty to three felony counts for banking and wire fraud and tax evasion.

FBI Director Warns of Terror Attacks on U.S. Cities --Federal officials worry about pockets of possible 'radicals' in Seattle, San Diego, Miami or New York. 23 Feb 2009 FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III today warned that extremists "with large agendas and little money can use rudimentary weapons" to sow terror, raising the specter that recent attacks in Mumbai that killed 170 people last year could embolden terrorists seeking to attack U.S. cities. At a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, Mueller said that the bureau is expanding its focus beyond al-Qaeda [al-CIAduh] and into splinter groups, radicals who try to enter the country through the visa waiver program and "home-grown terrorists." [Translation: Obama is poised to implement a full-blown police state to suppress the inevitable -- and long overdue -- rebellion over the Bush Depression. --LRP]

Extra US troops to be deployed fast to Afghanistan: NATO 23 Feb 2009 Around 17,000 extra US troops earmarked for Afghanistan will deploy as fast as possible and thousands more are requested for August 'elections,' the deputy NATO force commander here said Monday. The reinforcements, approved by US President Barack Obama last week, will head mainly to the southern provinces of Helmand, Kandahar and Zabul although details were being finalised, Lieutenant General Jim Dutton told reporters.

Roadside bomb kills 4 U.S. soldiers, 1 Afghan civilian 24 Feb 2009 Four American soldiers and an Afghan civilian were killed Tuesday by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan. The U.S. military said the troops were on patrol with Afghan security forces when their vehicle hit a bomb. The military did not say exactly where the bombing occurred.

Another day, another NATO war crime: Canadian troops blamed for death of 2 Afghan boys 23 Feb 2009 Dozens of angry protesters shouted "death to Canadians" and paraded the dismembered bodies of two boys in front of a government office in Kandahar Monday, after an explosion southwest of the city near a village for disabled people. As many as five children were also injured in the blast.

Obama's Afghan "surge" sows seeds of new wars 24 Feb 2009 US imperialism is set on a course to expand and intensify the Afghan War--vastly increasing the number of troops deployed to Afghanistan and extending the war into neighboring Pakistan. The Obama administration's Afghan troop "surge" and the ensuing ratcheting up of violence will have catastrophic consequences for the Afghani and Pakistani peoples. It adds a new, explosive dynamic to the decades-old geopolitical rivalry between India and Pakistan and will intensify the great power competition for control of oil-rich Central Asia, sowing the seeds for even larger and more destructive wars.

Allegations That CIA Predator Drones Have Bases in Pakistan --US used CIA attack drones, including at least four times since President Obama's inauguration, as its main tools to attack 23 Feb 2009 Unmanned CIA aircraft that fly over Pakistan and have enflamed much of the Pakistani population take off and land from at least two heavily guarded airbases inside Pakistan, two Pakistani officials told ABC News. Such flights have drawn repeated government complaints that they violate Pakistani sovereignty. But the United States has told Pakistan the drones using Pakistani bases are surveillance drones, according to Pakistani intelligence and diplomatic officials.

Iraq Accuses 12 Policemen In a String of Killings 24 Feb 2009 Twelve Iraqi police officers have been arrested in connection with a string of kidnappings and killings, including the killing of the sister of one of Iraq’s vice presidents, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry said Monday. The Interior Ministry oversees Iraq’s internal security forces, including the police.

Dozens held in north Iraq raids 21 Feb 2009 Iraqi security forces have arrested 74 people in a series of raids in the northern city of Mosul, officials say. The raids targeted criminals and "terrorists", an Iraqi defence ministry spokesman said.

US soldiers hurt in Iraq attack 24 Feb 2009 At least three US soldiers have been wounded and an Iraqi interpreter has been killed after coming under fire from police in Iraq. The shooting took place at 1500 (1200 GMT) at a checkpoint under a bridge in the northern city of Mosul. Two policemen opened fire before fleeing the scene in a waiting car. A second interpreter was also injured.

As with Iraq and Afghanistan, US taxpayers are forced to pay to 'rebuild' that which US taxpayers already paid (Israel) to destroy: US official: Gaza reconstruction aid to top $900M 24 Feb 2009 United States aid for the Gaza Strip's reconstruction will likely top $900 million, an official said, as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prepared to make her first Mideast trip as America's top diplomat. Israeli and Palestinian officials said Monday that Clinton will visit Israel and the West Bank during the first week of March.

Racist 'Joe the non-licensed Plumber'-style sociopaths serving in US Army: Soldier doubts eligibility, defies president's orders --'As an officer, my sworn oath to support and defend our Constitution requires this' 23 Feb 2009 A U.S. soldier on active duty in Iraq has called President Obama an "impostor" in a statement in which he affirmed plans to join as plaintiff in a challenge to Obama's eligibility to be commander in chief. "As an active-duty officer in the United States Army, I have grave concerns about the constitutional eligibility of Barack Hussein Obama to hold the office of president of the United States," wrote Scott Easterling in a "to-whom-it-may-concern" letter. [I'm sure you were ready, willing and able to carry out war crimes for UNelected Dictator Bush so go f*ck yourself, Easterling.]

Judge questions law giving telecoms immunity 24 Feb 2009 A federal judge in San Francisco is raising questions about the constitutionality of a law designed to dismiss suits against telecommunications companies accused of cooperating with government wiretapping. Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker has asked President Obama's Justice Department to present its views by Wednesday on whether the law gives the attorney general too much power to decide whether a company is immune from lawsuits. Obama supported the measure as a senator when Congress approved it last year.

U.S. capital moves a step closer to vote in Congress 24 Feb 2009 Legislation giving residents of the U.S. capital a full voting member of Congress cleared a procedural hurdle on Tuesday and headed toward passage, meeting demands first made by democratic activists two centuries ago. On a vote of 62-34, two more than the needed 60, the Senate moved to end debate on the long-sought measure and accede to the demand of people in Washington, also known as the District of Columbia, for full political representation.

U.S. Pressed to Add Billions to Bailouts 24 Feb 2009 The government faced mounting pressure on Monday to put billions more in some of the nation’s biggest banks, two of the biggest automakers and the biggest insurance company, despite the billions it has already committed to rescuing them... The Obama administration confirmed it was in discussions to aid Citigroup, the recipient of $45 billion so far, that could raise the government’s stake in the banking company to as much as 40 percent.

British jobs to be supported by American taxpayer with U.S. government set to buy 40% of Citigroup 23 Feb 2009 American taxpayers could soon own 40 per cent of what was once the country's most valuable bank. Citigroup Inc is in talks that could see the U.S. government boost its ownership stake to 40 per cent, according to media reports. The bank employs some 11,000 people in the UK. [Arming the Left: Is the time now? By Charles Southwell 21 Oct 2003]

Major Stock Market Indexes Fall to 1997 Levels 23 Feb 2009 The major market indexes have staggered to their lowest levels in a decade, pulled lower by investors rapidly waning confidence. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell to April 1997 levels Monday, while the Dow Jones industrial average, down about 215 points, reached its levels of October 1997 as investors succumbed to their growing worries about a recession Bush Depression that has no end in sight.

Home Prices Fell 8.2 Percent in 2008 on Foreclosures 24 Feb 2009 U.S. home prices fell a record 8.2 percent in 2008 as the recession Bush Depression and a surge of foreclosures caused the worst devaluation of real estate since the Great Depression. The fourth-quarter figure was 3.4 percent lower than the prior quarter, on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Federal Housing Finance Board said today in a report. The decline is the largest on record, the Washington-based agency said.

Tech Layoffs Jump 75% in 2008 22 Feb 2009 According to a recent report, layoffs in the US technology sector rose 74.2% in 2008 as compared with the previous year. The industry was battered by an unrelenting wave of layoffs. 186,955 jobs in the telecommunications, computer, and electronics sectors were slashed in 2008 according to the report by outplacement consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Banking on the Brink By Paul Krugman 23 Feb 2009 The real question is why the Obama administration keeps coming up with proposals that sound like possible alternatives to nationalization, but turn out to involve huge handouts to bank stockholders. For example, the administration initially floated the idea of offering banks guarantees against losses on troubled assets. This would have been a great deal for bank stockholders, not so much for the rest of us: heads they win, tails taxpayers lose. Now the administration is talking about a "public-private partnership" to buy troubled assets from the banks, with the government lending money to private investors for that purpose. This would offer investors a one-way bet: if the assets rise in price, investors win; if they fall substantially, investors walk away and leave the government holding the bag. Again, heads they win, tails we lose.

Postmaster's pay to be probed --Raises, bonuses mount while service struggles 23 Feb 2009 Congress will hold a hearing next month into why Postmaster General John E. Potter has gotten a nearly 40 percent pay raise since 2006 and was awarded a six-figure incentive bonus last year, even as the U.S. Postal Service faces a multibillion-dollar shortfall that threatens a day of mail delivery. "Last year, the Postal Service took a loss of nearly $3 billion and recommended that the public take austere cuts in service to allow it to operate, including cutting a day of mail delivery and raising the price of stamps," Rep. Stephen F. Lynch (D-Mass.) said Friday.

Postmaster got $800,000 in pay, perks --Raise came amid calls for cuts in delivery 17 Feb 2009 Postmaster General John E. Potter recently warned that economic times are so dire that the U.S. Postal Service may end mail delivery one day a week and freeze executive salaries. But his personal fortunes are nonetheless rising thanks to 40 percent in pay raises since 2006, a $135,000 bonus last year and several perks usually reserved for corporate CEOs.

Official Says Ex-Governor Is New Commerce Choice 24 Feb 2009 President Obama has settled on selected former Gov. Gary Locke of Washington as his pick for commerce secretary, a White House official said Monday. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision had not been formally announced, described Mr. Locke as the "likely" nominee. The official announcement could come as early as this week.

Obama to focus on economy in high-profile speech 24 Feb 2009 President Barack Obama takes centre stage on Tuesday to try to explain to the American people his broad agenda for jolting the United States out of deep recession and confronting long-term economic challenges. Riding high in opinion polls, Obama will deliver a State of the Union-style televised address at 9 p.m. EST (2 a.m. British time on Wednesday) in his first appearance before a joint session of Congress since he took office five weeks ago.

Rupert Murdoch issues personal apology for 'racist' chimpanzee cartoon 24 Feb 2009 Rupert Murdoch has personally apologised for the New York Post cartoon that critics labelled as racist for likening a violent chimpanzee shot dead by police officers to Barack Obama.

First Lady Receives High Marks in Poll 24 Feb 2009 A month into her husband’s presidency, Michelle Obama is viewed more positively than were other first ladies in the past 28 years at similar stages, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. Over all, 49 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of Mrs. Obama, 5 percent view her unfavorably and 44 percent do not yet have an opinion.

6 People, Including Baby, Shot On Parade Route --2 Suspects Arrested; 3 Guns Recovered 24 Feb 2009 Six people were shot along the Mardi Gras parade route in uptown New Orleans on Tuesday, and police arrested two suspects, according to police and emergency officials. New Orleans EMS spokesman Jeb Tate said six people were taken to the hospital.


Suspend military aid to Israel, Amnesty urges Obama after detailing US weapons used in Gaza --White phosphorus shells traced back to America 23 Feb 2009 Detailed evidence has emerged of Israel's extensive use of US-made weaponry during its war in Gaza last month, including white phosphorus artillery shells, 500lb bombs and Hellfire missiles. In a report released today, Amnesty International detailed the weapons used and called for an immediate arms embargo on Israel and all Palestinian armed groups. It called on the Obama administration to suspend military aid to Israel. The US has long been the largest arms supplier to Israel; under a current 10-year agreement negotiated by the Bush regime the US will provide $30bn (£21bn) in military aid to Israel.

Amnesty pushes for Israel, Hamas arms embargo 23 Feb 2009 The human rights group Amnesty International is urging the United Nations to impose an immediate arms embargo on Israel and Hamas, after it found both sides violated international humanitarian law during the recent conflict in Gaza. Amnesty International's Donatella Rovera, who led a fact-finding mission to Gaza and southern Israel, said Israeli forces had used white phosphorus and other weapons supplied by the United States to carry out war crimes.

File this outrage under the 'Who the f*ck are you?' moments of 2009: Barak: US dialogue with Iran must be limited --Defense minister attends secret discussion convened by Prime Minister Olmert following IAEA report on Iranian nuclear program. 23 Feb 2009 Prime Minister Ehud Olmert convened a secret discussion on the Iranian nuclear threat on Sunday evening following the release of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on the matter. Defense Minister Ehud Barak addressed the American administration's plan to launch a dialogue with Tehran, and recommended that it be limited for a short time and will followed by sanctions on Iran.

File this one under same. Fresh BBC row after reporters asked not to cover Gaza demo --Management forced into U-turn over filming of protest at Scottish HQ 23 Feb 2009 Senior BBC Scotland managers were plunged into a new row over trust last week after it emerged the corporation's journalists felt they could not report on a demonstration held inside their own building. Last month more than 20 demonstrators occupied the foyer of BBC Scotland's Pacific Quay headquarters in protest at the corporation's decision not to broadcast an appeal from the Disasters Emergency Committee on behalf of the people of Gaza. More than 40,000 people complained to the BBC about its decision.

Arab League to probe Gaza war crimes allegations 21 Feb 2009 An Arab League official says a League mission is headed to the Gaza to investigate allegations that Israel committed war crimes during its recent offensive in the Strip. Human rights groups in Gaza confirmed that a high-ranking delegation on behalf of the Arab League will be visiting the Strip Sunday after arriving via the Rafah crossing, the Ma'an news agency said.

IDF confirms strike in Gaza 23 Feb 2009 The IDF confirmed that the Israel Air Force attacked a target in the central Gaza Strip Monday morning. According to the military, a combat helicopter fired at Palestinian terrorists who were trying to plant an explosive device near the border fence in the Kissufim area.

Iran to pre-commission nuclear plant 22 Feb 2009 A spokesman for Iran's nuclear program says the country's first nuclear power plant will begin preliminary phase operation on Wednesday. A UN nuclear watchdog expert said Friday that Iran was not producing weapons-grade uranium. The UN body, through "21 unannounced inspections" at Iranian nuclear sites, has found that the country has only managed to enrich uranium-235 to a level "less than 5 percent," suitable for use in power plants.

Secret U.S. Unit Trains Commandos in Pakistan 23 Feb 2009 More than 70 United States military advisers and technical specialists are secretly working in Pakistan to help its armed forces battle Al Qaeda [al-CIAduh] and the Taliban, American military officials said. The Americans are mostly Army Special Forces soldiers who are training Pakistani Army and paramilitary troops, providing them with intelligence and advising on combat tactics, the officials said. They make up a secret task force, overseen by the United States Central Command and Special Operations Command. [Finally, a theory emerges as to who was behind the Mumbai attacks. Scratch any seemingly 'random' terrorist attack - find CIA/Blackwater/Special Operations Command. --LRP]

Abandoned boats put Mumbai on alert 23 Feb 2009 India's security forces are put on high alert after a number of abandoned boats were found off the Mumbai coast, officials say. "We received reports this afternoon that some unidentified boats were spotted around 15 to 20 nautical miles off south-west Mumbai. Navy and Coast Guard vessels are searching the area," a Ministry of Defense spokesperson told reporters in Mumbai on Sunday.

MoD hides rising injury toll of Taliban bombs 22 Feb 2009 More than 100 British soldiers have suffered amputations and other debilitating injuries in the past year in Afghanistan, according to previously suppressed Ministry of Defence (MoD) figures that reveal the true toll of the Taliban’s roadside bombing campaign. The number of troops losing limbs or eyes, suffering serious burns or permanent brain damage has increased dramatically since August 2007 when the Taliban intensified their efforts.

Afghan public opinion turning against presence of US forces 23 Feb 2009 The additional 17,000 soldiers that the US is preparing to send to Afghanistan will face a well-armed Taliban 'insurgency' and an unarmed but equally daunting foe: public opinion. In interviews across Kabul last week, Afghans said that instead of helping to quell the violence, more foreign forces will exacerbate the problem.

Shot arms dealer 'knew too much' --Dale Stoffel told top brass of endemic corruption before his hit-style murder 22 Feb 2009 The death of an American arms dealer in Iraq has led to one of the most intricate and far-reaching inquiries into corruption among US military officers in Iraq. Some suspect that he was killed because he was a whistleblower who knew too much. When Dale Stoffel was gunned down on his way into Baghdad at the height of the 'insurgency' in Iraq, his murder appeared all too predictable. However, it has emerged that Stoffel had complained to US authorities about a multi-million-dollar contracting office where two senior American officers had worked. Stoffel’s death in 2004, along with that of Joseph Wemple, his friend and colleague, had all the hallmarks of an assassination.

U.S. and Iraq launch new bid to eradicate al Qaeda 22 Feb 2009 U.S. and Iraqi forces have launched a new military campaign they hope will put an end to a stubborn 'insurgency' in restive Nineveh province, seen as a final holdout for Sunni Islamist militants, officials said on Sunday. Brigadier General Said Ahmed Abdullah, spokesman for the northern province's military command, said local forces began searching homes and conducting widespread arrests on Friday as part of the new operation to oust 'al Qaeda' militants.

Released Guantánamo inmate to report regularly to police --Lawyers reject US attempt to impose gagging order 23 Feb 2009 Binyam Mohamed has agreed to abide by several voluntary security measures including regular reports to a police station when he returns to Britain from Guantánamo Bay almost certainly later today, the Guardian has learned. His lawyers readily agreed to the undertakings as Mohamed "has nothing to hide", said Clive Stafford Smith, director of Reprieve, the human rights group which represents the former British resident. However, Mohamed and his lawyers rejected a gagging order the US tried to impose on him, the Guardian understands.

British Guantánamo detainee Binyam Mohamed to be released today 23 Feb 2009 Binyam Mohamed, the Guantánamo detainee and former British resident, is due to be released on Monday. Mohamed's lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, director of legal charity Reprieve, said he expected his client to be released, and would then fly to Britain. It comes after it emerged that at least 10 Britons have been tortured by security services in foreign countries acting in collusion with MI5, according to a report by a civil liberties group. Human Rights Watch (HRW) claims the UK citizens were tortured in Pakistan and subsequently questioned by British intelligence officials.

AP: Army charity hoards millions 22 Feb 2009 The biggest charity inside the U.S. military has been hoarding tens of millions of dollars meant to help put fighters returning from Iraq and Afghanistan back on their feet. An Associated Press investigation shows that between 2003 and 2007, the Army Emergency Relief grew into a $345 million behemoth. During those years, the charity packed away $117 million into its own reserves while spending just $64 million on direct aid.

Correa: US diplomat directed CIA in Ecuador --'Let's be clear: He is the director of the CIA in Ecuador.' 23 Feb 2009 Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa accused an expelled U.S. diplomat of directing CIA operations in the South American nation, but offered no proof. Mark Sullivan, the U.S. Embassy's first secretary in the office of regional affairs, was declared a "persona non grata" on Wednesday and ordered to leave the country within 48 hours because of what the government called "unacceptable meddling" in Ecuadorean affairs.

FBI investigates possible links with Mexico drug gang --Allegation: Cheques found inside the plane were linked to the cartel, which is one of the most violent criminal organisations in the world 22 Feb 2009 The FBI is probing possible money laundering linked to Mexico's infamous narco-trafficking Gulf Cartel in its investigation of Texan billionaire Sir Allen Stanford, US law enforcement sources have told the Observer. An FBI source close to the investigation would not give exact details but confirmed the agency was looking at links to international drug gangs as part of the huge investigation into Stanford's banking activities. Reports in the US have said Mexican authorities have detained one of Stanford's private planes as part of an investigation into possible links to the Gulf Cartel.

Kucinich: Who Told SEC to "Stand Down" on Stanford Probe? Chairman of Domestic Policy Subcommittee Opens Inquiry 20 Feb 2009 Chairman of the Domestic Policy Subcommittee, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today sent a letter to Ms. Mary Schapiro, Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requesting documents that could reveal which government agency told the SEC to "stand down" rather than take enforcement action against the Stanford Group in October 2006 as has been reported by the New York Times. Recent media reports have indicated that the SEC was aware of improprieties at Stanford Financial Group as early as October 2006, but withheld action at the request of another government agency.

Death threat to Greek media as 'terrorists' plot bomb havoc --The explosion at Citibank [the actual 'centre of terrorism'] in Athens came without warning. Now a guerrilla splinter group is targeting police and journalists 22 Feb 2009 Amid growing fears that Greece could become a centre of terrorism in Europe, political extremists yesterday issued a warning to journalists, saying it had them within its sights because they represented a corrupt establishment. In a statement claiming responsibility for an assault on a private television station four days earlier, the Sect of Revolutionaries guerrilla group vowed to step up their campaign of terror.

Britain faces summer of rage - police --Middle-class anger at economic crisis could erupt into violence on streets 23 Feb 2009 Police are preparing for a "summer of rage" as victims of the economic downturn take to the streets to demonstrate against financial institutions, the Guardian has learned. Britain's most senior police officer with responsibility for public order raised the spectre of a return of the riots of the 1980s, with people who have lost their jobs, homes or savings becoming "footsoldiers" in a wave of potentially violent mass protests.

Huge protest over Irish economy 21 Feb 2009 About 100,000 people have taken part in protests in Dublin city centre to vent their anger at the Irish government's handling of the country's recession. They oppose plans to impose a pension levy on 350,000 public sector workers. Trade union organisers of the march said workers did not cause the economic crisis but were having to pay for it.

U.S. Treasury open to bank common equity conversion 23 Feb 2009 The U.S. Treasury on Sunday declined comment on reports that Citigroup was in talks that could result in the government taking a 40 percent stake in the company, but the department said it was open to converting preferred shares into common equity to strengthen banks.

Report: Citi in talks with feds to increase government stake 22 Feb 2009 Citigroup Inc. is in talks with federal officials for the U.S. government to expand its ownership of the bank, according to a report in the online edition of the Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the situation. The report said that while the talks could still fall apart, discussions center on the government ending up with as much as 40% of Citigroup's common stock.

Wal-Mart settles suit that charged bias in hiring 22 Feb 2009 Wal-Mart Stores Inc. agreed to settle a lawsuit that charged the world's largest retailer with discriminating against African-Americans when it recruited and hired truck drivers for its fleet. Under the terms of the agreement, reached with attorneys for the plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit pending in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Wal-Mart agreed to pay $17.5 million.

Salmonella scare highlights inspector shortage --Tight state budgets leaving vacancies in an increasingly important field 20 Feb 2009 Tight state budgets have led some of the biggest farm states to leave dozens of food inspection jobs vacant at a time when hundreds have been sickened by a nationwide salmonella outbreak tied to a filthy peanut processing plant. Georgia, the site of the plant, has about 60 inspectors for some 16,000 sites, while budget cuts have forced the state agriculture department to keep 15 inspector positions vacant.

Mega barf alert! Pawlenty for President? 22 Feb 2009 The United States has had a new President for just a month, but Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is already thinking 2012. The GOP Governor didn't say no to a bid for President on FOX News Sunday.


Terrorists R Us: British electronic components found in Afghan roadside bombs --UK surveillance monitors listening to Taliban radio heard fighters speaking with regional British accents 22 Feb 2009 British electronic components have been found in roadside bombs. The Telegraph newspaper has revealed the devices which enable 'Taliban' fighters to detonate roadside bombs come from the UK, either by mail or through British Muslim sympathizers who arrive in the country. Last August, Brigadier Ed Butler, the former commander of UK forces in Afghanistan, said there were "British passport holders" in the Taliban ranks. It was also revealed that British surveillance monitors listening to Taliban radio had heard fighters speaking with regional British accents.

Thousands of troops diverted to fight Taliban in Obama's new war strategy By Andrew Purcell 22 Feb 2009 In announcing the deployment of 17,000 additional soldiers to Afghanistan, Barack Obama fulfilled two campaign promises at once. The two brigades - one army, one marine - were previously headed for Iraq. Diverting them signalled that the slow withdrawal from that "dumb war" has begun. The question now must be whether it is any smarter to send them into the graveyard of empires. Although Obama declines to use the term "war on terror", his foreign policy manifesto has consistently identified Afghanistan's south-eastern frontier as the crucial battleground in a global conflict. Sending reinforcements made good on his word.

Karzai is US stooge says Afghan deputy president 21 Feb 2009 Afghanistan's president and vice-president accused each other of being US stooges during a recent cabinet meeting which degenerated into a furious row, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt. In a clash which showed how fragile the Western-backed government has become, President Hamid Karzai was labelled a corrupt incompetent by his own understudy, Ahmad Zia Massoud. He responded in kind, saying Mr Massoud was part of an American conspiracy to oust him.

Gates Sees Need for at Least $83 Billion More in 2009 for Wars 20 Feb 2009 The Pentagon needs at least $83 billion more for combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan through the end of this fiscal year, Pentagon officials told the White House. This figure includes $7.3 billion to pay for adding troops in Afghanistan, Pentagon officials wrote to the Office of Management and Budget on Feb. 3. The U.S. will add about 17,000 to its force of 38,000, President Barack Obama announced this week. [Where's the f*cking change we were promised? Arming the Left: Is the time now? By Charles Southwell 21 Oct 2003.]

Iraq arrests dozens of 'terrorists' in Mosul 21 Feb 2009 Iraqi security forces said on Saturday they had arrested dozens of "terrorists" in a day-long operation targeting suspects in Mosul, seen as Al-Qaeda's last stronghold in the country. "The operation started yesterday and ended today and led to the arrest of 74 terrorists wanted by the Iraqi forces," defence ministry spokesman Major General Mohammed al-Askari told AFP.

MP accused of ordering Iraq parliament suicide bomb 22 Feb 2009 A Sunni MP and ex-member of an elite Saddamist force was accused on Sunday of ordering a 2007 suicide bombing in the Iraqi parliament's canteen that killed eight people including a fellow lawmaker. Major General Qassem Atta, spokesman for Baghdad's military security command, made the charge against Mohammed al-Daini, a member of the National Dialogue Front, at a press conference. Reporters were shown video confessions [LOL!] -- also broadcast on Iraqi television -- by a nephew and a security guard of the accused MP who said they had carried out several attacks for Daini.

US returns six-year stockpile of weapons 22 Feb 2009 The US military is sending back equipment it has used in Iraq through Jordan and Kuwait as it tests possible exits the war-torn country. The convoys that are carrying armored vehicles, weapons and other items out of Iraq, mark the Pentagon's first steps in confronting the complex logistics of transporting the huge arsenal the US military has stockpiled in Iraq over nearly six years.

Baghdad's infamous Abu Ghraib prison reopens 22 Feb 2009 Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, made notorious by graphic pictures of abuse torture of inmates by US jailers, has reopened with top-of-the-range facilities and a new name, the justice ministry said on Sunday. The jail, where Iraqi families bemoaned the disappearance of loved ones to detention without trial by the US military in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion, now even boasts a visitor centre with a play area to occupy the children of those visiting prisoner. "Baghdad central prison reopened on Saturday," assistant justice minister Bushu Dazai told AFP.

British intelligence officials 'colluded with torture' of UK citizens abroad --At least 10 Britons have been tortured by security services in foreign countries acting in collusion with MI5: Report 22 Feb 2009 Human Rights Watch (HRW) claims the UK citizens were tortured in Pakistan and subsequently questioned by British intelligence officials. It said evidence collated from Pakistan intelligence officials indicated a "systemic" operation among British security services, involving a significant number of agents. HRW warned more cases may surface and the issue of terrorism suspects interrogated by British agents is likely to "run much deeper".

UK agents 'colluded with torture in Pakistan' --Intelligence sources 'confirm abuse' 22 Feb 2009 A shocking new report alleges widespread complicity between British security agents and their Pakistani counterparts who have routinely engaged in the torture of suspects. In the study, which will be published next month by the civil liberties group Human Rights Watch, at least 10 Britons are identified who have been allegedly tortured in Pakistan and subsequently questioned by UK intelligence officials.

Obama denies terror suspects right to trial --Human rights groups [but not CLG] shocked by refusal to reverse Bush policy in Afghanistan 22 Feb 2009 Less than a month after signing an executive order to close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, President Barack Obama has quietly agreed to keep denying the right to trial to hundreds more terror suspects held at a makeshift camp in Afghanistan that human rights lawyers have dubbed "Obama's Guantanamo". In a single-sentence answer filed with a Washington court, the administration dashed hopes that it would immediately rip up Bush-era policies that have kept more than 600 prisoners in legal limbo and in rudimentary conditions at the Bagram air base, north of Kabul.

Iran not producing weapon-grade uranium: IAEA 22 Feb 2009 Iran has not converted the low-grade uranium that it has produced into weapon-grade uranium, inspectors belonging to the International Atomic Energy Agency have said. The Austrian Press Agency quoted an IAEA expert as saying that the uranium substances that Iran has produced at its Natanz enrichment facility have been carefully recorded and remote cameras have been installed to supervise part of the stockpile.

Cairo market blast: Bombers 'targeted Western tourists' 22 Feb 2009 Terrorism returned to the streets of Egypt's capital, Cairo on Sunday when a bomb tore through a crowded market, killing at least four people, including a French tourist. The attack, which was apparently targeted on Westerners, took place beside the 12th century Al-Hussein mosque, a notable tourist attraction in the old quarter of Egypt's capital. About 17 people were wounded in the explosion, including 11 French visitors and one Austrian.

'Let's speak bluntly; he was the head of the CIA in Ecuador.' Ecuador says expelled U.S. official was CIA operative 21 Feb 2009 The U.S. Embassy official Ecuador kicked out this week on charges of meddling in national affairs was the head of the CIA in the drug-smuggling route, President Rafael Correa said on Saturday. Correa expelled Mark Sullivan over charges he tried to handpick an officer heading a police unit partly financed by the United States. "Let's speak bluntly; he was the head of the CIA in Ecuador," Correa said. "The U.S. Embassy was mad because they are used to handpicking police chiefs in exchange for a few computers."

'US embargo on Cuba a failure' 22 Feb 2009 Top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations committee says the US should re-evaluate its 'ineffective' policy of economic embargo on Cuba. In a letter accompanying a report set for release on Monday, Sen. Richard Lugar said the policy of shunning Cuba by imposing a strict trade embargo has failed to affect the island and needs to be reconsidered.

Obama administration tries to kill e-mail case 21 Feb 2009 The Obama administration, siding with former President [sic] George W. Bush, is trying to kill a lawsuit that seeks to recover what could be millions of missing White House e-mails. Two advocacy groups suing the Executive Office of the President say that large amounts of White House e-mail documenting Bush's eight years in office may still be missing, and that the government must undertake an extensive recovery effort.

'Twenty private companies have agreed to take part in the program - 17 more are expected to be added soon.' Chicago Links Street Cameras to Its 911 Network --Citing 'security concerns,' the city would not say how many cameras were in the system. 21 Feb 2009 "We can now immediately take a look at the crime scene if the 911 caller is in a location within 150 feet of one of our surveillance cameras, even before the first responders arrive," Ray Orozco, the executive director of the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications, said. The technology, a computer-aided dispatch system, was paid for with a $6 million grant from the Department of Homeland Security. It has been in use since a trial run in December.

Police report expanded use of Tasers --Some suspects shocked multiple times 22 Feb 2009 Police in Massachusetts cities and towns have sharply expanded their use of Tasers to control criminal suspects over the last three years, despite a call for suspension of the stun gun's use so experts can study its risks. The police in Massachusetts communities reported using Tasers in 229 incidents between September 2007 and September 2008, a fourfold increase from three years earlier, according to state figures.

NAACP chief: Post's racist cartoon invites assassination 22 Feb 2009 The head of the nation's oldest civil rights group is urging a boycott of the New York Post - for publishing a cartoon he says is an invitation to assassinate the President. NAACP President Benjamin Jealous blasted the fact-challenged tabloid for its attempt to apologize for the racially charged cartoon - and said Post editor in chief Col Allan and cartoonist Sean Delonas should get the boot.

Oklahoma City police officer pulls man over for 'Abort Obama' sign on vehicle 19 Feb 2009 The police officers who stopped Oklahoma City motorist Chip Harrison and confiscated a sign from his car told him he has a right to his beliefs, but the Secret Service "could construe this as a threat against President Obama," according to the incident report released this morning. The sign, which read "Abort Obama Not the Unborn," was returned to Harrison later that day, the report said.

Swiss party wants to punish U.S. for UBS probe 21 Feb 2009 The right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP) called on Saturday for retaliation against the United States over a U.S. tax probe into the country's biggest bank UBS that threatens prized banking secrecy. The populist SVP, the country's biggest party, said Switzerland should not take in any detainees from the U.S. prison for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, which the Swiss government said last month it could consider to help shut the camp down.

'There's going to be growing conflict between the classes and even riots.' [Hope springs eternal.] Brzezinski warns of riots in US 21 Feb 2009 Zbigniew Brzezinski, a former national security advisor, has warned that the US could witness riots if economy continues its downward spiral. "There's going to be growing conflict between the classes and if people are unemployed and really hurting, hell, there could be even riots," said Brzezinski, President Jimmy Carter's national security advisor, in a recent interview with NBC.

Stock Decline Hits Depression Levels --Money invested 10 years ago in stocks have lost half their real value, matching the worst ten years of the Great Depression 17 Feb 2009 During the darkest 10 years of the Great Depression, from September 1929 to September 1939, the stock market dropped roughly 50%, adjusted for inflation. With today's drop in the stock market, the U.S. has now matched that unfortunate milestone. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index, adjusted for inflation, is now down about 50% over the past 10 years from Feb. 17, 1999 to Feb. 17, 2009.

Obama plans to half US deficit in four years 21 Feb 2009 US President Barack Obama is to present plans to half the federal budget deficit by end of his first term, a senior administration official told AFP. The president is expected to roll out his budget proposals over the coming week, with a central aim of halving the US's soaring trillion-dollar-plus deficit. Savings will be made by cutting spending on the war in Iraq and by eventually raising taxes for the "wealthiest Americans," the official said.

Researchers report finding Achilles' heel of flu virus 22 Feb 2009 Scientists, led by a team from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, have discovered what they describe as the Achilles' heel of the influenza virus. Their early results suggest that the drug would work against the highly virulent avian flu, as well as the lethal "Spanish flu" strain that killed millions during a 1918 global epidemic. Such a drug, scientists said, could be crucial if a novel [US-engendered] strain ignited a global flu epidemic, especially since a growing number of flu strains are becoming resistant to the main drug now available, Tamiflu. [See: US, Japanese Researchers Mix Samples of 1918 Flu Pandemic to Recreate Deadly Code 30 Dec 2008.]

UK is branded a 'climate criminal' over coal plans --Campaigners in 40 countries say UK's proposed new coal power plants will undercut emission deals 22 Feb 2009 A global protest against UK plans to build new coal power plants is being launched today by campaigners from more than 40 developing countries accusing the government of being a "climate criminal".

Scientists capture dramatic footage of Arctic glaciers melting in hours --Greenland is losing enough water each year to cover Germany a metre deep. 20 Feb 2009 Scientists have captured dramatic footage of massive lakes in the Arctic melting away in a matter of hours... The team found that in just one day 42 million litres fresh water drained down this one Moulin. Dr Box thinks there are hundreds, possibly thousands more Moulins across the Greenland ice cap.


Obama backs Bush: No rights for Bagram prisoners 20 Feb 2009 The Obama administration, siding with the Bush White House, contended Friday that prisoners in Afghanistan have no constitutional rights. In a two-sentence court filing, the Justice Department said it agreed that detainees at Bagram Airfield cannot use U.S. courts to challenge their detention. The filing shocked human rights attorneys.

US rules-out legal action for Bagram detainees 21 Feb 2009 The US Department of Justice has ruled that prisoners housed at a US military base in Afghanistan should not have the right to take legal action in the United States to challenge their detention. Under former president [sic] George W Bush the American Justice Department had resisted, arguing that the prisoners were enemy combatants who had been captured in a war zone. Now the Obama administration has confirmed it supports that view, a move that has angered and disappointed human rights lawyers.

Official: Pentagon report defends Guantanamo 21 Feb 2009 The Guantanamo Bay prison meets the standard for humane treatment laid out in the Geneva Conventions but could use some changes in how it handles its more dangerous or less compliant prisoners, according to a Pentagon report. The report was prepared for President Barack Obama, who has ordered the terrorist detention center prison closed within a year.

Fate of 17 innocent Guantanamo prisoners rests with Obama 20 Feb 2009 The lead lawyer for 17 ethnic Uyghurs held for years at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba is vowing to fight a new legal order keeping the men in U.S. military custody and is calling on U.S. President Barack Obama to free them quickly. On Wednesday, a three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals reversed an earlier ruling that the Uyghurs, who have been cleared of the terrorism charges on which they were initially detained, must be released in the United States.

US soldier, two officials killed in Iraq 21 Feb 2009 Violence across the war-torn Iraq has killed a US soldier, an Iraqi policeman and a candidate of local elections, the military and police say. The US soldier was killed during a combat patrol near Baghdad on Saturday, the US military said while giving no further details. In the northern town of Tikrit, a police lieutenant was killed when a "sticky bomb" -- used against magnetic targets -- exploded as he got into his car, local police said.

Military Court in Germany Convicts US Soldier in Iraq Murders 21 Feb 2009 A 28-year-old US Army medic has been sentenced by a US military court in Germany to life in prison with the possibility of parole for his role in murdering four Iraqi prisoners in 2007. The US military court in Vilseck, Germany, on Friday evening, Feb. 20, found Sgt. Michael Leahy guilty of murder for his role in the execution-style killings of four Iraqi prisoners.

US soldier guilty of Iraq murder --Blindfolded and gagged, the four were shot and dumped in a canal. 20 Feb 2009 A US soldier has been convicted of murder for his involvement in the killing of four Iraqis who were shot and dumped in a Baghdad canal in 2007. Sgt Michael Leahy Jr had confessed to investigators that he shot an Iraqi in the back of the head from close range.

In video, Leahy tells of shooting Iraqi prisoners 20 Feb 2009 A videotape played Thursday in the trial of a U.S. soldier shows him describing how he shot two of four bound and blindfolded Iraqi prisoners in March 2007. Sgt. Michael Leahy Jr., 26, was videotaped talking with Army investigators last year. A pre-trial motion by Leahy’s attorneys to suppress the video failed.

Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, renamed, reopens 21 Feb 2009 Iraqi officials on Saturday formally reopened Abu Ghraib prison, which became synonymous with abuse toture under the U.S. occupation, and in addition to a fresh coat of paint, gave it a new name. The prison on the western outskirts of Baghdad earned global notoriety after U.S. jailkeepers filmed themselves tormenting and sexually humiliating Iraqi prisoners less than a year after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

'The U.S. government has never explained why I was detained and has blocked all attempts to find out more about my detention.' Disappeared in the Name of National Security By Mohamed Farag Bashmilah 19 Feb 2009 From October 2003 until May 2005, I was illegally detained by the U.S. government and held in CIA-run "black sites" with no contact with the outside world. On May 5, 2005, without explanation, my American captors removed me from my cell and cuffed, hooded, and bundled me onto a plane that delivered me to Sana'a, Yemen. I was transferred into the custody of my own government, which held me -- apparently at the behest of the United States -- until March 27, 2006, when I was finally released, never once having faced any terrorism-related charges.

'The strikes are another sign that President Obama is continuing, and in some cases extending, Bush administration policy.' Obama Expands CIA's Covert War In Pakistan 21 Feb 2009 With two missile strikes over the past week, the Obama administration has expanded the covert war run by the Central Intelligence Agency inside Pakistan... The missile strikes on training camps run by Baitullah Mehsud represent a broadening of the American campaign inside Pakistan, which has been largely carried out by drone aircraft. Under President [sic] Bush, the United States frequently attacked militants from 'Al Qaeda' and the Taliban involved in cross-border attacks into Afghanistan, but had stopped short of raids aimed at Mr. Mehsud and his followers, who have played less of a direct role in attacks on American troops.

U.S.-led coalition kills 13 Afghan civilians 21 Feb 2009 Thirteen people, described by the U.S. military as "noncombatants," were killed in western Afghanistan earlier this week during a 'coalition' operation, the military said Saturday. The killings further inflame Afghans' anger and frustration over the killing of civilians in U.S.-led occupation and NATO operations.

Netanyahu asked to form new Israeli government --Support of hard-right nationalist Lieberman is crucial to Likud leader 21 Feb 2009 Benjamin Netanyahu, the hawkish leader of Israel’s biggest right-wing party, Likud, was yesterday given six weeks to form a coalition government as he appealed for a "new approach" of unity to deal with the "great challenges" from Iran’s nuclear programme and the global recession.

U.S. calls for urgent address to Iran's nuclear program 21 Feb 2009 Accusing Tehran of violating international regulation, the Obama administration on Friday called on the international community to "work together" on and address Iran's nuclear issue as soon as possible. "This is an urgent problem that has to be addressed and we can't delay addressing," said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, after a UN report claimed Tehran has been still carrying out its uranium enrichment activity. [Where's the 'urgent call' -- or any call -- to end Israel's nuclear program?]

British Muslims 'providing Taliban with electronic devices for roadside bombs' 21 Feb 2009 British Muslims are providing the Taliban with electronic devices to make roadside bombs for use in attacks against British forces serving in southern Afghanistan, The Telegraph can disclose. The devices, which enable Taliban fighters to detonate roadside bombs by remote control, are either sent to sympathizers in the region, or carried by [CIA] volunteers who fly to Pakistan and then make their way across the border.

Calif. Man Charged With 'Al Qaeda' Links --Afghan Man Lied About Ties to Several Terror Groups While Gaining U.S. Citizenship, Indictment Says 20 Feb 2009 Federal agents arrested a naturalized U.S. citizen from Afghanistan on Friday after he allegedly lied about ties to terrorist groups on citizenship and passport papers, authorities said. FBI, immigration and local law enforcement agents from an anti-terrorism task force arrested Ahmadullah Sais Niazi at his home in Tustin, California, on Friday morning, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

'One of Mr. Jarrah's cousins, Ziad al-Jarrah, was among the 19 hijackers who carried out the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.' Lebanese in Shock Over Arrest of an Accused Spy 19 Feb 2009 For 25 years, Ali al-Jarrah managed to live on both sides of the bitterest divide running through this region. To friends and neighbors, he was an earnest supporter of the Palestinian cause... To Israel, he appears to have been a valued spy, sending reports and taking clandestine photographs of Palestinian groups and Hezbollah since 1983. At the start of the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, Israeli officials called Mr. Jarrah to reassure him that his village would be spared and that he should stay at home, investigators said.

'Chicago then launched 'Operation Virtual Shield,' by linking 1,000 miles of fiber cable to a unified 'homeland security grid' -- complete with hundreds of additional cameras and sensors.' Mayor: Surveillance camera on every Chicago street corner 19 Feb 2009 Mayor Daley has argued that security and terrorism won’t be an issue if his Olympic dreams come true because, by 2016, there will be a surveillance camera on every street corner in Chicago. In 2004, City Hall used a $5.1 million federal homeland security grant to install 250 cameras at locations thought to be at high risk of a terrorist attack and link them and 2,000 existing city cameras to the 911 center.

Abramoff Scandal Yields More Charges 21 Feb 2009 A former legislative aide to Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Dirtbag-Miss.) was accused yesterday of accepting more than $25,000 worth of meals and event tickets from disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff in exchange for helping his clients. Ann M. Copland was charged in U.S. District Court in Washington with one count of conspiracy to commit honest-services fraud.

Police documents linking New York governor Eliot Spitzer to prostitutes to be released 20 Feb 2009 A US federal judge ordered the release of documents from the investigation that linked former New York governor Eliot Spitzer to a prostitution ring. The move to make details of wiretapped conversations public should reveal more on the scandal that forced Mr Spitzer to resign in March 2008. The ruling came after a request from the New York Times, which wanted the court to unseal the documents that outlined the prosecutors' probable cause for wiretapping two cell phones belonging to the prostitution ring. [Here's the *actual* probable cause: Predatory Lenders' Partner in Crime --How the Bush Administration Stopped the States From Stepping In to Help Consumers By Eliot Spitzer 14 Feb 2008 ...Even though predatory lending was becoming a national problem, the Bush administration looked the other way and did nothing to protect American homeowners. In fact, the government chose instead to align itself with the banks that were victimizing consumers.]

GOP's LaHood Talks of Mileage-Based Tax --White House Dismisses Controversial Idea to Fund Transportation Projects 21 Feb 2009 Transportation Secretary (GOPig hired by Obama) Ray LaHood suggested yesterday that the Obama administration might embrace a new and controversial way to pay for highway and transit projects: charging motorists a tax for every mile they drive. Spokesmen for the White House and LaHood's own department then shot it down -- hard.

Obama Warns Mayors Not to Waste Stimulus Money 20 Feb 2009 On his thirty-second day in office, President Obama told a group of mayors that the economic stimulus money must be spent with "unprecedented responsibility and accountability" to avoid "waste, inefficiency, or fraud." [SPEAKING of *fraud:* [WHY is Obama continuing to wage two illegal Bush wars?]

Corpora-terrorist cronies off the hook: Swiss court blocks bank data sharing with US: report 20 Feb 2009 A Swiss tribunal has barred financial regulators from handing banking information of UBS bank clients to US authorities investigating tax fraud, ATS news agency reported. Siding with a complaint from UBS clients, the tribunal on Friday issued an order forbidding Swiss bank regulator FINMA from giving the plaintiffs' "banking documents to third parties, particularly US authorities," ATS said.

US claims 52,000 hid UBS accounts 20 Feb 2009 As many as 52,000 American customers hid UBS accounts from the authorities in violation of tax laws, a US government lawsuit against the Swiss bank alleged on Thursday. The Department of Justice filed a suit seeking to force UBS to disclose the holders of accounts with about $14.8bn in assets.

Get ready for a wave of bank failures --In less than two months, regulators have seized 14 banks. 20 Feb 2009 If it's Friday, there must be a bank failing somewhere across the country. For six consecutive weeks, industry regulators have seized control of a bank after the market closed on Friday, bringing the total number of failed banks so far this year to 14. To put that into perspective, 25 banks failed in 2008, suggesting that the rate of failures is quickening as the economic crisis [Bush Depression] deepens.

Oregon bank is 14th failure of 2009 20 Feb 2009 Silver Falls Bank, of Silverton, Ore., was closed Friday by state regulators and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. It was the 14th bank to fail so far this year and the 39th since the beginning of the current credit crisis. Citizens Bank, of Corvallis, Ore. will assume all of the deposits of Silver Falls Bank, the FDIC said.

Popular Rage Grows as Global Crisis Worsens 09 Feb 2009 As the global economic crisis deepens, tempers around the world are getting shorter. French and British trade unions are organizing strikes, Putin is sending troops into the streets and Beijing is trying to buy itself calm. In the cabinet of French President's Nicolas Sarkozy, there was talk of a "Black Thursday," and from Sarkozy's perspective, that was exactly what Jan. 29, 2009 turned out to be.

Warning for the West as crisis spills onto streets 16 Feb 2009 The slump that has swept through developed nations like the UK, the eurozone and the United States is hitting the world's emerging economies with a speed and ferocity that has shocked even the most pessimistic analysts. Until recently, many investors and economists thought such countries could provide a bulwark against the collapse in growth elsewhere. Instead, the latest data suggests that emerging economies as a group actually contracted late last year, and will likely shrink further in 2009.

Moving van shows up at new Bush residence in Dallas 21 Feb 2009 The Preston Hollow neighborhood, which will soon be home to former President [sic] George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, was busy Thursday, with a moving van and service trucks... Dallas police turned away several vehicles trying to enter the neighborhood, explaining that it is closed to the general public. Eventually, a security gate paid for by Bush will be installed. Until then, police -- potentially racking up close to $1 million annually in city-paid security for the former p_resident -- have barricaded the entrance to Daria Drive, allowing only neighbors and people on a special list to enter. [Where are the Iraqi 'insurgents,' when you need them?]


Binyamin Netanyahu moves closer to becoming Israeli PM --Key endorsement of far-right politician makes rightwing leader increasingly likely to lead coalition government 19 Feb 2009 The rightwing Israeli opposition leader, Binyamin Netanyahu, today appeared increasingly likely to become the country's next prime minister after winning the key endorsement of a far-right politician. Avigdor Lieberman, whose party, Israel Our Home, came a strong third in last week's general elections, met the Israeli president, Shimon Peres, and told him he would support Netanyahu to lead a new coalition government.

Biden Says Bush Gave Al Qaeda Recruiting Tool [Heck, Bush was their stimulus package.] 20 Feb 2009 Visiting the Central Intelligence Agency to swear in Leon E. Panetta as the agency’s 19th director, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said Thursday that the Bush administration’s detention and interrogation policies "gave Al Qaeda a powerful recruiting tool." Considering the setting -- the C.I.A. lobby where several hundred agency employees greeted the vice president with cheers -- Mr. Biden’s remarks implied a tough judgment on parts of the agency’s record under the previous administration.

'Sustained' Push Seen in Afghanistan --U.S. Commander Says Troop Level of 60,000 Is Needed for at Least Three to Four Years 19 Feb 2009 The United States will have to keep about 60,000 troops in Afghanistan for at least the next three to four years to combat an increasingly violent 'insurgency,' the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan said yesterday, warning that 2009 will be "a tough year." At least 10,000 additional U.S. troops are required in Afghanistan beyond the 17,000 that President Obama announced Tuesday would go to Afghanistan this spring or summer, with decisions on two additional brigades expected later this year, said [Bush troll] Gen. David D. McKiernan, the commander of international forces in Afghanistan.

Google Earth reveals secret history of US base in Pakistan 19 Feb 2009 The US was secretly flying unmanned drones from the Shamsi airbase in Pakistan's southwestern province of Baluchistan as early as 2006, according to an image of the base from Google Earth. The image -- that is no longer on the site but which was obtained by The News, Pakistan's English language daily newspaper -- shows what appear to be three Predator drones outside a hangar at the end of the runway. The Times also obtained a copy of the image, whose co-ordinates confirm that it is the Shamsi airfield, also known as Bandari, about 200 miles southwest of the Pakistani city of Quetta.

Iran holds enough uranium for bomb 20 Feb 2009 Iran has built up a stockpile of enough enriched uranium for one nuclear bomb, United Nations officials acknowledged on Thursday. In a development that comes as the Obama administration is drawing up its policy on negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear programme, UN officials said Iran had produced more nuclear material than previously thought. [How many bombs does Israel have?]

Bush shoe thrower wanted 'to restore Iraqi pride' --Act turned journalist into cult hero throughout much of Middle East 20 Feb 2009 The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at George Bush, the then president of the [sic] United States, struck a defiant tone as his trial began yesterday – telling the judges he was driven by a desire to restore the pride of his war-ravaged country. It was Muntadhar al-Zeidi's first public appearance since he was arrested in December for throwing his shoes at Mr Bush during a press conference in Baghdad with Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq's prime minister.

Iraq PM's allies win control of oil hub Basra 19 Feb 2009 Allies of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki will take control of the southern oil hub of Basra after winning 20 out of 36 provincial council seats in local 'elections' last month, officials said on Thursday.

Contractor Under Criminal Probe for Negligent Electrocution Deaths of U.S. Troops Should Be Denied Future Pentagon Contracts --McCollum (D) Urges DoD to Rescind Contract to KBR 18 Feb 2009 Amid reports that the Department of Defense has recently awarded a multimillion dollar contract to a company under investigation for the electrocution deaths of soldiers, Rep. Betty McCollum (MN-04) today joined Congressional colleagues in sending a letter to Secretary Robert Gates requesting an explanation for the latest award to Kellogg Brown and Root, Inc (KBR), in light of the existing criminal probes against them for the fatality of several U.S. soldiers in Iraq due to faulty electrical work.

Contractors, guardsmen say KBR knew of chemical exposure in Iraq 18 Feb 2009 Ten contractors hired by Houston-based KBR to make repairs at an Iraqi water plant in early 2003 say the company knowingly allowed them and dozens of National Guardsmen to be exposed to cancer-causing chemicals. The allegations from the workers, six of whom live in or near Houston, are documented in a federal arbitration complaint pending in Houston and a related federal lawsuit filed in December by the guardsmen in Indiana, the Houston Chronicle reported Sunday.

KBR wins contract despite criminal probe of deaths 07 Feb 2009 Defense contractor KBR Inc. has been awarded a $35 million Pentagon contract involving major electrical work, even as it is under criminal investigation in the electrocution deaths of at least two U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

KBR wins US Army contract for bulk fuel farm operations 17 Feb 2009 KBR, an engineering, construction and services company [terrorists], disclosed yesterday (16 February) that it has received a contract from the US Army Contracting Command to conduct bulk fuel farm operations at certain military sites near Shuiba Port and at Camp Buehring in Kuwait.

Family of slain contractor sues Halliburton, KBR 08 Feb 2009 Two military contractors are being sued over the death of an American truck driver working for them in Iraq. The suit claims the companies' mistakes led U.S. soldiers to believe driver Donald Tolfree might be an 'insurgent' steering a bomb-laden truck onto a U.S. military base.

$6bn LNG Deal: KBR, Halliburton Admit Bribing Nigerian Officials 17 Feb 2009 Kellogg Brown & Root LLC pleaded guilty to violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act as it sought contracts for a Nigerian LNG project, the US Department of Justice said on Monday. KBR and its former parent, Halliburton Co., also settled US Securities and Exchange Commission charges that they allegedly bribed Nigerian government officials for over 10 years to obtain contracts valued at more than $6 billon to build LNG facilities at Bonny Island, Nigeria, the SEC said in a separate announcement.

SEC Charges KBR and Halliburton for FCPA Violations 16 Feb KBR and Halliburton have agreed to pay $177 million in disgorgement to settle the SEC's charges. Kellogg Brown & Root LLC has agreed to pay a $402 million fine to settle parallel criminal charges brought today by the U.S. Department of Justice. The sanctions represent the largest combined settlement ever paid by U.S. companies since the FCPA's inception.

BAE Full-Year Profit Surges 94% on Iraq, Afghan Wars 19 Feb 2009 BAE Systems Plc, Europe’s biggest defense company, said full-year profit rose 94 percent after wars in Iraq and Afghanistan spurred demand for its armored vehicles, battlefield radios and bullet-proof vests.

Mumbai police gets 26/11 attacks evidence from FBI 19 Feb 2009 A team of Mumbai police is headed home armed with crucial 'evidence' provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation indicating that the Nov 26 Mumbai terror attacks were planned in Pakistan. A three-member Mumbai police team headed by Deputy Inspector General of Police Deven Bharti left for Mumbai on Wednesday with details of how the Mumbai attackers kept in touch with their Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) masters in Karachi.

Mumbai attackers had hit list of 320 world targets 19 Feb 2009 The plotters behind the Mumbai attack, which left more than 170 people dead, had placed India's financial capital on a list of 320 worldwide locations as potential targets for commando-style terror strikes, the Guardian has learned. It suggests that Lashkar-e-Taiba, the outlawed terror group that planned much of the attack from Pakistan, had ambitions well beyond causing mayhem in India.

Burris under pressure to resign 19 Feb 2009 The Democrat who took the Illinois Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama, has been trying to avoid calls for his resignation. Roland Burris has told US investigators he will cooperate with them on investigations into whether his appointment was tainted by former Illinois governor, Rod Blagojevich, who is accused of trying to sell the seat. [Why no clamor for Bush's resignation over Iraq, Guantanamo Bay torture 9/11 and a thousand other war crimes?]

NY Post apologizes _ to some _ over Obama cartoon 19 Feb 2009 After two days of protests, the New York Post apologized Thursday for a cartoon that some have interpreted as comparing President Barack Obama to a violent chimpanzee gunned down by police. But the newspaper also said its longtime antagonists exploited the image for revenge. The qualified apology didn't mollify at least some of the cartoon's critics, who said they might continue protesting Friday.

BofA CEO subpoenaed, sees no nationalization-WSJ 20 Feb 2009 Bank of America Corp Chairman and Chief Executive Kenneth Lewis was subpoenaed last week by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who is investigating whether the bank violated state law by withholding information from investors, the Wall Street Journal said late Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter... Separately, Lewis told Bank of America executives at a senior leadership meeting on Thursday that Washington policy officials have assured him that the possibility of nationalizing the largest U.S. bank by assets is not on the table, the newspaper said, citing a person at the meeting.

BofA and Citi shares fall on nationalization fear 19 Feb 2009 Citigroup Inc shares fell to almost 18-year lows on Thursday, with Bank of America Corp stock also plunging, amid renewed fears that growing losses could lead to government control of troubled U.S. banks, wiping out shareholders.

AP: Jobless Hit With Bank Fees on Benefits --More pain for unemployed as banks turn profit on new debit card jobless benefits 19 Feb 2009 For hundreds of thousands of workers losing their jobs during the recession, there's a new twist to their financial pain: Even when they're collecting unemployment benefits, they're paying the bank just to get the money — or even to call customer service to complain about it. Thirty states have struck such deals with banks that include Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp., JP Morgan Chase and US Bancorp, an Associated Press review of the agreements found.

FBI traces Stanford as Obama [and McCain] offloads tycoon's donation 20 Feb 2009 The missing cricket tycoon Sir Allen Stanford was last night found by the FBI and served with legal papers. Stanford faces charges relating to frauds totalling $9.2 billion (£6.5 billion), and last night US politicians rushed to offload campaign donations he had made in the last decade.

NYU Students Revoke the Property Destruction Clause By FluxRostrum 19 Feb 2009 Last night at 10 pm, NYU students barricaded themselves into a cafeteria in the student center and refused to leave until the administration met their demands. The students are seeking much more transparency, stabilized tuition and socially responsible investment among other things (details at Although NYPD took up positions inside and outside the building, the NYU administration up until now declined to force the students to leave.

California lawmakers break impasse, pass budget 19 Feb 2009 California lawmakers approved a state budget package on Thursday to close a $42 billion deficit, ending a lengthy standoff with a slate of bills that aim to raise taxes, slash spending and increase borrowing.

California budget plan would weaken air pollution rules 19 Feb 2009 California's proposed budget contains a major provision that would weaken air pollution regulations while saving the construction industry millions of dollars. The measure, largely overlooked in a public debate focused on taxes, would delay requirements for builders to retrofit bulldozers, scrapers and other soot-spewing equipment, slashing by 17% the emissions savings that health advocates had hoped to achieve by 2014.

Crop Scientists Say Biotechnology Seed Companies Are Thwarting Research 20 Feb 2009 Biotechnology companies are keeping university scientists from fully researching the effectiveness and environmental impact of the industry’s genetically modified crops, according to an unusual complaint issued by a group of those scientists. "No truly independent research can be legally conducted on many critical questions," the scientists wrote in a statement submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency.


Obama's War on [of] Terror May Resemble Bush's in Some Areas 18 Feb 2009 Even as it pulls back from harsh interrogations and other sharply debated aspects of George W. Bush’s "war on terrorism," the Obama administration is quietly signaling continued support for other major elements of its predecessor's approach to fighting 'Al Qaeda.' In little-noticed confirmation testimony recently, Obama nominees endorsed continuing the C.I.A.'s program of transferring prisoners to other countries without legal rights, and indefinitely detaining terrorism suspects without trials even if they were arrested far from a war zone. The administration has also embraced the Bush legal team’s arguments that a lawsuit by former C.I.A. detainees should be shut down based on the "state secrets" doctrine. It has also left the door open to resuming military tribunal 'trials.'

Ashcroft: Main difference is going to be that he spells his name 'O-b-a-m-a,' not 'B-u-s-h' The Hard Cases --Will Obama institute a new kind of preventive detention for terrorist suspects? By Jane Mayer 23 Feb 2009 Unless the Obama Administration overhauls the nation’s terrorism policies, [Ali Saleh Kahlah al-] Marri--who claims that he is innocent--will likely spend the rest of his life in prison... Interviewed just before the Inauguration, he [John Ashcroft, who was Attorney General when Marri was designated an enemy combatant] defended what he described as a "sound decision" to "maximize the national interest," and predicted that, in the end, President Obama’s approach to handling terror suspects would closely mirror his own: "How will he be different? The main difference is going to be that he spells his name 'O-b-a-m-a,' not 'B-u-s-h.' "

MI5 fed questions to CIA for interrogation --Agency refused to say how or where prisoner held 18 Feb 2009 MI5 provided the CIA with material to interrogate Binyam Mohamed, the former UK resident at the centre of torture allegations, even though it had no idea where he was being held and in what condition he was in, it emerged yesterday. Fresh evidence surrounding Mohamed's detention before he was flown to Guantánamo Bay shows the CIA rejected MI5's request to see him.

Obama urged to create special detainee commission 17 Feb 2009 The former general who investigated abuses at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison is joining an ex-FBI director and others in seeking a presidential commission to investigate the Bush regime's treatment of terror detainees. They want President Barack Obama to create a nonpartisan, independent panel that would review policies such as harsh interrogations torture and "extraordinary renditions," kidnappings the forced movement of suspected terrorists.

Court bars release of 17 Uighurs detainees into US 17 Feb 2009 A federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled that 17 Turkic Muslims cleared for release from Guantanamo Bay must stay at the prison camp, raising the stakes for an Obama administration that has pledged to quickly close the facility and free those who have not been charged.

Guantanamo Bay release overturned by US court 18 Feb 2009 A US federal appeals court has rejected the release of 17 Guantanamo Bay prisoners onto US soil, reports say. A US judge ruled last year that the 17 Uighurs - Chinese Muslims - were no longer enemy combatants and should be released into the United States. China has requested their return, but the US will not send them home for fear they will be persecuted.

Confessions of a Guantanamo guard --Detention. Humiliation. Torture. The world can only guess at the horrors of Camp X-Ray. But now Brandon Neely, a former guard, wants to tell the shocking story of what happened there – and why it shames America. Interview by Almerindo Ojeda 18 Feb 2009 Were detainees verbally abused? Upon arrival, detainees were screamed at throughout the whole process. They were told to shut up, walk faster, and whatnot. Some guards would call them "sand niggers". I never heard that phrase until I was at Guantanamo.

McKiernan: Extra forces could stay in Afghanistan 5 years 18 Feb 2009 Gen. David McKiernan, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, predicted Wednesday that the additional 17,000 U.S. military forces to be sent to Afghanistan will remain there for as long as five years. McKiernan made his comments a day after President Obama approved the troop increase for Afghanistan. McKiernan said the U.S. goal is to double, "in a holistic way," [!?!] the size of the Afghan army to about 134,000 members.

U.S. general 'investigates' Afghan death claim --6 women, 2 children reportedly slain in U.S. airstrike 18 Feb 2009 A U.S. general traveled to western Afghanistan on Wednesday to investigate claims that six women and two children were killed in a U.S. airstrike, officials said. The U.S. 'coalition' said in a statement that a strike Monday in the Gozara district of Herat province killed 15 militants [!?!], including a leader named Ghulam Yahya Akbari.

Soldier pleads guilty to assault in Iraq death 18 Feb 2009 A Fort Campbell soldier has been sentenced to 17 months' confinement, had his rank redued to private and been given a bad conduct discharge. The sentence Wednesday for Staff Sgt. Hal M. Warner comes after he pleaded guilty earlier in the day to charges of assault, maltreatment of a subordinate and making a false statement. Warner, who had been charged with murder, admitted Wednesday to standing on a prisoner's legs and later helping strip the detainee naked in the Iraq desert.

Iraqi who threw shoes at Bush could get book thrown at him 18 Feb 2009 In the two months since he chucked a pair of shoes across a crowded Baghdad room and narrowly missed former President [sic] George W. Bush, Iraqi journalist Muntathar al Zaidi has emerged as a folk hero... Since that throw, Zaidi has received job offers, a residency invitation from U.S. foe Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and even a wedding proposal on behalf of an Egyptian woman... On Thursday, Zaidi is scheduled to go to trial in the Central Criminal Court on charges of assaulting a foreign head of state. Conviction could lead to as many as 15 years in prison.

Seven Iraqis killed when bus hits UK army vehicle 18 Feb 2009 At least seven Iraqis died and several were injured when a minibus carrying Shi'ite Muslim pilgrims crashed into a British army vehicle near the southern city of Basra, British and Iraqi officials said on Wednesday. The British armoured vehicle was on a routine night patrol on Tuesday and was stationary at the time of the accident, British military spokesman Major Bill Young said.

Internet a boon for terrorists, expert testifies 17 Feb 2009 The Internet has become one of the most important tools for Al-Qa'ida [al-CIAduh] and jihadists for recruiting, communicating and creating virtual cells and Saïd Namouh took full advantage of it, according to an American counter-terrorism expert who testified at the suspected terrorist’s trial Tuesday.

Body scanners replace metal detectors in tryout at Tulsa airport --Machines raise privacy concerns because their images reveal outlines of private body parts 18 Feb 2009 For the first time, some airline passengers will skip metal detectors and instead be screened by body scanning machines that look through clothing for hidden weapons, the Transportation Security Administration said Tuesday. An experimental program that begins today at Tulsa International Airport will test whether the $170,000 body scanners could replace $10,000 metal detectors that have screened airline passengers since 1973.

Calls for Burris resignation intensify as new details emerge 18 Feb 2009 The Washington Post added its voice Wednesday [LOL! Since when does CensoringNewsNetwork cite 'Washington Post' editorials?] to a growing chorus of demands for the resignation of Sen. Roland Burris two days after he detailed conversations with impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's brother that he failed to mention under oath. Burris, appointed by a scandal-wracked Blagojevich to fill President Obama's vacant Senate seat, told reporters Monday night in Peoria, Illinois, that he had three conversations with the governor's brother, Robert Blagojevich. [Heads up! GOPigs - working with Reichwing media - are trying to remove Burris and install a Repuke - much like they did with Arnold Schwarzenegger in California. What about David Vitter? Why no calls for *his* resignation? --LRP]

GOP Senators Spend Big to Keep Minnesota Seat Vacant By John Nichols 17 Feb 2009 It is now clear that Senate Republicans have a strategy for maintaining their ability to stall -- or, at the least, dramatically alter -- Obama administration initiatives. Individual GOP senators are paying big bucks to keep the Senate's 100th seat -- representing Minnesota -- vacant for as long as possible. In effect, key Republicans such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are paying $10,000 a piece to maintain their power to obstruct Congress.

Obama unveils $275bn plan to help US homeowners 18 Feb 2009 Barack Obama today turned his attention to the origin of the economic collapse in the US and around the world, America's unstable and overblown housing market, unveiling a plan to help millions of struggling homeowners. Obama described the collapse of the housing market as "a crisis unlike any we've ever known" and proposed throwing hundreds of billions into a pot to help an estimated 9 million homeowners. The cost to the federal government would be about $275bn (£193bn) but could rise.

ABC News: Some Credit Card Companies Financially Profiling Customers 28 Jan 2009 A new policy being used by at least one major credit card company judges a shopper not necessarily by his credit purchases and payments alone, but also by the fiscal behavior of the fellow shoppers in the stores he visits. And in some cases, the bad repayment history of the guy behind you in line at your local megastore could result in a reduction of your credit line, which, in turn, could lead to a reduction in your credit score -- all because of where you shopped.

Mandelson launches tirade at Starbucks boss over attack on UK economy --Trade minister - write us off at your peril 18 Feb 2009 The business secretary, Peter Mandelson, has launched an extraordinary tirade against the head of the Starbucks coffee empire, accusing him of spreading gloom and overly denigrating the state of the British economy. Angered at remarks by the company's chairman, Howard Schultz – who said the UK was in an economic "spiral" with "very, very poor" consumer confidence – Mandelson accused him of spreading unnecessary misery and speaking out of turn. Speaking at a diplomatic cocktail reception in New York last night, he said: "Why should I have this guy running down the country? Who the fuck is he? How the hell are they [Starbucks] doing?"

Bailout Recipients Hosted Call to Defeat Key Labor Bill By Sam Stein 27 Jan 2009 Three days after receiving $25 billion in federal bailout funds, Bank of America Corp. hosted a conference call with conservative activists and business officials to organize opposition to the U.S. labor community's top legislative priority. Participants on the October 17 call -- including at least one representative from another bailout recipient, AIG -- were urged to persuade their clients to send "large contributions" to groups working against the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), as well as to vulnerable Senate Republicans, who could help block passage of the bill.

New York Post in racism row over chimpanzee cartoon 18 Feb 2009 At first glance, the main editorial cartoon in today's [Reichwing rag] New York Post seemed like just another lurid reference to the story... about the shooting by Connecticut police on Monday of a pet chimpanzee that viciously attacked his owner's friend. But the caption cast the cartoon in a more sinister light. "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill," it read, prompting accusations that the Post was peddling a longstanding racist slur by portraying president Barack Obama, who signed the bill into law yesterday, as an ape.

Speaking of the New York Post: Bay sewage leak continues in Marin County 18 Feb 2009 Workers tried but failed today to stop a sewage leak at a treatment plant at Fort Baker on the Sausalito shoreline - a leak that has spewed about 500,000 gallons of raw sewage into San Francisco Bay during the past 24 hours.

Doomsday seed vault's stores are growing 16 Feb 2009 The stores of seeds in a "doomsday" vault in the Norwegian Arctic are growing as researchers rush to preserve 100,000 crop varieties from potential extinction. The imperiled seeds are going to be critical for protecting the global food supply against devastating crop losses as a result of climate change, said Cary Fowler, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust.

If polar bears could talk... they'd thank these kindergartners 16 Feb 2009 "Dear Mr. Polar Bear: We learned about global warming and how your ice is melting. That makes us sad. We want you to stay strong, have healthy cubs and a nice habitat to live and hunt in. We worked hard at home to earn pennies for polar bears... we want to help make a difference in our world. Your friends, The Woodson Kindergarten Center Tree House Kids." This letter, along with $100 in spare change, will be sent to the Pennies for Polar Bears fund at the Wildlife Federation, courtesy of three teams of students at Woodson Kindergarten Center.


Is Israel assassinating Iran nuclear scientists? Recent deaths of important figures in procurement and enrichment process in Iran and Europe have been the result of Israeli "hits." 17 Feb 2009 Israel is assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists as part of a covert war against the Islamic Republic's [alleged] illicit weapons program, the Daily Telegraph on Tuesday quoted Western intelligence analysts as saying. The British daily said Israel's Mossad espionage agency was rumored to be behind the death of Ardeshire Hassanpour, a top nuclear scientist at Iran's Isfahan uranium plant, who died in mysterious circumstances from reported "gas poisoning" in 2007.

Obama to Send 17,000 More Troops to Afghanistan 18 Feb 2009 President Obama will send an additional 17,000 American troops to Afghanistan this spring and summer in the first major military move of his presidency, White House officials said on Tuesday. The increase would come on top of 36,000 American troops already there, making for an increase of nearly 50 percent.

Obama sees Afghan situation deteriorating [Oh. In that case, better send more troops. (Insert eye-roll here.)] 18 Feb 2009 The situation in Afghanistan seems to be getting worse and a solution will require more than just military force, U.S. President Barack Obama said on Tuesday. "There are a lot of concerns about a conflict that has lasted quite a long time now and actually appears to be deteriorating at this point," he told CBC television in an interview ahead of his visit to Canada on Thursday.

Afghan civilian deaths rose by 39 per cent in 2008: UN report --Airstrikes killed 64 per cent of 828 civilians killed by government or international forces 17 Feb 2009 The number of civilians killed in fighting in Afghanistan jumped by 39 per cent last year in the worst bloodshed since the 'fall' of the Taliban, a United Nations report said. Two fifths of the 2,118 civilians killed died at the hands of government or international forces [US terrorists], according to the annual Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict study.

CIA secretly using Pakistan base for drone raids 17 Feb 2009 The CIA is secretly using an airbase in southern Pakistan to launch the Predator drones that observe and attack 'al-Qaeda and Taleban militants' on the Pakistani side of the border with Afghanistan, a Times investigation has found. The Times has discovered that the CIA has been using the Shamsi airfield -- originally built by Arab sheikhs for falconry expeditions in the southwestern province of Baluchistan -- for at least a year. Key to the Times investigation is the unexplained delivery of 730,000 gallons of F34 aviation fuel to Shamsi. Details were found on the website of the Pentagon’s fuel procurement agency.

Judges: Torture, Abuses Undermine Values in U.S., U.K. 17 Feb 2009 An international group of judges and lawyers is warning that systemic torture and other abuses in the global "war on terror" have "undermined cherished values" of civil rights in the United States, Britain and other nations. "We have been shocked by the damage done over the past seven years by excessive or abusive counterterrorism measures in a wide range of countries around the world," said Arthur Chaskalson, a member of the International Commission of Jurists, in a statement announcing results of a three-year study of counterterrorism measures since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

British protesters urge release of Guantanamo detainee 17 Feb 2009 Protesters wearing Guantanamo-style orange boiler suits protested outside the US embassy in London on Tuesday, demanding the return of a prisoner. Binyam Mohamed, 30, an Ethiopian-born former British resident with refugee status in Britain, is still being held at the Guantanamo Bay US prison camp on Cuba. Demonstrators carried placards reading "Bring Binyam home," "No more torture, no more lies" and banners reading "Bring home innocent men" and "Justice is our right; end torture."

Judge Refuses to Dismiss Charges Against Blackwater Guards 18 Feb 2009 A federal judge yesterday refused to throw out charges against five U.S. security contractors mercenaries accused of killing 14 Iraqi civilians in a busy Baghdad square in 2007. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina came in an early legal challenge brought by lawyers representing the guards, who worked at the time for Blackwater Worldwide. The guards' attorneys had argued the government didn't have jurisdiction to bring the charges.

Heads up! Another Obama broken promise on the way: Obama, Gates at Odds Over New Whistleblower Protections 18 Feb 2009During an election featuring Democratic allegations that U.S. intelligence was distorted to justify a misbegotten war, Barack Obama endorsed new protections for national security officers who blow the whistle on abusive, corrupt or illegal behavior, by offering them the right to sue for damages and challenge denials of their security clearances. But by [insanely] keeping a Republican-appointed secretary of defense strongly opposed to those changes, President Obama is finding the path to a new policy on federal whistleblowing much more complicated.

Fort Lewis Soldier Killed In Iraq 17 Feb 2009 A Fort Lewis soldier was killed by a bomb that detonated near his vehicle in Iraq on Sunday, the Defense Department said. Staff Sgt. Sean D. Diamond of Dublin, Calif., was assigned to the 610th Engineer Support Company, 14th Engineer Battalion, 555th Engineer Brigade.

Clinton warns North Korea against missile launch 18 Feb 2009 Hillary Clinton has urged North Korea not to carry out a threatened missile launch, warning that such a move would endanger prospects of a normalisation of relations with the United States. Speaking in Japan during her first overseas visit as secretary of state, Mrs Clinton said that if Pyongyang wants to end its isolation, it must keep its promise to the Bush administration to end its nuclear programme.

Iran's Ahmadinejad Says He's Waiting for Signs of U.S. Change [Get in line, pal.] Iranian 17 Feb 2009 President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his country is waiting for the U.S. to show "signs of real change" under the Obama administration, calling it "a necessity" for improving relations between the two countries.

Task Force 21 consultant talks about possibility of Global Strike Command at Minot AFB 17 Feb 2009 A former 5th Bomb Wing commander at Minot Air Force Base and now consultant for Minot's base retention and new mission committee [Maj. Gen. Greg Power], urged local people to be optimistic about the base being selected for the headquarters of the new nuclear command. Minot AFB is among six bases vying for the headquarters site of the new Global Strike Command, which will oversee the Air Force's nuclear enterprise. [See: Minot AFB Clandestine Nukes 'Oddities'.]

Dick Cheney outraged Bush didn't grant 'Scooter' Libby full pardon 17 Feb 2009 In the waning days of the Bush regime, Vice President [sic] Dick Cheney launched a last-ditch campaign to persuade his boss to pardon Lewis (Scooter) Libby - and was furious when President [sic] George W. Bush wouldn't budge. Sources close to Cheney told the Daily News the former vice president repeatedly pressed Bush to pardon Libby, arguing his ex-chief of staff and longtime alter ego deserved a full exoneration - even though Bush had already kept Libby out of jail by commuting his 30-month prison sentence.

'Suddenly the ferrets started dying, so the research stopped on Feb. 6.' Czech researchers exposed to bird flu virus via vaccine --Pharmaceutical company that developed vaccine admitted it mistakenly sent infected material to Czech Republic 18 Feb 2009 Thirteen Czech researchers have been exposed to the H5N1 bird flu virus strain through a contaminated vaccine obtained from an Austrian company, Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) reported Tuesday. The 13 people who had contact with the ferrets were in danger but were not infected with the lethal virus, said Josef Duben, a spokesman for the Czech veterinary authority. The bird flu virus was being tested positive on ferrets by the Biotest company in Konarovice when the animals began to die.

Homeland Security reportedly passed protest information to Md. police 17 Feb 2009 Documents released to the Washington Post show the U.S. Department of Homeland Security tracked an anti-war group's protest plans and passed the information to Maryland State Police. Police had previously labeled the activists as terrorists in an intelligence file.

2 Pa. Judges Admit Jailing Kids For Cash 12 Feb 2009 Two Pennsylvania judges charged with taking millions of dollars in kickbacks to send youth 'offenders' to privately run detention centers pleaded guilty to fraud Thursday in one of the most stunning cases of judicial corruption on record. Prosecutors allege Luzerne County Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan took $2.6 million in payoffs to put juvenile offenders in lockups run by PA Child Care LLC and a sister company, possibly tainting the convictions of thousands of juvenile 'offenders.'

Russian Markets Halted as Emergency Funding Fails to Halt Rout 17 Feb 2009 Russian markets stopped trading for a second day after emergency funding measures by the government failed to halt the biggest stock rout since the country's debt default and currency devaluation a decade ago. The ruble-denominated Micex Stock Exchange suspended trading indefinitely at 12:10 p.m. after its index erased a 7.6 percent gain and plunged as much as 10 percent within an hour. The benchmark fell 17 percent yesterday, the biggest drop since Bloomberg started tracking the gauge in May 2001.

Obama Leaves D.C. to Sign Stimulus Bill --Renewable Energy a Focal Point in Denver as $787 Billion Effort Is Made Law 18 Feb 2009 Warning that its passage into law "does not mark the end of our economic troubles," President Obama on Tuesday signed the massive $787 billion stimulus package, a measure he called the most sweeping financial legislation enacted in the nation's history. Obama signed the bill in the sunny atrium of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, where he called the legislation crucial to injecting new life into the nation's moribund economy. As 250 business leaders, Vice President Biden and a few members of Congress looked on, Obama sat at a wooden desk and signed the nearly 1,100-page bill, which was flown here with him aboard Air Force One.

Mega barf alert! US backtracks on pay caps for banking executives 17 Feb 2009 President Obama is aiming to water down Democratic proposals on pay caps for banking executives because he fears a "brain drain" on Wall Street. In a move that has angered leaders of his own party, the President has indicated his concern that new caps on compensation -- inserted into his $787 billion stimulus Bill -- are too draconian and could limit banks' co-operation with his plan to stabilise the stricken financial sector.

Bailed-Out Banks Charge Highest Fees in FDIC Sales 17 Feb 2009 Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp., recipients of $90 billion in bailout funds from American taxpayers, are charging financial companies three times more to sell bonds under a U.S.-backed rescue program than government- controlled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pay to issue notes with similar maturities.

The Economists Who Missed the Housing Bubble Are Coming After Your Social Security By Dean Baker 13 Feb 2009 Word has it that President Obama intends to appoint a task force the week after next which will be charged with "reforming" Social Security. According to inside gossip, the task force will be led entirely by economists who were not able to see purposefully created the $8 trillion housing bubble, the collapse of which is giving the country its sharpest downturn since the Great Depression.

GM seeks $30 billion in total aid, plans to cut 47,000 jobs this year 17 Feb 2009 General Motors Corp. will need at least $2 billion by March to stave off bankruptcy, telling the Obama administration it may take up to a total of $30 billion in federal aid to keep the company afloat. GM's submission brings the total request for aid from itself and Chrysler LLC to $39 billion, after Chrysler asked today for an additional $5 billion on top of the $4 billion it has already received.

U.S. Accuses Texas Financial Firm of $8 Billion Fraud 18 Feb 2009 In Texas, Robert Allen Stanford was just another wealthy financier... On Tuesday, his reign was thrown into turmoil as a caravan of cars and trucks carrying federal authorities pulled up to the headquarters of his company, the Stanford Group, to shut down what the regulators described as a "massive ongoing fraud" stretching from the Caribbean to Texas, and around the world.

California Lawmakers Face Lockdown as Budget Falters in Senate 17 Feb 2009 California lawmakers failed to reach agreement on how to eliminate a $42 billion budget shortfall as Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) prepares to shut down hundreds of public works projects and fire thousands of state workers. Senate President Darrell Steinberg, a Democrat, plans to lock lawmakers in the capitol unless they pass a $40 billion package of tax increases, spending cuts and bond sales today. The bills, backed by the Republican governor and by Democrats, remain one Republican vote short.

Gun dealers experiencing shortages of bullets 10 Feb 2009 Selling bullets may be the most secure job in Florida as long as supplies last. After months of heavy buying, gun dealers across the state are experiencing shortages. Ammunition has been selling like plywood and bottled water in the days before a hurricane.

AP: EPA near ruling on greenhouse gases 18 Feb 2009 EPA administrator Lisa Jackson says the agency is moving toward regulating the gases blamed for global warming. In an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press, Jackson said the agency will decide whether greenhouse gases are a danger to human health and welfare, the legal trigger for regulation under federal law.


Spy chief: We risk a police state --Dame Stella Rimington, the former head of MI5, has warned that the fear of terrorism is being exploited by the Government to erode civil liberties and risks creating a police state. 16 Feb 2009 Dame Stella accused ministers of interfering with people’s privacy and playing straight into the hands of terrorists... Dame Stella said in an interview with a Spanish newspaper: "The US has gone too far with Guantánamo and the tortures. MI5 does not do that. Furthermore it has achieved the opposite effect: there are more and more suicide terrorists finding a greater justification."

Terrorist threat 'exploited to curb civil liberties' --Security measures brought in after September 11 attacks 'undermined the rule of law' 17 Feb 2009 Dame Stella Rimington, the former head of MI5, has accused the Government of exploiting public fear of terrorism to restrict civil liberties. Her comments came on the same day as a report published by international jurists suggested that Britain and America have led other countries in "actively undermining" the rule of law and "threatening civil liberties" in the guise of fighting terrorism. In an interview with the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia, Dame Stella said that a series of increasingly draconian policies have led British citizens to "live in fear and under a police state".

Whitehall colluded in torture of British suspects, says agent 17 Feb 2009 British terrorist suspects who claim they were tortured in Pakistan were then interrogated by MI5 agents under rules drawn up in Whitehall, a court has been told. The Home Office has already launched an inquiry into claims that UK intelligence services colluded in the brutal treatment of British citizens and residents in Pakistan. Last night it emerged that an MI5 officer told the High Court an official policy existed over the questioning of suspects by Pakistani authorities. It was agreed by MI5 lawyers and government figures, he said.

Report: U.S. "war on terror" seriously damages human rights --Report illustrated consequences of notorious counter-terrorism practices such as torture, disappearances, arbitrary and secret detention as well as unfair trials. 17 Feb 2009 The so-called "war on terror" launched by the United States following the 9/11 terror attacks has resulted in serious damage to the world's respect for human rights, according to a report released on Monday. The United States "has adopted measures to counter terrorism that are inconsistent with established principles of international humanitarian law and human rights law," said the report, which was released by an independent panel of eminent jurists. It warned that excessive or abusive counter-terrorism measures adopted by the United States were having influence on other countries and causing them to follow suit.

Israel launches covert war against Iran 16 Feb 2009 Israel has launched a covert war against Iran as an alternative to direct military strikes against Tehran's [alleged] nuclear programme, US intelligence sources have revealed. It is using hitmen, sabotage, front companies and double agents to disrupt the government's illicit weapons project, the experts say. The most dramatic element of the "decapitation" programme is the planned assassination of top figures involved in Iran's atomic operations.

Sirens go off in Israel for war on Iran 16 Feb 2009 An Israeli defense strategy report for 2009 has tasked the military with making preliminary preparations for launching a war against Iran. An annual defense work plan presented to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi for the year 2009 describes Iran as "the No.1 threat the IDF is now preparing for."

So, Admiral, what have you got to say about the nuclear submarine crash? British and French vessels had enough material to carry out 1,248 Hiroshima bombings 17 Feb 2009 Defence chiefs are facing an inquiry into the safety of the United Kingdom's nuclear deterrent after British and French submarines, each laden with missiles powerful enough for 1,248 Hiroshima bombings, collided while submerged in the mid-Atlantic. HMS Vanguard, the lead boat of Britain's fleet of four V-class submarines armed with Trident nuclear missiles, limped back into its home port of Faslane in Scotland on Saturday showing significant damage.

Nuclear submarines collide in Atlantic 16 Feb 2009 A Royal Navy nuclear submarine and a French vessel have been damaged in a collision deep below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. HMS Vanguard and Le Triomphant, which were carrying nuclear missiles on routine patrols, are reported to have collided while submerged on 3 or 4 February. The Ministry of Defence initially refused to confirm the incident, saying it was not policy to comment on submarine operations. This afternoon the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Jonathon Band, issued a statement saying the two vessels hit each other while travelling at very low speeds and no one was injured.

30 killed in first [US] drone attack in Kurram Agency --Intelligence official claims Taliban were holding meeting at time of attack 17 Feb 2009 At least 30 Afghan refugees were killed, while three others critically injured in a missile strike on a refugee camp in Kurram Agency on Monday, locals and officials said. The three missiles believed fired from a US unmanned aircraft destroyed a house [allegedly] used by a local Taliban commander, witnesses said.

NATO soldier among 27 killed in Afghanistan 16 Feb 2009 A NATO soldier and nine Afghan civilians died in attacks across 'insurgency'-torn Afghanistan while military offensives killed at least 17 suspected militants civilians, officials said Monday. The NATO soldier, whose nationality was not disclosed, died from wounds "caused by indirect fire in eastern Afghanistan," the alliance said.

12 killed, 37 injured in Iraq violence 17 Feb 2009 Twelve people were killed in the ongoing violence in Iraq on Monday. Four teenagers were killed and 11 wounded when their football struck and detonated an abandoned rocket in an empty lot of the southern Iraqi city of Amara on Monday, police said.

U.S. soldier killed in bomb attack in Iraq 16 Feb 2009 An American soldier was killed by a roadside bomb explosion in southern Iraq, the U.S. military said on Monday. The soldier, assigned to Multi National Division Center (MND-Center), was killed on Sunday, the military said without elaboration.

Oops! Lost U.S. Weapons May Be Going to Taliban, GAO Says 12 Feb 2009 Tens of thousands of assault rifles and other firearms in Afghanistan are at risk of being stolen because U.S. officials have lost track of them, according to a congressionally ordered audit that warns that some weapons may already be in Taliban hands. The audit by the Government Accountability Office found that inventory controls were lacking for more than a third of the 242,000 light weapons donated to Afghan forces terrorists by the United States -- a stockpile that includes thousands of AK-47 assault rifles as well as mortars, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

Contract workers say KBR knew of cancer-causing chemical 16 Feb 2009 Ten contractors hired by Houston-based KBR to make repairs at an Iraqi water plant in early 2003 say the company knowingly allowed them and dozens of National Guardsmen to be exposed to cancer-causing chemicals. The allegations from the workers, six of whom live in or near Houston, are documented in a federal arbitration complaint pending in Houston and a related federal lawsuit filed in December by the guardsmen in Indiana, the Houston Chronicle reported Sunday. Most of the KBR contractors were sent to Iraq around April 2003 as part of Operation Restore Iraqi Oil, a no-bid U.S. contract.

Venezuelan constitutional referendum allows Chavez to run in 2012 16 Feb 2009 Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Sunday won a constitutional referendum that lifted the limit on presidential terms, allowing him to run anew in the presidential election in 2012. Tibisay Lucena from the National Electoral Council said late Sunday that, according to preliminary results, 54.36 percent of voters approved the constitutional amendment to remove the term limits and 45.63 percent against it.

UK mobile phone firms to sell data about customer activity 16 Feb 2009 The UK's mobile phone networks are to start selling data about the internet sites visited by their customers to advertisers. The companies have been collecting the information over the past year and will use it in an attempt to generate more advertising. News that the industry has been monitoring what users do on the mobile web is likely to infuriate privacy campaigners.

AP: Despite Obama call for open government, Justice resists disclosing Bush secrets 17 Feb 2009 Despite President Obama's promise of more open government, the Justice Department is resisting pressure to release documents the Bush regime kept secret about domestic wiretapping, data collection on travelers and U.S. citizens, and interrogation torture of suspected terrorists. In half a dozen lawsuits, Justice lawyers are defending Bush administration decisions to withhold records from the public.

Obama administration seeks to block lawsuit over illegal wiretapping By John Burton and Marge Holland 16 Feb 2009 For the second time in less than a week, lawyers from the Justice Department headed by Obama administration Attorney General Eric Holder have embraced the Bush administration's pseudo-legal argument that the "state secrets" doctrine bars civil lawsuits challenging the methods used in its so-called "war on terror..." The most recent intervention also occurred in San Francisco, with the filing of papers February 11 to block an order by United States District Judge Vaughn R. Walker reinstating the claim of the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation that it was the target of government wiretapping.

DOJ removes Stevens' prosecutors 16 Feb 2009 The Justice Department has removed the prosecution team that won the corruption conviction of former Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) from any further litigation in the case, according to a new court filing. This comes after Judge Emmet Sullivan, who presided over the Stevens trial and continues to preside over post-conviction fights over the legitimacy of those proceedings, ruled that four DOJ lawyers, including Brenda Morris, chief prosecutor in the Stevens' case, and William Welch, head of DOJ's Public Integrity Section, were in contempt for failure to comply with his orders.

'Prices at the pump will probably keep going up no matter what happens to the benchmark price of crude oil.' Crude oil is getting cheaper _ so why isn't gas? 15 Feb 2009 Crude oil prices have fallen to new lows for this year. So you'd think gas prices would sink right along with them. Not so. On Thursday, for example, crude oil closed just under $34 a barrel, its lowest point for 2009. But the national average price of a gallon of gas rose to $1.95 on the same day, its peak for the year. On Friday gas went a penny higher. To drivers once again grimacing as they tank up, it sounds like a conspiracy. [That's because *it is.*]

Obama will get no warning when the people's response to this crisis comes By Gary Younge 16 Feb 2009 America may have neither the class consciousness nor organisation to spark the kind of protests we have seen in France, eastern Europe and elsewhere in recent weeks. But it has the levels of class division that could produce both... President Barack Obama is popular for now. But his programme for reinvigorating the economy is not. Indeed, it is a sign of the dislocation between politics and everyday life that while the $787bn stimulus package that Obama is expected to sign today is being hailed as a great victory, nobody truly believes it will work... Meanwhile, as his treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, outlines his plans for saving capitalism, capital flees.

Kan. suspends income tax refunds, may miss payroll 16 Feb 2009 Kansas has suspended income tax refunds and may not be able to pay employees on time, the state's budget director said Monday. The state doesn't have enough money in its main bank account to pay its bills, prompting Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to suggest transferring $225 million from other accounts throughout state government. But the move required approval from legislative leaders, and the GOP [sociopaths] refused Monday.

Global slump could throw 53 million more people into poverty By Mike Head 16 Feb 2009 The World Bank warned last week that up to 53 million more people around the world could fall into poverty in 2009 as a result of the global economic slump, and up to 400,000 more children could die each year as a result of rising infant mortality... This is on top of the 130-155 million people pushed into poverty in 2008 because of soaring food and fuel prices.

The tropics on fire: scientist's grim vision of global warming 16 Feb 2009 Tropical forests may dry out and become vulnerable to devastating wildfires as global warming accelerates over the coming decades, a senior scientist has warned. Soaring greenhouse gas emissions are threatening temperature rises that will turn damp and humid forests into parched tinderboxes, said Dr Chris Field, co-chair of the UN's Nobel prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Madison polar bear looks for love in New York 16 Feb 2009 A Madison polar bear will attempt to find love by traveling to Buffalo, N.Y., in search of a mate. Nanuq, a resident of the Henry Vilas Zoo, is being sent to the Buffalo Zoological Gardens to participate in a captive breeding program for endangered species.


A fraud bigger than Madoff --Senior US soldiers investigated over missing Iraq 'reconstruction' billions 16 Feb 2009 In what could turn out to be the greatest fraud in US history, American authorities have started to investigate the alleged role of senior military officers in the misuse of $125bn (£88bn) in a US -directed effort to 'reconstruct' Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein. The exact sum missing may never be clear, but a report by the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) suggests it may exceed $50bn, making it an even bigger theft than Bernard Madoff's notorious Ponzi scheme. In one case, auditors working for SIGIR discovered that $57.8m was sent in "pallet upon pallet of hundred-dollar bills" to the US comptroller for south-central Iraq, Robert J Stein Jr, who had himself photographed standing with the mound of money.

Inquiry on Graft in Iraq Focuses on U.S. Officers --Tens of thousands of dollars stuffed into pizza boxes and delivered surreptitiously to the American contracting offices in Baghdad, and payoffs made in paper sacks that were scattered in "dead drops" around the Green Zone 15 Feb 2009 Federal authorities examining the early days of the $125 billion American-led effort to 'rebuild' Iraq have significantly broadened their inquiry to include senior American military officers [Army Col. Anthony B. Bell and Lt. Col. Ronald W. Hirtle of the Air Force] who oversaw the program, according to interviews with senior government officials and court documents.

Foreign Office link to torture cover-up 15 Feb 2009 The Foreign Office (FCO) solicited the letter from the US State Department that forced British judges to block the disclosure of CIA files documenting the torture of a British resident held in Guantánamo Bay, the Observer can reveal. The letter said that the release of papers relating to Binyam Mohamed would damage future intelligence sharing between the two countries. A former senior State Department official said that it was the Foreign Office that initiated the "cover-up" by asking the State Department to send the letter so that it could be introduced into the court proceedings.

A Torture Report Could Spell Big Trouble For Bush Lawyers 14 Feb 2009 An internal Justice Department report on the conduct of senior lawyers who approved waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics torture is causing anxiety among former Bush administration officials. H. Marshall Jarrett, chief of the department's ethics watchdog unit, the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), confirmed last year he was investigating whether the legal advice in crucial interrogation memos "was consistent with the professional standards that apply to Department of Justice attorneys."

Iraq concedes election fraud 16 Feb 2009 Iraqi officials nullified election results in more than 30 polling stations due to fraud in last month's provincial balloting, but the cases were not significant enough to require a new vote in any province, the election chief said yesterday. Poll results will be announced on Wednesday.

Bomb attacks wound five people in N Iraq 15 Feb 2009 Five people, including a Sunni Arab politician, were wounded by bomb attacks in the city of Mosulon Sunday, a local police source said. Talab Muhsin, a member of al-Hadbaa, a mainly Sunni Arab party, was wounded when an explosive charge planted in his car detonated in the afternoon, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

Roadside bomb kills US soldier in Iraq 15 Feb 2009 The U.S. military says an American soldier has been killed by a roadside bomb in southern Iraq. The statement says the Multi-National Division-Center soldier was killed Sunday but does not provide any further details.

Death of Scots-based Marine takes military toll to 144 in Afghanistan conflict 15 Feb 2009 A Scots-based soldier was killed in Afghanistan yesterday after coming under fire from Taliban fighters. The Royal Marine from 45 Commando in Arbroath, was patrolling in the northern Helmand province of the country when he was shot. He is the 144th British soldier to die in Afghanistan since operations began in 2001, and the seventh British serviceman to die this year.

Suspected US drone attack kills 30 in Pakistan 14 Feb 2009 A suspected US drone Saturday fired two missiles on a militant hideout in Pakistan's northwestern restive tribal region, killing at least 30 people, an intelligence official said. Seven people were also injured in the attack in South Waziristan.

Cyprus finds no arms on Iranian ship 14 Feb 2009 Officials in Cyprus say they have found no weapons onboard an Iranian ship that had been the source of arms export allegations. "There are no weapons on board, but there is material which could be used for the manufacture of ammunitions," Cypriot Defense Minister Costas Papacostas told reporters on Friday.

Israel warns Rudd off racism forum 16 Feb 2009 Senior Israeli diplomat Dan Gillerman has urged Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd not to send a delegation to a United Nations forum on racism, saying it will be used as a platform to bash Israel. In an interview with The Age, Mr Gillerman, who was Israel's ambassador to the United Nations from 2003 until September last year, also strongly rejected calls for war crimes investigations against Israeli commanders involved in the recent Gaza offensive.

Students angered by Gaza revive sit-ins 14 Feb 2009 A new wave of student activism sparked by events in Gaza has seen dozens of university buildings occupied in Britain, with some of the UK's top educational establishments agreeing to set up scholarships for Palestinians or disinvest in arms companies linked to Israel.

Police have evidence of money laundering against Lieberman 15 Feb 2009 Police have amassed sufficient evidence to link Israel Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman with money laundering charges, a former National Fraud Unit investigator told The Jerusalem Post Thursday, citing a senior police source. Police suspect Lieberman used Cypriot bank accounts registered to his daughter's name for money laundering purposes, and possibly to also carry out fraud and bribery offenses.

Double drug-rape disgrace of CIA's top agent in Algeria 14 Feb 2009 A CIA station chief in Algeria [Andrew Warren], who was accused of drugging and raping two Algerian women, filmed the attacks and stored images on his computer, an official investigation has discovered.

NYPD reloads after Mumbai with training program --Officers training in tactics for close quarters combat 15 Feb 2009 The team of police officers crisscrosses down a New York City block, bracing for a potential firefight with heavily armed suspects who've taken hostages inside a building. It's not real, but it's not a standard training session, either... The nation's largest police department launched a counterterrorism initiative this month to train a new team of officers with semiautomatic rifles loaded with armor-piercing bullets. The officers also are being trained in tactics for close quarters combat and rescuing hostages in hotels and other high-rise buildings.

NYPD okays Velcro handcuffs for use on unruly children 14 Feb 2009 Cops trying to restrain children will have a softer alternative than metal handcuffs under a new program the NYPD is testing in nearly two dozen schools. Starting next month, officers will use Velcro handcuffs instead of the tougher steel model to subdue disturbed or unruly children in 22 schools in northern Queens, according to a draft NYPD operations order obtained by the Daily News.

Three men being questioned under terrorism act after swoop on M65 14 Feb 2009 Five homes were being searched by police in Burnley today following a motorway terrorism swoop. Three men are being questioned on suspicion of terrorism after police stopped three vehicles on the west bound carriageway of the M65.

Useless is as useless does: White House Not Challenging Rove's Privilege 14 Feb 2009 The Obama White House is not challenging whether a valid claim of "executive privilege" can keep former presidential advisor Karl Rove from testifying in the matter of the U.S. Attorney firings during the Bush Administration.

Illinois GOP leader calls on Sen. Burris to resign 15 Feb 2009 An Illinois Republican leader says the state's freshman U.S. senator should resign over contradictory statements regarding Gov. Rod Blagojevich's impeachment. State Rep. Jim Durkin told reporters Sunday that Democrat Roland Burris should resign over an affidavit contradicting statements he made earlier to a House committee. Durkin also wants Burris investigated for possible perjury. [Why no clamor for a Bush treason trial?]

4 key Dems in Congress seek inquiry into Arpaio sweeps 14 Feb 2009 The Arizona Republic Four leading Democratic members of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on Friday asked the new attorney general and Homeland Security secretary to investigate civil-rights complaints stemming from Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's crackdowns on illegal immigration.

Fed indictments tell how H-1B visas were used to undercut wages 13 Feb 2009 Federal agents on Thursday said they arrested 11 people in six states in a crackdown on H-1B visa fraud and unsealed documents that detail how the visa process was used to undercut the salaries of U.S. workers. Federal authorities allege that in some cases, H-1B workers were paid the prevailing wages of low-cost regions and not necessarily the higher salaries paid in the locations where they worked. By doing this, the companies were "displacing qualified American workers and violating prevailing wage laws," said federal authorities in a statement announcing the indictments.

US foreclosure image is 2008 World Press Photo 13 Feb 2009 A picture of an armed sheriff moving through an American home after an eviction due to a mortgage foreclosure was named World Press Photo of 2008 on Friday. Jury members said the strength of the photo by American Anthony Suau for Time magazine was in its opposites -- it looks like a classic war photograph, but is simply the eviction of people from a house.

UN lobbies for share of bank rescue funds 13 Feb 2009 The UN and the World Bank are lobbying for a portion of the billions of dollars allocated to bailing out the West's banking systems to be diverted to prevent 400 million people sinking into poverty across Asia in the wake of the global economic crisis.

To Fix Detroit, Obama Is Said to Drop Plan for 'Car Czar' 16 Feb 2009 President Obama has dropped the idea of appointing a "car czar" to oversee the revamping of General Motors and Chrysler and will instead keep the task in the hands of his most senior economic advisers, a top administration official said Sunday night. Mr. Obama is designating the Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, and the chairman of the National Economic Council, Lawrence H. Summers, to oversee a presidential panel on the auto industry.

Nuclear 'Pork' Removed from U.S. Stimulus Bill 13 Feb 2009 The U.S. Congress eliminated billions of dollars for nuclear weapons and nuclear energy from the economic stimulus bill Wednesday. Of the billions struck from the plan, $1 billion had been set aside for nuclear weapons and $50 billion was reserved for loan guarantees for new nuclear power plants, said the arms control group Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF).

Continental Plane Activated De-Icing Equipment Early 15 Feb 2009 The de-icing equipment on a Continental Connections flight to Buffalo that crashed Thursday night was engaged 11 minutes after takeoff, Steve Chealander of the National Transportation Safety Board said at a press briefing today. The plane was also flying on autopilot during the approach to Buffalo’s Niagara International Airport until a stall warning device activated seconds before the crash, he said.

NTSB: Plane rolled violently before crash 15 Feb 2009 A commuter airliner that crashed Thursday in upstate New York, killing 50 people, underwent violent pitching and rolling seconds before impact, with passengers experiencing twice the normal force of gravity, a federal investigator said Sunday. The plane's final 800-foot fall took five seconds, Steve Chealander of the National Transportation Safety Board said.

Genocide expert dies in US crash 14 Feb 2009 The court trying alleged perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide has expressed its shock at the death in an air crash of a top expert on the 1994 massacres. Alison Des Forges, 66, was among 50 people killed in a plane crash on Thursday near Buffalo, New York state.

Scientists: Pace of Climate Change Exceeds Estimates 15 Feb 2009 The pace of global warming is likely to be much faster than recent predictions, because industrial greenhouse gas emissions have increased more quickly than expected and higher temperatures are triggering self-reinforcing feedback mechanisms in global ecosystems, scientists said Saturday.


US Department of Defence role in CIA's secret jails --Defence sought to delay the release of Guantanamo prisoners who were scheduled to be sent home by a month and a half in order to avoid bad press. 14 Feb 2009 Three human rights groups have obtained documents that confirm US Department of Defence involvement in the CIA's "ghost" detention program, and the existence of secret prisons at Bagram air base in Afghanistan and in Iraq. The documents obtained as part of a long-running legal battle using freedom-of-information laws were released by the Department of Defence to Amnesty International USA, the Centre for Constitutional Rights and the Centre for Human Rights and Global Justice last week.

US most wanted terrorist suspect in new extradition fight in Britain 13 Feb 2009 One of the US's most wanted terrorist suspects, Khalid al-Fawwaz, has launched a new attempt to fight extradition from Britain. At the High Court in London, lawyers for al-Fawwaz and Bary, said conditions at the Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado would breach article three of the Human Rights Act which ensures protection from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The prison is likely to play a key role when the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay is shut down.

Air Force lawyer fights to free Guantanamo inmate 13 Feb 2009 A U.S. military lawyer blitzed London this week, calling for the immediate release of her client, who allegedly was trained in an al Qaida [al-CIAduh] terrorist camp, from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Claiming that Binyam Mohamed, a former British resident who's on a hunger strike at Guantanamo, will leave prison "insane" or "in a coffin" if he's not released soon, Air Force Reserve Lt. Col. Yvonne Bradley has made herself a thorn in the side of her military superiors, her commander-in-chief and other officials on both sides of the Atlantic.

Doctor flies to Guantanamo to check on condition of hunger striker 13 Feb 2009 A doctor will be flown to Guantanamo Bay to check on the condition of Binyam Mohamed, the torture victim who is on hunger strike there. In a statement, David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, revealed that a team of officials will accompany the doctor to prepare for the Ethiopian-born former British resident's return to the UK. Britain is seeking to secure Mr Mohamed's release from Guantanamo Bay, where he is believed to be in a fragile condition after going on hunger strike in protest at the refusal of the US authorities to release documents said to show British security service involvement in his torture.

Blackwater Changes Its Name to Xe 14 Feb 2009 Blackwater Worldwide is abandoning the brand name that has been tarnished by its work terrorism in Iraq, settling on Xe (pronounced zee) as the new name for its family of two dozen businesses. Blackwater Lodge and Training Center, the subsidiary that conducts much of the company’s overseas operations and domestic training, has been renamed U.S. Training Center Inc., the company said Friday. The company’s rebranding effort grew more urgent after Blackwater guards in Baghdad were involved in a shooting episode in September 2007 that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead.

Cost of war in Iraq and Afghanistan rises to £4.5bn 13 Feb 2009 The cost of Britain's military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have risen sharply to £4.5 billion over the last year, the Ministry of Defence said. The cost represents a 50 per cent increase on the previous year. The military mission in Afghanistan accounted for £2.6 billion, up from £1.5 billion last year. Despite the coming withdrawal from Iraq, the costs of operations there rose from £1.5 billion to £2 billion.

Suicide attack kills 40 in Iraq 14 Feb 2009 A female suicide bomber yesterday killed 40 people and wounded 81 in the worst of three consecutive days of attacks against Shiite worshippers in Iraq. The woman detonated explosives in a tent filled with women and children resting during a pilgrimage south of Baghdad, in an assault thought to be the deadliest this year.

Australian troops kill 5 Afghan children 14 Feb 2009 Australian special forces soldiers have killed five children in an attack on a compound in Afghanistan. The tragedy has triggered a strong warning from the Afghan Government that civilian deaths [war crimes] are playing into the hands of the Taliban.

Feinstein comment on U.S. drones likely to embarrass Pakistan The Predator planes that launch missile strikes against militants are based in Pakistan, the senator says. That suggests a much deeper relationship with the U.S. than Islamabad would like to admit. 13 Feb 2009 A senior U.S. lawmaker said Thursday that unmanned CIA Predator aircraft operating in Pakistan are flown from an air base in that country, a revelation likely to embarrass the Pakistani government and complicate its counter-terrorism collaboration with the United States. The disclosure by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, marked the first time a U.S. official had publicly commented on where the Predator aircraft patrolling Pakistan take off and land.

Pakistan: U.S. Missile Kills at Least Four 14 Feb 2009 Pakistani intelligence officials say a suspected U.S. missile strike by a drone aircraft has killed at least four people near the Afghan border. The officials say some people have also been wounded in Saturday's attack in the South Waziristan tribal region.

Israel mobilizes forces on Lebanon border 12 Feb 2009 Israel has reportedly mobilized its forces along its northern borders amid concerns that Tel Aviv may be planning to provoke Lebanon. The Lebanon Files news agency reported Thursday that Israeli military forces were seen heavily patrolling the northern border.

US intel confirms Iran not developing nukes 13 Feb 2009 The new chief of US intelligence has confirmed the findings of a 2007 intelligence report that Iran has no nuclear weapons program. Dennis Blair told the Senate Intelligence Committee that his organization has assessed that Tehran does not have nuclear weapons design and weaponization work.

Poll: Most want inquiry into anti-terror tactics 11 Feb 2009 A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds majorities in favor of investigating some of the thorniest unfinished business from the Bush regime: Whether its tactics in the "war on [of] terror" broke the law. Close to two-thirds of those surveyed said there should be investigations into allegations that the Bush team used torture to interrogate terrorism suspects and its program of wiretapping U.S. citizens without getting warrants. Almost four in 10 favor criminal investigations and about a quarter want investigations without criminal charges.

Mega barf alert! Homeland Security TV: Be Very Afraid By Ken Silverstein 11 Feb 2009 This is new to me: the Homeland Security Television Channel, "the world’s first online, on-demand television network dedicated to homeland security and global development." ...[T]he editorial board includes Tom Ridge, the former head of the Department of Homeland Security and CEO of Ridge Global of (one of the channel’s sponsors); Rear Admiral David Stone, the former assistant secretary of Homeland Security for the Transportation Security Administration and CEO of the Alacrity Homeland Group; and the savior of New Orleans, former FEMA chief Michael Brown.

Secret files reveal NIU killer's past 13 Feb 2009 A former student who killed five people at Northern Illinois University last Valentine's Day had been 'drummed out' of the Army for hiding his psychiatric history and expressed admiration for famous murderers, CNN has learned... Steven Kazmierczak spent three years at Thresholds, a psychiatric center in Chicago, according to psychiatric records in the files. He enlisted in the Army in September 2001 but was discharged the following February for lying on his application about his mental illness, Army records state. [See: NIU Shooting 'Oddities'.]

9/11 widow killed in NY plane crash --Eckert was co-chair of activist group 'Voices of September 11th' 13 Feb 2009 One of the victims of the Buffalo plane crash was the widow of a man who died in the September 11 attacks, according to reports. Beverly Eckert was flying to the city for a celebration of what would have been her husband Sean Rooney's 58th birthday. Ms Eckert became co-chairwoman of the group Voices of September 11th.

Sept. 11 Widow Killed in Buffalo Plane Crash --Sept. 11 widow, activist killed in plane crash 13 Feb 2009 One of the victims of the Buffalo commuter plane crash, Beverly Eckert, was a Sept. 11 widow who put her never-ending grief to good use to make the country safer. A week before her death, Eckert met with President Obama at the White House as part of a group of 9/11 families and relatives of those killed in the bombing of the USS Cole... She became part of a small group of Sept. 11 widows, mothers, and children who became amateur lobbyists, ultimately forcing lawmakers in 2004 to pass sweeping reforms of the U.S. intelligence apparatus.

Crashed commuter plane was new, had good record 13 Feb 2009 A Pinnacle airlines official says the commuter plane that crashed near Buffalo, N.Y., was new and had a clean safety record, leaving investigators few immediate clues about why it suddenly plunged into a house minutes before its planned landing, killing 50 people. The aircraft crashed Thursday night about five miles from the runway, near the point where a pilot would begin setting the plane up for landing. Skies were foggy and winds were 17 mph, but there was no indication of anything out of the ordinary and no mayday call, according to a recording of air traffic control radio messages captured by the Web site

Records show Colgan flights had been fatality free 13 Feb 2009 Colgan Air, the operator of the Continental Connection turboprop plane that crashed in upstate New York on Thursday, has been flying for Continental Airlines since 1997 and operates propeller-driven planes out of the carrier’s hubs in Newark and Houston. In Colgan's 18-year history, according to National Transportation Safety Board records, Colgan had just one minor injury aboard a passenger flight...

Flight 3407 Plummeted Straight Down, Killing 50 13 Feb 2009 In the minutes before a turboprop plane plunged to the earth killing all 49 people aboard and one person on the ground, the pilot and crew were recorded discussing "significant ice buildup" on the plane's windshield and the leading edge of the wings, federal investigators said today. The black boxes recovered from the burning remains of Continental Express Flight 3407 also indicated that the de-icing button in the cockpit had been in the "on" position. Shortly after that conversation, Capt. Marvin Renslow deployed the plane's landing gear and wing flaps to slow down the plane in preparation for landing.

Flight 3407's Last Audio: No Mayday Heard Before Buffalo Plane Crash --Audio of the Last Conversation With Co-Pilot Seemed Calm, Then Went Silent 13 Feb 2009 The last conversation between the co-pilot of Continental Express flight 3407 and air traffic control sounded perfectly calm moments before the plane crashed into a suburban home near Buffalo, N.Y., late Thursday night, killing 50. There was no Mayday call before flight 3407, operated by Colgan Air, nose-dived at 10:25 p.m, killing all 49 people on board and one on the ground.

50 killed in NY plane crash; 2 Israelis suspected onboard --Foreign Ministry inquires on whereabouts of two Israeli nationals suspected to have been on flight that crashed in Buffalo, leaving all passengers dead. Continental Airlines says no knowledge of Israelis aboard flight 13 Feb 2009 Foreign Ministry sources following the plane crash in Buffalo, New York, which left 50 people dead, expressed concerns on Friday for the lives of two Israeli citizens who may have been onboard the aircraft.

Financial Crisis Called Top Security Threat to U.S. 13 Feb 2009 Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair told Congress yesterday that instability in countries around the world caused by the current global economic crisis [the Bush Depression], rather than terrorism, is the primary near-term security threat to the United States. Blair also raised the specter of the "high levels of violent extremism" in the turmoil of the 1920s and 1930s along with "regime-threatening instability" [Hope springs eternal!] if the economic crisis persists over a one-to-two-year period.

US intelligence chief: World capitalist crisis poses greatest threat By Bill Van Auken 14 Feb 2009 In testimony before the Senate Committee on Intelligence Thursday, Washington's new director of national intelligence, Dennis Blair, warned that the deepening world capitalist crisis posed the paramount threat to US national security and warned that its continuation could trigger a return to the "violent extremism" of the 1920s and 1930s.

US Senate passes $787 bln stimulus, sends to Obama 13 Feb 2009 The U.S. Senate on Friday approved $787 billion in spending and tax cuts to boost the ailing economy, sending the emergency stimulus legislation to President Barack Obama, who is expected to sign it into law. The Senate voted 60-38 for the compromise bill on the same day the House of Representatives also passed it.

House passes $787B stimulus --Senate expected to vote on Friday evening. 13 Feb 2009 In a 246 to 183 vote largely along party lines, the House of Representatives on Friday passed a $787.2 billion economic recovery package that was drawn up, amended and negotiated in record time.

Regulators Close Banks in Nebraska, Florida 13 Feb 2009 Regulators on Friday closed Sherman County Bank in Nebraska and Riverside Bank of the Gulf Coast in Florida, marking 11 failures this year of federally insured institutions. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was appointed receiver of the banks. Sherman County Bank, located in Loup City, Neb., had $129.8 million in assets and $85.1 million in deposits as of Feb. 12. Cape Coral, Fla.-based Riverside Bank had assets of $539 million and deposits of $424 million as of Dec. 31.

VA clinic warns of possible contaminant exposure 13 Feb 2009 Thousands of patients at a Veterans Administration clinic [Alvin C. York VA Medical Center in Murfreesboro] in Tennessee may have been exposed to the infectious body fluids of other patients when they had colonoscopies in recent years, and now VA medical facilities all over the U.S. are reviewing their own procedures.

Monsanto in Illinois: Homeland Security and USDA Plan Attacks Against Animals By Linn Cohen-Cole 13 Feb 2009 Below is a letter to livestock producers in Illinois asking them and others to contact the Governor’s office to ask to be allowed to be present at a meeting between Homeland Security and the USDA which involves NAIS and "surge capacity" under Homeland Security to attack and seize and destroy - "depopulate" an area of - animals. This meeting is about what will be done TO THEM but they are shut out. Many of you already know about Monsanto’s "rural cleansing" in southern Illinois of 200 - 400 farmers for using Steve Hixon as their seed cleaner. One is being sued for $400,000. In 2006, Monsanto made $160,000,000 in this Mafia-like extortion.

Peanut Company Files for Bankruptcy --Survey Finds One in Three People Are Not Confident in Food Safety System 13 Feb 2009 Capping an action-packed week in the investigation of a widespread salmonella outbreak, the peanut company at the heart of the examination has filed for bankruptcy. Peanut Corp. of America's Friday bankruptcy filing came after the list of recalled peanut products grew even longer Thursday night, when the company announced it was recalling all products shipped from a second of its plants.

In pictures: The World Press photography awards 14 Feb 2009 American photographer Anthony Suau has won the top prize in the World Press Photo competition with an image of a police officer searching a debris-strewn home to ensure the evicted residents have left after a mortgage foreclosure. The winning photo for Time magazine shows the officer, gun drawn, peering into an open doorway inside the house, which is filled with overturned furniture and boxes.


Under Bush-Obama, looky what's gone missing:

Missing weaponry: Thousands of US weapons astray in Afghanistan: auditors 12 Feb 2009 Thousands of US weapons, including assault rifles and grenade launchers, may be in Taliban or Al-Qaeda al-CIAduh hands in Afghanistan because of lax controls, congressional auditors warned on Thursday. The Pentagon has failed to track an estimated 87,000 weapons given to Afghan security forces, one-third of the 242,000 shipped by the US government between December 2004 and June 2008, the Government Accountability Office said. A 46-page report by the GAO, the non-partisan investigative arm of Congress, said there had been no monitoring of a further 135,000 weapons donated by NATO allies to the poorly paid and corruption-rife Afghan army and police.

Missing Los Alamos computers: 69 computers missing from nuclear weapons lab --80 computers lost or stolen in 2008, 11 recovered. 12 Feb 2009 The Los Alamos nuclear weapons laboratory is missing 69 computers, but no classified information has been lost, spokesman Kevin Roark said. The watchdog group Project on Government Oversight released a memo dated Feb. 3 from the Energy Department's National Nuclear Security Administration that said 67 computers were missing.

Missing vacationing Blackberry: LANL Blackberry is Vacationing in 'Sensitive Foreign Country' 29 Jan 2009 According to a Los Alamos internal email, it has not been a good week for Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). There was a break-in at the Santa Fe home of a LANL scientist, from which three LANL computers were stolen. And in an unrelated incident, a LANL Blackberry was lost in a "sensitive foreign country."

Missing $366,000: Navy Supply Chief Charged in Theft 12 Feb 2009 A Navy supply chief was charged this week in federal court with stealing more than $366,000 worth of computers, televisions and other items using a government-issued credit card. Chief Petty Officer Antonio L. Allen, 36, of Chesapeake, was arrested Tuesday and released on $5,000 bond pending arraignment in U.S. District Court Wednesday. He was charged with conspiracy, theft of public property and making false statements.

Missing Constitution: Female FBI officer 'tortured Mumbai terror attacks suspect with sex' 11 Feb 2009 A female FBI officer tortured a suspect in the Mumbai terrorist attacks by performing a sex act on him during interrogation, it has been claimed. Fahim Ansari is accused of helping to plan the attacks in which 173 people were killed in November. His lawyer, Ejaz Naqvi, has filed legal papers with Mumbai magistrate's court, claiming the "white woman" removed all his clothes and showed him pornographic films. In the papers, he claims that three foreigners, including the woman, sexually abused him, causing him "severe itching and wounds" on his body, including his genitals.

Missing trials: Solicitor general nominee says 'enemy combatants' can be held without trial 11 Feb 2009 Harvard Law Dean Elena Kagan, President Obama's choice to represent his administration before the Supreme Court, told a key Republican senator Tuesday that she believed the government could hold suspected terrorists without trial as war prisoners. She echoed comments by Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. during his confirmation hearing last month. Both agreed that the United States was at war with 'Al Qaeda' and suggested the law of war allows the government to capture and hold alleged terrorists without charges. If confirmed as U.S. solicitor general, Kagan will defend the administration's legal policy in the courts.

Missing civil liberties: Top Obama Aides Embrace Bush's War on Terror Rhetoric and Enemy Combatant Policy By Jonathan Turley 11 Feb 2009 This has been a uniquely bad week for civil libertarians. The Obama Administration appears to be rushing to dispel any notions that Obama will fight for civil liberties or war crimes investigations. After Eric Holder allegedly assured a senator that there would be no war crimes investigation and seemed to defend Bush policies, Harvard Law Dean Elena Kagan, Obama’s Solicitor General nominee, reportedly told a Republican senator that the Administration agreed with Bush that we are "at war" and therefore can hold enemy combatants indefinitely. In the meantime, Obama himself seemed to tie himself in knots when asked about investigating war crimes and leading democrats are again pushing for a symbolic "truth commission."

Is Obama following Bush's lead on official secrecy? --The Obama administration either has delayed action on requests for access to government records or refused to disclose them in three early, high-profile tests of the pledge. 11 Feb 2009 This week, Justice Department lawyers announced that they'd continue to assert the state secrets argument made by the Bush regime in a lawsuit alleging that five men were tortured abroad in U.S.-run prisons. In a separate case, the Obama Justice Department has agreed with the Bush regime -- at least initially -- that the news media shouldn't have immediate access to court records in the ongoing Guantanamo detainee litigation. In another example, the administration on Wednesday told the American Civil Liberties Union that it needed more time to decide whether to release undisclosed Bush Justice Department memos that justified harsh interrogation torture practices.

Mumbai attacks suspects to be tried in Pakistani jail: TV 12 Feb 2009 Those accused for Mumbai attacks will be tried in a Pakistani jail, private TV channel DAWN NEWS reported on Thursday. The trial is scheduled to be held in Adiala Jail in the garrison city of Rawalpindi due to security reasons, said the report.

UK wins access to Guantanamo detainee 13 Feb 2009 The US has agreed to let British officials visit a Guantanamo Bay detainee whose case has sparked protests and prepare him for his return. Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Britain wanted Binyam Mohamed returned as soon as possible, noting that US President Barack Obama last month ordered a review of the cases of all those imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay.

Two politicians killed in N Iraq 12 Feb 2009 Two Iraqi politicians were shot dead and a third was injured by gunmen in the volatile city of Mosul, a local police source said on Thursday. "Unknown armed men gunned down Abdul Kareem al-Sharabi, a key figure in the National Dialogue Front, a main Sunni secular political party," the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

Deaths in Iraq bomb attacks 12 Feb 2009 At least 21 people have been killed and dozens more injured in a series of bomb attacks in Iraq. The explosions, which targeted civilians and security personnel, took place in Baghdad, the Iraqi capital, and in the northern city of Mosul on Wednesday, police sources said.

Pilgrims die in Iraq bomb attack 12 Feb 2009 At least eight people have been killed and 56 others wounded in a bomb attack targeting pilgrims in Iraq. The attack took place on Thursday in the city of Karbala as Shia Muslims marked Ashura, one of the most important dates in their religious calendar.

British soldier dies in Iraq 'shooting incident' 12 Feb 2009 A British soldier died in a "shooting incident" Thursday in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, the Ministry of Defence in London said. The soldier, whose name was not released, died early Thursday at Britain's Contingency Operating Base outside Basra, where most of the country's troops are stationed.

Panel says Pentagon relies too heavily on contractors 12 Feb 2009 Defense appropriators are raising concerns about the Pentagon’s growing reliance on private contractors rather than federal employees. At a hearing Thursday by the House Appropriations defense sub-panel, lawmakers indicated that contracting issues are going to get close attention during the consideration of the fiscal 2010 budget.

Halliburton, KBR Settle Bribery Allegations 12 Feb 2009 Halliburton and Kellogg Brown & Root have agreed to pay $579 million in fines related to allegations of foreign bribery, the biggest fines ever paid by U.S. companies in a foreign corruption case, federal authorities and the companies said yesterday. The Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Justice alleged that Houston-based Halliburton and KBR were part of a joint venture that spent $182 million to bribe Nigerian government officials over a 10-year period to win more than $6 billion in construction contracts.

Gregg Withdraws as Commerce Nominee 12 Feb 2009 New Hampshire Republican Sen. Judd Gregg has withdrawn his name from consideration as President Obama's commerce secretary, a major blow to an administration seeking to put a series of Cabinet problems behind it. [I wonder which GOP troll Obama will select in his place?]

U.S. sees economic crisis as top security threat 12 Feb 2009 The global economic crisis has become the biggest near-term U.S. security concern, causing instability in a quarter of the world's countries and threatening destructive trade wars, U.S. intelligence agencies reported on Thursday.

Obama's Stimulus Not Enough to Avert Biggest GDP Drop Since 1946 12 Feb 2009 President Barack Obama’s stimulus plan will be insufficient to avert the biggest U.S. economic decline since 1946 as consumer spending posts its longest slide on record, according to a monthly Bloomberg News survey.

Merrill bonuses made 696 millionaires: probe 11 Feb 2009 Merrill Lynch quietly paid out at least one million dollars bonus each to about 700 top executive even when the investment house was bleeding with losses last year, a probe has revealed. They were part of 3.6 billion dollars in the firm's bonus payments in December before the announcement of its fourth quarterly losses and takeover by Bank of America, the investigation by the New York state Attorney General's office showed.

Hackers clone passports in drive-by RFID heist 04 Feb 2009 A British hacker has shown how easy it is to clone US passport cards that use RFID by conducting a drive-by test on the streets of San Francisco. Chris Paget, director of research and development at Seattle-based IOActive, used a US$250 Motorola RFID reader and an antenna mounted in a car’s side window and drove for 20 minutes around San Francisco. He picked up the details of two US passport cards, which are fitted with RFID chips and can be used instead of traditional passports for travel to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Key Witnesses to Be Interviewed in Prosecutor Firings 12 Feb 2009 A federal prosecutor investigating the dismissal of nine U.S. attorneys during the Bush regime has issued a subpoena to former senator Pete V. Domenici (R-NM) and is preparing to interview key witnesses, lawyers following the case say.

NVIC Says BMJ Review Demonstrates Medical Journal Bias Toward Pharma-Sponsored Influenza Vaccine Studies 12 Feb 2009 In a review of influenza vaccine studies published in the British Medical Journal Tom Jefferson, M.D., Ph.D. and colleagues found that published influenza vaccine studies sponsored by industry are treated more favorably by medical journals even when the studies are of poor quality.

More than 600,000 without power from Ohio to NY 12 Feb 2009 Wind gusts felled trees onto power lines from Ohio to New York on Wednesday night, leaving by Thursday afternoon more than 600,000 customers without electricity, utility companies said. Ohio utilities were hit hardest... Utilities were also affected in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Virginia and Indiana.

Polar bears in western Arctic going hungry 11 Feb 2009 Polar bears in the western Arctic are struggling to find food during the critical spring period, according to a recent report. University of Alberta and Environment Canada scientists compared current samples of the bears’ waste with those from 20 years ago and determined that nearly a third more polar bears are going hungry in the spring than went hungry in the 1980s.

Koala warms hearts after deadly fires in Australia 11 Feb 2009 Sam, the koala pictured in media outlets worldwide drinking bottled water from a firefighter, is quickly becoming a symbol of the deadly wildfires that have killed at least 181 people and destroyed more than 900 homes in southeastern Australia. Firefighter David Tree spotted the female koala amid burnt brush at Mirboo North, 90 miles southeast of Melbourne, and offered her water from a bottle.


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