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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Blackwater tapped foreigners on secret CIA program...

Blackwater Tapped Foreigners on Secret CIA Program
Blackwater-CIA program to hunt terrorists used foreign recruits on surveillance missions
By ADAM GOLDMAN and PAMELA HESS Associated Press Writers
WASHINGTON August 30, 2009 (AP)

When the CIA revived a plan to kill or capture terrorists in 2004, the agency turned to the well-connected security company then known as Blackwater USA.

With Blackwater's lucrative government security work and contacts arrayed in hot spots around the world, company officials offered the services of foreigners supposedly skilled at tracking terrorists in lawless regions and countries where the CIA had no working relationships with the government.

Blackwater told the CIA that it "could put people on the ground to provide the surveillance and support — all of the things you need to conduct an operation," a former senior CIA official familiar with the secret program told The Associated Press.

But the CIA's use of the private contractor as part of its now-abandoned plan to dispatch death squads skirted concerns now re-emerging with recent disclosures about Blackwater's role.

The former senior CIA official said he had doubts during his tenure about whether Blackwater's foreign recruits had mastered the necessary skills to pull off such a high-stakes operation. Blackwater's later hiring of several senior CIA officials who were involved in or aware of the secret program, including one of the men who ran the operation, showed the blurred lines of using a private contractor for such a highly classified and dangerous project.

While Blackwater won the government's confidence by handling security and training operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the 2004 decision by CIA officials to entrust the North Carolina-based company with such a sensitive overseas operation struck some former agency officials as highly unusual.

"The question remains: Why do we need Blackwater?" said Charles Faddis, a former department chief at the CIA's Counterterrorism Center who retired in 2008 and was not involved in the secret program. "I remain mystified. This is quintessential CIA work. You wonder what it means that the CIA has to rely on Blackwater? Why are we still funding the CIA?"

"CLICK TITLE LINK TO READ FULL ARTICLE"

Colombian prez hit by swine flu...


Colombian leader hit by swine flu
BBC News

Mr Uribe was being treated at home and was doing well, an official said
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has been diagnosed with swine flu, his spokesman says, days after attending a regional summit.

The 57-year-old leader was being treated at his residence and was continuing to work, the spokesman said.

Mr Uribe returned on Saturday from a summit in Argentina attended by leaders from across South America.

Those who held talks with him had been told of his infection, the spokesman said.

The Union of South American Nations (Unasur) summit met in Argentina on Friday to discuss a deal giving US troops access to Colombian bases.

Several countries say the deal threatens regional peace - a charge the US and Colombia deny.

To date, 621 cases of swine flu have been recorded in Colombia of which 34 have proved fatal, Colombia's social protection ministry says.

Alex Jones: TV is Pentagon designed mind control...

Congress seeks to authorize & legalize FEMA camp facilities...


Congress Seeks To Authorize & Legalize FEMA Camp Facilities
Dprogram
August 30, 2009

A new bill has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives called the National Emergency Centers Act or HR 645. This bill if passed into law will direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish national emergency centers otherwise known as FEMA camp facilities on military installations. This is an incredibly disturbing piece of legislation considering that the powers that be have already set in motion an agenda to setup a nationwide marital law apparatus through U.S. Northern Command and the Department of Homeland Security. Apparently, the fusion centers, militarized police, surveillance cameras and a domestic military command is not enough. Even though we already know that detention facilities are already in place, they now want to legalize the construction of FEMA camps on military installations using the ever popular excuse that the facilities are for the purposes of a national emergency. With the phony debt based economy getting worse and worse by the day, the possibility of civil unrest is becoming a greater threat to the establishment. One need only look at Iceland, Greece and other nations for what might happen in the United States next. With this in mind, it appears as if these so called national emergency centers will be used in a national emergency but only if the national emergency requires large groups of people to be rounded up and detained. If that isn’t the case, than why have these national emergency facilities built in military installations?

Let’s look through the various portions of the bill. Here is section 2 of the bill taken directly from the proposed legislation.

SEC. 2. ESTABLISHMENT OF NATIONAL EMERGENCY CENTERS.

(a) In General- In accordance with the requirements of this Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall establish not fewer than 6 national emergency centers on military installations.

(b) Purpose of National Emergency Centers- The purpose of a national emergency center shall be to use existing infrastructure–

(1) to provide temporary housing, medical, and humanitarian assistance to individuals and families dislocated due to an emergency or major disaster;

(2) to provide centralized locations for the purposes of training and ensuring the coordination of Federal, State, and local first responders;

(3) to provide centralized locations to improve the coordination of preparedness, response, and recovery efforts of government, private, and not-for-profit entities and faith-based organizations; and

(4) to meet other appropriate needs, as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security.

The legislation says that the Secretary of Homeland Security shall establish not fewer than 6 national emergency centers on military installations. This means that the Secretary of Homeland Security can setup as many FEMA camps within military installations as they want, it just has to be more than 6 of them. On top of that, it also states that the facilities will be used to meet other appropriate needs as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security. This could mean anything. If the Secretary of Homeland Security thinks it is appropriate to kill large groups of people like the Nazis did in World War II Germany, than it looks as if this bill would give them the authority to use these facilities for that purpose.

Below is section 3 taken from the bill.

SEC. 3. DESIGNATION OF MILITARY INSTALLATIONS AS NATIONAL EMERGENCY CENTERS.

(a) In General- Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, shall designate not fewer than 6 military installations as sites for the establishment of national emergency centers.

(b) Minimum Requirements- A site designated as a national emergency center shall be–

(1) capable of meeting for an extended period of time the housing, health, transportation, education, public works, humanitarian and other transition needs of a large number of individuals affected by an emergency or major disaster;

(2) environmentally safe and shall not pose a health risk to individuals who may use the center;

(3) capable of being scaled up or down to accommodate major disaster preparedness and response drills, operations, and procedures;

(4) capable of housing existing permanent structures necessary to meet training and first responders coordination requirements during nondisaster periods;

(5) capable of hosting the infrastructure necessary to rapidly adjust to temporary housing, medical, and humanitarian assistance needs;

(6) required to consist of a complete operations command center, including 2 state-of-the art command and control centers that will comprise a 24/7 operations watch center as follows:

(A) one of the command and control centers shall be in full ready mode; and

(B) the other shall be used daily for training; and

(7) easily accessible at all times and be able to facilitate handicapped and medical facilities, including during an emergency or major disaster.

(c) Location of National Emergency Centers- There shall be established not fewer than one national emergency center in each of the following areas:

(1) The area consisting of Federal Emergency Management Agency Regions I, II, and III.

(2) The area consisting of Federal Emergency Management Agency Region IV.

(3) The area consisting of Federal Emergency Management Agency Regions V and VII.

(4) The area consisting of Federal Emergency Management Agency Region VI.

(5) The area consisting of Federal Emergency Management Agency Regions VIII and X.

(6) The area consisting of Federal Emergency Management Agency Region IX.

(d) Preference for Designation of Closed Military Installations- Wherever possible, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, shall designate a closed military installation as a site for a national emergency center. If the Secretaries of Homeland Security and Defense jointly determine that there is not a sufficient number of closed military installations that meet the requirements of subsections (b) and (c), the Secretaries shall jointly designate portions of existing military installations other than closed military installations as national emergency centers.

(e) Transfer of Control of Closed Military Installations- If a closed military installation is designated as a national emergency center, not later than 180 days after the date of designation, the Secretary of Defense shall transfer to the Secretary of Homeland Security administrative jurisdiction over such closed military installation.

(f) Cooperative Agreement for Joint Use of Existing Military Installations- If an existing military installation other than a closed military installation is designated as a national emergency center, not later than 180 days after the date of designation, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of Defense shall enter into a cooperative agreement to provide for the establishment of the national emergency center.

(g) Reports-

(1) PRELIMINARY REPORT- Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security, acting jointly with the Secretary of Defense, shall submit to Congress a report that contains for each designated site–

(A) an outline of the reasons why the site was selected;

(B) an outline of the need to construct, repair, or update any existing infrastructure at the site;

(C) an outline of the need to conduct any necessary environmental clean-up at the site;

(D) an outline of preliminary plans for the transfer of control of the site from the Secretary of Defense to the Secretary of Homeland Security, if necessary under subsection (e); and

(E) an outline of preliminary plans for entering into a cooperative agreement for the establishment of a national emergency center at the site, if necessary under subsection (f).

(2) UPDATE REPORT- Not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security, acting jointly with the Secretary of Defense, shall submit to Congress a report that contains for each designated site–

(A) an update on the information contained in the report as required by paragraph (1);

(B) an outline of the progress made toward the transfer of control of the site, if necessary under subsection (e);

(C) an outline of the progress made toward entering a cooperative agreement for the establishment of a national emergency center at the site, if necessary under subsection (f); and

(D) recommendations regarding any authorizations and appropriations that may be necessary to provide for the establishment of a national emergency center at the site.

(3) FINAL REPORT- Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security, acting jointly with the Secretary of Defense, shall submit to Congress a report that contains for each designated site–

(A) finalized information detailing the transfer of control of the site, if necessary under subsection (e);

(B) the finalized cooperative agreement for the establishment of a national emergency center at the site, if necessary under subsection (f); and

(C) any additional information pertinent to the establishment of a national emergency center at the site.

(4) ADDITIONAL REPORTS- The Secretary of Homeland Security, acting jointly with the Secretary of Defense, may submit to Congress additional reports as necessary to provide updates on steps being taken to meet the requirements of this Act.

This section authorizes the Homeland Security Secretary to setup these FEMA camps in closed or open military installations and in regions around the nation. This essentially legalizes any existing FEMA camp infrastructure that has been built in either closed or open military installations and opens the door for additional facilities to be created.

Fortunately, the bill only authorizes $180,000,000 per year for these facilities, but considering that the majority of the detention facilities are probably already built, they won’t need much additional funding. There is no doubt judging from the language of this bill, that it is meant to legalize what they’ve already been doing. After all, FEMA has already been looking at ways to transport large quantities of people to camps, they held a FEMA camp drill which consisted of an illegal alien round up in Iowa and KBR/Halliburtion has already aided in the creation of detention facilities. The rationale behind this legislation is undoubtedly to serve as a mechanism of control if the authorities need facilities to hold large amounts of dissenting people. This is not to help people. One only needs to take a look at what happened during Hurricane Katrina and it is obvious that the government does not care about the people. They didn’t care then, and they don’t care now, and these facilities built or unbuilt will definitely not be utilized for the people’s interest.

Washington Post helps CIA defend torture...

WPost Helps CIA Defend Torture
By Ray McGovern
August 30, 2009
ConsortiumNews.com

EXTRA! Read all about it in the Washington Post: Torture worked;
Cheney and torture practitioners vindicated.

It seems coverage of the Bush administration's "war on terror" has been put back on track by the editors of the Washington Post and their "sources" who are determined to highlight the supposed successes of waterboarding and other forms of torture.

Frankly, I was wondering when this return to form would happen at the Post. I was surprised to see Post journalists recently lose their grip, so to speak, and fall into the practice of reporting real facts -- like the sickening revelations in the long-suppressed CIA Inspector General's report on torture.

Apparently they have now been reminded of the biases of the newspaper's top brass, forever justifying the hardnosed "realism" of the Bush administration as it approved brutal and perverse methods for stripping the "bad guys" of their clothes, their dignity, their sense of self -- all to protect America.

Hooded, threatened with cocked guns and electric drills, deprived of sleep for long periods, beaten, dressed in diapers, forced into painful stress positions, locked in tiny boxes and subjected to the near-drowning of waterboarding, the terrorism suspects were supposed to be terrorized into what the CIA psychologists called "learned helplessness."

And to read the Washington Post's account, it all worked, transforming alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed from a "truculent enemy" into what the CIA considered its "preeminent source" on al-Qaeda.

The Post made the story of this transformation -- "How a Detainee Became an Asset: Sept.11 Plotter Cooperated After Waterboarding" -- its Aug. 29 lead story on Page One.

To drive home the central point, the Post declared that "this reversal occurred after Mohammed was subjected to simulated drowning and prolonged sleep deprivation, among other harsh interrogation techniques."

But the story contained some weird contradictions that might have given pause to a less credulous -- or less biased -- newspaper. For example, the Post's two unnamed sources who told the tale of Mohammed's transformation depicted him as anything but a broken man suffering from "learned helplessness," terrified of more torture.

Instead, Mohammed, known as KSM, is described as holding forth like a professor in a lecture hall, pontificating about Greek philosophy and criticizing his American students for their shortcomings. "In one instance, he scolded a listener for poor note-taking and his inability to recall details of an earlier lecture," the Post wrote.

So, instead of a cowering figure induced to talk out of fear that he might be subjected to a 184th session of waterboarding, Mohammed appears to be a boastful narcissist who views himself as a historic figure -- exactly the sort of interrogation subject who would be susceptible to flattery and other successful, non-violent strategies favored by experienced FBI interrogators.

If the "learned helplessness" had worked -- and was the reason Mohammed was talking -- would he really have risked scolding an American interrogator, like an angry teacher chastising an inattentive schoolboy?

However, that is not a question the Post asks or its editors apparently want the readers to think much about. The story is written as if the Post writers Peter Finn, Joby Warrick and Julie Tate are seeking expiation for their sins of writing fact-and-document-based stories in recent days.

The Post management, it seems, is determined to return to its past practice of acting as stenographers for the CIA's PR machine.

Loving the Inquisition

Warming the cockles of Dick Cheney's heart, the Washington Post is "confirming" that waterboarding and sleep deprivation worked -- just as we were told by Sen. Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, on May 13 at a hearing on detainee interrogation that included an implicit tip of the hat to all manner of infamous torture past:

"The Vice President [Cheney] is suggesting that there was good information obtained, and I'd like the committee to get that information. Let's have both sides of the story here. I mean, one of the reasons these techniques have survived for about 500 years is apparently they work."

Five hundred years takes us proudly back to the Spanish Inquisition when the cardinals at least had no problem calling a spade a spade. Their term for waterboarding was tortura del agua. No euphemism like "enhanced interrogation technique" or EIT for short.

As for Cheney's earlier claim that two CIA documents would prove that the EITs were effective -- the two were released this week, and they prove nothing of the kind. Together with others, they do indicate that detainees like KSM provided important intelligence on al-Qaeda and its plans. But they fail to support the contention that it was the use of harsh techniques (as opposed to traditional interrogation methods) that yielded the information.

The Washington Independent's Spencer Ackerman, who has been covering all this like a blanket, notes that the two documents actually suggest that non-abusive interrogation techniques were primarily responsible for eliciting the most important information cited in the two documents.

In short, Cheney is no closer to proving that "torture works," than he was before the release of those two documents to which he gave so much fanfare. Indeed, given how the two fizzled out, he is now farther away from making that case, except in the eyes of senior editors at the Washington Post and other outlets of the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM).

Water and Sleep

For years now, the FCM has largely succeeded in trivializing "water torture." So who's afraid of a little water? Don't those Muslims know how to hold their breath, like we do at Rehoboth? And besides, we waterboarded our own troops in training, without adverse effect.

Are Americans so dumbed down that they cannot see the difference between a U.S. military training exercise, during which a simple gesture will stop the torture, and the real thing?

And how well did torture work on KSM? If one examines the record more carefully, it turns out that the alleged 9/11 mastermind was uncooperative and deceptive during the torture.

When U.S. authorities finally let KSM be interviewed by the Red Cross, he said this (which was shoehorned onto page 6 of the Post, presumably to provide the article some semblance of "balance"):

"During the harshest period of my interrogation I gave a lot of false information in order to satisfy what I believed the interrogators wished to hear in order to make the ill-treatment stop. I later told interrogators that their methods were stupid and counterproductive.

"I'm sure that the false information I was forced to invent in order to make the ill-treatment stop wasted a lot of their time."

Ask FBI investigators and others sent on wild goose chases to check out such "information"; in candid moments they will corroborate what KSM has to say on that key point.

It truly boggles the mind what information one can extract by torture. A U.S. Army interrogator with long experience in conducting interrogations, and in training others in traditional Army techniques, recently told me this:

"Give me no restrictions on enhanced techniques and I promise you I could get a detainee to confess to having launched, solo, not one but two successful suicide bombings!"

The FCM's dismissive attitude toward waterboarding goes in spades for sleep deprivation. One hears things like: "We've all gone without sleep -- preparing for exams, for example. We know what it's like, and it's no big deal. And, anyway, these are bad guys."

Not so fast. It's difficult to say that sleep deprivation is worse than waterboarding, but it is just as torturous. Much can be learned from Darius Rejali, a scholar who is one of the world's leading thinkers and writers on torture and its consequences. The paragraphs that follow are drawn largely from his book, Torture and Democracy.

Israeli terrorist and later prime minister, Menachem Begin, describing the sleep deprivation inflicted on him when he was a prisoner of the KGB as a young man, observed that anyone subjected to this condition knows that "not even hunger or thirst are comparable to it."

Experts now agree that sleep deprivation is a basic, and potentially dangerous, physiological-need state, similar to hunger or thirst and as basic to survival. Sleep-deprived people are highly suggestible (a condition not unlike drunkenness or hypnosis), making sleep deprivation ideal for inducing false confessions.

Rejali gives a 15th-century Italian lawyer "credit" for introducing this technique into the Inquisition's toolkit. But Inquisitional interrogators soon became aware of the unreliable character of information acquired through sleep deprivation, and the preferred technique became the rack.

The Gestapo used sleep deprivation among other "Verschäfte Vernehmungen" -- sharpened interrogation techniques. Against whom? You guessed it; against "Terroristen."

Sleep deprivation also was in the quiver of British interrogators in Northern Ireland in the 1970s and is still included in current Israeli procedures. And after 9/11, the CIA and the military were authorized to take the technique out of mothballs and apply it in interrogations -- with terrific results, if you believe Page One of the Washington Post.

For additional context, it may be worth citing what Rejali says about the experience of using sleep deprivation in the U.S.:

"American courts finally barred sleep deprivation for domestic policing during World War II. In 1941 Tennessee police subjected one suspect to sleep deprivation and interrogation for thirty-six hours until he confessed he had killed his wife….

"In 1944, the Supreme Court not only tossed out the confession as unacceptable in any democratic society," but drew a link between sleep deprivation and "the practices of certain foreign nations dedicated to…physical or mental torture."

Political Correctness

Khalid Sheik Mohammed was captured as the writers of the 9/11 Commission were preparing their report. Ask him why he did it, was their understandable request. The answer was quite telling.

Mohammed had attended North Carolina A&T in Greensboro; thus, initial speculation regarding his motive centered on the supposition that he had suffered some gross indignity accounting for his hatred for America. Not so. Rather, as the 9/11 Commission reported on page 147:

"By his own account, KSM's animus toward the United States stemmed not from his experience there as a student, but rather from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel."

Today's Washington Post article offers a revisionist view. It seems Mohammed's initial response was found to be politically incorrect by implicating "U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel."

Perhaps after a few more sessions of waterboarding or a few more days of sleep deprivation he came up with a more acceptable explanation of his motivation. Or perhaps the Post has been selective in picking and choosing among the various things that came out of reports that emerged from his interrogation.

In any event, without so much as a word as to why his story has changed, the Post now would have us believe that the following is the real reason:

"KSM's limited and negative experience in the United States -- which included a brief jail stay because of unpaid bills -- almost certainly helped propel him on his path to becoming a terrorist," according to the [CIA] intelligence summary. "He stated that his contact with Americans, while minimal, confirmed his view that the United States was a debauched and racist country."

A telling revision, indeed.

But let's also look for a moment at "debauched and racist" on its own merits. Could the hated Khalid Sheik Mohammed be speaking some truth here?

If he and other Middle Eastern Muslims looked and acted more like us, would it be so easy to demonize them -- and to torture them?

Would the Washington Post's editors be so supportive if representatives of a more favored ethnic or religious group were stripped naked before members of the opposite sex, put in diapers, immobilized with shackles in stress positions for long periods, denied sleep and made to soil themselves?

In my view, racism is very much at play here.

And "debauched?" Just read the CIA Inspector General report and decide for yourself.

And please: don't stop with a "Tsk, tsk; those interrogators were certainly debauched." We -- all of us -- let it happen. We -- all of us -- need to ensure that our country does not descend again into such depravity.

The only way to do that is to hold ALL the rotten apples accountable, from the top to the bottom of the proverbial barrel.


Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He worked for almost 30 years in Army intelligence and as a CIA analyst, and is now a member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

American citizen/intelligence asset to be named as true Lockerbie bomber by Megrahi...

I’ll reveal true identity of bomber’
Megrahi is to point the finger
August 23,2009
By Ben Borland

AN AMERICAN citizen is to be named by the Lockerbie bomber as the man who really carried out the terrorist attack on Pan Am Flight 103.

Megrahi's early release from prison on compassionate grounds.

Lawyers for the bomber were to argue that an "elusive" terrorist codenamed Abu Elias planted the bomb in December 1988, causing the deaths of 270 innocent people.

Megrahi is now expected to identify the man behind this alias.

The Scottish Sunday Express tracked this man down to his home in the US, and he strongly denied having anything to do with the atrocity.

However, we can reveal that he has connections to at least two international terrorists and a Palestinian terror group, as well as links to the US intelligence services.

The man, who works as a schools engineer for the US government, was to become the central figure in Megrahi's aborted appeal.

'Elias', a commander in a Palestinian terror organisation, was identified as the CIA's primary Lockerbie suspect but was never caught.

Sources close to Megrahi believe he may actually have been a double agent working for the FBI or the CIA.

Last night the man, who we have chosen not to name, said: "Sorry, I don't think that I can help in this case. It is a clear case of either mistaken identity and/or fabrication.

"I don't wish my name to be mentioned in any capacity in the press. I am sure you understand the sensitivity of this matter since I have a family and children."

However, Christine Grahame MSP, who visited Megrahi in Greenock prison and campaigned for his release, is believed to be considering naming the man in the Scottish Parliament chamber.

She said: "It is apparent that US intelligence has known or must have known the primary suspect of the Lockerbie bombing was alive and living safely in Washington.

"There has been a suggestion made that he is in some way an 'intelligence asset' for the US and that is why he has been allowed to live in peace.

"He must be deeply relieved that Megrahi was forced to drop his appeal and that he will never face justice for this atrocity."

Yesterday, Megrahi promised that before he dies he will present new evidence gathered for the appeal which will exonerate him. He said he will call on the British and Scottish people "to be the jury".

The man Megrahi believes was Abu Elias now lives in a suburban neighbourhood near Washington's Dulles airport, just a few miles from the White House and the Lockerbie memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. He even has his own Facebook social network page.

He is the nephew of Syrian terror warlord Ahmed Jibril, the founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine -- General Command (PFLP-GC).

Jibril was allegedly paid $10million by Iran to bomb an American passenger jet in retaliation for the US Navy accidentally shooting down an Iranian plane earlier in 1988, killing all 298 pilgrims on board.

The man is also related to Nezar Hindawi, a Syrian currently serving a 45-year sentence in Whitemoor high-security prison in Cambridgeshire for plotting to blow up an Israeli jet flying from Heathrow to Tel Aviv in 1986.

A document submitted to the appeal court by Megrahi's lawyers states: "The FBI had apparently investigated 'X' and knew he was the nephew of Ahmed Jibril.

"'X' had met with FBI special agents [an appointment was in his diary for August 1988] but neither 'X' nor the Department of Justice would disclose who the agents were or the precise purpose of the recorded meeting. 'X' admitted the meeting had taken place. It is inconceivable that he did not produce his Syrian passport for examination. Only extracts from his US passport were revealed.

"Once again, the hand of the US government appeared to be guiding matters behind the scenes."

'Elias' was also connected to Mohammed Abu Talb, an Egyptian named by Dumfries and Galloway Police as their chief suspect less than a year after the bombing. The true identity of 'Elias' first came to light during a closed hearing at the Lockerbie trial in Holland in 2001, which led to Megrahi's conviction.

However, the defence claim that attempts to investigate further were dismissed as a "fishing" exercise by the then Lord Advocate, Colin Boyd.

There is further evidence to link the PFLP-GC to the disaster, as first reported by the Scottish Sunday Express in 2004.

In October 1988, following a tip-off from the CIA, German police raided a PFLP-GC safe house in Neuss and discovered a bomb in a Toshiba cassette player, identical to the one which exploded on board Flight 103, as well as a Pan Am timetable.

Codenamed Autumn Leaves, the raid resulted in 16 arrests including that of cell leader Hafez Dalkamoni, later convicted for a bombing campaign on German railways, and ­Marwan Khreesat, a double agent for the Jordanian intelligence service.

Khreesat said in an interview with an FBI agent that he had been introduced to a man called Abu Elias, an explosives and airline security expert who had been "giving orders".

Another member of the terror cell, Mobdi Goben, later disclosed Elias's true identity in a deathbed confession which became known as the Goben Memorandum during the Camp Zeist trial. Goben claimed 'Elias' placed a bomb in the luggage of Khaled Jafar, a Lebanese/American from Detroit who died on board Pan Am Flight 103.

A source close to Megrahi said yesterday that 'Elias' could have been spying for the Americans.

The source said: "Not only was Abu Elias known to the Americans, but what if he was working for them? The guy comes into the US from the former Soviet Union, he's the nephew of Ahmed Jibril -- the Bin Laden of his day -- and he just strolls into the US?

"I think they turned him, and I think he operated as a double agent.

"Khreeshat said if they had waited one more day they would have got Elias in the Autumn Leaves raid.Goben says Elias put the bomb into Jafar's case without his knowledge.

"Abu Elias was a prime suspect. An American double agent was responsible for bringing down an American plane. How good a reason for a cover-up would that be?"

Sibel Edmonds speaks, but no one is listening...

Sibel Edmonds Speaks, But No One Is Listening
by Philip Giraldi
Posted on August 27th, 2009
The American Conservative

Those who are interested in issues like widespread corruption of our elected officals by foreigners have no doubt followed the ex-FBI traslator turned whistle blower Sibel Edmonds saga for the past few years. Sibel has finally testified in court under oath about some of the things that she learned while working for the bureau. The testimony was in a court in Ohio about two weeks ago. A full transcription and a useful summary appear at http://www.bradblog.com/?p=7374. In short, she names a number of Congressmen including former Speaker Dennis Hastert who took money from Turkish lobbyists. She also identifies senior State Department and Pentagon officials who apparently did the same, including our friends Marc Grossman, Paul Wolfowitz, and Doug Feith. Interestingly, she claims that Grossman blew the cover of Valerie Plame’s company Brewster Jennings back in 2001, causing CIA to shut it down, so Robert Novak was not guilty of exposing the CIA cover mechanism. In another interview given a few weeks ago, Edmonds claims that CIA was working closely with al-Qaeda in the Balkans and continued to do so until 9/11.

As I have reported before, Edmonds is a credible witness who is ignored by the mainstream media and congress because her tales, if true, would be devastating to both political parties and to the Israel and Turkish lobbies. She is dismissed as a crackpot. She might in fact be blowing smoke, but now that she has testified under oath and in considerable detail making very specific accusations isn’t it time for someone in the administration to review the FBI files and stand up to say whether her accounts are true or not? Corruption in the US government is something that no one wants to talk about, particularly if powerful foreign interests are involved.

"Enough Already"(Cindy Sheehan)


"Enough Already"
by Cindy Sheehan
August 20, 2009
Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox

"And you look at somebody like that (note: me) and you think here's somebody who's just trying to find some meaning in her son's death. And you have to be sympathetic to her. Anybody who has given a son to this country has made an enormous sacrifice, and you have to be sympathetic. But enough already."
ABC Nightly News Anchor, Charles Gibson August 18, 2009


"Enough already?" Hmmm...I don't know Charlie Gibson and I don't pay any attention to his career, but I seem to agree with him on this one: "Enough already."

Enough with the killing, torturing, wounding and profiting off of the backs of our troops and off of the lives of the people of Iraq-Af-Pak: as our brothers and sisters in Latin America say: "Basta!"

Somehow, I don't think that this is what Charlie Gibson meant, though. I am sure that he just wants me to go away like most of the rest of the anti-war movement has done under the Obama presidency.

One of the things I hear quite often from people from all over the political spectrum is: "Why don't you just go away, you've had your 15 minutes of fame."

Yes, that's exactly what I thought as soon as I heard that my son was killed in the US's illegal and immoral war in Iraq: "this is a perfect opportunity to get my 15 minutes of fame." Actually, after I slowly recovered from the shock and horror, the pain always remains, I thought that I had to do everything I can to end this nightmare so other mothers/families wouldn't have to go through what I was going through and what I am going through.

I certainly am not the anchor of a major network news show, but last time I checked, people are still dying at a heartrending clip in Iraq-Af-Pak.

If my goal was "15 minutes of fame," I could have gone quietly away a long time ago. I started because I wanted the wars to end, and I will figure I can go away when the wars end...but when is that going to be? In my lifetime, probably not.

I am cutting my writing-staycation short to head to Martha's Vineyard because I think the new titular head of the empire needs to know that his policies are devastating people as much as the same policies did when Bush was president.

I would rather be able to go away and spend the rest of my life worshipping my grandchildren, writing, reading, resting, and doing humanitarian work where I am needed.

I wish the wars would go away, but they aren't going away if we the people don't get more militantly insistent.

The silence of the antiwar movement is deafening...

The Silence of the Antiwar Movement is Deafening
Cindy Sheehan's Lonely Vigil in Obamaland
By JOHN V. WALSH
August 26, 2009
Counterpunch.com

A funny thing has happened on Cindy Sheehan's long road from Crawford, Texas, to Martha's Vineyard. Many of those who claim to lead the peace movement and who so volubly praised her actions in Crawford, TX, are not to be seen. Nor heard. The silence in fact is deafening, or as Cindy put it in an email to this writer, "crashingly deafening." Where are the email appeals to join Cindy from The Nation or from AFSC or Peace Action or "Progressive" Democrats of America (PDA) or even Code Pink? Or United for Peace and Justice. (No wonder UFPJ is essentially closing shop, bereft of most of their contributions and shriveling up following the thinly veiled protest behind the "retirement" of Leslie Cagan.) And what about MoveOn although it was long ago thoroughly discredited as principled opponents of war or principled in any way shape or form except slavish loyalty to the "other" War Party. And of course sundry "socialist" organizations are also missing in action since their particular dogma will not be front and center. These worthies and many others have vanished into the fog of Obama's wars.

Just to be sure, this writer contacted several of the "leaders" of the "official" peace movement in the Boston area -- AFSC, Peace Action, Green Party of MA (aka Green Rainbow Party) and some others. Not so much as the courtesy of a reply resulted from this effort - although the GRP at least posted a notice of the action. (It is entirely possible that some of these organizations might mention Cindy's action late enough and quickly enough so as to cover their derrieres while ensuring that Obama will not be embarrassed by protesting crowds.) We here in the vicinity of Beantown are but a hop, skip and cheap ferry ride from Martha's Vineyard. Same for NYC. So we have a special obligation to respond to Cindy's call.

However, not everyone has failed to publicize the event. The Libertarians at Antiwar.com are on the job, and its editor in chief Justin Raimondo wrote a superb column Monday [reprinted below] on the hypocritical treatment of Sheehan by the "liberal" establishment. (1) As Raimondo pointed out, Rush Limbaugh captured the hypocrisy of the liberal left in his commentary, thus:

"Now that she's headed to Martha's Vineyard, the State-Controlled Media, Charlie Gibson, State-Controlled Anchor, ABC: 'Enough already.' Cindy, leave it alone, get out, we're not interested, we're not going to cover you going to Martha's Vineyard because our guy is president now and you're just a hassle. You're just a problem. To these people, they never had any true, genuine emotional interest in her. She was just a pawn. She was just a woman to be used and then thrown overboard once they're through with her and they're through with her. They don't want any part of Cindy Sheehan protesting against any war when Obama happens to be president."

Limbaugh has their number, just as they have his. Sometimes it is quite amazing how well each of the war parties can spot the other's hypocrisy. But Cindy Sheehan is no one's dupe; she is a very smart and very determined woman who no doubt is giving a lot of White House operatives some very sleepless nights out there on the Vineyard. Good for her.

Obama is an enormous gift to the Empire. Just as he has silenced most of the single-payer movement, an effort characterized by its superb scholarship exceeded only by its timidity, Obama has shut down the antiwar movement, completely in thrall as it is to the Democrat Party and Identity Politics. Why exactly the peace movement has caved to Obama is not entirely clear. Like the single-payer movement, it is wracked by spinelessness, brimming with reverence for authority and a near insatiable appetite to be "part of the crowd." Those taken in by Obama's arguments that the increasingly bloody and brutal AfPak war is actually a "war of necessity," should read Steven Walt's easy demolition of that "argument." (2) Basically Obama's logic is the same as Bush's moronic rationale that "We are fighting them over there so we do not have to fight them over here." There is a potential for "safe havens for terrorists," as the Obamalogues and neocons like to call them, all over the world; and no one can possibly believe the US can invade them all. However, the ones which Israel detests or which allow control of oil pipelines or permit encirclement of China and Russia will see US troops sooner or later.

The bottom line is that everyone in New England and NYC who is a genuine antiwarrior should join the imaginative effort of Cindy Sheehan in Obamaland this week and weekend. We owe it to the many who will otherwise perish at the hands of the war parties of Bush and Obama.

US State Dept. staff recommends ouster of Honduran president Zelaya be declared "military coup"...

U.S. moves toward formal cutoff of aid to Honduras
By Arshad Mohammed
Reuters
Thursday, August 27, 2009; 11:43 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. State Department staff have recommended that the ouster of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya be declared a "military coup," a U.S. official said on Thursday, a step that could cut off tens of millions of dollars in U.S. funding to the impoverished Central American nation.

The official, who spoke on condition he not be named, said State Department staff had made such a recommendation to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was expected to make a decision on the matter soon.

Washington already suspended about $18 million in aid to Honduras after the June 28 coup and that would be formally cut if the determination is made because of a U.S. law barring aid "to the government of any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup or decree."

The president of the Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernandez, called for Honduras to be suspended from the Central American Free Trade Agreement with the United States as a means of putting pressure on the de facto government.


CAFTA offers its members preferential commercial terms.

Despite worldwide opposition over the past two months to the ouster of Zelaya, who was whisked to exile in an army plane, the interim government of former Congress head Roberto Micheletti says it will not be pressured into stepping down.

Central American foreign ministers meeting in Costa Rica on Thursday agreed not to recognize the result of a presidential election set for November unless Zelaya is first restored to power.

Zelaya's foreign minister, Patricia Rodas, said after the talks that the push in Washington to employ the term "military coup" meant the coup leaders "have lost their patrons."

The State Department official said $215 million in grant funding from the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation to Honduras would also have to end should Clinton make the determination a military coup took place.

According to the MCC, just over $80 million of that has already been disbursed. A second U.S. official said this implied the remaining roughly $135 million could not be given to Honduras should the determination be made.

MCC officials could not immediately say exactly how much of the MCC funds for Honduras, one of the poorest countries in Latin America, were in jeopardy.

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'Moon rock' in Dutch museum is just petrified wood...


'Moon rock' in Dutch museum is just petrified wood
By TOBY STERLING, Associated Press Writer Thu Aug 27, 11:35 am ET

AMSTERDAM – It's not green cheese, but it might as well be.

The Dutch national museum said Thursday that one of its prized possessions, a rock supposedly brought back from the moon by U.S. astronauts, is just a piece of petrified wood.

Rijksmuseum spokeswoman Xandra van Gelder, who oversaw the investigation that proved the piece was a fake, said the museum will keep it anyway as a curiosity.

"It's a good story, with some questions that are still unanswered," she said. "We can laugh about it."

The museum acquired the rock after the death of former Prime Minister Willem Drees in 1988. Drees received it as a private gift on Oct. 9, 1969 from then-U.S. ambassador J. William Middendorf during a visit by the three Apollo 11 astronauts, part of their "Giant Leap" goodwill tour after the first moon landing.

Middendorf, who lives in Rhode Island, told Dutch broadcaster NOS news that he had gotten it from the U.S. State Department, but couldn't recall the exact details.

"I do remember that (Drees) was very interested in the little piece of stone," the NOS quoted Middendorf as saying. "But that it's not real, I don't know anything about that."

He could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.

The U.S. Embassy in the Hague said it was investigating the matter.

The museum had vetted the moon rock with a phone call to NASA, Van Gelder said.

She said the space agency told the museum then that it was possible the Netherlands had received a rock: NASA gave moon rocks to more than 100 countries in the early 1970s, but those were from later missions.

"Apparently no one thought to doubt it, since it came from the prime minister's collection," Van Gelder said.

The rock is not usually on display; the museum is primarily known for its paintings and other works of fine art by masters such as Rembrandt.

A jagged fist-size stone with reddish tints, it was mounted and placed above a plaque that said, "With the compliments of the Ambassador of the United States of America ... to commemorate the visit to The Netherlands of the Apollo-11 astronauts." The plaque does not specify that the rock came from the moon's surface

It was given at the opening of an exhibition on space exploration.

It was on show in 2006 and a space expert informed the museum it was unlikely NASA would have given away any moon rocks three months after Apollo returned to Earth.

Researchers from Amsterdam's Free University said they could see at a glance the rock was probably not from the moon. They followed the initial appraisal up with extensive testing.

"It's a nondescript, pretty-much-worthless stone," Geologist Frank Beunk concluded in an article published by the museum.

He said the rock, which the museum at one point insured for more than half a million dollars, was worth no more than euro50 ($70).

Van Gelder said one important unanswered question is why Drees was given the stone. He was 83 years old in 1969 and had been out of office for 11 years. On the other hand, he was the country's elder statesman, the prime minister who helped the Netherlands rebuild after World War II.

Middendorf was treasurer of the Republic National Committee from 1965 until 1969, when President Richard Nixon dispatched him to the Netherlands.

Japan votes Left in historic vote...

Calls for fast action in Japan after historic vote
By ERIC TALMADGE, Associated Press Writer

TOKYO – The morning after a historic victory by Japan's opposition party in national elections, pressure was already mounting Monday for quick, definitive action on a host of problems facing the country, with jump-starting the economy at the top of the list.

The country is mired in its worst economic slump since World War II, caught in deflation and with unemployment at record levels. Widespread voter dissatisfaction with the ruling party's efforts at a turnaround led to a landslide victory for the opposition.

Monday morning news broadcasts ran nonstop coverage of the election blowout, with winning politicians leading their supporters in cheers of "banzai" and solemn shots of grim-faced lawmakers that had been ousted. Every major newspaper fronted pictures of Yukio Hatoyama, the leader of the victorious Democratic Party of Japan and a near lock to become Japan's next prime minister.

But even before the final government tally of election results were released Monday morning, calls were being made for immediate action.

"Answer the expectations and responsibilities for change," said an editorial in the Yomiuri, the country's largest newspaper.

"The new government has presented showpiece policies but the source of funding remains unclear," said the Nikkei, Japan's main business paper, in its own editorial.

Hatoyama and his party — an eclectic mix of former members of the ruling party, socialists and progressives — face a daunting array of challenges, economic and demographic.

"This is a victory for the people," said Hatoyama. "We want to build a new government that hears the voices of the nation."

A grim-looking Prime Minister Taro Aso conceded defeat just a couple hours after polls had closed, suggesting he would quit as president of the Liberal Democratic Party, which has ruled Japan for all but 11 months since 1955.

"The results are very severe," Aso said. "There has been a deep dissatisfaction with our party."

Japan's economy has been hit hard amid the global recession and falling demand for its exports. The unemployment rate has spiked to a record 5.7 percent and younger workers have watched the promise of lifetime employment fade. Incomes are stagnant and families have cut spending.

The country also faces threats as its population ages, which means more people are on pensions and there is a shrinking pool of taxpayers to support them and other government programs.

The Democrats' plan to give families 26,000 yen ($275) a month per child through junior high is meant to ease parenting costs and encourage more women have babies. Japan's population of 127.6 million peaked in 2006, and is expected to fall below 100 million by the middle of the century.

The Democrats are also proposing toll-free highways, free high schools, income support for farmers, monthly allowances for job seekers in training, a higher minimum wage and tax cuts. The estimated bill comes to 16.8 trillion yen ($179 billion) if fully implemented starting in fiscal year 2013 — and critics say that will only further bloat Japan's already massive public debt.

In foreign relations, the Democrats have said they want Tokyo to be more independent from Washington on diplomatic issues, though they have stressed that the U.S. will remain Japan's key ally and that they want to keep relations good, while also strengthening ties with their Asian neighbors.

Official nationwide results were expected to be announced midmorning Monday, but a number of media outlets said Monday that the Democrats had won 308 of the 480 seats in the lower house to the LDP's 119, citing local election results. Other parties and independent candidates won a total of 53.

The Democratic Party needed to win a simple majority of 241 seats in the lower house to ensure it could name the next prime minister. The 300-plus level would allow it and its two smaller allies the two-thirds majority they need in the lower house to pass bills.

"It's a historic election in that a clear alternation of power has happened for the first time in the postwar period," said Koichi Nakano, professor of political science at Sophia University in Tokyo. "It's hard to know whether this is going to lead to a real change in policy, at least for the short term."

The loss was only the second the Liberal Democratic Party — traditionally the champion of big business and conservative interests — has suffered since it was founded in 1955. The only other time it was out of power was for less than 11 months in 1993-1994, and that was to a coalition of eight parties that quickly collapsed.

The LDP had survived through previous recessions in Japan but since then families have grown less secure about the future.

With only two weeks of official campaigning that focused mainly on broad-stroke appeals rather than specific policies, many analysts said the elections were not so much about issues as voters' general desire for something new after more than a half century under the LDP.

"All the bad things over the last 54 years finally caught up to them," said Fumio Morita, 45, who runs a bar in Tokyo. "It's good that they are no longer in power."

Japan has had three prime ministers in three years, all of whom were deeply unpopular for their perceived lack of leadership and for failing to get the country out of its deepening economic morass.

The LDP tried to fight back by reminding voters that their party led the nation out of the ashes of World War II. They also argued that the Democrats, who have never run the government, were irresponsible and inept.

Hatoyama's party, which already controls the upper house with two allies, held 112 seats in the lower house before parliament was dissolved in July. The LDP had held 300 seats.


Associated Press reporters Mari Yamaguchi, Kelly Olsen, Shino Yuasa and Tomoko Hosaka contributed to this report.

Health chiefs introduce swine flu 'dice game' in UK...


Fluedo: Health chiefs introduce their latest weapon in the war against swine flu... a dice game
By Beezy Marsh and Daniel Boffey
Last updated at 7:52 AM on 30th August 2009

When swine flu first struck Britain the Government responded with helplines, distribution points for anti-viral drugs and a promise of a vaccine by Christmas.

But now health chiefs have unveiled a bizarre new tactic to combat the virus – a role-play game using a set of dice.

The Flu Pandemic Game, which can be downloaded from the Department of Health’s website, is for three to 60 players, takes around 90 minutes and has chance cards much like Monopoly.

Initially devised by Camden Primary Care Trust in North London, the game
is supposed to simulate ‘the effects of a flu pandemic on staffing in an imaginary group of small businesses’, and a version has also been developed for use in GP surgeries and hospitals.

Players assume the identity of staff at imaginary workplaces. These include the Istanbul Supermarket, where all 12 staff are male, in accordance with Muslim tradition.

The game has 15 rounds, each representing one working week. At the start of each round players roll a set of four dice, with the number they roll indicating whether they will go down with swine flu.

In the first round, it takes a roll of four sixes to be condemned to the virus. But as the rounds go on, the probability of each worker catching swine flu increases as the imaginary pandemic takes hold.

By round six a player need only roll two sixes to come down with the virus, which puts them out of the game for three rounds.

The surviving players are asked at the end of each round to discuss the impact that the pandemic has had on the various businesses involved.

The instructions state: ‘With a typical group of players the game lasts between 45 minutes and one hour, but most players appreciate having an additional half-hour for discussion afterwards.’

And once players have finished a game using imaginary persons, they play a second time using their real job titles.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the game also comes with a Government health warning:

‘Some people may find it disturbing to play using details of their own organisation.

‘The game is a simulation and has no effect on subsequent events, but it can seem a little like fortune telling.’

The rules also recommend that the person running the game, known as the facilitator, has ‘substantial experience of delivering training on sensitive topics’, such as child protection.

Unlike in real life, however, the game does not actually allow players to die because, as officials claim, it would make it too ‘unwieldy’.

The instructions explain: ‘The Flu Pandemic Game assumes a zero mortality rate. The worst realistic case modelling scenario assumes a mortality rate of 0.37 per cent based on the 1918/1919 pandemic.

'The possibility of mortality has not been included in the Flu Pandemic Game because simulating such a small probability makes the game unwieldy and too long.’

Critics have complained that it is a waste of time and that the resources should have been directed to the Government’s swine flu helpline.

Katherine Murphy, of the Patients’ Association, said: ‘This game is a ridiculous use of time and money. The Government should be focusing on letting patients know how to get the drugs they need and whether they should be taking them.

‘The money and time spent on this game could surely have been better spent on organising the swine flu helpline better and actually helping patients.’

A Department of Health spokeswoman refused to be drawn on how much the game has cost the taxpayer.

She said: ‘This is part of a suite of guidance issued by the department to support local health and social care services to prepare robust pandemic action plans.

‘Developing guidance is part of the department’s normal emergency preparedness planning to ensure that the NHS is best able to respond.’

Sixty-six people have so far died from swine flu in Britain and 5,000 new patients were diagnosed last week. Earlier this week it was revealed that two swine flu call centres were to close because they were receiving fewer calls than predicted.

NM Rothschild pitches motorway privatisation plan in UK...

NM Rothschild pitches motorway privatisation plan
Robert Watts and Dominic O’Connell

A radical plan to raise £100 billion by privatising the motorway network has been presented to the three main political parties by NM Rothschild, the influential investment bank.

Rothschild, an architect of several privatisations, made its pitch in the weeks running up to the summer recess on July 21, Whitehall sources said. Bankers told leading politicians that the sale of the roads overseen by the Highways Agency — all motorways and most big trunk roads — could help revive battered public finances.

Toll-road companies and infrastructure funds would compete to operate and maintain stretches of the network.

In one version of the scheme, the government would pay for upkeep through a system of “shadow” tolls. A more radical, and less politically palatable, option would be for companies to charge motorists directly through toll booths or electronic card readers. The RAC Foundation, a motorists’ group, advocated privatisation in a report last week.

The Rothschild plan has already won the support of Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrats’ deputy leader and Treasury spokesman.

“This is an attractive, positive idea which could release considerable resources to the public finances and may have real environmental merits,” Cable said. “The scale of it is vast — it makes rail privatisation look like small beer.”

Theresa Villiers, the shadow transport secretary, said the Conservatives had “no plans” to back Rothschild’s proposals: “Rothschilds, like many other banks and consultancies, have approached me and my team on a range of ideas for our transport network, including their ideas for our road infrastructure, but we are not working on any proposals for privatisation of the strategic road network and have no plans to do so.”

Motorway privatisation was considered by John Major’s Conservative administration, which sold British Rail, but was rejected.

A spokesman at the Department for Transport said: “It is not unusual for organisations to suggest ideas to government departments but ultimately all policy is decided by ministers and there are no plans to sell off a stake in the Highways Agency.” Rothschild declined to comment.

The bank was behind many of the key privatisations of the 1980s and 1990s, including British Steel, British Gas and British Coal. It has close links to the Conservatives, having employed several senior Party figures including Lord Lamont, John Redwood and Lord Wakeham. Oliver Letwin, the former shadow chancellor, works there part-time.

Politicians of all Parties are seeking ways to decrease the need for large tax rises or heavy cuts in public services. The bank bailouts and a recent collapse in tax revenues has seen public sector debt rise to more than £800 billion, 56.8% of GDP — up from 35.5% just two years ago.

Road tolls are unpopular, however. When Labour mooted road pricing two years ago, more than 230,000 signed a petition on the Downing Street decrying the plan .

WHO warns of severe form of swine flu...

BLENDZ NOTE: Yea the 'Fort Detrick' form i say

WHO Warns Of Severe Form Of Swine Flu
By REUTERS
Published: August 28, 2009

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Doctors are reporting a severe form of swine flu that goes straight to the lungs, causing severe illness in otherwise healthy young people and requiring expensive hospital treatment, the World Health Organisation said Friday.

Some countries are reporting that as many as 15 percent of patients hospitalized with the new H1N1 pandemic virus need intensive care, further straining already overburdened healthcare systems, WHO said in an update on the pandemic.

"During the winter season in the southern hemisphere, several countries have viewed the need for intensive care as the greatest burden on health services," it said.

"Preparedness measures need to anticipate this increased demand on intensive care units, which could be overwhelmed by a sudden surge in the number of severe cases."

Earlier, WHO reported that H1N1 had reached epidemic levels in Japan, signalling an early start to what may be a long influenza season this year, and that it was also worsening in tropical regions.

"Perhaps most significantly, clinicians from around the world are reporting a very severe form of disease, also in young and otherwise healthy people, which is rarely seen during seasonal influenza infections," WHO said.

"In these patients, the virus directly infects the lung, causing severe respiratory failure. Saving these lives depends on highly specialized and demanding care in intensive care units, usually with long and costly stays."

MINORITIES AT RISK

Minority groups and indigenous populations may also have a higher risk of being severely ill with H1N1.

"In some studies, the risk in these groups is four to five times higher than in the general population," WHO said.

"Although the reasons are not fully understood, possible explanations include lower standards of living and poor overall health status, including a high prevalence of conditions such as asthma, diabetes and hypertension."

WHO said it was advising countries in the Northern Hemisphere to prepare for a second wave of pandemic spread. "Countries with tropical climates, where the pandemic virus arrived later than elsewhere, also need to prepare for an increasing number of cases," it said.

Every year, seasonal flu infects between 5 percent and 20 percent of a given population and kills between 250,000 and 500,000 people globally. Because hardly anyone has immunity to the new H1N1 virus, experts believe it will infect far more people than usual, as much as a third of the population.

It also disproportionately affects younger people, unlike seasonal flu which mainly burdens the elderly, and thus may cause more severe illness and deaths among young adults and children than seasonal flu does.

"Data continue to show that certain medical conditions increase the risk of severe and fatal illness. These include respiratory disease, notably asthma, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and immunosuppression," WHO said.

"When anticipating the impact of the pandemic as more people become infected, health officials need to be aware that many of these predisposing conditions have become much more widespread in recent decades, thus increasing the pool of vulnerable people."

WHO estimates that more than 230 million people globally have asthma, and more than 220 million have diabetes. Obesity may also worsen the risk of severe infection, WHO said.

The good news -- people infected with AIDS virus do not seem to be at special risk from H1N1, WHO said.

US to abandon Polish-Czech missile shield, lobbyist says...

US to abandon Polish-Czech missile shield, lobbyist says
ANDREW RETTMAN
27.08.2009 @ 09:03 CET

The United States has all-but abandoned plans to house anti-missile bases in Poland and the Czech republic, according to a senior White House lobbyist.

Riki Ellison, the chairman of the 10,000 member-strong Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, said in Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza on Thursday (26 August) that the US has changed its mind to avoid a rift with Russia and is now looking at Israel, Turkey, the Balkans or ship-borne facilities instead.

"The signals given by generals from the Pentagon are clear: the current US government is looking for different solutions on the question of missile defence than Poland and the Czech republic," he said.

"The new [US] team is paying more attention to Russian arguments," he added.

"Obama's people believe that many problems in the world can be more easily solved together with Moscow ...it's a question of priorities. For many Democrats, the priority is disarmament and they are capable of sacrificing a lot in order to achieve a new agreement with Russia on the reduction of strategic [nuclear] weapons."

President Barack Obama ordered a review of the Bush-era missile shield plan shortly after coming into office this year.

He unveiled his vision for a nuclear weapons-free world at a major foreign policy speech in Prague in April, while sounding a note of scepticism over the value of the shield.

"As long as the threat from Iran persists, we will go forward with a missile defence system that is cost effective and proven," he said.

The multi-billion dollar project was to install 10 interceptor missiles at a facility in Poland and a radar base in the Czech republic. It also envisaged placing US Patriot missiles in Poland.

Russia said the scheme was aimed at degrading its nuclear capability and could trigger a new Cold War.

Many ordinary people in the Czech Republic also said they were against the shield in opinion polls.

But the Polish and Czech centre-right political elite saw it as US gold-plating of anti-Russian security guarantees offered by Nato.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Greetings from Camp FEMA...



Seen at davidicke.com

Jay-Z's "Run This Town" and the occult connections...

Jay-Z’s “Run This Town” and the Occult Connections
Aug 27th, 2009 | By Vigilant |

Jay-Z’s latest video called “Run This Town” (featuring Rihanna and Kanye West) contains occult symbolism relating to secret societies. It has been long rumored that Jay-Z is part of some sort of occult order (probably Freemasonry) due to the hints slipped in his songs and his imagery. ”Run This Town” certainly adds fuel to the fire. We’ll look at the symbolism in this song and in his clothing line, Rocawear

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Health care reform:How it should look...

Health Care Reform: How It Should Look
Friday, August 28, 2009 by: Kim Evans, citizen journalist

(NaturalNews) Health care reform is the hottest debate around, but unfortunately, Washington has it all wrong. Health care reform shouldn't be about who is going to pay for more drugs for people; health care reform should be about how to create and keep healthy people, so that symptoms of disease aren't apparent and prevalent.

In truth, health care reform should start with agricultural and dietary reform specifically by getting the literally thousands of allowed chemicals in our diets, out of our diets. It should be about getting the processed and chemical-filled foods off the shelves and making sure that the natural foods on the shelves aren't genetically modified, radiated, or have pesticides or man-made chemicals in them.

Health care reform should be about getting the toxic chemicals out of our shampoos and conditioners, you know, the ones people rub on their heads each day.

Health care reform should be about cleaning up our environment and finding more natural energy solutions, so that people aren't breathing in dangerous fumes from burning fossil fuels and other pollutants each day.

Health care reform should be about having cookware that isn't toxic like aluminum and Teflon are, and making sure it's widely available and affordable. Health care reform should be about making sure renewable and non-toxic materials are used in home and office construction.

Health care reform really should be about getting people off drugs, not making sure that drugs are affordable, so that they can buy and take more.

Health care reform really shouldn't be looking to add more chemicals to people's bodies no matter who pays for them; it should be looking to remove the hundreds of toxic chemicals (at a minimum) that are already in there, many of which have been there since birth.

Health care reform should take a look at the literally thousands upon thousands of available studies that show us that chemicals in our food and environment can cause almost every disease conceivable. Health care reform should understand the obviousness of the statement above, and not fight it tooth and nail, or deny its truth.

Health care reform should immediately end sugar and factory farming subsidies and shift them to sustainable, organic farms. Health care reform should end factory farming and genetically altering foods to avoid polluting the land, nearby crops, and people.

Health care reform should end the use of antibiotics in humans and animals, so that our healthy bacteria, our first line of immune defense, isn't routinely destroyed. Health care reform should educate people about natural substances like coconut oil and garlic, and how to take them as effective antibacterial agents that don't destroy our immune systems.

Health care reform should get the mercury out of our mouths, fluoride out of our water, and aluminum out of any deodorant. Health care reform should help people understand that the unnatural foods they regularly consume and chemicals they are continually exposed to actually do hurt them, even if it takes a little while for the problems to show up.

Health care reform should help companies admit when they are doing or making something that is harming people, instead of allowing the standard denial route, and it should then insure quick changes are made to a non-toxic route when a problem is found.

Health care reform should end the widespread availability of McDonalds, Taco Bell, Burger King, and acidic soft drinks. Health care reform should teach people how to prepare delicious and healthy meals, using a multitude of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Health care reform should switch out dangerous and toxic choices for conscious and natural options, and do it in way that is affordable for everyone. Because returning to the way nature intended us to eat, and eliminating all of the common poisons in and around us, is really the only logical place to start.

When it's all said and done, health care reform shouldn't be about what's best for the drug companies, insurance companies, medical industry, politicians, processed food makers, pesticide makers, genetically altered foods pushers, or even oil companies. It should be about what's best for the people. You and me.

Economic hit men and the next drowning of New Orleans...


ECONOMIC HIT MEN AND THE NEXT DROWNING OF NEW ORLEANS
Hurricane Bush Four Years Later, Part 2
by Greg Palast

Who put out the hit on van Heerden?

Ivor van Heerden is the professor at Louisiana State University's Hurricane Center who warned the levees of New Orleans were ready to blow — months and years before Katrina did the job.

For being right, van Heerden was rewarded with ... getting fired. [See Katrina, Four Years Later: Expert Fired Who Warned Levees Would Burst]

But I've been in this investigating game long enough to know that van Heerden's job didn't die of natural causes or academic issues. This was a hit. Some very powerful folks wanted him disappeared and silenced — for good.

So who done it?

Here are the facts.

Dr. van Heerden has lots of friends, mostly the people of New Orleans, those who survived and cheered his fight to save their city. But he also has enemies, many of them, and they are powerful.

First, there is Big Oil. More than a decade ago, van Heerden pointed the finger at oil drilling as a culprit in threatening New Orleans and the Gulf Coast with flooding.

"Certainly he was critical of what the oil companies did to the coast," Louisiana engineer HJ Bosworth told me. "Seeing what kind of bad citizens they were. Dozens and dozens of pipeline canals just carved the living daylights out of the coast just to find some oil."

Well, we need oil, don't we?

True, but Bosworth, who advises Levees.org, a non-profit group that birddogs hurricane safety work, explained the connection between flooding New Orleans and oil drilling quantified by van Heerden's research. "Takes a million years to build (the protective coastal marsh); once you carve it up, it's just like bleeding a wild animal, hang it up, carve some holes in it, and the juice just drains out of it. Saltwater and tide invade. You make [the state] susceptible to flooding from coastal and tidal surges."

So I was amazed to learn that, shortly after van Heerden, wetlands protector, was given the heave-ho by LSU, a group calling itself "America's Wetland" gave the university a fat check for $300,000.

After a little digging, I found that it wasn't really "America's Wetland," the group with the oh-so-green name and love-Mother-Nature website, that provided the money. One-hundred percent of the loot, in fact, came from Chevron Oil Corporation. Chevron had merely "green-washed" the money through "Wetlands."

Was this Big Oil's "thank you" to LSU for canning van Heerden? The University refuses to talk to me about van Heerden's firing ("It's a confidential personnel matter").

Bosworth notes such a grant to the University "doesn't come without strings attached." And this "Wetland" grant appears to have some tangled threads. LSU will monitor the coast's environment, guided by a committee of what the school's PR office describes as "experts" in coastal infrastructure and hurricane research. But the school is pointedly excluding its own expert, van Heerden. Instead of van Heerden, LSU announced it will rely on representatives from Chevron — and Shell Oil.

You can't challenge Shell's expertise on coastal erosion. The Gulf Restoration Network has calculated that the oil giant, "has dredged 8.8 million cubic yards material while laying pipelines since 1983 causing the loss of 22,624 acres."

Shell too is a sponsor of "America's Wetland."


Bad Behavior

Van Heerden and his team of hurricane experts at LSU have other enemies, notably Big Oil's little sisters: The Army Corp of Engineers and its contractors. One internal University memo that has come to light is a complaint from the Army Corp of Engineers' Washington office to an LSU official demanding to know why van Heerden's "irresponsible behavior is tolerated."

By van Heerden's bad "behavior," they seem to be referring to the professor's computer model of the Gulf which predicted, years before Katrina hit, that the levees built by the Army Corp were too short. The Army Corp, van Heerden asserts, compounded the danger to New Orleans by going shovel-crazy, with massive dredging and channel-cutting sought by shipping interests.

Following the complaint from Washington, the University took away van Heerden's computer (no kidding). But they couldn't take away his voice. He began to speak out. University officials do not deny they told him to shut up, to stop speaking to the press about his concerns. They were worried, they told van Heerden, that his statements jeopardized their government funding.

Van Heerden's revelations were, indeed, damning. He revealed that the Bush White House knew, the night Katrina came ashore, that the levees were breaking up, but withheld this crucial information from the state's emergency response center. As a result, the state slowed evacuation and stranded residents were left to drown. [See Big Easy to Big Empty.]

A class action lawsuit has been filed against the Army Corp of Engineers on behalf of all the people of the city who lost homes and loved ones because the Corp-designed levees had failed. Anyone with a TV and two eyes could see that. But the Bush Administration flat out denied it knew its system was flawed and refused any responsibility for the disaster.

Van Heerden, who had warned Washington, long before the flood, that the levees were 18 inches too short, would have been a devastating expert witness for the public. But the university ordered him not to testify, a relief for the Corps. (A verdict is expected soon in the non-jury case.)

The Army Corp and its contractors can feel safer now that van Heerden has been booted. His Hurricane Center will be downsized and instead, the University will expand its "Wetland" program, with Chevron's checkbook.

Joining Chevron and Shell on the LSU board of "wetland" experts will be the Shaw Group, a huge Army Corp contractor.

If you've read John Perkins' book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, you would know about Shaw Group, or at least the subsidiary for whom Perkins did his dirty work: an engineering outfit that used flim-flam, intimidation and fraud to turn a buck. (I once directed a government racketeering investigation of one of their projects before Shaw bought them up. In the 1988 case, a jury found the company was co-conspirator in a multi-billion-dollar fraud, charges the company settled with a civil payment.)

Shaw Group is also a sponsor of "America's Wetland." So is electricity giant Entergy Corporation. That's the company that shut off the power in New Orleans during the flood, then sold the loose juice elsewhere, pocketing a multi-million-dollar windfall.

Yes, America's Wetland does have a green cover, Environmental Defense, exposed in the Guardian UK in 1999 for its icky habit of licking the sugar off corporate candy canes. We caught them trying to set up a lucrative financial operation with the very polluters they were supposed to be challenging. [See Fill your lungs it's only borrowed grime]

I spoke with the Chairman of American Wetland, King Milling. Milling's just a local good ol' boy, a sincere guy, not a front for Big Oil. But he naively let his group be used to buy the debate over the environment and ice out un-bought experts like van Heerden.


Flood Warning

With LSU deep in the pocket of the corporate powers and under Army Corp pressure, van Heerden didn't stand a chance. For doing nothing more than trying to save a few thousand lives, he has paid quite a price. As he told me this week from his home, "No good turn goes unpunished."


That's van Heerden's fate. But what about the city's? Is New Orleans ready for another Katrina?

His answer is not comforting: "No, definitely not. If anything, it's worse than when Katrina hit. We've lost a lot of wetlands protection. It's not very safe ... A section of the flood wall itself has sunk about 9 inches, a result of [Hurricane] Gustav."

Is anyone listening?

"The [Army] Corp won't talk to me," says van Heerden. "Like everybody else, they are crossing their fingers and hoping we don't have a storm."

Well, don't say we didn't warn you.

Stop the military surveillance,China tells US...

Stop the Military Surveillance, China Tells U.S.
Friday, August 28, 2009
By Patrick Goodenough, International Editor

(CNSNews.com) – China’s military wants the United States Navy to stop surveillance operations in waters and airspace near its territory, following a series of incidents this year in areas that Beijing views as within its zone of influence.

U.S. ships and aircraft have long carried out such missions, but confrontations in the South China Sea and waters off the Philippines this year have raised tensions.

The two nations differ over interpretations in international law regarding legitimate activities in the 200 nautical mile-wide exclusive economic zone (EEZ) that lies beyond countries’ 12 nautical mile territorial waters.

In bilateral talks this week, Chinese officials told their American counterparts that the U.S. should phase out the activities.

“China believes the constant U.S. military air and sea surveillance and survey operations in China’s exclusive economic zone had led to military confrontations between the two sides,” the national defense ministry said in a statement carried by state media.

The U.S. should “decrease and eventually stop such operations,” it said.

The talks were held in line with a bilateral confidence-building measure called the military maritime consultative agreement (MMCA), signed in 1998. Aimed at providing a forum for communication to help ensure safe operations on the high seas, the agreement was drawn up after two earlier incidents stoked tensions – the trailing of a Chinese sub by a U.S. anti-submarine aircraft in 1994 and the deployment two years later of two U.S. aircraft carriers to the Taiwan vicinity during a rise in tensions between China and Taiwan.

Seven annual meetings and 13 working group meetings have been held under the MMCA since 1998, according to Chinese reports.

The U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) provides for “freedom of navigation and overflight” in EEZs. It says military activities inside EEZs must be “peaceful” and must not harm the coastal state’s environment or economic resources.

The U.S., which has not ratified UNCLOS, argues that the treaty permits free navigation in EEZs, while China contends that surveillance activity does not fall into the “peaceful” category. In 2002, Beijing passed legislation outlawing unauthorized surveillance activity in its EEZ.

A 2005 paper on the issue co-authored by a senior Chinese armed forces officer stated that “military and reconnaissance activities in the EEZ … encroach or infringe on the national security interests of the coastal State, and can be considered a use of force or a threat to use force against that State.”

‘Rules of the road’

U.N. Navy survey ships were harassed by Chinese naval and civilian vessels as well as military aircraft in the South China Sea and Yellow Sea in March and May – in one case 75 miles south of Hainan island, the location of a strategic Chinese Navy base which reportedly houses ballistic missile submarines.

Beijing said at the time that the unarmed ship, the USNS Impeccable, was carrying out “illegal surveying” in its EEZ, violating Chinese and international laws.

The U.S. Navy says the Impeccable is designed to detect quiet foreign diesel and nuclear-powered submarines and to map the seabed for future antisubmarine warfare purposes.

It tows two sonar systems, one emitting a low frequency pulse and a second “listening” to returning echoes. The equipment is used “to gather ocean acoustical data for antisubmarine warfare and rapidly transmit the information to the Navy for prompt analysis,” according to the Military Sealift Command.

During the incident in March, crewmembers of one of the Chinese vessels confronting the Impeccable used a grappling hook to try to snag the towed system.

U.S. Pacific Command head Navy Adm. Timothy Keating told a Senate committee hearing later that month that the confrontation was “a troubling indicator that China, particularly in the South China Sea, is behaving in an aggressive, troublesome manner and [is] not willing to abide by acceptable standards of behavior or ‘rules of the road,’”

The most serious incident of its type to have occurred in the region took place in April 2001, when a U.S. Navy surveillance plane collided in mid air with one of two Chinese jets that had been scrambled to track it. The Chinese pilot was killed and the American aircraft was made an emergency landing at a military airfield on Hainan island.

China held the 24-person crew for 11 days before they were allowed to return home. The plane was airlifted back to the U.S. later that year.

New bill allows President emergency control of internet...

Bill would give president emergency control of Internet
by Declan McCullagh

Internet companies and civil liberties groups were alarmed this spring when a U.S. Senate bill proposed handing the White House the power to disconnect private-sector computers from the Internet.

They're not much happier about a revised version that aides to Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, have spent months drafting behind closed doors. CNET News has obtained a copy of the 55-page draft of S.773 (excerpt), which still appears to permit the president to seize temporary control of private-sector networks during a so-called cybersecurity emergency.

The new version would allow the president to "declare a cybersecurity emergency" relating to "non-governmental" computer networks and do what's necessary to respond to the threat. Other sections of the proposal include a federal certification program for "cybersecurity professionals," and a requirement that certain computer systems and networks in the private sector be managed by people who have been awarded that license.

"I think the redraft, while improved, remains troubling due to its vagueness," said Larry Clinton, president of the Internet Security Alliance, which counts representatives of Verizon, Verisign, Nortel, and Carnegie Mellon University on its board. "It is unclear what authority Sen. Rockefeller thinks is necessary over the private sector. Unless this is clarified, we cannot properly analyze, let alone support the bill."

Representatives of other large Internet and telecommunications companies expressed concerns about the bill in a teleconference with Rockefeller's aides this week, but were not immediately available for interviews on Thursday.

A spokesman for Rockefeller also declined to comment on the record Thursday, saying that many people were unavailable because of the summer recess. A Senate source familiar with the bill compared the president's power to take control of portions of the Internet to what President Bush did when grounding all aircraft on Sept. 11, 2001The source said that one primary concern was the electrical grid, and what would happen if it were attacked from a broadband connection.

When Rockefeller, the chairman of the Senate Commerce committee, and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) introduced the original bill in April, they claimed it was vital to protect national cybersecurity. "We must protect our critical infrastructure at all costs--from our water to our electricity, to banking, traffic lights and electronic health records," Rockefeller said.

The Rockefeller proposal plays out against a broader concern in Washington, D.C., about the government's role in cybersecurity. In May, President Obama acknowledged that the government is "not as prepared" as it should be to respond to disruptions and announced that a new cybersecurity coordinator position would be created inside the White House staff. Three months later, that post remains empty, one top cybersecurity aide has quit, and some wags have begun to wonder why a government that receives failing marks on cybersecurity should be trusted to instruct the private sector what to do.

Rockefeller's revised legislation seeks to reshuffle the way the federal government addresses the topic. It requires a "cybersecurity workforce plan" from every federal agency, a "dashboard" pilot project, measurements of hiring effectiveness, and the implementation of a "comprehensive national cybersecurity strategy" in six months--even though its mandatory legal review will take a year to complete.

The privacy implications of sweeping changes implemented before the legal review is finished worry Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco. "As soon as you're saying that the federal government is going to be exercising this kind of power over private networks, it's going to be a really big issue," he says.

Probably the most controversial language begins in Section 201, which permits the president to "direct the national response to the cyber threat" if necessary for "the national defense and security." The White House is supposed to engage in "periodic mapping" of private networks deemed to be critical, and those companies "shall share" requested information with the federal government. ("Cyber" is defined as anything having to do with the Internet, telecommunications, computers, or computer networks.)

"The language has changed but it doesn't contain any real additional limits," EFF's Tien says. "It simply switches the more direct and obvious language they had originally to the more ambiguous (version)...The designation of what is a critical infrastructure system or network as far as I can tell has no specific process. There's no provision for any administrative process or review. That's where the problems seem to start. And then you have the amorphous powers that go along with it."

Translation: If your company is deemed "critical," a new set of regulations kick in involving who you can hire, what information you must disclose, and when the government would exercise control over your computers or network.

The Internet Security Alliance's Clinton adds that his group is "supportive of increased federal involvement to enhance cyber security, but we believe that the wrong approach, as embodied in this bill as introduced, will be counterproductive both from an national economic and national secuity perspective."

Update at 3:14 p.m. PDT: I just talked to Jena Longo, deputy communications director for the Senate Commerce committee, on the phone. She sent me e-mail with this statement:

The president of the United States has always had the constitutional authority, and duty, to protect the American people and direct the national response to any emergency that threatens the security and safety of the United States. The Rockefeller-Snowe Cybersecurity bill makes it clear that the president's authority includes securing our national cyber infrastructure from attack. The section of the bill that addresses this issue, applies specifically to the national response to a severe attack or natural disaster. This particular legislative language is based on longstanding statutory authorities for wartime use of communications networks. To be very clear, the Rockefeller-Snowe bill will not empower a "government shutdown or takeover of the Internet" and any suggestion otherwise is misleading and false. The purpose of this language is to clarify how the president directs the public-private response to a crisis, secure our economy and safeguard our financial networks, protect the American people, their privacy and civil liberties, and coordinate the government's response.


Unfortunately, I'm still waiting for an on-the-record answer to these four questions that I asked her colleague on Wednesday. I'll let you know if and when I get a response.

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