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Saturday, October 31, 2009

US behind terrorist attack in Iran, says Iran Parliament speaker...

Larijani: US behind terrorist attack in Iran
Fri, 30 Oct 2009 17:41:57 GMT

In the wake of a terrorist attack in southeastern Iran, Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani has accused the United States of helping terrorist carry out acts of violence in Iran.

"Reliable evidence shows the US played a role in the recent move," Larijani said referring to the recent bomb blast in Sistan-Baluchistan Province.

At least 41 people, including seven senior commanders of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), were killed in the bombing on October 18 during a unity gathering of Shia and Sunni tribal leaders in the town of Pishin on the Iran-Pakistan border. The Jundallah terrorist group claimed responsibility for the deadly attack.

Larijani criticized Washington's policies on Iran and said the US acts against Iranian interests despite making offers to hold talks with the country.

"The Iranian nation should correctly recognize the US for what it is. The United States and Israel are the main culprits of these events and known enemies of the Iranian nation," added Larijani, who represents the city of Qom in Majlis.

Spearheaded by Abdulmalek Rigi, Jundallah terrorists have staged a tidal wave of bombings and terrorist attacks in Iran, one of which left at least 25 Iranians dead in early June.

Abdulhamid Rigi, the apprehended brother of the Jundallah point man, told Press TV in a recent interview that Abdulmalek had held several "confidential" meetings with FBI and CIA agents in Karachi and Islamabad.

He added that during one of the meetings, two female US agents had offered weapons, safe bases in Afghanistan and professional trainers and had attempted to recruit volunteers.

'Blackwater behind Peshawar blast'...

'Blackwater behind Peshawar blast'
Sat, 31 Oct 2009 01:01:58 GMT

Pakistan's pro-Taliban militants blame private US security firm Blackwater for a Wednesday bomb blast in Peshawar which killed over 100 people.

Hakimullah Mehsud, head of the Tehrik-e-Taliban, said Blackwater and some Pakistani agencies were involved in the bomb explosion at a crowded market in Peshawar.

According to the latest reports, the death toll has mounted to 106 with over 150 injured while rescue workers say that more people could still be buried under the debris. Most of the dead were women and children.

Pakistan army says since the militants are facing defeat in the South Waziristan tribal region, they are now targeting the people.

Mehsud has rejected the claim, saying the US security firm Blackwater, in collaboration with some local agencies, were involved in the attack.

On Sunday, about 200 supporters of the Tehrik-e-Taliban party held an anti-US demonstration in Dera Ismail Khan, denouncing Blackwater and chanting anti-US slogans.

The provincial chief of the Jamat-e-Islami party, Saraj-ul-Haq, said that the Pakistani operation against militants, which is being conducted 'with the consent of America', should be stopped as it only fulfills the aims of the enemy.

"Now this is sure, that all the blasts, either carried out on Faisal Mosque or Khyber Bazaar, are carried out by Blackwater," he said.

About 28,000 soldiers are battling an estimated 10,000 pro-Taliban militants, including about 1,000 tough Uzbek fighters and some Arab al-Qaeda-linked members.

Analysts have warned of the possibility of more violence as the militants come under pressure in South Waziristan.

Friday, October 30, 2009

US Chamber of Commerce admits it's "3 million members" is really 300,000...

Chamber Rejects Use of Term "3 Million Members"
— By Josh Harkinson | Fri October 23, 2009 2:21 PM PST

For the first time, the US Chamber of Commerce has admitted that its membership should be reported at one tenth the size that many major media outlets have listed it for more than a decade.

In an interview on Friday, Greg Marx of the Columbia Journalism Review asked Chamber spokesman Eric Wohlschlegel to comment on two competing newspaper accounts. Presented with a Wall Street Journal article that said the Chamber claims "300,000 members," Wohlschlegel said, "That's accurate." Read an Associated Press article that said the Chamber claims "a membership of 3 million," he responded, "That's not exactly reported correctly."

The second statement appears to be a reversal for Wohlschlegel, who, in September, told the New York Times: "We have over 3 million members."

Last week, after Mother Jones first questioned the accuracy of the Chamber's claim to represent "3 million members," the group backed off the number in public statements. It then sought to distinguish between the meaning of two figures and argued that it has long used both in the proper context. Yesterday a Chamber representative acknowledged that the 3 million number often gets reported "without qualification." And yet today is the first time the Chamber has publicly characterized the reporting of the larger membership figure as inaccurate.

The Chamber's response to the controversy, which has been reported in the Washington Post, Politico, the New Yorker, the Atlantic, Harper's, MSNBC, and numerous blogs, appears aimed at shifting blame for the inflated membership number to journalists. The Chamber's website claims that it "represents" 3 million businesses, which is not the same thing as calling them members. That the 3 million number gets reported out of context "is hardly our fault," Chamber representative Brad Peck told E&E News this week.

At the same time, the Chamber has resisted doing anything more to explain its true size on its website or press releases. Neither source cites the Chamber's true membership number or explains what the group means when it says it "represents" 3 million businesses. Maybe the Chamber thinks the media is lazy or gullible enough to continue exponentially inflating its size. And some in the media may well be, as Marx diligently reveals in a solid piece of reporting.

Pentagon officials won't confirm Bush propaganda program ended...

Exclusive: Pentagon officials won't confirm Bush propaganda program ended‏

The covert Bush administration program that used retired military analysts to generate favorable wartime news coverage may not have been terminated, Raw Story has found.

In interviews, Pentagon officials in charge of the press and community relations offices — which worked in partnership on the military analyst program — equivocated on the subject of whether the program has ended.

Last May, the Pentagon's Office of Inspector General issued a memorandum rescinding a Bush administration investigative report on the retired military analyst program because it “did not meet accepted quality standards for an Inspector General work product.” The now-retracted report had exonerated officials of using propaganda and referred to the program as just "one of many outreach groups."

Yet Donald Horstman, Pentagon Inspector General deputy director, also stated in the memorandum that his office wouldn't probe further because the “outreach program has been terminated and responsible senior officials are no longer employed by the Department.”

Raw Story's investigation, however, has shown that some “responsible senior officials” are still employed by the Defense Department, including Bryan Whitman, who remains a chief Pentagon spokesman and head of all media operations, and Roxie Merritt, who is head of the Pentagon's community relations office.

Raw Story has discovered that Horstman's other justification for not reopening an investigation at the time – “because the [retired military analyst] outreach program has been terminated” – remains an open question.

A week after David Barstow's New York Times expose on the program broke in April 2008, Whitman said the military analyst program's suspension was only “temporary.”

Reiterating at the time that he thought the program was merely a way to better inform the American public, he also said, “It's temporarily suspended just so that we can take a look at some of the concerns.”

When Raw Story asked Mr. Whitman if this program was still being run out of the Pentagon, he first replied firmly, “No, not at this point.”

But then, in what seemed an attempt to downplay his role in the program, he quickly added, “Again, it's not one of my programs and it would be up to the leadership of public affairs, a new assistant secretary of defense, making any sort of determination to go forward if they deemed it appropriate, necessary, whatever.”

“It's hard for me to tell what future leadership might decide to do,” Whitman continued. “Again, since it's not part of the media operations aspect of public affairs here, it's not a program for which I will be making a decision about.”

Raw Story also asked Roxie Merritt if she could confirm that the military analyst program has been officially terminated.

Ms. Merritt, in an email interview, first replied, “[A]t the present time, we don't have regularly scheduled conference calls with retired military analysts” but that “we would not, however, preclude responding to queries for information from or provide future opportunities for them to talk to defense leaders and program managers.”

Merritt also noted that should there be regularly scheduled conference calls with the military analysts again in the future, they would be shared in various publicly accessible formats.

She added, though, “Obviously, there are operational security and privacy act issues and other government regulations that must be handled carefully, but we make every possible effort to be open and transparent.”

Asked then to confirm if, in the interim, her office has been open to providing information on an individual basis to retired military analysts, Merritt replied, “Sure. If asked, we would provide them with the same information that we would provide you if you had a question about DoD.”

During the interviews, neither Whitman nor Merritt expressed concern about the way the military analyst program was run by the Bush administration.

Iraq then and Afghanistan now

Internal Pentagon documents show that the military analyst program was stepped up in 2005, when US public support for the war in Iraq began to sour. Today, as recent polls show American support for the war in Afghanistan plummeting, the Pentagon and the Obama White House are facing a similar problem.

If the military analyst program, in some form or another, is still being run from the Pentagon, then the two most senior players in the Bush administration propaganda project remaining at the Defense Department, Bryan Whitman and Roxie Merritt, would be poised to step up activities once again.

And they are not currently under the watchful eye of any direct superiors who've been brought in by the Obama administration.

While Whitman said that the future of the program would be up to the next assistant secretary of defense, he also confirmed that that position, which is filled by political appointment, remains vacant.

No one, he added, has even been nominated yet.

Merritt is in a similar position of enhanced authority because the position above her has yet to be filled. Currently serving as President Obama's director of the Pentagon office for community relations, she's also its de facto chief until a new deputy assistant secretary of defense for internal communications is appointed.

What's more, Merritt — whose email signature line was “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of All Who Threaten It” (p. 30) — formerly worked as Whitman's press office director at the time of the military analyst program's increased activity in 2005.

Whitman and Merritt's career civil servant status also continue to buffer them from scrutiny regarding political or ideological motivations, regardless of their activities in the Bush administration.

Retired Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner, an expert in military strategy and operations who has taught at the National War College, Air War College and Naval War College and has been critical of Bush administration strategy, expressed disgust at the Bush holdovers who took part in propaganda against the American public, regardless of whether they were political or career appointees.

Commenting on Whitman's presence in the Obama administration, Gardiner said, “He should be so tainted with what the Bush administration did that that in itself would be enough that he should be gone, even if he's a career appointee.”

“The list of things that Pentagon public affairs participated in during the run-up [to the Iraq war] and immediately after the invasion are horrendous,” Gardiner continued.

But he pointed out that Whitman “serves as a career person as long as his performance is satisfactory to his immediate superiors.”

As to suggestions that Whitman be held accountable by a congressional investigative body for his part in the military analyst program, Gardiner noted, “Congress doesn't evaluate individual performance of people. It evaluates the performance of organizations.”

Journalist and historian Norman Solomon said he found an “unfortunate logic” to Whitman remaining at the Pentagon.

Solomon, who recently visited Afghanistan on a fact-finding mission, told Raw Story, “A White House that sees fit to continue on with Robert Gates might see no problem with continuing on with Bryan Whitman.”

He added, “The empirical answer [to why he remains] would be that he's still useful.”

Veteran foreign correspondent Reese Erlich, who is currently independently covering the Afghanistan war, believes that “to some extent, the Obama administration is just simply replicating all the same mistakes of the Bush administration – particularly the war in Afghanistan.”

“And if you're going to do that,” he explained in an interview with Raw Story, “then you need propagandists who can make stuff up to make the war seem more popular in the short run.”

(Brad Jacobson is a contributing investigative reporter to Raw Story; additional research provided by Ron Brynaert)

6 Harvard lab researchers poisoned...

Harvard: Lab Workers Were Poisoned
12:51 p.m. EDT, October 25, 2009

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Harvard University says six researchers who became sick in August apparently were poisoned.

The Boston Herald says a memo released Friday says the group drank from a coffee machine on Aug. 26 that later tested positive for sodium azide, a common preservative used in labs.

The six reported symptoms ranging from dizziness to gar ringing, and one passed out. They were treated at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and later released.

The researchers all work in the Harvard Medical School's pathology department using mice to investigate how diseases interact with the immune system.

Harvard says authorities are investigating the incident, and the school is tightening security in the building, in part by adding surveillance cameras.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Russia counters US pressure to extradite alleged arms dealer Viktor Bout...

Alleged Arms Dealer Protected by Russia
Extradite Viktor Bout? Russia Counters U.S. Pressure
MOSCOW, Oct. 24, 2009

Alleged Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout has been framed by his American 'military-industrial' competitors and should not be extradited to the United States, some of his countrymen say.

But the US has reiterated its call for him to face charges over allegations that he tried to sell an arsenal of Soviet-made weaponry to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas. Colombia has joined the Obama administration in urging Bout's extradition.

"Just because the cold war is over doesn't mean the competition between military-industrial interests has ended," says Sergei Markov, a pro-Kremlin deputy of the Russian State Duma. "It's not about ideology, but it is about competing interests. Russia extends official support to Bout because he's a citizen, and because the Russian public doesn't see him as any kind of criminal," he says. "They expect him to be supported."

Russia's Foreign Ministry has assisted Mr. Bout and his family, but has had little to say about the case against him, other than to describe the US charges as "unproven."

Mr. Bout, handed lurid nicknames like "Merchant of Death" and "Lord of War" by Western commentators, was arrested in Bangkok in March 2008 after apparently falling for an elaborate sting operation in which agents of the US Drug Enforcement Administration posed as representatives of FARC, which is listed as a terrorist group by the US Department of Justice.

Bout, a former Soviet Army translator, is widely suspected of being a key player in the shadowy arms-smuggling conduits through which corrupt Russian officials and military officers sold off Soviet-era arms stockpiles during the 1990s to warring parties in Africa, the former Yugoslavia, and Asia.

On his own official English-language website, Bout is described as an honest businessman – never an arms dealer – who has been victimized by "fictitious tales and stories" peddled by his rivals.

Viktor Baranets, a leading Russian military expert who has interviewed Bout, says there probably is something "slippery" about Bout's business résumé, but that it will be very difficult to prove anything.

President Obama to Press for Bout's Extradition

"There are no charges against Bout here in Russia, and Russian Interpol tells me he is not wanted by them," says Mr. Baranets. "The majority of Russians think a Russian citizen should be proven guilty before we accept his arrest. If there's no evidence, and he was simply entrapped, then why should we agree he be sent to the US?"

A Thai court dropped all criminal charges against Bout in August and ruled that he should not be extradited to the US largely on the reasoning that FARC is not a terrorist group. On Thursday, a senior Thai prosecutor said that the country would resist pressure from Washington.

"Every country's justice system is sovereign, and no one can interfere or pressure the judges," Sirisak Tiyapan, executive director of international affairs at the Thai Attorney-General's Office, told news agencies. "This case is under deliberation by the Court of Appeal. To extradite or not is up to the court."

US President Barack Obama has said he will press for Bout's extradition during his trip to Asia next month, and US Deputy Attorney General David Ogden said last week that bringing Bout to trial in an American court is "a matter of great importance to the United States." Colombia filed a long document with the Thai court, outlining 607reasons why it believes FARC is a terrorist group and urging Bout's extradition to the US.

Bout allegedly agreed to sell millions of dollars in sophisticated weaponry, including anti-aircraft missiles and armor-piercing rockets, to what he thought were FARC representatives.

The Federation of American Scientists has posted copies of documents it says are key elements of the evidence against Bout, including confidential e-mails from Bout's gmail account, handwritten notes by Bout on the weaponry he was offering for sale, a map showing how to avoid US radar stations that cover South American airspace, and details of the Russian cargo aircraft that Bout allegedly intended to use for deliveries.

"I know the US has collected lots of documents against Bout, but legal proof is another thing altogether. When I met with Bout [recently], he categorically denied everything," says Baranets. "He's a slippery fish, and it seems he has guaranteed all his operations in the legal sense so well that the world's best courts will never be able to nail him down."

Former employee says El Al Airlines a Mossad front...

S. African alleges El Al a Mossad front

An internal South African labor dispute has mushroomed into allegations that El Al Israel Airlines is employing undercover Mossad agents in its South African operations.

The matter began a few weeks ago, when, after being dismissed, allegedly for leading a campaign on behalf of two other employees for better medical benefits and higher pay, a local El Al employee appeared on the country's leading television investigative program, Carte Blanche. There, Jonathan Garb claimed his former employer was a front for Israeli clandestine operations in the country. He also alleged the airline treated its passengers badly, conducted lengthy baggage searches, issued threats and practiced racial profiling.

El Al refused to comment on the Mossad allegations but has insisted its security regulations are of the highest standard. The Israeli Embassy rejected the claims.

"For understandable and obvious reasons, the embassy does not provide details relating to security arrangements and procedures," Israeli Ambassador Dov Segev Steinberg said.

"All security arrangements related to Israeli institutions in South Africa are, however, coordinated with the relevant authorities in full transparency and in full conformity."

The country's media picked up on the story and The Star, the leading Johannesburg daily, blazed across its billboard: "Israeli airline a front for spooks, trio allege."

While leaders of the South African Jewish community refuse to comment on the story, calling it an internal labor dispute, local Jews are angry and in letters to the press speculate why Garb, who worked for El Al for 19 years, waited so long before going public with his claims.

Dr. Mordechai Kedar, a research associate of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies in Ramat Gan who spent 25 years in IDF Military Intelligence, warned against the personal vendettas of fired employees. He said it was highly unlikely the Mossad would hide its agents in El Al.

"The officers of El Al are steady targets; they are like deer in the wild who don't move when shot at. Anyone can locate El Al officers, see where they are, and blow up their offices. If the Mossad were going to hire people, it would hire people who are on the move all the time and difficult to locate.

"Regarding racial profiling: You should ask the same questions about American and Canadian airlines, which are much worse than El Al. Profiling today is well-known in airports around the world. What's more, if people who would normally be prevented from boarding a plane come to Israel, in many cases they will be denied entry at Ben-Gurion. So why let them leave South Africa in the first place only to be refused entry in Israel?"

The allegations have been investigated by a private security company that has just released its findings, which support Garb's claims. They have been referred to the South African Foreign Ministry and National Intelligence.

Chuck Hagel to lead Obama's intelligence oversight panel...

Hagel to lead Obama's intelligence oversight panel
Wed, 10/28/2009 - 7:02am

Former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel will soon have a new role in the Obama administration, he will be named co-chair of President's Intelligence Advisory Board.

In that capacity, Hagel will be charged with overseeing the work of the intelligence agencies for the president and investigating violations of law by the clandestine community. The panel, formerly known as the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, was renamed and stripped of some of its powers in 2008 by the George W. Bush administration.

Hagel never endorsed Obama or Arizona Senator John McCain for the presidency, but he often spoke out on in favor of Obama's foreign policy ideas during the campaign and his wife endorsed Obama just before the election.

Hagel was rumored for a high level appointment when Obama was elected. A Vietnam veteran, he was at times said to be up for the position of Secretary of Defense or ambassador to a major ally such as Japan.

Initially a supporter of the decision to invade Iraq, over the course of the war Hagel became one of the GOP's fiercest critics of Bush administration war policies, famously saying in 2007, "It is my opinion that this is one of the most arrogant, incompetent administrations I've ever seen personally or ever read about."

Steve Clemons, foreign policy head at the New America Foundation, announced Hagel's move at the Tuesday evening gala dinner hosted by the Jewish policy organization J Street as part of their first annual conference.

Hagel will meet with Obama on Wednesday, after which a formal announcement is expected.

The board works mostly in secret, but has been influential in some high profile investigations, including the leak of classified information from the nation's military laboratories to China in the 1990s.

The outgoing chairman is Stephen Friedman, former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Other past chairmen have included former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, former House Speaker Thomas Foley, and former Defense Secretary Les Aspin.

UPDATE: Sources tell The Cable that David Boren, former senator and current president of the University of Oklahoma, will be the other co-chair of the board.

Argentina insists on re-negotiating military agreements with US...

Argentina insists on re-negotiating military agreements with U.S.
www.chinaview.cn 2009-10-29 09:42:38

BUENOS AIRES, Oct. 28 (Xinhua) -- The Argentine government reiterated its need on Wednesday to re-negotiate with the U.S. government military accords signed between 1953 and 1964, which the South American country deemed outdated.

Argentine Defense Minister Nilda Garre insisted on a review and re-negotiation while meeting visiting U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Frank Mora.

"Many of the contents of those talks and their specific agreements involve issues and typical activities of conceptions associated to the Cold War," Garre told Mora last month during her visit to the United States.

The 1953, 1960 and 1964 accords included clauses related to the internal security of the country as well as activities of intelligence exchange on issues that are now prohibited to the Armed Forces, like drug trafficking, terrorism and other security threats, and to nuclear cooperation.

Other senior defense and military officers from both countries were present at the meeting.

Underground movement protest against Sandinista government in Nicaragua...

Nicaragua: Anti-Ortega groups roll out hit-and-run tactics

President Daniel Ortega's move to have the Supreme Court scrap presidential term limits breathes new life into a budding clandestine protest movement.
By Tim Rogers | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
from the October 26, 2009 edition

Managua, Nicaragua - A surprise attack by masked youths who pelted Supreme Court magistrate Francisco Rosales with eggs is the latest in a series of guerrilla-style protests from a growing underground movement against the Sandinista government of Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega.

Mr. Rosales, an enthusiastic loyalist of Mr. Ortega, was ambushed Thursday as he was entering a local TV station to defend the Sandinista magistrates' controversial ruling last week to scrap a constitutional ban on consecutive presidential terms, clearing the way for Ortega to run for office again in 2011.

The egging was part of a new trend of civil disobedience that has largely been driven underground due to Sandinista repression on the streets. The fact that opposition protests are routinely broken up with violence, coupled with the perception of Sandinista impunity and increasingly brazen infringements against Nicaragua's rule of law, have been the driving forces behind a budding clandestine protest movement made up mostly of university students and other youths.

But since last week's ruling – which the United States denounced – the underground movement has taken on a new urgency, sparking concerns of violent clashes with Sandinista supporters who vow to "permanently defend" Ortega's right to reelection.

"We are now living in a failed state; we are fighting for democracy and rule of law," says "Ernesto," a leader of the underground movement who declined to use his real name for fear of retribution. He said the core leadership of the protest movement is made up of "20 to 30 decision-makers," but that the group has grown to some 200 members who "operate in cells."

Ernesto says the clandestine organization is planning to escalate its protests in the coming days and weeks.

How did this clandestine movement start?

The underground protests started earlier this year, in response to the Sandinista-controlled Supreme Electoral Council's (CSE) alleged vote-rigging in last November's municipal elections, which was roundly condemned by the US and other donor nations. In recent months, the groups have staged a series of demonstrations, including severed pigs' heads thrown on the CSE's front lawn, toilets placed on the sidewalk with copies of the Constitution as toilet paper, and burning effigies that mysteriously appear hanging from bridges in the middle of the night.

Over the past year, Sandinista supporters have attacked peaceful protest marches and anti-government demonstrations on more than 20 occasions, according to the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights. (See our story on that here). The latest victim of partisan violence occurred last Thursday, hours after Rosales' egging, when youth activist Leonor Martínez was attacked and had her arm broken while returning home from a protest meeting. She has fingered several Sandinistas as the alleged assailants, but so far police – as in past cases of political violence – have not made any arrests.

'Constitutional coup'?

Unable to get the 56 legislative votes needed to reverse the reelection ban – and too unpopular to muster enough support for a popular referendum as leftist ally Hugo Chávez has done in Venezuela – Ortega last week used his clout with Sandinista magistrates in the Supreme Court to invalidate the constitutional article that prevented his reelection. On Oct. 19, just several hours after Ortega's lawyers presented a motion challenging the constitutionality of Article 147, the six Sandinista magistrates of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court dutifully ruled in their boss's favor.

The verdict set a new record for judicial speed in Nicaragua, and was instantly likened to a coup against the country's fragile institutional democracy. Under the law, the Constitution can be amended only by the legislative National Assembly.

The rushed verdict was also allegedly made behind the backs of other magistrates. Supreme Court President Manuel Martínez, of the Liberal Constitutional Party, said he didn't know about the ruling, which he called "an ambush" by Sandinista judges.

Political opposition leaders, constitutional lawyers, civil society and business leaders have all come out against the ruling, and are trying to use it to finally galvanize the opposition against Ortega's minority. "If we allow Ortega to get away with this, there is no going back," warned opposition lawmaker Enrique Saenz, of the left-wing Sandinista Renovation Movement, which split from the Sandinista Front in 1995, claiming that Ortega had hijacked the former revolutionary party..

Even level-headed legal analysts are expressing alarm. "We are now living under a strong and very original dictatorship," said constitutional analyst and retired judge Sergio Garcia Quintero. "And we are quickly approaching a tyranny, where Ortega is no longer interested in even projecting the image of a democracy with a separation of powers."

US government expresses concern

The US government is also weighing in. Sen. John Kerry (D) of Massachusetts, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Ortega's "manipulation" of the Supreme Court "reeks of the authoritarianism of the past." He accused the Sandinista leader of "following the cues of the coup-plotters in Honduras." The State Department, too, issued a release saying it is "very concerned" about ruling, and questioned the Sandinista government's commitment to democracy.

The Sandinista government has rejected the US criticism as "meddlesome." Ortega insists the ruling, which he claims restores the right of citizens to freely elect their leaders, is "non-appealable" and "written in stone." The president is urging Nicaraguans to get over it and move on.

Legitimate struggle?

With the rule of law under question and the threat of repressive violence in the streets, even non-violent human rights leaders such as Gonzalo Carrión, of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights, are defending the peoples' "legitimate right to use all resources available to defend their liberty and country."

Those with guerrilla credentials agree. "If the government respected people's rights to protest civilly, people wouldn't have to do this," said former Sandinista rebel leader Dora María Tellez, regarding the underground protest movement. "But the fact that [Sandinista judges] ruled that the Constitution is inapplicable, means Nicaragua is now in a situation of law of the jungle."

Unions protest against major banks in Chicago...

Unions head to Chicago, protest banks
By Kevin Bogardus - 10/28/09 06:00 AM ET

Unions converged on Chicago on Tuesday to protest lobbying by major banks against proposed reforms of the financial system.

The AFL-CIO, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and other labor groups were leading a rally expected to draw 5,000 participants outside the annual conference for the American Bankers Association (ABA).

“We think the greed and risky decisions by Wall Street led to our economic collapse,” said Anna Burger, secretary-treasurer for SEIU, speaking on the phone from Chicago. “We think it is time to call them out. It is time to let the big banks know that they don’t own the country. People do.”

“This level of anger demonstrates that people are sick and tired of the banks taking their money and mortgaging away their economy,” said Dan Pedrotty, director of the Office of Investment for the AFL-CIO.

Burger joined AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and other labor leaders to chastise the banks for opposing efforts on Capitol Hill to reform the financial regulatory system after Wall Street received $700 billion in bailout money from taxpayers.

This year, unions have become increasingly involved in calling for tough new regulations. Labor leaders say many union members saw their retirement plans go up in smoke with the near-collapse of the financial sector and have grown angry at news of exorbitant bonuses for banking executives.

In particular, labor officials have taken aim at the lobbying operations of the big banks.

In the wake of the financial meltdown, however, major financial institutions began to pare down on their lobbying, although some companies and trade association continue to spend significant sums trying to influence public policy.

The ABA has spent about $6.1 million on lobbying so far this year, which is less than the $6.5 million that the trade association spent at this point in 2008.

The ABA’s political action committee, BankPAC, has remained very active, however. It has contributed close to $1.5 million to candidates so far this year, according to the latest report on file with the Federal Election Commission.

The ABA has had concerns about financial regulatory reform, including the proposal to create a standalone agency to oversee consumer financial products.
In a statement, the trade group said the meeting would go forward despite the union-led march. The group said protesters’ anger was misdirected.

“The men and women attending this meeting are traditional bankers dedicated to serving the needs of their communities. They are here to learn new ways to serve their customers and continue to rebuild the weakened economy,” said the ABA statement. “Bankers want smart regulation, and ABA has testified multiple times in the past year in favor of strong regulatory reform.”

Burger and others union leaders support the consumer financial product protection agency. In addition, labor groups want new regulations over complex financial instruments like derivatives, limitations on CEO pay and one banking regulator to oversee the entire the financial sector.

Progress is being made on Capitol Hill for reforms of Wall Street. A bill creating a consumer financial protection agency moved out of the House Financial Services Committee last week, winning praise from union officials.

“The bill moved out of committee is a good bill. It is a major step forward,” Burger said. “We have to keep on it. We cannot let it be watered down any more.”

US diplomat resigns to protest Afghan war...

US diplomat resigns to protest Afghan war
By MATTHEW LEE (AP) – 2 days ago

WASHINGTON — A former Marine who fought in Iraq and became a diplomat in a Taliban stronghold in Afghanistan has resigned in a high-profile protest of the Afghan war.

Foreign service officer Matthew Hoh is the first U.S. official known to have quit in protest to the war, according to The Washington Post, which reported Hoh's resignation in Tuesday's editions. Hoh said he stepped down only six months into the job because he believed the war is fueling the insurgency. The State Department said it respected his views but did not agree with them.

"I have lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic purposes of the United States' presence in Afghanistan," Hoh wrote in his Sept. 10 resignation letter. "I have doubts and reservations about our current strategy and planned future strategy, but my resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing this war, but why and to what end."

Hoh did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Associated Press but told the Post he had concluded that Afghans resented the presence of U.S. troops in their country and were fighting to drive them out and not for ideological reasons.

Hoh's resignation took effect on Sept. 28, according to State Department spokesman Ian Kelly, who said the government appreciated his Hoh's service in Iraq and as a political officer in Zabul, Afghanistan.

"We take his point of view very seriously, but we continue to believe that we're on track to achieving the goal that the president has set before us," Kelly told reporters. "It's a very, very difficult job that we have out there in a very complicated situation, but it's definitely worth the effort."

He noted that senior U.S. officials in both Afghanistan and Washington had met with Hoh and "heard him out." "We respect his right to dissent."

However, Kelly also said Hoh was a temporary hire whose tour was due to end in March after the completion of a limited one-year assignment and that his resignation was not comparable to those of career diplomats who stepped down to protest U.S. military actions in Bosnia and Iraq.

"Without minimizing the obvious passion and depth of feeling of Mr. Hoh in terms of his perception of the mission in Afghanistan, yes, I would draw a distinction between his situation and somebody who'd been in the foreign service and had a stake in the foreign service for 20 years or more," Kelly said.

Several long-serving career diplomats resigned during the administrations of former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to protest U.S. policies in Bosnia and the invasion of Iraq.

Junk food as 'addictive as drugs' according to new research...

Junk food as 'Addictive as Drugs'
28 Oct 2009

A diet of burgers, chips, sausages and cake will programme your brain into craving even more foods that are high in sugar, salt and fat, according to new research.

Over the years these junk foods can become a substitute for happiness and will lead bingers to become addicted.

Dr Paul Kenny, a neuroscientist, carried out the research which shows how dangerous high fat and high sugar foods can be to our health .

“You lose control. It’s the hallmark of addiction,” he said.

The researchers believe it is one of the first studies to suggest brains may react in the same way to junk food as they do to drugs.

“This is the most complete evidence to date that suggests obesity and drug addiction have common neuro-biological foundations,” said Paul Johnson, Dr Kenny’s work colleague.

Dr Kenny, who began his research at Guy’s Hospital, London, but now works at Florida’s Scripps Research Institute, divided rats into three groups for his research, due to be published in teh US soon.

One got normal amounts of healthy food to eat. Another lot was given restricted amounts of junk food and the third group was given unlimited amounts of junk, including cheesecake, fatty meat products, and cheap sponge cakes and chocolate snacks.

There were no adverse effects on the first two groups, but the rats who ate as much junk food as they wanted quickly became very fat and started bingeing.

When researchers electronically stimulated the part of the brain that feels pleasure, they found that the rats on unlimited junk food needed more and more stimulation to register the same level of pleasure as the animals on healthier diets.

Exploiting the immigrant detention industry...

Risks and Returns: Exploiting the Immigrant Detention Industry
By Michelle Chen, RaceWire
October 27, 2009

Last winter, a remote Texas prison convulsed in a cry of outrage, voicing the desperation of the immigration system's silenced captives. Two recent articles in the Boston Review and Texas Observer reflect on violent uprisings at the Reeves County Detention Center in Pecos last December and January. Tom Barry and Forrest Wilder describe a system of calculated lawlessness in the heart of Dixie.

The clash was driven by detainees' protests about inhumane conditions, particularly poor medical care and overcrowding. The catalyst was the death of Jesus Galindo, an epileptic who had been isolated in solitary confinement. Immigrant detention has become a political flashpoint for the Obama administration amid reports of abuse and miserably inadequate healthcare.

Although the White House recently pledged to improve detention conditions, there's been little real questioning of the economic underpinnings of the system. The Pecos rebellion illustrated the consequences of marrying America's prison-industrial complex with zero-tolerance immigration enforcement.

As he toured various "prison towns" along the U.S.-Mexico border, Barry observed that "all the prisons I saw had two common features: they were managed and operated by private-prison corporations--including two of the world's largest, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO [which runs Reeves]--and they were located in remote, rural areas, invariably described by locals as being 'in the middle of nowhere.'"

The industry, he says, capitalizes on towns hungering for economic development.

The prison industry introduces the governments of desperate communities to what some call "backdoor financing": project revenue bonds in the tens of millions of dollars that suddenly make them feel like economic players....

The full cost of the public-private immigrant prisons that now litter the Southwest and elsewhere is not yet known. Most counties and municipalities are still ten to fifteen years away from paying off the bonds.

The private detention sector works much like the crooked lenders who drove the country into financial crisis, building facilities as "speculative" ventures.

Though business slumped during the 1990s, CCA struck gold with the Bush administration's anti-immigrant crackdowns. Reporting on the Hutto family detention center, Margaret Talbot wrote in the New Yorker, "When immigration detention started its precipitate climb following 9/11, private prison companies eagerly offered their empty beds, and the industry was revitalized."

Wilder describes how the detention boom-bust cycle works in a cash-strapped Texas town:

In the mid-1980s, with the regional economy devastated by the Texas oil bust, local business and government leaders decided to move into a recession-proof industry that was exploding in an increasingly criminalized America: prisons. In 1986, the county built a 300-bed prison. The prison filled rapidly with federal inmates, pumping revenue into the county's budget and adding decent-paying jobs to the local work force. By 2002, Reeves had 2,000 beds. In 2003, the county completed construction on a $39 million, 960-bed unit only to find that the feds had no interest....

While the prison sat empty, payments on the bonds, reduced to junk status, were coming due. On the verge of default, county officials begged the Bush administration to send prisoners and hired Randy DeLay, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's brother, to lobby in Washington, D.C. That's when Wackenhut Corrections Corp., now GEO Group, rode to the rescue. In November 2003, GEO agreed to take over management of the whole 3,000-bed prison complex and soon struck a deal with the Bureau of Prisons to fill the new unit.

Now cut to winter 2008. Jesus Galindo, a 32-year-old Mexican American who was caught crossing the border illegally, desperately needed careful treatment for his epilepsy, Wilder reports. Instead, he got locked up in solitary and spiraled toward his death. An autopsy traced the death to his epilepsy and noted signs of medical neglect.

According to a report by the National Immigration Forum, it's unclear exactly how many private entities are working under Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but prison corporations are well fed by federal largess.

The $1.7 billion budget for "Custody Operations" provides ICE with funding to maintain its current detention capacity of 33,400 people in over 500 facilities on any given night, including operational expenses....

The two largest private prison companies in the U.S. each receive over ten percent of their revenue directly from ICE, which pays an average per diem fee of $87.99 for every immigrant detainee.

All this despite the Obama administration's acknowledgement that most detainees pose no real public danger. Many could in fact be monitored safely outside prison at a far lower cost to taxpayers. Nonetheless, ICE pushed privatization as a revenue-boosting scheme in its initial budget proposal for fiscal year 2010.

Even in the midst of a recession, the detention market is looking bullish. Just as Homeland Security announced its detention reform initiatives earlier this month, Business of Detention project reported, CCA unveiled a brand new 500-bed facility in Gainesville, Georgia.

A company spokesperson boasted, "Our positive impact, for more than a decade, on the State of Georgia is considerable, in terms of bringing strong careers to hard-working Georgians and much needed taxes and local dollars."

Profit-driven immigrant detention is just one facet of a much larger epidemic that is destroying poor communities of color across the country. Yet Pecos is an especially striking display of the cruel economics of mass incarceration.

The detainees, as well as those running their prisons, have more in common than they probably know. As economic desperation propels migrants to seek work across the border, impoverished American communities, which are conditioned to dehumanize immigrant workers, gravitate toward a prison business underwritten by draconian federal laws.

And so the machine whirs on, muffling the cries of immigrants like Galindo. Once they're inside, it seems, no one has to listen anymore.

This post originally appeared in RaceWire, the blog of Colorlines magazine, and at Working In These Times.

"House of Numbers" trailer(The shocking truth about HIV & AIDS)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Boss Bloomberg buys another election...

Boss Bloomberg buys another election… as 39,000 homeless people check into NYC shelters each night
Jerry Mazza
October 28, 2009

Let’s take the first scary fact. Mike the Boss Bloomberg (as in Boss Tweed) is spending $85 million on this his third term, after New Yorkers voted twice for two-term limits. A little arm-twisting, a raise for the City Council, and badaboom, they rubber stamped it. But, as the New Times reports, “he’s on pace to spend between $110 million and $140 million before Nov. 3” to beat his Democratic Rival Bill Thompson, whose got $6 million to spend and is twenty points behind him. Why such spending angst? Something big must be on the line.

In fact and when this election is over, Boss B will have spent some $250 million on his three elections, which the Times says is the budget of the home town in Massachusetts Bloomberg grew up in. Mind you, this is the “I take a dollar a year” for the job Bloomberg. But let’s examine that. When Bloomberg first bought his way into office his wealth was valued at a mere $5 billion. In the past eight years, it has more than tripled at $16 billion. So the dollar a year investment yielded an $11 billion profit in just eight years.

The New York Mayoralty has also made Boss Bloomberg a national and international figure as he globe-trots and tap-dances about the city. You can’t pay for publicity like that. His high profile had to greatly help his financial business, which is the leader in rapid electronic processing of derivatives trades, the same derivatives that have taken down a portion of the economy. His market savvy comes from his days at, you guessed it, Goldman Sachs as a trader/trained electrical engineer. His mayoral celebrity has given an inestimable boost to Bloomberg News as well. Neither of these enterprises, I suspect, will be of use to the folks sleeping in the shelters.

Additionally, while most New Yorkers Up and Downtown, East and West Side, are tightening their belts, getting tossed out of houses, co-ops or condos, losing their jobs, standing on unemployment lines, etcetera, Boss Bloomberg and his crew are lapping up the gravy. Here’s a selection of the goodies from the Times’ article…

“The campaign has spent $322,521 on food, $293,953 on transportation, $176,066 on furniture and $39,858 on parking.

“His lavish spending has confounded political consultants and campaign finance experts, who said that his popularity with New Yorkers, and his built-in advantages as a two-term incumbent, should be sufficient to win him re-election…

“With more than 100 employees, his campaign now has a staff larger than 97 percent of all businesses in New York City. And his political operation has become a one-man economic stimulus program, buying $8,892 worth of pizza from Goodfellas Brick Oven Pizza (itals mine) on Staten Island and in the Bronx…

“It’s a huge help,” said Marc Cosentino, one of the owners of Goodfellas. “They don’t have to economize like everyone else (itals mine).”

“Squier Knapp Dunn, the media company responsible for the mayor’s television ads, has taken in $48,313,776. While most of that money pays for TV time, media companies typically receive fees of about 15 percent.

“The spending has drawn howls of protest from good-government groups and advocates of campaign finance reform… Several said, angrily, that the mayor’s decisions to rewrite New York City’s term limits law and then spend wildly to secure re-election, have undermined democratic principles.

“Whether Bloomberg wins or loses, the toxic combination of mega-spending and crass use of his office to bypass the voters on term limits will always be a stain on his mayoralty,” said Gene Russianoff, staff attorney for the New York Public Interest Research Group. “These twin assaults on municipal democracy will undermine his political clout in a third term and sadly fuel public skepticism about elections and elected officials.” I would hope so. Now, let’s get to the second scandalous fact, which somehow Bill Thompson hasn’t picked up on.

Crisis looming for NYC Homeless System

As homelessness.change.org reports: “The New York City homeless shelter population has hit an all-time high. Over 120,000 people sought shelter in NYC during the past year and 39,000 homeless people check into NYC shelters each night. With cold weather on the horizon, the number of people seeking shelter inevitable increases. What will this mean for a city already struggling to meet the current need?

“This new information comes from a report published this week by the Coalition for the Homeless, a NYC homeless advocacy group. It said that the city has not seen such high levels of homelessness since the Great Depression. These alarming numbers come despite Mayor Bloomberg’s commitment to ending homelessness ‘as we know it’ back in 2004. Despite this commitment, the Coalition points out that homelessness has increased 45 percent since Bloomberg took office eight years ago (itals mine).

“Then again, pointing fingers during a time like this is useless. New York City has a crisis on its hands. If shelters were filled to the brim at the end of the summer, it’s unsettling to think about the possibility of running out of shelter space come winter. This is not a far-fetched possibility, given that cold weather often sends people to shelters in droves. Stop squabbling – politics can wait. It’s time to start thinking about how to save lives this winter.”

Do something about it now

I take umbrage with not pointing a finger at Bloomberg, who is the essence of the Elite thumbing his nose at the poor, the working and middle-classes while claiming to be concerned with them. His actions speak louder than his endless commercials. For instance, why doesn’t Boss Bloomberg use his own money as freely to finance the transformation of standing structures as shelters? Is that asking too much?

Well then, why doesn’t he sponsor a gala for those-with-the-most for those-with-the-least and invite all of his rich friends to attend at $25,000 a plate bash. In fact, why not tier ticket prices as Bush would have done, having his Pioneer givers peel off a hundred grand a ticket. The Glitterati would love this. Vanity Fair would have a field day covering it.

Boss B could definitely invite his superrich buddy Donald Trump, the builder of so many new hi-rise apartment buildings behind the Hudson railway Yards they blur the view for blocks and blocks.

Also Boss B wanted to give away the nearby Hudson railway Yards to the Jets for a wee $100 million to build a football stadium. When Congressman Anthony Weiner fortunately interceded, an open bidding session came about, without fear of intimidation. Weiner produced a fee of $700 million, closer to the real value of the Yards. Congressman Weiner had a few choice words for Boss Bloomberg in March of 2005, in Bloomberg’s second term in a speech Ending Insider Deals and Secret Budgets…

“Four years ago, many people voted for Mike Bloomberg because they thought his great wealth would allow him to bring a new, innovative, incorruptible spirit to city government. Unfortunately, he’s betrayed the reform movement.

“He has opened the door for the worst business practices. He presides over an administration where he and his minions routinely operate in secrecy, work exclusively with close allies, and put the deal ahead of the public interest.

Mike Bloomberg has let the Enron ethic invade City Hall.

“I want to talk today about the need to reform our City government. The problems are obvious: Too many insider deals. Special connections have bought the right to special deals. Too many dark corners. Too much of what happens in our City happens out of the public’s view. Too much off-budget. Too much of the public’s money is spent and misspent without any public oversight.

“So today, I will present a three-part plan to end insider deals and secret budgets.

An attack on special connections, special favors, and backdoor spending.

It is amazing to me that in the most innovative city in the world, where people in business and the arts come up with new ideas everyday, we have so few new ideas about how government can solve problems.

“I propose real solutions: legal requirements that ban insider deals, regulations that end pay to play, and laws that open up the bidding process and make our City’s budget truly transparent.” I would suggest you read the entire piece, beginning with “An End to Insider Deals,” then take it from there. You’ll get a whole different picture of Mike Bloomberg.

So, yes, invite Donald Trump to renovate some space around town for new shelters. After all, he could write it off to charity, and in return for overpopulating that section of the West Side, without building one new school. Its train stations are also woefully stressed with crowds. Just so Donald is not lonely, invite some more of the monied real estate developers that Boss Bloomberg is so cosy with.

There are the developers of Citi-Field for the Mets in Flushing, Queens where the Jets Stadium also wound up, with plenty of open space for parking and tail-gate barbecues. Also there’s the new Yankee Stadium deal with city bonds and city cash, big-time. Then there was the plan to turn the Atlantic Train Yards in Park Slope, Brooklyn, into a giant basketball stadium complex, totally not in keeping with this quiet neighborhood of brownstones, working class and professional families.

This deal was to be headed by Bloomberg buddy, mega-developer Bruce Ratner, giving him “rights to build nearly 1.9 million square feet of residential and commercial space on properties north and west of the Atlantic Avenue rail yards, which would have exceeded the current zoning for those sites, and without having to put the proposal through the city’s lengthy land use review process,” as reported in NYC: City of the Developer’s Sweetheart Deal. It goes on to say, “All of this tax payer funder largess thrown at Ratner’s feet in return for vague promises of affordable housing.” In fact, the Daily Gotham closed with much stronger words:

“So Bloomberg ONCE AGAIN uses our tax money in backroom deals to enrich developer buddies. And ONCE AGAIN a scandal happens right under the nose of Christine Quinn [City Council Speaker] and she is shocked…SHOCKED!…to find out such things could happen under her watch.

“What a load of crap. This city is run in such a corrupt fashion it is astonishing. Transparency is deliberately avoided in favor of an opaqueness required for backroom deals between wealthy buddies. Pataki was in the thick of it. Bloomberg still is in the thick of it and wants a third term to continue his enrichment of his buddies. Marty Markowitz [Brooklyn Borough President] is in the thick of it and wants a third term to further wallow in the money. Vito Lopez [NYS Assembly Rep] was so eager to be in the thick of it that even Bloomberg balked. And Quinn is either turning a blind eye or genuinely doesn’t have a clue how to run a city government.” By the way, she did not endorse Bloomberg.

Continuing with the Gotham, “As with the banks, I do not advocate any taxpayer money going to developers unless there is also reform in the process, greater transparency, independent oversight, and greater benefit to the community.

“What do we need? We need a new mayor. We need new blood in our city council. We need a Public Advocate like Norman Siegel, who is not the slave of developers but rather has a solid 30 year record of defending the public. We need a Comptroller who is willing to stand up against this kind of crap (that means NOT Weasel Yassky and NOT Melinda Katz, who receives more developer money than any other NYC politician…which leaves Weprin for Comptroller? God knows).

“Sadly, unless Norm Siegel and either Anthony Weiner or Bill Thompson [Bloomberg’s current challenger] can pull it off despite developer and Bloomberg money backing the corrupt status quo, we are more than likely going to see more of the same mismanagement of the city where parents are left out of the decisions about their kids’ education, but developers get to write their own sweetheart deals and Bloomberg will sign on the dotted line with no oversight…and Quinn will be, yet again, shocked when she finds out.” Not exactly high recommendations.

But maybe Bloomberg’s buddy and WTC Lessee/developer Larry Silverstein of 9/11 fame could lend a hand to turn his karma around and offer some help to the homeless. He’s the fellow whose building fell in its own footprint, though no plane hit it. Rather it was an “internal demolition” ordered by him. As he more or less said, “there was so much pain and suffering,” we decided to “pull it.” He also made $500 million in insurance on it, plus what he made as the WTC/Lessee, $4.56 billion for himself and his backers. Sterling cast, Masters of the Universe!

But more than that, Boss Bloomberg’s gala should go down into those subways for a taste of reality, not at 9 A.M. to show themselves for the voters. But at 4 A.M. to catch the gaggle of homeless sprawled on the benches. You want to see overbooked, that’s it. And catch the homeless on park benches. Or huddled on flattened cardboard cartons in recessed store entrances or in plain sight. It’s not a pretty sight for the US’s signature city. It’s not a pretty sight for the world. So do something about it Mr. Mayor, Mr. Developer, Boss Bloomberg, besides giving us your pat speeches and your arrogance with shines like your permanent suntan. Perhaps your shadow reputation is behind your spending angst.

And is it any wonder that the city’s broke and doesn’t have money, either to build schools, to pay teachers, to pay teachers who lost their schools. Or for thousands of cops let go—and for more fire houses that could be closed.

Bottom line, this is not just a New York story. New Yorkers and Americans coast to coast, have to think of what the so-called democratic election process has come to when guys like dollar-a-year Bloomberg can just crush it with money—made one way or the other. And you have to think, after he’s bought New York’s election, what’s next? Buying America’s?

Soros: China will lead New World Order

Soros: China Will Lead New World Order
Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet.com
Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Billionaire globalist George Soros told the Financial Times during an interview that China will supplant the United States as the leader of the new world order and that America should not resist the country’s decline as the dollar weakens, living standards drop, and a new global currency is introduced.

Asked what Obama should discuss when he visits China next month, Soros stated, “This would be the time because I think you really need to bring China into the creation of a new world order, financial world order,” adding that China was a reluctant member of the IMF who didn’t make enough of a contribution.

“I think you need a new world order that China has to be part of the process of creating it and they have to buy in, they have to own it in the same way as the United States owns…the current order,” said Soros, adding that the G20 was a move in this direction.

Soros said that there was a flight from currencies across the board, and that this is why the price of commodities, notably gold and oil, were generally rising. He also stated that an orderly decline of the dollar was “desirable” and that the entire system needed to be reconstituted towards a global currency.

“You need a new currency system and actually the Special Drawing Rights do give you the makings of a system and I think it’s ill-considered on the part of the United States to resist the wider use of Special Drawing Rights, they could be very useful now when you have a global shortfall of demand, you could actually internationally create currency through Special Drawing Rights,” said Soros, explaining that this was already in process after the IMF injected an allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) equivalent to $250 billion into the global economy.

Soros also stated that richer countries were already transferring wealth to poorer countries via SDR’s, with the IMF paying for the half per cent transaction cost.

Soros said the world would have to go through a “painful adjustment” following the decline of the dollar and the introduction of a global currency. Reading between the lines, he essentially threatened to kill the dollar completely if the United States did not get on board with the global currency.

Soros predicted that China would become the new engine of the global economy, replacing the U.S., and that this would slow economic growth and reduce living standards. Soros characterized the United States as a drag on the global economy because of the declining dollar.

Watch the video interview below.

Canadian Liberal leader Ignatieff brushes off idea of inquiry into mob ties with politicians and construction companies...

Canada: Ignatieff Brushes off Idea of Inquiry into Mob Scandal
October 27, 2009
The Canadian Press

Michael Ignatieff has become the latest politician to brush off calls for a public inquiry into an alleged an corruption scheme in Quebec involving politicians, construction companies and the Mafia.

The federal Liberal leader said Tuesday that the Quebec government has done a good job appointing a special police unit to investigate allegations of a massive scam, and Ottawa should only step in if there's evidence of federal involvement.

With government spending billions on the most expensive construction program in Canadian history, organized-crime experts say criminal collusion exists in many places where the Mafia operates.

But it's Quebec that has been rocked by reports construction companies working together to drive up the price tag on public-works projects, funding political parties with cash, and sharing their profits with the Mafia.

'Nobody in Canada wants to address the corporate side of organized crime — that the Mafia invests money in legitimate business, are funding political campaigns of candidates.'

A recent poll suggested overwhelming support in the province for an inquiry, and opposition politicians at the provincial and municipal levels have demanded one.

But the federal Liberals have joined the governing Conservatives, the mayor of Montreal and the Quebec provincial government in rebuffing talk of an inquiry.

"This is a matter that the Quebec government is handling well, and it's a matter for police authorities, and they're handling it well," Ignatieff told reporters during a stop in Montreal.

"Should there be federal implications, at that point we can get federal authorities involved, but at the moment, I think the government of [Premier Jean]Charest is doing its homework."

Organize crime entrenched in society

Antonio Nicaso, an expert on the Italian mob, believes Canada has no interest in fighting organized crime, in part, because it's afraid of how entrenched it's become in legitimate society — something Nicaso said is particularly true in Quebec.

"Nobody in Canada wants to address the corporate side of organized crime — that the Mafia invests money in legitimate business, are funding political campaigns of candidates," Nicaso said in an interview.

"I don't think that's something that we want to uncover."

Scott Hennig of the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation supports calls from the Parti Québécois for a public inquiry but believes federal politicians are justified in staying out of what appears, so far, to be a strictly local matter.

Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan has said there's been no evidence of federal stimulus money winding up with the Mob. However, he cautioned that Ottawa doesn't dish out the bucks to construction companies itself.

Infrastructure cash is transferred through federal-provincial arrangements with municipalities that are subject to provincial laws for tendering, he said.

So far, only opposition politicians in Quebec have demanded an inquiry.

The Parti Québécois is expected to present a non-confidence motion against the governing Liberals over the corruption scandal. Since the Liberals hold a majority in the legislature, the motion appears doomed to fail.

Afghan president's brother said to be on CIA payroll,and involved in opium trade...

Karzai’s brother is said to be on CIA payroll
Afghan president's sibling is suspected player in nation's illegal opium trade
By Dexter Filkins, Mark Mazzetti and James Risen
updated 2 hours, 11 minutes ago

KABUL, Afghanistan - Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president and a suspected player in the country’s booming illegal opium trade, gets regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency, and has for much of the past eight years, according to current and former American officials.

The agency pays Mr. Karzai for a variety of services, including helping to recruit an Afghan paramilitary force that operates at the C.I.A.’s direction in and around the southern city of Kandahar, Mr. Karzai’s home.

The financial ties and close working relationship between the intelligence agency and Mr. Karzai raise significant questions about America’s war strategy, which is currently under review at the White House.

The ties to Mr. Karzai have created deep divisions within the Obama administration. The critics say the ties complicate America’s increasingly tense relationship with President Hamid Karzai, who has struggled to build sustained popularity among Afghans and has long been portrayed by the Taliban as an American puppet. The C.I.A.’s practices also suggest that the United States is not doing everything in its power to stamp out the lucrative Afghan drug trade, a major source of revenue for the Taliban.

Is the U.S. backing thugs?

More broadly, some American officials argue that the reliance on Ahmed Wali Karzai, the most powerful figure in a large swath of southern Afghanistan where the Taliban insurgency is strongest, undermines the American push to develop an effective central government that can maintain law and order and eventually allow the United States to withdraw.

“If we are going to conduct a population-centric strategy in Afghanistan, and we are perceived as backing thugs, then we are just undermining ourselves,” said Maj. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, the senior American military intelligence official in Afghanistan.

Ahmed Wali Karzai said in an interview that he cooperates with American civilian and military officials, but does not engage in the drug trade and does not receive payments from the C.I.A.

The relationship between Mr. Karzai and the C.I.A. is wide ranging, several American officials said. He helps the C.I.A. operate a paramilitary group, the Kandahar Strike Force, that is used for raids against suspected insurgents and terrorists. On at least one occasion, the strike force has been accused of mounting an unauthorized operation against an official of the Afghan government, the officials said.

Mr. Karzai is also paid for allowing the C.I.A. and American Special Operations troops to rent a large compound outside the city — the former home of Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Taliban’s founder. The same compound is also the base of the Kandahar Strike Force. “He’s our landlord,” a senior American official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Mr. Karzai also helps the C.I.A. communicate with and sometimes meet with Afghans loyal to the Taliban. Mr. Karzai’s role as a go-between between the Americans and the Taliban is regarded by supporters of working with Mr. Karzai as valuable now, as the Obama administration is placing a greater focus on encouraging Taliban leaders to change sides.

‘There's no proof’

A C.I.A. spokesman declined to comment for the story.

“No intelligence organization worth the name would ever entertain these kind of allegations,” said Paul Gimigliano, the spokesman.

Some American officials said that the allegations of Mr. Karzai’s role in the drug trade were not conclusive.

“There’s no proof of Ahmed Wali Karzai’s involvement in drug trafficking, certainly nothing that would stand up in court,” said one American official familiar with the intelligence. “And you can’t ignore what the Afghan government has done for American counterterrorism efforts.”

At the start of the Afghan war, just after the 9/11 terror attacks in the United States, American officials paid warlords with questionable backgrounds to help topple the Taliban and maintain order with relatively few American troops committed to fight in the country. But as the Taliban has become resurgent and the war has intensified, Americans have increasingly viewed a strong and credible central government as crucial to turning back the Taliban’s advances.

Now, with more American lives on the line, the relationship with Mr. Karzai is sparking anger and frustration among American military officers and other officials in the Obama administration. They say that Mr. Karzai’s suspected role in the drug trade, as well as what they describe as the mafia-like way that he lords over southern Afghanistan, makes him a malevolent force.

Lucrative poppy trade

These military and political officials say the evidence, though largely circumstantial, suggests strongly that Mr. Karzai has enriched himself by helping the illegal trade in poppy and opium to flourish. The assessment of these military and senior officials in the Obama administration dovetails with that of senior officials in the Bush administration.

“Hundreds of millions of dollars in drug money are flowing through the southern region, and nothing happens in southern Afghanistan without the regional leadership knowing about it,” a senior American military officer in Kabul said. Like most of the officials in this story, he spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the secrecy of the information.

“If it looks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck,” the American officer said of Mr. Karzai. “Our assumption is that he’s benefiting from the drug trade.”

Drug trade poses stability threat

American officials say that Afghanistan’s opium trade, the largest in the world, directly threatens the stability of the Afghan state, by providing a large percentage of the money the Taliban needs for its operations, and also by corrupting Afghan public officials to help the trade flourish.

The Obama administration has repeatedly vowed to crack down on the drug lords who are believed to permeate the highest levels of President Karzai’s administration. They have pressed him to move his brother out of southern Afghanistan, but he has so far refused to do so.

Other Western officials pointed to evidence that Ahmed Wali Karzai orchestrated the manufacture of hundreds of thousands of phony ballots for his brother’s re-election effort last August. He is also believed to have been responsible for setting up dozens of so-called “ghost” polling stations — existing only on paper — that were used to manufacture tens of thousands of phony ballots.

“The only way to clean up Chicago is to get rid of Capone,” General Flynn said.

In an interview, Ahmed Wali Karzai denied any role the drug trade and that he takes money from the C.I.A. He said he received regular payments from his brother, the president, for “expenses,” but said he did not know where the money came from. He has, among other things, introduced Americans to insurgents considering changing sides. And he has given the Americans intelligence, he said. But he said he is not compensated for that assistance.

“I don’t know anyone under the name of the C.I.A.,” Mr. Karzai said. “I have never received any money from any organization. I help, definitely. I help other Americans wherever I can. This is my duty as an Afghan.”

Mr. Karzai acknowledged that the C.I.A. and special forces stay at Mullah Omar’s old compound. And he acknowledged that the Kandahar Strike Force is based there. But he said he no involvement with them.

Focused on counterterrorism missions

A former C.I.A. officer with experience in Afghanistan said the agency relied heavily on Ahmed Wali Karzai, and often based covert operatives at compounds he owned. Any connections Mr. Karzai might have had to the drug trade mattered little to C.I.A. officers focused on counterterrorism missions, the officer said.

“Virtually every significant Afghan figure has had brushes with the drug trade,” he said. “If you are looking for Mother Teresa, she doesn’t live in Afghanistan.”

The debate over Ahmed Wali Karzai, which began when President Obama took office in January, intensified in June, when the C.I.A.’s local paramilitary group, the Kandahar Strike Force, shot and killed Kandahar’s Provincial police chief, Matiullah Qati, in a still-unexplained shootout at the office of a local prosecutor.

The circumstances surrounding Mr. Qati’s death remain shrouded in mystery. It is unclear, for instance, if any agency operatives were present — but officials say the firefight broke out when Mr. Qati tried to block the strike force from freeing the brother of a task force member who was being held in custody.

“Matiullah was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Mr. Karzai said in the interview.

Counternarcotics officials have repeatedly expressed frustration over the unwillingness of senior policy makers in Washington to take action against Mr. Karzai — or even launch a serious investigation of the allegations against him. In fact, they say that while other Afghans accused of drug involvement are investigated and singled out for raids or even rendition to the United States, Mr. Karzai has seemed immune from similar scrutiny.

List of top drug traffickers

For years, first the Bush administration and then the Obama administration have said that the Taliban benefits from the drug trade, and the U.S. military has recently expanded its target list to include drug traffickers with ties to the insurgency. The military has generated a list of 50 top drug traffickers tied to the Taliban who can now be killed or captured.

Senior Afghan investigators say they know plenty about Mr. Karzai’s involvement in the drug business. In an interview in Kabul earlier this year, a top former Afghan Interior Ministry official familiar with Afghan counter narcotics operations said that a major source of Mr. Karzai’s influence over the drug trade was his control over key bridges crossing the Helmand River on the route between the opium growing regions of Helmand Province and Kandahar.

The former Interior Ministry official said that Mr. Karzai is able to charge huge fees to drug traffickers to allow their drug-laden trucks to cross the bridges.

But the former officials said it was impossible for Afghan counternarcotics officials to investigate Mr. Karzai. “This government has become a factory for the production of Talibs because of corruption and injustice,” the former official said.

Some American counternarcotics officials have said they believe that Mr. Karzai has expanded his influence over the drug trade, thanks in part to American efforts to target other drug lords.

In debriefing notes from Drug Enforcement Administration interviews in 2006 of Afghan informants obtained by The New York Times, one key informant said that Ahmed Wali Karzai had benefited from the American operation that lured Haji Bashir Noorzai, a major Afghan drug lord during the time that the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, to New York in 2005. Mr. Noorzai was convicted on drug and conspiracy charges in New York in 2008, and was sentenced to life in prison earlier this year.

Habibullah Jan, a local military commander and later a member of parliament from Kandahar, told the D.E.A. in 2006 that Mr. Karzai had teamed with Haji Juma Khan to take over a portion of the Noorzai drug business after Mr. Noorzai’s arrest.

Dexter Filkins reported from Kabul, and Mark Mazzetti and James Risen from Washington. Helene Cooper contributed reporting from Washington.

This report, "Brother of Afghan leader is said to be on C.I.A. payroll," originally appeared in the New York Times.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

NYPD to shake up streets with siren-sound device...

NYPD To Shake Up Streets With Siren-Sound Device
By Emily Feldman
updated 48 minutes ago

New Yorkers will soon feel police presence in a way they've never felt it before.

The New York Police Department has installed "rumblers," or ground-shaking sound devices on some of their cars, to make sure that even those who can't see or hear an approaching police car, will now be able to feel it, up to 200 feet away.

"It emits vibration that can be felt, so drivers, even with their windows rolled up and stereos on, can be alerted to the approach of emergency vehicles, " NYPD spokesman Paul Browne told the New York Post. "It also gets the attention of pedestrians with headphones or iPods of who may be otherwise inattentive to conventional sirens."

Not everyone is celebrating the new devices, which were installed on 25 cars last week, and 132 more today.

"The NYPD purchased and installed the equipment with no oversight, no public hearings, and with no evident liability for the massive noise pollution they are about to inflict on New Yorkers, all in the name of public safety," Richard Tur, founder of NoiseOFF.org, wrote in an e-mail. "For people who live near any of the dozens of police precincts around the city and the boroughs, this is going to be an acoustic nightmare."

Tur also points to medical concerns associated with the device--concerns identified by the rumbler's manufacturer, Federal Signal Corp. The company website warns that "audible equipment may cause hearing damage," and encourages uses to wear hearing protection.

As a safety precaution, the device turns off automatically after 10 seconds, though it can be switched on again manually.

Senator questions why Obama hasn't had his kids vaccinated...

Ron Paul Questions Why Obama Daughters Haven’t Taken Swine Flu Vaccine
Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet.com
Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Congressman Ron Paul has questioned why, despite his efforts to encourage the general public to get vaccinated against the H1N1 virus, President Barack Obama has refused to allow his own daughters to take the swine flu shot.

Despite the fact that Obama on Friday declared a national emergency in response to the H1N1 outbreak, he apparently doesn’t deem it enough of a threat to have his two daughters vaccinated against the virus.

Such double standards have led media pundits to call for Obama to get his daughters vaccinated on live television, in an effort to encourage American parents to do the same for their kids. The swine flu vaccination program, which was initially intended to be a “mass” inoculation covering the entire population, has been rejected by a majority of Americans who harbor deep suspicions about dangerous additives contained in the vaccine such as mercury and squalene.

In a Campaign For Liberty video message, former Presidential candidate Ron Paul labeled the vaccination program a “failure,” and slammed Obama for failing to follow the same advice he gave to the nation.

“It’s interesting to note that the President’s children have not gotten their shots and the explanation for this is it hasn’t been available to them – now that’s a little bit hard to buy when you think that probably anything the President wants can be available for their children,” said Paul, adding, “So in a way he’s made his decision not to give his children these inoculations – so if he has freedom of choice on this, I would like to make sure that all the American people have the same amount of freedom of choice.”

Others have echoed similar sentiments. “Surely if there is a national emergency and if the President and First Lady of the United States wanted flu shots for their daughters, they could get them. It is certainly connected to our national security right? I mean the president needs to have his wits about him 24/7 not worrying over sick children. Could this instead be yet another case of “do as I say, not as I do” from the Obama administration?” writes Cathryn Friar.

Paul compared Obama’s hypocrisy to politicians who lobby for the virtues of public education yet in every instance educate their own children privately.

“The biggest champions of public education make sure their kids never get public education, they always get private education where there’s a lot better choices than the kind of system they’re promoting,” said the Congressman.

Obama certainly isn’t stupid enough to inject his own kids with the same toxic soup that he encourages the idiot public to receive, and will probably be keen on getting access to the special additive-free swine flu shots produced by Baxter International that have been made available for the elite.

As Spiegel Online reported earlier this month, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and government ministers received a mercury and squalene-free H1N1 vaccine. “The Vakzin [vaccine] does not contain disputed additives — contrary to the vaccine for the remainder of the population,” reported the newspaper. Soldiers in the German army were also given the adjuvant-free vaccine.

Employees of the Paul Ehrlich Institute in Germany also received the “green” inoculation after their president Johannes Löwer labeled the vaccine a greater threat than the virus itself. Löwer’s comment came after German lung specialist Wolfgang Wodarg said the vaccine increases the risk of cancer. The nutrient solution for the vaccine consists of cancerous cells from animals.

In the video update, Congressman Paul also warned that Obama’s emergency declaration on Friday was part of a plan to condition people to accept the notion of government as protector and coerce the public into complying with whatever they say, including forced quarantines.

Watch the Ron Paul clip below:

The Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex(Video)

An insider's look at the worldwide, multi-billion dollar conspiracy of lies that is Amway...

New Book: Merchants of Deception - An Insider's Chilling Look at the Worldwide, Multi-Billion Dollar Conspiracy of Lies that is Amway

Montoursville, PA - Merchants of Deception, a new book released yesterday, offers detailed revelations of a Main Street Ponzi that seems to dwarf Bernard' Madoff's Wall Street fraud in scale and audacity. While much attention is directed at financial investment scams, whistleblower Eric Scheibeler reveals how the very same model of "endless chain" investments is carried out by the Amway Corporation and its high level distributors. He shows that, just as Bernard Madoff escaped scrutiny disguised by high-powered credentials and the camouflage of a legitimate "hedge fund," Amway operates in plain sight as a successful "direct selling company."

As it was ultimately revealed that Madoff had no revenue source other than new investors, Scheibeler shows how Amway's "business model" includes almost no retail sales revenue, just a continuous enrollment of "salespeople" whose personal investments in product purchases and marketing materials provide Amway and its top recruiters with billions ill-gotten revenues. The large-scale losses caused by the fraudulent and unsustainable Ponzi scheme are borne by million or more "losers" who "fail" and quit the scheme each year, only to be replaced by new hopefuls.

Continuous defrauding of new investors enables the Amway scheme to thrive, as the documentation seems to clearly support that nearly 99% of all investors suffer financial loss - and sometimes ruin - while Amway generates billions in "revenues."

As a high level former insider and whistleblower, Scheibeler shows how this financial scam is carried out publicly in well orchestrated recruitment rallies attended by thousands of hopefuls. They are urged to continue in Amway by high-profile Republican politicians, famous motivational speakers and Christian religious leaders, and the crafted presentation of a business hoax audaciously and guilefully portrayed as a legal and viable business model. The plan is fraudulently proclaimed from the stage as a beacon of hope for millions of consumers weakened and desperate from the housing collapse, declining wages, shrinking income and unemployment.

Scheibeler shows how the multibillion dollar fraud is then spread virally, out of sight of the media, in the privacy of homes, between friends and family members, inspired by the false story of the "greatest income opportunity in the world" and the last best hope of the American Dream.

The euphoria and belief of victims are based upon Amway high level leaders' fraudulent promise that each new investor can find wealth and security by recruiting other investors, all of whom can do the same, in a chain that will expand forever.

While the false hopes in the endless chain plan may be seen as merely a popular delusion, Scheibeler's insider account reveals that the catastrophic consequences of the fraud are perfectly understood by the perpetrators at the top of the Amway sales chain and within the company. The blatant deception and the illegality of making the false income claims are also well known to them, Scheibeler charges. This calculated strategy of fraud is protected with an aggressive force of lawyers that sue detractors or whistle-blowers and a powerful lobbying force in Washington to stave off regulation or investigation Amway victim testimonials from over 30 nations. Many of these alleged losses range from small to tens of thousands of dollars, bankruptcy, foreclosure, divorce and multiple suicides. Cult expert and licensed family therapist Steve Hassan has had to do cult interventions for well indoctrinated distributors, as detailed in Merchants of Deception. The author has consulted with the UK government, law enforcement in India and class action law firms when they took action against the Amway scheme.

The purposeful execution of this massive fraud is fully revealed in Scheibeler's own story of what transpired when he presented his realization of the fraud to the company and announced intentions to expose it. Scheibeler was sued, defamed by Amway and/or company distributors.

An individual (not an Amway employee) told Scheibeler told what gun specifically would be used to "take him out" if he made trouble. Even Scheibeler's wife and young son were threatened anonymously on the telephone. Unlike others who were forced into submission or shamed into silence, Eric Scheibeler fought back and stood up to the intimidation. The book Merchants of Deception has been described as "Erin Brockovich on steroids."

"Mr. Scheibeler's book is a chilling portrayal of the process by which intelligent people can persist for years in pursuing the Amway dream while making no money. It is all the more significant because he earned his way to one of the highest distributor levels in the Company . . .

I learned of similar experiences from ex-distributors when I interviewed them for the State of Wisconsin's Amway litigation in the early 80's. Such conditioning may explain why the tax returns (obtained for this litigation) of all active Wisconsin Direct Distributors, the company's top 1%, showed an average net income of minus $900. Why did these men and women persist . .. under these economic circumstances? Eric Scheibeler's book answers this question for those whose minds are clear enough to read its pages."

- BRUCE A. CRAIG, retired Assistant Attorney General,
Wisconsin Department of Justice - Office of Consumer Protection
(This statement is my own and not that of the State of Wisconsin.)

This economy has driven the industry of "business opportunity" to epidemic levels. If you or anyone you care for has been recruited into Nikken, Nuskin, Mannatech, ACN, Herbalife, Tahitian Noni, Morinda, Market America, Arbonne, NSA, Symmetry, Quixtar or any multi level marketing business, this book is a must read.

Merchants of Deception - An Insider's Chilling look at the worldwide, multi-billion dollar conspiracy of lies that is Amway and its motivational organizations.

High level whistle blower and former federal auditor reveals documentation on loss rates for the vast majority of all who are induced to invest in "their own Amway Business". Victims have responded with detailed testimonials of large losses, bankruptcy, foreclosure, divorce and suicides while the owners create billions in net worth, buy the Orlando Magic and name the Amway Arena in Orlando.


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