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Friday, December 31, 2010

For all the readers & supporters of 'Real Politik'...


...CATCH YA'LL IN THE NEW YEAR..BE SAFE OUT THERE!

Oops! Bribing Nigeria for (Dick) Cheney's freedom not legal...

Oops! Bribing Nigeria for Cheney’s Freedom Not Legal
By: emptywheel Thursday December 30, 2010 6:12 am

A lawyer in Nigeria has reminded the country’s anti-corruption watchdog that the recent deal buying Cheney’s freedom for $35 million is not legal.

In a letter to Nigeria’s anti-corruption watchdog, Osuagwu Ugochukwu, a prominent lawyer in Abuja, said the withdrawal of charges against Cheney was a breach of the law.

“We know as a point of law that once a criminal charge has been filed in a competent court, issue of penalty of fine is for the courts to impose and not parties,” he wrote. “Hence, we are shocked to hear that EFCC imposed a fine on an accused person. We also know as a point of law that criminal matters cannot be settled out of court as in civil matters in Nigeria.


And a newspaper editorial makes the fairly obvious point that if corporations can keep buying the freedom of its executives, then those executives will never have an incentive to follow the law.

The risk of solving one criminal act through the plea bargain option amounts to a mere slap on the wrist and subtly telling the guilty firm and its personnel to “go and sin no more”. It does not paint a good image for Nigeria, especially in the world’s corrupt nations index where we are currently featuring notoriously.

We therefore condemn in strong terms this kind of under the table settlement. The same thing happened in the Siemens bribery scam, and this is making Nigeria look like a country where money can buy justice. More importantly, the Halliburton case questions the seriousness of government in holding corrupt foreign firms and their officials accountable for their action, while on the other hand encouraging and patronizing companies that have not only confessed corrupt practices, but are not known to respect wholesome business ethics.

Only a painstaking trial and possible conviction, if found guilty, would have forced Halliburton to change its corrupt ways of doing business in Nigeria
.

But Nigeria’s anti-corruption watchdog, in response to Ugochukwu, pointed out that such plea bargains are standard in countries like the UK and US.

And, without addressing the move’s legality, the head of the anti-corruption watchdog agency defended the move, saying that it is a “best world practice” used in more developed countries.

“The US and the UK governments are practicing it. Where you cannot successfully sustain a charge in court and you want to recover, then instead of losing the case, losing the money, then you opt for plea bargaining,” Farida Waziri, head of the watchdog agency, said.


Of course, the US got an even bigger bribe from KBR — $402 million — to dismiss these charges, without even having to threaten Cheney with jail time. So I guess Nigeria is left only to aspire to the “best world practice” of getting bigger bribes from corporations guarding the freedom of their executives.

Australian police unearth global pedophile ring...

Australian police unearth global pedophile ring
December 31, 2010 - 1:37PM

Via theage:

An Australian investigation has unearthed an international network of pedophile parents who abuse their own children and share images of the assaults.

The operation by Queensland police, Task Force Argos, has led to the break-up of the major international pedophile ring of parents, with arrests in the US and Britain.

The breakthrough came when officers from Task Force Argos, a team of police targeting online predators, intercepted an email sent to a known Australian sex offender containing pornographic photos of children.

Investigative leads in Australia were sent to authorities in the US and Britain, which unearthed a network of parents who abused their own children and shared images of the assaults via the internet.

"All children have an absolute right to grow up free from the fear of sexual abuse and exploitation, and especially from those they trust," Brian Moskowitz, a special agent with America's Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, said after two US arrests.

The Australian information led British authorities to arrest the operator of an "open naturist" website open only to parents who abused their children.

The UK website operator and his wife allegedly abused their young son and daughter, filmed the assaults and distributed the images to other pedophiles.

A forensic examination of the couple's computers recovered "chat logs" that led US authorities this week to two fathers who resided in Texas and Michigan.

The men allegedly held Skype internet video sessions with each other and during the sessions abused their children.

On Monday when US authorities executed a search warrant on the Texas man's home, police say he admitted to assaulting his son just hours earlier during a Skype session with the Michigan man.

The Michigan man, a father of three boys, was arrested on Tuesday.

"Sadly, today's technology in the hands of a predator with access to children has put our children at greater risk than ever before," Mr Moskowitz said.

US military investigating soldier 'death squad' accused of murdering Afghans...

US military investigates 'death squad' accused of murdering Afghans
Brigadier general to conduct review of 5th Stryker brigade as evidence emerges of widespread complicity in deaths
Chris McGreal in Washington
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 29 December 2010 19.45 GMT

The US military is investigating the leadership of an army brigade whose soldiers are accused of running a "kill team" that murdered Afghan civilians, as further evidence emerges of widespread complicity in the deaths.

A brigadier general is conducting a "top to bottom" review of the 5th Stryker brigade after five of its soldiers were committed for trial early next year charged with involvement in the murders of three Afghans and other alleged crimes including mutilating their bodies, and collecting fingers and skulls from corpses as trophies.

Among the issues under investigation is the failure of commanders to intervene when the alleged crimes were apparently widely spoken about among soldiers.

Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs, the alleged leader of what prosecutors have characterised as a death squad based in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan, is accused of planning the alleged murders in which civilians were killed with hand grenades and guns and their deaths made to appear to be legitimate battlefield casualties. Gibbs, 26, has denied three charges of murder and other crimes.

Four other soldiers are charged with involvement in at least one of the three murders over a five-month period this year. They include an army specialist, Adam Winfield, whose lawyer has released a Facebook chat between the soldier and his father, Christopher, that suggests many other soldiers in the brigade approved of the killings.

In the chat, Winfield says he is troubled by one murder by other members of his unit. "Some innocent guy about my age just farming. They made it look like the guy threw a grenade and them and mowed him down ... Everyone pretty much knows it was staged. If I say anything it's my word against everyone. There's no one in this platoon that agrees this was wrong. They all don't care."

Later in the chat, Winfield wrote: "Everyone just wants to kill people at any cost. They don't care. The Army is full of a bunch of scumbags I realized."

Winfield's father contacted the military to warn it about the killings. His son later admitted to firing his gun towards a third Afghan who was allegedly murdered two months later. Winfield later told investigators in videotaped interviews shown at a pre-trial hearing that Gibbs formed the "kill team".

Another soldier, Jeremy Morlock, who faces a court martial for alleged involvement in all three murders, has also accused Gibbs of organising the killings.

"Gibbs had pure hatred for all Afghanis and constantly referred to them as savages," said Morlock.

Seven other soldiers are charged with lesser crimes, including drug use, collecting body parts as souvenirs and covering up the killings. Gibbs is alleged to have kept finger bones, leg bones and a tooth from Afghan corpses. Another soldier is said to have collected a human skull.

Some of the soldiers are also accused of taking a photograph posing next to one of the corpses as if it were hunted game. The military has so far declined to offer the pictures in evidence out of concern they would be more generally released and prompt a backlash against US troops in Afghanistan.

Earlier this month, one of the accused soldiers, Staff Sergeant Robert Stevens, reached a plea bargain with prosecutors in which he was convicted of aggravated assault over two killings and sentenced to nine months in prison after agreeing to testify against 10 other members of his unit. He also pleaded guilty to lying about these crimes and to dereliction of duty.

Stevens had faced charges that carried up to 19 years in prison.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

"According to (Jeff) Sharlet, the Family had "cells in the governments of seventy nations by the late 1960s, more than double that of just a few years earlier." These cells operated, as many of the Family's projects do, through God - "the Catholic generals and colonels who rotated coup by coup through the leadership of Brazil, Guatemala, El Salvador ... consented to the Protestant ministrations of the Fellowship in return for access to American congressman." More recently, after meetings between members of Sri Lanka's own prayer breakfast and Congressional representatives of the Family, the small, Southeast Asian country received more than $50 million in military aid between 2004-2007. In the previous three years, from 2000 to 2003, it only received a fifth of that amount, and in 2008, Sri Lanka was accused of "intentionally and repeatedly" wantonly shelling civilians, hospitals and humanitarian operations with weapons that, it is likely, came from American military aid"...

The "Family" - Who Really Is Behind This Secret Organization?
Thursday 30 December 2010
by: Yana Kunichoff, t r u t h o u t

What if someone were to tell you that your Congressman routinely bandies around phrases such as "Jesus plus nothing," used to mean the complete rule of Jesus, and compares the desired reach to that of Hitler or Ho Chi Minh? If this makes you at all apprehensive, then Jeff Sharlet's "C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy" is a must-read.

"Jesus plus nothing" is the mantra of the Fellowship, also known as the Family, a secret, fundamentalist Christian organization peopled primarily by devout policy makers and high-ranking individuals. Though the nonbeliever's view of religion can often be dismissive when faced with such catchphrases, in "C Street," a nonfiction account of the extended reach of the Family, these phrases fuel moral crusades with real, and terrifying, impact.

Sharlet first introduced the world to the unseen hand of the Fellowship in "The Family" in 2008, in which he reported on the organization's beginnings in the 18th century, uncovered the role of the Family in America's legislative system and uncovered the role of religious fundamentalism in our supposedly secular nation.

In his latest book, Sharlet traces the powerful orthodoxy's chilling influence on governments both inside and outside of the United States as well as the devastating effects of fundamentalism within the military. He uses the Fellowship's Capitol Hill boarding house, C Street, as a passageway to a broader discussion of the Family's influences, which range from mediating the marital disputes of Congressmen to increased military aid for countries whose prominent politicians have connections (spiritual or otherwise) with the Family.

"C Street" is thoroughly researched; in addition to his travels and interviews, Sharlet says he spent weeks photocopying documents from archives all over the country. In particular, he went through nearly 600 boxes of documents at the Billy Graham archives in Wheaton, Illinois, where he stayed in a rented room furnished only with an air mattress and a card table.

Sharlet begins his story at the C Street Center Inc., a nonprofit offshoot of the Family in a red brick house on Capitol Hill to "assist [congressmen] in better understandings of the teachings of Christ, and applying it to their jobs."

Members of C Street, "the underground network of Christ's men in Washington," include Sens. Don Nickles (R-Oklahoma), Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico), John Ensign (R-Nevada), James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), Bill Nelson (D-Florida) and Bill Nelson (D-Florida), as well as Reps. Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina), Frank Wolf (R-Virginia.), Joseph Pitts (R Pennsylvania), Zach Wamp (R-Tennessee) and Bart Stupak (D-Michigan), and believe they have been appointed by God.

Their actions in the name of the Lord include prayer meetings at the Department of Defense and the Pentagon, and helping Governor Sanford, Representative Pickering and Senator Ensign (whom Sharlet describes as having "the most impressive tan in the Technicolor portrait gallery of golf-happy, twenty-first-century political America") cover up extramarital affairs and continue their political careers. In one case, the Family even pays off Ensign's former aide - with whom he was having an affair while he was living at C Street.

This is a mild version of the Family's philosophy - "the best way to help the weak is to help the strong." Yet, it is their naïve, but powerful, influence on religious rhetoric used in conflicts and legislature abroad that leads one from simply raised eyebrows to widened eyes.

According to Sharlet, the Family had "cells in the governments of seventy nations by the late 1960s, more than double that of just a few years earlier." These cells operated, as many of the Family's projects do, through God - "the Catholic generals and colonels who rotated coup by coup through the leadership of Brazil, Guatemala, El Salvador ... consented to the Protestant ministrations of the Fellowship in return for access to American congressman."

More recently, after meetings between members of Sri Lanka's own prayer breakfast and Congressional representatives of the Family, the small, Southeast Asian country received more than $50 million in military aid between 2004-2007. In the previous three years, from 2000 to 2003, it only received a fifth of that amount, and in 2008, Sri Lanka was accused of "intentionally and repeatedly" wantonly shelling civilians, hospitals and humanitarian operations with weapons that, it is likely, came from American military aid.

Most vivid is Sharlet's focus on the Fellowship's activities in Uganda, where, in 2009, a bill was introduced into the Ugandan Parliament that would condemn to death individuals convicted of "aggravated homosexuality," which includes "simply sex, more than once," and three years in prison "for failure to report a homosexual within twenty-four hours of learning of his or her crime."

Sharlet draws links between the Family and evangelical church leaders and politicians championing the bill in Uganda (including David Bahati, who introduced the legislation into Parliament); the Family has donated millions of dollars to Uganda for "leadership development" - more, writes Sharlet, than it has invested in any other foreign country.

Though he draws the line at saying that the virulently anti-gay bill in Uganda means that the Family supports the death penalty for gay people, he notes that that "the real question is instead one of ideological transmission, the transfer of ideas.... the Family didn't pull the trigger; they provided the gun."

Sharlet travels to the East African country to meet politicians, who blithely call the closet "a strong African tradition," and speak confidently of their "American friends," various American evangelicals, including some from the family, but also speaks to a young, gay man on the run, illustrating with affecting anecdotes the human lives ruined by such a tide of "morality."

Near the end of the book, Sharlet brings the story back home again: to the role of the Family in the military. He tells the story of a US unit in Iraq which heads into combat with "Jesus Killed Muhammed" painted in both English and Arabic on one of their tanks, as well as Muslim and Jewish soldiers who crack under the constant religious taunting.

The book itself reads like a hyper-real nightmare; the detailed glimpses of emotionally stifled Congressional love affairs come with the added intimacy of love letter excerpts, and Sharlet's conversations with evangelical politicians in Uganda are especially well-fleshed. For example, during one conversation with an evangelical politician, Sharlet became keenly aware that he could also be prosecuted under Uganda's homophobic legislation - for promoting homosexuality by not turning in any gay people he may know.

The extent of the connections between the Family and chastised senators, the Sri Lankan government's decision to drop bombs on civilians, a virulently homophobic bill in Uganda or extreme religious pressure applied to soldiers in combat zones are at times somewhat murky, but this is itself a symptom of how the Fellowship functions - "the more invisible you can make your organization," Doug Coe, associate director of the Fellowship, says in "C Street," "the more influence it will have."

The Family divides its finances "between several smaller offshoots, some off-the-books accounting ... and the Fellowship Foundation." In addition, Sharlet notes, it shifts around its properties and supporting organizations - for example, the Downing Foundation in Englewood, Colorado, describes its mission as supporting the Family's Fellowship Foundation - "to which it sends an average of $88,000 a year."

Sharlet highlights numerous front organizations, though there are other sources of funding for the Family's expenses that are even less kosher - for example, Sen. Tom Coburn charged American taxpayers $11,000 for a trip to Lebanon to, Coburn says, build prayer groups - in one of the most religiously contested areas in the world.

Though a review in The Washington Post calls Sharlet's thesis of an America without contraception or public schools "almost unhinged," the recent rise of the Tea Party since "C Street's" publication and legislation such as unemployment benefits held hostage to tax cuts for the wealthiest American cast doubt on whether we can dismiss the threat posed by the actions of the Family to positions such as gay rights, religious freedom or the separation between church and state.

This brings us to one of Sharlet's central points in the book: how do we hold lawmakers accountable who believe they have a divine right to rule?
Mikey Weinstein, a former Air Force commander and founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, who deals with calls daily from soldiers with testimony of religious harassment, says the only way to combat the influence of the "multi-dimensional, theocratic, dominating, democracy-destroying monster" that is the Family is to court-martial them all.

Sharlet, however, is more circumspect. "I'm doing it the best way I know how ... it's also the only honest way. You compete with them in terms of free speech," he said. "You keep the pressure on, you keep people asking questions and you make it in the Family's best interest to become transparent."


Full disclosure: Mikey Weinstein is a member of Truthout's board of advisers.

"The reaction of (Michael) Bloomberg to the snow crisis showed his contempt—and that of the super-wealthy social layer he represents—for the millions who were stranded or denied necessary services.“The world has not come to an end,” he said at a press conference. “The city is going fine. Broadway shows were full last night. There are lots of tourists here enjoying themselves. I think the message is that the city goes on.” This attitude has earned him the hatred of the city’s working people...The causes of this are economic, social and political. Budget cuts in essential services, an aging and jerry-rigged transportation infrastructure, and a political establishment single-mindedly focused on protecting the interests of a tiny layer of ultra-wealthy residents lie behind the collapse in essential services. When such treatment is accorded a population that is suffering from 17 percent real unemployment and growing homelessness and poverty, a social explosion is inevitable"

New York City services come to a halt after blizzard
By Sandy English
30 December 2010

Basic New York City services came to a near halt on Monday and Tuesday after a severe blizzard blanketed the East Coast on Sunday night and Monday morning. Over 20 inches of snow fell amidst high winds and freezing temperatures. The blizzard was the sixth-worse in the city’s history.

The city’s decaying infrastructure simply froze up, bringing transportation and emergency medical services to a virtual halt. The brunt of the emergency fell on the millions of poor and working class New Yorkers who largely live in the outer boroughs of the Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island and Queens.

At least two deaths resulted directly from the collapse of emergency medical services, that of an elderly woman in Queens and a newborn baby in Brooklyn.

Nine subway lines stopped completely on Monday. Service was only partly restored on most of them late on Tuesday. By Wednesday morning, at least three lines were still not functioning. Over 300 city busses, mainly the city’s new green hybrid buses, were stuck in the snow.

Commuters coming from Kennedy Airport were stranded on an A subway train for over six hours early Monday morning, with no access to bathrooms and without heat. A rescue train sent to relieve them also became stuck.

The country’s largest commuter line, the Long Island Railroad, which services communities on Long Island east of New York City, shut down “until further notice” on Monday, standing hundreds of commuters at stations.

One blogger noted that more than a full day after the storm ended, all subway lines running through the working class Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn were delayed and local bus service was not running at full capacity.

Hundreds of thousands of workers were unable to get to work on Monday, and, to a lesser degree, on Tuesday, costing families millions of dollars in lost wages.

Adding insult to injury, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority is increasing bus, subway and other commuter fares by almost 17 percent today.

Perhaps the most telling and visible signs of social decay were the city’s streets. Huge swaths of the city’s 6,000 miles of road were unplowed. Cars were stranded in the middle of streets and emergency vehicles were unable to make their way into many residential areas.

Clearing of the sidewalks is left entirely to home and building owners, so that areas in front of abandoned buildings, vacant lots, and, in some cases, construction sites remain covered in snowdrifts, making passage impossible and reducing foot traffic to medieval conditions.

The city had over 1,700 plowing vehicles from the city’s Sanitation Department in operation, but because of budget cuts, the department’s staff levels are at their lowest level since 1998.

Streets in New York City are classified as primary, secondary and tertiary for plowing priority. Apparently, though, there is a fourth category that comes before the other three: those streets that house major businesses or especially wealthy and powerful residents. In some areas of the wealthiest borough, Manhattan, the center of the tourist industry and home to hundreds of multi-millionaires and billionaires, streets were cleared early on, sometimes within hours of the snowfall.

In Manhattan’s affluent Upper East Side neighborhood, streets with the residences of billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his recent choice for schools chancellor, the wealthy businesswoman Cathleen Black, were plowed in short order.

In sharp contrast to this, even central arteries in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island were untouched 24 hours after the snowfall.

One exception in Staten Island was the street where Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty lives, which was cleared on Monday while neighboring streets went unplowed.

By Wednesday afternoon, only 45 percent of side roads had been cleared in Brooklyn. Garbage and recycling collection had not yet resumed and mail delivery was spotty.

The reaction of the Bloomberg to the snow crisis showed his contempt—and that of the super-wealthy social layer he represents—for the millions who were stranded or denied necessary services.

“The world has not come to an end,” he said at a press conference. “The city is going fine. Broadway shows were full last night. There are lots of tourists here enjoying themselves. I think the message is that the city goes on.”

This attitude has earned him the hatred of the city’s working people.

"I'm furious at Mayor Bloomberg” one livery driver reported to National Public Radio. “He's a rich man, so he doesn't care about the little people. I have to work, why aren't people out there plowing? Why does the mayor always go on TV the night before to say, ‘We’re all set with a fleet of salt trucks,’ and then you never see a single truck. They always abandon Queens.”

Even worse than the lost wages and enormous inconvenience to New Yorkers was the direct danger to life and limb resulting from the city’s failure to cope with the storm.

Hospitals were short-staffed because of the transportation difficulties, and many hospital premises received no priority in plowing.

WNYC News reported that “as of Tuesday afternoon, the streets surrounding Jamaica Hospital in Queens were still not plowed, despite several calls to city officials, making it impossible for ambulances or private vehicles to approach the hospital.”

Ole Paderson, vice president of public affairs at the hospital, said, “You’d think that hospitals would be high on the list for getting plowed—but that’s not the case apparently. There’s no place to put the ambulances. Staff and doctors can’t even get in.”

Car accidents in the city during and after the storm killed at least five people. The inability of emergency responders to help is thought to have been a factor in at least some of the deaths.

Hard-to-control fires also struck areas of the city. On Sunday night, a five-alarm fire raged through the top floor of a six-story Queens apartment building, injuring three residents and four firefighters. Firefighters said they had difficulty reaching the fire because of abandoned vehicles and uncleared roads. Crews worked for more than three hours before bringing the fire under control. The blaze displaced 100 families.

The New York Fire Department (NYFD) has estimated that poor travel conditions and the need to respond to health emergencies reduced its firefighting capabilities by 40 percent.

On Monday, the city’s 911 emergency phone number fielded 49,478 calls, the sixth-highest number in its history. Over 1,300 of these calls were backlogged, meaning responders were never informed of health emergencies.

At least two deaths have been attributed to the inability of first responders to reach those in need in time.

In Corona, Queens, 75-year-old Yvonne Freeman died because her daughter was unable to reach a 911 operator in a system that was deluged with calls on Monday night. A neighbor performed CPR, but even when 911 was finally reached, it took Emergency Medical Services 1 hour and 45 minutes to get though unplowed streets.

Liz Freeman told New York 1 News: “Mayor Bloomberg, you can’t bring my mother back. And that’s all I really want. I’ve been with her for 41 years. I miss her, she’s my life. The snow will melt, but this will never fade from my memory ever.”

In Crown Heights, Brooklyn, a baby died on Monday evening when Emergency Medical Services were able to reach a young mother as she went into labor 10 hours after a 911 call. Few of Crown Height’s streets had been plowed.

There were a number of other emergencies that nearly resulted in death because of the city’s inability to deliver services.

71-year-old Salvatore Pastore, a heart-attack victim, nearly died when a Fire Department ambulance became stuck on an unplowed street in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. “My husband could be dead right now,” his wife, Lucy, said. “The mayor acts like this is a minor inconvenience. It makes me sick.”

The city of 8 million is one of the wealthiest in the world, but was unable to provide for the most basic transportation and health needs of its population because of a snow emergency.

The causes of this are economic, social and political. Budget cuts in essential services, an aging and jerry-rigged transportation infrastructure, and a political establishment single-mindedly focused on protecting the interests of a tiny layer of ultra-wealthy residents lie behind the collapse in essential services. When such treatment is accorded a population that is suffering from 17 percent real unemployment and growing homelessness and poverty, a social explosion is inevitable.


RP NOTE: AND YET N.Y. HOMEOWNERS FACING HEFTY FINES IF YOUR PROPERTY IS NOT SHOVELED..BUT IT'S OK FOR THE CITY (AND THE BLOOMBERG JUNTA AT CITY HALL) TO IGNORE THEIR DUTY TO THE PEOPLE.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"Cloud computing is an internet-based computing model. This is in stark contrast to the traditional model for computing where almost all processes take place on the user’s system. The cloud, a euphemism for the internet, will provide all the software used by your computer. Users will no longer be the owners of software but rather tenants paying a subscription to use them. In addition, all processing and related data will take place in ‘the cloud’ and not on the users personal computer.Accolades have been building into a unanimous chorus and the general perception is that this new model for computing will save money on capital expenditures for hardware, software and services because users will only pay for what they use.But when has any technological innovation ever been about saving the consumer money? The answer must be a resounding never"...

Forcing Everyone to Live with Their Heads in ‘The Cloud’
Jason Douglass
Infowars.com
December 29, 2010

‘The Cloud’ – A New Buzz Word

You’ve probably begun to hear a brand new buzz word being thrown around. Maybe you caught wind of it circulating around the office or maybe that annoying cousin that you only talk to in case of technologic emergency dropped it into conversation a couple times. In all likelihood, you feigned comprehension but one thing should be completely clear by now — ‘cloud computing’ is coming.

What is ‘Cloud Computing’?

Cloud computing is an internet-based computing model. This is in stark contrast to the traditional model for computing where almost all processes take place on the user’s system. The cloud, a euphemism for the internet, will provide all the software used by your computer. Users will no longer be the owners of software but rather tenants paying a subscription to use them. In addition, all processing and related data will take place in ‘the cloud’ and not on the users personal computer.

Accolades have been building into a unanimous chorus and the general perception is that this new model for computing will save money on capital expenditures for hardware, software and services because users will only pay for what they use.

But when has any technological innovation ever been about saving the consumer money?

The answer must be a resounding never!

So what is cloud computing really?

Just like global warming, cloud computing is an attempt to create an entirely new market and subsequently a brand new revenue stream for multinational tech giants while allowing them to maintain complete control of their products. In the spirit of full spectrum domination ‘The Cloud’ also has many other lucrative uses in a ‘new world order’.

In an article, How Secure is The Cloud?, an argument is made in an attempt to counter fears that ‘The Cloud’ is insecure. Having all your personal data floating around in a cloud on some unknown server(s) raises obvious concerns over security and this article attempts to ease those fear shared by IT professionals.

Security of Cloud Computing Users: A Study of U.S. and Europe IT Practitioners
Published: 6 May 2010

CA and the Ponemon Institute conducted a cloud security survey of U.S. and Europe IT and IT security professionals. The findings show that about half of the respondents don’t believe the organization has thoroughly vetted cloud services for security risks prior to deployment. It also showed that 55 percent of respondents are not confident they know all the cloud services in use in their organization today.

The overall study calls for a need for IT and Security professionals to embrace the cloud and help their organizations more securely adopt cloud services
.

Of course, the ‘security’ they mention in this study is not to be confused with a question of privacy but simply denotes the security of ‘the cloud’ in terms of system exploits. While this allows protection from hackers, data is ultimately left wide open for the new war on terror spearheaded by events like wikileaks cable leaks. In other words, your information will be even more easily available to those agencies policing the web in the name of security.

Recently, examples of abuse have been uncovered where the FBI is under suspicion of planting backdoors in OpenBSD IPSEC stack. As if it weren’t completely obvious that our government is tightening the reigns, these moves show the real motives behind our government’s involvement in technology development.

The Final Unveiling of the Control Grid

We are moving in a dangerous direction. The current incarnation of the internet is far too open for our controller’s comfort. So a new internet is being rolled out; one that will control its users absolutely. All computing will be done offsite and instead of policing individual users, which often sounds illegal, government agencies can just surveil the ‘anonymous’ cloud. Of course, they already know exactly who you are and will soon be able to remotely kill your computer at will.

I don’t know about you but I feel much more ‘secure’.

US drones to support right-wing US-installed Honduran government...

US Drone to Honduras AA.FF.

Via insidecostarica:

TEGUCIGALPA - Honduras Air Force will fly drones similar to those the US has used at the war in Afghanistan which are fitted with cameras and landscape censors.

Soto Cano base (Palmerola), also home to 600 US soldiers, will fly the unmanned plane which The Herald claims will be used in anti-drug and natural disaster operations.

Last april, US Ambassador Hugo Llorens and President Profirio Lobo signed the "Merida Carcy" drug enforcement accord for which Washington transfered some four million USD to fund military training, border patrol and special AA.FF. special units, among other.

The program included two million USD for the new naval base in Gracias a Dios Department, on the border with Nicaragua..

'US turning to corporate fascism' (Video)

'US turning to corporate fascism'
Wed Dec 29, 2010 5:52PM

Interview with Wayne Madsen, an investigative journalist; Max Keiser, a financial journalist and Dr. Roger von Hanwehr, managing director of Arcxeon International.

Via presstv:

'Press TV' Report: US companies profit from hiring overseas

US companies profit from hiring overseas
Wed Dec 29, 2010 2:8AM
Rhonda Pence, Press TV, Washington

US companies are starting to hire again, but not in America. Most are hiring overseas. The Economic Policy Institute says this year American companies created 1.4 million jobs overseas compared with less than a million in the country.

The trend helps explain why unemployment remains high in the US at 9.8 percent while nearly all of the Fortune 500 companies are reporting profits and the stock market is close to its highest point since the 2008 financial meltdown. Some economists say unemployment would be at 8.9 percent if all the new hires had been in the U.S.

Despite a strong holiday shopping season, Americans are still spending less while the demand for products is growing in other countries. President Obama recently visited India demonstrating that countries' growing importance to the U.S.

Obama says American exports abroad create more jobs here at home, but it's a difficult argument to make in India where a vast network of call centers has made the country a symbol of out-sourcing and US companies sending American jobs overseas.

American jobs have been moving overseas for more than 20 years, but now the jobs are becoming more sophisticated and some companies are getting top talent in emerging countries.

Lack of jobs is affecting Americans. Rosalind Block used to donate food when the economy was better, but for the first time she is now receiving donations.

Some experts say a big part of the problem is that the U.S. is falling in most global rankings for higher education while other countries are rising and unless that changes, the US will have a difficult time competing in the near future.

Britain forms plan for Gulf evacuation in event of war with Iran...

RP NOTE: AMAZING HOW PEOPLE CAN REMAIN SO OBLIVIOUS TO WHAT'S REALLY GOING ON AROUND THEM. THIS PICTURE'S A PERFECT EXAMPLE

Britain forms plan for Gulf evacuation in event of war with Iran
The British armed forces are drawing up contingency plans to evacuate hundreds of thousands of British residents and tourists from Dubai and other Gulf cities in the event of war with Iran.
By Richard Spencer, Dubai 10:00PM GMT 28 Dec 2010

The Coalition government under David Cameron ordered an immediate review of British military planning in the Gulf after the election last May. The Daily Telegraph can reveal that new proposals are being drawn up to coordinate military activity in the region with local allies hostile to Iran, particularly the United Arab Emirates.

Planners have realised they had to tear up existing emergency plans for local British residents. Since the previous review in the 1990s, the expatriate population has grown to more than 100,000 in the UAE alone, while a million British tourists, from businessmen on stopovers to England footballers with marital problems, come to Dubai every year.

It is feared they might be at risk if, as it has promised, Iran retaliates for any military strikes on its nuclear sites with missile attacks on "western interests" in the Gulf.

Royal Navy warships, along with their American and French counterparts, regularly patrol the Gulf and tie up in UAE ports, while Iran has also threatened to mine the strategically crucial Straits of Hormuz.

The region's gearing up for the possibility of a war stands in contrast to the relaxing tourists on beaches or the opulent expat villa compounds.

In the last year, the United Nations, the US and Europe have all imposed heavy sanctions on Iran. The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, was one of a number of regional Arab leaders revealed in Wikileaks cables to have been pressing for even tougher action. Diplomats say he has also been the key mover, along with William Hague, the foreign secretary, in demanding an upgrading of Britain's traditional military ties with its former colonial protectorates in the Gulf.

He has also personally raised the issue of the safety of the foreign population, which makes up 70 per cent of the UAE's 4.5 million residents.

The new military co-operation plan, whose full terms remain secret, will be signed off in the first half of 2011, when Mr Cameron is expected to visit. It is regarded as such a priority that it is being protected from defence cuts.

The plan is also expected to include an offer from Britain to help to keep vital infrastructure such as electricity and water desalination plants running in the event of war.

Meanwhile, proposals are being drawn up to organise evacuation runs for civilians across the border to Oman, which is not currently in Iran's sights, and other neighbouring countries.

Cruise liners may be posted in the Gulf of Aden, with Royal Navy warships shuttling civilians from the small emirate of Fujeirah, which lies outside the Straits of Hormuz. Depending on assessments of the safety of civilian flights, extra airfields in addition to the region's extensive network of international airports may be opened up.

Diplomats are keen to stress that embassies around the world are required to maintain contingency plans for British citizens facing all kinds of disasters and emergencies. In the Middle East, they usually entail recommending expatriates stay put and maintain a low profile – as, for example, during the Gulf War. "The physical requirements to move this many people means that we would try to delay evacuation as long as possible," said another Gulf-based diplomat.

But as Iran refuses to dismantle its nuclear programme, the potential for disaster is not being discounted. "It is a huge number of people who are affected here," the source said. "There are over 100,000 Brits who live here, one million Brits who visit every year. Their safety is a matter of particular concern."

The chemtrail conditioning program...

The Chemtrail Conditioning Program
Tuesday, December 28, 2010 1:23
by Zen Gardner

"Those are normal, Mom. I even saw them on the ceiling of the Las Vegas Paris hotel!"

How clever. Just like how we're seeing chemtrails more and more in advertisements, TV shows, movies....and now artwork. Like every other social engineering project, introduce it without any fanfare and work it into the fabric of the collective consciousness. That, or popularize it as a new trend.

Here's another shot:

Those Are Chemtrails

These irregular cloud formations are only from chemtrails. The very top picture you can see a large chemtrail with the characteristic parallel wisps coming off of it, and the clear lines in the other 'clouds'. Just above is again the aerosol spraying being strung out by drifting currents. Always look for the stringy texture and diverse angles, which make no sense in a normal sky. The photo this artist worked from (was given?) was from an aerosol spray day.

It's a delight to look at natural floating cloud formations, either as almost still, majestic floating citadels, or rolling and tumbling healthy clouds in natural, rounded shapes. Or sometimes there are the wispy come and go clouds near a moist setting like we get near the coast, or even as high cirrus clouds under certain conditions.

But you'll never see never these strange angular, chaotic forms unless they've been sprayed. Watch the skies long enough and you'll see.


All chemtrails in various stages

They are extremely un-natural--but now, like many other un-natural social trends, it's slowly becoming accepted and therefore thought of as "natural". Pavlovian conditioning at work.


"Normal" Is a Product of Social Engineering

Repetition can make anything appear 'normal' to the unwary. Just like the heavily reinforced hyper-sexuality, or the fascination with death and violence in TV, movies and games. Lately the big push is the acceptance of the false terrorism scare, aggravated and amplified by a self-reinforcing loop: staged incident > more restrictions > more police state infrastructure > more surveillance...which then all lead to more "infractions" and "incidents" and hence MORE surveillance, MORE restrictions and MORE paramilitary policing, leading to MORE "infractions"... etc. etc.

And round and round it goes so everything appears fully justified.

Watch your TV shows, movies and advertisements for them. Like the above, they're fully laced with chemtrails. And they appear to be stepping it up.



If they have their way, the next generation won't remember what normal skies looked like.

Or families, and a host of other aspects of our planet and human society, however many survive their current onslaught.

Stay conscious. - Zen

Ivory Coast crisis is about oil...

Ivory Coast Crisis is About Oil
Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Via dotconnector:

An unprecedented disinformation campaign is being orchestrated to justify foreign intervention in the Ivory Coast to unseat the Preseident Laurent Gbagbo and replace him with Alassane Dramane Ouattara, a stooge totally devoted to the interests of multinationals.

Alassane Ouattara is the former Deputy CEO of the IMF, and former Prime Minister of Houphouet-Boigny who in 1990 administered an IMF plan which plunged the Ivorian people into a profound social and economic distress. He is the puppet" nominated" by the major powers to lead the Ivory Coast and to ensure that their interests are not threatened by the presence of uncompromising and patriotic men such as Laurent Gbagbo, a long time opponent of Houphouet (1970-1990's.)

French and American imperialist powers have agreed to remove Gbagbo who is guilty of pursuing a national policy prejudicial to their profits.

After years of negotiations following the failed coup d'etats in 2002 and 2004 both orchestrated and financed by Alassane Ouatarra mentors (mostly composed of the French governing body as well as private investors but also African head of states such as Wade of Senegal and Compaore of Burkina Faso) the warring parties finally agreed to hold a presidential election whose second round was held last November 28.

The US and France" represented" by a UN mediation team have tried to validate in every way possible an alleged victory of Ouattara. In defiance of the Ivorian Constitution which provides that the proclamation of election results is the responsibility of the Constitutional Council, this commission declared Ouattara winner without adducing any serious evidence.

The U.S., France, followed quickly by the Ban Ki Moon of the UN have rushed to recognize Ouattara as the new head of state of Ivory Coast. The international propaganda machine soon launched a campaign to justify this action. Neither China or Russia, or India, or many countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, which together form the 3 quarters of the world's population, had a say.

In short, the "international community" is composed of those in the UN that have enforceable words namely The U.S., France, Germany, Great Britain; the same handful of colonial and imperialist powers that have precipitated people twice in two dreadful world wars to get their hands on the markets and fields of raw materials, oil and gas.

In the mass media Ouattara is presented as "the democratically elected and recognized by the international community after announcement of election results by the Independent Electoral Commission." When the Constitutional Council is referred to, news agencies routinely add the words "favorable to Gbagbo" to remove any credibility from this institution declared officially.

Everything is said and Gbagbo must leave "before the end of the week" threatens Sarkozy. The war perpetrator in chief who cannot forgive Gbagbo for opening the oil markets to American companies in 2002. It was a crime to have opened the preserve of French capitalists to others!

Another intolerable offense was that Gbagbo dared to open the roads leading to oil in the Gulf of Guinea to emerging rivals such as China and Russia! To inflict deserved correction, Sarkozy has rallied to the U.S to crush the recidivist offender Gbagbo and in the process any eventual nationalist leader that would dare frolic with" their oil reserves and minerals"


IT'S THE OIL STUPID

We would fully grasp the relevance of the Ivorian struggle once we have realized that the bottom line lies in the following question: Who will control the oil discoveries off the coast of this country?

Who is the man to turn to for the perpetual control of Ivory Coast in its state of neo-colony, 50 years after formal the country formal independence was achieved without struggle and sacrifice? Beyond the Ivory Coast, the neo-colonialists are most afraid that this resistance spreads to former French colonies and that "La Francafrique" is led to affirm its desire for true independence beginning with the denunciation of the puppets of the great French bourgeoisie.

The slogan "respect the democratic choice of the people" is a mockery coming from the leaders of the imperialist powers which have orchestrated, covered up and sustained cruel dictatorships around the world as long as their capitalists 'businesses prospered.

In all cases, although Gbagbo has close links with the French Socialists, who have shun their zeal to defend the neo-colonialist, even if his past alliances allow small casts of doubt on the objectives he defends; the struggle that ensued between the imperialist powers and the great mass of the Ivorian people, appalled by the arrogance of the former colonizers still opt to no longer tolerate the domination and exploitation they have endured for decades.

This struggle is creating a movement that transcends all petty calculations of politicians.

They have served ultimately to act as a detonator in a region that has become a linchpin in the struggle for the energy resources in Africa. Imperialism wants to inflict a lesson on the people. It wants to cut short the Ivorian fight for freedom to deter other nations of Africa.

Assuming that Ouattara had won few votes at the elections with great financial and media support from his imperialists mentors, the historical legitimacy is not on his side. It is not on the side of the minions of the ruling classes.

Legitimacy is on the side of the people who shake the shackles of domination and leaders who lead them in their struggle. The great leaps toward progress are not decided at the polls.

Obviously, the struggle is just beginning in Côte d'Ivoire.

US refuses to cooperate with Poland's CIA 'black site' torture probe...

US refuses cooperation with Poland’s CIA ‘black site’ probe
28.12.2010 13:40

The U.S. Department of Justice has rejected a request from prosecutors in Warsaw for assistance in the investigation into the alleged CIA prisons in Poland, where captives claim they were tortured.

On 18 March, the Prosecutor’s Office of Appeal in Warsaw filed a motion for legal assistance from the US Department of Justice into the probe.

On 7 October, reports the PAP news agency, the US informed prosecutors that the motion had been rejected on the basis of the international Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters and that the U.S. authorities consider the matter “to be closed”.

According to the agreement, a country has the right to refuse to provide legal assistance if the execution of the request would encroach on this country’s security or another interest of this country.

The revelation that the US will not be cooperating with the investigation into the alleged black site, thought to have been in northern Poland near the Szymany air base, comes after a second man followed al-Qaeda suspect Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri in asking prosecutors in Warsaw to look into his case.

"According to the information we have, Abu Zubaydah was one of those people detained and interrogated by the CIA somewhere on the territory of Poland," Polish lawyer Bartlomiej Jankowski told journalists in the Polish capital earlier this month.

Both Zubaydah and Nashiri are both currently being held at the U.S. military jail at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Despite denials from former president Aleksander Kwasniewski and former prime minister Leszek Miller that they knew of the CIA activity in Poland, air traffic control in warsaw published a report stating that at least six CIA flights had landed at a disused military air base in northern Poland in 2003.

Two aircraft, a Boeing 737 and a Gulfstream V, were US-registered and previously known to be part of CIA operations.

A national security embed on the Federal Reserve Board...

A national security embed on the Federal Reserve Board
publication date: Dec 21, 2010

Via WMR site:

An informed U.S. intelligence community source has told WMR that a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors serves as the eyes and ears of the U.S. intelligence community within the organization that has become the bane of Americans who accuse the bank of being an uncontrolled and unanswerable overseer of U.S. economic policy. The member is Dan Tarullo, a key member of then-President Clinton's "principals" group of national security and economic security advisers.

Tarullo became a member of the Federal Reserve Board on January 28, 2009, just eight days after President Obama was inaugurated. Tarullo served on Clinton's National Economic Council, as well as the National Security Council and also served as Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs from 1993 to 1996. He also was President Clinton's personal envoy to the G7/G8 and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Tarullo, taught at both Harvard and Georgetown Law Schools and also served as a chief counsel to Senator Edward Kennedy. He also was a key interlocutor between the intelligence community and private industry in pushing the Clinton administration's unpopular encryption key escrow system that would have given the government the key to break any encrypted communications.

Tarullo also chaired the economic committee of the Princeton Project on National Security, co-chaired by former Secretary of State George Schultz and former Clinton National Security Adviser Anthony Lake. The Princeton Project is supported financially by the Ford Foundation, Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, the Hewlett Foundation, and David Rubenstein, the co-founder of The Carlyle Group.

Tarullo was one of three national security advisers under Clinton who provided justification for the approval of sensitive missile technology exports to China by Loral Corporation. Loral's boss, Bernard Schwartz, was a major contributor to Clinton and the Democratic Party. Joining Tarullo in defending the Loral exports were national security adviser Sandy Berger and White House congressional liaison Larry Stein.

WMR was told that when his resume is compared to the other members of the Fedeal Reserve Board, Tarullo is clearly on the board for other reasons, not merely having to do with economic policy.

"According to (Chet) Uber, one of Project Vigilant's manifold methods for gathering intelligence includes collecting information from a dozen regional U.S. Internet service providers (ISPs). Uber declined to name those ISPs, but said that because the companies included a provision allowing them to share users' Internet activities with third parties in their end user license agreements (EULAs), Vigilant was able to legally gather data from those Internet carriers and use it to craft reports for federal agencies. A Vigilant press release says that the organization tracks more than 250 million IP addresses a day and can "develop portfolios on any name, screen name or IP address"...

Which ISPs Hand Private Surfing Info Over To Secretive Private Group Who Monitors It For The Feds?
from the feeling-safe? dept

So this is just bizarre. I saw a Wired report about a talk by a guy named Chet Uber, who claimed he helped connect Adrian Lamo to the feds in order to turn in Bradley Manning (the Army intelligence analyst accused of leaking content to Wikileaks), but Uber's little talk raised a number of other issues unrelated to Manning/Lamo. Specifically, towards the end of this Forbes piece about Uber and his organization, Project Vigilant comes a little shocker about how the firm spies on internet traffic for the US government:

According to Uber, one of Project Vigilant's manifold methods for gathering intelligence includes collecting information from a dozen regional U.S. Internet service providers (ISPs). Uber declined to name those ISPs, but said that because the companies included a provision allowing them to share users' Internet activities with third parties in their end user license agreements (EULAs), Vigilant was able to legally gather data from those Internet carriers and use it to craft reports for federal agencies. A Vigilant press release says that the organization tracks more than 250 million IP addresses a day and can "develop portfolios on any name, screen name or IP address."

"We don't do anything illegal," says Uber. "If an ISP has a EULA to let us monitor traffic, we can work with them. If they don't, we can't."

And whether that massive data gathering violates privacy? The organization says it never looks at personally identifying information, though just how it defines that information isn't clear, nor is how it scrubs its data mining for sensitive details
.

Uh... what? Given the uproar and then Congressional smackdown to ISPs that tried to monitor such information for advertising purposes, that doesn't seem right at all. Sneaking a clause into an EULA saying that it's handing all your info over to a private party who will monitor it for the feds (maybe) and whoever else they want doesn't really seem aboveboard or legal despite the claims. It's also highly unlikely that it "never looks at personally identifying information." Nearly everyone who's ever claimed that has been proven wrong later.

The whole thing seems really sketchy, and as Glenn Greenwald notes, it appears to be an attempt to skirt the law:

There are serious obstacles that impede the Government's ability to create these electronic dossiers themselves. It requires both huge resources and expertise. Various statutes enacted in the mid-1970s -- such as the Privacy Act of 1974 -- impose transparency requirements and other forms of accountability on programs whereby the Government collects data on citizens. And the fact that much of the data about you ends up in the hands of private corporations can create further obstacles, because the tools which the Government has to compel private companies to turn over this information is limited (the fact that the FBI is sometimes unable to obtain your "transactional" Internet data without a court order -- i.e., whom you email, who emails you, what Google searches you enter, and what websites you visit --is what has caused the Obama administration to demand that Congress amend the Patriot Act to vest them with the power to obtain all of that with no judicial supervision).

But the emergence of a private market that sells this data to the Government (or, in the case of Project Vigilance, is funded in order to hand it over voluntarily) has eliminated those obstacles. As a result, the Government is able to circumvent the legal and logistical restrictions on maintaining vast dossiers on citizens, and is doing exactly that. While advertisers really only care about your online profile (IP address) in order to assess what you do and who you are, the Government wants your online activities linked to your actual name and other identifying information
.

So, since Uber and Project Vigilant won't say who these 12 ISPs are, can anyone help us out? What are the 12 ISPs out there who, via sneaky language in their EULAs are simply handing over your private data to some company to sell to the US government?

1933: Zionists sign "The Transfer Agreement" deal with Hitler (Video)

The merger of journalists and government officials...

The merger of journalists and government officials
By Glenn Greenwald

The video of the CNN debate I did last night about WikiLeaks with former Bush Homeland Security Adviser (and CNN contributor) Fran Townsend and CNN anchor Jessica Yellin is posted below. The way it proceeded was quite instructive to me and I want to make four observations about the discussion:

(1) Over the last month, I've done many television and radio segments about WikiLeaks and what always strikes me is how indistinguishable -- identical -- are the political figures and the journalists. There's just no difference in how they think, what their values and priorities are, how completely they've ingested and how eagerly they recite the same anti-WikiLeaks, "Assange = Saddam" script. So absolute is the WikiLeaks-is-Evil bipartisan orthodoxy among the Beltway political and media class (forever cemented by the joint Biden/McConnell decree that Assange is a "high-tech Terrorist,") that you're viewed as being from another planet if you don't spout it. It's the equivalent of questioning Saddam's WMD stockpile in early 2003.

It's not news that establishment journalists identify with, are merged into, serve as spokespeople for, the political class: that's what makes them establishment journalists. But even knowing that, it's just amazing, to me at least, how so many of these "debates" I've done involving one anti-WikiLeaks political figure and one ostensibly "neutral" journalist -- on MSNBC with The Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart and former GOP Congresswoman Susan Molinari, on NPR with The New York Times' John Burns and former Clinton State Department official James Rubin, and last night on CNN with Yellin and Townsend -- entail no daylight at all between the "journalists" and the political figures. They don't even bother any longer with the pretense that they're distinct or play different assigned roles. I'm not complaining here -- Yellin was perfectly fair and gave me ample time -- but merely observing how inseparable are most American journalists from the political officials they "cover."

(2) From the start of the WikiLeaks controversy, the most striking aspect for me has been that the ones who are leading the crusade against the transparency brought about by WikiLeaks -- the ones most enraged about the leaks and the subversion of government secrecy -- have been . . . America's intrepid Watchdog journalists. What illustrates how warped our political and media culture is as potently as that? It just never seems to dawn on them -- even when you explain it -- that the transparency and undermining of the secrecy regime against which they are angrily railing is supposed to be . . . what they do.

What an astounding feat to train a nation's journalist class to despise above all else those who shine a light on what the most powerful factions do in the dark and who expose their corruption and deceit, and to have journalists -- of all people -- lead the way in calling for the head of anyone who exposes the secrets of the powerful. Most ruling classes -- from all eras and all cultures -- could only fantasize about having a journalist class that thinks that way, but most political leaders would have to dismiss that fantasy as too extreme, too implausible, to pursue. After all, how could you ever get journalists -- of all people -- to loathe those who bring about transparency and disclosure of secrets? But, with a few noble exceptions, that's exactly the journalist class we have.

There will always be a soft spot in my heart for Jessica Yellin because of that time when she unwittingly (though still bravely) admitted on air that -- when she worked at MSNBC -- NBC's corporate executives constantly pressured the network's journalists to make their reporting favorable to George Bush and the Iraq War (I say "unwittingly" because she quickly walked back that confession after I and others wrote about it and a controversy ensued). But, as Yellin herself revealed in that moment of rare TV self-exposure, that's the government-subservient corporate culture in which these journalists are trained and molded.

(3) It's extraordinary how -- even a full month into the uproar over the diplomatic cable release -- extreme misinformation still pervades these discussions, usually without challenge. It's understandable that on the first day or in the first week of a controversy, there would be some confusion; but a full month into it, the most basic facts are still being wildly distorted. Thus, there was Fran Townsend spouting the cannot-be-killed lie that WikiLeaks indiscriminately dumped all the cables. And I'm absolutely certain that had I not objected, that absolute falsehood would have been unchallenged by Yellin and allowed to be transmitted to CNN viewers as Truth. The same is true for the casual assertion -- as though it's the clearest, most obvious fact in the world -- that Assange "committed crimes" by publishing classified information or that what he's doing is so obviously different than what investigative journalists routinely do. These are the unchallenged falsehoods transmitted over and over, day after day, to the American viewing audience.

(4) If one thinks about it, there's something quite surreal about sitting there listening to a CNN anchor and her fellow CNN employee angrily proclaim that Julian Assange is a "terrorist" and a "criminal" when the CNN employee doing that is . . . . George W. Bush's Homeland Security and Terrorism adviser. Fran Townsend was a high-level national security official for a President who destroyed another nation with an illegal, lie-fueled military attack that killed well over 100,000 innocent people, created a worldwide torture regime, illegally spied on his own citizens without warrants, disappeared people to CIA "black sites," and erected a due-process-free gulag where scores of knowingly innocent people were put in cages for years. Julian Assange never did any of those things, or anything like them. But it's Assange who is the "terrorist" and the "criminal."

Do you think Jessica Yellin would ever dare speak as scornfully and derisively about George Bush or his top officials as she does about Assange? Of course not. Instead, CNN quickly hires Bush's Homeland Security Adviser who then becomes Yellin's colleague and partner in demonizing Assange as a "terrorist." Or consider the theme that framed last night's segment: Assange is profiting off classified information by writing a book! Beyond the examples I gave, Bob Woodward has become a very rich man by writing book after book filled with classified information about America's wars which his sources were not authorized to give him. Would Yellin ever in a million years dare lash out at Bob Woodward the way she did Assange? To ask the question is to answer it (see here as CNN's legal correspondent Jeffrey Toobin is completely befuddled in the middle of his anti-WikiLeaks rant when asked by a guest, Clay Shirky, to differentiate what Woodward continuously does from what Assange is doing).

They're all petrified to speak ill of Bob Woodward because he's a revered spokesman of the royal court to which they devote their full loyalty. Julian Assange, by contrast, is an actual adversary -- not a pretend one -- of that royal court. And that -- and only that -- is what is driving virtually this entire discourse:

"Corporate profits are up. Stock prices are up. So why isn't anyone hiring? Actually, many American companies are - just maybe not in your town. They're hiring overseas, where sales are surging and the pipeline of orders is fat"...

Via truth-out dailybuzz flash headlines:

Retail sales reportedly grew approximately 5.5 percent this holiday season.

That's good news for jobs, but the bad news is that the greatest amount of increased employment may be overseas, not in the US.

A December 28 AP article provides some ominous insight:

Corporate profits are up. Stock prices are up. So why isn't anyone hiring?

Actually, many American companies are - just maybe not in your town. They're hiring overseas, where sales are surging and the pipeline of orders is fat.

More than half of the 15,000 people that Caterpillar Inc. has hired this year were outside the U.S. UPS is also hiring at a faster clip overseas. For both companies, sales in international markets are growing at least twice as fast as domestically.

The trend helps explain why unemployment remains high in the United States, edging up to 9.8 percent last month, even though companies are performing well: All but 4 percent of the top 500 U.S. corporations reported profits this year, and the stock market is close to its highest point since the 2008 financial meltdown.

But the jobs are going elsewhere.

Go take a look at your holiday gifts and see how many of them were made in America, or if any of them were made here in the States.

We're giving tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations to pursue a hiring spree abroad.

That's a dose of reality you won't hear on Fox (Faux) news.


Mark Karlin
Editor, BuzzFlash at Truthout

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

GOP plan to force state bankruptcy to cripple public employee unions (Video)

GOP Plan to Force State Bankruptcy to Cripple Public Employee Unions Monday 27 December 2010
by: Countdown With Keith Olbermann

James Pethokoukis, Money and politics columnist for Reuters talks about apparent Republican support for allowing states to declare bankruptcy as a means of undermining unions. "Republicans appear to be quietly and methodically executing a plan that would ...cripple public employee unions by pushing cash-strapped states like California and Illinois to declare bankruptcy. This may be the biggest political battle ... of 2011."


Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

"The neoconservative press functions as propaganda ministry for hegemonic American empire, and the “liberal” New York Times serves the same master. It was the New York Times that gave credence to the Bush regime’s lies about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, and it was the New York Times that guaranteed Bush’s re-election by spiking the story that Bush was committing felonies by spying on Americans without obtaining warrants. Conservatives rant about the “liberal media” as if it were a vast subversive force, but they owe their beloved wars and coverups of the Bush regimes’ crimes to the New York Times"...

Amerika Has Caught Up With 1984
Paul Craig Roberts
Infowars.com
December 28, 2010

Dissent is what rescues democracy from a quiet death behind closed doors.
–Lewis H. Lapham


The year 2011 will bring Americans a larger and more intrusive police state, more unemployment and home foreclosures, no economic recovery, more disregard by the US government of US law, international law, the Constitution, and truth, more suspicion and distrust from allies, more hostility from the rest of the world, and new heights of media sycophancy.

2011 is shaping up as the terminal year for American democracy. The Republican Party has degenerated into a party of Brownshirts, and voter frustrations with the worsening economic crisis and military occupations gone awry are likely to bring Republicans to power in 2012. With them would come their doctrines of executive primacy over Congress, the judiciary, law, and the Constitution and America’s rightful hegemony over the world.

If not already obvious, 2010 has made clear that the US government does not care a whit for the opinions of citizens. The TSA is unequivocal that it will reach no accommodation with Americans other than the violations of their persons that it imposes by its unaccountable power. As for public opposition to war, the Associated Press reported on December 16 that “Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the U.S. can’t let public opinion sway its commitment to Afghanistan.” Gates stated bluntly what has been known for some time: the idea is passé that government in a democracy serves the will of the people. If this quaint notion is still found in civics books, it will soon be edited out.

In Gag Rule, a masterful account of the suppression of dissent and the stifling of democracy, Lewis H. Lapham writes that candor is a necessary virtue if democracies are to survive their follies and crimes. But where in America today can candor be found? Certainly not in the councils of government. Attorney General John Ashcroft complained of candor-mongers to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Americans who insist on speaking their minds, Ashcroft declared, “scare people with phantoms of lost liberty,” “aid terrorists,” “diminish our resolve,” and “give ammunition to America’s enemies.”

As the Department of Justice (sic) sees it, when the ACLU defends habeas corpus it is defending the ability of terrorists to blow up Americans, and when the ACLU defends the First Amendment it is defending exposures of the lies and deceptions that are the necessary scaffolding for the government’s pretense that it is doing God’s will while Satan speaks through the voices of dissent.

Neither is candor a trait in which the American media finds comfort. The neoconservative press functions as propaganda ministry for hegemonic American empire, and the “liberal” New York Times serves the same master. It was the New York Times that gave credence to the Bush regime’s lies about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, and it was the New York Times that guaranteed Bush’s re-election by spiking the story that Bush was committing felonies by spying on Americans without obtaining warrants. Conservatives rant about the “liberal media” as if it were a vast subversive force, but they owe their beloved wars and coverups of the Bush regimes’ crimes to the New York Times.

With truth the declared enemy of the fantasy world in which the government, media, and public reside, the nation has turned on whistleblowers. Bradley Manning, who allegedly provided the media with the video made by US troops of their wanton, fun-filled slaughter of newsmen and civilians, has been abused in solitary confinement for six months. Murdering civilians is a war crime, and as General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at the National Press Club on February 17, 2006, “It is the absolute responsibility of everybody in uniform to disobey an order that is either illegal or immoral” and to make such orders known. If Manning is the source of the leak, he has been wrongfully imprisoned for meeting his military responsibility. The media have yet to make the point that the person who reported the crime, not the persons who committed it, is the one who has been imprisoned, and without a trial.

The lawlessness of the US government, which has been creeping up on us for decades, broke into a full gallop in the years of the Bush/Cheney/Obama regimes. Today the government operates above the law, yet maintains that it is a democracy bringing the same to Muslims by force of arms, only briefly being sidetracked by sponsoring a military coup against democracy in Honduras and attempting to overthrow the democratic government in Venezuela.

As 2011 dawns, public discourse in America has the country primed for a fascist dictatorship. The situation will be worse by 2012. The most uncomfortable truth that emerges from the WikiLeaks saga is that American public discourse consists of cries for revenge against those who tell us truths. The vicious mendacity of the US government knows no restraint. Whether or not international law can save Julian Assange from the clutches of the Americans or death by a government black ops unit, both executive and legislative branches are working assiduously to establish the National Security State as the highest value and truth as its greatest enemy.

America’s future is the world of Winston Smith.

Majority of the public in Britain against Rupert Murdoch having more control of the news media...

Public 'don't want Murdoch to control more of news media'
By Sam Greenhill
Last updated at 12:01 AM on 27th December 2010

An overwhelming majority of the public is opposed to Rupert Murdoch having greater control of Britain’s news media, a survey reveals today.

In an ICM poll, 84 per cent said they were against any single organisation exerting too much influence.

The media tycoon is trying to take over broadcaster BSkyB, with his company News Corporation bidding to buy the 61 per cent of shares it does not already own.

But 63 per cent of the public believes there should be an independent investigation into the purchase, the poll showed. Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt will receive an initial report from the regulator Ofcom on the implications of the planned deal by Friday.

He then has until January 15 to decide whether or not to refer it to the Competition Commission for a full-scale review.

Mr Hunt could ask the commission to examine whether the takeover would reduce the plurality of the UK media, and should therefore be blocked.

The survey was commissioned jointly by BT, Guardian Media Group, Associated Newspapers – which owns the Daily Mail – Trinity Mirror, Northcliffe Media, and Telegraph Media Group.

It discloses the depth of public concern over the proposed takeover, which has already been cleared on competition grounds by the European Commission.

Seventy-five per cent of respondents said it was important to have competing independent sources of news in the UK, and 44 per cent opposed the deal outright, with only 5 per cent saying they were in favour of it.

Among Conservative voters, 43 per cent opposed the deal, with five per cent in favour, while among Liberal Democrats the figures were 53 per cent against and four per cent in favour.

Last night a spokesman for the alliance of media groups said: ‘This deal marks a significant change of control and the public is clearly concerned.

‘A clear majority of the public wants a full and independent investigation into News Corporation’s bid to take over BSkyB. The Competition Commission provides that mechanism.

‘The public’s concern that no one organisation should control too much of the news – as News Corporation would under the planned deal – is also very striking.’

US threatens trade action against China over rare earth exports...

US threatens China with WTO case on rare earth exports
2010-12-24 08:50:00

Washington, Dec 24 (DPA) US trade officials Thursday threatened trade action against China over exports of rare earth materials, one day after embarking on a separate case before the World Trade Organization (WTO) against wind power subsidies.

The office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) also accused China of a 'troubling trend' towards state intervention into its economy in recent years, according to an annual report to the US Congress on China's compliance with the WTO's rules.

The USTR said the US and other trading partners have expressed concerns over China's limits on exports of rare earths that are found almost exclusively in China and are demanded by technology companies.

'But to date China has not been willing to change its policies,' the USTR wrote. The US would continue 'vigorous engagement with China on this issue and will not hesitate to take further actions, including WTO dispute settlement, if appropriate'.

The warning comes after Trade Representative Ron Kirk Wednesday said the US was launching its first action against China over clean energy. The US began formal consultations before the WTO - the first step in a trade case - over what it considers illegal subsidies for wind turbine manufacturers in China.

Economic relations between the two global powers remain strained as trade has grown in past years. The US exports more goods to China than any other country outside of North America, but President Barack Obama has pushed for more liberalization in China by stepping up action before the WTO since he entered the White House in early 2009.

The USTR praised China for taking actions to liberalize its economy since joining the WTO in 2001. But those efforts 'began to slow' in 2006, and China had yet to implement all its commitments under the WTO.

The result was that China sill maintained 'industrial policies that rely on excessive, trade-distorting government intervention intended to promote or protect China's domestic industries and state-owned enterprises'.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Hollywood and the war machine...

Hollywood and the war machine
Empire examines the symbiotic relationship between the movie industry and the military-industrial complex.
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2010 15:12 GMT

War is hell, but for Hollywood it has been a Godsend, providing the perfect dramatic setting against which courageous heroes win the hearts and minds of the movie going public.

The Pentagon recognises the power of these celluloid dreams and encourages Hollywood to create heroic myths; to rewrite history to suit its own strategy and as a recruiting tool to provide a steady flow of willing young patriots for its wars.

What does Hollywood get out of this 'deal with the devil'? Access to billions of dollars worth of military kit, from helicopters to aircraft carriers, enabling filmmakers to make bigger and more spectacular battle scenes, which in turn generate more box office revenue. Providing they accept the Pentagon's advice, even toe the party line and show the US military in a positive light.

So is it a case of art imitating life, or a sinister force using art to influence life and death - and the public perception of both?

Empire will examine Hollywood, the Pentagon, and war.

Joining us as guests: Oliver Stone, the eight times Academy Award-winning filmmaker; Michael Moore, the Academy Award-winning filmmaker; and Christopher Hedges, an author and the former Middle East bureau chief of the New York Times.

Our interviewees this week are: Phil Strub, US Department of Defense Film Liaison Unit; Julian Barnes, Pentagon correspondent, LA Times; David Robb, the author of Operation Hollywood; Prof Klaus Dodds, the author of Screening Terror; Matthew Alford, the author of Reel Power; Prof Melani McAlister, the author of Culture, Media, and US Interests in the Middle East.

Quantitative Easing explained (Video)

Via infowars:

Guantanamo Bay will remain open for the forseeable future, say White House...

No end soon for Guantanamo: White House
(AFP) – 1 day ago

WASHINGTON — The White House admitted Sunday it would be unable to shut Guantanamo Bay in the near future, even as it acknowledged the US naval prison camp is a rallying cry for Islamic extremists.

Nearly a year has passed since President Barack Obama's self-imposed deadline to shutter the camp, but his spokesman said legal and legislative hurdles would prevent that goal being realized any time soon.

"It's certainly not going to close in the next month. I think it's going to be a while before that prison closes," Robert Gibbs told CNN's "State of the Union" program.

Obama views Guantanamo, which conjures up images of water-boarding and other alleged torture, as a prime symbol of Bush-era war on terror excess that only serves as a recruiting tool for Al-Qaeda.

But his efforts to shut down the prison camp on the southern tip of Cuba have struggled as allies balk at taking in higher-risk inmates and prosecutions become bogged down in a legal quagmire.

Only three of the remaining 174 detainees have been formally tried and found guilty. Dozens have been cleared but no foreign ally will accept them and there is strong American opposition to any being allowed on US soil.

US lawmakers effectively blocked one avenue this week by approving a Pentagon budget that forbids funding for an alternate prison, relocating prisoners to the United States or sending detainees to certain countries.

Gibbs called for help from Obama's Republican foes, who in January will gain control of the House of Representatives and trim the Democrats' Senate majority after landslide mid-term election gains.

"I think part of this depends on the Republicans' willingness to work with the administration on this," he said.

"Are they willing to listen to others in the national security arena that have told us and will tell them and have, quite frankly, told the public that Al-Qaeda recruits young people to do harm, to try to blow up airplanes, to blow up themselves and kill others, they use that as a recruiting tool?"

Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, was in talks that eventually broke off with the White House for a negotiated solution.

Gibbs appeared to acknowledge a draft executive order -- previously only mentioned anonymously by officials -- to formalize the indefinite detention of some Guantanamo detainees but allow them to challenge their incarceration.

"Some would be tried in federal courts, as we've seen done in the past. Some would be tried in military commissions, likely spending the rest of their lives in a maximum security prison that nobody, including terrorists, have ever escaped from," he said.

"And some, regrettably, will have to be indefinitely detained."

Missouri National Guard to start training prison inmates to help during natural disasters and other emergencies...

Missouri Guard to train inmates for emergencies
BY CHRIS BLANK Associated Press at kansas.com

Via poor richard's blog:

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. —The Missouri National Guard plans to start training some of the state's prison inmates to help it during natural disasters and other emergencies.

Missouri Guard spokeswoman Maj. Tammy Spicer said Thursday that under the proposal, the prison inmates would become a more formalized part of the Guard's disaster response. She said it would give the Guard a larger and better trained pool of workers to respond to emergencies. The training would focus on skills such as filling and stacking sandbags and removing debris.

Prison inmates already have been used in the past to help local officials during floods and other emergencies. Over the past several years, prison inmates have worked with volunteers and others to shore up levees and fill sandbags along flooding rivers from near St. Louis to northwestern Missouri.

Earlier this year, Gov. Jay Nixon allowed 37 inmates from a prison in St. Joseph to help stack sandbags along I-29 near Craig to protect the highway from a flooded Missouri River. In 2008, nearly 150 inmates from prisons across the state were among those fortifying levees near the Mississippi River in northeastern Missouri. And in 2007, prison inmates and the National Guard worked to protect a water treatment plant, schools and an ethanol plant near Craig from flood water.

Spicer said formal agreements between the Missouri Guard and the state Department of Corrections have not yet been signed. It was not known how many inmates could participate or how much the training would cost.

The National Guard said the inmates who participate in the training could not be convicted of violent offenses and would need to be eligible for the Department of Corrections work release program.

The Department of Corrections said the requirements to be eligible for work release include having 5 years or less left on their sentence and having no escape attempts or convictions for offenses such as rape, kidnapping and robbery. Prison officials also examine the inmates' mental health and the risk they pose to the public.

BP partners Cameron Int. and Transocean manipulating oil spill evidence...

BP partners ‘manipulating’ oil spill evidence, chemical board says
By Daniel Tencer
Thursday, December 23rd, 2010 -- 10:36 pm

The federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents has accused two BP partners of "hands-on manipulation" of evidence in the Gulf oil spill.

The US Chemical Safety Board has asked for a halt to testing of the blowout preventer involved in the Deepwater Horizon explosion, saying that employees of Cameron International and Transocean have been permitted "hands-on manipulation" of the device.

MSNBC.com reports:

In a letter to the federal agency overseeing the investigation, Safety Board chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso wrote that workers for Cameron International, which made the blowout preventer, and rig owner Transocean were allowed "hands-on manipulation" during federal tests to determine why the massive device failed.

"That approach diminishes the credibility of the entire process and jeopardizes the public's trust in the examination results," he added. "Given the well-publicized history of improper relationships between the former Minerals Management Service and members of the oil industry, one would have expected that extraordinary care would be taken to conduct the BOP testing above reproach."

The board noted that the companies at times had closer access to the equipment than the safety board itself
.

According to the Associated Press, the chemical board says it has been shut out of access to tests that included multiple representatives from Cameron and Transocean.

Transocean has reportedly described the chemical board's accusations as "totally unfounded."

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the agency overseeing the investigation, appears to be downplaying the board's allegations. AP reports:

An employee of Transocean -- the owner of the drilling rig that exploded in the Gulf -- has been removed as a consultant for the Norwegian firm conducting the testing, but the ocean energy bureau says that otherwise the companies have provided their expertise appropriately.

The chemical board is demanding that the ocean energy bureau fire the Norwegian company contracted to do the testing, remove Cameron and Transocean employees from the tests, and give the board access to all photos and videos of the tests, Bloomberg reports.

The ocean energy bureau was known until recently as the Minerals Management Service. It was renamed after news reports indicated the agency had been delinquent in enforcing safety standards for offshore drilling. Raw Story reported in May:

Regulators overseeing oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico reportedly allowed oil company officials to fill in their own inspection reports. According to the internal probe being released this week, oil officials sketched out their answers in pencil and turned them over to federal oversight officials, who then traced their answers in pen.

And as if that wasn't enough, a Louisiana inspector from the Minerals Management Service purportedly admitted to investigators that he'd used crystal methamphetamine, and may have been high on the illegal stimulant during a drilling inspection
.

Eleven oil rig workers were killed when BP's Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20 of this year, sending an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

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