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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"When state legislators across the nation introduce similar or identical bills designed to boost corporate power and profits, reduce workers rights, limit corporate accountability for pollution, or restrict voting by minorities, odds are good that the legislation was not written by a state lawmaker but by corporate lobbyists working through the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC is a one-stop shop for corporations looking to identify friendly state legislators and work with them to get special-interest legislation introduced. It’s win-win for corporations, their lobbyists, and right-wing legislators. But the big losers are citizens whose rights and interests are sold off to the highest bidder"...

ALEC: The Voice of Corporate Special Interests In State Legislatures


When state legislators across the nation introduce similar or identical bills designed to boost corporate power and profits, reduce workers rights, limit corporate accountability for pollution, or restrict voting by minorities, odds are good that the legislation was not written by a state lawmaker but by corporate lobbyists working through the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC is a one-stop shop for corporations looking to identify friendly state legislators and work with them to get special-interest legislation introduced. It’s win-win for corporations, their lobbyists, and right-wing legislators. But the big losers are citizens whose rights and interests are sold off to the highest bidder.

Who Founded and Funds ALEC?
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) was founded in 1973 by Paul Weyrich, who helped build a nationwide right-wing political infrastructure following the reelection of Richard Nixon. In the same year, he helped establish the Heritage Foundation, now one of the most prominent right-wing policy institutes in the country. One year later, Weyrich founded the Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress, the predecessor of the Free Congress Foundation. In 1979, he co-founded and coined the Moral Majority with Jerry Falwell, and in 1981 he helped establish the ultraconservative Council on National Policy.

ALEC’s major funders include Exxon Mobil, the Scaife family (Allegheny Foundation and the Scaife Family Foundation), the Coors family (Castle Rock Foundation), Charles Koch (Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation and the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation), the Bradley family (The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation) and the Olin family (John M. Olin Foundation). These organizations consistently finance right-wing think tanks and political groups.

Members of ALEC’s board represent major corporations such as Altria, AT&T, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Koch Industries, Kraft, PhRMA, Wal-Mart, Peabody Energy, and State Farm. Such corporations represent just a fraction of ALEC’s approximately three hundred corporate partners. According to the American Association for Justice, over eighty percent of ALEC’s finances come from corporate contributions.

Who’s Behind ALEC?
ALEC’s activities reflect its founding, funding, and control by corporate interests. According to the American Association for Justice, “the nuts and bolts of lobbying and crafting legislation is done by large corporate defense firm Shook Hardy & Bacon.” This firm plays a significant role in managing ALEC’s legislative and governmental advocacy programs.

The American Bar Association Journal describes Shook Hardy & Bacon as the “darling of corporate America. ” Their tenacious defense of the tobacco industry “made Shook Hardy the firm many of the world’s biggest companies turn to at the first hint of trouble with one of their products.” A New York Times report on Shook Hardy said “tobacco is their middle name,” and the firm’s lawyers have been viewed as “industry propagandists, apologists and co-conspirators.” Shook Hardy represents clients from the pharmaceutical, energy, food, banking and tobacco industries, like Pfizer, Bayer, Eli Lilly, Cargill, Kraft, Bank of America, Philip Morris, Lorillard Tobacco, and British American Tobacco. ALEC’s monthly periodical Inside ALEC demonstrates the significant role of Shook Hardy, as members of the law firm contributed essays criticizing environmental protection efforts1, endorsing corporate immunity from lawsuits2, and defending abusive insurance company practices3.

The clout of corporations and corporate-backed groups comprising ALEC is unmistakable: Victor E. Schwartz, a Shook Hardy partner and head of its Public Policy Group, chairs ALEC’s Civil Justice Task Force; Tom Moskitis, the American Gas Association’s Director of External Affairs, chairs the Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force; Bob Williams, founder and senior fellow of the corporate-funded Evergreen Freedom Foundation, chairs the Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force; Bartlett Cleland, director of the corporate-financed Institute for Policy Innovation, chairs the Telecommunications and Information Technology Task Force, and Emory Wilkerson, associate general counsel for State Farm Insurance, chairs the Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force.

Simply put, “corporations can implement their agendas very effectively using ALEC,” as stated by Edwin Bender of the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

How Does ALEC Work?
ALEC serves as a means for corporations to advise, lobby and sway legislators. By paying hefty dues and sponsorship fees, corporations are able to participate in ALEC ventures, forums and legislative advocacy work and also underwrite conferences, task forces and meetings with politicians. Corporations use ALEC to formulate, present and promote model legislation to elected officials who are ALEC members and sometimes hold leadership roles in the organization.

“Our members join for the purpose of having a seat at the table. That’s just what we do, that’s the service we offer,” explains Dennis Bartlett, an ALEC task force head who is also the executive director of the American Bail Coalition. “The organization is supported by money from the corporate sector, and, by paying to be members, corporations are allowed the opportunity to sit down at the table and discuss the issues that they have an interest in.”

ALEC propagates a wide range of “model legislation” that seeks to make it more difficult for people to hold corporations accountable in court; gut the rights and protections of workers and consumers; encumber health care reform; privatize and weaken the public education system; provide business tax cuts and corporate welfare; privatize and cut public services; erode regulations and environmental laws; create unnecessary voter ID requirements; endorse Citizens United; diminish campaign finance reformand permit greater corporate influence in elections.
In order to draft and promote their “model legislation,” ALEC operates task forces that bring representatives from corporations together with lawmakers. Each ALEC task force is chaired by both elected officials and “private sector” members. According to Jesse Zwick of the Washington Independent, “ALEC’s task forces are better known for crafting legislation that coincides, rather than conflicts, with the interests of its private-sector members. Famous for hosting lavish conferences for state legislators who possess no staff of their own, the group pampers lawmakers while providing them the opportunity to collaborate on legislation often previously researched and introduced by the policy shops of its corporate members.”

According to ALEC, in 2009, of the 826 “model bills” that were introduced in state legislatures, 115 of those bills were enacted into law. That number is sure to grow following the major Republican gains in the 2010 elections.

ALEC was influential in crafting and passing a Texas law, dubbed the “Successor Asbestos-Related Liability Fairness Act, that shielded Crown Cork and Seal, a business that in 1966 acquired a company that used asbestos in its products, from lawsuits from the company’s workers. Even though Crown agreed to pay the company’s liabilities, it wanted immunity from paying damages to workers facing asbestos-related diseases. Crown Cork and Seal turned to ALEC to help shape the Texas law, which put an extremely low cap on liability for companies like Crown who acquired companies which committed wrongdoing, known as a “successor immunity” law.” Mark Behrens, an attorney for Shook Hardy, worked as a lobbyist for both ALEC and Crown to encourage allied lawmakers to introduce and pass the bill. The American Association for Justice writes that “this so-called ‘successor immunity’ has all the hallmarks of an ALEC special interest bill. It is plainly designed not with public policy in mind, but rather a specific industry (or in this case, a specific company).” The Texas Supreme Court ultimately found the cap to be an unconstitutional retroactive protection for Crown that inhibited the rights of people to rightfully sue corporations for damages, but similar ALEC-derived laws are still on the books in other states.

In Arizona, an investigative report by NPRfound that ALEC significantly helped one of its clients, the Corrections Corporations of America (CCA), influence the state’s new immigration law. The CCA is a for-profit prison company whose “executives believe immigrant detention is their next big market,” and thought that a law which “could send hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants” to prison would “mean hundreds of millions of dollars in profits to private prison companies responsible for housing them.” As a dues-paying member of ALEC, the CCA was able to write, present and lobby Arizona policymakers for a draconian immigration bill at an ALEC-hosted conference. “Four months later, that model legislation became, almost word for word, Arizona’s immigration law,” and many of the bill’s cosponsors later received significant campaign contributions from the CCA. ALEC also helped the CCA by pushing “truth in sentencing” laws that restrict parole eligibility for felons, and consequently increase the number of prisoners.

What Does ALEC Lobby For?
Since the organization claims to only “exchange” legislation, ALEC is not technically a lobbying firm, and does not need to register. However, ALEC’s tactics and operations are strikingly similar to those of registered lobbyists with corporate benefactors.

Undercutting Health Care Reform
After the passage of health care reform, ALEC’s top priority has been to challenge the law by encouraging members to introduce bills that would prohibit the law’s insurance mandate. ALEC’s Health and Human Services task force is led by representatives of PhRMA and Johnson & Johnson, and representatives of Bayer and GlaxoSmithKlein sit on ALEC’s board. The group’s model bill, the “Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act,” has been introduced in forty-four states, and ALEC even released a “State Legislators Guide to Repealing ObamaCare” discussing a variety of model legislation including bills to partially privatize Medicaid and SCHIP. The legislative guide utilizes ideas and information from pro-corporate groups like the Heritage Foundation, the Goldwater Institute, the James Madison Institute, the Cato Institute, the National Center for Policy Analysis and the National Federation of Independent Business.

Corporate Power and Workers’ Rights
ALEC works fervently to promote laws that would shield corporations from legal action and allow them to limit the rights of workers. The group’s model legislation would roll back laws regarding corporate accountability, workers compensation and on the job protections, collective bargaining and organizing rights, prevailing wage and the minimum wage. ALEC is a main proponent of bills that undermine organized labor by stripping public employees of collective bargaining rights and “right to work” laws.They also push “regulatory flexibility” laws that lead to massive deregulation. It is no surprise that the director of ALEC’s Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force previously worked as a Koch Associate at the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation.

Tax Policy
As states face challenging budget deficits, ALEC wants to make it more difficult to generate revenue in order to close shortfalls. Bills include the “Super Majority Act,” which makes it so complicated for legislatures to change tax policy that California voters overturned the law; the “Taxpayer Bill Of Rights,” which brought fiscal disaster to Colorado; and measures to eliminate capital gains and progressive income taxes. The main beneficiaries of ALEC’s irresponsible fiscal policies are corporations and the wealthiest taxpayers.

Private School Vouchers
Despite constitutional problems, negative impacts on public schools, bias against disadvantaged students, and comprehensive studies in cities like Washington DC, New York, Milwaukee, and Cleveland which demonstrate that private school voucher programs failed to make any improvements to the education system, ALEC sees vouchers as a way to radically privatize the public education system. Under the guise of “school choice,” ALEC pushes bills with titles like “Parental Choice Scholarship Act” and the “Education Enterprise Act” that establish private school voucher programs.

Voter ID and Election Laws
ALEC is directly tied to the emerging trend among state legislatures to consider voter ID laws. Using false allegations of “voter fraud,” right-wing politicians are pursuing policies that disenfranchise students and other at-risk voters,--including the elderly and the poor--who are unlikely to have drivers’ licenses or other forms of photo ID. By suppressing the vote of such groups, ALEC’s model “Voter ID Act” grants an electoral advantage to Republicans while undermining the right to vote. In addition, ALEC wants to make it easier for corporations to participate in the political process. Their Public Safety and Elections taskforce is co-chaired by Sean Parnell of the Center for Competitive Politics, one of the most vociferous pro-corporate election groups, and promotes model legislation that would devastate campaign finance reform and allow for greater corporate influence in elections.

Obstructing Environmental Protection
At the bidding of its major donors like Exxon Mobil and Koch Industries, ALEC is behind state-level legislation that would hinder the ability of government to regulate and curb polluters. ALEC has previously said that carbon dioxide “is beneficial to plant and human life alike,” and promotes climate change denialism. The group’s model legislation assails EPA emissions guidelines and greenhouse gas regulations, destabilizes regional climate initiatives, permits free-reign for energy corporations, and pushes for massive deregulation. Unsurprisingly, ALEC’s “Energy, Environment and Agriculture” task force is led by Tom Moskitis of the American Gas Association and Martin Shultz of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, a major lobbyist firm for oil and gas companies like ConocoPhillips. The group receives funding from ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, Texaco, Amoco, the American Petroleum Institute, and the American Electric Power Association.

Americans are increasingly recognizing and speaking out against the disproportionate power of corporations in shaping public policy and steering politicians, and ALEC is a prime example of how Corporate America is able to buy even more power and clout in government. Rather than serve the public interest, ALEC champions the agenda of corporations which are willing to pay for access to legislators and the opportunity to write their very own legislation. It helps surrogates and lobbyists for corporations draft and promote bills which gut environmental laws, create a regressive tax system, eliminate workers’ rights, undermine universal and affordable health care, privatize public education, and chip away at voting rights. It's no wonder that so many big corporations view ALEC as a wise investment. ALEC represents an alarming risk to the credibility of the political process and threatens to greatly diminish the confidence and influence ordinary people have in government.

CIA report warns of possible military coup in Greece...

Report: Military coup possible in Greece
Sunday, May 29, 2011

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency warned in a report that the tough austerity measures and the dire situation could escalate and even lead to a military coup, according to a report by Germany’s popular daily Bild.

According to he CIA report, ongoing street protests in crisis-hit Greece could turn into escalated violence and a rebellion and the Greek government could lose control, said Bild. The newspaper said the CIA report talks of a possible military coup if the situation becomes more serious and uncontrolled.

Greece is under immense pressure owing to public debt that has swollen to 340 billion euros. The EU, IMF and European Central Bank are pressing Greece to step up a privatization program and get all political parties to approve more austerity and reform measures that have sparked violent protests, but emergency talks called by the president on Friday failed to make any headway, AFP reported.

Opposition parties have mostly refused to support the government in its quest to cut spending by trimming an overblown civil service and the sweeping privatization drive announced this week has attracted even stronger protests.

Meanwhile, the Dutch finance minister said his country, Germany, Finland and other EU members won't give Greece any more bailout money, if the debt-laden country fails to adopt further austerity measures.

Jan Kees de Jager said Saturday that "it's vital that Greece will live up fully" to conditions set by the International Monetary Fund if it's to receive the next batch of a 110 billion euros ($155 billion) bailout loan deal it agreed to last year, the Associated Press reported.

Last year, as the financial crisis battered Greece, Bild went as far as to highlight a suggestion by a conservative politician that Athens sell off some of its many islands to help pay off its debts.

A bailout for Greece was put in place a year ago by the EU, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, involving loans of 110 billion euros ($157 billion) over three years.

But there are now grave doubts whether Athens can meet its repayments and talk of a second bailout, or even a drastic debt restructuring, is rife

Former head of CIA 'Bin Laden' unit: "Main recruitment sergeant for Al Qaida is Barack Obama"

Former Head Of CIA Bin Laden Unit: “Main Recruitment Sergeant For Al Qaida Is Barack Obama”
Counterterrorism expert says ‘war on terror’ is based entirely on fabrications
Steve Watson
May 30, 2011

Ex CIA intelligence officer turned whistleblower and activist, Michael Scheuer, has launched a blistering attack on the political establishment, over its handing of the so called war on terror, asserting that the entire rationale behind it is based on outright lies and deception.

Mr Scheuer, who was speaking at the popular Hay Festival in the UK said that the politicians including the US President and the British Prime Minister have “not a clue about what’s going down in the western world”.

”We are being attacked in the west and we will continue to be attacked in the west as long as we are in Afghanistan, as long as we support the Israelis, as long as we protect the Saudi police state.” Scheuer said.

”They can’t cope with the fact that it’s nothing to do with the way we live. It doesn’t have anything to do with elections or democracy or liberty,” the counterterrorism expert added.

Scheuer, who headed up the CIA’s Osama Bin Laden tracking station between 1996 and 1999, asserted that ”The main recruitment sergeant for al Qaida is Barack Obama, ” adding that “his speech on May 19 was a declaration of cultural war on Islam.”

Last week, Scheuer penned a scathing commentary piece on the Obama middle east speech, describing the president as a “Neoconservative crusader” who has ” out-Bushed Bush and the Neoconservatives by a country mile, calling for U.S.-dictated (and enforced?) regime change in Libya, Syria, Bahrain, Iran, and Yemen.”

”We hear the President, we hear your Prime Minister, talking about thugs and gangsters. We are still in the starting blocks in this war.” Scheuer told the UK audience this past weekend.

When asked what Obama should do regarding the war on terror by a member of the audience, Scheuer replied ”I would ask him to tell the truth.”

”He, the first Mr Bush, then Mr Clinton and the second Mr Bush have assiduously lied to the American people for 20 years and as a result have made the relations in the United States between Muslims and other people much more difficult.” Scheuer said.

Scheuer explained that the so called “cultural war” against the West is a fabrication, created by Western elites in order to justify the West’s interventionist policy in the middle east and beyond.

”They have identified the motivation of our enemy as a war against liberty, as a war against gender equality,” Scheuer urged.

“There is almost no Muslim out there who is an insane character who is going to blow himself up because my daughters go to university. There is no discussion by bin Laden of this cultural war that is supposed to be waged against us.” he added.

”A president who was a statesman and a politician might say something like ‘I’m sorry we’ve been kinda lying to you for 30 years and why we are being attacked is until recently we were supporting fascism across the Middle East’.”

Scheuer added that the twisted assertion that a cultural war is being waged by muslims on the West is a complete Orwellian style reversal of reality.

”In the rhetoric of our enemies there is very little, if anything, about attacking us for how we live or how we think or how we act in our own country.”, Scheuer said.

”It is about intervention, it is about being in the Arab Peninsula and it has nothing to do with these cultural things. We are the ones that are arranging the cultural war against them.”

He added: ”The American relationship with Israel, in my mind, is a useless and unnecessary relationship. As long as we are playing a role we are the recruiting sergeant for the people that are going to kill us.”

“Look at where al-Qaeda is today compared with 9/11. Back then it was overwhelmingly in Afghanistan.” Scheuer said.

“Now they have part of Afghanistan, a big part of Pakistan and they are in Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Africa and Palestine and moving into Lebanon. Their position is much better now than it was.”


Scheuer also sounded off on the corporate media’s portrayal of the uprisings in the Egypt and Libya, calling the Western allies “cheerleaders”.

“I think the whole thing is very juvenile.” Scheuer said. “In Egypt we have moved from a military-backed tyranny to a military tyranny. In Libya, that’s just France, Britain and America pounding another country for its oil.”

“You don’t go from what was in Egypt to democracy on the basis of tweets and Facebook, especially when the people who rely on them are not in the core of maturity.”

Scheuer recently took the establishment media to school in the form of exposing how two airhead CNN presenters were “carrying the water for Mr. Obama” regarding reporting on the situation on the ground in Libya.

Watch the video:

When asked about bin Laden, Scheuer took the opportunity to describe how the US passed up the chance to eliminate him before 9/11, but declined to do so because President Clinton did not want to jeopardize a multi-billion dollar arms deal.

Scheuer stated that the US had “a clear opportunity” to kill or capture Bin Laden in 1999, when the terror figurehead was “still on a learning curve and very predictable”. According to Scheuer, the CIA learned that Bin Laden was present at a hunting party run by Arab princes in late February or early March.

“The Americans warned the princes to get out of the way, but then Clinton’s administration learned that one of those at the party was in the process of finalizing a multi-billion dollar deal to buy US fighter planes.” Scheuer noted.

“The government decided that it was more important to sell our planes than to get Bin Laden,” he said.

Monday, May 30, 2011

An alternative view of Memorial Day (Video)


Twitter buckles to legal pressure and releases confidential user info...

Twitter Buckles To Legal Pressure and Releases Confidential User Info (Updated)
Kwame Opam

Twitter just gave into pressure from British councillors to release the private information of users who made some allegedly libelous tweets. This is a landmark case in the already-messy realm of online free speech and privacy. Updated.

The case had to do with five Twitter users, @councillorkhan and @ahmedkhan01, and was made by councillors in the town of South Tyneside. They were brought in by Ryan Giggs, one very famous player for Manchester United, to investigate claims by a Mr. Monkey that he was the holder of an injunction to protect his own personal information. Adding to the drama, Mr. Monkey is believed to be Ahmed Khan, a fellow councillor and the owner of the Twitter handles being investigated. The suit itself cost a pretty penny, too, having the lawyers come all the way out to California in order to address Twitter personally.

Twitter has, up to now, been resistant to releasing the account details of its users, but has also stated that it would comply with legal requests. Twitter complied with their complaint and chose to release the names, location data, and and email addresses of the people accused. Their decision begs not a few questions, particularly: Can we expect that much more litigious lawsuits based on Twitter libel? and; How much should we be watching our tweets from now on? Updated.

I should correct myself here, as key details regarding this particular case are either confused or untrue. Firstly, the councillors in question do not represent footballer Ryan Giggs. The Giggs case concerns the player's controversial super injunction to keep his name out of the press following an extra-marital affair. That issue is apart from the Mr. Monkey/Ahmed Khan affair.

Also, Twitter notified Mr. Khan about their being served papers by the South Tyneside councillors. He chose not to defend himself, saying on Twitter, "I had no knowledge of US law and was wary of the costs involved. I would have had to fund any action myself." The way was clear at that point for Twitter to comply with the legal request and submit his information, though no official comment has been made on their part. Khan has indicated that his information was released.

Taking this into account, this story boils down to what constitutes libel in the UK and if British citizens can see fit to come to the States to voice their complaints in court.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Truth, lies, & the Sarasota Herald-Tribune...

Truth, lies, & the Sarasota Herald-Tribune
A clean-up crew, a roll-back campaign, & real Americans who would not be silenced
May 24, 2011
by Daniel Hopsicker

Not since nearly 50 years ago when the CIA tried to pass off a man shown in two black and white photographs taken outside the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City as Lee Harvey Oswald, has the truth been so openly and casually violated as during the ferocious campaign to roll back some of what was already known and on the public record about Mohamed Atta in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack.

The revelation last week that a key eyewitness to the activities in Florida of the 9/11 hijackers never changed his story about Mohamed Atta being drunk and belligerent in his bar four days before the 9/11 attack raised new questions about major news media coverage after the attack.

When former Shuckum's bar manager Tony Amos re-affirmed his initial account in an interview last week with the Miami Herald, it became strikingly apparent that, with no explanation at all, and without any retraction from him or the major news outlets which reported his account, the quickly-congealing official story had changed Mohamed Atta from a belligerent drunk pounding down Stoli and orange juice to a meek teetotaler sipping cranberry juice and playing video games.

There are only two possible explanations for the discrepancy.

Neither reflect well on the state of America's vaunted free press.

Either Amos was coerced by the FBI into retracting his initial account ten years ago, and now feels free to once again state what he saw...

Or news reports about the "Shuckum's incident" that were changed without explanation, most notably those of Los Angeles Times reporter Terry McDermott, invented new quotes from Tony Amos to fit someone's pre-determined narrative.

How could a detailed and corroborated statement which was reported in NEWSWEEK, TIME the Washington Post, and by the Associated Press have disappeared into thin air and cranberry juice less than a week later?

The spotlight is now swiveling from the credibility of the FBI’s official story of the terrorist’s movements and activities in Florida, long questioned in this space, onto the pasty acquiescent faces of certain reporters and the plausibility, truthfulness and integrity of their reporting.

Allegations made here of a massive FBI cover-up in Florida are being confirmed.

Amanda Keller & Mohamed Atta... Undercover lovers, or not?

Tony Amos wasn't the only eye-witness to leave town after undergoing grueling questioning by the FBI on three or four separate occasions... Amanda Keller, who for several months was Mohamed Atta’s American girlfriend, experienced the same treatment.

It is time to take a closer look at the brief article in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune on the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attack, headlined “LOVER: Amanda Keller” which claimed she had recanted her story, and a closer look as well at the newspaper itself, whose credibility must now be questioned.

The implausibility and lack of credence a reader can give reporter Heather Allen's Sept 10, 2006 story is established in just the story’s opening sentence and subhead, a quote purportedly from Keller: “It was my bad. I really didn’t think about it until after I did it.”

In all of the put-downs, defamation and calumny poured by the official story’s amen corner on the Internet onto the story of Mohamed Atta’s erstwhile girlfriend Amanda Keller, never once has a plausible explanation even been offered to answer, should they be right, the big unanswered question that would then be on everyone’s lips:

Why in the world would anyone claim to have been the girlfriend of the most reviled man on the face of planet Earth?

The only answer is “publicity.”

No Motive. No explanation. Just... "My bad."

Yet no one—not even debunkers like the Amazing Randi or the folks at Screw Loose Change et al—has ever claimed Keller was looking for publicity, because it is demonstrably not true.

Keller fled Venice as soon as the FBI was done with her. Her last verified quote to reporters was “I can’t really say anything. I’m afraid I’ll get in trouble.”

And when we finally found her more than a year later, here is how she felt when she learned that her apartment manager had told reporters about her fling with Atta:

"When I saw Charlie (Grapentine) talking in the newspaper I knew they were going to jump all over him. I thought, "Charlie, no! Can't you just wait?"'

The article completely fails the first burden of proof for a story claiming to disprove that she was Mohamed Atta’s girlfriend—supplying a motive. It offers no explanation at all for Keller's actions.

If Keller didn't offer the Sarasota Herald Tribune an explanation, and they didn't ask, we must now question whether the newspaper ever even spoke with her.

But that’s not the most grievous fault in the brief little article.

Blaming it on the "conspiracy theorists"

That's in the story’s disingenuous opening line, carefully crafted to be misleading while avoiding being an out-and-out lie.

"For five years Amanda Keller has been portrayed by conspiracy theorists as Mohamed Atta's lover."

It wasn't "conspiracy theorists" (read: Daniel Hopsicker) who first broke the story about Mohamed Atta's American squeeze. That honor belongs to Heather Allen's own Sarasota Herald Tribune, as well as several other local newspapers, notably the Charlotte Sun.

Reporter Allen had only to search her own computer to see these stories.

The paper would like to suggest that the notion that Amanda Keller lived with Mohamed Atta had sprung full-blown out of the mind of someone with eyes spinning like pinwheels as he claims contact with extraterrestrials.

But, of course, the paper can't say that. That would be wrong.

So the Sarasota Herald-Tribune merely deliberately conceals from its readers the fact that the paper itself was the first source of the report, and that all the "conspiracy theorists" did was keep it from falling into that "memory hole" where inconvenient information goes to die.

It turns out Heather Allen's heady foray into international obfuscation was not the first on this particular story by a reporter for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. More on that shortly...

From the Sept 14th Charlotte Sun:

"Paula Grapentine immediately recognized the face of a suspected terrorist who may have trained for the World Trade Center attack at Huffman Aviation in Venice. He was her next-door neighbor. Postal carrier Neil Patton also recollects the names and faces of Mohamed Atta, 33, and Marwan Al-Shehhi, 23, and four other Middle Eastern flight school students. They lived at the Sandpiper apartments in Venice until earlier this year."

That same day the Charlotte Sun ran a second story by Elaine Allen-Emrich, based on an interview with Tony and Vonnie Laconca of nearby Northport, who had rented a place to a man named Mohamed "who was training at Huffman Aviation, was 5'10" tall, and had perfect dark skin."

"Mohamed was associated with a local woman believed to be Amanda Keller, a local restaurant manager, (Tony) LaConca said... "Mohamed bailed her out of South County Jail," Vonnie LaConca said.... After meeting Mohamed and Keller on Feb. 21, (another young woman) joined the couple on an adventure to Key West the following day.

"Two men from Germany"

"They were gone for three days," said Tony LaConca. "They didn't sleep -- it was a continuous party."

LaConca said Mohamed footed the entire bill for the weekend including buying Keller and the unnamed employee new clothes, alcohol, & drugs...

"The two girls were introduced to two men from Germany that they said were Mohamed's friends," Tony LaConca continued. "I thought it was strange, because Mohamed didn't appear to be French-Canadian or German."

Reporter Emrich was probably wondering the same thing we were... Who were the two mysterious German men?

She called the FBI in Tampa.

"The FBI in Tampa would neither confirm nor deny that any agents were interviewing people in the North Port area," Charlotte Sun reporter Elaine Allen-Emrich wrote.

Exemplifiying the news blackout which has prevailed from that day to this, she wrote:

"Asked for more information about Atta's wild weekend, an FBI spokesperson identified only as Pam stated “We recommend that you check in with CNN for current information. Any press statements can be found on televised stations like CNN.”

As opposed, we presume, to untelevised stations.

The Sandpiper Apartment Skeleton Key

After the number of terrorists believed to have trained in Venice rose to three several days later, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune took note, in a story headlined FBI links 3rd terrorist to Venice.

“Detectives also suspect Atta lived for several months in rural Charlotte County before moving to Venice, Sheriff Bill Clement said at a news conference Tuesday.

Clement said the Sheriff’s Office has forwarded several tips to the FBI about Atta, who used an alias in Charlotte County.

By September 22nd, the paper was beside itself. The fingers counting terrorists had used up almost one whole hand already! And there was no end in sight! Still, they gamely announced the figure they were up to... right in the headline: (4th Terrorist Suspect May Have Ties to Venice )

It turned out Hamburg co-conspirator Ramzi Bin Alshibh had also wanted to come to Venice. (He didn’t. His visa request was denied, it was later learned.)

“Atta patronized local bars and businesses. He told the manager of the Outlook bar he was from Germany and came to Venice to learn to fly. Atta and several friends were regulars at a Venice bar (at the Venice Airport) called the 44th Aero Squadron.”

“I never had any problem with them,” said owner Ken Schortzmann. “He had a fanny pack with a fat roll of cash in it.”

Remember the fanny pack. It will come up again.

“A dancer at the Cheetah Lounge (in Sarasota) also reported seeing one of the alleged terrorists at the strip club… A club manager escorted a Herald reporter out of the club shortly afterward, saying the Cheetah had no comment.”

Now we hear what will soon become the official story.

“Huffman flight instructors have said they believe Atta left the area shortly after receiving his pilot’s certification.”

But Sarasota Herald-Tribune reporter Earle Kimel had already noted a discrepancy.

“However, Atta may have been in Venice as recently as April. Charles Grapentine, the manager of Sandpiper Apartments on Airport Avenue in Venice, said he remembers seeing Atta at the complex for about three weeks in April.

“He said Atta was living in the apartment of Amanda Keller.”

It was just two days after the attack.

A frosty response from the boys in Florsheim shoes

The story went on to recount making contact with Amanda Keller, who had already fled 160 miles north to her mother’s house in Lady Lake, FL.

“Keller said she met Atta through a friend and let him stay in her apartment with her and her then-boyfriend because she felt sorry for him. She said authorities told her not to say anything at all about Atta.”

Then she spoke her final words, until we found her over a year later. “I cant’ really discuss anything,” she said. “I’m afraid I’ll get in trouble.”

We later interviewed Sandpiper apartment manager Charley Grapentine, a grizzled ex-Marine, with tattooed forearms. Remember Atta’s fanny pack?

“Atta always carried a fanny pack around his waist,”

Grapentine told us, “I remember Amanda once telling him that she needed some new clothes, and he reached in and peeled off a few hundreds from a thick roll of cash he had stuffed inside the fanny pack.”

The FBI did not receive apartment manager Charley Grapentine’s recollections kindly. Their response, says Grapentine, was positively frosty, especially on the subject of talking to reporters.

“They called me a liar, and told me to keep my mouth shut,” stated the ex-marine grimly. “Nobody likes to hear that; that they didn’t see something they know they saw.”

Wolf cookies strewn across the landscape of the American mind

Even before Heather Allen weighed in, another reporter from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune had been caught selling wolf cookies to the Great Unwashed about Amanda Keller.

Reporter Chris Grierauthored the Herald-Tribune's first attempt to discredit Amanda Keller, by literally camped out on her mother's doorstep until being ordered to leave by a momentarily-merciful FBI Agent.

Later, a source at the paper, requesting either anonymity or a bullet-proof Kevlar vest able to repel rocket-launched grenades, told us Grier was fired for spying on other reporters in the newsroom and rifling through the paper's databases....Shazaam!

But well before leaving he had launched his very own trial balloon, an unconvincing attempt to break the connection between Atta and Amanda bearing the headline 5th Terrorist Pilot Vanishes.

“A reporter named Chris...young, tall, kind of heavy, dark hair and a dark goatee, came to my Mom’s house," Keller explained. "He was mad because I wouldn’t talk to him."

"The Chris dude, his dark goatee, and everything."

"This dude would NOT leave me alone!"

Said Amanda, "I stood outside arguing with him forever, and he was trying to trip me up, to get me to say something, and I said, I don’t know what the hell you’re trying to do, but it isn’t going to work.”

“So I called the FBI agent that had been talking to me, right while this reporter guy was standing there, and told him, this guy won't leave me alone. And the FBI agent said let me talk to him, and I handed him the phone, and I don’t know what was said, but after that he left.”

From this paparazzi-like sortie into 9/11 witness harassment, Grier spun a fanciful tale. He was a Terry McDermott-in-training, or on training wheels, but was unfortunately tripping over himself the whole time. Grier wrote: "In an interview at her mother's house, Keller wouldn't talk about the man who stayed on her couch."

That was okay, but, moments later, Grier was inspired to write something else, which became his downfall. About this girl who wouldn't talk, he wrote that she "said that comments attributed to her in the Herald-Tribune on Saturday were wrong."

You see the problem. This isn't brain surgery. We could almost hear faint voices all the way from Wahington, exclaiming "Thank God we've got Terry McDermott!"

"Unconcerned with trifling concerns, like plausibility"

Grier's "fifth pilot" fantasy, while totally implausible, was vastly more entertaining than anything ever written by boring old "Three yards and a cloud of dust" Terry McD.

From that day until this, in all of the in-depth news accounts about the Hamburg cadre’s key members, Grier's "5th Pilot" has never been mentioned again.

Grier's "Fifth Pilot" was an Everyman Terrorist, an Unknown Terrorist, whose name will be forever a mystery, cause, it's, like, Unknown. Like, kind of, some kind of Ghost Terrorist.

He was Mohamed LNU (Last Name Unknown.) The record of his existence consisted entirely of Grier's speculation in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune about him staying with Amanda.

He was The Terrorist Who Was Not There. In his own way, he was a pure thing.

There will never be a follow-up story about him published anywhere.

There will never a headline reading “Fifth Pilot Finally Identified.”

And there are no innocent explanations for this. Make of it what you will.

When Seal Team 6 choppered into Osama Bin Laden's compound in Pakistan, interpreters may have appeared uninterested in whether Grier's 5th Pilot had been seen in the vicinity.

But who knows? That may have just been for show.

More on Mohamed Atta Wannabe

Backing up momentarily to an earlier trial balloon...

Since Mohamed Atta's pathological loathing of women was attested to by numerous eyewitnesses in Venice, including Amanda Keller herself, making the idea that anyone might mistake the man at left for Atta even sadder.

A few examples: Atta and Al-Shehhi often stopped into The Outlook, a local Venice bar. Female bartender Liz Lehman told newspaper that

"He (Atta) didn't like the fact that women were behind the bar. It was almost like he was offended that we would stand and talk to them."

Then there was the time Atta stopped by the Grapentine’s apartment to discuss something regarding the complex, Paula Grapentine told reporters.

“He came to talk about something and said, 'I don't talk to women and you're supposed to look down when you talk to me. He was very unfriendly," she said. "He wouldn't talk to women. He treated women like they were under him.”

Or an anecdote told to us byAtta and Amanda's next-door neighbor Stephanie Frederickson...

"One day I remember, it was raining out, and I came out of my apartment at the same time he came out of his. He didn’t have a car that day, for some reason, so I offered him a ride,” she told us.

"He got furious, and shouted at me, ‘You do not speak to me unless I speak to you first!'"

"I said get over yourself, bub," says Stephanie Frederickson today, with some little relish. "I said, you're in America now. The least you cand do is thank me for offering you a ride."

Mohamed Atta's pot-smoking German associates

Astute observers of the post-9/11 scene in Florida may recall that the owner of the Sandpiper Apartments, a certain Vicky Kyser, was quoted telling authorities that the Arab flight students clumped around Atta smoked a strange tobacco which smelled to her like marijuana.

This was far from the only reference to drugs in the saga of the terrorist hijackers. Despite there clearly being nothing to the stories (pace, Terry McD!) we prided ourselves on following up on every one.

But when we contacted her to learn if she knew more than she'd told (since other than a brief interview just after the attack, she'd said nothing more) we were unable to find her, until recalling the old FBI trick of mis-spelling names they are a little leery about letting outsiders talk to who might, you know, sully the permanent record.

After trying different combinations, we discovered her real name is Vikki Keyser, and a prominent real estate broker in the area. But when we called her she sounded more horrified to hear from us than if we had been an ex-husband of hers just released from prison... against whom she had just filed a restraining order earlier that day.

She'd promised the FBI, she said, before saying no more, that she would keep silent. And not for the first time we wondered: What the hell is that all about?

We could go on. In fact, we find, to our chagrin, we already have.

Nobody's idea of a conspiracy theorist

In the apartment next door to Amanda and Atta’s apartment on the second floor of the Sandpiper Apartments lived a pleasant-looking 50ish housewife named Stephanie Frederickson, at least until recently.

Ms Frederickson is nobody’s idea of a ‘conspiracy theorist.’

She spends her days caring for the baby of a friend needing help. Her husband is a Maytag repairman. It doesn't get any more ordinary than that. She did not seek publicity. She did not speak to the press.

But when we met her, there was one burning topic which she wanted to discuss—something both she and Charlie Grapentine were fairly bursting to talk about.

It wasn't Mohamed Atta. It was how she had been harassed and intimidated by agents of the FBI.

"At first, right after the attack, they told me I must have been mistaken in my identification," she stated. "Or they would insinuate that I was lying. Finally they stopped trying to get me to change my story, and just stopped by once a week to make sure I hadn’t been talking to anyone.”

For at least six months after the 9/11 attack, Frederickson says, she received weekly visits from an agent in the FBI’s Sarasota office. "The question they asked was always the same," she says. "You aren’t saying anything to anybody, are you?"

She shrugs. “Who was I going to tell? Most everyone around here already knew."

Stephanie Frederickson, Charley Grapentine (who's no longer with us) and even—no, make that especially—Amanda Keller, are real American heroes. In the middle of a very dark time, they showed us that at least something about who we are hasn't changed...

Real Americans won’t be silenced.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

How many SEAL's died?

How Many SEALs Died?
by Paul Craig Roberts
May 17, 2011

In a sensational and explosive TV report, the Pakistani News Agency has provided a live interview with an eye witness to the US attack on the alleged compound of Osama bin Laden. The eye witness, Mohammad Bashir, describes the event as it unfolded. Of the three helicopters, "there was only one that landed the men and came back to pick them up, but as he [the helicopter] was picking them up, it blew away and caught fire." The witness says that there were no survivors, just dead bodies and pieces of bodies everywhere. "We saw the helicopter burning, we saw the dead bodies, then everything was removed and now there is nothing."

I always wondered how a helicopter could crash, as the White House reported, without at least producing injuries. Yet, in the original White House story, the SEALs not only survived a 40-minute firefight with al Qaeda, "the most highly trained, most dangerous, most vicious killers on the planet," without a scratch, but also survived a helicopter crash without a scratch.

The Pakistani news report is available on you tube. The Internet site, Veterans Today, posted a translation along with a video of the interview. Information Clearing House made it available on May 17.

If the interview is not a hoax and the translation is correct, we now know the answer to the unasked question: Why was there no White House ceremony with President Obama pinning medals all over the heroic SEALs who tracked down and executed Public Enemy Number One?

The notion that Obama had to keep the SEALs' identity secret in order to protect the SEALs from al Qaeda detracts from the heroic tough guy image of the SEALs, and it strains credulity that Obama's political handlers would not have milked the occasion for all it is worth.

Other than on the Veterans Today and ICH Internet sites, I have not seen any mention of the Pakistani news story. If the White House press corps is aware of the report, no one has asked President Obama or his press spokesperson about it. Helen Thomas was the last American reporter sufficiently brave to ask such a question, and she was exterminated by the Israel Lobby.

In America we have reached the point where anyone who tells the truth is dismissed as a "conspiracy theorist" and marginalized. Recently, a professor of nano-chemistry from the University of Copenhagen made a lecture tour of major Canadian universities explaining the research, conducted by himself and a team of physicists and engineers, that resulted in finding small particles of unreacted nano-thermite in dust samples from the wreckage of the World Trade Center towers in addition to other evidence that the professor and the research team regard as conclusive scientific proof that the towers were brought down by controlled demolition.

No American university dared to invite him, and as far as I know no mention of the explosive research report has ever appeared in the American press.

I find it astonishing that 1,500 architects and engineers, who actually know something about buildings, their construction, their strength and weaknesses, and who have repeatedly requested a real investigation of the destruction of the three WTC buildings, are regarded as conspiracy kooks by people who know nothing whatsoever about architecture or engineering or buildings. The same goes for the large number of pilots who question the flight maneuvers carried out during the attacks, and the surviving firemen and "first responders" who report both hearing and personally experiencing explosions in the towers, some of which occurred in sub-basements.

A large number of high-ranking political figures abroad don't believe a word of the official 9/11 story. For example, the former president of Italy and dean of the Italian Senate, told Italy's oldest newspaper, Corriere delia Sera, that the intelligence services of Europe "know well that the disastrous [9/11] attack has been planed and realized by the American CIA and the [Israeli] Mossad . . . in order to put under accusation the Arabic Countries and in order to induce the western powers to take part in [the invasions]."

Even people who report that there are dissenting views, as I have done, are branded conspiracy theorists and banned from the media. This extends into the Internet in addition to newspapers and TV. Not long ago a reporter for the Internet site, The Huffington Post, discovered that Pat Buchanan and I are critics of the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions. He was fascinated that there were some Reagan administration officials who dissented from the Republican Party's war position and asked to interview me.

After he posted the interview on The Huffington Post, someone told him that I was not sound on 9/11. In a panic the reporter contacted me, demanding to know if I disbelieved the official 9/11 story. I replied that being neither architect, engineer, physicist, chemist, pilot, nor firefighter, I had little to contribute to understanding the event, but that I had reported that various experts had raised questions.

The reporter was terrified that he might somehow have given a 9/11 skeptic credibility and be fired for interviewing me about my war views for The Huffington Post. He quickly added at the beginning and, if memory serves, ending of the posted interview words to the effect that my lack of soundness on 9/11 meant that my views on the wars could be disregarded. If only he had known that I was unsure about the official 9/11 story, there would have been no interview.

One doesn't have to be a scientist, architect, engineer, pilot or firefighter to notice astonishing anomalies in the 9/11 story. Assume that the official story is correct and that a band of terrorists outwitted not only the CIA and FBI, but also all 16 US intelligence agencies and those of our NATO allies and Israel's notorious Mossad, along with the National Security Council, NORAD, air traffic control and airport security four times in one hour on the same morning. Accept that this group of terrorists pulled off a feat worthy of a James Bond movie and delivered a humiliating blow to the world's only superpower.

If something like this really happened, would not the president, the Congress, and the media be demanding to know how such an improbable thing could have happened? Investigation and accountability would be the order of the day. Yet President Bush and Vice President Cheney resisted the pleas and demands for an investigation from the 9/11 families for one year, or was it two, before finally appointing a non-expert committee of politicians to listen to whatever the government chose to tell them. One of the politicians resigned from the commission on the grounds that "the fix is in."

Even the two chairmen and the chief legal counsel of the 9/11 Commission wrote books in which they stated that they believe that members of the military and other parts of the government lied to the commission and that the commission considered referring the matter for investigation and prosecution.

Thomas Kean, chairman of the 9/11 Commission, said: "FAA and NORAD officials advanced an account of 9/11 that was untrue . . . We, to this day don't know why NORAD told us what they told us . . . It was just so far from the truth."

Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton said: " We had a very short time frame . . . we did not have enough money . . . We had a lot of people strongly opposed to what we did. We had a lot of trouble getting access to documents and to people. . . . So there were all kinds of reasons we thought we were set up to fail."

As far as I know, not a single member of the government or the media made an issue of why the military would lie to the commission. This is another anomaly for which we have no explanation.

The greatest puzzle is the conclusion drawn by a national audience from watching on their TV screens the collapse of the WTC towers. Most seem satisfied that the towers fell down as a result of structural damage inflicted by the airliners and from limited, low-temperature fires. Yet what the images show is not buildings falling down, but buildings blowing up. Buildings that are destroyed by fires and structural damage do not disintegrate in 10 seconds or less into fine dust with massive steel beams sliced at each floor level by high temperatures that building fires cannot attain. It has never happened, and it never will.

Conduct an experiment. Free your mind of the programmed explanation of the towers' destruction and try to discern what your eyes are telling you as you watch the videos of the towers that are available online. Is that the way buildings fall down from damage, or is that the way buildings are brought down by explosives? Little doubt, many Americans prefer the official story to the implications that follow from concluding that the official story is untrue.

If reports are correct, the US government has gone into the business of managing the public's perceptions of news and events. Apparently, the Pentagon has implemented Perception Management Psychological Operations. There are also reports that the State Department and other government agencies use Facebook and Twitter to stir up problems for the Syrian, Iranian, Russian, Chinese, and Venezuela governments in efforts to unseat governments not controlled by Washington. In addition, there are reports that both governments and private organizations employ "trolls" to surf the Internet and to attempt to discredit in blogs and comment sections reports and writers who are out of step with their interests. I believe I have encountered trolls myself.

In addition to managing our perceptions, much is simply never reported. On May 19, 2011, the fourteen-decade-old British newspaper, The Statesman, reported that the Press Trust of India has reported that the Chinese government has warned Washington "in unequivocal terms that any attack on Pakistan would be construed as an attack on China," and advised the US government "to respect Pakistan's sovereignty."

As trends forecaster Gerald Celente and I have warned, the warmongers in Washington are driving the world toward World War III. Once a country is captured by its military/security complex, the demand for profit drives the country deeper into war. Perhaps this news report from India is a hoax, or perhaps the never-diligent mainstream media will catch up with the news tomorrow, but so far this extraordinary warning from China has not been reported in the US media. [I had it posted on OEN.]

The mainstream media and a significant portion of the Internet are content for our perceptions to be managed by psy-ops and by non-reporting. This is why I wrote not long ago that today Americans are living in George Orwell's 1984.

Paul Craig Roberts [email him] was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan's first term. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He was awarded the Legion of Honor by French President Francois Mitterrand. He is the author of Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider's Account of Policymaking in Washington; Alienation and the Soviet Economy and Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy, and is the co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The Tyranny of Good Intentions: How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice. Click here for Peter Brimelow's Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts about the epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.




Saturday, May 14, 2011

FCC regulator joins Comcast after approving NBC-Comcast merger...

Regulator to Join Comcast After OK of NBC Deal
By JOELLE TESSLER AP Technology Writer.
5/11/2011, 9:58 PM EDT

A top telecommunications regulator who voted to approve Comcast Corp.'s takeover of NBCUniversal in January is leaving to join the company as a lobbyist.

Meredith Attwell Baker, one of two Republicans on the five-member Federal Communications Commission, will become senior vice president of government affairs for NBCUniversal.

Comcast said it did not begin discussions with Baker about a possible job until after the transaction had closed. Baker will leave the FCC on June 3, less than a month before her term was set to expire. She joined the agency in July 2009.

Japanese officials admit nuclear meltdown at Fukushima plant...

Nuclear meltdown at Fukushima plant
One of the reactors at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi power plant did suffer a nuclear meltdown, Japanese officials admitted for the first time today, describing a pool of molten fuel at the bottom of the reactor's containment vessel.
By Julian Ryall in Tokyo 2:01PM BST 12 May 2011

Engineers from the Tokyo Electric Power company (Tepco) entered the No.1 reactor at the end of last week for the first time and saw the top five feet or so of the core's 13ft-long fuel rods had been exposed to the air and melted down.

Previously, Tepco believed that the core of the reactor was submerged in enough water to keep it stable and that only 55 per cent of the core had been damaged.

Now the company is worried that the molten pool of radioactive fuel may have burned a hole through the bottom of the containment vessel, causing water to leak.

"We will have to revise our plans," said Junichi Matsumoto, a spokesman for Tepco. "We cannot deny the possibility that a hole in the pressure vessel caused water to leak".

Tepco has not clarified what other barriers there are to stop radioactive fuel leaking if the steel containment vessel has been breached. Greenpeace said the situation could escalate rapidly if "the lava melts through the vessel".

However, an initial plan to flood the entire reactor core with water to keep its temperature from rising has now been abandoned because it might exacerbate the leak. Tepco said there was enough water at the bottom of the vessel to keep both the puddle of melted fuel and the remaining fuel rods cool.

Meanwhile, Tepco said on Wednesday that it had sealed a leak of radioactive water from the No.3 reactor after water was reportedly discovered to be flowing into the ocean. A similar leak had discharged radioactive water into the sea in April from the No.2 reactor.

Greenpeace said significant amounts of radioactive material had been released into the sea and that samples of seaweed taken from as far as 40 miles of the Fukushima plant had been found to contain radiation well above legal limits. Of the 22 samples tested, ten were contaminated with five times the legal limit of iodine 131 and 20 times of caesium 137.

Seaweed is a huge part of the Japanese diet and the average household almost 7lbs a year. Greenpeace's warning came as fishermen prepared to start the harvest of this season's seaweed on May 20.

Inland from the plant, there has been a huge cull of the livestock left inside the 18-mile mandatory exclusion zone with thousands of cows, horses and pigs being destroyed and some 260,000 chickens from the town of Minamisoma alone. The Environment ministry has announced, however, that it will attempt to rescue the thousands of pets that were left behind when residents were ordered to evacuate. At least 5,800 dogs were owned by the residents of the zone, although it is unclear how many remain alive, two months after the earthquake struck.

US conducts mock bombing at Kirtland Air Force base...

U.S. Conducts Mock Bombing to Test Building Safety Measures
By Alicia Acuna & Faith Mangan
Published May 12, 2011

A building at Kirtland Air Force base in New Mexico recently was the target of a bombing – but rather than set off alarms, this mock incident helped the government test precautions against real attacks on embassies overseas.

The Bureau of Diplomatic Security, which is charged with protecting United States embassies overseas, gave Fox News exclusive access to the bombing of the building to test the capability of new retrofits and technology it used to construct this mock embassy.

It has taken years of research and development to get to this point, where they will place their work in the line of an improvised explosive device (IED) designed to mimic a car bomb.

In the event of a bombing, history has shown that the number one cause of injury is shards of glass and the number one cause of death is the pan-caking of the building on top of people, statistics the bureau wants to change.

On this day, our crews were kept at a safe distance of 4,000 feet from the building as we awaited the countdown. We were instructed to roll down the car windows to relieve pressure so they wouldn't shatter. And despite the fact we knew the rock show was coming, the power of it still made some of us jump.

"It's...at a realistic setback and that's based on a wealth of unfortunate history of people attacking our embassies and our embassies are targets," said Russell Norris with the Bureau of Diplomatic Security.

When the smoke cleared, the building was still standing. Gentry Smith, deputy assistant secretary for Countermeasures, told Fox News of the results, "We'll go back, we'll look at what worked, what didn't work...that's what testing does, it lets us know what things we're moving in the right direction on and what things we need to make adjustments."

Smith, Norris and team are in a technology race against terrorists. The world's formerly most wanted terrorist Usama bin Laden is dead. The raid that killed him uncovered a treasure trove of intelligence of what he and Al Qaeda supporters wanted to do next, but it's widely known that United State's targets here and abroad still cannot let their guard down.

The work of Diplomatic Security Services is two-fold. It weaves safety design into new buildings while still ensuring they blend in with surroundings. And because the State Department cannot build new embassies everywhere, it also works improvements into existing structures.

"We just want to give our people the best chance of surviving an attack," Smith said, "whether it's (an) explosive attack or by other means."

During a tour of the test site beforehand, Fox News learned why the building appeared to withstand the energy of the blast. The walls are covered with a material that acts like glue to hold the walls together. An inner window described as a catcher's mitt (like in the game of baseball) holds back pieces of flying glass while stretching up to 2 feet from the force. And a bolted steel system supports the floors. We were not allowed access to the burned out building after the fact, for security purposes.

The program's origin traces back to Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, when twin bomb attacks leveled U.S. embassies that killed more than 220 people.

Smith, whose resume boasts a lengthy career of international assignments at embassies around the globe, explained the importance the mission holds to his team when it comes to protecting Americans on assignment abroad.

"They volunteer, actually," he said. "They ask to go to these locations to serve and put forth the policies of the U.S. government, and I respect the work they do."

CIA operatives have created own Taliban network to destabilize Pakistan...

CIA has created own Taliban to wreak terror havoc on Pakistan, claims Pak paper
ANI – Thu, May 12, 2011

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives have infiltrated the Taliban and Al-Qaeda networks, and have created their own Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) force in order to destabilise Pakistan, a Pakistani newspaper has claimed.

Much of the information-gathering network of Pakistan's supreme security service was curtailed in the country's tribal areas during former military ruler Pervez Musharraf's era, consequently giving an edge to America's CIA, The Nation reported.

The CIA was given direct access to the entire territory of North and South Waziristan, which has since developed its stronghold in the belt, it added.

According to sources, the CIA's operations, which were suspended in Balochistan, Punjab, Islamabad and other areas of the country after the Raymond Allen Davis (RAD) incident, have also been restored.

Responding to a query, the sources said that the CIA operatives have infiltrated the Taliban and Al-Qaeda networks, and have created their own TTP force, the paper said.

This force has been recruited, trained and equipped by these CIA operatives to target the Pakistan Army personnel, armed forces' installations, markets, hospitals, schools and public places to destabilise Pakistan, the paper added.

The paper quoted the sources, as claiming that the Soviet Intelligence Agency had already disclosed that CIA contractor Raymond Davis and his network had provided Al-Qaeda operatives with chemical, nuclear and biological weapons, so that US installations may be targeted and Pakistan be blamed, and pressed to do more in areas such as conducting operations in North Waziristan.

"After the civil government justified the CIA operation in Abbottabad all of them have again indulged in their original nefarious activities," the sources added.

Former ISI Punjab Regional Commander, Brigadier (retired) Aslam Ghuman, was quoted as saying: "During my visit to the US, I learnt Israeli spy agency Mossad, in connivance with Indian agency RAW, under the direct supervision of CIA, planned to destabilise Pakistan at any cost".

The paper also quoted former Punjab Military Intelligence (MI) chief, Brigadier (retired) Mohammad Yousuf, as saying that over 7,000 CIA operatives have been conducting warfare within Pakistan.

"Days after the mystery of 9/11, the CIA operatives landed in Pakistan in order to train Pakistani troops and authorities concerned for counter terrorism, but with the passage of time, their demands increased, and now the CIA network has a strong grip," said another ex- ISI Punjab Regional Commander, Brigadier (retired) Ghazanfar.

London's 7/7 bombers 'were innocent patsies'...

7/7 bombers 'were innocent patsies'

A man sent a DVD to bereaved families from the July 7 attacks claiming the four London suicide bombers were "innocent patsies", a court has been told.

One of the packages included a letter to John Hyman telling him his daughter Miriam did not die in the Tavistock Square bus blast but was murdered by the security services at Canary Wharf in London, Southwark Crown Court was told.

John Hill, 63, denied two counts of attempting to pervert the course of justice by posting six copies of the DVD to the foreman of the jury and one to the judge, Mr Justice Gross presiding over a 2008 trial at Kingston Crown Court linked to the suicide bombings.

Both packages were intercepted by court staff before they reached the intended targets, the court was told. They were later traced by DNA and fingerprinting to Mr Hill, who was living in Carrick Street, Kells, County Meath in the Irish Republic.

The court heard Mr Hill had sent copies of the same DVD to six of the bereaved families between 2007 and 2008.

Annabel Darlow, prosecuting, told the jury: "The video which you will watch as part of the evidence in this case was one which stated that the bombings which took place in London on July 7 2005 were in fact the product of a government conspiracy.

"The four Muslim men identified following extensive police investigation as the bombers were in fact no such thing, claimed this DVD.

"They were innocent patsies set up by the powers that be in order to take responsibility for the atrocities on that day and the deaths of 52 innocent people which ensued."

She said the letter addressed to Mr Hyman had said: "I do not believe Miriam was on the number 30 bus. I don't think you believe that either. I believe she went to Canary Wharf, witnessed and photographed the murder of the Muslim patsies and was murdered by the security services to silence her."

UK Major General on Iraq dossier to make case for war: "We knew at the time that the purpose of the dossier was precisely to make a case for war, rather than setting out the available intelligence, and that to make the best out of sparse and inconclusive intelligence the wording was developed with care."

Iraq dossier drawn up to make case for war – intelligence officer
Newly released evidence to Chilcot inquiry directly contradicts Blair government's claims about dossier
Richard Norton-Taylor guardian.co.uk, Thursday 12 May 2011

A top military intelligence official has said the discredited dossier on Iraq's weapons programme was drawn up "to make the case for war", flatly contradicting persistent claims to the contrary by the Blair government, and in particular by Alastair Campbell, the former prime minister's chief spin doctor.

In hitherto secret evidence to the Chilcot inquiry, Major General Michael Laurie said: "We knew at the time that the purpose of the dossier was precisely to make a case for war, rather than setting out the available intelligence, and that to make the best out of sparse and inconclusive intelligence the wording was developed with care."

His evidence is devastating, as it is the first time such a senior intelligence officer has directly contradicted the then government's claims about the dossier – and, perhaps more significantly, what Tony Blair and Campbell said when it was released seven months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Laurie, who was director general in the Defence Intelligence Staff, responsible for commanding and delivering raw and analysed intelligence, said: "I am writing to comment on the position taken by Alastair Campbell during his evidence to you … when he stated that the purpose of the dossier was not to make a case for war; I and those involved in its production saw it exactly as that, and that was the direction we were given."

He continued: "Alastair Campbell said to the inquiry that the purpose of the dossier was not 'to make a case for war'. I had no doubt at that time this was exactly its purpose and these very words were used."

Laurie said he recalled that the chief of defence intelligence, Air Marshal Sir Joe French, was "frequently inquiring whether we were missing something" and was under pressure. "We could find no evidence of planes, missiles or equipment that related to WMD [weapons of mass destruction], generally concluding that they must have been dismantled, buried or taken abroad. There has probably never been a greater detailed scrutiny of every piece of ground in any country."

The document is one of a number released by the Chilcot inquiry. They include top secret MI6 reports warning of the damage to British interests and the likelihood of terrorist attacks in the UK if it joined the US-led invasion of Iraq.

However, a newly declassified document reveals that Sir Kevin Tebbit, then a top official at the Ministry of Defence, warned the defence secretary, Geoff Hoon, in January 2003 that the US would "feel betrayed by their partner of choice" if Britain did not go along with the invasion.

Despite its concerns, MI6 told ministers before the invasion that toppling Saddam Hussein "remains a prize because it could give new security to oil supplies".

Laurie's memo raises questions about the role of Sir John Scarlett, chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, who later became head of MI6.

"Two U.S.-based corporations have been accused of having ties with anti-union “death squads” – Drummond Coal and Chiquita Brands International (the original United Fruit). The Organization of American States revealed that 3,000 automatic weapons and 2.5 million bullets were shipped through Chiquita’s private port and picked up by operatives with the notorious death squad AUC"...

Unions to Colombia: Stop Murdering Labor Activists
By Teresa Albano
People’s World | September 30 2009

Yessica Hoyos could be your neighbor. A young woman with a presence that lights up a room, she could be the woman organizing your next block party or running for office. But Yessica Hoyos is from Colombia, where workers and union members are murdered with impunity. Her father, a trade union activist and leader, was killed in 2001.

Now this young lawyer has devoted her life to seeking justice for her father and the thousands of other families of murdered trade unionists.

Hoyos is touring the United States after receiving the AFL-CIO’s Human Rights Award at its recent convention in Pittsburgh.

When her father, Jorge Dario Hoyos Franco, was assassinated eight years ago, Yessika immediately went on the air, telling radio listeners that her father’s murder would not silence her. She declared that she would fight for an end to the official impunity, demonstrated by the fact that Colombia’s attorney general secures convictions for only 5 percent of the more than 2,700 assassinations of trade unionists.

Her father would not be just another statistic, she vowed.

She was just 17.

Two days after her father’s murder, her family began to receive death threats. Despite it all Yessica continued to press the case. In 2003, two young men were found guilty of the shooting. They said they had killed Dario for “being a subversive” and were carrying out orders from a “higher authority.”

It is those higher authorities that Hoyos and the organization she founded, Sons and Daughters Against Impunity and for the Memory of the Fallen, are determined to bring to justice.

At a Sept. 15 panel on labor rights and violence in Colombia, during the AFL-CIO Pittsburgh convention, Hoyos addressed these issues along with Reinaldo Villalba of the Colectivo de Abogados Jose Alvear Restrepo (Lawyers’ Collective) and Julio Roberto Gomez, general secretary of the CGT (Confederacion General de Trabajadores) one of the trade union federations in Colombia.

Hoyos and the other panelists said the violence against unionized workers comes from the government and employers. In fact, they said, it is governmental policy.

“Colombia has an anti-union policy. It uses its own agencies to murder trade unionists. The national army has murdered trade unionists,” Hoyos said through a translator.

The panelists said the government uses the 40-year civil war in Colombia as a pretext to murder trade unionists who are doing legitimate union work. The army and government claim the victims are “unionists in the daytime and guerillas at night” as a way to stigmatize union activity, Hoyos said.

The Colombian government claims it is negotiating with right-wing paramilitary groups, but lawyer Villalba charged that it’s not negotiations but “cooperation on impunity.” Such cooperation “hides responsibility of the state in starting and sponsoring these groups and it hides the economic support of employers, foreign and domestic, that are behind the groups,” he said through translation.

The “higher authorities” who are responsible have remained “invisible,” and the Colombian justice system has not held these order-givers responsible, the panelists charged.

They leveled the lion’s share of blame at the far-right paramilitaries, government and employers for the violence. However, CGT’s Gomez said guerilla groups have also been known to kill trade unionists. “We don’t want to reduce the number of unionists killed, we want zero trade unionists killed,” he said.

Two U.S.-based corporations have been accused of having ties with anti-union “death squads” – Drummond Coal and Chiquita Brands International (the original United Fruit). The Organization of American States revealed that 3,000 automatic weapons and 2.5 million bullets were shipped through Chiquita’s private port and picked up by operatives with the notorious death squad AUC.

Drummond Coal has been in and out of courts in both the U.S. and Colombia for its alleged ties to paramilitaries. Recently, a Colombian judge has ordered top Drummond executives to be criminally investigated for allegedly conspiring with paramilitaries to carry out the 2001 murder of three union leaders: Valmore Locarno, Victor Orcasita and Gustavo Soler.

Hoyos’ trip is having an impact not only in the U.S. but in Canada too, where the Colombia Free Trade Agreement is currently being debated. News reports quoted one MP, Tony Martin, as speaking passionately against the pact and citing his meeting with Hoyos.

“Trade unionists are simply exercising a right that we take for granted in this country,” Martin said. Martin joins the Steelworkers and others demanding human rights violations be addressed first before any trade pact is signed.

Late Yankee owner was an FBI informant...

George Steinbrenner was an FBI Informant
By Garth Johnston
Gothamist | May 10, 2011

We knew George Steinbrenner was a character, but who knew he was an FBI informant too? And yet that appears to be exactly what the late Boss was. According to government files released yesterday Steinbrenner actively worked with the FBI on national security cases in an attempt to improve his chances of getting a pardon for illegal campaign contributions to Richard Nixon’s re-election campaign.

In 1974 Steinbrenner pled guilty to illegally funneling $25,000 into the Nixon campaign and for his trouble was fined $15,000 and suspended from baseball for 15 months (he did, at least, avoid jail time). Starting in about 1976 Steinbrenner began helping the FBI.

The details of Steinbrenner’s actions have mostly been redacted from the released files but it is clear that Steinbrenner agreed to help “without hesitation” during a three-year investigation starting in 1976. In 1981 he also “materially assisted” the FBI in an undercover operation that, according to an undercover agent “could not have been accomplished” without his “get involved approach.”

In 1978 the Boss also was involved in another investigation, to which Steinbrenner’s lawyer referred in a pardon petition, writing: “Mr. Steinbrenner knows that he placed the lives of his family and himself in jeopardy through being involved in a terrorist matter. He knows he made the right decision because the agents stated this information was very valuable to the United States.”

Though the details of what exactly Steinbrenner did are vague, one assumes from the non-redacted text that he actually did do something. Not least because Ronald Reagan pardoned him in 1988. And now if you’ll excuse us, we’re going to sit back and ponder all of the awesome things Larry David and the Seinfeld crew could have done with this info had they only known

Friday, May 13, 2011

Meteorite(?) hit front lawn...

UPDATED: Officials Believe Meteorite Hit Basking Ridge Lawn
Small meteorite believed to have created a trench in township front yard last Friday morning
By Linda Sadlouskos | May 11, 2011

Township officials believe a small meteorite impacted the front lawn of a township home last Friday morning at about 11:35 a.m., creating a trench and spewing dirt and debris on the lawn, driveway and street near the residence.

The residents were not home at the time, members of the Township Committee said when discussing the event at Tuesday night's meeting, although police later said the homeowner was on the property, but heard nothing. No one was injured, Township Mayor John Malay and other officials said.

The address of the home has not been released. However, Township Committeeman John Carpenter said the home is in the southern end of the township.

An official police report issued on Wednesday said police had responded at about 2:26 p.m. to a report of property damage to a residence located along the Mount Airy Road corridor, south of Lyons Road. Police said they are withholding the address for the privacy of the residents.

Sgt. Scott Ward arrived at the home and observed a hole in the ground at the front of the property, police said. The hole was approximately seven feet long, four feet wide and 18 inches deep, according to the police report.

In addition, dirt and rock debris were strewn approximately 100 feet from the hole, police said. Police said the homeowner stated that he had been home all day and did not see or hear anything that he believed may have caused the hole. The homeowner noticed the hole at about 2:15 p.m., according to police.

Neighboring residents were also questioned and none of those neighbors reported seeing or hearing anything out of the ordinary. The following agencies responded to investigate what may have caused the hole: Liberty Corner fire chief Peter Aprahamian, Public Service Electric & Gas and Jersey Central Power & Light. It was determined that no gas lines or underground electrical wires were in the area and therefore not responsible for creating the trench.

Malay said no trace of a meteorite was found, but the material may have disintegrated upon impact. "It must have been traveling pretty darn fast," he said.

The mayor said a seismograph based at the William Annin Middle School detected an "event" that day at about 11:35 a.m.

In order to rule out the possibility that an explosive device was responsible for creating the hole, the New Jersey State Police Bomb Squad was contacted and responded to the residence. The NJSP Bomb Squad determined that no evidence of an explosive device was present.

Based on tree damage near the hole and media reports of increased meteor shower activity that was present on the morning of May 6, it is believed that the hole may have been caused by a meteorite.

Officials expressed relief that the flying object did not hit a house, or injure anyone.

Former Blackwater officials form global intelligence company...

Former Blackwater Officials Form Global Intelligence Company
Team boasts of “human assets” in Iran and access to “lobbying firms, intelligence officials” in Washington.
By Shane Harris

From the team that brought you Blackwater and the pre-9/11 counterterrorism program Able Danger comes “Jellyfish Intelligence.”

That’s the name a group of former US intelligence officials and executives from the controversial security firm have chosen for a new private outfit that offers “predictive intelligence” for Fortune 500 corporations and senior-level executives and that aims to “protect human lives and their business interests throughout the world.

The company blends traditional models of a strategic consulting firm with what it claims is an extensive network of human sources—people who, in an official context, would be called spies. Jellyfish employs a network of “over 200 intelligence assets on the ground” in global hot spots, according to a marketing document, including countries undergoing political upheaval in the Middle East. The company won’t disclose its sources’ identities, but the document calls them “figures inside key circles . . . including within the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, clerical circles in Iran, and tribal leaderships on the Pakistani side of the [Afghanistan-Pakistan] border region.

If true—and none of the claims could be independently verified—that would make Jellyfish a private rival to the CIA. The company also says its assets are “well-connected among key opposition groups throughout the Middle East,” a claim, one company official boldly asserts, that the US spy agencies couldn’t make, as evidenced by its failure to predict political and civic uprisings in Egypt and other countries in the region.

Jellyfish’s network includes people in more than two dozen countries in Europe, Africa, Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. At least one asset is in Tehran, the company says, in a country where US corporations and citizens are officially banned from doing business. An exectuive says that because Jellyfish was employing “foreign nationals,” it didn’t run afoul of the sanctions regime.

The market for high-level, customized intelligence about global political risk isn’t a new one. Companies such as Stratfor and any number of consulting firms staffed by former government officials, including Kissinger Associates, offer some variation on the “private CIA” model. These groups warn companies when to pull their employees out of a dangerous location. They help dig up intelligence on competitors. And they identify problems on the horizon that may affect a company’s ability to do business­—either because it can’t physically operate there or because doing so is too difficult politically.

Jellyfish doesn’t shy away from its controversial pedigree. In fact, it leads with Blackwater and Able Danger in the headline of a press release announcing the company’s formation. Jellyfish CEO Keith Mahoney decided to “put the issue on the table,” because, he says, it wouldn’t be difficult to connect him and his colleagues to their previous employers. Mahoney ran Blackwater’s Total Intelligence Solutions division. And Jellyfish’s vice president for business development, Michael Yorio, is a former sales executive for Xe Services, the name Blackwater chose after it attracted controversy for its military work in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Blackwater has been implicated in civilian deaths in Iraq and is among the most notorious war contractors of the past decade. Able Danger was an intelligence effort led by the US Army that used pre-Google era search and data-mining technology to map out the global network of al-Qaeda. The operation used publicly available data from the Web, but it ran afoul of privacy regulations that bar collecting personal information about American citizens. Some of its members, two of whom are working with Jellyfish, claim they identified some of the 9/11 hijackers before the 2001 attacks. Other members of Able Danger dispute those claims.

Don’t expect Jellyfish to get into the “gates, guns, and guards” business like Blackwater, Mahoney says. It won’t be providing armed guards or physical security, nor will it be pursuing any contracts with the US government, even though the company is headquartered in DC, or, as the company calls it, “Jellyfish Station Washington.” Most of the business partners live in the city, Mahoney says, and Washington allowed Jellyfish to conduct what the marketing document calls its “Swarm operations,” giving clients access to “political intelligence operatives, lobbying firms, intelligence officials and military strategists” with whom executives said they have relationships.

In addition to its human network, Jellyfish has added technological component to its services, a system for processing large amounts of information and plucking out the most useful nuggets of intelligence. File that attribute under “holy grail,” as it’s precisely what the US intelligence community has been trying do to for years without much success.

It’s difficult to ascertain how successful Jellyfish has been because it won’t disclose its clients, nor will it provide a mockup of the customizable system it offers to high-level executives.

The tech team is headed by former Able Danger contractor J.D. Smith. Another team member, Tony Shaffer, is the military-operations adviser. Shaffer wrote a book about his career as a military intelligence officer called Operation Dark Heart. The Defense Department bought 9,500 copies of the memoir—nearly its entire first print run—and then destroyed them. Officials said Shaffer hadn’t vetted his manuscript with the government and that it contained classified information.

Dedicated to FOX "News", on their favorite artist (to slander at the moment)...

Thursday, May 12, 2011

"The US and it's allies will do anything to prevent democracy in the Arab world" (Video)


The God Within (Video)

This mini-documentary by Mike Adams the Health Ranger exposes the false philosophy underpinning most of modern science. It explains why science is rooted in evil and destruction while harming life on our planet: GMOs, vaccines, psychiatric drugs, nuclear weapons -- they've all been pursued and promoted under the brand of "science." And yet, shockingly, modern scientists do not believe human beings are conscious beings. They claim we are all just "biological robots" which provides the philosophical pretext for genocide...


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