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Sunday, June 26, 2011

The living hell in Pelican Bay Prison...

The Living Hell in Pelican Bay Prison
By Li Onesto

Via:
Crescent City is far north in California, about 20 miles from the Oregon border. In 1989, 275 acres of dense forest near there were chopped down to build the $277.5 million Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP). Today, more than 3,000 people are locked up in this prison, infamous for its inhumane conditions and extreme abuse.

More than 1,000 prisoners at PBSP are locked up in an X-shaped cluster of white buildings set apart by electrified fences and barren ground. This is the Security Housing Unit (SHU), a supermax control facility where prisoners are subjected to sensory deprivation, isolation and brutality.

Many prisoners in the Pelican Bay SHU, and their lawyers, have bravely fought to expose the torture that is going on. They have written letters and articles, and filed lawsuits. Against heavy repression and censorship they have struggled to connect with people on the outside who are fighting for the rights of prisoners.

Dehumanizing Sensory Deprivation and Isolation

Solitary confinement is a hidden world within the larger hidden world of the prison system, and prisoners in solitary are an invisible and dehumanized minority within the larger population of prison inmates in general—who also remain remarkably invisible and dehumanized...

—Solitary Watch, an information clearinghouse on solitary confinement

If you are in the SHU at Pelican Bay Prison you face two extremes: minimum human contact and maximum sensory deprivation.

Think about everything that makes you human, that keeps you physically and mentally alive, that connects you with the world and other people, that gives you a reason to live, to love, to learn and think. All this is what the SHU tries to extinguish.

If you get put in the SHU you’re locked up in a small, windowless concrete cell for 23 hours a day, without any face-to-face contact with another human being, not even a guard. You may or may not be allowed reading material. You get only one hour outside the cell, by yourself, in a small indoor space. You never see sunlight or a blade of grass. Whenever you leave your cell you’re handcuffed and shackled, hands-to-waist, ankle-to-ankle.

Many mentally ill prisoners are put in the SHU at Pelican Bay. And the SHU literally drives many prisoners crazy. What does this mean? There is evidence that long-term isolation can alter brain chemistry and produce psychopathologies, including panic attacks, depression, inability to concentrate, memory loss, aggression, self-mutilation, and various forms of psychosis. These things occur as a result of other forms of confinement. But they happen at a considerably higher rate to prisoners subjected to long-term isolation. And there are prisoners in the Pelican Bay SHU who have been suffering this form of torture for 20, 30 or even 40 years.

These crimes against prisoners also carry over to their families. Prison officials purposely prevent prisoners in the SHU from having physical contact with their loved ones. A prisoner in the PBSP SHU isn’t even allowed to take a photo of himself to send to his family. No phone calls are permitted.

If you live in San Francisco and have a son, a husband, or a father at Pelican Bay, you have to drive 370 miles to see them. If you live in Los Angeles the drive is 750 miles. And when you get there, you’re only allowed to visit for one and a half hours through thick glass, no touching.

Brutality Aimed at Breaking Bones and Spirit

The prison population in the U.S. has skyrocketed—from 500,000 in 1980 to more than 2.3 million today. In California 33 new prisons were built between 1984 and 2005 (12 prisons had been constructed in the state in the previous 132 years). Human rights groups in the U.S. and internationally have documented the inhumane conditions of this mass incarceration. And recently the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that conditions in California prisons constitute “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Indeed if you look at the brutal conditions in U.S. prisons, which have been clearly documented, it becomes clear that the prison system in this country is not about helping prisoners or even treating them like human beings. And for decades now, there hasn’t even been the pretense of prisons being about “rehabilitation.”

Mass incarceration in this country is about locking up a whole section of society—especially poor Black and Latino men—to whom this system offers no future. Prisons in the U.S. are aimed at punishment—degrading, dehumanizing, and breaking people. And the SHU at Pelican Bay is a model in doing exactly that.

For example, guards carry out brutal “cell extractions”—which they say are done if a prisoner won’t leave his cell. But prisoners in the SHU have said that cell extractions are carried out for such minor infractions as refusing to return a meal tray, banging on the cell door, or insulting a guard. This description of a cell extraction is corroborated not only by many prisoner accounts, but also by explicit Department of Corrections procedures:

“This is how the five-man cell extraction team proceeds: the first member of the team is to enter the cell carrying a large shield, which is used to push the prisoner back into a corner of the cell; the second member follows closely, wielding a special cell extraction baton, which is used to strike the inmate on the upper part of his body so that he will raise his arms in self-protection; thus unsteadied, the inmate is pulled off balance by another member of the team whose job is to place leg irons around his ankles; once downed, a fourth member of the team places him in handcuffs; the fifth member stands ready to fire a taser gun or rifle that shoots wooden or rubber bullets at the resistant inmate.”

After such a beating, a prisoner may be kept hog-tied in his cell for hours.

A former guard at Pelican Bay testified about how he was targeted by other guards because he didn’t go along with all the vicious brutality he was supposed to carry out. He said: “They called D-Yard SHU, ‘fluffy SHU,’ because we didn’t hog-tie inmates to toilets or kick them in the face after cell extractions... There was one officer in there who used to take photos of every shooting and decorate his office with them.”

Doesn’t this sound a lot like the soldiers in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan who carried out massacres and then proudly collected body parts like souvenirs and posed for photos they could use to brag about their exploits?

The “Catch-22” of the SHU

How does a prisoner end up in the SHU? For exhibiting any violence. For anything prison officials deem “insubordination.” For contraband—which includes not only drugs but cell phones—or even having too many postage stamps.

Prisoners in the Pelican Bay SHU have submitted a Formal Complaint—“On Human Rights Violations and Request for Action to end over 20 years of state sanctioned torture to extract information from (or cause mental illness to) California’s Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit (SHU) Prisoners”—to the State of California lawmakers and the Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. One of the issues addressed in this complaint is the way many prisoners end up in the SHU at Pelican Bay because false and/or highly questionable “evidence” is used to accuse them of being active/inactive members of a prison gang. Prison officials say supermax facilities like the SHU are for the “worst of the worst.” But as the Formal Complaint says, “a review of these so-called demonized ‘worst of the worst’ PBSP-SHU inmates, who are party to this complaint, will reveal they are actually free of being guilty of serious rule violations for many years and zero illegal gang-related acts in prison.” And the complaint also alleges that many of those sent to the SHU are “those who utilize the legal system to challenge illegal [California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation] policies and practices, and encourage others to do the same.”

The Formal Complaint states:

“If they want out of the SHU, they have to provide staff with information and be willing to testify on other prisoners, free citizens, including family members that only harms others and this has to be known by everyone. This is a Catch 22 situation—become a notorious informant (and thereby place yourself, possibly your family, at serious risk for retaliation) or die or become mentally ill in the SHU.”

This is called “debriefing,” which, the complaint goes on to explain, “requires a SHU inmate to provide CDCR staff with ‘sufficient verifiable information that will adversely impact the gang, other gang members and associates to the extent that they will never accept them back.’”

The complaint goes on to say: “This makes the inmate (and possibly his family members) a target for reprisal, potentially for life ... many of these inmates are serving “term-to-life” sentences, and they have been eligible for parole for the last 5 to 25+ years, but they are told that if they want a chance to parole they have to debrief—period! The CDCR-PBSP-SHU policies and practices summarized violate both the U.S. Constitution and International law banning the use of torture and other cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment as a means of obtaining information via coercion, and/or to punish for acts or suspected acts of misconduct...”

Crimes Against Humanity

Earlier this year, Laura Magnani, author of the American Friends Service Committee 2008 report, “Buried Alive: Long-Term Isolation in California’s Youth and Adult Prisons,” was on KPFK radio’s Michael Slate Show and talked about conditions in SHUs (see interview excerpt above, “It is so dehumanizing, it’s almost unimaginable”). At the end of the interview Slate spoke to the importance of prisoners “transforming themselves and really becoming something different from what they may have been when they went in, even if they weren’t political prisoners there.” He brought up how the isolation works to rob them of the ability to do this, of dreaming, of taking part in revolutionary activity. Magnani responded:

“It’s not even just dreams, it’s actually punishing you for having an intellectual life, for actually thinking outside the box, or for thinking at all. So the idea of barring people’s access to certain kinds of thought, which is what censorship is, is extremely frightening. And we know from research that one of the best things that can happen to somebody doing a long prison sentence is for them to develop an intellectual life and start reading and start studying and start thinking for themselves. That’s a way where you can really create a new life for yourself, or you can make your life meaningful even if you never get out. But if you do get out, you make yourself a more productive member of society, because you have a life. You’re a thoughtful, educated person. What could be better? And instead they’re trying to really prevent that from happening.”

Crimes against the very humanity of people are being carried out every single day at Pelican Bay Prison—and in other prisons all over the USA. This is an intolerable outrage. And a mass and determined movement outside the walls is urgently needed to expose and demand an end to these high-tech torture chambers.

Ex-MI6 chief altered Iraqi intelligence...

Ex-MI6 chief altered Iraqi intelligence
Sun Jun 26, 2011 7:49AM

Via:
A top former British intelligence official had misled the public about the former Iraqi regime's weapons program to pave the way for war, it is now revealed.

The then Prime Minister Tony Blair had assigned Sir John Scarlett to write the notorious dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) on September 2002.

But, Scarlett, who was head of the Joint Intelligence Committee, sent a memo to Blair's foreign affairs adviser referring to "the benefit of obscuring the fact that in terms of WMD Iraq is not that exceptional".

Joint Intelligence Committee was duty-bound to give impartial intelligence-based advice to ministers, but in this case, intelligence has been misrepresented to make the case for war.

The former intelligence official Michael Laurie had told the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war that it was widely understood that the dossier was intended to make a case for war and misrepresented intelligence to this particular end. Now, Laurie's claimed are evidenced by the disclosure.

Later, it was found that Scarlett had willfully made up the intelligence to look as credible as possible and render a war on Iraq as certain. He was awarded by Tony Blair the post of foreign intelligence agency's chief in spite of all this.

Scarlett's memo was sent to Sir David Manning, Blair's chief foreign policy adviser, in March 2002 after an early draft of the dossier had been drawn up covering four countries with "WMD programmes of concern": Iraq, Iran, Libya and North Korea.

Jack Straw, then foreign secretary, had commented that the paper "has to show why there is an exceptional threat from Iraq. It does not quite do this yet." In response, Scarlett suggested that the dossier could make more impact if it only covered Iraq. "This would have the benefit of obscuring the fact that in terms of WMD Iraq is not that exceptional," he wrote.

Clare Short, the Labour cabinet minister who resigned after the war had started, said: "Those words show that John Scarlett was in on the deception from the beginning and was being duplicitous deliberately."

Elfyn Llwyd, parliamentary leader of Plaid Cymru, said: "It is clear to me that John Scarlett was not an objective player in all of this." Llwyd asked why Chilcot had neither published the Scarlett memo nor questioned Scarlett about it. "It again calls into question the credibility of the inquiry," he said.

The memo, released under the Freedom of Information Act, has been described as one of the most significant documents on the dossier yet published.

"Libya is being destroyed" (Video)

Via:


Petraeus says torture should be an option for US...

RP NOTE: AS IF IT ISN'T ALREADY.

Petraeus says torture an option for US
Ken Dilanian
June 25, 2011

Via:
WASHINGTON: David Petraeus, Barack Obama's choice to be the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency, says the US should consider using special interrogation techniques when a captive is withholding information that is immediately needed to save lives.

In the vast majority of cases, General Petraeus said, the ''humane'' questioning standards mandated by the US Army field manual were sufficient to persuade detainees to talk. But while he did not use the word torture, General Petraeus said ''there should be discussion … by policy makers and by Congress'' of something ''more than the normal techniques''.

Speaking at his confirmation hearing before the Senate intelligence committee on Thursday, General Petraeus described an example of a detainee who knew how to disarm a nuclear device set to explode under the Empire State Building. Congress might want to give the President the option of taking extraordinary measures to extract that information, he said.

The Republican senator John McCain, who was tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, endorsed the idea. ''I look forward to working with you on this ticking time bomb scenario,'' he said. ''I think the person responsible should be the President of the United States … I do agree with you.''

The comments were noteworthy because they came from two men opposed to the interrogation techniques, including water boarding, that were used by the CIA in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Mr Obama banned the techniques when he took office.

General Petraeus, who said he opposed torture generally because ''it's the right thing to do'', expressed his preference for capturing rather than killing al-Qaeda militants, pointing out that the CIA neither held nor interrogated detainees at present.

General Petraeus argued that the US needed a place to hold people accused of terrorism, despite the President's stated intention to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay.

''This is a very, very serious issue for our country, and it's one that policymakers and Congress need to address on an expeditious basis,'' he said.

General Petraeus, who would become the first CIA director to arrive directly after serving as the top commander in a war, would be called upon to offer objective views of the situations in Afghanistan and Iraq. He sought to dispel concerns about having to ''grade my own work''.

''Clearly I have views on the efforts in which I have been engaged,'' he said. ''However … when I am in the situation room with the President, I will strive to represent the agency's position.''

He also said he wanted to make sure the agency was not ''totally captured'' by the war against al-Qaeda.

China, weapons proliferation and the next developments in the ''Arab Spring'' should also be intelligence priorities and cyber threats were ''of particular note''.

''I share the concerns that many hold about cyber security,'' he said.

A vote on his nomination is expected before July 4.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Black Money: The shadowy world of international bribery (Video)

International bribery. It’s a trillion dollars a year, with corporations on one side, heads of state on the other. And it thrives in an invisible world.

First Broadcast April 07, 2009 Via:

Watch the full episode. See more FRONTLINE.

Headed to the beach? Heads up for an invasion force

Headed to the beach? Heads up for an invasion force
By Larry Shaughnessy, CNN
June 19, 2011 12:05 p.m. EDT

Washington (CNN) -- It's mid-June, a perfect time to visit the beach to watch porpoises play in the surf or seagulls strut the sand -- or you could watch a formation of Marine Corps warplanes darting over the shore at hundreds of miles per hour.

But don't worry -- the United States hasn't declared war on your family's beach house. It's just part of a major Marine Corps exercise called Exercise Mailed Fist (translation: armored fist).

The exercise is designed to test the capability of every type of Marine Corps aircraft, including MV-22 Ospreys and F/A 18 Hornets, as well as some Navy ships and Air Force planes.

The drill will stretch from Quantico Marine Base in northern Virginia to the Navy's Pinecastle Bombing Range in Florida.

With thousands of Marines and other service members involved, it's the biggest such drill ever on the U.S. East Coast.

"Exercise Mailed Fist is the first exercise of its specific kind and the largest 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing exercise conducted in recent history," said Staff Sgt. Roman J. Yurek, Marine Corps spokesman. "In the past, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing units had to deploy to the West Coast to conduct this type of training."

Mailed Fist was not originally supposed to be one big exercise. But the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing's commander, Maj. Gen. Jon Davis, decided to combine several smaller drills into one big exercise. Not only do the Marines train closer to home, the Pentagon saves money.

Most of the exercises will take place in the skies above or near Marine bases along the North and South Carolina coast.

From Monday until Friday, vacationers "who are located near the bases ... will see an increase in air and ground traffic at various times throughout the week, but there should be minimal impact on activity near beaches other than occasional fly-overs at relatively high altitudes," the spokesman said.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ultra-bright burst of light marks the death throes of a star being eaten alive...

Ultra-Bright Burst of Light Marks the Death Throes of a Star Being Eaten Alive
Rebecca Boyle

Via:
Astronomers have solved the mystery of a gargantuan cosmic explosion first spotted in March: A black hole did it, by killing and eating a star the size of our sun.

A couple months ago, we told you about an unusually bright and long-lasting blast of energy emanating from the center of a galaxy 3.8 billion light-years away in the constellation Draco. At first, astronomers thought it was a gamma-ray burst from a collapsing star, but when it kept shining in a variable pattern (brightening and fading) scientists realized it wasn't your average GRB.

Astronomer Joshua Bloom at the University of California-Berkeley suspected it was a high-energy jet produced as a sun-sized star fell into a black hole and was torn to pieces. Bloom and researchers from several other institutions in the US and UK started analyzing data from the Swift Gamma Burst Mission, which first spotted the blaze of glory, as well as the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Keck Observatory. Their analysis confirmed the theory, and was published Thursday in Science Express.

As tidal forces tear the star to pieces, some of the star's mass is turned into energy. Some of that energy radiates as x-rays and gamma ray jets that spew from the swirling disk of star guts. The variable brightness is the result of new flares that occurred as more chunks of the destroyed star fell into the black hole, researchers said. Earth happened to be directly in the path of one of those gamma ray jets, which is why it looked so incredibly bright, scientists said.

By the way, this is still going on, more than two months later. Most star-death events last a matter of hours or maybe days, not weeks or months. (This star really died about 3.8 billion years ago.)

The black hole in question has a mass about six or seven times that of the sun, but that's not really that big in terms of active galactic nuclei. Massive black holes, as compared to supermassive black holes, can quietly munch on gas for long periods of time, and roar to life when something wanders too close. That seems to be what happened here, Bloom said in a Cal news release.

"Here, you have a black hole sitting quiescently, not gobbling up matter, and all of a sudden something sets it off," he said. "This could happen in our own galaxy, where a black hole sits at the center living in quiescence, and occasionally burbles or hiccups as it swallows a little bit of gas. From a distance, it would appear dormant, until a star randomly wanders too close and is shredded."

This is a very rare event, and it's even more unlikely that Earth would get such a great view, Bloom said - probably once in 100 million years in any given galaxy.

DEA still "in denial" about the American drug lords...

DEA still "in denial" on American DrugLords
June 16, 2011
by Daniel Hopsicker

Via:
The criminal syndicate responsible for massive drug moves using two planes from St. Petersburg, Florida—a DC9 caught carrying 5.5 tons of cocaine and a Gulfstream II busted eighteen months later with four tons—include among its number at least two well-known Americans whose names have not previously surfaced.

One is a man present at the inception of a political scandal which swirled for several decades around what was, at least until recently, the world’s most infamous bank: BCCI, the Bank of Crooks & Criminals International.

It took the curiosity of a local cop in upstate New York, who stumbled onto and then busted a summit meeting of the American Mob in Apalachin in November of 1957 to finally force FBI head J. Edgar Hoover to stop mincing (figuratively) around, and admit the existence of organized crime in America.

But even in today’s supposedly more enlightened times, for America’s DEA to admit to being “in denial” over the existence of the American Drug Lords will probably take a nationally-televised intervention in prime time, hosted by Dr Phil.

The idea that Bert Lance, or former top U.S. military officials Major General Richard Secord and Air Force Brigadier General Heinie Aderholt were associates of a criminal syndicate using American planes to haul tons of cocaine up from South America while simultaneously involved in massive financial fraud may not be as shocking as it once was.

What does seem improbable, however, is whether, even if true, it would become breaking news. When was the last time anyone heard of an American General being arrested for anything?

German artist Jenny Holzer said it best: “Abuse of Power Comes as No Surprise."

Coast Guard 'didn't see nuthin.'

The DC9 (N900SA), alert readers will recall, had been tricked out to impersonate a plane from the U.S. Dept of Homeland Security.

An official-looking Seal beside the door, with an image of a U.S. Federal Eagle in the center, read: SKYWAY AIRCRAFT. PROTECTION OF AMERICA'S SKIES."

It was so close to being identical to the seal of Homeland Security that even eagle-eyed planespotters around the country were fooled. And there was nary a peep from the U.S. Coast Guard (a DHW Agency), whose major Caribbean Basin Interdiction Facility was located right next door.

"We never could figure out how they could get away with that," one SkyWay employee told us. "They had the same seal on the fleet of Hummers, and local cops in Tampa pulled them over and made them take it off. But not the Coast Guard. Never."

Yet the DC9 sat on the tarmac at Clearwater-St. Petersburg International Airport less than one hundred yards from the U.S. Coast Guard’s major Caribbean air station, with no questions asked or interference from the Coast Guard.

When questioned, officials at the Coast Guard Station refused to comment.

The second plane, the Gulfstream II (N987SA) had no need to impersonate a U.S. Government plane, because it was one, or had been one. It belonged to the CIA during most of the 1990's, and flew extraordinary renditions between 2003 and 2006.

Several top executives of SkyWay's Aircraft, which owned the DC9, had links with American intelligence. The company’s President, James Kent, was a former member of U.S. military intelligence, as well as the NSA.

And SkyWay's Chairman Glenn Kovar often boasted of his long-standing ties to the CIA, as well as of having dinner at the White House with President George W. Bush.

"Ms. Leonhart...Dr. Phil would like to have you on his show"

Using money laundered through American banks, like Wachovia, Mexican and Colombian drug cartels bought a fleet of as many as 100 (the Mexican Attorney General’s estimate) drug planes in the U.S.

The DEA would like to pretend that drug cartel jefes were leafing through Trade-A-Plane (the aircraft industry’s version of the Penny Saver) picking out planes.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

When even former Mexican President Vicente Fox starts to mock you, well, from a Drug War perspective, at least, the end is clearly near.

A certain arrogance is duly noted

The verifiable and inescapable fact is that cartel bosses (and not just any bosses, either, but more on that later) bought their American-registered fleet from owners who had pre-existing criminal ties to each other.

These ties are a matter of public record. They are visible in Federal court documents, records of incorporation, and SEC filings available online to anyone curious enough to look.

In spookdom a mistake in the area of tradecraft can cost dearly.

The skills or "tradecraft" necessary to conduct clandestine activities includes the ability to successfully avoid being exposed on page one of the local newspaper.

If you're a civilian and get caught doing what spooks do as a matter of course, life without the possibility of parole can quickly loom large. So you want to avoid what's called sloppy tradecraft.

What these guys did was precisely that.

A momentary lapse of reason

Stephen Adams, Michael Farkas, and Adnan Khashoggi, the owners of the planes that became famous after being caught in Mexico running drugs, were partners, at the same time the planes were flying, in a huge $300 million financial fraud called STOCKWALK.

That fact had even been noted by a business reporter from the St. Paul Pioneer who had been avidly following the collapse of the Twin Cities biggest brokerage.

"SEC filings show ties among Imperial, Holiday and Genesis," reported Tim Huber on April 11 2002.

Stephen Adams, the secretive Midwestern media baron and Republican fund-raiser that owned the Gulfstream in 1999 and 2000 while personally buying over $1 million in billboard advertising in support of George W Bush's 2000 Presidential campaign, owned Holiday RV Superstores, Inc., one of the three companies whose stock was used in the huge stock fraud.

Michael Farkas, who founded SkyWay, controlled a second company, Imperial Credit Industries.

And “Saudi billionaire,” “arms merchant” and “CIA fixer” Adnan Khashoggi controlled the third corporation used in the scheme, Genesis Intermedia, as well as being the acknowledged mastermind behind the scheme.

Some tips on avoiding those pesky red flags

"For example, (Khashoggi lieutenant Ramy) El-Batrawi owns a private company called Genesis Diversified Investments, which is an investor in a company called Aviation Group, that in 2001 merged with a British Columbia company called Travelbyus," Huber reported.

"And Lee Sanders, the chairman of Travelbyus, is a director of Holiday RV. The former chief executive of Holiday RV, and its largest shareholder, is also among the largest shareholders of Imperial."

Truth be told, it's worse than that. A lot worse.

When a prosecuting attorney describes "collusive behavior in the furtherance of a continuing criminal conspiracy," this is what he or she means.

If you're trying to maintain the fiction that dozens of American luxury jets were sold to Mexican bad guys by American owners completely unrelated to each other except by virtue of a shared attitude of blissful innocence when asked about aiding and abetting major drug traffickers... then you will most certainly want to avoid been seen around town colluding openly in a slick financial fraud that is about to be the cause of the biggest brokerage collapse since the Great Depression.

I mean, just saying.

Also, if the lead company in your big financial fraud, Genesis Intermedia, has been incorporated by a Baton Rouge Louisiana attorney who was the long-time consigliore of CIA pilot Barry Seal's organization, and Seal has been called by government prosecutors "the biggest drug smuggler in American history," that can be something of a big red flag all by its own-self.

Perhaps consider incorporating offshore somewhere. Panama is nice.

Otherwise people being figuring out that using money laundered almost exclusively by Wachovia Bank, Mexican and South American drug cartels are buying planes from their American counterparts in the U.S... from an interlocking, politically-connected, and distinctively American criminal enterprise, one no less real for having no identifiable logo, and no recognizable trading symbol on the New York Stock Exchange.

Or even a name.

Tortured and beheaded by... The Shuffleboard Cartel?

Sleepy St. Petersburg Florida, (like Venice, a retirement community) is better known for being the home of the World Shuffleboard Museum & Hall of Fame than as the incongruous setting for an important logistical node of a global drug cartel.

Since naming rights seemed up for grabs, let's dub them “The Shuffleboard Cartel.”

But while St. Peterburg is a well-nigh perfect place to witness the American Drug Lords in action, we suggest beginning a little bit (30 miles) further south...

Most people are dimly aware that Sarasota is the home of that gargoyle of the 2000 Presidential election, Katherine Harris. But she's far from the city's only claim on infamy.

No less an authority than London’s Financial Times recently identified the city as being "Ground zero in the current Great Recession."

“Like the proverbial butterfly, the centre of the US housing bust that sent shockwaves through global markets,” wrote FT reporter Ethan Callan.

City to homeless: Standing room only

"It flaps its wings and sets off a tidal wave on the other side of the world, Sarasota Florida."

“It is tempting to point the finger at high-risk adjustable loans backed by complex new credit securities, he reported. “But the real reason is simple old-fashioned greed.”

A Google search on the word "Sarasota" illustrates that "simple old-fashioned greed" and Sarasota go together like cookies and milk.

Residents of high-rise condominiums overlooking a city park recently outdid themselves however, when they began complaining about the "unsightliness" of homeless people sitting on park benches.

So the city took the benches out.

Sarasota now has one of America's first "standing room only" city parks. Ann Rand must be proud!

Our first stop on a tour of the discovery, and the denial of the discovery, of The American DrugLords must perforce begin there.

Wikileaks wants to know: Does he wear black socks to the beach?

It is February 18, a perfect cloudless day in Sarasota Florida; a light breeze blows in off the Gulf at about 6 knots, waves are one to three feet high with a light chop, and at just about the time that morning FBI Agents take Jonathon Randall Curshen into custody, the temperature hits 70 degrees.

Curshen, an American con man from Sarasota Florida (natch!) controlled a company in Costa Rica called Red Sea Management, which had generously provided, in return for 28,000,000 shares of common stock in SkyWay that was worth just slightly more than the cost of the ink on the certificates, a 1966 McDonald Douglas DC9 aircraft that shortly thereafter was carrying a cargo of 5.6 tons of cocaine, worth several hundred million dollars.

SkyWay put out a press release announcing the deal: "The DuPont Investment Fund 57289, Inc. Satisfies $7 Million Funding Agreement with SkyWay Communications Holding Corp."

“They wrote it up in a press release, touting how they’d just received a big investment from the DuPont Foundation," a former SkyWay executive explained. "It turned out to be bogus. It was just some guy (Curshen) at a desk in Costa Rica.”

Can they convict him for being a fuddy-duddy?

Announcing Curshen’s arrest under that clear blue late morning sky in Sarasota, the FBI's press release from Washington DC later that day had Federal prosecutors graciously thanked everyone involved in the investigation.

They thanked the Washington Field Office of the FBI, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS). They thanked the Fraud Section of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami, and the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs. They thanked the SEC, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and they even thanked authorities in Costa Rica.

Who didn’t they thank? The DEA. There was no mention in Curshen’s indictment of the conspiracy to traffic massive loads of cocaine into the U.S.

Offhand we can think of two reasons why the DEA was not involved in the case, both of which boil down to the DEA's reluctance to call attention to the "home team" in America's drug trafficking Home Run Derby.

The press conference also neglected to mention that Curshen was an operative in an organized crime ring being fronted by a former self-described "Iran Contra operative" who was recently sentenced to prison.

That old queasy feeling

Marc Harris was a former Congressional aide to long-time Republican Senator Jesse Helms and a self-described Iran Contra insider who claimed to have learned the 'art' of money laundering while working for Oliver North and Richard Secord's operation.

According to a newspaper in Panama, where he operated while on the lam, Harris' biggest clients had been prominent Republican politicians.

What exactly Harris was doing for those big Republican clients was left to the readers' imagination. We shudder to think.

On the one hand, these guys are pretty smart. On the other, their elaborate frauds have no more flair than your average liquor store heist, because most of what they do is paint-by-numbers.

Announcing that the DuPont family had just made a big investment in SkyWay, for example, had pumped the company's stock for a few days while insiders sold their shares.

Twenty years earlier, the exact same tactic was used! And by the exact same drug trafficking organization!

Trinity Energy, a money laundering vehicle set up by legendary drug smuggler Barry Seal's attorney, was sold, after Seal's assassination in 1986, to "Miami Jack" Birnholz, another member of the same organization.

Birnholz announced investments by the Dupont's, in this case "Sloan DuPont," in one of his shell companies too. Sloan DuPont turned out to be a con man named James Rice.

The seizure in the Yucatan of SkyWay's DC9 has exposed a global narcotics cartel that goes all the way back to the days of Iran Contra.

It might just be the most powerful political force on the planet.

"The Bush White House request that the CIA spy on me to discredit me clearly violated the American constitution, U.S. law, the CIA charter, and my civil and human rights," Professor Juan Cole told the Free Press. "It was criminal"...

Juan Cole Wants Investigation Into Claim by Former Official That White House Asked CIA to Smear Him
Friday 17 June 2011
by: Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press

Via:
A professor at the University of Michigan said Thursday "it was criminal" that the White House, under President George W. Bush, reportedly asked the CIA at least twice to dig up negative information about his personal life in order to discredit his views on the Iraq war. And he called upon congressional committees to launch an investigation into what he said was illegal spying on an American citizen.

"The Bush White House request that the CIA spy on me to discredit me clearly violated the American constitution, U.S. law, the CIA charter, and my civil and human rights," Professor Juan Cole told the Free Press. "It was criminal."

According to Thursday's New York Times, a CIA official, under pressure from the White House, asked his staff to spy on Cole, a noted history professor from Ann Arbor who writes a popular blog about the Middle East called Informed Comment. Cole started the blog in 2002 to talk about the war against al-Qaida and in Iraq. At times, he is critical of U.S. efforts in the Middle East, but he is not seen as a radical.

The Times' article was based on the accounts of Glenn Carle, a former CIA officer who was a counterterrorism official. In 2005, his CIA supervisor, David Low, reportedly spoke with Carle after returning from a White House meeting.

"The White House wants to get him," Low said, according to Carle. "What do you think we might know about him, or could find out that could discredit him?"

Low added, according to Carle, "Does he drink? What are his views? Is he married?"

At one point, a memo on Cole was written that included "inappropriate, derogatory remarks" about Cole's lifestyle, Carle said in the New York Times article.

"Carle's revelations come as a visceral shock," Cole wrote on his blog Thursday. The White House and CIA have "no business spying on American citizens."

In Langley, Va., CIA spokesman Preston Golson denied that Cole was targeted.

"We've thoroughly researched our records, and any allegation that the CIA provided private or derogatory information on professor Cole to anyone is simply wrong," Golson told the Free Press on Thursday.

Golson added that: "We value the insights of outside experts, including respected academics. ... Diversity of thought is essential to the business of intelligence analysis."

Cole called upon the House and Senate Intelligence Committees to launch investigations into what happened because it is illegal for the CIA to domestically spy on Americans. But a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Howell, who is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said "the Department of Justice is the most appropriate venue to respond." The Department of Justice and the Senate Intelligence Committee could not be reached for comment.

Cole said that the Bush administration's efforts may have succeeded in blackballing him from certain conferences attended or sponsored by the U.S. government.

Omaha agency declares 'Notification of Unusual Event' at it's Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station...

OPPD Declares Notification of Unusual Event
June 6, 2011

Via:
As mentioned last week, the rising Missouri River waters have reached a level where OPPD is declaring a Notification of Unusual Event (NOUE) at its Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station. According to projections from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the river level at the plant site is expected to reach 1,004 feet above mean sea level later this week, and is expected to remain above that level for more than one month. OPPD notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and emergency management agencies in Nebraska and Iowa of the declaration.

A NOUE is the least-serious of four emergency classifications that are standard in the U.S. nuclear industry. Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station will not move out of this emergency classification until it is confident the water will remain below the 1,004-foot level.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission notes that a Notification of Unusual Event indicates events are in process or have occurred which indicate potential impacts to the plant. No release of radioactive material requiring offsite response or monitoring has occurred or is expected.

Fort Calhoun was in safe shutdown mode since early April for refueling the plant, and remains in that condition. In addition to the existing flood-protection at the plant, OPPD employees and contractors have built earth berms and sandbagged around the switchyards and additional buildings on site. They also are filling water-filled berms around the plant and other major buildings on site, have staged additional diesel fuel inside the Protected Area and are building additional overhead power lines to provide another option for power for the plant’s administration building, Training Center and one of its warehouses.

2 top lawyers lost to Obama in Libya war policy debate...

2 Top Lawyers Lost to Obama in Libya War Policy Debate
By CHARLIE SAVAGE
Published: June 17, 2011

Via:
WASHINGTON — President Obama rejected the views of top lawyers at the Pentagon and the Justice Department when he decided that he had the legal authority to continue American military participation in the air war in Libya without Congressional authorization, according to officials familiar with internal administration deliberations.

Jeh C. Johnson, the Pentagon general counsel, and Caroline D. Krass, the acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, had told the White House that they believed that the United States military’s activities in the NATO-led air war amounted to “hostilities.” Under the War Powers Resolution, that would have required Mr. Obama to terminate or scale back the mission after May 20.

But Mr. Obama decided instead to adopt the legal analysis of several other senior members of his legal team — including the White House counsel, Robert Bauer, and the State Department legal adviser, Harold H. Koh — who argued that the United States military’s activities fell short of “hostilities.” Under that view, Mr. Obama needed no permission from Congress to continue the mission unchanged.

Presidents have the legal authority to override the legal conclusions of the Office of Legal Counsel and to act in a manner that is contrary to its advice, but it is extraordinarily rare for that to happen. Under normal circumstances, the office’s interpretation of the law is legally binding on the executive branch.

A White House spokesman, Eric Schultz, said there had been “a full airing of views within the administration and a robust process” that led Mr. Obama to his view that the Libya campaign was not covered by a provision of the War Powers Resolution that requires presidents to halt unauthorized hostilities after 60 days.

“It should come as no surprise that there would be some disagreements, even within an administration, regarding the application of a statute that is nearly 40 years old to a unique and evolving conflict,” Mr. Schultz said. “Those disagreements are ordinary and healthy.”

Still, the disclosure that key figures on the administration’s legal team disagreed with Mr. Obama’s legal view could fuel restiveness in Congress, where lawmakers from both parties this week strongly criticized the White House’s contention that the president could continue the Libya campaign without their authorization because the campaign was not “hostilities.”

The White House unveiled its interpretation of the War Powers Resolution in a package about Libya it sent to Congress late Wednesday. On Thursday, the House speaker, John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, demanded to know whether the Office of Legal Counsel had agreed.

“The administration gave its opinion on the War Powers Resolution, but it didn’t answer the questions in my letter as to whether the Office of Legal Counsel agrees with them,” he said. “The White House says there are no hostilities taking place. Yet we’ve got drone attacks under way. We’re spending $10 million a day. We’re part of an effort to drop bombs on Qaddafi’s compounds. It just doesn’t pass the straight-face test, in my view, that we’re not in the midst of hostilities.”

A sticking point for some skeptics was whether any mission that included firing missiles from drone aircraft could be portrayed as not amounting to hostilities.

As the May 20 deadline approached, Mr. Johnson advocated stopping the drone strikes as a way to bolster the view that the remaining activities in support of NATO allies were not subject to the deadline, officials said. But Mr. Obama ultimately decided that there was no legal requirement to change anything about the military mission.

The administration followed an unusual process in developing its position. Traditionally, the Office of Legal Counsel solicits views from different agencies and then decides what the best interpretation of the law is. The attorney general or the president can overrule its views, but rarely do.

In this case, however, Ms. Krass was asked to submit the Office of Legal Counsel’s thoughts in a less formal way to the White House, along with the views of lawyers at other agencies. After several meetings and phone calls, the rival legal analyses were submitted to Mr. Obama, who is a constitutional lawyer, and he made the decision.

A senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk about the internal deliberations, said the process was “legitimate” because “everyone knew at the end of the day this was a decision the president had to make” and the competing views were given a full airing before Mr. Obama.

CLICK HERE TO READ FURTHER.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

How Lebron (James) broke the Golden Rule of sports (Video)

Via Jay Smooth:

A long and ranty ramble loosely inspired by Lebron's press conference on Sunday. Not meant to be taken too seriously, I don't have any beef with Lebron in general, and I know he was just venting his frustrations & didn't mean anything too deep. I just thought it was funny to see him basically breaking the fourth wall, and breaking the tacit agreement we have with all athletes that they'll keep pretending they're doing something important as long as we keep pretending we believe them.


Monday, June 13, 2011

The Obama administration's "shadow" internet...

The Obama Administration's "Shadow" Internet
By James Glanz and John Markoff, The New York Times
12 June 11

Via:
The Obama administration is leading a global effort to deploy "shadow" Internet and mobile phone systems that dissidents can use to undermine repressive governments that seek to silence them by censoring or shutting down telecommunications networks.

The effort includes secretive projects to create independent cellphone networks inside foreign countries, as well as one operation out of a spy novel in a fifth-floor shop on L Street in Washington, where a group of young entrepreneurs who look as if they could be in a garage band are fitting deceptively innocent-looking hardware into a prototype "Internet in a suitcase."

Financed with a $2 million State Department grant, the suitcase could be secreted across a border and quickly set up to allow wireless communication over a wide area with a link to the global Internet.

The American effort, revealed in dozens of interviews, planning documents and classified diplomatic cables obtained by The New York Times, ranges in scale, cost and sophistication.

Some projects involve technology that the United States is developing; others pull together tools that have already been created by hackers in a so-called liberation-technology movement sweeping the globe.

The State Department, for example, is financing the creation of stealth wireless networks that would enable activists to communicate outside the reach of governments in countries like Iran, Syria and Libya, according to participants in the projects.

In one of the most ambitious efforts, United States officials say, the State Department and Pentagon have spent at least $50 million to create an independent cellphone network in Afghanistan using towers on protected military bases inside the country. It is intended to offset the Taliban's ability to shut down the official Afghan services, seemingly at will.

The effort has picked up momentum since the government of President Hosni Mubarak shut down the Egyptian Internet in the last days of his rule. In recent days, the Syrian government also temporarily disabled much of that country's Internet, which had helped protesters mobilize.

The Obama administration's initiative is in one sense a new front in a longstanding diplomatic push to defend free speech and nurture democracy. For decades, the United States has sent radio broadcasts into autocratic countries through Voice of America and other means. More recently, Washington has supported the development of software that preserves the anonymity of users in places like China, and training for citizens who want to pass information along the government-owned Internet without getting caught.

But the latest initiative depends on creating entirely separate pathways for communication. It has brought together an improbable alliance of diplomats and military engineers, young programmers and dissidents from at least a dozen countries, many of whom variously describe the new approach as more audacious and clever and, yes, cooler.

Sometimes the State Department is simply taking advantage of enterprising dissidents who have found ways to get around government censorship. American diplomats are meeting with operatives who have been burying Chinese cellphones in the hills near the border with North Korea, where they can be dug up and used to make furtive calls, according to interviews and the diplomatic cables.

The new initiatives have found a champion in Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose department is spearheading the American effort. "We see more and more people around the globe using the Internet, mobile phones and other technologies to make their voices heard as they protest against injustice and seek to realize their aspirations," Mrs. Clinton said in an e-mail response to a query on the topic. "There is a historic opportunity to effect positive change, change America supports," she said. "So we're focused on helping them do that, on helping them talk to each other, to their communities, to their governments and to the world."

Developers caution that independent networks come with downsides: repressive governments could use surveillance to pinpoint and arrest activists who use the technology or simply catch them bringing hardware across the border. But others believe that the risks are outweighed by the potential impact. "We're going to build a separate infrastructure where the technology is nearly impossible to shut down, to control, to surveil," said Sascha Meinrath, who is leading the "Internet in a suitcase" project as director of the Open Technology Initiative at the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan research group.

"The implication is that this disempowers central authorities from infringing on people's fundamental human right to communicate," Mr. Meinrath added.

The Invisible Web

In an anonymous office building on L Street in Washington, four unlikely State Department contractors sat around a table. Josh King, sporting multiple ear piercings and a studded leather wristband, taught himself programming while working as a barista. Thomas Gideon was an accomplished hacker. Dan Meredith, a bicycle polo enthusiast, helped companies protect their digital secrets.

Then there was Mr. Meinrath, wearing a tie as the dean of the group at age 37. He has a master's degree in psychology and helped set up wireless networks in underserved communities in Detroit and Philadelphia.

The group's suitcase project will rely on a version of "mesh network" technology, which can transform devices like cellphones or personal computers to create an invisible wireless web without a centralized hub. In other words, a voice, picture or e-mail message could hop directly between the modified wireless devices - each one acting as a mini cell "tower" and phone - and bypass the official network.

Mr. Meinrath said that the suitcase would include small wireless antennas, which could increase the area of coverage; a laptop to administer the system; thumb drives and CDs to spread the software to more devices and encrypt the communications; and other components like Ethernet cables.

The project will also rely on the innovations of independent Internet and telecommunications developers.

"The cool thing in this political context is that you cannot easily control it," said Aaron Kaplan, an Austrian cybersecurity expert whose work will be used in the suitcase project. Mr. Kaplan has set up a functioning mesh network in Vienna and says related systems have operated in Venezuela, Indonesia and elsewhere.

Mr. Meinrath said his team was focused on fitting the system into the bland-looking suitcase and making it simple to implement - by, say, using "pictograms" in the how-to manual.

In addition to the Obama administration's initiatives, there are almost a dozen independent ventures that also aim to make it possible for unskilled users to employ existing devices like laptops or smartphones to build a wireless network. One mesh network was created around Jalalabad, Afghanistan, as early as five years ago, using technology developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Creating simple lines of communication outside official ones is crucial, said Collin Anderson, a 26-year-old liberation-technology researcher from North Dakota who specializes in Iran, where the government all but shut down the Internet during protests in 2009. The slowdown made most "circumvention" technologies - the software legerdemain that helps dissidents sneak data along the state-controlled networks - nearly useless, he said.

"No matter how much circumvention the protesters use, if the government slows the network down to a crawl, you can't upload YouTube videos or Facebook postings," Mr. Anderson said. "They need alternative ways of sharing information or alternative ways of getting it out of the country."

That need is so urgent, citizens are finding their own ways to set up rudimentary networks. Mehdi Yahyanejad, an Iranian expatriate and technology developer who co-founded a popular Persian-language Web site, estimates that nearly half the people who visit the site from inside Iran share files using Bluetooth - which is best known in the West for running wireless headsets and the like. In more closed societies, however, Bluetooth is used to discreetly beam information - a video, an electronic business card - directly from one cellphone to another.

Mr. Yahyanejad said he and his research colleagues were also slated to receive State Department financing for a project that would modify Bluetooth so that a file containing, say, a video of a protester being beaten, could automatically jump from phone to phone within a "trusted network" of citizens. The system would be more limited than the suitcase but would only require the software modification on ordinary phones.

By the end of 2011, the State Department will have spent some $70 million on circumvention efforts and related technologies, according to department figures.

Mrs. Clinton has made Internet freedom into a signature cause. But the State Department has carefully framed its support as promoting free speech and human rights for their own sake, not as a policy aimed at destabilizing autocratic governments.

That distinction is difficult to maintain, said Clay Shirky, an assistant professor at New York University who studies the Internet and social media. "You can't say, ‘All we want is for people to speak their minds, not bring down autocratic regimes' - they're the same thing," Mr. Shirky said.

He added that the United States could expose itself to charges of hypocrisy if the State Department maintained its support, tacit or otherwise, for autocratic governments running countries like Saudi Arabia or Bahrain while deploying technology that was likely to undermine them.

Shadow Cellphone System

In February 2009, Richard C. Holbrooke and Lt. Gen. John R. Allen were taking a helicopter tour over southern Afghanistan and getting a panoramic view of the cellphone towers dotting the remote countryside, according to two officials on the flight. By then, millions of Afghans were using cellphones, compared with a few thousand after the 2001 invasion. Towers built by private companies had sprung up across the country. The United States had promoted the network as a way to cultivate good will and encourage local businesses in a country that in other ways looked as if it had not changed much in centuries.

There was just one problem, General Allen told Mr. Holbrooke, who only weeks before had been appointed special envoy to the region. With a combination of threats to phone company officials and attacks on the towers, the Taliban was able to shut down the main network in the countryside virtually at will. Local residents report that the networks are often out from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m., presumably to enable the Taliban to carry out operations without being reported to security forces.

The Pentagon and State Department were soon collaborating on the project to build a "shadow" cellphone system in a country where repressive forces exert control over the official network.

Details of the network, which the military named the Palisades project, are scarce, but current and former military and civilian officials said it relied in part on cell towers placed on protected American bases. A large tower on the Kandahar air base serves as a base station or data collection point for the network, officials said.

A senior United States official said the towers were close to being up and running in the south and described the effort as a kind of 911 system that would be available to anyone with a cellphone.

By shutting down cellphone service, the Taliban had found a potent strategic tool in its asymmetric battle with American and Afghan security forces.

The United States is widely understood to use cellphone networks in Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries for intelligence gathering. And the ability to silence the network was also a powerful reminder to the local populace that the Taliban retained control over some of the most vital organs of the nation.

When asked about the system, Lt. Col. John Dorrian, a spokesman for the American-led International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, would only confirm the existence of a project to create what he called an "expeditionary cellular communication service" in Afghanistan. He said the project was being carried out in collaboration with the Afghan government in order to "restore 24/7 cellular access."

"As of yet the program is not fully operational, so it would be premature to go into details," Colonel Dorrian said.

Colonel Dorrian declined to release cost figures. Estimates by United States military and civilian officials ranged widely, from $50 million to $250 million. A senior official said that Afghan officials, who anticipate taking over American bases when troops pull out, have insisted on an elaborate system. "The Afghans wanted the Cadillac plan, which is pretty expensive," the official said.

Broad Subversive Effort

In May 2009, a North Korean defector named Kim met with officials at the American Consulate in Shenyang, a Chinese city about 120 miles from North Korea, according to a diplomatic cable. Officials wanted to know how Mr. Kim, who was active in smuggling others out of the country, communicated across the border. "Kim would not go into much detail," the cable says, but did mention the burying of Chinese cellphones "on hillsides for people to dig up at night." Mr. Kim said Dandong, China, and the surrounding Jilin Province "were natural gathering points for cross-border cellphone communication and for meeting sources." The cellphones are able to pick up signals from towers in China, said Libby Liu, head of Radio Free Asia, the United States-financed broadcaster, who confirmed their existence and said her organization uses the calls to collect information for broadcasts as well.

The effort, in what is perhaps the world's most closed nation, suggests just how many independent actors are involved in the subversive efforts. From the activist geeks on L Street in Washington to the military engineers in Afghanistan, the global appeal of the technology hints at the craving for open communication.

In a chat with a Times reporter via Facebook, Malik Ibrahim Sahad, the son of Libyan dissidents who largely grew up in suburban Virginia, said he was tapping into the Internet using a commercial satellite connection in Benghazi. "Internet is in dire need here. The people are cut off in that respect," wrote Mr. Sahad, who had never been to Libya before the uprising and is now working in support of rebel authorities. Even so, he said, "I don't think this revolution could have taken place without the existence of the World Wide Web."


Reporting was contributed by Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Andrew W. Lehren from New York, and Alissa J. Rubin and Sangar Rahimi from Kabul, Afghanistan.

FBI agents given more power to search your household garbage...

Men in trash: FBI agents given more power to search your household garbage
By Mark Duell
Last updated at 7:00 PM on 13th June 2011

Via:
Even your trash can may not be safe from the government’s eyes.
Around 14,000 agents are getting more powers to search databases, examine household trash and use surveillance teams to scrutinise targets.

But the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s move to give agents more scope to watch people of interest has been criticised by privacy lawyers.

Former FBI agent Michael German, now an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer, said it could make it harder to stop inappropriate use.

‘Claiming additional authorities to investigate people only further raises the potential for abuse,’ he told the New York Times.

An inspector general found in 2007 it abused the ‘national security letters’ system that allows the access of personal information with no court order.

But FBI general counsel Valerie Caproni said the problems from 2007 had been fixed and the new guidelines had been carefully considered.

She told the New York Times the alterations to its operations manual were ‘more like fine-tuning than major changes’.

The revised rules will mean agents can look through the trash of a potential informant.

The FBI wants to use information found in trash to pressurise someone to help an investigation or work out whether they might be a threat to agents.

Current rules from 2008 also mean agents must open an inquiry before ‘proactively’ searching for information about someone in a database.

But new guidelines will allow them to search without making a record of it - with the FBI saying it will help speed up operations.

Another new piece of guidance surrounds surveillance squads, who can currently only be used once in an assessment.

But now agents will be able to use them repeatedly – although time limits on physical surveillance will remain, reported the New York Times.

Alleged 'spy' in Egypt is US citizen...

Alleged 'spy' in Egypt is US citizen, IDF paratrooper
By YAAKOV KATZ
06/13/2011 12:41

Via:
Ilan Grapel, the alleged Mossad agent arrested on Sunday in Egypt, is an American citizen who served in the IDF Paratrooper’s Brigade during the Second Lebanon War and interned last summer at the Israeli Supreme Court.

Grapel, originally from New York, moved to Israel after graduating from Johns Hopkins University in the US and enlisted in the IDF.

town of Taibe in August, 2006. In an interview to the New York Daily News in 2006, Irene Grapel said her son decided to enlist in the IDF since he "didn't want a boring life" and craved some adventure before enrolling in graduate school.

A friend of Grapel’s told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that he had worked as an intern at the Israel Project – an Israel advocacy organization - in 2008 and had studied Arabic and even lived for short period of times with Druse communities in northern Israel. He frequently traveled throughout the Arab world.

In recent years he was a student at Emory Law School and even interned at the Israeli Supreme Court, according to the Emory Law School website.

“You could call him something of an Arabist,” one friend said. Another friend said Grapel was “pro-Arabic” and liked “hanging out in Egypt.”

In his Facebook account, Grapel cited “preaching” at Azhar University in Egypt as his job, likely a joke.

“He probably went there for an adventure and to see Tahrir Square,” the friend said. “He is very left-wing and has been in Cairo before for months at a time.”

“I was very surprised and the way I know Ilan he is not like this and has always been concerned with human rights and Palestinian rights,” another friend Shmuel said.

The Foreign Ministry said Monday afternoon that it had yet to receive details from Egypt regarding the arrest of an Israeli citizen. A government source said that Israel was assuming that Grapel was the detained Israeli after matching the pictures that appeared in the Egyptian press with those that appeared on his Facebook page.

The source said that the Foreign Ministry had updated the State Department about Grapel’s arrest since he is also an American citizen.

On Sunday, Egyptian Judge Hesham Badawi of the supreme state security prosecution ordered Grapel to be detained for 15 days on suspicion of "spying on Egypt with the aim of harming its economic and political interests," MENA news agency reported, while claiming that he worked for the Mossad, Israel’s espionage agency.

One judiciary source said that Grapel had been active in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the revolt against Mubarak, after the former president stepped down.

"He was there on a daily basis inciting youths towards sectarian strife. He was distributing money to some of them," the source said, adding he had been encouraging some youths to clash with the army. He said youths reported the man's actions.

Cause of mass fish kill in Pennsylvania lake is undetermined...

Cause still undetermined as fish turn up dead in Ridley Park Lake (With Video)
Published: Monday, June 13, 2011
By Alex Rose

Via:
A spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Environment Protection said initial testing at Ridley Park Lake has so far produced no clues to the cause of a mass fish kill discovered there late Saturday.

“The field tests that (DEP agent Michael McAdams) did showed nothing abnormal,” said DEP spokesperson Deborah Fries. “The Ph, the acid level, the dissolved oxygen – all were normal (and) tests for chlorine and solvents were negative.”

Ridley Park Borough President Bob Berger said he and state Rep. Nick Miccarelli, R-162, of Ridley Park, were notified by a resident of dead fish floating in the lake at about 8 p.m. Saturday.

They contacted the DEP and other state agencies, and McAdams arrived on the scene about 9:45 p.m. Saturday to take some initial samples.



Fries said more thorough lab testing in Harrisburg would likely be completed by next week, but she is not confident the cause will ever be identified.

“It’s possible that whatever contaminant killed the fish moved on through and went downstream and was diluted by the time people got out there and began sampling,” she said.

There is an unconfirmed report that a local resident saw a sheen on the water Saturday morning that might have been the cause, said Fries, but with the passage of time and additional dilution from rain Saturday night, the likelihood of discovering what that sheen might have been and its relationship to the dead fish is looking slim.

“We may never know what caused this, but the investigation is still ongoing,” said Fries.

The DEP is working with public works department officials to map the sewers in the area to see if that was the origin for the contaminant, said Fries, adding that fish kills or sheens can be reported 24 hours a day on the DEP hotline at 484-250-5900.

The earlier such incidents are reported, she said, the better likelihood there is of obtaining fresh samples.

Meanwhile, borough residents, local officials and other volunteers were working to clear the lake of the nearly 1,000 dead fish Sunday.

Miccarelli said many of those are small, presenting a problem for nets in the cleanup, which could take more than a day.

He said numerous varieties of fish live in the lake, including palominos, carp and catfish, and the fish kill seems to have affected all of the species equally.

“Pretty much in one section of the lake, all the fish are dead,” said Miccarelli. “It lends some credence to the theory that wherever the pollutant, or whatever it was, it came from one location in the lake, because a little further upstream there are fish swimming and downstream further all the fish are dead.”

Berger said the borough would be posting signs advising the public about the fish kill.

He said he had never seen such an event in his 30 years as a borough resident.


Staff writer Patti Mengers contributed to this article.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

"Is the e.coli terrorism on behalf of corporate farming and food consolidation? With a bonus to the nuclear industry which would make more profits irradiating food and have a use for its "nowhere safe to put them" spent fuel rods. Beyond wondering where the e.coli came from and looking to who gains and who loses from it, serious questions about the proffered "solution" - radiating food - arises, especially after the Fukushima disaster"...

E.coli And Radiation - Surprise! Surprise!
By David Temple
6-11-11

Via:
That European e.coli may have been genetically engineered. But there is no question it is doing what serves the interests of industrial agriculture and the food industry. It has created a rationale ("whether real or promulgated") government officials to come forward on behalf of corporate interests with a "solution" that fresh food be irradiated. And in the words of Gomer Pyle, "Surprise! Surprise!" - they are doing just that.

Henry Kissinger spoke of the advantages to those interested in controlling things "if [people] were told that there was an outside threat from beyond, whether real or promulgated, that threatened our very existence ..." Twice, he alludes to potential falseness, in the fact of the threat and in the telling about it.

Irradiation of food would consolidate control of food by the corporations and would be the end of fresh and organic and local food.

Is the e.coli terrorism on behalf of corporate farming and food consolidation? With a bonus to the nuclear industry which would make more profits irradiating food and have a use for its "nowhere safe to put them" spent fuel rods.

Beyond wondering where the e.coli came from and looking to who gains and who loses from it, serious questions about the proffered "solution" - radiating food - arises, especially after the Fukushima disaster.

Even logically, why is it that the public is warned that radiation landing on its food is unsafe and that all radiation is cumulative, and yet there is now this suggestion to directly radiate fresh food (expose it intentionally to radiation) and to a degree high enough to actually kill living things in it, yet that radiation is somehow different from the other radiation and perfectly safe, and in addition is somehow supposed to make food safe?

Assuming the radiation kills this super-dread e.coli, what happens to everything else in the food? The radiation can't target only that e.coli, and most of the time, it would not even be present). So what about all the things in food that the radiation would damage or kill (vitamins, for instance) or cause to mutate from its normal state?

Irradiation of food is part of Codex Alimentarius.

Codex was designed by Fritz ter Meer, a Bayer execitove, after he was released from prison for committing mass murder, human enslavement and crimes against humanity.

He was a member of the Managing Board of IG Farben [The Rockefeller had 1/2 interest in IG Farben, were originators of genetic engineering and eugenics and are behind the new US "food safety" law] from its inception to its dissolution. As the Wartime Manager, he was responsible for IG Auschwitz.

In the Nuremberg Tribunal, ter Meer stated: "Forced labor did not inflict any remarkable injury, pain, or suffering on the detainees, particularly since the alternative for these workers would have been death."

In 1948, ter Meer was sentenced by the Nuremberg Tribunal to seven years in prison for plundering and slavery.

In 1952, his sentence was commuted, due to the influence of powerful friends.

From 1956-1964, he was reinstated as a member of the Managing Board of Bayer AG.

In 1962, ter Meer was one of the architects of the "Codex Alimentarius - Commission" and one of the main designers of the schemes that would profit from human suffering.

Codex is meant to remove access to adequate nutrition. It is a brilliant idea - unlimited sickness would be generated for unlimited pharmaceutical industry profit. The pharmaceutical industry is controlled by the Rockefellers and thus is not to be distinguished from the bankers. They are quite literally invested in disease and starvation.

There are movies on the danger to health (and to democracy) posed by Codex, one with Dame Judy Dench.

Strong evidence of harm from radiating food.comes from what recently happened with the Irradiation of cat food in Australia. It had to be halted because of bizarre neurologic harm to cats. For any who begin to say, "But that is just cats ... ," they might be reminded that cats are chosen for university studies specifically because of the similarities between the neurological system of the cat and humans. Seeing the neurological impact of radiating cat food (with constituents the same as human food) might be useful and there is video.

It appears that with just one little e.coli, The Idiot Cycle just sped up. For that cycle describes how those corporations making us sick with their GMOs, pesticides, chemicals, etc. then make money treating the diseases they are causing. And this e.coli was either genetically engineered intentionally by the pharmaceutical industry or, far less likely, the statistically stunning consequence of pharmaceutically dependent farming operations but in either case, from the corporations. Now, not on top of illnesses derived from their food with antibiotics, hormones, slaughterhouse waste, GMOs and pesticides in it, the corporations suggest radiating fresh food, including from organic farms. The contaminated food would add radiation to their list of dangers, and the clean food would be killed. There would be no unprocessed, normal food in the country.

There has been massive media hubbub over the e.coli. But their silences are more significant. No word on whether the e.coli might have been bio-engineered, with pharma having the skills and requisite classes of antibiotics. There was great noise about the dozens of deaths from e.coli but an odd silence about the 100,000 people a year who die routinely from properly prescribed and FDA-approved prescription drugs, so media offers no context to put those deaths in proportion.

And the media is perpetuating the medical coverup of the century, a story that involves 20-50 million deaths but does not benefit the pharmaceutical industry: neither flu nor virus was the cause of the millions of 1918 deaths.

One of the most terrifying images that has been used by spokesmen for WHO, by the pharma industry and various beneficiaries of the current "swine flu" panic is that of the 1918 "Spanish Flu" which is said to have resulted in more deaths than all World War I. Was it really a flu? Broxmeyer is convinced as others that it wasn't. A Press Release, issued on August 19, 2008, by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), contains a striking finding and conclusion: The 20 to 40 million deaths worldwide from the great 1918 Influenza ("Flu") Pandemic were NOT due to "flu" or a virus, but to pneumonia caused by massive bacterial infection."4

It seems that - in conjunction with Bayer's intense advertising, and advice from government, medical authorities, and military - aspirin was the most likely culprit.

But the continuing myth of a virulent 1918 virus that killed millions has been the justification for the government pushing vaccines, worth billions to those invested in them and who, coincidentally fund the CDC and WHO.

Why does this matter in the context of the e.coli and government recommendations for radiating food? Because 1918 appears to have been the greatest corporate (pharmaceutical industry) catastrophe ever. The greatest loss of life from sickness, second only to the bubonic plague (treatable today) appears to be man-made, the threat not coming from nature but from lethal drugs and government pressure to use them. And practitioners who saved the lives of most who came to them in 1918 were never mentioned - they were homeopaths who avoided aspirin because they saw it for what it has proved to be, a toxic substance.

Today homeopaths (natural practitioners) are also avoiding vaccines as the CDC and government are pushing them for all they are worth ... based on a complete medical falsehood - the return of the virulent 1918 virus which killed millions. Such a dangerous virus never existed and the other pandemic scares are as empty but as invaluable for profit.

So, as people are told by a government whom they don't trust about money, war, homes, jobs, trade agreements, oil drilling, fracking, clean water, clean air, chemtrails, health, vaccines, etc. - a government closely tied to the pharmaceutical industry and nuclear industry and bankers - that this terrible e.coli has sprung out of nowhere and people have reason to be very afraid and the answer is to radiate fresh food.

Since this is the exact food human beings need to stay healthy, people might pause a little and think.

How wrong they got it during 1918. How silent they have been about the reality of 1918 since then. That falseness is basis of their scare-mongering around pandemics which are tied to not only their big plans for vaccines, but disturbing laws they put in place. Smothering the reality of 1918 and of what killed people and who saved them, allows pharma and their funded agency, the FDA, to be moving here and internationally to eliminate access to the natural substances that save lives and actually cure, and to continue imprisoning practitioners of natural medicine, the true heroes of 1918.

Such practitioners and doctors have condemned radiating food for a long time.

Who should people listen to?

The media tells us the e.coli is a great crisis. Is it a crisis caused by nature or by man? Media say nothing about its sudden unlikely appearance or who benefits. Yet the e.coli is undoubtedly a boon to those who have gain from fear and then from the destruction of health itself in the name of "food safety."

"The business of the journalist is to destroy the truth; to lie outright; to pervert; to vilify; to fawn at the feet of Mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, so what folly is this toasting an independent press? We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes... They pull the strings... AND WE DANCE." ­ John Swinton, former chief-of-staff for the New York Times, in an address to fellow journalists.

Globalist spin and the Syrian unrest...

Globalist Spin and the Syrian Unrest
Cartoonish propaganda punctuates the last leg of the "Arab Spring.".
Tony Cartalucci, Contributing Writer
Activist Post

Bangkok, Thailand June 9, 2011 - In January 2011, the unrest in Tunisia and Egypt took many by surprise. Amidst the confusion, the global elite and their nefarious networks of NGOs, civil society organizations, and foreign-funded, trained, and armed opposition groups were able to dislodge the governments in both nations. As similar gambits were being simultaneously triggered in Yemen, Syria, Bahrain, Algeria, and Libya, the alternative press as well as networks like PressTV and Russia Today began airing the possibility that these were in fact engineered events rather than "spontaneous" uprisings.

Now half a year into the contrived "Arab Spring," entire nation-states including China are openly accusing the West of engineering unrest across the Arab world, in Pakistan, and even on Beijing's own doorstep. With Russia, India, Brazil, and China tacitly condemning the West's imperialist war against Libya, it is hardly appropriate to call the escalating mayhem an act of the "international community."

The window is closing quickly on the globalists as both nation-states and individuals alike grow weary of the "Arab Spring" which has most certainly overstayed its welcome and transformed into a bloodbath rather than the peaceful revolutions they were sold as. As details trickle out as to just how these "revolutions" were engineered and that it was the unelected corporate-funded think-tanks, not computer savvy youths, who triggered and led them, the prospects of launching wars of "intervention" against states now or soon to be fighting against this insidious ploy are growing dimmer by the day.

The latest propaganda from the corporate-owned media reflects an almost palpable sense of desperation. A BBC article on Syria titled "Syria crisis: Turkey refugees fear for Jisr al-Shughour" contains an entire section devoid of a single verifiable fact, citing unnamed refugees who may or may not even exist, telling hair-raising tales of brutality, neglecting to supply even a single shred of evidence.

The Telegraph chimes in with a similarly absurd story "profiling" Maher Assad of Syria, citing "dissident accounts," entirely unfazed by the immeasurable void in objectivity within their report. The same article also cites not one, but two admittedly unverified videos purportedly showing Maher Assad committing acts of violence, as well as the weasel phrase "many Syrians" who believe he is Rifaat Assad reincarnated, concluding that "it is little wonder, then, that thousands are fleeing his advance through the northern province of Idlib on a mission to take vengeance against the rebels of the town of Jisr al-Shughur." One can almost visualize the memos forwarded by the corporate-funded think-tanks sitting on the desks of these propagandists driving them to write ever more absurd narratives in place of the actual journalism outfits like the Telegraph and the BBC have long since abandoned.

By all accounts now, weapons have been taken up against the Syrian government amidst an admittedly foreign-funded uprising. While media outlets like the Christian Science Monitor feign ignorance by asking "Has Syria's peaceful uprising turned into an insurrection?" it was clear that arsonists and thugs were working amongst protesters provoking Syrian security forces from the very beginning.

The Syrian Unrest is US-funded

Syria has been slated for regime change since as early as 1991. In 2002, then US Under Secretary of State John Bolton added Syria to the growing "Axis of Evil." It would be later revealed that Bolton's threats against Syria manifested themselves as covert funding and support for opposition groups inside of Syria spanning both the Bush and Obama administrations.

In a recent CNN article, acting State Department spokesman Mark Toner stated, "We're not working to undermine that [Syrian] government. What we are trying to do in Syria, through our civil society support, is to build the kind of democratic institutions, frankly, that we're trying to do in countries around the globe. What's different, I think, in this situation is that the Syrian government perceives this kind of assistance as a threat to its control over the Syrian people."

Toner's remarks came after the Washington Post released cables indicating the US has been funding Syrian opposition groups since at least 2005 and continued until today.

In an April AFP report, Michael Posner, the assistant US Secretary of State for Human Rights and Labor, stated that the "US government has budgeted $50 million in the last two years to develop new technologies to help activists protect themselves from arrest and prosecution by authoritarian governments." The report went on to explain that the US "organized training sessions for 5,000 activists in different parts of the world. A session held in the Middle East about six weeks ago gathered activists from Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon who returned to their countries with the aim of training their colleagues there." Posner would add, "They went back and there's a ripple effect." That ripple effect of course is the "Arab Spring."

Conclusion

Ironically, the same Mark Toner of the US State Department who defended funding Syrian opposition groups ahead of the unrest currently destabilizing the country, has now said of the unrest along Israel's borders, "we condemn what appears to be an effort by the Syrian government to incite events and draw attention away from its own internal issues." Toner would go on to say, "Israel, like any sovereign nation, has a right to defend itself." With America's defense of Israel, claiming it was justified to gun down protesters allegedly "provoked" by Syrian meddling, it has both conceded that such protests can in fact be engineered and that nation-states have the right to defend against them, including with the use of deadly force. This not only undermines America's position on Syria, but entirely undermines and strips all credibility away from the illegal ongoing US-EU war against Libya.

Such overt hypocrisy coming out of the US State Department, as well as the British and French foreign ministries, signifies that the official narrative of the global elite has unraveled into unparalleled absurdity. Undoubtedly the final outcome the elite are pursuing is not only regime change in Libya and Syria at any cost, but eventual (and engineered) regime change in Iran before turning their attention east toward Moscow, China and their peripheries. Whether the elite reach that final outcome depends on the citizenry suffering under their incompetent, illegitimate leadership and whether or not they can see who really sets the agenda and that boycotting and replacing them entirely on a local level is the solution.

Man claims Mars space station discovered on Google Mars...

Man Claims Mars Space Station Discovered On Google Mars
The Huffington Post
Dean Praetorius
First Posted: 06/ 7/11 04:25 PM ET

Google Mars is a pretty cool concept--it shows an interactive map of mars--but also leaves a lot to the imagination.

Perhaps every armchair astronomer on the Internet hopes to use it to find life on Mars. And it seems one of them may have--or at least that's what David Martines claims, according to NPR.

The video below, which shows the location of what Martines calls "Biostation Alpha," is hotly disputed. While the supposed object does appear on Google Mars, scientists challenge the idea that it signals there's life on Mars.

From KSBY.com:

[Planetary Geologist Alfred ] McEwen [from the University of Arizona ]says, "with space images that are taken outside our magnetosphere, such as those taken by orbiting telescopes, it's very common to see these cosmic ray hits."

Martines says he's not an astronomy expert and doesn't know what the image is but isn't sold on McEwen's explanation.

"He says that it's a glitch caused by the reflection of the sun, but even he doesn't know what camera took the picture and even he doesn't know where the raw data exists" says Martines
.

The original video, which garnered over 1.2 million hits was pulled from YouTube, but was then reposted.

WATCH:

US defense sales to Bahrain rose before government crackdown...

US defense sales to Bahrain rose before crackdown
By STEPHEN BRAUN
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A government report says the U.S. approved $200 million in military sales from American companies to Bahrain in 2010, months before the pivotal Persian Gulf ally began a harsh crackdown on protesters.

The yearly State Department report provides totals of U.S.-authorized arms sale agreements between U.S. defense companies and foreign governments. The latest tally showed a $112 million rise in licensed defense sales to Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, between the 2009 and 2010 budget years.

The U.S. had green-lighted $88 million in military exports to Bahrain in 2009.

Much involved aircraft and military electronics, but the U.S. also licensed $760,000 in exports of rifles, shotguns and assault weapons in 2010. Since mid-February, the kingdom has confronted demonstrators with cordons of armed military and police firing live ammunition. At least 31 people have died and hundreds more injured in the clashes.

The possibility that American-built weapons might have been used against protesters has raised questions in Congress and led the department to review its defense trade relationships with several Middle East nations.

Some transactions are on hold and the review has broadened into a policy reassessment that could alter U.S. defense trade oversight.

"While the impact on our defense relations and the defense trade is uncertain, changes in the region may lead to changes in policy and therefore changes in how we do business," Andrew Shapiro, assistant secretary of state for political and military affairs, said last month.

The State Department's Directorate of Defense Trade Controls approved more than $34 billion in total exports from American defense companies to foreign governments in 2010. That compares with $40 billion in 2009.

The total details only proposed sales, not actual shipments. It's a reliable gauge of private sales of everything from bullets to missile systems, but doesn't include direct defense shipments from the U.S. to its allies.

Bahrain has been a reliable ally in the Persian Gulf for decades, hosting the 5th Fleet and in recent years providing facilities and some forces for U.S. actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Obama administration has criticized the use of violence against dissenters by police and military units but has not exacted specific repercussions against Bahrain's government.

A military attache at the Bahrain Embassy in Washington would not detail the country's contracts with U.S. defense companies and referred a reporter to the State Department.

Department officials would not discuss specifics of the military exports to Bahrain.

Among Bahrain's recent military moves, the Congressional Research Service reported last March, were upgrading its small fleet of F-16 fighter jets and adding to its inventory of American-made helicopters.

A department official said that following recent clashes between Bahrain government forces and pro-democracy crowds, the U.S. would review Bahrain's use of security and military units against peaceful demonstrators and "will take into account any evidence of gross violations of human rights."

Assistant Secretary of State Miguel Rodriguez told Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., in a letter that the administration would re-evaluate its procedures for reviewing American security assistance and "has specifically included Bahrain in this reassessment."

Anthony Cordesman, national security analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a centrist think tank in Washington, said the $760,000 in small arms licensed to Bahrain by the U.S. in 2010 was a pittance compared with what was sold in recent years to Mideast countries by European defense companies.

Britain has suspended private contracts from British defense companies that previously exported armored cars, tear gas and other crowd-control equipment to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia has sent in forces to quell the disturbances in Bahrain.

"Most of the equipment that Bahrain and other Mideast nations buy to deal with internal dissent is bought overseas because of U.S. restraints on its own exports," Cordesman said. "It's a fruitless exercise to concentrate on American exports with all the amount of available small arms floating around the world."

Jeff Abramson, deputy director of the Arms Control Association, countered that the "U.S. needs to be responsible for its own actions first." He added that the political upheaval across the Mideast "has brought to light the problems of providing arms to repressive regimes. The hope is we'll now begin to see a rethinking of the willingness to do that."

The new report showed that licensed U.S. defense sales to other Mideast and North African nations caught up in democracy protests remained mostly unchanged.

Approved exports to Egypt dipped slightly, from $101 million in 2009 to $91 million in 2010. The latest amount included agreements to sell $1 million worth of rifles, shotguns and assault weapons to the Egyptian government headed by Hosni Mubarak in the months before he was unseated after street battles between police and demonstrators.

The U.S. also approved $17 million worth of military exports to Moammar Gadhafi's government in Libya in 2010 before turning on him following his crackdown on opposition forces this February.

The proposed sale would have provided at least $6 million for upgrading Libyan armored troop transports. But a full $77 million deal to upgrade the vehicles was killed when the Obama administration suspended all military aid to Gadhafi's government in March.

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