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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

US gun sting "Operation Fast and Furious" has left trail of 'crime scenes and dead bodies' (Video)

Via

"Exaggerating, manipulating and exploiting the Terrorist threat for profit and power has been the biggest scam of the decade; only Wall Street's ability to make the Government prop it up and profit from the crisis it created at the expense of everyone else can compete for that title. Nothing has altered the mindset of the American citizenry more than a decade's worth of fear-mongering. So compelling is fear-based propaganda, so beholden are our government institutions to these private Security State factions, and so unaccountable is the power bestowed by these programs, that even a full decade after the only Terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, its growth continues more or less unabated"

The decade's biggest scam
by Glenn Greenwald
August 29, 2011
Salon.com

Via
The Los Angeles Times examines the staggering sums of money expended on patently absurd domestic "homeland security" projects: $75 billion per year for things such as a Zodiac boat with side-scan sonar to respond to a potential attack on a lake in tiny Keith County, Nebraska, and hundreds of "9-ton BearCat armored vehicles, complete with turret" to guard against things like an attack on DreamWorks in Los Angeles. All of that -- which is independent of the exponentially greater sums spent on foreign wars, occupations, bombings, and the vast array of weaponry and private contractors to support it all -- is in response to this mammoth, existential, the-single-greatest-challenge-of-our-generation threat:

"The number of people worldwide who are killed by Muslim-type terrorists, Al Qaeda wannabes, is maybe a few hundred outside of war zones. It's basically the same number of people who die drowning in the bathtub each year," said John Mueller, an Ohio State University professor who has written extensively about the balance between threat and expenditures in fighting terrorism.

Last year, McClatchy characterized this threat in similar terms: "undoubtedly more American citizens died overseas from traffic accidents or intestinal illnesses than from terrorism." The March, 2011, Harper's Index expressed the point this way: "Number of American civilians who died worldwide in terrorist attacks last year: 8 -- Minimum number who died after being struck by lightning: 29." That's the threat in the name of which a vast domestic Security State is constructed, wars and other attacks are and continue to be launched, and trillions of dollars are transferred to the private security and defense contracting industry at exactly the time that Americans -- even as they face massive wealth inequality -- are told that they must sacrifice basic economic security because of budgetary constraints.

Despite these increasing economic insecurities -- actually, precisely because of them -- the sprawling domestic Security State continues unabated. The industry journal National Defense Magazine today trumpets: "Homeland Security Market 'Vibrant' Despite Budget Concerns." It details how budget cuts mean "homeland security" growth may not be as robust as once predicted, but "Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Boeing and Northrop Grumman . . . have been winning more contracts from DHS"; as a Boeing spokesman put it: "You'll still continue to see domestically significant investment on the part of the government and leveraging advances in technology to stand up and meet those emerging threats and needs."

Of course, the key to sustaining this Security State bonanza -- profit for private industry and power for Security State officials -- is keeping fear levels among the citizenry as high as possible, as National Defense expressly notes, and that is accomplished by fixating even on minor and failed attacks, each one of which is immediately seized upon to justify greater expenditures, expansion of security measures, and a further erosion of rights:

Polls still show that there is increasing public concern about another terrorist attack. It is this fear and an unrealistic American perception of risk that will continue to propel some aspects of the market, analysts say. . . . Small-scale attacks, whether successful or not, will continue to prompt additional spending, the market analysts at Homeland Security Research Corp. say. They point to the failed 2009 Christmas plot of a man trying to blow up a flight to Detroit with explosives sewn into his underwear and the attempted car-bombing in Times Square early the next year. Though unsuccessful, these events led to immediate White House intervention, congressional hearings and an airport screening upgrade costing more than $1.6 billion.

The LA Times, while skillfully highlighting these wasteful programs, depicts them as some sort of unintended inefficiencies. That is exactly what they are not. None of this is unintended or inefficient but is achieving exactly the purposes for which it is designed. That's true for two reasons. First, this wastefulness is seen as inefficient only if one falsely assumes that its real objective is to combat Terrorist threats. That is not the purpose of what the U.S. Government does. As Daniel Weeks explains today, the Congress -- contrary to popular opinion -- is not "broken"; it is working perfectly for its actual owners. Or, as he puts it, "Washington isn't broken -- it's fixed":

Our problem today is not a broken government but a beholden one: government is more beholden to special-interest shareholders who fund campaigns than it is to ordinary voters. Like any sound investor, the funders seek nothing more and nothing less than a handsome return -- deficits be darned -- in the form of tax breaks, subsidies and government contracts.

The LA Times, and most people who denounce these spending "inefficiencies," have the causation backwards: fighting Terrorism isn't the goal that security spending is supposed to fulfill; the security spending (and power vested by surveillance) is the goal itself, and Terrorism is the pretext for it. For that reason, whether the spending efficiently addresses a Terrorism threat is totally irrelevant. Second, while the Security State has little to do with addressing ostensible Terrorist threats, it has much to do with targeting perceived domestic and political threats, especially threats brought about by social unrest from austerity and the growing wealth gap. This Alternet article by Sarah Jafee, entitled "How the Surveillance State Protects the Interests Of the Ultra-Rich," compiles much evidence -- including what I offered two weeks ago -- demonstrating that the prime aim of the growing Surveillance State is to impose domestic order, preserve prevailing economic prerogatives and stifle dissent and anticipated unrest.

Pointing out disparities between surveillance programs and the Terrorist threat is futile because they're not aimed at that threat. The British Government, for instance, is continuing its efforts to restrict social media in the wake of the poverty-fueled riots that plagued that country; as The New York Times reports today, it is secretly meeting with representatives of Twitter, Facebook, and the company that owns Blackberry "to discuss voluntary ways to limit or restrict the use of social media to combat crime and periods of civil unrest." That revelation prompted taunting condemnations of British tyranny from China and Iran, both of which have been routinely excoriated for surveillance abuses and Internet suppression of the type increasingly common in the West. Meanwhile, much of the anti-Terrorism weaponry in the U.S. ends up being deployed for purposes of purely domestic policing. As the LA Times notes:

those aforementioned BearCats are "are now deployed by police across the country; the arrests of methamphetamine dealers and bank robbers these days often look much like a tactical assault on insurgents in Baghdad." Drones are used both in the Drug War and to patrol the border. Surveillance measures originally justified as necessary to fight foreign Terrorists are routinely turned far more often inward, and the NSA -- created with a taboo against domestic spying -- now does that regularly. Exaggerating, manipulating and exploiting the Terrorist threat for profit and power has been the biggest scam of the decade; only Wall Street's ability to make the Government prop it up and profit from the crisis it created at the expense of everyone else can compete for that title. Nothing has altered the mindset of the American citizenry more than a decade's worth of fear-mongering So compelling is fear-based propaganda, so beholden are our government institutions to these private Security State factions, and so unaccountable is the power bestowed by these programs, that even a full decade after the only Terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, its growth continues more or less unabated.

Illinois man faces life in jail for recording cops...

Man Faces Life In Jail For Recording Police
Every other case involving people arrested for filming cops has been thrown out of court, but media promulgates hoax that recording police is illegal
Paul Joseph Watson & Alex Jones
Infowars.com
Wednesday, August 31, 2011

41-year old Illinois mechanic Michael Allison faces life in jail for recording police officers after authorities hit him with eavesdropping charges based on the hoax that it is illegal to film cops, a misnomer that has been disproved by every other case against people filming police officers being thrown out of court.



The state of Illinois is trying to charge Allison with five counts of wiretapping, each punishable by four to 15 years in prison. Allison refused a plea deal which would have seen him serve no jail time but would reinforce the hoax that it is illegal to film police officers, as well as acting as a chilling effect to prevent other Americans from filming cases of police brutality. Allison has chosen to reject the plea bargain and fight to clear his name via a jury trial, arguing, “If we don’t fight for our freedoms here at home we’re all going to lose them.”

A judge is expected to rule on when the case will go to trial over the next two weeks.

As another report concerning the Allison case documents, in every other example where people have been arrested for recording police officers, the charges have been dropped and the case thrown out of court. Despite this fact, the state is so desperate to make an example out of Allison that an assistant from the Attorney General’s Office was recently sent to speak against him during a hearing.

The notion that it is illegal to film police officers is a mass hoax that is being promulgated by authorities, the media, and police officers themselves.In the latest example, charges were dismissed against a woman who filmed cops in her own back yard in Rochester, New York.In Illinois itself, eavesdropping charges against Tiawanda Moore for recording patrol officers were dropped, after a “Criminal Court jury quickly repudiated the prosecution’s case, taking less than an hour to acquit Moore on both eavesdropping counts.”

Despite the fact that recording police officers (public servants) is perfectly legal, Americans are still being arrested for doing so, and the establishment media is enthusiastically perpetuating the hoax that such conduct is unlawful, even though in doing so they are completely eroding protections that guarantee press freedom.There is no expectation of privacy in public, the police are fully aware of this, which is why they have dash cams on their cars to record incidents, wear microphones and utilize other recording equipment as part of their job.

Cases like Allison’s have been thrown out all over the country and yet police continue to arrest people for filming them as a form of intimidation. The fact that the state is knowingly ignoring its own laws in order to engage in acts of official repression highlights the rampant criminality that has infested every level of American government.This behavior is reflective of a predatory system that seeks to criminalize all first amendment activities.It also highlights how petrified the system is about the public being able to document and record acts of police brutality.

Prosecutors in Allison’s case are deliberately attempting jail an innocent man for life for an activity that they know full well is not illegal. If anything, they should be the ones being charged with illegal conduct and official oppression.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Muslims arrested at rides park over headwear "misunderstanding"...

Arrests at Rides Park Over Headwear "Misunderstanding"
NBCNewYork.com
updated 18 minutes ago 2011-08-31

Fifteen visitors at Playland Park in Rye, N.Y., were arrested Tuesday afternoon following what park officials called a "misunderstanding" over a headgear policy.

The Muslim-American patrons arrived as part of a tour group and were wearing traditional hijabs when they entered Playland Park sometime after 4 p.m., according to officials. When they tried to gain entry on some rides, they were denied based on the park's policy of prohibiting headwear on rides, including hats, scarves and flowing material, for safety reasons.

The visitors were offered refunds at the front of the park, but an argument forced park security to intervene before that could happen, said officials.

Two park rangers were injured and were taken to a nearby hospital. The park was suspended for two hours between 4 and 6 p.m. during the incident.

Fifteen patrons in the group were arrested and charged, according to Westchester County officials.

Officials said the headwear policy was explained to the tour operator, the Muslim American Society of New York, several times before the the trip.

“This misunderstanding was very unfortunate,” Peter Tartaglia, deputy parks commissioner, said in a release. “Our headgear policy is designed to protect the safety of patrons and safety is our first concern. This policy was repeatedly articulated to the tour operator, but unfortunately the message did not reach some of the members of his group.”

WTC7 leaseholder Larry Silverstein has no response for 9/11 questions (Video)

Via

Justice Department won’t release full memos on George W. Bush’s warrantless surveillance...

Justice Department won’t release full memos on George W. Bush’s warrantless surveillance
By Associated Press, Published: August 29

Via
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department is refusing to release legal memos the George W. Bush administration used to justify his warrantless surveillance program, one of the most contentious civil liberties issues during the Republican president’s time in office.

In responding to a Freedom of Information Act request, the department is withholding two legal analyses by then-government lawyer John Yoo, and is revealing just eight sentences from a third Yoo memo dated Nov. 2, 2001. That memo is at least 21 pages long.

Each of the three memos was summarized in a public report more than two years ago by five inspectors general. The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel says Yoo memos from Feb. 8, 2002, and Oct. 11, 2002, were classified and protected from public disclosure by the deliberative process privilege. The Nov. 2 memo was withheld almost in its entirety for an additional reason, that it was covered by non-disclosure provisions in federal laws.

Yoo’s work at the Justice Department during the Bush administration long has been intensely controversial, especially his authorship of memos defending the Bush administration’s use of harsh interrogation tactics against terrorist suspects.

The department’s Office of Legal Counsel, where Yoo worked, is in charge of providing controlling legal opinions to the president and all executive branch agencies.

Yoo’s memos on interrogation and warrantless surveillance were long ago withdrawn and replaced by his successors at the department. Amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 2008 spelled out the role of the courts in the surveillance process.

Key Justice Department memos by Yoo and others at the Justice Department in support of harsh interrogation techniques have been publicly released — some by the Bush administration, others during Barack Obama’s presidency.

Two years ago, Matthew Aid, a private researcher, asked the Justice Department to release three Yoo memos on warrantless surveillance. The Office of Legal Counsel responded three weeks ago.

The eight sentences released from the Nov. 2, 2001, memo closely track the 2009 inspectors general summary. In that memo, Yoo wrote that FISA “cannot restrict the president’s ability to engage in warrantless searches that protect the national security.” According to the IGs’ report, the Feb. 8, 2002, memo said that Congress had not included a clear statement in FISA that it sought to restrict presidential authority to conduct warrantless surveillance activities. The Oct. 11, 2002, opinion reiterates the same basic analysis contained in Yoo’s Nov. 2, 2001, memo in support of the legality of the president’s warrantless surveillance program, according to the IGs’ report.

Among the reasons Yoo’s memo has been controversial is that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, enacted in 1978, set up a secret court — before which only government lawyers appear — with power to grant, or reject, government applications for warrants to electronically eavesdrop on Americans’ communications in this country. It stated that the act was the exclusive means by which this could be done.

The Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists first reported on the Justice Department’s decision on the FOIA request.

US 'wasted $30bn on Afghanistan and Iraq' over decade...

US 'wasted $30bn on Afghanistan and Iraq' over decade
By Kim Ghattas
BBC News, Washington

The US government has wasted $30bn (£18bn) in contracts in Afghanistan and Iraq over the last decade, according to a bi-partisan spending commission.

The commission on wartime contracting blamed an over-reliance on contractors, poor planning and fraud for the waste.

It had evidence of lax accountability and inadequate competition, it said.

Writing in the Washington Post, the report's authors warn that investments in the two countries could be wasted even after US involvement there ends.

Among the examples cited was a $40m prison for Iraq that the country did not want and was never completed.

US-funded projects in those two countries also risk going to waste because host governments are unable or unwilling to sustain them.

In one case, $300m was poured into a sophisticated power plant in Kabul which the Afghan government will not be able to run, and a programme worth $11.4bn of facilities for the Afghan national security forces is likely to be unsustainable.

The commission's report is due to be published on Wednesday but its authors, who include former government officials and lawmakers, have already published an opinion piece in the Washington Post, blaming both the government and contractors for the waste.

The article makes the obvious recommendation to be more rigorous when deciding whether a project should be contracted out but it also recommends cancelling or modifying projects that are not sustainable.

Beyond just a disservice to taxpayers, the report says that the waste fosters corruption in host countries and diminishes the standing and influence of the US.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The China deception

The China Deception
Jeff Orr
Infowars.com
August 29, 201

The current trend in the world of finance and politics is toward consolidation of power into the hands of a few large financial intuitions like Goldman Sachs. Over 40 US states have turned over control of unemployment payments to the largest private banks such as Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, and Citibank. Recipients of benefits are often forced to have a bank account and a debit card at these banks in order to receive their benefits.

The state of Kentucky handed over control of all their revenues and financial transactions to these same banks which caused the global financial crisis. Handing over large accounts of public money are among the many gifts and support measures provided by US government entities to prop up and rescue too big to fail banks.

So how do these mega bank show their gratitude to the American People for throwing them a lifeline during the financial crises that began in 2008? A little known fact is that last year Citigroup, JP Morgan, and many other large international banks were engaged in promoting China’s renminbi currency to be accepted in place of the dollar in world commerce. The financial times of London ran an article on August 26, 2010 entitled “Banks back switch to renminbi for trade” which states:

A number of the world’s biggest banks have launched international roadshows promoting the use of the renminbi to corporate customers instead of the dollar for trade deals with China. HSBC, which recently moved its chief executive from London to Hong Kong, and Standard Chartered are offering discounted transaction fees and other financial incentives to companies that choose to settle trade in the Chinese currency.”

“We’re now capable of doing renminbi settlement in many parts of the world,” said Chris Lewis, HSBC’s head of trade for greater China. “All the other major international banks are frantically trying to do the same thing.”

“HSBC and StanChart are among a slew of global banks – including Citigroup and JP Morgan – holding roadshows across Asia, Europe and the US to promote the renminbi to companies.


These moves toward internationalizing the Chinese renminbi to replace the dollar would require approval from global corporate giants. Ironically the American icon McDonald’s became the first foreign company in the world to sell corporate bonds in renminbi.

CHINA IS TOP POLICY ISSUE FOR UNITED STATES

Considered unimportant to many, the pivotal political event for global politics this year was the Jan 2011 State visit to the U.S. by Chinese President Hu. US negotiations with China primarily concern the dollar’s competition with China’s currency, the fate of the dollar, and what will be the future world reserve currency. Leading into the January 2011 State Visit, the New York Times ran an article which discussed President Obama’s earlier 2009 Asia tour and its overall failure.

In Seoul, instead of getting hammered on its currency, China managed to persuade Europe to join it in rejecting core elements of Mr. Obama’s strategy of stimulating growth before focusing on deficit reduction. In addition, several major nations accused the Federal Reserve of deliberately devaluing the dollar in an effort to put the costs of America’s competitive troubles on trading partners, rather than taking politically tough measures to rein in spending at home. The result was that Mr. Obama appeared on the world stage as a leader of a country losing ground to a rising China. Administration officials are determined that this will not happen during the visit to Washington this week.

This ‘determination’ alluded to by Obama administration officials would evidence itself both in the Arab revolts and the harsh criticism of China during the Chinese President’s visit to Washington. The criticism came through top officials such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. It is quite unusual diplomacy to openly criticize the policies of a head of state while they are concurrently a guest in your country. What was further unusual was the extent to which US Officials, corporate leaders, and political elites simultaneously attempted to make a powerful and friendly impression on the Chinese President. This seemingly contradictory policy was made mention of in a New York Times article.

David Rothkopf, a national security expert who worked in the administration of President Bill Clinton, said: “There’s been this well-orchestrated and clearly well thought-out campaign, over the past two weeks, involving the secretary of state, Treasury, defense and commerce making strong statements regarding currency, the trade imbalance, human rights and China’s military stance.” He added, “So you’re welcoming the leader of the most important rival power in the world into the capital, and the way you pave his entrance into the city is laid with these four big thorny issues

During the State Visit on Wednesday Jan 19th the Chinese President attended a meeting where he was surrounded by a large show of American corporate might. Such was actually an indication that the US was trying to mask its weakness and really needed something important from China. The list of executives in attendance was unprecedented and included all of the following:

* Steve Ballmer of Microsoft

* Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs,

* Jeff Immelt of General Electric

* Paul Otellini of Intel

* Ellen Kullman of Du Pont

* David Rubenstiein of Carlyle Group

* Aris Candris of Westinghouse Electric Corp.

* John Chen the former Sybase Inc. chief executive

* Muhtar Kent of Coca-Cola Co.

* Greg Page of Cargill Inc

* John Thornton of HSBC Holdings

* Andrew Liveris of Dow Chemical Co.

In spite of all the diplomatic shock and awe, the United States did not achieve what seemed to be its primary objective which was to have China eliminate protections on its banking sector and currency. Richard Adams of the UK Gaurdian presented a time-line of events and quotes from the State visit and press conference with the Chinese and American heads of state. The quotes of President Obama are a good indication of what the US was requesting from China in private discussions:

The currency issue is a part of the problem, the RMB [renminbi] is undervalued,” says Obama, more bluntly. “President Hu has indicated that he is in favor of moving towards a market-based system,” …” but it’s not happening fast enough. Anyway, it will be a win-win for both countries once the renminbi floats”…

“We want to sell you all kinds of stuff. We want to sell you planes, we want to sell you cars, we want to sell you software.


HENRY KISSINGER ON CHINA

Henry Kissinger continues to be an important figure on US policy toward China and has been for the last 4 decades. He was in attendance for the State Dinner with the Chinese President, and was reported to have also had a private meeting with the Chinese President. He has been influential on policy and in numerous appointments of the Obama administration. Dr. Kissinger released a book in 2011 entitled “On China” His writings and statement provide a great insight into what may be guiding present decisions on US military and foreign policy.

On Oct 12, 2009 Kissinger posted an article advocating that Obama has no real option but to support the Af-Pakistan surge which General Stanley McChrystal lobbied for. Obama ended up agreeing with this position. Carefully reading between the lines of one of Dr Kissinger’s articles we find clues as to why US has made such a large commitment and sacrifice in Afghanistan. He wrote:

The special aspect of Afghanistan is that it has powerful neighbors or near neighbors—Pakistan, India, China, Russia, Iran

In January 2009 just 8 days before Obama was inaugurated Henry Kissigner laid out his thoughts on the importance of China to the United States entitled “A Chance for a New World Order”

As the new U.S. administration prepares to take office amidst grave financial and international crises, it may seem counterintuitive to argue that the very unsettled nature of the international system generates a unique opportunity for creative diplomacy…”

“The Atlantic partnership will need to work towards a common design if it is to survive….This is why the U.S. relationship with China is so central…What kind of global economic order arises will depend importantly on how China and America deal with each other over the next few years.


IT’S ALL ABOUT MONEY AND BANKING

In the context of Dr. Kissinger’s assement, the promotion of the Chinese renminbi currency by JP Morgan, Citigroup, HSBC, and other western banks cited earlier makes perfect sense. The actions of these banks appears to be a preliminary good will gesture to China in hopes they will agree to share control of the renminbi with the ‘Atlantic partnership’ else share control over a new world reserve currency.

As Dr. Kissinger indicates, a deal with China on financial issues is required by interests in the United States. This seems to explain why U.S. political leaders have been tolerating the large trade imbalance with China and helping facilitate the transfer of American technology and manufacturing jobs to China.

But it seems the needed deal with China was not achieved during the State visit in January 2011. Since the carrot approach with China wasn’t working, it seems the stick approach was implemented. Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and the other Arab revolts were a timely message to China that the Atlantic partnership will not go away quietly. China’s growing economic and political ties in North Africa and the middle east region were going to be undermined until Chinese elites came to the realization that they must make a deal.

Goldman Sachs played an integral part of the unusual State Visit diplomacy as evidenced by its reversal of position in calling on investors worldwide to pull out of China while the January 2011 State visit was underway. Facebook and Google played a key role in supporting the Arab revolts and the timeline of events is suggestive of a connection between the Chinese State Visit and the Arab revolts. The day the Chinese President left Washinton DC was the very same day Google Executive Wael Ghonim posted the Facebook call for a January 25 protest by Egyptians.

The underlying issue is that the Atlantic partnership is bankrupt and China believes that its currency deserves to be the new unit of trade in the world. The time is upon us where the US dollar can no longer be maintained as the worlds reserve currency. China holds the key to determining if the bankrupt financial institutions of the West will live or die. China is poised to become the new financial center of gravity in the world as the value of the dollar fades. Therefore China is holding the best cards in the game.

There is another factor that makes China vital to the Western powers. The Financial Oligarchical system of rule which dominates the Western world today thrives by occupying every country like China, which is both a military and economic superpower. It is those who control that system that want to gain a foothold in China. That is why we are seeing Arab revolts and a NATO war on Libya. It is for that agenda that the United States will continue to pay the heavy price for occupying Af-Pakistan, bank bailouts, transfer of jobs to China, and the flight of capital and industry out of the United States.

Changing the balance of power is what is needed and the ability to do so is within the power of everyday people. Abuse of power by banks with this China agenda is actually enabled by individuals who unconsciously deposit their money in them. State and local governments put trillions in public money in these same banks in the form of state reserves and pension funds. The solution to the problem is in the hands of individuals all over the world, not just in the United States. The most viable option for world peace and a global economic recovery is for people worldwide to move their money somewhere else. Remove trillions of dollars from the bad banks and instead use it to establish banks which invest responsibly and operate in the public interest. Start locally and start today.

Pentagon exploits over-hyped Hurricane Irene to test tighter military control of disaster response...

Pentagon Beta Tests Tighter Military Control of Disaster Response
Kurt Nimmo
Infowars.com
August 29, 2011

The Pentagon is exploiting Hurricane Irene in an effort further militarize disaster response. Fox News reported today that the Pentagon is using the overstated hurricane to minimize civilian participation in emergency situations.



Over the weekend, the Pentagon appointed “dual-status commanders” to direct both active-duty troops and guardsmen assisting civilian officials in New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina and Rhode Island. In the past, the chain of command was split between federal and state authorities.

Under the cover of fixing supposed delays, duplications and gaps after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in August 2005, the Pentagon has further crippled Posse Comitatus – restricting military involvement in domestic law enforcement – and limited the participation of the state in disaster and emergency response.

This is the first time so-called dual-status commanders have been used for a natural disaster. In the past, they were used at international summits, but not for domestic response to a hurricane.

The AP basically reports that the Pentagon used the storm as a beta test for the roll-out of the next phase of the police state – tight integration of emergency response and law enforcement on the state and local level under the military command and control of the Pentagon and the federal government.

Dual-status commanders were established by the Northern Command following the attacks of September 11, 2001. Northcom was specifically created by the Pentagon to “defend the U.S. homeland and help civilian authorities handle domestic crises like Irene,” according to the Associated Press.

The appointment of the dual-status commanders for Irene was announced by the Defense Department. Military officials said four governors and the Defense Department made the selections together.

Obama’s fancy command center is part of the effort to sell further militarization of law enforcement. The National Response Coordination Center set up at FEMA headquarters in Washington and worked with the Pentagon and other agencies during the much hyped storm.

Obama used the center to stay in touch with Vice President Joe Biden and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, among other bureaucrats, and provide valuable propaganda footage for the corporate media.

Who - and what - are behind the "official history" of the Bin Laden raid?

Who--and What--Are Behind the "Official History" of the Bin Laden Raid?
August 17, 2011
By Russ Baker

Via.
The establishment media just keep getting worse. They're further and further from good, tough investigative journalism, and more prone to be pawns in complicated games that affect the public interest in untold ways. A significant recent example is The New Yorker's vaunted August 8 exclusive on the vanquishing of Osama bin Laden.

The piece, trumpeted as the most detailed account to date of the May 1 raid in Abbottabad Pakistan, was an instant hit. "Got the chills half dozen times reading @NewYorker killing bin Laden tick tock...exquisite journalism," tweeted the digital director of the PBS show Frontline. The author, freelancer Nicholas Schmidle, was quickly featured on the Charlie Rose show, an influential determiner of "chattering class" opinion. Other news outlets rushed to praise the story as "exhaustive," "utterly compelling," and on and on.

To be sure, it is the kind of granular, heroic story that the public loves, that generates follow-up bestsellers and movie options. The takedown even has a Hollywood-esque code name: "Operation Neptune's Spear"

Here's the introduction to the mission commander, full of minute details that help give it a ring of authenticity and suggest the most intimate reportorial access:

James, a broad-chested man in his late thirties, does not have the lithe swimmer's frame that one might expect of a SEAL--he is built more like a discus thrower. That night, he wore a shirt and trousers in Desert Digital Camouflage, and carried a silenced Sig Sauer P226 pistol, along with extra ammunition; a CamelBak, for hydration; and gel shots, for endurance. He held a short-barrel, silenced M4 rifle. (Others SEALs had chosen the Heckler & Koch MP7.) A "blowout kit," for treating field trauma, was tucked into the small of James's back. Stuffed into one of his pockets was a laminated gridded map of the compound. In another pocket was a booklet with photographs and physical descriptions of the people suspected of being inside. He wore a noise-cancelling headset, which blocked out nearly everything besides his heartbeat.

On and on went the "tick-tock." Yet as Paul Farhi, a Washington Post reporter, noted, that narrative was misleading in the extreme, because the New Yorker reporter never actually spoke to Jamesnor to a single one of James's fellow SEALs (who have never been identified or photographed--even from behind--to protect their identity.) Instead, every word of Schmidle's narrative was provided to him by people who were not present at the raid. Complains Farhi:

...a casual reader of the article wouldn't know that; neither the article nor an editor's note describes the sourcing for parts of the story. Schmidle, in fact, piles up so many details about some of the men, such as their thoughts at various times, that the article leaves a strong impression that he spoke with them directly.

That didn't trouble New Yorker editor David Remnick, according to Farhi:

Remnick says he's satisfied with the accuracy of the account. "The sources spoke to our fact-checkers," he said. "I know who they are."

But we don't.

On a story of this gravity, should we automatically join in with the huzzahs because it has the imprimatur of America's most respected magazine? Or would we be wise to approach it with caution?

***

Most of us are not the trusting naifs we once were. And with good reason.

The list of consequential events packaged for us by media and Hollywood in unsatisfactory ways continues to grow. It starts, certainly, with the official version of the JFK assassination, widely discredited yet still carried forward by most major media organizations. (For more on that, see this.) More and more people realize that the heroic Woodward & Bernstein story of Nixon's demise is deeply problematical. (I've written extensively on both of these in my book Family of Secrets.)

And untold millions don't think we've heard the real (or at least complete) story of the phenomenal, complex success of those 19 hijackers on Sept. 11, 2001. Skeptics now include former White House counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke, who recently speculated that the hijackers may have been able to enter the US and move freely precisely because American intelligence hoped to recruit them as double agents--and that an ongoing cover-up is designed to hide this. And then, of course, there are the Pentagon's account of the heroic rescue of Jessica Lynch in Iraq, which turned out to be a hoax, and the Pentagon's fabricated account of the heroic battle death of former NFL player Pat Tillman in Afghanistan, who turned out to be a victim of friendly fire. These are just a few from scores of examples of deceit perpetrated upon the American people. Hardly the kind of track record to inspire confidence in official explanations with the imprimatur of the military and the CIA.

Whatever one thinks of these other matters, we're certainly now at a point where we ought to be prudent in embracing authorized accounts of the latest seismic event: the dramatic end to one of America's most reviled and storied nemeses.

The bin Laden raid presents us with every reason to be cautious. The government's initial claims about what transpired at that house in Abbottabad have changed, then changed again, with no proper explanation of the discrepancies. Even making allowances for human error in such shifting accounts, almost every aspect of what we were told requires a willing suspension of disbelief--from the manner of Osama's death and burial to the purported pornography found at the site. (For more on these issues, see previous articles we wrote on the subject, here, here and here.)

Clarke's theory will seem less outrageous later, as we explore Saudi intelligence's crucial, and bizarre, role at the end of bin Laden's life--working directly with the man who now holds Clarke's job.

Add to all of this the discovery that the reporter providing this newest account wasn't even allowed to talk to any raid participants--and the magazine's lack of candor on this point--and you've got an almost unassailable case for treating the New Yorker story with extreme caution.

CLICK HERE TO READ FURTHER.

Former AG Michael Mukasey looking to soften bribery law...

Michael Mukasey pushes to alter bribery law
By JOSH GERSTEIN | 8/27/11 5:01 PM EDT Updated: 8/29/11 3:48 PM EDT

If you represent U.S. businesses and want to scale back an anti-corruption law, what do you do?

Hire the nation’s former top law enforcement official.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has recruited former Attorney General Michael Mukasey to press its case for reining in an American law that bans bribery overseas — and for softening the Obama administration’s aggressive enforcement of it. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act makes it a crime for U.S. companies to pay bribes or offer any “thing of value” to a foreign official to advance the corporation’s interest.

Many advocates for business say enforcement of that law has been too strict, injuring America’s ability to win in a global economy. They also cite lengthy investigations and hefty legal fees over transactions that wouldn’t qualify as traditional bribes, such as giving money to non-government officials, buying dinner for business contacts or even paying for their taxi rides.

Enter Mukasey, a former federal judge whom President George W. Bush brought in to clean up a scandal-tarnished Justice Department in 2007. After leaving the Justice Department, Mukasey returned to New York, joined the firm of Debevoise & Plimpton and began taking on corporate clients, including the Chamber and News Corp.

“The law itself has a couple of problems with it,” Mukasey told POLITICO. He said the business community mainly wants the wording clarified. “In some countries, enterprises are state-owned, so everybody’s a foreign official. You take somebody out to dinner that’s intended to get you a competitive benefit and, boom: You get an investigation.”

“That said, nobody is looking to slacken in cases involving real bribery of public officials,” Mukasey added.

The current leaders of the Justice Department defend the law.

Lanny Breuer, chief of the department’s criminal division, said he’s troubled by suggestions that payments to individuals to win business are above board if they work for private companies and not government-owned ones.

“Corporate bribery, whether of government officials or commercial bribery, is bad for business in general and just plain wrong,” Breuer said in an interview with POLITICO.

“I don’t really accept the fact that the FCPA is truly a burden on American business,” he added. “Our companies should compete based on the quality of their products and the quality of their services and not based on corruption. [And] it’s not as if we’re only prosecuting American companies. Half our [cases involve] foreign companies or foreign subsidiaries” that do business in the U.S. or are traded on a U.S. stock exchange.

The number of prosecutions under the anti-corruption statute roughly doubled to 74 in the first two years of the Obama administration, compared with 38 during the last two years under Bush and near-dormancy in the years before that. The Justice Department boasted in January that the $1 billion in penalties it recovered for violations in fiscal 2010 was “the largest in the history of FCPA enforcement” and accounted for roughly half of all financial penalties and restitution obtained that year by DOJ’s criminal division.



Random Muslim becomes millionth 'Al Qaeda No. 2' after (drone) robot kills him...

Random Muslim Becomes Millionth ‘Al Qaeda No. 2′ After Robot Kills Him
by Ken Layne
5:07 pm August 27, 2011

Via
Anything besides hurricane news today? Yes! The Pentagon or the CIA or whatever corporation runs the robot death drone planes that constantly rain bombs on brown people throughout the world just announced that about a week ago, one of those robot death drone planes dropped a couple of million-dollar bombs somewhere and one of those bombs blew up a random Muslim or Arab (both?) somewhere, and this guy … let’s see, “Atiyah Abd al-Rahman,” yep he turned out to be the latest “Number Two Al Qaeda,” perhaps the Assistant Chief Financial Officer or whatever, on August 22, when he was apparently killed.

The New York Times reports from some unsourced anonymous Pentagon press release, as usual with this bullshit:

American officials described Mr. Rahman’s death as particularly significant as compared with other high-ranking Qaeda operatives who have been killed, because he was one of a new generation of Qaeda leaders that the network hoped would assume greater control after Bin Laden’s death.

Hahaha, “as compared with other high-ranking Qaeda operatives who have been killed,” hahaha. Idiots. No, wait … we’re the idiots, for putting up with this, year after year. The second decade of the “War On Terror” will be “particularly significant,” too, we bet.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

‘Massive looting of ancient artefacts underway in Libya’

‘Massive looting of ancient artefacts underway in Libya’
Vladimir Radyuhin
Moscow, August 28, 2011

Via
Libya’s priceless historical heritage is in danger of being destroyed in the same way Iraq’s cultural riches perished during the United States invasion, warned a Russian expert on West Asia.

Nikolai Sologubovsky, orientalist, writer and film maker, said massive looting and destruction of ancient artefacts was underway in Libya.

“The al-Jamahiriya National Museum in Tripoli has been looted and antiquities are being shipped out by sea to Europe,” the scholar told Russian television.

The National Museum houses some of Libya's most treasured archaeological and historical heritage. The collection includes invaluable samples of Neolithic, pre-historic, Berber, Garamantian, Phoenician, Punic, Greek, Roman and Byzantine culture.

Mr. Sologubovsky, who spent several months in Libya this year as a correspondent for a Moscow tabloid, said cave paintings in Acacus Mountains that go back 14,000 years were being destroyed by looters.

“They press silk cloth soaked in special chemical solution against rock frescoes and the paint sticks to the cloth and comes off the cave wall,” he said.

The scholar accused NATO forces of destroying some of the most spectacular architectural sites included in UNESCO’s World Historical List.

“NATO aircraft have bombed Leptis Magna and Sabratha,” said Mr. Sologobovsky, who is deputy head of a Russian committee of solidarity with the people of Libya and Syria set up earlier this year.

Leptis Magna was one of the most beautiful cities of the Roman Empire and Sabratha was a Phoenician trading post. Both are more than 2,500 years old.

Earlier this summer, the government in Tripoli asked Egypt and other neighbouring countries to block the smuggling of artifacts from Libya, but the looting continued unabated. Egypt’s own cultural treasures were plundered when looters ransacked archeological sites and stole a statue of King Tutankhamun and dozens of other precious objects from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo during the “Arab Spring” revolution.

The United Nation's cultural body last week warned international art dealers and museums to look out for artifacts that may have been looted from Libya.

UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova said in a statement that dealers should be “particularly wary of objects from Libya in the present circumstances”. She called on Libyans, their neighbours and art dealers to protect the “invaluable cultural heritage”.

Mr. Sologubovsky said the UNESCO appeal came too late, too little.

“Plunder of Libya’s cultural heritage has been going on since February. I’m afraid it faces the same tragic fate as Iraq’s antiquities, which were plundered by the victorious U.S. military,” said the Russian scholar.

'Taliban Hunting Club' and skull and crossbones badges worn by UK troops in Afghanistan banned...

Banned: ‘Taliban Hunting Club’ badges worn by UK troops in Afghanistan
CHRISTOPHER LEAKE
UK Daily Mail
Aug 28, 2011

Via
British soldiers in Afghanistan have been banned from wearing skull-and-crossbones badges on their uniforms that declare ‘Death To The Taliban’ and proclaim membership of a ‘Taliban Hunting Club’.

The unofficial stick-on badges are now a cult accessory among British troops fighting Taliban insurgents.

But senior Army officers visiting Helmand province in southern Afghanistan – where most UK troops are based – have ordered them to be removed because they are deemed ‘politically insensitive’.

Commanders were said to be particularly worried about the repercussions if any of the estimated 600 soldiers wearing one of the fabric badges accidentally shot a civilian in the heat of battle.


Remind you of anything?

BBC responds over false Tripoli footage...

BBC Responds Over False Tripoli Footage
Steve Watson
Prisonplanet.com
Aug 28, 2011

For what it’s worth here is a response from the BBC concerning footage it ran on August 24, claiming a gathering in India, with people waving Indian flags, was actually footage of celebrations from a liberated Green Square in Tripoli:

Dear Mr Watson,

Thanks for contacting us regarding ‘Breakfast’ broadcast on 24 August on BBC One.

We understand you were concerned that incorrect footage was shown during a report on the latest developments from Tripoli, and that images from India were broadcast instead.

We forwarded your complaint to ‘Breakfast’ Editors who explained in response that they realised within moments that they were showing the wrong footage and quickly took it down.

They also apologised immediately and pointed to how the problem was caused by confusion over a “feed” coming in to television centre from the international agencies.

We apologise for any concern this may have caused and we’d like to assure you that your feedback has been registered on our audience log. This is a daily report of audience feedback that’s made available to many BBC staff, including members of the BBC Executive Board, programme makers, channel controllers and other senior managers. The audience logs are seen as important documents that can help shape decisions about future programming and content.

Thanks again for taking the time to contact us.

Finally, I have attached an invitation from the Head of BBC Audience Services, asking you to participate in our customer survey. We would welcome your views on our service.

Kind Regards

Robert Regan
BBC Complaints
www.bbc.co.uk/complaints
.


So in summary: Sorry, we got “confused”. Here is video of the broadcast

Britain enacts blanket ban on protests...

Britain enacts blanket ban on protests
Sat Aug 27, 2011 7:36PM GMT

Via
The British government has applied a blanket ban on all kind of marches and protest gatherings in London amid fears of violence and disorder.

The Home Office announced the blanket ban on all marches in five London boroughs for 30 days starting from September 2, the Independent reported.

Home Secretary Theresa May banned all marches in Tower Hamlets, east London, and four neighbouring boroughs in the capital for a 30-day period following a request from Scotland Yard Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin.

The move comes amid fears of violence and disorder if the marches were allowed to go ahead.

"Having carefully considered the legal tests in the Public Order Act and balanced rights to protest against the need to ensure local communities and property are protected, I have given my consent to a ban on all marches in Tower Hamlets and four neighbouring boroughs for a 30-day period”, said the Home Secretary.

"I know that the Metropolitan Police are committed to using their powers to ensure communities and properties are protected”, added Theresa May.

"We encourage all local people and community leaders to work with the police to ensure community relations are not undermined by public disorder", she said.

Therefore, the English Defence League's plan to march through the capital next month was blocked by the Home Secretary.

But, the British Unite against Fascism (UAF) and United East End (UEE) movement threatened that they will press ahead with the plan for anti Fascist march on September 3, issuing the following statement:

“We the undersigned welcome the banning of the racist English Defence League's (EDL) march through Tower Hamlets.

However, we believe the headlines claiming the EDL have been "banned" from Tower Hamlets are misleading. The EDL will still be holding a static protest in the borough.

“We are also appalled to discover that the Metropolitan Police are applying for a blanket ban on ALL marches across five London boroughs: Tower Hamlets, Newham, Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest; and the City of London for 30 days”, said the statement.

“This is a huge attack on everyone's civil liberties and prevents people's right to oppose racism.

“We have the democratic right to peacefully march through Tower Hamlets on 3 September to show unity of Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu, Black, Asian, LGBT communities, trade unions and all those against fascism and for freedom, and to voice opposition to the EDL's attempts to divide us.

“Our legal advice says there is no law that says if one march has been banned all marches in that area must be banned.

“It is our human right to peacefully march in Tower Hamlets.

“We therefore support the joint UAF/UEE protest on 3 September”, added the statement.

The government's blanket ban is part of an on-going attempt to undermine the right to protest in the UK.

The coalition is designating harsh measures to silence all anti-government protests in the country.

The ban will also affect London's most important protest against the arms trade called “Disarm DSEi,” which has been organized by anti-war activists to urge the government to shut down the world's largest arms fair on September 13.

London is to host the world's biggest arms fair, Defense & Security Equipment International (DSEi), on 13-16 September at the ExCeL centre in East London's Docklands.

The fair holds every two years in London, this year more than 1200 arms companies will exhibit their deadly products to 25,000 buyers from across the world, including repressive and human rights abusing regimes.

“Europe Against Austerity” protest on October 1 would also be involved in the Home Office's blanket ban plan.

Leading British trade unions, social movements and progressive organisations have decided to stage a protest at European Conference against Austerity and Privatisation.

Camp FEMA: American Lockdown (Video)

Via

Hurricane Irene mostly a storm of hype...

Hurricane Irene Mostly a Storm of Hype
By Jack Loftus Aug 28, 2011 3:30 PM

Via
As denizens of the East Coast emerge from their storm shelters and temporary Starbucks bunkers in Manhattan, they were greeted with a scene of such utter, well, vanilla that many were no doubt wondering, as we were, "That was it?"

Now, hurricanes are not jokes, and neither was this one. Let's just get that fact up top where it belongs. As she barreled up the coast over these past few days, Irene took 14 lives and caused an estimated "tens of billions" of dollars in damage, reports the AP.

But, that said, as the air clears and the winds die down, as they had done by about 2 p.m. here in Central Massachusetts, the apocalyptic scenarios and complete drowning of Manhattan under an unrelenting tide that 24-hour news outlets like CNN and others would have had you believe were an inevitable fact had all vanished like a fart in a brisk 65 mph wind. We were not immune to its effect, of course, having fired off a warning of our own in the swell before the storm. Lucky for everyone in the East, the storm did not "eff everyone up." We're grateful for that! But we can also sense when it's time for a proper mea culpa. (Personally, I'll be in a dingy out on Long Island Sound for leaving out mention of that Imma Gonna post in the first pass of this post - j.l.)

To its credit, I've been told by fellow editors that NY1 was rather level-headed during the whole affair, with coverage that ultimately reflected the subdued, soggy mess that Irene dumped on New Yorker's heads in the early Sunday morning hours. Kudos to them, and boo-urns to the cable networks, whose yellow-slicker army of reporters and "experts" saturated the airways in a way that ol' Tropical Storm Irene could never had hoped to do on its 14 mph march up the Eastern Seaboard.

Yes, there was damage. $10 billion or so, and yes there were people who went outside in a strong tropical storm and paid for that decision with their lives. But, again, don't get distracted from that other hurricane, only six years old, that killed 1,836 people and caused more than $108 billion in damage a bit further south. You can bet that Hurricane Katrina is still very fresh in the Gulf Coast's minds, and I'm curious to hear what its residents thought of what is now known to be a comparatively mild storm.

We'll update this post as necessary with reader reports, news coverage and any other tidbits that concern the aftermath of this storm.

Update: At 3 p.m. Mayor Bloomberg lifted the mandatory evacuation order for the parts of NYC where it was in effect during the storm (see video, above). Additional flooding concerns have also been dismissed as the trailing edge of the storm has winds that will push water away from the shore.

Update: Here in the Boston area, at least, the defining image of this storm is shaping up to be "fallen tree, without injury." I've seen a dozen or so similar photos from local blogs and news sites this afternoon.

Update: Under an AP headline reading "Damage from Irene appears to be less than feared," consulting firm Kinetic Analysis Corp estimates insured damage will total $2 to $3 billion, with $7 billion more in uninsured damage piled on top of that.

Update: Cell service spotty? Data dragging ass? Could be backup generators running out of juice at select cell towers, says the FCC. We recommend board games to pass the hours until your online gaming is back up. [The Guardian, AP]

New music (Videos)

RP NOTE: ONCE AGAIN SOME NEW MUSIC TO CHECK FOR...





Locked up and left behind: Hurricane Irene and the prisoners on New York's Rikers Island

Locked Up and Left Behind: Hurricane Irene and the Prisoners on New York’s Rikers Island
August 26, 2011
by Jean Casella and James Ridgeway

Via
“We are not evacuating Rikers Island,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a news conference this afternoon. Bloomberg annouced a host of extreme measures being taken by New York City in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Irene, including a shutdown of the public transit system and the unprecedented mandatory evacuation of some 250,000 people from low-lying areas. But in response to a reporter’s question, the mayor stated in no uncertain terms (and with more than a hint of annoyance) that one group of New Yorkers on vulnerable ground will be staying put.

New York City is surrounded by small islands and barrier beaches, and a glance at the city’s evacuation map reveals all of them to be in Zone A (already under a mandatory evacuation order) or Zone B–all, that is, save one. Rikers Island, which lies in the waters between Queens and the Bronx, is not highlighted at all, meaning it is not to be evacuated under any circumstances.

According to the New York City Department of Corrections’ own website, more than three-quarters of Rikers Island’s 400 acres are built on landfill–which is generally thought to be more vulnerable to natural disasters. Its ten jails have a capacity of close to 17,000 inmates, and normally house at least 12,000, including juveniles and large numbers of prisoners with mental illness–not to mention pre-trial detainees who have yet to be convicted of any crime. There are also hundreds of corrections officers at work on the island.

We were not able to reach anyone at the NYC DOC for comment–but the New York Times‘s City Room blog reported: “According to the city’s Department of Correction, no hypothetical evacuation plan for the roughly 12,000 inmates that the facility may house on a given day even exists. Contingencies do exist for smaller-scale relocations from one facility to another.”

For a warning of what can happen to prisoners in a hurricane we need only look back at Katrina, and the horrific conditions endured by inmates at Orleans Parish Prison in New Orleans. According to a report produced by the ACLU:

[A] culture of neglect was evident in the days before Katrina, when the sheriff declared that the prisoners would remain “where they belong,” despite the mayor’s decision to declare the city’s first-ever mandatory evacuation. OPP even accepted prisoners, including juveniles as young as 10, from other facilities to ride out the storm.

As floodwaters rose in the OPP buildings, power was lost, and entire buildings were plunged into darkness. Deputies left their posts wholesale, leaving behind prisoners in locked cells, some standing in sewage-tainted water up to their chests …

Prisoners went days without food, water and ventilation, and deputies admit that they received no emergency training and were entirely unaware of any evacuation plan. Even some prison guards were left locked in at their posts to fend for themselves, unable to provide assistance to prisoners in need
.


UPDATE (Saturday midnight): In his final news conference of the day, Mayor Bloomberg defended his decision not to evacuate Rikers Island, stating: “It is higher than the Zone A areas and it’s perfectly safe.” Representatives of the mayor have made further statements to New York Magazine (see update at end) and the Wall Street Journal, also specifying that no part of Rikers Island is in Zone A. Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson went on Twitter to say the same thing. To our knowledge, the mayor’s office still has not clarified what zone, if any, Rikers Island is in, and has not responded to questions regarding the lack of any evacuation plan for the jail.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricane Irene...

Sattelite images and infrared of the eye of Hurricane Irene can be seen HERE.

Stay safe out there readers.

The spy tattoo (Video)

Via

"Before Tripoli has completely fallen, before (Moammar) Gaddafi and his supporters have stepped down and before the blood dries on the bodies that have yet to be counted, Western powers are already eyeing up what they view as just rewards for the intervention...As alluded to by the Economist, each country's contribution to the NATO effort in Libya is expected to have some impact on how much of the spoils it gets in the looming post-war period"

NATO nations set to reap spoils of Libya war
As rebels take Tripoli, foreign powers are eyeing the prize of Libya's high quality crude oil.
Rachel Shabi
Last Modified: 25 Aug 2011

Via
It looks like the more telling news on Libya has migrated to the business pages. With jubilant reporting of Gaddafi's imminent downfall seizing headlines, it's the financial pages that have the clinical analysis. So, for instance, it is in this section that the Independent reports a "dash for profit in the post-war Libya carve up".

Similarly, Reuters, under the headline, "Investors eye promise, pitfalls in post-Gaddafi Libya" noted that a new government in that country could "herald a bonanza for Western companies and investors".

Before Tripoli has completely fallen, before Gaddafi and his supporters have stepped down and before the blood dries on the bodies that have yet to be counted, Western powers are already eyeing up what they view us just rewards for the intervention.

There are no more illusions over how far NATO forces exceeded the UN security resolution that mandated its campaign. For months, NATO officials insisted it was operating within brief - an air campaign, designed to protect civilians under threat of attack. But now it is described as an "open secret" that NATO countries were operating undercover, on the ground.

Add to that the reluctance to broker a negotiated exit, the practice of advising, arming and training the rebels, and the spearheading of an escalation in violence and it looks like NATO's job morphed from protecting civilians to regime change.

Oil for regime change

And there's a reason for this sudden rush of honesty over its involvement. As alluded to by the Economist, each country's contribution to the NATO effort in Libya is expected to have some impact on how much of the spoils it gets in the looming post-war period.

The French Le Figaro newspaper is keen to talk up Libya as "Sarkozy's war", while the British Telegraph drops references to the involvement of British military and intelligence officers, including MI6 and the RAF.

Aiding the Libyan rebel forces of the National Transitional Council has created a debt of gratitude. In the context of responsibility for what happens next in Libya, an anonymous British official told the Economist that NATO's involvement in the Libyan uprising means that: "Now we own it."

As Reuters reports, "Western companies look well positioned as billions of dollars in oil exploration and construction contracts come up for grabs as part of the reconstruction effort."

Leaving aside the massive profits from the rebuilding that Libya is now going to need, there are vast oil spoils to distribute. The Libyan oil industry produced 1.6 million barrels a day prior to the war. The country is thought to have 46 billion barrels of reserves - the largest in Africa.

Winners and losers

And this is what the information manager at the rebel-controlled Arabian Gulf Oil Company, Libya's largest oil producer, had to say about who it now intends to trade with: "We don't have a problem with Western countries like the Italians, French and UK companies. But we may have some political issues with Russia, China and Brazil." Those last three countries weren't involved in the NATO mission in Libya.

None of that is to bemoan the downfall of a terrifying dictator who has kept Libyans crushed and brutalised for decades. Gaddafi's demise is welcome; the courage of Libyans who fought his regime is staggering and only a stone would fail to be moved by their celebration of freedom now.

But it does not negate those factors to point out that NATO countries have not previously seemed bothered by the bloodiness of this dictator's 42-year-rule - or that the striking feature of the West's relationship to the Middle East has been its cynical alliances with repressive rulers, propped up to shut down their populations while opening up resources to foreign access.

It is exactly this track record - of being a corrosive influence and a self-interested broker - that has made Middle Eastern countries wary of any Western intervention in the tide of revolutions now sweeping the region. Libyan rebels asked for help, but were wary of what was viewed as a necessary alliance with Western forces. It does the flow of Arab uprisings a disservice to now glorify NATO's mission. A liberal intervention for humanitarian ends may be the comfortable hook; but securing assets and resources, as usual, is the real goal.

Libya war is CIA op 30 years in the making...

CONFIRMED: Libya War is CIA Op 30 Years in the Making
by Tony Cartalucci

Via
Alternative media activist David Icke, who has been warning about the false nature of the "Arab Spring" since it began over six months ago, has pointed out an astounding "flashback" regarding an August 3, 1981 Newsweek article titled, "A Plan to Overthrow Kaddafi."

The details of the plan were sketchy, but it seemed to be a classic CIA destabilization campaign. One element was a “disinformation” program designed to embarrass Kaddafi and his government. Another was the creation of a “counter government” to challenge his claim to national leadership. A third — potentially the most risky — was an escalating paramilitary campaign, probably by disaffected Libyan nationals, to blow up bridges, conduct small-scale guerrilla operations and demonstrate that Kaddafi was opposed by an indigenous political force."

....

Quite obviously this plan has been executed verbatim with the necessary addition of a NATO intervention to rescue the above stated "paramilitary" campaign from Libyan security forces - a contigency plan explicitly spelled out in another Wall Street-London subsidized, signed confession, Brookings Institution's "Which Path to Persia?"

Using Military Force to Assist Popular Revolutions, page 109-110 (page 122-123 of the PDF): "Consequently, if the United States ever succeeds in sparking a revolt against the clerical regime, Washington may have to consider whether to provide it with some form of military support to prevent Tehran from crushing it." "This requirement means that a popular revolution in Iran does not seem to fit the model of the “velvet revolutions” that occurred elsewhere. The point is that the Iranian regime may not be willing to go gently into that good night; instead, and unlike so many Eastern European regimes, it may choose to fight to the death. In those circumstances, if there is not external military assistance to the revolutionaries, they might not just fail but be massacred.

Consequently, if the United States is to pursue this policy, Washington must take this possibility into consideration. It adds some very important requirements to the list: either the policy must include ways to weaken the Iranian military or weaken the willingness of the regime’s leaders to call on the military, or else the United States must be ready to intervene to defeat it.
"

....

The disinformation campaign began in February as overt, now verified lies were told to the public regarding both the nature of the uprising and the Libyan government's reaction to it. As tank driving, jet flying battle hardened LIFG Al Qaeda mercenaries waged war against the Libyan army, the corporate media in tandem with NATO member states preparing to intervene, portrayed the uprising as peaceful placard waving activists being mowed down by machine gun fire and strafed by Libyan warplanes. Evidence now confirms no such atrocties took place, however the UN citing this intentional disinformation authroized NATO intervention.

The very nature of the Benghazi rebels has been deceptively presented to the public. In fact, they are a collection of extremists and mercenaries, many of whom had been fighting recently in Iraq and Afghanistan against US forces. These mercenaries, who have been backed by the CIA and MI6 for the last 30 years (see time line), are being portrayed as an "an indigenous political force" opposing Libya's government. It has just been recently revealed that the rebel commander attempting to seize Tripoli is none other than Abdelhakim Belhadj, an Al Qaeda asset who was previously captured by in Malaysia, tortured by the CIA in Bangkok, Thailand in 2003, before being release back in Libya where he is now fighting on behalf of NATO.

Additional disinformation comes in the form of media attempts to portray Qaddafi as a rambling madman who despite the disparagement, has turned out to be one of the few heads of state speaking any truth at all regarding the conflict besieging his nation. From his earlier claims that the uprising was foreign backed Al Qaeda, to now verified claims that the rebellion was nothing more than a means to usher in a foreign occupation and the despoiling of Libya's resources, he has been spot on.

As rebels loot his home and his compound in central Tripoli, he is now being disingenuously portrayed as an opulent tyrant who hoarded state resources at the cost of his population. Betraying the duplicity of this lie is the UN's own Human Development Index which lists Libya as one of the most developed nations in Africa and is ranked higher than many other nations including Russia, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and Malaysia. Quite obviously Libya's oil wealth was put to good use, and as Libya has ensured the West's nefarious corporate-funded NGOs were excluded from Libyan society, no other explanation for Libya's development exists beyond the government's own initiatives.

What we are witnessing in Libya is a concerted, admitted war of aggression by corporate-financier interests who have openly conspired to carry out a campaign of military and economic conquest throughout the Middle East (and beyond), including Northern Africa and specifically including Libya. From Wesley Clark's 2007 speech, to Newsweeks' 1981 article, we have been handed a signed confession that "our" governments are the true enemies of free humanity, masking their agenda with the thinnest veneer of moral justification, almost as if to insult the intelligence of so many who eagerly continue to empower them as they maliciously move forward. Once again, we must commit ourselves to identifying the corporate-financier interests truly driving this agenda, lurking behind the military and political leaders paraded before us as the executors of "international policy." We must also commit to boycotting and replacing these corporate-financier interests as well as ending the recognition of any of the legitimacy they endlessly heap upon themselves.

Did the SEALS who shot Bin Laden have helmet cams or not?

Did The SEALS Who Shot Bin Laden Have Helmet Cams Or Not?
By Mat Honan Aug 26, 2011 8:00 PM

Via
Remember how Navy SEAL Team Six caught the entire raid on Bin Laden's compound on helmet cams? Yeah, well, that may not have happened. It's just one of multiple unexplained discrepancies from the raid.

As Mother Jones notes, initial reports and follow up in-depth reporting all mentioned that the SEALS were wearing helmet cams. Yet in Nicholas Schmidle's gripping account in the New Yorker, helmet cams were notably absent. As Schmidle reports "The SEALs were not wearing helmet cams, contrary to a widely cited report by CBS."

While that may seem a minor detail, it's key to many others. If there is helmet cam footage, it can answer lots of key questions. Was Bin Laden armed? Did he use his wives or daughters as a human shield? What exactly went down? Like Mother Jones, I'm certain I'll never see that footage myself, but it seems important to know whether or not it exists and if so, who has (or has had) access to it.

Friday, August 26, 2011

"Ghost" drug plane busted in Venezuela linked to Wachovia Bank scandal...

"Ghost" Drug Plane Busted In Venezuela Linked To Wachovia Bank Scandal
August 24, 2011
by Daniel Hopsicker

Via
It was a Friday the 13th to remember at Josefa Camejo Airport in the Venezuelan state of Falcon, when the airport, serving a remote region jutting out into the Caribbean at the country's furthest northwest point, became the scene of a Wild West shoot-out between two rival law enforcement agencies.

The bone of contention was a "ghost" drug plane carrying 1.5 tons of cocaine. One Venezuelan newspaper called it a "megacargamento." It was sitting on the tarmac preparing to take off.

The two police forces were clearly mismatched—one was a 60-man ‘special operations’ unit from Venezuela’s Federal Police, (CISPIC) bolstered by agents from Venezuela's National Anti-Drug Office (ONA). On the other side was 6-8 lightly armed state police officers, lounging in a knot smoking cigarettes while pretending to guard the plane.

The Federal force swooped in, rushing the plane as it began revving its engines to leave.

That’s when the fireworks started. There was a brief but fierce firefight. Two men were slain. Several agents on both sides were wounded.

One of the dead men, Pernia Luis Fuentes, was the 36-year-old co-pilot of the plane. He was a former member of Venezuela’s drug police gone bad, expelled from the country for drug trafficking six years ago.

The other man slain, the first person to die in the shootout, was an unarmed civilian, caught in the cross-fire. Edilberto Rosales Escalante, 38 years old, was identified by relatives at the morgue.

He'd been selling bananas at the airport.

What made the New World New

Cocaine wends its way north from South America in a serpentine fashion, the way a sidewinder moves across the desert.

That makes this peninsula an especially popular choice as a jumping off point for drug flights... From here planes zig left across the Caribbean to Honduras, Belize, and the Yucatan.

Then the planes zag north to Mexico and the U.S.

At the tip of the peninsula are the beaches and sand dunes of Cabo San Roman. The first explorer to set foot here, arriving on a Spanish galleon in the summer of 1499, was Amerigo Vespucci, who would then sail east around the continent until he discovered the Amazon River.

That was the lure of the New World over the old.

The New World was a place where Amerigo Vespucci, a pickle-dealer from Seville, could put his name on a whole Hemisphere.

"It's all about the red beret, isn't it?"

Seizing 1.5 tons of cocaine is not exactly the news of the century anymore. But this is more than an ordinary drug bust. It has the potential to become an international incident.

Why? Because the drug plane came in to Josepha Camejo Airport from where the cocaine had presumably been loaded, a secure military facility of the Venezuelan Armed Forces.

And not from some remote Venezuelan National Guard-type base somewhere out in the boondocks...

But from the Generalissimo Francisco de Miranda military air base, known as La Carlota, and situated embarrassingly close to downtown Caracas, capital city of the government of Hugo Chavez.

Exacerbating the situation even further is that the U.S. and Venezuela have been at loggerheads since 2005, when Hugo Chavez booted the DEA out of the country, accusing the Agency of spying and conspiring to bring down his regime.

Since then, as reported extensively here, the DEA has campaigned hard to apply a “drug kingpin” sticker to the brim of Mr. Chavez’s famously red beret. Chavez's coterie of cronies is said to include a number of Generals who comprise what one veteran Venezuelan drug smuggler called "The Cartel of the Sun.”

So politically, its a highly-sensitive environment. And now it looks as if Venezuelan law enforcement officials—state cops—were being paid to protect a drug trafficking flight from a Venezuelan military air base.

If nothing else, Hugo Chavez needs to begin pricing some high-end Washington lobbyists. He would need someone like Vernon Jordan to wriggle out of this one.

But don't count the apparent cancer survivor and wily old Raspberry Beret out just yet...

Because there's something extremely hinky about the plane.

A "ghost" drug plane

The aircraft caught at Josepha Camejo Airport in Venezuela, a twin-engine King Air, last registered in the U.S. as N467JB, is a “ghost” drug plane that has been haunting the Caribbean since being exported almost five years ago.

The plane is stateless and unregistered. It’s tags have expired. It’s got no plates. Officially, it does not exist.

Yet, wandering back and forth across the Caribbean Basin, it has suffered no ill effects from its lack of proper documentation. It landed and took off from La Carlotta, the secure Venezuelan military facility, with no reported difficulty.

Nor does it seem to suffer from a lack of things to do. Also, there's this... It's the plane's third major drug bust in the past three years. The ghost drug plane is a three-time loser.

If they put planes in prison, it would be doing 30-to-life in Pelican Bay.

The plane is clearly marked YV2531 (YV is the designation for planes from Venezuela, as "N" is for planes registered in the U.S.) Yet Venezuelan drug officials at first told reporters it was registered as YV2573.

It wasn't. But it wasn't YV2531 either. It was a "ghost."

After reporters verified it was 'listed,' if not registered, as YV2351, the officials offered no explanation for the discrepancy.

"I know nothing of any "banana man."

There is always a press conference after major drug trafficking arrests in Latin America. They have become as highly-choreographed as a Japanese tea ceremony.

And so the day after the bust at Josepha Camejo Airport Venezuela’s Interior Minister Tarek El Aissami showed up to hold a press conference on the tarmac, using the plane as a backdrop.

The cocaine was laid out on the ground in a geometric fashion that ensured observers would know they were gazing upon an impressive display of swag.

Men in uniform watched over the kilos of cocaine, making sure none of it managed to slither away.

There is usually also The Perp Walk, which has become almost a religious rite in Latin America. The newly-damned wear manacles, and look contrite. Newly-captured drug smugglers are the poster boys for the idea that confession is good for the soul.

But no perp walk this time. The case might be considered too highly-sensitive politically for the men (and one woman) taken into custody to be paraded before the cameras, where someone in the media might shout out a question.

Hugo Chavez' Minister of the Interior Tarek El Aissami wore his brightest red shirt, and tried to brazen it out himself.

"The hard work and intelligence displayed by officials of the special operations group, in conjunction with the National Anti-Drug Office, ONA, has succeeded in dismantling a major organization dedicated to drug trafficking" said El Aissami.

"The result was the seizure of 1400 kilos of highly-pure cocaine.”

He said little about the shootout. “We arrested five state police officials and three civilians. Two people were killed. Bluntly, he said, "Our men were met with fire and responded.”

So much for the banana man.

Does he get to bring his medal to prison with him?

The government suffered one final embarrassment.

The Governor of the state of Falcon had been pressured into forcing his State Police Chief to resign. When he did, he was promptly arrested.

All well and good...

Except this was apparently the exact wrong time to be displaying this particular State Police Chief in an unflattering light. Just now, he was everybody's favorite uncle.

He had just been feted, in a ceremony covered extensively by the media, and his long and selfless service to the state lauded, as he was awarded a bright silver-looking medal on a sash. And it was presented to him by a top Venezuelan military Pooh-Bah who was wearing his uniform.

Extra points there.

A scandal that won't go away

Another fact marking the plane as special is that before being "exported" into its life of crime it had been owned by a company involved in the Wachovia Bank Scandal of last year.

Just before N467JB was exported from the U.S. the plane was sold to a Florida company called Eagle Supply, a "front" company ready to be discarded when necessary.

According to a lawsuit claiming fraud, Eagle Supply's owner, Hector Schneider, bought two planes financed by Cessna Finance, and never made a payment on either one.

After "exporting" six planes in rapid succession to Venezuela and Colombia last year, Eagle Supply promptly went out of business.

What also sets off bells and whistles is the company that sold the plane to Eagle Supply, just before it was exported, in what may have been a standard sheep-dipping move. Barnett Investments in LaVerne California was also involved, as if through some odd coincidence, in The Wachovia Bank Scandal.

Barnett Investments, a “doing business as” front for owner Jonathon P. Barnett, was named as one of the companies exporting American-registered planes to the Sinaloa Cartel using Wachovia-laundered cash in an FBI affidavit filed when Pedro Alatorre Damy, owner of the currency house in Mexico that laundered money through Wachovia, was charged with money laundering.

Barnett sold a twin-engine Beech King Air (N469JB) for $740,000 to the same buyers who bought N467JB, the ghost plane busted in Venezuela. Their names are Jorge Castro Barraza, Daniel Castro Medina, and Daniel Alejandro Picos Peraza. The title of N469JB was transferred to CR Aviation located in Culiacan, Mexico.

"The DEA concluded that the money with which it was originally purchased was derived from drug trafficking, and confiscated the plane," said the affidavit. Nobody claimed it.

The title to N467JB, the ghost drug plane busted in Venezuela, was transferred to JC Aviation in Culiacan.

There is no record in Culiacan of either company.

The Elephant in the People's Community Center

El Aissami informed reporters that so far this year Venezuela has seized more than 28 tons of drugs. But he looked as if he already knew it was not going to be enough.

Within hours Venezuelan reporters and bloggers were asking questions that are disturbingly familiar to those who have questions about the American end of the drug trade.

How could a supposedly unregistered plane take off from the La Carlota military base, with or without drugs? Who allowed it? Who approved it? Who was involved?

Who knew about the cargo? Who checked the plane in? Who owns this aircraft? How can a plane which has been seized several times carrying drugs be allowed onto a Venezuelan military base?

Keeping their respective citizenry in the dark about matters concerning the global drug trade may be one of the only areas of agreement between the U.S. and Venezuelan governments.

The Venezuelan government responded to basic questions about the ghost drug plane's military connections with embarrassed silence.

A Venezuelan official finally announced that the government had been asked by the prosecutor not to talk about the case, and somewhat reluctantly, they had agreed.

Going through an "unlucky patch"

The plane was part of the biggest drug bust in the history of the Central American country of Belize on November 7 2010, just nine months earlier.

The twin-engine Beechcraft Super King Air 200 plane landed at midnight right on Southern highway, one of the main north-south highways running through he country.

“It had two point 6 tons of the white stuff” reported a newspaper in Belize’s capital.

The plane had been abandoned. Its wings had clipped the tops of the trees alongside the highway. Now it couldn’t take off.

Five government police officers were arrested in an SUV in a nearby town, including the current and the former driver of the Governor General of Belize, Sir Colville Young. Anywhere else, that would be called a bit of a sticky wicket.

But before the plane could be busted in Belize, it had to be sprung from a secure military base near San Pedro Sula in northern Honduras—where it had been seized the previous year for drug trafficking—in a Mission Impossible-style commando raid.

It was busted and seized by government officials in Honduras. It escaped. Then it was busted in Belize in the biggest drug trafficking case in that nation's history.

How had the plane managed to live to smuggle again after that?

Micro to macro

Venezuelan authorities had apparently concluded, as the DEA had earlier, that Mankind’s knowledge of the ownership of luxury jets busted with multi-ton loads of cocaine is governed—like the movement of subatomic quarks—by Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle.

The more influential the listed owner of the plane, the more uncertain identification becomes.

Prospects for positive identification were especially poor in the U.S. if the officially unidentified owner of the plane was associated with national figures in the Republican Party.

The whole business, suggested a story which ran on the Associated Press, quickly moves beyond the realm of human ken.

“How the U.S.-registered Gulfstream ended up in the hands of suspected drug traffickers remains a mystery,” reported the Associated Press.

And not by accident, either.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Chile workers react to decades of globalism...

Chilean Workers React to Decades of Globalism
Kurt Nimmo
Infowars.com
August 25, 2011

According to Euronews, the riots now taking place in Chile are related to a demand for “free education.” Education, however, is only one of a number of demands made by workers as they participate in a 48-hour national strike. Chilean unions demand that tax reform be imposed on transnational corporations, international consortia, and the wealthy elite to address social problems caused by decades of globalism. They also want to change the country’s social security system that has left millions of elderly people and pensioners impoverished. For details, see Six reasons for Chile’s nationwide strike.

Following the CIA orchestrated coup in Chile that overthrew a democratically elected president and installed the military dictator General Augusto Pinochet, “free market” economic prescriptions formulated by the Milton Friedman-style neoliberal “Chicago Boys” were imposed on the country. “The US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has disclosed that CIA collaborators helped plan the economic measures that Chile’s junta enacted immediately after seizing power,” the Chilean economist Orlando Letelier wrote in 1976, shortly before he was assassinated by Pinochet’s secret police, the DINA (a paid CIA asset).

As journalist Greg Palast noted in 2006, Pinochet was credited with the “Miracle of Chile” that was “just another fairy tale.” In fact, the CIA’s neoliberal agenda resulted in widespread unemployment and an increase in poverty. Pinochet and the CIA “abolished the minimum wage, outlawed trade union bargaining rights, privatized the pension system, abolished all taxes on wealth and on business profits, slashed public employment, privatized 212 state industries and 66 banks and ran a fiscal surplus,” Palast writes.

The so-called “Miracle of Chile” was in fact a neoliberal experiment that would be applied elsewhere in South America. “In 1998, the international finance Gang of Four – the World Bank, the IMF, the Inter-American Development Bank and the International Bank for Settlements – offered a $41.5 billion line of credit to Brazil. But before the agencies handed the drowning nation a life preserver, they demanded Brazil commit to swallow the economic medicine that nearly killed Chile. You know the list: fire-sale privatizations, flexible labor markets (i.e. union demolition) and deficit reduction through savage cuts in government services and social security,” Palast writes.

The marches and scattered riots taking place in Santiago and elsewhere in Chile are a response to the neoliberal agenda imposed on the country regardless of the will of the people.

The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves,” said Henry Kissinger following the CIA coup. I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people.”

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