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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Facebook tracks your every move, even after logging out...

Facebook tracks your every move, even after logging out
Wednesday, September 28, 2011 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer

(NaturalNews) The social media empire Facebook has unveiled some new "features" on its platform in recent days that many allege are a total and compete privacy-breaching nightmare. But one hidden feature, discovered by Nik Cubrilovic, an Australian entrepreneur and writer, that few people are aware of is the fact that Facebook now monitors your online activity, even when you are not logged in to the service.

With each new change Facebook makes, users' privacy becomes a little less ... nonexistent, if you will. The most recent "News Feed" modifications, for example, display everything you say and do on the site to all of your "friends," and even to the public. And now, even after logging out of Facebook, permanent "cookies" track all your movements on websites that contain Facebook buttons or widgets.

"Even if you are logged out, Facebook still knows and can track every page you visit," Cubrilovic wrote on a recent blog posting. "The only solution is to delete every Facebook cookie in your browser, or to use a separate browser for Facebook interactions" (http://nikcub-static.appspot.com/logging-out-of-facebook-is-not-enough).

But how many Facebook users will actually know to do this? The site has never announced to its users that it is even tracking them in the first place, let alone given them any instructions on how to "opt-out" of this egregious invasion of privacy.

Facebook, of course, has become infamous for simply changing its site setup, including privacy settings, and leaving it up to users to figure out how to contain their breached information after the fact. It has switched from an "opt-in" approach, where users used to be given the option to "upgrade" to new features, to a much more complicated "opt-out" approach, where Facebook makes drastic changes and leaves it up to users to somehow figure out how to change things back to the way they were (if such an option is even still possible).

"While initially opt-in, the default then seems to be expose everything," says David Vaile, executive director of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre, concerning Facebook's "breathtaking and audacious grab for whole life data."

"Facebook, once again, are (sic) doing things that are beyond most users' capacity to understand while reducing their privacy ... the default setting for any site should be 'reveal nothing about me unless I make a specific choice otherwise.'"

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

MSNBC host speaks on police brutality on the OccupyWallStreet protesters (Video)


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

Israeli Mafia operates freely in America

Israeli Mafia operates freely in America
publication date: Sep 6, 2011
Wayne Madsen Report





¶1. (SBU) Organized crime (OC) has longstanding roots in Israel, but
in recent years there has been a sharp increase in the reach and
impact of OC networks.

In seeking a competitive advantage in such lucrative trades as narcotics and prostitution, Israeli crime groups have demonstrated their ability and willingness to engage in violent attacks on each other with little regard for innocent bystanders.

The Israeli National Police (INP) and the courts have engaged in a
vigorous campaign against organized crime leaders, including the
creation of a new specialized anti-OC unit, but they remain unable
to cope with the full scope of the problem. Organized crime in
Israel now has global reach, with direct impact inside the United

Post is currently utilizing all available tools to deny Israeli OC figures access to the United States in order to prevent them from furthering their criminal activities on U.S. soil.

End Summary.

Crime War Hits the Streets of Israel


¶2. (SBU) In November 2008, Israeli crime boss Yaakov Alperon was assassinated in broad daylight in a gruesome attack on the streets of Tel Aviv, only about a mile away from the Embassy. According to several media accounts, a motor scooter pulled up alongside Alperon's car and the rider attached a sophisticated explosive device with a remote detonator to the car door. The bomb killed Alperon and his driver, and injured two innocent pedestrians. The hit was the latest in a series of violent attacks and reprisals, and indicated a widening crime war in Israel.

¶3. In July 2008, a 31-year-old Israeli woman was killed by a stray bullet on the beach in Bat Yam in front of her husband and two children during a failed assassination attempt on noted crime figure Rami Amira. In a feud between the Abutbul and Shirazi clans, crime boss Shalom "Charlie" Abutbul was shot by two gunmen in September 2008, an attack that also wounded three bystanders. In December 2008, Charlie Abutbul's son-in-law, Nati Ohayon, was gunned down in his car in Netanya. Before the fatal bombing of his car, Alperon himself had survived at least three previous attempts on his life before his assassination, and was engaged in an ongoing feud with the rival Abergil clan (although there are numerous suspects in Alperon's murder). The day after Alperon's death, two members of the Abergil syndicate were sentenced for conspiring to kill Alperon's brother, Nissim, in May 2008.

¶4. (SBU) In response to rising concerns for public safety, former Prime Minister Olmert convened an emergency meeting of top law enforcement officials, cabinet members, and prosecutors in December 2008. He promised to add 1,000 officers to the INP and to allocate approximately NIS 340 million (USD 81 million) to improve the INP's technical capabilities. In general, the rise in OC-related violence has led some public figures to call for emergency state powers to attack criminal organizations, and OC became a minor but important issue in the February 2009 Knesset elections. Former Labor Party MK Ephraim Sneh publicly decried criminal extortion in his campaign ads, only to have his car torched in apparent retaliation outside his home in Herzliya.



¶5. (SBU) Organized criminal activity is not a new phenomenon in Israel, and major crime families are well known to the Israeli public (the Alperons even featured in a recent reality television program). Five or six crime families have traditionally dominated OC in Israel, although the names and makeup of these syndicates have fluctuated in recent years. The Abergil, Abutbul, Alperon, and Rosenstein organizations are among the most well known, but recent arrests and assassinations have created a power vacuum at the top. New names such as Mulner, Shirazi, Cohen and Domrani have moved quickly to fill the gap. Other up-and-coming groups include the Harari, Ohana, and Kdoshim families. There are also a number of rival families active in the underworld of Israel's Arab sector.

¶6. (SBU) Traditional OC activities in Israel include illegal neighborhood casinos, prostitution rings, extortion, and loan sharking, with each family controlling a different geographic region. The Alperon family, for instance, dominates the Sharon region, while the Abutbul operation is based in the coastal city of Netanya. The focus is largely on easy money guaranteed by the limited use of violence. Criminal involvement in the recycling business, for example, has been well covered in the press. OC families collect bottles illegally from municipal recycling bins and restaurants, return them at the collection centers claiming twice the actual numbers, and pocket the change for millions in profits.

Not Your Grandfather's Mob


¶7. (SBU) Despite their notoriety, OC figures have generally been viewed as a nuisance to be handled by local police. Law enforcement resources were directed to more existential security threats from terrorists and enemy states. In recent years, however, the rules of the game have changed. According to Yaakov Lappin of the Jerusalem Post, the old school of Israel OC is giving way to a new, more violent, breed of crime. Lappin told conoffs that the new style of crime features knowledge of hi-tech explosives acquired from service in the Israeli Defense Forces, and a willingness to use indiscriminate violence, at least against rival gang leaders. New OC business also includes technology-related crimes, such as stock market and credit card fraud, and operates on a global scale.

¶8. (SBU) As the reach of Israeli OC has grown, so have the stakes. Crime families are working further from home and exporting violence abroad. Older gambling schemes have grown to include sprawling casino franchises in Eastern Europe. The Abutbul family began its gambling business in Romania over a decade ago, and now owns the Europe-wide Casino Royale network. In 2002, Israeli OC turf wars spilled into Europe when Yaakov Abergil and Felix Abutbul were killed two months apart. Abutbul was gunned down in front of his casino in Prague in a show of force by the Abergils as they attempted to capture a portion of the European gambling market.

¶9. (SBU) Israeli OC now plays a significant role in the global drug trade, providing both a local consumer market and an important transit point to Europe and the United States. In 2004, Zeev Rosenstein was arrested in Israel for possession of 700,000 ecstasy tablets in his New York apartment, destined for distribution in the U.S. market. He was ultimately extradited to the United States in 2006, where he is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence. Two other crime figures, Meir Abergil and Israel Ozifa, are also facing U.S. extradition charges on charges that include smuggling 100,000 ecstasy tablets into the United States.

¶10. (SBU) The prostitution business has also grown beyond the neighborhood brothel. In March 2009, the INP arrested twelve suspects in what is believed to be the largest Israeli-led human trafficking network unearthed to date. Ring leader Rami Saban and his associates were charged with smuggling thousands of women from the former Soviet Union and forcing them to work as prostitutes in Israel, Cyprus, Belgium, and Great Britain. Some women were flown to Egypt and smuggled across the Sinai border by Bedouins.

Law Enforcement Steps up the Pressure


¶11. (SBU) After years of perceived inaction, in 2008 the INP created a new unit called Lahav 433. The elite unit operates under the direct command of the police commissioner, and is charged specifically with infiltrating and eliminating Israel's major crime syndicates. Lahav 433 also cooperates closely with district investigative units to combat smaller criminal organizations, many of which are aligned with the larger crime families.

¶12. (SBU) Following Alperon's assassination, the INP initiated a series of raids that led to the arrests of a number of leading crime figures. Among their targets were Aviv and Adam Abutbul, sons of crime-family head Charlie Abutbul, both charged with possession of illegal weapons. (A third brother, Francois, is already facing murder charges for a nightclub killing in 2004.) Police also arrested gangland figure Amir Mulner for weapons possession and conspiracy to commit a crime. Mulner is known to be an explosives expert by army training, and is a suspect in Yaakov Alperon's murder. He is also believed to be managing affairs for Rosenstein while the latter serves his sentence in the United States.

¶13. (SBU) Yaakov Alperon's brother Nissim was arrested with 18 others in December 2008, in what was reported to be a "mafia meeting" in a Tel Aviv-area caf. According to the Jerusalem Post, the group may have been planning a revenge attack for his brother's recent assassination. Alperon's son Dror, recently dismissed from his army service for disorderly behavior, also faces several counts of assault and was convicted on extortion charges. Also in December, police in Netanya launched several raids on illegal gambling houses and the homes of suspected money launderers with ties to the crime families. In Ashdod, brothers Roni and David Harari were arrested on charges of extortion. Regional police stuck a blow against the Jerusalem Gang, and convicted its leader Itzik Bar Muha.

Skepticism Hovers Over GOI Efforts


¶14. (SBU) Journalist Yuval Goren of Ha'aretz told conoffs that "thousands of foot soldiers" remain active on the streets despite these aggressive anti-OC operations. He noted that approximately 2,000 people attended Alperon's very public funeral. Goren expressed skepticism that recent arrests will bear fruit in the long term without a sustained commitment to enforcement. He noted that many of the crime leaders remain active while in prison and their operations are not hampered significantly even when they are convicted and jailed.

¶15. (SBU) In December 2008, former Prime Minister Olmert himself admitted that efforts to combat OC have long been diluted among different agencies, and that INP technology lags far behind that allocated to security services for counterterrorism. Given the recent change in government and the current economic crisis, there is public skepticism as to whether GOI promises to remedy the situation will be fulfilled. In 2003, following a failed assassination attempt on Rosenstein, then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made similar promises to commit manpower and resources to combating the problem.

¶16. (SBU) It is not entirely clear to what extent OC elements have penetrated the Israeli establishment and corrupted public officials. The INP insists that such instances are rare, despite the occasional revelation of crooked police officers in the press. Nevertheless, there have been several dramatic revelations in recent years that indicate a growing problem. In 2004, former government minister Gonen Segev was arrested for trying to smuggle thousands of ecstasy pills into Israel, a case that produced considerable circumstantial evidence of his involvement in OC. The election of Inbal Gavrieli to the Knesset in 2003 as a member of Likud raised concerns about OC influence in the party's Central Committee. Gavrieli is the daughter of a suspected crime boss, and she attempted to use her parliamentary immunity to block investigations into her father's business. (Gavrieli is no longer a member of the Knesset.) Just last month, Israeli politicos and OC figures came together for the funeral of Likud party activist Shlomi Oz, who served time in prison in the 1990s for extortion on behalf of the Alperon family. Among those in attendance was Omri Sharon, son of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who was himself convicted in 2006 on illegal fundraising charges unrelated to OC.

Courts Testing New Powers


¶17. (SBU) In 2003, the GOI passed anti-OC legislation that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment for heading a criminal organization and three years for working in such an organization. The law defines such a body as a group of people working in an "organized, methodical and ongoing pattern to commit offenses that are defined by the laws of Israel as crimes." The law also allows for property forfeiture, both in the wake of conviction and in cases where it is proven to belong to a criminal organization.

¶18. (SBU) Until recently, said Lappin, judges and lawyers have been slow to make use of this authority, and are hampered by a lack of resources, insufficient understanding of the tools at their disposal, and reticence to mete out tough sentences. A witness protection program for those who testify against OC is just now getting off the ground, and is not backed by any specific legislation. Nevertheless, on March 16th, a Tel Aviv district court took the important step of sentencing 14 convicted criminals belonging to two mob organizations in Ramle and Jaffa to up to 27 years in prison.

¶19. (SBU) Increased efforts by Israeli authorities to combat OC have engendered retaliatory threats of violence. Recent press reports indicate that as many as 10 Israeli judges are currently receiving 24-hour protection by the police against the threat of violence from members of crime organizations. Israeli OC appears to be intent on intimidating judges personally, as a way of influencing the legal process. Judges in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa have been assigned police protection, underscoring the depth of the problem.

Israeli Crime Reaches American Shores


¶20. (SBU) Israel's multi-ethnic population provides a deep well of opportunity for Israeli OC to expand into new territory. Most Israeli crime families trace their roots to North Africa or Eastern Europe, and many of their Israeli operatives hold foreign passports allowing them to move freely in European countries, most of which participate in the visa waiver program with the United States. Approximately one million Russians moved to Israel following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and Russian citizens no longer require visas to enter Israel. Many Russian oligarchs of Jewish origin and Jewish members of OC groups have received Israeli citizenship, or at least maintain residences in the country. Little is known about the full extent of Russian criminal activity in Israel, but sources in the police estimate that Russian OC has laundered as much as USD 10 billion through Israeli holdings. While most Israeli OC families are native-born and the stereotype that Russian immigrants tend to be mobsters is greatly overblown, indigenous OC groups routinely employ "muscle" from the former Soviet Union.

¶21. (SBU) The profit motive serves as a great unifier among Israel's diverse demographic groups. According to Goren, some Amsterdam-based Hasidic groups allegedly are implicated in international drug smuggling through links to Israeli OC. Arab and Jewish Israeli criminals routinely cooperate and form alliances to expand control of lucrative drug, car theft and extortion rackets. Even hostile and closed borders pose few obstacles to OC groups. According to the INP, 43% of intercepted heroin in 2008 was smuggled from Lebanon, 37% from Jordan, and 12% from Egypt.

Israeli OC Operating Freely in United States


¶22. (SBU) Given the volume of travel and trade between the United States and Israel, it is not surprising that Israeli OC has also gained a foothold in America. Over the last decade, media reports have detailed a number of high-profile cases involving Israeli OC, ranging from large-scale drug deals to murder. The ongoing Central District of California grand jury investigation against the Abergil family, where a RICO conspiracy case was initiated in December 2007, best demonstrates the full extent of such criminal activity. Investigators have linked Yitzhak Abergil and his entire network to crimes of "embezzlement, extortion, kidnapping, and money laundering." Yitzhak Abergil is currently under arrest in Israel and facing extradition for related charges linking him to the murder of Israeli drug dealer Samy Attias on U.S. soil.

¶23. (SBU) As part of an ongoing effort to track Israeli OC through media reports and police sources, Post so far has identified 16 families and 78 related individuals who are at the center of Israeli organized criminal activity. The consular section has revoked several visas for those who have been convicted of crimes in Israel, but many OC figures have no prior criminal convictions and carry no visa ineligibilities. As a result, many hold valid nonimmigrant visas to the United States and have traveled freely or attempted to travel for a variety of purposes.

¶24. (SBU) In March 2009, Post received information from law enforcement authorities that convicted criminal and member of the Abergil organization, Mordechai Yair Hasin, along with his pregnant wife and child, was intending to flee Israel for Los Angeles on valid tourist visas. Hasin's visa was revoked based on his conviction, as were his family's visas after they were determined to be intending immigrants.

¶25. (SBU) As in the Hasin case, Post is using every available tool to limit OC travel to the United States, but such efforts are not always successful. In June 2008, Post issued Adam Abitbul a valid tourist visa. Abitbul had no prior criminal convictions, and carried no visa ineligibilities. Several months later, Post received information from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) that he had traveled to the United States to carry out a hit. Abitbul returned to Israel prematurely for his father's funeral, at which time Post revoked his visa. (Post can only revoke the visas of Israeli citizens while in country.) In a similar case, in October 2008 Post issued Moshe Bar Muha a tourist visa; he claimed to be traveling for medical treatment. Post subsequently received information from the LAPD that Bar Muha is in fact the brother of Itzik Bar Muha of the Jerusalem Gang (see above) and a convicted criminal.

¶26. (SBU) As recently as March 2009, Zvika Ben Shabat, Yaacov Avitan, and Tzuri Rokah requested visas to attend a "security-related convention" in Las Vegas. According to local media reports, all three had involvement with OC. Post asked the applicants to provide police reports for any criminal records in Israel, but without such evidence there is no immediate ineligibility for links to OC. Luckily, all three have so far failed to return for continued adjudication of their applications. Nevertheless, it is fair to assume that many known OC figures hold valid tourist visas to the United States and travel freely.

Comment: Israeli OC Slipping Through the Consular Cracks --------------------------------------------- ---------

¶27. (SBU) Given the growing reach and lethal methods of Israeli OC, blocking the travel of known OC figures to the United States is a matter of great concern to Post. Through collaboration with Israeli and U.S. law enforcement authorities, Post has developed an extensive database and placed lookouts for OC figures and their foot soldiers. Nevertheless, the above visa cases demonstrate the challenges that have arisen since the termination of the Visas Shark in September 2008. Unlike OC groups from the former Soviet Union, Italy, China, and Central America, application of INA 212(a)(3)(A)(ii) against Israeli OC is not specifically authorized per Foreign Affairs Manual 40.31 N5.3. As such, Israelis who are known to work for or belong to OC families are not automatically ineligible for travel to the United States.

Sirte civilians accuse NATO of genocide...

Sirte civilians accuse NATO of genocide
by: Tom Coghlan From: The Times September 27, 2011 1:27PM

CIVILIANS pouring out of the besieged city of Sirte accused NATO of committing genocide yesterday as revolutionary forces reinforced their numbers and prepared for a new attack on Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's home town.

Long lines of civilian vehicles were seen leaving after a night punctuated by NATO air attacks. Forces fighting for the National Transitional Council (NTC) added their own artillery and mortar rounds at regular intervals.

Civilians, many looking scared or sullen, said that conditions inside Sirte were "disastrous". They made claims which, if verified, offer a conundrum for Nato, which operates with a UN mandate on the need to protect civilian life.

"It has been worse than awful," said Riab Safran, 28, as his car was searched by revolutionary fighters. His family had been sleeping on the beach, he said.

"They have hit all kinds of buildings: schools, hospitals," he said, referring to NATO airstrikes.

He said he could not distinguish between NATO and NTC attacks but believed it was a NATO bomb that destroyed part of his home on Saturday. NATO said it hit a number of military targets including a rocket launcher, artillery, and three ammunition stores.

Another resident said: "NATO bombing is killing civilians. Where is the United Nations? Where is the Muslim world to stop this genocide of the people of Sirte?"

The man, who gave his name as Mohammed Ali Alum Sekily, said six members of his family had been killed, but declined to give details. An eight-day-old baby brought out in one car was born on the beach, the family said.

Some of those interviewed by The Times said that Gaddafi loyalists were forcing residents to stay in the city. Others said that residents were frightened of revolutionary fighters who were rumoured to be abducting women from cars trying to leave Sirte.

NTC fighters denied the charges. I saw them offering food and water to those queueing to leave.

Residents said that power and water had run out and petrol was 400 Libyan dinars ($A330) a gallon. The water shortage has produced an epidemic of diseases, according to medical staff at a clinic in the town of Harawa, 35km east of Sirte. However, Gaddafi loyalists appeared to have plentiful stores of pasta, oil, flour and ammunition, residents said. Loyalists used an open radio channel to taunt NTC fighters, insisting that the city would never be taken.

The NTC forces checked the identity papers of those leaving against lists of known Gaddafi security personnel and senior former government figures, and they detained a number of men.

Following their unsuccessful assault on Saturday, one commander said that the NTC leadership thought that the attack was badly co-ordinated.

"We don't want to lose people, we don't want another Saturday, this was a mistake," said Omran Al Awaib from the Tiger Brigade.

The attacking forces lost eight dead and 153 wounded as they tried to move up the main road into the city. But the hard-won gains were abandoned the same evening as NTC troops retreated, leaving a barricade of sand-filled shipping containers. It has now been dismantled by Gaddafi forces.

There was almost no fighting yesterday except for long-range artillery and mortars. NTC forces were finally able to link up with reinforcements pushing towards the city from Benghazi, completing their encirclement of Sirte.

An NTC commander said that a new offensive would begin in the coming days.

Israel approves construction of 1,100 homes in Jerusalem...

Israel approves 1,100 settler homes in Gilo, Jerusalem
27 September 2011

Israel has approved the construction of 1,100 homes in the Jewish settlement of Gilo on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

The move comes days after Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas called for full UN membership for a Palestinian state.

There has been widespread condemnation of the move by Palestinian and Western powers, including the EU and US.

Almost 500,000 Jews live in settlements on occupied territory. The settlements are illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

US-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians are deadlocked over the issue of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Also on Tuesday, three UN special rapporteurs called for an immediate end to the demolition of Palestinian-owned homes and other structures in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

'Nice gift'

The plan for construction in Gilo includes the construction of small housing units, public buildings, a school and an industrial zone, according to the Ynet news website.

"It's a nice gift for Rosh Hashanah [Jewish New Year]," Yair Gabay, a member of the Jerusalem planning committee, told Ynet.

The authorities have now approved the building of almost 3,000 homes in Gilo over the past two years.

Mr Erekat said the decision represented a rejection of a proposal by the Quartet of Mid East negotiators - the US, the EU, Russia and the UN - for new talks between the Palestinians and Israelis.

"With this, Israel is responding to the Quartet's statement with 1,100 'NOs'," he said.

The US said the move was "deeply disappointing" and "counterproductive".

The EU Foreign Policy Chief, Catherine Ashton, noted that the Quartet had called for parties "to refrain from provocative actions".

"It is with deep regret that I learned today about the decision to advance in the plans for settlement expansion in east Jerusalem," she said in a statement.

"This plan should be reversed. Settlement activity threatens the viability of an agreed two-state solution and runs contrary to the Israeli-stated commitment to resume negotiations."

The US and UN have criticised earlier announcements of building projects.

France and the UK also voiced concerns.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague urged Israel to revoke its decision.

"Settlement expansion is illegal under international law, corrodes trust and undermines the basic principle of land for peace," he said in a statement.

'Discriminatory demolitions'

Israel built the settlement at Gilo on land it captured in 1967. It later annexed the area to the Jerusalem municipality in a move not recognised by the international community.

Israel says it does not consider areas within the Jerusalem municipality to be settlements.

Gilo lies across a narrow valley from the Palestinian village of Beit Jala. It became a target for militants during the second Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation in 2000.

Meanwhile, the UN rapporteurs on housing, water, sanitation and food rights said there had been a "dramatic increase" in the demolitions this year.

"The impact and discriminatory nature of these demolitions and evictions is completely unacceptable," they said in a statement.

"These actions by the Israeli authorities violate human rights and humanitarian law and must end immediately."

OccupyChicago camps out in front of Federal Reserve Bank (Video)


"Not only did U.S. officials approve, allow and assist in the sale of more than 2,000 guns to the Sinaloa cartel -- the federal government used taxpayer money to buy semi-automatic weapons, sold them to criminals and then watched as the guns disappeared"...

U.S. Government Used Taxpayer Funds to Buy, Sell Weapons During 'Fast and Furious,' Documents Show
By William Lajeunesse
Published September 26, 2011

Not only did U.S. officials approve, allow and assist in the sale of more than 2,000 guns to the Sinaloa cartel -- the federal government used taxpayer money to buy semi-automatic weapons, sold them to criminals and then watched as the guns disappeared.

This disclosure, revealed in documents obtained by Fox News, could undermine the Department of Justice's previous defense that Operation Fast and Furious was a "botched" operation where agents simply "lost track" of weapons as they were transferred from one illegal buyer to another. Instead, it heightens the culpability of the federal government as Mexico, according to sources, has opened two criminal investigations into the operation that flooded their country with illegal weapons.

Operation Fast and Furious began in October 2009. In it, federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives encouraged gun stores to sell weapons to an arms smuggling gang, then watched as the guns crossed the border and were used in crimes. Each month, the agency allowed hundreds of guns to go South, despite opposition from some agents.

All told, the gang spent more than $1.25 million for the illegal guns.

In June 2010, however, the ATF dramatically upped the ante, making the U.S. government the actual "seller" of guns.

According to documents obtained by Fox News, Agent John Dodson was ordered to buy six semi-automatic Draco pistols -- two of those were purchased at the Lone Wolf gun store in Peoria, Ariz. An unusual sale, Dodson was sent to the store with a letter of approval from David Voth, an ATF group supervisor.

Dodson then sold the weapons to known illegal buyers, while fellow agents watched from their cars nearby.

This was not a "buy-bust" or a sting operation, where police sell to a buyer and then arrest them immediately afterward. In this case, agents were "ordered" to let the sale go through and follow the weapons to a stash house.

According to sources directly involved in the case, Dodson felt strongly that the weapons should not be abandoned and the stash house should remain under 24-hour surveillance. However, Voth disagreed and ordered the surveillance team to return to the office. Dodson refused, and for six days in the desert heat kept the house under watch, defying direct orders from Voth.

A week later, a second vehicle showed up to transfer the weapons. Dodson called for an interdiction team to move in, make the arrest and seize the weapons. Voth refused and the guns disappeared with no surveillance.

According to a story posted Sunday on a website dedicated to covering Fast and Furious, Voth gave Dodson the assignment to "dirty him up," since Dodson had become the most vocal critic of the operation.

"I think Dodson demanded the letter from Voth to cover both himself and the FFL (Federal Firearm Licensee). He didn't want to be hung out to dry by Voth," a source told the website "Sipsey Street Irregulars."

Subsequent to this undercover operation, sources told Sipsey, "Dodson just about came apart all over them (his supervisors). In a 'screaming match' that was heard throughout the Phoenix office by many employees, Dodson yelled at Voth and Assistant Special Agent in Charge George Gillett, 'Why not just go direct and empty out the (ATF) arms room?" (to the cartels), or words to that effect.'

After the confrontation, ATF managers transferred Dodson to a more menial job. Months later, after the death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, Dodson blew the whistle and went public about the federal government's gunrunning operation.

Financial trader being bluntly honest about the economy on BBC (Video)


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Massachusetts 9/11 Ballot Initiative press conference...

Massachusetts 9/11 Ballot Initiative Press Conference
September 16, 2011

Senator Mike Gravel, a native of Massachusetts, along with Massachusetts 9/11 Truth activists, launched its campaign for a 2012 ballot initiative which seeks the creation of a Citizens' 9/11 Commission, by holding a press conference held on September 13, 2011 on the steps of the Massachusetts State House in Boston. The ballot question was submitted in August and was certified by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley on September 7. According to the Massachusetts initiative law, supporters must collect a minimum of nearly 70,000 valid signatures from registered voters by early December of 2011.

Gravel will be working closely with the statewide alliance to create awareness of the initiative. The Senator will personally head the funding effort, which will be a worldwide campaign.

Senator Gravel will be supported in the state by a coalition of Massachusetts 9/11 advocacy groups and local concerned citizens led by Rich McCampbell, a Cambridge-based biotech engineer, and Rich Aucoin, former Libertarian candidate for lieutenant governor who has worked in senior positions in three previous initiative campaigns. The group's slogan is "9/11--Never Forget."

If the 9-11cc petition campaign succeeds in getting its measure on the Massachusetts ballot, and if it is approved by Massachusetts voters in November of 2012, the primary work of the "Citizens' 9/11 Investigation Commission," once it is funded and seated, will be to engage in a fair and impartial investigation of the circumstances of the attacks of September 11, 2001.

The Commission, supported by its staff, will call or subpoena witnesses and hold evidentiary hearings under oath. It will also be empowered to inquire into events leading up to 9/11, as well as those occurring in its aftermath, and will re-examine the findings of any previous investigations.

The Commission established by the initiative law will consist of at least 15 members. Commissioners will be selected by the Citizens' 9/11 Commission Campaign steering committee from a screened list of nominations submitted by the public and also from among its own internally compiled list of distinguished citizens. The newly seated commissioners will then elect an executive director who will hire staff. The final report on the Commission's findings, due no later than January 1, 2015, can be used by a state or federal prosecutor to issue indictments if and when appropriate.

"The previous 9/11 Commission report," noted Aucoin, "did not hold any U.S. government officials responsible for possible negligence or for intended or unintended missteps that led to the events of 9/11. Well-established rules of evidence were never applied to the original Commission's finding, which alleged that Osama bin Laden and a list of co-conspirators committed the crimes. The intent of our approach, by contrast, is to hold all parties to this tragedy accountable under the criminal laws of the State of Massachusetts or the laws of any other state that joins our effort."

Notably, other states and even cities and towns may enter into a "joint-powers' agreement with Massachusetts if the initiative law passes. The authorized powers of the new commission can be extended to any state, city or town that enters into this agreement for cooperation. "The Citizens' 9/11 Investigation Commission created by the Massachusetts law may exercise all investigatory powers of each state that has entered into the joint powers agreement," explained Gravel, "including but not limited to the power of subpoena in that state and the power to take testimony under oath."

Using several different state initiative laws to create one citizens' commission, thereby creating a de facto national effort, is without precedent, but has already been legally accepted in principle by the offices of legislative counsel of the states of California and Oregon. "The law now submitted to Massachusetts," said Gravel, "was in fact drafted by me in cooperation with Oregon's State Office of Legislative Counsel. I then slightly altered it for introduction in Massachusetts. We will file the Oregon document shortly. Our intent is to keep the Oregon and Massachusetts texts -- and that of any other state initiative that we file -- as similar as possible."

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Insurance giant withdraws 9/11 lawsuit against Saudi Arabia...

Insurance giant withdraws 9/11 lawsuit against Saudi Arabia
September 21, 2011
by Daily Mail Reporter
UK Daily Mail

An insurance firm has withdrawn its lawsuit against Saudi Arabia, which had claimed the country funded the terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

A division of Lloyd's of London had filed documents in a U.S. court on September 8 demanding the return of $215million compensation it paid victims.

But the lawsuit has now been dropped.

Attorney Stephen Cozen of law firm Cozen O'Connor, which represents Lloyd's, told Insurance Journal that he cannot comment on why Lloyd�s decided to drop the case less than two weeks after filing the complaint.

Mr Cozen told the journal: 'We were instructed to voluntarily dismiss without prejudice. That of course means that the suit is free to be refiled and certainly similar suits may be filed by others.'

Lloyd's is voluntarily dismissing its lawsuit 'without prejudice,' meaning the motion seeks to close the case without precluding the possibility of renewal at a later date, the court clerk's office said.

The lawsuit - filed in Johnston, Pennsylvania, where United Airlines flight 93 crashed on 9/11, named nine defendants, including a leading member of the oil-rich state's royal family.

Saudi Arabia has always denied claims that Osama bin Laden's organisation received official financial and practical support from his homeland.

And the 9/11 Commission's official report on the attacks, found that there was no evidence that the Saudi government or senior Saudi officials individually funded Al Qaeda.

Confirmed identity of the CIA official behind 9/11, rendition and torture cases is revealed...


BFP Breaking News: Confirmed Identity of the CIA Official behind 9/11, Rendition & Torture Cases is Revealed
Alfreda Frances Bikowsky: The Current Director of the CIA Global Jihad Unit
September 21, 2011

Boiling Frogs Post has now confirmed the identity of the CIA analyst at the heart of a notorious failure in the run-up to the September 11th tragedy. Her name is Alfreda Frances Bikowsky and she is the current director of the CIA Jihad Unit. Through three credible sources and documents we have confirmed Ms. Bikowsky's former titles and positions, including her start at the CIA as an analyst for the Soviet Desk, her position as one of the case officers at the CIA's Bin Laden Unit-Alec Station, her central role and direct participation in the CIA's rendition-torture and black sites operations, and her current position as director of the CIA's Global Jihad Unit.

The producers Nowosielski and Duffy have now made both names available at their website. They also identify the second CIA culprit as Michael Anne Casey. We have not been able to obtain confirmation by other sources on this person yet, but we are still working on it.

Alfreda Frances Bikowsky is the person described in New Yorker journalist Jane Mayer's book The Dark Side as having flown in to watch the waterboarding of terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammad without being assigned to do so. "Its not supposed to be entertainment," superiors were said to have told her. She was also at the center of "the el-Masri incident," in which an innocent German citizen was kidnapped by the CIA in 2003 and held under terrible conditions without charges for five months in a secret Afghan prison. The AP characterized it as "one of the biggest diplomatic embarrassments of the U.S. war on terrorism."

Both the previous and current administrations appear to have deemed Alfreda Frances Bikowsky's direct involvement in intentional obstruction of justice, intentional cover up, lying to Congress, and overseeing rendition-kidnapping-torture practices as qualifying factors to have kept promoting her. She now leads the CIA's Global Jihad Unit and is a close advisor to the President.

Who is Rich Blee?

SecrecyKills.org Statement on the Delay in Releasing "Who is Rich Blee?"
September 14, 2011

In January 2000, a 27-year-old female desk officer working in Rich Blee's Bin Laden Station, called "Michael" in the Commission Report, was placed in charge of an operation to track several known Al Qaeda terrorists to a meeting in Malaysia.

Learning that one of the men, a future Flight 77 hijacker, possessed a visa allowing him entry to the U.S., FBI agent Doug Miller, working at CIA, drafted a warning to his FBI bosses. According to the Justice Department's Inspector General, it was Michael who directly ordered Miller to hold off on sending the cable, what turned out to be a permanent "hold off." A few hours later, she sent a misleading email throughout CIA stating that the visa info had been shared with FBI. It seems circumstantially clear she knew this to be untrue, as only two days later, another FBI agent at CIA named Mark Rossini describes having a heated conversation with her in which she instructed him, "This is not a matter for the FBI. When we want them to know, we'll let them know. And you're not going to say anything."

"Its one of the most troubling aspects of our entire report, that particular thing," revealed the 9/11 Commission chairman Tom Kean to us in 2008. Newsweek's Michael Isikoff, who first broke the CIA withholding story in 2002, goes even further. "That was a pretty stunning intelligence lapse. Probably one of the biggest intelligence lapses of our time."

In an interview we released in part in August, the former counterterror adviser to the President, Richard Clarke, claimed the information about the travel of two future hijackers to the U.S. had not just been withheld from FBI but also from the White House. Former CIA agent Bob Baer confirmed to us that whoever was in charge of the Mihdhar surveillance op (which we know to be Michael) would by standard protocol have held direct responsibility for sending this fax to Clarke.

Michael's direct supervisor was a redhead who the Associated Press identified by her middle name "Frances" in a story earlier this year. Sometime after the bombing of the USS Cole in late 2000, we�re told Frances became Deputy Chief of Bin Laden Station, where circumstantial evidence connects her to the continued withholding of information from FBI investigators regarding this same future 9/11 hijacker, who by that time was known to be connected to the suspected Cole mastermind. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Lawrence Wright told us he feels this amounted to obstruction of justice in the criminal investigation of the death of seventeen U.S. military men.

Frances reportedly told investigators working for Congress in 2002 that it was she who physically walked a copy of the terrorist's U.S. visa to the FBI, a statement proven false by a later check of the log books at headquarters. Former intelligence committee staff director Eleanor Hill told us her team found no documentary evidence showing that FBI had ever been told. Michael also apparently failed to inform Hill's investigation or the one conducted shortly thereafter by Justice's Inspector General that she had blocked Doug Miller from sending a warning cable and had ordered Mark Rossini not to tell the Bureau.

The AP reported that Frances was also at the center of "the el-Masri incident," in which an innocent German citizen was kidnapped by CIA in 2003 and held under terrible conditions without charges for five months in a secret Afghan prison. The AP characterized it as "one of the biggest diplomatic embarrassments of the U.S. war on terrorism." It was no doubt something more to el-Masri. We have confirmed that Frances is the person described in New Yorker journalist Jane Mayer's book The Dark Side as having flown in to watch the waterboarding of terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammad without being assigned to do so. "It's not supposed to be entertainment," superiors were said to have told her.

In late 2009, a Jordanian double agent with a suicide vest was brought into a CIA base in Khost, Afghanistan, exploding himself and killing seven CIA personnel. It was the deadliest day for the Agency in over two decades. The security failure has been widely criticized. A source informs us that the internal investigation into that matter singles out Frances and the then-head of CTC for interfering with the instincts of the Base Chief on the ground. "They told her not to search the source, that it would offend him," claims our source.

The CIA has told us we would be irresponsible to identify these two individuals working in the fight against Al Qaeda. We believe it is irresponsible for the CIA to leave them in such positions given the results of their previous work in this area. This is a public safety issue. Despite CIA's protestations that these may be covert operatives, two sources have informed us that they are presently working from CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

"A lot of these people who withheld this information were not covert operatives," former Middle East case officer Bob Baer remarked, explaining that as analysts their names were not classified before 9/11. "There was no reason to hide their names. They are out there in the public. You can find them in data and credit checks and the rest of it... They certainly could have been brought before the House or the Senate in closed session and an explanation and a report put out there."

"Frances" and "Michael" reported to Bin Laden Station Deputy Chief Tom Wilshere and Chief of Station Richard Blee, who himself reported to Counter-Terrorist Center chief Cofer Black and CIA Director George Tenet. The actions of the whole group are explored in our investigative podcast.

The Society of Professional Journalists' code of ethics states that "journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public's right to know" and should "be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable." The day that journalists' expos�s of wrongdoing within government agencies require the approval of those government agencies before release, that is the day that transparency and accountability are lost.

We have done nothing wrong. In fact, we have done some excellent investigative journalism, mostly unpaid, and were ready to release it for free as a kind of public service. The CIA have now put us in a position where we must choose between participating in their decade-long protection of these individuals at the expense of public safety or possibly facing prosecution. We are weighing our options and deciding what is right and best for all concerned. We will release our decision and some version of the investigative podcast in the coming days.

MP3 Podcast:
Who Is Rich Blee?

Obama at the UN: The arrogant voice of imperialism

Obama at the UN: The arrogant voice of imperialism
By Bill Van Auken
22 September 2011

President Obama delivered an empty and arrogant sermon to the United Nations Wednesday, laced with platitudes about “peace” that were designed to mask Washington’s predatory policies.

The American president received a tepid response from the assembled heads of state, foreign ministers and UN delegates. Not a single line in his speech evoked applause. The novelty of two years ago, when Obama made his first appearance before the body posing as the champion of multilateralism in contrast to Bush, has long since worn off. As the world quickly learned, changing the occupant of the White House did little to shift the direction of American foreign policy or curb the spread of American militarism.

The immediate purpose of Obama’s 47-minute address was to supplement a behind-the-scenes campaign of bullying and intimidation aimed at forcing the Palestinian Authority to drop its plan to seek a UN Security Council vote on recognition of Palestine as a sovereign member state.

Washington has vowed to veto any bid for Palestinian statehood if it comes to the Security Council, a move that would only underscore the real character of US imperialist policy in the Middle East and the hypocrisy of its claims to identify with the revolutionary upheavals of the Arab masses.

The speech and Obama’s defense of the veto threat served to accomplish the same purpose, further diminishing the US president’s popularity in the Arab world. According to a recent poll, his favorable rating in the region has fallen from roughly 50 percent when he took office to barely 10 percent, even lower than George W. Bush in his second term.

Obama rushed from the podium at the General Assembly hall to a meeting and joint appearance with Benyamin Netanyahu. The Israeli prime minister praised Obama’s remarks and made it clear that the two are working on a joint strategy to muscle Palestine Authority head Mahmoud Abbas into dropping the statehood bid. It was reported Thursday that there were efforts to get the Palestinian delegation to make an entirely symbolic plea for recognition, while agreeing to postpone any vote until after the resumption of US-brokered negotiations with Israel.

There have been two decades of such talks, which have achieved nothing, while Israel has relentlessly expanded Zionist settlements in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem. Since the onset of negotiations in 1991, the number of settlers has more than doubled, while the West Bank has been internally divided by settlements, security roads and checkpoints as well as the apartheid security wall separating it from Israel.

Obama’s remarks in the UN speech represented an even further accommodation to Israel compared to his proposal in May for a resumption of talks, which he then said should be based upon pre-1967 borders with “mutually agreed swaps.” That statement, which implicitly supported Israel’s demand to retain existing settlements, merely reiterated the official policy of the US government since the Clinton administration. Nonetheless, the mere reference to borders provoked a storm of criticism from Netanyahu, the Israeli right and the Republican Party.

In his speech to the UN, Obama mentioned neither the 1967 borders nor any proposal to halt the expansion of settlements on the West Bank. Instead, he presented the basis for proposed negotiations as: “Israelis must know that any agreement provides assurances for their security. Palestinians deserve to know the territorial basis of their state.” As the rest of the US president’s remarks made clear, both those conditions are to be dictated by Israel.

While behind the scenes US officials are reportedly threatening the Palestinian Authority with cutting off all US aid if it goes ahead with the request for recognition, in his speech Obama described a turn to the UN as a “short cut” that would accomplish nothing.

Dismissing the role of the institution that he had rhetorically praised at the outset of his remarks, Obama said, “Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the UN—if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now.” Indeed, scores of UN resolutions on the plight of the Palestinians have been repudiated and ignored by both Israel and Washington. The US has used its veto in the Security Council to kill scores more.

Evidently responding to the right-wing criticism of Republican presidential hopefuls, who have denounced him for “throwing Israel under the bus” with his 1967 borders remark last May, Obama went out of his way to dismiss the historical grievances of the Palestinian people, while identifying unconditionally with Israel.

Of the Palestinians, he said only that they deserved a “sovereign state of their own” and they “have seen that vision delayed for too long.”

This was followed by a declaration that “America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakable, and our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring.” He continued by describing Israel as a country “surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it,” whose “citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses.” He referred to Israel as a “small country” in a world “where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map.” And he wound up by invoking the Holocaust.

“These facts cannot be denied,” he said. One would never guess from this selection of “facts” that some 4 million Palestinians live under the oppression and constant violence of Israeli occupation, and that another 5 million are refugees, driven from their homeland.

Nor for that matter, would one have any inkling of the constant wars that “little Israel,” with its elastic borders, has waged against its neighbors. Among the more recent are the 2006 war against Lebanon, which left 1,200 civilians dead and much of the country’s infrastructure in ruins, and the 2008 “Operation Cast Lead,” against Gaza, which claimed the lives of nearly 1,500 Palestinians, compared to 13 Israelis.

With a tone of exasperation, Obama acknowledged that “for many in this hall” the Palestinian question was the issue that “stands as a test” for Washington’s claims to champion human rights and democracy.

In reality, however, the rest of the speech proved just as revealing in terms of the hypocrisy and imperialist interests that pervade Washington’s policies all over the world.

The pretense laid out at the beginning of Obama’s speech was that the US government is engaged in “the pursuit of peace in an imperfect world.” The address included a trite refrain, repeated three times: “peace is hard.”

Fleshing out this theme, Obama pointed to the partial troop withdrawals from the eight-and-a-half-year-old war and occupation in Iraq and the decade-old war in Afghanistan. He bragged that by the end of the year, only 90,000 US troops will be deployed in these wars.

Washington’s aim, he said, was to forge an “equal partnership” with Iraq “strengthened by our support for Iraq—for its government and its security forces,” and an “enduring partnership” with “the people of Afghanistan.” He claimed that these changes proved that “the tide of war is receding.”

The rhetoric about “partnership”, however, refers to the plans being pursued by the White House and the Pentagon to keep US troops, CIA operatives and American bases in both countries, long past the dates set for US withdrawal. US imperialism is determined to continue pursuing the goal that underlay the wars from the outset: hegemonic control over the strategic energy reserves of the Caspian Basin and the Persian Gulf.

Obama then proceeded to extol the “Arab Spring,” declaring: “One year ago, the hopes of the people of Tunisia were suppressed…One year ago, Egypt had known one president for nearly thirty years.”

Needless to say, the American president made no reference as to whose support had kept the dictators Ben Ali and Mubarak in power for so long, nor to the current attempts by Washington to salvage the regimes they headed and suppress the mass popular movements that forced their ouster.

From there, he proceeded to praise the NATO war in Libya, declaring that by authorizing this imperialist intervention, “the United Nations lived up to its charter.”

In reality, the war represented a fundamental violation of the tenets of this charter, which proclaims the “sovereign equality” of all member states, demanded that all disputes be settled peacefully and insisted that member states “refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.”

In the case of Libya, the US and its NATO allies, citing the threat of an imminent massacre in Benghazi, procured a resolution authorizing “all necessary measures” to protect civilians. It utilized this resolution as a cover for a war for regime-change. The NATO powers carried out thousands of air strikes and sent in special forces troops to organize, train and arm a “rebel” force for a war that has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of Libyans. The aim of this war, like those in Afghanistan and Iraq before it, is domination of strategic energy reserves, as well as inserting Western military power in the midst of a region facing revolutionary turmoil.

“This is how the international community is supposed to work,” Obama declared in relation to the Libyan operation, calling to mind Lenin’s description of the League of Nations, the UN’s predecessor, as a “thieves’ kitchen.”

Turning to uncompleted business and potential imperialist interventions yet to come, Obama condemned Iran for failing “to recognize the rights of its own people” and called for the UN impose new sanctions against Syria. “Will we stand with the Syrian people, or with their oppressors?” he demanded.

Given the bloody events in Yemen, where over 100 civilians have been massacred over the past three days, Obama could not completely ignore the upheavals against US-backed regimes in the region. In Yemen, however, there was no invocation to stand against oppressors, merely a call to “seek a path that allows for a peaceful transition.”

Even more tepid was his reference to Bahrain, the headquarters of the US 5th Fleet. “America is a close friend of Bahrain,” he declared. Here, where thousands have been killed, tortured, imprisoned, beaten and fired from their jobs for demanding democratic rights, he proposed merely a “meaningful dialogue,” while justifying the repression by suggesting that Bahrainis were confronting “sectarian forces that would tear them apart.”

The rest of the speech consisted of a hollow and unconvincing recitation of the usual platitudes. These included the elimination of nuclear weapons—with Washington, sitting on the greatest nuclear arsenal in the world and the only state ever to use such weapons, lecturing North Korea and Iran. He inveighed against poverty and disease and insisted on the need “not to put off action that “a changing climate demands.” Thrown in were calls for the rights of women as well as gays and lesbians.

On the decisive issue facing millions of working people in the US and across the globe, Obama acknowledged that economic “recovery is fragile,” that “too many people are out of work” and that “too many are struggling to get by.” Referring to the multi-trillion-dollar bailout of the banks, he boasted, “We acted together to avert a depression in 2009” and insisted that “We must take urgent and coordinated action once more.”

But as with all the other issues raised in the speech, the American president had no “coordinated action,” no program and no policy to propose. In the final analysis, Obama’s empty rhetoric is an expression of the profound crisis gripping American capitalism and its ruling financial elite as it confronts economic collapse and the threat of revolutionary upheaval.

French president's ally charged with corruption...

French President's Ally Charged With Corruption
by RTT Staff Writer
9/22/2011 8:17 PM ET

(RTTNews) - Nicolas Bazire, one of French President Nicholas Sarkozy's closest friends and the best man at his wedding to Carla Bruni in 2008, was charged Thursday with misuse of public funds in connection with an arms sale to Pakistan in the 1990s.

Bazire was charged on Thursday by French judges investigating allegations of corruption in the unsuccessful 1995 presidential campaign of Edouard Balladur, a conservative and former prime minister.

Bazire is accused of taking kickbacks from the sale of submarines to Pakistan in the 1990s and using those funds to finance Balladur's campaign. Bazire, who was the chief of staff for Balladur, has denied the accusations.

Police had arrested Bazire, who is now a director of French luxury goods group LVMH, on Wednesday and searched his home and office. He was questioned overnight and released Thursday after being charged.

Another of Sarkozy's allies, Thierry Gaubert, was also arrested in connection with the same case on Wednesday. He has since been released, but is under formal investigation for embezzlement. Gaubert, like Bazire, has also denied any involvement in what the French media has dubbed as the "Karachi affair."

The investigation into the 'Karachi affair' is aimed at determining whether a 2002 bomb attack in Karachi in which 11 French workers were killed was prompted by the French decision to stop paying commissions on arms sale to middle-men in Pakistan. The investigators are probing claims that some of those funds were used to finance Balladur's election campaign.

Sarkozy, who was budget minister in Balladur's government and spokesman for his campaign in 1995, has distanced himself from the suspected corruption scandal insisting that he "never exercised the slightest authority in the campaign financing."

"Nicolas Sarkozy did not manage Mr Edouard Balladur's campaign," the French President's office said in a statement issued Thursday, insisting that any claim otherwise is "just slander and petty political manipulation."

"As far as the so-called 'Karachi affair' is concerned, the head of state's name does not appear in any part of the dossier. His name has been cited by no witness nor actor in this case," the statement added.

The developments come amidst intensive campaigning for the 2012 presidential elections, which are scheduled to take place next April. Sarkozy himself is seeking reelection in the April elections. The president is immune from prosecution while in office.

Secret warfare: 'The US operates clandestine ops in 75 countries' (Video)


Israelis largely support calls for Palestinian state, say protesters...

Israelis largely support calls for Palestinian state, say protesters
Claims backed by survey showing that 70% of Israelis believe country should accept decision if UN votes in favour of move
Phoebe Greenwood in Tel Aviv
The Guardian, Thursday 22 September 2011

It is the exact spot where the new sovereign state was declared. But the year was 1948 and the state was Israel.

Now new officers in the Israeli army are brought to Independence Hall on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv as part of their education in the history of the Jewish state.

On the day before Mahmoud Abbas was expected to launch his bid for a Palestinian state, guide Amir Rimon 28, was lecturing a group of young soldiers under one of Rothschild's broad ficus trees.

"We come [here] to remind ourselves of the values on which our state was founded," he said. The Declaration of Independence, read by David Ben-Gurion 63 years ago, said Palestinians would be equals in the fledgling country.

"I think we need to recognise a Palestinian state. Many of the soldiers agree with me – it's 50-50," Rimon added. A recent poll conducted by the Hebrew University found that 70% of Israelis believe that if the UN votes in favour of a Palestinian state, Israel should accept the decision. This is not the position of the Israeli government.

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu insists there can be no peace if the Palestinians follow a unilateral path at the UN. On Wednesday, President Obama threw his weight behind this position.

But on Rothschild Boulevard, alternative Israeli voices are being raised. More than 80 prominent Israeli intellectuals gathered outside Independence Hall on Thursday. They were led by author Sefi Rachlevski, to declare their support for a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders.

"We will have an affect because we represent the real Jewish Zionist heritage and what we're saying is obvious: Palestine, you don't need our permission to have a state. Negotiations on its borders can follow," said Rachlevski.

Israeli historian Yehuda Bauer was among signatories to the declaration. He argued that the establishment of two independent neighbouring states was the only solution, and that it is an outcome that would be supported by the majority of Israelis.

But he warned it would be met with an armed rebellion by the rightwing, nationalist orthodox minority: "The fear I have of is not so much that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians will march to the 1967 borders. I am afraid of the violent orthodox who have openly established a separate entity [in settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory]. They pose the real danger to Israel."

As the intellectuals launched their protest at Independence Hall, at the opposite end of Rothschild, a few dozen tents and a thriving herb garden were all that remained of Israel's summer of demos. This was the hub of a nationwide call for change that rallied thousands of Israelis.

Palestinian activists note that this unprecedented protest conspicuously ignored the occupation. It proved too divisive an issue for organisers to press upon.

Protest leader Dror Shalom, 35, insisted criticism of the occupation was implicit in their challenge to Netanyahu's rightwing government. The majority of people who protested in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, he said, would extend their calls for justice to Palestinians.

Shalom said: "Palestine is a country and it has been for years. We know where the Palestinian state will be, which is where it is now. We will have to evacuate a few thousand Israelis and that's it."

Shalom believed the majority of Israelis accept a Palestinian state is inevitable, whether it is declared unilaterally or reached through negotiations. Like Bauer, he identified the obstacle as Israel's powerful, nationalist religious lobby and its disproportionate influence over Netanyahu's rightwing government.

He added: "We love Israel and are worried about the direction it is headed. It was our intention at the last big protest to revise Israel's Declaration of Independence."

"Across Africa, some of the world’s poorest people have been thrown off land to make way for foreign investors, often uprooting local farmers so that food can be grown on a commercial scale and shipped to richer countries overseas.But in this case, the government and the company said the settlers were illegal and evicted for a good cause: to protect the environment and help fight global warming...The company involved, New Forests Company, grows forests in African countries with the purpose of selling credits from the carbon-dioxide its trees soak up to polluters abroad. Its investors include the World Bank, through its private investment arm, and the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, HSBC"

In Scramble for Land, Group Says, Company Pushed Ugandans Out
Published: September 21, 2011

KICUCULA, Uganda — According to the company’s proposal to join a United Nations clean-air program, the settlers living in this area left in a “peaceful” and “voluntary” manner.

People here remember it quite differently.

“I heard people being beaten, so I ran outside,” said Emmanuel Cyicyima, 33. “The houses were being burnt down.”

Other villagers described gun-toting soldiers and an 8-year-old child burning to death when his home was set ablaze by security officers.

“They said if we hesitated they would shoot us,” said William Bakeshisha, adding that he hid in his coffee plantation, watching his house burn down. “Smoke and fire.”

According to a report released by the aid group Oxfam on Wednesday, more than 20,000 people say they were evicted from their homes here in recent years to make way for a tree plantation run by a British forestry company, emblematic of a global scramble for arable land.

“Too many investments have resulted in dispossession, deception, violation of human rights and destruction of livelihoods,” Oxfam said in the report. “This interest in land is not something that will pass.” As population and urbanization soar, it added, “whatever land there is will surely be prized.”

Across Africa, some of the world’s poorest people have been thrown off land to make way for foreign investors, often uprooting local farmers so that food can be grown on a commercial scale and shipped to richer countries overseas.

But in this case, the government and the company said the settlers were illegal and evicted for a good cause: to protect the environment and help fight global warming.

The case twists around an emerging multibillion-dollar market trading carbon-credits under the Kyoto Protocol, which contains mechanisms for outsourcing environmental protection to developing nations.

The company involved, New Forests Company, grows forests in African countries with the purpose of selling credits from the carbon-dioxide its trees soak up to polluters abroad. Its investors include the World Bank, through its private investment arm, and the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, HSBC.

In 2005, the Ugandan government granted New Forests a 50-year license to grow pine and eucalyptus forests in three districts, and the company has applied to the United Nations to trade under the mechanism. The company expects that it could earn up to $1.8 million a year.

But there was just one problem: people were living on the land where the company wanted to plant trees. Indeed, they had been there a while.

“He was a policeman for King George,” Mr. Bakeshisha said of his father, who served with British forces during World War II in Egypt.

Mr. Bakeshisha, 51, said he was given land in Namwasa forest in Mubende district in 1997 by a local kingdom through his father’s serviceman association. Mr. Bakeshisha lived happily on the property for years, becoming a local administrator and ardent supporter of President Yoweri Museveni. In a neighboring district, people had been living on land the company would later license since the 1970s.

Tensions brewed. The company and government said the residents were living illegally in a forest. Residents said they had rights. Community members took the company to court in 2009 and a temporary injunction was issued, barring evictions. Nevertheless, Oxfam and residents say, evictions continued.

Residents were given until Feb. 28, 2010, to vacate company premises while soldiers and the police kept surveillance. Company officials visited, too. From time to time a house would be burnt down, villagers said. Then came Feb. 28, a Sunday.

“We were in church,” recalled Jean-Marie Tushabe, 26, a father of two. “I heard bullets being shot into the air.”

“Cars were coming with police,” Mr. Tushabe said, sitting among the ruins of his old home. “They headed straight to the houses. They took our plates, cups, mattresses, bed, pillows. Then we saw them getting a matchbox out of their pockets.”

Homeless and hopeless, Mr. Tushabe said he took a job with the company that pushed him out. He was promised more than $100 each month, he said, but received only about $30.

New Forests says that it takes accusations that settlers were forcibly removed “extremely seriously” and will conduct “an immediate and thorough” investigation.

“Our understanding of these resettlements is that they were legal, voluntary and peaceful and our first hand observations of them confirmed this,” the company said in a response to the Oxfam report.

A Ugandan government spokesman said residents in Namwasa were illegal encroachers, but he acknowledged and deplored the use of violence to remove them, saying it was done by corrupt politicians and police officers operating outside the law.

Olivia Mukamperezida, 28, said her house was among the first in her community to be burned down. One day in late 2009, she said, her eldest son, Friday, was sick at home, so she went out to find medicine. Villagers suddenly told her to rush back. Everything was incinerated.

“I found my house when it was completely finished,” she said. “I just cried.”

Ms. Mukamperezida never found the culprits. She buried Friday’s bones in a grave, but says she does not know if it is still there.

“They are planting trees,” she said.

Mystery Windsor rumbling pinpointed to U.S.

Mystery Windsor rumbling pinpointed to U.S.
CBC News Posted: Sep 22, 2011 10:17 AM ET

The source of mysterious rumblings that have been troubling residents in the Windsor-Essex area for months are coming from the United States, a Ministry of Environment official said Thursday.

Teri Gilbert, a spokeswoman for the agency, said seismic testing from Natural Resources Canada over the summer pinpointed a one-square kilometre area of River Rouge, which is on Zug Island.

Although there is a steel plant run by US Steel in that area, Gilbert could not confirm what the exact cause of the sound was or what the source was.

The ministry is working on the problem with its Michigan counterparts, including the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and the municipality of River Rouge.

Gilbert said the various agencies would prepare a report, but no timeline was given for the completion of the document.

Windsor City Councillor Al Maghnieh has long suspected that the noise was coming from Zug Island.

"It's not a surprise at all, given the heavy industry that goes on there. The heavy manufacturing process and the real core manufacturing processes there are pretty hard-core when it comes to noise, vibration, pollution, toxic air," the councillor said.

Residents have long claimed that the noise is so unbearable that it wakes them up in the middle of the night.

The residents have taken such steps as setting up a Facebook group that logs when they hear the sound and where it appears to be coming from. They have also used a map to pinpoint the direction of the noise.

The councillor said changes in the manufacturing process in the past year have intensified the sensation.

Residents had earlier suspected the Brighton Beach power plant on the shores of the Detroit River, but this was ruled out recently.

Maghnieh is organizing a public meeting to discuss the phenomenon on Sept. 29 and the seismic data collected by Natural Resources Canada will be presented at the meeting. The councillor is also calling American authorities and representatives from US Steel to attend.

#OccupyWallStreet is more than a hashtag - It's a revolution in formation

#OccupyWallStreet Is More Than a Hashtag - It's Revolution in Formation
Friday 23 September 2011
by: Nathan Schneider, Truthout | Report

A lot of what you've probably seen or read about the #occupywallstreet action is wrong, especially if you're getting it on the Internet. The action started as an idea posted online and word about it then spread and is still spreading, online. But what makes it really matter now is precisely that it is happening offline, in a physical, public space, live and in person. That's where the occupiers are assembling the rudiments of a movement.

At the center of occupied Liberty Plaza, a dozen or so huddle around computers in the media area, managing a makeshift Internet hotspot, a humming generator and the (theoretically) 24-hour livestream. They can edit and post videos of arrests in no time flat, then bombard Twitter until they're viral. But for those looking to understand even the basic facts about what is actually going on - before September 17 and since - the Internet has been as much a source of confusion as it is anything else.

For someone who has been following this movement in gestation as well as implementation, it's painfully easy to see which news articles take their bearing entirely from a few Google searches. Some reporters come to Liberty Plaza looking for Adbusters staff, or US Day of Rage members, or conspiratorial Obama supporters, or hackers from Anonymous. They're briefly disappointed to find none of the above. Instead, it's a bunch of people - from round-the-clock revolutionaries, to curious tourists, to retirees, to zealous students - spending most of their time in long meetings about supplying food, conducting marches, dividing up the plaza's limited space and what exactly they're there to do and why. And that's the point. More than demanding any particular policy proposal, the occupation is reminding Wall Street what real democracy looks like: a discussion among people, not a contest of money.

As is now well known, the anti-consumerist group Adbusters made a call on July 13 for an occupation of Wall Street. That and a bit of poster art were the extent of its involvement. Adbusters floated the meme and left the rest to others. The trouble was, though, that most of the others were meme floaters, too.

The occupywallst.org web domain was registered anonymously on July 14, and it soon became the main clearinghouse for information about the movement’s progress. It remains so now and is getting, on average, about 50,000 unique visitors per day. It’s maintained mainly by a man and woman who met through the Anarchism section on the web site Reddit.

Soon came US Day of Rage, the project of Alexa O'Brien, an IT content management strategist. Since March, she has been trying to build a nationwide movement for radical campaign-finance reform - "One citizen. One dollar. One vote." - and decided to peg her efforts to the September 17 action. While she has around 20 organizers working with her in cities around the country, as far as one leading #occupywallstreet organizer in New York could tell, it seems like her only colleagues might be coffee and cigarettes.

Then, of course, there's Anonymous. The most-wanted hacker-activist collective indicated that it would join #occupywallstreet in late August. Within days, the Anons' presence in the movement was being felt through Anonymous-branded viral videos, the bombardment of the movement's Twitter hashtags (of which there is an ever-growing number) and rumors of scrutiny from Homeland Security.

Meanwhile, quietly, a group of several hundred mainly young activists, artists and students started gathering as a "General Assembly" (GA) - a leaderless, consensus-based decision-making process. They met weekly in public parks, starting on August 2 and continuing until the occupation began, with the intention of building an organizational and tactical framework for the action. It grew out of New Yorkers Against Budget Cuts, which had recently held a three-week occupation near City Hall called "Bloombergville" to protest against austerity measures. They had learned a lot from that and were ready to try something bigger.

The GA formed an Internet Committee, which quickly became fraught with infighting about process, security concerns and editorial control. These problems consumed hours and hours of the whole Assembly's time. Their site went up, then down and then finally up again just days before the occupation began. It is now online at nycga.cc, but it receives only a small fraction of the traffic of occupywallst.org. Only on Thursday afternoon did the two sites figure out how to formally coordinate their activities.

As a result of these hiccups, in the lead-up and early days of the occupation, media coverage almost always associated it with meme floaters like Adbusters, US Day of Rage and Anonymous. But none of them were especially responsible for what would be happening on the ground starting on September 17. That was the GA's doing.

Others, it seems, have taken it upon themselves to fill the GA's media vacuum of their own accord. One document being circulated and discussed online is "Occupy Wall Street - Official Demands," dated September 20 of 2013, which includes detailed proposals for reforming the financial system, none of which has been approved by the GA.

"This is definitely not ours," says Marisa Holmes, a facilitator of the GA since the first planning meetings. "All decisions made by the GA are made in this space."

Worse, thanks to some imaginative theorizing by Aaron Kein of the right-wing online publication WorldNetDaily, the idea began circulating that the movement was "closely tied" with ACORN, SEIU and that it took its inspiration from the Weather Underground; George Soros; and, ultimately, President Obama himself. Five minutes at a GA meeting would easily disabuse one of such associations. The GA had no official organizational ties and, besides a food fund that has been stuck in an inaccessible WePay account, almost no money. Many wish that they had the support of unions, but so far they still don't.

What's actually underway at Liberty Plaza is both simpler and more complicated: music making, sign drawing, talking, organizing, eating, marching, standoffs with police and (not enough) sleeping. It's a movement in formation. As protesters sometimes like to chant, "This Is Just Practice." There are a handful of guys with Anonymous Guy Fawkes masks backward on their heads, but they're just one affinity group among many. O'Brien didn't appear on the plaza for a couple of days - she was "running the back-end," she says - and there has been almost no talk of "One citizen. One dollar. One vote." Adbusters sends the occasional package of posters in the mail and offers confusing advice to organizers on the ground. Nobody's exactly sure yet who is doing what, but they're learning.

For the most part, the occupation is riding the momentum started in the GA meetings that were going on for a month and a half beforehand. They built a community of people who trust each other, who have a sense for each other's skills and who are in some basic agreement about ends and means.

In the revolutions and uprisings and occupations that have been taking place around the world since the beginning of this year, there has been a lot of talk about the mobilizing power of social media - of the Twitters and Facebooks and cell phones. But when the Egyptian government shut down the Internet and the cellular signals in January, the movement there carried on. One of the deciding factors that brought down Mubarak, in the end, was not some new Twitter hashtag, but a general strike organized by traditional labor unions. The Internet can help (as well as hurt) a movement, but it's no replacement for actual relationships among actual people, building actual trust through actually working together over a period of time.

"I could have a political discussion just on the Internet," says web developer Drew Hornbein, who is on the GA's Internet Committee, "But it's nice to get out like this." When he started attending GA meetings in August, he got excited, thinking, "This is something really real. This could really be something."

So it has become. But everyone at Liberty Plaza knows the movement has to be bigger for it to have the effect they want to see. Whole swaths of Americans - from racial minorities to disgruntled Wall Streeters - are underrepresented among the occupiers. Not everyone, it seems, is quite so glued to Twitter as the young radical set. They've had to start scrambling to relearn how to make fliers, reach out to membership organizations and find people where they are to make the movement's numbers grow.

On Thursday evening, a surprise march of hundreds mourning the execution of Troy Davis in Georgia set out for Liberty Plaza from Union Square, led by occupiers. Police made attempts to stop it with barricades and clubs and arrests, but they couldn't; and when the marchers arrived, the numbers in the plaza swelled. There were a lot of new faces and new kinds of faces. It paid off to quit the Internet, go to where people actually are and bring them back.

In the GA that night, Ted Actie, who lives in Brooklyn and works for On the Spot, a minority-owned talk-show production company, called on the protesters to speak more directly to the communities around them. "You do so much social networking," he said, "you forget how to socialize."

'OccupyWallStreet' Activists Disrupt Sotheby's Art Auction

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

OnStar is tracking your speed and location even when you cancel your service...

OnStar Is Tracking Your Speed And Location Even When You Cancel Your Service
By Kelly Hodgkins Sep 20, 2011 8:39 PM

OnStar is alerting customers of a change in its privacy policy that'll let the company collect the speed and location of any OnStar-equipped vehicle, even when the owner no longer subscribes to the monthly service.

According to spokesman Adam Denison, the company will keep this tracking active for the convenience of customers who wish to restore service. He also says the connection will remain open "unless the customer says otherwise".

Even more troubling is a little known section of the privacy policy that lets OnStar compile this GPS data and sell an anonymized version to government agencies, marketing companies and vehicle manufacturers.

The truth about 'class war' in America...

The Truth about 'Class War' in America
Republicans claim, in Orwellian fashion, that Obama's millionaire tax is 'class war'. The reality is that the super-rich won the war
By Richard Wolff

September 20, 2011 "The Guardian" -- - Republicans and conservatives always fight back against proposals to raise taxes on corporations and rich individuals by making two basic claims. First, such proposals amount to un-American "class warfare", pitting the working class against corporations and the rich. Second, such proposals would take money for the government that would otherwise have been invested in production and thus created jobs.

Neither logic nor evidence supports either claim. The charge of class war is particularly obtuse. Consider simply these two facts. First, at the end of the second world war, for every dollar Washington raised in taxes on individuals, it raised $1.50 in taxes on business profits. Today, that ratio is very different: for every dollar Washington gets in taxes on individuals, it takes 25 cents in taxes on business. In short, the last half century has seen a massive shift of the burden of federal taxation off business and onto individuals.

Second, across those 50 years, the actual shift that occurred was the opposite of the much more modest reversal proposed this week by President Obama; over the same period, the federal income tax rate on the richest individuals fell from 91% to the current 35%. Yet, Republicans and conservatives use the term "class war" for what Obama proposes – and never for what the last five decades have accomplished in shifting the tax burden from the rich and corporations to the working class.

The tax structure imposed by Washington on the US over the last half-century has seen a massive double shift of the burden of taxation: from corporations to individuals and from the richest individuals to everyone else. If the national debate wants seriously to use a term like "class war" to describe Washington's tax policies, then the reality is that the class war's winners have been corporations and the rich. Its losers – the rest of us – now want to reduce our losses modestly by small increases in taxes on the super-rich (but not, or not yet, on corporations).

To refer to this effort as if it had suddenly introduced class war into US politics is either dishonest or based on ignorance of what federal tax policies have actually been. Or perhaps, for conservatives, it is a convenient mixture of both.

Much the same sort of analysis applies to the Republican claims that taxing corporations and rich people takes money that would otherwise be invested in business growth and thus create jobs. Last Friday, the US Federal Reserve reported a record quantity of cash on the books of US businesses (over $2tn). Even with the currently low taxes on businesses and the rich, that money is not being invested and is not creating jobs. It is not being distributed to anyone else and so is not being spent on consumer goods either. Taxing a portion of that money to finance Washington's stimulation of the economy by spending that money – or even better, by using it to hire and pay the unemployed – would be a much more effective way to provide jobs than leaving it as cash hoards in corporations' coffers.

Last month, Warren Buffett upset many of his "mega-rich friends" by what he stated categorically in a New York Times op-ed. He made it clear that he had never encountered any serious investor who decided whether or not to invest based on tax rates. It was always the prospects of profit that made the difference. He then urged Americans to raise taxes on the rich like himself. He also hinted – none too subtly – that it was becoming politically dangerous for the whole economic system's survival to keep having the minority of extremely rich people paying federal tax at lower rates than the middle- and low-income majority.

The final irony of loose talk about class war is this: the Republican and conservative voices opposing all tax increases for corporations and the rich thereby provoke, as Buffett intimated and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg more explicitly warned last week, a renewal of class consciousness in the US. Then, Washington might learn what class war really is.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cops lockdown Wall Street from Day of Rage protesters...


Cops Lockdown Wall Street From Day of Rage Protesters
Kurt Nimmo
September 18, 2011

Protesters who promised to turned Wall Street into an “American Tahrir Square” were frustrated by cops who locked down the financial district in response to the demonstrations.

“More than 1,000 protesters gathered in Manhattan for the demonstrations, but they were thwarted by police who put Wall Street on lockdown after learning about the plans through social media,” the Daily Mail reports. “Protesters organized the rally under the hash-tag of #OccupyWallStreet on Twitter and Facebook, but police spotted this and shut down Wall Street near the Stock Exchange and Federal Hall.”

Major banks – including Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Morgan Stanley and Citigroup Inc. – operate in the area blocked by police.

“We need to retake the freedom that has been stolen from the people,” a call to action posted on the OccupyWallStreet website proclaims. The call was taken up groups not only on the so-called left, but also by anarchists and supporters of the “right-wing figure Lyndon LaRouche.”

According to the Economic Times, protest organizers have called for protesters to camp out for weeks or even months and repeat the protests that have occurred in Egypt, Spain and Israel.

The group has called for workers to “not only strike, but seize their workplaces collectively” and “for the seizure and use of abandoned buildings, of abandoned land, of every property seized and abandoned by speculators, for the people, for every group that will organize them.”

On Saturday, the New York Police erected barricades on Wall Street between Broadway and William Street.

Fox News reported that police were determined to “to prevent protesters from wreaking havoc by blocking off sections of Wall Street, including the famous bull statue where demonstrators had planned to rally.”

The “havoc” was peaceful, as the San Francisco Chronicle reported:

Protesters waved red flags and toted cardboard signs with statements such as “represent the 99%.” Others donned white, mustachioed masks of the anti-authoritarian protagonist from the graphic novel and film “V for Vendetta.” A few people played instruments, including guitars, ukuleles and maracas. Chants and applause periodically erupted around the plaza.

The National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, part of the Department of Homeland Security, has warned that additional protests are planned for financial districts in Madrid, Milan, London and Paris.


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