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Saturday, September 29, 2012

"Voting-rights lawyer John Boyd, who works for both parties, is alarmed by the “thousands and thousands” of poor people in each state that will lose their vote because of new ID laws. “I don’t have any doubt this could decide the election,” he told me. “People don’t understand the enormity of this.” People don’t. But Karl (Rove) does"

Via GP

Stop me if you heard this one. See, these ten nuns walk into a polling station in Indiana and the guy in charge says, “Whoa, Sisters! What do think you’re doing?”

“Voting,” says Sister Mary.

“Well, not here, ladies; not without your ID!” He demanded their driver’s licenses, but the ten quite elderly Sisters of the Holy Cross, including a 98 year-old, had long ago given up cruising.

“Scram, Sis!” said the man, and kicked their habits right out of the polling station.

I may not have gotten the dialogue exactly right, but I got the gist of it and the facts: the ten nuns who’d been voting at that station for decades were booted out in 2008, just after the state of Indiana’s Republican legislature imposed new voter ID laws.

The reason for nixing the nuns? To stop voter identity theft. There wasn’t exactly a voter identity crime wave. In fact, despite no photo ID requirement, there wasn’t a single known case of false identity voting in the state in over one hundred years.

About four hundred thousand voters (9 percent of Indiana’s electorate) are African American. Nearly one in five (18.1 percent) lack the ID needed to vote, according to Matt Barreto of the University of Washington.

That’s twice the number of whites lacking ID. Therefore, as many as 72,000 black voters will get the boot when they show up to vote this November. Coincidentally, that’s three times Barack Obama’s victory margin in that state in 2008. Coincidentally.

And who are the white folk lacking ID? The elderly, like the sisters, and students like Angela Hiss and Allyson Miller, whose official state IDs don’t list their dorm room addresses and so can’t be used to vote.

Black folk, the elderly, students, poor whites blocked from registering and voting—a federal judge didn’t think it was all that coincidental. Justice Terence Evans could see a pattern: “The Indiana voter photo ID law is a not-too- thinly veiled attempt to discourage election-day turnout by certain folks believed to skew Democratic.”

But Supreme Court Justice is blind. The Indiana law does provide a voter the chance to obtain an ID from government offices. The average voter’s distance to the office is seventeen miles. By definition, the folks that need the ID don’t drive. And the ninety-eight-year-old is pretty darn slow in her walker.

A lawyer for Indiana voters told me that the average bus trip back and forth, requiring two changes, takes an entire work day. They tested it. But Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia ruled that the law was fair and provided “equal protection” to all voters because “seventeen miles is seventeen miles for the rich and the poor.”

Our investigative team decided to check that assump- tion. Justice Scalia drives a black BMW. No kidding. What he meant to say is that whether a poor person or a rich person is driving a BMW, it takes the same time. And whether the BMW is black or white doesn’t matter either.

With Supreme Court blessings, voter ID laws are taking the nation by storm, or storm troops.

Apparently, the idea came to Karl Rove while buying his pampers. He told the Republican National Lawyers Association, “I go the grocery store and I want to cash a check to pay for my groceries, I have to show a little bit of ID. [So, why not when] it comes to the most sacred thing in our democracy?”

(Actually, Karl, you don’t have to show ID to swallow the Eucharist or matzo. But if by “most sacred thing” in our democracy you mean making donations to American Crossroads, you don’t need ID for that anymore either. If you mean voting is sacred, then it shouldn’t be dependent on taking a driving test, should it?

Anyway, I’d love to see Rove actually cashing a check at a grocery store, especially one written by the Ice Man. But I digress.)

Santiago Juarez sees some truth in Rove’s remarks. I met with Santiago in Espanola, New Mexico, where he was running a registration drive among low-riders, the young Mexican Americans who cruise the street in hopping, bopping, neon-lit Chevys. He says, “And who’s going to give these kids a credit card?” Of course, you can always get ID from a state office . . . if you already have ID.

Voting-rights lawyer John Boyd, who works for both parties, is alarmed by the “thousands and thousands” of poor people in each state that will lose their vote because of new ID laws. “I don’t have any doubt this could decide the election,” he told me. “People don’t understand the enormity of this.”

People don’t. But Karl does.

And so does the Brennan Center. The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School brings together America’s most prestigious scholars in the field of voting rights who are widely ignored because of their unquestioned expertise. The Brennan Center reports that the ID laws are racist, ageist, classist, and the stupidest way to stop “fraud.”

Here’s the Brennan Center breakdown of those without government photo ID:

6.0 million seniors

5.5 million African Americans

8.1 million Hispanics

4.5 million 18-24 year olds

15 percent voters with household income under $35,000 a year.

Now, don’t add them up because there’s a lot of double-counting here. “Poor,” “black,” and “young” go together like “stop” and “frisk.”

But let’s cut to the chase: the draconian ID law and other voting and registration restrictions passed in just the year before the 2012 election, according to the Brennan Center, are going to cause five million voters to lose their civil rights.

Overwhelmingly, the changes were made in twelve “battleground” states, with the most radical exclusion laws adopted in Florida and Wisconsin. The cheese-chewer state will require government-issued IDs to vote. But the IDs issued by the state itself to University of Wisconsin students won’t be accepted. That’s okay because, as a New Hampshire legislator, hoping to emulate Wisconsin, points out, “Kids, you know, just vote liberal.”

Using a formula provided by the Brennan Center, we can calculate that 97,850 student voters were barred, turned away, blocked, challenged, or given provisional ballots (left uncounted) on recall Election Day in June. No US paper listed Wisconsin as a “swing” state that month. Well, it swung.

Altogether, the 2012 changes in Wisconsin law were sufficient alone to account for the victory of Republican Governor Scott Walker in staving off that recall vote in June 2012. Walker did have the popular support of $31 million (versus $4 million raised by his Democratic opponent).

Thursday, September 27, 2012

"Does Sheldon Adelson's effort to put Mitt Romney in the White House have anything to do with the federal criminal investigation into his company's business practices?"

 Via HP

In August, The New York Times wondered aloud what the rest of the political world wanted to know: Does Sheldon Adelson's effort to put Mitt Romney in the White House have anything to do with the federal criminal investigation into his company's business practices?

The Times editorial page mused that "since Mr. Adelson's financial future is riding on the outcome of these federal investigations, it is legitimate to ask whether he has motivation for supporting the Republican ticket so lavishly, beyond his sharp disagreement with the Obama administration's position on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process."

In a wide-ranging, two-hour interview with Politico's Mike Allen published Monday, Adelson himself answered the question.

The top reason Adelson gave for backing Romney and opposing President Barack Obama is "self defense," as Allen put it, referencing the probe into Las Vegas Sands Corp. "Adelson said a second Obama term would bring government 'vilification of people that were against him.' He thinks he would be at the top of that list and contends that he already has been targeted for his political activity," Allen wrote.

Adelson's casino empire, the bulk of which is based in Asia, is being investigated for bribery and money laundering. He told Allen that Justice Department officials have been disparaging him in the press. "When I see what's happening to me and this company, about accusations that are unfounded -- that kind of behavior ... has to stop," he told Allen.

In other words, Adelson is spending millions of dollars to curry political favor in the United States, hoping to fend off charges that he spent millions of dollars to curry political favor in Asia.

Among a number of stories in the press lately, The New York Times dove into the murky China-dominated world in which Adelson's casinos thrive:

Federal investigators began looking into the Sands's China activities after the former president of the company's Macau operations filed a wrongful-termination lawsuit in 2010. The former executive, Steven C. Jacobs, charged, among other things, that he had been pressured to exercise improper leverage against government officials in Macau, and that the company had turned a blind eye to Chinese organized crime figures operating in its casinos. (The Jacobs lawsuit raised questions about payments to another well-connected local figure -- a lawyer and legislator in Macau -- that were recently explored by ProPublica and are also part of the federal bribery investigation.)
The Sands declined to respond to a detailed list of questions provided by The Times more than a week ago, saying in a statement that it was cooperating with the inquiries and was confident that once they were concluded "no current member of senior management will have been found to have been involved in wrongdoing."

David Lat, editor of Above the Law, worked in the U.S. attorney's office under Chris Christie, now the Republican governor of New Jersey.

"My reading of Adelson's statements is that Adelson believes the current administration is unfairly pursuing him and that he'd like to see Obama replaced by Romney, for this and other reasons," Lat said in an email to HuffPost. "I don't know if the statements are that unusual; individuals or companies under investigation often like to claim that they are the victims of some sort of witch hunt. I suppose what's different about Adelson is that he has unusually large resources with which to fight back."

Adelson has said he's willing to spend $100 million or more to unseat President Obama, by far a record amount of giving.

A source close to Adelson who spoke on condition of anonymity said that the casino owner does not expect a President Romney simply to close the case. "He was not talking about the investigation per se," the source said, suggesting instead that Adelson is concerned about politically motivated leaks.

Beyond the potential for a friendlier hearing from federal prosecutors, Adelson stands to be on the fun end of a $2 billion tax cut if Romney wins as well.

A 'October Surprise' in September for Obama...

  Via SC

Twin crises on opposite ends of the world have been engineered by the old Boston business consultant team of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Binyamin Netanyahu have served as a «price tag» penalty for President Obama for daring to pull back support for an Israeli military attack on Iran.

Right-wing illegal Jewish settlers on the West Bank and east Jerusalem have launched terrorist attacks and vandalism against Palestinians whenever Israeli, Palestinian, or international action is taken against the Jewish settlement program. Those who launch the attacks are, for the most part, political allies of Netanyahu.

Netanyahu, who has been very vocal in his criticism of Obama and some in the Western media for not supporting an immediate Israeli attack on Iran, has denied he is trying to interfere in the U.S. presidential election by supporting Romney over Obama

However, a secretly taped video of Romney speaking to a group of wealthy Florida donors earlier this year provides ironclad proof of Netanyahu’s political connections to the Romney campaign. Romney told donors, «I have a very good team of extraordinarily experienced, highly successful consultants, a couple of people in particular who have done races around the world, I didn’t realize it. These guys in the U.S. – the Karl Rove equivalents – they do races all over the world: in Armenia, in Africa, in Israel. I mean, they work for Bibi Netanyahu in his race So they do these races and they see which ads work, and which processes work best, and we have ideas about what we do over the course of the campaign. I’d tell them to you, but I’d have to shoot you».

Manufacturing twin political crises: one over a controversial American and/or Israeli-made anti-Muslim film that resulted in the siege of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya and the deaths of four personnel, including the U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens, and a very tense Chinese-Japanese crisis over the disputed Diaoyu (as they are known in Chinese) or Senkaku (as they are known in Japanese) uninhabited islands in the East China Sea that could bring the U.S., via its treaty obligations with Japan, into a conflict with China, have rocked the Obama administration’s foreign policy… The appearance that Obama cannot handle dual world crises has played into the hands of Romney and his neo-conservative pro-Israeli advisers.

After another American president, Jimmy Carter, forced Israel into making concessions in concluding a peace treaty with Egypt in the Camp David Accords, Carter was faced with a 444-day siege of the U.S. embassy in Tehran in which 52 U.S. citizens were seen blind folded by their Iranian captors every night on American television. Carter’s response to the crisis led to attacks from the Ronald Reagan-George H W Bush campaign and Carter eventually lost the election to the more pro-Israeli Reagan. After the hostages were released at the very hour Reagan took the oath of office, it was soon revealed that members of the Reagan campaign, working through Israeli go-betweens, secretly negotiated with the Ayatollah Khomeini government to keep the hostages captive until after the November 1980 presidential election, which Carter lost in a landslide. 

Carter’s bitter lesson weighed heavily on successive American presidents who realized that to stand up to Israel was to sign their own political death warrant. Kow-towing to Israel was White House policy until President Obama’s term. And it is clear that in Obama’s case, he is experiencing a «price tag» attack for failing to acquiesce blindly to Netanyahu’s war plans.

Curiously, in his secretly-taped remarks to the deep-pocketed Republican funders, Romney discussed Carter’s problem in Iran with the hostage situation. In talking about the «Jimmy Carter election,» he postulated that the continued presence of the hostages and the failed U.S. rescue mission contributed to Carter’s defeat, adding «if something of that nature presents itself I will work to find a way to take advantage of the opportunity».

One person who helped expose Romney’s opportunistic plans was, ironically, James Carter IV, the grandson of President Carter, the researcher who helped break the Romney «secret video» story.

The YouTube release of the anti-Muslim film trailer, «The Innocence of Muslims,» which portrays the Prophet Mohammed in derogatory and unflattering terms, has definite Israeli and American Jewish involvement. Although the rabid Israel Lobby in the United States has worked overtime denying any Jewish involvement in the production of the film trailer that sparked violent anti-U.S. protests across the globe, there was an early claim by a man claiming to be a «Sam Bacile». alsoo spelled «Bassiel,» that he was an Israeli national and California real estate developer who was paid $5 million by 100 Jewish donors to produce the trailer and the film. 

Although a Coptic Christian Egyptian-American named Nakoula Basselley Nakoula later surfaced in some news reports as the actual producer and distributor of the film, another name surfaced in a report on the website Buzzfeed: Jimmy Israel, also a California real estate developer, whose web site, jimmyisrael.com, helped promote the film. The Netanyahu government would have every reason to use the Egyptian Copts in a «false flag» that would have the result of causing inter-religious warfare in Egypt, now governed by a Muslim Brotherhood administration led by President Mohammed Morsi. It has been the practice of successive Israeli governments to promote fratricide between Arabs as a method of taking attention off Israel’s brutal treatment of the Palestinians.

The remarks by Romney that he had the support of Karl Rove-like advisers to Netanyahu, his comparison of the elections of 1980 and 2012, and the sudden appearance of the anti-Islam film and its connections to Jewish «worthies» in California, point to a crisis manufactured by Netanyahu and his agenst of influence in the United States to benefit Romney.

Add to the crisis brought about by the anti-Muslim film the sudden onset of the Sino-Japanese war talk over some desolate islands, and one can only suspect outside interference designed to exacerbate global tensions. Just like the suspicious nature of the film, there are suspicious activities that have helped stoke the flames between China and Japan. 

Just as tempers were flaring over the disputed islands, Japan’s ambassador-designate to China, Shinichi Nishiyama, was found unconscious on a Tokyo street near his home. Three days later, Nishiyama was dead from «unknown causes». Prior to the suspicious death, amid angry and sometimes violent anti-Japanese protests throughout China, local «hooligans» tore off the Japanese flag from the car of the Japanese ambassador in Beijing, a move denounced by Chinese Foreign Ministry officials.

The crisis over the islands was followed by the sudden disappearance from public view of Chinese president-elect Xi Jinping, who is viewed as pro-China, and the rise in the political stock of Tokyo’s neo-imperialist Governor Shintaro Ishihara, who wanted to buy the Senkakus from its private owners. 

When the Japanese government cut off Ishihara’s plans by buying the islands and nationalizing them, the Chinese responded in anger. Ishihara, who has also been critical of the U.S. and wants to partially restore Japan’s militaristic policies, may soon have a powerful ally in his son, Nobutero Ishihara, his son who is vying for control of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, expected to sweep the next election. The elder Ishihara is the author of the anti-U.S. book, «Japan That Can Say No», which pushes a policy of independence from Washington, a policy that has resonance among Netanyahu and his government. 

There is a suspicion among some observers in China and Japan that «outside» interests played a part in Nishiyama’s death: with the suspect being Israel’s Mossad using local North Korean paid assassins. Active and retired Israeli security personnel have, for the past few years, worked closely with North Korean intelligence counterparts in matters of mutual interest. 

A two-front crisis in the Middle East and East Asia, just like the twin crises of the U.S. hostages in Tehran and the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan may be just what Romney had in mind when he spoke of «opportunities» from a «Jimmy Carter election» crisis.

US calls Julian Assange and WikiLeaks "enemies of the state"...

 Via SMH

THE US military has designated Julian Assange and WikiLeaks as enemies of the United States - the same legal category as the al-Qaeda terrorist network and the Taliban insurgency.

Declassified US Air Force counter-intelligence documents, released under US freedom-of-information laws, reveal that military personnel who contact WikiLeaks or WikiLeaks supporters may be at risk of being charged with "communicating with the enemy", a military crime that carries a maximum sentence of death.

The documents, some originally classified "Secret/NoForn" - not releasable to non-US nationals - record a probe by the air force's Office of Special Investigations into a cyber systems analyst based in Britain who allegedly expressed support for WikiLeaks and attended pro-Assange demonstrations in London.

The counter-intelligence investigation focused on whether the analyst, who had a top-secret security clearance and access to the US military's Secret Internet Protocol Router network, had disclosed classified or sensitive information to WikiLeaks supporters, described as an "anti-US and/or anti-military group".

The suspected offence was "communicating with the enemy, 104-D", an article in the US Uniform Code of Military Justice that prohibits military personnel from "communicating, corresponding or holding intercourse with the enemy".

The analyst's access to classified information was suspended. However, the investigators closed the case without laying charges. The analyst denied leaking information.

Mr Assange remains holed up in Ecuador's embassy in London. He was granted diplomatic asylum on the grounds that if extradited to Sweden to be questioned about sexual assault allegations, he would be at risk of extradition to the US to face espionage or conspiracy charges arising from the leaking of hundreds of thousands of secret US military and diplomatic reports.

US Vice-President Joe Biden labelled Mr Assange a "high-tech terrorist" in December 2010 and US congressional leaders have called for him to be charged with espionage.

Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee - both once involved in presidential campaigns - have both urged that Mr Assange be "hunted down".

Mr Assange's US attorney, Michael Ratner, said the designation of WikiLeaks as an "enemy" had serious implications for the WikiLeaks publisher if he were to be extradited to the US, including possible military detention.

US Army private Bradley Manning faces a court martial charged with aiding the enemy - identified as al-Qaeda - by transmitting information that, published by WikiLeaks, became available to the enemy.

Mr Ratner said that under US law it would most likely have been considered criminal for the US Air Force analyst to communicate classified material to journalists and publishers, but those journalists and publishers would not have been considered the enemy or prosecuted.

"However, in the FOI documents there is no allegation of any actual communication for publication that would aid an enemy of the United States such as al-Qaeda, nor are there allegations that WikiLeaks published such information," he said.

"Almost the entire set of documents is concerned with the analyst's communications with people close to and supporters of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, with the worry that she would disclose classified documents to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

"It appears that Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are the 'enemy'. An enemy is dealt with under the laws of war, which could include killing, capturing, detaining without trial, etc."

The Australian government has repeatedly denied knowledge of any US intention to charge Mr Assange or seek his extradition.

However, Australian diplomatic cables released to Fairfax Media under freedom-of-information laws over the past 18 months have confirmed the continuation of an "unprecedented" US Justice Department espionage investigation targeting Mr Assange and WikiLeaks.

The Australian diplomatic reports canvassed the possibility that the US may eventually seek Mr Assange's extradition on conspiracy or information-theft-related offences to avoid extradition problems arising from the nature of espionage as a political offence and the free-speech protections in the US constitution.

Mr Assange is scheduled this morning to speak by video link to a meeting on his asylum case on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The meeting will be attended by Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino.

In a separate FOI decision yesterday, the Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed that the release of Australian diplomatic cables about WikiLeaks and Mr Assange had been the subject of extensive consultation with the US.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

EPA faces lawsuit over conducting deadly experiments on human subjects...

 Via

The US Environmental Protection Agency and its Administrator Lisa Jackson are on the defendant’s end of a federal lawsuit claiming the Agency conducted illegal human experimentation on unsuspecting study volunteers.

The American Tradition Institute Environmental Law Center (ATI) issued a complaint against the Agency last Friday, stating it “failed to comply with laws controlling human experimentation” in studies that were apparently testing the effect of “fine particles” on human subjects who were “more susceptible to the effects of air pollutants,” in other words, participants who were already ill.

The EPA, and Jackson in her official capacity, are targeted in the lawsuit for knowingly “conducting experiments on humans that involved exposing those persons to toxic substances the Agency believes will cause death and which the Agency therefore regulates under the auspices of the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S. C. Chapter 85.”

A statement regarding ATI’s complaint reveals toxic particulate matter, known as PM2.5, was pumped into a gas chamber-like enclosure via an intake pipe located outside the building where diesel exhaust from a parked, idled truck was channeled into the building where the experiments took place.

The ATI’s lead counsel and director, David W. Schnare, contends that “under EPA regulations and under EPA policy, this human experimentation is strictly prohibited.” He also argues that the experiment’s participants were not properly informed of the type of pollution they would be inhaling, and that the study researchers blatantly disregarded the known toxicity of PM2.5.

Dr. Schnare has direct insider knowledge of the workings of the EPA, having been employed by the Agency for 33 years as a scientist, policy analyst and enforcement attorney.

“EPA actually has pictures of this gas chamber, a clear plastic pipe stuck into the mouth of a subject, his lips sealing it to his face, diesel fumes inhaled straight into the lungs,” Schnare states.

Schnare feels it his obligation to expose the EPA’s experiments as members of his own family were unwilling participants of experimentation conducted at the Buchenwald concentration camp in 1945. Recalling the horrors of the Nazi experiments, he says it is his duty to challenge the EPA’s “misanthropic activities.”

Below is the summary experiment participants received which gives no indication of the lethal nature of PM2.5.



Despite the EPA’s administrator Lisa Jackson testifying to congress that “Particulate matter causes premature death,” and herself even telling congress in September 2011 that “1 in 4 US deaths are attributable to PM2.5,” the senseless study was allowed to proceed.
The suit seeks to immediately put a halt to the experiments and any similar ones, for the EPA to declare that it did not provide sufficient information to victims, to cease expenditures for the study, to suspend the use of the UNC Medical IRB unit, to prohibit results from the study to be used by the EPA and to suspend the addition of new rules under the Clean Air Act to control fine particulate matter until it is known that none of the results of the study were used.

Infowars has exhaustively documented the US government’s covert public experimentation for quite some time.

Last year, we covered a 1977 Senate hearing on Health and Scientific Research confirming “that 239 populated areas had been contaminated with biological agents between 1949 and 1969, including San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Key West, Panama City, Minneapolis, and St. Louis.”

“From the 1950′s onwards, the U.S. government deliberately engaged in open air tests, spraying major cities like San Francisco and New York with Serratia marcescens and Bacillus glogigii. In 1955, the CIA also released a bacteria withdrawn from the Army’s biological warfare arsenal over Tampa Bay, Fl in order to test its ability to infect human populations with biological agents,” Paul Watson wrote.

In 2010, the US government was forced to issue an apology after it was revealed that, in the 40s, 700 people in Guatemala were intentionally infected with sexually transmitted diseases.

In May, the DHS used the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s Boston subway system to release a “dead” bacteria called B-subtilis under the pretense of testing its biological sensors.

As recent as yesterday, we covered a report put out by KSDK centered on Cold War experimentation conducted on the population of St. Louis and various other cities during the 50s and 60s testing the effects of zinc cadmium sulfide, a known toxic substance, on unsuspecting citizens.

Think-tank lobbyist suggests ways to get US to go to war with Iran (Video)

Via

Black-tie activists crash HMRC boss' retirement party (Video)

 Via

HMRC boss Dave Hartnett is the man responsible for cutting dodgy deals with Vodafone, Goldman Sachs and other large corporations that have cost the taxpayer billions in lost revenue.

When we discovered that he was making his retirement speech at an elite tax avoidance conference, we couldn't resist popping in. We donned our best Goldman Sachs and Vodafone costumes, bought some flowers and knocked up a fake award. This is what happened...



Sunday, September 23, 2012

Why didn't CNN's international arm air its own documentary on Bahrain's Arab Spring repression?

Via

In late March 2011, as the Arab Spring was spreading, CNN sent a four-person crew to Bahrain to produce a one-hour documentary on the use of internet technologies and social media by democracy activists in the region. Featuring on-air investigative correspondent Amber Lyon, the CNN team had a very eventful eight-day stay in that small, US-backed kingdom.

By the time the CNN crew arrived, many of the sources who had agreed to speak to them were either in hiding or had disappeared. Regime opponents whom they interviewed suffered recriminations, as did ordinary citizens who worked with them as fixers. Leading human rights activist Nabeel Rajab was charged with crimes shortly after speaking to the CNN team. A doctor who gave the crew a tour of his village and arranged meetings with government opponents, Saeed Ayyad, had his house burned to the ground shortly after. Their local fixer was fired ten days after working with them.

The CNN crew itself was violently detained by regime agents in front of Rajab's house. As they described it after returning to the US, "20 heavily-armed men", whose faces were "covered with black ski masks", "jumped from military vehicles", and then "pointed machine guns at" the journalists, forcing them to the ground. The regime's security forces seized their cameras and deleted their photos and video footage, and then detained and interrogated them for the next six hours.

Lyon's experience both shocked and emboldened her. The morning after her detention, newspapers in Bahrain prominently featured articles about the incident containing what she said were "outright fabrications" from the government. "It made clear just how willing the regime is to lie," she told me in a phone interview last week.

But she also resolved to expose just how abusive and thuggish the regime had become in attempting to snuff out the burgeoning democracy movement, along with any negative coverage of the government.

"I realized there was a correlation between the amount of media attention activists receive and the regime's ability to harm them, so I felt an obligation to show the world what our sources, who risked their lives to talk to us, were facing."

CNN's total cost for the documentary, ultimately titled "iRevolution: Online Warriors of the Arab Spring", was in excess of $100,000, an unusually high amount for a one-hour program of this type. The portion Lyon and her team produced on Bahrain ended up as a 13-minute segment in the documentary. That segment, which as of now is available on YouTube, is a hard-hitting and unflinching piece of reporting that depicts the regime in a very negative light.

In the segment, Lyon interviewed activists as they explicitly described their torture at the hands of government forces, while family members recounted their relatives' abrupt disappearances. She spoke with government officials justifying the imprisonment of activists. And the segment featured harrowing video footage of regime forces shooting unarmed demonstrators, along with the mass arrests of peaceful protesters. In sum, the early 2011 CNN segment on Bahrain presented one of the starkest reports to date of the brutal repression embraced by the US-backed regime.


On 19 June 2011 at 8pm, CNN's domestic outlet in the US aired "iRevolution" for the first and only time. The program received prestigious journalism awards, including a 2012 Gold Medal from New York Festival's Best TV and Films. Lyon, along with her segment producer Taryn Fixel, were named as finalists for the 2011 Livingston Awards for Young Journalists. A Facebook page created by Bahraini activists, entitled "Thank you Amber Lyon, CNN reporter From people of Bahrain", received more than 8,000 "likes".

Despite these accolades, and despite the dangers their own journalists and their sources endured to produce it, CNN International (CNNi) never broadcast the documentary. Even in the face of numerous inquiries and complaints from their own employees inside CNN, it continued to refuse to broadcast the program or even provide any explanation for the decision. To date, this documentary has never aired on CNNi.

CNNi's refusal to broadcast 'iRevolution'

It is CNN International that is, by far, the most-watched English-speaking news outlet in the Middle East. By refusing to broadcast "iRevolution", the network's executives ensured it was never seen on television by Bahrainis or anyone else in the region.

CNNi's decision not to broadcast "iRevolution" was extremely unusual. Both CNN and CNNi have had severe budget constraints imposed on them over the last several years. One long-time CNN employee (to whom I have granted anonymity to avoid repercussions for negative statements about CNN's management) described "iRevolution" as an "expensive, highly produced international story about the Arab Spring". Because the documentary was already paid for by CNN, it would have been "free programming" for CNNi to broadcast, making it "highly unusual not to air it". The documentary "was made with an international audience as our target", said Lyon. None of it was produced on US soil. And its subject matter was squarely within the crux of CNN International's brand.

CNNi's refusal to broadcast "iRevolution" soon took on the status of a mini-scandal among its producers and reporters, who began pushing Lyon to speak up about this decision. In June 2011, one long-time CNN news executive emailed Lyon:

"Why would CNNi not run a documentary on the Arab Spring, arguably the the biggest story of the decade? Strange, no?"

Motivated by the concerns expressed by long-time CNN journalists, Lyon requested a meeting with CNNi's president, Tony Maddox, to discuss the refusal to broadcast the documentary. On 24 June 2011, she met with Maddox, who vowed to find out and advise her of the reasons for its non-airing. He never did.

In a second meeting with Maddox, which she had requested in early December to follow up on her unanswered inquiry, Lyon was still given no answers. Instead, at that meeting, Maddox, according to Lyon, went on the offense, sternly warning her not to speak publicly about this matter. Several times, Maddox questioned her about this 18 November 2011 tweet by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, demanding to know what prompted it.

When I asked CNN to comment on Maddox's meetings with Lyon, they declined to respond on specific details and said he was not available for interview. Instead, they made the following statement:


"The documentary 'iRevolution' was commissioned for CNN US. While the programme did not air in full on CNN International, segments of it were shown. This differing use of content is normal across our platforms, and such decisions are taken for purely editorial reasons. CNN International has run more than 120 stories on Bahrain over the past six months, a large number of which were critical in tone and all of which meet the highest journalistic standards."

Despite Lyon's being stonewalled by CNNi, she said facts began emerging that shined considerable light on the relationship between the regime in Bahrain and CNNi when it came to "iRevolution". Upon returning from Bahrain in April, Lyon appeared on CNN several times to recount her own detention by security forces and to report on ongoing brutality by the regime against its own citizens, even including doctors and nurses providing medical aid to protesters. She said she did not want to wait for the documentary's release to alert the world to what was taking place.

In response, according to both the above-cited CNN employee and Lyon, the regime's press officers complained repeatedly to CNNi about Lyon generally and specifically her reporting for "iRevolution". In April, a senior producer emailed her to say:

"We are dealing with blowback from Bahrain govt on how we violated our mission, etc."

"It became a standard joke around the office: the Bahrainis called to complain about you again," recounted Lyon. Lyon was also told by CNN employees stationed in the region that "the Bahrainis also sent delegations to our Abu Dhabi bureau to discuss the coverage."

Internal CNN emails reflect continuous pressure on Lyon and others to include claims from the Bahraini regime about the violence in their country – even when, says Lyon, she knew first-hand that the claims were false. One April 2011 email to Lyon from a CNN producer demands that she include in her documentary a line stating that "Bahrain's foreign minister says security forces are not firing on unarmed civilians," and another line describing regime claims accusing "activists like Nabeel Rajab of doctoring photos … fabricating injuries".

Having just returned from Bahrain, Lyon says she "saw first-hand that these regime claims were lies, and I couldn't believe CNN was making me put what I knew to be government lies into my reporting."

Bahrain's PR offensive

As negative news stories of its brutal repression grew in the wake of the Arab Spring, the regime undertook a massive, very well-funded PR campaign to improve its image. As reported by Bahrain Watch, the regime has spent more than $32m in PR fees alone since the commencement of the Arab Spring in February, 2011, including payments to some of Washington, DC's most well-connected firms and long-time political operatives, such as former Howard Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi.

One of the largest contracts the regime had was with the DC-based PR firm Qorvis Communications. As Time reported last November, the firm, which also does extensive PR work for Bahrain's close allies, the Saudi regime, "has a branch dedicated to rehabilitating the reputation of unsavory governments, a niche practice that has seen great demand in the wake of the Arab spring".

Qorvis often led the way in complaining to CNNi about its Bahrain coverage. An internal email from CNN at the beginning of 2012, seen by the Guardian, records the firm's calling to complain about excessively favorable mentions of Nabeel Rajab, who had been arrested and charged over an anti-regime tweet, and was just this month sentenced to three years in prison for an "illegal demonstration".

The long-time CNN employee said that "iRevolution" was vetted far more heavily than the typical documentary:

"Because Amber was relatively new in reporting on the region, and especially because of the vocal complaints from the Bahrainis, the documentary was heavily scrutinized. But nobody could ever point to anything factually or journalistically questionable in Amber's reporting on Bahrain."

In response to several inquiries, Bahrain's Information Affairs Authority refused to say whether they had complained to CNNi about Lyon and "iRevolution". A spokesman, Fahad A AlBinali, instead offered only a generic statement that "on occasion we contact media outlets to provide correct information or a balanced view of the subject," and, he claimed, when doing so, they are simply trying "to help ensure that coverage of Bahrain is accurate and unbiased". Subsequent attempts to obtain specific answers from the authority about the regime's complaints to CNNi about "iRevolution" and Lyon went unanswered.

After Lyon's crew returned from Bahrain, CNN had no correspondents regularly reporting on the escalating violence. In emails to her producers and executives, Lyon repeatedly asked to return to Bahrain. Her requests were denied, and she was never sent back. She thus resorted to improvising coverage by interviewing activists via Skype in an attempt, she said, "to keep Bahrain in the news".

In March 2012, Lyon was laid off from CNN as part of an unrelated move by the network to outsource its investigative documentaries. Now at work on a book, Lyon began in August to make reference to "iRevolution" on her Twitter account, followed by more than 20,000 people.

On 16 August, Lyon wrote three tweets about this episode. CNNi's refusal to broadcast "iRevolution", she wrote, "baffled producers". Linking to the YouTube clip of the Bahrain segment, she added that the "censorship was devastating to my crew and activists who risked lives to tell [the] story." She posted a picture of herself with Rajab and wrote:

"A proponent of peace, @nabeelrajab risked his safety to show me how the regime oppresses the [people] of #Bahrain."

The following day, a representative of CNN's business affairs office called Lyon's acting agent, George Arquilla of Octagon Entertainment, and threatened that her severance payments and insurance benefits would be immediately terminated if she ever again spoke publicly about this matter, or spoke negatively about CNN.

When I asked CNN specifically about this alleged threat delivered to Lyon's agent, the company declined to confirm or deny it, commenting:

"In common with other companies we do not discuss internal personnel matters."

Responding to Lyon's charge of censorship, CNN's spokesman replied:

"CNN International has a proud record of courageous, independent and honest reporting from around the world. Any suggestion that the network's relationship with any country has influenced our reporting is wholly and demonstrably wrong."

It is true that CNNi can point to numerous recent reports describing the violence against protesters by the regime in Bahrain. Given the scope of the violence, and how widely it has now been reported elsewhere, it would be virtually impossible for CNNi never to broadcast such reports while still maintaining any claim to credibility. But such reports required far more journalistic courage to air in the first half of 2011, when so few knew of the brutality to which the regime had resorted, than now, when it is widely known. Moreover, CNNi's reports on the violence in Bahrain take a much more muted tone than when it reports on regimes disfavored by the US, such as Iran or Syria.

More importantly, the tidal wave of CNNi's partnerships and associations with the regime in Bahrain, and the hagiography it has broadcast about it (see the accompanying commentary on the relationship between the network and the regime), appear to have overwhelmed any truly critical coverage.

But CNN's threat had the opposite effect to what was intended. Lyon insists she never signed any confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement with CNN in any case, but she is sanguine about any risk to her severance package. "At this point," Lyon said, "I look at those payments as dirty money to stay silent. I got into journalism to expose, not help conceal, wrongdoing, and I'm not willing to keep quiet about this any longer, even if it means I'll lose those payments."





Saturday, September 22, 2012

Anti-Islam film aims to force Obama support Israel attack on Iran...


 
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has wished all his life for a final war between his form of Zionism and Islam, with Christians being used as dupes by the Zionists to advance the Israeli cause. This final battle between the Jewish God Jehovah and the Muslim God Allah is Netanyahu’s Gotterdammerung.

The release of the anti-Muslim film, Innocence of Muslims, has right-wing Jewish fingerprints all over it. The film’s issuance and the failure of YouTube to pull it down in the same manner that a number of anti-Semitic videos have been blocked, is but one of many operations planned by Netanyahu and his sayanim and hasbara intelligence and psychological warfare operatives around the world to: 1) create a crisis to help defeat US President Barack Obama and install Netanyahu’s old Boston Consulting Group friend Mitt Romney in the White House; 2) seek the deaths of American government or civilians abroad to portray Muslims as killers of Americans (the deaths of four US diplomatic personnel in Benghazi, Libya, including US ambassador Christopher Stevens, as a result of protests over the film, was “mission accomplished” for Netanyahu); and 3) play into the fears of right-wing Americans who believe President Obama is a secret Muslim, a maneuver that saw Romney call Obama’s reaction to the deaths of the four US embassy personnel in Benghazi weak.

Netanyahu, who has been very vocal in his criticism of Obama and some in the Western media for not supporting an immediate Israeli attack on Iran, has denied he is trying to interfere in the US presidential election by supporting Romney over Obama. 

Although the Israeli-influenced US corporate media worked overtime trying to distance from early reports that the anti-Muslim film was funded by 100 Jewish donors and involved an Israeli national named Sam Bacile, the attempt to place blame on Egyptian-American Christian Copts began to fall flat in the face of continued evidence of Israeli involvement in the production of the video, which even involved Southern California’s heterosexual and homosexual pornographic movie industry, an industry dominated by American and Israeli Jews.

There has clearly been attempt by Netanyahu and his propagandists to transform Obama into a Jimmy Carter, a president beset by besieged American embassies, who is unable to handle crises in Muslim countries. Carter was defeated in the 1980 election by Ronald Reagan because of a concerted effort to paint him as weak during the 444-day occupation by [Iranian] revolutionary students of the US embassy in Tehran.

The plot to embarrass Obama was revealed in a secretly taped video of Romney speaking to a group of wealthy and mainly Jewish Florida donors earlier this year. Romney’s comments provide ironclad proof of Netanyahu’s political connections to the Romney campaign. Romney told donors, “I have a very good team of extraordinarily experienced, highly successful consultants, a couple of people in particular who have done races around the world, I didn’t realize it. These guys in the US - the Karl Rove equivalents - they do races all over the world: in Armenia, in Africa, in Israel. I mean, they work for Bibi Netanyahu in his race. So, they do these races and they see which ads work, and which processes work best, and we have ideas about what we do over the course of the campaign. I’d tell them to you, but I’d have to shoot you.”

Romney’s secret speech also included anti-black and anti-Hispanic remarks, which puts Romney on an ideological plane with Netanyahu, who has been busy rounding up black Sudanese and other African immigrants in Israel and deporting them back to Africa. Netanyahu’s racism is not a product of Israel but was honed as a young man growing up in the northeast part of Philadelphia where the biggest racial issue was the “darkies” (the term used by Jews to describe African-Americans from north Philadelphia moving into Jewish neighborhoods in northeast Philadelphia and Netanyahu’s hometown of Cheltenham on the other side of the Philadelphia city line).

The release of the anti-Muslim video is supplemented by a campaign to run anti-Muslim and anti-Arab advertisements on buses in San Francisco and trains in New York City by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, an organization operated by noted anti-Arab and anti-Muslim Jewish racist Pam Geller. In addition, there are plans by the pro-Zionist French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to publish cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).
 


Innocence of Muslims, the racist ads in San Francisco and New York, and the reappearance of blasphemous anti-Muslim cartoons in France, are all part of a campaign by Netanyahu and his old friend Romney to box Obama into a corner and make him appear weak against rioting Muslims endangering Americans abroad.

The end game for Netanyahu is to force Obama into supporting an Israeli military attack on Iran or be replaced by Romney who has signed on to every one of Netanyahu’s positions, from scrapping the two-state solution of Israel and Palestine to attacking Iran.

Netanyahu’s right-wing extremism risks plunging the world into regional and global war, a situation that will see Netanyahu’s dreams of the final battle between Jehovah and Allah come to fruition.
 
 

Israel PM to run ad spot speaking on "Iran threat" in US...

 Via

Bibi Netanyahu is not running a campaign in the US - it just looks that way in this new ad.

A spot featuring only the Israeli prime minister talking about Iran is set to hit the airwaves in select Florida markets tomorrow, a media tracking source confirms.

The spot is the work of a c4 called Secure America Now - which, thanks to its tax status, doesn't have to disclose its donors.

A Republican involved with the project said its airing in Miami, West Palm Beach and Ft. Myers. The flight is ultimately going to be $1 million, the official said - a media-tracking source said about $400,000 has been placed so far.

Those markets house some of the state's largest Jewish communities.

The spot comes just after Netanyahu, who all but endorsed Mitt Romney in Israel in July, appeared on "Meet the Press" and distanced himself a bit from the GOP candidate's criticisms of President Obama, but also discussed Israel's concern about a nuclear Iran.

The pollster for Secure America Now is John McLaughlin, who has worked with Netanyahu's Likud Party.

Jerry Sandusky was involved in tri-state child porn ring...

 Via HP

Jerry Sandusky was involved in a tri-state child porn ring and helped a now deceased youth football school coach arrange to have sex with a child prostitute, according to a newly released email.

Sandusky is expected to spend the rest of his life in jail after being convicted of 45 counts of sex abuse.

The New York Daily News reports that on Monday, Greg Bucceroni, a self-described former child prostitute, sent an email to officials at Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn.

In the message, Bucceroni said he was associated with a child sex ring that included Sandusky and former Poly Prep football coach Phil Foglietta. The email said that, in 1979, Bucceroni was originally expected to have sex with Sandusky, but, because of time constraints, he was introduced to Foglietta instead.

From the email:

Foglietta was introduced to us as Coach Phil who coached youth football in NYC. Foglietta agreed to pay $200.00 for child sex and followed us back to a Philadelphia hotel, myself (sic)ad another child prostitute then engaged coach Phil in child sex.”

Twelve alumni of Poly Prep have filed a lawsuit against the school, claiming they were raped and abused by Foglietta, the Wall Street Journal reports. The suit claims school officials knew about Foglietta's crimes and covered them up, "continuing to publicly celebrate Mr. Foglietta as an upstanding member of the school."

The Atlantic points out that the feds are already investigating whether Sandusky may have shared child porn with others.

It's unclear whether the suspected child porn ring being investigated by the feds is the same as the one mentioned by Bucceroni.


Rockefeller global tentacles exposed in 1959 by the Soviet Union...

 Via SC

The Rockefeller global oil and banking empire has been the subject of much critical commentary on the Internet. However, the Rockefeller Octopus’s tentacles into every facet of America’s banking, oil (through their control of Standard Oil), military, educational, and foreign policy apparatus was exposed in a monograph prepared by the Soviet Union in 1959. An English translation of the Soviet article prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency’s Foreign Documents Division and dated December 16, 1959, was uncovered from the CIA’s archives. The paper is titled: “About Those Who Are Against Peace.”

The arguments in the Soviet paper generally concur with President Dwight Eisenhower’s Farewell Address to the American people shortly before the inauguration of President Kennedy in January 1961. In his speech, Eisenhower warned the American people about the dangers posed to America’s democracy by the “military-industrial complex.”

There is nothing in the Soviet paper that rings false about the Rockefellers… The oligarchic family has exercised control over America’s foreign policy through their part-sponsorship of the Council on Foreign Relations, Trilateral Commission, and Bilderberg Group – all three shadowy organizations of the world’s elite class who determine monetary, foreign, and military policies behind closed doors. Rockefeller funding of Columbia University and the University of Chicago have helped inflict on the United States some of the most brazen neo-conservatives serving inside and outside of government.

The paper states “In 1957, the Rockefeller oligarchy of American oil industrialists controlled a capital of 61.4 billion dollars. The precise size of the Rockefeller fortune is a state secret in America: the American press noted at one time that special measures are taken so that data concerning the largest fortunes of the U.S. are not published.”

Fifty-three years later, the fortunes of America’s elite are still secret as can be seen with the secrecy surrounding Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s taxes and his offshore financial holdings in such locations as the Cayman Islands, Switzerland, Bermuda, and, according to some reports, the British Virgin Islands.

But the Rockefellers wrote the book on hiding their immense fortune in corporate contrivances and secret bank accounts, an easy task considering they own Chase Manhattan Bank, which is now known as J P Morgan Chase.

The Soviet article also exposed the Rockefellers’ much-ballyhooed “philanthropy” and “work ethic.” The article revealed: “The Rockefellers do not buy yachts worth many millions, like the Vanderbilt magnates; they do not install doorknobs and water fountains of pure gold in their palaces. But love for luxury is not alien to them. The play house where the children of the Rockefellers frolic cost a half million dollars. Bourgeois newspapers, willingly ‘forgetting’ about such ‘trifles,’ relate with tears of sympathy how the children of the billionaires earn pocket money by raising rabbits, cleaning boots, and even destroying flies at ten cents per hundred.”

Today, the successors of the same “bourgeois” media of 1959 prattle on about how Mitt and Ann Romney had it so “tough” after graduating from college. CNN’s Anderson Cooper, the son of billionaire heiress Gloria Vanderbilt, goes on about how tough it was for him to break into the news media, as if his mother had nothing to do with his rapid ascension in the corporate media.

The Soviet paper paints a picture of the Rockefellers that is similar to today’s Romney family: “The people want to know the truth. And the truth about the wealth of the Rockefellers consists of dark deeds, thousands of ruined families, hundreds of thousands of workers in many countries of the world tormented by work beyond their strength. The truth is the concealed history of many wars – it is oil stained with blood.” Of course, today the same can be said about the Rockefeller-linked Bush family, as well as Dick Cheney, George Soros, Rupert Murdoch, and the Rothschild family.

The article identifies the Rockefeller clan members in 1959: “John D. Rockefeller II does not direct his wide empire alone. He has five sons – John D. III, Laurance, David, Winthrop, and Nelson. They are all large capitalists. Each has his role, his department. Only Winthrop has not become famous for anything, unless one counts a scandalous divorce.” In fact, Winthrop became famous later when he was elected governor of Arkansas in 1966. His brother Nelson had served as Governor of New York since 1959.

David is the only survivor among John D. II’s sons and he has been a major player in secret organizations like the Bilderbergs and Trilateralists. David Rockefeller’s off demeanor is described in the Soviet article: “The bourgeois press advertises him as the owner of the best collection of insects in the world, and as possessing extremely gentlemanly manners. But when he enters the office of the bank [Chase Manhattan] and the steel doors close behind his back, the lover of butterflies turns into a greedy seeker after dollars. The hired biographers have every basis for calling him ‘the personification of the virtues of Wall Street.’”

Nelson Rockefeller, who, in 1975, would have become President of the United States had two attempted assassins’ bullets hit their target – President Gerald Ford – is recognized in the Soviet article for his scheming in Latin America, scheming that was supplemented by Richard Nixon and Ford Secretary of State and Rockefeller consigliore Henry Kissinger. The article states: “The Rockefellers have long nourished an irresistible attraction for the countries in Latin America: the provocatory smell of oil reaches them from the South American continent. Therefore, Nelson Rockefeller, who had long been trying to turn South America into his family estate, was at one time placed at the head of the so-called “Bureau of Inter-American Affairs.”

The article quotes the left-wing newspaper the Daily Compass, which once published the muckraking columns of investigative journalist I. F. Stone, in describing the Rockefellers’ stranglehold over the U.S. State Department: “The policy of the State Department is born in the offices of Standard Oil. From there it is transmitted to the Department of Defense, where the heads of the Army and Navy approve it. When this policy gets to the State Department, it becomes the policy of the government and is supposed to be confirmed by Congress quickly and without any changes whatever. When an order for laws designed to protect the interests of the oil kings comes from the Rockefeller dynasty itself, the entire Congress – from the small to the great – comes to ‘attention’ and does what the bosses order it to do.”

Considering the recent U.S. and NATO intervention in Libya and Syria, countries where oil is key, little has changed in how U.S. foreign and war policy is manufactured.

The Rockefellers ties to the CIA and Israel’s Mossad are also laid out in the Soviet monograph. The article reveals that the Rockefellers supplied a U.S. intelligence “cut out” – the School of Eastern Studies in Jerusalem – with money from the Arabian-American oil company (ARAMCO). The school, which operated with the full knowledge of the Mossad, trained American officers to conduct espionage throughout the Middle East.

There was a time when the U.S. government and the corporate (bourgeois) press dismissed such articles as the Soviet monograph on the Rockefellers as pure propaganda. In retrospect, the Soviet authors of the article understood in 1959 what many Americans have come late to fathoming: that the United States is being destroyed by a mega-wealthy elite intent on preying on the United States like a swarm of locusts.

USAID kicked out of Russia...

 Via

The United States said Tuesday it is ending the U.S. Agency for International Development's operations in Russia after a Kremlin demand that the aid organization leave the country, dealing a blow to President Barack Obama's policy of "resetting" relations between Washington and Moscow.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters that Russia sent a letter last week saying it didn't need Washington's help anymore. She didn't cite a political reason for the closure, but President Vladimir Putin has long complained about U.S. democracy and human rights promotion efforts.

The aid agency has worked in Russia since the Soviet Union's collapse 20 years ago, promoting what it says is "a more open and innovative society and a strengthened partnership between Russia and the United States" and spending some $2.7 billion. It planned $50 million in programs this year.

"We are extremely proud of what USAID has accomplished in Russia over the past two decades," Nuland said. "While USAID's physical presence in Russia will come to an end, we remain committed to supporting democracy, human rights, and the development of a more robust civil society in Russia."

Nuland didn't criticize Russia for its action. But she said the money went to a wide variety of initiatives, such as fighting AIDS and tuberculosis, helping orphans and victims of trafficking, and improving the protection of wildlife and the environment. About 60 percent of annual funds go to governance, human rights and democracy programs.

"It is our hope that Russia will now itself assume full responsibility and take forward all of this work," she said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry declined to comment.

The end of USAID's Russia work is the latest setback in the U.S.-Russia relationship, which has included bitter disagreements on issues from missile defense to ending Syria's civil war. That has led to criticism from Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and others about the merits of the Obama administration's much-touted effort to patch up relations with the Kremlin, which yielded an agreement last year to reduce the U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons arsenals.

The Russian decision is "an insult to the United States and a finger in the eye of the Obama administration, which has consistently trumpeted the alleged success of its so-called 'reset' policy toward Moscow," said Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain. He said it was essential to pass a bill under consideration that is named after lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Russian prison amid torture allegations three years ago, and would link trade benefits to Russia with sanctions against Russian government officials responsible for human rights violations.

The U.S.-based human rights group Freedom House said Russia's deadline for USAID to cease activities is Oct. 1, but Nuland didn't say when the agency would pull out completely from Russia. It employs 13 Americans in Russia and about 60 local staffers.

While no new contracting is taking place, Nuland said officials wanted to "wind these programs down responsibly." That includes looking for ways to continue working with Russian nongovernmental organizations to safeguard programs that "a lot of Russians are dependent on," she said.

USAID's ordered departure comes amid a broader crackdown on Russian civil society groups after fraud-tainted parliamentary election last year prompted massive anti-government protests. Putin blamed Washington for trying to destabilize Russia and accused Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for signaling the start of demonstrations.

NGOs receiving foreign funding and engaging in political activity must now register as "foreign agents," which is likely to undermine their credibility among Russians. Another law sharply increases the punishment for taking part in an unauthorized protest rallies. State television has denounced the country's only independent election-monitoring body, Golos.

Closing the USAID office "is an unfriendly move toward the U.S.," said Grigory Melkonyants, the deputy director of Golos, which gets most of its funding from the U.S. He criticized the Kremlin's "paranoia and nervousness" and "inability to understand the reasons behind serious public discontent. They are looking elsewhere for culprits and think it's rooted in the American funding."

Putin and his circle have long exploited suspicion of foreign involvement in the country, but he has stepped up the campaign over the last year. Although he returned as president in May, he is under increasing criticism in Russian society and even in the once-submissive parliament.


Associated Press writer Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report.

Enemy at the gait: New cameras identify you by your walk

 Via RT

A new biometric “gait recognition” system has been developed by Britain’s National Physical Laboratory, meaning that individuals can now be recognized and located by their “signature” walk.

­Serious privacy concerns have been aired about the system and its potential surveillance applications.

New Scientist reports that NPL, which collaborated with the Center for Advanced Software Technology (CAST), the BBC and BAE Systems, developed a new system through which a person’s walk could be identified. The tracking system combines a computer model of the NPL building with feeds from each on-site CCTV camera.

In each video frame, the system separates an individual’s silhouette from its background. The rise and fall of head height is recorded, and the pattern it forms can be represented by a set of numbers. This is linked to the person’s identity. A computer can then produce a list of all the other places that the person has visited, and the occasions they have been there.

Iris scans and facial recognition systems are seen as insufficient when it comes to identifying individuals from a longer distance. These methods require a “cooperative subject” and high-quality imaging. Standard CCTV is too low-resolution to pick out distinctive features, but the gait-identifying development could give it much more advanced surveillance capabilities.

“This technology poses a real threat to privacy and in the coming years it will be used for marketing purposes as well as supposed public safety. 

Personal data goes far beyond writing down your name and address now and the law urgently needs revising to reflect this,” Nick Pickles, director of the UK’s Big Brother Watch told RT.

Simultaneous research has been carried out by Professor Martin Hofmann and colleagues at the Technical University of Munich. They have developed an even more intrusive version that takes information from a person's image, such as shadows on their clothing, creating a considerably more detailed “signature”.

Additionally, Professor Daigo Muramatsu and colleagues at Osaka University have been conducting research on how people can be identified from different camera angles. He believes the research could also have “commercial applications,” according to New Scientist.

Hoffman suggested that it could be used to identify bank robbers who had their faces covered.

However, Nick Pickles stated, “Rather than finding new ways to identify innocent people, we should be asking why mass surveillance has failed to make people any safer.”

Earlier this month RT reported the FBI’s installation of the $1-billion Next Generation Identification system, which is able to recognize faces, across America. This is an “upgrade” to the current Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System, and already has incredible surveillance capabilities over the innocent as well as guilty.

Anti-Islamic ads to hit NYC subways...

 Via RT

Anti-Islamic advertisements will go up across New York City’s subway system next week after a federal judge ruled that the city’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority could not legally refuse to host the signs on the basis of "demeaning" language.

As early as next Monday, ten NYC subway stations will showcase adverts declaring, "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad." The campaign was created by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), an organization considered a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center watch group.

Pamela Geller, the executive director of the AFDI, stands by her signage despite rampant complaints circulating before the campaign has even begun.

"I will not abridge my freedoms so as not to offend savages,” Geller tells Sky News.

Geller has long advocated against so-called "Islamist propaganda" in America and has campaigned in the past to call for the shutting down of a Washington, DC museum exhibit that highlighted Muslim contributions to science. The installation was declared "Best Touring Exhibit" by the Museum Heritage Awards in 2011, but Geller claimed "It has indoctrinated hundreds of thousands of children into a rosy and romanticized view of Islam that makes them less appreciative of their own culture’s achievements and more complacent about Islamization in the West.”

For her overt actions waged against Islamic culture, the pro-Israel Anti-Defamation League has said Geller "fuels and fosters anti-Muslim bigotry in society." 

Those ideals will be brought to New York subway stations next week despite a legal battle that ended in July with a Manhattan federal judge agreeing that the First Amendment allowed Geller to have her ads run in the metro system.

"I live in America and in America we have the first amendment,” Geller tells Sky News.

Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American Islamic Relations, responded to the outlet by condemning Geller’s actions, but agreeing with the federal judge’s decision regardless.

"Our basic position is that the first amendment means that everyone is free to be a bigot or even an idiot like Pamela Geller,” Hooper tells Sky. "We wish she wasn't provoking and inciting hatred, but in America that's her right."

"We encourage Muslims to exercise the same right to publicly denounce such adverts. The real danger is the spread of hatred in our society, which can lead to attacks on innocent people."

On the website for the AFDI, Geller critiques a journalist who has labeled her efforts as anti-Muslim, insisting that such a label “implies that every Muslim is a jihadi who wants to impose sharia and ‘eliminate and destroy Western civilization from within and sabotage its miserable house.’”

Defending her advertisements to KQED News last month, Geller said it was right to refer to Islamic worshipers as “savage,” because “any targeting of innocent civilians is savagery.”

“Mothers and children on a bus are targeted, and that is savagery. Kidnapping and murdering is savagery. The U.S. does not conduct war that way, and neither does Israel. Now, there is sometimes the accidental death of civilians, which is far different than the targeting of innocent civilians," she said.

Previously, Geller told Huffington Post of her ads, “If I had my way, they'd be in every city in the United States of America and if I can get the funding, that's exactly what's going to happen.”

She has successfully campaigned to have the adverts included in San Francisco and is all but certain to expand to New York in the coming days. In California, San Francisco’s transit authority promised to donate the $3,400 Geller spent on advertising fees to the Human Rights Commission.

Mitt Romney's "Pinochet moment"...

Via MC

America's eyes are currently riveted on the twisted steel strewn around the site of the train wreck of plutocrat-turned politician Mitt Romney's campaign. But other news this week points up the fact that—while inept politicians representing the parasitic rich come and go—the one constant in our national civic life remains America's endless drug war. Like the 'dude' in The Big Lebowski, the drug war abides. An under-publicized statement by Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney last week underlines how important this drug war-drug trade combine really is to the political elite of both major parties. Speaking about US policy towards Honduras, Romney accused President Obama of backing a "pro-Marxist" leader in Honduras, faulting him for not more quickly and enthusiastically supporting the military coup in 2009 that deposed the elected President of a fledgling democracy. That Romney chose to say anything at all about a small nation in Central America was somewhat surprising, especially since he hasn't been specific about much else. But, as he must know, Honduras is important to US foreign policy for only one reason: Controlling Hondurus is important to controlling the drug trade. Romney was signaling that in a Republican Administration, a return to the good old days when death squads could just "disappear" inconvenient people would be A-OK with him. Top military officials in Honduras—home of the original tin-horn Generals in mirrored shades—must have been delighted. It was Mitt Romney's “Pinochet moment.”

Why nobody likes us

If you’re at all interested in American political life at the dawn of the 21st Century, Honduras is a place worth looking at closely. Honduras is where the bodies are buried…in shallow graves. Case in point: Reports last month that a DEA agent was killed when his plane, filled with cocaine, was shot down by a Honduran jet fighter, are untrue, announced the US Embassy in Honduras. Reports in all three daily newspapers in the capital of Tegucigalpa had explained that the unprecedented step the United States took last month— turning off the radar used by Honduras to track suspected drug planes—was necause a Honduran fighter opened fire on a drug plane being used by the DEA. Nonsense, said Stephen J. Posivak, director of Public Affairs of the U.S. Embassy in Honduras. He denied any DEA agents were on the flight shot down by a fighter jet on June 13th over the eastern part of Honduras. “There was no DEA agent on that plane,” Posivak asserted, speaking on Ambassador Lisa Kubiske’s behalf. The statement was decisive but something of a non sequitur, as if the lawyer for “Tot Mom” Casey Anthony announced his client had nothing to do with the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The reason was that Honduran newspapers, citing military sources, had reported the DEA drug flight shoot down happened—not on June 13—but in early August. Moreover the location of the incident, they reported, was over an island ten miles offshore in the Caribbean called Guanaja, not "over the eastern part of the country."

A statement rendered 'inoperative'

The papers reported one of the two men killed when the plane was shot down was a drug dealer, the other a DEA agent infiltrating drug cartels. The specificity of their reporting lent it a credence sorely lacking in the vague statement by the US Embassy. The US Embassy spokesman in Honduras had even contradicted the Home Office, the State Department in Washington. William Ostick, spokesman for the State Department's Western Hemispheric Affairs Office, had explained the radar cut-off was because civilian aircraft had been shot down off the coast of Honduras. Posivak may have figured the point was already moot. Days earlier, Lisa Kubiske, the U.S. Ambassador in Honduras, had announced that she was optimistic that Honduras’ radar would soon be restored. The president of Honduras admitted his Air Force shot down several suspected drug planes during the DEA’s recently-concluded Operation Anvil. The incident cost the job of the head of the Honduran Air Force. And the downing of civilian aircraft is a violation of international treaties, even if the plane enters a country without authorization. But that did nothing to explain the towering displeasure displayed by the US Government, which sent the head of the US Southern Command to Honduras on August 24 to demand changes. Nor did it explain the rationale for cutting off radar to a country the DEA has just called the largest center for smuggling in Central America. Ninety percent of the drugs produced in South America and destined for the U.S. market, the DEA asserted, were passing through Honduras.

Always Open… to drug trafficking

“Without radar, Honduras is "open to drug trafficking," protested the Honduras Commissioner for Human Rights Ram√≥n Custodio. But cutting off the radar had certainly gotten the Hondurans attention, and they had apparently decided to get with the program. Honduras, located mid-way between coca fields in South America and noses in the United States, has served as a bed and breakfast for drug traffickers since at least the early 1980’s. Yet now newspaper reports were raising the alarm, making the drug trade, a staple of life for decades, sound more frightening than an army of zombies massing at the border. “The invasion has been massive,” reported El Herald. “By air and by sea, drug trafficking in Honduras is huge, according to reports of U.S. drug agencies.” “According to the U.S. Southern Command,” the report continued, “last year 275 narccolanchas (vessels) entered the country (mostly speedboats), as well as 104 drug planes."
  
The ghosts of Tegucigalpa

The ghosts of Tegucigalpa continue to hover over Honduras. They haven’t forgotten that during the Reagan era, the CIA and Argentine dirty warriors ran roughshod over their country. It was through Honduras, and specifically the good offices of the Honduran Army, that the cocaine blizzard that transformed millions of American lives would travel. When CIA pilot Barry Seal was caught in 1979 on the island of Roatan, just a few miles from where the DEA drug plane was supposedly shot down, he was carrying what in those more innocent times was a huge load of cocaine: 40 kilos. Seal landed his twin-engine plane in the immediate aftermath of the overthrow of then-Honduran President Juan Alberto Melgar. "Barry paid off the wrong people,” a long-time Seal associate told us. "He went to Ecuador, and when he came back to Honduras there was a whole new set of Generals running the show." By the time Seal was arraigned on trafficking charges in the capital city of Tegucigalpa, newspapers there were reporting his arrest on the front page, with headlines reading he’d been caught red-handed carrying 17 kilos of cocaine.  

The original banana republic

Some Honduran General must have smiled when he read the figure. Maybe he patted a suitcase sitting on the bed beside him, in which he’d packed the other 23 kilos. Honduras is the place the term "banana republic" was invented to describe. American interventions in Honduras—by the DEA, the CIA, the FBI and the Southern Command—are notorious. One reminder of this history sits across from a runway at Soto Cano Air Base, where Honduras new Air Force chief was based. Behind a high fence is a compound once used by Oliver North's clandestine drugs and weapons bazaar from the Iran-contra operation. Tropical undergrowth is slowly erasing traces of the site. But its still visible. And no one there has forgotten. Since the military coup on June 28, 2009, the US has built three new military bases in the country. Military bases are expensive. Its safe to assume that they're not down there protecting banana plantations.

The GMO population cull...

Via

The US Food and Drug Administration said: 'We know of no information showing that the foods created from these new methods differ in any meaningful or uniform way.' It was a big lie, a statement of sheer insanity, and people like FDA/Monsanto double agent, Michael Taylor, knew it. A lawsuit later brought to light 44,000 internal FDA documents which revealed that GMO can produce allergies, toxins, new diseases, antibiotic-resistant diseases, nutritional problems and cancer-causing agents. They also confirmed that scientists and experts at the FDA had said that GMO food was different from that produced normally and therefore had different risks. The effect on human health in GMO-soaked America has since proved catastrophic and potentially genocidal. How come, then, that the FDA said publicly that there was no difference between non-GMO food and that produced with GMO, especially by Monsanto, which has led to the FDA not requiring independent safety checks on GMO products? One of the key people responsible for taking that line was Michael Taylor, the number two at the FDA, a former attorney to Monsanto and later a Monsanto Vice-President for Public Policy. Taylor was also at the US Department of Agriculture between 1994 and 1996 and in his government roles he was highly influential in the decision not to insist that GMO had to be labelled which has denied the public the free choice to eat or not eat GMO food. All this must have cost the lives of multiple millions of people and animals since then and caused suffering to untold numbers who have had their health devastated by GMO. It was also Taylor at the FDA who ensured that Monsanto's genetically-engineered bovine growth hormone (rbGH/rbST) could be injected into cows to increase milk production without any labelling for people to make a choice. He also wrote a paper saying that if producers of milk without the growth hormone labelled their milk as such they should be mandated to include a disclaimer from the FDA saying that there was no difference between milk with bovine growth hormone and milk without it. Taylor has been described as possibly being responsible for 'more food-related illnesses and deaths than anyone in history'. This man should be in jail with the key thrown mid-Atlantic, but where is he now? He was appointed by Obama to be his 'food safety czar' in charge of all United States food safety policy at the FDA and is now Senior 'Advisor' [yeah, right] to the Commissioner of the FDA. Taylor's policy is Monsanto's policy and there can be no greater confirmation that corporations control governments than Taylor's career with Monsanto and government agencies which are supposed to protect us from Monsanto. This is why Big Biotech is getting virtually all that it wants from the FDA while organic farmers and growers and small farms in general are being destroyed by a mass of new and ludicrous laws on the grounds of 'food safety' imposed by FDA SWAT teams made up of monumental goons with guns in their hands and air in their heads. Food fascism isn't coming - it's here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Romney's breakfast of billionaires...

Via GP

In August 2007, billionaire John Paulson walked into Goldman Sachs, the investment bank, with a billion-dollar idea. Paulson’s brainstorm had all the elements that Goldman found enchanting: a bit of fraud, a bit of flimflam, and lots and lots of the ultimate drug: OPM—Other Peoples’ Money.

Paulson’s scheme was simple. Paulson, a much followed hotshot hedge-fund manager, would announce that he was betting big on the recovery of the U.S. housing market. He was willing to personally insure that billions of dollars of shaky subprime mortgages, like the ones dumped on Detroit, would never go into default.

Now, all Goldman had to do was line up some suckers with more money than sense, some big European banks that handled public pension funds, and get them to put up several billion dollars to join with Paulson to insure these shaky mortgages. Paulson, to lure the “marks” into betting the billions, would pretend to put $200 million into the investment himself.

But, in fact, Paulson would be betting against those very mortgages. Paulson himself was the secret beneficiary of the “insurance” on the mortgages. When the housing market went bust, Paulson collected from the duped banks and they didn't even know it.

And Goldman would get a $15 million fee, or more, for lining up the sheep for the fleecing.

Goldman provided Paulson with a twenty-nineyear old kid, a French neophyte, to play the shill, making presentations to the European buyers with a fancy, 28-page “flip-book” about the wonderful, secure set of home mortgages the “clients” would be buying.

The young punk that Goldman put on the case texted a friend (in French — mais oui! —about the inscrutable “monstruosit√©s”) while he was in the meeting, right as Paulson was laying on the bullshit.

The carefully selected bag of sick mortgages was packaged up into bundles totaling several billion dollars. To paint this turd gold, Paulson and Goldman brought in the well-respected risk-management arm of ACA Capital. Paulson personally met with ACA and gave them jive that he himself was investing in the insurance (as opposed to investing against the insurance).

Secretly, Paulson personally designed the package of mortgages to load it up heavily with losers, concentrating on adjustable rate mortgages, given to those with low credit scores, while culling out high-quality loans given by West Coast banker Wells Fargo. ACA, thinking Paulson was helping them pick the good stuff, put their valuable seal of approval on the mortgage packages, though they were quite nervous about their “reputation.” (But that’s what happens when you go out with bad boys.)

The mortgages in each package were dripping dreck—but with the ACA/Goldman stamp, Moody’s and Standard & Poors gave the insurance policies a AAA rating. European banks that hold government pension investments snapped up the AAA-rated junk.

In August 2008, over one million foreclosures resulted in the Goldman mortgage securities losing 99% of their value. The Royal Bank of Scotland, left holding the bag, wrote a check to Goldman Sachs for just short of one billion ($840,909,090). Goldman did the honorable thing . . . and turned over the money to Paulson (after taking their slice).

Don’t worry about the Royal Bank of Scotland. The British taxpayers and Bank of England covered its loss, taking over the bleeding bank.

And here’s the brilliance of it: when it came out that Goldman and other mortgage-backed securities were simply hot steaming piles of manure, their value plummeted further and the mortgage market, already wounded, now collapsed—and mortgage defaults accelerated nationwide. The result was that as the market plummeted, Paulson’s profits skyrocketed: his hedge fund pulled in $3.5 billion and Paulson put over a billion of it in his own pocket.

With Paulson skinning some of Europe’s leading banks for billions, there was a bit of a diplomatic and legal dustup. The SEC investigated, confirmed in detail Paulson’s scam and sued the kid at Goldman who acted as Paulson’s assistant, the one who couldn’t even follow the complex deal. Goldman paid a fine, but never admitted wrongdoing.

And Paulson received . . . a tax break.

Robert Pratt, a UAW member I met in Detroit, and several million others, lost their homes, including a Saudi prince who, in the recession, had to sell his Vail, Colorado, home ... to Paulson for just $45 million.

But now the bandit billionaire had a bit of problem. With $3.5 billion of ill-gotten lucre in his pocket, he needed something else in his pocket: politicians who would protect the tax dodge and keep the SEC enforcement dogs on a tight leash. Paulson wasn’t alone in profiteering from the savaging of the mortgage market. There was his billionaire buddy Paul Singer, known on Wall Street as “The Vulture.” Together they launched the super-PAC "Restore Our Future" with a check for one million each. They asked Bill Koch to throw in some change. Koch did: $2 million.

To restore the billionaires' future, the super-PAC's first order of business was to ally with Karl Rove. "Turdblossom," as George Bush called his mastermind Rove, had created a massive database on Americans, “DataTrust,” which works with a second massive database, “Themis,” funded by two other Koch Brothers, Charles and David. But that's another story in another chapter, read it, in Billionaires & Ballot Bandits.

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