Thursday, January 31, 2008

Immigrants hit hard by slowdown, subprime crisis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - As an economic slowdown and the subprime mortgage crisis deepen across the United States, Hispanic immigrants are increasingly in danger of losing their jobs and their homes.

Both legal and illegal immigrants joined Americans in buying homes they could barely afford when the market spiraled upward and many have been caught with mortgages higher than the value of their homes as prices have slumped in the past year. Read more..

1)Why are they lending money to Illegals?
2)Why are the lenders not being prosecuted?

NATO hears Canada's frustration on Afghanistan

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - NATO said on Tuesday it shared Canada's view of the need to bolster its Afghan peace operation but dismissed charges that allies were dragging their feet, pointing to a huge expansion since 2003.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper threatened on Monday to pull its 2,500 troops out of Afghanistan early next year unless NATO sends significant reinforcements, saying the mission would fail unless more soldiers and equipment arrived.

"We share the assessment that Afghanistan needs long-term support, including military support. NATO as an organization has had a longstanding request for more troops in the south," a NATO spokesman said of the violent region where Canada operates.

But he noted the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) had more than quadrupled in size to over 40,000 troops and "is now close to what our military believe is our full requirement."

Canada's appeal for reinforcements adds to frustration voiced by other countries taking part in the mission. In November, the Netherlands decided to keep its troops in Afghanistan despite growing public pressure for it to pull out. Read more..;_ylt=Am37w0QvkjQjCgIqJLGKIqNvaA8F

PayPal buying Israeli online security firm Fraud Sciences

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - Online financial transactions firm PayPal announced on Monday that it has a 169-million-dollar deal to buy an Israeli company that specializes in uncovering fraud.

PayPal, which is owned by veteran Internet auction service eBay, expects to complete the purchase of Fraud Sciences Ltd. in 30 days.

Once acquired, the company's expertise will be used to expose scams and deceptions targeted at PayPal and eBay users, according to the companies.

"Integrating Fraud Sciences' risk tools with PayPal's sophisticated fraud management system should allow us to be even more effective in protecting eBay and PayPal's hundreds of millions of customers around the world," said PayPal president Scott Thompson.

PayPal did not disclose details of the deal but said it is valued at 169 million dollars. Read more..
Ahhh, but of course, an American company uses foreign companies to protect who?

Bombs Away Over Iraq

A January 21st Los Angeles Times Iraq piece by Ned Parker and Saif Rasheed led with an inter-tribal suicide bombing at a gathering in Fallujah in which members of the pro-American Anbar Awakening Council were killed. ("Asked why one member of his Albu Issa tribe would kill another, Aftan compared it to school shootings that happen in the United States.") Twenty-six paragraphs later, the story ended this way:

"The U.S. military also said in a statement that it had dropped 19,000 pounds of explosives on the farmland of Arab Jabour south of Baghdad. The strikes targeted buried bombs and weapons caches.

"In the last 10 days, the military has dropped nearly 100,000 pounds of explosives on the area, which has been a gateway for Sunni militants into Baghdad."

And here's paragraph 22 of a 34-paragraph January 22nd story by Stephen Farrell of the New York Times:

"The threat from buried bombs was well known before the [Arab Jabour] operation. To help clear the ground, the military had dropped nearly 100,000 pounds of bombs to destroy weapons caches and I.E.D.'s." Read more..

Poor Haitians resort to eating dirt

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - It was lunchtime in one of Haiti's worst slums, and Charlene Dumas was eating mud. With food prices rising, Haiti's poorest can't afford even a daily plate of rice, and some take desperate measures to fill their bellies. Charlene, 16 with a 1-month-old son, has come to rely on a traditional Haitian remedy for hunger pangs: cookies made of dried yellow dirt from the country's central plateau.

The mud has long been prized by pregnant women and children here as an antacid and source of calcium. But in places like Cite Soleil, the oceanside slum where Charlene shares a two-room house with her baby, five siblings and two unemployed parents, cookies made of dirt, salt and vegetable shortening have become a regular meal. Read more..;_ylt=AhGD6DuSeGjis7b9xFPqCatvaA8F

Soldier Suicides at Record Level

Lt. Elizabeth Whiteside, a psychiatric outpatient at Walter Reed Army Medical Center who was waiting for the Army to decide whether to court-martial her for endangering another soldier and turning a gun on herself last year in Iraq, attempted to kill herself Monday evening. In so doing, the 25-year-old Army reservist joined a record number of soldiers who have committed or tried to commit suicide after serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.

"I'm very disappointed with the Army," Whiteside wrote in a note before swallowing dozens of antidepressants and other pills. "Hopefully this will help other soldiers." She was taken to the emergency room early Tuesday. Whiteside, who is now in stable physical condition, learned yesterday that the charges against her had been dismissed.
Read more..

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

U.S. Asking Iraq for Wide Rights on War

WASHINGTON — With its international mandate in Iraq set to expire in 11 months, the Bush administration will insist that the government in Baghdad give the United States broad authority to conduct combat operations and guarantee civilian contractors specific legal protections from Iraqi law, according to administration and military officials.

The American negotiating position for a formal military-to-military relationship, one that would replace the current United Nations mandate, is laid out in a draft proposal that was described by White House, Pentagon, State Department and military officials on ground rules of anonymity. It also includes less controversial demands that American troops be immune from Iraqi prosecution, and that they maintain the power to detain Iraqi prisoners. Read more..

How Did Israeli Spy Software Get Onto Critical FAA Computers?

The deathly precision of the attacks and the magnitude of planning would have required years of planning. Such a sophisticated operation would require the fixed frame of a state intelligence organization; something not found in a loose group, like the one led by the student Mohammed Atta in Hamburg.

Ptech software "is utilized at the highest levels of almost every government and military and defense organization in this country," Singh said, "including the Secret Service, the FBI, the Department of Defense, the House of Representatives, the Treasury Department, the IRS, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Air Force, and, last but not least, the Federal Aviation Administration."

I found it hard to believe that the most sensitive government and military computers would run enterprise software from a Lebanese-owned start-up company called Ptech from Quincy, Mass. All the talk about the Saudi-financier behind Ptech being linked to Osama bin Laden smelled like a "cut out" to me.

It simply did not make sense that the most secure computer systems of the U.S. government would be running software written by a Lebanese Muslim financed by a Saudi who happened to be on the most-wanted list of global terrorists.

412 US military deaths in Afghan area?

As of Saturday, Jan. 26, 2008, at least 412 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan as a result of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to the Defense Department. The department last updated its figures Friday at 10 a.m. EST. Read more..

Monday, January 28, 2008

Wolfowitz Returns to U.S. Government as Adviser

Paul D. Wolfowitz, who resigned as World Bank chief after serving as second-in-command at the Pentagon, has returned to the Bush administration, albeit in an advisory role. From a short news release put out this afternoon:

The Department of State is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Paul Wolfowitz as the Chairman of the Secretary of State’s International Security Advisory Board.

As we said when the job offer was reported in December, the board meets quarterly to provide advice to the secretary of state and one of her deputies based on classified intelligence on some of the most important issues in United States foreign policy today, from Iran to North Korea.

His experience in arms control issues stretches back to the 1970’s, but his role in the Iraq war was the basis of last month’s criticism of the reported appointment. Mr. Wolfowitz is also a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.

Preceding Mr. Wolfowitz was former Senator Fred Thompson, who resigned as chairman in the summer to run for president. But his successor wasn’t appointed until two days after his campaign crashed and burned on Tuesday.

U.S. war costs in Iraq up: $171 Billion in 2007, Bush wants $193 Billion in 2008

"Funding for U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and other activities in the war on terrorism expanded significantly in 2007," the Congressional Budget Office said in a report released on Wednesday.

War funding, which averaged about $93 billion a year from 2003 through 2005, rose to $120 billion in 2006 and $171 billion in 2007 and President George W. Bush has asked for $193 billion in 2008, the nonpartisan office wrote.

"It keeps going up, up and away," Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad said of the money spent in Iraq since U.S. troops invaded in 2003. Read more..

US slides into dangerous 1930s 'liquidity trap'

The United States is sliding towards a dangerous 1930s-style "liquidity trap" that cannot easily be stopped by drastic cuts in interest rates, Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz has warned. Read more..

IRAQ: 'US the Biggest Producer of Terror'

BAQUBA, Jan 25 (IPS) - Broken promises have brought a dramatic increase in anti-U.S. sentiment across the capital city of Iraq's Diyala province.

Many people in Baquba, capital of Diyala 40 km northeast of Baghdad, had supported U.S. forces when they ousted former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. But failed reconstruction projects and muddled policies mean the U.S. has lost that support.

"The Americans based their strategy in Iraq on certain Shias here who have direct enmity with Sunnis and allegiance to Iran," resident Ayub Ibrahim told IPS. "This was the source of the gap between certain Shias which the U.S. backs, and certain Sunnis they back." Shias and Sunnis are different sects within Islam.

The U.S. has also alienated people through its policy of extensive detentions. Many believe that raids that lead to arrests are based on motivated information given to the U.S. military by Shia militiamen who have infiltrated the Iraqi army and police. Read more..

What’s $34 Billion on Wall Street?

UNDER the stewardship of Dow Kim and Thomas G. Maheras, Merrill Lynch and Citigroup built positions in subprime-related securities that led to $34 billion in write-downs last year. The debacle cost chief executives their jobs and brought two of the world’s premier financial institutions to their knees.

In any other industry, Mr. Kim and Mr. Maheras would be pariahs. But in the looking-glass world of Wall Street, they — and others like them — are hot properties. The two executives are well on their way to reviving their careers, even as global markets shudder at the prospect that Merrill and Citigroup may report further subprime losses in the coming months. Read more..

Citigroup CEO gets $26.7 million in stock, 3 million options

NEW YORK — Citigroup (C) awarded Chief Executive Vikram Pandit $26.7 million worth of shares and 3 million stock options six weeks after he took over the largest U.S. bank, and a week after the company reported a record $9.83 billion quarterly loss.

In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday night, Citigroup said Pandit was awarded 1,094,949 shares Tuesday under a company incentive plan adopted in 1999. Read more..

Saturday, January 26, 2008

How the Rockefellers Created Hillary

Last Thursday, the public interest group Judicial Watch published a memorandum which the Clinton Library was forced to release under the Freedom of Information Act.

The 24-page memo shines a spotlight on Hillary’s little-known relationship with America’s mightiest oil and banking dynasty. Dated May 26, 1993 and addressed to “Hillary Rodham Clinton”, the memo comes from Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia — better known as Jay Rockefeller — whose great-grandfather founded Standard Oil.

The memo lays out a detailed strategy for pushing the “Clinton reform plan” for universal health coverage. In it, Rockefeller snaps orders at Mrs. Clinton in the imperious tones of a man accustomed to obedience.

He instructs Hillary to get tough on critics of the health plan. “Impeach the credibility of opponents”, he writes. Portray them as “perpetrators”, “paid lobbyists” and purveyors of “ideological extremism”. Assign investigators to conduct “opposition research” on them and expose their “lifestyles”. Do not allow them “even one day without scrutiny”. Read more..


Wednesday, January 23, 2008


935 False Statements Made By Bush Administration After 9-11

WASHINGTON - A study by two nonprofit journalism organizations found that President Bush and top administration officials issued hundreds of false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The study concluded that the statements "were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses."

The study was posted Tuesday on the Web site of the Center for Public Integrity, which worked with the Fund for Independence in Journalism.

White House spokesman Scott Stanzel did not comment on the merits of the study Tuesday night but reiterated the administration's position that the world community viewed Iraq's leader, Saddam Hussein, as a threat. Read more..

Monday, January 21, 2008

Why Does Johnny Come Marching Homeless?

Peter Mohan traces the path from the Iraqi battlefield to this lifeless conference room, where he sits in a kilt and a Camp Kill Yourself T-shirt and calmly describes how he became a sad cliche: a homeless veteran. Read more..

On the ground in NH: Recount Update

Writing this last night, I was quite tired. I will post photos - the slits are not "through the box" in the sense that they are in the middle of the cardboard. They deliver the ballots in a variety of cardboard boxes. The lid of the cardboard box is taped and has various seals on it, some old, from using the box before, some new. The slits cut through any tape or seals. They don't cut into the cardboard itself, and I'm going to edit the post above to clarify that.

The other thing that isn't clear from the above post is the timing.

1. We noticed the slits in the vault and confirmed when they brought the ballots out that the slits were still there.

2. Then we looked at the ballot boxes as they were being delivered. Those, too, had slits.

3. Then we visitied towns that had ballots scheduled for pickup. We had time to visit only two towns. Both towns had ballot boxes with no slits.

4. While at these towns, we waited for the pickup van to show up. When it did, we videotaped the ballot boxes already in it.

5. When we got back to the archive building where they were having the
recount, we awaited the van with the ballot boxes we just videotaped. We waited quite a while. Almost everyone left, the recount ended for the day, and still no van. The van finally pulled in after all but a couple observers had gone home. We videotaped what came out of the van. It was in the same condition as what we videotaped at the towns. Of course, Butch and Hoppy knew we had been taking videotape because we did it right in front of them.

6. The normal procedure has been:
- bring the incoming ballot boxes into the front door of the building
- roll them through the counting room, which is a large room similar to a library reference room
- from there to roll the cart containing the incoming ballot boxes through the back door of the counting room
- insert key card into the warehouse area door
- roll the ballots down the hall in the warehouse
- open the ballot "vault" door with a key (it is a sturdy metal door but opens with a single key)
- put the incoming ballots in the vault
- When they will be counted, take them from the vault back into the counting room. Read more..

1-17-08: Ballot boxes found slit; NH ...

No worries, say New Hampshire officials when cuts up to eight inches long are spotted in newly delivered ballot boxes. "The only seal that counts is the one on top."

Except the seal on top can be peeled off without leaving a trace, then reaffixed.

Black Box Voting has been doing a chain of custody exam for the New Hampshire Primary's recount. On Wednesday night, Election Defense Alliance's Sally Castleman mentioned a troubling observation: After following the ballots back to the ballot vault following Wednesday's recount, she had the opportunity to enter the ballot vault, and noticed what looked like cuts, or slits, in the side of many ballot boxes. New Hampshire officials assured us that these cuts, which slice through the tape and seals do not permit access to the uncounted ballots, pointing to a label on the boxtop which they call a seal.

But the "seal" can be removed, like a Post-it, and reaffixed. So it's not a seal all!

We wanted to know if the ballot boxes were slit while in the vault, in the transport van, or came from the towns with slits in them. Read more..

Primary Season Election Results, Ron Paul Left Out Again

The Presidential Candidates Handlers

Oil Crisis As Barrels Go Missing, According to Audit

How do you not notice when 308,000 barrels of oil go missing?

That's the question government auditors were asking after they looked into the Department of Energy's management of oil received for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a critical program to assure energy stability in the U.S. in case of an oil crisis.

To help add to the reserve, DOE receives a portion of the royalty oil that the Department of the Interior gets in return for allowing petroleum companies to drill on government lands and waters. Read more..

Thursday, January 17, 2008

CAFTA: The Jobs Killer Canard

It’s official. With the trade data just released today by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. trade balance in manufactured goods with CAFTA (Central American and Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement), has registered a $2 billion trade surplus. This is a sharp reversal from the pre-CAFTA situation, where in the years before the passage of the CAFTA agreement we averaged an annual manufactured goods trade deficit of about -$1.5 billion.

This agreement is the one that isolationist organizations have called “the job killer.” Just before the Congressional vote on CAFTA, one of these groups pronounced, “Like NAFTA, CAFTA is just another outsourcing agreement that will devastate U.S. manufacturing…CAFTA is a continuation of the failed NAFTA policy that drives our rising trade deficit and mounting job losses.”

This was always a silly statement, because the CAFTA countries already had one-way free trade into the U.S. market. The big deal in CAFTA was that in exchange for making their access to the U.S. market permanent, they would eliminate their trade barriers to Made-in-the-USA products. How we could lose in such a deal is beyond me.

How the Pentagon planted a false story

WASHINGTON - Senior Pentagon officials, evidently reflecting a broader administration policy decision, used an off-the-record Pentagon briefing to turn the January 6 US-Iranian incident in the Strait of Hormuz into a sensational story demonstrating Iran's military aggressiveness, a reconstruction of the events following the incident shows.

The initial press stories on the incident, all of which can be traced to a briefing by deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs in charge of media operations, Bryan Whitman, contained similar information that has since been repudiated by the navy itself.

Then the navy disseminated a short video into which was spliced the audio of a phone call warning that US warships would "explode" in "a few seconds". Although it was ostensibly a navy production, Inter Press Service (IPS) has learned that the ultimate decision on its content was made by top officials of the Defense Department. Read more..


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Bush urges OPEC to pump more oil

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - President Bush warned Tuesday that surging oil prices threaten the U.S. economy and urged OPEC nations to boost their output. His plea drew little sympathy from oil-rich Saudi Arabia, which said production levels appear normal.

Merrill Lynch gets fresh $6.6bn injection

Merrill Lynch on Tuesday said it had raised $6.6bn by selling preferred shares to investors from the Middle East and Asia, as part of a second injection of funds to help shore up the US investment bank’s capital base

The bank said it would issue preferred stock to ”long-term investors”, with the bulk being taken up by the Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA). Mizuho Corporate Bank, a subsidiary of Japan’s second largest bank, is taking about $1.2bn and the Korean Investment Corporation (KIC), $2bn. Read more..

Citigroup may cut 24,000 jobs as loans crisis grows

The fallout from America’s mortgage meltdown continued at Citigroup yesterday amid reports that the world’s biggest bank was poised to cut up to 24,000 jobs, that it planned a substantial dividend cut and that the Chinese Government had pulled out of a deal to inject about $2 billion (£1 billion).

The job losses, up to 8 per cent of Citigroup’s 300,000 staff, were reported by CNBC, the American television news network.

Citigroup is expected to announce a hefty dividend cut for the fourth quarter, perhaps by as much as half, which would save about $5 billion if maintained over a year.

Meanwhile, it became apparent that the state-owned China Development Bank had rejected an opportunity to invest after several weeks of discussions.

However, the bank is expected to say that it has agreed a multibillion-dollar injection from a consortium of Asian and Middle Eastern investors. Its balance sheet has been badly damaged by billions of dollars of losses on investments in sub-prime mortgages and it is expected to announce further sub-prime losses today, with some reports suggesting as much as $24 billion for the fourth quarter. Read more..

Merrill Lynch targetted in share investigation

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is investigating whether Merrill Lynch used knowledge about some of the share trades the brokerage conducted for its clients to make a profit on its own account.

The US watchdog’s probe centres on whether some current and former Merrill Lynch executives engaged in a practice known as "front running" which is when a brokerage receives a large order to buy or sell a particular share from a client and quickly executes its own trade in the same stock before addressing the client’s transaction.

Merrill Lynch reported an $8.4 billion (£4.2 billion) writedown in the third quarter, much of it relating to mortgage investments. It is expected to announce a further $10 billion to $20 billion sub-prime-related losses when the brokerage reports its fourth quarter figures.

Merrill Lynch is also expected to announce on Thursday that it has agreed a second capital injection, of about $4 billion, from investors thought to include the Kuwait Investment Authority. The infusion would follow a $6.4 billion investment last month from Temasek, the Singapore government-owned fund and Davis Selected Advisors, the US asset manager.
Read more..

Monday, January 14, 2008

Bush delivers arms sale to Saudi Arabia

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - President Bush, on his first visit to this oil-rich kingdom, delivered a major arms sale Monday to a key ally in a region where the U.S. casts neighboring Iran as a menace to stability.

Bush's talks with Saudi King Abdullah, which began over dinner and were continuing with late-night meetings, also were expected to cover peace between Israelis and Palestinians and democracy in the Middle East.

Coinciding with Bush's trip, the Bush administration in Washington notified Congress on Monday that it will offer Saudi Arabia the chance to buy sophisticated Joint Direct Attack Munitions — or "smart bomb" — technology and related equipment, the State Department said. The administration envisions the transfer of 900 of the precision-guided bomb kits, worth $123 million, that would give the kingdom's armed forces highly accurate targeting abilities.

The proposed deal follows notification of five other packages to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, bringing to $11.5 billion the amount of advanced U.S. weaponry, including Patriot missiles, that the administration has announced it will provide to friendly Arab nations, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said. Administration officials say the total amount of eventual sales as part of the Gulf Security Dialogue is estimated at $20 billion, a figure subject to actual purchases. Read more..

PayPal to begin giving the IRS PayPal users account information

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Bush Disowns U.S. Intel, Tells Israelis Iran NIE ‘Doesn’t Reflect My Own Views’

After the recent National Intelligence Estimate on Iran was released, Israel publicly challenged the U.S. intelligence consensus that Iran had stopped its nuclear weapons program. “In our opinion,” Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said, Iran “has apparently continued that program.”

Just days after the NIE was released, Bush quickly announced he would make the first visit to Israel of his presidency to mend differences over Iran.

In private meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert this week, Newsweek reports that President Bush disowned the U.S. intelligence community’s judgments:

But in private conversations with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert last week, the president all but disowned the document, said a senior administration official who accompanied Bush on his six-nation trip to the Mideast. “He told the Israelis that he can’t control what the intelligence community says, but that [the NIE’s] conclusions don’t reflect his own views” about Iran’s nuclear-weapons program, said the official, who would discuss intelligence matters only on the condition of anonymity. Read more..

Bush Says US, Allies Must Confront Iran

ID Plan Is Broadly Criticized

A new Bush administration plan to create national standards for driver's licenses drew heavy criticism yesterday from civil liberties groups, some Republican and Democratic lawmakers, governors, and the travel industry.

The critics said the new licenses anticipated under the plan, which is aimed at screening out potential terrorists and uncovering illegal immigrants, could still be forged. They also complained that the program, known as Real ID, would be costly for states to implement, potentially restrict summer travel, and allow private companies access to the personal data of most U.S. citizens.

But they also welcomed yesterday's official announcement that states have until May 2011 before they need to begin issuing licenses that meet the department's new guidelines, and until December 2014 to begin replacing current licenses. Drivers over the age of 50 will not have to obtain new licenses until the end of 2017. Read more..

Rules Finalized for National ID

The secure driver's licenses would be required to enter a federal building or board a plane within the next 10 years.

Washington - Americans born after Dec. 1, 1964, will have to get more secure driver's licenses in the next six years under ambitious post-9/11 security rules to be unveiled today by federal officials.

The Homeland Security Department has spent years crafting regulations for the Real ID Act, a law designed to make it harder for terrorists, illegal immigrants and con artists to get government-issued identification. The effort once envisioned to take effect in 2008 has been pushed back in the hope of winning over skeptical state officials.

Even with more time and technical advances, Real ID still faces stiff opposition from civil liberties groups. Read more...

2008 Presidential Charade

Bush brushed aside the Constitution to veto a defense spending bill.

Pundits and pols who have been tracking President Bush's constitutional transgressions can add another to the list: his Dec. 28 "pocket veto" of the massive defense spending bill. Instead of issuing a regular veto, which allows Congress the opportunity to override if it can muster the votes, Bush stated that he needed to pocket veto the bill -- a power the Constitution says may only be used when "Congress by their Adjournment prevent [the bill's] Return." Bush argued that he was "prevented" from "returning" the bill to Congress because the House had adjourned.

But Bush was being disingenuous. In fact, a pocket veto was neither necessary nor allowed in this case. In misusing his veto power, Bush was attempting to grab a power for himself and his office that the Constitution's framers emphatically and repeatedly denied to the president: a nearly unlimited, absolute veto. Read more..

We'll nuke Iran - Bush promises Israel

Thu, 01/10/2008 - 16:08 - Wire Services - US President George W. Bush promised Israel's opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu that the United States will join the Jewish state in a nuclear strike against Iran, Israel Radio reported today.

Former Prime Minister Netanyahu, opposition Likud party's hardline chairman who opposes the US-backed Annapolis peace process, reiterated to President Bush his stance, that a pre-emptive nuclear strike against Iran's nuclear installations was the only way to stop the Islamic nation's nuclear weapons ambitions.

"I told him my position and Bush agreed," Netanyahu told Israel Radio.

During their 45-minute meeting at King David hotel in Jerusalem Netanyahu also told Bush that "Jerusalem belongs to the Jewish people and will remain under Israeli sovereignty for eternity."

President Bush issued a stark warning to Iran over Strait of Hormuz incident, saying that "all options are on the table to protect our assets."

“There will be serious consequences if they attack our ships, pure and simple,” Bush said during the joint news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem. “And my advice to them is, don't do it.”

Bush criticized those who interpret the National Intelligence Estimate, which found that Iran gave up its nuclear weapons program in 2003, as a sign that Iran was no longer a threat.

"Let me remind you what the NIE actually said," Bush stold reporters. "It said that as far as the intelligence community could tell, at one time the Iranians had a military -- covert military program that was suspended in 2003 because of international pressure. My attitude is that a non-transparent country, a country which has yet to disclose what it was up to, can easily restart a program."


Controversy continues to swirl around Michael Chertoff, President George W. Bush’s pick to replace Tom Ridge as chief of the Homeland Security Department. As the Senate began considering Chertoff’s nomination on Feb. 2, news broke that Chertoff had been implicated in advising the CIA on the legality of various means of torturing detainees held in U.S. prison camps in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay.

But as per its usual stand in the face of criticism, the White House officially denied that Chertoff did anything wrong or that he even had any part in issuing legal advice on torture techniques.

However, according to The New York Times, one current federal official and two former senior officials say Chertoff told the CIA that certain forms of torture were entirely permissible under the currently existing U.S. anti-torture statute.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Iraqis resort to selling children

Unicef says an estimated two million children in Iraq continue to face threats, including poor nutrition, disease and interrupted education [GALLO/GETTY]
Abu Muhammad, a Baghdad resident, found it difficult to let go of his daughter's hand but he had already convinced himself that selling her to a family outside Iraq would provide her with a better future.

"The war disgraced my family. I lost relatives including my wife among thousands of victims of sectarian violence and was forced to sell my daughter to give my other children something to eat," he told Al Jazeera

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Thousands protest in Gaza against "vampire" Bush

GAZA, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Brandishing placards showing George W. Bush as a vampire swigging Muslim blood, thousands of Hamas supporters protested in Gaza on Wednesday against the U.S. president's visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank.

Some 20,000 members of the Islamist group, shunned by the West for refusing to renounce violence, set U.S. and Israeli flags alight. Bush was a "butcher" whose first presidential visit to the Holy Land was skewed towards helping Israel, they said.

"In his first words Bush talked about Israel, its security, its democracy and the right of America and Israel to defend themselves," senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar told reporters at the rally.

"He did not talk about settlements or the assaults against our people." In Jerusalem, Jewish families waved Israeli and American flags and cheered Bush, who hopes his visit will invigorate efforts to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal before he leaves office.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Totalization is a Bad Idea

Through a Freedom of Information Act Request, a private group recently obtained a copy of a 2004 agreement between the United States and Mexico that will allow hundreds of thousands of noncitizens to receive Social Security benefits.

The agreement creates a so-called “totalization” plan between the two nations. Totalization is nothing new. The first such agreements were made in the late 1970s between the United States and several foreign governments simply to make sure American citizens living abroad did not suffer from double taxation with respect to Social Security taxes. From there, however, totalization agreements have become vehicles for noncitizens to become eligible for U.S. Social Security benefits. The new agreement with Mexico would make an estimated 160,000 Mexican citizens eligible in the next five years. Read more...

Friday, January 4, 2008

U. S. Army School of the Americas

The US Army School of Americas (SOA), based in Fort Benning, Georgia, trains Latin American security personnel in combat, counter-insurgency, and counter-narcotics. SOA graduates are responsible for some of the worst human rights abuses in Latin America. In 1996 the Pentagon was forced to release training manuals used at the school that advocated torture, extortion and execution. Among the SOA's nearly 60,000 graduates are notorious dictators Manuel Noriega and Omar Torrijos of Panama, Leopoldo Galtieri and Roberto Viola of Argentina, Juan Velasco Alvarado of Peru, Guillermo Rodriguez of Ecuador, and Hugo Banzer Suarez of Bolivia. Lower-level SOA graduates have participated in human rights abuses that include the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero and the El Mozote Massacre of 900 civilians.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Israeli Defense Firm That Tallies The Iowa Caucus

The Iowa caucus is only a few days away and the nation's attention will be directed to the results, which signify the beginning of the U.S. presidential race. But does anyone watch who tallies the results of the Iowa caucus?

The Iowa caucus results were tallied in 2004 by a company that is headed by a man whose company was bought by Elron Electronics, the Israeli defense firm. I suspect that it will be the same this year. Don't expect to see any grassroots political activists doing the tally in Iowa. The Israeli defense establishment takes care of that part of the American "democratic" election process.


In the summer of 2004, I first learned that a foreign and out-of-state company using Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology tallied the Iowa caucus results.

The system used to tally the 2004 Iowa caucus results was provided by a company called Voxeo, which was apparently based in Orlando, Florida. (Yellow flag goes up in the mind of those familiar with Orlando and electronic vote fraud history. See Bollyn article on Wang below.)

The calls from the nearly 2,000 caucus centers in Iowa went to a Voxeo call center in Atlanta, Georgia.

On January 31, 2005, I wrote to Michelle Bauer, Iowa's Secretary of State with some questions about the use of Voxeo, a foreign company located in Florida, to tally the results of the Iowa caucus:

Subject: How was the Iowa Caucus Tallied? Read more....

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Hillary Clinton Invites Drug Trafficker Jorge Cabrera to Dinner

There's been a lot of talk about photos of Jack Abramoff and George Bush, but Hillary Clinton has her own photo problems. For example, there's the photo of Bill and her standing next to illegal fundraiser Johnny Chung signed by HRC, "To Johnny Chung with best wishes and appreciation." Chung reportedly funneled several hundred thousand dollas from Chinese military intelligence to Bill Clinton's 1996 campaign. As Chung put it once, "I see the White House is like a subway -- you have to put in coins to open the gates." He was talking about the $50,000 he gave Hillary Clinton's top aide while seeking VIP treatment at the White House.

These historic photos first surfaced briefly during President Clinton's last reelection campaign. Just as quickly they vanished into the ether. In return for a $20,000 donation to the Democratic National Committee (part of which came from cocaine smuggled to the United States from Columbia according to Republican investigators), drug trafficker Jorge Cabrera was invited to dinner with Vice President Gore. A little over a week later, he was invited to a Christmas reception and met and posed with First Lady Hillary Clinton. According to the New York Times, April 4, 1997, at the time these photos were taken, Cabrera had two felony drug convictions. Since that time, he was arrested for smuggling 3 tons of cocaine into Florida. He pled guilty and was sentenced to 19 years in prison.

The Justice Department initially refused to release the photos to Republican investigators who were probing campaign financing. After the DOJ was finally forced to release them, the Gore and Hillary camps denied any knowledge that Cabrera was involved with drug trafficking. Of course they are right. They never would have posed with him if they knew he was dealing drugs. That's not the point. The point is they never bothered to find out where the money was coming from. They don't care whether it's coming from drugs, or Chinese agents of influence, or pilfered organs for that matter. This is not far akin from the CIA claiming none of its agents were dealing drugs in South Central Los Angeles. Of course they weren't. All the CIA did was look the other way and let the Contras do the dirty work for them (while, of course, CIA big wigs made a killing off the proceeds). Gore and Hillary adopted a don't ask, don't tell policy: hold your noise, don't ask any questions, and let the dough roll in. That the money is blood money, sucked from the life of god knows how many tragic victims of the drug epidemic, never troubled the minds of Messr. Gore or Madam Clinton.

These photos are symbolic of an elite that has nothing but contempt for the American people, whose arrogance knows no bounds, and that has every intention of abusing their hapless victims to the maximum degree possible.