Tag Archive: wars and rumors of war


Politics and Legislation

Organizations Can’t Be Sued For Torture, High Court Rules

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that organizations cannot be sued for the torture under the Torture Victim Protection Act.

The decision came in the case of Azzam Mohamad Rahim, who immigrated to the United States in the 1970s and became a U.S. citizen. In 1995, while on a visit to his home village on the West Bank, he was taken into custody by Palestinian Authority intelligence officers; in the following days, he was allegedly imprisoned, tortured, and killed. The U.S. State Department issued a report classifying Rahim’s death as an extra-judicial killing, while in the custody of the Palestinian Authority. .

Rahim’s American family, filed suit against the Palestinian Authority and the PLO under the Torture Victim Protection Act, which authorizes lawsuits against “individuals” who commit acts of torture. The family argued that Congress intended the word “individual” to cover organizations.

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Big Government on Steroids: Senate Bill Calls for Black Box Recorders on All New Cars

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The same Senate bill, 1813, known as MAP-21, that calls for the Secretary of State to revoke or deny a passport to any US citizen that the IRS Commissioner deems as having ‘seriously delinquent tax debt’, also calls for, in section 31406 of the bill. the mandatory installation of ‘black box’ event recorders to be installed in every new passenger vehicle starting with model year 2015:

SEC. 31406. VEHICLE EVENT DATA RECORDERS.
(a) Mandatory Event Data Recorders-

(1) IN GENERAL- Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall revise part 563 of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, to require, beginning with model year 2015, that new passenger motor vehicles sold in the United States be equipped with an event data recorder that meets the requirements under that part…

Read The  Full Article Here

Awful: GOP Rep. Wants Tax Hikes For The Poor, Says They ‘Don’t Have Skin In The Game’

 Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, defended the House Republican budget at a tax policy summit yesterday — as well as the broader idea that taxes on the wealthy need to be cut while taxes on lower-income Americans should be raised. When asked by ThinkProgress’ Scott Keyes to square the GOP’s explicit desire to cut taxes for the rich with the fact that it’s budget would raise taxes on low-income working Americans, Tiberi responded by saying that to do otherwise would be to “beat up on people who are trying to be successful.” He then made the case for raising taxes on the poor by lamenting that they don’t have any “skin in the game”:

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‘CISPA pushed by spy & tech companies for profit’

Published on Apr 19, 2012 by

Congress has attempted to sneak legislation that could change the face of the Internet as we know it, and all in the name of national security. First there was SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, but now CISPA (Cyber Intelligence Sharing Protection Act) is threatening the privacy and freedom of US citizens. No online activity will be safe when it comes to these bills because as of now what’s considered a cyber security threat is a large grey area, but David Seaman, journalist and host of The DL Show, joins us to take a closer look at CISPA.

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Economy

Report estimates 8 million children hurt by foreclosures

By Julie Schmit, USA TODAY

One in 10 U.S. children has been or will be affected by the nation’s surge in foreclosures, a new report says.

  • A foreclosed home in Tigard, Ore.

By Don Ryan, AP

A foreclosed home in Tigard, Ore.

Five years into the foreclosure crisis, an estimated 2.3 million children have lived in homes lost to foreclosure, according to a report from First Focus, a Washington, D.C-based bipartisan advocacy group focused on families.

Another 3 million children live in homes at risk of foreclosure because home loans are in the foreclosure process or are seriously delinquent. And 3 million children lived or live in rental homes lost to foreclosure or at risk, the report says.

“Children are the often invisible victims of the foreclosure crisis,” said report author Julia Isaacs. She did the study while at the Brookings Institution and is now a senior fellow at the Urban Institute’s Labor, Human Services and Population Center.

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Spain’s economy forces families to sleep at the wheel

Published on Apr 19, 2012 by

http://www.euronews.com/ Nearly a quarter of the workforce unemployed, the cost of borrowing going up – Spain’s financial crisis is often a list of seemingly sterile figures.

The reality behind the numbers though is even more stark.

In Barcelona, like elsewhere in Spain, there is a growing number of people who have no other choice but to live in their cars.

Silvestre lost his job as a baker and with it the means to pay his rent.

“I asked for help at city hall, but they have done nothing,” he said. “We’ve got the chance of a year in a council flat, but if I don’t find work we’re back on the street. So I prefer to stay here. There are more people like us.”

He now scrapes a living collecting scrap paper.
Barcelona’s council reckons there are around 350 people living in this makeshift motor-city.

Angel Miret from Barcelona Social Services said: “We are trying to do what we have to do. We recognise the need for decent housing, so we’re pushing for an increase in council flats and continuing to work with these people.”

In car-parks and old industrial estates there is a new generation living in mobile accommodation with nowhere else to go.

Spanish Repsol anger threatens trade

Published on Apr 19, 2012 by

http://www.euronews.com/ There are potentially major financial ramifications to both Spain and Argentina from the decision by the South American country to re-nationalise Repsol subsidiary YPF as Madrid threatened swift economic retaliation.

Last year Spain imported almost 1.8 billion euros worth of Argentine products.

Argentina’s imports from Spain totaled 824 million euros.

Spain is the largest foreign investor there.

Energy firms Repsol, Endesa and Gas Natural are big players, though less so than in the past.

Banks, such as Banco Santander and BBVA, have recently boosted their investments, along with Telecoms and technology firms like Telefonica and Indra. They are all seeking growth in Argentina which is not available in their mature – and recession hit -European markets.

Spanish investments totaled 17.1 billion euros in 2009 – the last year for which figures are available.

In Spain, investors did not seem too worried about corporate consequences of the Repsol affair.

The main Madrid share index saw its third biggest gain of the year on Tuesday.

Repsol fell 6.06 percent, but Banco Santander, BBVA and Telefonica all enjoyed substantial gains.

Italy goes for growth over austerity

Published on Apr 19, 2012 by

http://www.euronews.com/ Italy is to shift its focus from austerity to growth – so delaying by a year its plan to balance the budget in 2013.

Prime Minister Mario Monti has decided that reviving economic growth now had to take priority over belt tightening that could plunge the country deeper into recession.

After a cabinet meeting that accepted new economic targets based on a much deeper than originally forecast recession, Monti said: “Italy has found itself – and still finds itself in a difficult situation and we wanted to avoid the same tragic fate as Greece. But rebalancing the Italian economy will take many years.”

“Everything, everything, everything that we are doing now is aimed towards helping growth,” Monti added.

Italy’s new forecasts raise the 2012 deficit target marginally to 1.7 percent of gross domestic product from 1.6 percent, while the 2013 goal is raised to 0.5 percent from 0.1 percent. An almost balanced budget, with a 0.1 percent deficit, is now targeted in 2014.

The reaction from the markets was muted, in contrast to fellow eurozone struggler Spain which saw its borrowing costs soar when Madrid relaxed its deficit targets.

Italian bond yields rose on Wednesday but only modestly. The feeling is that Italy’s main problem is its chronically weak economy, not fiscal slippage.

For investors Italy is also a known quantity. Monti is a familiar figure after serving as a European Commissioner for almost a decade until 2004 and the country’s problems are also well known: it has struggled for many years with a huge state debt and a weak economy.

By contrast, Spain is less of an known quantity. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is a less familiar figure outside his home country than Monti, and doubts persist over whether his four-month-old government can tackle a property crash, a banking system that may need rescuing and Spain’s free-spending regional governments.

Italy’s budget deficit is one of the lowest in the eurozone as a proportion of output, whereas Spain’s is one of the highest.

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Wars and Rumors of War

CIA seeks new authority to expand Yemen drone campaign

By , Published: April 18

The CIA is seeking authority to expand its covert drone campaign in Yemen by launching strikes against terrorism suspects even when it does not know the identities of those who could be killed, U.S. officials said.Securing permission to use these “signature strikes” would allow the agency to hit targets based solely on intelligence indicating patterns of suspicious behavior, such as imagery showing militants gathering at known al-Qaeda compounds or unloading explosives.

(Gene Thorp/The Washington Post)

The practice has been a core element of the CIA’s drone program in Pakistan for several years. CIA Director David H. Petraeus has requested permission to use the tactic against the al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen, which has emerged as the most pressing terrorism threat to the United States, officials said.

If approved, the change would probably accelerate a campaign of U.S. airstrikes in Yemen that is already on a record pace, with at least eight attacks in the past four months.

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Chossudovsky: Syrian ‘Opposition’ is ‘West-Controlled Proxy Paramilitary’

Published on Apr 19, 2012 by

With Syria halting military operations as part of a UN-brokered ceasefire, Western powers have been saying they do not trust the government to uphold the armistice. Experts believe the US and its allies are pursuing their own agenda: regime change.

­Michel Chossudovsky, Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization, noted that Susan Rice, the US Ambassador to the UN, was wrong in saying that Russia and China had blood on their hands.

“NATO has blood on their hands,” he told RT. “The United States has blood on their hands. Why? Because they have supported an armed insurgency from the onset in March 2011. It is known and documented that this so-called opposition is, in fact, a proxy paramilitary formation, which is supported by the Western military alliance.”

He also noted that there is well-documented evidence to support the fact that most civilian casualties were attributable to terrorist acts by opposition gunmen and paramilitary forces.

Chossudovsky pointed to the hypocritical stance of the NATO member countries.

“On the one hand you have the government of Syria, and on the other you have, in fact, the foot soldiers of NATO,” he said. “In other words, NATO is supporting the rebels, but at the same time, the NATO countries which claim to be members of the international community, are brokering the peace plan.”

And as for the truce, Chossudovsky noted that it was the West that was not interested in seeing it bear fruit.

“The Western powers are not interested in a truce,” he concluded. “They have been seeking from the onset regime change, in other words, toppling the government and destabilizing the country.”

Political analyst Lajos Szaszdi says the US, as well the Gulf States and Turkey, prefer to see the failure of the UN-brokered peace plan put forward by the organization’s Syrian envoy Kofi Annan.

“They have an agenda of their own,” Szaszdi told RT. “They really don’t want peace with the current government of Syria.”

He said Western powers were in fact blatantly helping the opposition with diplomatic efforts, as well as by supplying money, weapons and even special forces to operate inside Syria.

And with recent reports of violence at the country’s border with Turkey, Szaszdi noted that the situation was increasingly volatile in the region.

“It’s a dangerous situation,” he stressed. “Turkey is thinking about how to internationalize the conflict, having NATO involved. And of course, we have to be very careful about this threat because what if the opposition itself, next time, could provoke an incident like the Germans did against Poland in 1939 in September, and appear like they are Syrian troops, when in fact they are members of the Free Syrian Army that want precisely to provoke international intervention.”

He also pointed to the fact that the weapons he said Turkey supplies to the opposition could end up in the hands of the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), rekindling a decades-long conflict within Turkey itself.

The ceasefire came into effect at 6am local time on Wednesday. The government halted all military operations, though Annan criticized it for not withdrawing troops and heavy artillery from major cities. The UN Security Council is set to adopt a resolution that would authorize the deployment of an advanced monitor group to Syria.

Originally aired on RT, April 13, 2012
http://rt.com/news/syria-opposition-proxy-paramilitary-948/

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Articles of Interest

Drug Activists Slam Obama’s “New” Drug Policy

The administration is prioritizing drug arrests and trampling on state medical marijuana laws while not doing enough to reduce the harms of drug addiction and misuse.
April 18, 2012  |
 Responding to the Obama Administration’s latest national drug control strategy, leading drug policy reform advocates assailed the president for “prioritizing low-level drug arrests” over other policies that even the White House has acknowledged to be more effective in boosting public health and safety.

 In an introductory statement (PDF) issued Tuesday, President Barack Obama wrote that his strategy outlines “A Drug Policy for the 21st Century“ that emphasizes addiction treatments over incarceration and life-saving outreach over harsh law enforcement. The White House website even brags about the effectiveness of harm-reduction strategies over mass incarcerations, saying the approach is “grounded in decades of research and scientific study.”

Read Full Article Here

Undercover TSA To Ride Houston Buses

Published on Apr 17, 2012 by

Feds to watch for suspicious activity, pre-crime criminal behavior

Paul Joseph Watson
Infowars.com
Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A new program in Houston will place undercover TSA agents and police officers on buses whose job it will be to perform bag searches, watch for “suspicious activity” and interrogate passengers in order to ‘curb crime and terrorism’.
http://www.infowars.com/tsa-to-search-bags-question-passengers-on-houston-buses/

India tests long-range nuclear missile rocket

Published on Apr 19, 2012 by

India has test-fired a long range nuclear missile, Agni V, capable of reaching China and Europe. . Report by Katie Lamborn

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Politics and Legislation

Walker signs bill barring workers from collecting damages for employment discrimination

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has signed a bill that prohibits workers from collecting damages in employment discrimination cases.

By: Associated Press report, Associated Press

MADISON — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has signed a bill that prohibits workers from collecting damages in employment discrimination cases.

Under current state law, employees who prevail in discrimination lawsuits can collect between $50,000 and $300,000 in compensatory and punitive damages. The Republican bill blocks anyone from collecting such damages in employment discrimination suits…..

Read Full Article Here

Another health law faces court challenge

By Julian Pecquet

Two weeks after fighting for the survival of its signature healthcare reform law before the Supreme Court, the Obama administration will be back in court Tuesday to defend another part of the president’s agenda to make Americans healthier.

The D.C. Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear oral arguments in a case brought by five tobacco companies challenging regulations requiring graphic warning labels on cigarette packs and advertisements starting in September.

Once again, the administration is finding itself accused of overstepping its constitutional authority, this time on First Amendment grounds.

“The graphic images … were neither designed to protect the consumer from confusion or deception, nor to increase consumer awareness of smoking risks; rather, they were crafted to evoke a strong emotional response calculated to provoke the viewer to quit or never start smoking,” federal Judge Richard Leon, a George W. Bush appointee, ruled in February…..

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White House abandons push for federal contractors to disclose political giving

By Mike Lillis

The Obama administration has all but abandoned its push to require federal contractors to disclose their political donations.

A year ago, the White House composed a draft executive order that would have forced potential government contractors to reveal their political spending as a condition of submitting bids. But roughly 12 months later, no final order has been issued, and supporters and critics alike say they’ve seen no signs such a change is forthcoming.

“The executive order can potentially come back after the 2012 elections,” said Craig Holman, lobbyist for Public Citizen, a government watchdog group that has been urging the greater transparency. “But I don’t consider it still being contemplated [now].”

Holman said Obama sent clear signals the issue has been pushed to the back burner in January when the president declined to pitch it in his State of the Union address.

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Inside Russia: Putin’s Private National Guard

By Yulia Latynina

Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported that President-elect Vladimir Putin is poised to undertake the most significant reform Russia has seen in recent years by creating a National Guard from scratch. These special forces, numbering up to 400,000 men, would answer directly to the president and would be charged with protecting the country from internal threats.

As a result, Russia would resemble a classic South American or Middle Eastern dictatorship. Take, for example, Syria, where for decades men from the lower classes have had only two career options — a dead-end job with a state company or joining the troops that guard the president. Ironically, Putin is considering adopting such a system even after the entire world witnessed how the Libyan version of this model failed miserably, while the Syrian version of this model is headed toward a similar demise.

The creation of dedicated security units unconnected to the army or the police — like the infamous Tonton Macoutes under former Haitian President Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier — does not protect citizens from criminals nor external enemies, but protects the leadership from the people. These units are telltale attributes of a dictatorship.

The Putin regime effectively issued a decree granting freedom to the siloviki, as Peter III had granted certain liberties to the nobility. In freeing the hands of the siloviki, they were allowed to extort, steal and even kill. Paradoxically, the government asked for nothing in return, except for the promise to uphold a sort of gentlemen’s agreement: “You are free to rape and pillage as long as you break up anti-government demonstrations.”….

Read Full Article Here

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Economy

Analysts: Gas prices may have peaked

By Andrew Restuccia

Gasoline prices, which have vexed President Obama politically in recent months, may have reached their peak, according to energy analysts.

Prices at the pump reached nearly $3.94 last Friday, the highest point this year, according to AAA. But prices have decreased slightly over the last five days, reversing increases that began in December of last year.

Analysts say prices could continue to decline.

“What this could potentially mean for motorists is that prices could take a bit of a breather or they might fall,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at gasbuddy.com.“Traditionally, every spring we see prices rise like this,” DeHaan added. “They tend to peak in late spring.”

Ben Brockwell, director of data and pricing at the Oil Price Information Service, said gasoline prices have decreased more in the last five days than any time during the past year…..

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Bernanke says financial stability a work in progress

By Pedro Nicolaci da Costa

STONE MOUNTAIN, Georgia (Reuters) – The U.S. economy has yet to fully recover from the effects of the financial crisis, and regulators must continue to find new ways to strengthen the banking system, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Monday.

“The heavy human and economic costs of the crisis underscore the importance of taking all necessary steps to avoid a repeat of the events of the past few years,” Bernanke told a group of economists and finance experts at a conference sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

In a speech that did not touch directly on the outlook for economic growth or monetary policy, Bernanke focused on the lingering blind spots for financial authorities trying to prevent a repeat of the 2008-2009 meltdown…..

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IRS confident courts will uphold effort to license tax preparers

By Bernie Becker

The IRS is confident that its initiatives to increase regulation of tax preparers will be found legal, despite challenges from opponents.

With a libertarian group filing a lawsuit saying the agency is in the midst of a power-grab, Doug Shulman, the IRS commissioner, said last week that new requirements would help smoke out unscrupulous preparers and were being implemented with care.

“I’m very confident not only is everything we’re doing going to be seen as legal, but more importantly, everything we’re doing, I think, is going to benefit the American people,” Shulman said at the National Press Club on Thursday.

Under the IRS regulations, certain preparers have to pass a new competency test and complete 15 hours of education requirements a year.

According to the most recent figures, roughly 60 percent of taxpayers were using paid preparers.

But while it often takes a government license to cut hair, Shulman said that, before recent IRS efforts, there weren’t basic competency requirements for tax return preparers — even as government reports found some preparers making significant errors.

“I’m the IRS commissioner, so I’m biased that taxes are more important than how your hair looks,” Shulman said Thursday. “I know other people view that differently…..

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Want Jobs? Rescue Homeowners – and Spend, Baby, Spend

Richard (RJ) Eskow, Op-Ed:

Another way to get the economy moving is to get financial relief to people who have been financially struggling and have put off needed spending – on vehicles, home improvements, and the like – as well as reasonable amenities. Homeowners owe $800 billion in “negative equity” to banks for non-existent real estate value. That’s an “invisible bailout” funded by the struggling middle class, and delivered by borrowers who were frequently hoodwinked into taking out a mortgage at inflated prices.

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Ogaki Kyoritsu Bank To Introduce Japan’s 1st Card-Free ATMs

NIKKEI.com

TOKYO (Nikkei)–Ogaki Kyoritsu Bank (8361) said Wednesday it will in September introduce Japan’s first ATMs that will enable customers to conduct cash withdrawals and other transactions by simply placing their palms over a reader, obviating the need for a card or bank book.

Although ATMs equipped with biometric authentication sensors already exist, those machines still require customers to use cash cards or bank books to withdraw funds….

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On-call employment: Good for business, bad for workers

A department store employee wheels out a rack of clothing.

Matt York/The Associated Press

Retail turning to call-in shifts means smaller paychecks and less stability for workers

By Joe Eaton

Like generations of college students, Caprice Taylor needed a job to help pay her school and living expenses. For the 24-year-old student of fashion merchandise management at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, sales work at a retail clothing shop seemed like a good option.

Taylor was hired last year at Club Monaco, a high-end clothing and apparel retailer owned by Polo Ralph Lauren. But her scheduled shifts at the Manhattan store were not guaranteed. Instead, she was given call-in shifts, which required her to call the store two hours before she was scheduled to arrive to see if she was needed.

Most often, she was not.

For months, Taylor said, she arranged her personal life around work days, waiting in her apartment, only to call in and learn the store wasn’t busy enough. On some weeks, Taylor logged as few as six hours, not earning enough to keep up with her living expenses.

“It puts your day on complete hold,” Taylor said. “It pressures you.”

After four months of unpredictable paychecks, Taylor quit. She later found work at a Polo Ralph Lauren store that does not have on-call shifts. She was lucky to find it. Retail watchers say big-box stores and shopping-mall stalwarts are increasingly hiring workers for on-call shifts, a trend that cuts labor costs for employers, but leaves workers like Taylor struggling to get by…..

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Wars and Rumors of War

Bahrain: The Key to Saudi-Qatari Servitude

Neo-Con’s pet project in Bahrain serves as point of leverage for Saudi-Qatari capitulation.

Tony Cartalucci
BlacklistedNews.com

Like an axe poised above one’s neck at execution, the despotic hereditary regimes of Saudi Arabia and Qatar have the specter of their own US-fueled “Arab Springs” looming over them, ever ready to be triggered. A constant reminder of this is the destabilized Sunni royal family in Bahrain, in the epicenter of Saudi and Qatari power.

Bahrain: The Key to Saudi Qatari Servitude SunniDestabilization

Image: A map of eastern Saudi Arabia featuring the island nation of Bahrain situated between Qatar and the Saudi mainland. Bahrain, like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, is a despotic Sunni monarchy – selected by the West to be made an example of and to keep its neighbors in check and on board for the current “Arab Spring” blitzkrieg upturning the rest of the Arab World. (click image to enlarge)

….

The Bahrain protests, like those of Egypt, Libya, Syria, Myanmar, North Korea, Thailand, and beyond, were trained, equipped, and supported by the US State Department. Leading opposition organizations, such as the US-basedWitness Bahrain” and Bahrain Center for Human Rights, are partnered directly with US State Department-funded fronts like theInternational Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) while a high-profile self-proclaimed leader of the protests, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, was regional coordinator of “Frontline Defenders,” a Ford Foundation, Freedom House, American Jewish World Service, Soros Open Society Institute-funded “human rights” advocacy group. Al-Khawaja is now carrying out a “hunger strike” while in prison…..

Read Full Article Here

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Articles of Interest

Special report: Rendition ordeal that raises new questions about secret trials

In 2004, Fatima Bouchar and her husband, Abdel Hakim Belhaj, were detained en route to the UK, and rendered to Libya. This is the story of their imprisonment, and the trail of evidence that reveals the involvement of the British government

Ian Cobain
guardian.co.uk

Just when Fatima Bouchar thought it couldn’t get any worse, the Americans forced her to lie on a stretcher and began wrapping tape around her feet. They moved upwards, she says, along her legs, winding the tape around and around, binding her to the stretcher. They taped her stomach, her arms and then her chest. She was bound tight, unable to move.

Bouchar says there were three Americans: two tall, thin men and an equally tall woman. Mostly they were silent. She never saw their faces: they dressed in black and always wore black balaclavas. Bouchar was terrified. They didn’t stop at her chest – she says they also wound the tape around her head, covering her eyes. Then they put a hood and earmuffs on her. She was unable to move, to hear or to see. “My left eye was closed when the tape was applied,” she says, speaking about her ordeal for the first time. “But my right eye was open, and it stayed open throughout the journey. It was agony.” The journey would last around 17 hours.

Bouchar, then aged 30, had become a victim of the process known as extraordinary rendition. She and her husband, Abdel Hakim Belhaj, a Libyan Islamist militant fighting Muammar Gaddafi, had been abducted in Bangkok and were being flown to one of Gaddafi’s prisons in Libya, a country where she had never before set foot. However, Bouchar’s case is different from the countless other renditions that the world has learned about over the past few years, and not just because she was one of the few female victims.

Documents discovered in Tripoli show that the operation was initiated by British intelligence officers, rather than the masked Americans or their superiors in the US. There is also some evidence that the operation may have been linked to a second British-initiated operation, which saw two men detained in Iraq and rendered to Afghanistan. Furthermore, the timing of the operation, and the questions that Bouchar’s husband and a second rendition victim say were subsequently put to them under torture, raise disturbing new questions about the secret court system that considers immigration appeals in terrorist cases in the UK – a system that the government has pledged to extend to civil trials in which the government itself is the defendant.

Read Full Article Here

Navy simulates jet crash in Va. Beach

Leanna Caplan

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – On Thursday, the Navy simulated a jet crash near Old Pungo Ferry Road in Virginia Beach.

The drill was organized to train Virginia Beach and Chesapeake first responders. The scenario: A navy jet is unable to make the return trip to Oceana and has crashed near Back Bay in Virginia Beach.

The goal was to develop and exercise coordination efforts between the two cities and the Navy’s first responders, according to a news release from NAS Oceana.

CAPT James Webb, the CO of NAS Oceana, said, “We’re totally relying on all the cooperation. The first responders have to come from the surrounding community.”

The drill included numerous emergency services personnel and vehicles responding to the Navy’s fire trainer, which was placed in the parking lot of the old Capt. George’s restaurant.

“There are specific responder issues in dealing with aircraft that they wouldn’t normally face,” NAS Oceana Dist. Fire Chief Kenneth Snyder said.

Like unexploded ordinance and extremely flammable composite materials.

NAS Oceana personnel practice at least annually for the potential of a military aircraft crash, and the drill often involves the city’s first responders, but this is the first time a drill will involve both Chesapeake and Virginia Beach.

http://www.fox43tv.com/video/videoplayer.swf?dppversion=18327

Navy simulates jet crash in Va. Beach: fox43tv.com

Navy held recent drill to prepare for ‘exact’ events of Va. crash

April 6, 2012 by legitgov

Holy coincidence, Batman! Navy held recent drill to prepare for ‘exact’ events of Va. crash 06 Apr 2012 The US Navy held a drill on 15 December to prepare for the ‘exact’ situation that took place Friday, regarding the F/A-18 Navy jet crash. (No link, Fox News, 7PM ET live broadcast)

Navy jet has ‘catastrophic mechanical malfunction,’ hits apartments in Virginia

From Michael Martinez and Barbara Starr, CNN

CNN affiliates WTKR, WAVY and WVEC have more on the story.

(CNN) — A Navy fighter jet experienced a “catastrophic mechanical malfunction” during takeoff Friday over the military community of Virginia Beach, Virginia, and rained a stench of jet fuel shortly before crashing into apartment buildings, according to residents and Navy officials.

The jet carried a student pilot in the front seat and an experienced instructor behind him, and the dumping of jet fuel was “one of the indications that there was a mechanical malfunction,” Navy Capt. Mark Weisgerber told reporters.

The malfunction is being investigated, he said.

The two pilots, a Virginia Beach police officer, an EMS volunteer and three other people were treated at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital. One of the pilots was admitted, while the other six patients were released, the hospital’s website said.

Both pilots, who live in Virginia Beach, are “doing well and they suffered minor injuries,” Weisgerber said.

As of Friday night, three people from one of five apartment buildings heavily damaged in the crash were unaccounted for, down from 30, Virginia Beach Fire Department Battalion Chief Tim Riley said.

No one has been reported missing to authorities, but rescue crews are using a checklist of all occupants in the five buildings in an effort to account for all residents, Riley said.
Witnesses describe horror of jet crash

Rescue crews did an initial search of the five buildings, and as of Friday night, completed 95% of a secondary search, Riley said.
Witness: Pilot apologized for jet crash

“If there is anybody there, chances of survivability would be low,” Riley told reporters, referring to any survivors in the five buildings.
Witness: I saw flames under the plane

No deaths were reported as of Friday night, Riley said…..

Read Full Article Here

Florida toll booths caught acting like TSA and DHS

Uploaded by on Mar 7, 2011

Pay with a big bill and you will get the third degree- how did you get this money? do you have a bank statement-are you a terrorist? What you have a job- arrest him quick!!!

North Korea suffers major blow as rocket crashes

By Ju-min Park

(Reuters) – North Korea’s much hyped long-range rocket apparently crashed into the sea a few minutes after launch on Friday, U.S. and South Korean officials said, dealing a blow to the prestige of the reclusive and impoverished state as well as to its new leader.

Pyongyang had defied international pressure from the United States, the United Nations and others to push ahead with the launch timed to celebrate the 100th birthday of Kim Il-sung, the deceased founder of the state.

Even close ally China had warned against the launch and South Korean intelligence officials have said North Korea may be ready to follow it up with a third nuclear test as it did after a rocket launch in 2009.

“South Korean and U.S. intelligence understand that North Korea’s missile launch failed,” a spokesman for the South’s defense ministry told reporters at a briefing.

North Korea said it wanted the Unha-3 rocket to put a weather satellite into orbit, although critics believed it was designed to enhance its capacity to design a ballistic missile to deliver a nuclear warhead capable of hitting the continental United States.

The rocket crashed in a sea that separates the Korean peninsula from China off the west coast of South Korea after flying 120 km (75 miles) from its launch site close to the Chinese border, officials in Seoul, Washington and Tokyo said…..

Read Full Article Here

Rep. Mica: GSA officials spent week in Hawaii for one-hour ribbon cutting

By Pete Kasperowic

Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) said Wednesday that the ongoing probe into the wasteful spending habits of the General Services Administration (GSA) has uncovered that several GSA officials were flown to Hawaii for a week to attend a one-hour ribbon cutting ceremony.

The announcement from the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairma is the latest in a slow drip of news on GSA’s activities that will culminate in two explosive hearings next week. One of Mica’s subcommittees will hold a hearing Tuesday, and the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee will grill current and former GSA officials on Monday.

Most of the anger from lawmakers has focused on a 2010 junket to Las Vegas that cost more than $800,000, as well as bonuses and expensive gifts given to GSA employees. But Mica said the Hawaii trip is a new low….

Read Full Article Here

[In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit, for research and/or educational purposes. This constitutes ‘FAIR USE’ of any such copyrighted material.]

Politics and Legislation

“Merchant of Death” Viktor Bout Sentenced to 25 Years; Trial Ignored His Ties to U.S., Dick Cheney

http://www.democracynow.org/embed/story/2012/4/6/merchant_of_death_viktor_bout_sentenced

Judge Napolitano: I Think the President Is Dangerously Close to Totalitarianism

American-Allied Dictatorship Shuts Down Pro-Democracy U.S. Group

-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) last week forced the closure of two non-governmental organizations that promote democracy, mirroring the actions last year of the military-led government in Egypt against the same NGOs.

The first NGO shut down was the U.S.-funded National Democratic Institute (NDI), followed by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, based in Germany. The UAE did not provide any explanation for the closings.

Both pro-democracy groups had their offices raided and closed in Egypt during 2011. The NDI was created in 1983 and funded through the National Endowment for Democracy.

An official with NDI said the move was disappointing and “arbitrary.” It was pointed out that the NGO had no programs at this time in the UAE, so the closure would have “no serious ramifications for our work.”

On Thursday, the UAE government detained overnight two NDI employees, an American, Patricia David, and a Serb, Slobodan Milic.

On Christmas Day the Obama administration approved $3.5 billion in weapons sales to the UAE royal government, with almost $2 billion going to Lockheed Martin for two Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) batteries, and. $582.5 million going to Raytheon for radar and services.

 

Scott Walker Wages War on Women

Amanda Terkel

Scott Walker Quietly Repeals Wisconsin Equal Pay Law

WASHINGTON — A Wisconsin law that made it easier for victims of wage discrimination to have their day in court was repealed on Thursday, after Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) quietly signed the bill.

The 2009 Equal Pay Enforcement Act was meant to deter employers from discriminating against certain groups by giving workers more avenues via which to press charges. Among other provisions, it allows individuals to plead their cases in the less costly, more accessible state circuit court system, rather than just in federal court.

In November, the state Senate approved SB 202, which rolled back this provision. On February, the Assembly did the same. Both were party-line votes in Republican-controlled chambers.

SB 202 was sent to Walker on March 29. He had, according to the state constitution, six days to act on the bill. The deadline was 5:00 p.m. on Thursday. The governor quietly signed the bill into law on Thursday, according to the Legislative Reference Bureau, and it is now called Act 219.

Walker’s office did not return repeated requests for comment.

State Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) and Rep. Christine Sinicki (D-Milwaukee), the authors of the Equal Pay Enforcement Act, criticized Walker on Thursday for not informing the public of his actions on SB 202.

“We are finally starting to see progress here in Wisconsin, yet like their counterparts across the country, Legislative Republicans want to turn back the clock on women’s rights in the workplace,” said Hansen….

Read Full Article Here

 

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Economy

European stock markets rocked by panic selling as debt crisis reignites

Investors demanding high premiums for holding Italian and Spanish bonds as fears of double-dip recession grow

Europe‘s sovereign debt crisis exploded back into life on Tuesday, with markets across the continent rocked by a wave of panic selling amid renewed fears about the impact of savage austerity measures in Spain and Italy.

The mood of uneasy calm seen across Europe since the Greek bailout in February was shattered as financial markets took fright at evidence of a double-dip recession and growing popular opposition to welfare cuts and tax increases.

Italy and Spain, the euro-zone’s third and fourth biggest economies, were at the centre of the market turmoil, with investors demanding an increasingly high premium for holding their bonds.

“Spain is right in the center of a European storm,” admitted finance minister Luis de Guindos, who declined to rule out an eventual bailout but insisted it could be avoided.

In Italy, Mario Monti’s coalition government is facing growing hostility to reforms of its labor market, while the sheer size of the country’s public debt made it an obvious target for nervous traders. The prospect of Greek voters rejecting austerity and the French electorate denying Nicolas Sarkozy a second term as president was also weighing on the markets.

Read Full Article Here

 

 

U.S. Aid to Israel Equals $4.9 Million a Day for 64 Years

No one can say the U.S. hasn’t been generous towards Israel since it was founded in 1948.
Over a period of 64 years (including the 2013 budget request), the U.S. has given Israel more than $115 billion in military and foreign aid, which averages out to about $4.9 million a day.
American and Israeli officials are currently negotiating a new aid deal that would provide more money for a new missile defense program, Iron Dome. Previous funding requests approved $205 million for the project, and Israel is trying to secure at least that much if not more for future years.
Although some Republicans have tried to portray President Barack Obama as soft on Israel, his budget for Fiscal Year 2013 includes $3.1 billion in military aid for Israel, the most in 13 years.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky

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Wars and Rumors of War

U.S. Defines Its Demands for New Round of Talks With Iran

By DAVID E. SANGER and STEVEN ERLANGER

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration and its European allies plan to open new negotiations with Iran by demanding the immediate closing and ultimate dismantling of a recently completed nuclear facility deep under a mountain, according to American and European diplomats.

They are also calling for a halt in the production of uranium fuel that is considered just a few steps from bomb grade, and the shipment of existing stockpiles of that fuel out of the country, the diplomats said.

That negotiating position will be the opening move in what President Obama has called Iran’s “last chance” to resolve its nuclear confrontation with the United Nations and the West diplomatically. The hard-line approach would require the country’s military leadership to give up the Fordo enrichment plant outside the holy city of Qum, and with it a huge investment in the one facility that is most hardened against airstrikes.

Read Full Article Here

The US War on Drug Cartels in Mexico Is a Deadly Failure

Mark Karlin, Truthout:

“There is no end game here. The United States is using all its vast powers to do what urban police do in American cities: chase the corner drug dealers out of one area and into another, through the use of temporary intensive ‘enforcement’ – and then chase them back again at a later date…. Meanwhile, in the United States, controlling the demand side appears to be interpreted as throwing people – particularly minority men – in jail for drug offenses, leading to the highest incarceration rate in the world.”

Read Full Article Here

Deal Reached on Contested Afghan Night Raids

Alissa J. Rubin, The New York Times News Service:

“Afghanistan and the United States signed an agreement on Sunday on night military raids that would hand responsibility for carrying out the operations to Afghan forces but allow continued American involvement. The agreement clears the way for the two countries to move ahead with a more comprehensive long-term partnership agreement, say Afghan and American officials.”

Read Full Article Here

Nigeria: Fertile Ground for Balkanization

By Nile Bowie
BlacklistedNews.com


While the Sahel security crisis continues to deteriorate following Tuareg rebels’ declaration of an independent state in Mali’s troubled northern territory [1], recent events in Nigeria indicate a potential for increased regional instability. Boko Haram, a Salafist organization seeking to overthrow the secular administration of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, has recently killed 38 civilians in a suicide car bomb targeting nearby churches holding Easter services in the northern city of Kaduna [2]. As part of an ongoing campaign of sectarian violence, the group has strived to implement sharia law through the establishment of an Islamic State in northern Nigeria [3]. The group’s belligerent acts of violence claimed more than 500 lives during 2011 [4], prompting President Jonathan to call the current security crisis more dire than that experienced during 1967’s Biafran civil war, adding that jihadi sympathizers have successfully infiltrated his government and security agencies [5].

The group has claimed responsibility for the August 2011 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in the Nigerian capital, Abuja [6], and its adoption of sophisticated tactics indicate that Boko Haram is receiving arms and training from abroad. Mainstream outlets can now be seen readying public opinion for an increased presence in Africa under the Right to Protect Doctrine (R2P) by warning of increased terrorist attacks in Europe, following shifts in Islamist activity away from Iraq and Afghanistan, to the “ungoverned spaces” of the Sahel [7]. While the ongoing War on Terror provides the needed justification for the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) to expand its base of operations throughout the Sahel and the troubled regions of east and central Africa, the modus operandi of Boko Haram indicates foreign nurturing in numerous mediums.

Read Full Article Here

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Articles of Interest

Overall violence in Iraq has gone down since the last U.S. troops finally withdrew in December, but Washington’s avid support for the emerging dictator in Baghdad has troubling implications for Iraqis.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has demonstrated an increasingly authoritarian rule as he consolidates power over the country’s institutions and security forces. He has marginalized his political opponents through force and coercion, which has stoked sectarian tensions and even threatened a break-up of the nation. And Obama is supporting all of it.

Maliki, a Shiite, ordered the arrest of his Sunni Vice President Hashemi just as the last U.S. troops left Iraq. The U.S. ambassador to Iraq expressed approval in January of this quest to detain Iraq’s vice president on trumped up terrorism charges, despite a virtual consensus that it was a blatant attempt to eliminate a political rival.

Maliki also betrayed an agreement that would have limited his ability to marginalize the Sunnis and turn the military into a sectarian force and ended up arresting hundreds of former Baath Party members on charges that they were involved in a coup plot. Because of the turmoil, Sunni and Kurdish blocs in the Iraqi parliament committed themselves to a boycott, and later threatened secession.

Alaa Mekki, a senior lawmaker with the mostly Sunni Iraqiya bloc, said of the U.S., “Their goal of a united, democratic Iraq is now under threat because of what we describe as the dictatorship attitude.” Angered Kurds and Sunnis say their disenfranchisement has never been greater.

Read Full Article Here

 

 

NAFTA Partners Take Steps to Boost Trilateral Relationship

By Dana Gabriel
BlacklistedNews.com

While bilateral initiatives have dominated North American issues over the last couple of years, the trilateral relationship has suffered. With a series of high-level meetings, the U.S., Canada and Mexico are taking steps to boost the NAFTA partnership. First, the defense ministers met to discuss shared continental security threats. This was followed by a leaders summit which pledged to deepen trade, regulatory, energy and security cooperation. The recent meetings have caused some to once again take notice of the incremental efforts to merge all three countries into a North American Union.

In what was hailed as an historic event, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay, Mexican Secretary of National Defense Guillermo Galvan, and Mexican Secretary of the Navy Mariano Mendoza recently held the Inaugural Meeting of North American Defense Ministers. As part of a framework they agreed to, “ Develop a joint trilateral defense threat assessment for North America to deepen our common understanding of the threats and challenges we face. Explore ways to improve our support to the efforts of civilian public security agencies in countering illicit activities in our respective countries and the hemisphere, such as narcotics trafficking. Explore how we can collaborate to increase the speed and efficiency with which our armed forces support civilian-led responses to disasters. Continue to work together to strengthen hemispheric defense forums.” The ministers also committed to enhancing cooperation in the fight against transnational criminal organizations. The trilateral defense meeting is part of the ongoing efforts to establish a fully integrated North American security perimeter.

Read Full Article Here

 

Goldman Sachs Gets Lousy £25,000 Fine For Manipulating Oil Prices

Posted by

In another example of the two tiered justice system for the globe’s financial elite, Goldman gets a measly £25,000 fine after getting caught manipulating oil prices.

If a Muslim were caught doing this it would be condemned as an act of Financial Terrorism and be responded to with the swift deployment of predator drones and intercontinental  ballistic missiles.

But when the people in the good old boys network get caught they get a fine that was most likely much less than they made off the illegal trades.

But don’t you dare pick up a protest sign and demand accountability for these kind of acts or you just may find yourself beaten and arrested.

You, me and everyone else pay for this kind of crap directly at the gas pump.

Via The ICE Futures  Investment Exchange, here is the full text of the sanctions letter.

 

 

First Man Arrested With Drone Evidence Vows to Fight Case

Court must decide if police are allowed to use drones to help make arrests

Rodney Brossart was arrested in June.

The tiny town of Lakota, N.D., is quickly becoming a key testing ground for the legality of the use of unmanned drones by law enforcement after one of its residents became the first American citizen to be arrested with the help of a Predator surveillance drone.

The bizarre case started when six cows wandered onto Rodney Brossart’s 3,000 acre farm. Brossart, an alleged anti-government “sovereignist,” believed he should have been able to keep the cows, so he and two family members chased police off his land with high powered rifles.

Read Full Article Here

 

 

[In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit, for research and/or educational purposes. This constitutes ‘FAIR USE’ of any such copyrighted material.]

Politics and Legislation

Democrats deny parallels between Presidents Obama and Carter

By Alexander Bolton

Democrats say the political prognosis for President Obama is much better than it was at the same point in former President Jimmy Carter’s first term, even though the pace of the nation’s job growth has slowed.

Obama was set back Friday by disappointing jobs numbers but the economy still created jobs at a faster pace than under Carter or former President George H.W. Bush, two of only four presidents to lose re-elections in the last 100 years.

Jobs are growing at a substantially faster clip than they did in 1980, when Carter lost to Ronald Reagan in a landslide, and 1992, when Bush lost narrowly to Bill Clinton.

Obama’s three-month average for 2012 is also better than the job growth former President George W. Bush saw when he was re-elected in 2004.

The economy is creating more jobs than it did in 2000, when former Vice President Al Gore (D-Tenn.) fumbled the handoff of the White House from Clinton, or 2004 when George W. Bush held off a strong challenge from Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).

But jobs are not growing as fast as 1988, when then-Vice President George H.W. Bush successfully ran on Reagan’s economic record, or 1996, when Clinton won a second White-House term. Bush and Clinton won easily in those years.

While many political experts predicted this year’s presidential election would come down to the economy, the middling nature of the recovery signals that campaign tactics and the candidates’ performances may prove more decisive…..

Read Full Article Here

GOP: Obama, Democrats view energy as ‘hazardous waste’

By Vicki Needham

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said President Obama’s policies are the cause of rising gas prices, not a lack of energy resources.

Fallin said Saturday that the problem stems from a lack of leadership and questioned Obama’s role in increasing the nation’s energy output and in the hold up of the Keystone XL pipeline, especially as gas prices hover near an average of $4 a gallon.

In the weekly Republican address, Fallin said “our pro-energy policies stand in stark contrast though to the policies supported by President Obama and the Washington Democrats, who seem to view American-made energy as a hazardous waste rather than a resource.”

“Millions of Americans remain out of work, but President Obama continues to propose job-killing tax hikes and obstruct the basic energy infrastructure projects that would lead to the creation of thousands of new jobs, not to mention more revenue in state budgets,” she said…..

Read Full Article Here

The Best Congress the Banks’ Money can Buy

Bill Moyers, Op-Ed:

It’s happening right now with the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act — passed two years ago in the wake of our disastrous financial meltdown. Just last week, for example, both parties in the House overwhelmingly approved two bills that already would change Dodd-Frank’s rules on derivatives — those convoluted trading deals recently described by the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission as “the largest dark pool in our financial markets.”

Read Full Article Here

Germany throws weight behind Iran’s nuclear energy program

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has underlined Iran’s right to develop its nuclear energy program as a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

According to a commentary by the top German diplomat in the Sunday paper Bild am Sonntag, Westerwelle stressed “Iran’s right to have nuclear energy for civilian use.”

Read Full Article Here

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Economy

Mild winter may have artificially inflated jobs data, economists fear

By Ylan Q. Mui,

As most Americans basked in the warmest, sunniest March in half a century, economists stared at the skies with dread:

Could good weather portend bad news for the economic recovery?

Economists say the mild winter has artificially inflated job growth. February alone stole as many as 72,000 positions from March and future months, according to Macroeconomic Advisers.

Translation: The surge in hiring early in the year may not be as strong as it appeared.

The unusual weather began in January, which was the fourth warmest in more than a century. February ranked in the top 20, according to government data. Weather consulting firm Planalytics said several major cities experienced their warmest March in 118 years, including Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis and Oklahoma City, where temperatures were about 15 degrees higher than average.

For many people, that meant an early debut of open-toed shoes and dinners al fresco, and early mulching and spring cleaning. It also meant more jobs for construction workers and retail employees to keep pace with demand. Planalytics said demand jumped 40 percent last month for lawn mowers, 17 percent for sun care and 5 percent for bottled water…..

Read Full Article Here

Regulators: JP Morgan illegally let Lehman Bros. count customers’ funds as its own

By David S. Hilzenrath,

JP Morgan Chase illegally allowed Lehman Brothers, the investment bank whose 2008 bankruptcy brought the financial system to the brink of collapse, to count customers’ money as its own, according to federal regulators.

The arrangement boosted the amount that Lehman could borrow from JP Morgan, where the customers’ money was deposited, regulators charged Wednesday.

Then, at the height of the financial crisis, JP Morgan refused to release the customer funds for about two weeks, until regulators ordered it to do so, regulators charged.

The charges were spelled out in an enforcement action against JP Morgan by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

Read Full Article Here

What Today’s Job Numbers Mean

Robert Reich, Op-Ed:

American consumers, in short, are hitting a wall. They don’t dare save much less because their jobs are still insecure. They can’t borrow much more. Their home values are still dropping, and many are underwater – owing more on their homes than the homes are worth. The economy has been growing but almost all the gains have gone to the very top. As I’ve noted, this is the most lopsided recovery on record.

Read Full Article Here

Oil prices fall 2 percent

Oil drops below $102 per barrel on concerns of economic recovery

NEW YORK (AP) — Oil prices fell Monday on concerns about the economic recovery.

West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark crude, fell $1.92 to $101.39 per barrel. Brent crude, which is used to price oil imported by U.S. refineries, slipped $2.13 to $121.30 per barrel.

The U.S. economy added just 120,000 jobs in March— half as much as each of the previous three months. The government reported the disappointing data on Friday, but Monday was the first day oil markets were open. Stocks also fell.

Read Full Article Here

 

Egan Jones Downgrades US Credit Rating

 

Another Credit Agency Downgrades US

by William Bigelow

Credit rating agency Egan Jones downgraded the United States Thursday on concern over the sustainability of public debt. Egan Jones is one of the most important ratings firms in the world; they lowered our credit level from AA+ to AA. The firm reduced America from AAA to AA+ in July 2011, just before Standard & Poor’s did the same.

Egan Jones warned. “Without some structural changes soon, restoring credit quality will become increasingly difficult . . . without some structural changes soon, restoring credit quality will become increasingly difficult.” They added that there was a 1.2% probability of U.S  default in the next 12 months.  The company cited the fact that the US’s total debt, which now equals its total GDP, is rising and soon will eclipse the national GDP; the company sees the debt rising to 112% of the GDP by 2014.

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Wars and Rumors of War

S.Korea, U.S. Practice Stabilizing N.Korea in Civil War

The annual joint South Korean and U.S. exercises dubbed “Key Resolve” last month for the first time practiced deploying more than 100,000 South Korean troops in North Korea to stabilize the country in case of regime collapse.

The two countries “practiced deploying a large contingent of troops to bring stability in the North in case of civil war in the wake of sudden change there,” a government source said on Thursday. “Seoul and Washington practiced preparing for sudden change in the North for the first time during last year’s Key Resolve drill, but this was the first time we went on the assumption that South Korean troops would be deployed in the North.”

Read Full Article Here

“More Than Three Days Of Nonstop U.S. Backed Air Bombardment Of Southern Yemen”

5 days before talks, Iran rejects key demands

US, Israeli demands on Iran very similar; Barak urges world powers not to “lower the bar” during talks.

With critical talks on the Iranian nuclear program set to begin Friday, Tehran already rejected two key demands on Sunday by the world’s powers: Closing the Fordow underground uranium enrichment facility near Qom and stopping the enrichment of uranium to 20 percent.

Fereydoon Abbasi Davani, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency, called the Western diplomats’ demands “irrational,” according to AFP.

AFP quoted Davani as saying in an interview with the Iranian ISNA news agency that the Fordow facility had to be built underground because of the West’s threats to attack the Islamic Republic’s nuclear facilities.

“If they do not threaten us and guarantee that no aggression will occur, then there would be no need for countries to build facilities underground.

They should change their behavior and language,” he said.

Davani added that Iran would continue to produce uranium enriched to 20%, but not “more than we need, because it is not in our benefit to produce it and keep it.”

Iran claims it needs 20% enriched uranium to produce medical isotopes in its Tehran Research Reactor, while the West believes the 20% enriched uranium is a stepping stone to creating nuclear weapons.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ridiculed the isotopes claim during his speech to the America Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy Conference last month, saying: “A country that builds underground nuclear facilities, develops intercontinental ballistic missiles, manufactures thousands of centrifuges and absorbs crippling sanctions, is doing all that in order to advance… medical research. So you see, when that Iranian ICBM is flying through the air to a location near you, you’ve got nothing to worry about. It’s only carrying medical isotopes.”

Getting Iran to suspend its high-level uranium enrichment and close the bunker at Fordow are “near-term priorities” for the United States and its allies, a senior US official said on Sunday, confirming an earlier New York Times report.

Read Full Article Here

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Articles of Interest

The BBC Film That Exposed Israel’s Secret Illegal Nuclear Weapons (FULL Documentary)

No More Rule By Slogans And Brands: Public Confidence In The PR State In D.C. Is Collapsing

The brand of Barack Obama is collapsing.

“Heaven smiles, and faiths and empires gleam,
Like wrecks of a dissolving dream.” – Percy Bysshe Shelley.

“He who abhors and shuns the light of the Sun,
He who refuses to behold with respect the living creation of God,
He who leads the good to wickedness,
He who makes the meadows waterless and the pastures desolate,
He who lets fly his weapon against the innocent,
An enemy of my faith, a destroyer of Thy principles is he, O Lord!” – Zarathustra.

The Obama brand is collapsing and nothing can save it. This was inevitable because the Obama brand is all surface and no substance. Barack Obama is a pseudo president of a propaganda state that has committed atrocities against innocent people in America and around the world. Obama’s name, image, authority, and charisma were all artificially created by the mind controllers in the mass media.

As the legendary journalist John Pilger said in April 2009, “No one knew what the new brand actually stood for.” Since it stands for nothing, the Obama brand is falling into oblivion. Obama, who was sold as the defender of the rule of law and the rights of the American people, is now being exposed to be a liar and a fraud…..

Read Full Article Here

Meet the ALEC Staffers Who Help Corporations Write Our Laws

Zaid Jilani, Republic Report:

“ALEC is accustomed to hiding its agenda and its legislation behind closed doors. At secretive conferences and over e-mail chains the public never sees, the organization allows its corporate donors to manufacture bills and then send them to be passed in state legislatures without the public ever knowing about their origin. But these ALEC staffers can’t hide who they are, and what they do for an organization that harms almost every area of American life.”

Read Full Article Here

Sheriff Arpaio says Obama’s birth certificate is forged

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said President Barack Obama’s birth certificate is not authentic.

Arpaio revealed the findings of a investigation into the president’s birth certificate at a 1 hour and 20 minute news conference Thursday, calling the certificate “suspect.”

Arpaio’s team of investigators said they found that the long-form birth certificate was created electronically and never existed in paper form.

The president’s Selective Service card was also questioned.

Arpaio’s investigators claimed the document has “failed every test we put it through.”

At Thursday’s news conference, investigators said they will request a criminal investigation. They also said they have identified a person of interest in the forgery of the birth certificate.

Arpaio said he is not accusing the president of the crime. He said they will investigate who is behind the “possible forgery and fraud.”

“I haven’t decided where to go with this yet,” Arpaio said. “I just wanted to get the facts of this situation. We haven’t accused anyone of anything.”

The controversy over the certificate has been widely debunked, but it remains alive in the eyes of some conservatives, namely members of the Tea Party who urged Arpaio to look into the matter.

For the past six months, Arpaio’s “Cold Case Posse” has been investigating the authenticity of those documents to see if there’s been any fraud or forgery involved.

“We conducted a very professional investigation; we have come up with I feel some probable cause, some evidence,” Arpaio said Wednesday.

Arpaio said the investigation was done at no cost to taxpayers.

“Just let me say the results may be interesting without using the word ‘shocked,'” Arpaio said prior to the conference. “I think it will reveal some information no one else has really developed in a professional law enforcement manner.”

The Cold Case Posse comprises volunteers who are former police officers and lawyers.

Arpaio is facing problems of his own, including a federal grand jury probe over alleged abuse of power and Justice Department accusations of racial profiling.

Rather than seek cover, Arpaio is moving into the spotlight in a fashion that has helped boost his career as a nationally-known law officer. http://www.kpho.com/story/17053035/arpaio-to-reveal-results-of-birther-probe

http://cnettv.cnet.com/av/video/cbsnews/atlantis2/cbsnews_player_embed.swf

[In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit, for research and/or educational purposes. This constitutes ‘FAIR USE’ of any such copyrighted material.]

Politics and Legislation

Payola for the Most Profitable Corporations in History
And Why Taxpayers Shouldn’t Stand for It Any More

By Bill McKibben

April 06, 2012 — Along with “five dollar a gallon gas,” the energy watchword for the next few months is: “subsidies.” Last week, for instance, New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez proposed ending some of the billions of dollars in handouts enjoyed by the fossil-fuel industry with a “Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act.” It was, in truth, nothing to write home about — a curiously skimpy bill that only targeted oil companies, and just the five richest of them at that. Left out were coal and natural gas, and you won’t be surprised to learn that even then it didn’t pass.

Still, President Obama is now calling for an end to oil subsidies at every stop on his early presidential-campaign-plus-fundraising blitz — even at those stops where he’s also promising to “drill everywhere.” And later this month Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders will introduce a much more comprehensive bill that tackles all fossil fuels and their purveyors (and has no chance whatsoever of passing this Congress).

Whether or not the bill passes, those subsidies are worth focusing on. After all, we’re talking at least $10 billion in freebies and, depending on what you count, possibly as much as $40 billion annually in freebie cash for an energy industry already making historic profits. If attacking them is a convenient way for the White House to deflect public anger over rising gas prices, it is also a perfect fit for the new worldview the Occupy movement has been teaching Americans. (Not to mention, if you think about it, the Tea Party focus on deficits.) So count on one thing: we’ll be hearing a lot more about them this year.

Read Full Article Here

Issa, Grassley hammer White House for stonewalling on ‘Fast and Furious’ witness

By Michael Volpe

The Obama administration is stonewalling two lawmakers’ requests to interview a former member of the National Security staff in connection with the failed Operation Fast and Furious gun-walking program, according to a March 28 letter obtained by The Daily Caller.

California Rep. Darrell Issa and Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, both Republicans, requested a response by April 4 to their letter, which asks for an interview with Kevin O’Reilly, that former staffer. But the White House, according to the letter, is blocking access to him.

Through staff, both Grassley and Issa confirmed to TheDC on Thursday that April 4 came and went without any response from the Obama administration.

In their letter to White House Counsel Karen Ruemmler, Grassley and Issa cited a cryptic email exchange between O’Reilly and William Newell, the special agent in charge of the Phoenix office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives at the time Fast and Furious was implemented. The emails, their letter suggests, indicate that Newell was going around his chain of command to personally brief the White House about developments in the gun-walking program.

“You didn’t get this from me,” Newell wrote to O’Reilly in a Sept. 3, 2010 email about Fast and Furious, according to the letter from Issa and Grassley.

“Just don’t want ATF HQ to find out,” Newell wrote in am earlier email, “especially since this is what they should be doing (briefing you!).”

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which Issa chairs, has not yet made complete copies of those emails available to reporters.

Read Full Article Here

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Economy

Greek mourners: it was not suicide, it was financial murder – video

Athenians gather in the spot where a 77-year-old man shot himself dead over debts on Wednesday and a woman reads the man’s suicide letter to the crowd. Later in the evening the vigil turns to chaos when riot police use teargas on protesters. Mourners say the police attacks were unprovoked

View video Here

Ireland: Bailed Out Banks are in Process of Going Bust Again

By David McWilliam

April 06, 2012 “Information Clearing House” — Ernest Hemingway was once asked how did he go bankrupt. The great man thought for a second and then replied: “I went bankrupt in two ways, gradually and then suddenly.”

When we see the figures coming from the various banks, it is not difficult to see that something similar is happening in Ireland. Whether the banks end up bust again, the second time in three years, will depend on how the ECB reacts but it looks like the banks, having been bailed out and having received huge government capital injections, could now be in the process of going bust.

As Mr Hemingway observed, people and entities go bust gradually, at first — this is the phase we are in. Then they go bust overnight. History suggests that after that happens, the economy will recover because we have to start again.

Interestingly, the reason that the banks might be going bust gradually is because the ECB is giving them money at 1pc so that they can mask the inconsistencies in their business model for another year or two. But when that money runs out or the ECB’s policy reverses, which it must eventually, where will they get the cash to operate?

Read Full Article Here

U.S. Standard of Living Has Fallen More Than 50%

By Jeff Nielson

April 06, 2012 “Information Clearing House” — In writing about the relentless collapse of Western economies, I frequently point to “forty years of plummeting wages” for Western workers, in real dollars. However, where I have been remiss is in quantifying the magnitude of this collapse in Western wages.

On several occasions I have glibly referred to how it now takes two spouses working to equal the wages of a one-income family of forty years ago. Unfortunately that is now an understatement. In fact, Western wages have plummeted so low that a two-income family is now (on average) 15% poorer than a one-income family of 40 years ago.

Using the year 2000 as the numerical base from which to “zero” all of the numbers, real wages peaked in 1970 at around $20/hour. Today the average worker makes $8.50 hour – more than 57% less than in 1970. And since the average wage directly determines the standard of living of our society, we can see that the average standard of living in the U.S. has plummeted by over 57% over a span of 40 years.

There are no “tricks” here. Indeed, all of the tricks are used by our governments. The green line shows average wages, discounted by inflation calculated with the same methodology for all 40 years. Obviously that is the only way in which we can compare any data over time: through applying identical parameters to it each year.

Then we have the blue line: showing wage data discounted with our “official” inflation rate. The problem? The methodology used by our governments to calculate inflation in 1975 was different from the method they used in 1985, which was different than the method they used in 1995, which was different than the method they used in 2005.

Read Full Article Here

Only 120,000 jobs added in March, missing economic expectations

By Vicki Needham

The economy added 120,000 jobs in March, well below what economists had predicted, while the unemployment rate ticked down slightly to 8.2 percent.

The number is nearly half the 210,000 expected and ends the streak of three straight months in which the economy added more than 200,000 jobs, according to a Labor Department report released Friday.

The news isn’t what the White House would want to see just as the labor market seemed to be improving at a faster pace.

With the economy remaining a top issue for voters, any perception that its growth is slowing down could hurt President Obama’s reelection effort.

Republicans immediately pounced on the news, attacking Obama’s economic policies.

Mitt Romney, the front-runner for the Republican nomination, used the numbers to criticize the president.

Read Full Article Here

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Wars and Rumors of War

We want war, and we want it now

By Pepe Escobar

It was deep into the night, somewhere over Siberia, in a Moscow to Beijing flight (BRIC to BRIC?) when the thought, like a lightning bolt, began to take hold.

What the hell is wrong with those Arabs?

Maybe it was the narcotic effect of that perennially dreadful Terminal F at Sheremetyevo airport – straight out of a Brejnev gulag. Maybe it was the anticipation of finding more about the Russia-China joint naval exercise scheduled for late April.

Or it was simply another case of “you can take the boy out of the Middle East, but you can’t take the Middle East out of the boy”.

With friends like these … It all had to do with that Friends of Syria (fools for war?) meeting in Istanbul. Picture Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal – who seems to have a knack for sending US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton into rapture – feverishly arguing that the House of Saud, those paragons of democracy, had “a duty” to weaponize the Syrian “revolutionary” opposition.

And picture al-Faisal ordering an immediate ceasefire by the Bashar al-Assad government, guilty – according to the House of Saud – not only of cruel repression but crimes against humanity.

No; this was not a Monty Python sketch.

To make sure he was milking the right cow, al-Faisal also said that the Gulf Counter-revolution Club (GCC), also known as Gulf Cooperation Council, wanted to get further into bed with the United States. Translation, if any was needed; the US-GCC tag team, as expressed by the weaponization of the Syrian “rebels”, is meant to body slam Iran…..

Read Full Article Here

U.S. trained terror group

By Glenn Greenwald

When the U.S. wants to fund, train, arm or otherwise align itself with a Terrorist group or state sponsor of Terror — as it often does — it at least usually has the tact to first remove them from its formal terrorist list (as the U.S. did when it wanted to support Saddam in 1982 and work with Libya in 2006), or it just keeps them off the list altogether despite what former Council on Foreign Relations writer Lionel Beehner described as “mounds of evidence that [they] at one time or another abetted terrorists” (as it has done with close U.S. allies in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, along with the El Salvadoran death squads and Nicaraguan contras armed and funded in the 1980s by the Reagan administration). But according to a new, multi-sourced report from The New Yorker‘s Seymour Hersh, the U.S. did not even bother going through those motions when, during the Bush years, it trained the Iranian dissident group Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK) at a secretive Department of Energy site in Nevada:

It was here that the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) conducted training, beginning in 2005, for members of the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, a dissident Iranian opposition group known in the West as the M.E.K. . . . The M.E.K.’s ties with Western intelligence deepened after the fall of the Iraqi regime in 2003, and JSOC began operating inside Iran in an effort to substantiate the Bush Administration’s fears that Iran was building the bomb at one or more secret underground locations. Funds were covertly passed to a number of dissident organizations, for intelligence collection and, ultimately, for anti-regime terrorist activities. Directly, or indirectly, the M.E.K. ended up with resources like arms and intelligence. Some American-supported covert operations continue in Iran today, according to past and present intelligence officials and military consultants.

Read Full Article Here

Babar Ahmad: This interview is the last chance of ending my nightmare

Uploaded by StoptheWarCoalition on Apr 6, 2012

On 5 April 2012, Barbar Ahmad became the first prisoner in a British jail to be interviewed on television from behind bars in this BBC broadcast. He has been held for eight years in a UK jail without charge or trial, during which time he has been fighting extradition to the United States under controversial “war on terror” legislation. If he has done anything wrong, as a British citizen he asks that he be tried in his own country. MP Caroline Lucas, who has called for a public inquiry, says, “Babar Ahmad’s case shames us all.” To learn more about Babar Ahmad’s case, go to http://freebabarahmad.com

Kurdish opposition quits Syrian National Council

By Lauren Williams
The Daily Star

ISTANBUL: The Syrian Kurdish opposition bloc has walked away from the Syrian National Council, exposing deep and problematic rifts within the umbrella opposition group just days after international leaders granted the body extra recognition after attempts to unify.

Syrian Kurdish opposition leader Abdul-Baki Yousef, a leading member of the Kurdish Yakiti party in Syria and former member of the Kurdish National Council, charged host country Turkey with “pressuring the SNC” to omit the demands of the Kurdish opposition members in the final constitution document outlining a transition plan for Syria.

The fiercely divided SNC pulled the document together at the last minute under pressure to unite from the “Friends of Syria” group.

The Friends group – which includes Turkey, the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Gulf states – recognized the SNC as “a legitimate representative of the Syrian people,” falling well short of the recognition as the legal government in exile they had hoped for after the first Friends of Syria meeting in Tunis in February.

“Our goal was to unify with the opposition and come up with a patriotic agreement that makes an umbrella for the whole opposition, but unfortunately the Turkish sponsor was very sensitive toward the Kurdish issue,” Yousef told The Daily Star. “We accuse the Turkish government of putting pressure on the council.”

Yousef said that negotiations ahead of the conference had outlined recognition of the Kurds, but claimed that those points had been removed in the final covenant.

Read Full Article Here

‘US to accept civilian nuke program in Iran’

President Obama signals Iran that US would endorse nuclear program if Ayatollah Ali Khamenei backs up claim that Islamic Republic won’t purse atom bomb, US paper reports

Yitzhak Benhorin

WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama

has signaled Tehran that the Washington would accept an civilian nuclear program in Iran if Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei can back up his recent claim that his nation “will never pursue nuclear weapons,” the Washington Post reported Friday.

According to the report, the verbal message was sent through Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who met with Khamenei last week. A few days prior to leaving for the trip, Erdogan held a two-hour meeting with Obama on the sidelines of the nuclear security summit in Seoul, in which they discussed what the Turkish leader would tell Khamenei about the nuclear issue.

Read Full Article Here

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Articles of Interest

Our Men in Iran?

Posted by Seymour M. Hersh

From the air, the terrain of the Department of Energy’s Nevada National Security Site, with its arid high plains and remote mountain peaks, has the look of northwest Iran. The site, some sixty-five miles northwest of Las Vegas, was once used for nuclear testing, and now includes a counterintelligence training facility and a private airport capable of handling Boeing 737 aircraft. It’s a restricted area, and inhospitable—in certain sections, the curious are warned that the site’s security personnel are authorized to use deadly force, if necessary, against intruders.

It was here that the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) conducted training, beginning in 2005, for members of the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, a dissident Iranian opposition group known in the West as the M.E.K. The M.E.K. had its beginnings as a Marxist-Islamist student-led group and, in the nineteen-seventies, it was linked to the assassination of six American citizens. It was initially part of the broad-based revolution that led to the 1979 overthrow of the Shah of Iran. But, within a few years, the group was waging a bloody internal war with the ruling clerics, and, in 1997, it was listed as a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department. In 2002, the M.E.K. earned some international credibility by publicly revealing—accurately—that Iran had begun enriching uranium at a secret underground location. Mohamed ElBaradei, who at the time was the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ nuclear monitoring agency, told me later that he had been informed that the information was supplied by the Mossad. The M.E.K.’s ties with Western intelligence deepened after the fall of the Iraqi regime in 2003, and JSOC began operating inside Iran in an effort to substantiate the Bush Administration’s fears that Iran was building the bomb at one or more secret underground locations. Funds were covertly passed to a number of dissident organizations, for intelligence collection and, ultimately, for anti-regime terrorist activities. Directly, or indirectly, the M.E.K. ended up with resources like arms and intelligence. Some American-supported covert operations continue in Iran today, according to past and present intelligence officials and military consultants.

Read Full Article Here

Leaked Video Shows US Contractors Randomly Killing Civilians

Employees of the US military contracting group Academi (formerly Xe, Blackwater USA and Blackwater Worldwide) are seen in new leaked video shooting their machine guns at random while driving through the streets of Baghdad, crashing into other cars and even running over a pedestrian without hesitation.

Academi received a $250 million contract by the Obama administration to provide military services in Afghanistan.

Read Full Article Here

More  Videos  Here

Guilty Of Telling The Truth

20-Year Veteran to Face Jail Time for Act of Civil Disobedience

Retired Naval Commander Leah Bolger will appear in court Thursday, April 12, 2012 on charges stemming from her arrest on October 26th, 2011. Bolger, who is a peace activist and the President of Veterans For Peace, interrupted a public hearing of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, commonly known as the Super Committee.

Read Full Article Here

[In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit, for research and/or educational purposes. This constitutes ‘FAIR USE’ of any such copyrighted material.]

Politics and Legislation

U.S. Pressing Interpol to Deny Egypt’s Request to Arrest NGO Workers

By Sara Sorcher

The Obama administration is petitioning Interpol to deny Egypt’s request for the arrest of American and other nongovernmental workers accused of illegally operating democracy programs and stirring unrest, in a push to prevent further escalation of the planned prosecution that sparked the worst crisis in U.S.-Egypt relations in three decades.

According to people familiar with the case, State Department counsel Harold Koh and Justice Department Deputy Assistant Attorney General Bruce Swartz are trying to convince Interpol to dismiss as “politically motivated” Egypt’s request for worldwide notices seeking the arrest of some personnel from several nongovernmental organizations that receive U.S. funding.

Cairo’s continued plans to prosecute the NGO workers is a sharp rebuke to the U.S., which has been pressing Egypt to drop the criminal charges against 43 nongovernmental workers—17 of them Americans—from the Washington-based National Democratic Institute, International Republican Institute, Freedom House, and International Center for Journalists.

Tensions between Washington and Cairo eased on March 1 when seven American democracy workers were allowed to leave Egypt after their institutions paid some $5 million in “bail” to lift the travel ban against them. These Americans—including IRI’s Sam LaHood, son of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood—still face charges in a trial slated to resume on Tuesday, but are not currently wanted for arrest in Egypt.

Shortly after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton signed off on military aid to Cairo, Egypt asked Interpol to issue so-called red notices for other nongovernmental workers who were not in Egypt at the time, or in some cases, who never worked there at all. As many as 10 of them are Americans. Among them are prominent figures in Washington, like Freedom House’s Charles Dunne, a former U.S. diplomat who also served on the National Security Council under President George W. Bush.

If convicted, they could face a hefty financial penalty and up to five years in an Egyptian prison.

The State and Justice departments, as well as Interpol headquarters in France and its bureau in Washington, all declined to comment on Egypt’s request for the red notices, which are usually viewed as precursors to filing extradition papers. “The United States is making known in every relevant forum, and before every relevant agency, its objection to these politically motivated trials in Egypt,” State Department spokesman Edgar Vasquez told National Journal.

Read Full Article Here

The surveillance state: growing under a coalition that pledged to reverse it

Proposals for real-time monitoring of email and social media show the government has caved in to the security services

James Ball
guardian.co.uk,

If the government were to suggest monitoring every building that each person in the UK visits, and making a note of every conversation they had, the policy would be seen as electoral suicide. Assurances that the actual content of conversations wouldn’t be recorded would be unlikely to help.

It’s a telling sign of how many real-world freedoms have been sacrificed online, then, that a government that just two years ago pledged to “reverse the rise of the surveillance state” feels able to propose real-time monitoring of all email and social media communications.

The information stored would include the sender and recipient of an email, the time it was sent, and details of the computer it was sent from. This would build a profile of who contacts whom, with what frequency, and from where.

The government says such measures are essential to counter organized crime and terrorism, citing that 95% of organized crime investigations and “every” major counter-terrorism investigation use communications data. However, this statistic does not show if such information was essential or even useful to these investigations – merely that investigators chose to get hold of communications records on almost every occasion, usually via warrant or use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa).

Read Full Article Here

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Economy

Gerald Celente on the decline of Empire America

Uploaded by RTAmerica

According to many economists, the days of the US dollar are numbered. As the currency weakens many countries that use the dollar are searching for alternatives. China is expected to be the top world economy in a matter of years. To add insult to injury, the BRICS countries have decided to lose the dollar and use their own currencies. So what does this mean for the US dollar? Gerald Celente, publisher of The Trends Journal, joins us for more.

IMF chief calls on US for more cash

WASHINGTON: IMF managing director Christine Lagarde implored the United States to help back-stop debt-ridden European countries Tuesday, wading neck-deep into bubbling US political waters.

Speaking in the US capital, Lagarde said the 187-nation International Monetary Fund needed more firepower to tackle financial crises raging around the globe, arguing it was in the US interest to pitch in and help Europe.

“Americans might ask themselves: why should what happens in the rest of the world concern us? Don’t we have our own problems?” she said, according to prepared remarks.

“The answer is simple: In today’s world, we cannot afford the luxury of staying in our own mental backyards.”

“If the European economy falters, the American recovery and American jobs would be in jeopardy. So America has a large stake in how Europe fare — and how the world fares.”

Legarde’s comments came 64 years to the day after president Harry Truman signed the Marshall Plan, an unprecedented loan to rebuild post-war Europe.

But her comments will be anathema to politicians in Washington, as the country hurtles toward elections this November.

US officials, including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, have for months trod a thin line between supporting the IMF’s efforts to bolster its resources and actually kicking in some more cash.

Washington has yet to ratify 2010 reforms which would see it send $63 billion more to the IMF’s coffers, under a new quota agreement.

Read Full Article Here

“MF Global is worth more to its Creditors Dead than it was Alive” says Fund Manger Mark Melin

Welcome to Capital Account. [Lauren blows a whistle on set] Is this what the too big to fail banks should really be worried about? A new emerging market for whistle blowers! First Greg Smith, now a congressional budget officer, who’s next? Earlier this week, Greg Smith, a Goldman Sachs employee, made his resignation public on the pages of the New York Times in an op-ed, accusing his firm of “toxic” practices that put profit first at the expense of customers and possibly the US economy. And Lan T. Pham, the CBO officer, alleges that she was fired for not accepting the wall street party line…pressured not to be so pessimistic about banking and the housing outlooks. In just one of many hard-hitting excepts from her letter, the CBO officer says “I was repeatedly pressured by the CBO Assistant Director, Deborah Lucas…not to write nor discuss issues in the banking sector and mortgage markets that might suggest weakness in these sectors and their consequences on the economy and households…” She was encouraged to push the policies of a Morgan Stanley VP and provided Goldman Sachs analyses as well. That sounds familiar doesn’t it?

Despite those who are speaking out, is there just no winning against the too big to fail banks? Remember, when judge Jed Rakoff rejected the SEC’s 285 million dollar settlement with citigroup over toxic mortgage debt. It was because citigroup wasn’t forced to admit liability. Well, now a federal appeals court has stopped just short of rejecting his rejection, saying he overstepped his authority. Come on! What’s it going to take to see some admission of guilt for conch? And speaking of the need to admit guilt, what ever happened to Jon “the Don” Corzine? The MF Global brokerage trustee says they know where some more money is — they want to distribute another $685 million dollars to customers, while another trustee has been asked by US lawmakers to abort his mission to pay out bonuses to MF Global executives. But just who are these trustees? We’ll expose this and more.

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Wars and Rumors of War

Russia’s FM warns against arming Syrian opposition

AIDA SULTANOVA

BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) – Russia’s foreign minister warned other nations again Wednesday not to arm the Syrian opposition, saying it would only escalate hostilities.

Speaking on a trip to Azerbaijan, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the Syrian opposition wouldn’t be able to overwhelm government forces even if it was supplied with weapons from abroad. He warned that a foreign military intervention would lead to even more disastrous consequences for Syria, where President Basher Assay’s forces have violently cracked down on a yearlong uprising in which more than 9,000 people have died.

“Even if they arm the Syrian opposition to the teeth, it won’t be able to defeat the Syrian army,” Lavrov said. “The carnage will go on for many years.”

Read Full Article Here

Israel issues tender for hundreds of new apartments in East Jerusalem

Housing Ministry seeks to expand controversial neighborhood of Har Homa; critics on the left claim expansion of the neighborhood will harm chances of reaching a peace agreement.

By Nir Hasson

Israel’s Housing Ministry published on Tuesday tenders for the construction of hundreds of new housing units in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa, located beyond the Green Line.

The five tenders published by the ministry include 827 new housing units, most of which, 632, are to be part of a new section of the neighborhood called Har Homa Gimel, which is slated to be built on an empty hill.

Read Full Article Here

Iran says could hit U.S. if it came under attack

(Reuters) – The United States would not be safe from retaliation if Iran is attacked by Washington, the Iran newspaper quoted a senior Revolutionary Guards commander on Tuesday as saying.

“In the face of any attack, we will have a crushing response. In that case, we will not only act in the boundaries of the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, no place in America will be safe from our attacks,” Massoud Jazayeri was quoted as saying by the daily.

Iran would not strike any country first, he said.

Tehran is locked in a dispute with the West over its nuclear program.

Israel and the United States have threatened military action against Iran unless it abandons activities which the West suspects are intended to develop nuclear weapons…..

Read Full Article Here

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Articles of Interest

CNN’s Dana Bash On GSA “American Idle” GSA Video: “This Is Just Really Remarkable”

Uploaded by GOPICYMI

CNN’s Dana Bash reports on the video made by GSA employees bragging about the use of taxpayer money for lavish parties and talent shows

Federal judge refuses to halt separation hearing for ‘tea party Marine’

Despite a coalition of lawyers filing suit to stop the proceedings, a “tea party Marine” facing discharge from the Marine Corps for criticizing President Barack Obama will have to go through with a separation hearing on Thursday.

On Wednesday a federal judge refused to stop the separation hearing for Sgt. Gary Stein, a Camp Pendleton Marine facing an “‘other than honorable’ discharge from the military for posting criticisms of the commander in chief on his ‘Armed Forces Tea Party’ Facebook page,” Fox 5 in San Diego reported.

Read Full Article Here

Russia working on electromagnetic radiation guns

Guns will use electromagnetic radiation
Rays will attack victims’ central nervous system
Have all your Jedi fantasies finally come true?

WHILE many believed it to be an April Fool’s Day joke, Vladimir Putin has confirmed Russia has been testing mind-bending psychotronic guns that can effectively turn people into zombies.

The futuristic weapons – which attack their victims’ central nervous system – are being developed by scientists and could be used against Russia’s enemies and even its own dissidents by the end of the decade.

Mr Putin has described the guns, which use electromagnetic radiation like that found in microwave ovens, as entirely new instruments for achieving political and strategic goals.

Plans to introduce the super-weapons were announced by Russian defence minister Anatoly Serdyukov.

While the technology has been around for some time, MrTsyganok said the guns were recently tested for crowd control purposes.

Read Full Article Here

National Responder Support Camp (NRSC)
Solicitation Number: HSFE70-12-R-0033
Agency: Department of Homeland Security
Office: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Location: Logistics Branch

Goto the bottom and download the pdf of the final draft dated March 2012 (Draft HSFE70-12-R-0033.pdf (1,390.63 Kb) Description: Draft Soliciation)

Here are my issues with this RFP:

1) Page 14 (C.3.5)- Daily logs. I guess you could say this is legit but then added with the rest I don’t like it at all.

2) Page 19 (C.6.0)- This deals with the ID cards that must be issued.

3) Page 22 shows what reports are required and to whom they go to, how often, and what is to be covered.

4) Page 26 (E.3) Starts the performance evaluation and modes of surveillance to ensure reports are accurate.

5) Page 69 Section J- This starts getting into some of the requirements.

6) Page 74 starts the “Scenario’s”.

7) Page 75 has the gender separation and the separate area for security personnel

This is a large file and probably has a lot more than what I covered.

Read it for yourself Here

 

 

[In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit, for research and/or educational purposes. This constitutes ‘FAIR USE’ of any such copyrighted material.]

Politics and Legislation

Obama campaign website yanks BET videos following TheDC’s reporting

 

President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign website has removed several videos that pitched alarmist messages to African-American voters, following reporting by The Daily Caller and the Fox News Channel.

In one video that the campaign yanked from the “African-Americans for Obama” section of its website Tuesday, actress Tatyana Ali seemed to predict that a second Obama term would bring a host of benefits to African-Americans once the president no longer had to concern himself with campaigning.

“What really excites me … is that a U.S. president has only two terms,” a laughing Ali said in the footage that the Obama campaign scrubbed from its website Tuesday. “In the second term, ‘it’s on,’ because we don’t have to worry about re-election.”

 

Read Full article here

 

 

‘Take to the streets’: Obama Labor Dept. glorifies Sharpton, Jackson in protest-preaching poster

President Barack Obama’s labor secretary, Hilda Solis, has authorized new posters in elevators throughout the Department of Labor’s Washington, D.C. headquarters building. The posters feature a photo of her marching in protest alongside the Rev. Jesse Jackson and MSNBC television host Rev. Al Sharpton, among others.

The photo depicts Solis acting as an emissary of the Obama administration protesting against Alabama’s strict new law combating illegal immigration. Solis has her arms locked with Sharpton, and Jackson is a few feet away. The poster also carries a message for federal government employees — who are traditionally expected to be apolitical in the performance of their duties.

“Whether we take to the streets or simply do our work with integrity and commitment here at the U.S. Department of Labor,” the poster reads, above Solis’ signature, “We are all marching toward the same goals: safer workplaces, fair pay, dignity on the job, secure retirement and opportunities to make a better life. I believe in the power of collective action.”

 

Read Full Article and see Poster here

 

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Economy

Stanford’s Lazear: US Suffering Worst Economic Recovery in History

 

By Forrest Jones

 

The United States is experiencing its worst recovery in U.S. history thanks to excessive regulations and punitive taxes, writes Edward Lazear, a former economic adviser to President George W. Bush and Stanford professor.

Economies normally snap back when recovering from recessions, but that hasn’t been the case this time around.

From 1947 to 2007, the average annual growth rate for the U.S. was 3.4 percent, Lazear writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece.

Since the recovery began from the Great Recession, growth has averaged 2.4 percent, Lazear adds, citing National Bureau of Economic Research data.

While many argue the financial nature of the recent recession means recovery should be slow, other recoveries stemming from similar downturns in the past didn’t go as tepidly as today.

Even the Great Depression saw stronger snapbacks between downturns.

“Threats of higher taxes, the constantly increasing regulatory burden, the failure to pursue an aggressive trade policy that will open markets to U.S. exports, and the enormous increase in government spending all are growth impediments,” writes Lazear, who was chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers from 2006-2009.

 

Read Full Article Here

 

 

Iran, Oil Prices and Gambling with the World Economy

 

By Daniel J. Graeber

 

The White House last week acknowledged problems in the global oil market but said the situation was secure enough to move ahead with tighter sanctions against Iran. President Obama said he was confident about the current state of the global economy and had assurances there was enough spare capacity to buffer against a severe shock to energy markets. The measure is meant to ensure Tehran doesn’t have the finances to back what’s seen as a nuclear weapons program. It might be something of a political and economic gamble, however.

Obama had until Friday to decide on pushing ahead with sanctions that would bar financial institutions from the U.S. economy if they don’t substantially cut their oil transactions with Iran. Some countries have already decided to back away from Iranian crude and others received some concessions from Washington for at least cutting back.

Concerns over Iran helped push oil prices up, however. The International Energy Agency said from Paris last week that oil prices are “very high again.” IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said the agency was keeping a close eye on oil markets, noting concern because of lingering fragility in the global economy. And she’s right to be concerned because last week, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development warned the British economy was at risk of sinking back into recession.

 

Read Full Article Here

 

 

 

Budget War Threatens America’s Survival

 

Greg Hunter’s USA Watchdog.com

 

President Barak Obama gave a speech to newspaper executives about the recently passed Republican budget in the House of Representatives. It proposes to cut spending by more than $5 trillion over the next ten years. Yesterday’s speech was, basically, a declaration of war against the GOP and its vision of the government’s budget. The President said, “This Congressional Republican budget is something different altogether. It is a Trojan horse disguised as deficit reduction plans. It is really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country. It is thinly veiled social Darwinism. It is antithetical to our entire history as a land of opportunity and upward mobility for everybody who is willing to work for it. A place where prosperity doesn’t trickle down from the top but grows outward from the heart of middle class.”

 

(Click here for the full transcript of President Obama’s speech.)

 

 

Folks, it is officially “game on,” and every American should be scared speechless about this budget showdown. It is unlike any the nation has ever faced.

 

The country has never been more in debt, and this comes at a time when countries like China are shunning U.S. Treasuries. There are more than 12 million “officially unemployed.” (The unofficial is 22 million.) Home prices are falling despite near record low mortgage rates. The BRICS nations are actively seeking an alternative to the U.S dollar for settlement of trade, which could threaten the dollar’s reserve currency status. We are threatening financial war with any country that trades with Iran, and the nation is facing yet another shooting war in the Middle East. The only question is will it come before or after the election.

 

Read Full Article Here

 

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Wars and Rumors of War

Clinton warns of ‘destabilizing’ Iran options

 

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Tuesday that a nuclear-armed Iran or a conflict over its ambitions would both destabilize the region as she pressed Tehran to make progress in key talks.

As Israel voices growing impatience over Iran, Clinton credited US sanctions with inflicting pressure on the Islamic republic but warned of the “very difficult situation that the world faces” moving forward.

“There is no clear path. We know that a nuclear-armed Iran would be incredibly destabilizing to the region and beyond. A conflict arising out of their program would also be very destabilizing,” Clinton said.

“There is no way to balance this. You have two very difficult paths here,” Clinton told a dinner in Norfolk, Virginia, on a day trip to visit the only NATO command in the United States.

Clinton, who traveled over the weekend to Turkey and Saudi Arabia, voiced concern that a nuclear Iran would trigger an arms race in the region….

 

Read Full Article Here

 

 

 

USDA Orders 326,000 Rounds of Ammunition As Homeland Security Stays Quiet Over 450 Million Round Order

 

What exactly are the preparing for ??????

 

Apparently Homeland Security is not the only domestic government agency that has bought a large amount of ammunition in the last 7 months.

In a post published on the now infamous Fbo.gov website, the US Forest Service (USDA) solicited and secured a bid for over 300,000 rounds of ammunition (scary raw milk farmers beware) including:
Added: Sep 28, 2011 5:15 pm

(1) 40 caliber, 180 grain, 120,000 rounds or equivalent,
(2) 9 mm, 124 grain, 50,000 rounds or equivalent,
(3) .38 caliber, 135 grain, 10,000 rounds or equivalent,
(4) .380 caliber, 90 grain, 6,000 rounds or equivalent,
(5) .223 caliber, 64 grain, 87,500 rounds or equivalent,
(6) 12 gauge 00 buck, 15,000 rounds or equivalent,
(7) 40 caliber frangible, 10,000 rounds or equivalent,
(8) 9 caliber frangible, 10,000 rounds or equivalent,
(9) .223 caliber frangible, 10,000 rounds or equivalent,
(10) 12 gauge 1 oz slug, 7,500 rounds or equivalent

The cartridges shall be delivered to Albuquerque, NM.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services require the following items, Exact Match Only, to the following:

1. Remington Frangible .40 Caliber Pistol Ammunition – 2,500 rounds

2. Remington .40 Caliber Pistol Ammunition (180 grain) Full Metal Jacket – 6,000 rounds

3. Remington .223 Caliber Rifle Ammunition (62 grain) Full Metal Jacket – 3,000 rounds

4. Remington FX Marking Cartridges (9 mm) – 2,000 rounds

These requirements seem normal considering the possibility of running into grizzly bears and wolverines. These, to me, are acceptable quantities to order.

And of course the FBI needs about 100,000,000 rounds of .40 caliber ammunition for law enforcement needs. It posted the request November 15, 2011 and the order will be awarded this week. Oddly, it states a fixed price indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity type contract; however the pricing requirements go up to 100,000,000 rounds.

 

Read Full Article Here

 

Related Articles

ATK Awarded Contract to Supply 450 Million Rounds of .40 Caliber Ammunition to the Department of Homeland Security

 

DHS Purchases Bullet Resistant Checkpoint Booths Amid Large Scale Ammo Buildup

 

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Articles of Interest

 

Ex-New Orleans officers sentenced to decades in jail for Katrina bridge killings, coverup

Cain Burdeau, Michael Kunzelman

 

Ex-New Orleans officers sentenced to decades in jail for Katrina bridge killings, coverup

NEW ORLEANS – Five former New Orleans police officers were sentenced Wednesday to prison terms ranging from six to 65 years for their roles in deadly shootings of unarmed residents in the chaotic days after Hurricane Katrina, with the judge lashing out at prosecutors for two hours on their handling of the case.

Police shot six people at a bridge on Sept. 4, 2005, killing two, less than a week after Katrina made landfall. To make the shootings appear justified, officers conspired to plant a gun, fabricate witnesses and falsify reports. The case became the centerpiece of the Justice Department’s push to clean up the troubled New Orleans Police Department.

Kenneth Bowen, Robert Gisevius, Anthony Villavaso and Robert Faulcon were convicted of federal firearms charges that carried mandatory minimum prison sentences of at least 35 years. Retired Sgt. Arthur “Archie” Kaufman, who was assigned to investigate the shootings, was convicted of helping orchestrate the coverup.

Faulcon, who was convicted on charges in both fatal shootings, faces the stiffest sentence of 65 years. Bowen and Gisevius each face 40 years, while Villavaso was sentenced to 38. Kaufman received the lightest sentence at six years.

Afterward, U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt accused prosecutors of cutting overly lenient plea deals with five other officers who co-operated with the civil rights investigation. The former officers pleaded guilty to helping cover up the shooting and are already serving prison terms ranging from three to eight years.

“These through-the-looking-glass plea deals that tied the hands of this court … are an affront to the court and a disservice to the community,” Engelhardt said.

The judge also questioned the credibility of the officers who pleaded guilty and testified against those who went to trial.

Read it on Global News: Global Edmonton | Ex-New Orleans officers sentenced to decades in jail for Katrina bridge killings, coverup

 

Read Full Article Here

 

 

 

Why are DHS and ICE stockpiling ammo?

 

Uploaded by RTAmerica on Apr 2, 2012

 

The US Department of Homeland Security and the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Office have placed an order for 450 million rounds of .40 caliber bullets. The amount of ammo exceeds the amount of people that live in the US and many wonder the motives behind the vast purchase. The contractor Alliant Techsystems is the company supplying the ammunition to DHS and ICE and although the agencies claim these bullets are to be used for target practice many believe they have something else in mind. Jason Bermas, radio host and Filmmaker, joins us for more on the questionable purchase.

 

 

 

Senators Who Voted To Protect Oil Tax Breaks Received $23,582,500 From Big Oil

 

By Rebecca Leber

 

In a 51-47 vote, 43 Senate Republicans and four Democrats filibustered to protect $24 billion in tax breaks for Big Oil. Although a majority voted for Sen. Robert Menendez’s (D-NJ) bill, it fell short of the 60 needed. The only two Republicans to break rank were Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME).

A Think Progress Green analysis shows how oil and gas companies have funneled cash to the same senators who protected its handouts:

– The 47 senators voting against the bill have received $23,582,500 in career contributions from oil and gas. The 51 senators voting to repeal oil tax breaks have received $5,873,600.

– The senators who voted for Big Oil’s handouts received on average over four times as much career oil cash as those who voted to end them.

– Overall, Senate Republicans have taken $23.2 million in oil and gas contributions. Democrats received $6.66 million.

– Since 2011, Senate Republicans have voted seven times for pro-Big Oil interests and against clean energy three times.

 

Read Full Article And See List Of Senators Here

 

 

 

[In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit, for research and/or educational purposes. This constitutes ‘FAIR USE’ of any such copyrighted material.]

Politics and Legislation

On the stump, Senate Dem candidates split with Obama over Keystone pipeline

By Andrew Restuccia

President Obama has steered clear of taking a firm stance on the Keystone pipeline, but many Democrats running for Senate don’t have the same luxury.

Eight of the 18 non-incumbent Democrats running for Senate surveyed by The Hill either steadfastly support the pipeline or oppose it outright, breaking with Obama’s decision to reserve judgment on the project until federal regulators conduct a full review.

Republican Senate hopefuls have made the pipeline — which would carry oil sands crude from Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the Gulf Coast — a top campaign issue. The emphasis on the pipeline has forced many Democratic candidates to stake out a clear position on the project, whether they like it or not.

TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline has ignited a firestorm in Washington.

The president denied a cross-border permit for the pipeline in January, infuriating Republicans and launching a thorny political debate in Congress that has forced vulnerable Senate Democrats to weigh in on the project. But Obama has said his decision to reject the pipeline was based not on its merits, but on a 60-day, GOP-backed deadline included in legislation to extend the payroll tax cut.

As gas prices near a national average of $4 per gallon, the Keystone fight on Capitol Hill has spread to the campaign trail, even in states that are nowhere near the pipeline route.

Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R) has attacked his opponent, Elizabeth Warren (D), for opposing the project.

“Elizabeth Warren is an ‘energy elitist’ who thinks we can power our country on renewable sources alone,” Jim Barnett, Brown’s campaign manager, said in a statement last week.

“Even with Massachusetts motorists shelling out nearly four dollars a gallon at the pump, she opposes key efforts to increase our supply of oil, including construction of the Keystone pipeline, which will not only help bring down gas prices but also create thousands of good construction jobs,” Barnett said.

Warren, whose office confirmed that she opposes the pipeline, hit back at Brown, painting him as a pawn of Big Oil for opposing legislation to repeal $24 billion in tax breaks for the largest oil companies over the next decade.

Read Full Article Here

Illinois Rep. Tim Johnson to retire

By Cameron Joseph and Emily Goodin

Rep. Tim Johnson (R-Ill.) will retire this year despite winning his GOP primary just a few weeks ago, The Hill has confirmed.

Democrats who controlled the redistricting process, in which Illinois lost a seat, made Johnson’s GOP-leaning district more Democratic.

That was a factor in Johnson’s decision, according to the Capitol Fax, an Illinois political newsletter, which first reported the news.

He will announce his decision Thursday, according to the report, which also stated Johnson felt comfortable with his decision given that perennial candidate David Gill will be the likely Democratic nominee. Johnson easily defeated Gill in 2010 with 64 percent of the vote. Gill was also the nominee against Johnson in 2004 and 2006.

Johnson handily won his March 20 primary. Local Republicans will pick the new GOP nominee to replace him.

Read Full Article Here

Carney: Obama remark about Supreme Court was misunderstood

By Jonathan Easle

In an occasionally testy exchange with reporters, White House press secretary Jay Carney defended President Obama’s remark that it would be “unprecedented” for the Supreme Court to overturn the administration’s healthcare law, saying the comment had been misunderstood.

Speaking at a Rose Garden news conference on Monday, Obama weighed in on the matter for the first time since last week’s high court hearings that left many Democrats fearful that the five conservative judges would band together to strike down his signature domestic achievement.

“Ultimately, I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress,” the president said.

Republicans pounced on the remarks, citing more than 150 cases in which the Supreme Court had overturned an act of Congress.

On Tuesday, Obama said he meant the Supreme Court hadn’t overturned a law that involved the Commerce Clause, as the healthcare law does, in the last 80 years — since the New Deal.

Carney defended that take at a White House press briefing on Wednesday, when asked if the president regretted his initial remarks.

Read Full Article Here

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Economy

Food inflation seen back on the table as prices rise

* Strong correlation with high oil price

* Corn, soybeans gain on physical markets in March -FAO data

* U.S. soybean futures jump in March on tight supply concerns

By Svetlana Kovalyova

MILAN, April 5 (Reuters) – World food prices are likely to rise for a third successive month in March, and could gain further beyond that, with expensive oil and chronically low stocks of some key grains putting food inflation firmly back on the economic agenda.

Food prices grabbed world policy makers’ attention after hitting record highs in February 2011 and stoking protests connected to the Arab Spring wave of civil unrest in some north Africa and middle eastern countries.

Prices later receded, but an upturn which began in January, initially seen as a pause in the overall downtrend, has persisted.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will update its monthly Food Price Index on Thursday and the organization says prices could rise more in the short and medium term as grain supply tightens and energy prices stay high.

Read Full Article Here

Amazon: £7bn sales, no UK corporation tax

Online retailer’s British operation owned by company in Luxembourg which receives all payments for books, DVDs and other goods

Amazon.co.uk, Britain’s biggest online retailer, generated sales of more than £3.3bn in the country last year but paid no corporation tax on any of the profits from that income – and is under investigation by the UK tax authorities.

Regulatory filings by parent company Amazon.com with the US securities and exchange commission (SEC) show the tax inquiry into the UK operation, which sells nearly one in four books sold in Britain, focuses on a period when ownership of the British business was transferred to a Luxembourg company.

The SEC filings, highlighted by Bookseller magazine, show that in the past three years, Amazon has generated sales of more than £7.6bn in the UK without attracting any corporation tax on the profits from those sales.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) refused to confirm it was investigating Amazon.co.uk, and its inquiries could be a routine audit. But Amazon’s tax affairs are being investigated in the US, China, Germany, France, Japan and Luxembourg.

Read Full Article Here

Americans brace for next foreclosure wave

By Nick Carey

GARFIELD HEIGHTS, Ohio

(Reuters) – Half a decade into the deepest U.S. housing crisis since the 1930s, many Americans are hoping the crisis is finally nearing its end. House sales are picking up across most of the country, the plunge in prices is slowing and attempts by lenders to claim back properties from struggling borrowers dropped by more than a third in 2011, hitting a four-year low.

But a painful part two of the slump looks set to unfold: Many more U.S. homeowners face the prospect of losing their homes this year as banks pick up the pace of foreclosures.

“We are right back where we were two years ago. I would put money on 2012 being a bigger year for foreclosures than 2010,” said Mark Seifert, executive director of Empowering & Strengthening Ohio’s People (ESOP), a counseling group with 10 offices in Ohio.

“Last year was an anomaly, and not in a good way,” he said.

In 2011, the “robo-signing” scandal, in which foreclosure documents were signed without properly reviewing individual cases, prompted banks to hold back on new foreclosures pending a settlement.

Five major banks eventually struck that settlement with 49 U.S. states in February. Signs are growing the pace of foreclosures is picking up again, something housing experts predict will again weigh on home prices before any sustained recovery can occur.

Mortgage servicing provider Lender Processing Services reported in early March that U.S. foreclosure starts jumped 28 percent in January.

Read Full Article Here

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Wars and Rumors of War

A Grad-type rocket fired from Sinai exploded in a residential neighborhood of Israel’s southernmost city early Thursday

PM on Eilat rocket: We can never stop fighting terror

By JPOST.COM STAFF

LAST UPDATED: 04/05/2012 13:58

Speaking at ceremony marking 40 years since Sabena hijacking, Netanyahu vows to strike back at those attacking Israel, says Sinai has become a “terror zone”; Egyptian official: No evidence rocket fired from Sinai.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Thursday vowed to strike at those who attack Israel and said the Jewish state can never stop fighting terrorism, speaking hours after a Grad rocket fired from the Sinai Peninsula exploded in Eilat.

Speaking at a ceremony marking 40 years since the operation to free hostages on hijacked Sabena Flight 571, during which as a young commando he was shot and wounded, Netanyahu said Israel must constantly fight against those who perpetrate and plan terrorism.” Israel must always fight terrorism, he continued, “It will not stop if we do not fight it.”

Sinai, he continued, has become a terrorism zone, something he said Israel is “dealing with.” The security fence being built along the southern border will not stop missiles, but a solution for that too will be found, he said.

A Grad-type rocket fired from Sinai exploded in a residential neighborhood of Israel’s southernmost city early Thursday morning. Residents reported hearing three explosions, but police sappers only located the remnants of one Grad rocket. Police were continuing to search for other rockets and holding security assessments in Eilat late Thursday morning, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak held a situational briefing in Tel Aviv Thursday with IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz in light of the rocket attack, which he called “a grave incident.”…..

Read Full Article Here

The ‘Legal Issue’ of Operation Cast Lead: ICC Rules That Palestinians Cannot Investigate Israeli War Crimes

Joe Wright
Activist Post

If one ever needed a better example of selective enforcement, or needed factual evidence that “human rights” are determined by bureaucratic institutions and not by compassionate human beings, look no further than the legal meanderings of the International Criminal Court now being used to deflect Operation Cast Lead.

For those who are not familiar, Operation Cast Lead was summarized by Amnesty International as 22 days of death and destruction — and few unbiased observers would disagree. The Operation was justified by Israel as a response to increased rocket attacks by Hamas following an agreed-upon cease-fire in late December of 2008. Israel’s response truly redefined the meaning of shock and awe, as an all-out assault was initiated by the Israeli Air Force which rained coordinated strikes upon the Gaza Strip that was followed by a ground invasion on January 3rd, 2009:

Human rights organizations estimated the number of dead at close to 1,400 Palestinians, including more than 1,000 civilians, and the wounded at more than 5,000. According to government figures, Palestinian deaths totaled 1,166, including 295 noncombatant deaths. The discrepancy over civilian deaths largely centered on whether the 248 Hamas police officers killed were considered civilians. There were 13 Israelis killed, including three civilians. (Source)

So why do Palestinians have no recourse to investigate such a horrific event?

According to Barak Ravid, reporting for Haaretz, an Israeli news source:

The reason for his (the ICC prosecutor) decision was that under the ICC’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute, only internationally recognized states can join the court.

In an official statement released Tuesday afternoon, the ICC said that ‘the current status granted to Palestine by the United Nations General Assembly is that of “observer”, not as a “Non‐member State”,” and that only “relevant bodies at the United Nations” or the group of states that make up the court could determine whether Palestinians can sign up to the Rome Statute.’ (Source: V\http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/war/operation-cast-lead.htm)

Read Full Article Here

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Articles of Interest

Marine sergeant files to block dismissal for his anti-Obama Facebook posts

By Jeremy Herb

Sgt. Gary Stein, the Marine facing dismissal for posts he made on Facebook criticizing President Obama and saying he would not follow orders, has filed a federal lawsuit to stop his discharge, saying his First Amendment rights had been violated.

Stein filed his lawsuit in U.S. District Court on Tuesday with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union and U.S. Justice Foundation, which seeks to delay his administrative hearing, scheduled for Thursday, and stop the Marines from discharging him.

Stein says the posts he made on his “Armed Forces Tea Party” Facebook page — where he called Obama a “domestic enemy” and said he would not follow some orders — were not made as a uniformed Marine.

He also alleged that the Defense Department directive that restricts political activity for service members violated his First Amendment rights because it is vague and overbearing.

“Though some of the language he used in discussing certain hypothetical unlawful orders might have been viewed as intemperate, he subsequently clarified … that he was only discussing the settled principle of military law that service members should not follow unlawful orders,” the lawsuit says.

Even if his actions did violate the Pentagon directive, the lawsuit says, the directive “violates the First Amendment as applied to Plaintiff, because it is vague and/or over-broad, unconstitutionally restricts core
speech, and/or unlawfully discriminates, based on content or viewpoint of speech.”

Read Full Article Here

Bush administration torture techniques report revealed

Uploaded by RTAmerica on Apr 4, 2012

A newly released document showcases the United States Defense Department’s torture techniques. The 37 page report details ways officials can torture detainees suspected of having ties to terrorism. In 2002, the document was handed to Bush administration officials, but is just now seeing the light of day. Now the particulars of the report are being called war crimes. Jason Leopold, lead investigative reporter for Truth-Out.Org, joins us for more.

Financiers and Sex Trafficking

By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

THE biggest forum for sex trafficking of under-age girls in the United States appears to be a Web site called Backpage.com.

This emporium for girls and women — some under age or forced into prostitution — is in turn owned by an opaque private company called Village Voice Media. Until now it has been unclear who the ultimate owners are.

That mystery is solved. The owners turn out to include private equity financiers, including Goldman Sachs with a 16 percent stake.

Goldman Sachs was mortified when I began inquiring last week about its stake in America’s leading Web site for prostitution ads. It began working frantically to unload its shares, and on Friday afternoon it called to say that it had just signed an agreement to sell its stake to management.

“We had no influence over operations,” Andrea Raphael, a Goldman Sachs spokeswoman, told me.

Let’s back up for a moment. There’s no doubt that many escort ads on Backpage are placed by consenting adults. But it’s equally clear that Backpage plays a major role in the trafficking of minors or women who are coerced. In one recent case in New York City, prosecutors say that a 15-year-old girl was drugged, tied up, raped and sold to johns through Backpage and other sites.

Backpage has 70 percent of the market for prostitution ads, according to AIM Group, a trade organization.

Read Full Article Here

[In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit, for research and/or educational purposes. This constitutes ‘FAIR USE’ of any such copyrighted material.]

Politics and Legislation

Secret justice plan crumbles: Clegg says he’ll block it, report by MPs and peers damns it and now ministers are close to a U-turn

By James Chapman, Political Editor

Plans for a huge extension of ‘secret justice’ are close to ruin after Nick Clegg warned the Prime Minister he cannot support them as they stand… The Daily Mail has led criticism of Government plans to allow so-called ‘closed material procedures’, in which cases are conducted behind closed doors, in any civil or inquest hearing. Defendants or claimants will not be allowed to be present, know or challenge the case against them and must be represented by a security-cleared special advocate rather than their own lawyer. The procedure is currently used in tiny numbers of immigration and deportation hearings, but the Green Paper proposes giving ministers sweeping powers to order closed hearings whenever they feel the public interest is threatened.

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DOJ must explain Obama healthcare remarks

A federal judge has ordered the U.S. Justice Department to write a letter describing the administration’s position on the judiciary’s power to overturn laws. A judge on the three-judge 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the department to provide a letter of “at least three pages, single-spaced, no less,” detailing the department’s understanding of the judiciary’s power to overturn unconstitutional laws by noon CDT Thursday, a United Press International review of an audio recording of the oral arguments indicated. Judge Jerry Smith, appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1987, ordered the department Tuesday to make sure the letter specifically address comments President Barack Obama made Monday that he was “confident” the Supreme Court would not “take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step” of overturning the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Read Full Article Here

As justices weigh healthcare decision, lawmakers bolster high court security

By Debbie Siegelbaum

As Congress continues to look for ways to cut costs to lower the national deficit, one place where lawmakers are refusing to scrimp is security for the Supreme Court.

Congressional appropriators ponied up nearly $1 million in fiscal 2012 to hire 12 new Supreme Court police officers after justices reported receiving a significant number of threats.

Security for the high court has been back in the news as the justices deliberate whether President Obama’s healthcare law is constitutional. Supporters and critics of the healthcare overhaul held protests in front of the Supreme Court last week.

In April 2010, Justice Clarence Thomas told a House Appropriations subcommittee that the court required greater security due to the “volume” of threats it receives, claiming that its security personnel ideally wanted 24 new officers.

Thomas said he recognized the ongoing fiscal constraints the government was operating under, however, and sought funding for 12 officers.

But the funds Thomas requested for new officers were not allocated in fiscal 2011, according to Court Public Information Officer Kathleen Arberg. During fiscal 2012 budget hearings the following year, Justices Stephen Breyer and Anthony Kennedy reiterated the need for additional court security.

“We have eight acres of grounds which have to be protected, and a number of our officers now have to spend time learning about cybersecurity threats and so forth,” Kennedy told lawmakers in April 2011.

“We need — actually, our people said we needed 25, and the chief justice and the staff went over it — and we can live with the 12 [additional officers],” he added. “We do consider the 12 urgent.”

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First DC lobbying firm to sign with Libyan rebels is rewarded with new contract

By Kevin Bogardus

The first Washington firm to sign up with the Libyan rebels during the successful revolution against Moammar Gadhafi will no longer be working for free.

The Harbour Group has signed a new $15,000-per-month contract with the Embassy of Libya, according to documents the firm has filed with the Justice Department. The agreement is set to run from March 1 to the end of the year.

Richard Mintz, managing director of the public-relations firm, told The Hill that he and others at the firm are eager to help Libya transition toward democracy.

“We are proud to have played a modest role in helping the Libyan opposition to replace 40 years of dictatorial rule. Now we look forward to supporting free Libyans in their democratic transition,” Mintz said.

Harbour Group first signed with the Libyan National Transitional Council in April of 2011.

The firm worked on a pro-bono basis for the council over the past year. It helped organize visits to Washington for council leaders and contacted think tanks and media on the council’s behalf.

The firm helped support Libyan Prime Minister Abdurrahim el-Keib’s trip to Washington last month, where he met with President Obama, and is also working on having U.S. business delegations visit Libya.

The new contract supersedes the agreement the Harbour Group signed last year with the council.

“The Harbour Group is pleased to have been able to volunteer its services to the Libyan National Transitional Council and the Embassy of Libya for the last year in its historic efforts to establish democracy in Libya and to build new and important bridges to the United States. We welcome the opportunity to respond to your request to present this scope of services and budget to support the Embassy of Libya’s public diplomacy and communications efforts in 2012,” the contract says.

Read Full Article Here

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Economy

Republicans See No Rush to Fill $4.6 Trillion Blank in Tax Plan

By Richard Rubin

U.S. House Republicans just passed a budget that would require eliminating $4.6 trillion in tax breaks over the next decade. They’re in no rush to show which benefits they would cut.

Republicans cite political wariness during an election campaign, slim prospects for an agreement with President Barack Obama and a lack of consensus within their own party for their reluctance to say before November whether they would drop popular items such as the home mortgage interest deduction to make up for lower tax rates.
Republicans See No Rush to Fill $4.6 Trillion Blank in Tax Plan

A House Budget Committee member holds a copy of the House fiscal year 2013 budget during a news conference in Washington. Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images

“The president and the Senate would love for us to do that, because they would release every special interest group they could get onto us and say, ‘Go sic ‘em,’” said Representative James Lankford, a freshman Republican from Oklahoma on the Budget Committee. Lawmakers need to “let Americans start talking about what does that really mean, which deductions are appropriate and what’s not appropriate.”

When House Republicans return from a two-week recess in mid-April, they will begin planning sessions on details of their tax overhaul. Because prospects for a tax rewrite are dim before the election, they also will discuss dozens of tax breaks that ended in December and begin crafting a strategy for extending the George W. Bush-era income tax cuts that expire at the end of this year.

The budget that passed the House 228-191 on March 29 with no Democratic support would replace the six individual tax brackets — and the 35 percent top rate — with two brackets at 10 percent and 25 percent. The alternative minimum tax would be repealed. The corporate tax rate would drop to 25 percent from 35 percent.

Read Full Article Here

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Wars and Rumors of War

US Mercenary “Took Part” in Gaddafi Killing; Sent to Assist Syrian opposition

By: Yazan al-Saadi

US government officials requested that an American private security firm contact Syrian opposition figures in Turkey to see “how they can help in regime change,” the CEO of one of these firms told Stratfor in a company email obtained by WikiLeaks and Al-Akhbar.

James F. Smith, former director of Blackwater, is currently the Chief Executive of SCG International, a private security firm with experience in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. In what appears to be his first email to Stratfor, Smith stated that his “background is CIA” and his company is comprised of “former DOD [Department of Defense], CIA and former law enforcement personnel.”

“We provide services for those same groups in the form of training, security and information collection,” he explained to Stratfor. (doc-id 5441475)

In a 13 December 2011 email to Stratfor’s VP for counter-terrorism Fred Burton, which Burton shared with Stratfor’s briefers, Smith claimed that “[he] and Walid Phares were getting air cover from Congresswoman [Sue] Myrick to engage Syrian opposition in Turkey (non-MB and non-Qatari) on a fact finding mission for Congress.”

Walid Phares, named by the source as part of the “fact finding team,” is a Lebanese-American citizen and currently co-chairs Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s Middle East advisory group.

In a profile of Walid Phares published in Salon, As’ad AbuKhalil details Phares’ history with right-wing militias during the Lebanese civil war.

Sue Myrick, who allegedly was providing “air cover” for the “fact finding team”, is a Republican Congresswoman from North Carolina who has a track record of extremist pro-zionist and anti-Islamic views.

These include leading the charge against Dubai Ports World’s attempt to buy major American ports in 2006 – labeling the Islamic Society of North America as a group of “radical jihadists” – and demanding that former President Jimmy Carter’s citizenship be revoked for daring to meet with Hamas leaders in 2008.

Currently, Myrick is a member of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, a congressional committee charged with overseeing the American intelligence community, and is also involved with the Department of Defense and the US military.

In his email, the “true mission” for the “fact finding” team, Smith told Burton, was how “they can help in regime change.”……..

Read Full Article Here

The US is arming the Gulf. Against whom?

Volkhonsky Boris

On Saturday, the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on her visit to Saudi Arabia, attended the first Strategic Cooperation Forum between the U.S. and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The six countries comprising the GCC are Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman.

The most important outcome of the session on Saturday was the decision to establish a common missile defense shield against Iran.

Now, the issue is really worth looking deeper into.

At first sight, establishing a missile defense shield in the Gulf area seems at least a little bit more logical than establishing a similar shield in Poland, Czech Republic, Romania or elsewhere in Eastern Europe. That is, if the shield is really targeted at a possible threat coming from Iran.

On the other hand, a decision to launch such kind of a shield at this particular moment, when it is Iran’s turn to be scared of a possible attack – be it from the U.S. or from Israel – breaks the above logic. But the logic is restored when we look at the problem from another angle.

In fact, for any unbiased outside observer it became clear a long time ago that the real purpose of the whole U.S. activity around Iran is not aimed at diverting any kind of threat, either nuclear or missile. The real purpose is regime change. And this explains both the U.S.’ desire to overthrow Iran’s last remaining ally – the Assad regime in Syria, and the close relationship with the Gulf monarchies.

Against the background of the U.S. crackdown on Assad, Ms. Hillary’s references to democracy at the Saturday’s Forum seem ridiculous. She expressed “regret” about the UAE’s March 28 raid on the offices of several foreign pro-democracy groups, including a U.S. organization, the National Democratic Institute.

Also, if we remember the events of spring 2011 in Bahrain, when the ruling Sunni regime launched a bloody crackdown of Shiite protesters, the case went almost unnoticed in the U.S. The reason was that Bahrain serves as one of the most important bases for the U.S. Fifth Fleet.

Definitely, other Gulf monarchies can hardly be called exemplary democracies. But it’s OK with the U.S. when it comes to protecting them against Iran.

The question is who is to benefit? On the one hand, it gives the U.S. new opportunities for selling their weapons to the stalwarts of democracy in the Gulf region. But, on the other hand, one cannot get rid of the impression that the whole wave of the so called “revolutions” in the Middle East initiated in Tunisia in December 2010 and having Iran as its ultimate aim serves the interests of only one geopolitical player in the region – that is Saudi Arabia with its satellites.

Read Full Article Here

Taliban claim downing American chopper in east Afghanistan

The Taliban say they have shot down an American helicopter in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Ghazni, Press TV reports. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed on Monday that at least 14 US soldiers were killed after the chopper was downed in Andar district on Sunday. He said that the militants targeted the helicopter with an “82mm rocket.”

Read Full Article Here

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Articles of Interest

ICC rejects Palestinian bid to investigate Israeli war crimes during ‘Cast Lead’ Gaza operation

International Criminal Court in The Hague says reason for decision is that Palestine is currently recognized by the United Nations as an ‘observer,’ not a ‘Non-member State’.

By Barak Ravid

The International Criminal Court prosecutor announced Tuesday that he has rejected a bid by the Palestinian Authority to have the war crimes tribunal investigate Israeli conduct during ‘Operation Cast Lead’ in Gaza.

The reason for his decision was that under the ICC’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute, only internationally recognized states can join the court.

In an official statement released Tuesday afternoon, the ICC said that “the current status granted to Palestine by the United Nations General Assembly is that of “observer”, not as a “Non‐member State”,” and that only “relevant bodies at the United Nations” or the group of states that make up the court could determine whether Palestinians can sign up to the Rome Statute.

“[T]he Office has assessed that it is for the relevant bodies at the United Nations or the Assembly of States Parties to make the legal determination whether Palestine qualifies as a State for the purpose of acceding to the Rome Statute and thereby enabling the exercise of jurisdiction by the Court,” the statement said. “The Rome Statute provides no authority for the Office of the Prosecutor to adopt a method to define the term “State””.

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