Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Big Brother state – by stealth

Personal information detailing intimate aspects of the lives of every British citizen is to be handed over to government agencies under sweeping new powers. The measure, which will give ministers the right to allow all public bodies to exchange sensitive data with each other, is expected to be rushed through Parliament in a Bill to be published tomorrow.

The new legislation would deny MPs a full vote on such data-sharing. Instead, ministers could authorise the swapping of information between councils, the police, NHS trusts, the Inland Revenue, education authorities, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority, the Department for Work and Pensions and other ministries.

Opponents of the move accused the Government of bringing in by stealth a data-sharing programme that exposed everyone to the dangers of a Big Brother state and one of the most intrusive personal databases in the world. The new law would remove the right to protection against misuse of information by thousands of unaccountable civil servants, they added.

Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe's commissioner for human rights, said he believed Britain had gone too far in helping to bring about a "surveillance society". In a report drawing on personal data infringements across Europe but "inspired" by Britain's plan for a new internet, email and telephone database, he added: "General surveillance raises serious democratic problems which are not answered by the repeated assertion that those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear. This puts the onus in the wrong place: it should be for states to justify the interferences they seek to make on privacy rights."

He said he was "very worried about the downgrading of the protections of personal information", adding: "Of course there has to be a balance to be struck. At the moment we have not got it right."

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The Rockfeller Plan

In August of the same year (1911), McCLURE'S magazine published an article titled "Masters of America: The Seven Men," which warned that "all fundamental resources, all industries capable of forming a unit, are being drawn together toward monopoly control…. And if corporate centralization of power continues unchecked, what is the next great popular agitation to be in this country? For state socialism?"

Education was an important component of the Rockefeller plan, and he hired a reassuring Baptist minister, Frederick Gates, to set up his General Education Board in 1902 to oversee this effort. From this position, Gates wrote Occasional Letter No. 1 (published 1912), stating that "in our dream, we have limitless resources, and the people (rural folk) yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hand… unhampered by tradition." Rockefeller education initiatives applied to city schools, too, as Mayor John Hylan of New York City said in THE NEW YORK TIMES (March 27, 1922): "One of my first acts as mayor was to pitch out… from the educational system of our city the Rockefeller agents" and others who planned "to fit the children for the mill and factory."

The Rockefeller Foundation throughout the 20th century would try to influence many aspects of American education, for example supporting the School-Health Coordinating Service begun in 1939. But the Rockefeller plan's educational component ultimately has been to facilitate globalism. In Edith Roosevelt's 1962 article "The Universal Theocratic State," she revealed: "Curriculum are being drafted to indoctrinate our children in what John D. Rockefeller, Jr. called 'the church of all people.'… plans are being made to set up regional world Universities whose objectives would include… 'to build a world outlook'…." At the end of the next decade, the Rockefeller Foundation supported a 3-volume set, including James Becker's SCHOOLING FOR A GLOBAL AGE, attempting to convince parents and the general public of the necessity of a global perspective, "otherwise children and youth enrolled in globally oriented programs may find themselves in conflict with values assumed in the home."

In the mid-1980s, Seattle schools "Rockefeller Project" promoted "global education," and in 1987 the Rockefeller Foundation helped finance Global Perspectives in Education's "The United States Prepares for its Future: Global Perspectives in Education, Report of the Study Commission on Global Education."

In November 1992, when Bill Clinton was elected president, David Rockefeller, Jr., who was on the board of the National Center on Education and the Economy, "celebrated" Clinton's victory which would give NCEE the chance to implement a "cradle-to-grave" plan "to integrate education and human resource development" that could require radical changes in attitudes, values and beliefs.

Changing attitudes, values and beliefs were also aspects of "social control" which, like education, was an important component of the Rockefeller plan. In order to control people, the Rockefellers knew they had to have the ability to monitor what people do. In that regard, investigative reporter Thomas Lawson in EVERYBODY'S magazine (August 1904) learned "about the greatest information bureau in the world. A 'Standard Oil' agent is in every hamlet of the country." Of course, it was also an important aspect of control to be able to manage what information the American people received. In that regard, in 1905 U.S. Rep. Joseph Sibley (Rockefeller Standard Oil payoff man in Washington) wrote a letter to John D. Archbold (Standard Oil's money provider) saying, "An efficient literary bureau is needed, not for a day or a crisis but a permanent healthy control of the Associated Press and kindred avenues. It will cost money but it will be the cheapest in the end."

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Pentagon shoots $22 million into guided-bullet tech

Darpa, the Defense Department's far-out research arm, announced a pair of contracts last Tuesday, to start designing a super, .50-caliber sniper rifle that fires guided bullets. Lockheed Martin received $12.3 million for the "Exacto," or Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance, project, while Teledyne Scientific & Imaging got another $9.5 million.

If the system works, it'll "provide a dramatic new capability to the U.S. military," Darpa says. "The use of an actively controlled bullet will make it possible to counter environmental effects such as crosswinds and air density, and prosecute both stationary and moving targets while enhancing shooter covertness. This capability would have the further benefit of providing increased accuracy and range while reducing training requirements."

"In other words," Danger Room's Sharon Weinberger wrote last year, "it would be the ultimate sniper round."

Darpa won't say, publicly, how far, how long and how accurate they want the new bullets to be — all that information is classified. But they will say that Exacto should contain a next-gen scope, a guidance system that provides information to direct the projectile, an "actively controlled .50-caliber projectile that uses this information for real-time directional flight control," and a rifle. "Technologies of interest may include: fin-stabilized projectiles, spin-stabilized projectiles, internal and/or external aero-actuation control methods, projectile guidance technologies, tamper proofing, small stable power supplies, and advanced sighting, optical resolution and clarity technologies."

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The trial of General Dang

In a south Sacramento assisted-living home, Lt. Gen. Quang Van Dang waits out the last moments of his life. He is ill, very ill, and has been for several years. Disease and old age have corroded the 78-year-old's mental faculties; his eyes, though alert, have the look of a man held captive by his own body. Family members gather around, knowing this might be the last chance they ever get to speak with the general.

To the young girl sitting beside him in the room, he is simply Grandpa, but at one time, Lt. Gen. Quang Van Dang commanded the largest military force in the Republic of Vietnam. Later, he served as national security adviser to President Nguyen Van Thieu, working closely with U.S. officials who considered him a valuable American asset. Then came the fall of Saigon, in April 1975, and Dang's world turned upside down.With the help of American officials, Dang escaped the chaos and was able to settle his wife and his seven children in the United States and in Montreal, where French-speaking Vietnamese can more readily assimilate. But after visiting one of his sons in Montreal in May 1975, Dang's visa application to re-enter the country was rejected by the U.S. State Department.

No explanation was given, but at roughly the same time, Canadian and American news sources began alleging that Dang controlled the heroin trade in the Mekong Delta during the war and had secreted away millions of dollars in Swiss bank accounts. Dang found himself branded an "undesirable alien" in Canada, the only thing preventing his deportation the certain death sentence awaiting him back home in communist-ruled Vietnam.

For the next 15 years, Dang washed dishes and worked odd jobs in Montreal to support his wife and two sons. Appeals to the State Department by family members in America and military officers who vouched for his character were ignored. The United States had apparently washed its hands of him.

When retired U.S. Army Special Forces Lt. Col. Dan Marvin offered to help him in 1988, the general couldn't place the name at first. He'd known many American officers during the war. Marvin's message was simple: The general had once saved his life and the life of his men in Vietnam. It only seemed right to return the favor.

Vietnam in 1965 was a country set to explode. In the more heavily populated south, the collapse of French colonialism had been followed by a succession of corrupt national governments; communist insurgents operating from safe havens in Cambodia had overrun the countryside. America's arrival on the scene added more fuel to the fire. Caught in the middle, between colonialism and communism, were ordinary Vietnamese such as the 64,000 Buddhist Hoa Haos who lived in the An Phu District, on the Bassac River near the Cambodian border.

Capt. "Dangerous" Dan Marvin fell in love with the Hoa Haos immediately.

This isn't precisely the same Dan Marvin who earlier this year notified SN&R that Gen. Dang was spending his final days in a south Sacramento rest home. This is Dan Marvin before he found God, when he was not only dangerous but lethal.

"I fell in love with An Phu just going up the Bassac River," he recalls via telephone from his home in upstate New York. "The people on the banks were waving and smiling, and I remembered thinking I was going to earn those waves and smiles."

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Sign of the times: Funny Money

The dollar has some competition in Traverse City, Mich. The contender is the Bay Buck, a colorful currency launched last fall. To be sure, it isn't about to replace the dollar anytime soon. And at Wal-Mart Stores and Starbucks, it's as useful as Monopoly money.

But Bay Bucks can be used to pay for real goods and services, just like dollars can. And supporters say that using Bay Bucks promotes the local economy.

Bay Bucks are a local currency--one of a handful circulating in the U.S., including Burlington Bread, Ithaca Hours and, soon, BerkShares in Massachusetts. Besides being fun to trade and talk about, these currencies are meant to circulate near their home base, not to be ferried off to corporate headquarters in Arkansas or Seattle.

Local currencies are an old idea. Thousands of them were used during the Great Depression, according to Bernard Lietaer, author of The Future of Money and a former currency trader who helped implement the euro. They're a subset of a grouping called complementary currencies, which also includes airline frequent-flier programs.

At present, local currencies don't affect the conventional economy--our dollar economy--much, because they have such limited circulation. Only $12,000 worth of Bay Bucks have been issued, for example, compared with some $700 billion worth of dollars. But the point of local currencies is also to boost the value of resources, such as local labor, that are undervalued in the dollar economy.

So are these things legal? Lewis Solomon, a law professor at George Washington University and author of a book about local currencies, says local currencies are legal with some stipulations, including that they have to be printed (not coined) and that local money cannot resemble dollars.

By most accounts, local currencies resurfaced in the U.S. in 1991 in Ithaca, N.Y. Then-resident Paul Glover, now living in Philadelphia, says many of his neighbors were unemployed or underpaid, and he was looking for a way to fatten their wallets. He and a group of supporters created the Ithaca Hour, each one equal to either $10 or one hour of work.

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They may be talking funny money, but it's not funny business.

Residents from the Milwaukee neighborhoods of Riverwest and East Side are scheduled to meet Wednesday to discuss printing their own money. The idea is that the local cash could be used at neighborhood stores and businesses, thus encouraging local spending. The result, supporters hope, would be a bustling local economy, even as the rest of the nation deals with a recession.

"You have all these people who have local currency, and they're going to spend it at local stores," said Sura Faraj, a community organizer who is helping spearhead the plan. "They can't spend it at the Wal-Mart or the Home Depot, but they can spend it at their local hardware store or their local grocery store."

Incentives could be used to entice consumers into using the new money. For example, perhaps they could trade $100 U.S. for $110 local, essentially netting them a 10 percent discount at participating stores.

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The head of an Orlando nonprofit that backed a plan to create a new "private" currency is suing the man behind the project along with several of their former associates, claiming that she is a victim of their own money-making scheme.

Josefina Calderon, who persuaded dozens of Hispanics to fork over money to refinance their mortgages with the group, filed suit Thursday in Orange County seeking $76 million in damages.

If she wins, she wants the payment to be made in U.S. dollars, not the funny money she helped promote through a so-called network dubbed The United Cities.

She is seeking damages from Angel Cruz, the network's founder and now a federal fugitive over a related conspiracy to defraud Bank of America. Calderon said she is among dozens who are losing their homes and declaring bankruptcy because they bought into Cruz's grand plan.

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There's nothing funny about this money — unless, of course, you're not a member.

Longtime Australian-born Kodiak resident David Cooper, 61, is the organizer and founder of the burgeoning New World Barter Group, a part classifieds, part money-saver, part community-builder exchange group. Members will create transactions of all types in the hopes of saving cash using the newly printed, not-so-funny-money Bart dollar.

After paying a $10 membership fee, members will receive 130 Barts, a subscription to the group newsletter, and access to the online classifieds listing of items and services members are offering. Interested parties make exchanges using a combination of dollars and Barts or even just Barts, hoping to save some George Washingtons in the process. But Cooper said the system can do more once it gets larger.

"This isn't just money. Basically, it's also a service system," Cooper said. "We also want to help develop the cultural and social life in the community … it can bring people together."

Related to neither the San Francisco subway system nor the troublemaking "Simpsons" son is the Bart dollar — equivalent to one U.S. dollar yet worthless to nonmembers. Cooper said it's not an alternative currency and, engineered and freshly cut on the island of Kodiak by Cooper himself, is not backed by any commodity like gold.

Furthermore, it's loaded with at least one security measure: Photocopies of a Bart are overlain by the word "void." In circulation so far is about 800 Barts in five, 10, 20 and 50 denominations, Cooper said.

The New World Barter Group is not a centralized, record-keeping exchange group like a LETS, or Local Exchange Trading System, Cooper said. The only formal records kept are membership, and Cooper said the membership dues go to making the money, and the time and effort toward building a newsletter and updated Web site. Membership dues will increase to $50 next year, though members will receive a referral bonus of Barts if a member convices others to sign up. However, the group's final policies are still in development at this early stage.

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Will the World Bank's profiteering by spreading HIV in the 3rd World continue under Obama?

Is there a national innoculation scam in the US? Is there a testing and treatment Lyme Disease scam involving Yale University, Glaxo Smith Kline, the Connecticut Department of Administrative Services which is allegedly involved in domestic and international espionage, and the helping of sending scientists exposing the fraud to mental hospitals taking away their children? [more information].

How does the Plum Island Chemical Weapons/Bio-Warfare research facility between Long Island, New York and Connecticut play into the equation? Was Lyme Disease and West Nile Virus an "accidental" release out of Plum Island?

Lisa Masterson in the UK and Kathleen Dickson in the US came upon the same smoking gun involving Big Pharma and the Lyme Disease testing and treatment scam. Both have scientific backgrounds. The FDA listed Kathleen Dickson as an expert witness who help cost Big Pharma and Yale University plus, or minus, a billion dollars helping take a dangerous drug, Lyme-Rx off the market. Dickson was then allegedly spied upon by Connecticut's Department of Administrative Services along with the Connecticut State Police, to have Dickson falsely arrested, hauled away to a mental hospital, and have her kids taken away.

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Death comes in small packages

Less well known than bacteriological warfare, with which it is intimately linked—nothing delivers epidemic disease like an insect host—war by bug has left its mark on the historical record. Roman engineers liked to toss entire beehives into besieged cities, and defenders too deployed insects, along with boiling oil and large rocks. On their south-facing sides, some medieval castles had bee boles, warm recesses attractive to hive builders, which ensured there would always be a ready source of six-legged defenders.

Before the 20th century, however, insect conscripts never caused a fraction of the mortality that freelance bugs did. In the American Civil War, in which some 620,000 soldiers died, two-thirds were felled by disease, most of it spread by insects. After scientists established the insect-disease role in epidemics, everything changed. The Japanese were the first to grasp the military implications. In the Russo-Japanese war of 1904 the Imperial army became the first in history to lose fewer men to sickness than to weapons.

But the possibilities of knowledge always cut both ways with humans. It was the very strength of Japanese medical science—galvanized by a ruthless microbiologist named Shiro Ishii—that later unleashed the most horrific insect-fought war ever. Ishii set up shop in the puppet state of Manchuria to test his biowarfare theories on human guinea pigs. His Unit 731 grew to have a budget rivalling that of the Manhattan Project, and a staff of 10,000. At first, despite barbarous procedures—infected prisoners were vivisected so precise records of the disease's effects could be kept—Unit 731 was unable to kill people in sufficient numbers to impress the high command. Fragile pathogens tended to die off before initiating epidemics.

Then Ishii had his conceptual breakthrough: insects, he realized, not only delivered diseases, they protected them en route. So Ishii devised a Dante-esque perpetual plague machine.

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40 techniques of the Illuminati

Americans are possessed with ennui and malaise, and worst of all, fears. Perhaps these conditions explain the rash of suicides, the campus murders, the weariness, the failure to act on others´ behalf, the inertia and apathy, and the near lack of humanism.

The Inner Circle, the Elitists, the Powers—any name you want to call them—plan and organize behind closed doors to bring about their global governance, or the New World Order (NWO) or one-world government. To do this, they must push every country to its knees so that the citizenry cannot fight back. America appears to be the last stronghold for them to conquer, and at that, we are already weakened. They employ a slate of techniques to establish the NWO, but behind each of these methods is one basic practice: To instill fear in the masses so that we will rely on the government for safety and protection, and thus yield our rights and freedoms in the process. Below are some of the major means for the Illuminati to achieve their goal, but don´t mistake a rose for a rose and attribute everything to them:

1. Harassment: When faced with opposition, the Elitists first attempt to overcome by "buying" someone out. If that doesn´t work, they resort to discrediting and then harassment in extreme form via endless phone calls, tapping or tracking, or tailing and following as well as putting out negative, disparaging and secret info on them, snooping in their lives and projects. IRS hassles, accusing one of false crimes, negatively doctoring a person´s personal and work records are all means for the Illuminati to gain superiority over individuals and to make them cede to their goals. Driving opponents or dissenters mad or to the point of paranoia is one of their prized exercises.

2. Population Control: Invented food shortages, water contamination, lack of space, depletion of "green" are maneuvers to slice off 2/3rd of the world´s six-billion citizens, and save themselves, while allowing death and other horrors to befall the other 4-billion. Subtle means of ending our existence include abortion (Planned Parent is the main culprit), genetic engineering (cloning allows engineers to create an army of soldiers bred to have massive muscle bulk, superior senses, powerful killing skills or to breed doubles to replace people; it also introduces chimeras (hybrid animal/human forms), and angels of death (ridding hospitals, clinics—the general population—of infirmed and old people who put burdens on our society. Euthanasia is a form of this, as are fatal surgical procedures).

3. Contamination: Any form of poisoning will kill a sizeable population, and this can be targeted. The elite can contaminate our water supplies and food resources (genetically modified food may be exemplary), and despoil our land (soil impregnated with bacteria, oil and other toxic spills).

4. Detainment Camps are set up as holding areas until termination ensues or the enslavement of those in society they believe will serve as strong and vital slaves. Whether factual or not, that we even believe they exist puts us in a state of fear and anger. Underlying the knowledge of such Gulags is the simple fact that the American populace realizes that a police state or Martial Law is on the horizon.
 
 

The Communist Manifesto 160 years later

In many respects, the Manifesto is not only current, but more current today than 160 years ago. Let's take for example its diagnosis of capitalist globalisation. Capitalism, say the two young authors, is in the process of forging a process of economic and cultural unification of the world under its leadership: "The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. To the great chagrin of Reactionists, it has drawn from under the feet of industry the national ground on which it stood. (...) In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production."

It is not only about expansion but also domination: the bourgeoisie "compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilisation into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image." Indeed, in 1848 that constituted much more an anticipation of future tendencies than a simple description of contemporary reality. It is an analysis which is much truer today, in the epoch of "globalisation", than 160 years ago, at the time of the editing of the Manifesto.

In fact, capital has never succeeded as it has in the 21st century in exerting a power so complete, absolute, integral, universal and unlimited over the entire world. Never in the past was it able, as today, to impose its rules, its policies, its dogmas and its interests on all the nations of the globe. International financial capital and multinational companies have never so much escaped the control of the states and peoples concerned. Never before has there been such a dense network of international institutions - like the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Trade Organisation - devoted to controlling, governing and administering the life of humanity according to the strict rules of the capitalist free market and of capitalist free profit. Finally, never at any time prior to today, have all spheres of human life – social relations, culture, art, politics, sexuality, health, education, sport, entertainment - been so completely subjected to capital and so profoundly plunged into the " in the icy water of egotistical calculation".

Add to this that the Manifesto is much more than a diagnosis - now prophetic, now marked by the limits of its time – of the global power of capitalism : it is also and above all an urgent appeal for international combat against this domination. Marx and Engels had perfectly understood that capital, as a world system, can only be vanquished by the world historical action of its victims, the proletariat and its allies.

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Scary stuff

6 Dec, 2008

China and Russia are displaying numerous instances of a new phenomenon; cyber-nationalism. This new disease manifests itself when an event, or government propaganda, stirs up nationalistic feelings among many Internet users. There then follows much chatter on message boards, email, messaging and so on. This quickly evolves into the organizing of online vigilantes. Nationalistic hackers proceed to do damage to any available target of these nationalistic feelings. Often there isn't a target, as in the case of a natural disaster, where the mobilized net users concentrate on helping out. But when the news event involves another nation, or person, there follows hacking attacks, of varying degrees of intensity, against the designated "enemy."

The governments in Russia and China have both "guided" this ire at approved targets. But since China is still a tightly (more so than Russia) controlled police state, there is also the risk of the enraged cyber patriots turning on the Communist Party. This has already happened a few times, usually in response to government corruption or incompetence. This explains why China spends so much on software, hardware and staff to gain some control over who uses the Internet inside China. Obviously, the ultimate defense against uncontrolled cyber-nationalism against the government, is to pull the plug on the Internet. That's a very short term solution, because so much of the economy depends on the Internet. Moreover, there would be a major backlash over this tactic.

As long as China is a communist police state, with a large and growing (half a billion users in a few years, they will remain vulnerable to a revolution that gets started, not in the streets, but on the net.

If you want to experience the Internet as users inside China do, go to www.chinachannel.hk. Scary stuff.

~ Strategy Page ~

 

India, Pakistan keep a lid on tensions

Reporting from Islamabad, Pakistan, and New Delhi -- Hostility between India and Pakistan is at its worst in years, but tensions stemming from last week's terrorist attacks in Mumbai are unlikely to bloom into full-blown war between the nuclear-armed rivals -- at least for now, according to analysts on both sides of the border.

Indian authorities say that the gunmen who rampaged through luxury hotels and other crowded sites in Mumbai, leaving more than 170 people dead, were trained and guided by the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba. New Delhi has angrily demanded that Islamabad turn over leaders of Lashkar and officials have pointedly refused to rule out military action, warning that they reserved the right to protect Indian territory "with all the means at our disposal."
 
But a combination of new political and economic realities, U.S. pressure and perhaps some lessons learned in the past have inhibited a rush to open conflict.

Any war would be financially devastating, especially at a time of worldwide economic downturn. India's economic juggernaut has lost some steam; and even more dire, Pakistan has had to appeal to the International Monetary Fund to keep its economy afloat. Foreign investment in both countries, which fled during a 2001-02 standoff, would vanish once again in the event of an armed clash.

"No one can afford it," said Abhay Matkar, a former Indian army major in Mumbai. "Both countries are not ready for war, and it will not happen."

Ayesha Tammy Haq, a popular talk-show host in Pakistan, questioned whether Pakistan's armed forces were even prepared militarily for a war, conventional or otherwise.

"We've had decades of propaganda about how strong we are, but we can't win a war," Haq said. "We have an army that's fat, not a well-oiled fighting machine."

Another factor leading to the relatively restrained response may be the lessons learned from a somewhat similar attack seven years ago this month -- an incident that some say almost led both countries to press the nuclear button.

On Dec. 13, 2001, a group of gunmen stormed the Indian Parliament complex in New Delhi and came close to killing the high-ranking lawmakers inside. When the gun battle was over, a dozen people lay dead, including the five assailants and six security personnel.

India also blamed that attack on Pakistani Islamic extremists, allegedly abetted by their country's powerful intelligence agency. Within days, India lashed back by deploying the first of hundreds of thousands of troops along its border with Pakistan, which promptly followed suit.

The military standoff lasted for months before intense international diplomacy helped dissuade the archrivals from launching their fourth war in 55 years.
 
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Libya: Country demands Security Council to stop Israeli piracy

At an emergency session of the UN Security Council, Libya accused Israel of piracy and demanded that the international body to quickly act and facilitate delivering of humanitarian aid to reach over 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza starved by Israel for more than a year and a half.
 
Israeli warships on Monday prevented the Libyan cargo vessel, Al-Marwa, from reaching the Gaza Strip, the impoverished Palestinian territory under
a crippling Israeli blockade.
 
Mr. Giad Allah Attalhi, the Libyan representative to the UN, told the 15-nation Security Council that Israel's prevention of the Libyan boat to reach its destination was "an act of piracy" as defined by Article 101 of the UN convention on law of the sea.
 
He asked the council "to take the necessary urgent actions to allow the ... ship to enter the port and unload its cargo." He added that Libya would allow the United Nations or other organizations to confirm that its cargo was purely humanitarian.
 
Attalhi said he hoped the council would agree to issue a statement condemning the Israeli move, which would require the backing of all 15 council members. The council took no immediate action on the Libyan draft statement.
 
The ship, laden with 3,000 tonnes of goods, was stopped several kilometres off Gaza's shores and ordered to return to the Egyptian port of El-Arish, said Palestinian MP Jamal Khodary, who heads an international campaign against the Israeli blockade.
 
Palestinian officials said the vessel had left Gaza's shores and its crew was unharmed.
 
The Anti-Siege Committee, a Palestinian group that lobbies with Hamas backing against the embargo, accused Israel of having also blocked Al-Marwa's communications broadcasts to Gaza.

The ship docked at the nearby Egypt's El-Arish port.
 
Israel sealed its crossings with Gaza, the overcrowded territory's main gateway for food and humanitarian aid, as well as its maritime borders since June 2006.
 
Israel's UN Ambassador Gabriela Shalev defended her country's decision not to let the Libyan ship reach Gaza and said it was unfortunate that the council had been "outrageously compelled" by Libya to discuss the incident.
 
The Palestinian observer to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, praised Libya's attempt to deliver aid to Gaza's 1.5 million people, most of whom rely on aid. He expressed regret that it was not allowed to reach Gaza.
 
Mansour told the council it was "imperative that Israel be compelled ... to lift its siege of the Gaza Strip."
 
US envoy Alejandro Wolff rejected the Libyan suggestion that Israel had been guilty of piracy as "absurd." He said piracy was defined as an act committed by private persons for private gain, not by the navy of a sovereign country.
 
He said Libya's decision to send a ship directly to Gaza was "dangerous and irresponsible" and that "provocation and perhaps even propaganda" appeared to be Tripoli's objective.
 
 

Another microbiologist dies a strange death

Anthrax Suspect's Death Is Dark End for a Family Man
"He was going to go out in a blaze of glory, that he was going to take everybody out with him," said a social worker in a transcript of a hearing at which she sought a restraining order against Dr. Ivins after his threats. The ranting represented the final stages of psychological decline by Dr. Ivins that ended when he took his life this week, as it became clear that he was a suspect in the 2001 anthrax attacks.
Sounds like a bad dude. One wonders how he could hold down a job and be so respected for so many years, and then suddenly go off his nut like this. One can't help wondering, also, about the scores of other microbiologists who have died, not from old age but in mysterious and bizarre circumstances. There is a pro and con discussion on this at Above Top Secret  and more background at Wake the Flock Up.

This article in the New York Times comes close to the anthrax mystery without quite fingering it (underlining mine):
With so many people involved, there is insufficient federal oversight of biodefense facilities to make sure the laboratories follow security rules and report accidents that might threaten lab workers or lead to a release that might endanger the public, Mr. Rhodes testified.

In effect, the government may be providing the tools that a would-be terrorist could use, said Richard H. Ebright, a Rutgers University biochemist and vocal critic of the federal increase in biodefense spending.
I wonder if any of the microbiologists know (knew) for a fact that the government was refining a new false flag event - maybe one they could blame on Iran? - and have been driven crazy with that knowledge and the threat of what would happen to them and their families if they dared breathe a word of it.

Interesting that Ivins was being made nervous as far back as 2001, and was fingered by the Army as "lax" when in fact there was no protocol laid down for dealing with spills "outside the secure area", and even though the NYT article states clearly that "he and his colleagues were aiding the federal investigation of the anthrax attacks..."

That paragraph is loaded with unspoken details.  For one thing, how did the sample get taken "outside the secure area" as Ivins was "aiding the federal investigation"? Was he made a fallguy when his obedience to orders from federal investigators resulted in a spill? Was he told to keep his mouth shut and deal with the spilled anthrax himself, and then pointed to when the information was leaked?
 
 

EU: 'Making the internet safer for children'

Justice and home affairs - 16-09-2008 - 09:09 

Children and teenagers are keen internet users - 12 to 15-year-olds spend at least three hours a day on screen - but they are not always aware of the dangers of certain sites or content: not only material containing child pornography or violence but also the risk of harassment by individuals with harmful intentions. The EP Civil Liberties Committee called on Monday for children to be better protected against these dangers.

The European Union plans to introduce the "Safer Internet plus" programme, with the aim of anticipating discernable trends in the on-line environment. The programme will combat illegal content, promote a safer on-line environment, raise public awareness and establish a "knowledge base" for investigatory purposes.   The European Parliament is working on this matter in co-decision with the Council of Ministers.
 
Members of the Civil Liberties Committee on Monday adopted a draft report by Roberta Angelilli (UEN, IT), which supports the Commission proposal, with a number of amendments, including a greater emphasis on combating new developments such as the electronic harassment and psychological manipulation of children. The committee suggests setting up hotlines, a free European helpline and a common "child safe" label for webpages.   Another proposal is the creation of an internet domain name "kid.eu" for children's websites.
 
A European database
 
In addition, MEPs wish to facilitate information exchange between Member States - since illegal content can be uploaded in one country and viewed in another.  In the longer term they would like to see the creation of a European database, accessible by Europol, to collect images of sex abuse of minors.  The Civil Liberties Committee also wants to involve the industry in the fight against illegal content by setting up a system to trace the exploitation of children.  This would allow the criminal justice authorities to identify perpetrators of crimes on the internet.
 
 

Drug company CEOs who permit bribes to doctors should go to jail

Only two countries in the world allow drug companies to market their products directly to consumers: New Zealand and the United States. It's a problem on many levels, the least of which is what's become our routine nightly bombardment by ads for depression, sleep, and erectile dysfunction drugs. Apart from being boring and tacky, it actually ends up raising the cost of the drugs we actually do buy by significant percentages.

What researchers have discovered, though, is that this direct-to-consumer marketing only accounts for less than a tenth of what pharmaceutical companies are spending on marketing: in reality, more than 70% of the drug industry's marketing efforts are directed at getting doctors to prescribe its various products.

According to Marc-André Gagnon and Joel Lexchin, who reported extensively on this issue in PLoS Medicine, the almost $60 billion that pharmaceutical companies spend on marketing each year is mostly made up of what amount to bribes to doctors. Not only do drug companies foot bills for doctors' fancy dinners, trips around the country, sporting event or concert tickets, they hire doctors as private "consultants" with six-figure salaries in addition to their regular salaries. They invite them to give talks at conferences for $5,000 to $10,000 a day; they pay bonuses for meeting prescription quotas, and to doctors who out-prescribe their colleagues.

~ more... ~

 

Will Cambodia's court survive to try remaining Khmer Rouge?

6 Dec, 2008

Year Zero. April 17th, 1975. The Khmer Rouge soldiers enter Phnom Penh. Young men in black pyjama's and chequered scarves walk the streets with a stealthy calm.

Within three days Phnom Penh's entire population had been forced to leave the city. Nearly one million people were marched South, West and North to labour camps across Cambodia. The young, the weak and the sick were left by the side of the road where they fell, the first victims of Pol Pots genocidal regime.

By 1979, when the Vietnamese Army invaded, up to two million Cambodians had perished. They were killed by the Khmer Rouge's drastic attempt to re-invent Cambodia as an agrarian society, to rid the land of bourgeoisie and intellectual influence, and to instigate Communism in its most heinous form. (Image: A victim of the Khmer Rouge.)

Following the Vietnamese liberation, Cambodia fell into more than a decade of civil war, and in 1997 requested aid from the UN in prosecuting the leaders of the Khmer Rouge, most of whom still roamed free across the land, some repentant for their crimes, others fighting from their stronghold on the border with Thailand.

In 2001 the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia was created (known as the ECCC), a joint UN –Cambodia project to try the surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge.

In 2003 it was agreed the ECCC would be made up of a combination of Cambodian and International staff, the first hybrid court of its kind - a Cambodian court subject to international standards. As the website boasts 'It will provide a role model for court operations in Cambodia'.

The court officially started operating in 2006, and now nearing the end of 2008, the people of Cambodia are still waiting for justice to be served.

Oung Heng, 56, is one of few who still have patience for the beleaguered court.

"I think we have a very bitter history and it is very sad. We hope that nothing like this ever happens again in the future. The ECCC is a consolation for the survivors and we have to help them seek peace. It is a heavy lesson for our country to learn but very important"

The ECCC has been plagued by problems, some unavoidable, others self created.

Of most pressing concern for many is the age of the detained - five in custody and not one younger than sixty. When Cambodia's life expectancy is still just 59 years, all of those in detention are decidedly old men.

There are warning signs that have people worried. Seventy seven year old Khieu Samphan, former head of state, was hospitalized in May following a minor stroke, and former Foreign Minister Ieng Sary, 82 was hospitalized this year when medics discovered blood in his urine. There are very real fears afoot that some of the detained will not live to stand trial, and escape into death like their comrade Pol Pot in 1998.

The Court has also been plagued by allegations of kickbacks and corruption, a problem endemic to Cambodian courts, but a real embarrassment for a UN institution.

In mid 2007 an audit of the court was commissioned and undertaken by an independent international auditing firm. A UN investigation was also launched into the alleged corruption cases.

Although the investigation has concluded the results have still not been released, and public confidence in the court is now widely threatened.

""I don't trust the courts here, I would do anything to avoid them." says Heng. Justice is rarely served and you only end up paying a great deal of money. Everyone knows taking your problem to court will not get it solved ".

Hopes were high this year that the first trial would begin in September, starting with the trial of former Tuol Sleng prison chief sixty five year old Kaing Guek Eav - or 'Duch' as he is more commonly known. Duch oversaw the torture of more than 20,000 inmates at Tuol Sleng prison, also referred to as S-21, a former elementary school in the capital.

But appeals by Duch and others for release from pre-trial detention has stalled the start of his trial, as have requests for the translation of official court documents from Khmer and English into French for Duch's lawyer - a process which has taken three months.

The victims of the Khmer Rouge are losing their patience. Nuon Sapan, 36, lost five members of his extended family to the regime.

"I think many people are beginning to question if these trials will ever get off the ground. So much money has been spent I think a lot of people are re-considering the necessity for 'justice''. Maybe all these millions of dollars would have been better spent on development, which would surely lead to improved courts in the future anyway"

And the ECCCs greatest problem of all is money. The court was initially granted funding of $60 million dollars from the Cambodian Government, the UN and donor countries. The court was expected to be in operation three years, and would be dissolved upon completion of the trials.

But in early 2008 the Court admitted it was near bankruptcy and requested extra funding of $30 million. On top of this the court projects that to complete its work it will require an extra $80 million over the coming years, though no official request has been made.

The extra $30 million has been granted, in drips and drabs, but it is unclear how much more the international community will invest in the project which, after eight years of planning and nearly three full years of operation, has yet to hear a single case.

Now that so much money has been spent the court cannot be abandoned. ECCC officials say the first trial should take place by February of 2009, but skeptics in Phnom Penh scoff at this hope, and cynicism is beginning to spread into further reaches of society.

As the months pass five old men lose a few more hairs from their grey heads, and sleep a little less soundlessly each night. The time is coming for them to face their crimes against humanity - but will they still be living when the court is ready for them?

*******

Eleanor Ainge Roy is a New Zealander working in Cambodia for the English language daily The Phnom Penh Post.

~ Scoop ~

The cost of hegemony is beyond reach

By Paul Craig Roberts
1 Sec, 2008
Undeterred by massive budget deficits from wars, a falling economy, and financial bailouts, the US government has managed to start a new cold war with Russia. Last Friday, the Russian military announced that it was developing a new generation of ballistic missiles in response to the US government's decision to deploy ballistic missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic.

The "peace dividend" that the Reagan-Gorbachev accord provided has been squandered by an arrogant American government seeking world hegemony.

In 2002 the Bush regime unilaterally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty that the US government signed with the Soviet Union in 1972. This treaty stabilized the "assured mutual destruction" that prevented the two military superpowers from initiating war, thus averting a nuclear holocaust for 30 years.

When the Soviet government released its Eastern European "captive nations," the US government promised not to recruit the Baltic and Eastern European countries for NATO membership. The US government pledged that NATO would not be brought to Russia's borders. There would be a neutral zone between the Western military alliance and Russia. The American government broke this promise as quickly as it could, bringing former constituent parts of the Russian empire into the American empire.

Last October Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, went to Lithuania to give a guarantee to the Baltics of US military intervention in the event of a Russian attack. Like the British guarantee that Chamberlain gave Poland in 1939, a guarantee that precipitated World War II, Mullen's guarantee is worthless unless the US government initiates nuclear war with Russia in defense of the tiny Baltic republics, which would be wiped out by the radiation fallout.

The US has tried to incorporate the Ukraine and Georgia, constituent parts of Russia for centuries, into NATO. To clear the way for NATO membership, the Bush regime encouraged the American puppet ruler of Georgia to cleanse provinces, attached to Georgia by Stalin, of Russians in order to end secessionist movements. When Russian troops drove the American and Israeli trained and equipped Georgian army out of the Russian parts of Georgia, the US government lied that Russia had invaded Georgia.

This malevolent lie was too much for the Russians and too much of the rest of the world. It was plain to all that the US, an aggressor state striving to encircle Russia with bases even to the edge of central Asia, had initiated a war that it then blamed on Russia. After Afghanistan, Iraq, Bush's defense of Israel's 2006 war criminal attack on Lebanon, and Bush's false claims of an Iranian nuclear weapon, few, if any, countries any longer believe pronouncements of the US government. The US is regarded worldwide as an aggressor state that lies through its teeth.

This means that unless China decides to play the US and Russia off in order to emerge as the sole world power, there is no one to finance America's side of the new cold war that the US government has created.

The only other way Washington can finance a new arms race with Russia is to cancel Social Security and Medicare, and to repudiate its massive foreign debts. If Washington does this, the likely result would be revolution at home and isolation internationally.

For decades Washington has prevailed because the US dollar is the reserve currency. It is the world's money. This advantage allows Washington to purchase almost every other government. There are governments all over the world, from Europe to Egypt, from Ukraine to South Korea to Japan, that are owned by Washington. When Washington speaks of spreading freedom and democracy, Washington means it has purchased more governments to do its will.

These purchased governments do not represent their people. They represent American hegemony.

Now that the Great Hegemon is bankrupt and its economy is collapsing, thanks to unbridled greed, American influence is waning. The US dollar cannot survive the massive red ink that the US generates.

When the dollar collapses, the image of a strutting Washington as "the world's only superpower" will evaporate. The evil that is the American government will find itself at war with its own people and those of the rest of the world.

Paul Craig Roberts, a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, has held numerous academic appointments. He has been reporting shocking cases of prosecutorial abuse for two decades. A new edition of his book, The Tyranny of Good Intentions, co-authored with Lawrence Stratton, a documented account of how Americans lost the protection of law, was published by Random House in March, 2008.
 
 

Washington arrogance has fomented a Muslim Revolution

"In a government of law, the existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for the law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy."

~ Justice Louis Brandeis

Is Pakistan responsible for the Mumbai attack in India? No.

Is India's repression of its Muslim minority responsible? No.

Is the United States government responsible? Yes.

The attack on Mumbai required radicalized Muslims. Radicalized Muslims resulted from the US overthrowing the elected government in Iran and imposing the Shah; from the US stationing troops in Saudi Arabia; from the US invading and attempting to occupy Afghanistan and Iraq, bombing weddings, funerals, and children's soccer games; from the US violating international and US law by torturing its Muslim victims; from the US enlisting Pakistan in its war against the Taliban; from the US violating Pakistan's sovereignty by conducting military operations on Pakistani territory, killing Pakistani civilians; from the US government supporting a half century of Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their lands, towns and villages; from the assault of American culture on Muslim values; from the US purchasing the government of Egypt to act as its puppet; from US arrogance that America is the supreme arbiter of morality.

As Justice Brandeis said, crime is contagious. Government teaches by example, and America's example is lawlessness. America's brutal crimes against the Muslim world have invited every Muslim to become a law unto himself – a revolutionary. It is not terror that Washington confronts but revolution.

By illegal, uncivilized and undiplomatic behavior, the US has stirred Muslim peoples from their long slumber as serfs of Western colonial powers. Some Muslims have had all that they can take, and their fury drives them to rouse a billion of their fellows to throw off the yoke of foreign hegemony.

The arrogant incompetence of American governments brought this conflict to the American people and inflicted it upon the world. By destabilizing Pakistan, the US lost a puppet and created an opportunity for Muslim revolutionaries to exploit. By enraging India against Pakistan, the Mumbai attack has created new problems for Pakistan that will focus that government's attention away from combating Taliban sanctuaries on Pakistan's border with Afghanistan. If the US picks up the slack, it will have invaded yet another country and become trapped in a larger quagmire.

Having fomented terrorism, the American government now pretends to be the innocent victim, just as Israelis, having brought about terrorism by driving Palestinians from their homes and villages, pretend to be innocent victims.

Today European members of NATO, an outdated organization formed to defend Western Europe against Soviet invasion, are sacrificing the lives of their soldiers fighting the American Empire's war in Afghanistan. If America continues to have its way, Europeans will soon be dying in Ukraine, Georgia, and Iran.

The American government, which preaches "freedom and democracy" has in the 21st century gone to great extremes to stamp out the US Constitution and the civil liberties that it guarantees. The US government has repudiated the Geneva Conventions and the prohibitions in US statutory law against torture. The US government has set aside habeas corpus, the ancient legal principle guaranteed by the US Constitution that prohibits governments from holding people in prisons without presenting charges. The US government has broken the laws of other nations by kidnapping foreign citizens and transporting them to other lands to be tortured.

These massive crimes have been justified in the name of the "war on terror." In truth, America's crimes foment revolution.

It was the US government that created the "war on terror," which has been used to murder and dispossess millions of Iraqis and Afghans, to imprison US citizens as if they were medieval serfs, and to squander three trillion dollars for the sole purpose of enriching Halliburton and the military-security complex.

Investigative journalist John Pilger has shown that the so-called "moral superiority of the West" is a hoax designed to shield from view the self-seeking West's crimes against humanity.

Obama promised change from this destructive behavior, but how does change arise when the most arrogant woman on earth is appointed Secretary of State and the rest of the new government is staffed with tried-and-true Likudniks and servants of the military-security complex?

The change over which Obama will preside will have no American victories. The change will come from America as a failed state, from the dollar dethroned as reserve currency, from America repudiated by its allies and paid puppets, from massive unemployment for which there is no solution, from hyperinflation that produces anarchy.

The day might arrive when Washington is faced with revolution at home as well as abroad.

Paul Craig Roberts, a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, has been reporting shocking cases of prosecutorial abuse for two decades. A new edition of his book, The Tyranny of Good Intentions, co-authored with Lawrence Stratton, a documented account of how Americans lost the protection of law, has just been released by Random House.

Satire: Bush in Race against Time to Wreck Country

Legacy of Destruction at Stake 

Confounding the conventional wisdom that he is a lame duck president with no agenda as his days in office dwindle, President George W. Bush is redoubling his efforts to mutilate the country before his term expires, aides confirmed today.

"President Bush has spent the first seven years and ten months of his presidency doing everything in his power to leave the United States in smoldering ruins," said White House spokesperson Dana Perino.  "He certainly is not going to let the final days of his tenure go to waste."
 
 

Playing For Change: Peace Through Music



Music revolution


Bill Moyers Journal

December 5, 2008

BILL MOYERS: In just the last month unfortunately, we've lost two women whose gutsy, soulful voices embodied the conscience of their homelands.

First to leave us was Miriam Makeba, known as "Mama Africa." She spent more than 30 years banned from South Africa for the outspoken, joyous songs that rang out from the ramparts of the anti-apartheid movement. But exile could not silence the township radios and tape decks that continued to fill the air with Makeba, in defiance of the law. "Her music inspired a powerful sense of hope in all of us," Nelson Mandela said. "She was a mother to our struggle and to the young nation of ours."

We also said goodbye to Odetta Holmes — known simply as Odetta. She was born in Birmingham, Alabama, during the depths of the Great Depression. And she made the blues and the work songs and spirituals of the Deep South a mainstay of American folk music, the soundtrack to the struggle for civil rights.

Despite failing health, she performed to the very end, and hoped to serenade Barack Obama at his inauguration.

Though we mourn their loss, the voices of Odetta and Makeba will live on. Music continues to cross all boundaries and to touch what's common to the human heart.

My next guest continues to believe that through song we can change the world. We first introduced him to you a few weeks ago, and we were overwhelmed by your response. One woman whose family has been pitched overboard by the sinking economy wrote us to say: "I haven't felt much joy lately," but after watching the program, "for the first time in a very long time, my heart felt something other than pain and fear."

We lost count of the number of people who requested an encore so we're delighted now to oblige.

Mark Johnson is the co-director of a remarkable documentary about the simple but transformative power of music: "Playing for Change: Peace Through Music."....

Tracey Ullman goes Bollywood

Tracey Ullman - State of the Union, Indian Viagra



A hilarious clip from Tracey Ullman's new show. The sketch has her playing an Indian pharmacist (Padma Perkish) in America giving advice about Viagra in Indian films' song and dance style.

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image from http://www.spitting-image.net

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