Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Cordoba Declaration on the Right to Food

Launched on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, this Declaration presents a number of issues and recommendations that should be given attention in further work dealing with chronic hunger and the aggravation of the food crisis, as identified by a group of experts in the context of the Cordoba process.[1] The present Declaration demonstrates how the right to food can tackle the structural causes of hunger and contribute to food security for all.

Full Title: The Cordoba Declaration on the Right to Food and the Governance of the Global Food and Agricultural Systems

1. Preamble

The dramatic scope of the world hunger has now become fully recognised. Widespread hunger riots and social unrest has at long last made it obvious to the public and to governments that this unacceptable failure of the global civilisation can no longer be allowed to fester much more. It is now abundantly clear that conventional approaches to food security have failed.

The Members of the United Nations declared in 1948 that everyone has a right to be free from hunger and to adequate food including drinking water, as set out in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This commitment was given legally binding form in Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. It is implicit also in the right to life as contained in Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The right to an adequate standard of living including food is also found in Article 27 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and is implicit in its Article 24.

The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has in its General Comment 12 (adopted in 1999) clarified the nature of state obligations to implement the right to food, and has in its General Comment 15 (2002) made a similar clarification regarding the right to drinking water.

States have repeatedly reiterated the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger and the right to adequate food. World leaders and their representatives stated in 1996 in their Rome Declaration on World Food Security: "We consider it intolerable that more than 800 million people throughout the world, and particularly in developing countries, do not have enough food to meet their basic nutritional needs. This situation is unacceptable'.

The participating states therefore committed themselves to implement policies aimed at eradicating poverty and inequality and improving physical and economic access by all to sufficient, nutritionally adequate and safe food, and they pledged themselves to eradicate hunger in all countries, specifically by reducing the number of undernourished people by 2015 to half their level in 1996.

If implemented, this would have meant that by this point in time (end 2008) the number should have decreased to some 583 million hungry people. The contrary has happened -- the number of hungry has increased over its 1996 number and is now at the incredibly high number of 967 million.

A similar commitment to reduce the share to a half by 2015 of the world population who go hungry was also made at the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000, and is included in Millennium Development Goal 1, also reiterated by the 2005 Summit outcome document. But it was clear even before the present financial crisis that the target would not be reached, if conventional approaches were continued. Nor have more recent commitments made at the highest level on food and agricultural policies (Plan of Implementation adopted at the World Summit on Sustainable Development, Johannesburg 2002), led to the re- design of the policies, and much less to their implementation.

In 2004, through the FAO Council, world governments adopted the Voluntary guidelines to support the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security. If these guidelines are followed with conscience and commitment, developments are likely to take a different turn.

The current hunger crisis is not a time-restricted famine but the sudden worsening of a chronic problem that has affected hundreds of million people for decades. Hunger is a structural problem and therefore demands structural changes, with consequences for institutional development and food system governance. Food security for all must be considered as a global public good and it must be made a central focus of global governance as well as of national development, taking into account that often the main problem is not too little food production but the inability of many to have access to food.

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Human rights group slams PC makers

When it comes to inhumane working conditions in Asia, critics tend to focus on the textile industry. But the technology sector is also noticeably earning a reputation for paying little money for long and hard labor at its work sites in the Far East.

The Hong Kong-based human rights organization Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (Sacom) interviewed workers between June and September at two computer parts suppliers in the southern Chinese province of Guandong. According to Sacom and the Berlin development organization Weed, the results are alarming. "Working hours total up to 370 hours per month," Sacom researcher Jenny Chan said on Monday in Berlin. Even accounting for 30 work days a month, that would still be over 12 hours a day, according to the report, "The Dark Side of Cyberspace," which Sacom and Weed published on Monday.

The factories studied are far from back-alley rat shops—they are suppliers for multinational corporations. One of the two factories investigated, Excelsior Electronics in Dongguan, produces circuit boards, graphics cards, and other parts for computers sold by, among others, Europe's Fujitsu Siemens.

Chan argues that the long working hours violate Chinese law. In addition to the normal 40-hour workweek, Chinese law stipulates that a maximum of 36 hours of overtime can be worked each month. She claims that, in many cases, workers at Excelsior have to work up to 174 hours of overtime. During rush periods, especially before the European Christmas shopping season, days off are cut out entirely. Employees at Excelsior must then work seven days a week, the study claims.

In addition, human rights activists complain that employees often don't receive the legal minimum wage. Citing examples, Chan calculates that at the end of the month only a portion of the full salary is paid out—which ought to run to €77 ($105.52) plus overtime pay.

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Israeli authorities detain, expel U.N. human rights envoy

Israeli authorities detained a U.N. human rights envoy for more than 20 hours at the Tel Aviv airport before expelling him, putting him on a plane bound for Los Angeles, U.N. officials said Monday.

The U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed "regret" over the action and said the United Nations had notified Israel in advance of American Richard Falk's plans to visit. "One doesn't expect a U.N. special rapporteur to find himself in that position," said UNHCR spokesman Rupert Colville.

The Israeli mission to the United Nations defended the decision, saying that Falk had been repeatedly warned that a visit would not be welcome.

Falk, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories, has a long history of criticizing Israel, and Israel contended that his mandate, which provides him with the authority to examine only Israeli abuses against Palestinians, is fundamentally unfair.

The expulsion came to light hours before Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in New York to attend a high-level meeting of the Middle East Quartet, the group orchestrating Middle East peace efforts. Rice used the meeting of representatives of the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations as a platform from which to defend U.S. diplomacy in the Middle East.

The gathering was further overshadowed by the United Nations' General Assembly President, Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann, who decried Israel's treatment of Falk and blamed the country's diplomats for inciting death threats against him.

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Celebrations begin to mark Human Rights Day

To rejoice 60th anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 10 day celebrations have started in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. The celebrations began on Tuesday as Pakistan Television News arranged different talk shows from its centers in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi and Quetta to mark International Human Rights day, said a news release issued here.

PTV and all private channels presented Human Rights programmes with special reference to conferment of International Award for Human Rights upon Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed by United Nations.

Print media will publish messages of President, Prime Minister, Minister of Human Rights and Secretary Human Rights besides publication of special supplements in national newspapers.

On Thursday, telecommunication and private mobile companies in collaboration with Ministry of Information and Technology will send messages to millions of people on conferment of Human Rights award upon Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed by United Nations.

On the same day, media conference regarding 10 days of celebrations and conferment of International Award for Human Rights on Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed will be held at SAFMA centre, besides seminars on human rights issues in Pakistan by civil society organizations.

The ceremony of Candle Lighting for Peace would be held at Benazir Memorial Liaquat Bagh in Rawalpindi. On Saturday, a function by an NGO would be also be held.

Telecom and private mobile companies in collaboration with Ministry of Information and Technology will send text mes

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Emma Goldman has a conversation with the Illuminati

EG - So is the final battle you mentioned - between the honest and dishonest illuminati - really a battle between American illuminati and the European illuminati?

NP - Very observant. As America is the only country on earth founded on the enlightenment principles of individual rights, you could properly guess that would be the case.

EG - But is that the case?

NP - Spiritually? Yes. But geographically, no. In today's era of global travel and finance, the most powerful illuminati are using the entire world as their chessboard, not merely the American and European continents.

EG - You're saying that all honest illuminati are spiritually aligned to the American ideals of individualism, and that the dishonest ones are aligned to the ideals of the old European feudal system?

NP - Very observant.

EG - So the NWO conspiracy boobs that run around fearful about an illuminati enslaving the human race, they are correct, or not?

NP - The honest illuminati are using that as one tool in the chess match to dismantle the neocheating illuminati power structures.

EG - So you're saying that the NWO will be the result of the battle between the honest and dishonest illuminati, and that it could end bad or good for the common person.

NP - Precisely. Our chess match is literally a game of life or death. The enlightenment versus the dark ages. If the good guys lose, then life on earth will turn very bad for a great many people, and billions will be killed.

EG - But if the good guys win?

NP - It will be an amazing day on earth, because very quickly every liberated country on earth would be refounded on the enlightenment principle of individual rights.

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Beethoven and the Illuminati

In those years, his first serious mentor, Neefe the Schwärmer, was in an especially perfervid phase of his spiritual life. For some time he had been a Freemason, a group then in its first century as a progressive, international, secular, semisecret order open to men of all faiths. (As such, the Masons were loathed by churches and regimes alike.) But Neefe was tired of the Masons' endless chatter of liberty and morality. He wanted a more ambitious and active kind of brotherhood—say, a new world order. That took him to one of the more bizarre sideshows of the Enlightenment: the Bavarian Illuminati. A Bonn lodge of the Illuminati formed, and Beethoven's teacher became head of it.

Founded in 1776 by a Bavarian professor named Adam Weishaupt, the Illuminati joined radical politics and Jesuit-style hierarchy to fanatical secrecy. The aims of the order were ambitious, all right: They intended to change the world and had a plan to do it. The means were not to be by violent revolutions. The idea was to form a cadre of enlightened men who would steathlily infiltrate governments everywhere and slowly bring them to a kind of secular-humanist Elysium under the guidance of a secret ruling body. Said Adam Weishaupt: "Princes and nations shall disappear from the face of the earth peacefully, mankind shall become one family, and the world shall become a haven of reasonable people. Morality shall achieve this transformation, alone and imperceptibly."

For every Illuminatus, the perfection of society started with the perfection of one's own moral character. Aspiring members were given piles of text to read, required to write a rigorous self-examination and to undergo ritualized interrogations:

    Where have you come from?/ From the world of the first chosen.
    Whither do you want to go?/ To the inmost sanctum.
    What do you seek there?/ He who is, who was, and who shall always be.
    What inspires you?/ The light, which lives in me and is now ablaze in me.

For all the moony mysticism, the Illuminati had a high-Enlightenment agenda, rational, humanistic, and universal. They published a monthly magazine, Contributions to the Spread of Useful Knowledge, which was partly Enlightenment cheerleading, partly practical items relating to husbandry, housekeeping, and the like. Duty was the essence of Illuminati teaching, but it was an Enlightenment kind of duty: duty not to God or to princes but to the order and to humanity.

In practice, the Illuminati amounted to a kind of activist left wing of the Freemasons, from whom they drew most of their members. The numbers were never large, but they included people like Goethe (briefly) and Christian Koerner, a close friend and confidant of Friedrich Schiller. Koerner's influence seems to be why some Illuminati-tinged ideas—universal brotherhood and the triumph of happiness bringing humanity to Elysium—turned up in Schiller's famous poem Ode to Joy, which was often set to music and sung in Masonic and Illuminati circles. The poem would later enter history via the finale of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

As an Illuminatus, an important part of Christian Neefe's duty was to covertly inculcate promising young people in the ideals of the order, then to recruit them when they came of age. Beethoven was as promising as young people get. So did Neefe inculcate this student? Surely he did. Was Beethoven recruited to the order? No—the Illuminati dissolved in 1785, when he was 14. There is also a question as to how inculcatable Beethoven was by anybody. Even in his teens, he was so fixed on his own tack that he only intermittently took notice of the rest of the world.

Not only Neefe, but then and later most of Beethoven's other friends and mentors and patrons were ex-Illuminati or Freemasons. Did those influences have an impact on his life and art? Among many other things, certainly. By the time Beethoven left Bonn, he was already planning to set Schiller's Ode to music, and he had a good idea what that poem was about, from its humanistic surface to its Masonic and Illuminati depths. By then Bonn had helped give him ideas and ideals about being a composer that no one ever had before. He wanted to be something more than an entertainer. He wanted to be part of history.

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Lamar Waldron and Thom Hartmann argue that a mob role and a Cuban coup plot explain JFK's Assassination


Legacy of Secrecy provides additional evidence showing that John and Robert Kennedy planned to stage a coup against Fidel on Dec. 1, 1963, ten days after JFK's trip to Dallas--and that three Mafia bosses infiltrated that top secret plan.  ... The new information includes the confessions of all three Mafia bosses, and some of their associates.

-- Lamar Waldron, coauthor, Legacy of Secrecy: The Long Shadow of the JFK Assassination

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Legacy of Secrecy is the sequel to the hotly debated, but many argue persuasive, Kennedy assassination conspiracy book of a couple years ago, carried in the BuzzFlash Progressive MarketPlace, Ultimate Sacrifice. Both books are authored by Lamar Waldron and our good friend and noted progressive talk show host and writer, Thom Hartmann.

We know that every BuzzFlash reader has an opinion about who might have been behind JFK's murder; that's in the nature of conspiracy theories. There's no Higher Court of Truth to make a final judgment.

There are four basic theories: 1) Oswald did it alone (sorry Vincent Bugliosi, not a chance); 2) Castro and/or the Soviets directed Oswald; 3) the CIA arranged it and 4) the Mafia was behind the assassination. And, of course, there are various blends of these perspectives. Waldron and Hartmann find a lot of evidence to support theory 4. They present a compelling case, but you be the judge. Co-author Lamar Waldron was interviewed by BuzzFlash.

 * * *

BuzzFlash:  In brief, how does Legacy of Secrecy differ from Ultimate Sacrifice?

Lamar Waldron: Much information has continued to emerge since the publication of the extensively updated trade paperback of Ultimate Sacrifice in 2006, information which provides even more confirmation of what we had originally written.  Legacy of Secrecy provides additional evidence showing that John and Robert Kennedy planned to stage a coup against Fidel on Dec. 1, 1963, ten days after JFK's trip to Dallas--and that three Mafia bosses infiltrated that top secret plan.  The mob leaders used parts of the secret plan to kill JFK in a way that forced Robert Kennedy, LBJ, and other key officials to cover-up much information, to prevent another confrontation with the Soviets, just a year after the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The new information includes the confessions of all three Mafia bosses, and some of their associates.

Ultimate Sacrifice had to cover 1964 to the present in just a few dozen pages, but the majority of Legacy of Secrecy is devoted to those years, showing how all the secrecy surrounding JFK's murder continued to have tragic effects. Legacy finally explains who paid James Earl Ray to kill Dr. King, and why.

Legacy also delves more into CIA officials like Richard Helms and E. Howard Hunt, whose involvement with the coup plan in 1963 continued to impact their careers and cause more cover-ups.

Leading the top secret coup for the Kennedys on Dec. 1, 1963 was going to be Commander Juan Almeida, head (and founder) of the Cuban Army.  He wasn't going to take credit for killing Fidel; that would be blamed on a Russian or Russian sympathizer.  It was never supposed to be known that the Kennedys were really behind the coup; otherwise, the Cuban people wouldn't follow Almeida and the new coalition government. Fidel didn't learn about Almeida's secret work with JFK for decades.  For reasons detailed in Legacy, Commander Almeida is still listed as the #3 official in Cuba today and he could still  be a factor in resolving the decades-long impasse between the US and Cuba.

BuzzFlash: What motivated you and Thom Hartmann to take on perhaps the most analyzed and speculated upon assassination in American history -- and to spend two decades doing it?

Lamar Waldron: After spending a couple of years exploring all the various theories, and running into the usual roadblocks and lack of documents, we decided to talk to people who had actually worked with John and Robert Kennedy in 1963. The first was JFK's Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, who revealed that JFK was close to staging a coup and invasion of Cuba at the time of his death--but (unlike the Bay of Pigs fiasco) this plan was so secret that even Rusk was only told about it after JFK's death.

Next, JFK's close aide Dave Powers explained that he and another JFK aide had witnessed shots from the grassy knoll, while they were riding in the limo right behind JFK's. But Powers said they were both pressured to change their testimony to the Warren Commission "for the good of the country." With revelations like those, it was hard not to pursue all the leads until we eventually had the whole story. One Kennedy aide led to another, until we'd eventually talked to more than two dozen people who had worked with John or Robert Kennedy. Their disclosures led us to documentation in the National Archives, and eventually, to helping additional documents be identified and released.

Legacy of Secrecy explains why the whole process took so long--and why we're still pursuing the release of "more than one million CIA records" related to JFK's murder, that are being withheld despite the 1992 JFK Act requiring their release.

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Brave New Worldview

This seems like the right time to entertain the possibility that Aldous Huxley is more relevant now than he ever was, that Island is as important as Brave New World, and that the two novels should be read together. I am particularly struck by Huxley's vibrant critique of religious literalism and the whole psychology of belief in Island. "In religion all words are dirty words," the Old Raja's little green book declared. Hence the novel's ideal of the "Tantrik agnostic" (Aldous's grandfather returns) and its scorn for that "Old Nobodaddy" in the sky (the expression is pure William Blake). Hence the humorous prayer of Pala: "Give us this day our daily Faith, but deliver us, dear God, from Belief." The scarecrows in the fields were even made to look like a God the Father, so that the children who manipulated them with strings to scare off the birds could learn that "all gods are homemade, and that it's we who pull their strings and so give them the power to pull ours."

Huxley in fact had already said much the same thing eight years before, in a foreword to the first book of one of his closest friend's, the Indian philosopher and education reformer Krishnamurti. In that foreword to The First and Last Freedom (1954), Huxley wrote that a man who has resolved his relation to the domains of science and religion — to "the two worlds of data and symbols" — is "a man who has no beliefs." He adopts beliefs merely as tools with which to address practical problems, and he holds them lightly. There are many ways, Huxley taught us, to be religious without being religious: Religious identity, after all, is just another muddy filter through which the clear light of the Void shines.

Of course, writers and thinkers have been discussing the fusion of science and mysticism for years; "neural Buddhism," by other names, was an element of the human-potential movement that began in the early 60s at Esalen Institute in Big Sur, Calif., partly inspired by Huxley and his lectures on "human potentialities." I sometimes wonder if the counterculture of the 1960s, which arose in tandem with the human-potential movement, in a much more ecstatic and decidedly less intellectual mode, had the unfortunate effect of delegitimizing the mystically inclined Huxley in the broader culture. Certainly many of the counterculture's shortcomings and casualties arose not from following Huxley through the doors of perception, but from not following him closely enough. In particular, the counterculture lacked Huxley's intellectual discipline and his high regard for the arts of reading and writing.

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Musicians say U.S. should stop using songs as torture

Now military detainees aren't the only ones complaining. Musicians are banding together to demand the U.S. military stop using their songs as weapons.

The tactic has been common in the U.S. war on terror, with forces systematically using loud music on hundreds of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay. Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, then the U.S. military commander in Iraq, authorized it on Sept. 14, 2003, "to create fear, disorient ... and prolong capture shock."

A campaign launched today has brought together groups including Massive Attack and musicians such as Tom Morello, who played with Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave. It will feature minutes of silence during concerts and festivals, said Chloe Davies of the British law group Reprieve, which represents Guantánamo Bay detainees and is organizing the campaign.

For many Afghan detainees - where music was prohibited under Taliban rule - interrogations by U.S. forces marked their first exposure to the rhythms, played at top volume.

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A giant breach in earth's magnetic field

The size of the breach took researchers by surprise. "We've seen things like this before," says Raeder, "but never on such a large scale. The entire day-side of the magnetosphere was open to the solar wind."

The circumstances were even more surprising. Space physicists have long believed that holes in Earth's magnetosphere open only in response to solar magnetic fields that point south. The great breach of June 2007, however, opened in response to a solar magnetic field that pointed north.

"To the lay person, this may sound like a quibble, but to a space physicist, it is almost seismic," says Sibeck. "When I tell my colleagues, most react with skepticism, as if I'm trying to convince them that the sun rises in the west."

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Here is why they can't believe their ears: The solar wind presses against Earth's magnetosphere almost directly above the equator where our planet's magnetic field points north. Suppose a bundle of solar magnetism comes along, and it points north, too. The two fields should reinforce one another, strengthening Earth's magnetic defenses and slamming the door shut on the solar wind. In the language of space physics, a north-pointing solar magnetic field is called a "northern IMF" and it is synonymous with shields up!

"So, you can imagine our surprise when a northern IMF came along and shields went down instead," says Sibeck. "This completely overturns our understanding of things."

Northern IMF events don't actually trigger geomagnetic storms, notes Raeder, but they do set the stage for storms by loading the magnetosphere with plasma. A loaded magnetosphere is primed for auroras, power outages, and other disturbances that can result when, say, a CME (coronal mass ejection) hits.

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Madoff Ponzi scheme dwarfed by Illuminati Rubin's

The arrest of financier Bernard Madoff Thursday for operating a "Ponzi scheme" costing investors $50 billion made the TV network news. Curiously, a lawsuit the same day against Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin for defrauding Citibank shareholders of more than $122 billion, also described as a  "Ponzi scheme," got no airplay whatsoever.

As we shall see, Rubin, a Director of Citibank, profited from the shady practices that destroyed the financial system and sent the world's economies into a tailspin. Then, to repair the damage, he and his banker friends put the taxpayer on the hook for trillions.

Rubin didn't get the same publicity as Madoff because of his close connection to Barack Obama.

Robert Rubin's son Jamie was Obama's main Wall Street fundraiser and is now one of his principal advisers. More significant, Obama's economic team consists of Rubin's proteges including Timothy Geithner, Treasury Secretary, Lawrence Summers, Senior Economic Adviser and Peter Orszag, Budget Director.  The Times of London has already dubbed them the "Robert Rubin Memorial All Stars."

Clearly, the media don't want people to realize that the candidate of "Change"  chose the people responsible for this calamity to be his "economic team." While in the Clinton White House, Rubin, with Summers, helped tear down the regulatory walls between banks, brokerages and insurance companies and freed them to trade in unregulated and little-understood derivatives worth trillions of dollars.


In an article entitled "Ponzi Scheme at CITI," the New York Post reported: "A new Citigroup scandal is engulfing Robert Rubin and his former disciple Chuck Prince for their roles in an alleged Ponzi-style scheme that's now choking world banking.

Director Rubin and ousted CEO Prince - and their lieutenants over the past five years - are named in a federal lawsuit for an alleged complex cover-up of toxic securities that spread across the globe, wiping out trillions of dollars in their destructive paths.

Investor-plaintiffs in the suit accuse Citi management of overseeing the repackaging of unmarketable collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) that no one wanted - and then reselling them to Citi and hiding the poisonous exposure off the books in shell entities.

The lawsuit said that when the bottom fell out of the shaky assets in the past year, Citi's stock collapsed, wiping out more than $122 billion of shareholder value.

However, Rubin and other top insiders were able to keep Citi shares afloat until they could cash out more than $150 million for themselves in "suspicious" stock sales" calculated to maximize the personal benefits from undisclosed inside information," the lawsuit said.

The latest troubles for Rubin, Prince and others emerged in a 500-page investigation by Citigroup investors represented by law firm Kirby McInerney.

The probe was used to amend and add new details to a blanket investor lawsuit filed against Citigroup a year ago. The amended suit called the actions of Citi leaders "a quasi-Ponzi scheme" to hide troubles - and keep Citi stock afloat while insiders unloaded about 3 million shares between Jan. 1, 2004 and Feb. 22, 2008 for huge profits.

In addition to Citigroup, Rubin and Prince, the complaint names Vice Chairman Lewis Kaden, ex-CFO Sallie Krawcheck and her successor CFO Gary Crittenden.

Rubin cleared $30.6 million on his stock sales, while Prince got $26.5 million, former COO Robert Druskin got nearly $32 million and former Global Wealth Management unit chief Todd Thomson got $25.7 million, the suit said."

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Rediscovering Somalia

Despite international demands that Ethiopian troops leave, the U.S. backed their continued presence. A popular insurgency rose up within months, and by November 2007, the U.N. had named the situation in Somalia the worst humanitarian crisis in Africa, with some 600,000=750,000 civilians displaced and living in extremely precarious conditions where aid can't reach them due to the security situation (IRIN, 1/10/08, UNHCR, 12/1/07); an estimated 6,500 civilians have been killed (Globe and Mail, 1/1/08).

International organizations have issued reports highlighting flagrant war crimes and human rights abuses committed by the Ethiopian troops, including arbitrary arrests, summary executions, looting, pillaging, collective punishment, targeting of hospitals and indiscriminate bombardment of populated neighborhoods (Human Rights Watch, 8/07; U.N. humanitarian office, 12/21/07).

The insurgency has vowed to continue fighting until the Ethiopian troops withdraw (Africa News, 1/18/08); "There is no solution to the humanitarian crisis with the presence of Ethiopian troops," emphasized the European Union's special envoy to Somalia (McClatchy, 12/4/07). But the U.S. has refused to pull its backing, and has incredibly feigned ignorance of crimes and human rights abuses committed by Ethiopian troops (Globe and Mail, 1/1/08).

And with rare exceptions--notably some reports from McClatchy and from the Washington Post's Stephanie McCrummen (e.g., 1/23/07)--U.S. journalists have done little more than describe scenes of war and misery and wring their hands, repeating official propaganda and failing to connect the dots between U.S. policy and Somali strife.

Some go so far as to call the conflict a "civil war" (e.g., CBS Evening News, 4/22/07; L.A. Times, 12/5/07; AP, 12/16/07), despite the fact that nearly all the fighting is between a Somali insurgency and Ethiopian troops; the official government, composed primarily of warlords allied with Ethiopia, has virtually no popular support and virtually no army, rendering it little more than a puppet in the conflict.

Despite initially publishing some critical reports, the New York Times frequently cloaked the U.S. hand in later pieces. In April (4/23/07), Gettleman explained the worsening conflict, its background and the important players involved, naming the Islamic Courts, Ethiopia, Al-Qaeda and the transitional government, but not once mentioning the United States. Two days later, he explained three factors in the chaos in Somalia: clan rivalry, Islamic fervor and profit. He granted that transitional government leaders "have made mistakes," but "they believe that there are some Somalis--actually, many Somalis--who will never go along with any program." Somali anarchists take the blame, while U.S.-backed Ethiopian troops and their abuses are largely invisible.

A Washington Post editorial (4/10/07) argued that some of the responsibility for Somalia's conflict "must go to outsiders," but the only culpability it managed to attribute to the U.S. was a "failure to use their leverage to get peacekeeping forces into Somalia or to pressure the transitional government into cutting deals with Somali groups that are not adequately represented in the government"; the invasion was seen as opening up "a slender opportunity…to stabilize Somalia," while the CIA's pre-invasion role merited no mention at all.

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'When it comes to fighting autism, maybe we should send in the Army'

Autism and the military have a deep history together. Children of service members are reportedly almost twice as likely to have autism (1-in-88) than those in the general population (1-in-150). Meanwhile, the Department of Defense quietly spends millions in taxpayer dollars researching the possible causes of autism at far-from-the-spotlight centers around the country.

Recently, several documents have been brought to my attention which, when viewed together, suggest that the Department of Defense has legitimate concerns about vaccine injuries and their possible connection to autism, perhaps more so than other branches of the Federal Government.

These documents raise several questions that I am currently trying to get answered from DOD officials:

1) Autism may be an "adverse event" of Tripedia (DTaP) use

According to the website of the Vaccine Healthcare Centers Network, run by DOD and CDC, autism is listed as an "adverse event" associated with use of the Tripedia triple vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis.

My questions are: Why does autism appear here? Does VHC consider autism to be a possible adverse event of DTaP use, or has it simply been reported that way by parents?

2) Patients who have bad vaccine reactions should avoid multiple vaccines in the future

According to this VHC slide, any patient who has a "Systemic Event" following immunization - defined as "symptoms and signs of illness after vaccination" and "any reaction that does not involve the injection site" - should avoid multiple vaccines in the future, if possible.

My questions are: Is that standard DOD policy? Is there an alternative schedule for these patients? Does this advice apply to children of service members as well? Why is this information not shared with civilian doctors and pediatricians?

3) Patients who develop serious neurological diseases might need vaccine exemptions in the future

This VHC slide says that a patient who develops a severe neurologic disease following vaccination might need temporary or permanent exemption from future vaccines. Such diseases include peripheral neuropathy, encephalopathy (including autism, presumably) Guillain-Barré syndrome and progressive focal neurologic disease. Such patients should be given temporary exemptions from future vaccinations.

Meanwhile, risks for recurrent reactions should be assessed before additional doses are given, and "permanent vaccine exemption may be required."

Again, is this DOD policy? Are such exemptions given? Because autism is listed as a "severe neurological disease," would those patients (ie, children of service members) also be exempt from future vaccinations? And, on a related note, does VHC consider autism to be a "neurological disease," as opposed to a developmental/behavioral disorder?

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Chelation breakthrough help for cardiovascular disease

One of the greatest health breakthroughs and best-kept secrets is a key to treating cardiovascular disease.

That secret is chelation, pronounced key-la-shun, specifically using a substance known as EDTA (ethylene diamine tetra acetate). EDTA is an amino acid. You may have seen other forms of it used as a preservative. The forms used in chelation are disodium EDTA or calcium disodium EDTA.

Literally chelation means "to claw" or grab onto from the Greek word "chele." This accurately describes how chelation works. It grabs onto harmful substances such as heavy metals, toxins and poisons, firmly binding them to the EDTA molecule for removal from the body by excretion through the kidneys and bowel.

In the 1930s, Germans used it to replace imported citric acid used as a calcium chelator in the textile industry. In the 1940s the U.S. Navy used it on sailors with lead toxicity because of the lead paint used on ships.

In 1955, cardiologist Dr. Norman Clarke was the first to note the cardiovascular benefits when EDTA was used for heavy metal chelation.

Chelation has been going on in the United States for more than 35 years. It has been found to be as effective and, in many cases, a more successful treatment than our medical or surgical management of cardiovascular disease — so much so that the National Institute of Health has funded a five-year study on the long form of IV EDTA chelation.

Why does it work? EDTA attracts toxins from our tissues and then firmly binds them for excretion via urine and feces. These toxins cause free radicals which damage our vessels and organs in many ways. Our blood vessels get little nicks in them and as a result cholesterol lays down a protective Band-Aid.

These free radicals then cause cholesterol plaques to become larger and hard, narrowing the blood flow in that area. Free radicals also cause our blood to become sticky, and this process continues to add to the plaque and the narrowing.

Along with narrowing, a dilating substance called nitric oxide is prevented from being produced. Nitric oxide (not the same as the laughing gas) is automatically produced by the blood vessels in areas of narrowing to dilate the vessel and increase blood flow. You might be familiar with a product called nitroglycerin, which is fashioned after nitric oxide and is used to dilate blood vessels in people with chest pain, also known as angina.

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NATO: Military and IT industry must agree on world security

More than 250 worldwide defence leaders attended the Defense Leaders Forum, organised by the NATO Communication Information Systems Services Agency (NCSA), Microsoft and the Portuguese Ministry of Defence.

The two-day event brought together armed forces operational and IT leaders from NATO member countries and other nations supporting the alliance's operations. They discussed how IT can improve security and military operations, as well as collaboration and interoperability between organisations.

"Maintaining computer infrastructure and security across operations in our 26 member countries is highly complex," said Lieutenant General Ulrich HM Wolf, director of NCAS in his keynote speech.

He underlined the important role of technology in NATO's current operations all over the world, especially through NATO Network Enabled Capability (NNEC). Wolf explained that NNEC "is not a vision far at the horizon of NATO's future," but rather a real concept that can be used in today's military operations.

And it is used. "The heads of states decided to go ahead with the NNEC project as the prerequisite to achieve information superiority. Consequently, NNEC is to ensure that information and situational awareness are available more quickly to the alliance than to potential adversaries," he said.

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U.S. sharpens focus on Lashkar-e-Taiba

The terrorist attacks in Mumbai may mark a new focus on Western targets by the group widely thought responsible for the plot, prompting concern among U.S. intelligence officials that Lashkar-e-Taiba is emerging both as a more potent threat to American interests and as a potential successor to Al Qaeda.

Senior U.S. intelligence officials said the attacks had triggered a reexamination by CIA analysts of the Pakistani group's potential to follow the strikes last month in Mumbai with a long-term campaign against Western targets.

"We have seen a potential broadening" of Lashkar-e-Taiba's ambitions, said a senior U.S. intelligence official. "By taking a page out of Al Qaeda's playbook, it exalts itself as a movement."

The Indian government and Western intelligence officials have cast strong suspicion on Lashkar-e-Taiba and an affiliated group called Jamaat ud-Dawa, a self-described charitable and educational organization, in relation to the Mumbai violence.

Lashkar-e-Taiba, which translates roughly to "Army of the Pure," has long worked with Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups and sent operatives to fight alongside insurgents battling U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, officials said.

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Should the CIA be disbanded?

Of course, radical leftists want to shut down the Central Intelligence Agency because they think it spends too much time undermining hostile governments, assassinating terrorists, arming pro-U.S. resistance groups, and invading the privacy and just being mean to nasty people who would like to slaughter American citizens.

Conservatives, however, have grown to dislike and distrust the Agency for its real problem -- It actually spends very little time doing those things.

Even worse, CIA case officers who are itching to run operations to get the bad guys, identify threats or cultivate sources in foreign countries are constantly battling roadblocks; even their low-risk proposals are scuttled. And trapped in a classic bureaucracy, they are working against a reverse incentive. Spending time abroad protecting the country is the surest way to slow-track their career path.

If you want to get ahead in the CIA, don't spend your time in Baghdad, Moscow or Beijing. Hang around Langley, VA.

"Ishmael Jones" -- the pseudonym of a retired CIA case officer -- blows the lid off the culture of the CIA in a mind-boggling new book, The Human Factor: Inside the CIA's Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture. In fact, "dysfunctional" doesn't even begin to cover what could be called a systematic scam of taxpayers that leaves the United States vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

The idea that the CIA is deficient in human intelligence (HUMINT) overseas has become common knowledge, as is the idea that CIA brass have been timid to authorize risky operations. (In his great book, Jawbreaker, which told about the CIA paramilitary-types who toppled the Taliban, Gary Bernsten called CIA chief George Tenet "allergic" to special operations.)

CIA leaks of intelligence operations hardly ever lead to investigations — especially the leaks that damage the Bush administration. CIA officers can write books critical of President Bush that contain operational details with impunity.

When Tenet -- on whom Bush had bestowed the Medal of Freedom instead of firing for his abject intel failures before the 9/11 terror attacks -- retired from the Agency, he signed a big book deal for a don't-blame-me, blame-Bush memoir, complete with some juicy tidbits that should never have made it past the censor.

On "celebrity spy" Valerie Plame's would-be bestseller, which came nowhere near making back its huge advance, Jones comments, "CIA censors seem to have approved those portions of her book that were critical of the President; but to have blocked those portions that would have revealed she was not an active intelligence officer."

But when Jones brought his book to the CIA censors, as required when a current or former CIA employees write anything, he delivered a book with no operational details and no classified information — but entirely too much truth.

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New study calculates the costs of the War on Terror

More borrowing and spending than for any war except World War II, coupled with far less accountability.

That's the verdict on the Bush administration's spending policies for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, laid out in stark detail in a Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments study released Monday.

Even with a budget-crushing $1.7 trillion projected cost for the global war on terrorism through 2018, the military research institute's estimate was conservative, said Steven Kosiak, the center's vice president for budget studies.

Among the center's major findings: the global war on terrorism has cost more, in inflation-adjusted dollars (though not as a percentage of GDP), than any other war in history except World War II; military operations and related costs are being funded almost entirely through “emergency appropriations,” making oversight of spending nearly impossible; and the biggest reason for the growth in the budget last year was the inclusion of billions of dollars in military projects, including Future Combat Systems, that aren't directly involved in fighting the wars.

The Pentagon allowed such a broad definition of war-related spending in 2006 that it removed all discipline from the budgeting process, “a very serious problem,” Kosiak said. These and other policies, such as almost total reliance on supplemental spending to fund the wars, are things for President-elect Barack Obama 's administration to examine, he said.

In a time of economic uncertainty, the investment of vast amounts of future resources will require decision-makers to consider difficult trade-offs, the Government Accountability Office reported Monday in a study that pegged the cost of the war on terror since 2001 at $808 billion.

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