Tuesday, April 14, 2009

'The Athens 2004 Olympics was used as a testing ground for the latest antiterrorist superpanoptic technology, which crucially failed to work'

International Criminal Justice Review, Vol. 17, No. 3, 220-238 (2007)
DOI: 10.1177/1057567707306649

Security and Surveillance in the Athens 2004 Olympics
Some Lessons From a Troubled Story
Minas Samatas

University of Crete, Rethymnon, Greece

This article demythologizes the expedient and costly operation for a "superpanopticon" in the Athens 2004 Olympics, the first Summer Olympic Games after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The Olympic industry, reflecting international and interconnected political—economic, governmental, and corporate interests, exploited real and perceived terrorist threats to prescribe extremely high security requirements. The Athens 2004 Olympics was used as a testing ground for the latest antiterrorist superpanoptic technology, which crucially failed to work. The central surveillance integration security system (C4I), planned by Science Applications International Corporation, could not be implemented on time for the games; hence, the security of the last Athens Olympics was dependent on conventional means. Using primary and secondary sources, the article inquires into the interesting and troublesome story of the deficient electronic surveillance system, which became a technological nightmare. It raises serious skepticism about the real antiterrorist efficiency of high-tech surveillance systems.

~ SAGE Journals Online ~

'How did Hauer know that the Twin Towers would be so important?'

From 911 - They Let It Happen On Purpose! :

"...Why is Jerome Hauer not making national news yet?

He's becoming famous on the Internet. Not only for Republicans, who appreciate his long fight against bioterrorism, which he started three to four years ago.

Hauer is also controversial among those who are able to connect the dots between his person and shady business deals in biopharmacy since 1998.

More interesting, he seems to have had prior knowledge about both so called terrorist-attacks: September 11th and Anthrax.

But many private investigators claim since months, he let the attacks happen on purpose to continue his career.

Is Hauer LIHOP suspect No.1?

He started to work for the NIH under Tommy Thompson on September 10, 2001 as an adviser on national security. On September 11th, he told the White House to take Cipro, the antibiotic that works against the anthrax virus, without bothering to reveal his warning to the American nation.

The watchdog group JudicialWatch decided to file a lawsuit against the NIH, but also against the FBI, CDC and the White House, for the same reason: Prior Knowledge.

It is not known how long Hauer worked at the NIH before Sept. 11, but we can confirm that he was working on Sept. 10.

But things get really interesting when we consider that Jerome Hauer was also the man who in August 2001 arranged a new job for John O'Neill - the resigning chief of the FBI Terror Task Force - as head of security at the World Trade Center.

How did Hauer know that the Twin Towers would be so important?

We would like to ask John O' Neill, but there is one problem: O'Neill died in the towers on September 11th, one day after he started his job officially, according to the New Yorker.

Disturbingly, O'Neill has never been received the same hero status in the mass media as has been accorded to the fallen New York firefighters and police officers. His death has gone without the same fanfare. For 11 months his story went untold, with two big exceptions.

The two French intelligence specialists Brisard and Dasquie (see: http://intelligenceonline.fr) published an interview with O'Neill taken before his death in their book, "Bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth." And articles on O'Neill were also published in the New Yorker and New York Magazine. Last week, TIME magazine also tried to remember him, but left out the most important angles.

This should change immediately.

There is obviously a lot which has been hidden from us, but for what reason?

This might have something to do with the FBI HQ (O'Neill complained about them), but also with Jerome Hauer - who is a friend of the current prime anthrax suspect, Stephen Hatfill, who was working for the military anthrax program USAMRIID at Fort Detrick and Battelle, a huge pharmacy company with many ties to the CIA.

Hauer and Hatfill worked together at the SAIC's Center for Counterterrorism Technology and Analysis in 1999. The SAIC (Scientific Applications International Corp) later received also a huge BioDefense budget in autumn 2001.
http://www.saic.com/news/nov99/news11-30a-99.html - (Hauer)
http://www.nandotimes.com/nation/story/455218p-3643441c.html - (Hatfill)

But first, more about Hauer:

In 1983, Hauer joined IBM where he was responsible for the company's Hazardous Materials Response and Crisis Management and Fire Safety programs. Hauer produced a series of hazardous materials training videos that earned him the International Film andTV Critics of New York Bronze award in 1986.

In the early 1990s, Hauer got his first contacts to military and biodefense.

Hauer received a master's degree in emergency medical services from the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health. Then he became member of the Johns Hopkins Working Group on Civilian Bio Defense, where he wrote various articles about a possible bioterrorist attack.

In 1998, he started working at the OEM (Office for Emergency Management) in New York.

In the same year, Hauer and anthrax suspect Hatfill both supported the CFR as experts in their respective fields. The CFR is an acronym for Council on Foreign Relations, one of the most important think-tanks advising the US government, as well as many other governments abroad.

CFR members include the Pentagon's top advisers, Richard Perle, Henry Kissinger, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, ex-CIA chief James Woolsey, biosciences specialist Joshua Lederberg, and many others.

On May 28, 1998, Hatfill and Hauer spoke together at the same CFR meeting about "Building a 'Biobomb': Terrorist Challenge"

Hatfill was at that time also Senior Research Associate at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases (=USAMRIID)

Hauer seems to specialize in the art of holding down several different jobs at the same time. While he started to work for the NIH in September 2001, he remained a Managing Director at Kroll Associates - the official security and bodyguard company for all American presidents since World War II!

With Hauer's many sources of insider information (e.g. Kroll/President bodyguards) , it makes sense that he also knew about the CIA briefing for George Bush on August 6, 2001, about warnings of an imminent terrorist "attack with planes."

Hauer is still trying to save the world.

On November 6th, 2001 he participated in the "Independent Task Force on America's Response to Terrorism" at the CFR. Participants there included James J. Zogby (President of the Arab American Institute and Central Asian Enterprise Fund), Newton L. Gingrich (Chief Executive Officer, The Gingrich Group), Harold Brown (former secretary of defense and counselor at CSIS: the Center for Strategic and International Studies), Henry A. Kissinger (Senior Fellow in National Security and European Affairs), Richard C. Holbrooke (Counselor, CFR and Vice Chairman of Perseus, LLC) and Philip A. Odeen (Executive Vice President, Washington Operations of TRW, Inc. and CEO of Reynolds + Reynolds, Dayton).

Their agenda, eight weeks after the attack of Sept. 11, was strange indeed:

"....Release a White Paper explaining our goals and rationale for the war in Afghanistan, and outlining the evidence that the al-Qa'eda network was responsible for the 9/11 attacks....

...Disseminate stories of particular victims to convey the range of people killed in the 9/11 attacks-stress range of religions, races, income levels, etc...

...counteract myth that Mossad was behind the attacks by showing Jews killed, etc...

...Routinely monitor the regional press in real time to enable prompt responses..."

Hauer's deep connection to disinformation circles for his own purpose are well known. In 1998, he convinced New York Mayor Rudi Guilliani to develop a vaccine against the West Nile virus - almost one year before this virus broke out in New York.

To this end, Hauer introduced Col. Thomas Monath of Oravax (now Accambis) to Guliani and organised a business deal.

Hauer also continued giving bioterror lectures and writing terror scenario scripts. He organized a July 26, 1999, conference in New York for journalists and "thought leaders," on bioterrorism and "Reporting on Weapons of Mass Destruction - Responsibility, Reliability, Readiness." At the same time, he was heading the West Nile spray operation in NYC.

Bioterrorism and vaccines - a perfect payroll combination for Hauer?

Among the participants at this 1999 conference was Brigadier General Bruce Lawlor of the U.S. Army and the former FBI assistant director, Lewis Schiliro (NYC).

General Lawlor has in the meantime become the Senior Director for Protection and Prevention at the Office of Homeland Security:

Lawlor was the first commanding general of Joint Task Force - Civil Support (JTF-CS), located in Fort Monroe, Virginia. JTF-CS is a standing joint task force assigned to U.S. Joint Forces Command. Lawlor has taught at the U.S. Army War College and served as a consultant to the Defense Science Board.

Nothing is known about his further influence in preventing attacks on America..."

~ more... ~

The real hunger crisis

Robert Paarlberg reports for Foreign Policy :

Fluctuations in the world's hungry population are important to monitor, but full-time specialists pay far more attention to the underlying fundamentals. They know that most of the hunger in the world is caused neither by high food prices nor slower economic growth. There were 850 million people chronically malnourished around the world in 2007, at a time when food prices were low and global growth was high. This is a permanent food crisis that is more than four times as large as the temporary spike that began last year.

The underlying crisis derives primarily from persistent rural poverty in Africa and South Asia. Ironically, most of the world's hungry people are farmers who produce food for a living. More than 60 percent of all Africans, for example, work in the countryside, growing crops and herding animals, and earning less than $1 a day. These farmers' crop yields are only about 20 percent as high as in Europe and the United States because they lack access to all the basic necessities for productive farming: improved seeds, fertilizer, water, electrical power, education, and rural roads to connect them to markets. Most of these farmers are women, two thirds are illiterate, and one third are malnourished. When food prices fall, these farmers can actually be hurt because agricultural products are what they have to sell.

The United States' favorite response to global hunger in recent years has been to give away its excess food. In response to the 2008 price spike, the U.S government spent an additional $1.4 billion to ship domestically produced food abroad as aid. This move was generous, but it offered no solution to the problem of low farm productivity. What's more, free food arriving from Iowa or Kansas can actually hurt farmers in Kenya or Ethiopia by reducing demand for their own market sales.

~ more... ~

Greece beefing up repression

Greece to reorganize police force in wake of violent protests

Amelia Mathias
17 Mar, 2009

[JURIST] The Greek government announced Monday that it will seek to overhaul its police force in the wake of the December riots [BBC backgrounder] and last week's vandalism [Kathimerini report]. The Greek Interior Ministry [official website, in Greek] has enlisted the help of British police in order to streamline the Greek police force [Kathimerini report] and make it more effective. Both Scotland Yard and the City of London police force have promised aid, and former head of the London City policeIan Blair [BBC profile] and Scotland Yard official Christos Kalamatianos will lead the reorganization [UPI report]. The plan is to follow the model of British police forces by creating 30 rapid response teams of 12 officers each, with each team equipped with the latest technology and transportation.

The Greek police have been accused of being both ineffective and unnecessarily violent [JURIST op-ed], following the accidental shooting of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos in December 2008. The police were then unable to contain the riots that followed in the Athenian neighborhood of Exarcheia for over a week. Attempts to control the protesters, students who were quickly were joined by local anarchist groups, ended in isolating Exarcheia entirely [BBC report] until the demonstrations subsided. Police found it equally difficult to subdue a spree of vandalism on Friday in Kolonaki, another Athenian neighborhood, and Greek island Thessaloniki which ended with more than forty stores looted and several banks attacked. The youths responsible for the attacks dropped pamphlets [AP report] that pledged their allegiance to anarchist groups.

Rights-Australia: Parliament tightens protest ban at spy base

Stephen de Tarczynski reports for IPS News :

MELBOURNE, Apr 14 (IPS) - Despite ongoing community concerns over the highly secretive Pine Gap spy station in central Australia, the nation’s parliament has moved to effectively ban protest at the joint Australia-United States base.

"The right to protest is a political act which is directly linked to freedom of association and freedom of expression. It allows citizens to take democratic action without the threat of sanctions," said Dr Hannah Middleton of the Australian Anti-Bases Campaign Coalition in a submission to a senate inquiry into changes in legislation related to Pine Gap.

Despite concerns expressed by Middleton and other Australian citizens, in addition to a dissenting report submitted to the senate committee by the Australian Greens Party, the defence legislation (miscellaneous amendments) bill 2008 was passed by parliament in mid-March.

It amends a 1952 defence act by defining the Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap - the spy station’s official title - located 20 km south of the central Australian town of Alice Springs as a "special defence undertaking" and a "prohibited area" necessary for Australia’s defence.

This effectively closes a loophole in the legislation which was exploited by a group of four Christian peace activists in successfully appealing their convictions over a protest at Pine Gap in 2005.

The so-called Pine Gap Four had been facing up to seven years imprisonment for what they called a "citizens’ inspection" of the secretive base - the four had evaded security patrols to enter the facility and take photographs before being arrested - but were acquitted in 2008 after an appeals court ruled that a "miscarriage of justice" had occurred.

The four had been prevented from presenting evidence regarding the operations conducted at Pine Gap in a ruling prior to their 2007 trial. The appeals court upheld the group’s claim that they should have been entitled to challenge whether the area designated as "prohibited" was necessary for the defence of Australia.

One of the Pine Gap Four, Donna Mulhearn, says that the recently-enacted legislation is aimed at silencing further criticism of the facility.

"Now that the loophole has been closed it is a concern that any activist who decides to go to Pine Gap to make a protest may face court and seven years in prison without having the opportunity to put their case thoroughly and in its entirety," says Mulhearn, a former journalist and political adviser who volunteered as a "human shield" during the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The controversial facility was established with the signing of the 1967 Pine Gap Treaty between the U.S. and Australia. Along with a similar site at the United Kingdom’s Menwith Hill air force base, Pine Gap is believed to play a key role in gathering signals intelligence for the United States, Britain and other allied nations.

But while Pine Gap’s eight radomes - the large, ball-like domes that protect the facility’s radar antennae - may be instantly recognisable to many Australians, the functions of the base remain highly secretive.

"Pine Gap is a ground receiving station for space-based intelligence gathering," said Greens senator Scott Ludlam just days before the legislation was passed.

"Its monitoring of radar, cell phone, radio and long-distance telecommunication enables it to provide targeting information for U.S. air and ground forces," added Ludlam.

~ more... ~

Thompson's 'The Rum Diaries' begins principle photography

From Amber Heard lands role of Chenault in The Rum Diary?

According to various sources Amber Heard is either in negotiations for the role of Chenault or has indeed secured the part. Here is a little report from firstshowing.net :

Amber Heard will play the “unattainable” romantic interest Chenault, whom is the girlfriend of “a slick PR consultant named Sanderson” that becomes entangled in a corrupt hotel development scheme with Kemp. The role of Sanderon hasn’t been cast yet, or at least, they haven’t publicly revealed a name. Heard’s role apparently has quite a bit of nudity, but if you haven’t heard, she’s pretty much nude all throughout The Informers, so this wasn’t a big issue for her. I didn’t see The Informers, so I can’t speak for her acting abilities, but obviously with the roles she’s getting, it’s starting to seem like she’s the next big thing.

From Eckhart And Jenkins Fill The Rum Diary

The Johnny Depp led adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s The Rum Diary is starting to fill up. Last week we told you they were on their way to hiring Amber Heard as the movie
’s female lead, now two more have jumped into primary roles in the cast.

HR says Aaron Eckhart and Richard Jenkins will drink up with Depp in the movie. Jenkins will play Lotterman, the defeated, miserable editor in chief of the English language, Puerto Rican newspaper where Johnny Depp’s hard-drinking journalist character Paul Kemp works. Jenkins is perfect casting, but things get a little confusing when it comes to where Eckhart fits in.

From Ribisi Keeps A Rum Diary - Joins Johnny Depp in Thompson tale

Giovanni Ribisi has signed up to join Johnny Depp in The Rum Diary, the adaptation of legendary gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson's memoir of his time in Puerto Rico during the 1950s.

The film's been in development for years - Depp's been trying to make it since 2000 - but perhaps that's appropriate given that the book sat on Thompson's shelf for 40 years after it was written after being rejected by a raft of publishers. However, now things are under way: Bruce Robinson (Withnail & I, Happy Feet) is writing and directing, and the cast is almost set.

From Thompson's THE RUM DIARIES
Begins Principle Photography

Principal photography began on "The Rum Diary" on Mar, 25th, 2009 in Puerto Rico and will be released in 2010. Based on the first novel by Hunter S. Thompson, the film stars Johnny Depp, and fellow cast members Aaron Eckhart, Amber Heard, Michael Rispoli, Richard Jenkins and Giovanni Ribisi. Bruce Robinson, who also wrote the screenplay, is directing. "The Rum Diary" is the debut film of Infinitum Nihil, the production company lead byJohnny Depp and Christi Dembrowski. The film is also produced and fully financed by Graham King and his production company GK Films.Anthony Rhulen and Robert Kravis are also attached to produce. The movie will be shot entirely in Puerto Rico.

Greece's protection of Nazis, draws the ire of Jewish organizations

From MINA :

In a letter to OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Madam Dora Bakoyannis, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Director for International Relations, Dr Shimon Samuels, expressed "outrage at the Greek authorities' indifference to last Friday's acquittal of hatemonger Kostas Plevris on charges of incitement regarding his 1,400 page antisemitic diatribe, 'The Jews - The Whole Truth'."

He recalled that, "on 16 September 2008, our Centre warned Greece that the following day's Appeal trial of the pro-Nazi publicist would pass 'a message to Greek young people on whether racism may be manifested with impunity '. We noted the irregularities reported during this ongoing legal case, including the expulsion of the plaintiff's counsel from the Court, and the Public Prosecutor who, allegedly, denoted this Nazi text as 'scientific writing'."

The letter quoted the French sociologist, Pierre-Andres Taguieff, who posited that, "if such extreme antisemitism is freedom of expression, then Jew-hatred has [perversely] become a human right," adding, on behalf of the Centre, "thus rendering the Jew as non-human".

The Centre argued that "Plevis' book unambiguously justifies violence against Jews as individuals and as a collective, on grounds of their religion, their 'Holocaust lies' (despite over 90% of Greek Jewry having perished) and the existence of the State of Israel. Since the appearance of 'The Jews - The Whole Truth', assaults on Jewish cemeteries and Holocaust monuments, throughout Greece, have increased exponentially."

See extracts from the book as quoted by the Greek Anti-Nazi Initiative (GANI) at the end of this press release. Such passages were deemed by the Court as not constituting a provocation of hate and violence, nor an insult, against Greek Jews.

GANI also noted that Plevris' defence counsil, extreme-right LA.O.S. Member of Parliament, Thanasis Plevris, stated that the call for the extermination of any people, even for the reopening of Auschwitz, was "a democratic right".

The Greek Helsinki Monitor has criticized this acquittal as a day it hoped would never come that demonstrates how "antisemitism and, more generally, racism, is deeply entrenched in Greek society, and widely tolerated".

Samuels emphasized that "the most striking feature of this outrage is the lack of protest from Greek opinion-moulders, the political parties, educators, unionists, churches, media etc. Greece has raised the bar of indifference to incitement to a new threshold, showing contempt for its commitments to the OSCE in regard to the combat of antisemitism and racism."

He continued, "Left without condemnation, this indifference makes the Greek authorities complicit in any subsequent violence against minorities and sets a disturbing challenge for all State-Parties of the OSCE region."

The Centre urged the OSCE "to call Greece to account due to its violation of the OSCE's 2004 'Berlin Declaration on Antisemitism' and other related instruments. //04.13.09 Wiesenthal Center Los Angeles

Underworld - Evolution

Puscifer - 'The Undertaker ( Renholder Mix )'

Protest march climaxes struggle for the liberation of imprisoned December insurgents in Athens

Submitted by taxikipali on 12 Apr, 2009

The protest march of Saturday 11/4 marks a climax for the solidarity struggle regarding imprisoned insurgents of the December uprising in Athens

On Saturday 11/4 noon a big protest march took to the streets of Koridallos, Athens, towards the central jail of Greece. The march was in protest to the continuing imprisonment of last December insurgents against who all evidence are little more than circumstantial. Demanding the immediate release of the prisoners and pledging their solidarity to all inmates and to the Katerina Goulioni, the prison activist who was assassinated during her transfer from Crete to the mainland last month, the demonstrators stood outside the women's prison wing chanting prison abolition slogans as inmates put fire on linen hanging them on their cell windows.

The protest march comes in a climax of solidarity struggle to the imprisoned insurgents of December across the country including protest marches, concerts for economic help to the imprisoned insurgents and their juridical expenses. On the previous Friday 10/04 three radio stations were occupied in Athens and were forced to broadcast programmes on December demanding the immediate release of insurgents.

At the same time, on Saturday 12/4 evening protesters attacked and destroyed the offices of ANEK Lines, the colossal passenger boat company on whose boat Katerina Goulioni, the inmate prison-activist was assassinated on 18/3, putting an end to her struggle for the abolition of physical penetrative vaginal inspection in Greek prisons. Her death led to an uprising in the women's prison of Thebes last month.

~ libcom.org ~

Science unlocks secrets of our deepest love

Report from Jonathan Leake in The Sunday Times :

In the real world, however, unconditional love is often experienced towards people with whom there is no connection. The question is: why? To carry out the study, Beauregard recruited subjects with a proven ability to feel strong unconditional love: low-paid assistants looking after people with learning difficulties. Beauregard asked them to evoke feelings of unconditional love and hold them in their minds while they had a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan.

Of the seven brain areas that became active, three were similar to those of romantic love. The others were different, suggesting a separate kind of love.

Beauregard's discoveries showed that some of the areas activated when experiencing unconditional love were also involved in releasing dopamine. This chemical is deeply involved in sensing pleasure, with rising levels strongly linked to feelings of reward and even euphoria.

~ more... ~

Warning that Pakistan is in danger of collapse within months

Paul McGeough reports for The Sydney Morning Herald :

Pakistan could collapse within months, one of the more influential counter-insurgency voices in Washington says.

The warning comes as the US scrambles to redeploy its military forces and diplomats in an attempt to stem rising violence and anarchy in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"We have to face the fact that if Pakistan collapses it will dwarf anything we have seen so far in whatever we're calling the war on terror now," said David Kilcullen, a former Australian Army officer who was a specialist adviser for the Bush administration and is now a consultant to the Obama White House.

"You just can't say that you're not going to worry about al-Qaeda taking control of Pakistan and its nukes," he said.

As the US implements a new strategy in Central Asia so comprehensive that some analysts now dub the cross-border conflict "Obama's war", Dr Kilcullen said time was running out for international efforts to pull both countries back from the brink.

When he unveiled his new "Afpak" policy in Washington last month, the US President, Barack Obama, warned that while al-Qaeda would fill the vacuum if Afghanistan collapsed, the terrorist group was already rooted in Pakistan, plotting more attacks on the US.

"The safety of people round the world is at stake," he said.

Laying out the scale of the challenges facing the US in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Dr Kilcullen put the two countries invaded by US-led forces after the September 11 attacks on the US on a par - each had a population of more than 30 million.

"But Pakistan has 173 million people and 100 nuclear weapons, an army which is bigger than the American army, and the headquarters of al-Qaeda sitting in two-thirds of the country which the Government does not control," he told the Herald .

Added to that, the Pakistani security establishment ignored direction from the elected Government in Islamabad as waves of extremist violence spread across the whole country - not only in the tribal wilds of the Afghan border region.

~ more... ~

With advocates’ help, squatters call foreclosures home

When the woman who calls herself Queen Omega moved into a three-bedroom house here last December, she introduced herself to the neighbors, signed contracts for electricity and water and ordered an Internet connection.

What she did not tell anyone was that she had no legal right to be in the home.

Ms. Omega, 48, is one of the beneficiaries of the foreclosure crisis. Through a small advocacy group of local volunteers called Take Back the Land, she moved from a friend's couch into a newly empty house that sold just a few years ago for more than $400,000.

Michael Stoops, executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, said about a dozen advocacy groups around the country were actively moving homeless people into vacant homes — some working in secret, others, like Take Back the Land, operating openly.

In addition to squatting, some advocacy groups have organized civil disobedience actions in which borrowers or renters refuse to leave homes after foreclosure.

The groups say that they have sometimes received support from neighbors and that beleaguered police departments have not aggressively gone after squatters.

“We're seeing sheriffs' departments who are reluctant to move fast on foreclosures or evictions,” said Bill Faith, director of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, which is not engaged in squatting. “They're up to their eyeballs in this stuff. Everyone's overwhelmed.”

On a recent afternoon, Ms. Omega sat on the tiled floor of her unfurnished living room and described plans to use the space to tie-dye clothing and sell it on the Internet, hoping to save some money before she is inevitably forced to leave.

“It's a beautiful castle, and it's temporary for me,” she said, “and if I can be here 24 hours, I'm thankful.” In the meantime, she said, she has instructed her adult son not to make noise, to be a good neighbor.

In Minnesota, a group called the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign recently moved families into 13 empty homes; in Philadelphia, the Kensington Welfare Rights Union maintains seven “human rights houses” shared by 13 families. Cheri Honkala, who is the national organizer for the Minnesota group and was homeless herself once, likened the group's work to “a modern-day underground railroad,” and said squatters could last up to a year in a house before eviction.

Other groups, including Women in Transition in Louisville, Ky., are looking for properties to occupy, especially as they become frustrated with the lack of affordable housing and the oversupply of empty homes.

~ more... ~

Terrorism charges against RNC 8 are dropped

Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner said Thursday that she dropped terrorism charges against eight activists in an anarchist group that planned disruptions at the Republican National Convention last September.

The county attorney's office said that the defendants, widely known as the "RNC 8," still face felony charges of conspiracy to commit riot in the second degree and conspiracy to commit criminal damage to property in the first degree.

Two counts of conspiracy to commit riot and criminal damage to property "in furtherance of terrorism" were dropped.

Civil liberties advocates had criticized Gaertner for prosecuting the activists under a terrorism law enacted in 2002 by the Minnesota Legislature in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

"It was clear to us as we prepared for trial that the terrorism enhancement was going to become the focus of the proceeding," Gaertner said. "We felt it would distract the jury from the core illegal conduct that is at issue. Keep in mind that even if they had been convicted of terrorism charges, they would have received no additional punishment under the sentencing guidelines."

~ more... ~

Polish politician fumes over "gay" elephant in zoo

Reuters reports :

A Polish politician has criticised his local zoo for acquiring a "gay" elephant named Ninio who prefers male companions and will probably not procreate, local media reported on Friday.

"We didn't pay 37 million zlotys (7.6 million pounds) for the largest elephant house in Europe to have a gay elephant live there," Michal Grzes, a conservative councillor in the city of Poznan in western Poland, was quoted as saying.

"We were supposed to have a herd, but as Ninio prefers male friends over females how will he produce offspring?" said Grzes, who is from the right-wing opposition Law and Justice party.

The head of the Poznan zoo said 10-year-old Ninio may be too young to decide whether he prefers males or females as elephants only reach sexual maturity at 14.

(Reporting by Chris Borowski; editing by Andrew Roche)

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More from the viral ads dept. What next?

US indictment of Posada Carrilles thaws the vestigial Cold War in América

Washington’s shift – from coddling to prosecuting the international terrorist – opens new doors for the upcoming summit of the Americas

17-19 April

By Al Giordano
Special to The Narco News Bulletin

11 Apr, 2009

On March 14, 2005, on the Mexican isle of Isla Mujeres, a reporter and news photographer went out to cover what seemed to have been a routine story: a shrimp boat had become stranded on a sand bar off the island’s coast. The reports and photos that appeared in the newspaper Por Esto!, Mexico’s third largest daily, revealed that the boat was not just any boat and its crew not just any crew.

The S.S. Santrina, the vessel Posada Carilles used to enter the US in 2005
There in the photo was the international terrorist and fugitive Luis Posada Carrilles – the violent opponent of the Castro government in Cuba – who had, among other murderous deeds, engineered the 1976 explosion, mid flight, of a Cuban civilian passenger jet, scattering the remains of 73 human lives across Caribbean skies.

The sudden exposure sent Posada Carrilles on a panicked northbound voyage, through the Gulf of Mexico, with international law enforcement agents on his trail. He entered the United States – a country for whom he had been, from the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion through the mid-1970s, a CIA “asset” – via Florida, illegally. President George W. Bush’s “global war on terror” wasn’t even four years old, but instead of delivering the hemisphere’s most blood stained terrorist to justice, Washington played legal games to protect Posada Carrilles from extradition to Venezuela, where he is charged with the 1976 airplane bombing. This newspaper covered those court proceedings extensively.

Today there is a new sheriff in town, and Attorney General Eric Holder’s Department of Justice has filed criminal charges against the terrorist.

Count Four of the eleven-count indictment charges Posada Carrilles with fraud in his applications and interviews in which he sought political asylum from the United States government:
…he knowingly made under oath during his naturalization interview with, among others, an adjudications officer of the Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services certain false statements, to wit:
(a) During his naturalization interview, he stated that, in March 2005, he had traveled by motor vehicle from Honduras through Mexico, and entered the United States over land near Matamoros, Mexico, continuing to Houston, Texas, with the assistance of an unidentified alien smuggler when, in fact, he entered the United States at that time by sea at Florida aboard the motor vessel “Santrina”;

(b) During his naturalization interview, he stated that, in March 2005, while traveling in or through Mexico en route to the United States, he was never in Cancun or Isla Mujeres when, in fact, he traveled to Cancun or Isla Mujeres at that time;

(c) During his naturalization interview, he stated that, in March 2005, while traveling in or through Mexico en route to the United States, he never saw the motor vessel “Santrina” in Mexico when, in fact, he boarded that vessel in Mexico at that time and traveled thereon to the United States…
The other ten counts in the indictment charge similar crimes of perjury, obstruction and making false statements under oath.
Significantly, this is the first US proceeding in the Posada Carrilles case that recognizes his role as a violent terrorist. Count One of the indictment cites his false answers to questions under oath to a US Immigration Court regarding his past crimes:
Question in English: Well, were you involved in soliciting other individuals to carry out the bombing in, the bombings in Cuba?

English translation of POSADA’s response in Cuban Spanish: No…

Question in English: Now, you… do you… are you stating that the comments made by (a named reporter whose identity is known to the Grand Jury) in the New York Times article, that you were involved in soliciting others, other individuals to engage in these bombings is not true?

English translation of POSADA’s response in Cuban Spanish: I am saying that it is not true

Question in English: Did you arrange for Raul Cruz Leon to transport or carry explosives into Cuba in 1977?

English translation of POSADA’s response in Cuban Spanish: I have never seen nor met Raul Cruz and I have not done any arrangement to send him to another place…
The Department of Justice charges, as part of the indictment:
The declaration of defendant POSADA… was false, as POSADA then and there well knew and believed, in that defendant had arranged to send and sent an individual named Raul Cruz Leon to Cuba to transport and carry explosives into Cuba to carry out said bombings in 1977.
The case is currently in federal court in El Paso, Texas, where Posada Carrilles’ arraignment is scheduled for April 17 (although his attorney may simply represent him without the defendant – living in Florida – present). A trial date has been set for August 10.
The seismic shift in the Justice Department’s stance toward this international terrorist – from the Bush era policy of coddling Posada, long a poster-boy for the most virulent anti-Castro factions of the Cuban-American community in southern Florida, to this new, and possibly only the first, indictment – is accompanied by a confluence of factors leading to an end to five decades of Washington’s disastrous hard line against the Cuban government.

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