Thursday, July 23, 2009
A compilation of photo's of the author throughout various stages of her life. The reading was recorded "Anaïs Nin Reads," in which Nin recounts conversations with Henry Miller and Lawrence Durrell.
For those fleeing their brutal homeland, the 2,000 perilous miles across China are just the beginning. Then comes the challenge of making a new life.
By Jamie Johnson, Vanity Fair
22 Jul, 2009
Late in April, ABC News showed a controversial tape of Sheikh Issa bin Zayed Al Nahyan — a member of the royal family of the United Arab Emirates — ruthlessly torturing an Afghan merchant accused of cheating him over a shipment of grain. In the video, the Sheikh can be seen firing at his victim with an M16, beating him with a nail-laden wooden plank, and driving over him repeatedly in a Mercedes S.U.V. Scenes with content even more graphic, which were censored for network television, show the imperiled merchant being sodomized with an electric cattle prod and having his testicles set on fire.
I missed the story when it initially aired on the evening news. But having learned of the incident, I am unable to ignore the disturbing series of events and the broader meaning they carry. The release of these harrowing images flashes a light on the private lives of a ruling dynasty whose members are widely believed to place themselves above the law in their governance of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. It is a shocking reminder that even in the 21st century, it is still possible for the descendent of a royal household to presume that his rank gives him license to assault subordinates and even commit human-rights violations.
When I saw the ABC report, I assumed that politicians and business leaders would have been quick to respond with sharp, reproachful words. Instead, it seems that the fear of losing the oil-rich Emirates as a strategic ally has prevented many top-level figures in Washington, as well as on Wall Street, from speaking out about the incident. It is yet another example of concerns for prosperity taking precedence over fundamental American values, though in this instance there is a nagging videotape to make the reticence especially glaring.
Bassam Nabulsi, a Lebanese-born U.S. citizen, is the individual responsible for acquiring the tape of Sheikh Issa’s brutal torture session and smuggling it out of the U.A.E. Nabulsi, who for a number of years ran a concierge service in Houston, Texas, for wealthy Middle Eastern clients, used to work for Sheikh Issa. But eventually the two men had a falling out.
ABC’s report reveals that Nabulsi was imprisoned in the U.A.E. and convicted of having a prescription medication without documentation from a local doctor. Additionally, the report states that he was expelled from the country, and upon his return to the United States launched a lawsuit against Sheikh Issa.
I contacted Nabulsi and his attorney, Anthony Buzbee, to discuss this report as well as other coverage I had been reading about the controversy. Nabulsi and Buzbee reiterated many of the allegations they had made previously. Chief among them was Nabulsi’s assertion that he was imprisoned in the U.A.E. only because he held provocative footage of Sheikh Issa committing torture. Nabulsi also claims that, while detained, he himself was tortured and threatened by officials who were trying to recover the tape on behalf of U.A.E. leaders. As ABC noted in its story, the U.A.E. government stated that its review “confirmed that Mr. Nabulsi was in no way mistreated during his incarceration for drug possession.”
But what I found most interesting about my conversation with Nabulsi and Buzbee was their description of what happened when they attempted to gain a firm base of support for their case and alert American politicians to abuses committed by a royal figure in a closely allied nation. According to the account related to me by Nabulsi and Buzbee, clips from the torture tape were sent to every single member of the House and Senate, as well as Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama. Surprisingly, it did not generate a significant response. In fact, not even one member of Congress managed to hold a hearing on the matter or raise awareness publicly through the mainstream media.
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How 2 make a military strength tin foil hat by the elders in conjunction with the new believers.guaranteed to block psychotronic beams and mind control waves beamed from outer space by nasa the Illuminati and the new world order...
Tin foil hat 2 by Stephen Jay Morris
Thirty Israelis suspected of human-egg trafficking were detained Sunday in a fertility clinic in Bucharest.
ollowing an interrogation by Romanian police, 28 of the detainees were released after bail was posted.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Yossi Levi confirmed the details of the report to Israel Radio on Monday, and said the Israeli Embassy in the Romanian capital was cooperating with local authorities.
"We have full trust in the Romanians," Levi said, adding that he was confident the affair would reach a swift conclusion.
According to local media reports, a special police unit raided the clinic and arrested dozens of people, including members of the institution's management.
Police suspect the clinic was illegally dealing in human eggs and stem cells. Some of the Israeli women detained are thought to have sold their eggs there.
Meanwhile, Deputy Health Minister Ya'acov Litzman has temporarily put on hold a government bill that would expand the harvesting and donation of human ova in Israel, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
The bill, which the ministry's legal adviser has been preparing for years, would change the current situation, in which only women undergoing fertility treatment themselves are allowed to donate the ova they don't need. It is otherwise illegal to harvest ova, even for altruistic purposes, due to concerns that people may try to take advantage of the procedure and sell them.
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By Mitch Moxley, TIME
27 Jul, 2009
In the Mongolian capital Ulan Bator, "Shoot the Chinese" is spray-painted on a brick wall near a movie theater. A pair of swastikas and the words "Killer Boys ...! Danger!" can be read on a fence in an outlying neighborhood of yurt dwellings. Graffiti like this, which can be found all over the city, is the work of Mongolia's neo-Nazis, an admittedly implausible but often intimidating, and occasionally violent, movement.
Ulan Bator is home to three ultra-nationalist groups claiming a combined membership of several thousand — a not insignificant number in a country of just 3 million people. They have adopted Nazi paraphernalia and dogma, and are vehemently anti-Chinese. One group, Blue Mongolia, has admitted to shaving the heads of local women found sleeping with Chinese men. Its leader was convicted last year of murdering his daughter's Mongolian boyfriend, who had merely studied in China.
The neo-Nazis may be on society's fringe, but they represent the extreme of a very real current of nationalism. Sandwiched between Russia and China, with foreign powers clamoring for a slice of the country's vast mineral riches, many Mongolians fear economic and ethnic colonization. This has prompted displays of hostility toward outsiders and slowed crucial foreign-investment negotiations.
Fifty-year-old Zagas Erdenebileg is the leader of Dayar Mongol (All Mongolia), the most prominent of the neo-Nazi groups. "If our blood mixes with foreigners', we'll be destroyed immediately," says Erdenebileg, who has run unsuccessfully for parliament four times. He loathes the Chinese — whom he accuses of involvement in prostitution and drug-trafficking — and reveres Genghis Khan, who he says influenced Adolf Hitler. I ask him if he considers his adoption of the beliefs of a regime that singled out and executed people with Mongol features from among Soviet prisoners of war to be in any way ironic. "It doesn't matter," he shrugs. "We share the same policies."
If Erdenebileg is the elder statesman of Mongolia's neo-Nazis, Shari Mungun-Erdene, the 23-year-old leader of the roughly 200-strong Mongolian National Union (MNU), is the new kid on the block and sports a swastika tattoo on his chest. The MNU takes vigilante action against law-breaking outsiders, Mungun-Erdene says, mainly Chinese. When I ask what kind of action, he replies, "Whatever it takes so that they don't live here." At other times, though, he comes across as an overzealous adolescent. He opens his laptop to show photos of his neo-Nazi buddies. But beside the folders entitled "Guns" and "Skinheads" are others with names like "My Car" and "Mom in Japan."
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From Virginia Heffernan's article in Mother Jones:
...Hardcore collapsitarians, these writers purport, agitate for total economic downfall and universal joblessness; they scoff at mere predictions of catastrophe and apotheosis, demanding their doom, ashes, and phoenix-rise right away. They'd like to see the dilapidated systems of America's beleaguered economy—finance, for one, but also retail—burn to the ground so that something new, brighter, and more durable might appear. These old ways, they contend, will self-destruct because of intrinsic design flaws, particularly the creaky command-and-control structures of the pre-Internet era. At lunch, Becker name-checked All That Is Solid Melts Into Air, Marshall Berman's modernist critique.
To its adherents, collapsitarianism suggests a giddy liberation from hope, from futile shoring up of ailing economies like Detroit's and the Sunbelt's, from bailouts and stimulus plans and climate change and toxic-asset recovery. On board are said to be Luddites, anarchists, survivalists, green types who see collapse as our comeuppance, critics of American exceptionalism, and even financial-sector employees who just want it all over already.
As Muller ticked off the four sectors he expected—no, hoped—would disintegrate, I felt drunk. Finance, insurance, manufacturing, retail: R.I.P. (What? No journalism? I took a deep breath.) Partly I was high on the mere mention of collapse, that unspeakable notion—and the tantalizing prospect that it might be advocated. I imagined Victorians felt this way hearing about psychoanalysis: Sex, the feared thing, could finally be not only spoken of, but actually embraced. "It's good news," Muller explained. "We're squeezing the industrial era out of our system. Perceived value is collapsing, leaving only real value."
Like many, I do my fair share of fantasizing about sweeping away the phonies. Yet the "real value" line also recalled the rhetoric of goldbugs at the close of the 19th century; they wanted to purge the nation of postwar fiat cash and eliminate fluctuations in the currency, along with America's profligate ways. They were rich, mostly, and imagined big money-supply contractions that would keep stacks of gold bars expensive and out of reach, so that only responsible, dignified people—high-hatted men like themselves—could get at them. A moralizing and ungenerous note sounded in the SXSWers' end-of-world talk. People with devalued dollars and flimsy condos, after all, hardly deserve to perish for their illusions. But I bit back my reservations to bask in the thrill of a new idea.
Becker persuaded Muller to cover his lunch, and he tucked into a massive chicken-fried steak. Collapsitarianism amused him, but he really wanted to talk about their company, Get Satisfaction—how impressively capitalized it was, how it let people swap info about companies and allowed companies to talk directly to their customers.
Muller persisted. We have to let collapse come, he told me, and even nudge it along. "If you see Humpty Dumpty sitting on a wall, go ahead and give him a good shove," he elaborated later. Once all the rotten and fragile stuff falls to pieces, hardier and healthier and more reasonable ways of organizing experience will emerge, he promised. Collapse sounds scary, but Muller considers it a desirable stage en route to a "more delightful, more sustainable world." ...
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Bleach Gotei 13 Guide
The Gotei 13 is the name given to the 13 Divisions of the Shinigami in Soul Society. Anyone classified as a Shinigami is put into 1 of the 13 Divisions, whether they are a Captain or Vice-Captain, hold a Seat, or are just a member, they are still an important part of the Division.
Each Division of the Gotei 13 has a Captain and a Vice Captain, they are generally the strongest of the whole Division. To become a Captain, a Shinigami must first have achieved Ban-Kai as one of the prerequisites. The Captain and Vice Captain usually travel together and get along well.
A Shinigami cannot be seen in the human world, they leave Soul Society when they are going on missions to balance the Spirits in the World. Those that can see Ghosts can generally not see Shinigami, but there are exceptions and it is a very rare gift.
Each Shinigami wears black robes with white trimming and a white cloth belt. On special occasions they wear a arm band to signify their rank in their specific Division. The Captain of a Division wears a White Robe with the Number of their Division in Kanji on the back.
From Bleach Wiki
The Gotei 13 (Goteijūsantai; 13 Division Imperial Guards, 13 Court Guard Squads in the English dub) is the organization which most Shinigami join, and one of the three main branches of military in Soul Society. It is split into thirteen divisions (hence the name), with several divisions having certain specializations. The Gotei 13 is subservient to the edicts of the Central 46 Chambers. They also have no jurisdiction over any of the noble families. The symbol of the Gotei 13 is a rhombus, all the 13 Divisions symbols are placed within the rhombus on the back of the Captains haori. The Kidō Corps, not officially considered as part of the Gotei 13, is still under the authority of the Central 46, and works together with Soul Society, it is why it is actually here, but officially, both Kidō Corps and Onmitsukidō are not part of the Gotei 13.
The European Union's wide-ranging Stockholm Programme risks further damaging citizens' hard earned privacy rights, argues Pirate Party member and long-time libertarian blogger Henrik Alexandersson.
EU ministers are gathering in Stockholm this week to advance their work on the Stockholm Programme, a five-year plan they claim is designed to make it easier to catch criminals and keep Europe’s citizens safe.
But despite soothing words from politicians about the programme’s virtues, it’s critical for EU citizens to stand up now and protest against the threat it presents to privacy and individual rights.
On the surface, the Stockholm Programme’s professed set of goals may appear somewhat benign – perhaps even sensible –with its calls for increased cooperation to fight terrorism and organized cross-border crime.
But we’ve already got a pretty good idea that the kinds of measures under consideration for meeting the Stockholm Programme’s goals are anything but benign.
In short, we’re talking about increased surveillance which tramples on the privacy rights of individuals and about higher walls being constructed around Europe’s borders.
Last summer, a number of details about the concrete steps associated with the Stockholm Programme were leaked from the EU’s so-called Future Group in connection with a meeting of EU justice ministers in Nice.
While the drafters of the Stockholm Programme profess it is a tool that will aid the “free movement of people” within the EU, there is very little about one’s movements that will remain “free” if EU ‘securocrats’ are allowed to implement the sorts of measures hinted at in the Future Group document.
Among other things, the leaked Future Group document envisages “new and more flexible expulsion and surveillance measures” which would make it easier for states across Europe to gather increasingly detailed information about citizens and their movements, as well as block the entry of others.
Moreover, the authors also discuss the need for “increased synergies between police and security intelligence services” across Europe, meaning that information gathered by local law enforcement in Piteå could eventually end up in the hands of counter-terrorism agents in Palermo.
Are we really “free” if our movements are tracked by the state and that information can end up being read by any intelligence or law enforcement agency in Europe?
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From Matt Taibbi's Taiblog:
So what’s wrong with Goldman posting $3.44 billion in second-quarter profits, what’s wrong with the company so far earmarking $11.4 billion in compensation for its employees? What’s wrong is that this is not free-market earnings but an almost pure state subsidy.
Last year, when Hank Paulson told us all that the planet would explode if we didn’t fork over a gazillion dollars to Wall Street immediately, the entire rationale not only for TARP but for the whole galaxy of lesser-known state crutches and safety nets quietly ushered in later on was that Wall Street, once rescued, would pump money back into the economy, create jobs, and initiate a widespread recovery. This, we were told, was the reason we needed to pilfer massive amounts of middle-class tax revenue and hand it over to the same guys who had just blown up the financial world. We’d save their asses, they’d save ours. That was the deal.
It turned out not to happen that way. We constructed this massive bailout infrastructure, and instead of pumping that free money back into the economy, the banks instead simply hoarded it and ate it on the spot, converting it into bonuses. So what does this Goldman profit number mean? This is the final evidence that the bailouts were a political decision to use the power of the state to redirect society’s resources upward, on a grand scale. It was a selective rescue of a small group of chortling jerks who must be laughing all the way to the Hamptons every weekend about how they fleeced all of us at the very moment the game should have been up for all of them.
Now, the counter to this charge is, well, hey, they made that money fair and square, legally, how can you blame them? They’re just really smart!
Bullshit. One of the most hilarious lies that has been spread about Goldman of late is that, since it repaid its TARP money, it’s now free and clear of any obligation to the government - as if that was the only handout Goldman got in the last year. Goldman last year made your average AFDC mom on food stamps look like an entrepreneur.
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For the first time in history, more than one in every 100 American adults is in jail or prison, according to a new report tracking the surge in inmate population and urging states to rein in corrections costs with alternative sentencing programs.
The report, released Thursday by the Pew Center on the States, said the 50 states spent more than $49 billion on corrections last year, up from less than $11 billion 20 years earlier. The rate of increase for prison costs was six times greater than for higher education spending, the report said.
Using updated state-by-state data, the report said 2,319,258 adults were held in U.S. prisons or jails at the start of 2008 — one out of every 99.1 adults, and more than any other country in the world.
The steadily growing inmate population "is saddling cash-strapped states with soaring costs they can ill afford and failing to have a clear impact either on recidivism or overall crime," said the report.
Susan Urahn, managing director of the Pew Center on the States, said budget woes are prompting officials in many states to consider new, cost-saving corrections policies that might have been shunned in the recent past for fear of appearing soft in crime.
"We're seeing more and more states being creative because of tight budgets," she said in an interview. "They want to be tough on crime, they want to be a law-and-order state — but they also want to save money, and they want to be effective."
The report cited Kansas and Texas as states which have acted decisively to slow the growth of their inmate population. Their actions include greater use of community supervision for low-risk offenders and employing sanctions other than re-imprisonment for ex-offenders who commit technical violations of parole and probation rules.
"The new approach, born of bipartisan leadership, is allowing the two states to ensure they have enough prison beds for violent offenders while helping less dangerous lawbreakers become productive, taxpaying citizens," the report said.
According to the report, the inmate population increased last year in 36 states and the federal prison system.
The largest percentage increase — 12 percent — was in Kentucky, where Gov. Steve Beshear highlighted the cost of corrections in his budget speech last month. He noted that the state's crime rate had increased only about 3 percent in the past 30 years, while the state's inmate population has increased by 600 percent.
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The late Chip Tatum
Gerald Ford talked about one of the "perks" of being President: You can have people killed.
The complete bureaucracy for how people are "neutralized" is laid out in these two videos.
The fireworks start at the 1:55 point in the first video.
Your tax dollars at work...
More about this from a recent article by Steven Webster called:
"Report: No geographical limitations on CIA assassination"
Every president since Truman
According to historian Christopher Andrew, under questioning by New York Times reporters and editors in 1975, President Gerald Ford explained that U.S. intelligence documents must not be revealed to the public because the revelations would “blacken the reputation of every President since Truman.”
“Like what?” he was asked.
“Like assassinations!” replied Ford, who later insisted the comment be kept “off the record.”
The discussion was held following Ford’s recent receipt of the CIA inspector general’s now-infamous report informally known as the “Family Jewels.” It revealed hundreds of CIA indiscretions ranging from experimenting on soldiers and prisoners with illegal, hallucinogenic drugs to assassination plots against South American leftists.
“The Times group returned to their bureau for a spirited argument about whether they could pass up a story potentially so explosive,” noted reporter Daniel Schorr. “Managing Editor E. C. Daniel called the White House in the hope of getting Nessen to ease the restriction from ‘off-the-record’ to ‘deep background.’ Nessen was more adamant than ever that the national interest dictated that the president’s unfortunate slip be forgotten. Finally, Sulzberger cut short the debate, saying that, as the publisher, he would decide, and he had decided against the use of the incendiary information.”
Schorr, who reported Ford’s comment for CBS News later that year, would later reveal that the president was not speaking about specific killings, but assassination conspiracies. In Schorr’s follow-up, then-CIA Director William Colby insisted that the agency had not been involved in assassinations since 1973.
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Speaking of waste not, a scientist previously listed the possible sources of biomass fuel as being "grass, broken wood, furniture, dead bodies," according to Peter Singer, a defense analyst at the Brookings Institute and author of Wired for War. Just in case you thought that a green robot is a sissy robot. Yikes.
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Company denies its robots feed on the dead
In response to rumors circulating the internet on sites such as FoxNews.com, FastCompany.com and CNET News about a “flesh eating” robot project, Cyclone Power Technologies Inc. (Pink Sheets:CYPW) and Robotic Technology Inc. (RTI) would like to set the record straight: This robot is strictly vegetarian.
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By Guy Walters, Times Online
19 Jul, 2009
On October 2, 1943, according to Wiesenthal, Kohlrautz warned him that the camp and its prisoners were shortly to be liquidated. The German gave him and a friend passes to visit a stationery shop in town, accompanied by a Ukrainian guard. They managed to escape out the back while the Ukrainian waited at the front.
Yet again he had seemingly cheated death in a miraculous fashion. But we only have his word for it. According to Wiesenthal, Kohlrautz was killed in the battle for Berlin in April 1945. He also told a biographer, however, that Kohlrautz was killed on the Russian front in 1944. And in an affidavit made in August 1954 about his wartime persecutions, he neglects to include the story at all. In both this document and in his testimony to the Americans in May 1945, he mentions Kohlrautz without saying the German saved his life.
From this point in Wiesenthal’s war it is impossible to establish a reliable train of events. With at least four wildly different accounts of his activities between October 1943 and the middle of 1944 — including his alleged role as a partisan officer — serious questions must be raised. Some, such as Bruno Kreisky, the former Austrian chancellor, repeatedly accused Wiesenthal in the 1970s and the 1980s of collaborating with the Gestapo. Kreisky’s claims were supported by unsubstantiated evidence from the Polish and Soviet governments. Wiesenthal took him to court and won.
Whatever the truth, by November 1944 Wiesenthal was in Gross-Rosen, a camp near Wroclaw. He told Hella Pick, his biographer, that he was forced to work barefoot in the camp quarry and soon learnt that the team of 100 prisoners assigned to the work kommando shrank by one each day. After a few days he felt sure his turn was about to come. “My executioner was behind me,” he recalled, “poised to smash my head with a rock. I turned around and the man, surprised, dropped his stone. It crushed my toe. I screamed.”
Wiesenthal’s quick reactions and yell apparently saved his life because there was some form of inspection that day — he thought it may have been by the Red Cross — and so he was stretchered away to the first-aid station. His toe was cut off without anaesthesia while two men held him still. The following day, Wiesenthal said, he was in agony. “The doctor came back and saw that I had a septic blister on the sole of my foot. So they cut it open and the gangrene spurted all over the room.”
Yet again, one of Wiesenthal’s “miracles” is open to doubt. First, the story appears in no other memoir or statement. Secondly, if the Red Cross really was inspecting Gross-Rosen that day, then the SS would have temporarily halted any executions. As it was, the Red Cross was not allowed access to concentration camps at that time. Thirdly, the medical consequences seem entirely implausible.
Soon afterwards, according to Wiesenthal’s account, he managed to walk 170 miles west to Chemnitz after Gross-Rosen was evacuated. Walking on a gangrenous foot with a recently amputated toe would have been hellish. Instead of a shoe, he had the sleeve of an old coat wrapped around his foot with some wire. For a walking stick he had a broomstick. Of the 6,000 prisoners who marched out, only 4,800 arrived in Chemnitz. With his infected foot, Wiesenthal was lucky to be among them.
From Chemnitz, the prisoners ended up at Mauthausen camp near Linz in Austria. Wiesenthal arrived there on the frozen night of February 15, 1945. In The Murderers Among Us, he tells how he and a fellow prisoner, Prince Radziwill, linked arms to make the last four miles uphill to the camp. The effort was too great and they collapsed in the snow. An SS man fired a shot that landed between them. As the two men did not get up, they were left for dead in the sub-zero temperature. When lorries arrived to collect those who had died on the march, the unconscious Wiesenthal and Radziwill were so frozen that they were thrown onto a pile of corpses. At the crematorium, however, the prisoners unloading them realised they were alive. They were given a cold shower to thaw out and Wiesenthal was taken to Block VI, the “death block” for the mortally ill.
In 1961, when Wiesenthal was interviewed for the Yad Vashem archive by the Israeli journalist Haim Maas about his war years, Wiesenthal mentioned that the infection from his foot had now turned blue-green and had spread right up to his knee. He lay in the death block for three months until the end of the war. Too weak to get out of bed, he claimed he survived — incredibly — on 200 calories a day, along with the occasional piece of bread or sausage smuggled to him by a friendly Pole.
Mauthausen was liberated on May 5, 1945. Despite weighing just 100lb, Wiesenthal struggled outside to greet the American tanks. “I don’t know how I managed to get up and walk,” he recalled. If he was able to walk, his severely infected leg must have been cured during the previous three months by either amputation or antibiotics. We know the former did not take place, and the latter was emphatically not a common treatment for ailing Jews in Nazi concentration camps. Once again, it appears as though a miracle had taken place.
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The last time the government embarked on a major vaccine campaign against a new swine flu, thousands filed claims contending they suffered side effects from the shots. This time, the government has already taken steps to head that off.
Vaccine makers and federal officials will be immune from lawsuits that result from any new swine flu vaccine, under a document signed by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, government health officials said Friday.
Since the 1980s, the government has protected vaccine makers against lawsuits over the use of childhood vaccines. Instead, a federal court handles claims and decides who will be paid from a special fund.
The document signed by Sebelius last month grants immunity to those making a swine flu vaccine, under the provisions of a 2006 law for public health emergencies. It allows for a compensation fund, if needed.
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By Joe Carroll, Bloomberg
17 Jul, 2009
Exxon Mobil Corp., the largest U.S. oil company, may be fined more than $1 billion for “malicious” sabotage of wells to prevent other producers from tapping fields it no longer wanted, the Texas General Land Office said.
Jerry Patterson, commissioner of the land office that oversees oil leases that help fund Texas schools, asked the Texas Railroad Commission to conduct hearings into an alleged 1990s program at Exxon Mobil of plugging abandoned wells with trash, sludge, explosives and cement plugs. The barriers made it impossible for other producers to revive the wells, Patterson said in a statement he gave to Bloomberg News yesterday.
Under Railroad Commission rules, Exxon Mobil could face fines of $10,000 a day per well, Patterson said in the statement, which he plans to release on July 20. He said those penalties could add up to more than $1 billion on wells the company abandoned in 1991 after a disagreement over royalties with the owners, the O’Connor family, a Texas oil dynasty.
“The allegations paint a false and misleading picture of Exxon Mobil’s involvement in the O’Connor oil and gas leases,” said Margaret Ross, an Exxon Mobil spokeswoman. “The area in which the wells are located has a water table very close to the surface. It was critical that Exxon protect the groundwater by plugging the wells solidly and thoroughly.”
In March, the Texas Supreme Court dismissed lawsuits against Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil for damaging the wells, ruling that too much time had passed. O’Connor heirs and Emerald Oil & Gas Co., which took over some of the former Exxon Mobil leases, were plaintiffs in the suits.
‘Flagrant Violations’ Alleged
“Exxon committed irrefutable, intentional and flagrant violations of state rules regulating the oilfield,” Patterson said in the statement. “The senseless waste of our natural resources, the sabotage of a producing oilfield and cover-up by Exxon is a malicious act that must be dealt with by the state of Texas.”
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Sheera Frenkel, The Times
16 Jul, 2009
Two Israeli missile class warships have sailed through the Suez Canal ten days after a submarine capable of launching a nuclear missile strike, in preparation for a possible attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
The deployment into the Red Sea, confirmed by Israeli officials, was a clear signal that Israel was able to put its strike force within range of Iran at short notice. It came before long-range exercises by the Israeli air force in America later this month and the test of a missile defence shield at a US missile range in the Pacific Ocean.
Israel has strengthened ties with Arab nations who also fear a nuclear-armed Iran. In particular, relations with Egypt have grown increasingly strong this year over the “shared mutual distrust of Iran”, according to one Israeli diplomat. Israeli naval vessels would likely pass through the Suez Canal for an Iranian strike.
“This is preparation that should be taken seriously. Israel is investing time in preparing itself for the complexity of an attack on Iran. These manoeuvres are a message to Iran that Israel will follow up on its threats,” an Israeli defence official said.
It is believed that Israel’s missile-equipped submarines, and its fleet of advanced aircraft, could be used to strike at in excess of a dozen nuclear-related targets more than 800 miles from Israel.
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What can we do, now that democracy and the free market are one?
by Arundhati Roy
While we’re still arguing about whether there’s life after death, can we add another question to the cart? Is there life after democracy? What sort of life will it be? By democracy I don’t mean democracy as an ideal or an aspiration. I mean the working model: western liberal democracy, and its variants, such as they are.
So, is there life after democracy? Attempts to answer this question often turn into a comparison of different systems of governance, and end with a somewhat prickly, combative defence of democracy. It’s flawed, we say. It isn’t perfect, but it’s better than everything else that’s on offer. Inevitably, someone in the room will say: “Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia . . . is that what you would prefer?”
Whether democracy should be the utopia that all “developing” societies aspire to is a separate question altogether. (I think it should. The early, idealistic phase can be quite heady.) The question about life after democracy is addressed to those of us who already live in democracies, or in countries that pretend to be democracies. It isn’t meant to suggest that we lapse into older, discredited models of totalitarian or authoritarian governance. It’s meant to suggest that the system of representative democracy – too much representation, too little democracy – needs some structural adjustment.
The question here, really, is what have we done to democracy? What have we turned it into? What happens once democracy has been used up? When it has been hollowed out and emptied of meaning? What happens when each of its institutions has metastasised into something dangerous? What happens now that democracy and the free market have fused into a single predatory organism with a thin, constricted imagination that revolves almost entirely around the idea of maximising profit? Is it possible to reverse this process? Can something that has mutated go back to being what it used to be?
What we need today, for the sake of the survival of this planet, is long-term vision. Can governments whose very survival depends on immediate, extractive, short-term gain provide this? Could it be that democracy, the sacred answer to our short-term hopes and prayers, the protector of our individual freedoms and nurturer of our avaricious dreams, will turn out to be the endgame for the human race? Could it be that democracy is such a hit with modern humans precisely because it mirrors our greatest folly – our nearsightedness? Our inability to live entirely in the present (like most animals do) combined with our inability to see very far into the future makes us strange in-between creatures, neither beast nor prophet. Our amazing intelligence seems to have outstripped our instinct for survival. We plunder the earth hoping that accumulating material surplus will make up for the profound, unfathomable thing that we have lost.
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On the Occasion of the Thirtieth Anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution
By Katherine Hoyt
Right after Bayardo [Dr. Bayardo Gonzalez of Matagalpa, Nicaragua] and I were married in 1967, my father had told us, “When ‘comes the revolution,’ you send us the kids!” Now, at that time, the Somoza family looked well-entrenched in power with no revolution in sight and we certainly had no kids. But, of course, the revolution did come and we did send the kids.
We kept their Pan American tickets ready and their passports with exit visas stamped in them. We listened to “Radio Sandino” every night at 11:00p.m. for the announcement of the “final general strike.” We also received instructions on how to build air raid shelters and what supplies to have on hand.
By now the three FSLN tendencies, into which the Front had divided beginning in 1975, had reunited and, as Humberto Ortega later said, three other very important factors were present which made possible the victory:
1) The people were prepared and ready for a massive popular uprising;
2) The private sector was completely fed up with Somoza and was ready to support another general strike; and most importantly
3) The FSLN, in a culmination of its eighteen years of struggle, was politically and militarily ready to lead the offensive.
On Mother’s Day, May 30, 1979, the announcement came: the final general strike would start June 4th. The next morning I called Pan American Airlines and made the earliest reservations that I could: June 4th. My father would fly down to Los Angeles to pick up the children and fly with them to Seattle. Victoria was ten, and the twins were six. Victoria was a little mother to her brother and sister. Only years later did the children tell me how traumatic they found being separated from both of us and how they worried about being left orphans.
After we watched the children’s plane take off, Bayardo and I put our emergency bags over our shoulders and walked out to the highway. We wanted to spend the final offensive in Matagalpa but with no public transportation operating, we knew we might have to stay in Managua. We were lucky: a private car stopped and gave us a ride all the way home. On that first day of the strike all stores, businesses and doctors’ offices were closed, but it was quiet so we visited friends and relatives. On June 5, however, at 5:00 p.m., Sandinistas entered the city from the east and fighting began. Bayardo had gone out to visit friends. When he called, I said he should stay where he was and not try to get home. I have always believed that, if the children had still been with me, he would have tried to make it home and might have died on that first day.
The next day I crossed the street to stay with Elbia Bravo who intended to remain in the city in her home behind her store. She had told us that we were welcome to stay with her and since I was alone, it seemed a good idea. We were four women: Dona Elbia, her mother Dona Licha, the young maid Angela, and I. By June 7, we could hear what sounded like snipers on our roofs but didn’t know what side they were on. For the first time a jet plane flew over the city strafing the houses. When it was far away, the noise was bum, bum, bum, bum, and then an echo bum, bum, bum, bum. But if it was right on top of you then it was simply BAM, BAM, BAM, BAM. At Elbia’s house, as at our house, we were somewhat protected from strafing and rockets by the platform of the second story. People who lived in one story houses with tile or tin roofs either had already made some kind of air raid shelter or quickly made one in these first days of the fighting. We ate, read and slept.
On Friday afternoon, June 8, Elbia’s house received its first hit by a mortar shell against one of the back bedrooms. The room filled with glass shrapnel from the windows. We were all in the living room at the time and no one was hurt. The next day Elbia and I went up to one of the apartments that she rented on her second floor to see where another mortar had hit. It had made a substantial hole in the wall. (Luckily, the tenants had evacuated for farms outside the city.) It was then that we heard the plane overheard and the explosion behind her house at what had to be the fire department. We listened in horror to the screams and then to the sirens as an ambulance took victims to the hospital. We found out later that eight civilians had died and many more were wounded in the attack.
On Sunday, June 10, I crossed the street over to our house to feed the animals. There was fighting on the rooftops and hot lead (literally hot lead) fell into the kitchen. I crouched under the kitchen table until the fire fight ended. Later, Sandinista fighters told me that there were members of the National Guard on the roofs and that I had been putting my life in danger by crossing the street to feed our dog and cat. There were hard fought battles that week in Matagalpa to take San Jose Church in the south-central part of town and the old San Jose School building as well as the Social Club. We could tell that the fighting was intense but we couldn’t tell where or, more importantly, who was winning.
The next day planes flew overhead, strafing and dropping bombs all morning and most of the afternoon. At one point in the afternoon, I had occasion to look across the street at our house. The door was open and our German Shepherd was standing in the doorway looking out. I went over quickly to put him back in, realizing that someone might kill him. Nicaraguans believed that dogs who ate dead human flesh would get rabies and therefore any dog that was running free during battles when there were dead bodies lying out in the open was presumed to be rabid. I was quite certain that our dog had not bitten any dead bodies, but I wanted to get him inside before anybody else decided that he had and shot him. When I went into the house, I saw the reason why the door was open: there were 24 Molotov cocktails made from Flor de Caña rum bottles in two neat rows on the floor of the dining room and several red and black masks on the living room sofa. I said to myself, “They’re here.”
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By Dr Shahid Qureshi, The London Post
30 Jan, 2009
It is reported that (IDF) Israeli Defense Forces soldiers from Europeans, US and other nationalities might be returning back to their countries after taking part in the Gaza War and might have committed war crimes. It is responsibility of the countries to make sure to prosecute their citizens who were involved in war crimes under international law and conventions.
“As Israel's anti-terror operation entered its twelfth day yesterday, a British IDF soldier who was injured by gunfire in Gaza spoke exclusively to the Jewish News from his hospital bed about his efforts to avoid civilian casualties while the bloody battles are being fought. Avi Cohen was shot by a Hamas terrorist early on Monday morning, two days after he led his paratrooper unit of 20 soldiers into battle. The 23-year-old - whose grandfather was the late Rabbi Cyril Shine of the Central Synagogue, Great Portland Street (London) - said he had been in fierce gun fights with
Hamas throughout the days he was in the Gaza Strip, and at all times did his best to make sure it was the terrorists and not local people who got hurt. "But unfortunately it's a war and there are casualties on both sides. It is very hard; we didn't come here for that," Cohen said reported ‘Jewish News’ 8th January 2009. Earlier a British born Major of the IDF was killed in Lebanon war with Hezbollah in 2006.
It is illegal under the Foreign Enlistment Act 1870 (c.90) for a British Citizen to serve in the armed forces of another country
British Member of House of Lords, Lord Ahmed asked a question in the upper house of the parliament on 26th January 2009,“Whether any British citizens are serving in the Israeli Defence Force or the Israeli Defence Reserves”?
In response to that Lord Malloch – Brown, Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office responded, “other than press reports, the UK Government do not possess information about whom the Israeli Government have called up to serve in the Israel Defence Forces or the Israeli Defence Reserves, including any dual nationals. Only the Israeli Government would have this information. He further stated, “Anybody who has broken the fourth protocol of the Geneva Convention deserves to meet justice in some court or another”.
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The New Yorker's Seymour Hersh was mocked in March when he referred to Dick Cheney’s secret squad of CIA assassins. Now, he talks to The Daily Beast about the next shoe to drop.
Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh raised eyebrows back in March when he told an audience at the University of Minnesota that Dick Cheney ran a secret hit squad that he kept hidden from congressional oversight.
"Congress has no oversight of it. It’s an executive assassination ring essentially, and it’s been going on and on and on," Hersh said at the time. He added: "Under President Bush’s authority, they’ve been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving. That’s been going on, in the name of all of us."
Some observers accused him of rumor-mongering and a top former military official threw cold water on the story, but with the recent news that the CIA allegedly kept Congress in the dark on a covert program, Hersh's words suddenly look more and more prescient. Yesterday, The New York Times reported the hidden program in question was a death squad authorized by Dick Cheney without congressional approval.
Now, there are key differences between Hersh's reporting and the Times' latest piece. Hersh suggested that the assassination ring was conducted out of the Joint Special Operations Command rather than the CIA. Moreover, according to Hersh's sources, the program was operational, leaving a trail of bodies, while the Times cited officials saying that the CIA hit squad never actually carried out a mission. The Times and Hersh could conceivably be reporting two distinct squads.
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Former US officials claim CIA was to hire assassination teams modeled after the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad's targeted killing specialist squads.
On Tuesday, Newsweek quoted some former senior officials as saying that in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, the former administration approached the Central Intelligence Agency to form the teams.
The officials, requesting anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, said the White House broached the issue with CIA's espionage wing, the Directorate of Operations.
The program was recently exposed by the agency's director Leon Panetta, who claimed that he had stopped it last month upon hearing about it.
On Monday, The Wall Street Journal quoted intelligence sources as saying that the program also included capturing or killing al-Qaeda operatives.
"There was some initial involvement by the CIA in this program early on and it was described to me by US intelligence officials as a modern-day Phoenix program that was during the Vietnam War. The CIA and US military special forces cooperated to assassinate (the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam) Viet Cong leaders," investigative journalist Wayne Madsen told Russia Today earlier on Wednesday.
The Israeli model for the brigades were Mossad's infamous 'Wrath Of God' teams who employed themselves in taking down the suspects for the killing of Israeli athletes during the 1972 Munich Olympics. The summer event witnessed the capture and murder of the members of the Israeli Olympic team.
Accusing Palestinians of committing the murders, the Mossad men trawled through Europe for suspects, killing an innocent Moroccan man by mistake in one surge.
Pete Hoekstra on the House Intelligence Committee claims little money was spent on the project that allegedly never became fully operational.
Newsweek concluded that the plans, however, never completely hit cold storage and continued to be refurbished so the president can use them when necessary.
~ Source: Press TV ~
By Coleen Rowley
In the absence of my being there in New York City to stand with the 9/11 families, first responders and survivors, I offer the following statement in support of your goal of a new investigation into the attacks of September 11th and the NYC CAN campaign to place it on the ballot for November.
At the time of 9-11, I had been an FBI agent for over 20 years. My main responsibilities by then were teaching criminal procedure to FBI agents and other law enforcement officers, mostly about 4th Amendment search and seizure, 5th and 6th Amendment law of interrogation, right to attorney and constitutional protection of rights to “free speech”, due process, habeas corpus, and against cruel and unusual punishment. A week before 9-11, I and the rest of the FBI’s ethics instructors were mandated (as a result of an earlier public FBI scandal) to give a one hour PowerPoint presentation, a form of remedial training on “law enforcement ethics” which I accomplished in a fairly perfunctory way, just reading the slides.
After 9-11, with the knowledge I had of the bitter internal dispute inside the FBI that was being hushed up but had kept some of our better agents from possibly uncovering more of the 9-11 plot before it happened, I couldn’t forget two of the slides in that Law Enforcement ethics curriculum: “DO NOT: Puff, Shade, Tailor, Firm up, Stretch, Massage, or Tidy up statements of fact.” And “Misplaced Loyalties: As employees of the FBI, we must be aware that our highest loyalty is to the United States Constitution. We should never sacrifice the truth in order to obtain a desired result (e.g. conviction of a defendant) or to avoid personal or institutional embarrassment.”
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What Is Fluoride?
Fluoride is any combination of elements containing the fluoride ion. In its elemental form, fluorine is a pale yellow, highly toxic and corrosive gas. In nature, fluorine is found combined with minerals as fluorides. It is the most chemically active nonmetallic element of any element and also is the most reactive electro-negative ion. Because of this extreme reactivity, fluorine isn't found in nature as an uncombined element. Fluorine is a member of group VIIa of the periodic table. It readily displaces other halogens—such as chlorine, bromine and iodine—from their mineral salts. With hydrogen it forms hydrogen fluoride gas which, in a water solution, becomes hydrofluoric acid.
[ ... ]
Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), emitted by the electric power industry, is now among six greenhouse gases specifically targeted by the international concensus, through the Kyoto protocol, for emission reductions to control global warming. The others are carbon dioxide, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), methane and nitrous oxide (N2O). SF6 is about 23,900 times more destructive, pound for pound, than carbon dioxide over the course of 100 years. EPA estimates that some seven-million metric tons of carbon equivalent (MMTCE) escaped from electric power systems in 1996 alone. The concentration of SF6 in the atmosphere has reportedly increased by two orders of magnitude since 1970. Atmospheric models have indicated that the lifetime of an SF6 molecule in the atmosphere may be over 3000 years. In addition, many people consume fluorine-based medications such as Prozac, which greatly adds to fluoride's anti-thyroid effects. All fluoride compounds—organic and inorganic—have been shown to exert anti-thyroid effects, often potentiating fluoride effects many-fold.
Household exposures to fluorides can occur with the use of Teflon pans, fluorine-based products, insecticides sprays and even residual airborne fluorides from fluoridated drinking water. Decision-makers at 3M Corporation recently announced a phase-out of Scotchgard products after discovering that the product's primary ingredient—a fluorinated compound called perfluorooctanyl sulfonate (PFOS)—was found in all tested blood bank examinations. 3M's research showed that the substance had strong tendencies to persist and bioaccumulate in animal and human tissue. In 1991 the US Public Health Service issued a report stating that the range in total daily fluoride intake from water, dental products, beverages and food items exceeded 6.5 milligrams daily. Thus, the total intake from those sources alone already greatly exceeds the levels known to cause the third stage of skeletal fluorosis.
Besides fluoridated water and toothpaste, many foods contain high levels of flouride compounds due to pesticide applications. One of the worse offenders is grapes. Grape juice was found to contain more than 6.8 ppm fluoride. The EPA estimates total fluoride intake from pesticide residues on food and fluoridated drinking water alone to be 0.095 mg/kg/day, meaning a person weighing 70 kg takes in more than 6.65 mg per day. Soy infant formula is high in both fluoride and aluminum, far surpassing the “optimal" dose—even when de-fluoridated water is used in preparation—and has been shown to be a significant risk factor in dental fluorosis.
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Written by James Hodge and Linda Cooper, National Catholic Reporter
Military coup that ousted president didn't stop U.S. engagement in Honduras
U.S. Training of Honduran ForcesA controversial facility at Ft. Benning, Ga. -- formerly known as the U.S. Army’s School of the Americas -- is still training Honduran officers despite claims by the Obama administration that it cut military ties to Honduras after its president was overthrown June 28, NCR has learned.
A day after an SOA-trained army general ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya at gunpoint, President Barack Obama stated that "the coup was not legal" and that Zelaya remained "the democratically elected president."
The Foreign Operations Appropriations Act requires that U.S. military aid and training be suspended when a country undergoes a military coup, and the Obama administration has indicated those steps have been taken.
However, Lee Rials, public affairs officer for the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, the successor of SOA, confirmed Monday that Honduran officers are still being trained at the school.
"Yes, they're in class now," Rials said.
Asked about the Obama administration's suspension of aid and training to Honduras, Rials said, "Well, all I know is they're here, and they're in class."
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By panos pictures
With photographs by Ian Teh, this is a journey into some of China's most industrialised cities, a journey to the other side of the bright shiny facade that is the economy. It is a glimpse of another life and another world that is rarely seen.
China's economy is exploding and behind the scenes of this economic miracle is the industrial revolution powered by the cheap labour that is helping to build and sustain the economy. Coal for power, coal for steel, coal for cement. Coal and labour are the raw materials, the flip side and the dark side of this economic juggernaut that is China. But it comes at a heavy price for the country's environment and its people's health. And now that is has overtaken the US as the biggest producer of carbon dioxide, China's emission levels will increase anxiety about its role in driving man-made global warming and will add to pressure on the world's politicians to reach an agreement on climate change that includes the Chinese economy.
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By Okla Elliott, As It Ought To Be
It has been said that poetry feeds no one, and no doubt, I have felt occasionally that reading or writing literature is merely an indulgence, one many people cannot afford. But that’s a rather limited view of how literature, the presses that publish it, and its practitioners function in the world.
In many ways, literature offers an opportunity to be political completely outside the electoral arena, something the people of this country (which has a two-party duopoly currently in place) sorely need.
Who can read a novel like The Quiet American (Graham Greene) and not rethink the Vietnam Conflict in human terms? Who can read Fox Girl (Nora Okja Keller) and not be heartbroken over how US military bases in South Korea negatively impacted the lives of the people who inhabited the camptowns around them? And, here again, in human/emotional terms, not mere numbers which lose meaning in their abstraction. Gore Vidal’s historical novels help readers to review American history from a different perspective. War memoirs personalize tragedies via the concrete and hellish details, as opposed a government’s abstractions of patriotism, freedom, or liberation which try (quite effectively) to dehumanize what is going on and thereby make it more stomachable.
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By Eva Golinger, Postcards From The Revolution
15 Jul, 2009
• The Department of State had prior knowledge of the coup.
• The Department of State and the US Congress funded and advised the actors and organizations in Honduras that participated in the coup.
• The Pentagon trained, schooled, commanded, funded and armed the Honduran armed forces that perpetrated the coup and that continue to repress the people of Honduras by force.
• The US military presence in Honduras, that occupies the Soto Cano (Palmerola) military base, authorized the coup d’etat through its tacit complicity and refusal to withdraw its support of the Honduran military involved in the coup.
• The US Ambassador in Tegucigalpa, Hugo Llorens, coordinated the removal from power of President Manuel Zelaya, together with Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Shannon y John Negroponte, who presently works as an advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
• From the first day the coup occurred, Washington has referred to “both parties” involved and the necessity for “dialogue” to restore constitutional order, legitimizing the coup leaders by regarding them as equal players instead of criminal violators of human rights and democratic principles.
• The Department of State has refused to legally classify the events in Honduras as a “coup d’etat”, nor has it suspended or frozen its economic aid or commerce to Honduras, and has taken no measures to effectively pressure the de facto regime.
• Washington manipulated the Organization of American States (OAS) in order to buy time, therefore allowing the coup regime to consolidate and weaken the possibility of President Zelaya’s immediate return to power, as part of a strategy still in place that simply seeks to legitimate the de facto regime and wear down the Honduran people that still resist the coup.
• Secretary of State Clinton and her spokesmen stopped speaking of President Zelaya’s return to power after they designated Costa Rican president Oscar Arias as the “mediator” between the coup regime and the constitutional government; and now the State Department refers to the dictator that illegally took power during the coup, Roberto Micheletti, as the “interim caretaker president”.
• The strategy of “negotiating” with the coup regime was imposed by the Obama administration as a way of discrediting President Zelaya – blaming him for provoking the coup – and legitimizing the coup leaders.
• Members of the US Congress – democrats and republicans – organized a visit of representatives from the coup regime in Honduras to Washington, receiving them with honors in different arenas in the US capital.
• Despite the fact that originally it was Republican Senator John McCain who coordinated the visit of the coup regime representatives to Washington through a lobby firm connected to his office, The Cormac Group, now, the illegal regime is being representated by top notch lobbyist and Clinton attorney Lanny Davis, who is using his pull and influence in Washington to achieve overall acceptance – cross party lines – of the coup regime in Honduras.
• Otto Reich and a Venezuelan named Robert Carmona-Borjas, known for his role as attorney for the dictator Pedro Carmona during the April 2002 coup d’etat in Venezuela, aided in preparing the groundwork for the coup against President Zelaya in Honduras.
• The team designated from Washigton to design and help prepare the coup in Honduras also included a group of US ambassadors recently named in Central America, experts in destabilizing efforts against the Cuban revolution, and Adolfo Franco, ex administrator for USAID’s Cuba “transition to democracy” program.
No one doubts that the fingerprints of Washington are all over the coup d’etat against President Manuel Zelaya that began last June 28th. Many analysts, writers, activists and even presidents, have denounced this role. Nevertheless, the majority coincide in excusing the Obama Administration from any responsibility in the Honduran coup, blaming instead the lingering remains of the Bush-Cheney era and the war hawks that still pace the halls of the White House. The evidence demonstrates that while it is certain that the usual suspects who perpetrate coups and destabilization activities in Latin America are involved, ample proof exists confirming the direct role of the new administration in Washington in the Honduran coup.
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