H&M and Wal-Mart Destroy and Trash New, Unsold Clothes

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Cynthia Magnus holds up unworn, destroyed clothing she found in the garbage. Photo by Suzanne DeChillo/New York Times

This week the New York Times reported a disheartening story about two of the largest retail chains. You see, instead of taking unsold items to sample sales or donating them to people in need, H&M and Wal-Mart have been throwing them out in giant trash bags. And in the case that someone may stumble on these bags and try to keep or re-sell the items, these companies have gone ahead and slashed up garments, cut off the sleeves of coats, and sliced holes in shoes so they are unwearable.

This unsettling discovery was made by graduate student Cynthia Magnus outside the back entrance of H&M on 35th street in New York City. Just a few doors down, she also found hundreds of Wal-Mart tagged items with holes made in them that were dumped by a contractor. On December 7, she spotted 20 bags of clothing outside of H&M including, “gloves with the fingers cut off, warm socks, cute patent leather Mary Jane school shoes, maybe for fourth graders, with the instep cut up with a scissor, men’s jackets, slashed across the body and the arms. The puffy fiber fill was coming out in big white cotton balls.”

The New York Times points out that one-third of the city’s population is poor, which makes this behavior not only wasteful and sad, but downright irresponsible. Wal-Mart spokeswoman, Melissa Hill, acted surprised that these items were found, claiming they typically donate all unworn merchandise to charity. When reporters went around the corner from H&M to a collections drop-off for charity organization New York Cares, spokesperson Colleen Farrell said, “We’d be glad to take unworn coats, and companies often send them to us.”

Read moreH&M and Wal-Mart Destroy and Trash New, Unsold Clothes

Shock Study: 12% of Children Sexually Abused in Government Custody

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Some 12 percent of minors held in government custody are sexually abused, and in some facilities the rate reaches a stunning one in three children, says a report released Thursday by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

The first-ever National Survey of Youth in Custody found that no less than 10 percent of the 26,550 juveniles being held in detention facilities in the US are abused by staff at the facility, while another 2.6 percent report abuse at the hands of other inmates.

Among the facilities studied were six identified to have rates of sexual abuse as high as three in 10. According to the Associated Press, those six facilities are Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility in Indiana; Corsicana Residential Treatment Center in Texas; Backbone Mountain Youth Center in Swanton, Maryland; Samarkand Youth Development Center in Eagle Springs, North Carolina.; Cresson Secure Treatment Unit in Pennsylvania; and the Culpeper Juvenile Correctional Center, Long Term, in Mitchells, Virginia.

“The widespread sexual abuse of children in juvenile facilities shows that public officials either aren’t paying attention or can’t be bothered to do the right thing,” said Jamie Fellner, senior counsel for Human Rights Watch. “The high rates of victimization are powerful testimony to the failure of governments to safeguard the boys and girls in their care.”

The study was mandated by a 2003 law, the National Prison Rape Elimination Act, which also created the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission. Human Rights Watch notes that six months ago the commission set out “comprehensive, effective standards for the prevention, detection, and punishment of prison rape,” but the Justice Department has yet to act on those recommendations.

“Every day Attorney General Eric Holder fails to promulgate national prison rape elimination standards is another day in which kids and adults are being abused behind bars,” Fellner said. “The attorney general already has on his desk proposed standards that reflect the best thinking and effective practices to end this widespread scourge. There is no need to reinvent the wheel or to delay moving forward.”

The survey found that gay youth were at higher risk than heterosexual youth, with one in five reporting abuse at the hands of a staffer or fellow inmate. Males were more likely to report being abused than females (10.8 percent to 4.7 percent). And 95 percent of those abused by staff reported that the abuser was female. But that number may be influenced by the fact that 91 percent of youth in custody are male.

The AP reports:

Although advocates said the level of abuse wasn’t surprising, the prevalence of sexual abuse by staff, particularly female workers, was shocking, said Linda McFarlane, deputy executive director of Just Detention International, which fights to end sexual abuse of those who are detained.

“Many of these are already the most vulnerable and traumatized youth from all of our communities and they’re placed for custody because they’re considered to be a danger,” she said. “If sexually abused in those very institutions that are supposed to help them prepare for life in the community, then it’s just an incredible travesty.”

Read moreShock Study: 12% of Children Sexually Abused in Government Custody

US: Massive Jump In Emergency Unemployment Compensation Benefits – Up 43% In One Month!

I was intrigued by a post by Zero Hedge asking Is The Government Misrepresenting Unemployment By 32%?

“…government spent a record $14.7 billion on Unemployment Insurance Benefits as of December 30, a 24% jump sequentially from the $11.8 billion in November. Yet the DOL has disclosed a mere 1.7% increase in those to whom insurance benefits are paid: from 9.4 million to just under 9.6 million. To put the $14.7 billion number in perspective, in December the Federal Government paid a total of $14 billion ($700 million less) in Federal Salaries!

And some more perspective: in calendar 2009 the government has paid $140 billion in Unemployment Insurance Benefits. This is yet another economic stimulus that nobody in the administration discusses, yet which undoubtedly has the biggest impact on the economy, as all those millions unemployed can moderate their pain courtesy of a passable weekly check from the government which should just about cover the rent and beer.

Which is why more than anything, Obama is dead set on extending insurance benefit payments in perpetuity: because if the 10 million official and 14 million unofficial people who are on benefits (not to mention the tens of millions of unemployed unlucky enough to even get their weekly allowance from Uncle Sam) start thinking about their true predicament and their real “employability”, then a landslide loss by this administration at the mid-term elections will actually be an upside surprise to what it can objectively expect.

I figured the explanation would show up in charts somewhere and I asked Chris Puplava at Financial Sense for a chart of Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) Benefits as well as an update on other charts he has graciously provided on request.

Click on any chart below for a crisper image.

From Chris Puplava …

My answer would be a MASSIVE jump in the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefits, which jumped from 3,594,253 (11/07/09) to 5,143,410 (12/19/09), up 43% in just over a month!

The increase in EUC more than offset the decline in continuing claims and we are now at a new record when combining all measures of unemployment benefits. Economists were pointing out that continuing claims and initial claims were falling as a bullish sign, however what was happening was that those benefits were exhausting for people who used up that benefit, leading to the decline in the numbers which is proved by a record (52.24%) exhaustion rate.

Record Unemployment Deterioration

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However, these people were not finding employment which is why the House passed a bill in December to extend benefits, thus leading to a massive 43% jump in the aptly named “EMERGENCY” Unemployment Compensation program. The jump was so large that now the EUC numbers surpass continuing claims!

Read moreUS: Massive Jump In Emergency Unemployment Compensation Benefits – Up 43% In One Month!

Egypt deports British MP George Galloway from country

Egypt bars George Galloway from country (Reuters):

CAIRO (Reuters) – Egyptian security escorted MP George Galloway to take a flight out of the country on Friday and he was barred from returning after violent protests over an aid convoy he led into Gaza, MENA news agency said.

The Foreign Ministry declared the left-wing politician an “unwelcome individual,” the agency said.

Three Palestinians killed in Israeli air strike on Gaza (BBC News):

Three people, including a 14-year-old-boy, have been killed in Israeli air strikes overnight in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medics say.

The Israeli military said it was responding to mortar and rocket attacks on Thursday on Israel from Gaza.


george-galloway Mr Galloway had been in Gaza with an aid convoy

British MP George Galloway has been deported from Egypt, say activists working with him to take an aid convoy into Gaza.

The Bow and Bethnal Green MP had been with international activists trying to take 200 aid trucks into the blockaded Gaza Strip.

Egypt had refused some of the vehicles access and there have been protests and clashes on the Egypt-Gaza border.

The state news agency says Mr Galloway has left Egypt and returned home.

There have also been reports the Respect MP has been declared “persona non grata” and will not be allowed to enter Egypt again, following his criticism of Cairo over delays to the aid convoy.

Convoy tension

The BBC’s Cairo correspondent Yolande Knell said Mr Galloway had returned from Gaza, where the convoy arrived two days ago, and had been planning to head back to London.

But when he and his assistant returned to Egypt they learnt that seven other members of the convoy still in Gaza were due to be arrested on their return to Egypt.

Mr Galloway wanted to go back to accompany them out but it is understood the Egyptians would not allow him to return, bundled both men into a van and escorted them to the airport.

There has been much tension around the aid convoy after Egypt made it take a big detour, delaying its arrival. There were clashes with Egyptian police at a port close to the Rafah crossing, our correspondent said.

Read moreEgypt deports British MP George Galloway from country

The Full Body Scanner Invasion; New Scanners Break Child Porn Laws

Here comes the body scanner invasion:

Invasion of the Body Scanners (BusinessWeek):

Digital security scans are coming to more airports. They’ll increase aggravation, but won’t help security much

“If we use full body scans, [terrorists] are going to do something else. This is a stupid game, and it’s time we stop playing it.”

Italy to install body scanners in Rome, Milan (Toronto Sun)

France to Introduce Body Scanners At Airports (New York Times)

Controversial body scanners to be installed in Canada’s airports (The Canadian Press)

Britain to start full-body scans at Heathrow Airport (Los Angeles Times)

Who benefits?

Former homeland security chief Michael Chertoff puts his mouth where his money is and argues for whole-body imaging (Washington Post):

What he has made little mention of is that the Chertoff Group, his security consulting agency, includes a client that manufactures the machines. The relationship drew attention after Chertoff disclosed it on a CNN program Wednesday, in response to a question.

An airport passengers’ rights group on Thursday criticized Chertoff, who left office less than a year ago, for using his former government credentials to advocate for a product that benefits his clients.

“Mr. Chertoff should not be allowed to abuse the trust the public has placed in him as a former public servant to privately gain from the sale of full-body scanners under the pretense that the scanners would have detected this particular type of explosive,” said Kate Hanni, founder of FlyersRights.org, which opposes the use of the scanners.

Full Body Scanner Lobby: Michael Chertoff & Rapiscan (Now Public)

Full body scanners are another attack on your health, freedom and of course your money, because you will pay for them destroying your health and take away your freedom:

Full-Body Scanners Emitting ‘High-Energy’ Radiation Increase Cancer Risk (NoWorldSystem):

There is just no “safe” dose of radiation, 50% of America’s cancers are radiation-induced.

How Terahertz Waves Tear Apart DNA (Technology Review – MIT):

Alexandrov and co have created a model to investigate how THz fields interact with double-stranded DNA and what they’ve found is remarkable. They say that although the forces generated are tiny, resonant effects allow THz waves to unzip double-stranded DNA, creating bubbles in the double strand that could significantly interfere with processes such as gene expression and DNA replication. That’s a jaw dropping conclusion.

Continuing Its Path of Health Destruction: Canada Approves Harmful Airport Scanners (Prevent Disease):

“Anything that interferes with DNA replication can cause cell death,” said geneticist Andrew Lau. “Cell mutations and chromosomal aberrations would likely be more common once such scanners are implemented.” Lau stated that the cumulative radiation would likely affect passengers in the long-term.

The Germans still ‘pretend’ to use their brains before they will ‘eventually’ give in and install the scanners:

Europe Debates Use of Full-Body Scanners at Airports (New York Times):

Germany’s position, he said, is that the scanners cannot be deployed until it has been shown that they will improve security, that they are not a health hazard and that they will not be so invasive that they harm individuals’ rights.

So we will see body scanners everywhere because of another inside job:

US government lies about Flight 253 ‘crotch bomber’ patsy: Summary of the evidence; Yemen attack implication (Examiner)

Evidence Mounts for US Complicity in Terrorism (Veterans Today)

———–

“The truth is, there is no Islamic army or terrorist group called Al Qaeda. And any informed intelligence officer knows this. But there is a propaganda campaign to make the public believe in the presence of an identified entity representing the ‘devil’ only in order to drive the TV watcher to accept a unified international leadership for a war against terrorism. The country behind this propaganda is the US.”
– Robin Cook, Former British Foreign Secretary

“Terrorism is the best political weapon for nothing drives people harder than a fear of sudden death.”
– Adolf Hitler

“The easiest way to gain control of the population is to carry out acts of terror. The public will clamor for such laws if their personal security is threatened.
– Joseph Stalin


New scanners break child porn laws

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A 12-month trial at Manchester airport of full body scanners only went ahead last month after under-18s were exempted. Photograph: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images

The rapid introduction of full body scanners at British airports threatens to breach child protection laws which ban the creation of indecent images of children, the Guardian has learned.

Privacy campaigners claim the images created by the machines are so graphic they amount to “virtual strip-searching” and have called for safeguards to protect the privacy of passengers involved.

Ministers now face having to exempt under 18s from the scans or face the delays of introducing new legislation to ensure airport security staff do not commit offences under child pornography laws.

They also face demands from civil liberties groups for safeguards to ensure that images from the £80,000 scanners, including those of celebrities, do not end up on the internet. The Department for Transport confirmed that the “child porn” problem was among the “legal and operational issues” now under discussion in Whitehall after Gordon Brown’s announcement on Sunday that he wanted to see their “gradual” introduction at British airports.

A 12-month trial at Manchester airport of scanners which reveal naked images of passengers including their genitalia and breast enlargements, only went ahead last month after under-18s were exempted.

Read moreThe Full Body Scanner Invasion; New Scanners Break Child Porn Laws

PIMCO’s Bill Gross warns on risks of US deficit: ‘Our government doesn’t work anymore, or perhaps more accurately, when it does, it works for special interests and not the American people.’

Wake up America!

Peter Schiff on Fast Money: ‘America is broke’; ‘The Fed created a currency crisis’; ‘Dollar to collapse 50-70% or more’

US: Public Pensions Face $2 Trillion Deficit

U.S. Avoids Technical Default By Three Days



Gross warns on risks of US deficit

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Bill Gross

Jan. 7 (Financial Times) – Bill Gross, the influential bond fund manager who is one of the world’s biggest investors in sovereign debt, said it was unlikely that the US economy was strong enough for the government to “gracefully exit” stimulus spending programmes or that private investors would be capable of absorbing the balance in deficit funding.

In a monthly investment outlook Mr Gross, managing director and a founder of Pimco, which has $940bn under management, commented on US healthcare legislation, the resulting budget deficits and the potential impact on financial markets.

The four-page commentary, entitled “Let’s Get Fisical”, included a scathing attack on the workings of the US political system. He urged the American people to use social networking sites like Twitter to have their voices heard over individual political donors.

“Our government doesn’t work anymore, or perhaps more accurately, when it does, it works for special interests and not the American people,” said Mr Gross. “When special interests, even singular citizens, write a cheque, it represents a perversion of democracy, not the exercise of the First Amendment.”

In highlighting that just $500m spent in healthcare lobbying by labour, insurance, “big pharma” and related corporate interests would generate a $50bn-$100bn annual return, he said, “What amazes me most of all is that politicians can be bought so cheaply.”

Mr Gross said that while he was “distressed” at the state of US democracy, a rational money manager could not afford to “get mad” when it comes to investing clients’ money. Global investment managers have a choice of sovereign credits where “stable inflation and fiscal conservation are available”, he said.

Read morePIMCO’s Bill Gross warns on risks of US deficit: ‘Our government doesn’t work anymore, or perhaps more accurately, when it does, it works for special interests and not the American people.’

Winter Chaos Around The World

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A train stranded in Shangdu, Inner Mongolia

World:

Now that really IS the wrong type of snow on the line! Winter brings travel chaos around the world (Daily Mail)

US:

Midwest bracing for heavy snow, wind chills of -50; South freezes too (AP)

Colorado Becomes Country’s Cold Spot (ABC News)

South struggles with record-setting freeze (USA Today)

Europe:

Airport chaos as icy weather grips northern Europe (BBC News)

Temperatures across Europe plunge to near record lows (CNN)

Europe shivers as Britain braces for brutal winter (AFP)

With the UK being hit hard:

Weather-related death toll rises to 22 as Britain braces for coldest night yet (Times):

The death toll from Britain’s biggest freeze for decades reached 22 today as the country prepared for its coldest night so far, bringing the promise of even more treacherous conditions.

UK gas supply dwindles as country experiences sub-zero weather (Electric):

The UK faces the possibility of gas supply crisis as the worst cold season in 30 years hit the country.

UK’s only got enough gas to last eight days, say Tories (Daily Mail)

U.K. Gas Market No Laughing Matter (Wall Street Journal)

UK’s only got enough gas to last eight days, say Tories (Daily Mail)

Some parts of the country have just ONE day’s supply of grit left (Daily Mail)

Panic buying at supermarkets as Britain braces itself for the big freeze (Daily Mail)

As a sidenote: Met Office chief receives 25 pc pay rise (Telegraph):

The head of the Met Office, the national weather service which has been heavily criticised for getting its forecasts wrong, is now paid more than the Prime Minister, after receiving a 25 per cent pay rise.

China:

China freeze to continue as power use, food prices rise (AFP)

Chinese cities not ready for harsh winter (Xinhua)

China tells factories to cut power use amid cold (BusinessWeek)

Central China power supply in jeopardy on coal,weather (Reuters)

Cold wave in India:

Cold waves in northern India claim 195 lives (Indian Express)



Army rescues 1,000 drivers stranded in cars for 12 HOURS as UK is paralysed by heavy snow

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Going nowhere: The A3 in Horndean, Hampshire was closed this morning after 1,000 motorists were stuck in their cars overnight and hundreds of vehicles were abandoned

Up to 1,000 stranded motorists had to be rescued by the Army today after some of the heaviest snowfalls in 20 years left drivers trapped in their cars overnight.
Among those stranded without food and water on the A3 in Hampshire was a heavily-pregnant woman and her baby daughter.

Millions of people across Britain were unable to get to work this morning as snowstorms caused massive disruptions on the roads and railways.

Thousands of schools remain closed, while major airports have been forced to ground flights as snow ploughs try desperately to clear runways of snow and ice.

More than 16 inches (40cm) of snow has fallen in the hills of north east England and the Scottish borders, while 12 inches (30.5cm) was recorded in Berkshire. Parts of the Northern Highlands recorded 18.5 inches (47cm).

The Met Office said southern England could see another six inches (15cm) this afternoon, with the ‘treacherous’ weather lasting for up to ten more days.

The Army, drafted in to save 1,000 drivers stranded on the A3, used military trucks and Land Rovers to rescue those trapped in a ten-mile jam on the trunk road at Waterlooville.

But some of the trapped motorists claimed they received no help at all and that ‘no one knew what was going on’.

Carla Holt said she and her 13-month-old daughter Lily-May were stuck for 12 hours in the freezing conditions. She said she received no support from the police overnight and was only able to leave the road when it was partially cleared at 6.30am today.

The 23-year-old said: ‘We went through hell. I am eight months pregnant, I couldn’t go to the toilet all night, I couldn’t warm the bottle up for my baby daughter. It was very frightening.

Read moreWinter Chaos Around The World

Spanish Unemployment Hits New Record High: 19.3% and 40% for the young

Mr Bean stumbles on to EU website (Financial Times):

The Spanish presidency of the European Union got off to an inauspicious start on Monday after part of its official website was hijacked by a fan of Mr Bean, the hapless British comedy character.

A picture of the anti-hero played by Rowan Atkinson, popped up on the site’s search page, according to several blogs, in an apparent hacking attack that disabled the site for several hours on Monday.

Mr. Bean Replaces Spanish PM On EU Website (PHOTOS) (Huffington Post)

Mr Bean ousts Zapatero from Spain’s EU website (The Guardian)

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rodriguez-zapatero
Spanish unemployment rose to the highest in more than a decade in December, 19.3%, capping a year that saw the nation’s jobless rate soar to double the Euro- zone average. The number of people registering for unemployment benefits increased by 54,657, or 1.41 percentage points from November to 3.92 million.

From a year earlier, unemployment climbed by 25%, admitted the Spanish Labour Ministry on Tuesday. The only good piece of news this year was that the number of jobs destroyed in 2009 was 200.000 less than in 2008.

European Union data said Spain’s jobless rate jumped to 19.3% in December and the International Monetary Fund forecasts that it will rise above 20% by the end of 2010. While the Euro-area economy will probably expand in 2010, Spain’s government expects a full-year contraction as the real-estate market works through an excess of at least one million unsold homes and households pay down debt.

Read moreSpanish Unemployment Hits New Record High: 19.3% and 40% for the young

Britain Faces New Souvereign Debt Crisis As PIMCO Pulls Out

See also:

Pimco move to sell gilts raises spectre of a UK sovereign debt crisis (Telegraph)

Gordon Brown accused of “fantasy” over public debt as changes tack (Times)


britain-faces-new-souvereign-debt-crisis
Pimco’s decision to sell UK gilts this year will be seen as a financial vote of no-confidence in the Government’s handling of the economy.

FEARS that Gordon Brown has left Britain on the brink of ­bankruptcy intensified last night as investors withdrew from backing the Treasury’s soaring debt.

US-based investment group Pimco, one of the world’s leading bond houses, said it will sell its UK government gilts this year.

It will be a hammer blow to the Treasury’s attempt to raise up to £200billion of government borrowing amid the deficit crisis.

The embarrassment is all the more acute because the younger brother of Cabinet minister Ed Balls is overseeing the gilt sale.

andrew-balls
Labour’s Ed Balls’ younger brother Andrew is overseeing the Pimco pullout

As head of Pimco’s European investment team, Andrew Balls is spearheading the exit from investment in the Government.

The Tories seized on the announcement as evidence that Mr Brown’s soaring borrowing is threatening the UK with the worst debt crisis since the 1970s.

Shadow Chief Secretary Philip Hammond said: “This announcement by the world’s biggest bond house is a damning verdict on Gordon Brown’s handling of the economy and raises yet more questions about where the ­Government is going to borrow the £178billion it needs over the next 12 months.

“To restore confidence to the bond markets, keep mortgages down and get the economy growing, Britain needs a credible plan to get the deficit down.

“Instead we have a Prime ­Minister and Chancellor at loggerheads over tax and spending. We can’t go on like this.” Concern has been growing in the City and on international money markets at the unprecedented scale of the British ­government’s debt crisis. The Treasury is on course to ­borrow £178billion this year and the national debt is tipped to reach a colossal £1.5trillion for the first time in our history.

Read moreBritain Faces New Souvereign Debt Crisis As PIMCO Pulls Out

ECB: No Bailout For Greece

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Greece’s Prime Minister George Papandreou holds a news conference at the end of a European Union heads of state and government summit in Brussels October 30, 2009 file photo. (REUTERS)

ATHENS/MILAN (Reuters) – EU officials arrived in Greece on Wednesday for an inspection visit, hours after ECB Executive Board member Juergen Stark was quoted as saying the bloc would not bail out Greece if its debt problem worsened.

The government’s broad outline of how it will get out of its fiscal mess has not impressed markets, making the talks with Brussels on the details of a long-term budgetary plan Greece must submit by end January a sensitive point for investors.

“The EU officials are here (at the finance ministry), they are looking at the draft of the plan,” a senior finance ministry official said. “They will meet in the coming days officials from the health, labour, defence, and economy ministries.”

In a sign of increasing pressure on Greece to get its finances back in order, Stark told Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore that EU states would not help out.

“The markets are deluding themselves when they think at a certain point the other member states will put their hands on their wallets to save Greece,” Stark said in the newspaper.

Read moreECB: No Bailout For Greece

The US Government Is Preparing For Collapse: Your Legal Right To Redeem Your Money Market Account Has Been Denied

Must-read! Don’t miss to take a close look at the members of the the Group of Thirty!


When Henry Paulson publishes his long-awaited memoirs, the one section that will be of most interest to readers, will be the former Goldmanite and Secretary of the Treasury’s recollection of what, in his opinion, was the most unpredictable and dire consequence of letting Lehman fail (letting his former employer become the number one undisputed Fixed Income trading entity in the world was quite predictable… plus we doubt it will be a major topic of discussion in Hank’s book). We would venture to guess that the Reserve money market fund breaking the buck will be at the very top of the list, as the ensuing “run on the electronic bank” was precisely the 21st century equivalent of what happened to banks in physical form, during the early days of the Geat Depression. Had the lack of confidence in the system persisted for a few more hours, the entire financial world would have likely collapsed, as was so vividly recalled by Rep. Paul Kanjorski, once a barrage of electronic cash withdrawal requests depleted this primary spoke of the entire shadow economy. Ironically, money market funds are supposed to be the stalwart of safety and security among the plethora of global investment alternatives: one need only to look at their returns to see what the presumed composition of their investments is. A case in point, Fidelity’s $137 billion Cash Reserves fund has a return of 0.61% YTD, truly nothing to write home about, and a return that would have been easily beaten putting one’s money in Treasury Bonds. This is not surprising, as the primary purpose of money markets is to provide virtually instantaneous access to a portfolio of practically risk-free investment alternatives: a typical investor in a money market seeks minute investment risk, no volatility, and instantaneous liquidity, or redeemability. These are the three pillars upon which the entire $3.3 trillion money market industry is based.

Yet new regulations proposed by the administration, and specifically by the ever-incompetent Securities and Exchange Commission, seek to pull one of these three core pillars from the foundation of the entire money market industry, by changing the primary assumptions of the key Money Market Rule 2a-7. A key proposal in the overhaul of money market regulation suggests that money market fund managers will have the option tosuspend redemptions to allow for the orderly liquidation of fund assets. You read that right: this does not refer to the charter of procyclical, leveraged, risk-ridden, transsexual (allegedly) portfolio manager-infested hedge funds like SAC, Citadel, Glenview or even Bridgewater (which in light of ADIA’s latest batch of problems, may well be wishing this was in fact the case), but the heart of heretofore assumed safest and most liquid of investment options: Money Market funds, which account for nearly 40% of all investment company assets. The next time there is a market crash, and you try to withdraw what you thought was “absolutely” safe money, a back office person will get back to you saying, Sorry – your money is now frozen. Bank runs have become illegal. This is precisely the regulation now proposed by the administration. In essence, the entire US capital market is now a hedge fund, where even presumably the safest investment tranche can be locked out from within your control when the ubiquitous “extraordinary circumstances” arise. The second the game of constant offer-lifting ends, and money markets are exposed for the ponzi investment proxies they are, courtesy of their massive holdings of Treasury Bills, Reverse Repos, Commercial Paper, Agency Paper, CD, finance company MTNs and, of course, other money markets, and you decide to take your money out, well – sorry, you are out of luck. It’s the law.

A brief primer on money markets

A very succinct explanation of what money markets are was provided by none other than SEC’s Luis Aguilar on June 24, 2009, when he was presenting the case for making even the possibility of money market runs a thing of the past. To wit:

Money market funds were founded nearly 40 years ago. And, as is well known, one of the hallmarks of money market funds is their ability to maintain a stable net asset value – typically at a dollar per share.

In the time they have been around, money market funds have grown enormously – from $180 billion in 1983 (when Rule 2a-7 was first adopted), to $1.4 trillion at the end of 1998, to approximately $3.8 trillion at the end of 2008, just ten years later. The Release in front of us sets forth a number of informative statistics but a few that are of particular interest are the following: today, money market funds account for approximately 39% of all investment company assets; about 80% of all U.S. companies use money market funds in managing their cash balances; and about 20% of the cash balances of all U.S. households are held in money market funds. Clearly, money market funds have become part of the fabric by which families, and companies manage their financial affairs.

Read moreThe US Government Is Preparing For Collapse: Your Legal Right To Redeem Your Money Market Account Has Been Denied

Auschwitz Sign Theft Linked to Neo-Nazi Bomb Plot to Attack The Swedish Parliament

Thieves contracted by a neo-Nazi group that planned to sell sign to fund attacks in Sweden, newspaper claims

Arbeit Macht Frei sign at Auschwitz
The Auschwitz sign before it was stolen Photograph: Irek Dorozanski/Reuters

It sounds like the plot of a Steig Larsson thriller: a band of eastern European criminals is contracted to steal an iconic piece of Nazi memorabilia, which is then sold to a mysterious collector to finance a neofascist bomb attack on the Swedish parliament.

But today it emerged that Swedish investigators are helping Polish detectives investigate the theft of the sign from Auschwitz, amid reports that the robbery was linked to a rightwing terror plot.

The wrought iron plaque reading Arbeit Macht Frei (work sets you free) which spanned the entrance at the former Nazi death camp was wrenched from the gate on 18 December, and recovered three days later, cut into three pieces, in a forest in northern Poland.

The robbery prompted Poland to declare a state of emergency, and provoked impassioned calls for the sign’s return from concentration camp survivors and the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu.

The five men being held in police custody in Krakow in connection with the theft have been described by Polish prosecutors as common criminals who had apparently acted for financial gain.

Read moreAuschwitz Sign Theft Linked to Neo-Nazi Bomb Plot to Attack The Swedish Parliament

Beijing and Seoul Hit by Heaviest Snow in More Than Half Century

forbidden-city-in-beijing-on-jan-4-2010
A worker de-ices a walkway at the Forbidden City in Beijing on Jan. 4, 2010. (Bloomberg)

Jan. 4 (Bloomberg) — The heaviest snowfall to hit Beijing and Seoul in more than half a century grounded hundreds of planes in the two capitals as temperatures in northern China were set to fall to the lowest in 50 years.

Beijing Capital International Airport canceled more than 500 flights today as of 2 p.m. local time, China Central Television reported. Gimpo Airport in western Seoul grounded 187 flights as of 2 p.m. local time, the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs said in a statement.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao called on local authorities to ensure food supplies, agricultural production and the safety of transportation, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. South Korea mobilized 5,000 soldiers to remove snow from blocked roads, Yonhap News reported today.

Suburban areas of Beijing received more than 33 centimeters (13 inches) of snow yesterday, the Beijing Daily reported. It was the capital’s heaviest daily snowfall since 1951, Xinhua reported.

Among those affected by the weather were Hong Kong Financial Secretary John Tsang and Hong Kong Monetary Authority Chief Executive Norman Chan. Their flight to Beijing last night was delayed by heavy snow and the visit was canceled this morning, Patrick Wong, Tsang’s press officer, said by telephone.

About 90 percent of Beijing’s more than 1,300 flights yesterday were canceled or delayed, according to state broadcaster CCTV. At least three airports in China’s Shandong province were closed today due to the blizzards, it reported.

Schools Closed

Read moreBeijing and Seoul Hit by Heaviest Snow in More Than Half Century

US government lies about Flight 253 ‘crotch bomber’ patsy: Summary of the evidence; Yemen attack implication

Evidence Mounts for US Complicity in Terrorism (Veterans Today)


The US government who lied for wars in other resource-rich countries are lying about what happened on Delta Flight 253 with an alleged underwear/crotch bomber. Below is a summary of facts reported at this time, along with a 4-minute news interview from Webster Tarpley, followed by an extensive interview of Mr. Tarpley by Alex Jones.

The longer explanations of the following bullet points are in the reporting from Veterans Today editor Gordon Duff, US Intelligence Examiner Fred Burks, Prison Planet, 9-11 was an Inside Job, American Everyman Scott Creighton, and Citizens for Legitimate Government Lori Price.

Before the flight to the US:

  • Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab traveled to Yemen to meet with “terrorists.” However, his mother also lives in Yemen, which could also explain the visit.
  • The alleged terrorists in Yemen had been in Guantanamo Prison. They were released without trial by the Bush Administration even though they were reported as among the most dangerous detainees.
  • The government of Yemen reports that Islamic terrorists there have been arrested who have proven ties to Israeli intelligence.
  • Abdulmutallab’s father, though we are told is a retired “Nigerian banker,” ran their defense industry in close cooperation with Israeli Intelligence (Mossad).
  • Abdulmutallab’s father warned US embassy officials of his son’s dangerous behavior; this is corroborated with other US intelligence of warning.
  • Abdulmutallab’s visa to the US was never withdrawn, though he was on a “terrorist watchlist.” This would make his trip impossible unless protocol was ignored.
  • Flying from Nigeria, Abdulmutallab entered the Netherlands without passing through customs; impossible to do without assistance from an intelligence agency.
  • At the Amsterdam airport, Abdulmutallab was assisted by a man appearing to be Indian, who claimed Abdulmutallab was a Sudanese refugee with no passport (he would not have been allowed to enter the EU without a passport through customs). This man and whoever authorized boarding without a passport are huge stories we haven’t heard. Where is the airport videos of this?
  • Airport security in Amsterdam is contracted to an Israeli company with the most sophisticated technologies who had developed the concept of security profiling.

During the flight to the US:

  • Witnesses reported a man standing ten rows behind Abdulmutallab stand and use his camcorder to film the incident before it began. This important testimony was not pursued to discover the identity and role of this seemingly complicit person.
  • Witnesses report Abdulmutallab was oddly vacant and calm; typical of a programmed “Manchurian Candidate.” This might explain the behavior of the person filming: a “handler” who gave the code for Abdulmutallab to perform an act. Manchurian Candidates are now acknowledged historical fact. Research this if you are unfamiliar with the disclosed history.

After the flight:

Evidence Mounts for US Complicity in Terrorism (Veterans Today)

Obama is an elite puppet President like Bush.

Obama will be even worse than Bush!

Don’t miss:
US government lies about Flight 253 ‘crotch bomber’ patsy: Summary of the evidence; Yemen attack implication


COULD TERROR WAR BE RESPONSE BY GOP AND ISRAEL AGAINST THREATS TO THEIR GLOBAL PLANS?

dick-cheney-false-flag

When nothing adds up, its time we starting looking at what we know.  Our recent terrorist, now dubbed “the crotch bomber” is another dupe.  He could have been working for anyone, drugged, brainwashed or simply influenced, maybe by crazy Arabs, maybe by the Mossad, maybe by the CIA. We only know the game is falling apart.

We do know a couple of things.  Dad, back in Nigeria, ran the national arms industry (DICON) in partnership with Israel, in particular, the Mossad.  He was in daily contact with them.  They run everything in Nigeria, from arms production to counter-terrorism.  Though Islamic, Muttalab was a close associate of Israel.  He has been misrepresented.  His “banking” is a cover.  Next, what do we know about the two Al Qaeda leaders Bush had released, the ones who planned this?

According to ABC news, the Al Qaeda leaders running the insurgency in Yemen were released from Guantanamo, although two of the highest ranking known terrorist there, without trial.

Guantanamo prisoner #333, Muhamad Attik al-Harbi, and prisoner #372, Said Ali Shari, were sent to Saudi Arabia on Nov. 9, 2007, according to the Defense Department log of detainees who were released from American custody.

Both of the former Guantanamo detainees are described as military commanders and appear on a January, 2009 video along with the man described as the top leader of al Qaeda in Yemen, Abu Basir Naser al-Wahishi, formerly Osama bin Laden’s personal secretary.

With all the hoopla about trials in New York, not a word is said when top level terrorists are released to Saudi friends of the Bush family who let them go.  We are now fighting these two Bush friends in Yemen.  They are running a major insurgency there.  We have been using Cruise missiles and our jets to attack their bases in the last weeks.

CBS NEWS LEARNS CIA HAD ADVANCE INFORMATION ON DETROIT TERRORIST

CBS News has learned that as early as August of 2009 the Central Intelligence Agency was picking up information on a person of interest dubbed “The Nigerian,” suspected of meeting with “terrorist elements” in Yemen.

Sources tell CBS News “The Nigerian” has now turned out to be Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. But that connection was not made when Abudulmutallab’s father went to the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria three months later, on November 19, 2009. It was then he expressed deep concerns to a CIA officer about his son’s ties to extremists in Yemen, a hotbed of al Qaeda activity.

THE CIA OFFICIAL STATEMENT

CIA admits broad information during the November interview, information not acted on in any responsible way but failed to understand that the terrorist they were warned of in November was the one they had been tracking since August.

We learned of him in November, when his father came to the U.S. embassy in Nigeria and sought help in finding him. We did not have his name before then,” said Paul Gimigliano, a CIA spokesman. “Also in November, we worked with the embassy to ensure he was in the government’s terrorist database – including mention of his possible extremist connections in Yemen. We also forwarded key biographical information about him to the National Counterterrorism Center.

CIA, ISRAEL AND YEMEN

It is claimed by groups claiming to be Al Qaeda in Yemen that the Detroit attack was in retaliation to US attacks on bases in Yemen run by Al Qaeda leaders released by Bush.

The government of Yemen, as reported in the BBC , says that the Al Qaeda terrorists, led by those released by Bush, are really Israeli agents though they have organized attacks against US targets:

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has said the security forces have arrested a group of alleged Islamist militants linked to Israeli intelligence. Mr Saleh did not say what evidence had been found to show the group’s links with Israel, a regional enemy of Yemen. The arrests were connected with an attack on the US embassy in Sanaa last month which killed at least 18 people, official sources were quoted saying.

Read moreEvidence Mounts for US Complicity in Terrorism (Veterans Today)

FDA Warning Letter to LSG SkyChefs (Roaches Everywhere!!!)

Must-read!

boeing_747_of_lufthansa_at_frankfurt_airport
A 747 of Lufthansa scheduled to Shanghai is serviced by a SkyChefs truck at Frankfurt Airport

Enjoy your meal! Guten Appetit! Bon appetit! Buen provecho! Buon appetito! 多吃点!


LSG SkyChefs DEN 235 12/10/09

Department of Health and Human Services logo
Department of Health and Human Services

Public Health Service
Food and Drug Administration
Southwest Region
Denver District Office
6′” Ave and Kipling Street
Denver Federal Center. Bldg 20
P O. Box 25087
Denver, CO 80225-0087
Telephone 303-236-3000
FAX: 303·236-3100

December 10, 2009
Ref#: DEN-10-04 WL

WARNING LETTER AND NOTICE OF PROVISIONAL STATUS


VIA CERTIFIED MAIL
RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED

Ms. Sondra Lehman
Chief Operating Officer
North American Region
LSG SkyChefs
6191 N. State Highway 161
Irving, Texas 75038

Dear Ms. Lehman:

This letter serves as your formal notification that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has changed the classification of your airline catering facility from “Approved” to “Provisional.” Your airline customers will be notified of this change in classification. Between September 17 and October 6, 2009, FDA conducted an inspection of your airline catering facility located at 27280 E. 75th Avenue, Denver, Colorado. This comprehensive inspection was conducted under the authority of the Public Health Service Act (PHS Act) to determine your compliance with applicable sections of the Interstate Conveyance Sanitation regulations (21 CFR Part 1250). These regulations were promulgated pursuant to Section 361 of the PHS Act (42 USC § 264). Regulations promulgated under this section are necessary to prevent the introduction, transmission, or spread of communicable diseases. This inspection revealed significant deviations from 21 CFR Part 1250, under the PHS Act. Based on these findings, your airline catering facility is classified as “Provisional.”

At the conclusion of the inspection, on October 6, 2009, the FDA investigator issued a list of Inspectional Ohservations (FDA-483) to your firm. As documented on this form (copy enclosed), the following are the significant violations at your airline catering facility on which we base the “Provisional” classification:

• To comply with 21 CFR 1250.30(a), all places where food is prepared, served, or stored must be constructed and maintained as to be clean and free from flies and other vermin. However, our investigators observed numerous live roaches, dead roaches, and other insects, as well as food, and other debris, in various locations, including the following:

• Cart wash area – Live and dead roach-like insects too numerous to count (TNTC)
• Silverware station – At least 40 live roaches as well as other insects
• The hot kitchen – At least eight dead and one live roach insects were observed in and around the walls of the hot kitchen
• Repack area – Live roaches (TNTC), as well as ants
• Pots and pans warewashing room – At least four live and dead roaches, flies
• Dish machine wash area – At least 13 dead roaches inside the machine loading area and 31 or more dead nearby the machine
• Wash area – At least four live roaches on walls and floors

• To comply with 21 CFR 1250.32(a), all food-handling operations must be accomplished so as to minimize the possibility of contaminating food, drink, or utensils. However, our investigators observed the following:

• Employees handling food with bare hands or with unwashed gloved hands
• Water dripping from the ceiling into equipment/utensil cleaning areas
• Gaps from 1-2.5 inches under garbage room doors, receiving dock doors, and outbound dock area doors
• Standing water in the garbage room
• Accumulation of debris in various areas such as in the ice pit, dairy cooler, dish machine area, and automatic cart wash area
• Holes in wall surfaces, creating areas for insect and vermin harborage
• Debris and standing liquid inside the automatic cart wash machine

• To comply with 21 CFR 1250.33(c), after bactericidal treatment, utensils must be stored and handled in such a manner as to prevent contamination before reuse. However, our investigators observed wet containers in nested stacks in the pots and pans ware-washing room and in the bot kitchen areas. Leaving containers stacked in a wet condition promotes the growing of bacteria, which could lead to contamination of your finished product.

• To comply with 21 CFR 1250.30(d), all plumbing must be designed, installed, and maintained so as to prevent contamination of the water supply, food, and food utensils.
However, our investigators observed water hoses stored with nozzles resting on the floor.

Read moreFDA Warning Letter to LSG SkyChefs (Roaches Everywhere!!!)

China clamps down on exports of rare earth elements crucial to green technology

Mining those rare earth elements destroys nature:

Earth-Friendly Elements, Mined Destructively (New York Times)

china-rare-earth-metals


Neodymium is one of 17 metals crucial to green technology. There’s only one snag – China produces 97% of the world’s supply. And they’re not selling

neodymium-magnet
A neodymium magnet, commonly used in motors, loudspeakers and other appliances. Neodymium is a rare earth element

Britain and other Western countries risk running out of supplies of certain highly sought-after rare metals that are vital to a host of green technologies, amid growing evidence that China, which has a monopoly on global production, is set to choke off exports of valuable compounds.

Failure to secure alternative long-term sources of rare earth elements (REEs) would affect the manufacturing and development of low-carbon technology, which relies on the unique properties of the 17 metals to mass-produce eco-friendly innovations such as wind turbines and low-energy lightbulbs.

China, whose mines account for 97 per cent of global supplies, is trying to ensure that all raw REE materials are processed within its borders. During the past seven years it has reduced by 40 per cent the amount of rare earths available for export.

Industry sources have told The Independent that China could halt shipments of at least two metals as early as next year, and that by 2012 it is likely to be producing only enough REE ore to satisfy its own booming domestic demand, creating a potential crisis as Western countries rush to find alternative supplies, and companies open new mines in locations from South Africa to Greenland to satisfy international demand.

Amid claims that Beijing is using its rare earths monopoly as a tool of foreign policy, the British Department of Business, Industry and Skills said it was “monitoring” the supply of REEs to ensure China was observing international trade rules.

Jack Lifton, an independent consultant and a world expert on REEs, said: “A real crunch is coming. In America, Britain and elsewhere we have not yet woken up to the fact that there is an urgent need to secure the supply of rare earths from sources outside China. China has gone from exporting 75 per cent of the raw ore it produces to shipping just 25 per cent, and it does not consider itself to be under any obligation to ensure supplies of rare earths to anyone but itself. There has been an effort in the West to set up new mines but these are five to 10 years away from significant production.”

Read moreChina clamps down on exports of rare earth elements crucial to green technology

How Goldman Sachs Made Tens Of Billions From The Economic Collapse Of America In Four Easy Steps

goldman_sachs

Investment banking giant Goldman Sachs has become perhaps the most prominent symbol for everything that is wrong with the U.S. financial system, but most Americans cannot even begin to explain what they do or how they have made tens of billions of dollars from the economic collapse of America.

The truth is that what Goldman Sachs did was fairly simple, and there may not have even been anything “illegal” about it (although they are now being investigated by the SEC among others).

The following is how Goldman Sachs made tens of billions of dollars from the economic collapse of America in four easy steps….

Step 1: Sell mortgage-related securities that are absolute junk to trusting clients at vastly overinflated prices.

Step 2: Bet against those same mortgage-related securities and make massive bets against the U.S. housing market so that your firm will make massive profits when the U.S. economy collapses.

Step 3: Have ex-Goldman executives in key positions of power in the U.S. government so that bailout money can be funneled to entities such as AIG that Goldman has made these bets with so that they can get paid after they win their bets.

Step 4: Collect the profits – Goldman Sachs is having their “most successful year” and will end up reporting approximately $50 billion in revenue for 2009.

So is it right for the biggest fish on Wall Street to make tens of billions of dollars by betting that the U.S. housing market will collapse?

You see, when you are talking about a financial giant the size of Goldman Sachs, the line between “betting that something will happen” and “making something happen” gets blurred very quickly.

Not that Goldman Sachs was the only one betting against the housing market.

According to the New York Times, firms like Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley also created mortgage-related securities and then bet that they would fail…..

Goldman was not the only firm that peddled these complex securities – known as synthetic collateralized debt obligations, or C.D.O.’s – and then made financial bets against them, called selling short in Wall Street parlance. Others that created similar securities and then bet they would fail, according to Wall Street traders, include Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley, as well as smaller firms like Tricadia Inc.

But certainly Goldman Sachs was the most prominent financial player involved in this type of activity.

In fact, without mentioning specifics, Goldman has even admitted publicly to wrongdoing.  On November 17th, 2008 Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein even issued a public apology….

“We participated in things that were clearly wrong and have reason to regret.”

But complicated financial transactions are something that most Americans simply do not understand, so the public outrage towards Goldman Sachs and others has been somewhat limited.  But that does not change the very serious nature of the activities that Goldman was involved in….

“The simultaneous selling of securities to customers and shorting them because they believed they were going to default is the most cynical use of credit information that I have ever seen,” Sylvain Raynes, an expert in structured finance at R & R Consulting in New York, recently told The New York Times. “When you buy protection against an event that you have a hand in causing, you are buying fire insurance on someone else’s house and then committing arson.”

Read moreHow Goldman Sachs Made Tens Of Billions From The Economic Collapse Of America In Four Easy Steps

Afghan CIA suicide bomber ‘was courted as potential informant’

cia The victims have not been named in order to protect CIA operations

The suicide bomber who killed seven CIA agents in Afghanistan had been courted by the US as a possible informant, US intelligence sources have said.

They said he had not undergone the usual full body search before entering the base in Khost province, and so was able to smuggle in an explosive belt.

The attack was the worst against US intelligence officials since the US embassy in Beirut was bombed in 1983.

US President Barack Obama has praised the work of those killed in a letter.

Paying tribute to the fallen, Mr Obama said those killed were “part of a long line of patriots who have made great sacrifices for their fellow citizens, and for our way of life”.

He told CIA employees in a letter that the victims had “taken great risks to protect our country” and that their sacrifices had “sometimes been unknown to your fellow citizens, your friends, and even your families”.

Read moreAfghan CIA suicide bomber ‘was courted as potential informant’

US Federal Court Dismissed All Charges Against Blackwater Security Guards

Justice you can believe in!

Related articles:

Exposed: American Police Force (AFP) Is A Blackwater Front Group

US: American Police Force (AFP) is taking over towns

Why Is President Obama Still Using Blackwater?

CIA hired Blackwater mercenaries to try to hit al-Qaeda

“Incestuous” relationships between Blackwater and the US government

Blackwater got a new $22.2 million deal from the State Department

Blackwater security guards to be charged over mass shooting in Iraq

Blackwater is building up its own Air Force

ATF raids Blackwater armory, seizes automatic weapons

Controversy: Mercenaries Training US Local Police Officers

Blackwater…peacekeeping mercenaries


blackwater_worldwide_charges_dismissed
Blackwater Worldwide security guard Nick Slatten (C) leaves the federal courthouse after being arraigned with 4 fellow Blackwater guards on manslaughter charges for allegedly killing 14 unarmed civilians and wounding 20 others in a 2007 shooting in Baghdad.

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraq expressed its disappointment on Friday with a U.S. federal court ruling that threw out all charges against five Blackwater Worldwide security guards accused of gunning down Iraqi civilians in 2007.

Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the five men had committed a “serious crime” in the September 2007 shooting in Baghdad, which strained U.S.-Iraqi relations and became a symbol for many Iraqis of foreign disregard for local life.

Dabbagh said Iraq may sue the private security company, now known as Xe Services.

“The Iraqi government regrets and is disappointed by the U.S. court’s decision … We have our own investigations and they showed that Blackwater committed a serious crime in the killing of 17 Iraqi citizens,” Dabbagh said.

“The Iraqi government is considering other legal means through which it can sue the Blackwater company,” he added.

Read moreUS Federal Court Dismissed All Charges Against Blackwater Security Guards

US military accused of executing 10 Afghan civilians, including children

Still think that such an atrocity – reported by the Times – is impossible?:

Former UK ambassador: CIA sent people to Uzbekistan for extreme torture, to be ‘raped with broken bottles,’ ‘boiled alive’ and ‘having their children tortured in front of them’


nato_troops_accused_of_executing_-afghan_civilians
The report into the deaths has provoked demonstrations (Reuters)

American-led troops were accused yesterday of dragging innocent children from their beds and shooting them during a night raid that left ten people dead.

Afghan government investigators said that eight schoolchildren were killed, all but one of them from the same family. Locals said that some victims were handcuffed before being killed.

Western military sources said that the dead were all part of an Afghan terrorist cell responsible for manufacturing improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which have claimed the lives of countless soldiers and civilians.

“This was a joint operation that was conducted against an IED cell that Afghan and US officials had been developing information against for some time,” said a senior Nato insider. But he admitted that “the facts about what actually went down are in dispute”.

The allegations of civilian casualties led to protests in Kabul and Jalalabad, with children as young as 10 chanting “Death to America” and demanding that foreign forces should leave Afghanistan at once.

President Karzai sent a team of investigators to Narang district, in eastern Kunar province, after reports of a massacre first surfaced on Monday.

“The delegation concluded that a unit of international forces descended from a plane Sunday night into Ghazi Khan village in Narang district of the eastern province of Kunar and took ten people from three homes, eight of them school students in grades six, nine and ten, one of them a guest, the rest from the same family, and shot them dead,” a statement on President Karzai’s website said.

Assadullah Wafa, who led the investigation, said that US soldiers flew to Kunar from Kabul, suggesting that they were part of a special forces unit.

“At around 1 am, three nights ago, some American troops with helicopters left Kabul and landed around 2km away from the village,” he told The Times. “The troops walked from the helicopters to the houses and, according to my investigation, they gathered all the students from two rooms, into one room, and opened fire.” Mr Wafa, a former governor of Helmand province, met President Karzai to discuss his findings yesterday. “I spoke to the local headmaster,” he said. “It’s impossible they were al-Qaeda. They were children, they were civilians, they were innocent. I condemn this attack.

In a telephone interview last night, the headmaster said that the victims were asleep in three rooms when the troops arrived. “Seven students were in one room,” said Rahman Jan Ehsas. “A student and one guest were in another room, a guest room, and a farmer was asleep with his wife in a third building.

“First the foreign troops entered the guest room and shot two of them. Then they entered another room and handcuffed the seven students. Then they killed them. Abdul Khaliq [the farmer] heard shooting and came outside. When they saw him they shot him as well. He was outside. That’s why his wife wasn’t killed.”

A local elder, Jan Mohammed, said that three boys were killed in one room and five were handcuffed before they were shot. “I saw their school books covered in blood,” he said.

The investigation found that eight of the victims were aged from 11 to 17. The guest was a shepherd boy, 12, called Samar Gul, the headmaster said. He said that six of the students were at high school and two were at primary school. He said that all the students were his nephews. In Jalalabad, protesters set alight a US flag and an effigy of President Obama after chanting “Death to Obama” and “Death to foreign forces”. In Kabul, protesters held up banners showing photographs of dead children alongside placards demanding “Foreign troops leave Afghanistan” and “Stop killing us”.

Read moreUS military accused of executing 10 Afghan civilians, including children

US government wants farmers to use coal waste on fields

Remember?

Obama administration refuses to disclose “high hazard” coal dump locations:

A rift has opened between the Obama administration and some of its closest allies – Democratic leaders and environmental organisations – over its refusal to publicly disclose the location of 44 coal ash dumps that have been officially designated as a “high hazard” to local populations.

The administration turned down a request from a powerful Democratic senator to make public the list of 44 dumps, which contain a toxic soup of arsenic and heavy metals from coal-fired electricity plants, citing terrorism fears.


The federal government is encouraging farmers to spread a chalky waste from coal-fired power plants on their fields to loosen and fertilize soil even as it considers regulating coal wastes for the first time.

The material is produced by power plant “scrubbers” that remove acid-rain-causing sulfur dioxide from plant emissions. A synthetic form of the mineral gypsum, it also contains mercury, arsenic, lead and other heavy metals.

The Environmental Protection Agency says those toxic metals occur in only tiny amounts that pose no threat to crops, surface water or people. But some environmentalists say too little is known about how the material affects crops, and ultimately human health, for the government to suggest that farmers use it.

“This is a leap into the unknown,” said Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. “This stuff has materials in it that we’re trying to prevent entering the environment from coal-fired power plants, and then to turn around and smear it across ag lands raises some real questions.”

Read moreUS government wants farmers to use coal waste on fields

DHS Threatens Blogger Who Posted New TSA Screening Directive

dhs_threatens_blogger
TSA Special Agent John Enright, left, speaks to Steven Frischling outside the blogger’s home in Niantic, Connecticut, after returning Frischling’s laptop Wednesday.
Photo: Thomas Cain/Wired.com

Special agents from the TSA’s Office of Inspection interrogated two U.S. bloggers, one of them an established travel columnist, and served them each with a civil subpoena demanding information on the anonymous source that provided the TSA document.

The document, which the two bloggers published within minutes of each other Dec. 27, was sent by TSA to airlines and airports around the world and described temporary new requirements for screening passengers through Dec. 30, including conducting “pat-downs” of legs and torsos. The document, which was not classified, was posted by numerous bloggers. Information from it was also published on some airline websites.

“They’re saying it’s a security document but it was sent to every airport and airline,” says Steven Frischling, one of the bloggers. “It was sent to Islamabad, to Riyadh and to Nigeria. So they’re looking for information about a security document sent to 10,000-plus people internationally. You can’t have a right to expect privacy after that.”

Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Suzanne Trevino said in a statement that security directives “are not for public disclosure.”

“TSA’s Office of Inspections is currently investigating how the recent Security Directives were acquired and published by parties who should not have been privy to this information,” the statement said.

Frischling, a freelance travel writer and photographer in Connecticut who writes a blog for the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, said the two agents who visited him arrived around 7 p.m. Tuesday, were armed and threatened him with a criminal search warrant if he didn’t provide the name of his source. They also threatened to get him fired from his KLM job and indicated they could get him designated a security risk, which would make it difficult for him to travel and do his job.

“They were indicating there would be significant ramifications if I didn’t cooperate,” said Frischling, who was home alone with his three children when the agents arrived. “It’s not hard to intimidate someone when they’re holding a 3-year-old [child] in their hands. My wife works at night. I go to jail, and my kids are here with nobody.”

Frischling, who described some of the details of the visit on his personal blog, told Threat Level that the two agents drove to his house in Connecticut from DHS offices in Massachusetts and New Jersey and didn’t mention a subpoena until an hour into their visit.

Read moreDHS Threatens Blogger Who Posted New TSA Screening Directive

Afghanistan: Suicide bomber ‘kills four CIA agents’ after attacking CIA base, at least 8 Americans killed

Suicide bomber attacks CIA base in Afghanistan, killing at least 8 Americans (Washington Post):
A suicide bomber infiltrated a CIA base in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing at least eight Americans in what is believed to be the deadliest single attack on U.S. intelligence personnel in the eight-year-long war and one of the deadliest in the agency’s history, U.S. officials said.

CIA Officers Are Killed in Afghan Attack (Wall Street Journal)

CIA workers killed by ‘Afghan soldier’ (BBC News):
Eight Americans working for the CIA have died in a bomb attack in Afghanistan, the worst against US intelligence officials since 1983.


taleban-spokesman-zabiullah-mujahid
Taleban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid

A suicide bomber disguised as a Afghan soldier killed eight US civilians inside base used by the CIA and wounded at least six others, officials said, in an audacious attack that marked a bloody end to 2009.

Reports in the Washington Post suggested that at least four of the dead were agents, but the CIA refused to confirm that any of its staff were involved.

Locals said they heard a massive explosion just before dusk yesterday and saw a huge plume of smoke rising from inside the heavily guarded compound, close to the capital of Khost province, in southeastern Afghanistan.

“We heard firing, but that’s normal,” said shopkeeper Mir Wali, 28, who lives around 200 metres from the camp perimeter. “We thought they were practising on the range.

“But then we heard a loud, loud, really loud explosion. I though a rocket had landed on my house. When I came outside to see what had happened there were helicopters flying over the base, patrolling very close to the ground.”

Eyewitnesses said they saw at least three air ambulances – Black Hawk helicopters marked with distinctive red crosses – landing and taking off from inside the compound moments after the attack.

US embassy officials confirmed eight American civilians were killed in the explosion, but the CIA has neither confirmed nor denied whether its staff were involved.

Read moreAfghanistan: Suicide bomber ‘kills four CIA agents’ after attacking CIA base, at least 8 Americans killed