WikiLeaks Cables: DynCorp Hired Afghan ‘Dancing Boys’

Episode fuelled Afghan demands that private security firms be brought much more under government control


WikiLeaks cables show Afghan interior minister Hanif Atmar was in a panic over the scandal involving foreign contractors. Atmar resigned in June this year. Photograph: Massoud Hossaini/AFP/Getty Images

A scandal involving foreign contractors employed to train Afghan policemen who took drugs and paid for young “dancing boys” to entertain them in northern Afghanistan caused such panic that the interior minister begged the US embassy to try and “quash” the story, according to one of the US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks.

In a meeting with the assistant US ambassador, a panicked Hanif Atmar, the interior minister at the time of the episode last June, warned that the story would “endanger lives” and was particularly concerned that a video of the incident might be made public.

The episode helped to fuel Afghan demands that contractors and private security companies be brought under much tighter government control. However, the US embassy was legally incapable of honouring a request by Atmar that the US military should assume authority over training centres managed by DynCorp, the US company whose employees were involved in the incident in the northern province of Kunduz.

There is a long tradition of young boys dressing up as girls and dancing for men in Afghanistan, an activity that sometimes crosses the line into child abuse with Afghans keeping boys as possessions.

Although rarely discussed or criticised in Afghanistan, it is conceivable that the involvement of foreigners could have turned into a major public scandal. Atmar himself warned about public anger towards contractors, who he said “do not have many friends” and said they needed far greater oversight.

Read moreWikiLeaks Cables: DynCorp Hired Afghan ‘Dancing Boys’

‘Hot Watch’: Feds Warrantlessly Tracking Americans’ Credit Cards in Real Time

Federal law enforcement agencies have been tracking Americans in real-time using credit cards, loyalty cards and travel reservations without getting a court order, a new document released under a government sunshine request shows.

The document, obtained by security researcher Christopher Soghoian, explains how so-called “Hotwatch” orders allow for real-time tracking of individuals in a criminal investigation via credit card companies, rental car agencies, calling cards, and even grocery store loyalty programs. The revelation sheds a little more light on the Justice Department’s increasing power and willingness to surveil Americans with little to no judicial or Congressional oversight.

For credit cards, agents can get real-time information on a person’s purchases by writing their own subpoena, followed up by a order from a judge that the surveillance not be disclosed. Agents can also go the traditional route — going to a judge, proving probable cause and getting a search warrant — which means the target will eventually be notified they were spied on.

The document suggests that the normal practice is to ask for all historical records on an account or individual from a credit card company, since getting stored records is generally legally easy. Then the agent sends a request for “Any and all records and information relating directly or indirectly to any and all ongoing and future transactions or events relating to any and all of the following person(s), entitities, account numbers, addresses and other matters…” That gets them a live feed of transaction data.

DOJ powerpoint presentation on Hotwatch surveillance orders of credit card transactions

It’s not clear what standards an agent would have to follow to get a “Hotwatch” order. The Justice Department told Sogohian the document is the only one it could find relating to “hotwatches” — which means there is either no policy or the department is witholding relevant documents.

The Justice Department did not return a call for comment.

Every year, the Justice Department does have to report to Congress the numbers of criminal and national security wiretaps undertaken, as well as the number of National Security Letters issued. Tens of thousands of NSLs are issued yearly — most with gag orders that forbid ISPs or librarians from ever saying they have ever been served with such a subpoena.

But the Justice Department does not report or make public the number of times it got real time or historic cell phone location information, nor how often it is using these so-called “hotwatch” orders.

Photo courtesy of TheTruthAbout

By Ryan Singel
December 2, 2010

Source: Wired

Federal Reserve Withholds Collateral Data for $885 Billion in Financial-Crisis Loans

Related articles:

Federal Reserve Made $9 Trillion In Emergency Overnight Loans

UK Banks Borrowed More Than $1 Trillion From US Federal Reserve

Has the Federal Reserve become the central bank of the world?

Federal Reserve to Name Recipients of $3.3 Trillion in Aid During Crisis



The Fed today released details identifying thousands of transactions including bonds bought under its mortgage purchase program and asset-backed commercial paper pledged under its Asset-Backed Commercial Paper Money-Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility.

The Federal Reserve withheld details on individual securities pledged as collateral by recipients of $885 billion in central bank loans, denying taxpayers a measure of the risks they faced from its emergency aid.

The central bank yesterday released data on 21,000 transactions from $3.3 trillion in emergency lending to stem the financial crisis. July’s Dodd-Frank law required the Fed to disclose the names of borrowers, the size and interest rates of loans, and “information identifying the types and amounts of collateral pledged or assets transferred.”

For three of the Fed’s six emergency facilities, the central bank released information on groups of collateral it accepted by asset type and rating, without specifying individual securities. Among them was the Primary Dealer Credit Facility, created in March 2008 to provide loans to brokers as Bear Stearns Cos. collapsed.

“This is a half-step,” said former Atlanta Fed research director Robert Eisenbeis, chief monetary economist at Cumberland Advisors Inc. in Sarasota, Florida. “If you were going to audit the facilities, then would this enable you to do an audit? The answer is ‘No,’ you would have to go in and look at the individual amounts of collateral and how it was broken down to do that. And that is the spirit of what the requirements were in Dodd-Frank.”

Read moreFederal Reserve Withholds Collateral Data for $885 Billion in Financial-Crisis Loans

Federal Reserve Made $9 Trillion In Emergency Overnight Loans

Related articles:

Federal Reserve Withholds Collateral Data for $885 Billion in Financial-Crisis Loans

UK Banks Borrowed More Than $1 Trillion From US Federal Reserve

Has the Federal Reserve become the central bank of the world?

Federal Reserve to Name Recipients of $3.3 Trillion in Aid During Crisis



Top recipients of overnight loans made by the Federal Reserve under special program that ran from March 2008 through May 2009.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — The Federal Reserve made $9 trillion in overnight loans to major banks and Wall Street firms during the financial crisis, according to newly revealed data released Wednesday.

The loans were made through a special loan program set up by the Fed in the wake of the Bear Stearns collapse in March 2008 to keep the nation’s bond markets trading normally.

The amount of cash being pumped out to the financial giants was not previously disclosed. All the loans were backed by collateral and all were paid back with a very low interest rate to the Fed — an annual rate of between 0.5% to 3.5%.

Still, the total amount was a surprise, even to some who had followed the Fed’s rescue efforts closely.

“That’s a real number, even for the Fed,” said FusionIQ’s Barry Ritholtz, author of the book “Bailout Nation.” While the fact that the markets were in trouble was already well known, he said the amount of help they needed is still surprising.

“It makes it very clear this was a very serious, very unusual situation,” he said.

Read moreFederal Reserve Made $9 Trillion In Emergency Overnight Loans

TSA Takes Full Control Of Passenger Watch Lists

See also:

Former Assistant TSA Administrator Admits That Airport Security Checkpoints Violate The Fourth Amendment


US Dept. of Homeland Security stated that all passengers on flights “within or bound for the United States are now being checked against government watch lists” under implementation of the Transportation Security Administration’s “Secure Flight” program, which entails the agency prescreening a passenger’s full name, birth date and gender prior to issuance of a boarding pass.

Previously, airlines were tasked with checking names against watch lists; now, in accordance with a final rule issued by DHS in 2008 (ATW Daily News, Oct. 23, 2008), airlines are required to collect a passenger’s information at the time of reservation and provide it to TSA. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a statement, “Secure Flight makes air travel safer for everyone by screening every passenger against the latest intelligence before a boarding pass is issued.”

Read moreTSA Takes Full Control Of Passenger Watch Lists

UK Banks Borrowed More Than $1 Trillion From US Federal Reserve

Related articles:

Federal Reserve Withholds Collateral Data for $885 Billion in Financial-Crisis Loans

Federal Reserve Made $9 Trillion In Emergency Overnight Loans

Has the Federal Reserve become the central bank of the world?

Federal Reserve to Name Recipients of $3.3 Trillion in Aid During Crisis


British banks borrowed more than $1 trillion (£640bn) from the Federal Reserve during the financial crisis, led by Barclays following its swoop on the US business of Lehman Brothers.


The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act forced the Federal Reserve to reveal which banks and companies it lent money to

The disclosures came because the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act forced the Fed to reveal which banks and companies it lent money to in an effort to shore up the financial system from the end of December 2007 onwards.

It released the details of more than 21,000 individual transactions on its website on Wednesday, which showed that British banks represented more than a third – about $1.5 trillion – of the $3,300bn lent by the US authorities to prop up the financial sector.

Barclays borrowed $863bn from the Fed, with almost half coming in overnight loans through the Primary Dealer Credit Facility, a programme established by the central bank to help those banks that deal in US Treasuries.

Barclays has since repaid all its loans and said that much of its then borrowing was down to its purchase of Lehman’s US business.

Royal Bank of Scotland borrowed $446bn, Bank of Scotland $181bn, Abbey National $19bn and HSBC borrowed less than $10bn.

The figures for the banks represent the total amount they borrowed and not the total outstanding borrowing at any one point.

Read moreUK Banks Borrowed More Than $1 Trillion From US Federal Reserve

Has the Federal Reserve become the central bank of the world?

Related articles:

Federal Reserve Withholds Collateral Data for $885 Billion in Financial-Crisis Loans

Federal Reserve Made $9 Trillion In Emergency Overnight Loans

UK Banks Borrowed More Than $1 Trillion From US Federal Reserve

Federal Reserve to Name Recipients of $3.3 Trillion in Aid During Crisis



UBS was the biggest borrower under the Commercial Paper Funding Facility, with $74.5 billion overall, more than twice as much as Citigroup Inc., the top U.S. bank recipient, according to the data released yesterday.

Federal Reserve data showing UBS AG and Barclays Plc ranked among the top users of $3.3 trillion from emergency programs is stoking debate on whether U.S. regulators bear responsibility for aiding other nations’ banks.

UBS was the biggest borrower under the Commercial Paper Funding Facility, with $74.5 billion overall, more than twice as much as Citigroup Inc., the top U.S. bank recipient, according to the data released yesterday. London-based Barclays Plc took the biggest single amount under another program that made overnight loans, when it got $47.9 billion on Sept. 18, 2008.

“We’re talking about huge sums of money going to bail out large foreign banks,” said Senator Bernard Sanders, the Vermont independent who wrote the provision in the Dodd-Frank Act that required the Fed disclosures. “Has the Federal Reserve become the central bank of the world? I think that is a question that needs to be examined.”

The first detailed accounting of U.S. efforts to spare European banks may add to scrutiny of the central bank, already at its most intense in three decades. The Fed, which released data on 21,000 transactions, said in a statement that its 11 emergency programs helped stabilize markets and support economic recovery. The Fed said there have been no credit losses on rescue programs that have been closed.

Read moreHas the Federal Reserve become the central bank of the world?

California Approves One Of The World’s Most Dangerous Cancer Chemicals As Pesticide

Criminals!

Must-read:

And Now: One Of The World’s Most Dangerous Chemicals As Pesticide In Strawberry Fields:

Think strawberries are expensive now? Wait until they start costing people their lives!

California is about to sign off on an insane plan that would allow farmers to use one of the world’s most dangerous chemicals as a pesticide on strawberry plants.

It’s called methyl iodide, and even some chemists won’t go near it. It’s such a powerful and reliable carcinogen that researchers use it to induce cancer in lab animals.

But go ahead, take a bite. California says it’s OK — and never mind the five Nobel-winning chemists and dozens of other experts who’ve written a letter begging the EPA to keep this poison out of strawberry fields, forever.

Who do you believe — a roomful of Nobel winners and their trusted colleagues, or a bunch of politically motivated bureaucrats?

This toxic monster has been linked to thyroid tumors, nerve damage, and brain and lung problems. It’s also been known to cause miscarriages in lab animals — when it’s not being used to give them cancer.

No wonder it’s such a great pesticide — it can destroy just about anything. The pests don’t stand a chance… and neither do you if you get too close to this poison.

Experts say a good breeze can even send methyl iodide airborne… and if you think U.S. groundwater is bad now, wait until this junk starts seeping in.


California approves use of pesticide linked to cancer


A farmer spraying pesticide on a crop of vegetables. Long-term exposure to pesticides may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, according to a study released Thursday.

FRESNO, Calif. – California regulators approved a pesticide Wednesday for use by fruit and vegetable growers despite heavy opposition from environmental and farmworker groups that cited its links to cancer.

The state Department of Pesticide Regulation will register methyl iodide as a substitute for the pesticide methyl bromide, which is being phased out by international treaty because it depletes the Earth’s protective ozone layer.

California’s $1.6 billion strawberry industry will undoubtedly provide one of the biggest markets for the chemical, as will the Central Valley’s nut orchards and the fresh flower nurseries dotting the coast in Ventura and San Diego counties.

The pesticide is included on California’s official list of cancer-causing chemicals, and the department’s own scientific advisory panel has raised concerns that it could poison the air and water.

Read moreCalifornia Approves One Of The World’s Most Dangerous Cancer Chemicals As Pesticide

Wikileaks: US has deployed 200 tactical nuclear weapons in Europe


The US has deployed 200 nuclear weapons in Europe says WikiLeaks’ files.

THE US has deployed 200 tactical nuclear weapons in Europe, mostly in Belgium, Holland, Germany and Turkey, the WikiLeaks’ files claim.

The four nations were long suspected of hosting warheads but Nato and the governments involved have refused to confirm reports. Nato yesterday condemned releasing nuclear secrets as “illegal and dangerous”.

A cable issued by WikiLeaks tells of discussions last year in which US Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon talks to Germany’s foreign policy adviser Christoph Heusgen about weapons in the four countries.

Read moreWikileaks: US has deployed 200 tactical nuclear weapons in Europe

Atlanta: Hundreds line up in the cold for help heating homes

As metro Atlanta’s temperatures grow colder, the demand for heat is, well, heating up.


Lecher Eady (left) the mother of 16-month old triplets waited since midnight in the cold for hopes of getting financial assistance Thursday Dec.2, 2010 at the Mansour Center in Marietta. The single mother who has held 3 different jobs in 2010 is laid off from health care work.

A day after hundreds of people queued up outside a Marietta community center to apply for assistance with heat and power bills, hopeful applicants began lining up again around midnight, waiting in the sub-freezing temperatures for the doors to open Thursday morning.

This time, however, officials let those in line come into the Mansour Center on Roswell Street an hour early at 7:30 and get relief from temperatures that dropped to 27 degrees.

“We’re freezing,” said Lecher Eady, a Marietta mother who arrived at midnight seeking help with her bills. “Our hands are cold, our feet are cold.”

Eady, the mother of triplets in diapers, said she has been out of work since August.

“I’ve had three jobs this year, and I’ve been laid off from all three,” she said. “I’m grateful just to get any type of help they’ll give me.”

Eady said she is trying to start a nonprofit organization, “Babies Need Diapers,” that would provide diapers to low-income single mothers.

“We have assistance for food, we have assistance for clothing, but we don’t have assistance for diapers,” she said. “That’s my biggest struggle right now.”

Read moreAtlanta: Hundreds line up in the cold for help heating homes