U.S. agents can seize travelers’ laptops


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. federal agents have been given new powers to seize travelers’ laptops and other electronic devices at the border and hold them for unspecified periods the Washington Post reported on Friday.

Under recently disclosed Department of Homeland Security policies, such seizures may be carried out without suspicion of wrongdoing, the newspaper said, quoting policies issued on July 16 by two DHS agencies.

Agents are empowered to share the contents of seized computers with other agencies and private entities for data decryption and other reasons, the newspaper said.

DHS officials said the policies applied to anyone entering the country, including U.S. citizens, and were needed to prevent terrorism.

The measures have long been in place but were only disclosed in July, under pressure from civil liberties and business travel groups acting on reports that increasing numbers of international travelers had had their laptops, cellphones and other digital devices removed and examined.

Read moreU.S. agents can seize travelers’ laptops

Jobless rate climbs as 51,000 jobs vanish

WASHINGTON – Stores, factories and other businesses large and small showed workers the door last month, sending unemployment to its highest rate in four years and adding to the evidence an economic recovery remains far off.

Employers clamped down on hiring and cut 51,000 jobs in July, the Labor Department said Friday. The economy has shed jobs each month this year – 463,000 in all.

The unemployment rate rose to 5.7 percent, up from 5.5 percent in June.

Read moreJobless rate climbs as 51,000 jobs vanish

House rejects bill on limiting speculative trading

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — A bill that would put new limits on speculative trading in energy commodities failed to get the required two-third majority of votes to pass the House on Wednesday.

The vote was 276 to 151. The Commodity Markets Transparency and Accountability Act would boost staffing at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and require the agency to limit the positions of speculators in energy and agricultural commodities.

Most Republicans objected to the bill, preferring to pass legislation to open the outer continental shelf and other off-limits areas to energy exploration.

Read moreHouse rejects bill on limiting speculative trading

Wal-Mart Warns of Democratic Win

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is mobilizing its store managers and department supervisors around the country to warn that if Democrats win power in November, they’ll likely change federal law to make it easier for workers to unionize companies — including Wal-Mart.

In recent weeks, thousands of Wal-Mart store managers and department heads have been summoned to mandatory meetings at which the retailer stresses the downside for workers if stores were to be unionized.

Read moreWal-Mart Warns of Democratic Win

GM, Crysler and Ford: S&P cuts ratings lower into junk

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Standard & Poor’s on Thursday cut ratings on all three major U.S. automakers deeper into junk status, citing expected losses due to higher gas prices and a weakening U.S. economy.

S&P cut its ratings for General Motors Corp (GM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), Ford Motor Co (F.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Chrysler Automotive LLC to “B-minus,” or six levels below investment grade, from “B.” It also cut to “B-minus” from “B” the finance arms of Ford, Chrysler and GMAC, which is 49 percent owned by GM.

Related article: GM Posts $15.5 Billion Loss; More Job Cuts Possible

Read moreGM, Crysler and Ford: S&P cuts ratings lower into junk

More than 100 countries back Iran’s nuclear program

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – More than 100 nonaligned nations backed Iran’s right to peaceful uses of nuclear power on Wednesday, an endorsement sought by Tehran in its standoff with the U.N. Security Council over its refusal to freeze uranium enrichment.

The decision came as supreme Iranian leader Ayatolla Ali Khamenei pledged to continue the country’s nuclear program.

Read moreMore than 100 countries back Iran’s nuclear program

EU agrees to go beyond U.N. sanctions on Iran

The U.S. would see this as an act of war, if someone would do it to them.
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BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union has agreed to go beyond United Nations sanctions on Iran, instructing its financial institutions to exercise “restraint” on export credits and allowing its navies to inspect all Iran-bound cargoes, a senior diplomat said on Wednesday.

Read moreEU agrees to go beyond U.N. sanctions on Iran

Cheney considered a ‘False Flag Attack’ to start war with Iran

EXCLUSIVE: To Provoke War, Cheney Considered Proposal To Dress Up Navy Seals As Iranians And Shoot At Them

Speaking at the Campus Progress journalism conference earlier this month, Seymour Hersh – a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist for The New Yorker – revealed that Bush administration officials held a meeting recently in the Vice President’s office to discuss ways to provoke a war with Iran.

Read moreCheney considered a ‘False Flag Attack’ to start war with Iran

The Last Hurrah for the Banking System

The Bush administration will be mailing out another batch of “stimulus” checks in the very near future. There’s no way around it. The Fed is in a pickle and can’t lower interest rates for fear that food and energy prices will shoot to stratosphere. At the same time, the economy is shrinking faster than anyone thought possible with no sign of a rebound. That leaves stimulus checks as the only way to “prime the pump” and keep consumer spending chugging along. Otherwise business activity will slow to a crawl and the economy will tank. There’s no other choice.
The daily barrage of bad news is really starting to get on people’s nerves. Most of the TV chatterboxes have already cut-out the cheery stock market predictions and no one is praising the “impressive powers of the free market” anymore. They know things are bad, real bad. A pervasive sense of gloom has crept into the television studios just like it has into the stock exchanges and the luxury penthouses on Manhattan’s West End. That same sense of foreboding is creeping like a noxious cloud to every town and city across the country. Everyone is cutting back on non-essentials and trimming the fat from the family budget. The days of extravagant impulse-spending at the mall are over. So are the “big ticket” purchases and the “go-for-broke” trips to Europe. Consumer confidence is at historic lows, disposal income is a thing of the past, and all the credit cards are at their limit. The country is drowning in red ink.

Read moreThe Last Hurrah for the Banking System

Washington Mutual: Soon to fail

WaMu’s Bloated Asset Values Don’t Fool Investors

July 30 (Bloomberg) — With goodwill like Washington Mutual Inc.’s, it’s no wonder investors are getting such bad feelings about the company’s finances. Shares of the Seattle-based savings and loan have fallen 89 percent the past year to $4.43, leaving the company with a $7.6 billion stock-market value. The stock’s plunge must be a horrible mistake if we are to believe the values WaMu attributes to the assets on its balance sheet.

Read moreWashington Mutual: Soon to fail

Rising food prices pushing east Africa to disaster

More than 14 million people in the east Africa region require urgent food aid due to drought and spiralling cereal and fuel prices, aid agencies say.

In an emergency appeal launched today, Oxfam warns that millions of people in Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, Djibouti and Kenya are fast being pushed “towards severe hunger and destitution”. Earlier this week the UN said it needed £200m to avert a humanitarian disaster.

The hunger crisis is worse than the last regional emergency in 2006, when drought caused 11 million people to need assistance, because of the added impact of the global food price increases. Poor families are struggling to buy staples such as maize and wheat, which have more than doubled in price over the past 12 months.

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Sheikh flies Lamborghini 6,500 miles to Britain for oil change

His black-and-gold supercar costs £3,552 to service at an approved dealer – on top of the £20,000 to freight from Qatar to Britain. Source: Sun

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“In previous droughts most people on the margins found ways to cope,” said Peter Smerdon, of the World Food Programme. “But the simultaneous increase in food prices this time around means they are cutting down on meals and taking their kids out of school in order to try to get by. More people are falling over the edge.”

Read moreRising food prices pushing east Africa to disaster

Strike on Iran still possible, U.S. tells Israel

Ehud Barak, the Israeli defense chief, is visiting as Washington is perceived to be softening its stance toward Tehran.

July 30, 2008 WASHINGTON — Bush administration officials reassured Israel’s defense minister this week that the United States has not abandoned all possibility of a military attack on Iran, despite widespread Israeli concern that Washington has begun softening its position toward Tehran.

In meetings Monday and Tuesday, administration officials told Defense Minister Ehud Barak that the option of attacking Iran over its nuclear program remains on the table, though U.S. officials are primarily seeking a diplomatic solution.

Read moreStrike on Iran still possible, U.S. tells Israel

Queen’s stockbroker raided, biggest ever crackdown on insider trading

The Queen’s stockbroker Cazenove has been caught up in Britain’s biggest ever crackdown on insider trading.

Eight people were arrested in dawn raids yesterday by the City watchdog the Financial Services Authority.

Cazenove admitted that one of the arrested worked at its London offices as a sub-contractor.

A 40-strong team from the FSA swooped on addresses in London and the South East with back-up from City of London police.

Cazenove, the Queen’s stockbroker, has been at the centre of police raids into insider trading

They are believed to have seized computers and paperwork.

Read moreQueen’s stockbroker raided, biggest ever crackdown on insider trading

The New York Times: Making Nuclear Extermination Respectable

On July 18, 2008 The New York Times published an article by Israeli-Jewish historian, Professor Benny Morris, advocating an Israeli nuclear-genocidal attack on Iran with the likelihood of killing 70 million Iranians – 12 times the number of Jewish victims in the Nazi holocaust:

” Iran ‘s leaders would do well to rethink their gamble and suspend their nuclear program. Barring this, the best they could hope for is that Israel ‘s conventional air assault will destroy their nuclear facilities. To be sure, this would mean thousands of Iranian casualties and international humiliation. But the alternative is an Iran turned into a nuclear wasteland.”

Morris is a frequent lecturer and consultant to the Israeli political and military establishment and has unique access to Israeli strategic military planners. Morris’ advocacy and public support of the massive, brutal expulsion of all Palestinians is on public record. Yet his genocidal views have not precluded his receiving numerous academic awards. His writings and views are published in Israel ‘s leading newspapers and journals. Morris’ views are not the idle ranting of a marginal psychopath, as witnessed by the recent publication of his latest op-ed article in the New York Times.

Read moreThe New York Times: Making Nuclear Extermination Respectable

Nuclear-Powered Amphibious Assault Ships?

Most new large U.S. Navy amphibious assault ships would be required to be nuclear powered under the National Defense Authorization Act for 2009 which the House of Representatives has passed by a vote of 384 to 23. It now goes to the Senate where many senators are uneasy about the scheme as is the Navy and the shipbuilding industry in the U.S.

As to safe-energy and environmental advocates, “This reckless plan gives ‘we’ll fight them on the beaches’ a whole new sinister meaning,” says Linda Gunter of Beyond Nuclear of the Nuclear Policy Research Institute. “If one of these amphibious ships is hit, or has an accident, we would be fighting a tide of radioactivity on beaches that could leave them contaminated indefinitely.”

Read moreNuclear-Powered Amphibious Assault Ships?

Obama reportedly told Democrats Israel will hit Iran if sanctions fail

Ehud Olmert

Obama won’t rule out Iran strike

Presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) purportedly told House Democrats in a private meeting Tuesday that Israel may strike Iran if sanctions on the country fail to prevent development of nuclear technology.

According to an attendee who spoke to ABC News’ Jake Tapper, Obama quipped, “Nobody said this to me directly but I get the feeling from my talks that if the sanctions don’t work Israel is going to strike Iran.”

Read moreObama reportedly told Democrats Israel will hit Iran if sanctions fail

The war between the United States and Iran is on

AP photo / Brennan Linsley
Members of the Iranian resistance group Mujahadeen-e Khalk, or MEK, guard a road leading to the group’s main training camp, watched over by a U.S. Army Abrams tank in background, near Baqubah in north-central Iraq.

Acts of War

By Scott Ritter

The war between the United States and Iran is on. American taxpayer dollars are being used, with the permission of Congress, to fund activities that result in Iranians being killed and wounded, and Iranian property destroyed. This wanton violation of a nation’s sovereignty would not be tolerated if the tables were turned and Americans were being subjected to Iranian-funded covert actions that took the lives of Americans, on American soil, and destroyed American property and livelihood. Many Americans remain unaware of what is transpiring abroad in their name. Many of those who are cognizant of these activities are supportive of them, an outgrowth of misguided sentiment which holds Iran accountable for a list of grievances used by the U.S. government to justify the ongoing global war on terror. Iran, we are told, is not just a nation pursuing nuclear weapons, but is the largest state sponsor of terror in the world today.

Read moreThe war between the United States and Iran is on

Fed extends emergency loan program for Wall Street

And because of this Wall Street is celebrating today, but not for long.
Before: Fed: No more bailouts, except Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
And now the Fed wants to bailout Wall Street?
The taxpayer will pay for it all.

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WASHINGTON (AP) – The Federal Reserve said Wednesday it is extending its emergency borrowing program to Wall Street firms and is taking other steps to ease a severe credit crunch that has hobbled the national economy.

Read moreFed extends emergency loan program for Wall Street

Cloned Beef Has Already Entered U.S. Food Supply, Even Before FDA Nod

(NaturalNews) The major cattle cloning companies in the United States have admitted that they have not bothered to try and keep meat from the offspring of clones out of the U.S. food supply, in spite of a request by the FDA several years ago.

“This is a fairy tale that this technology is not being used and is not already in the food chain,” said Donald Coover, who owns a specialty cattle semen business. “Anyone who tells you otherwise either doesn’t know what they’re talking about, or they’re not being honest.”

Coover admitted that for several years, he has been openly selling semen from cloned bulls. He is sure, he added, that others are doing the same.

Read moreCloned Beef Has Already Entered U.S. Food Supply, Even Before FDA Nod

Russia cuts exposure to US mortgage lenders

MOSCOW, July 28 (Reuters) – Russia has approximately halved to less than $50 billion its exposure to U.S. mortgage lenders Fannie Mae (FNM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Freddie Mac (FRE.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), a senior central bank official told Reuters on Monday. “It’s now less than $50 billion,” central bank first deputy chairman Alexei Ulyukayev said, when asked about Russia’s investments in the agencies.

Russia held about $100 billion at the start of 2008. (Reporting by Yelena Fabrichnaya, writing by Robin Paxton)

Mon Jul 28, 2008

Source: Reuters

Economy hitting the elderly especially hard


Matt Jackson of the Meals On Wheels program waits to deliver a meal to a home in Charleston, W.Va. The program is losing volunteer drivers nationwide because of rising gas prices.

Bankruptcies soar as retirees, agencies struggle to keep up with rising costs

Bob Emily put in an honest day’s labor every day of his life.

“I worked for the railroad, for the town marshal, security, bars, Sealy down here, UPS,” said Emily, 82, of Commerce City, Colo. “Worked hard all my life until I got sick.”

Then the bills started piling up.

“Hospital bills built up,” said Emily, who didn’t have health insurance. “I had to get loans to take care of my bills. Then I was getting behind on the loans.”

Every day, more calls and letters would come in from creditors and collectors. “I just got tired of it,” Emily said, so three months ago, he filed for bankruptcy.

Read moreEconomy hitting the elderly especially hard

Haiti: Mud cakes become staple diet as cost of food soars beyond a family’s reach

With little cash and import prices rocketing half the population faces starvation


In Cité Soleil, one of Port-au-Prince’s worst slums, making the clay-based food is a major income earner. Mud cakes are the only inflation-proof food available to Haiti’s poor. Photograph: David Levene

At first sight the business resembles a thriving pottery. In a dusty courtyard women mould clay and water into hundreds of little platters and lay them out to harden under the Caribbean sun.

The craftsmanship is rough and the finished products are uneven. But customers do not object. This is Cité Soleil, Haiti’s most notorious slum, and these platters are not to hold food. They are food.

Read moreHaiti: Mud cakes become staple diet as cost of food soars beyond a family’s reach

The Big Bailout: America as a Full-Spectrum Kleptocracy

Its name somewhat anachronistically means “assembly of old men.” George Washington famously – and, it must now be admitted, with excessive optimism – characterized it as an institutional saucer intended to cool legislation passed in the intemperate heat of the moment. Its members demand, with entirely unwarranted self-approval, to be called, collectively, the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body.

Read moreThe Big Bailout: America as a Full-Spectrum Kleptocracy

George Bush blasted by Pakistan PM

PAKISTAN’S Prime Minister lashed out at George W. Bush during talks in Washington yesterday, “reproaching” the US President over a US Hellfire drone missile strike inside Pakistani territory only hours before the leaders met.

Read moreGeorge Bush blasted by Pakistan PM

IMF predicts no end in sight to credit crisis

The International Monetary Fund says there’s no end in sight to the credit crisis gripping world financial markets.

As Australia’s NAB and ANZ have already discovered, the IMF believes banks are in for more pain as mortgage defaults soar and economies slow. The IMF has a particularly gloomy assessment of the US economy, and it came on the same day as the Bush administration revealed America’s budget deficit will climb to a record high of more than half-a-TRILLION dollars.

Speaker: Michael Rowland
Speakers: Jaime Caruana, head of the IMF’s capital markets division; Doug Peta, a market strategist with J and W Seligman; Jim Nussle, White House budget director

Read moreIMF predicts no end in sight to credit crisis