EU gives CIA the power to search bank records of all member states

Brussels gives CIA the power to search UK bank records

cia

THE CIA is to be given broad access to the bank records of millions of Britons under a European Union plan to fight terrorism.

The Brussels agreement, which will come into force in two months’ time, requires the 27 EU member states to grant requests for banking information made by the United States under its terrorist finance tracking programme.

In a little noticed information note released last week, the EU said it had agreed that Europeans would be compelled to release the information to the CIA “as a matter of urgency”. The records will be kept in a US database for five years before being deleted.

Critics say the system is “lopsided” because there is no reciprocal arrangement under which the UK authorities can easily access the bank accounts of US citizens in America.

They also say the plan to sift through cross-border and domestic EU bank accounts gives US intelligence more scope to consult our bank accounts than is granted to law enforcement agencies in the UK or the rest of Europe.

In Britain and most of Europe a judge must authorise a specific search after receiving a sworn statement from a police officer.

This weekend civil liberties groups and privacy campaigners said the surveillance programme, introduced as an emergency measure in 2001, was being imposed on Britain without a proper debate.

Read moreEU gives CIA the power to search bank records of all member states

Tens of thousands rally against PM Silvio Berlusconi in Rome

rally-against-silvio-berlusconi Organisers claim a turnout of least 350,000, but police say it was far less

Tens of thousands of people have rallied in Rome, demanding the resignation of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

The No B (Berlusconi) Day march was organised by grassroots groups via the internet and social networking sites.

Mr Berlusconi faces separate tax fraud and bribery trials after he lost his immunity from prosecution in October.

He denies the charges against him, insisting he is the victim of magistrates with a political agenda.

One message

Protesters chanted “I have a dream – Berlusconi in jail” during the march in the Italian capital.

silvio-berlusconi Mr Berlusconi denies all the charges against him

“This is a day of democracy, a day that shows that the country can come together to build an alternative and most of all to tell Berlusconi to go,” Antonio di Pietro, former anti-corruption judge and now an opposition leader, was quoted as saying by Reuters.

“There are people from all over the country here, and even from abroad with one message: Berusconi has to go!” he added.

Read moreTens of thousands rally against PM Silvio Berlusconi in Rome

Greece: Riots break out on anniversary of teenager’s death

Clashes have broken out in the Greek capital Athens during a march to commemorate the first anniversary of the police shooting of a teenager, whose death sparked massive riots.

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A policeman on fire in Athens during rioting Photo: getty

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Rioting in Athens Photo: getty

Police fired tear gas at youths throwing rocks and firecrackers in central Athens, as several thousand demonstrators gathered to mark the death of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos.

About 3,000 mostly students, anarchists and leftists marched to parliament on Sunday and more protests were expected on Monday. An evening memorial service was planned in the Exarchia district, where the teenager was shot dead.

Athens University rector Christos Kittas was rushed to hospital with an irregular heartbeat and head injuries after protesters broke into the university’s central Athens offices to occupy them, police and media said.

A 55-year-old woman was also injured on central Syntagma Square after being struck by police. Four police officers were also hurt as hand-to-hand combat erupted with small groups of protesters around the square, a police source said.

Concern was heightened by reports that far-left groups and anarchists from other European countries have traveled to Greece to join the protests.

Violence also broke out in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city, where youths threw petrol bombs at police and smashed the storefront of a Starbucks cafe.

Over 6,000 police were on duty in Athens alone. Another 3,000 were mobilised in Thessaloniki, local police said.

Read moreGreece: Riots break out on anniversary of teenager’s death

Philippines: Military arrests dozens under martial law

Arroyo’s spokesman defends martial law declaration (Xinhua)

‘Overkill, overreaction’—opposition solons (Inquirer):

MANILA, Philippines –(UPDATE)“Unconstitutional,” “overreaction,” and “overkill” were just some of the reactions by lawmakers at the House of Representatives over President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s declaration of martial law in Maguindanao Saturday.

Opposition lawmakers said they would question before the plenary the basis of Proclamation 1959, which placed Maguindanao, except in areas occupied by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, under martial law and suspended the writ of habeas corpus.

“Under the Constitution, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo may only declare martial law or suspend the writ of habeas corpus in case of invasion or rebellion. These conditions do not exist, ergo Proclamation 1959 is unconstitutional,” Bayan Muna partylist Representative Satur Ocampo said in a text message.



Philippines Martial Law

Soldiers take a break as they stand in front of their armored personnel carrier at the gate of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao Saturday, Dec. 5, 2009 in Shariff Aguak town in Maguindanao province in southern Philippines. Government soldiers took the patriarch of a powerful clan, a former governor, and three other members of his family into custody after President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo put the entire province under martial law to hunt down suspects in the country’s worst political violence. (AP Photo/Pat Roque)

SHARIFF AGUAK, Philippines — Philippine troops arrested 62 people and discovered another major weapons cache Sunday after martial law was imposed in a southern province following the country’s worst political massacre.

Thousands of troops, backed by tanks and warplanes, have taken control of Maguindanao province in a government crackdown on the powerful Ampatuan clan, accused in the Nov. 23 killing of 57 people traveling in a convoy of a political rival. The clan has denied involvement.

Late Friday, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo imposed martial law in Maguindanao — the first use of martial law in the Philippines since late dictator Ferdinand Marcos imposed it nationwide more than 30 years ago. The move was announced on national television Saturday morning.

The government says it feared the Ampatuans, who have ruled unopposed with an iron fist over predominantly Muslim Maguindanao for years, were fomenting rebellion in response to the crackdown on them since the massacre.

Those arrested so far include the clan’s patriarch, at least six other family members, and clan followers, national police Chief Jesus Verzosa said.

Read morePhilippines: Military arrests dozens under martial law

The Euro Becomes Favorite Currency of Drug Cartels

Smugglers and launderers use €500 notes instead of $100 bills to save space

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International drug cartels have abandoned the US dollar for high denomination euros to launder millions in illegal profits, Europol has revealed. The gangs no longer use $100 bills because €500 notes – the largest denomination of euro – take up less room when transporting large amounts of cash across the world.

In a single consignment on a British Airways plane bound for London from the United States, US police found £11m worth of drug profits in €500 bills. The Colombian and Mexican cartels’ conversion to the European currency is even acknowledged in popular culture: American rapper Jay-Z’s video for his single, Blue Magic, features a suitcase full of €500 notes as he sings about “the kilo business”.

Rob Wainwright, director of Europol, said last week police forces across continental Europe were tracking the movements of smuggled and laundered euros and had traced much of it back to large drug gangs.

“We have seen examples of high denomination notes hidden in cereal packets, tyres, concealed compartments in lorries, and so on,” he said.

Read moreThe Euro Becomes Favorite Currency of Drug Cartels

White House ‘Party Crashers’ Knew President Obama For Years, Here Pictured With Obama in 2005

white-house-party-crashers-with-obama-in-2005
Polo Contacts Worldwide
could make it easy for the investigating Secret Service by brown-enveloping them this picture.

(Click on image to enlarge.)

While the big gun media and American Secret Service are out there investigating “party crashers” Tareq and Michaele Salahi, no one’s telling the truth: Obama knew the Salahis when he was still an Illinois senator.

Hey Secret Agent Man, here’s Obama, the senator flashing his pearly whites with Randy Jackson, better known as a judge on American Idol.  “Others pictured are Black Eyed Peas Rock Band; Tareq Salahi the President of the America’s Polo Cup; President Elect Obama, Fergie from Black eyed Peas and Michaele Salahi, posing this time as a former Miss USA and SuperModel.”

Interesting little detail for White House gumshoes:  As the above photo was published in June 2005, Barack Obama was still Senator Obama and not the President Elect.

And with Michaele Salahi yesterday having been caught out—Facebook pompoms notwithstanding—as a bogus cheerleader for the Washington Red Skins and not a model for Victoria’s Secret as claimed, Canada Free Press (CFP) leaves it to FoxNews.com to find out if she ever was a “former Miss USA”.

Read moreWhite House ‘Party Crashers’ Knew President Obama For Years, Here Pictured With Obama in 2005

Senior Chinese Official Slams US Investment Banks Over Derivatives

A senior Chinese official who oversees the country’s largest state-owned enterprises has publicly slammed western investment banks for “maliciously” peddling complicated derivative products that caused huge losses for Chinese companies over the last year.

In Beijing’s strongest criticism on the matter to date, Li Wei, vice director of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, singled out Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch and Citigroup in a long and highly critical article in the latest issue of an official Communist party newspaper.

The large losses suffered by Chinese state companies were “closely associated with the intentionally complex and highly leveraged products that were fraudulently peddled by international investment banks with evil intentions,” Mr Li asserted. “To a certain extent some international investment banks were the chief criminals and the root of ruin for the Chinese enterprises who encountered this financial derivatives Waterloo.”

In his article, Mr Li said 68 of the 130-odd state companies controlled directly by Sasac had been buying derivatives to speculate or hedge against rising commodity prices and fluctuating currencies and interest rates, even though some of them were not authorised to do so.

These 68 companies had booked total combined net losses of Rmb11.4bn on the Rmb125bn worth of financial derivatives products they had bought by the end of October 2008, Mr Li said.

The government has not previously revealed the full extent of losses suffered by Chinese companies that made ill-fated bets on over-the-counter, mostly offshore, derivatives.

In September, Sasac warned that some of the contracts were illegal and might be invalidated, a move that prompted some western banks to agree quietly to renegotiate contracts behind closed doors.

Read moreSenior Chinese Official Slams US Investment Banks Over Derivatives

Climategate and the Tiger Woods Index; Al Gore cancels Copenhagen speaking event

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Due to unforeseen circumstances, Al Gore has had to cancel a Copenhagen speaking event at which he had hoped to charge starry-eyed believers in his ManBearPig religion $1200 a piece for the privilege of shaking his hand, breathing in his CO2 and having his latest book inflicted on them.

Could those unforeseen circumstances have anything to do with Climategate?

I think so. Climategate is now huge. Way, way bigger than the Mainstream Media (MSM) is admitting it is – as Richard North demonstrates in this fascinating analysis. Using what he calls a Tiger Woods Index (TWI), he compares the amount of interest being shown by internet users (as shown by the number of general web pages on Google) and compares it with the number of news reports recorded. The ratio indicates what people are really interested in, as opposed to what the MSM thinks they ought to be interested in.

North explains:

Tiger Woods delivered 22,500,000 web and 46,025 news pages, giving ratio of 489. That is the “Tiger Woods Index” (TWI) against which I chose to measure a raft of other issues.

Here are the rankings:

1. Climategate: 28,400,000 – 2,930 = 9693
2. Afghanistan: 143,000,000 – 154,145 = 928
3. Obama: 202,000,000 – 252,583 = 800
4. Tiger Woods: 22,500,000 – 46,025 = 489
5. Gordon Brown: 12,300,000 – 37,021 = 332
6. Climate change: 22,200,000 – 68,419 = 324
7. Sally Bercow: 25,000 – 86 = 290
8. David Cameron: 545,000 – 4837 = 113
9. Meredith Kercher: 261,000 – 3,471 = 75
10. Chilcot Inquiry: 125,000 – 4,350 = 29

Read moreClimategate and the Tiger Woods Index; Al Gore cancels Copenhagen speaking event