US seeks $ 300 billion from Gulf states: report


One hundred riyal notes at a bank in Riyadh, the Saudi Arabian capital. The US has asked four oil-rich Gulf states for close to US$300 billion to help it curb the global financial meltdown, Kuwait’s daily Al-Seyassah has reported.
(AFP/File/Hassan Ammar)

KUWAIT CITY (AFP) – The United States has asked four oil-rich Gulf states for close to 300 billion dollars to help it curb the global financial meltdown, Kuwait’s daily Al-Seyassah reported Thursday.

Quoting “highly informed” sources, the daily said Washington has asked Saudi Arabia for 120 billion dollars, the United Arab Emirates for 70 billion dollars, Qatar for 60 billion dollars and was seeking 40 billion dollars from Kuwait.

Al-Seyassah said Washington sought the amount as “financial aid” to face the fallout of the financial crisis and help prevent its economy from sliding into a painful recession.

The daily said the United States plans to use the funds to help the ailing automobile industry , banks and other companies suffering from the global financial turmoil.

Read moreUS seeks $ 300 billion from Gulf states: report

BBC: Gazans despair over blockade

Many Gazans are dependent on food aid

“People in Gaza are waiting in lines for almost everything, and that’s if they’re lucky enough to find something to wait for,” says Bassam Nasser, 39.

An aid worker in Gaza City, he, like so many others there, including the UN relief agency, says living conditions are the worst he has ever seen in the strip.

“People queue for two or three hours for bread, but sometimes there’s no cooking gas or flour, so no bread.

“People wait in line for UN food handouts, but sometimes there aren’t any. The suffering is reaching every aspect of life.”

As well as working for an American development agency, Mr Nasser is a Gazan, and a father.

“I’ve got three young children. It’s difficult to explain to them that it’s not my fault we don’t have electricity and that it’s not in my control.”

Read moreBBC: Gazans despair over blockade

New friendly fire coverup: Army shreds files on dead soldiers

Hours after Salon revealed evidence that two Americans were killed by a U.S. tank, not enemy fire, military officials destroyed papers on the men.
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Editor’s note: On Oct. 14, 2008, Salon published an article about the deaths of Army Pfc. Albert Nelson and Pfc. Roger Suarez. The Army attributed their deaths in Iraq in 2006 to enemy action; Salon’s investigation, which included graphic battle video and eyewitness testimony, indicated that their deaths were likely due to friendly fire.

After Salon published Benjamin’s Oct. 14 report, the Army ordered soldiers to shred documents about the men. As proof that they were ordered to destroy the paperwork, a soldier saved some examples and provided them to Salon.
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Helmet-cam footage from Ramadi, Iraq (12-min. edited version). Warning: Contains graphic violence and profanity.

Nov. 20, 2008 | FORT CARSON, Colo. — Last month, Salon published a story reporting that U.S. Army Pfc. Albert Nelson and Pfc. Roger Suarez were killed by U.S. tank fire in Ramadi, Iraq, in late 2006, in an incident partially captured on video, but that an Army investigation instead blamed their deaths on enemy action.

Now Salon has learned that documents relating to the two men were shredded hours after the story was published. Three soldiers at Fort Carson, Colo. – including two who were present in Ramadi during the friendly fire incident, one of them just feet from where Nelson and Suarez died – were ordered to shred two boxes full of documents about Nelson and Suarez. One of the soldiers preserved some of the documents as proof that the shredding occurred and provided them to Salon. All three soldiers, with the assistance of a U.S. senator’s office, have since been relocated for their safety.
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Oct. 14 was a long and eventful day at Fort Carson. The post had been in an uproar. The night before, Salon had published my article airing claims that two of the base’s soldiers, Pfc. Albert Nelson and Pfc. Roger Suarez-Gonzalez, had been killed by friendly fire in Iraq on Dec. 4, 2006, but that the Army covered up the cause of death, attributing it to enemy action.

Based on the testimony of eyewitnesses, and on video and audio recorded by a helmet-mounted camera that captured much of the action that day, my report stated that Nelson and Suarez seemed to have been killed by an American tank shell. The shell apparently struck their position on the roof of a two-story ferro-concrete building in Ramadi, Anbar province, Iraq, killing Suarez instantly, mortally wounding Nelson, and injuring several other soldiers. I included both an edited and a full-length version of the video in the article. The video shows soldiers just after the blast claiming to have watched the tank fire on them. Then a sergeant attempts to report over a radio that a U.S. tank killed his men. He seems to be promptly overruled by a superior officer who is not at the scene. An official Army investigation then found that the simultaneous impact of two enemy mortars killed the men.

Read moreNew friendly fire coverup: Army shreds files on dead soldiers

Bill Clinton Sends Donor List to Obama to Help Hillary’s Bid

Hmmmh. How many of you call that change?
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Bill Clinton, former U.S. president, speaks during a session of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, Sept. 25, 2008. Photographer: Jeremy Bales/Bloomberg News

Nov. 20 (Bloomberg) — Bill Clinton has sent President- elect Barack Obama‘s transition team a list of more than 200,000 donors to his foundation, according to a Democrat familiar with the process, the latest sign both sides are trying to clear obstacles to Hillary Clinton‘s possible nomination as U.S. secretary of state.

“I’ll do whatever they want,” the former president told reporters in New York yesterday. “This is a deal between” Obama “and Hillary,” he said.

The 200,000 or so names comprise the universe of donors to Clinton’s presidential library and foundation. This is separate from the Clinton Global Initiative, which operates under the aegis of the foundation but does not directly take money from the donors.

The list of contributors ranges from those who gave a few dollars to wealthy foreign leaders and business people who donated multimillion-dollar gifts, the Democrat familiar with the matter said.

Read moreBill Clinton Sends Donor List to Obama to Help Hillary’s Bid

Suspected U.S. Missiles Strike Deep Inside Pakistan


Residents stand on the rubble of shops and a house damaged in the fighting between Pakistan army and militants in Kanju, a troubled area of Pakistan’s Swat Valley, Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2008. Pakistani security forces are engaged in fierce fighting against militants and Talibans in various areas including Swat Valley, a northwest region that used to be beloved tourist destination. (AP Photo/Sherin Zada) (Sherin Zada – AP)

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The U.S. military apparently struck at Islamic militants outside Pakistan’s lawless tribal belt for the first time Wednesday, firing a missile that killed six suspected insurgents taking refuge away from the conflict zone along the Afghan border.

The government denounced the attack as yet another “grave provocation” amid a series of U.S. military operations in the country that have enflamed widespread anger among ordinary Pakistanis.

The harsh words were a sharp contrast to comments Tuesday by U.S. and NATO officials who reported increased cooperation from Pakistan in the fight against militant groups. Tens of thousands of U.S. and NATO troops are stationed in neighboring Afghanistan.

“It looks like the Americans are not listening, but this is such a great provocation that it will bring a strong response from the government of Pakistan that will dissuade them,” presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said of the latest missile strike.

He declined to say what the response would be.

The government, which relies heavily on U.S. financial aid, has not gone beyond criticizing raids. Some experts question whether the leadership secretly condones the attacks while speaking out publicly against them, but the government denies that.

Read moreSuspected U.S. Missiles Strike Deep Inside Pakistan

Statement From G-20 Summit: In English

The Editor of Expresso in Portugal wanted my take on the recent G-20 communique. Here is my “translation” of the official statement:

1. Now that the growth of debt and derivatives bubbles has stalled, we are committed to using governmental-central bank mechanisms to cover the positions of any of the large private financial institutions whose profits are at risk due to their management of these bubbles and who can use this opportunity to squeeze and acquire smaller rivals at low cost.

2. Our commitment to use derivatives and market interventions to shift investment from the real economy and commodities into a paper economy is firm. We will continue to use centralized governmental mechanisms to subsidize and manage this process.

3. All of the organizations and players who reaped a fortune engineering the debt and derivatives bubbles will be allowed to keep their winnings.

4. We will use this period of consolidation to further centralize the global financial system by enforcing greater centralization of the standards, practices and control of enforcement and regulatory bureaucracies. This increased governmental centralization will be presented as the “fix” for our “problems.”

5. We will continue the move toward one world government and one world currency.

Read moreStatement From G-20 Summit: In English

Israel sends tanks into Gaza

Jerusalem Israeli tanks entered the southern Gaza Strip yesterday, drawing mortar fire from Palestinian militants and undermining a tenuous truce. The tanks, backed by a bulldozer, drove 500 metres into the strip and levelled earth near Rafah, Gaza’s southeastern border crossing with Egypt.

Israel said that the operation was mounted to uncover explosives, while the Palestinians accused Israel of trying to increase violence. The latest fighting began two weeks ago and there is now a near-daily cycle of mortar attacks on southern Israeli towns and Israeli airstrikes in Gaza. At least 17 Palestinians have died, and several Israelis have been wounded.

Read moreIsrael sends tanks into Gaza

Al-Qaeda vows to hurt Obama’s US


A clip from al-Qaeda’s message

The second-in-command of Islamic militant network al-Qaeda has called on Muslims to harm “criminal” America.

In a message purportedly from Ayman al-Zawahiri, the al-Qaeda deputy accused US President-elect Barack Obama of betraying his Muslim roots.

He likened him to a “house slave” – who had chosen to align himself with the “enemies” of Islam.

Mr Obama has said stamping out al-Qaeda “once and for all” will be a top priority during his administration.

On Sunday, he said capturing or killing Osama Bin Laden was “critical” to US security.

He has also promised to bolster the US presence in Afghanistan – a policy that would fail, said the al-Qaeda deputy.

The US said the message did not signal any increased threat against America.

You were born to a Muslim father, but you chose to stand in the ranks of the enemies of the Muslims, and pray the prayer of the Jews
Al-Qaeda message

This is undoubtedly a message aimed at sustaining anti-American sentiment among Muslims in the face of Barack Obama’s election, says the BBC’s defence correspondent Rob Watson.

But it is a risky approach, our correspondent says.

Barack Obama is hugely popular world-wide and his colour and background make him a much tougher target to attack than President George W Bush in the eyes of a global audience, he says.

Read moreAl-Qaeda vows to hurt Obama’s US

Cheney and Gonzales indicted for organized crime

A grand jury in South Texas indicted U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and former attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Tuesday for “organized criminal activity” related to alleged abuse of inmates in private prisons. The indictment has not been seen by a judge, who could dismiss it.


US Vice President Dick Cheney (L) and former US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (R). According to November 18, 2008 media reports, US Vice President Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales have been indicted by a South Texas grand jury on charges relating to alleged abuse of prisoners in Willacy County’s federal detention centers. Picture: AFP

The grand jury in Willacy County, in the Rio Grande Valley near the U.S.-Mexico border, said Cheney is “profiteering from depriving human beings of their liberty,” according to a copy of the indictment obtained by Reuters.

The indictment cites a “money trail” of Cheney’s ownership in prison-related enterprises including the Vanguard Group, which owns an interest in private prisons in south Texas.

Former attorney general Gonzales used his position to “stop the investigations as to the wrong doings” into assaults in county prisons, the indictment said.

Cheney’s office declined comment. “We have not received any indictments. I can’t comment on something we have not received,” said Cheney’s spokeswoman Megan Mitchell.

The indictment, overseen by county District Attorney Juan Guerra, cites the case of Gregorio De La Rosa, who died on April 26, 2001, inside a private prison in Willacy County.

The grand jury wrote it made its decision “with great sadness,” but said they had no other choice but to indict Cheney and Gonzales “because we love our country.”

Texas is the home state of U.S. President George W. Bush.

Read moreCheney and Gonzales indicted for organized crime

Pilots threaten to strike over ID cards


The Home Secretary Jacqui Smith insists the cards will improve security

The first wave of ID cards to be issued to British citizens has prompted airline pilots to threaten a strike rather than accept the documents.

Aviation workers have warned that proposals to make airport staff register for the cards from next year would do little to improve security. The British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa), which represents 10,000 of the 12,000 commercial pilots and flight engineers in Britain, said its members were being treated as “guinea pigs”. Jim McAuslan, Balpa’s general secretary, said the Government’s “early warning system should be flashing” over opposition to the plans.

The Home Office insists the scheme will help airport workers improve security and streamline pass applications when staff move jobs. Ministers will publish draft regulations on Friday to set up a trial requiring airside staff at Manchester airport and London City airport to sign up for an ID card before they can get security passes allowing them to work there. If the regulations are approved, the first ID cards will be issued at the two airports from autumn next year as part of an 18-month trial.

Under the proposals, airport workers will be the first British citizens to be given ID cards, which are due to be introduced for young people from 2010.

Read morePilots threaten to strike over ID cards