Saturday, June 06, 2009
Kendall and Gwendolyn Myers, 71 and 72, were taken into custody yesterday, and made appearances today at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, where their indictment was unsealed this afternoon. They are accused of aiding and abetting a foreign government and wire fraud, among other charges."
According to an affidavit accompanying the indictment, the couple was caught during a sting operation in April, in which an FBI agent posed as a member of the Cuban Intelligence Service. The agent arranged for Kendall Myers to acquire classified information about the upcoming Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago.
During the meetings, the couple allegedly acknowledged working with the Cuban government for more than three decades, and admitted their old code names — agents “202” and “123.” They also discussed the old shortwave radio given to them by the Cuban’s in order to transmit information via morse code. ...
Prosecutor Leonel Ruiz said investigators have determined that more than 3,800 bullets and 563 grenades seized outside Guatemala's capital in April following a shootout that left five anti-drug agents dead came from military bases in the Central American nation, which has become a major transshipment point for Colombian cocaine."...
$720M complaint against US war contractors Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grunman for procurement fraud at Deepwater, 13 Feb 2009 - Wikileaks
According to the complaint, the companies fraudulently cut corners in the construction of a number of Cost Guard boats, leaving them unfit for operations. The complaint estimates the fraud to be worth $240M and asks for penalties of around $1billion."...
That false and misleading charge from an intelligence official of a foreign country, who was not identified but was clearly Israeli, reinforces two of Israel's key themes on Iran - that the 2007 US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran is wrong, and that Tehran is poised to build nuclear weapons as soon as possible.
But it also provides new evidence that Israeli intelligence was the source of the collection of intelligence documents which have been used to accuse Iran of hiding nuclear weapons research...
Kabul University professor, Najib Mohmud says that corruption is a major problem. Mahmoud says," Corruption changes the directions of aids in the country.”
According to an AFP report, the Oxfam head of policy for Afghanistan, Matt Waldman who was speaking in a press conference in Madrid, "between one-third adn 40 per cent of all foreign financial aid to Afghanistan is returned to the donor countries because much of it is given on the condition that it must be used to buy goods or services from the donor nation itself."
Waldman also added, "Too much aid is wasted on foreign contractors who make hefty profits and employ expatriate consultants who can earn salaries of over USD one a year. ...
Last month, banking analyst Mike Mayo predicted that loan loss rates could go as high as 5.5%, which is substantially higher than during the 1930s.
But the Federal Reserve's more adverse scenario for the stress tests - which everyone knows is too rosy concerning most of its assumptions - predicts a loan loss rate of 9.1%, nearly three times higher than during the 30s.
As US News and World Report wrote yesterday:
For most of the past 50 years, the loss rate on all bank loans has stayed well under 2 percent. The Fed estimates that over the next two years the loss rate could reach 9.1 percent. You know all those historical comparisons that end with "the worst since the Great Depression"? Well, 9.1 percent would be EVEN WORSE than during the 1930s. Still looking forward to a soft landing or a quick recovery?
[bth: the referenced links to the original article are worth reading]
...An experimental oddity just two years ago, these strange semi-submarines are the cutting edge of drug trafficking today. They ferry hundreds of tons of cocaine for powerful Mexican cartels that are taking over the Pacific Ocean route for most northbound shipments, according to the Colombian navy.
The sub-builders are even trying to develop a remote-controlled model, officials say.
"That means no crew. That means just cocaine, or whatever, inside the boat," said Michael Braun, a former chief of operations at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
The subs are powered by ordinary diesel engines and built of simple fiberglass in clandestine shipyards in the Colombian jungle. U.S. officials expect 70 or more to be launched this year with a potential cargo capacity of 380 tons of cocaine, worth billions of dollars in the United States.
"This is definitely the next generation of smuggling conveyance" said Joseph Ruddy, an assistant U.S. attorney in Tampa who prosecutes narco-mariners....
Colbert said he feels a 'special guilt' and responsibility to keep the soldiers' story alive because of the political nature of his program. The comedian is also guest editing next week's issue of Newsweek magazine. (A mock-up sits on his desk with the question 'Remember Iraq?' splashed across the cover.)
'I don't want to forget that people are struggling through the things that I sometimes make jokes about,' he said."...
Founded nearly 10 years ago as the female answer to the Bohemian Grove — a secretive all-male club whose members have included former U.S. presidents and top business leaders — the Belizean Grove has about 125 members, including Army generals, Wall Street executives and former ambassadors.
Sotomayor’s membership in the New York-based group became public Thursday afternoon in a questionnaire submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Since then, the group has been deluged with press calls, said its founder, Susan Stautberg, who explained that “we like to be under the radar screen.”"...
Friday, June 05, 2009
But after talking about the spying with a Times reporter, a long period of uncertainty began. “Their editors would not publish the story,” he said. “They waited until December 2005 to publish it. So for a year, I’m sitting here going, I know I’ve revealed what they say is secret information. I wonder what will happen to me?”
When the Times finally ran the story, setting off a firestorm in Congress and the national press, and spawning dozens of lawsuits against telecoms and the government, the FBI began trying to track down the leak. In 2007, Tamm came home to find 18 agents in his house. “They were all wearing body armor, they were all well armed,” he recalled. “They asked my kids if we had any secret rooms in the house … or whether I had any weapons. They were in my house for over seven hours.”
“I’m sure before that time my phone was listened to,” he added. His wife, who didn’t know he’d turned whistleblower, has been forever changed. “She will never feel the same in my house … She really felt that her security had been victimized.”...
[bth: one wonders how Satan would stack up against Cheney.]
This is according to The Times which, with others, reports that that Britain's final military mission in Iraq is in disarray. The mission in question is a Royal Navy detachment which was supposed to be training and mentoring the Iraqi Navy, with upwards of 400 service personnel remaining after the 31 July deadline when the bulk of British forces are required to quit Iraq."...
Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis: Benefit Spending Hits $2 trillion, one dollar out of every six from vouchers
As economic conditions deteriorate and unemployment continues to soar, one in nine Americans are now on food stamps. Moreover, a staggering one of every six dollars of Americans' income is now coming in the form of a federal or state check or voucher.
One in Nine Americans on Food Stamps
According to the USDA One in nine Americans on food stamps.
One in nine Americans are using federal food stamps to help buy groceries as the country's deep recession forced another 591,000 people onto the federal anti-hunger program at latest count.
Enrollment jumped 2 percent to 33.2 million people in March, the fourth consecutive month that rolls hit a record, said the Agriculture Department. The average monthly benefit was $113.87 per person.
"It's tough out there for struggling families and will be for many months to come," Jim Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center, said. In 20 states, as many as one in eight are on the food stamp program, according to the Food Research Center.
Benefit Spending Accounts for 16.2% of Personal Income
According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Benefit spending soars to new high.
The recession is driving the safety net of government benefits to a historic high, as one of every six dollars of Americans' income is now coming in the form of a federal or state check or voucher.
Benefits, such as Social Security, food stamps, unemployment insurance and health care, accounted for 16.2% of personal income in the first quarter of 2009, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reports. That's the highest percentage since the government began compiling records in 1929.
In all, government spending on benefits will top $2 trillion in 2009 — an average of $17,000 provided to each U.S. household, federal data show. Benefits rose at a 19% annual rate in the first quarter compared to the last three months of 2008.
The recession caused about half of the increase, according to the report. Unemployment insurance nearly tripled in the past year. The other half is the result of policies enacted during President George W. Bush's first term.
"The increase in social spending is still relatively modest given the severity of the downturn," says economist Dean Baker of the liberal Center for Economic and Policy Research. "We're not France."
Adam Lerrick, economist at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, says the benefits' explosion will eventually lead to an economic crisis. "We've seen this movie before in many countries. It always has the same ending," he says.
Nevada, Michigan and California had the biggest per-capita increase in bankruptcy filings in May, according to AACER.
[bth: worth reading in full]
“There is definitely this disappointment in Europe, complaining that there’s nobody home,” said Stephen Flanagan, senior vice president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
German government officials were outraged that a low-ranking American official was sent for the negotiations to find a way to keep the traditional automaker Opel going despite the bankruptcy of its parent company, General Motors, in the United States. The potential failure of an important industrial employer before parliamentary elections is no laughing matter for German politicians, including Mrs. Merkel. Still, Karsten D. Voigt, who coordinates German-American relations in the German Foreign Ministry, disputed the contention that relations between the allies were under any strain, as did Merkel advisers, who rightly point out that this is Mr. Obama’s third visit to Germany in less than a year.“This takes time in the U.S.,” Mr. Voigt said. “Transition is a long process. It’s always a frustrating experience.”
The Salt Lake Tribune reported on its Web site Thursday that Daniel James Murray allegedly made the remark to a teller at a bank in St. George on May 27 as he withdrew $13,000 from an account.
Murray's whereabouts are unknown. A court affidavit says Murray is from New York and has recently been in California, Utah, Georgia, Oklahoma and possibly Texas.
The U.S. Secret Service says Murray has at least eight registered firearms, the Tribune reported.
Malcolm Wiley, a spokesman for the Secret Service in Washington, told The Associated Press he had no comment Thursday."
Because really, to her, the Bush administration will never truly end until its key players are prosecuted.
On Monday, June 8, Cindy and friends will march on former President Bush's new home in the well-to-do Dallas suburb of Preston Hollow."....
Thursday, June 04, 2009
Mysterious 'chip' is CIA's latest weapon against al-Qaida targets hiding in Pakistan's tribal belt | World news | The Guardian
Rehman said his handler promised thousands of pounds if the strike was successful, and protection if he was caught. The end of the video showed Rehman being shot dead with three other alleged spies. Residents say such executions – there have been at least 100 – indicate how much the drone strikes have worried the Taliban.
In Wana, the capital of south Waziristan, foreign fighters are shunning the bazaars and shops, and locals are shunning the fighters. 'Before, the common people used to sit with the militants,' said Wazir. 'Now they are also afraid."...
A former CIA officer who served in Waziristan in 2006 said that small American teams comprising CIA agents, radio experts and special forces soldiers are stationed inside Pakistani military bases across the tribal belt.
From there, the CIA recruits a network of paid, and sometimes unwitting, informers – known as "cut-outs" – to help identify targets, he added. In most cases they are poor local men.
Ironically, support for the drone strikes is strongest in the frontier, especially among embattled security officials. "They are very precise, very effective, and the Taliban and al-Qaida dread them," said the provincial police chief, Malik Naveed Khan, with undisguised admiration. The strikes have caused friction between the US and the ISI, which would like America to give it control over the new technology. "The problem with the Americans is that the only instrument up their sleeve is the hammer, and they see everything as a nail," said a senior official.
The ISI resents the US for failing to target Mehsud, whose deputy claimed for last week's Lahore attack that killed at least 24 people, including an ISI colonel.
But as the army prepares to attack South Waziristan, with broad public support, the warlord's luck may be running out. Authorities in North West Frontier Province are preparing for up to 500,000 refugees, added to 2.5 million displaced by operations in Swat.
Mehsud faces other challenges, too. Rival militant groups, with army support, are challenging his dominance in South Waziristan.
And he faces the ever-present danger that some visitor could drop a "pathrai" at his doorstep, and bring an American drone with it.
[bth: I'll drop a dime on you now becomes I'll drop a chip on you]
In documents released Tuesday, authorities said they recovered Molotov cocktails, three guns and ammunition from Abdulhakim Muhammad’s truck after the attack Monday in a suburban Little Rock shopping center.
Muhammad targeted soldiers “because of what they had done to Muslims in the past,” authorities said."...
Pvt. William Long, 23, was killed and Pvt. Quinton I. Ezeagwula, 18, was wounded. Both completed basic training within the past two weeks and had never seen combat. They volunteered to help attract others into military service, and were shot as they smoked cigarettes outside the recruiting center.
On Tuesday, Muhammad, also 23, pleaded not guilty to one count of capital murder and 16 counts of committing a terrorist act — and could face the death penalty. He is being held without bond. Federal prosecutors also are considering charges.
An internal law enforcement memo says Muhammad may have considered other targets, including military sites and Jewish organizations in the Southeast.
The memo was described to The Associated Press by someone who had seen it. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss its contents.
After the attack, investigators searched a computer connected to Muhammad and found research into multiple sites in different states, according to the memo. Investigators are working to determine if anyone else knew about Muhammad’s intentions.
Police stopped Muhammad moments after the shootings on a highway that would have taken him to Memphis, Tenn., where he lived until he moved to Little Rock in the last couple of months.
Search warrant affidavits showed that police recovered weapons and caches of ammunition from Muhammad’s truck and apartment. Officers confiscated an SKS assault rifle believed to be used in the shootings, a .22-caliber rifle with a laser sight, other firearms, Molotov cocktails, homemade silencers and compact disks with Arabic writing on them....
[bth: I wonder how the policemen knew to stop his car on the highway?]
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Hafiz Saeed, head of a charity that international organizations have said is tied to the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, had been held under house arrest since Dec. 11, though he had not been publicly charged or indicted. Lashkar-e-Taiba has been accused by Indian officials of engineering and carrying out the attacks in Mumbai that left about 170 people dead in November."...
[bth: part of the catch and release counter terrorism plan. Note that the US military aid had been approved firstl before this guy was released. Its like watching a choreographic dance. ]
“On the question of whether or not Iraq was involved in 9-11, there was never any evidence to prove that,” he told the Fox host. “There was “some reporting early on … but that was never borne out… [Former CIA Director] George [Tenet] … did say and did testify that there was an ongoing relationship between al-Qaeda and Iraq, but no proof that Iraq was involved in 9-11.”
Cheney’s comments are a marked shift from those he made in 2003. Pressed to disavow assertions that Iraq was in any way involved with the attacks, the then-VP claimed the administration was learning “more and more” about al Qaeda-Iraq ties."...
[bth: what a despicable liar and deceiver.]
The CIA made no mention of his role in documents delivered to Capitol Hill last month that listed every lawmaker who had been briefed on 'enhanced interrogation techniques' since 2002. For meetings that were overseen by Cheney, the agency told the intelligence committees that information about who oversaw those briefings was 'not available.'"...
[bth: strange oversight don't you think. Cheney chaired the meeting and yet that information was 'not available'. How convenient.]
Testifying in his confirmation hearing as Obama’s new commander for Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal said he “didn’t see any activity by anyone to deceive” the public about the circumstances of Tillman’s death. The death was first reported as a result of enemy fire; Tillman was held up as a hero and quickly received the Silver Star.
McChrystal personally helped expedite Tillman’s Silver Star award, even though he later acknowledged he had “suspicions” that the ex-NFL star had been killed by his own men.
CNN reports that Tillman’s mother says McChrystal knew at the memorial service that her son died from friendly fire.
“McChrystal was lying,” Mary Tillman was quoted as saying Tuesday. “He said he didn’t know for certain Pat was killed by fratricide. That isn’t true in and of itself, but the fact is, it doesn’t matter whether he knew it for certain.”
She asserted that Army protocol required that families be informed of any possible fratricide, regardless of whether it had been confirmed.
Mary Tillman also blasted Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) for “playing dumb.”
“If the Army chain of command didn’t know what happened to Pat, why did it present us with a false story” at the memorial service?” Tillman quipped. “That is not an error; that is not a misstep; that is deliberate deception. McCain was at Pat’s service. He was read a false narrative like the rest of us. Where is his outrage? Did he know all along?”
McChrystal, who was probed over his role in the Tillman coverup, was cleared of wrongdoing by the Army’s Inspector General. But the military said that the general should have informed superiors of his suspicions.
[bth; the problem here besides the evident dissembling going on by McChrystal regarding Tillman is that McChrystal will find himself in a controversy in Afghanistan - some big bombing incident - or some assassination and when McChrystal speaks as the US commander in Afghanistan, his word will be called in doubt. In my opinion the leader of US troops in Afghanistan needs to be above reproach. McChrystal may be a great special ops commander -but that is not the same thing has being a good theater commander - the face of America for the world.]
Ahmadinejad also said liberal democracies of the world have degraded 'human values,' the Iranian state television news website quoted him as saying.
'The identity of the liberal democracy has been exposed to the world by its protection of the most criminal regime in the history of humanity, the Zionist regime, by using the big deception of the Holocaust.'
'There is no doubt that the only way to replace the liberal thought is to go back to the teachings of the divine prophets,' Ahmadinejad said."...
[ bth: I hope Obama in his speech to the muslim world will call out liars and mongers in hate like Ahmadinejad. There is no excuse for tolerating nonsense like this.]
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Police official Meer Sardar said the mass abduction occurred about 20 miles (30 kilometers) from Razmak Cadet College in North Waziristan.
The people were leaving the school area after a phone call from a man they believed to be a political official warned them to get out.
A large group of suspected militants forced around 30 vehicles carrying the group to stop before leading them away."....
[bth: what I don't understand is how the Taliban can maintain such public support in the face of such obvious violations of social norms.]
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Diplomats in Croatia wanted to serve traditional white bangers at the bash to celebrate Germany's 60 years as a democracy but couldn't get the right mustard anywhere locally.
So they called in air support from the Luftwaffe who sent pilot Norbert Biehler with a case of the special sweet mustard for the party, reports Croatian newspaper Jutarnji List.
Now the extravagant use of military funds in under investigation in Germany."...
...Nine percent: The statement was part of the US Justice Department’s request to the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York to reverse its order that the photos be released. Releasing the photos would accelerate the rising anti-US sentiment in Pakistan, Petraeus said. The percentage of Pakistanis who felt the US presence posed a threat to Pakistan increased in October 2008 to 54 percent from 45 percent in June 2008, Petraeus said. “It may be higher today,” he said. “While other polling data show minor improvements in US-Pakistan relations, 63 percent of Pakistanis still oppose cooperating with US counter-terror operations.”...
Experts say the arrests appear to add up to a major strategic blow to Israel."...
But the coalition did not take up his cause, and the arrests in general have not become an election issue, because they have been across the board - Sunnis, Shiites, Christians and Palestinians are all among those detained, with no obvious political or sectarian bias.
Lebanese security forces displayed hi-tech communication and surveillance gadgets said to have been found concealed in the homes of some of the suspects.
Explaining the sudden spectacular rash of arrests, Lebanese officials have said that unspecified technological breakthroughs made it all possible.
That may be so. But many unanswered questions remain.
One of the basic principles in setting up espionage networks is that their cells should not be linked in any way, so that the discovery of one does not lead to the kind of wider collapse that seems now to be taking place.
Did the Israelis - who have said nothing to discredit the daily revelations in Beirut - break that fundamental rule?
"Certainly it seems to have been a systemic failure by Israel," said security expert Alastair Crooke, who focuses on Islamic movements.
"Maybe it was a chance find, maybe it was from one person that they interrogated leading to the uncovering of many others, but that in itself would be highly unusual."
Most likely, the arrests were the product of months, perhaps several years, of counter-intelligence work....
[bth: not good]
But indifference to the suffering of others “is what makes the human being inhuman,” he said, adding: “The political prisoner in his cell, the hungry children, the homeless refugees — not to respond to their plight, not to relieve their solitude by offering them a spark of hope is to exile them from human memory. And in denying their humanity, we betray our own.”"