Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Uganda: Devil worship

From the Sunday edition of The New Vision :

People who believe in satanic powers have resorted to witchcraft… such bondage has led to acts of human sacrifice since devil worship involves shedding precious human blood

By Anthony Bugembe

Don't ask who is behind the ritual murders. It is devil worshippers at work. Police, spiritual leaders and academicians, all agree that most of the ritual murders that have recently been taking place in the country bear the hallmark of devil worship.

“The cutting off of body parts of innocent victims is consistent with devil worship. The parts are offered as sacrifice to Lucifer, in exchange for wealth and prosperity”, explains Monsignor David Kyeyune, the national pastoral co-ordinator at the Uganda Catholic Secretariat in Nsambya.

Devil worship, according to Kyeyune, thrives in situations where people are obsessed with making quick money, often at the expense of human life.

“As people get more deeply involved in devil worship, the devil asks them to fulfil increasingly difficult demands, including making human sacrifices. Children are prime targets because they are presumed to be innocent and pure and, therefore, acceptable as sacrifices,” he further explains.

Kyeyune has carried out extensive research on devil worship in Uganda and Kenya.

Unlike in Kenya where about 10 years ago devil worship was organised and had 'high priests, in Uganda it is reportedly still at individual level. However, if the rampant human scarifices continue the practice could gravitate into an organised institution. According to the priest-cum-academician, devil worship is a foreign culture imported from Kenya. “Devil worshipping was very rampant in Kenya in the 1990s. For example, in Nairobi they even had temples for worshipping the devil,” he says. A presidential commission of inquiry in Kenya during the 1990s, concluded that devil worship existed in the country.

Some of the devil worship rituals in the commission's report include: human sacrifice, drinking human blood, eating human flesh, nudity of the participants in the ritual, incantations in unintelligible language, sexual abuse, especially of children; black magic, narcotic drugs and presence of snakes. Body parts such as tongues, eyes and limbs are also used in the rituals.

Initiation into devil worshipping is normally done at night and the initiates are always naked. The ritual involves drawing blood from the person to be initiated, mixing it with some substances before giving it to members to drink.

Sometimes a human being is killed during the initiation rites or a fresh body is brought in and its parts served to members.

“Anything that involves sacrificing a human being is devil worship. If someone does something that is meant to please Satan and does not treasure human life, then it is attributed to the devil,” says Robby Muhumuza, a researcher on false religions.

Even the Police agree the devil has a hand in the gruesome ritual murders that are causing a lot of public concern. Police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba strongly believes there is a link between the rampant ritual murders and devil worship.

“Devil worship is partly to blame for the increasing cases of human sacrifice in the country. Many people think that through worshipping the devil in the form of sacrificing human beings, they can get rid of bad luck and even get rich quick.” she says.

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The ugliness that is racism

European racism

Racism in the elevator

Open racism

Greece: DNA bank could help anti-terror efforts

As reported in Kathimerini English Edition :

The Interior Ministry is considering a proposal by Britain's Scotland Yard for the creation of a DNA bank containing genetic information about all suspects arrested by the Greek police, sources have told Kathimerini.

The idea is believed to have been proposed during a recent visit to Athens by British counter-terrorism experts, who have reportedly undertaken to advise their Greek counterparts on how to tackle an emerging domestic terror threat. According to sources, the British officers stressed the importance of the measure in view of the recent spike in terrorist attacks in Athens. A top-ranking police officer admitted to Kathimerini that British police have a more sophisticated approach to tackling terrorism. “The British have many technical means at their disposal, from (surveillance) cameras to the most advanced systems of recording conversations. It is no surprise that they were puzzled at the way the Greek police handle terrorism,” he said.

The creation of a DNA bank had been considered by the Greek police in the past, but eventually shelved. British and Greek officers had discussed the eventuality in 2002, a year before they succeeded in breaking up terrorist group November 17. However, Alternate Minister Christos Markoyiannakis, who is in charge of public order, is said to be seriously interested in the proposal. A ministry source told Kathimerini that such a data bank would be a “step forward in the fight against terrorism.” “It would enable authorities to maintain data on all suspects... now we are obliged to destroy all data at the end of each criminal investigation,” the source said. It is believed that the idea will be discussed after the debate is concluded on whether to install surveillance cameras across the capital.

Noam Chomsky on the economy and democracy

From Information Clearing House :

Chomsky: Plan is recycled Bush/Paulson. We need nationalization and steps towards democratization.

JAY: So a few days ago, the Obama administration and Geithner, they announced their plan for the banks. What do you make of it?

CHOMSKY: Well, there are several plans, actually. One is capitalization. The other, the more recent one, is picking up the toxic assets with a private-public coalition. And that sent the stock market zooming right away. And you can see why: it's extremely good for bankers and investors. It means that an investor can, if they want, purchase these valueless assets. And if they happen to go up, well, it makes money; if they go down, the government insures it. So there might be a slight loss, but there could be a big gain. And that's—one financial manager put it in The Financial Times this morning, "It's a win-win situation."

JAY: A win-win situation if you're the investor.

CHOMSKY: If you're the investor, yeah.

JAY: If you're the investor.

CHOMSKY: For the public it's a lose-lose situation. But they're simply recycling, pretty much, the Bush-Paulson measures and changing them a little, but essentially the same idea: keep the institutional structure the same, try to kind of pass things up, bribe the banks and investors to help out, but avoid the measures that might get to the heart of the problem—however, at the cost, if you consider it a cost, of changing the institutional structure.

JAY: What's the plan you would support?

CHOMSKY: Well, I mean, say, for example, take the bonuses, the AIG bonuses that are, you know, causing such anger, rightfully. Dean Baker pointed out that there's an easy way to deal with it. Since the government pretty much owns AIG anyway (it just doesn't use its power to make decisions), split off the section of AIG—the financial investment section—that caused all the problems, split it off, and let it go bankrupt. And then the executives can seek to get their bonuses from a bankrupt firm if they like. So that would pretty much take care of the bankruptcy problem, and the government would still maintain its large-scale effective control, if it wants to exert it, of what's viable in AIG. And with the banks, the big banks, like Bank of America, one of the big problems is nobody knows what's going on inside. You know, there are very opaque devices and manipulations which technically the government—. They're not going to tell you themselves. You know, why should they? It's not their business. In fact, when Associated Press sent journalists to interview bank managers and investment-firm managers and ask them what they've done with the TARP [Troubled Assets Relief Program] money, they just laughed. They said, "It's none of your business. We're private enterprises. Your task, the public, is to fund us, but not to know what we're doing." But the government could find out—namely, essentially, take over the banks.

JAY: Is all of this sort of machinations of policy because they want to avoid nationalization?

CHOMSKY: You don't have to use the word "nationalization" if it bothers people, but some form of, you know, receivership which would at least allow independent investigators, government investigators, to get into the books, find out what they're doing, who owes what to whom, which is the basis for any form of modification. I mean, it could go on to something much beyond, but it's not contemplated. It's not a law of nature that corporations have to be dedicated solely to profit for their shareholders. It's not even legislation. It's mostly court decisions and management rules and so on. And it's perfectly conceivable for corporations, if they exist, to be responsible to stakeholders, to the community, to the workforce.

JAY: Well, especially when it's all public money at this point that's running the system.

CHOMSKY: Look, fact of the matter is it's almost always public money. So take, say, the richest man in the world, Bill Gates. How did he become the richest man in the world? Well, a lot of it was public money. In fact, places like where we're sitting right now,—


CHOMSKY: —that's where computers were developed, the Internet was developed, fancy software was developed, either here or in similar places, and almost entirely on public funding. And then, of course, I mean, the way the system works, fundamentally—it's kind of an overstatement, but fundamentally, is that the public pays the costs and takes the risks, and the profit is privatized.

~ full transcript and original video posted here ~

Dissecting the anti-Pakistan Psyop

From Therearenosunglasses's Weblog :

By: Peter Chamberlin

Another anomaly in the “war of [mistakes] terror” may have been solved. The unfolding story about the anti-Pakistan psyop revolves around Britain's MI6 and the “Pakistani Taliban.”

What exactly were Mervyn Patterson and Michael Semple doing in Helmand? At the end of December, 2007 the European diplomats were arrested and evicted from Afghanistan for “talking to the Taliban.” News reports after the fact reveal that the two diplomats were actually agents of British MI6 secret service, sent to strike a bargain with top Taliban leader Mullah Dadullah or his younger half-brother Mansoor. The negotiations are alleged to have begun in early summer, according to the British press.

But the operation began much earlier than that, in March, when Mansoor Dadullah was released on March 19 in a prisoner exchange for Italian journalist Daniele Mastrogiacomo, who was being held by feared Taliban leader Mullah Dadullah.

Again, according to the British press, the whole attempt at turning Mansoor began in an operation to kill his brother. The recruiting attempt began with that prisoner exchange which freed Mansoor. He was tracked from Quetta back to Helmand where British Special Forces killed Mullah Dadullah on May12, 2007, using the latest technology (Predators) to follow his satellite phone signal. Either they supplied him the phone or they simply tailed him from Helmand to Quetta, where they managed to pick-out his the satellite phone.

The evidence that the operation began with the prison release of Mansoor is only circumstantial, that being that it was the Western negotiators who introduced him into the equation (the Taliban leader didn't mention Mansoor in the initial contact, naming only Taliban spokesmen Mohammad Hanif and Abdul Latif Hakimi) and the British press admits that Mullah was killed by successfully following Mansoor.

A voice recording of a man claiming to be top Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah has said an Italian journalist captured by the militants has confessed to spying for the British military…Apparently referring to the detentions of two Taliban spokesmen, the man in the recording also accused the Western media of bias.

“They give one-sided freedom to media. We don't give a one-sided freedom to media. The media should be all free or should be banned totally.

“No one can accept … that the Taliban journalists be in prisons and their journalists be free.”

~ more... ~

[ via Information Clearing House ]

Undercover surveillance ops

From Police Undercover Operations

First published in: Ecodefense: A Field Guide to Monkeywreching, 1985

Undercover police activity has become a standard feature of the contemporary political terrain. Disclosures in recent years indicate that environmentalist, anti-nuclear and animal rights groups are likely to be targeted for surreptitious investigation. This can take many forms, from an inconspicuous stranger who turns up to help at a demonstration, to a trained "deep cover" operative who may spend years working inside a target organization. These operations can be launched locally by a police or sheriff's department, or by any of a number of federal agencies.

Another major source of inside information for investigators is the "CI" or "confidential informant." These informers can be private citizens recruited to infiltrate a group, or fearful members who turn on their friends (usually to save themselves). WIthout the existence of the CI, or "snitch," there would in fact be very few arrests made for major crimes. However, CIs do have major short-comings from a police perspective, including their general unreliability, questionable status as testifying witnesses, and frequent refusal to testify in open court. Therefore, the information garnered from a CI must be backed up by the testimony of undercover police officers or supplemented by an intensive police investigation (which may involve surveillance and the use of search warrants) to build a case without putting the informer on the witness stand. In fact, the use of a CI in an arrest is usually not revealed, so the investigation may appear to be nothing more than competent police work.

Any monkeywrencher who suspects surveillance, should examine associates, study who has access to information now believed to be in the hands of the police, notice anyone who suddenly attempts to distance themselves, and be alert to any other indication that investigators are receiving inside information.

The Undercover Infiltrator

Both government agencies and private companies are routinely involved in running undercover operations. Small police departments and private firms (ranging from the large agencies like Pinkerton and Burns down to the security divisions maintained by large corporations and often staffed by former law enforcement agents) typically rely on the solitary agent to ferret out information which is then passed on to the agent's supervisors. Larger state and federal agencies have the resources to mount far more extensive infiltration efforts. Major efforts entail a team approach, with extensive backup equipment and personnel to exploit the information provided by the undercover cop. The team's job is to protect the undercover agent and assemble a mass of evidence so that a subsequent prosecution doesn't rely entirely on the testimony of one officer.

The increasing sophistication of undercover operations has made it more difficult to spot these people. Today's undercover officer can look and sound like anyone. Many years ago, an undercover cop might be exposed when suspicious associates pilfered his phone bill from a mailbox and found that it listed numerous calls to a recognizable police phone number. Those days are gone as the quality and training of undercover operatives has improved. Only the crudest attempts to infiltrate, such as those occurring at demonstrations or other well-publicized events, are likely to be obvious due to the appearance or demeanor of the plainclothes officer.

There are two broad categories of undercover operative: deep cover and light cover.

From Elite undercover squad uses tactics learned in Iraq war to catch rogue Republicans by David Young

An elite, hand-picked team of undercover soldiers is mounting a 24-hour surveillance operation on dissident Republicans intent on carrying out terror attacks in Northern Ireland, it was disclosed yesterday.
The squad, from the Special Reconnaissance Regiment, is using round-the-clock communications intercept tactics currently deployed on enemy targets in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The decision by Sir Hugh Orde, Northern Ireland's chief constable, to call in the half-dozen specialist Signal Intelligence (Sigint) officers to support police has prompted an outcry from nationalist politicians.

But Sir Hugh defended the move yesterday, claiming the team's expertise was needed in the battle against dissidents.

He also rejected the notion it represented the return of special forces operations synonymous with the SAS during the Troubles.

From Undercover tactics get the message across

Government health and safety websites for young people are ditching the 'gov.uk' domain to boost appeal, says Michael Cross

In theory, government websites are supposed to identify themselves with the domain name "gov.uk". Yet several more creative government sites, generally aimed at young people, go to some lengths to disguise who runs and funds them.
The official drugs advisory site, www.talktofrank.com, celebrates its first anniversary this week. It has received 1.5m visits over the year, with traffic now running at 40,000 visits a week.
The site is a key part of the "Frank" campaign, a rebranding of the national drugs helpline. The site's core message is: "Drugs are illegal. Talking about them isn't." It attempts to provide facts about drugs in young people's language. "Too much sniffing speed and you're sneezing lumps out of your nose into a hanky," for example.
The site disguises its origins by adopting the ".com" domain rather than ".gov.uk". In the small print it calls itself "an independent government-funded website", but nowhere does it mention the Home Office, which runs the project.

Undercover Policing and the Shifting Terms of Scholarly Debate: The United States and Europe in Counterpoint

Among investigative tactics, undercover policing is unique in the extent to which it allows the police to shape the events they investigate. Yet this shared feature of undercover investigations produces very different academic controversies in the United States and Europe. European scholars fear the implications of legalizing tactics that had previously been tolerated, if at all, at the margins of legality. By contrast, American commentators seek to unsettle what they view as complacency about a tactic that is used far more widely in the United States than in Europe. In Italy and Germany, a long tradition of scholarship in criminal law treats police infiltration as a problem of government law-breaking. In France, a distinguished sociological tradition views undercover tactics as a privileged terrain of turf warfare between competing government agencies. Because of their interest in the entrapment defense, American academics focus largely on the criminal responsibility of targets, not operatives. More recently, American and European scholars have shifted their interest away from the criminal law, with its emphasis on the individual criminal liability of targets and undercover operatives, toward the exploration of new means for distributing responsibility among complementary institutional actors like police, prosecutors, and judges. Undercover policing has thus increasingly become a problem of criminal procedure, in which undercover tactics have come to be framed as threats to privacy, freedom of association, trial rights, and other civil liberties. As criminal investigations become increasingly transnational, criminal procedure has provided a shared framework of criticism and a familiar repertoire of solutions, facilitating national comparisons and sometimes muting national differences in regulatory norms and approach.

From When the Guards Guard Themselves: Undercover Tactics Turned Inward

A longer version of this paper appears in Policing and Society, 1992, Vol 2, pp.151-172.
Gary T. Marx
You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself.
--James Madison Covert means in the United States have recently become much more important as criminal justice tools3/4 whether directed externally or internally. For example consider the following:
    • In Los Angeles nine officers from an elite narcotics unit were arrested for the large scale theft of seized funds. The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department and the FBI staged a phoney drug operation and videotaped the deputies stealing money. (L.A. Times, Sept. 2, 1989)
    • In Cleveland FBI undercover agents set up and ran two gambling operations as part of a two year sting directed at local police. Thirty officers were arrested as a result and charged with extortion, obstruction of justice and narcotics and gambling violations. (Law Enforcement News, June 15, 1990)
    • A New York prosecutor was arrested after taking money for arranging the dismissal of gun charges against a person he thought was an organized crime figure, but who was actually a federal agent. (Blecker 1984)
    • As part of an FBI undercover operation, a Federal district judge in Florida was arrested on charges of obstructing justice and conspiring to collect bribes from a defendant posing as a racketeer. (New York Times, Nov. 29, 1987).
    • In 1986 the New York City Corrections Department began placing undercover corrections officers in the city's jails to investigate drug offenses, excessive use of force and theft of weapons. (New York Times, Nov. 6, 1986).
These efforts at internal control are illustrative of a broader problem faced by any complex society: controlling those with the authority to control others. In the first century the Roman poet Juvenal asked "quis custodiet ipsos custodes"3/4 "who guards the guards?" There are few questions of greater practical or theoretical import. All organizations of course must devote some attention to matters of internal control. (Katz 1977) But the issue has special poignancy and symbolism when it involves organizations whose primary goal is creating, interpreting or enforcing law.

The answer to Juvenal's question for despotic regimes may be "no one." The guards are a law unto themselves, and with respect to the public are relatively uncontrolled.1 But in the United States with its pluralistic system, the executive, legislative and judicial bodies watch and constrain each other. Outside institutions such as the mass media and professional associations (American Bar Association and International Association of Chiefs of Police) and public interest groups concerned with democracy and civil liberties also play a role.

However the guards are also expected to guard themselves. Self-regulation is a central tenet of professionalization. In the case of law enforcement, by careful selection, training, policy, and supervision the guards are expected to keep their own house in order. Day-to-day responsibility lies with self-control on the part of individual agents and bureaucratically defined supervisory roles, internal affairs units and inspectors general.

This paper focuses on one means of self-regulation which has recently become much more important: undercover tactics.2 The topic of undercover work is rich in complexity and paradox. If we wish to see the guards guarded using these means how is this best done? What are the risks and costs to other important values? If an undercover policy works and is legal, is it therefore necessarily good public policy? Should those in positions of authority be subject to greater restrictions on their liberty because of the greater temptations they face? Can we be sure that the evidence discovered is not itself simply an artifact of the investigation? How should we balance the access to evidence that may be otherwise unavailable, with the invasions of privacy and other unintended consequences that may be present? Will the internal use of covert means lower morale and productivity and mean less risk-taking and innovation? With multiple agencies with overlapping jurisdictions, can authorities avoid ensnaring each other in their traps? Is it appropriate to do good by doing bad? When the state uses deception does it set a bad example, modeling and legitimating the use of deception for its citizens? Given the power of the tactic to tempt and entrap, can political targeting be avoided? These issues run throughout the examples we consider and are discussed in the concluding section.

From Government Cracking Down on Mortgage Fraud

Several federal agencies, including the FBI and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, announced that they had named 24 Chicago-area defendants in indictments for crimes related to mortgage fraud.

"Mortgage fraud often happens with the active participation of professionals in the industry. It is particularly disturbing that the fraud has continued notwithstanding widespread publicity about the real and serious consequences of mortgage fraud," said U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, adding that undercover operations such as this one would continue.

The undercover sting, called "Operation Madhouse," involved agents meeting with loan professionals who then assisted them with providing fraudulent financial information. This practice has been blamed for contributing to the real estate meltdown by giving people access to property and loans they ultimately could not afford.

From Police at G20 will be tense, despite months of planning

The security operation to protect delegates attending the G20 conference is far from straightforward. The police have had to prepare for every possibility – from terrorism to riots to green custard incidents and must manage a crowd ranging from novice protesters to hardcore anarchists.

The trick is to create a hostile environment to deter criminal or antisocial behaviour, while at the same time reassuring the public. It is a difficult balance to achieve. Too many police officers can prove to be intimidating or provocative. Too few opens the door to troublemakers.

The first job in preparing for this type of event is to collect intelligence. Officers will have been scouring the internet and other “open sources” for weeks. They will know that the majority of protesters are law-abiding but they will have identified some activists intent on violence.

What makes the G20 demonstrations unique is the range of pressure groups planning to protest. Protesters concerned with climate change, capitalism, war and globalisation are to be represented. It will be crucial to locate the agitators and those orchestrating disorder as quickly as possible. Police spotters will be stationed at key vantage points while undercover officers mingle among the protesters.

From American Muslims and the FBI by Hesham A. Hassaballa.

In February, it became public that the FBI had sent an informant to several California mosques talking of terrorism and jihad, seeking to actively recruit terrorists. His actions prompted members of the Islamic Center of Irvine to report the informant's inflammatory statements to the FBI and ask for a restraining order against him. Muslims accused the man of being an "agent provocateur" and were shocked by this action. In another incident, an FBI agent allegedly told a mosque member that his life would be a "living hell" if he did not become an informant for the FBI.

These "McCarthy era tactics," as they were called by Muslims, prompted a coalition of Muslim groups to consider suspending ties to the FBI. In a statement, the coalition said: "If the FBI does not accord fair and equitable treatment to every American Muslim organization...then Muslim organizations, mosques and individuals will have no choice but to consider suspending all outreach activities with FBI offices, agents, and other personnel." The statement continued, "This possible suspension, of course, would in no way affect our unshakable duty to report crimes or threats of violence to our nation."

From The mini-city the CIA built by Wayne Madsen

(WMR) -- WMR has obtained a copy of a CIA memo, dated April 8, 1971, which indicates the agency had a vested interest in the development of the Rosslyn, Virginia, office complex from its earliest days.

The memo to the CIA's Director of Logistics, subject: Status of Design, Construction, and Zoning Activities -- Rosslyn Area, states: “On 2 April [name redacted] met with Mr. John Baldwin of the Arlington County Planning Staff, Department of Environmental Affairs, to inquire of on-going, pending, and future actions which are expected to occur in the Rosslyn area.”

The memo also states that “approximately 75 percent of anticipated Rosslyn construction has been completed. Ten buildings remain to be built of the original 40 buildings contemplated.”

WMR previously reported on the use of one of these buildings -- 1911 North Fort Myer Drive -- for a number of CIA front companies operated by CIA officers Edwin Wilson, Ted Shackley, Thomas Clines, and Rafael Quintero to smuggle weapons abroad covertly, in addition to other operations.

The CIA used 1820 North Fort Myer Drive as its Recruitment Office. Also known as the “Robert Ames Building,” 1820 has since been torn down for a new building. A recruitment advertisement for the CIA's Office of SIGINT Operations (OSO), a separate entity from the National Security Agency (NSA), listed the 1820 address as the CIA Recruitment Office.

The CIA's OSO was convenient to the RCA Building at 1901 North Moore Street, where RCA was engaged in contract negotiations with the CIA's OSO to build a number of signals intelligence “outstations,” including facilities in Iran during the Shah's reign, Pakistan, and the People's Republic of China.

From Secret Wars. One Hundred Years of British Intelligence Inside MI5 and MI6 100 years of a spy-empire

"There's a new world out there. Adjust or die," Gordon Thomas quotes former chief of the CIA, Bob Gates. But fortunately for the Western intelligence, people from the "other side" decide to "walk-in" and offer their help. One of these people was (the late) Vladimir Pasechnik from Russia, who contacted the British service to report about his KGB enterprise Biopreparat developing mass-killing toxins, viruses and bacteria. Asked why he did that, he replied: "I want the West to know. There must be a way to stop this madness." Dr. David Kelly (also late by now), a top British microbiology and bio-weapons expert, told the author after his interrogation of Pasechnik: "The really terrifying thing was that I knew Vladimir was telling the truth."

Thomas dedicated more than one chapter of his book to the tragic plight of Dr. Kelly, whose more than 30 trips to Iraq in search of bio-weapons ended by a conclusion that there weren't any. In spite of that, a "sexed-up" intelligence report to the British PM had been used as an excuse for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In the same year, Dr. Kelly, disgraced and left alone by MI6 and MI5, died, or rather was murdered in strange circumstances. Before his death, a number of bacteriologists from several countries, including Britain, Russia and the U.S.A., were killed by unknown perpetrators, allegedly for refusing to share their knowledge with North Korean, Iranian and probably Chinese intelligence.

New threats and at the same challenges to the intelligence services of Britain and the West, described in detail by Gordon Thomas in "Secret Wars", could be summed up as: international terrorism, rogue regimes (North Korea, Iran in particular) and a technological diversion, including professional cyber-attacks, led and developed by some states (Russia and China) and even by members of the Western alliance (Israel). It started in early 1980s with the theft of a powerful tracking software system, PROMIS, invented by a former NSA expert William L. Hamilton and produced by his small Washington D.C.-based company Inslaw Inc.

Of PROMIS a former Mossad operative, Ari Ben Menashe, quoted by the author, said: "PROMIS changed the thinking of the entire intelligence world." And Charles Foster Bass added: "Like any good spy novel, the Cox Report alleges that Chinese spies penetrated four U.S. weapons research labs and stole important information on seven nuclear warhead designs." Only an American citizen and Israel's spy, Jonathan Pollard (still in American top security prison) could do more. Pollard transmitted over 360 cubic feet of U.S. secret documents to Tel Aviv and some were also sold to Russia. A former CIA chief, the late William Casey complained about that to the author: "It was a double blow. It had cost us every worthwhile secret we had. And it had been stolen by a country supposed to be our ally."

But God perhaps rewarded the West and MI6 with a voluntary service of a high-ranking Iranian intelligence general, Ali Reza Asgari from VEVAK, code-named "Falcon", who informed the British intelligence about the nuclear program of Iran and was successfully exfiltrated via Turkey and Bulgaria to the U.K. His motivations were personal and perhaps also monetary, but his services were of top importance to the West.

The spying Great Game goes on undisturbed by moments of failure and agony. The British services, closely cooperating with the American ones, own a big share of the most sophisticated spying technology, including satellite surveillance systems, ECHELON eavesdropping network and the fastest computers in the world. A former CIA chief, William Colby, quoted by the author on the NSA computers, said: "makes lightening look slow. One time there was a program that could translate seven languages at five hundred words per minute. Next time I checked, a month later, it had doubled its capacity and halved its translation time." The various spying technologies like ELINT, SIGINT, IMINT and missile trajectory tracking systems are well described in the book. But all these marvelous inventions are still short of tracking Osama bin Laden in the mountains of Pakistan or Afghanistan and to follow, like PROMIS, the passage of money to terrorists by an ancient Muslim "hawala" human contact network, based on full confidence of the sender, the receiver and the "hawaladar", the money handler.

'We know Orwell for his novels...

...but it's the way he saw the politics of language that makes him relevant.'

From Why We Need to Call a Pig a Pig (With Or Without Lipstick) by Jennie Yabroff

Since its publication in 1945, "Animal Farm" has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide, and become a standard text for schoolchildren, along with Orwell's other dystopian vision of the future, "1984." But it is the writer's essays on the importance of clear language and independent thought that make him relevant. Consider this, from "Politics and the English Language": "The word Fascism has now no meaning except insofar as it signifies 'something not desirable.' The words democracy, socialism, freedom, patriotic, realistic, justice, have each of them several different meanings which cannot be reconciled with one another … Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way." Substitute "anti-American" for "Fascism," and you've summarized the tenor of much of the public conversation regarding the current election and the war in Iraq. "We're so saturated in media today that anyone who is following it is bound to think, 'This is terrible language; what are the effects of these clichés on my mind?' " says George Packer, a staff writer at The New Yorker who has edited two new collections of Orwell's essays, "Facing Unpleasant Facts: Narrative Essays" and "All Art Is Propaganda: Critical Essays." "God knows, I've wanted to use that essay as a purgative. Orwell tells you how to cut through the vapor and get the truth and write about it in a way that is vigorous and clear. Those skills are particularly necessary right now."

Eric Blair was born into what he described as "the lower-upper-middle class" in 1903 in Motohari, India, and spent most of his adult life trying to undo the comforts and privileges his station afforded him. He attended St. Cyprian's prep school in Eastbourne, England, where, he wrote in the essay "Such, Such Were the Joys," he learned "life was more terrible, and I was more wicked, than I had imagined." As a writer, his greatest aim was to ameliorate the conditions that made life terrible; as a man, he lived as though forever attempting to atone for his own wickedness, real or imagined.

After prep school he attended Eton, but instead of going on to university, he joined the Imperial Police, requesting the remote post of Burma. As David Lebedoff writes in his new dual biography, "The Same Man: George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh in Love and War," "it was a desperately lonely life. Some of his colleagues committed suicide and others went mad … he was in a far-off land whose people did not want him there." It was in Burma where Orwell would learn to hate all forms of imperialism. "In a job like that you see the dirty work of Empire at close quarters," he wrote in the essay "Shooting an Elephant." Pressured by an excited mob to kill an elephant, he perceives "that when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom he destroys." After five years in Burma he returned to England, where he slept in homeless shelters and scrounged for work in restaurant kitchens to experience how the poor lived, then went to the dreary, economically depressed north of England to document the condition of the miners. A self-described democratic socialist and fervent anticommunist, he volunteered to fight with the republicans in the Spanish Civil War, where he stood up in the trenches to light a cigarette and promptly was shot through the throat.

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FTC questions cloud-computing security

From Stephanie Condon's report in Politics and Law :

To secure personal information on the cloud, regulators may have to answer questions such as which entities have jurisdiction over data as it flows across borders, whether governments can access that information as it changes jurisdiction, and whether there is more risk in storing personal information in data centers that belong to a single entity rather than multiple data centers.
The current panoply of laws at the state, national, and international level have had insufficient results; FTC Commissioner Pamela Jones Harbour cited a 2008 PricewaterhouseCoopers information security survey (PDF) in which 71 percent of organizations queried said they did not have an accurate inventory of where personal data for employees and customers is stored.

With data management practices that are not always clear and are subject to change, companies that offer cloud-computing services are steering consumers into dangerous territory, said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

Already, problems of identity theft are skyrocketing, he said, and without more regulation, data management services may experience a collapse analogous to that of the financial sector.

"I predict we are going to experience something very similar with respect to privacy within the emerging information economy," Rotenberg said. "We are going to realize we allowed very similar complex transactions to occur between nontransparent organizations, and we will pay."

Later on Tuesday, EPIC asked the FTC to pull the plug on Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, and the company's other Web apps until government-approved "safeguards are verifiably established."

FTC Commissioner Harbour said at Tuesday's conference that it would be preferable if more than one large company such as Google were responsible for storing personal data.

"I see a lot of overlap between competition analysis and security," she said.

Jane Horvath, senior policy counsel for Google, said "privacy by design is ingrained in our culture, and security is one of our fundamental design principles."

If customers do not feel their data is secure in Google products, nothing prohibits them from transferring their data elsewhere, she said.

~ more... ~

The Idiot's Guide to Pakistan

Nicholas Schmidle writes for Foreign Policy :

Bring up the Pakistan-Afghanistan border at a Washington cocktail party and you’re sure to impress. Tick off the name of a Taliban leader or two and make a reference to North Waziristan, and you might be on your way to a lucrative lecture tour. The problem, of course, is that no one knows if you’ll be speaking the truth or not. A map of the border region is crammed with the names of agencies, provinces, frontier regions, and districts, which are sometimes flip-flopped and misused. With only an unselfish interest in making you more-impressive cocktail party material (and thus, getting you booked with a lecture agent during these economic hard times), I want to straighten some things out.

First off, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas are not part of the North-West Frontier Province. The two are separate entities in almost every sense of the word. While the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) is, well, a province with an elected assembly, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) are geographically separate areas governed through “political agents” who are appointed by the president and supported by the governor of NWFP (who is also a presidential appointee). Residents of NWFP technically live according to the laws drafted by the Parliament in Islamabad, while the only nontribal law applicable to residents of FATA is the Frontier Crimes Regulations, a colonial-era dictate sanctioning collective punishment for tribes and subtribes guilty of disrupting the peace.

Within FATA, there are seven “agencies” and six “frontier regions.” The agencies are Bajaur, Mohmand, Khyber, Orakzai, Kurram, North Waziristan and South Waziristan; the somewhat more governed frontier regions (FRs) cling like barnacles to the eastern edge of FATA and include FR Peshawar, FR Kohat, FR Bannu, FR Lakki, FR Tank, and FR Dera Ismail Khan, each of them named after the “settled” districts they border.

All residents of FATA and the vast majority of those in NWFP are ethnically Pashtuns. Pashtuns also make up the majority in Baluchistan, the vast province bordering Iran and Afghanistan, which is named after the minority Baluch. Besides NWFP and Baluchistan, there are two other provinces in Pakistan; Punjab is populated mostly by ethnic Punjabis, and Sindh was historically dominated by Sindhis until millions of Muslims migrated from India at the time of Partition and settled in Sindhi cities such as Karachi and Hyderabad. Now, Sindh is composed of ethnic Sindhis and the descendents of these migrants, known as mohajirs.

Foreigners are prohibited from entering FATA without government permission. If you see a newspaper dateline from a town inside FATA, chances are that the Pakistani Army organized a field trip for reporters. Those traveling unaccompanied into, say, South Waziristan have either a death wish or a really good rapport with the Taliban, who effectively run North and South Waziristan and large portions of the other agencies and frontier regions. The recalcitrance of the tribesmen is hardly something new. In the words of Lord Curzon, the former viceroy of India: “No patchwork scheme -- and all our present recent schemes, blockade, allowances, etc., are mere patchwork -- will settle the Waziristan problem. Not until the military steamroller has passed over the country from end to end, will there be peace. But I do not want to be the person to start that machine.”

~ more... ~

Musical Innerlube:Tinariwen - 'Cler Achel'

Calls for workers to save GM


I hear that the bosses at General Motors are thinking about shutting the company down. I think the workers at GM should occupy the factories and run them themselves democratically. If they called out the National Guard to put it down we could have a general strike.

As a great Wobbly put it: "In our hands is placed a power greater than their hoarded gold."

Joe Randall

John Stockwell: The Third World War

How 6 million People Were killed in CIA secret wars against third world countries. Original video posted:

Monday, March 30, 2009

Spanish official says arrest warrants 'highly probable'

From UPDATE: A Spanish judge has approved a probe of torture complaints against former Bush officials. Details below...

Six Bush-era officials responsible for crafting the legal justifications permitting the military prison at Guantanamo Bay are the subject of a Spanish criminal probe which could place the men under serious risk of arrest if they travel outside the United States.

"[Spanish newspaper] Público identifies the targets as University of California law professor John Yoo, former Department of Defense general counsel William J. Haynes II (now a lawyer working for Chevron), former vice presidential chief-of-staff David Addington, former attorney general and White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, former Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee, now a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and former Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith," noted Scott Horton at Harper's.

He called them Bush's "torture lawyers."

On March 17, Lawrence B. Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, published an editorial in the Washington Note
which accused Bush officials of knowingly holding innocent men in Guantanamo Bay for years.

"The case was sent to the prosecutor's office for review by Baltasar Garzón, the crusading investigative judge who indicted the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet," reported the New York Times. "The official said that it was 'highly probable' that the case would go forward and could lead to arrest warrants."

If the judge decides to open an investigation, it will be the first such legal action outside the United States, the private Cadena Sur radio said.

~ more... ~

Amnesty: Alleged abuses in the context of policing demonstrations in Greece

30 March 2009

Call on the Greek government to set up an independent commission of inquiry

Greek police shot and killed 15-year-old Alexandros-Andreas (Alexis) Gregoropoulos in Athens on 6 December 2008. A longstanding history of human rights violations committed by police in Greece was highlighted by the shooting and by the conduct of officers policing subsequent demonstrations in December 2008 and January 2009.

Following these events, Amnesty International has received numerous reports of such violations by police in the context of policing the protests, including excessive use of force and firearms, torture and other ill-treatment, arbitrary detention and denial of prompt access to legal assistance. Complaints of such violations have also been received from children.

Amnesty International believes that the authorities' response to the killing of Alexis Gregoropoulos and the protests which erupted in the aftermath of his death should not end with the ongoing police and judicial investigations.

In this context, a strong message must be sent to the Greek government that no one can be above the law - especially those charged with enforcing it.

Take ActionJoin Amnesty International in urging the Greek government to set up an independent commission of inquiry, mandated to investigate the full circumstances surrounding the death of Alexis Gregoropoulos and the police response to the demonstrations and the riots that began on 6 December.

IMAGE: Greek riot police threatening the use of firearms against demonstrators, Athens, Greece, 7 December 2008, © Kostas Tsironis

~ Amnesty International ~

Issues with TaxDayTeaParty.com - Explanation

Written by mmeckler on March 29, 2009 - 8:44 pm

An international effort to shut down the TaxDayTeaParty.

com website has been detected by our technical staff. Internet experts commonly call this type of attack a Denial of Service (DOS) attack. Corrective measures are being implemented, and the site should be fully accessible again within 48 hours.

Unfortunately, these DOS attacks are very difficult to trace. In this case, the attacks have come from both domestic and international sources. All we know for certain at this point is that a group of people want to stop this movement. We will not allow this to happen. This citizens´ movement will not be stopped.

We will be issuing an official press release on this issue on Monday, March 30th.

Sunday, March 29th - TaxDayTeaParty.
com Leadership Team

Sounds good? Check out who's supporting this.

Makes one wonder about who tries to hijack all the good ideas.

Revealed: police databank on thousands of protesters (UK)

From a report by Paul Lewis and Marc Vallée in The Guardian :

"Shocking footage shot by police, accompanied by their own critical commentary, shows how their officers monitored campaigners and the media – and demanded personal information – at last August's climate camp demonstration in Kent Link to this video"

Films and details of campaigners and journalists may breach Human Rights Act

" ...Disclosures through the Freedom of Information Act, court testimony, an interview with a senior Met officer and police surveillance footage obtained by the Guardian have ­established that ­private information about activists ­gathered through surveillance is being stored without the knowledge of the people monitored.

Police surveillance teams are also ­targeting journalists who cover demonstrations, and are believed to have ­monitored members of the press during at least eight protests over the last year.

The Guardian has found:

•Activists "seen on a regular basis" as well as those deemed on the "periphery" of demonstrations are included on the police databases, regardless of whether they have been convicted or arrested.

•Names, political associations and photographs of protesters from across the political spectrum – from campaigners against the third runway at Heathrow to anti-war activists – are catalogued.

•Police forces are exchanging information about pro­testers stored on their intelligence systems, enabling officers from different forces to search which political events an individual has attended.

Lawyers said tonight they expect the Guardian's investigation to form the basis of a legal challenge against the use of police surveillance tactics.

Liberty, the human rights group, is challenging the police surveillance tactics in a judicial review at the court of appeal. But police appear not to have disclosed to the court that they were transferring private details of campaigners to a database. ..."

~ more... ~


From the Woody Allen classic

From the film's Wikipedia entry :

Different cuts of the movie

There are two known cuts of Sleeper. The first, seemingly original cut, contains a dinner scene shortly after Miles (Allen) and Luna (Keaton) return to the house where Miles was originally taken after revival. In the dialogue-less scene, Miles eats in time with a piano soundtrack while Luna watches him in amazement. In another cut distributed in the US, this scene is absent but another, in which Miles shaves using a high-tech mirror and accidentally tunes into the view from the mirror in another bathroom, is present in its place. The latter cut is on the MGM 2000 DVD, which has both a widescreen and full-screen version of the film, a trailer, Spanish dubbing, and French subtitles.

The network television version cuts the scene in which Miles and Luna discover a 1990's newspaper with the headline "Pope's Wife Gives Birth to Twins".

From The Sleeper Revived by Laurel Petriello

Having experienced a short-lived fame revival, the house is perhaps best recalled as the setting of Woody Allen’s 1973 sci-fi cult classic, Sleeper. Beyond its pop culture celebrity, the Sculptured House became nothing more than a dilapidated haven for various wildlife, teenage boredom and vandalism.

The house lay dormant for over 30 years at the time of Charles Deaton’s death in December 1996. Additionally, the first incarnation of his vision, the original plaster mold of the house was accidentally knocked over and destroyed at his funeral service.

Cut to the scene where Prince Charming wakes the sleeping princess. John Huggins, a Colorado native and Internet software millionaire, was fascinated by the proverbial house on the hill since he was a child. In 1999, he purchased the Sculptured House for $1.3 million with the intent to restore and complete construction.

Working closely with Deaton’s daughter, Charlee, and her husband, architect Nick Antonopoulos, Deaton’s former protégé, Huggins succeeded in completing the home according to Deaton’s original plans. Huggins was faithful to Deaton’s design while adding modern creature comforts. The finished product included a 5000-square-foot addition originally drafted by Deaton, featuring a five-car underground garage, caretaker quarters, media room and massive patio, among others.

Seed ball story

by Jim Bones

The story of how to make and use seed balls for reforestation, arid land rehabilitation and agriculture based on the ideas of Masanobu Fukuoka

The Police - 'Synchronicity II'

Chance in art

From Stumbling over / upon art by Dario Gamboni

One classical interpretation of “chance in art” is that of the “image made by chance.”2 The phenomenon is documented across times and cultures and can be understood as a particularly explicit manifestation of the active, cognitive (or “projective”) nature of visual perception. In fact, the earliest known “image” associated with humans—or rather pre-humans—, the pebble found at Makapansgat in South Africa, is supposed to have been selected, transported, and preserved some three million years ago because it happened to look like a face.3 Rather than the first work of art, it can claim to be the first Readymade, as one commentator facetiously remarked.4 Depending on the current views of the origin and working of the universe, such “images” have been attributed to the gods, God, or some other supernatural beings; to Nature acting as an artist or to her blind mechanical laws; or to man’s own eye and mind, the human imagination, or the “unconscious.”

Ferrous pebble of reddish color found in 1925 at Makapansgat, South Africa. Bernard Price Institute of Paleontology, University of Witwaterrsand, Johannesburg. Photo Robert G. Bednarik.

The last group of interpretations, which could be labeled “endogenic,” first gained prominence in Late Antiquity and the Renaissance, and has dominated the Western understanding of this question from the late eighteenth century to the present.5 Despite its apparently monistic character, it does retain a crucial element of the earlier “exogenic” interpretations: for the accidental image to be perceived as an image, a “sender” must be at least implicitly postulated by the receiver.6 If this sender is situated in the receiver, it becomes an Other within the subject. This explains the connection between chance images and Freud’s notion of “the uncanny” (das Unheimliche) and the fascination they have exerted upon the Surrealists.

From Chance in art - The indeterminacy aesthetic 2 by Andrew Bogle

Crucial to all forms of divination, including those involving indeterminate configurations, is the empirical concept of acausal synchronicity - the orderedness of events which has no intelligible cause. This holds that all things are interconnected by a complex web of relations - from the smallest blade of grass to the remotest star; and that any given moment, any event is inextricably related to every other event. The significance of such an attitude is that it accepts multiple perspectives of events in place of a narrow one-point perspective. Consistent with such a premise is the use by contemporary artists of oracular, ludic and other aleatoric techniques as a means of relinquishing some cognitive control over the creative act, thereby bringing some 'magical' contingencies of the transient moment into play.

The Christchurch artist John Hurrell by using dice to select permutations of prescribed set of geometric shapes and colours within an over-all grid structure for his Dice Pieces paintings, is literally working in an aleatoric mode. The stark geometry, hard edges and flat unmodulated colours of Hurrell's Dice Pieces belie their fortuitous composition. First the artist sketched his grid plan on paper; then ran off a series of duplicates. Next he decided on a range of variables (triangle lozenge, diamond, assorted colours) with which to 'flesh out' the skeleton structure. By ascribing numbers to the variables, tossing dice and recording the results on the paper plans, a final composition was divined. Only later was the design scaled up, transposed to canvas and painted in, The indeterminate part of the process was relegated to the plotting of the composition, not to the execution. In the final stage the use of masking tape and unmodulated colours minimised gestural irregularities. Any two or more paintings produced by this process, all conditions being equal, will look fundamentally similar, but differ in detail, in the same way that dalmatian pups from a litter or assorted snow crystals are at once homogeneous and yet unique.

From Chance and Necessity - Selections from the Kentler Flatfiles by Isabelle Dervaux

Several drawings in the exhibition are based on nature, not as a source of observation and transformation, but through a process involving direct contact with a natural element. Thus Martin Zet's Sea Drawings are literally produced by the motion of waves washing over the sheets of paper that he places on the sand or stones near a body of water, while Florence Neal's large, evocative charcoal drawings are rubbings of tree bark. Such methods recall surrealist practices, including coulage and frottage, which gave an important role to chance in artistic creation. But unlike the surrealists, for whom such practices were often a starting point to stimulate their imagination and develop new imagery, Zet and Neal preserve the drawings as they first emerge from the random process. With the precision of scientists making an experiment, both artists carefully record the geographical spot where each drawing was created, as well as, in the case of Neal, the species of tree from which the rubbing was made.

Rather than a specific style, what unites all of these works are the notions of process and chance. The result may suggest spontaneity and raw impulse, but the carefully planned methodology and the systematic recording of the conditions in which they were executed also relate these works to the kind of abstraction more obviously based on structures and systems. It is significant that several of the artists in this exhibition have mentioned the importance of John Cage in their development. Cage’s revolutionary introduction of the element of chance in art, as well as the priority he gave to process over structure, opened the door to a wide range of new possibilities, in the visual arts as well as in music. Richard Howe, for example, acknowledged the influence on his drawings of his experience working on Cage’s scores in the 1960s. Howe’s teeming compositions call to mind the ambiguous relationship between order and chaos that was central to Cage’s theory and practice.

Turning to artists whose drawings rely more directly on the codified language of geometric structures, one notices that their predetermined order is often balanced by some element of indetermination. Thus Mary Judge’s elegant symmetrical patterns derive their organic quality from the medium--powdered pigment--which is applied in such a way that each line, made of irregular dots, acquires a life of its own. Despite the regularity of the motifs, the drawings are vibrant with a sense of unpredictability--a feature that is alluded to in a title like Automatic Drawing, with its reference to another surrealist device involving chance.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan - 'Must nazron se Allah bachaye'


[ via Soraya ]

FKN Newz - Debt for ever

FKN Newz Blog - http://www.main.fknnewz.com/blog/index.php

Debt Bomb in Wall Street , no one dead, no one injured ,no one bothered. Drug war fuelled by high profits and stating the obvious says Hilary clinton. Peace is 'enduring goal' says Netanyahu: a piece of palestine lebbanon,syria etc
In the UK terror fairy tale grows and spying becomes a way of life for 1000s

Hello disparate ineffective voices, welcome to the fkn news Im fat bald and ugly here are the headlies tonight....

Sunday, March 29, 2009

An ancient basis for tomorrow's financial regulations: Rethinking usury law

From a blog post by Jay Michaelson in The Huffington Post :

 On Thursday, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announced sweeping changes in the nation's finance rules, specifically targeting the derivative financial products that led to the credit crisis, mortgage crisis, banking crisis, and the crisis in the American automobile industry.. Predictably, some conservatives have responded that such policies would lead to "socialism," or a similar compromise of the free-enterprise American dream.

In fact, such regulations are as old as the Ten Commandments, and as American as apple pie: they are nothing more than an update of the ancient prohibitions on usury, or the unfair charging of interest. And while today, "usury" has a whiff of the antiquarian about it (or worse, one of antisemitism), if we look closely at what usury laws were meant to do, I think we'll discover that they are much more relevant, and worthy, than we might suppose.

Western civilization's original usury laws are found in the Bible: the Torah contains several prohibitions against lending money at interest, and the New Testament several condemnations of it. Deuteronomy 23:20-21 is representative: "Thou shalt not lend upon interest to thy brother: interest of money, interest of victuals, interest of any thing that is lent upon interest. Unto a foreigner thou mayest lend upon interest; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon interest; that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all that thou puttest thy hand unto, in the land whither thou goest in to possess it."

I will return to the distinction between Israelite and foreigner below, but first, however, I want to explore rationales for the usury prohibition in the first place. In the Deuteronomy passage above, the reason is somewhat generic: interest is forbidden, like many other ritual and ethical acts, "so that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all that thou puttest thy hand unto."

In Leviticus 25:35-37, however, a more specific reason is given: "And if thy brother be waxen poor, and his means fail with thee; then thou shalt uphold him: as a stranger and a settler shall he live with thee. Take thou no interest of him or increase; but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee. Thou shalt not give him thy money upon interest, nor give him thy victuals for increase."

Here, at least two reasons are given: first, the ethical value of caring for the poor, an second, "that thy brother may live with thee." If one were to charge interest, the text suggests, the bonds of society would collapse; rich and poor could not live together. Leviticus goes no further than this, but later commentators in Jewish and Christian traditions developed these dual rationales. St. Thomas Aquinas, for example, said that usury is both morally wrong and an improper form of "double-charging," because money is a means of commerce, not a thing in itself.

~ more... ~

Judges deal blow to CIA 'kidnap' trial

John Hooper reported from Rome for The Guardian :

A trial in which 25 CIA agents are accused of kidnapping a terrorism suspect ran into serious difficulties last night when Italy's constitutional court upheld key objections raised by the Italian government.

Prosecutors say the suspect - Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar - was snatched off the streets of Milan six years ago and flown to Egypt. There, he has claimed, he was tortured under interrogation.

The constitutional court decided that in building up their case against the US intelligence operatives and another eight defendants the prosecutors violated state secrecy. In particular, the judges upheld objections to the use of material gathered in a raid in 2006 on an unofficial outpost of the intelligence service in Rome.

The court revoked several passages in the indictment. But it was not immediately clear if their ruling would mean the trial had to be called off.

The case represents the most comprehensive effort anywhere to apply the law to an alleged extraordinary rendition, in which a terrorist suspect is seized by US officials in a foreign country. In several renditions since the Bush administration launched its "war on terror" the suspects are alleged to have been transferred to third nations where torture was used.

Italy's prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, headed a previous government at the time of Omar's disappearance. He and the head of Italy's last, centre-left administration, Romano Prodi, both endorsed challenges to the trial's legality.

The court did not uphold all the state's arguments. In its one-page ruling, it said the prosecutors were entitled to order wiretaps to be put on the telephones of Italian intelligence officers.

Mainstream media focus on violence in Greece...

...rather than on the marvelous, beautiful movement that is the uprising.

For instance:

From The Times : Athens wracked by violence

...Greece has been plagued by daily bombings and arson attacks on banks and multinational businesses since the police shooting of a teenager in December, which sparked the worst riots the country has seen in decades...

From Easy Bourse : Youths Attack Stores In Greek City Of Thessaloniki

Unknown assailants attacked a car dealership in Athens using petrol bombs and gas cannisters today, causing serious damage but no injuries in the latest spree of violence to rock the Greek capital...

This may be part of the strategy of containment that is unfolding. When the police or places of business are attacked, the news reaches an international audience. When squatters defending a public park from the Athens mayor's bulldozers because they don't want to see it turned into a parking garage are viciously attacked by hoodlums and barely manage to survive, the issue is buried.

The truth is that politicians are so frightened by the prospect of people actually taking charge of their lives, their futures and the common property that is rightfully their inheritance, that they have imposed a media blackout on all the peaceful -- and effective -- actions taking place all over the country. The large passive majority who depend on mainstream media for their news have no clue that actions are unfolding all the time. Many think the uprising is something that ended in December.

Nothing could be further from the truth. New squats are being announced daily. Groups ranging from artists to the gay/lesbian community are presenting and outlining new models of behavior and tolerance, and are challenging the monolithic control of all life that seems to be the purpose and understanding of what we otherwise call the marketplace. New paradigms are being presented to the public psyche.

The system prefers a passive populace who lack the resources to actively protest the rape of all that is, by reason, their rightful legacy and just provenance: civil and human liberties, property, the right to determine and enjoy the fruits of their labor, the right to voice their opinions and to actively give shape to their future, etc. It would appear that the 'free world' is challenged by those who would deign to be free.

And so, while the Greek state is preparing for a possible state of siege -- besieged itself by its true master, the moneylenders who keep downrating its borrowing status until they are satisfied that compliance with their order of things is back on track -- and while police state tactics continue to unfold, and while there is an uncanny silence about the rising body count of unknowns since the uprising began -- fished from Piraeus harbor or found in deserted fields -- Greek lawmakers are busy studying the tactics of the rebels in order to legislate against them.

They have much to legislate against, and squatters appear to be first on their list. Squatting has become the latest vogue. People are squatting on public property. Entire communities are reclaiming the commons from municipal authorities for whom public lands are nothing more than cash cows. Not only is the Greek state entering another privatization frenzy in its effort to appease the moneylenders but memories are raw from the forest lands that were ravaged by fire in recent years and turned into plots for sale. People are squatting in their workplaces to protest labor conditions. People are occupying union buildings, university campuses and even the national music hall in Athens was 'liberated' for nine days.

The latest squat, 'inaugurated' yesterday in the Alsos of Pangrati, was a beautiful display of community solidarity. The community is trying to prevent the mayor's plan to resurrect an old theater with a new concession stand. The community responded by bringing their children to the park's playground, where they played and painted and were entertained by music and even a radical version of the classic shadow puppet theater. Squatters of public lands in the Athens area will be marching en masse to City Hall in a couple of days.

The truth is the state apparatus has its work cut out for it. Its greatest fear is that its irrelevance, and perhaps even the danger it poses, to the population it theoretically serves, will become evident. And that the people will discover they are more capable of defending all the things that the politicians have been pilfering and selling by stealth to the money people for so long that they now consider this to be the natural order of the universe.

The ruse of Israel's new government

From Tikkun :

Uri Avnery analyzes the strategy to avoid peace and reconciliaition that will be the center of the Israeli government's approach to manipulating Barack Obama.

Uri Avnery

[Former Member of Knesset Uri Avnery is the most respected leader of Israel's peace movement. He is chair of Gush Shalom and lives in Tel Aviv.]

Biberman & Co.

IS THIS the government of Biberman (Bibi Netanyahu and Avigdor Liberman) or perhaps of Bibarak (Bibi and Ehud Barak)?

Neither. It is the government of Bibiyahu.

Binyamin Netanyahu has proven that he is a consummate politician. He has realized the dream of every politician (and theatergoer): a good place in the middle. In his new government he can play off the fascists on the right against the socialists on the left, Liberman's secularists against the orthodox of Shas. An ideal situation.

The coalition is large enough to be immune from blackmail by any of its component parties. If some Labor members break coalition discipline, Netanyahu will still command a majority. Or if the rightists make trouble. Or if the orthodox try to stick a knife in his back.

This government is committed to nothing. Its written “Basic Guidelines” – a document signed by all partners of a new Israeli government – are completely nebulous. (And anyhow, Basic Guidelines are worthless. All Israeli governments have broken their agreed Basic Guidelines without batting an eyelid. They always prove to be rubber checks.)

All this was acquired by Netanyahu on the cheap – a few billions of economic promises that he would not dream of fulfilling. The treasury is empty. As one of his predecessors in the Prime Minister's office, Levy Eshkol, famously said: “I promised, but I did not promise to keep my promises.”

He also bestowed ministries on all and sundry. This little country will have 27 ministers and six deputy ministers. So what? If necessary, Netanyahu would have given a ministerial chair to each of the 74 members of the coalition.

THE PINNACLE of his achievement was the acquisition of the Labor party for his government.

In one stroke he turned a government of lepers, which would have been viewed by the whole world as a crazy bunch of ultra-nationalists, racists and fascists, into a sane and balanced government of the center. All this without changing its character in the least.

The most ardent supporter of this feat was Liberman, the new Foreign Minister of Israel. This extreme racist, this spiritual brother of the French Jean-Marie Le Pen and the Austrian Joerg Haider (I hope both, the living and the dead, will not feel insulted), was very anxious about what was awaiting him. In his imagination he saw himself extending his hand to Hillary Clinton and being left with his arm dangling in the air. Leaning forward to kiss Angela Merkel only to see her draw back in horror. Unpleasant.

The addition of the Labor Party solves everybody's problem. If the social democrats are joining the government, all this talk of fascism must be nonsense. Obviously, Liberman has been misunderstood. He has been misrepresented. He is not a fascist at all, God forbid. He is not a racist. He is just a traditional right-wing demagogue who exploits the primitive emotions of the masses to garner votes. Which elected politician could object to that?

Indeed, the whole government has been given a kosher certificate by Ehud Barak. He continues the glorious Labor Party tradition of political prostitution. In 1977, Moshe Dayan entered the new government of Menachem Begin and gave it a kosher certificate, when the entire world considered Begin a dangerous nationalist adventurer. In 2001, Shimon Peres entered the new government of Ariel Sharon and gave him a kosher certificate, when the entire world saw in Sharon the man responsible for the Sabra and Shatila massacre.

WHY DID Barak do this? And why did the majority of the Labor Party support him?

Labor is a government party. It has never been anything else. As early as 1933 it took over the Zionist movement, and since than it ruled the Yishuv (the pre-1948 Jewish community in Palestine) and the state without interruption until Begin's ascent to power in 1977. For 44 consecutive years it held unchallenged power over the economy, the army, the police, the security services, the education system, the health system and the Histadrut, the then all-powerful labor federation.

Power is encoded in the party's DNA. It's much more than a political matter – it's its whole character, its mentality, its world view. The party is unable to be an opposition. It does not know what that is, and even less what to do with it.

I observed the Labor members in the Knesset, during the short periods they were stuck in opposition. They were downcast and mournful. Dozens of them were wandering forlornly around the corridors, like phantoms, lost souls. When they went up to the rostrum, they sounded like government spokesmen.

The Likud suffers from the opposite syndrome. Their predecessors were in opposition throughout the days of the Yishuv and during the first 29 years of the state. Opposition is in the blood of Likudniks. Even now, after many years (with interruptions) in government, they behave like an opposition. They are the eternal discriminated-against, miserable and bitter, people from the outside looking in, full of hate and envy.

Ehud Barak personifies the syndrome of his party. Everything is owed to him. Power is owed to him, the Ministry of Defense is owed to him. I would not have been surprised if he had insisted on a clause in the coalition agreement appointing him Minister of Defense for life (and his yeoman, Shalom Simchon, Minister of Agriculture for life). Governments come and governments go, but Ehud Barak must be the Minister of Defense – be the government rightist or leftist, fascist or communist, atheist or theocratic. It does not matter how he functions in his job – his appraisal can be nothing less than perfect.

SO WHAT will this government do? What can it do?

As far as the most important matter is concerned, there is complete unanimity. Liberman, Netanyahu, Barak, Ellie Yishai of Shas and Danny Hershkovitz of the “Jewish Home” party are in total agreement about the Palestinians. All of them agree on the need to prevent the establishment of a real Palestinian state. All of them agree not to talk with Hamas. All of them support the settlement enterprise. During Barak's stint as Prime Minister, the settlements grew even faster than during Netanyahu's tenure. Liberman is himself a settler, Hershkovitz's party represents the settlers. All of them believe that there is no need for peace, that peace is bad for us. (After all, it was Barak, not Netanyahu or Liberman, who coined the phrase “We Have No Partner for Peace”.)

So what will be the real platform of this government?

In four words: Deception for the fatherland.

ON THIS government's chosen path there lies a huge rock: the United States of America.

While Israel made a big leap to the right, the US has made a big leap to the left. One can hardly imagine a greater contrast than that between Binyamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama. Or between the two Bara(c)ks – Barack Obama and Ehud Barak

Netanyahu is conscious of this problem, perhaps more than any other Israeli leader. He grew up in the US, after his father, a history professor in Jerusalem, felt himself deprived of his rightful place in academia because of his extreme right-wing views and went to America. There Binyamin attended high-school and university. He speaks the fluent American English of a traveling salesman.

If there is one thing that unites practically all Israelis, from right to left, it is the conviction that the relationship between Israel and the US is critical for the security of the state. Netanyahu's main concern is, therefore, to prevent a serious break between the two countries.

Barak was admitted to the government precisely in order to avoid such a clash. Netanyahu wants to visit the White House with Barak, not Liberman, at his side.

The clash seems inevitable. Obama wants to create a new order in the Middle East. He knows that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict poisons the atmosphere against America in the Arab, and indeed in the entire Muslim world. He wants a solution to the conflict – exactly what Netanyahu and his partners want to prevent at any price, except the price of a breach with the US.

How to do this?

The solution is written in the Bible (Proverbs 24:6): “For by ruses thou shalt make thy war.”

(In the King James version, the Hebrew word Takhbulot is translated as “wise counsel”. In Modern Hebrew it means ruses, tricks, ploys – and that is the way it is understood by all Hebrew-speakers today.)

FROM THE beginnings of Zionism, its leaders have known that their vision necessitates a large measure of make-belief. It is impossible to take over a country inhabited by another people without disguising the aim, diverting attention, hiding the acts on the ground behind a screen of flowery words.

All states lie, of course. 400 years ago, a British diplomat, Sir Henry Wotton, observed: “An ambassador is an honest man sent to lie abroad for the good of his country.” Because of the special circumstances of their enterprise, the Zionists have had to use deceit perhaps a bit more than usual.

Now the task is to present to the world, and especially the US and Europe, a false picture, pretending that our new government is yearning for peace, acting for peace, indeed turning every stone in search of peace - while doing the exact opposite. The world will be submerged by a deluge of declarations and promises, accompanied by lots of meaningless gestures, conferences and meetings.

People with good ears are already hearing Netanyahu, Liberman and Barak starting to play around with the “Arab Peace Initiative”. They will talk about it, interpret it, accept it ostensibly while attaching conditions that empty it of all content.

The great advantage of this initiative is that it does not come from the Palestinians, and therefore does not require negotiations with the Palestinians. Like the deceased “Jordanian Option” and others of its kind, it serves as a substitute for a dialogue with the Palestinians. The Arab League includes 22 governments, some of which cooperate on the sly with the Israeli leadership. They can be relied on not to agree among themselves on anything practical.

BUT DECEIVING, like dancing the tango, takes two: one who deceives and one who wants to be deceived.

Netanyahu believes that Obama will want to be deceived. Why would he want to quarrel with Israel, confront the mighty pro-Israel lobby and the US Congress, when he can settle for soothing words from Netanyahu? Not to mention Europe, divided and ridden by Holocaust guilt, and the pathetic Tony Blair moving around like a restless ghost.

Is Obama ready to play, like most of his predecessors, the role of the deceived lover?

The Biberman/Bibarak/Bibiyahu government believes that the answer is a resounding yes. I hope that it will be a resounding No.


image from http://www.spitting-image.net

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