Bomb Explodes Outside US Embasy in Tbilisi

Blast in Tbilisi

Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 22 Sep.’10 / 13:05

An explosive device went off at about 1am on Wednesday in suburb of Tbilisi, about 100 meters from the U.S. embassy building, police said.

No one was injured.

Police destroyed with water cannon another explosive device found in the same site, where formerly an open-air auto market was located. Now empty area is next to a cemetery and explosion damaged its wall and a grave.

A wall, dividing the U.S. embassy territory from the area, is located about 60-70 meters from the location where the explosive devices were set off, Shota Utiashvili, head of information and analytical department of the interior minister, told Civil.ge. He said the embassy wall was not damaged.

The U.S. embassy in Tbilisi confirmed that its property was not damaged.

Police said the investigation was ongoing and declined to reveal type of explosive devices or other details.

Trump Signs On to Saakashvili’s Free Enterprise Paradise Experiment

[SEE: Saakashvili Lays Out ‘Act on Economic Freedom‘ ;  Poti Free Industrial Zone]

Letter of Intent signed between Trump Organization and Silk Road Group on Georgia Development

22 Sep 2010

On September 21st, in New York City, at the Trump Tower on 5th Avenue, Mr.Donald Trump and Mr. Giorgi Ramishvili, Chairman of the Silk Road Group, have signed the document that marks the initial step for the well known Trump brand to enter the Georgian real estate market. The signed letter of intent calls for the first ever Trump-tower in Tbilisi as well as potential projects to be constructed in Adjara Sea resorts. The signing ceremony in New York City was attended by the President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili along with other important guests and the members of the Georgian and US press.

The possibility for the Trump brand to enter Georgia was first discussed in New York, during the meeting between President Saakashvili and Mr. Trump. The meeting was organized by the Silk Road Trans-Atlantic Alliance, the US extension of the Silk Road Group. The New York meeting was followed by Mr. Michael Cohen’s visit to Georgia in July, in order to take a firsthand look at the potential sites for the first Trump project in the country. Mr. Cohen is an Executive Vice President of the Trump Organization. The signed letter of intent is the result of a number of consultations in recent months and came after a careful analysis of the market potential of Georgia.

“We are delighted to have an opportunity to partner up with Mr. Trump and his entire organization. I am confident that the signature – golden standard- of the Trump brand that is well known to the world, will give the additional boost to the Georgian real estate market and to the growing Georgian economy as a whole. I’ve pledged to Mr. Trump that our company, Silk Road Group and I personally will do our best to make the Trump project a reality, and I also thank him for his trust in our company and in the future of my country” – says Mr. Ramishvili.

Gazprom under Pressure

Gazprom under Pressure

Western energy companies charge by the Russian gas giant discounts as prices fall on the open market. However, the Group has stubbornly

Eduard Steiner

When the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is something in his head, he moves through it like it. How has the present, he told recently in the southern Russian resort of Sochi. There interviewed the 57-year-old during a conversation hour with foreign experts so to speak themselves, “What brings a company more profitable?” he asked. “Flexible and have to make concessions to keep the whole market share – or to be harder, not give in and accept a loss of market share” Putin said the management of semi-state gas giant Gazprom and critically acclaimed that the manager – probably with his blessing – have opted for the hardness, “And so they should be able to continue on this path.”

Hardness regardless of the consequences: experts and Western customers shake their heads. The fact that Gazprom is still on its long-term customer contracts and the binding persists in the gas price to oil products, while on the open market, the gas is far cheaper to have, contrary to market-based logic. Gazprom’s average price is currently at 280 dollars per 1,000 cubic meters, the average spot price as on the relevant U.S. Henry Hub in August at about $ 160. “The changed market situation for us all new,” says one Western Gas Manager in Moscow: “Like other participants and Gazprom will be forced to react.”

The economic crisis has dampened demand in Europe, Gazprom’s main market sensitive. Then there was that the U.S. stopped because of the production slate (“Shale Gas”) the import of LPG. Your previous supplier, the State of Qatar, was forced then to divert its gas to Europe. The Norwegians, as Germany quickly charged a quarter of the gas supplied to cheaper spot prices, gained market share. Although Russia remains Europe’s largest supplier and disclosed in the European OECD countries, only 27 percent of gas imports, two years ago but there were still 31 percent ten years ago, even 39 percent.

“Gazprom is under enormous pressure,” says a representative of a western gas company, who declined to be named. Customers regret having embarked on the long-term purchase contracts with specified quantities and with oil prices and demand an easing of the contracts. But Gazprom is hard. And with Putin’s backing. While Gazprom is not entirely without compromise. In part, the Russians have made concessions. Mainly E.on provided with the outcome, now 15 percent of the gas purchased from Gazprom to pay for cheaper spot prices for attention. The competitors keep up with their negotiated outcomes on the other hand behind the mountain. The German Wintershall will be made no worse than the others, with the Group reported a confidant, Gazprom pay attention to equality. Whether it is the smaller customer RWE been bestowed, will not comment on it. “And Gazprom itself not published the data,” said Dmitri Absalov, gas expert at the Moscow Center for Political economy. The group wants to create a precedent.

Not only German customers speak to at Gazprom or advertise in the foyers of the Russian decision-making points for their concerns. The lobbyists French and Italian gas companies romp there. Gazprom says no to requests, says only that it had already shown “flexibility” – but the principle of long-term contracts will be retained.

The question is of course not, if all consumers achieve a negotiated outcome of E.on. The question has been how to Gazprom wrests further concessions.”Western companies are not to be complacent,” says one Western Gas Manager. In the headquarters of E.on and Wintershall are added diplomatically: You lead them further talks with all major gas producers, with the long-term supply contracts to the current market conditions, adapt, they say about at E.ON.

Gazprom itself provides the flexibility exhausted and therefore neither possible nor a need for further negotiations. Gazprom is not a “Konjunkturschik,” Gazprom deputy chairman Alexander Medvedev said some time ago. Meaning, Gazprom is sitting on market fluctuations. The fact that the Russians are playing for time, had to do with the national character, says Mikhail Korchemkin, director of East European Gas Analysis consultancy institute: “According to the mentality of the Russians yielding nothing but demonstration of weakness.” Nevertheless, the large customers in the West prospect of further success, experts say: “buy Price Breaker as Germany, France or Italy, the gas also at Gazprom’s competitors, have better opportunities than small customers,” said Valery Nesterov, gas analyst at the Russian investment bank Troika dialogue. “The Russians are not panicking, but concerned.”

If the gas market will recover and adjust the spot prices reflect the long term, lose their customers leverage. Unlike many Western Group believes Gazprom’s deputy chairman Dmitry Medvedev that the demand on the market already in 2012 and is expected to climb to reach the pre-crisis thus the spot price on the same level as the long-run Gazprom’s price. The U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts that the other hand, the average Henry Hub spot price of only 173 dollars for 1,000 cubic meters in 2010 and $ 180 2011th

But even if the spot price rises faster and can defend against Gazprom, therefore, the siege of western customers with tangible evidence: the company still runs out of time. Not only in Europe, the Group loses market share. Also from other continents are disturbing news. Some of America: There are operators of ports for liquefied just about to put in position to import gas, not just export from the United States as well. A blow to Gazprom: Finally, the Group had calculated that in the previous year, increasing by 2020 its market share in the U.S. from the current measly 0.5 percent to five to ten percent by gas from new deposits in liquid form over the Atlantic shipped. The U.S. needs imported gas less, that China requires more and more. But the People’s Republic is located closer to the Central Asian states. And China is looking to LNG in the spot market to the world. One of the biggest challenges faced by Russia in the coming decade, the preparations were on the structural changes in the energy market, therefore argues Xenija Judajewa, principal analyst of Macroeconomics at the largest Russian bank Sberbank. “The substantial weakening in Europe, Gazprom does not have to degenerate into a national tragedy, but it takes more serious approaches to the management of this group.”

In part, Gazprom has already responded. And through diversification. Took the gas business a year ago, yet 73 percent of Group sales, so it is in the first quarter of 2010, only 64 percent. The oil business is increasingly important, and the current production already accounts for ten percent of sales.

Five years ago, Gazprom has taken the new course in order to transform itself from a “national champion” to a global multi-energy. This also contributed to the fact that Gazprom has tripled in spite of all difficulties on the gas market in the first quarter net profit last year to 8.3 billion euros. The sensational result owes itself but also exchange rate differences – and the domestic Russian gas customers. She, who always had to supply the Group with two thirds of its gas, without having to make some needed, due to higher domestic prices last dig deeper into their pocket. And because domestic prices continue to rise, could be the domestic market estimated to be important in five years, as Gazprom’s previous “Cachcow Europe”.

Iranian journalist Hossein Derakhshan going to be executed for blog

Iranian journalist Hossein Derakhshan going to be executed for blog entry

08:06 25.09.2010

Iranian journalist executed for going to blog entries

Iranian Prosecutor demands to sentence to death a well-known Iranian blogger and journalist Hossein Derakhshan, who criticized the government. He presented a number of charges, including in collaboration with the enemy states, propaganda against the Islamic regime in Iran, insulting religious sanctities and spying for Israel.

Hossein Derakhshan worked for several years and lived in Canada and Britain, has, in addition to the Iranian and Canadian passports. He led a blog in Persian, that is, where he lived abroad, “Vesti FM”. Arrested him immediately on his return to his homeland in 2008.

In his first blog Hossain criticized the Iranian political and religious establishment, sought to advance democratic reforms. In this case, before returning to Iran, he allegedly received from the authorities the assurance that it will not be prosecuted.

All of these charges – very serious, the situation of bloggers are really dangerous. Mother Derakhshan, Ozra Kiarashpur, confirmed this: “The prosecutor demanded the most severe measures to punish Hossain as a warning to others.”

The trial took place behind closed doors. In support of the bloggers have already made some political and public figures. For his fate as closely watched in many foreign countries.

Source – newsru.com

Iowa City protest group drew FBI attention

Iowa City protest group drew FBI attention

BY DI STAFF | SEPTEMBER

According to documents obtained by the Des Moines Register, the FBI followed a group of Iowa City political activists in 2008.

The agency feared the protesters — called the Wild Rose Rebellion — were part of a nationwide web of radicals that would disrupt the Republican Convention in St. Paul and the Democratic Convention in Denver.

The FBI trailed the group during a nine-month investigation by following protesters’ movements around Iowa City, photographing them, going through their garbage, and studying phone and motor-vehicle records.

The probe ended when bureau agents said they had found an “association with other anarchist extremist networks” but the group was not engaged in “specific criminal activity.”

David Goodner, a former member of the University of Iowa’s Antiwar Committee, obtained the documents through the Freedom of Information Act before giving them to the Des Moines newspaper.

— by Nina Earnest

FBI Raiding Antiwar Activists in Terror Investigation

FBI Raiding Antiwar Activists in Terror Investigation

| September 24, 2010

Details from the Minneapolis St. Paul Pioneer Press:

The FBI raided the homes of six political activists in Minneapolis this morning in connection to a terrorism investigation.

The warrants were “seeking evidence related to an ongoing Joint Terrorism Task Force investigation into activities concerning the material support of terrorism,” said FBI Special Agent Steve Warfield, spokesman in the Minneapolis office. “There is no imminent threat to the community and we’re not planning any arrests at this time.”

One of the warrants was executed at the home of Mick Kelly, an anti-war organizer, according to his attorney Ted Dooley.

“I have no idea what all this is about,” Dooley said. “Mr. Kelly is an activist, he’s a socialist or perhaps a communist and has been forever. He never hides his political views. They’re fishing. They’re casting big nets into the sea of political activism.”

Before agents confiscated his cell phone, Kelly told the Associated Press: “The FBI is harassing anti-war organizers and leaders, folks who opposed U.S. intervention in the Middle East and Latin America,” Kelly said before agents confiscated his cell phone.

Warrants were also signed to search the homes of Jessica Sundin on Park Avenue and Meredith Aby in South Minneapolis, Dooley said.

Those three organized a demonstration during the 2008 GOP National convention in St. Paul, and had announced plans to do the same if the 2012 Demoocratic National Convention ends up in Minneapolis.

The warrant for Kelly’s home said that the items to be seized were evidence concerning the violation of a federal law that prohibits “providing, attempting, conspiring to provide material support to designated foreign terrorist organizations,” Dooley said.

It allowed for the following to be seized: “documents, files, books, photographs, videos, souvenirs, war relics, notebooks, address books, diaries, journals, maps, or other evidence, including evidence in electronic form relating to Kelly’s travels to and from and presence and activities in Minnesota and other foreign countries, to which Kelly has traveled as part of his work for FRSO (Freedom Road Socialist Organization),” Dooley said.

Also, the warrant was seeking information about Kelly’s “ability to pay for his own travel within the United States or to Palestine or Columbia from the year 2000 until today. And this has to do with any contact with FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) and Hezbollah, all of which are FTOs (Foreign Terrorist Organizations),” Dooley said…the agents were also “looking for everything related to Kelly’s potential co-conspirators, including Kelly’s personal contacts in the United States and abroad, which means absolutely everybody that Kelly’s ever been in contact with, anywhere. I’d say it’s kind of unconstitutional and hideous, myself. It’s very broad. It’s disgusting.”

The warrants were executed about 7 a.m., with six carried out in Minneapolis and two in Chicago, Warfield said.

A SWAT team, accompanied by the FBI, knocked on Kelly’s door about 7 a.m. and Kelly’s partner answered, Dooley said.

“They said they had a search warrant,” he said. “She asked to see it, she couldn’t read it through the peephole, so they busted down the door. The door flew across the room and broke a fish tank. There are now eight FBI agents in the apartment, going through every piece of paper in there, and all the books.”

As an Antiwar.com roundup of links on the raids notes:

Officials said they were related to a Joint Terrorism Task Force investigation. The JTTF in Minneapolis has a long history of heavy-handed investigations against protest groups, including an attempt in 2008 to infiltrate a vegan potluck.

My latest Reason blogging on JTTF shenanigans, out of Chicago. From our May issue, Jacob Sullum on the dubious merits of the sort of “material support” laws behind these raids.

Russian president defends authoritarian rule in the name of “democracy”

Russian president defends authoritarian rule in the name of “democracy”

By Vladimir Volkov and Andrea Peters
23 September 2010

At the World Political Forum in Iaroslavl, Russia on September 10, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev outlined his views on the meaning of democracy. When taken together with his other declarations about “modernizing” the country, his latest statement underscores the right-wing and anti-democratic character of his policies, which are profoundly hostile to the working class. Medvedev’s definition of democracy is entirely in keeping with the overall rightward shift in official European politics.

Insisting that that the political system that presently exists in Russia is democratic and well suited to the country, and that nothing “needs to be radically changed,” the Russian president outlined “five signs of democracy.”

These included “the legal incarnation of humanistic values and ideals,” “the ability of the state to guarantee and support a high rate of technological development, which secures a worthy standard of living for its citizens,” “the ability of the state to defend its citizens from the dangers of criminal associations,” “a high level of culture, education, means of communication and exchange of information,” and, finally, the conviction on the part of citizens “that they are living in a democratic state.”

Declaring “representative democracy” to be unacceptable for Russia, Medvedev excluded freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, the right to vote, freedom of the press, the separation of church and state and the other rights associated with bourgeois democracy from his five principles.

Medvedev counseled Russians to use the Internet as a means of influencing government authorities in a manner reminiscent of the way the Stalinist regime in the USSR insisted that Soviet workers could express their wishes and give “mandates” to the ruling bureaucracy by writing letters.

Tacitly endorsing Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s recent statement that anyone participating in public demonstrations in violation of Russia’s extremely restrictive assembly laws would get a “club to the head,” Medeved insisted that at present “[f]reedom of speech, assembly and meetings is realized in practice within clearly established legal boundaries, and that is how it should be in the future.”

In his remarks, Medvedev cited Karl Popper and Seymour Lipset—ideologues of imperialism who became icons of the neo-conservative movement that has dominated official American politics for decades.

The speech given by Medvedev, who is frequently portrayed in the Russian liberal and Western media as a more democratically inclined alternative to Putin, underscores the reactionary character of Russian capitalism. It once again reveals the hollowness of the claims made in the 1980s and 1990s that the restoration of a market economy in the former Soviet Union would usher in a new period of freedom and democracy.

Presiding over a country with staggering levels of inequality, Medvedev, like Putin, is deeply opposed to all political institutions that could in any way be used by the working people to express their class interests or mount an opposition to the government and the country’s super-rich oligarchy.

Even by Medvedev’s own stated standards—humanism, high living standards, physical security, a well-educated population with access to modern technology, a popular belief that the society is democratic—Russia fails to meet the definition of democracy.

In Russia, any sign of opposition to the official Kremlin line is likely to be met with police batons. Rural villages recently burned to the ground during an outbreak of wildfires for lack of basic firefighting equipment. Dozens of people die every week in the Caucasus in a civil war fueled by the government’s brutal efforts to regain control over the region. Earlier this year, the Duma (parliament) proposed a law that, if passed, would have effectively liquidated free public education. Every Russian knows that all of the country’s television channels are controlled and censored by the government.

Medvedev’s speech was primarily aimed at making clear his support for the authoritarian forms of rule that have developed alongside the restoration of capitalism in the post-Soviet era. In doing so, he was speaking to both domestic and international audiences.

Medvedev’s comments were directed at enlisting the support of influential layers of the Russian ruling elite on the eve of a new election cycle and presidential elections in 2012, assuring them that regardless of his media reputation as civic-minded alter ego to Putin, he can be relied upon to defend the existing political order and defend the ill-gotten wealth of the ruling elite.

The Russian president’s comments were also intended for the ears of international investors, whom he is courting as part of his new economic policy.

For the last year, Medvedev has been promoting the “modernization” of Russia. Lamenting the country’s “economic backwardness” and excessive reliance on raw materials, the president has campaigned for the diversification of the country’s economy through a combination of state assistance and international investment. This has been coupled with calls for fiscal austerity in other spheres, in particular, social services and pensions.

The class content of Medvedev’s “modernization” campaign is encapsulated in the proposal to create an “innovation city” in Skolkovo, on the outskirts of Moscow. This project envisions the investment of not less than 60 billion rubles (approximately $1.93 billion) in public money in order to create modern research and development facilities, which will then be handed over to leading private corporations free of charge.

These enterprises will operate under the protection of a separate customs, tax and inspections regime, largely free of state oversight or tax obligations. On September 18, the government passed a variety of additional legal provisions aimed at increasing Skolkovo’s attractiveness to foreign investors.

As Arkady Dvorkovich, an aide to President Medvedev, boasted, “In Skolkovo we will build the best golf courses, the best clubs and restaurants.”

In contrast, in a sign of what “modernization” means for Russia’s working class, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin on Monday announced the elimination of 100,000 civil service jobs over the next three years. Prior to this, Kudrin proposed raising Russia’s retirement age to a level that exceeds average male life expectancy.

Both the Kremlin and Russia’s ruling elite know that despite efforts to paint “modernization” as something progressive that will benefit the entire population, the consequences of this new economic policy for working people will provoke opposition. Over the last two years in particular, Russia has been rocked by a number of violent protests over miserable social and economic conditions.

In 2009, impoverished residents of the industrial town Pikalevo blocked a federal highway in a protest against job losses and wage arrears, while in May of this year miners angered at the state’s response to a lethal accident at a coal operation battled the police in anti-government demonstrations.

Medvedev’s speech in Iaroslavl was intended to assuage any concerns within the Russian ruling elite or international capital that his “modernization” campaign might include a loosening of the Kremlin’s grip on political life in the country. The Russian president used the occasion to reaffirm his commitment to the suppression of popular opposition to his policies.