The Last Days for Obama Administration?

White House: Obama Conducting Reign of Terror

Suspected White House leakers are on the run

By Wayne Madsen

President Obama was urged by the few White House insiders from whom he still takes advice to leave the country on his ten-day Asian trip, his longest trip abroad since becoming president, in order to not inflict any more damage to the Democratic Party in the wake of one of the worst electoral defeats for the party of an incumbent president in recent history. According to sources close to the White House, who put themselves in great danger by even talking to members of the media, the plans to have Obama leave for a visit to India, Pakistan, Indonesia, South Korea, and Japan are an attempt to get Obama out of the country while top Democrats can sort through the political disaster created for the party by Obama’s increasingly detached-from-reality presidency.

Virtual political guerrilla warfare has broken out between Obama’s inner circle on one hand and senior Democratic officials, including outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Party strategist James Carville, former Demcratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean, and, behind-the-scenes, Vice President Joe Biden and former President Bill Clinton, on the other.

Top Democrats are still reeling from Obama’s bizarre behavior at a $7500-a-plate fundraiser at a stately mansion at Brown University in Rhode Island on October 25. The fundraiser, organized by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, was supposed to highlight Democratic Party unity. However, while Obama endorsed Democratic House candidate David Cicilline for outgoing Representative Patrick Kennedy’s seat, the president failed to endorse Democratic gubernatorial candidate Frank Caprio over Republican-turned-independent former Senator Lincoln Chafee. Obama’s lack of an endorsement for a Democrat over a former Republican prompted Caprio to tell a radio show host that Obama “could take his endorsement and really shove it as far as I’m concerned.”

Later that day, Obama briefly appeared at the fundraiser at Brown University, where Democratic loyalists paid $7500 to hear Obama speak, but departed after only twenty minutes, telling the assembled guests that he had to go back to the White House to “tuck in my daughters, walk the dog, and ‘scoop the poop.'”  The Democratic faithful were appalled and shocked at Obama’s quick departure and one of the three reasons he gave for it: to scoop up dog turds as if the President of the United States actually performs such tasks with a phalanx of White House staff and Secret Service agents at his disposal.

Vice President Biden knows too well about Obama’s lack of attention to his daily tasks of being president. The details of the fiasco at Brown soon were conveyed to Biden by his two old Democratic Senate colleagues from Rhode Island: Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse. Biden was not amused about Obama’s dissing of the Democrats in Rhode Island. A week later, Chafee defeated Caprio for the Rhode Island governorship, thanks largely to Obama’s less-than-neutral stance in cutting a secret deal to support Chafee against Caprio.

White House leaks about the ineffectiveness of Obama’s presidency are expandng beyond the revelations attributed to a former high-level Obama administration insider and which have been reported by a blogger named “Ulsterman.” Some White House staffers have described a “reign of terror” in the White House over continued leaks and a troika of leadership that is making decisions without any input from the president. The troika reportedly consists of First Lady Michelle Obama, presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett, and the president’s mother-in-law, Marian Robinson, who resides in the White House.

Not to be deterred, some White House staffers have sought out journalists and have arranged to meet them at nearby Starbuck’s cafes to discretely convey to them inside information about the current disarray within the Obama administration. Some staffers have personally born the brunt of Obama’s temper and witnessed his extreme narcissistic behavior. WMR has also learned from White House sources that Obama is taking presciption anxiety medication.

Vice President Biden, under intense pressure from some Democratic Party officials and Cabinet members to invoke Article 25, Section 4 of the Constitution and have Obama temporarily or permanently removed as president because of his mental incapacity to fulfill his constitutional oath as president is reluctant to take such drastic action. Biden feels that the country would “become unglued” after such action and he doesn’t want to be the one who would be responsible for “picking up the pieces,” according to a source who works within Biden’s office.

Some staffers have said on deep background that the revelations by the ex-White House official to “Ulsterman” are not even half of the story about what is actually occurring in the White House.

However, Biden and other Democratic and adminstration do believe that if Obama were to  display some of the same reckless behavior publicly as many White House personnel have witnessed privately, there may be wide support for enactment of the provisions of the 25th Amendment.

Such a public display by Obama that could trigger succession action might involve a public outburst, including the use of foul language or a statement that Obama believes there is a conspiracy against him.

On October 5, Obama was addressing Fortune magazine’s “Most Powerful Women” summit in Washington, DC. During the middle of Obama’s speech, the presidential seal fell off the podium. Publicly, Obama took the incident as a joke, but WMR has learned from White House insiders that Obama went on a tirade after the incident, accusing White House staffers of purposely not anchoring the seal to the podium. The White House supplies all the podiums and seals at all presidential addresses and the seal is usually well-anchored with four screws affixed to the podium. Obama reportedly “freaked out” and accused White House staffers of engaging in a conspiracy against him. The presidential tirade over such a trivial matter was not lost on senior administration officials who have witnessed Obama’s lackadaisical behavior during the consideration of much weightier issues, for example, the war in Afghanistan.

http://www.opinion-maker.org/2010/11/oh-dear-obama-this-world-is-full-of-agony/

Although some observers believe African-Americans would react negatively to the invocation of the 25th Amendment, WMR has learned that members of the Congressional Black Caucus would reluctantly go along with such a move. Many in their ranks, including outgoing House Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers (D-MI) were outraged over Obama’s lack of interest in Haiti after that nation’s devastating earthquake. For many black caucus members, it was their first indication that there was something very wrong with Obama and his grasp of reality.

With Obama intent on running for re-election and seriously considering sending White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to replace former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, the potential Democratic challengers to Obama in 2012 are beginning to stir. WMR has learned that former DNC chairman Howard Dean is seriously considering a challenge to Obama as is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who will reportedly depart Foggy Bottom after Defense Secretary Robert Gates leaves his position, possibly in January.

Several top Democrats consider Obama’s chances to keep the White House in 2012 as slim and they find it fanciful that White House policy adviser David Axelrod is moving back to Chicago to work on Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, an effort many Democratic officials find a “fool’s errand.”

Obama also is disengaged from the plight of his former Senate Democratic colleagues in the wake of their near loss of the Senate with a much-reduced majority. There is pressure on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to step down as Majority Leader. However, Charles Schumer (D-NY), who has been mentioned as a replacement, reportedly has let it be known that he will not carry Obama’s water as Majority Leader and may not want the job after all. The Majority Whip is Dick Durbin (D-IL) but he is seen as part of the Obama Chicago Mafia and almost every Democratic senator agrees on one thing: they do not want Durbin as their Majority Leader. Obama, the titular head of the Democratic Party, has refused to weigh in with any effective leadership as congressional Democrats pick up the pieces and lick their wounds.

Meanwhile, a team of ex-CIA officers are traveling the globe assembling a dossier of documents on Obama’s past, including his education, passport, travel, and residency records. The team has scoured Kenya, Indonesia, Pakistan, and other countries collecting documents that are not already mantained in the CIA’s own files on Obama’s past. There is a possibility, according to WMR’s sources, that any “smoking gun” documents may be released while Obama is in Asia in order to elicit a public and, perhaps, irrational enough response from the president to prompt the public to begin raising questions about Obama’s suitability for office. Such an incident would make it easier for Biden to begin  the succession process that was previously considered when President Richard Nixon was drinking heavily and taking prescription medication during the final days of his administration, twice during the Ronald Reagan administration — after the attempted assassination and in 1987 when he demonstrated early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease, and during the Bill Clinton administration, when Clinton’s self-destructive sexual antics had Vice President Al Gore considering taking similar steps.

Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist, author and syndicated columnist. He has written

for several renowned papers and blogs.

Madsen is a regular contributor on Russia Today. He has been a frequent political and national security commentator on Fox News and has also appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, and MS-NBC. Madsen has taken on Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity on their television shows.  He has been invited to testifty as a witness before the US House of Representatives, the UN Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and an terrorism investigation panel of the French government.

As a U.S. Naval Officer, he managed one of the first computer security programs for the U.S. Navy. He subsequently worked for the National Security Agency, the Naval Data Automation Command, Department of State, RCA Corporation, and Computer Sciences Corporation.

Madsen is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), Association for Intelligence Officers (AFIO), and the National Press Club.

Talco Aluminum Monstrosity Money Pit

TALCO. Bermuda Triangle on Tajik soil

S. Zukhurov:
The company Talco – the largest enterprise in Tajikistan, which gives up to 70% of exports of the country, has once again turned to the center of a big corruption scandal. It turned out that the production for many years working at a loss, getting a ton of aluminum at the world price of U.S. $ 3000 only 700 – a sum that does not even cover production costs. In this case, at the largest factory of the country is worn out equipment, workers receive meager salaries. However, according to OAXK Barki Tajik (Tadzhikenergo “), SUE Talco, which consumes almost half the country’s electricity, is a debtor of the company’s number one, even though electricity is a strategic enterprise receives at low prices. And this in the context of what the problems with electricity supply in the country has evolved into a chronic, but energy prices are constantly increasing. However, the company is still afloat. How is this possible?

The fact that Talco, being in the form of property state unitary enterprise, fully owned by the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan. Quite profitable for the country: the higher the profit of the plant, the more of finance in the country – it’s still an impressive tax base. And indeed, all the profits of state enterprises for the idea goes to the state. But it is on paper. In Tajikistan, the same everything is not as it should be. For example, the alumina required for the production of aluminum, Talco bought a Norwegian company Hydro, and then sold the same company has already finished products. The prices for raw materials and aluminum were such that the winner remained the company Hydro. The circuit has been involved company “CDH Investments Corporation”, understandably registered in an offshore zone in the distant British Virgin Islands. That she received aluminum, sold for a pittance Tajik aluminum plant, from Hydro and selling it at market prices. Basic earnings getting any company to distant islands, the plant is located an hour from the Tajik capital, in Tursunzade, fall to scraps. For example, according to recent data from 98 million the company’s profits “CDH Investments Corporation” “Talco received $ 3 million, with which the company paid the taxes and the Tajik government. These schemes seriously interested in the International Monetary Fund, which at that time have studied the fate of 97 million dollars allocated to fight poverty. A lot of issues ripe for the Tajik government and the Asian Development Bank, who wonders where did delos half a billion dollars earmarked for the development of aluminum and cotton industry. In the statements of international financial institutions said softly “incorrect accounting. We’re talking simple – theft. In an unprecedented scale for such a poor country like Tajikistan.

About this issue mentioned as far back as 2004, when the report of an international bank, it was mentioned that Rakhmonov controls operations with billions of dollars of Tajik aluminum business. In the year 2006 the IMF warned that the details of the agreement on aluminum transactions are not fully transparent. In addition, the same rahmonovtsy “burned” in the British Supreme Court, when a lawyer let slip that the real founders of CDH not speak in English and living in Tajikistan. And then Rakhmonov and K º produced castling – to replace the company’s “CDH Investments Corporation” came “Talco Management Limited”. Scheme of financial fraud, however, remained the same. As a result of an audit conducted by the British firm Moore Stephans, it became clear that the company “Talco Management Limited”, registered in tax-free zone – in the British Virgin Islands – is a company with the Tajik government and reports directly to the President. Analysis of the results of the audit shows that in the offshore over the past four years, was withdrawn about 1 billion dollars in profit, and real income into the state budget from the activities of PMU Talco amounted to about 100-120 million U.S. dollars. Important fact: the administrative costs Talco was about half of all revenues. Interestingly, a highly-qualified executives run the company, not so long ago seemed on the verge of collapse because of interruptions to the supply of raw materials, and which due to complete lack of repair and maintenance of order came four hydrolytic bath? Then Rahmon with his entourage was forced to go cap in hand to London to Russian oligarch MF Senaninu, who led at the time of the Union “Tajik aluminum plant, which has agreed to help with continued supply of raw materials, but instead put demands: to restore the post of Head of PMU Talco A . Ermatov and resume activities in Tajikistan, the head of Russian company Ansol “Nazarova with the return of property taken away from them. Rakhmonov was forced to go for it, despite the fact that once these people he accused of corruption and the collapse of the aluminum industry. Well, yes it is in fact little things – something you will not make for “beloved” company, which is poised to become the champion, as having the most expensive management among similar companies in the world.

In the meantime, seeing that on “Talco Management Limited” clouds gathered and prepared Rakhmon back castling: the company Talco now on the verge of structural changes that may affect the use of financial schemes and management. It is expected that based on the PMU will create a new international joint venture (probably with an Arabic by Dubal and the Norwegian giant Norsk Hydro). To control them will be created an international Board of Directors, which will include several representatives of Tajikistan. Meet, however, will not all chuzhye each other person. Let’s start with the company Hydro, on which all already heard, including the High Court in London. In place of “CDH Investments Corporation” and “Talco Management Limited” will Dubal. Instead, the Virgin Islands – Emirates, respectively. No matter what, and pulls Rakhmonov and K º in warmer climes. Now, this thrust to the sun will be easier to implement – Emirates will close, all the Virgin Islands.

Let us reason logically: why plant owned by the Government, that is, in fact, the state, take away their profits from taxes because the state budget is small, and the money the country needs desperately? Perhaps this only in one case: if interested in this high-ranking government officials, for whom his own pocket more importantly the state budget. Who, precisely, is not difficult to guess. Workers and employees whether in jest, whether in earnest, the company called “Bermuda Triangle”. Today, this “Bermuda Triangle” is already full of Tajikistan – because here, disappears without a trace not only the profits of large enterprises, but also loans from international financial organizations. However, both can not continue forever: “ingenious” knight moves “and the” castling “is already included in the reports of all the influential financial institutions, and today Rakhmon official Dushanbe and nobody believes it. Soon they will have nowhere else to turn for help. That’s just what will happen if the country?

Saiddzhafar Zukhurov

Source – CentrAsia
Permanent address – http://www.centrasia.ru/newsA.php?st=1289026320

Germany’s finance minister criticized “helpless” U.S. monetary policy

В США нарастает скептицизм в отношении финансовой политики ФРС

Germany’s finance minister criticized “helpless” U.S. monetary policy

Published: November 5, 2010, 15:25
last updated: November 5, 2010, 16:57
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Министр финансов Германии Вольфганг Шойбле подверг резкой критике валютную политику США
Накануне "агрессивную денежную политику" США подверг критике министр экономики и технологий ФРГ Райнер Брюдерле

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble criticized the monetary policy of the United States, ITAR-TASS.

“With all due respect, I get the impression that the United States helpless,” – he said Friday in Berlin at the event, “Europa-Forum Berlin, organized by the Herbert Quandt Foundation. The Minister condemned the decision by the U.S. Federal Reserve to throw at the foreign exchange market liquidity additional party in the amount of $ 600 billion.

“Such a move would not solve the problem,” – said the main financier of Germany.

According to him, Germany is interested in the U.S. to solve their problems. “Here we are promoting, as far as we can do it, but not enough to accept the wrong decisions,” – said Schauble.

American problems “in any case not linked to the lack of liquidity,” he says. According to the minister, “the U.S. by other means doing what accuse China.” In this case, “the tools are different, and pursued the same goal,” said Minister of Finance of Germany, adding that he suffered from such acts as the Europeans.

On the eve of “aggressive monetary policy,” the U.S. has criticized the Minister of Economy and Technologies of Germany Rainer Bruederle. “I watched this with concern,” – he said in Berlin. The Minister expressed doubt that the inclusion of the money machine the U.S. Federal Reserve will enhance the economic environment. In his opinion, the exchange rate “in principle should reflect the fundamentals of the economy.” In China and the U.S. this does not happen, says Rainer Bruederle.

He also expressed the fear that took place in the U.S. midterm congressional elections “could lead to increased protectionism.” However, the Minister of Economy and Technologies of Germany hopes that this prediction is not justified.

Note that the U.S. is growing skepticism about the financial policy of the Fed.And so, like business magazine Manager Magazin- , mortgage interest, fell below the lower and slack real estate market to recover does not want.

Enterprises are unlikely to still need cheap loans because of the already sitting on the bags of money. Despite low interest rates on consumer loans willingness to make purchases, Americans seem to be missing, and they bent under mountains of debt, accumulated over decades.

Many experts fear further states in the article that a new era of cheap money sets the stage for the next bubble – and the crisis. After all, the Fed ever have to get rid of the purchased government bonds, which may also shake the markets.In addition, the cheap money can lure back to the financial market gamblers.”With the known consequences,” – notes the publication.

Petersburg: Where Freedom of Assembly Is a Crime

Petersburg: Where Freedom of Assembly Is a Crime

http://sptimes.ru/index.php?action_id=2&story_id=32853

The St. Petersburg Times
Issue #1623 (84), Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Strategy 31 Rally Hit With Criminal Case
By Sergey Chernov, Staff Writer

The authorities stepped up repressive measures against Sunday’s Strategy 31 rally in defense of freedom of assembly in St. Petersburg, holding detained activists at police precincts overnight, searching activists’ apartments and investigating several participants for suspected extremism. If they are found guilty, they will face up to three years in prison.

Andrei Pivovarov, the local leader of the People’s Democratic Union (RNDS) and one of the rally’s organizers, was detained almost immediately after the start of the rally, taken to court three hours later and sentenced to 27 days in prison Sunday. The Other Russia’s Andrei Pesotsky was sentenced to 14 days in prison Monday.


Alexander Belenky/SPTPolice arrest a demonstrator by Gostiny Dvor on Nevsky Prospekt on Sunday. A total of 112 demonstrators were detained.

Andrei Dmitriyev, the local leader of The Other Russia party, was sentenced to five days in prison Monday after spending the night in a police precinct. They were all charged with violating the rules on holding public events and failing to obey a police officer’s orders.

Speaking on his cell phone from a police truck where he was held before the court hearing on Monday afternoon, Dmitriyev said that his apartment and those of two other activists were searched by the Center E anti-extremism state agency on Monday morning. The officers showed his parents documents stating that a criminal investigation had been opened into suspected participation in the activities of a banned organization.

The three activists whose apartments were searched — Dmitriyev, Vadim Mamedov and Alexander Yashin — are all members of The Other Russia, the party formed by author and oppositional politician Eduard Limonov earlier this year. Limonov’s previous party, the National Bolshevik Party (NBP), was banned as “extremist” in 2005.

Dmitriyev said that Center E is claiming that the NBP has been active in St. Petersburg during the past 18 months.

The police detained 104 people near Gostiny Dvor on Nevsky Prospekt, St. Petersburg’s main street, and another eight at a separate, smaller rally on Palace Square, organizers said. About 30 were held at three different police precincts throughout the night and taken to court on Monday.

Five activists, including The Other Russia’s Ravil Bashirov, had their cases postponed, but upon leaving the court, they were seized by plainclothes men and taken in for interrogation, The Other Russia activist Andrei Milyuk said by phone Monday. According to him, the interrogations were part of the investigation into the “extremism” case.

The OMON special-task police, whose faces were hidden behind ski masks and helmets, charged the crowd and detained speakers promptly, preventing them from speaking for more than a minute on Sunday. Pivovarov, who opened the rally, was among the first people to be detained, at 6 p.m. One of the last, Sergei Kuzin of the Solidarity democratic movement, was detained at 7:15 p.m.

During Sunday’s event, activists hung a large banner featuring anarchist symbols and the slogan “Any form of authority is shit. It’s forbidden to forbid,” from the roof of Passazh retail center directly opposite the rally’s location.

RNDS spokesman Pavel Smolyak said he believed that Pivovarov’s sentence was predetermined.

Smolyak said that Judge Alexei Kuznetsov declared the hearing “closed,” and Smolyak was not allowed into the courtroom during the hearing, which lasted two hours. “The policemen in the corridor reported [Pivovarov’s sentence] by phone before it was even announced; it was all obvious from the very start,” Smolyak said by phone Monday.

Strategy 31 is a nonpartisan civil rights campaign demanding that the authorities obey Article 31 of the Russian Constitution, which states that “citizens have the right to assemble peacefully, without weapons.” Proposed by Limonov last year, the events have been held on the 31st day of months that have that many days.

First held in Moscow on July 31 last year, the Strategy 31 events have been held in St. Petersburg since Jan. 31.

Sunday’s rally was not authorized by City Hall on the grounds that “planned maintenance work” would be in progress on the site near Gostiny Dvor at the time of the planned rally, organizers said. No work could be seen on Sunday.

The Strategy 31 events were held in 67 Russian cities, with support events in New York and London, The Other Russia’s spokesman Alexander Averin said Monday. Thirty-eight were detained in Moscow.

Another Khimki Forest Protest Leader Beaten Nearly to Death On Jail Release

[Another leader of the Khimki Forest protest movement beaten.  This comes in tandem with a similar beating of Kommersant reporter Oleg Kashin, after his recent interview of another Khimki protest leader after his release from jail, Max Solopov.  This is Putin’s “sovereign democracy” in action.  Evidently Moscow police are taking Putin’s suggestions about busting a few heads.]

Kommersant Reporter in Coma After Brutal Attack (not a robbery)

“The word itself, the very notion of” anti-fascists “- a fictional construction” Blog Oleg Kashin, 21/10/2010

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Defender Khimki Forest Fetisov, beaten with a baseball bat, an operation

Published: November 5, 2010, 14:30
last updated: November 5, 2010, 14:30
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Неизвестные напали на руководителя химкинского отделения партии "Правое дело" Константина Фетисова и избили его
Утром в четверг защитник Химкинского леса участвовал в пикете против помойки бытовых отходов на Левом берегу канала имени Москвы
По мнению экологов, нападение связано с гражданской деятельностью Фетисова

The head of Khimki branch of the party “just cause”, a participant and organizer of many civil actions (including the protection of forests Khimki) Constantine Fetisov, the head with a baseball bat breached. Fetisov is now unconscious in intensive care Khimki hospitals, but there is already agreement on his transfer to Moscow, to the Institute.Sklifosovsky, according to the site traffic, “Environmental Defense, Moscow region.”

In the Moscow suburb of Khimki, beaten by unidentified activist Konstantin Fetisov underwent surgery and remains in hospital, reports Radio Liberty .

On his state colleagues still do not know, told radio station leader of the movement in defense of Khimki Forest Evgeny Chirikov.

Fetisov was taken into intensive care on November 4.He was beaten in her apartment building when he returned from the police station.

On the eve of one of Khimki ekozaschitnikov Jaroslav Nikitenko said that Fetisov was taken to the intensive care unit and that he is unconscious. “According to him, the incident occurred after Fetisov was released from police custody, where he was due to the protest. Thursday morning quarterback Khimki Forest participated in a demonstration against the waste dumps at the left bank of the Moscow Canal.

During the campaign, according Nikitenko, one of the officials of the local administration ordered the arrest Fetisov. The militia activist, was released a subpoena on Monday.

“After Fetisov was released from police custody, he was attacked by unknown persons, he breached the skull,” – said Nikitenko, adding that he has “turned blue left side of the skull, the blood from his ears, and his neurosurgeon, has not yet been examined. Environmentalists say the attack is related to civilian activities Fetisov. Nikitenko also told that the police somehow had not come to the scene.

Meanwhile, the head of Information and Public Relations Department of Internal Affairs of Moscow region Gildeev Eugene explained that at 17:30 MSK to the regional police department received a telephone message that Fetisov was taken to a hospital in the city of Khimki. “He has a closed head injury” – Gildeev said, adding that the police engaged in this business and is searching for the attackers.

Recall that on September 11 Fetisov has been detained by law enforcement authorities, where he took part in a demonstration in support of Khimki forest.On September 18, he also attacked and beaten by unknown persons. Then activist suggested that this was the work of local authorities in connection with its activities against the strip road Moscow-Saint Petersburg Khimki through the woods.

Major militant attacks in Pakistan in 2010

Major militant attacks in Pakistan in 2010

The Associated Press

A look at some of the major attacks in Pakistan so far in 2010:

– Nov. 5: Suicide bomber strikes Sunni mosque in Darra Adam Khel in northwestern Pakistan, killing at least 67 during Friday prayers.

– Sept. 1: Triple Taliban suicide attack on a Shiite Muslim procession kills 65 in the southwestern city of Quetta.

– Aug. 23: Three bomb attacks in northwest Pakistan kill at least 36.

– July 9: A pair of suicide bombers kills 102 people and wounds 168 in the Mohmand tribal region.

– July 2: Twin suicide bombers attack Pakistan’s most revered Sufi shrine in Lahore, killing 47 people and wounding 180.

– May 29: Two teams of seven militants attack two mosques of the Ahmadi minority sect in Lahore, killing 97.

– April 19: A suicide bomber apparently targeting police at a conservative Islamic party rally in Peshawar kills 23.

– April 18: Two burqa-clad suicide bombers attack refugees lined up to register for food in Kohat district in the northwest, killing 41.

– April 5: A suicide bomber attacks a rally of an anti-Taliban political party in Lower Dir district, killing 45.

– March 13: Two suicide bombers targeting army vehicles in Lahore kill more than 55 and wound more than 100.

– Feb. 18: A bomb tears through a mosque in the Khyber tribal region, killing 29 people and wounding 50 more.

– Feb. 5: Two bombs targeting the Shiite Muslim minority sect in Karachi kill 33 and wound 176.

– Jan. 1: A suicide bomber drives a truckload of explosives into a volleyball field in Lakki Marwat district, killing at least 97 people.


‘Chernobyl on wheels’ grinds to halt in France

‘Chernobyl on wheels’ grinds to halt in France

"Train from hell"... a thermography image shows a nuclear transport container at a rail yard in Valognes, Normandy.

“Train from hell”… a thermography image shows a nuclear transport container at a rail yard in Valognes, Normandy. Photo: AFP/Greenpeace

PARIS: Greenpeace has staged protests against a nuclear waste rail convoy that it claimed was “the most radioactive shipment in history”, amounting to the equivalent of 11 Chernobyl disasters.

The “train from hell”, carrying 123 tonnes of nuclear waste to Germany, left north-western France on Friday under security that included including 80 guards and fighter jets on standby.

It was expected to pass close to at least five big cities, bypassing Paris by about 160 kilometres. But protesters blocked the train’s progress at Caen, in northern France, chaining themselves to the tracks.

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Greenpeace published a timetable of the route and encouraged protests to disrupt the journey.

Areva, the French nuclear engineering company, said the rail shipment from Valognes to a storage site in Gorleben, in north-eastern Germany, was “completely normal” and the 11th of its kind.

Greenpeace’s executive director, Kumi Naidoo, said the transport was far more toxic than any other attempted.

Areva’s chief executive, Anne Lauvergeon, said the reference to the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster was “scandalous”.

Telegraph, London

Obama’s Hypocritical Words at Taj Hotel in Mumbai

[Every finger that points at Pakistan and LET for the Mumbai attacks is a finger pointing directly at the CIA.  There can be little doubt that this paramilitary operation was just another round in a long series of CIA false flag attacks, staged to create the state of perpetual war that they are offering us and our children, as well as our grandchildren.   If Obama does not understand all of this, then he is just another stage monkey dancing to the invisible “organ grinder,” just like Bush and Clinton.   SEE: David Colemann Headley Is A CIA-FBI Agent ]

Obama pays tribute to Mumbai terror victims

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Barack Obama: “The Taj is a symbol of strength and resilience of the Indian people”

US President Barack Obama has said India and the US are united against terrorism, as he visited the scene of deadly attacks in Mumbai in 2008.

He said the Taj Mahal Palace hotel, where he and his wife are staying as guests, was a symbol of India’s “strength and resilience”.

Mr Obama is on the first leg of a 10-day Asian tour designed to boost US exports and create jobs.

He is also due to visit Indonesia, South Korea and Japan.

“We will never forget,” Mr Obama said at a memorial to the victims of the attack by Islamic militants.

The outdoor memorial is a fountain with floating flowers just off the lobby of the hotel.

He also wrote in a memorial book: “The United States stands in solidarity with all of Mumbai and all of India in working to eradicate the scourge of terrorism.”

More than 170 people died in a series of co-ordinated attacks across the city in November 2008.

Mr Obama said he intended to send a signal by making Mumbai his first stop and by staying at the Taj hotel.

Later, the Obamas visited a museum in a former home of Mahatma Gandhi, seen as the father of Indian independence and revered as a global spiritual leader.

Mr Obama wrote in the guest book that Gandhi “is a hero not just to India, but to the world”.

Big contracts

He is due to meet local business leaders and US executives. US officials say they expect major contracts to be announced.

The president’s tour follows US mid-term elections which saw heavy losses for Democrats, seen in part as punishment for the US administration’s inability to tackle high unemployment.

Mr Obama’s plane, Air Force One, touched down in Mumbai at about midday (0700 GMT) after a 15-hour flight from Washington.

After being greeted by officials, he and his wife, Michelle, were then taken by helicopter to the Taj Mahal Palace hotel.

Warship patrol

Security is tight for Mr Obama’s visit.

Thousands of Indian and US security personnel are deployed and a US naval warship is on patrol in the waters off the coast of the city.

The BBC’s Sanjoy Majumder, in Mumbai, says that while residents are celebrating Diwali – the festival of light – celebrations in the city are muted because of the huge security operation.

President Obama and his wife, Michelle
President Obama and his wife, Michelle, visited a museum dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi

But while the president will pay his respects to victims, he will also be seeking to drum up business for the United States, our correspondent says.

Before the trip, Mr Obama spoke of the need for greater US access to India markets as part of a drive to double US exports over the next five years and help revive the economy at home.

Trade between India and the US was worth about $40bn in 2008 – still significantly less than US trade with other partners like China and Europe.

‘Range of issues’

India’s Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao has said Mr Obama’s visit will expand strategic ties between the two countries leading to a more “productive” partnership.

“We are not at a stage in our relationship perhaps for another big bang but certainly there will be positive outcomes,” Ms Rao said on Wednesday.

“We will see concrete and significant steps in wide range of areas that will expand the long-term strategic framework in a way that we can create productive partnership for the mutual benefit and [will be] equally important to give substantive content and shape to the global strategic partnership,” she said.

White House officials say the administration plans 17 or 18 announcements during the trip on a range of economic, security and political issues.

Later on his trip, Mr Obama will announce a “comprehensive partnership” including economic ties in Indonesia, attend a G20 summit of global economic powers in Seoul and participate in an Asia-Pacific economic forum in Yokohama, Japan.

Justice for Some

 

NEW YORK – The mortgage debacle in the United States has raised deep questions about “the rule of law,” the universally accepted hallmark of an advanced, civilized society. The rule of law is supposed to protect the weak against the strong, and ensure that everyone is treated fairly. In America in the wake of the sub-prime mortgage crisis, it has done neither.

Part of the rule of law is security of property rights – if you owe money on your house, for example, the bank can’t simply take it away without following the prescribed legal process. But in recent weeks and months, Americans have seen several instances in which individuals have been dispossessed of their houses even when they have no debts.

To some banks, this is just collateral damage: millions of Americans – in addition to the estimated four million in 2008 and 2009 – still have to be thrown out of their homes. Indeed, the pace of foreclosures would be set to increase – were it not for government intervention. The procedural shortcuts, incomplete documentation, and rampant fraud that accompanied banks’ rush to generate millions of bad loans during the housing bubble has, however, complicated the process of cleaning up the ensuing mess.

To many bankers, these are just details to be overlooked. Most people evicted from their homes have not been paying their mortgages, and, in most cases, those who are throwing them out have rightful claims. But Americans are not supposed to believe in justice on average. We don’t say that most people imprisoned for life committed a crime worthy of that sentence. The US justice system demands more, and we have imposed procedural safeguards to meet these demands.

But banks want to short-circuit these procedural safeguards. They should not be allowed to do so.

To some, all of this is reminiscent of what happened in Russia, where the rule of law – bankruptcy legislation in particular – was used as a legal mechanism to replace one group of owners with another. Courts were bought, documents forged, and the process went smoothly.

In America, the venality is at a higher level. It is not particular judges that are bought, but the laws themselves, through campaign contributions and lobbying, in what has come to be called “corruption, American-style.”

It was widely known that banks and mortgage companies were engaged in predatory lending practices, taking advantage of the least educated and most financially uninformed to make loans that maximized fees and imposed enormous risks on the borrowers. (To be fair, the banks tried to take advantage of the more financially sophisticated as well, as with securities created by Goldman Sachs that were designed to fail.) But banks used all their political muscle to stop states from enacting laws to curtail predatory lending.

When it became clear that people could not pay back what was owed, the rules of the game changed. Bankruptcy laws were amended to introduce a system of “partial indentured servitude.” An individual with, say, debts equal to 100% of his income could be forced to hand over to the bank 25% of his gross, pre-tax income for the rest of his life, because, the bank could add on, say, 30% interest each year to what a person owed. In the end, a mortgage holder would owe far more than the bank ever received, even though the debtor had worked, in effect, one-quarter time for the bank.

When this new bankruptcy law was passed, no one complained that it interfered with the sanctity of contracts: at the time borrowers incurred their debt, a more humane – and economically rational – bankruptcy law gave them a chance for a fresh start if the burden of debt repayment became too onerous.

That knowledge should have given lenders incentives to make loans only to those who could repay. But lenders perhaps knew that, with the Republicans in control of government, they could make bad loans and then change the law to ensure that they could squeeze the poor.

With one out of four mortgages in the US under water – more owed than the house is worth – there is a growing consensus that the only way to deal with the mess is to write down the value of the principal (what is owed). America has a special procedure for corporate bankruptcy, called Chapter 11, which allows a speedy restructuring by writing down debt, and converting some of it to equity.

It is important to keep enterprises alive as going concerns, in order to preserve jobs and growth. But it is also important to keep families and communities intact. So America needs a “homeowners’ Chapter 11.”

Lenders complain that such a law would violate their property rights. But almost all changes in laws and regulations benefit some at the expense of others. When the 2005 bankruptcy law was passed, lenders were the beneficiaries; they didn’t worry about how the law affected the rights of debtors.

Growing inequality, combined with a flawed system of campaign finance, risks turning America’s legal system into a travesty of justice. Some may still call it the “rule of law,” but it would not be a rule of law that protects the weak against the powerful. Rather, it would enable the powerful to exploit the weak.

In today’s America, the proud claim of “justice for all” is being replaced by the more modest claim of “justice for those who can afford it.” And the number of people who can afford it is rapidly diminishing.

Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics, is University Professor at Columbia University.  The paperback version of his latest book,Freefall: Free Markets and the Sinking of the Global Economywith a new afterword, was published in October.

Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2010.
http://www.project-syndicate.org

Secret State

Secret State

Secret State

Activists hold placards and CDs with ‘secret’ information during a rally in Kyiv on Sept. 15. Some 200 activists staged a rare demonstration outside the headquarters of the Security Service of Ukraine, the successor agency to the Soviet KGB agency, in protest of a criminal probe launched against a museum director for allegedly disclosing state secrets.(Yaroslave Debelyi)

Yesterday at 00:47 | Mark Rachevych and Yuriy Onyshkiv

Democracies need openness to flourish, while autocracies thrive on secrecy. By that standard, Ukraine – nearly 20 years into national independence – is stuck in the Soviet past, with leaders denying citizens essential information.

In the Soviet Union, everything belonged to the state, including information. It was tightly controlled under the watchful eye of one party, and publicly delivered through state-run media outlets.

It was a true monopoly of power.

The unraveling of that empire was hastened by its last leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, whose policies of glasnost and perestroika eventually revealed to society many of the sinister crimes the Soviet state had committed against its citizens for 70 years.

Nearly 20 years since Ukraine’s independence, the nation’s rulers have not advanced far from that authoritarian heritage.


Activists picket the pro-presidential Party of Regions headquarters in Kyiv on Nov. 1, urging its members of parliament to adopt a European-endorsed public access to information law. President Viktor Yanukovych’s party has stalled the bill’s adoption twice this year. (UNIAN)

A pervasive culture of withholding government information from citizens persists.

If democracy flourishes in openness, then Ukraine’s form of government is closer to autocracy – in which officials pull curtains of secrecy around their actions and decisions that affect the lives and fortunes of 46 million people.

Such a method of governing only fuels Ukraine’s endemic corruption as officials abuse their powers in secrecy and with impunity.

The public, meanwhile, is left in the dark and denied their democratic powers to provide meaningful checks on the powers of the people they elect to govern.

As a result, few know how national and local governments spend money — efficiently and for the public good, or ineffectively and for private gain.

On Nov. 1, parliament chose to let government continue functioning under the cloak of darkness when lawmakers postponed a vote for a public access to information bill on the eve of the scheduled vote.

The bill, championed by Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko parliamentarian Andriy Shevchenko, was supposed to ensure public and expedient access to government and municipal actions and budgets as well as open up other previously closed information. It had the endorsement of the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe.

It’s really not about legislation, it’s about the culture of bureaucracy, and this law [the bill to ensure public and expedient access to government and municipal actions] will make politicians more open and transparent.”

– Andriy Shevchenko, Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko parliamentarian.

“I view this law as part of a package of laws I’ve drafted that make civil society as strong as possible in the current political situation; the more we know, the more we have access to information, the better Ukraine will function as a state,” Shevchenko said. “It’s really not about legislation, it’s about the culture of bureaucracy, and this law will make politicians more open and transparent.”

President Viktor Yanukovych promised in July to ensure the bill gets passed.

Hanna Herman, deputy chief of the presidential administration, also pledged on Oct. 13 to Dunja Mijatovic, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s representative on freedom of media and speech: “The president asked me to say that we’ll do everything possible so that the public access to information law will be adopted as soon as possible in parliament…”

The nixed vote was seen by experts as another democratic milestone missed by the Yanukovych administration.

Instead lawmakers from his allied Party of Regions party registered a different law, which it will consider on Nov. 5.

The Party of Regions have twice stalled the “right to know” bill’s adoption in July and October.

Ukraine has already postponed to Jan. 1 the date when a package of European-endorsed anti-corruption laws was supposed to enter force.

The anti-corruption bill is part of Ukraine’s obligation before the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), which it joined in 2006.

Earlier in October, Drago Kos, the president of GRECO, said that his organization sees no improvement in Ukraine’s efforts to fight corruption.

Any real fight against corruption is not noticeable. Some institutions are created and that’s it. It looks as though something is being done, but in fact nothing is happening.”

– Drago Kos, the president of GRECO.

“Any real fight against corruption is not noticeable. Some institutions are created and that’s it. It looks as though something is being done, but in fact nothing is happening,” he said.

More than half the countries of the world have not yet adopted so called “right to information” laws and many that have done so have failed to implement them adequately, according to Article 19, a British freedom of expression and information organization.

This means the Soviet practice of arbitrarily classifying public information as “secret,” “for internal use only” and “not for publication” will remain in place.

For this 90-year habit to change, “political will is needed as well as the understanding that the public owns information,” said Yevhen Zakharov of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Association.

According to Zakharov, there is no way of knowing how many existing presidential and Cabinet of Ministers’ decrees are classified.

For example, Yanukovych issued three decrees in August whose contents are unknown and not listed on the preisential website.

“The information requested regarding a list of all acts bearing the stamp ‘for internal use only,’ which contain confidential information that is state property, is itself confidential,” was the Kafkaesque response of Olena Lukash, first deputy head of the presidential administration, in a letter dated July 27 to freedom-of-information activist Oleh Severin.

This broad culture of secrecy is one reason why the Kyiv Post still hasn’t received a response from Deputy Prime Minister Sergiy Tigipko to a July 27 faxed inquiry regarding allegations that he tried rigging an exit poll in 2004 for $1 million.

According to legislation, government officials must respond within 30 days of receiving inquiries.


Hanna Herman and lawmaker Andriy Shevchenko. (Ukrinform)

The Kyiv Post has also twice sent information inquiries to the State Affairs Department and to Yanukovych asking how much was spent on his lavish 60th birthday party on July 9, but twice received formal responses that money from the state budget was not spent on it, but provided no further details.

Online news source Ukrainska Pravda is currently suing Yanukovych in court for not revealing which joint-stock company he founded.

And it also remains a mystery why the Security Service of Ukraine, known as the SBU, recently classified as “top secret” its criminal case against Ruslan Zabily, a historian and former director of a Lviv historical museum. Zabily was detained by six state security operatives on Sept. 8 on “suspicion of disseminating state secrets and collecting information in an unlawful manner”.

According to Zabily, his research has focused on declassified materials dating to the Soviet-era and centered on the strategy and tactics of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, known by the UPA acronym, the guerrilla fighters who battled Soviets to achieve Ukrainian national independence during World War II.

Human rights activists said classifying Zabily’s case top secret restricts his right to a defense and is being used to restrict public scrutiny over the case.

“This is absurd. We’re talking about declassified, Soviet documents, which can’t be secrets of the Ukrainian state,” Helsinki’s Zakharov said.

Yevhen Zakharov
“Now that the case is top secret, Zabily would need a lawyer with access to state secrets, which makes it a violation of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights,” he said referring to the basic civil rights people have when facing criminal charges.

According to Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko lawmaker Shevchenko, the SBU would have a hard time classifying Zabily’s case “secret,” since the bill has a three-step justification process in place through which a government body must go through in order to classify something.

A study conducted by the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group revealed that only 55 percent of 1,528 inquiries submitted by non-government organizations to government bodies in 2005-2007 were answered, of which 40 percent were answered in full, while 169 responded after the legally prescribed 30-day period.

The same study showed that 1,274 responses contained parts that said information cannot be supplied due to classification.

Even lawmakers get rejected on information requests.

Hennady Moskal, an Our Ukraine parliamentarian within the opposition faction, told the Kyiv Post that “90 percent of my inquiries as an MP aren’t satisfied.”

Apparently, the authorities have something to hide, he concluded.

Another study conducted by the Ukrainian Independent Center for Political Research, a reputable Kyiv think tank, in May 2007 revealed that 58 percent of the websites of central executive government bodies had the legally stipulated information listed according to a 2002 law on the activities of executive government bodies.

The vast majority of Ukrainian municipalities are not open to public scrutiny, despite the integral public interest roles they carry out.

We counted over 15 different ways they directly or indirectly refuse public access to the plans, most of which have legal foundation in law.”

– Volodymyr Shcherbachenko, head of East-Ukrainian Center for Civil Initiatives.

According to the East-Ukrainian Center for Civil Initiatives, only three out of 200 cities fully complied with requests from non-profit organizations to access city plans, including both text and cartographic information.

“A significant quantity completely failed to respond, and we counted over 15 different ways they directly or indirectly refuse public access to the plans, most of which have legal foundation in law,” said East-Ukrainian Center for Civil Initiatives head Volodymyr Shcherbachenko.

The vast majority of municipalities said such plans bore the stamp “for internal use only,” according to Shcherbachenko.

Some cities such as Kyiv, the nation’s capital, even classify their entire general municipal development plans as “secret.” While a handful of cities – Donetsk, Lviv and Odesa – claim to provide access to general plans on their websites, in fact these websites display only rudimentary cartographic information.

The culture of secrecy is perpetuated from the top.

Political observers have noted that Yanukovych has only given one open press conference to journalists in the eight months he’s been in office.

According to an Oct. 29 issue of Korrespondent weekly magazine, only loyal journalists who toe the presidential line are allowed to accompany the president and ask him questions during in-country and foreign trips.

And often, requests for basic public information just linger and die.

For instance, Ukraine’s treasury department still hasn’t responded to journalists’ requests asking where the $4.8 billion from the sale of the previously state-owned Kryvorizhstal steel plant, the nation’s largest, had been transferred.

“This trend of not disclosing what essentially is public information and owned by the public is worsening in the current political situation because we have a top-down form of governance and the lower ranking officials see what those at the top are doing and copy their actions,” Shevchenko, the public information-crusading lawmaker, said.

An information law dating to 1992 regulates public access. Another law on state secrets dating to 1994 regulates what can and cannot be classified. The latter emulates the Soviet practice of having “experts” based in every government agency who determine what information is public and what is not.


The concept of public ownership isn’t developed in Ukraine. Many Soviet habits persist today.”

– Yevhen Zakharov of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Association.

“These so-called experts have a very wide spectrum through which they could classify information and most often this depends on the will of the person classifying information,” Zakharov said of the arbitrary way in which public information gets restricted.

“The concept of public ownership isn’t developed in Ukraine. Many Soviet habits persist today.”

The human rights activist noted that every oblast administration has its own list of items of what can be classified and limited to public disclosure yet they all have the same amount of authority according to law.

The law on information currently in place is outdated compared to international best practice, making a mockery of the country’s international obligations including to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

There’s been a huge leap forward internationally and Ukraine has so far missed the boat.”

– Helen Darbishire, head of Access-Info.

“There’s been a huge leap forward internationally and Ukraine has so far missed the boat,” said Helen Darbishire, head of Access-Info, a leading European non-governmental organization pushing for freedom of information.

According to Darbishire, the main elements of the last decade’s revolution in access to information encompass the clear presumption that it’s the public that owns information, and that all public bodies, branches of power and private bodies performing public functions are covered.

Meanwhile, Ukraine lags decades behind with Soviet-level access to information that should be public.

Kyiv Post staff writer Mark Rachkevych can be reached at rachkevych@kyivpost.com and Yuriy Onyshkiv can be reached at onyshkiv@kyivpost.com.

Kommersant Reporter in Coma After Brutal Attack (not a robbery)

Russian reporter in coma after attack (Updated)

Russian reporter in coma after attack

Oleg Kashin,

In Moscow, severely beaten the journalist of the newspaper “Kommersant”

Today at 12:32 | UNIAN

In Moscow, attacked the unidentified journalist of Russian newspaper “Kommersant” Oleg Kashina.

As UNIAN reported in the investigative committee at the prosecutor’s office, into the attack in Moscow on the night of 6 November in the journalist’s newspaper Kommersant Kashina prosecuted for the crime under part 3 Article 30, st.105 Criminal Code (attempt to murder).

“According to investigators, two unknown attacked and killed 30-year journalist at the building 28 on the street Bloc in Moscow where Kashin hired apartment. With the criminals fled the scene. Victim to the hospital with multiple fractures and brain concussion. Kashina have surgery and he is in a state of artificial coma “- said in a statement.

Emphasized that given the great public response, decided to transfer the criminal case of proceedings in the district investigation department investigation department of the Central Administrative District investigator of the Investigative Committee in Moscow. Investigators considering different versions of events causes, including professional activities Kashina.

Meanwhile, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev instructed Prosecutor General of Russia and the Interior Ministry to take over the investigation to a special attack Kashina.

https://i0.wp.com/www.pivo.org/images/rockpapershender/kashender-028.jpg

[OLEG’S LAST 3 ARTICLES AT KOMMERSANT]

“The word itself, the very notion of” anti-fascists “- a fictional construction” Blog Oleg Kashin, 21/10/2010
/ / Says Max Solopov

“I would not say that the protesters could be identified as anti-fascists. Rather, they were active young people who are not related to some specific unified system of views. The slogan “Russian Forest” I once supported – it is in a situation where the ultra-nationalists were used to intimidate activists and environmentalists. This is to some extent was a slap so-called ideological far-right.”

Who killed Yegor Gaidar Blog Oleg Kashin, 29/10/2010

“Modern Russia – a country one-party system, questionable fairness of elections, undue influence of special services and absolute cynicism in making decisions. Country of state corporations and otherworldly corruption, feudalism and bureaucratic monarchical succession even formally elected positions up to president. In all its manifestations ruling class of modern Russia as far from the ideals of the market economy and democracy – the ideals, which are usually associate with the name of the deceased Gaidar.”

Look into the face of the deceased Blog Oleg Kashin, 11/03/2010
/ / Death Chernomyrdin recalled: Ninety in our time much more than it seemed

“Chernomyrdin – a striking proof of the fact that ninety did not end that there is no new era.”

New Origami Bank Trojan Targets Russian and Ukrainian Customers

image http://www.solnet.com.pe/pdf/Joe_Stewart-dlp-russia-2010.pdf

Origami trojan takes shape in Russia, Ukraine

05 November 2010

A new banking trojan, called Origami, is being used to attack bank customers in Russia and Ukraine, according to Joe Stewart, director of malware research at SecureWorks Counter Threat Unit.

The attacks on Russian and Ukrainian bank customers is a switch for bank trojans, which tend to originate in Russia and Ukraine and attack Western targets.

At the DLP Russian 2010 conference in Moscow this week, Stewart explainedthat there had been an “unspoken rule” among Russian trojan developers not to infect Russian computers. But times are changing.

Stewart said that the Origami trojan currently has limited distribution, but it is a “highly capable credential-stealing trojan”.

The SecureWorks researcher supplied a “heat map” of Origami trojan infections. Most of the infections were centered around the Russian capital of Moscow and the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, but there were also concentrations in eastern Ukraine, as well as Belarus, Lithuania, Moldova, and Germany.

Stewart explained that anti-virus software is only 20% effective against a credential-stealing trojan like Origami. He recommended a “layered defense”, which includes patch management, commercial anti-virus software, network firewall with strict egress policies, web proxy with scanning/blocking capability, network intrusion prevention system (IPS) with malware ruleset, host-based IPS/firewalls, and executable whitelisting.

On the policy side, he recommended more global cooperation against trojans and other cybercrime, including cooperation between law enforcement agencies around the world and between law enforcement and private companies.

Torturer-in-chief: Bush brags about waterboarding

george bush ap543 In book, Bush strongly defends use of water boarding

Torturer-in-chief: Bush brags about waterboarding

By Bill Van Auken
In a memoir to be released next week, former US President George W. Bush boasts of having personally given the order to the CIA to employ the torture method of waterboarding.

The book, titled Decision Points, includes Bush’s recounting that when asked by the CIA whether it could subject Khalid Sheik Mohammed, an alleged leader in the September 11, 2001, terror plot, he gave the reply, “Damn right.” The former president added that he would do the same thing again to “save lives.”

The passage constitutes an even more explicit admission than Bush’s flip statement in a speech to an audience of businessmen in Grand Rapids, Michigan, last June. The ex-president then declared: “Yeah, we waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. I’d do it again to save lives.”

The claim that suspects were being tortured in order to “save lives” is entirely self-serving. In reality, Mohammed and others were subjected to waterboarding and other torture methods by interrogators who were told to come up with evidence linking the 9/11 attacks to Iraq in order to provide a pretext for the war that the administration was determined to launch in pursuit of US strategic interests.

In a country governed by laws, international treaties and democratic principles, such admissions would provoke a public outcry, an intense political debate and the arrest and prosecution of George W. Bush.

In the United States of America of 2010, however, the former president’s bragging that he ordered his subordinates to carry out torture has been greeted within the political establishment and the corporate media with an audible yawn of indifference.

The news of Bush’s bragging about having ordered torture was broken by theNew York Times Tuesday in one sentence in an online political blog. The so-called paper of record print edition relegated the matter to the ninth paragraph of a book review published in its Arts pages.

The review merely quotes Bush as writing, “had I not authorized waterboarding on senior al Qaeda leaders, I would have had to accept a greater risk that the country would be attacked.” In keeping with the Timespolicy, the word “torture” does not appear.

The Washington Post carried an article on Bush’s statement on waterboarding on Thursday. In the book, the paper reports, “Bush makes clear that he personally approved the use of that coercive technique,” which the Post acknowledges constitutes “a practice that many international legal experts say was illicit torture.” The Post article states that the book “reiterates” Bush’s claim that waterboarding does not constitute torture.

For the rest of the media, the confirmation that the former US president personally ordered the use of torture has received far less attention than Bush’s complaint in the memoir about how “deeply insulted” he was when rapper Kanye West stated on national television that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” because of his administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina.

There has been no response from the Obama administration or the Democratic congressional leadership to Bush’s confession.

On Friday, a senior US State Department adviser attending a UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva was asked by journalists about the reports on the Bush memoir.

“I think that the Obama administration defines waterboarding as torture as a matter of law under the convention against torture and as part of our legal obligation…it’s not a policy choice,” the official, Harold Koh, responded.

He went on to claim that “investigations are ongoing” to determine whether anyone could be prosecuted for the practice.

“There has been a turning of the page” under the administration of President Barack Obama, Koh insisted.

This is a barefaced lie aimed at mollifying international outrage over the US embrace of torture. There has been no “turning of the page.” Rather, the Obama administration has systematically covered up for the crimes of the Bush White House, while continuing the criminal policies and methods introduced by its predecessor.

Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder signaled that any investigation of Bush-era torture will be limited to whether anyone in the CIA went beyond the torture methods laid down in the Justice Department’s so-called torture memos drafted to legitimize the practice. Even this limited probe has gone nowhere as the powerful US intelligence apparatus has opposed it with undisguised hostility.

As a result of Bush’s order, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times. Another alleged Al Qaeda leader, Abu Zubaydah, was waterboarded at least 83 times. The CIA acknowledged using the method against a third detainee, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. In 2005, it revealed that videotapes depicting the interrogations of these last two prisoners had been destroyed in an apparent attempt to eliminate evidence of torture.

This technique and others even more hideous were used in countless other interrogations by both CIA and military interrogators from Bagram airbase in Afghanistan to Abu Ghraib in Iraq and numerous so-called black sites maintained by the US intelligence agency around the world.

Bush’s memoir serves to confirm once again that these crimes were not merely the responsibility of a few overzealous CIA interrogators or “rogue” enlisted personnel, but rather were carried out at the direct bidding of the president of the United States.

Waterboarding amounts to induced drowning, with the prisoner strapped to a gurney and water poured through a cloth over his mouth and nose. It can and has resulted in death. From the Spanish-American War onward, the US military treated waterboarding as a war crime, prosecuting both its enemies and, on several occasions, members of its own ranks, for utilizing this form of torture. The US State Department has regularly condemned foreign governments for torture on the basis of evidence that they utilize this barbaric method.

Yet, under the Bush administration’s “war on terrorism,” waterboarding and a litany of other methods ranging from sensory deprivation to sealing prisoners into boxes containing insects, to hanging them from the ceiling in shackles, were declared not to be torture but rather “enhanced interrogation techniques.” This phrase represented virtually a literal translation of the term used by the German Gestapo 60 years earlier, Verschärfte Vernehmung, also as a bureaucratic euphemism for torture.

The US media fell dutifully into line with this attempt to deny torture with a terminological sleight of hand.

A study released by Harvard University’s Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy last summer found that after 70 years of describing waterboarding as torture, the leading US newspapers carried out an abrupt turn after the revelation that US interrogators were utilizing the method against alleged terror suspects.

The study found a “sudden significant shift in how newspapers characterized waterboarding.” Only 2 of 143 post-2003 articles dealing with waterboarding in the New York Times, for example, used the word “torture,” while only 1 out of 63 articles in the Wall Street Journal did so.

New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller dismissed the study as “tendentious,” asserting that to describe waterboarding as “torture” would constitute “taking sides in a political dispute.”

The Democratic leadership, as was revealed last year, was repeatedly briefed on the use of waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques,” but did nothing to oppose these methods or to expose them to the American people. Among the first Democratic leaders to be informed about this use of torture was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Democrat, California), then the leading Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

If Bush feels no compunction over bragging about torture, it is in large measure because he knows that not it is not just he and his inner circle of accomplices who are implicated—Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, CIA Director George Tenet, Attorney General John Ashcroft and others. Rather, the entire political establishment is complicit, including the Congress, the Democratic Party, the courts and the media.

The former president is also confident that he enjoys impunity on the issue of torture because the policies of the current administration are largely in continuity with his own.

Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser at the White House in John Brennan, a former top CIA official who publicly defended the agency’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” as well as the practice of “extraordinary rendition,” in which the agency abducted people and flew them to third countries to be interrogated and tortured.

The Obama administration has repeatedly sent the Justice Department to court to quash challenges to extraordinary rendition, torture and domestic spying, invoking a sweeping claim to the “state secrets privilege” that essentially places the executive branch above the law on all matters that it claims touch on “national security”.

It has likewise kept open the US detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and continued use of military kangaroo tribunals for the purpose of trying suspects whose cases would be compromised in regular courts because of their interrogation under torture.

And the Obama White House has gone even further than its predecessor, claiming the right to place American citizens on CIA “kill lists” to be assassinated by death squads or drone missile attacks without being charged, much less tried, for any offense.

The United Nations Convention against Torture, signed by President Ronald Reagan 26 years ago, making all acts of torture criminal offenses under US law, applied to all those who either participate or are complicit in torture.

The treaty implicitly rejects all the US rationales for its “interrogation techniques,” stating that “no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”

Governments are required by the treaty to either prosecute those accused of torture or extradite them to another country that will do so.

Bush’s memoir constitutes prima facie evidence that he is guilty of torture—as if any additional evidence were needed. The failure of the Obama administration to arrest him and others implicated in waterboarding and other torture methods makes it complicit in torture as well.

This complicity in and indifference towards the crime of torture pervades all sections of the US ruling elite, its government, its political parties and its media. It is symptomatic of the profound erosion of democratic processes and democratic rights within the United States, which has been driven by a decade of uninterrupted imperialist wars of aggression abroad and unprecedented social inequality at home.

Holding those responsible for these crimes accountable is a vital political task. It is required both to cleanse the political atmosphere of the stench of torture and unprovoked wars and to prevent, under conditions of an unprecedented crisis of American capitalism, these same methods being turned against working people in the US itself.

Bringing those guilty of torture to justice can be carried out only by the working class mobilizing its political strength independently against both the Obama administration and the Republicans as well as the profit system that they defend, which is the source of militarism and the war crimes it engenders.

Medvedev Gives Russians Hope, Vetoes Putin-Backed First Amendment Restrictions

[When this veto is considered against Putin’s drive to recreate a “lite” version of the Soviet Union as seen in the stifling of Moscow protests, and his ongoing vendetta against the co-owner of Novaya Gazeta, it is becoming much clearer, that Medvedev is not Putin’s puppet.]

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev

Medvedev vetoes law restricting protests

MOSCOW : President Dmitry Medvedev has in a rare move vetoed a bill agreed by the Russian parliament last month which activists said would further restrict opposition protests, the Kremlin said Saturday.

The new law was agreed by the State Duma, the lower house, on October 22 and then approved by the Federation Council upper house on October 27 and only needed to be signed by Medvedev to come into force.

The changes would notably have forbidden anyone convicted in the past of organising an illegal demonstration of putting in a request for permission to hold a protest.

“I reject the law,” Medvedev said in a letter to the State Duma speaker Boris Gryzlov and the head of the Federation Council Sergei Mironov.

“The law… has aspects which would impede the realisation of the constitutional right of citizens to hold gatherings, meetings, demonstrations, marches and pickets,” he said in the document released by the Kremlin.

The law had been passed overwhelmingly in the State Duma and was backed by the ruling United Russia party whose overall leader is Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Russian police have regularly cracked down on opposition demonstrations deemed to be unauthorised although some observers have detected a new climate of tolerance after the ousting of Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov in September.

‘There Will Be Another War,’ An Islamist Uprising in Tajikistan

‘There Will Be Another War’

An Islamist Uprising in Tajikistan

Christian Neef/ DER SPIEGEL

Mirzokhuja Ahmadov in Belgi: A growing mood of protest in Tajikistan is benefitting the Islamic opposition.

International observers consider Tajikistan to be a failed state in the midst of a national crisis. A growing mood of protest there is benefitting the Islamic opposition. Hundreds of new mosques have opened since the beginning of the year, and more women are seen wearing veils on the streets of Dushanbe.

Kishlak Belgi is a place travelers should only attempt to reach with an off-road vehicle. The village is in the foothills of the Pamir Mountains, some 200 kilometers (125 miles) east of the capital Dushanbe, in a corridor between the Kyrgyz and Afghan borders.

There is a restaurant in Belgi — little more than a snack bar — in a picturesque location on a bridge of the Surchob River. The chef, Mirzokhuja Ahmadov, 51, has a white beard and many gold teeth in his mouth.

Ahmadov owns a house in the nearby county seat of Gharm. He has seven children, some livestock and a quarter of a hectare of land (about half an acre), where he grows potatoes and tomatoes. In the Soviet days, he spent 20 years as a brigadier in the local “Friendship” collective farm, and he later became mayor of Belgi. The villagers, however, call him the “Commander.”

Ahmadov has had the nickname since the civil war that began in 1992 and raged for five years in Tajikistan. The most backward of all former Soviet republics was controlled at the time by former Communists and regional clans, until a democratic and largely Islamic opposition took shape against the president and former Communist Party chairman. He assembled a national guard of farmers and pardoned criminals, who proceeded to brutally settle accounts with the Muslims. At least 50,000 people were reportedly killed. Many Tajiks fled to Afghanistan, where they were radicalized.

Ahmadov, who was a member of the opposition, was in charge of the defense of Belgi at the time. When it appeared that they were about to lose the battle, he took 5,000 fighters into the mountains and became their commander. “We fought the regime for three years from there, while it pursued us with helicopters and tanks,” he says.

In June 1997 the new president, Emomali Rakhmon, and the opposition Islamic Rebirth Party proclaimed a “national reconciliation.” It gave the opposition a share of power in Tajikistan and incorporated the Islamic fighters into the police and army.

A Return from the Mountains

Ahmadov returned from the mountains and became commander of the police and head of Troop Division No. 3974 in Gharm. He was given the rank of colonel and later became the head of a department devoted to fighting organized crime. “But soon,” he says, “Rakhmon had forced the former opposition members out of all offices. Today most of them are in exile, in prison or dead. Only three or four of my people still have a position in Dushanbe.”

Anyone who listens to Ahmadov discuss the future of his country over tea and lamb in his small restaurant will probably come away feeling that it doesn’t look good.

He talks about how President Rakhmon rewrote the constitution in Dushanbe to extend his rule until 2020, and how he placed his children in high-ranking political posts. He describes how Rakhmon made sure that the governing party won the election in late February but only conceded 8 percent of the vote to the Islamic Rebirth Party, even though it had received at least 30 percent. And he says that the Rasht Valley, the region around Gharm, has a population of 270,000 people but no longer has any working factories and only has power for several hours at a time.

He complains that those who manage to find work are paid the equivalent of only €65 ($92) a month, yet are forced to buy shares in the nearby Rogun hydroelectric power plant project. According to Ahmadov, students are not allowed to take their exams and people in the military are no longer promoted if they refuse to buy the shares. The cash-strapped government already keeps half of teachers’ salaries.

Worst Blow to the Government Since the Civil War

The situation is exacerbated by hostility with the neighboring Turkish-speaking Uzbeks, says Ahmadov. Their ruler, Islam Karimov, has mined the border to Tajikistan, according to Ahmadov, because he feels threatened by the Persian-speaking Islamists and fears for his regime. There are also unresolved territorial disputes between the two countries — there is a war over water, and Karimov has blocked railroad traffic and has not delivered any gas for weeks.

Ahmadov’s accounts are largely correct. Even international observers consider Tajikistan to be a failed state in the midst of a national crisis. There is a growing mood of protest, which benefits the Islamic opposition. Some 364 new mosques have been opened since the beginning of the year, and in Dushanbe more and more women are seen wearing veils in public. In the country’s north, three girls even threatened to commit suicide if they were not allowed to wear the hijab to school.

“The leadership promised the former opposition land and loans, but we got nothing,” says Ahmadov. “Instead we are being watched around the clock. They apparently don’t trust us at all anymore. Our fighters’ old camps in the mountains are filling up again. It’s very possible that the civil war will be reignited soon.”

Is this just a neutralized regime critic flexing his muscles? When SPIEGEL spoke with Ahmadov in Dushanbe in late August, a spectacular incident had just occurred. Twenty-five regime critics who had just been sentenced had broken out of the state security agency’s central prison and killed five guards in the process. On Sept. 3, two policemen were killed and 28 people were injured in Tajikistan’s first suicide bombing. And on Sept. 19, 28 soldiers died when a military convoy was ambushed near Belgi.

It was the worst blow to the government in Dushanbe since the end of the civil war.

On Sept. 22, units loyal to the government went into position in front of Ahmadov’s house in Gharm. They fired missiles at the farm, and then they stormed it.

That evening, the state-run television station reported that the intelligence service had found six Kalashnikovs, three grenade launchers and several thousand shells in the house. The station claimed that the “criminal Ahmadov” had been hiding the people who were behind the bloody attack on the military convoy.

What the station didn’t report was that five of Ahmadov’s men had been killed a short time earlier, apparently by pro-government troops.

The war Ahmadov had predicted came more quickly than expected. President Rakhmon sent his best units to the area, where they have been combing the mountains around Gharm since Sept. 22.

The campaign has already been underway for more than a month, but the military is not reporting any successes. The Islamists are using Afghan tactics to fight the military: with mines and surprise attacks. Some 34 Tajik soldiers died on Oct. 6 and 7 alone, including high-ranking fighters with an elite unit of the Ministry of State Security and the National Guard. There is a growing sense of consternation in Dushanbe, which has severed all communications with the eastern part of the country.

Farangis Najibullah, a radio reporter and expert on Central Asia, expresses what many are now thinking: That the Rasht Valley could become a “hotbed of Islamic resistance,” which would destabilize the entire region.

Ahmadov, the restaurant owner, is probably somewhere in the mountains again.

Ukraine Joining Neo-Soviet Crackdown on Russian Oligarch

[This clearly demonstrates that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych answers to Vladimir Putin.  This is Putin’s retaliation for public criticism such as this. SEE: Masked police raid on media billionaire Alexander Lebedev’s Moscow bank ]

Alexander Lebedev’s empire suffers another blow with hotel raid in Ukraine

Exclusive: Tax officers and security service officials enter More resort in Alushta on Ukraine’s Black Sea coast

  • Luke Harding
  • guardian.co.uk
  • Alexander Lebedev, the Russian owner of Britain’s Independent and London Evening Standard newspapers, suffered another bruising blow to his business empire today after police carried out a raid on his luxury hotel in Ukraine.

    Dozens of tax officers burst into the More resort in Alushta, on Crimea’s south-eastern coast, early yesterday. They seized documents and computers. Officials from Ukraine’s SBU security service swarmed over the hotel today.

    The raid came 48 hours after masked, gun-toting special forces stormed Lebedev’s National Reserve Bank in Moscow.

    Russian police said the search on Tuesday was connected to a criminal investigation into employees from another bank.

    Lebedev today told the Guardian it had been a bad week. But he said he would not bow to forces within Russia‘s murky power structure who were apparently hellbent on making him flee.

    “I’m still here [in Russia]. I live here,” Lebedev said. He added that he had spent the past three days trying to “decipher” the blunt “psychological” message sent by the bank raid. “In the worst-case scenario the message is: ‘Get out of Russia.'”

    Lebedev said that when detectives burst in, he was in the bank’s underground swimming pool. “I frankly thought they had come to arrest me,” he said, adding: “I decided to keep swimming, thinking I would enjoy the pool for the last time.”

    Lebedev, a billionaire who co-owns the airline Aeroflot and the Russian opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta, said it would be wrong to link the two investigations against him in Russia and Ukraine. Nor would it be correct to blame Russia’s prime minister, Vladimir Putin, he said.

    Instead, he pointed to Ukraine’s president, Viktor Yanukovych, a close ally of the Kremlin. He said Yanukovych had ordered in the tax police after taking offence at an article in this week’s Evening Standard.

    The story, which appeared with no byline on Tuesday, recalled how during Ukraine’s election campaign Yanukovych had hailed the Russian playwright Anton Chekhov as “a great Ukrainian poet”. Ukraine’s leader had committed a “Dubya-like gaffe”, the Standard wrote.

    Lebedev said he had nothing to do with the article. “He [Yanukovych] thinks I was preparing the article myself. He thinks a publisher like myself has influence on British newspapers.” It appeared just before Yanukovych was to travel to London, compounding what the president perceived as a deliberate slight, Lebedev said. The tycoon consistently denies exerting any influence on his British newspapers.

    He went on: “Yanukovych doesn’t know what the world is. He’s not very educated. I don’t think he really understands what life is in Moscow, Paris or London.”

    One Ukrainian diplomat today dismissed Lebedev’s claims as “ridiculous”, adding: “The Standard is hardly the FT, the Guardian or the Wall Street Journal.” He said: “Lebedev co-operates with the governments of Ukraine and Russia. He’s in Russia’s political elite rather than out.”

    Asked if further attacks on his Russian interests would have a negative impact on his British newspaper titles, Lebedev replied: “I hope not.” But he conceded that he was now in a vulnerable position. “The worst-case scenario is somebody decides to crash it [his business],” he said.

    Lebedev’s seaside complex in Alushta includes a hotel, holiday villas, a pool, a spa and a narrow rocky beach, set among steep cliffs and attractive subtropical gardens of palm trees and pines. The resort is the biggest in Crimea and one of the largest in Europe. It employs 1,500 people.

    Today Lebedev said he had invested $100m in the complex, and was one of the region’s biggest taxpayers. He added that he would close down the hotel on Monday, plunging locals into unemployment, if the tax authorities continued their campaign. He also alleged that Yanukovych was trying to seize the Hotel Ukraine in Kiev. Lebedev is a co-investor with the Ukrainian government in the hotel, and has spent $40m on its renovation. The development has been mired in legal battles.

    Lebedev is one of the largest foreign investors in Ukraine, with assets including a bank and an insurance company. He spent ¤10m renovating the country’s Chekhov theatre, which hosts an annual Chekhov festival, and has been visited by Sir Tom Stoppard, Kevin Spacey and John Malkovich.

    Lebedev’s assets

    Four British newspapers The Independent, Independent on Sunday, i, and Evening Standard

    One bank The National Reserve Bank, with $1.5bn of capital

    One potato farm

    One airline Aeroflot (he is the Russian airline’s biggest private shareholder, owning 30% of the company)

    Several luxury hotels in Europe (a ruined castle in Perugia, Umbria, property in Switzerland, and the More holiday resort in Crimea)

    Shares in Gazprom, Russia’s state energy giant

    A London restaurant

    A bank and an insurance company in Ukraine

    The Russian opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta, co-owned with Mikhail Gorbachev and an editorial collective