TIP OF THE SPEAR

November 23, 2010
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Military tacticians and historians often make use of the term ‘tip of the spear.’ It refers to a combat force that is used to puncture the enemy’s initial lines of defense, to be quickly followed by concentrated forces which destroy any remaining threat.

Tactically, the tip of the spear is a bit of a blitzkrieg– an unexpected onslaught of firepower and destruction that takes the enemy by surprise, scatters his resources, and fractures his morale.

I’m convinced that what we’re seeing right now from the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is the tip of the spear in the government’s battle for increased control of the public.

The groundwork has been laid for years– legislation empowering the TSA has gradually eroded civil liberties to the point that airports in the United States have now become ‘no rights’ zones. “Please remove your shoes” has now become “Take out your prosthetic breast so I can check it for explosives.”

Passengers who show up to an airport in the United States are now given two options: (a) go through the radiation bath [don’t worry, the government says it’s safe…] and let the TSA see you naked, or (b) let the TSA thugs grope you and fondle your children’s genitals.

This is not enhanced security protocol, this is a systematic desensitization to government intrusion. The idea is to get people used to new procedures, then continue to add more layers of government control.

Certainly, people will complain. They will be outraged… YouTube videos will abound of TSA agents stroking women’s breasts and disrobing 5-year old boys. The government will hold firm, though, responding that the tactics are necessary and that they will ‘look into’ egregious violations.

To be clear, some of the tactics are designed to be scaled back as concessions. It’s like turning up the volume from 0 to 10… everyone starts screaming that it’s too loud, so the government turns it down to 8. People think, “ah, that’s not as bad…” and eventually become accustomed to the noise.

In time, the government turns it up from 8 to 20. People pour into the streets again, protesting until the government turns it down from 20 to 15. People once again become accustomed to the noise as the new normal. This cycle escalates until no one can remember the sound of silence any longer.

It’s fairly easy to do– there will always be politicians and bureaucrats who can invent stories about innocuous white powders and men in caves that scare the daylights out of people.

Similarly, there will always be long lists of sociopaths, perverts, and pedophiles who are attracted to a job description that authorizes them to grope, fondle, humiliate, and intimidate others.

And of course, there will always be spineless nincompoops who stand by without protest as their wives and children get violated by government agents… and then rationalize their inaction as a necessary sacrifice for safety.

When I was in Bali the other day, I was flipping through channels on the TV and saw Mike Huckabee interviewing Whoopi Goldberg on FoxNews. “Now there’s a couple of intellectual luminaries,” I thought to myself. Whoopi wasted no time in summing up her intellect when she had this to say of the TSA’s tactics:

“… if it’s going to keep me from getting blown out of the sky, you can check anything you want; and if you feel something you like and squeeze it… what am I going to do? [acknowledging laughter from Huckabee]”

This coming from a woman who used to be a prostitute speaking to a man who thinks the earth is 5,000 years old.

The fact is that body scanners are as ineffective at threat detection as metal detectors. Furthermore, the government has ruled out the idea of scanning air or seaborne cargo… because, clearly, cargo would never be a target. The little old lady with the prosthetic hip? Definitely. Cargo? No chance.

These tactics are not about security… they’re about submission, obedience, and cultivating the slave mentality– that people should be afraid of their government and happily yield to authority without question or hesitation.

To be fair, it’s not just in the US; I woke up this morning to a front page photo in the Wall Street Journal of a machine gun toting policeman in Germany cruising a passenger train because of some hackneyed terror threat. Much of the world is living in a similar state.

This is the tip of the spear, and what comes next can only be worse. I don’t say this to stir emotion or create a sense of panic, but rather to appeal to reason:

The threat is very clear– we need not fear men in caves or silly powders, but rather the malignant intentions of our governments and the perverse men who are attracted to its works. If these aren’t the clearest signs of a police state, I don’t know what else could be.

I’m really interested to hear from you about this– what have you experienced during recent travels? Are these offenses -finally- enough to make you consider leaving? If not, where is the limit?

Does This Mexican Compound House Tons of U.S. Spies?

[Spencer identifies the building at 265 Paseo de la Reforma as a compound; it looks more like a modern high-rise to me, complete with an enormous helicopter landing pad on the roof.  From Google “street view,” the street address is clearly seen on the front of this gigantic, super-secret lawman’s nest, which the CIA and the Pentagon both claim doesn’t exist.  Reminds me of the super-embassies that the State Dept. is throwing-up all over the world.]

FireShot Pro capture #128 - 'Paseo de La Reforma 265, Morelos, Cuauhtémoc, Mexico City, Mé - Google Maps' - maps_google_com_maps_hl=en&tab=wl

FireShot Pro capture #127 - 'Paseo de La Reforma 265, Morelos, Cuauhtémoc, Mexico City, Mé - Google Maps' - maps_google_com_maps_hl=en&tab=wl

Does This Mexican Compound House Tons of U.S. Spies?

Located just down the street from the U.S. embassy in Mexico City, this unassuming compound might house a smorgasbord of U.S. government agencies, devoted to spying on drug cartels, crime syndicates the Mexican security services and anyone else its inhabitants feel like. But Pentagon says the truth is much more boring.

In a recent story for Mexico’s Proceso, Jorge Carrasco A. and J. Jesús Esquivel introduced the world to the Office of Bi-National Intelligence, supposedly a joint U.S.-Mexico spy apparatus that isn’t so Bi in practice.

Located at 265 Paseo de la Reforma, the “super spy center” is home to (deep breath) the CIA; the FBI; the Department of Homeland Security; the Treasury; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; the National Reconnaissance Office, the NSA; the Defense Intelligence Agency; and the Drug Enforcement Agency. Not evidently included: Mexican agencies.

That might be because Mexican Presidents Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderon authorized and stood up the office “without taking into account any objections from the Mexican military,” according to the Procesopiece, and allowed it to “spy on Mexican government agencies, including the Secretariat of National Defense, Navy, and the diplomatic missions in Mexico.”

The U.S. government says it’s doing nothing of the sort. Representatives from the Pentagon and the CIA say there is no Office of Bi-National Intelligence.

A Pentagon spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Ditchey, says the compound is actually called the Bilateral Implementation Office for the Merida Initiative, a two-year old multimillion-dollar program providing U.S. aid to train Latin American law enforcement entities. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced its establishment in March 2009 during a Mexico City presser, and it opened its doors this past August 31.

“We have space within the office to use when we visit and attend coordination meetings,” Ditchey says, “however, we do not have personnel assigned there at this time.”

We’re told by a different government agency — cough — there aren’t any spies at the compound. Um, OK. But there appears to be information being exchanged at the facility. When announcing it, Clinton pledged that the Merida Initiative would “use every tool at our current disposal through administrative actions to track illegal guns, to arrest and punish those who are trafficking in illegal guns, to share more information with the Mexican Government so that they can also track and seize these guns.”

Since the establishment of Merida, the United States has become involved in Latin American efforts to stop the flow of drugs and guns to the tune of $1.3 billion. Roberta Jacobson, a senior State Department official for Latin American affairs, bragged in April about seizing “record amounts of drugs” from the cartels and “strengthening institutions, working with the Mexican government on the expansion of their national police.”

The United States has also provided Mexico with five Bell 412 Enhanced Performance helicopters for tracking and harassing the drug dealers — which has alarmed some in Mexico as a measure to even further militarize the increasingly violent struggle with the cartels.

And that’s what really concerns the Proceso writers. As the U.S. military increases its training efforts in Mexico, they write, “the Pentagon has brought counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism expertise from Iraq and Afghanistan to their offices in central Mexico.” Indeed, Robert Killebrew, a retired Army colonel now at the Center for a New American Security, argues that the best way to understand the rise in cartel violence across the Americas is through the prism of insurgency.

But Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been careful to avoid such characterizations. “In terms of helping Mexico, we’re prepared to help the Mexicans insofar as they want our help. They are a sovereign state,” he said in Bolivia yesterday. I would say that our military relationship is probably better now than it has been ever. But there are still obvious sensitivities in Mexico and we have to be attentive to those.”

Still, should the United States ratchet up its aid to Mexico — or move firmly into spycraft down there — 265 Paseo de la Reforma is likely to be where it’s coordinated.

Image: GoogleMaps

Relatives of Chabad Victims on 26/11: Obtain U.S. court summons for ISI chief Pasha, and Terrorist Saeed

26/11: U.S. court summons ISI chief, Saeed

PTI

A U.S. court has issued summons to senior Inter-Services Intelligence officials including its powerful chief Maj. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, along with Mumbai attack masterminds and Lashkar-e-Taiba leaders Hafiz Saeed and Zakiur Rahman Lakhvi in response to a lawsuit filed by relatives of two American victims accusing them of providing material support for the 26/11 attacks.

The 26-page lawsuit was filed before a New York Court on November 19 against the ISI and LeT by the relatives Rabbi Gavriel Noah Holtzberg and his wife Rivka, who were both gunned down by militants at the Chhabad House in Mumbai. Their son Moshe was saved by his Indian nanny.

The 26-page lawsuit accusing the ISI of aiding and abetting the LeT in the killing of more than 160 people was filed before a New York Court on November 19, following which the Brooklyn court issued summons to Major Samir Ali, Azam Cheema, the ISI, Major Iqbal, Lakhvi, LeT, Sajid Majid, Mr. Pasha, Saeed and Nadeem Taj.

“The ISI has long nurtured and used international terrorist groups, including the LeT, to accomplish its goals and has provided material support to the LeT and other international terrorist groups,” said the lawsuit filed by relatives of the slain Rabbi.

Mr. Pasha, who has been director general of the ISI since September 2008, has been summoned, so is Nadeem Taj, the director general of ISI from September 2007 to September 2008.

Major Iqbal and Major Samir Ali are other ISI officers who have been issued summons.

The one of its kind lawsuit also brings as defendants Lashkar operatives like operations commander Lakhvi, JuD chief Saeed, and Azam Cheema.

“The Mumbai terrorist attack was planned, trained for and carried out by members of defendant, the LeT. Defendant ISI provided critical planning, material support, control and coordination of the attacks,” the lawsuit alleges.

It accuses ISI officers Mr. Pasha, Mr. Taj, Maj. Iqbal and Major Ali of being purposefully engaged in the direct provision of material support or resources including weapons and explosives.

“On and prior to November 26, 2008, the ISI, Pasha, Taj, Iqbal and Ali (as well as other officials, agents and employees of the ISI) directed, engaged and/or relied upon the efforts of U.S.-based individuals, including but not limited to David Headley and Tahawwur Rana, for raising funds, building a network of connections, recruiting participants and planning the operation of the Mumbai terror attack,” the lawsuit claims.

Noting that the LeT still operates training camps in Pakistan, Kashmir and Afghanistan, the petition said the group has openly advocated violence against India, Israel and the United States.

It names Muridke, Manshera and Muzaffarabad as centres of training camps operated by the LeT.

The 10 LeT members who undertook the on-the-ground Mumbai terrorist attack underwent extensive training in the LeT camps in Pakistan, the lawsuit alleged.

It also says that Pakistani American LeT operative David Headley, who has already pleaded guilty for his role in the plotting of the attack, built a network of connections from Chicago to Pakistan, undertaking these efforts at the direction and with the material support of both LeT and the ISI.

Prior to and following each trip to Mumbai, Headley reported to and received further instructions from both the LeT, including defendants Majid and Maj. Iqbal, and the ISI, it alleges.

“In September 2008, the 10 LeT attackers were moved to Karachi and installed in an ISI/LeT safe house and isolated from outside contact,” it said, adding that while staying in the Karachi safe house, they received specific instructions on Mumbai targets.

The safe house was part of the ISI’s “Karachi Project,” an initiative by which anti-Indian groups were tasked and supported by the ISI in a surreptitious fashion to engage in acts of international terrorism.

“During the period Headley communicated with and took directions from the ISI regarding the Mumbai plot, defendant Taj, as ISI’s Director-General, exerted full command and control over the ISI.

“During the final two months of training of the LeT attackers and throughout the attack, defendant Pasha exerted full command and control over the ISI,” it alleged.

During the Mumbai attacks, the lawsuit alleges defendant Majid along with other LeT men operated from a mission control room in Karachi, passing instructions and encouragement to the attackers via telephone.

“By reason of the foregoing, LeT, Saeed, Lakhvi, Cheema and Majid are each liable to each plaintiff, individually and as the personal representative and/or surviving family member of their decedents, for compensatory damages in excess of $75,000, such amount to be determined by a jury,” it said.

The “Legitimate Press” Almost Gets It On Afghanistan

[If you didn’t read past the second paragraph, the following would be interesting news.  As it is, the author then honors her Washington press credentials and blames our losing the Afghan war on everybody but us.  My point in posting it is the issue of fake “Taliban.”  Anytime the legitimate press raises this topic I feel that we should all join in.  The British creation of this fake Taliban negotiator, “Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour” is just the British “Plan B” to their failed attempt to create the “fake Taliban” (SEE: What exactly were Mervyn Patterson and Michael Semple doing in Helmand?).  I guess that I shouldn’t consider Patterson and Semple’s efforts as “failures,” since they DID accomplish their objective by creating the fake “Taliban,” the Tehreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP).  They seem to be stuck on the name “Mansour,” since they used infamous Taliban warlord Mullah Dadullah’s little brother Mansour for their gambit in Wana, S. Waziristan (SEE: Dissecting the Anti-Pakistan Psyop).

The spooks have a tendency to reuse aliases and psy-ops over and over.  That makes it easier for us to spot the “anomalies” that they create in our Matrix world.

“A déjà vu is usually a glitch in the Matrix; it happens when they change something”—Trinity.]

The Great Game Imposter

The Great Game Imposter By MAUREEN DOWD / NY times
And we wonder why we haven’t found Osama bin Laden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Though we’re pouring billions into intelligence in Afghanistan, we can’t even tell the difference between a no-name faker and a senior member of the Taliban. The tragedy of Afghanistan has descended into farce. In the sort of scene that would have entertained millions if Billy Wilder had made a movie of Kipling’s “Kim,” it turns out that Afghan and NATO leaders have been negotiating for months with an imposter pretending to be a top Taliban commander — even as Gen. David Petraeus was assuring reporters that there were promising overtures to President Hamid Karzai from the Taliban about ending the war.
Those familiar with the greatest Afghan con yet say that the British had spent a year developing the fake Taliban leader as a source and, despite a heated debate and C.I.A. skepticism, General Petraeus was buying into it. The West was putting planes and assets at the poseur’s disposal, and paying him a sum in the low six figures.

Karachi: The underside of a scandal that has rocked the French Republic

Karachi: The underside of a scandal that has rocked the Republic

Le Nouvel Observateur is back this week on the political issue what has become the investigation into the attack in Karachi. After the declarations of Charles Million and those of Dominique de Villepin, the investigations of the judges have just taken a new turn. They highlight a war that tore the right.

  • Jacques Chirac et Dominique de Villepin (AFP) Jacques Chirac and Dominique de Villepin (AFP)

The old ghosts have reappeared as devils in their box. Those cursed at the time of the Chirac-Balladur war, hatred annealed, the dirty tricks, large and small betrayals, which had plunged the French right in a suicidal battle. That was more than fifteen years. The 1995 presidential election. An eternity. Since, after the victory of Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007, both sides observed a peace army, believed to be final. In fact, nothing has been forgotten. It was enough of a spark. The case of the attack in Karachi, which killed eleven of our compatriots, May 8, 2002, refers to this major confrontation between Chirac’s and balladuriens, sarkozystes become today. And old scandals buried, and suffocated, emerge. Dominique de Villepin, Clearstream, the specter of war chest of Balladur, dirty money from arms sales, the alleged role of future President Sarkozy in gloomy stories of shell companies and retro-commissions. An explosive issue that follows the Elysee under the microscope. He reappears at a worse time for the President of the Republic comes out just the "sequence" catastrophic Woerth-Bettencourt. The tenant of the Elysee Palace, after six months of indecision, chose a reshuffle "light" and tasteless, but had one goal: resolder family around sarkozystes UMP and Chirac’s. The case of Karachi could be shattered this beautiful scenario. For, cruel irony of history: his key ministers today, Alain Juppe (see interview page …), Michele Alliot-Marie, Baroin, Bruno Lemaire, and some others, have all experienced the clashes. The opposite side. The first two, in varying degrees, have experienced very closely the record deal that judges and Trévidic Marc Renaud Van Ruymbeke.

ON THE SAME SUBJECT

Brief history. 1993-1995, right Chirac lives with Francois Mitterrand. Edouard Balladur, Prime Minister, prancing in the polls, betraying the agreement with Jacques Chirac not to stand for election. He brings with him Nicolas Sarkozy, Francois Leotard, Charles Pasqua and a host of other ministers. The Chirac’s are a handful of faithful, irreducible described as "suicidal Grunts".Among them, Dominique de Villepin, Alain Juppe. Problem for Balladur: the "traitors" have failed to seize the RPR and can not qualify for funding a political party. In disasters, they are seeking funds. At the time, rumor has thinned the ranks of Chirac’s team that Balladur was thrown arms shortcuts on arms sales contracts, sector where huge commissions are paid, and where the opacity of transactions allows all manipulation. The prosecution is based?Anyway, in 1994, balladuriens are very active in this sector.

The three cases that gave rise to suspicions? The contract Agosta, concluded September 21, 1994, related to the sale to Pakistan by the Directorate of Naval Construction, three submarines equipped with high technology (5.4 billion). Sawari II contract, signed November 19, 1994, concerning the purchase by Saudi Arabia of three frigates Lafayette (19 billion francs). The third contract, called "Bravo" is the sale of six Lafayette frigates to Taiwan. It is initialed on the left, to 14.7 billion francs in 1991, then, to the surprise of experts, under the Balladur government, amounted to 16 billion francs.During this period a little agitated, many senior defense officials at the Directorate General of Armament, but also to the staff of the Navy, surprised the excess precipitation policies. And also the impromptu appearance of a multitude of intermediaries. Observers point out these anomalies. In vain. Suspicions of retro-commissions balladuriens are then practically an open secret. Must still prove it. Because, officially, these three contracts, supervised by Nicolas Sarkozy, then budget minister, and Francois Leotard, Minister of Defence, are validated properly. Commissions, legal until 2000, are declared to the Inland Revenue (see page document …). Nothing can detect a lump of dirty money in a box of party or candidate for President of the Republic. But suspicions remain.

Elected in 1995, Jacques Chirac blocked in July 1996, payments of commissions for all the questionable contracts. Dominique de Villepin, the then Secretary General of the Elysee, oversees this "purge". Charles Millon, Minister of Defence, is responsible for triggering internal investigations. Some plays are performed on employees of Francois Leotard and other logically with the green light from Alain Juppe, the Matignon. An investigation is launched at the Budget Department, which operated Nicolas Sarkozy (see document …). The DGSE is mobilized to try backtracking payment of commissions. The Secret Service, despite their infiltration systems data bank, their most successful hackers, stumbles on the identity of "corrupt" French, hidden behind a thicket of offshore companies, a myriad of nominees and company screen-based in tax havens.Finally, Jacques Chirac and Dominique de Villepin, a time forget their resentment against the "traitors", not without putting the sound files they have sulfur in the elbow against Sarkozy and his friends. "It is especially important to remember that in 1997, Jospin arrived at Matignon, said a former officer of the DGSE. The new cohabitation complicates the game because Chirac has more elbow room for further investigation. It is supervised. Especially since the left is itself involved in the issue of Taiwan frigates, with suspicions of corruption around Roland Dumas and Christine Deviers-Joncour, back then followed by Judge Eva Joly. As a result, the operation ‘Clean Hands’ is put to sleep … " Forget the three contracts that were threatening to blow up the Republic … The reason the State then carries the low political revenge.

Occurs when the attack in Karachi, May 8, 2002, where eleven employees of the Directorate of Naval Construction of Cherbourg in the death, Jacques Chirac has just been reelected. The shock was immense in the opinion. Soon, the leaders of the DCN are convinced that the tragedy is linked to the blocking of committees and that the trail of a revenge sponsored cheated by middlemen is most likely. In September 2002, one of their investigators, Claude Thevenet, a former officer of DST, a terrorism expert and the Muslim world, provides a report, called "Nautilus" incredibly accurate. "After numerous contacts, both in Europe and Pakistan," wrote the investigator, we reach the conclusion that the attack in Karachi on 8 May 2002 was carried out with complicity in the military and within offices to support Islamist guerrillas of the ISI (Pakistani Secret Service, Ed). The military figures who manipulated the Islamist group which has carried out the action pursued a financial goal. It was about getting the payment Fees not paid, and promised by the network El Asir when signing the contract in September 1994. The cancellation of these commissions was issued in 1995, following the political change in France, and sought to dry up the networks covert funding of the Association for the Reform of Édouard Balladur. "

Claude Thevenet has not worked alone. He was "coached" by Gerard Philippe Menai, CFO of the commercial arm of DCN, the man who oversees the network of intermediaries and payment of commissions. This specialist behind the scenes of world arms sales knows any dealings cheated by intermediaries since Operation Clean Hands "by Jacques Chirac. But revealing such information would cause an earthquake in the country. The report Nautilus he was sent to the Elysee, as seems logical? Dominique de Villepin said he had a copy in the fall of 2002? In any case, it is buried in the cellar of state secrets and is not sent to Judge Bruguiere following the trail of Al Qaeda. The scenario suits everyone. Despair and the families of victims. In 2008, their spokespersons, and Sandrine Leclerc Magali Drouet, decided to change lawyers and designate Me.Olivier Morice. Paris Bar, the lawyer, former rugby third center, contemporary art lover, has a reputation bomber and a maverick. This is great: to move this folder that gets stuck, it takes a man that is not afraid to "plunge into the fray." He hammered for months on the formula shock all media: "Sarkozy is at heart of corruption." The lawyer made the thundering seat of Judge Marc Trévidic, anti-terrorist judge known for his pugnacity and his composure. The first is hometown and lover of good wine. The second is built like a marathoner, dry and tireless. The two men discover the existence of the report Nautilus, thanks to a revelation of the weekly Le Point, December 4, 2008. Since then they searched the track in the middle of vengeance shortchanged without qualms. In May 2010, they are helped by the publication of a book written by two journalists from the site Mediapart, Ardi and Fabrice Fabrice Lhomme, "The Contract", published by Stock. The book is a goldmine for the magistrate, and a model of investigative journalism "American." The two investigators have recovered hundreds of documents, interviewed key players back, including Gerard Philippe and Claude Thevenet Menai. They also interviewed at length by a man never heard justice, key witness for the inquiry, the Comptroller General Porchia. This senior official of the Directorate General of Armament, which specializes in monitoring programs, investigated the case Agosta, from the summer of 1997, the beginning of the Chirac-Jospin cohabitation. It makes a "confidential defense" in March 1999. Its conclusions are unequivocal: we must institute criminal proceedings in the highest level, even in the entourage of Francois Leotard. Is this the report that prompted the former defense minister to quit politics?

In the process, the officer will investigate the contract Sawari 2. We find in fact the same network of intermediaries in the case Agosta, the network K, El Asir, and Ziad Ben Musalam Takieddine. Refusal of the authorities. The report Porchia, strangely, was never brought to justice. Marc J. calls Trévidic the past six months. Contrary to the assertions of the highest state authorities, to the Elysee, nothing has been done to facilitate the task of the magistrate. Instead … But Magali Drouet and Sandrine Leclerc did not intend it that way. They multiply media interventions. They have a grudge against Nicolas Sarkozy since he awkwardly responded to Brussels, a journalist from AFP’s questions on his role in the affair. "Who can believe such a fable? (…) Finally, if there is a robbery in Brussels today, I was …" (Laughter in room) The President drops a sly smile, pleased with his joke, then, including his blunder: "No, sorry, eh, I laugh at all, because Karachi is the grief of families and stuff like that … " (Video nouvelobs.com). Front of their television, families are appalled. With this President too casual, "rupture" is used.

Then comes the record another actor, Renaud Van Ruymbeke, appointed since October on the component ‘obstruction "and" corruption and abuse of social goods "in the investigation Karachi, alongside Marc Trévidic . For victims, the arrival of Renaud Van Ruymbeke is a blessing. For the Head of State, however … "Van Ruymbeke can be regarded as a personal enemy of Sarkozy, said an adviser. The President has not forgotten that this judge has officiated in the Clearstream affair and sought his smoky secret accounts. Van Ruymbeke is in revenge. On its political corruption, he came out through the door, he came back out the window … It is not clear that justice would be greatly enhanced … "In Within a few weeks, the judge many actions punches, claiming a search of the DGSE, recovers the tax investigations, collects records of Claude Thevenet and those of Jean-Marie Boivin, CEO Heine-off society Luxembourg shore responsible for ventilating the money committees of the three suspects contracts, Agosta, Sawari 2 and Bravo. This last contract, he knows by heart. He has investigated for years on dirty money from Taiwan frigates, which involved balladuriens networks, but also socialist. He hit consistently at the Secret-defense that led him to pronounce a place not in 2008. But this time, the case seems more solid.

That is indeed to update the judge? Jean-Marie Boivin, in September 2001, was commissioned by the French authorities to negotiate an arrangement with the intermediary Andrew Wang, Geneva, and once he had handed over the sum of 83 million francs against his silence and refund of the original contracts of all commissions for Taiwan frigates. Prudent, Boivin retained the document in his safe at UBS in Zurich. In the middle of intermediaries, such sprained blocking commissions by Jacques Chirac caused outrage and anger.DCN and some contacts with the Department of Defense are then threatened with retaliation. "The trail of a revenge cheated network, namely that of the Lebanese and Saudi Assir El Sheikh Ali bin Musalam, is more plausible, says a police officer in charge of the investigation. The two men were very close Pakistani intelligence services and Islamic terrorist networks. Musalam Ben Ali, who died in 2004, curiously, in unknown conditions, was known to fund the most radical movements in Pakistan. Was he the victim of a homo operation, execution, by the French at that time?

Other key information collected by the judges in the fall of 2004, surrounded by Clearstream affair, Boivin is ousted from all contracts for the DCN. Reason: it is feared that the money ventilated commissions, it filtered through a sub-account of the Clearstream bank (see note Gérard-Philippe Menai) is spotted and identified beneficiaries. Furious, Boivin threatens to reveal the contents of his trunk. He claims 8 million euros. The direction of the DCN refuses to pay, considering the exorbitant sum. Boivin wrote to Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy. According to Boivin, emissaries of the latter would have visited October 26, 2006, threatening him if he did not keep his tongue and if he does not destroy the famous documents locked in his safe in Zurich (see page document) . Boivin, frightened, then decided to make an appointment with Me Claude Arnaud, friend and partner of Nicolas Sarkozy over twenty years. The latter firmly rebuffed. That have said the two men?

A few weeks later, against the opinion of management of the DCN, Boivin the blackmailer is successful. In January 2007, a Memorandum of Understanding is signed on the Isle of Man between DCN, Thales and the French state. Since then, Luxembourg has been muted. What state secrets he will reveal to the judge Renaud Van Ruymbeke when it wants to hear? With Judge Trévidic, the magistrate Financial much left to do.From fishing to documents first. Retrieve the deliberations of the Constitutional Council, which in 1995 had approved the accounts of Edouard Balladur against the advice of rapporteurs (see article by Olivier Tosca).Then, to consolidate all documents "Secret Defense" that Nicolas Sarkozy has suddenly promised to deliver to the magistrates, whose eavesdropping on DGSE clan Balladur. And so, irony of history, Nicolas Sarkozy himself had been tapped in 1995? The King of hearings is just beginning …

Serge Raffy

“Borg-man” To Watch His Own Back

The NYU Professor With a Third Eye

By Matthew Uhlmann

Ever have a teacher in grade school tell you they had eyes in the back of their head? A performance artist and professor at NYU’s Tisch School of The Arts implanted a camera in back of his head as an allegory for the things that we never see and leave behind.

Wafaa Bilal will wear a small camera in the back of his skull for an art project that will appear at the Arab Museum of Modern Art in Qatar, titled “The 3rd I.”

The camera is 2 inches wide and one inch thick. It will make Bilal look like a very low tech cyborg, and for a man of Middle Eastern descent, surely he’ll be completely screwed at allTSA security checkpoints. Other than a Turban or a Burqa, The only greater bullseye for a TSA agent is probably a piece of electronic equipment projecting from the body.

Airport security concerns aside, the art piece is one of several by the NYU professor that are not only controversial, but seemingly approachable, avoiding unnecessary abstraction. He tattooed a map of Iraq on his back for a piece titled “…And Counting”, with American deaths dotted in regular ink and Iraqi deaths dotted in UV ink, only detectable under blue light.

Not only is his work politically relevant, it is also a testament to his being something of a hard-ass.

Besides the tattoo piece, he did another in 2007 titled “Domestic Tension”. For the piece, viewers were allowed to shoot Bilal with paintballs over a 24 hour period. Soon after, the Chicago Tribune named him Artist of The Year.

In 2008, he designed a video game piece titled “Virtual Jihadi” that would eventually be censored from the city of Troy, NY. The game narrative involved him as the main character of a suicide bomber hunting former President Bush. Bilal said it was meant to point out the hateful stereotypes that are injected into modern video games like “Call of Duty” or “Quest For Saddam.”

The art piece will be unveiled on December 15th in Qatar, and it will also be streamed onBilal’s site. It may turn out to be less entertaining than a video game and less masochistic than a full body tattoo, but it will mark the first performance art piece by a man/machine hybrid.

The Birth of A.I.?

MoNETA: A Mind Made from Memristors

DARPA’s new memristor-based approach to AI consists of a chip that mimics how neurons process information

By MASSIMILIANO VERSACE, BEN CHANDLER 

 

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Illustration: Chad Hagen

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: In the near future, we’ll be able to build machines that learn, reason, and even emote their way to solving problems, the way people do.

If you’ve ever been interested in artificial intelligence, you’ve seen that promise broken countless times. Way back in the 1960s, the relatively recent invention of the transistor prompted breathless predictions that machines would outsmart their human handlers within 20 years. Now, 50 years later, it seems the best we can do is automated tech support, intoned with a preternatural calm that may or may not send callers into a murderous rage.

So why should you believe us when we say we finally have the technology that will lead to a true artificial intelligence? Because of MoNETA, the brain on a chip. MoNETA (Modular Neural Exploring Traveling Agent) is the software we’re designing at Boston University’s department of cognitive and neural systems, which will run on a brain-inspired microprocessor under development at HP Labs in California. It will function according to the principles that distinguish us mammals most profoundly from our fast but witless machines. MoNETA (the goddess of memory—cute, huh?) will do things no computer ever has. It will perceive its surroundings, decide which information is useful, integrate that information into the emerging structure of its reality, and in some applications, formulate plans that will ensure its survival. In other words, MoNETA will be motivated by the same drives that motivate cockroaches, cats, and humans.

Researchers have suspected for decades that real artificial intelligence can’t be done on traditional hardware, with its rigid adherence to Boolean logic and vast separation between memory and processing. But that knowledge was of little use until about two years ago, when HP built a new class of electronic device called a memristor. Before the memristor, it would have been impossible to create something with the form factor of a brain, the low power requirements, and the instantaneous internal communications. Turns out that those three things are key to making anything that resembles the brain and thus can be trained and coaxed to behave like a brain. In this case, form is function, or more accurately, function is hopeless without form.

Basically, memristors are small enough, cheap enough, and efficient enough to fill the bill. Perhaps most important, they have key characteristics that resemble those of synapses. That’s why they will be a crucial enabler of an artificial intelligence worthy of the term.

The entity bankrolling the research that will yield this new artificial intelligence is theU.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). When work on the brain-inspired microprocessor is complete, MoNETA’s first starring role will likely be in the U.S. military, standing in for irreplaceable humans in scout vehicles searching for roadside bombs or navigating hostile terrain. But we don’t expect it to spend much time confined to a niche. Within five years, powerful, brainlike systems will run on cheap and widely available hardware.

How brainlike? We’re not sure. But we expect that the changes MoNETA will foment in the electronics industry over the next couple of decades will be astounding.

Artificial intelligence hasn’t stood still over the past half century, even if we never got the humanlike assistants that some thought we’d have by now. Computers diagnose patients over the Internet. High-end cars help keep you from straying out of your lane. Gmail’s Priority Inbox does a pretty decent job of prioritizing your e-mails.

But even the most helpful AI must be programmed explicitly to carry out its one specific task. What we want is a general-purpose intelligence that can be set loose on any problem; one that can adapt to a new environment without having to be retrained constantly; one that can tease the single significant morsel out of a gluttonous banquet of information the way we humans have evolved to do over millions of years.  (read HERE)

Suicide Bomber Strikes Shiite Procession in Yemen

Suicide bomber kills Shiites in Yemen

A suicide car bomber has killed 17 and wounded more than a dozen in Yemen after hitting a convoy of Shiites on their way to a religious ceremony, according to a security official.

Suicide bomber kills Shiites in Yemen

Yemen is the ancestral homeland of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden Photo: REUTERS

 

Authorities suspect that al-Qaida was behind Wednesday’s attack, which took place on a road in the al-Jawf province, more than 100 miles east of the capital, Sanaa, according to the official.

The official says those attacked were supporters of al-Hawthi Shiite rebels who have waged an on-and-off uprising against the government. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.

If confirmed, it would be the first reported al-Qaida attack on Yemeni Shiites.

Explosion in north Yemen kills 12 rebels

By Mohammed Ghobari

SANAA (Reuters) – Twelve Shi’ite rebels were killed and 17 others wounded in north Yemen Wednesday when an explosion rocked a convoy of cars heading to a religious celebration, a spokesman for the rebel group said.

The spokesman said it was still unclear what caused the explosion, which took place in the northern Jawf province.

Yemen’s government has been trying to maintain a shaky truce with the Shi’ite Muslim rebels, who are known as Houthis after their leader Abdel Malek al-Houthi and complain of being marginalised by Sanaa.

A February cease-fire halted a war that has raged on and off since 2004 and displaced around 350,000 people.

Yemen, neighbour to top oil exporter Saudi Arabia, is under pressure from Riyadh and the United States to quell the conflict in the north and a separatist rebellion in the south, in order to combat a resurgent regional al Qaeda wing based in the country.

The northern truce has largely held despite sporadic clashes between Houthis and pro-government tribesmen.

The impoverished Arabian Peninsula state surged to the forefront of western security concerns after two U.S.-bound parcel bombs claimed by al Qaeda’s Yemen-based branch were intercepted in Britain and Dubai.

Around 30,000 Yemeni troops are currently deployed in the turbulent south, often a site of bloody clashes between Islamist and separatist militants and the state, in order to maintain security as it hosts a regional soccer tournament, the Gulf Cup.

(Writing by Erika Solomon; Editing by Jon Boyle and Noah Barkin)

Back In the Neo-Soviet Union

Kremlin going "Back in the USSR" for New Year’s Eve ball

Moscow – Aides to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev are planning a Soviet-themed New Year’s Eve ball complete with a lookalike of former Communist Party leader Leonid Brezhnev.

The Kremlin administration has asked for the equivalent of 16,000 dollars to stage the event, being held under the motto Back in the USSR, the government website said Tuesday.

Some 350 Kremlin staffers have been invited to the party, which will feature discomusic and is projected to go on until 5 am, with partiers dancing to tunes by Boney M and Modern Talking.

Another double, of Russian pop icon Alla Pugatshova, 61, is expected to put in an appearance. But the highlight will be the lookalike of Brezhnev: the real article having died in 1982.

Medvedev has often been critical of the Soviet era, calling the leadership of the period ‘totalitarian.’ His predecessor, Viktor Putin, said the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 was a ‘calamity.’

Iran-Nuke NIE—the Spooks Did Their Job

Iran-Nuke NIE Stopped Bush on War

By Ray McGovern

Why should George W. Bush have been “angry” to learn in late 2007 of the unanimous judgment of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies that Iran had stopped working on a nuclear weapon four years earlier? Seems to me he might have said “Hot Dog!” rather than curse under his breath.

Nowhere in his memoir, Decision Points, is Bush’s bizarre relationship to truth so manifest as when he describes his dismay at learning that the intelligence community had redeemed itself for its lies about Iraq by preparing an honest Estimate that stuck a rod in the wheels of the juggernaut rolling toward war with Iran.

Nowhere is Bush’s abiding conviction clearer, now as then, that his role as “decider” included the ability to create his own reality.

The Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) has missed that part of the book. And hundreds of Dallas “sheriffs,” assembled to protect the decorum at the Bush library groundbreaking last week, kept us hoi polloi well out of presidential earshot.

But someone should ask Bush why he was not relieved, rather than angered, to learn from a National Intelligence Estimate that Iran had had no active nuclear weapons program since 2003. Also, one might ask why Bush thought Israel should have been “furious with the United States over the NIE.”

It seems likely that Bush actually dictated this part of the book himself.  For, in setting down his reaction to the NIE on Iran, he confirmed the insight that Dr. Justin Frank, M.D., who teaches psychiatry at George Washington University Hospital, gave us veteran intelligence officers into how Bush comes at reality — or doesn’t.

“His pathology is a patchwork of false beliefs and incomplete information woven into what he asserts is the whole truth… He lies — not just to us, but to himself as well… What makes lying so easy for Bush is his contempt — for language, for law, and for anybody who dares question him…. So his words mean nothing. That is very important for people to understand.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Dangers of a Cornered Bush.”]

Not Enough Sycophants

When the NIE on Iran came out in 2007, Bush may have pined for his sycophant-in-chief, former CIA Director George Tenet, who had shepherded the bogus Iraq-WMD analysis through the process in 2002 but had resigned in 2004 when his role in the deceptions had become obvious.

Tenet and his CIA cronies had been expert at preparing estimates-to-go — to go to war, that is. They had proved themselves worthy rivals of the other CIA, the Culinary Institute of America, in cooking intelligence for the White House menu.

On Iraq, they had distinguished themselves by their willingness to conjure up “intelligence” that Senate Intelligence Committee chair Jay Rockefeller described as “uncorroborated, unconfirmed, and nonexistent,” after a five-year review by his panel. (That finding was no news to any attentive observer, despite Herculean — and largely successful — efforts by the FCM to promote drinking the White House Kool-Aid.)

What is surprising in the case of Iran is the candor with which George W. Bush explains his chagrin at learning of the unanimous judgment of the intelligence community that Iran had not been working on a nuclear weapon since late 2003.

That was certainly not what the Israelis and their neoconservative allies in Washington had been telling the White House — and not what President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were dutifully proclaiming to the rest of us.

Shocked at Honesty

Bush lets it all hang out in Decision Points. He complains bitterly that the NIE “tied my hands on the military side.” He notes that the Estimate opened with this “eye-popping” finding of the intelligence community:

“We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program.”

The former president adds that the “NIE’s conclusion was so stunning that I felt it would immediately leak to the press.” He writes that he authorized declassification of the key findings “so that we could shape the news stories with the facts.” Facts?

The mind boggles at the thought that Bush actually thought the White House, even with the usual help from an ever-obliging FCM, could put a positive spin on intelligence conclusions that let a meretricious cat out of the bag, that the Bush administration’s case for war against Iran was as flimsy as its bogus case for invading Iraq.

How painful it was to watch the contortions the hapless Stephen Hadley, national security adviser at the time, went through in trying to square a circle.

His task was the more difficult since, unlike the experience with the dishonestly edited/declassified version of what some refer to as the Whore of Babylon — the Oct. 1, 2002, NIE on WMD in Iraq, this time the managers of the Estimate made sure that the declassified version of the key judgments presented a faithful rendering of the main points in the classified Estimate.

A disappointed Bush writes, “The backlash was immediate. [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad hailed the NIE as a ‘great victory.’” Bush’s apparent “logic” here is to use the widespread disdain for Ahmadinejad to discredit the NIE through association, i.e. whatever Ahmadinejad praises must be false.

But can you blame Bush for his chagrin? Alas, the NIE had knocked out the props from under the anti-Iran propaganda machine, imported duty-free from Israel and tuned up by neoconservatives here at home.

How embarrassing. Here before the world were the key judgments of an NIE, the most authoritative genre of intelligence report, unanimously approved “with high confidence” by16 agencies and signed by the Director of National Intelligence, saying, in effect, that Bush and Cheney were lying about the “Iranian nuclear threat.”

It is inconceivable that as the drafting of the Estimate on Iran proceeded during 2007, that the intelligence community would have kept the White House in the dark about the emerging tenor of its conclusions.

And yet, just a month before the Estimate was issued, Bush was claiming that the threat from Iran could lead to “World War III.” [There is even new doubt about intelligence that the Iranians were working on a nuclear warhead before 2003. See Consortiumnews.com’s “Iranian Nuke Documents May Be Fake.”]

The Russians More Honest?

Ironically, Russian President Vladimir Putin, unencumbered by special pleading and faux intelligence, had come to the same conclusions as the NIE.

Putin told French President Nicolas Sarkozy in early October 2007: “We don’t have information showing that Iran is striving to produce nuclear weapons. That’s why we’re proceeding on the basis that Iran does not have such plans.”

In a mocking tone, Putin asked what evidence the U.S. and France had for asserting that Iran intends to make nuclear weapons. And, adding insult to injury, during a visit to Tehran on Oct. 16, 2007, Putin warned: “Not only should we reject the use of force, but also the mention of force as a possibility."

This brought an interesting outburst by President Bush the next day at a press conference, a bizarre reaction complete with his famously tortured syntax:

Q. “Mr. President, I’d like to follow on Mr.–on President Putin’s visit to Tehran … about the words that Vladimir Putin said there. He issued a stern warning against potential U.S. military action against Tehran. …Were you disappointed with [Putin’s] message?”

Bush: “I — as I say, I look forward to — if those are, in fact, his comments, I look forward to having him clarify those … And so I will visit with him about it.”

Q. “But you definitively believe Iran wants to build a nuclear weapon?”

Bush: “I think so long — until they suspend and/or make it clear that they — that their statements aren’t real, yes, I believe they want to have the capacity, the knowledge, in order to make a nuclear weapon. And I know it’s in the world’s interest to prevent them from doing so. I believe that the Iranian — if Iran had a nuclear weapon, it would be a dangerous threat to world peace.

“But this is — we got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel. So I’ve told people that if you’re interested in avoiding world war III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon. I take the threat of Iran with a nuclear weapon very seriously, and we’ll continue to work with all nations about the seriousness of this threat.”

Can’t Handle the Truth

In his memoir, Bush laments: “I don’t know why the NIE was written the way it was. … Whatever the explanation, the NIE had a big impact — and not a good one.”

Spelling out how the Estimate had tied his hands “on the military side,” Bush included this (apparently unedited) kicker:

“But after the NIE, how could I possible explain using the military to destroy the nuclear facilities of a country the intelligence community said had no active nuclear weapons program?”

Thankfully, not even Dick Cheney could persuade Bush to repair the propaganda juggernaut and let it loose for war on Iran.

The avuncular Vice President has made it clear that he was very disappointed in his protégé. On Aug. 30, 2009, he told “Fox News Sunday” that he was isolated among Bush advisers in his enthusiasm for war with Iran.

“I was probably a bigger advocate of military action than any of my colleagues,” Cheney said when asked whether the Bush administration should have launched a pre-emptive attack on Iran before leaving office.

Bush briefed Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert before the NIE was released. Bush later said publicly that he did not agree with his own intelligence agencies. [For more on the Bush memoir’s conflicts with the truth, see Consortiumnews.com’s “George W. Bush: Dupe or Deceiver?”]

And it is entirely possible that the Iran-war juggernaut would have been repaired and turned loose anyway, were it not for strong opposition by the top military brass who convinced Bush that Cheney, his neocon friends and Olmert had no idea of the chaos that war with Iran would unleash.

There’s lots of evidence that this is precisely what Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen and then-CENTCOM commander Adm. William Fallon told Bush, in no uncertain terms. And it is a safe bet that these two were among those pointing out to Bush that the NIE was likely to “leak,” if he did not himself make it public.

Whew!

What About Now

The good news is that Cheney is gone and that Adm. Mullen is still around.

The bad news is that Adm. Fallon was sacked for saying “We’re not going to do Iran on my watch,” and there are few flag officers with Fallon’s guts and honesty.

Moreover, President Barack Obama continues to show himself an invertebrate vis-à-vis Israel and its neocon disciples.

Also, an updated NIE on Iran’s nuclear program, completed earlier this year, is dead in its tracks, apparently because anti-Iran hawks inside the Obama administration are afraid it will leak. It is said to repeat pretty much the conclusions of the NIE from 2007.

There are other ominous signs. The new Director of National Intelligence, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James Clapper, is a subscriber to the Tenet school of malleability.

It was Clapper whom Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld put in charge of imagery analysis to ensure that no one would cast serious doubt on all those neocon and Iraqi “defector” reports of WMD in Iraq.

And, when no WMD caches were found, it was Clapper who suggested, without a shred of good evidence, that Saddam Hussein had sent them to Syria, a theory also being pushed by neocons both to deflect criticism of their false assurances about Iraq’s WMD and to open a new military front against another Israeli nemesis, Syria.

So perhaps there is some value in keeping the NIE update bottled up. At least that way, Clapper and other malleable intelligence officials won’t have the chance to play chef to another “cooked-to-go” analysis.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. During his 27 years serving as a CIA intelligence analyst, his duties included chairing NIEs. He now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Profesionals for Sanity (VIPS).

Kyrgyz Court Sentences 17 Uzbeks To Life, for Ethnic Violence and Murder

17 sentenced over Kyrgyz ethnic violence

17 sentenced over Kyrgyz ethnic violence

Supporter of the Kyrgyz nationalist Ata-Zhurt party stands in front of a banner showing the body of an ethnic Kyrgyz woman, whom organizers of the rally claimed had been killed in clashes with the Uzbek minority in June, in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Sunday, Oct. 24, 2010. Hundreds of supporters of a top Kyrgyz politician rallied Sunday in central Bishkek the day after he claimed to have been wounded in a politically motivated attack.AP

 

Today at 08:30 | Associated Press

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan (AP) — A court in southern Kyrgyzstan has sentenced 17 people to life in jail for mass killings and rioting during ethnic violence that wracked the region in June.
Judge Damirbek Nazarov ruled Wednesday the men killed 16 people on the highway linking the south with the Central Asian nation’s capital, Bishkek.
All defendants in the trial that ended Tuesday were ethnic Uzbeks. The ruling will arouse fresh fears that the community is being singled out for prosecution over the violence that killed 370 people.
International rights activists largely agree the Uzbek minority sustained the bulk of the violence.

Lisbon Goes On Strike Against Austerity Cuts

Portuguese on general strike against austerity

Portuguese on general strike against austerity

Unions in Portugal on Nov. 24 stopped trains and buses, grounded planes and halted services from healthcare to banking in protest against wage cuts and rising unemployment.

 

Reuters

LISBON, Nov 24 (Reuters) – Portugal’s two biggest unions held their first joint general strike since 1988 on Wednesday, hoping to weaken the Socialist government’s resolve on implementing austerity measures meant to tackle a debt crisis.
Unions stopped trains and buses, grounded planes and halted services from healthcare to banking in protest against wage cuts and rising unemployment in western Europe’s poorest country.
Prime Minister Jose Socrates, whose government is struggling to quash speculation that Portugal will be the next in Europe to need a bailout after Ireland and Greece, has pledged to stay the course on wage cuts and tax hikes to cut the budget deficit.
"Maybe the strike will not provoke radical changes in the austerity course the government has chosen, but it does represent an additional element of uncertainty in the already unstable setting in the country," said Elisio Estanque, a sociology researcher at the University of Coimbra.
The unions hope to tap into the growing dissatisfaction with the minority Socialist government’s austerity measures, which also include across the board spending cuts in public services.
"It’s the workers who are paying for the crisis, not the bankers nor the shareholders of big companies," said Leandro Martins, a 65-year old pensioner.
"This is a strike against rightist policies, to demand new policies serving the Portuguese people."
Portugal has suffered from years of low growth — unlike other weak euro economies such as Ireland and Spain that went from boom to bust — and waning competitiveness which economists say undermines its ability to ride out the debt crisis.
The country’s risk premium — or spreads on its bonds over safer German Bunds — hit a euro lifetime high on Nov. 11 and was close to that level on Tuesday, ending at 450 basis points.
Even though the economy is growing this year, economists fear it will slide back into recession in 2011 as higher taxes and civil servant wage cuts of five percent bite into consumption.
Unemployment, already at its highest since the 1980s at 10.9 percent, could rise further.
Lisbon has been plastered with banners for weeks urging workers to join the industrial action, and national airline TAP, workers at Volkswagen’s <VOWG.DE> Autoeuropa plant, public train and bus drivers have all promised to participate. There will be no mass protests on Wednesday but unions are organizing picket lines in many sectors.

Documenting a tragedy

Documenting a tragedy

 Documenting a tragedy Josef Stalin

David Marples

This week, Ukrainians worldwide are commemorating the 78th anniversary of the Great Famine of 1932-33, known as the Holodomor (Death by Hunger).
In the period 2005-2009, when Viktor Yushchenko was president of Ukraine, several archival collections on the Famine-Holodomor of 1932-33 were made available to researchers, which supplemented earlier information gathered mainly from eyewitness reports. Perhaps the most important of these were reports from the Soviet secret police files (then called the OGPU, from 1934, the NKVD).
With the demise of the Yushchenko government in the 2010 presidential elections, the authorities have done a U-turn on the Famine question. The OGPU has a new leadership, files are no longer freely disseminated, and the new president Viktor Yanukovych has denied that the Famine was an act of Genocide. On the contrary, Yanukovych appears to adhere to the Russian perspective that famines were a general phenomenon across the Soviet grain growing regions in 1932, including the Volga region, Ukraine, the North Caucasus, and even Belarus.
It is true that Famine was widespread in the spring and summer of 1932, but many events that took place later in the year, and in the brutal year of 1933 were unique to Ukraine and the North Caucasus, particularly the Kuban region, which was composed of about 60% Ukrainians. And this is evident from the OGPU documents released over the past two decades.
It is well known that the great upheaval of collectivization and the removal of richer (“kulak”) families had a devastating impact on Soviet farms. The subsequent imposition of grain quotas by Stalin’s regime was to ensure that deliveries were transported to the towns or the Far East before the families could feed themselves.
A widespread drought in 1931 exacerbated the situation, but it did not lead directly to Famine. In theory farms can feed themselves. But they were not allowed to. Not only grain was confiscated from Ukrainian villages, but also seed grain, and subsequently meat, potatoes, and other crops as a penalty for failing to meet grain deliveries.
Kaganovich devised the idea of a “blackboard” for those villages in North Caucasus that failed to meet quotas. They were then isolated, trading ended, and no one was allowed to enter or leave. The “blackboard” was soon extended to the Ukrainian SSR.
Stalin, together with his associates [Vyacheslav] Molotov and [Lazar] Kaganovich, railed against Ukrainian party and government leaders (Stanislav Kosior and Vlas Chubar) for their weakness and failure to take more ruthless measures. Though Ukraine’s grain quota was twice reduced, it was still well beyond farmers’ capacity to meet. Therefore the Soviet leadership took several measures calculated to transform a severe situation into a catastrophe.
First, Ukrainian leaders were bypassed. Instead, in November 1932, Molotov led a Commission to Ukraine and Kaganovich to the North Caucasus to impose order. In January 1933, Stalin sent a personal emissary, Pavel Postyshev with full authority in Ukraine as well as Vsevolod Balytsky, who took over the republican OGPU. While Postyshev used the army and local activists to take “hidden” supplies from the villages, cordoning off and starving villages that failed to meet quotas, Balytsky instituted mass repressions from early 1933 onward on the grounds that a mass uprising of Ukrainian nationalists had been planned for the spring of 1933 with the aid of outside forces from Poland.

The consequences were not merely mass starvation, but wholesale arrests, deportations, and executions that did not occur elsewhere in the USSR.
In January, the OGPU reported 436 “terrorist acts” in Ukraine during the grain procurement campaign. About 38,000 arrests had been made, and 391 “anti-Soviet, kulak, counter-revolutionary groups” had been uncovered. Over 6,600 arrests had been made on collective farms, mostly comprised of the farms’ leadership. By January, over 8,000 had been dispatched to concentration camps.
By mid-February, the situation had escalated. The OGPU set up a “shock-operational group” in 200 districts of Ukraine and at railways stations and border crossings. It sent word to Stalin that “we are clashing with a single, carefully elaborated plan for an organized armed uprising in Ukraine by the spring of 1933, with the goal of removing Soviet power” and setting up an independent, capitalist, Ukrainian state. Needless to say, these groups had to be eradicated and thousands were subsequently deported.
No serious evidence of a planned uprising has ever emerged. Stalin was afraid of “losing Ukraine” as he wrote to Kaganovich and saw plots and plotters everywhere. Balytsky chose to feed his fertile imagination.
The repression of Ukraine’s villages led to a mass exodus of men-folk while those remaining behind simply starved. In February 1933 alone, about 85,000 peasants had fled the Ukrainian countryside. The vast majority were detained at the border and returned to their villages, or else arrested and sent to labor camps. Border crossings from North Caucasus to Ukraine, and from Ukraine into Belarus and Russia were closed. The OGPU noted that these had been escape routes in 1932 and were not about to make the same mistake again. It urged the rooting out of those peasants who had managed to get laboring jobs in the cities.
The OGPU documented the starvation in turgid accounts that nonetheless allow the reader some insights into the situation. Though some reports attribute starvation to failure to work sufficient hours or poor collective farm construction, others acknowledge that even those who had worked hard were starving.
One report from Kyiv region in late February 1933—based on 40% of the districts–noted that over 210,000 people were starving and an additional 12,800 had already died. In Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, the regional authorities proposed on February 28 to set up nurseries to feed 70,000 children, 50,000 pre-school-age children, and 300,000 adults.
The scale of the tragedy, in what had been the most productive grain-growing republic of both the Russian Empire and the 1920s USSR, is hard to fathom. The Italian Consul in Kharkiv (which remained Ukraine’s capital until 1934) reported that some 40-50 percent of peasants had died and estimated the death toll at around 9 million.
But we do not know the death toll. No one was counting the bodies, many of which lay for days unburied or were dumped into mass graves.
Starvation and repressions achieved one of Stalin’s expressed goals: to bring the errant Ukrainian republic into the Soviet fold. The policy of developing Ukrainian culture and language—initiated in the 1920s—was ended and its chief proponent, Mykola Skrypnyk, committed suicide in July 1933.
The Purges of the 1930s later removed practically all the perpetrators of the Famine at the republican level. Postyshev, Stalin’s local plenipotentiary, was executed in February 1939. The entire leadership of the Ukrainian Communist Party was eliminated. Depopulated villages were refilled with families from other regions. The Famine was then systematically concealed from the public and the outside world for the next 54 years.
The late James E. Mace called Ukraine a “post-genocidal society.” This is a pertinent epithet for “Eastern Ukraine,” or Soviet Ukraine as it existed in 1932-33, which never fully recovered and where present-day residents still have problems coming to terms with the crimes committed in 1932-33 because essentially this heartland of Ukraine was systematically “denationalized” and eradicated by the Soviet regime.
David R. Marples is author of Heroes and Villains: Creating National History in Contemporary Ukraine (Budapest and New York: Central European University Press, 2008).

Talking on the Unpleasant Topic of Caspian Development


19.11.2010

Talking on the unpleasant topic

Arkady Dubnov

Dmitry Medvedev met with Ahmadinejad and other neighbors on the Caspian Sea

Medvedev drew attention to the danger of man-made disasters in the Caspian Sea as a result of pipeline construction on its bottom.Berdimuhamedov said that Moscow has no right to interfere with the construction of trans-Caspian pipe coming out of Russian waters …

A trip to Baku at the Caspian summit represented the third for Dmitry Medvedev possibly the only member of the Group of Eight meet with "the world’s pariah" – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said recently that he is terminating the negotiations with the international community regarding Iran’s nuclear program. With thereby Ahmadinejad, who called the "sold his soul to the devil" who refused to supply Iran with S-300 systems. Since the Iranian president reacted to Moscow’s refusal to execute prisoners with Tehran a deal to sell anti-missile complexes, following the adoption of this summer, UN Security Council sanctions on Iran voted by, and Russia.

He talks. Medvedev and Ahmadinejad began with a smile. But after a rendezvous with the Russian president, the Iranian leader went sullen. Of course, any statements to the press was not. Shied away from them, and Mr. Medvedev, whom answered questions assistant for international affairs Sergei Prikhodko. He was laconic: "The conversation was of the open nature, the parties did not avoid hard questions." Obviously, what’s to reach a compromise was clearly more difficult than at the summit.

The problem of dividing the Caspian Sea among the five countries of the region as many years, how many years the sovereignty of most countries of the five, who are independent from the Soviet collapse. This event forced the start section of the once Soviet-Iranian Sea between the Islamic republic and the new littoral states – Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan. At the third summit of Caspian states held in Baku yesterday, many spoke of the need to accelerate the process of preparation of the Convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea. It is this document should become final in the process of dividing the sea. And, it would seem, from the Baku summit is no sensationalism in this regard is not expected. Talking about the convention seemed to be completely duty. All were agreed that the need to meet more often. Presidents – once a year, as agreed at the second Caspian summit in Tehran in 2007, and the ad hoc working group on the level of deputy foreign ministers and the more frequently – up to five times a year (this suggestion the president of Iran one of my colleagues did not challenge).

But none of the leaders have not indicated the principal contradiction, which hinders the achievement of a compromise in the section of the Caspian Sea – are diametrically different approaches to the principles of this section. These approaches do not change for many years and is mainly shared by three countries – Iran, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan. Thanks to the agreements signed between Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan in the late 1990’s, the principles governing the mining, the lack of legal status of the sea does not care so much about first of all Moscow and Astana. They have for many years quite successfully master the oilfields on the Caspian Sea north.

Quite expected was made by Dmitry Medvedev, the observation that has not yet determined the legal status of the Caspian Sea, in force remains the same status under the Soviet-Iranian treaties (1921 and 1940). And, moreover, the Russian president to pre-empt attempts of taking unilateral steps designed to prevent the achievement of balance in the region to push the negotiation process on the new status. Medvedev also drew attention to the danger of man-made disasters in the Caspian Sea as a result of pipeline construction on its bottom. He recalled the crash in the Gulf of Mexico and talked about his own initiative, made by him within the G20, the strengthening of the responsibility for the work of this kind.

No other presidents "pipeline" topic in this vein did not raise. All the other Caspian countries, except Iran, one way or another are interested in laying oil and gas pipelines through the Caspian Sea. And, moreover, consider the position of Moscow as an attempt to prevent the search for alternative routes for its hydrocarbons to international markets.Not surprisingly in this regard and others: President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov fairly rigidly stated that pipelines can be carried out only with the consent of the countries for which the waters of the pipeline. In other words, in Ashgabat believe that Moscow has no right to interfere with the construction of trans-Caspian pipe coming out of the Russian Caspian Sea.

But all these speeches were heard at the plenary session of the summit. When presidents take some time out to sign the final documents, we found that a majority of five Caspian reached a compromise in the quest as soon as possible to finish work on the Convention on the legal status. Moreover, President Nazarbayev, apparently on the Rights of the Dean of the Caspian Sea talks, announced that the president gave an indication of their experts for a year to prepare a draft convention in order to sign it on Russian territory. Dmitry Medvedev, in his closing remarks, nothing to do but only express the hope that in the near future at a meeting in Moscow would be "set point" in this case. Thus, it accurately marked the place and about the next, fourth, the Caspian summit. It was also observed in the final statement of the Baku meeting.

Toward the close of the summit became aware of another "protocol decision" – to instruct the relevant authorities within three months to prepare proposals on the mechanism of introducing a 5-year moratorium on sturgeon fishing in Caspian Sea. This initiative was announced in Baku by Nazarbayev. Also decided to request within three months to agree on the width of the zone on the basis of the national 24-25 nautical miles, the outer limits of which will be the state’s borders.

As a result, the Baku summit was very productive. The prospect of an early conclusion of a convention on the Caspian status inspired usually not too talkative Turkmen President expressed that, well, then we can think of a trans-Caspian gas pipeline. Of course, he added Berdimuhamedov, as if responding to the concerns of the Russian president, subject to compliance with all environmental requirements.

Another indication of the impact of the summit was the signing of the Baku Agreement on Security Cooperation in the Caspian Sea. Dmitry Medvedev called it a "landmark event". We note that this is fixed "the exclusive prerogative of the Caspian states to address the whole range of issues concerning regional security," the Russian president in detail to substantiate this thesis. "Only we and no one else reserves the right to it – said Medvedev – and if we weaken the interaction in this area, you can be sure there will be others there is strength."

The Russian president also reminded of its proposal to establish a Caspian Economic Cooperation Organization, but the implementation of this idea has not yet met with enthusiasm among his colleagues.

Channel:: News Time

Russia lost to Turkmenistan


Russia lost to Turkmenistan

Sergei Rasova

Something happened that should not happen.Russia lost its influence in Turkmenistan, a gas pipeline under the Caspian will be laid.

By and large, but what could I do Berdimuhamedov? Dioxide – the main export component of the republic, its a lot, it should sell.

Russia is not enough that she refused to buy larger volumes of gas, so more and continues to put "sand in the wheels" deliveries of Turkmen gas to European consumers. For the time Turkmenistan reconciled with a similar approach, and patiently waited for the offer, Gazprom in exchange for support from the denial of "Nabucco"? So do not wait, besides threatening statements the Russians that they will not allow construction of gas pipelines on Caspian seabed. That is, in fact, around these issues and turned summit of Caspian littoral states, which last week took place in Baku.

No doubt there were other questions too important and topical, but rather it questions the second plan, but mainly as I was, and remained the question of the legal status of the Caspian Sea and the principles of his section. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of newly independent states with access to the Caspian Sea, the problem was not solved. At a forum in Baku tentatively agreed that experts should agree on the national coastal zone, on the basis of 24-25 miles, the outer limits of which will become the state’s borders. Although the same Turkmenistan insists on a width of 20 miles. Secondly, we must distinguish between the economic zones of responsibility of States. Here too there is no complete unanimity. Previously, when was the Soviet Union, the two countries, respectively, in equal parts divide the Caspian Sea – the USSR and Iran. Now proposed principle: the greater length of coastline, the larger sector of the sea get to the state. In May 2003, Kazakhstan, Russia and Azerbaijan have adopted a tripartite agreement to separate about 2 / 3 of the Caspian seabed. Now actually in Kazakhstan 27 percent of the seabed, to Russia – 19 percent of Azerbaijan – 18 percent. Iran, this approach does not suit, and he proposes to divide the Caspian equally by 20 percent between the five countries. What is clear Iran has the smallest length of the coastline, and want, if not more, not less than their neighbors, but it is unacceptable for Turkmenistan or Azerbaijan, or for other Caspian states. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to the summit in Baku said that progress in determining the status of the Caspian Sea there and if the experts will work productively, then a year later in Moscow, a document can be signed.

As a result of this forum have signed an Agreement on Cooperation in the field of security in the Caspian Sea and agreed that the need to give time for sturgeon reproduction. This was the initiative of President Nursultan Nazarbayev for a moratorium on sturgeon fishing, however, until the instrument is not signed, but it will cook.

However, as we have already noted, the central issue of the Caspian – oil, gas, and Turkmenistan, respectively, laying the Trans-Caspian pipeline on the seabed in the direction of Azerbaijan. We have already detailed coverage of all the troubles in the relationship of gas main players in the region (see "Gas intrigue Turkmenistan), and therefore only briefly recall that Turkmenistan actively building a pipeline of the East-West", which will link the north-eastern gas fields in the country with the Caspian region .Then the Turkmen gas would go or on the Caspian gas pipeline through Kazakhstan to Russia, or the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline system in the Russians an alternative Nabucco pipeline. During the recent visit of Dmitry Medvedev to Ashkhabad, according to Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, the outcome of the negotiations was the decision to once again postpone the construction of the Caspian gas pipeline. They say, Europe after the crisis was not recovered, demand for gas is not. Given that "the Caspian Sea region is dependent, then the Turkmens had nothing to do but to face the Trans-Caspian project, through the Caucasus to Turkey (joining the existing Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum), and further to Europe.

President Berdimuhamedov at the summit in Baku, clearly explained that he was "against giving any outstanding issues on the Caspian political overtones" and that "for us is the fundamental issue of building a pipeline under the Caspian Sea." In this case, the head of Turkmenistan does not intend to ask permission to lay the pipeline from all countries of the Caspian "five", and only those parties "across the bottom areas that will build such a pipeline, that is Azerbaijan. Supplemented his boss, Vice-Premier of Turkmenistan in Ashgabat Baymurad Hodzhamuratov Forum "Oil and Gas of Turkmenistan – 2010". According to him, Turkmenistan will be able to deliver to Europe to 40 billion cubic meters of gas. He added that the construction of the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline under the Caspian Sea "consistent with the policy of Turkmenistan to diversify the areas of marketing natural gas."In other words, Moscow made it clear that she was not entitled to decide to build or not build "Transcaspian" as pipe will go out of the Russian Caspian Sea.

Thus Berdimuhamedov said Medvedev, who insisted that "the necessary strict balance between the interests of oil production and gas production, as well as environmental protection. Including issues such as the laying of main trans-Caspian pipelines. Clearly, all these questions about the ecology of the evil one, the problem is that Gazprom with its South Stream may remain on the beans.

What will happen next, this is perhaps the most interesting question. It is likely that Russia will insist – to build nothing is impossible, the status of the Caspian Sea are not resolved.Quietly tries to win over the other side of the Caspian states to the accompaniment of an "information war": it is said, will earn "Transcaspian" come the Americans and Europeans will begin to dictate their terms, the regional security will be threatened.

This raises another question, and who will support the Moscow if building the Trans-Caspian pipeline will "in fact" – without agreeing with Moscow or Iran, which strongly opposed. Of course, Azerbaijan’s position in this matter, as the grandfather Lenin – paramount. However, if Azerbaijan will settle disputes with Turkmenistan on offshore Kyapaz, Azeri and Chirag fields, (for example, sign an agreement on joint development of fields that are in the disputed zone), it is unlikely to act on the side of the Russians.Unprofitable, and the West in Azerbaijan good relations.

Hopes for Iran, too, especially not to, after Russia refused to supply missile systems S-300 relationship soured, and the second is already supplying its gas Turkmenistan Islamic republic. Why, for example, does not reduce the price of gas in return for loyalty? In addition, Iran is a rogue nation and a special weight in international politics has not, and the set of enemies along the perimeter of its borders will not.

Kazakhstan has traditionally hide "head in the sand and take a stand – neutrality. He had no hands with anyone quarrel with either the West or with Russia or with Turkmenistan.And the future is possible and its gas to Nabucco to pump if the Turkmens will succeed.

Who loses? Sure, only Russia. About the transit of Central Asian gas to the West will be forgotten, we observe because of their own short-sighted policy, because of the inability to negotiate and compromise. Loss than image hundreds of billions of dollars, and the question arises – how then will need Russia’s South Stream project. Would not that from him would have to give. Be realistic, after Moscow has reduced the purchase of up to 10-12 billion cubic meters of Turkmen gas, Ashgabat leverage to influence it had not left …

Today Turkmenistan is increasing gas supplies to China, puts on a gas pipeline in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI) is actively working with Iran. In late November or early December, the Caspian region is planning to visit European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, to lobby for the Nabucco project, so it will continue to follow all the ups and downs of the Caspian gas detective.

Source:: Ca-News

Saakashvili Pledged Georgia To Political Solution With Russia

Saakashvili promised not to fight with Russia

Mikhail Saakashvili

Saakashvili said that Tbilisi have made every effort to start a direct dialogue with Moscow

Georgia Will Not use the Military Option to Resolve Conflicts. This WAS stated by the President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili, speaking at a session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

The Georgian President also appealed to the leadership of the Russian Federation to start political talks.

"We are interested in beginning serious negotiations with the Russian leadership … Georgia stands with a unilateral initiative to never use force to restore its territorial integrity, despite the fact that currently almost one fifth of the country is occupied by Russian troops," – said Mikheil Saakashvili.

Saakashvili said that "even if Russia refuses to withdrawal of occupying troops, if the occupying troops would double the violation of human rights, Georgia, reserve a right to defend in the event of an attack on those 80% of the territory controlled by the Georgian government. "

Earlier in an interview with French newspaper Figaro, Georgian President announced his intention to "reach out" to Russia.

Battleground

He said that the intention to abandon the use of force in case of attack on Georgia dalas Georgian leadership is not easy.

We’re not going to take up arms to resist the aggressors

Mikhail Saakashvili
President of Georgia

"This – the controversial initiative, because any country has the right and duty to fight, including with the help of the army to defend its sovereignty", – Saakashvili said.

As an example he cited the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan

"Afghanistan ousted the Soviet occupiers, – he said – but the country was destroyed and its problems have remained. Georgia should become a country of European and contemporary. It is impossible to have ended the same things in Afghanistan and Chechnya."

Problems with Russia, Saakashvili sees that in his opinion, "Georgia has been a battleground in the confrontation between Russia and the West, US and NATO. It’s for them (Russia) was a way to continue the cold war – he said.

Direct dialogue

According to Saakashvili, in Tbilisi have taken every effort to start a direct dialogue with the Russian side. "

"But every time we offered a dialogue, then got in a rather rigid form of denial. Now I can only hope for the moral authority of the European Parliament to unilaterally declare the refusal to use force. In any case, we’re not going to take up arms to to resist the aggressors, "- said Mikheil Saakashvili, in an interview with Figaro.

According to the president of Georgia, "as his country can not change geography, then she should find a way to negotiate with Russia", – added the President of Georgia.

After the war, in August 2008, Russian leaders have repeatedly said that they will never meet or something to discuss with Saakashvili.

"With the current leadership of Georgia, we do not talk about anything" – reaffirmed the Interfax a source in the Foreign Ministry.

The agency’s interlocutor said that, among other things, no official request from the Georgian side in Moscow have been reported.