April 23, 2008, 2:32 pm
Edwards Backers Team Up With Obama
By Julie Bosman
No, John Edwards has not yet endorsed a candidate.
But nearly 50 of his most prominent backers lined up behind Senator Barack Obama today, in a gesture designed to give Mr. Obama a heavy boost of support less than two weeks before the North Carolina primary on May 6.
The group includes Ed Turlington, Mr. Edwards’s former national general campaign chairman; three North Carolina members of Congress; and 46 local activists, philanthropists and business leaders, among others. (Not surprisingly, given Mr. Edwards’s background, the list holds the names of 20 lawyers.)
Mr. Turlington, speaking from his law office in Raleigh, said that he had not expected to endorse a candidate after Mr. Edwards dropped out of the race on Jan. 30.
“I thought I was going to be on the sidelines,” Mr. Turlington said, adding that he made the decision about 10 days ago, after speaking to Mr. Obama. “I think his candidacy is doing a lot of important things that are similar to themes that John Edwards ran on.”
Among those things, he said, were Mr. Obama’s pledges to change the culture of Washington and fight for issues that are important to working people.
Throughout his second bid for the Democratic nomination, Mr. Edwards clashed repeatedly with Mrs. Clinton, particularly in debates. He criticized Mrs. Clinton for accepting campaign contributions from Washington lobbyists, a practice that he fiercely opposed.
And much of his campaign pitch centered on the notion that establishment Washington politicians have become corrupted by the influence of lobbyists for drug companies, oil companies and other corporate interests.
“You can’t just trade corporate Republicans for corporate Democrats,” he told audiences frequently, an attack aimed at Mrs. Clinton.
Mr. Edwards’s campaign sounded similar themes to Mr. Obama’s – both candidates positioned themselves as change agents who would clean house in Washington.
But despite heavy courting from both candidates, Mr. Edwards has still not made an endorsement. And the former Edwards supporters cautioned today that their announcement should not be viewed as a sign that Mr. Edwards’s endorsement was right behind. Two former campaign aides of Mr. Edwards said today that he has signaled recently that he may not endorse a candidate at all.
Mr. Turlington said he has “no idea” if Mr. Edwards agrees that Mr. Obama is the better choice. “He’ll make up his own mind,” he said.
Daniel Shays is an American hero it was his actions that brought about our Constitution and The Bill of Rights.
Shays’s Rebellion and the attack on Springfield Arsenal, January 25th, 1787
The Last Battle ofthe AmericanRevolution
In the Fall of 1786, General George Washington feared that the American Revolution might destroy the nation he and his countrymen had fought so hard to create. To his fellow Virginian and war comrade, Henry Lee, that October 31st, he wrote:
"I am mortified beyond expression when I view the clouds that have spread over the brightest morn that ever dawned in any country... What a triumph for the advocates of despotism, to find that we are incapable of governing ourselves and that systems founded on the basis of equal liberty are merely ideal and fallacious."
Samuel Adams, President of the Massachusetts Senate, expressed his sentiment, when he later weighed in on the issue of pardons for Shays's rebels the following Spring, that:
“Rebellion against a king may be pardoned, or lightly punished, but the man who dares to rebel against the laws of a republic ought to suffer death."
Thomas Jefferson, writing to James Madison from Paris, France, however, felt safe and assured when he wrote on January 30th, 1787, that:
"A little rebellion now and then is a good thing. It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government. God forbid that we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion."
Before Bush leaves office millions will lose their homes and because of the new bankruptcy laws they will be sentenced to decades of debt without relief.
Americans have been taken to the laundry by the mortgage lenders and their government. Our lawmakers set up the American people by deregulation. While they banks ripped us off they were setting themselves up for a downfall too.
Now Bush is bailing out the criminals while innocent Americans lose it all.
The rising defaults on subprime mortgages in the US have triggered a global crisis for the money markets. Hedge funds and banks across the world have found themselves exposed
It’s time for a new rebellion!
Subprime crisis provokes wave of lawsuits
By Joanna Chung in New York
Published: April 23 2008 22:20 | Last updated: April 23 2008 22:20
Plaintiffs have filed approximately two private lawsuits a day related to subprime mortgages in the US this year, setting case volumes on course to exceed levels not seen since the aftermath of the savings-and-loan crisis, a study has found.
During the first quarter of this year, 170 new civil cases were filed in federal courts, approaching the 181 filings made during the final six months of 2007, according to a review by Navigant Consulting, published on Wednesday. They were overwhelmingly dominated by class-action lawsuits, which accounted for 76 per cent of new cases.
“Like the credit crunch itself, the litigation is unrelenting,” said Jeff Nielsen, managing director at Navigant Consulting. “What we saw in 2007 was a mild breaking wave compared to the tsunami we’re witnessing now.”
He said the pace of subprime mortgage and related filings – now totalling 448 cases over 15 months to the end of March – suggests levels could soon surpass the 559 savings-and-loan cases of the early 1990s, which is seen by some as a historically high watermark in terms of a litigation fallout from a financial crisis.
The civil lawsuits will take many years to resolve, not least because of the complex nature of many cases. “Like the S&L cases, this is a process that will likely take years to play out,” said Mr Nielsen.
More than three-quarters of the civil cases filed last year are still active. But only 10 of the total 191 class actions filed in 2007 have been class certified, according to the report. Only 15 per cent of the cases have received a ruling on a motion to dismiss. The new cases from this quarter are “greener still”, the report says.
But the latest data, which exclude lawsuits filed at the state level, reflects the widespread nature of the credit crisis, which has spread far beyond the subprime mortgage sector. Eight of the most recent class-action securities lawsuits involved claims related to auction-rate securities, which are the subject of regulatory probes.
Many of the new suits, half of which were filed in courts in California and New York, alleged inadequate disclosure in connection with the loan origination process or claimed securities fraud. Some municipalities, including Baltimore and Cleveland, have filed suits against firms involved in the origination, servicing and securitisation of subprime mortgages.
The report notes that the number of suits targeting lenders over mortgage origination practices is likely to diminish, given the reduction in subprime mortgage activity. But other types of filings will continue to be sensitive to the state of the credit markets, and events, such as the collapse of Bear Stearns last month. “Intra-industry disputes appear likely to expand as financial institutions shun traditional mores and pursue remedies from one another through litigation,” it said.
Concerns spread beyond mortgages
By Daniel Pimlott, Krishna Guha and Joanna Chung
Published: April 22 2008 23:52 | Last updated: April 22 2008 23:52
Risky loans made to borrowers with poor credit at the height of a housing boom may have helped to kick off the credit crisis, but residential mortgages were not the only type of lending where standards fell.
While residential property experienced the most dramatic deterioration in the quality of loans issued, contributing to a sharp rise in defaults rates on mortgage repayments, attention is increasingly turning to other kinds of loans as the economic slowdown puts borrowers under greater stress.
“We definitely saw a loosening of underwriting in a broad category of instruments over time which we are watching and monitoring,” said John Dugan, who as Comptroller of the Currency oversees national US banks, including most of the largest banks such as Citibank and Bank of America. “We’re seeing declining credit in a broad range of asset classes.”
Defaults on other forms of consumer loans such as home equity loans, credit cards, auto loans and commercial real estate are now beginning to shift higher, albeit from historically low levels, he said.
The rise in default rates threatens to spur yet further losses at major banks and could cause rising numbers of bank failures.
Bank of America earlier this week raised its loan loss provisions by nearly $5bn because of rising losses on home equity and small business loans as well as loans to homebuilders. Wachovia, Citigroup and Washington Mutual have also upped loan loss provisions to prepare for deteriorating credit.
So far the 20 largest banks that the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency regulates have raised in excess of $80bn in capital since October to help deal with mounting losses and larger volumes of lending parked on their balance sheets. However, writedowns across the financial system from subprime related assets exceed $200bn, and are set to rise.
The rising losses at banks, including those from other forms of deteriorating credit, are likely to force banks to raise yet more capital, said Mr Dugan.
The capital raising has been encouraged by the Federal Reserve and its chairman Ben Bernanke, as well as the US Treasury Department, who as well as wanting to help protect US banks see the money as necessary in order to maintain lending levels and avoid a broader credit “crunch” across the economy. However, while the OCC has also been pushing capital raising, its priority is the “safety and soundness” of the US banking system, rather than the overall economy, Mr Dugan said.
“This is a place where I think you might get a little different answer from the Fed or Treasury,” he said. “I won’t say we are indifferent to the two [options of raising capital or selling off assets and cutting back on lending] because we think capital raising is a good thing. But we think that banks where they need to be prudent they should be.”
Outside of the major US banks, one of the greatest emerging risks is in commercial real estate, particularly to developers and homebuilders investing in residential property, according to the OCC. The Comptroller has been warning for several years over the problems posed by growing concentrations of commercial property lending, and last week called on bank managers to move quickly to recognise losses.
The proportion of nonperforming commercial real estate doubled in the year to the end of third quarter last year to nearly 2 per cent, according to the OCC. The Office of Thrift Supervision, which oversees savings and loans institutions, said that nonperforming commercial real estate loans had risen more than fivefold from 0.91 per cent of loans to 4.6 per cent in the year up to December 2007.
From The Times April 24, 2008
Inflation: vengeful return of the dragon that we thought had died
Gary Duncan: Analysis
During most of the past decade the idea of inflation as a menace to global prosperity faded. A problem that for most of the postwar era was an economic pestilence ceased to register as a big issue.
A tidal wave of cheap goods from Asia allowed Western shoppers to become used to ever-lower price tags. Central banks like the Bank of England, charged with keeping inflation in check, had never had it so easy. Inflation sank to historic lows as year-on-year rises in the cost of living dropped to low single figures, and interest rates plunged.
It marked a double dividend for living standards. Economists talked of “the death of inflation”. The economic dragon of the Seventies had finally, it seemed, been slain. Abruptly, however, inflation is back with a vengeance. The inflationary dragon was far from dead, merely dormant.
As in the Seventies, a driving force behind the inflation threat is soaring oil prices. But just as four decades ago, a drastic surge in energy costs is coupled with huge increases in prices for an even more basic necessity: food.
The fallout has been as startling as the upward spike in the prices of oil and foodstuffs. Across the world, a popular backlash has erupted.
In the developing world, the poorest struggling to eke out existences are being forced to cut back on meat to afford a meagre diet of rice and vegetables. The middle classes of poor nations, and the poor of middle-income nations, face a brutal blow to living standards. Food riots have erupted in countries as diverse as the Philippines and Egypt. In the West, the toll may be less vicious but the consequences are still far-reaching. As sharply rising living costs leave consumers feeling a severe squeeze on their pockets, governments are coming under fire.
The intensity of the danger from inflation is hampering the efforts to fend off the threat that a global credit crunch, as well as housing market downturn in the US and Britain, will trigger economic setbacks, if not recessions. Trying to keep a lid on inflation, central banks have been forced to limit interest rate cuts they might have made to bolster growth.
At the heart of the problem lies the reemergence of China as an economic power, along with the rise of other mainly Asian emerging market nations. These trends have unleashed massive extra demand for commodities and energy.
At the same time, the rising incomes of millions of Asia’s poor who are migrating to its cities has triggered a shift to Western-style diets. Since feeding animals means even greater consumption of cereals, crop prices have also charged upwards.
Western efforts to promote biofuels have meant tracts of land once used for food being given over to crops for this purpose. Droughts in Australia and other disruptions have exacerbated food shortages. Worldwide stocks of wheat and rice have dropped from about 30 per cent of annual consumption in 2000 to only 15 per cent.
Oil prices are, meantime, kept at record levels by a combination of scant spare capacity for extracting and refining crude, strong global demand and Middle Eastern unrest, as well as speculation.
A growing number of economists believe that the fundamental forces now at work will keep food and fuel prices high for years to come.
Go Jimmy Carter! Condi Rice like her boss has been a complete failure in her current job!
Carter says Secretary Rice "not telling truth"
Reuters US Online Report Top News
Apr 23, 2008 13:37 EST
ATLANTA (Reuters) - Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter on Wednesday accused Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of not telling the truth about warnings she said her department gave Carter not to speak to Hamas before a Middle East trip.
The State Department has said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State David Welch, the top U.S. diplomat for the Middle East, issued the warning before Carter, a veteran of Middle East diplomacy, went on his trip last week.
Rice said in Kuwait on Tuesday: "We counseled President Carter against going to the region and particularly against having contact with Hamas."
"President Carter has the greatest respect for ... Rice and believes her to be a truthful person. However, perhaps inadvertently, she is continuing to make a statement that is not true," a statement issued by the Carter center in Atlanta said on Wednesday.
"No one in the State Department or any other department of the U.S. government ever asked him (Carter) to refrain from his recent visit to the Middle East or even suggested that he not meet with Syrian President (Bashar) Assad or leaders of Hamas," it said.
It said Carter attempted to call Rice before making the trip and a deputy returned his call since Rice was in Europe.
"They had a very pleasant discussion for about 15 minutes, during which he never made any of the negative or cautionary comments described above. He never talked to anyone else," the statement said.
Carter had already on Monday, in an interview with National Public Radio, described as "absolutely false" any suggestion he had been warned not to meet Hamas.
"The United States is not going to deal with Hamas and we certainly told President Carter that we did not think that meeting with Hamas was going to help the Palestinians," Rice said Tuesday while attending a conference in Kuwait.
The White House backed Rice and said events after Carter's meeting showed Hamas' true character.
Carter "is a private citizen and he made a decision to not comply with what the State Department asked him to do," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino told reporters on Wednesday.
Perino made an apparent reference to an attack on Saturday in which a Palestinian suicide bomber and two other gunmen were killed when they attacked a border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel, wounding 13 Israeli soldiers.
"Actions speak louder than words," said Perino of Hamas.
Hamas, which controls Gaza, is viewed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union and Israel.
Carter, who met Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Syria over the weekend, is trying to draw the Islamist group into peace talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
But Rice and other senior U.S. officials are concerned that Carter's meeting could confuse U.S.-brokered peace talks already moving at a slow pace between Abbas and Olmert.
Hamas won a 2006 election and briefly formed a unity government with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. It seized control of Gaza from Abbas' secular Fatah faction in fighting in June.
(Editing by Tom Brown)
Jimmy Carter doing the job Condi Rice cannot do as Secretary of State!
Hamas to hand truce proposals with Israel Thursday
Thu Apr 24, 2008 8:04am EDT
CAIRO (Reuters) - The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas will give Egypt detailed proposals on a truce with Israel on Thursday, a Hamas spokesman said.
A Hamas delegation led by former Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud el-Zahar arrived in Cairo on Wednesday night and has a meeting with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman on Thursday afternoon, added spokesman Taher al-Nono.
Nono declined to give details of the proposals in advance but a Palestinian official familiar with the truce talks said the Islamist movement had backed away from its earlier demand that a truce should include a ban on Israeli attacks on Hamas members in both Gaza and the West Bank.
Hamas, which controls Gaza but has prominent members resident in the West Bank, has previously insisted that a truce should begin and apply at the same time to both areas.
The new offer suggests a truce could begin in Gaza first and then move after an agreed period of time to the West Bank, said the Palestinian official, who asked not to be named.
Under the truce proposal Palestinian factions will stop rocket attacks from Gaza and Israel will refrain from raids and targeted killings and will open up crossing points out of Gaza, especially the Rafah crossing with Egypt, he added.
Israel has said it is not negotiating a truce with Hamas but would have no reason to launch attacks on the Gaza Strip if rocket fire from the territory ceased. But it says it reserves the right to take military action to protect its citizens.
The Egyptian intelligence chief, who is in regular contact with the Israelis, has been trying to negotiate a truce between Israel and Hamas, especially since Palestinians broke through the border with Egypt in January to escape a long Israeli siege.
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, on a Middle East tour which ended this week, tried to persuade Hamas to declare a unilateral ceasefire with Israel. Hamas declined on the grounds that Israel had not responded to similar gestures in the past.
Dozens of Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza in the past 10 days. Three Israeli soldiers were killed on the border with Gaza on April 16.
(Additional reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi; Writing by Jonathan Wright; Editing by Charles Dick)
Karl Rove escaped the hand of justice during Watergate because the prosecutor said he had bigger fish to fry. Well Karl you’re the big fish now and justice is a dish best served cold and your days are numbered.
MUST READ ARTICLE! Great video too
Siegelman: Rove 'hijacked' the Dept. of Justice to win elections
Published: Wednesday April 23, 2008
In an extensive interview with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, who was released from prison on bond last month pending an appeal of his conviction on corruption charges, laid the blame for his prosecution squarely on Karl Rove's "hijacking" of the federal Department of Justice.
"This is not about me, it's not about my case," Siegelman emphasized in his appearance on Air America's Ring of Fire, a show hosted by Kennedy and Mike Papantonio available online at GoLeft.tv. "This is about America, and about a quest now that must be pursued to find out who was responsible for hijacking the Department of Justice and using it as a political tool to win elections. I believe that person that Congress will ultimately hold responsible is Karl Rove."
Siegelman noted that even before Republican whistleblower Dana Jill Simpson implicated Rove directly, "I suspected from the circumstantial evidence that Karl Rove was deeply involved in my prosecution. I mean, it was just so obvious that it was easy for me to put two and two together and connect those dots."
"I grew up with your father being the Attorney General," Siegelman told Kennedy, "and the heroic deeds that he did, and you know, you always thought that the Department of Justice was the last place that you could look to for justice and for fair play. But I think Karl Rove learned two things out of Watergate. ... He learned that you didn't have to create a secret plumbers unit within the White House when you had the Department of Justice. If you just appointed the right U.S. Attorneys, you could accomplish the same thing and more. And the second thing I think Rove learned was, you don't leave evidence behind like Nixon did with his tapes. You destroy e-mails."
Siegelman made clear his belief that, even though the corruption investigation launched against him by a Republican state attorney general just a few weeks after he was sworn in as governor in 1999 may have begun as a matter of local politics, once the Bush administration took office it became something far larger. By then, Siegelman was a rising star among Democratic governors, and after losing his bid for re-election in 2002 he became an increasingly visible critic of the administration. That in itself was reason enough for Rove to want to bring him down.
In support of his argument that he was targeted at the highest levels of the Department of Justice, Siegelman cited the involvement of several highly-placed figures. One was Noel Hillman, formerly the head of the Public Integrity Section at the department, whom Kennedy described as "a crooked federal judge from Camden, New Jersey, who is one of the other people who has completely corrupted the democratic process in our country and taken the Justice Department ... and turned it into a political outlet for muzzling and jailing political opponents."
According to Siegelman, Hillman "actually came to Alabama several times to speak up for the prosecution, even at a time when there were questions whether or not they were going to move forward with the case. He called the U.S. Attorneys to Washington and told them to go back and take a top-to-bottom review of the Siegelman case once they had lost their first run at me in 2004."
Another was Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who visited U.S. Attorney Leura Canary in Alabama after the first case against Siegelman was thrown out by the judge and, far from criticizing her failure, offered his strong support. "Shortly after the case was lost by the U.S. Attorney in Birmingham, who is a close social friend of Karl Rove's, Alberto Gonzales comes to Alabama to give her an applause and to pat her on the back and to shore her up and to tell everybody what a great U.S. Attorney she was."
Siegelman also noted that when the government witness who was preparing to testify against Siegelman told a room full of Department of Justice representatives that he had also given cash and blank checks to two prominent Republicans -- former Attorney General William Pryor and Senator Jeff Sessions -- "not one word was said and nothing was done."
"Every single one of those people had a conflict and should have stepped out of that room at that time," Siegelman explained. "It cries about selective prosecution, but it also cries out, who is holding this umbrella of protection over these people so that they felt comfortable operating in that environment where they were possibly, certainly violating the cannons of ethics, but possibly violating laws and certainly subverting my right to a fair trial?"
Siegelman added that "the Department of Justice, still to this day, is withholding over 500 documents that would shed some light on the origins of this case."
Karl Rove has denied having ever met Dana Jill Simpson, the Republican whistleblower who linked him directly to the prosecution of Governor Siegelman, and has rejected her allegations. He told GQ in an interview following Simpson's appearance on 60 Minutes, "She's a complete lunatic. I've never met this woman. This woman was not involved in any campaign in which I was involved. I have yet to find anybody who knows her. ... CBS is a shoddy operation. They said, 'Hey, if we can say "Karl Rove," "Siegelman," that'll be good for ratings. Let's hype it. We'll put out a news release on Thursday and then promo the hell out of it on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.'"
Video and audio of the interview follow.
CIA Acknowledges It Has More Than 7000 Documents Relating to Secret Detention Program, Rendition, and Torture
Human Right Groups Charge Documents Reveal CIA Stonewalled Congressional Oversight Committees; CIA Says Many Documents too Sensitive to Release
NEW YORK and WASHINGTON, April 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) must stop stonewalling congressional oversight committees and release vital documents related to the program of secret detentions, renditions, and torture, three prominent human rights groups said today. Amnesty International USA (AIUSA), the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the International Human Rights Clinic at NYU School of Law (NYU IHRC) reiterated their call for information, following the CIA's filing of a summary judgment motion this week to end a lawsuit and avoid turning over more than 7000 documents related to its secret "ghost" detention and extraordinary rendition program. This motion is in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed in federal court last June by these groups. The organizations will file their response brief next month.
Among other assertions, the CIA claimed that it did not have to release
the documents because many consist of correspondence with the White House or top Bush administration officials, or because they are between parties seeking legal advice on the programs, including guidance on the legality of certain interrogation procedures. The CIA confirmed that it requested -- and received -- legal advice from attorneys at the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel concerning these procedures.
"For the first time, the CIA has acknowledged that extensive records
exist relating to its use of enforced disappearances and secret prisons,"
said Curt Goering, AIUSA senior deputy executive director. "Given what we already know about documents written by Bush administration officials
trying to justify torture and other human rights crimes, one does not need
a fertile imagination to conclude that the real reason for refusing to
disclose these documents has more to do with avoiding disclosure of
criminal activity than national security."
The CIA's admission that it possesses at least 7000 documents relating
to rendition, secret detention and torture generated renewed calls by the
human rights groups for transparency and accountability from the
"The Freedom of Information Act is one of the major checks on
government criminality in this country," said CCR Executive Director
Vincent Warren. "The CIA has acknowledged that it has well over 7000
documents that relate to the torture and disappearance of men. These
include some of our clients, like Majid Khan, who were known to be in the program. The public needs to know what crimes were committed in our name and how they were justified. This has been the most secretive, least transparent administration in history, and it is well past time for
AIUSA, CCR, and NYU IHRC have filed FOIA requests with several U.S. government agencies, including the CIA. These FOIA requests sought information about individuals who are -- or have been -- held by the U.S. government or detained with U.S. involvement, and about whom there is no public record. The requests also sought information about the government's legal justifications for its secret detention and extraordinary rendition program. Comprehensive information about the identities and locations of prisoners in CIA custody -- as well as the conditions of their detention and the specific interrogation methods used against them -- has never been publicly revealed. This lack of transparency continues to prevent scrutiny by the public or the courts and leaves detainees vulnerable to abuse and torture.
Although the CIA did release a paltry number of documents in response
to the FOIA request, most were already in the public domain, such as
newspaper articles and a single copy of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which governs the treatment of civilians in times of war. The limited relevant documents that were released were documents pertaining to briefings demanded by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees regarding various aspects of the overseas detention and interrogation program.
Documents released to plaintiffs by the CIA demonstrate that many
within the government itself have been unable to obtain accurate
information from the CIA. These documents, which include letters from
Members of Congress to the CIA, demonstrate a pattern of withholding
information from Congress. In a pointed bipartisan letter on October 16,
2003, then-Chair and Ranking Member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence requested that CIA Director George Tenet provide senior level briefings on the treatment of, and information obtained by, three men known to be held in secret CIA detention, admonishing the CIA by stating that the committee was "frustrated with the quality of the information" provided in past briefings.
The CIA appears to have avoided answering detailed requests for
specific information, responding instead with form letters and references
to briefings. These practices led to a forceful letter from Senator Carl
Levin, Current Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, (then the Ranking Member) who was attempting to investigate CIA involvement in detainee deaths. In a letter dated Oct. 24, 2005, Senator Levin noted that "[t]he lack of CIA cooperation with the investigations to date has left significant omissions in the record." The CIA's failure to cooperate with members of Congress demonstrates the need for public scrutiny of the secret detention and extraordinary rendition program under FOIA.
"The CIA has employed illegal techniques such as torture, enforced
disappearances, and extraordinary rendition," said Meg Satterthwaite,
Director of the NYU IHRC. "It cannot use FOIA exemptions as a shield to hide its violations of U.S. and international law."
In its legal filings, the CIA acknowledged that this program "will
continue." Some prisoners have been transferred to prisons in other
countries for proxy detention where they face the risk of torture and where they continue to be held secretly, without charge or trial. Human rights reports indicate that the fate and whereabouts of at least 30 people
believed to have been held in secret U.S. custody remain unknown.
In September 2006, President Bush publicly acknowledged the existence
of CIA-operated secret prisons. At the same time, 14 detainees from these facilities were transferred to Guantanamo and several more have arrived since. The administration has admitted to using so-called "alternative interrogation procedures" on those held in the CIA program, including waterboarding. The international community and the United States, in other contexts, have unequivocally deemed these techniques torture.
For more information or copies of the CIA's legal filings and released
documents, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com or
For more information about the organizations involved, please see their
websites: http://www.amnestyusa.org http://www.ccrjustice.org or http://www.chrgj.org To see the most recent documents from this CIA filing, go to http://www.ccrjustice.org/newsroom/press-releases/cia-foia-documents.
SOURCE: PR NewsWire.com
WTF article of the year! The Congo has many problems but I’m sure penis theft is not one of them.
Penis theft panic hits city..
Wed Apr 23, 2008
By Joe Bavier
KINSHASA (Reuters) - Police in Congo have arrested 13 suspected sorcerers accused of using black magic to steal or shrink men's penises after a wave of panic and attempted lynchings triggered by the alleged witchcraft.
Reports of so-called penis snatching are not uncommon in West Africa, where belief in traditional religions and witchcraft remains widespread, and where ritual killings to obtain blood or body parts still occur.
Rumors of penis theft began circulating last week in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo's sprawling capital of some 8 million inhabitants. They quickly dominated radio call-in shows, with listeners advised to beware of fellow passengers in communal taxis wearing gold rings.
Purported victims, 14 of whom were also detained by police, claimed that sorcerers simply touched them to make their genitals shrink or disappear, in what some residents said was an attempt to extort cash with the promise of a cure.
"You just have to be accused of that, and people come after you. We've had a number of attempted lynchings. ... You see them covered in marks after being beaten," Kinshasa's police chief, Jean-Dieudonne Oleko, told Reuters on Tuesday.
Police arrested the accused sorcerers and their victims in an effort to avoid the sort of bloodshed seen in Ghana a decade ago, when 12 suspected penis snatchers were beaten to death by angry mobs. The 27 men have since been released.
"I'm tempted to say it's one huge joke," Oleko said.
"But when you try to tell the victims that their penises are still there, they tell you that it's become tiny or that they've become impotent. To that I tell them, 'How do you know if you haven't gone home and tried it'," he said.
Some Kinshasa residents accuse a separatist sect from nearby Bas-Congo province of being behind the witchcraft in revenge for a recent government crackdown on its members.
"It's real. Just yesterday here, there was a man who was a victim. We saw. What was left was tiny," said 29-year-old Alain Kalala, who sells phone credits near a Kinshasa police station
(Editing by Nick Tattersall and Mary Gabriel)
Republicans continue their economic assault on women including their own Mother’s, wives and daughters!
We women are still seen as second class citizens to the republicans. Women like foreign workers are nothing more than cheap labor for business in America.
McCain fails to vote on defeated equal pay for women Senate bill
NEW ORLEANS — Republican Sen. John McCain, campaigning through poverty-stricken cities and towns, said Wednesday he opposed a Senate bill that sought equal pay for women because it would lead to more lawsuits.
The bill was defeated in the Senate by a vote of 56-42.
The Senate had scheduled a late Wednesday vote on the measure, which would have made it easier for women to sue their employers for pay discrimination. Both Democratic presidential candidates, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, left the campaign trail and returned to Washington to vote for the bill.
McCain skipped the vote to campaign in New Orleans.
"I am all in favor of pay equity for women, but this kind of legislation, as is typical of what's being proposed by my friends on the other side of the aisle, opens us up to lawsuits for all kinds of problems," the expected GOP presidential nominee told reporters. "This is government playing a much, much greater role in the business of a private enterprise system."
The bill would have overturned a Supreme Court decision limiting how long workers can wait before suing for pay discrimination.
It was named for Lilly Ledbetter, a supervisor at the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.'s plant in Gadsden, Ala., who sued for pay discrimination just before retiring after a 19-year career there. By the time she retired, Ledbetter made $6,500 less than the lowest-paid male supervisor and claimed earlier decisions by supervisors kept her from making more.
The Supreme Court voted 5-4 last May 29 to throw out her complaint, saying she had waited too long to sue.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) released a statement blasting Senate Republicans following the defeat of the bill. "By obstructing a vote on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Senate Republicans have thwarted efforts to restore balance in the law and allow victims of wage discrimination to seek justice in the courts. In so doing, they have again stopped necessary progress for all Americans," read the statement, in part.
Democrats criticized McCain for opposing the bill.
"At a time when American families are struggling to keep their homes and jobs while paying more for everything from gasoline to groceries, how on Earth would anyone who thinks they can lead our country also think it's acceptable to oppose equal pay for America's mothers, wives and daughters?" Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Karen Finney said.
McCain stated his opposition to the bill as he campaigned in rural eastern Kentucky, where poverty is worse among women than men. The Arizona senator said he was familiar with the disparity but that there are better ways to help women find better paying jobs.
"They need the education and training, particularly since more and more women are heads of their households, as much or more than anybody else," McCain said. "And it's hard for them to leave their families when they don't have somebody to take care of them.
"It's a vicious cycle that's affecting women, particularly in a part of the country like this, where mining is the mainstay; traditionally, women have not gone into that line of work, to say the least," McCain said.
McCain chose to visit the tiny hamlet of Inez, Ky., because it is where President Lyndon B. Johnson declared war on poverty. But McCain, contradicting President Bush by acknowledging the U.S. is presently in a recession, said Johnson's poverty programs had failed.
"I wouldn't be back here today if government had fulfilled the promise that Lyndon Johnson made 44 years ago," he said.
In recent weeks, McCain has proposed a series of tax breaks for corporations, government-backed refinancing for struggling homeowners and a summer holiday from gas taxes. He proposed another new program Wednesday: a tax write-off for companies that provide high-speed Internet access for underserved, low-income communities.
Hundreds riot at LA detention center for illegal immigrants
The Associated Press
Wed, Apr 23, 2008 (7:42 p.m.)
Hundreds of illegal immigrants awaiting deportation rioted at a county-run detention center and had to be subdued with tear gas, authorities said Wednesday.
The riot Tuesday started as a fight between detainees from rival gangs and spread to the detention center's outdoor yard, said Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Nearby sheriff's stations sent additional deputies to separate the detainees. The brawl was diffused "within minutes" after tear gas was used, said sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore.
Fights among incarcerated gang members periodically break out at state jails, prisons and immigrant detention facilities, sometimes sparking riots.
The federal Department of Homeland Security contracts with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to staff and manage the Mira Loma Detention Center in Lancaster, which holds about 900 detainees who are in the process of being deported or awaiting resolution of their cases in immigration courts.
Ten detainees were treated for injuries, including two who suffered serious head injuries.
Sheriff's officials will evaluate how Mira Loma guards separate detainees based on gang affiliation, Whitmore said. About 45 detainees involved in the riot have been identified as suspected gang members and moved to other federal facilities.
04/24/08 AP: Reconstruction of Samarra shrine unites factions in Iraq It was the bombing of a revered Shiite shrine here that pushed Iraq to the brink of civil war, bloodshed that has left tens of thousands dead and this ancient city in ruins.
04/24/08 AP: British foreign secretary visits Iraq amid further clashes Britain's foreign secretary held talks Thursday with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as at least 13 people were reported killed in the ongoing fighting between Shiite militiamen and Iraqi and U.S.-led forces.
04/23/08 AP: US auditor says Iraqi oil windfall growing even bigger than expected New data on Iraq oil revenues suggests that country's government will reap an even larger than expected windfall this year — as much as $70 billion (€43.9 billion) — according to the special U.S. auditor for Iraq.
04/23/08 AFP: Petraeus to head US Middle East forces General David Petraeus, the top US commander in Iraq, has been named to head US forces in the Middle East, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Wednesday.
04/23/08 Reuters: Bangladesh evacuates stranded workers from Iraq Bangladesh has begun evacuating thousands of stranded workers who were trafficked into war-ravaged Iraq by illegal manpower traders, officials said on Wednesday. An Emirates Airlines flight carrying 42 Bangladeshis arrived in Dhaka...
04/23/08 khaleejtimes: Filipinos warned against defying Iraq travel ban The Philippine Consulate-General on April 23 repeated its caution to all Filipinos in the United Arab Emirates against violating the travel ban and risking their lives by travelling to Iraq for employment.
04/23/08 AFP: Death toll rises as Baghdad clashes spread Another 19 people were killed in fighting between militiamen and security forces in Shiite areas of Baghdad, officials said, as the death toll from weeks of street battles passed 360.
04/24/08 AFP: Pakistan, Afghanistan agree to a 'new beginning' in relations Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed to a "new beginning" to bilateral relations based on complete mutual trust and understanding, an joint statement said. The announcement came as Afghan foreign minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta concluded...
04/24/08 CNN: First-ever oil paintings found in Afghanistan Scientists have found what they described this week as the earliest oil paintings ever discovered. Murals found on cave walls in Afghanistan prove that painting with oil had been going on in Asia for centuries before artists...
Turkish army says it strikes PKK group in N. Iraq
Thu Apr 24, 2008
ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish warplanes fired on a group of Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq on Wednesday as they tried to cross into Turkey, the army said on Thursday.
The army statement came a day after a military source said at least four Turkish military jets bombed Kurdish separatist targets inside northern Iraq.
"A group of armed PKK/KONGRA-GEL terror organization members, who were trying to cross into Turkey from northern Iraq's Hakurk region, were spotted and neutralized by fire from aircraft of the Air Forces," the statement said.
It gave no further details, but "neutralized" generally means killed.
On Wednesday, a spokesman for the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerrilla group said Turkish planes bombed a remote part of northern Iraq but no one was hurt.
A PKK spokesman denied the Turkish army statement and said the Turkish bombing had caused no casualties among the rebels.
"The Turkish news is false. There was a fierce battle between Turkish forces and the PKK in the area of Sirnak (in southeastern Turkey) yesterday. It lasted for hours," Ahmed Danees, PKK spokesman in northern Iraq, said.
"There were killed and wounded on the Turkish side," he said.
The Turkish military staged an eight-day incursion in northern Iraq in February against the PKK, which uses northern Iraq as a base to launch attacks on targets inside Turkey.
Ankara blames the separatist group for the deaths of 40,000 since 1984, when the group took up arms to carve out an ethnic homeland in southeast Turkey.
The United States and the European Union, along with Turkey, consider the PKK a terrorist organization.
(Writing by Selcuk Gokoluk; Editing by Giles Elgood)
The Kurds like the Armenians are being murdered by the Turks as Bush sits by an allows Iraq to be attacked!
Could the following article be one of the reasons for this new attack by Turkey?
: Staffan de Mistura takes Kirkuk issue to Brussels :
Since the 1980s and 1990s, thousands of Kurds, who were forcibly removed from their homes and farms by Saddam Hussein and replaced by Arab settlers, have been patiently waiting for their rights to be reinstated. Many Kurds from Kirkuk and its environs rushed back to the city following the downfall of Saddam Hussein, hoping that they will be able to return to homes and farms they lost. However, the U.S. military stopped the Kurds in their tracks and they were told that they should wait until an elected Iraqi government had emerged to address their grievances through legal channels. Large numbers of the internally displaced Kurds, who are still languishing in Kirkuk’s sport stadium and in ramshackle former government buildings, have been waiting for the government to restore their rights by implementing article 140 of the Iraqi constitution. However, foot-dragging by the government, supported by Washington and Turkey, has erected obstacle after obstacle to prevent implementation of that very article, which was approved by Iraq’s political factions and supported by American constitutional experts.
Article 140 was made redundant by the surprise visit of the U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, to Kirkuk and her meetings with Kurdish, Arab and Turkman political factions on December 18, 2007. Kirkuk’s Arab and Turkman politicians, influenced by Arab nationalists and Turkey, opposed Kurdish demands during their meeting with Rice. It was after Rice’s visits to Kirkuk that the chairman of the Higher Committee for implementing article 140 resigned, stating that the legal time limit of December 31, 2007 had elapsed and that there was no more reason for the continuation of his committee. It was then that the issue of Kirkuk and other Arabized Kurdish territories was referred to the U.N. envoy, Staffan de Mistura in Baghdad. The referral of the issue to the U.N. practically froze all major steps taken since 2004 to address the issue of Arabized Kurdish territories.
Instead of expediting implementation of article 140 through mediations between Iraq’s political factions, de Mistura traveled to Brussels to seek advice from NATO and EU officials about the issue. On April 22, 2008, de Mistura, told a Reuters reporter, “The status of the northern Iraqi Kurdish city of Kirkuk must be solved through a political formula and not a hastily organized referendum that would trigger violence.”  It was part of de Mistura’s job was to help organize a well-grounded and not hastily prepared referendum. Instead of trying to bridge the gap between Iraqi politicians, de Mistura traveled to Brussels to seek remedies for the Kirkuk issue from the EU and NATO members, including the U.S. and Turkey, who have been responsible for blocking implementation of the article in question. De Mistura is doing disservice to Iraq and the Kurds by internationalizing the issue in favor of Turkey and the U.S., who are interested mainly in the oil and gas resources of Kirkuk. The resolution of the problem requires not only political consensus but also practical technical measures to readjust the administrative boundaries of the old Kirkuk province.
It is puzzling to see NATO and EU officials discourage de Mistura from organizing a simple referendum in Kirkuk, while they were instrumental in dismembering the former Yugoslavia and replace it by Slovenia, Croatia, Kosovo, Bosnia Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia. The double standard exercised by the west just to appease one of their members, Turkey, is outrageous. The Kurds are merely trying to reclaim what has been taken away from them by force through legal channels and are not seeking independence as Turkey claims. It is the Turkish paranoia about the Kurds and not Kirkuk, which is dragging the whole region down a slippery slope. Turning their back on the civil and human rights of some 30 million strong Kurds is a recipe for regional instability.
While de Mistura calls Kirkuk a Kurdish city, yet he fails to pursue implementation of article 140 of the Iraqi constitution, which prescribes remedies to the problem. De Mistura merely regurgitates the position of a Turkish parliamentarian, who visited Kikuk during fall 2006 and arrogantly told Kurdish officials that there will be no referendum on Kirkuk and that the future of the city should be settled through consensus. De Mistura says that the issue of “Kirkuk needs to be solved through a political formula in which everybody, majorities and minorities feel comfortable,” yet he offers no comfort to the Kurdish majority of Kirkuk. He told Reuters, “he would propose options so Iraq could decide under which authority to put four disputed locations,” near Kirkuk, but excluding Kirkuk. He assumes that the resolution of the administrative responsibility for those selected areas would help in deciding the future status of Kirkuk. This means an indefinite delay in addressing the grievances of more than 200,000 internally displaced Kurds, while Sunni Arab insurgents are consolidating their grip on Arabized Kurdish territories in Mosul, Salahadin, Kirkuk and Diyala. It is disappointing to learn that a U.N. representative like de Mistura say, “Nobody doubts that Kirkuk is a crucial area for Iraq and for the region,” while ignoring the rights of the province’s indigenous people. Is this what the United Nations stands for?
Since de Mistura is on a U.N. assignment in Iraq, he has no right to publicize his half-baked report, which should be submitted for the consideration of the Iraqi government. It is for the government to decide whether it should publicize the contents of such a sensitive report. De Mistura seems to be unaware of the fact that ethnic cleansing and sectarian violence has been rampant in Arabized Kurdish areas during the past five years in an effort to complete the job started by Saddam Hussein’s government. Agreements between Iraq’s political faction for holding a referendum on Arabized Kurdish territories should help stabilize the situation rather than not inflame it. The longer he waits, the more difficult it becomes to address the issue to the satisfaction of all parties, especially the Kurds. In a campaign of scare tactics, the U.S., Turkish and Iraqi Arab officials, helped by media, have often referred to Kirkuk as a powder keg, which could turn into a regional war. Now, de Mistura has coined a new phrase by describing the issue as the “mother of all issues.” One wonders whether de Mistura is trying to help solve the Kirkuk problem or he is merely trying to inflame the situation further.