Politics and Legislation
Top Obama Fundraiser Accused Of Fraud
A major fundraiser for the re-election campaign of US President Barack Obama has been accused of fraud and dodging creditors, a report says.
As Bloomberg runs reports revealing New York City is the top source of donations for both the Obama and Romney campaigns news surfaces that one of Obama’s top donors and fundraisers, the New York based Abaka Assongba, has been accused of fraud.
According to reports, Abaka is accused of defrauding a Swiss businessman of $650,000 after engaging him in an email scam and then using that money to buy a multi-million dollar home in Florida.
Accompanying the fraud charges against Abaka are other embarrassments for the Obama campaign, including revalatoins of a 2004 eviction for owing $5,000 in back rent and another court case where she was ordered to pay $10,000 for back rent and damage.
Man whose WMD lies led to 100,000 deaths confesses all
Defector tells how US officials ‘sexed up’ his fictions to make the case for 2003 invasion
A man whose lies helped to make the case for invading Iraq – starting a nine-year war costing more than 100,000 lives and hundreds of billions of pounds – will come clean in his first British television interview tomorrow.
“Curveball”, the Iraqi defector who fabricated claims about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, smiles as he confirms how he made the whole thing up. It was a confidence trick that changed the course of history, with Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi’s lies used to justify the Iraq war.
He tries to defend his actions: “My main purpose was to topple the tyrant in Iraq because the longer this dictator remains in power, the more the Iraqi people will suffer from this regime’s oppression.”
The chemical engineer claimed to have overseen the building of a mobile biological laboratory when he sought political asylum in Germany in 1999. His lies were presented as “facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence” by Colin Powell, US Secretary of State, when making the case for war at the UN Security Council in February 2003.
But Mr Janabi, speaking in a two-part series, Modern Spies, starting tomorrow on BBC2, says none of it was true. When it is put to him “we went to war in Iraq on a lie. And that lie was your lie”, he simply replies: “Yes.”
US officials “sexed up” Mr Janabi’s drawings of mobile biological weapons labs to make them more presentable, admits Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, General Powell’s former chief of staff. “I brought the White House team in to do the graphics,” he says, adding how “intelligence was being worked to fit around the policy”.
As for his former boss: “I don’t see any way on this earth that Secretary Powell doesn’t feel almost a rage about Curveball and the way he was used in regards to that intelligence.”
Stockton, Calif., Could Become Nation’s Biggest Municipal Bankruptcy
Stockton, Calif. is quite at home on lists of dubious distinctions.
This Northern California city has been variously listed as the city with the second-highest home-foreclosure rate of a major U.S. metropolis, the second-highest violent crime rate in California, and two times the frontrunner of Forbes magazine’s “America’s Most Miserable Cities.”
Now Stockton is hoping to avoid its next bleak title, that of biggest municipality in U.S. history to enter bankruptcy.
After Heyday, Payday
Eighty miles east of San Francisco and home to nearly 300,000 people, Stockton has cycled through decades of city-planning booms and crime-ridden busts.
These days many residents are just doing what they can to stay safe and survive. Unemployment in the city tops 16 percent. Foreclosures are at an all-time high. Homeless shelters are out of beds. The police force has shrunk 25 percent and this year’s homicide total may surpass last year’s record high of 58.
In the early 2000s, after years of decline, Stockton began pouring money into revitalization projects. Developers built residential subdivisions, a theater complex, sports arena, waterfront walkway and marina.
City coffers bulged on the resulting property tax increases, and city employee contracts ballooned. One month of city employment meant eligibility for full retiree health care. Today, the city’s long-term health care liability totals more than $400 million. There are 94 pensions each worth at least $100,000 annually.
“Stockton overcommitted to long-term obligations that even under the best of times the city could not afford. So if there was not a recession, the city would have been having the conversation we’re having in four or five years,” said City Manager Bob Deis in a recent Time magazine interview.
Eurozone unemployment hits 15-year high
By Michael Millar
LONDON (SHARECAST) – Unemployment across the countries that use the euro hit a 15-year high of 10.8 per cent in February.
Figures from the European Commission’s official statistics agency, eurostat, showed unemployment was up from 10.7% in January and compared to 10.0% in February 2011.
The figures laid bare the vast economic differences between 17 countries using the euro.
Among the Member States, the lowest unemployment rates were recorded in Austria (4.2%), the Netherlands (4.9%), Luxembourg (5.2%) and Germany (5.7%).
Will the US dollar fall to the Chinese Yuan?
Uploaded by RTAmerica on Apr 3, 2012
Over the years the US dollar has become weaker and weaker, and it seems the Chinese Yuan is getting stronger and stronger. In a few years China’s GDP is believed to surpass the US GDP making it the strongest in the world. Recently at the BRICS annual meeting, the five fastest growing countries decided to ditch the dollar and use their own currencies in mutual trade putting the buck almighty in jeopardy. Michael T. Snyder, founder of TheEconomicCollapseBlog.com, joins us to discuss what the future holds for the US dollar.
Wars and Rumors of War
Pentagon activates missile defenses for North Korean launch
The Pentagon recently activated its global missile shield in anticipation of North Korea’s launch of a long-range missile, according to defense officials.
The measures include stepped-up electronic monitoring, deployment of missile interceptor ships, and activation of radar networks to areas near the Korean peninsula and western Pacific.
Three interceptor ships near Japan and the Philippines, as well as U.S.-based interceptors, are ready to shoot down the North Korean missile if space-, land-, and sea-based sensors determine its flight path is targeted at the United States or U.S. allies, said officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The Obama administration will regard any launch by North Korea as a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions regardless of whether the North Koreans claim the rocket test is for space launch purposes, the officials said. The technology and rocketry used for a space launch is nearly identical to that used with ballistic missiles that carry a warhead, they said.
Also, because the payload or warhead of the test launch cannot be determined prior to launch, the Obama administration decided to activate the missile defense system.
According to U.S. officials, current intelligence assessments indicate the North Korean missile will be launched from a base called Tongchang-ri, located on a west coast peninsula north of Pyongyang between April 12 and April 15…..
US draws up plans for nuclear drones
Technology is designed to increase flying time ‘from days to months’, along with power available for weapons systems
American scientists have drawn up plans for a new generation of nuclear-powered drones capable of flying over remote regions of the world for months on end without refuelling.
The blueprints for the new drones, which have been developed by Sandia National Laboratories – the US government’s principal nuclear research and development agency – and defence contractor Northrop Grumman, were designed to increase flying time “from days to months” while making more power available for operating equipment, according to a project summary published by Sandia.
“It’s pretty terrifying prospect,” said Chris Coles of Drone Wars UK, which campaigns against the increasing use of drones for both military and civilian purposes. “Drones are much less safe than other aircraft and tend to crash a lot. There is a major push by this industry to increase the use of drones and both the public and government are struggling to keep up with the implications.”
The highly sensitive research into what is termed “ultra-persistence technologies” set out to solve three problems associated with drones: insufficient “hang time” over a potential target; lack of power for running sophisticated surveillance and weapons systems; and lack of communications capacity.
The Sandia-Northrop Grumman team looked at numerous different power systems for large- and medium-sized drones before settling on a nuclear solution. Northrop Grumman is known to have patented a drone equipped with a helium-cooled nuclear reactor as long ago as 1986, and has previously worked on nuclear projects with the US air force research laboratory. Designs for nuclear-powered aircraft are known to go back as far as the 1950s.
The research team found that the nuclear drones were able to provide far more surveillance time and intelligence information per mission compared to other technologies, and also to reduce the considerable costs of support systems – eliminating the need, for example, for forward bases and fuel supplies in remote and possibly hostile areas.
U.S. Joins Effort to Equip and Pay Rebels in Syria
By STEVEN LEE MYERS
ISTANBUL — The United States and dozens of other countries moved closer on Sunday to direct intervention in the fighting in Syria, with Arab nations pledging $100 million to pay opposition fighters and the Obama administration agreeing to send communications equipment to help rebels organize and evade Syria’s military, according to participants gathered here.
The moves reflected a growing consensus, at least among the officials who met here this weekend under the rubric “Friends of Syria,” that mediation efforts by the United Nations peace envoy, Kofi Annan, were failing to halt the violence that is heading into its second year in Syria and that more forceful action was needed.
With Russia and China blocking United Nations measures that could open the way for military action, the countries lined up against the government of President Bashar al-Assad sought to bolster Syria’s beleaguered opposition through means that seemed to stretch the definition of humanitarian assistance and blur the line between so-called lethal and nonlethal support.
There remains no agreement on arming the rebels, as countries like Saudi Arabia and some members of Congress have called for, largely because of the uncertainty regarding who exactly would receive the arms.
Articles of Interest
Lawyer for soldier accused of Afghan slaughter: ‘almost complete information blackout’
John Henry Browne, the attorney for Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, the man accused of single-handedly massacring 17 Afghan villagers, is now accusing the United States government of “an almost complete information blackout” which is blocking him from preparing a proper defense for Bales.
Browne alleges that he and his legal team has been prevented from being able to interview the witnesses to the tragic incident as well as the injured civilians in southern Afghanistan.
“We were expecting a lot more cooperation. The prosecutors in this case promised us a lot of cooperation which we’re just not getting,” Browne said to reporters in Seattle, Washington.
“We are facing an almost complete information blackout from the government, which is having a devastating effect on our ability to investigate the charges preferred against our client,” he added.
38-year-old Bales allegedly strolled out of his base in Kandahar, a southern Afghan province, without being stopped or questioned, early on March 11, after which he conducted a merciless, calculated assault on two villages killing 17 civilians, including women and children.
However, this case has been rife with inconsistencies and unanswered questions, especially surrounding the possibility of multiple soldiers being involved in the tragic killings.
Indeed, an Afghan parliamentary probe concluded that there were 15-20 U.S. soldiers involved in the murders. This finding was seemingly contradicted by a report from AP which cited alleged statements from two officials who did not participate in the probe and the U.S. government has claimed that only Bales was involved from day one.
Furthermore, child witnesses provided accounts to a journalist for Australia’s SBS Dateline which completely contradict the U.S.’s official account.
Colombia: 8 Israelis suspected of drug trafficking
Local media reports claim Israeli ‘former military men’ also suspected of money laundering, exploitation of minors. Suspects deny allegations: ‘We’re legit businessmen’
Eight Israelis were arrested in Colombia on suspicion of drug trafficking, money laundering and exploitation of minors, the country’s chief prosecutor told local media outlets on Tuesday.
The suspects, who were described in the reports as “former military men,” reside in the city of Taganga. According to one of the reports, they are suspected of sexually exploiting teenage girls.
As part of a separate investigation, the suspects are also being questioned about their ties to a local drug trafficking ring.
The chief prosecutor noted that the Israeli men were under surveillance during the past year, after arousing the suspicion of local police officers and community leaders.
One of the reports claimed that police obtained tape recordings, some in Hebrew, which might incriminate the suspects.
The suspects denied the allegations, claiming that they were legitimate businessmen.
Who is Kofi Annan? The United Nations “Peacekeeper” Handpicked by the CIA
by Thierry Meyssan
Although Kofi Annan’s track record at the UN is an indisputable success in terms of management and efficiency, he has been sharply criticized for his political shortcomings. As Secretary General, he aspired to bring the Organization into line with the unipolar world and the globalization of U.S. hegemony. He called into question the ideological foundations of the UN and undermined its ability to prevent conflicts. Notwithstanding, he is today in charge of resolving the Syrian crisis.
Former UN Secretary General and Nobel Peace Prize, Kofi Annan, has been designated by Ban Ki-moon and Nabil El Arabi as joint special envoy to negotiate a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis. With Annan’s extraordinary experience and shiny brand image, his appointment was welcomed by all.
What does this top international official really represent? Who propelled him to the highest-ranking positions? What were his political choices, and what are his current commitments? These questions are met with a discreet silence, as if his previous functions were in themselves a guarantee of neutrality.
Handpicked and trained by the Ford Foundation and the CIA
His former colleagues praise him for his thoughtfulness, his intelligence and subtlety. A very charismatic personality, Kofi Annan left a strong imprint behind him because he did not behave simply as the “secretary” of the UN, but more like its “general,” by taking initiatives that revivified an organization that was mired in bureaucracy. All that is known and has been repeated ad nauseam. His exceptional professional qualities earned him the Nobel Peace Prize, although this honor in theory should have been bestowed for personal political commitment, not a management career.
Kofi and his twin sister Efua Atta were born on 8 April 1938, into an aristocratic family of the British colony of the Gold Coast. His father was the tribal chief of the Fante people and the elected governor of Asante province. Although he opposed British rule, he was a faithful servant of the Crown. With other notables, he took part in the first decolonization movement, but looked upon the revolutionary fervor of Kwame Nkrumah with suspicion and anxiety.
In any event, Nkrumah’s efforts led to the independence of the country in 1957 under the name of Ghana. Kofi was then 19 years old. Though not involved in the revolution, he became vice-president of the new National Student Association. It was then that he was spotted by a headhunter from the Ford Foundation who incorporated him into a program for “young leaders.” From there, he was invited to follow a summer course at Harvard University. Having noticed his enthusiasm for the United States, the Ford Foundation offered to sponsor his complete studies, first in economics at Macalester College in Minnesota, followed by international relations at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva.
After the Second World War, the Ford Foundation, created by famous industrialist Henry Ford, became an unofficial instrument of U.S. foreign policy, providing a respectable facade for the activities of the CIA .
Kofi Annan’s overseas study period (1959-1961) coincided with the most difficult years of the African-American civil rights movement (the start of Martin Luther King’s Birmingham campaign). He saw it as an extension of the decolonization he had witnessed in Ghana, but once again did not get involved.
Impressed with Annan’s academic achievements and political discretion, his U.S. mentors opened for him the doors of the World Health Organization, where he landed his first job. After three years at WHO headquarters in Geneva, he was appointed to the Economic Commission for Africa based in Addis Ababa. However, not sufficiently qualified to pursue a career at the UN, he returned to the United States to take up management studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (1971-1972). He then attempted a comeback in his home country as director of tourism development, but found himself perpetually at odds with the military government of General Acheampong; he gave up and returned to the United Nations in 1976.
James Murdoch quits BSkyB to save hacking scandal damage
Published on Apr 3, 2012 by Euronews
http://www.euronews.com/ James Murdoch has quit as chairman of British pay-TV group BSkyB.
Rupert Murdoch’s son has been under fire for his handling of the phone hacking scandal at the News of the World newspaper that has convulsed the Murdoch’s media empire.
James Murdoch is stepping down just weeks before a government report is published into reporting practices at the News of the World.
In a statement he said his resignation was to help distance BSkyB from the scandal: “I am aware that my role as Chairman could become a lightning rod for BSkyB and I believe that my resignation will help to ensure that there is no false conflation with events at a separate organisation.”
Murdoch added he was “determined that the interests of BSkyB should not be undermined by matters outside the scope of this company.”
The 39-year-old is a previous chairman of News International, News Corp’s British newspaper arm that was the publisher of the News of the World tabloid at the heart of the scandal before it was shut down last year.
The British TV regulator is investigating whether BSkyB is a “fit and proper” owner of a broadcast licence given its close relationship with Murdoch and the wider problems at Murdoch’s News Corp, which owns 39-percent of the TV company.
Murdoch, who was previously chief executive of BSkyB, was dealt a heavy blow last November when more than 40 percent of the company’s independent shareholders failed to back his re-election as chairman.