Sunday, October 30, 2011
"Q. Did the Police deploy rubber bullets, flash-bag grenades?
A. No, the loud noises that were heard originated from M-80 explosives thrown at Police by protesters. In addition, Police fired approximately four bean bag rounds at protesters to stop them from throwing dangerous objects at the officer"
A recent book by former FBI agent Ali Soufan shows that the same CIA officer was involved in generating intelligence that falsely linked al-Qaeda to first Iran and then Iraq. The officer was also involved in a notorious torture episode and was reprimanded by the Agency’s inspector general.
The officer, who Soufan refers to as “Fred,” but whose real first name is “Albert” according to a February 2011 Associated Press article, served at the CIA station in Jordan in 1999. During that time, al-Qaeda, aided by a collection of freelance terrorists headed by Abu Zubaidah, attempted to commit a series of attacks in the country, known as the Millennium Plot. However, the attacks were foiled by the local Jordanian intelligence service, working with the CIA and FBI.
During the investigations of the plotters, Albert drafted a series of official cables that were later withdrawn. Although the withdrawing of the cables was first mentioned in a July 2006 article by Lawrence Wright for the New Yorker, Wright did not mention what was in the cables or by whom they were drafted. The content of one of them and the drafter were first revealed upon the publication of Soufan’s book in mid-September 2011.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has always intended to expand beyond the confines of airport terminals. Its agents have been conducting more and more surprise groping sessions for women, children and the elderly in locations that have nothing to do with aviation. It's all part of TSA's Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) program, which drew additional scrutiny following an Oct. 18 blitz in Tennessee.
As part of a "statewide safety operation," TSA employees fondled travelers at bus terminals in Nashville and Knoxville, hunting for "security threats." Truckers were harassed at four Volunteer State highway locations between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. - prime time for terrorism, apparently.
As promised, here’s the first installment of our closer review of the massive piece of job-killing Internet regulation that is the Stop Online Piracy Act. We’ll start with how it could impact Twitter, Tumblr, and the next innovative social network, cloud computing, or web hosting service that some smart kid is designing in her garage right now.
Let’s make one thing clear from the get-go: despite all the talk about this bill being directed only toward “rogue” foreign sites, there is no question that it targets US companies as well. The bill sets up a system to punish sites allegedly “dedicated to the theft of US property.” How do you get that label? Doesn’t take much: Some portion of your site (even a single page) must
- be directed toward the US, and either
- allegedly “engage in, enable or facilitate” infringement or
- allegedly be taking or have taken steps to “avoid confirming a high probability” of infringement.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
The Vatican called on Monday for the establishment of a “global public authority” and a “central world bank” to rule over financial institutions that have become outdated and often ineffective in dealing fairly with crises. The document from the Vatican’s Justice and Peace department should please the “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrators and similar movements around the world who have protested against the economic downturn.
“Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of a Global Public Authority,” was at times very specific, calling, for example, for taxation measures on financial transactions. “The economic and financial crisis which the world is going through calls everyone, individuals and peoples, to examine in depth the principles and the cultural and moral values at the basis of social coexistence,” it said.
It condemned what it called “the idolatry of the market” as well as a “neo-liberal thinking” that it said looked exclusively at technical solutions to economic problems. “In fact, the crisis has revealed behaviours like selfishness, collective greed and hoarding of goods on a great scale,” it said, adding that world economics needed an “ethic of solidarity” among rich and poor nations.
Hacker group Anonymous briefly crashed a large collection of child pornography Web sites, and published the names of its patrons.
Last week, the cyber vigilantes, better known for targeting large corporations and oppressive government regimes, used a brute force attack to infiltrate a server called Freedom Hosting, which housed about 40 child porn sites. The biggest site was Lolita City, which contained more than 100GB of content.
According to a timeline of events posted on Pastebin, Anonymous said before taking down the sites, it issued a warning to Freedom Hosting to remove the illegal content. When it failed to do so, Anonymous attacked. The sites were down for about five minutes before an admin restored them, upon which Anonymous again launched a successful attack. Later, the group posted on Pastebin the names of 1,589 individuals who visited Lolita City.
"If the FBI, Interpol, or other law enforcement agency should happen to come across this list, please use it to investigate and bring justice to the people listed here," Anonymous wrote in a statement.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
As the credit crunch continues to leave Britain cash-strapped and high street banks report huge losses, Dispatches investigates who is responsible for the current crisis. Reckless lending and risky investments have been blamed for directly driving up mortgage rates and increasing the numbers of people losing their homes. Dispatches investigates how the bank chiefs allowed this to happen and if lessons have been learn from the Northern Rock crisis.
Former investment banker James Max tracks down the banking bosses who have presided over the colossal losses to see if they will be held to account. He examines the billion pound bonus culture and lifestyle of the City’s wide boys and investigates how the banks are now seeking to make back the money they lost before the credit boom hit the buffers.
Featuring the results of an exclusive survey of bank lending rates, and how much money banks are re-claiming through them, the film also offers expert advice on how to cope with higher interest rates and shows how customers can take banking into their own hands.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Monday, October 24, 2011
According to author Jim Mars, Executive Order 11110 issued by President Kennedy on June 4, 1963 authorized the issuance of $4,292,893,815 in United States Notes. Mars further asserts that after President Kennedy's assassination, the order was never carried out.
The claim is not borne out by the facts. First, E.O. 11110 had nothing to do with United States Notes, and did not affect any section of law referring to them. Second, E.O. 11110 did not anywhere mention any quantity of money; wherever the $4 billion-plus figure came from, it was not E.O. 11110. Third, The President had no authority to issue such an edict. Even utilizing the provisions of the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933, the most the President could issue without statutory authorization was $3 billion.
The reason for the move was that the President had just signed legislation repealing the Silver Purchase Act. With this repeal, the Treasury Secretary could no longer control the issue of Silver Certificates on his own authority. However, the issuance of certificates could be controlled under the President's authority. Hence, for administrative convenience, President Kennedy issued Executive Order 11110.
Ironically, the purpose of the order and the legislation was to decrease the circulation of Silver Certificates, with Federal Reserve Notes taking their place.
To conserve on the silver needs of the Treasury, President Kennedy requested legislation needed to bring the issuance of Silver Certificates to an end and to authorize the Fed to issue small denomination notes (which it could not at that time). The Fed began issuing small denomination notes almost immediately after the legislation was passed. And in October 1964, the Treasury ceased issuing Silver Certificates altogether. If anything, E.O. 11110 enhanced Federal Reserve power and did not in any way reduce it.
Two separate hacker groups whose activities are already known to authorities were behind the serious breach of RSA Security earlier this year and were likely working at the behest of a government, according to new statements from the company’s president.
RSA President Tom Heiser, speaking at the RSA conference in London this week, said that the two unidentified hacker groups had not previously been known to work together and that they possessed inside information about the company’s computer naming conventions that helped their activity blend in with legitimate users on the network, according to IDG news service.
Heiser said that due to the sophistication of the breach, “we can only conclude it was a nation-state-sponsored attack.”
Thank you Jane for that introduction and for your leadership, thank you for the commitment to serve this nation that you’ve demonstrated throughout your career – as an outstanding member of Congress from my home state of California, and now as President of the Woodrow Wilson Center. You and Sidney always represented the very best in citizenship and the very best in commitment to America.
I am also pleased to be able to participate in this lecture series named in honor of my dear friend, Lee Hamilton. I had the privilege of working very closely with Lee during my time as a member of Congress and in the Clinton administration, and then I had the opportunity to work with Lee as a member of the Iraq Study Group in 2006. His leadership on issues of national security – in particular the tireless efforts to ensure that our government drew the necessary lessons from the 9/11 attacks and took the steps necessary to make sure that would never happen again – have rightfully earned Lee Hamilton a place among the great statesmen of our time.
It is appropriate that the theme of this lecture series is “civil discourse and democracy” because, over the course of Lee Hamilton’s extraordinary career, Lee developed a reputation as someone who speaks thoughtfully, directly, clearly, and honestly about his views. It is in that spirit that I come here today, to share my views on the challenges and the threats, the choices and the risks, and the opportunities, facing the United States and the institution charged with defending it, the armed forces.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
The structure of the control network of transnational corporations affects global market competition and financial stability. So far, only small national samples were studied and there was no appropriate methodology to assess control globally. We present the first investigation of the architecture of the international ownership network, along with the computation of the control held by each global player. We find that transnational corporations form a giant bow-tie structure and that a large portion of control flows to a small tightly-knit core of financial institutions. This core can be seen as an economic "super-entity" that raises new important issues both for researchers and policy makers.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Friday, October 21, 2011
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Monday, October 17, 2011
Adventures with Kurt and Lori: Looks Like I'll Be A Witness For The Defense In The Underwear Bomber Case
Today was the day for final jury selection in the Underwear Bomber case. I watched some of it on Tuesday and I was interested to see which jurors were picked. The final jury was set to be picked today at 1:30. I adjusted my schedule so that I could be down there at 1:30 today. I had a trial a few blocks away that was due to last until around 1:00 today. My plan was to head over there when I finished my trial. As my trial was ending, I got the following text from my brother "I hear that you will be testifying in the underwear bomber case". This was news to me as my status as a witness was undetermined as of Tuesday. I gave my brother a call and he said he heard on the radio, that stand-by Anthony Chambers said in court this morning that I would be testifying.
Tom Kean, George Tenet, Richard Clarke. Inset: The Pentagon on fire after an aircraft crashes into it, Sept. 11, 2001.
A growing number of former government insiders — all responsible officials who served in a number of federal posts — are now on record as doubting ex-CIA director George Tenet’s account of events leading up to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. Among them are several special agents of the FBI, the former counterterrorism head in the Clinton and Bush administrations, and the chairman of the 9/11 Commission, who told us the CIA chief had been “obviously not forthcoming” in his testimony and had misled the commissioners.
A decade after wisps of anthrax sent through the mail killed 5 people, sickened 17 others and terrorized the nation, biologists and chemists still disagree on whether federal investigators got the right man and whether the F.B.I.’s long inquiry brushed aside important clues.
Now, three scientists argue that distinctive chemicals found in the dried anthrax spores — including the unexpected presence of tin — point to a high degree of manufacturing skill, contrary to federal reassurances that the attack germs were unsophisticated. The scientists make their case in a coming issue of the Journal of Bioterrorism & Biodefense.
F.B.I. documents reviewed by The New York Times show that bureau scientists focused on tin early in their eight-year investigation, calling it an “element of interest” and a potentially critical clue to the criminal case. They later dropped their lengthy inquiry, never mentioned tin publicly and never offered any detailed account of how they thought the powder had been made.
The new paper raises the prospect — for the first time in a serious scientific forum — that the Army biodefense expert identified by the F.B.I. as the perpetrator, Bruce E. Ivins, had help in obtaining his germ weapons or conceivably was innocent of the crime.
Emery Water Conservancy District, P.O. Box 998, Castle Dale, Utah 84513 intends to conduct weather modification programs in Utah to increase precipitation. The area in which the effects are intended to occur are in the higher elevation snowpack accumulation regions in portions of Eastern Sanpete and Western Carbon and Emery Counties. The operations may be conducted during portions of the period from December 1, 2011 to April 15, 2012. Weather modification operations will be conducted using automated liquid propane dispensers.
Persons interested in this permit application should contact the Utah Division of Water Resources; 1594 West North Temple, Box 146201, Salt Lake City, UT 84114-6201, telephone (801)538-7269.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Investigators monitoring air quality at the World Trade Center, after the September 11th attacks, found extremely high levels of volatile organic chemicals as well as unusual species that had never been seen before in structure fires. Data collected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency indicate striking spikes in levels of benzene, styrene, and several other products of combustion. These spikes occurred on specific dates in October and November 2001, and February 2002. Additionally, data collected by researchers at the University of California Davis showed similar spikes in the levels of sulfur and silicon compounds, and certain metals, in aerosols. To better explain these data, as well as the unusual detection of 1,3-diphenylpropane, the presence of energetic nanocomposites in the pile at Ground Zero is hypothesized.
On occasion, the public has been asked by George W. Bush to refrain from considering certain conspiracy theories. Bush has made such requests when people were looking into crimes in which he might be culpable. For example, when in 1994 Bush's former company Harken Energy was linked to the fraudulent Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) through several investors, Bush's spokeswoman, Karen Hughes, shut down the inquiry by telling the Associated Press -- "We have no response to silly conspiracy theories." On another occasion, Bush said in a televised speech -- "Let us never tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories concerning the attacks of September the 11th."
But paradoxically, we have also been asked to believe Bush's own outrageous conspiracy theory about 9/11, one that has proven to be false in many ways. One important way to see the false nature of Bush's conspiracy theory is to note the fact that the World Trade Center buildings could only have fallen as they did through the use of explosives. A number of independent scientific studies have pointed out this fact [1, 2, 3, 4], but it was Bush's own scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), through their inability to provide a convincing defense of the official line, who ultimately proved that explosives were necessary. [2, 5, 6, 7]
This leads us to ask the obvious question -- Who could have placed explosives in the World Trade Center towers? To answer that question, we should first consider who had access to the buildings, specifically the areas of the buildings that would be relevant to a demolition operation. We should also consider the time periods of interest. Those who had access at the necessary times should be further considered in terms of their ability to obtain the necessary explosive technologies and expertise, their ability to be secretive, and the possibility that they could have benefited from the destruction of the WTC buildings or from the resulting War on Terror. But one thing is certain, unless it was done by one person acting alone, it must have been a conspiracy.
Saturday, October 8, 2011
As a coalition led by Apple Inc. (AAPL), Google Inc. (GOOG), and Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) presses for a tax holiday on more than $1 trillion in offshore profits, it is turning to a well-positioned lobbyist: Jeffrey Forbes, once chief of staff to Max Baucus, chairman of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee.
Data compiled by Bloomberg News show that Forbes is part of an army of more than 160 lobbyists, including at least 60 who once worked for a sitting member of the House or Senate, pushing for the repatriation holiday. Their job is to persuade Congress to establish a tax break estimated to cost the U.S. government $78.7 billion over the next decade.
Independent studies have found that the last time this tax break was tried, in 2004, the bargain rate for bringing home offshore profits did little to spur hiring or domestic investment. Most of the money was used to buy back stock.
The killing of Burhanuddin Rabbani, the former Afghan president who led the High Peace Council, illustrates all too well the tremendous obstacles to a meaningful reconciliation among Afghanistan's various factions. Before his death on September 20 at the hands of a man who claimed to be an emissary of the Quetta Shura, Rabbani, an ethnic Tajik, had been in charge of reconciliation efforts with Taliban insurgents. His appointment had apparently been meant as a way to pull the Tajik-dominated Northern Alliance into the peace process. The jury is still out on exactly who ordered the killing -- the Taliban first claimed and then denied involvement -- but its implications are clear. Rabbani's assassination, the latest in a systematic campaign of targeted killings of high-profile anti-Taliban Afghan leaders, has increased the chance that tensions among the Northern Alliance, the Taliban, and other Islamist Pashtun groups could devolve into all-out war.
The beneficiary of this uncertainty is the region's primary spoiler: the Pakistani military. Although its generals have received billions of dollars in U.S. aid since 9/11 to combat terrorism, they have consistently done everything in their power to bolster it. They selectively cooperate with the United States, apprehending al Qaeda militants and fighting the Pakistani Taliban insurgents -- which also threaten the Pakistani military -- while sheltering and supporting other radical extremists, such as the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network, which spearhead the deadly cross-border insurgency in Afghanistan.
Nashville's Belmont University is a school you've probably never heard of and probably never need to but they may typify how 'Christian' higher education goes these days.
Their mission statement is:
Belmont University is a student-centered Christian community providing an academically challenging education that empowers men and women of diverse backgrounds to engage and transform the world with disciplined intelligence, compassion, courage and faith.
Well, that generic statement sounds good but you've got to realize that it was Belmont that last year fired their women's soccer coach for being gay. So much for diversity and compassion.
Having a lesbian working with the kids doesn't fit with Belmont's mission but hiring a criminal to head their start up law school seems just fine and dandy. Alberto Gonzales has been named Doyle Rogers Distinguished Chair of Law, named in honor of an attorney whose career reflects accomplishments to which all lawyers aspire.
(Reuters) - American militants like Anwar al-Awlaki are placed on a kill or capture list by a secretive panel of senior U.S. government officials, which then informs the president of its decisions, according to U.S. officials.
There is no public record of the operations or decisions of the panel, which is a subset of the White House's National Security Council, several current and former officials said. Neither is there any law establishing its existence or setting out the rules by which it is supposed to operate.
The panel was behind the decision to add Awlaki, a U.S.-born militant preacher with alleged al Qaeda connections, to the target list. He was killed by a CIA drone strike in Yemen late last month.
The role of the president in ordering or ratifying a decision to target a U.S. citizen is fuzzy. White House spokesman Tommy Vietor declined to discuss anything about the process.
Former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden revived a controversial meme on Tuesday when he urged Congress to allow his former agency to monitor public networks in order to defend against malicious activity coming from nation states and others.
“We’ve got capability on the sidelines wanting policy guidance,” he told the House Intelligence Committee, referring to the NSA. “And when we can enrich that guidance and get them in the field, the better — the safer — we are.”
Hayden’s remarks echoed what Director of National Intelligence Admiral Dennis Blair told the same committee in 2009 when he said that the NSA, rather than the Department of Homeland Security, which currently oversees cybersecurity issues on government networks and liaisons with the public sector about securing critical infrastructure networks, was the only agency with the skills needed to secure cyberspace.
“The National Security Agency has the greatest repository of cyber talent,” Blair said. “[T]here are some wizards out there at Fort Meade who can do stuff.”
I've always said, if you want a secure network, you need wizards that can do stuff.
A large number of new entries have been added to the Complete 9/11 Timeline at History Commons describing important events that took place on the day of 9/11, while other new entries add to the growing body of information about 9/11-related training exercises.
One new entry describes how, from 1998, the US Secret Service included computer simulations of planes crashing into the White House in its training exercises. Another notable exercise was held early on the morning of September 11 in the White House Situation Room, based on the scenario of a terrorist bombing in the Middle East.
Also relating to training exercises, new details have emerged about an FBI anti-terrorist unit that was stranded away from Washington at the time of the 9/11 attacks. The Critical Incident Response Group arrived in San Francisco the day before 9/11 for a week of training. Such was the unit’s importance that the White House made getting it back to Washington a priority in the hours after the attacks.
New entries describe two mistaken reports of hijacked aircraft on the morning of September 11. One of these aircraft was thought to be targeting NORAD’s operations center in Colorado. This incorrect information may have caused NORAD to close the massive blast doors to the operations center. The other aircraft was thought to be heading toward Air Force One as it flew President Bush away from Sarasota, and this may have been one reason why Air Force One suddenly increased its altitude.
Details of the two phone calls made by Flight 175 passenger Brian Sweeney are described, the first call to his wife and the second to his mother, in which Sweeney described a possible passenger fight back against the hijackers.
An entry describes how an air traffic controller changed the flight plan of the hijacked Flight 93, thereby apparently causing mistaken reports that the plane was still airborne after it crashed. Also, a special plane operated by NASA was flying over New York State at the time of the attacks, and at one point Flight 93 flew less than 1,000 feet below it.