Monday, December 25, 2006

Mississippi River Industrial Sunset

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

I really like the colors of the orange and yellows in this one.
And the industrial machinery adds interest.

Photo by: Mark Galasso

Galasso Photography Website
Flickr Photos


Antifluff Superstar
Antifluff Superstar on MySpace Music
Antifluff Superstar Blog

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Deep Blue w/ Cloud Waves

Sunset, LSU Lakes -Baton Rouge, Louisiana 12-19-06

Today, the cloud waves were really interesting...enough so that I got the triopod back out... GLAD I DID!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Smitten w/ Hadia!


Hadia & Antifluff
Originally uploaded by Antifluff Superstar.
Hadia is a well known Belly Dancer and Teacher. She performs and does dance workshops all over the world. I had the pleasure of fimling her dance recently. She's a great dancer, really wonderful with a great spirit!!

Her website: www.hadia.com

Sunday, December 03, 2006

U.S. Gov't Terror Ratings Draw Outrage

THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS!

BUSH YOU'VE GOT TO STEP DOWN FOOL!

AMERICA CAN'T SEE FIT TO IMPRISON OR INCARCERATE IT'S PRESIDENTS



By MICHAEL J. SNIFFEN, Associated Press Writer
Sat Dec 2, 6:16 AM ET

WASHINGTON - A leader of the new Democratic Congress, business travelers and privacy advocates expressed outrage Friday over the unannounced assignment of terrorism risk assessments to American international travelers by a computerized system managed from an unmarked, two-story brick building in Northern Virginia.

Incoming Senate Judiciary Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (news, bio, voting record) of Vermont pledged greater scrutiny of such government database-mining projects after reading that during the past four years millions of Americans have been evaluated without their knowledge to assess the risks that they are terrorists or criminals.

"Data banks like this are overdue for oversight," said Leahy, who will take over Judiciary in January. "That is going to change in the new Congress."
The Associated Press reported Thursday that Americans and foreigners crossing U.S. borders since 2002 have been assessed by the

Homeland Security Department's computerized Automated Targeting System, or ATS. The travelers are not allowed to see or directly challenge these risk assessments, which the government intends to keep on file for 40 years. Some or all data in the system can be shared with state, local and foreign governments for use in hiring, contracting and licensing decisions. Courts and even some private contractors can obtain some of the data under certain circumstances.

"It is simply incredible that the Bush administration is willing to share this sensitive information with foreign governments and even private employers, while refusing to allow U.S. citizens to see or challenge their own terror scores," Leahy said. This system "highlights the danger of government use of technology to conduct widespread surveillance of our daily lives without proper safeguards for privacy."

The concerns spread beyond Congress.

"I have never seen anything as egregious as this," said Kevin Mitchell, president of the Business Travel Coalition, which advocates for business travelers. It's "evidence of what can happen when there isn't proper oversight and accountability."

By late Friday, the government had received 22 written public comments about its after-the-fact disclosure of the program last month in the Federal Register, a fine-print compendium of federal rules. All either opposed it outright or objected to the lack of a direct means for people to correct any errors in the database about themselves.

"As a U.S. citizen who spends much time outside the U.S., I can understand the need for good security," wrote one who identified himself as Colin Edmunds. "However, just as I would not participate in a banking/credit card system where I have no recourse to correct or even view my personal data, I cannot accept the same of my government."

Privacy advocates also were alarmed.

"Never before in American history has our government gotten into the business of creating mass `risk assessment' ratings of its own citizens," said Barry Steinhardt, a lawyer for the

American Civil Liberties Union. "We are stunned" the program has been undertaken "with virtually no opportunity for the public to evaluate or comment on it."

The Homeland Security Department says the nation's ability to spot criminals and other security threats "would be critically impaired without access to this data."

And on Friday as the normal daily flow of a million or more people entered the United States by air, sea and land, the ATS program's computers continued their silent scrutiny. At that Virginia building with no sign, the managers of the National Targeting Center allowed an Associated Press photographer to briefly roam their work space.

But he couldn't reveal the building's exact location. None of the dozens of workers under the bright fluorescent lights could be named. Some could not be photographed. The only clue he might have entered a government building was a montage of photos in the reception area of President Bush's visit to the center. But there was only one guard and a sign-in book. Inside, red digital clocks on the walls showed the time in Istanbul, Baghdad, Islamabad, Bangkok, Singapore, Tokyo, and Sydney. Although billboard-size video screens on the walls showed multiple cable news shows, there was little noise in the basketball-court-sized main workroom. Each desk had dual computer screens and earphones to hear the video soundtrack. Conferences were held in smaller workrooms divided by glass walls from the windowless main room.
Round the clock, the targeters from Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection agency analyze information from multiple sources, not just ATS. They compare names to terrorist watch lists and mine the Treasury Enforcement Communications System and other automated systems that bring data about cargo, travelers and commercial workers entering or leaving the 317 U.S. ports, searching for suspicious people and cargo.

Almost every person entering and leaving the United States by air, sea or land is assessed based on ATS' analysis of their travel records and other data, including items such as where they are from, how they paid for tickets, their motor vehicle records, past one-way travel, seating preference and what kind of meal they ordered.

Government officials could not say whether ATS has apprehended any terrorists. Based on all the information available to them, federal agents turn back about 45 foreign criminals a day at U.S. borders, according to Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection spokesman Bill Anthony. He could not say how many were spotted by ATS.

Officials described how the system works: applying rules learned from experience with the activities and characteristics of terrorists and criminals to the traveler data. But they would not describe in detail the format in which border agents see the results or in which the databases store the results of the ATS risk assessments.

Acting Assistant Homeland Security Secretary Paul Rosenzweig told reporters Friday they could call it scoring. "It can be reduced to a number," he said, but he clearly preferred the longer description about how the rules are used.
___

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Germany says WAR CRIMES for Rumsfeld, Gonzales, Tenet, Addington

Better late that not at all!

finally... WAR CRIMES.... one of the words that describes the crimes of the Bush administration.

The only way America can ever have any real victory over what the Bush administration has done to America's image in the world is to see these men prosecuted for war crimes. But Bush prepared for this. It doesn't matter what the ICC (international Criminal Court) thinks because Bush signed off being a member right away when he took office. So, they knew early on they were gonna do some awful things to an awful lot of people.


www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1557842,00.html

Time Magazine:

Exclusive:

Charges Sought Against Rumsfeld Over Prison Abuse
A lawsuit in Germany will seek a criminal prosecution of the outgoing Defense Secretary and other U.S. officials for their alleged role in abuses at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo

By ADAM ZAGORIN
Posted Friday, Nov. 10, 2006

Just days after his resignation, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is about to face more repercussions for his involvement in the troubled wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. New legal documents, to be filed next week with Germany's top prosecutor, will seek a criminal investigation and prosecution of Rumsfeld, along with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former CIA director George Tenet and other senior U.S. civilian and military officers, for their alleged roles in abuses committed at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The plaintiffs in the case include 11 Iraqis who were prisoners at Abu Ghraib, as well as Mohammad al-Qahtani, a Saudi held at Guantanamo, whom the U.S. has identified as the so-called "20th hijacker" and a would-be participant in the 9/11 hijackings. As TIME first reported in June 2005, Qahtani underwent a "special interrogation plan," personally approved by Rumsfeld, which the U.S. says produced valuable intelligence. But to obtain it, according to the log of his interrogation and government reports, Qahtani was subjected to forced nudity, sexual humiliation, religious humiliation, prolonged stress positions, sleep deprivation and other controversial interrogation techniques.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs say that one of the witnesses who will testify on their behalf is former Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, the one-time commander of all U.S. military prisons in Iraq. Karpinski — who the lawyers say will be in Germany next week to publicly address her accusations in the case — has issued a written statement to accompany the legal filing, which says, in part: "It was clear the knowledge and responsibility [for what happened at Abu Ghraib] goes all the way to the top of the chain of command to the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ."

A spokesperson for the Pentagon told TIME there would be no comment since the case has not yet been filed.

Along with Rumsfeld, Gonzales and Tenet, the other defendants in the case are Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Stephen Cambone; former assistant attorney general Jay Bybee; former deputy assisant attorney general John Yoo; General Counsel for the Department of Defense William James Haynes II; and David S. Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff. Senior military officers named in the filing are General Ricardo Sanchez, the former top Army official in Iraq; Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the former commander of Guantanamo; senior Iraq commander, Major General Walter Wojdakowski; and Col. Thomas Pappas, the one-time head of military intelligence at Abu Ghraib.

Germany was chosen for the court filing because German law provides "universal jurisdiction" allowing for the prosecution of war crimes and related offenses that take place anywhere in the world. Indeed, a similar, but narrower, legal action was brought in Germany in 2004, which also sought the prosecution of Rumsfeld. The case provoked an angry response from Pentagon, and Rumsfeld himself was reportedly upset. Rumsfeld's spokesman at the time, Lawrence DiRita, called the case a "a big, big problem." U.S. officials made clear the case could adversely impact U.S.-Germany relations, and Rumsfeld indicated he would not attend a major security conference in Munich, where he was scheduled to be the keynote speaker, unless Germany disposed of the case. The day before the conference, a German prosecutor announced he would not pursue the matter, saying there was no indication that U.S. authorities and courts would not deal with allegations in the complaint.

In bringing the new case, however, the plaintiffs argue that circumstances have changed in two important ways. Rumsfeld's resignation, they say, means that the former Defense Secretary will lose the legal immunity usually accorded high government officials. Moreover, the plaintiffs argue that the German prosecutor's reasoning for rejecting the previous case — that U.S. authorities were dealing with the issue — has been proven wrong.

"The utter and complete failure of U.S. authorities to take any action to investigate high-level involvement in the torture program could not be clearer," says Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a U.S.-based non-profit helping to bring the legal action in Germany. He also notes that the Military Commissions Act, a law passed by Congress earlier this year, effectively blocks prosecution in the U.S. of those involved in detention and interrogation abuses of foreigners held abroad in American custody going to back to Sept. 11, 2001. As a result, Ratner contends, the legal arguments underlying the German prosecutor's previous inaction no longer hold up.

Whatever the legal merits of the case, it is the latest example of efforts in Western Europe by critics of U.S. tactics in the war on terror to call those involved to account in court. In Germany, investigations are under way in parliament concerning cooperation between the CIA and German intelligence on rendition — the kidnapping of suspected terrorists and their removal to third countries for interrogation. Other legal inquiries involving rendition are under way in both Italy and Spain.

U.S. officials have long feared that legal proceedings against "war criminals" could be used to settle political scores. In 1998, for example, former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet — whose military coup was supported by the Nixon administration — was arrested in the U.K. and held for 16 months in an extradition battle led by a Spanish magistrate seeking to charge him with war crimes. He was ultimately released and returned to Chile. More recently, a Belgian court tried to bring charges against then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for alleged crimes against Palestinians.

For its part, the Bush Administration has rejected adherence to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on grounds that it could be used to unjustly prosecute U.S. officials. The ICC is the first permanent tribunal established to prosecute war crimes, genocide and other crimes against humanity.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Guardian article: How Bush's grandfather helped Hitler's rise to power

Note: I heard last night on NPR that Germany was involved in accompanying US warships to and from Iraq in the War.
It immediately reminded me of the history of the Bush family with Germany, specifically Thyseen, Hitlers Financier.


www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1312540,00.html

Rumours of a link between the US first family and the Nazi war machine have circulated for decades. Now the Guardian can reveal how repercussions of events that culminated in action under the Trading with the Enemy Act are still being felt by today's president

Ben Aris in Berlin and Duncan Campbell in Washington
Saturday September 25, 2004
The Guardian

George Bush's grandfather, the late US senator Prescott Bush, was a director and shareholder of companies that profited from their involvement with the financial backers of Nazi Germany.
The Guardian has obtained confirmation from newly discovered files in the US National Archives that a firm of which Prescott Bush was a director was involved with the financial architects of Nazism.
His business dealings, which continued until his company's assets were seized in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act, has led more than 60 years later to a civil action for damages being brought in Germany against the Bush family by two former slave labourers at Auschwitz and to a hum of pre-election controversy.


The evidence has also prompted one former US Nazi war crimes prosecutor to argue that the late senator's action should have been grounds for prosecution for giving aid and comfort to the enemy.
The debate over Prescott Bush's behaviour has been bubbling under the surface for some time. There has been a steady internet chatter about the "Bush/Nazi" connection, much of it inaccurate and unfair. But the new documents, many of which were only declassified last year, show that even after America had entered the war and when there was already significant information about the Nazis' plans and policies, he worked for and profited from companies closely involved with the very German businesses that financed Hitler's rise to power. It has also been suggested that the money he made from these dealings helped to establish the Bush family fortune and set up its political dynasty.

Remarkably, little of Bush's dealings with Germany has received public scrutiny, partly because of the secret status of the documentation involving him. But now the multibillion dollar legal action for damages by two Holocaust survivors against the Bush family, and the imminent publication of three books on the subject are threatening to make Prescott Bush's business history an uncomfortable issue for his grandson, George W, as he seeks re-election.

While there is no suggestion that Prescott Bush was sympathetic to the Nazi cause, the documents reveal that the firm he worked for, Brown Brothers Harriman (BBH), acted as a US base for the German industrialist, Fritz Thyssen, who helped finance Hitler in the 1930s before falling out with him at the end of the decade. The Guardian has seen evidence that shows Bush was the director of the New York-based Union Banking Corporation (UBC) that represented Thyssen's US interests and he continued to work for the bank after America entered the war.

Tantalising
Bush was also on the board of at least one of the companies that formed part of a multinational network of front companies to allow Thyssen to move assets around the world.

Thyssen owned the largest steel and coal company in Germany and grew rich from Hitler's efforts to re-arm between the two world wars. One of the pillars in Thyssen's international corporate web, UBC, worked exclusively for, and was owned by, a Thyssen-controlled bank in the Netherlands. More tantalising are Bush's links to the Consolidated Silesian Steel Company (CSSC), based in mineral rich Silesia on the German-Polish border. During the war, the company made use of Nazi slave labour from the concentration camps, including Auschwitz. The ownership of CSSC changed hands several times in the 1930s, but documents from the US National Archive declassified last year link Bush to CSSC, although it is not clear if he and UBC were still involved in the company when Thyssen's American assets were seized in 1942.

Three sets of archives spell out Prescott Bush's involvement. All three are readily available, thanks to the efficient US archive system and a helpful and dedicated staff at both the Library of Congress in Washington and the National Archives at the University of Maryland.
The first set of files, the Harriman papers in the Library of Congress, show that Prescott Bush was a director and shareholder of a number of companies involved with Thyssen.

The second set of papers, which are in the National Archives, are contained in vesting order number 248 which records the seizure of the company assets. What these files show is that on October 20 1942 the alien property custodian seized the assets of the UBC, of which Prescott Bush was a director. Having gone through the books of the bank, further seizures were made against two affiliates, the Holland-American Trading Corporation and the Seamless Steel Equipment Corporation. By November, the Silesian-American Company, another of Prescott Bush's ventures, had also been seized.
The third set of documents, also at the National Archives, are contained in the files on IG Farben, who was prosecuted for war crimes.

A report issued by the Office of Alien Property Custodian in 1942 stated of the companies that "since 1939, these (steel and mining) properties have been in possession of and have been operated by the German government and have undoubtedly been of considerable assistance to that country's war effort".

Prescott Bush, a 6ft 4in charmer with a rich singing voice, was the founder of the Bush political dynasty and was once considered a potential presidential candidate himself. Like his son, George, and grandson, George W, he went to Yale where he was, again like his descendants, a member of the secretive and influential Skull and Bones student society. He was an artillery captain in the first world war and married Dorothy Walker, the daughter of George Herbert Walker, in 1921.

In 1924, his father-in-law, a well-known St Louis investment banker, helped set him up in business in New York with Averill Harriman, the wealthy son of railroad magnate E H Harriman in New York, who had gone into banking.

One of the first jobs Walker gave Bush was to manage UBC. Bush was a founding member of the bank and the incorporation documents, which list him as one of seven directors, show he owned one share in UBC worth $125.

The bank was set up by Harriman and Bush's father-in-law to provide a US bank for the Thyssens, Germany's most powerful industrial family.
August Thyssen, the founder of the dynasty had been a major contributor to Germany's first world war effort and in the 1920s, he and his sons Fritz and Heinrich established a network of overseas banks and companies so their assets and money could be whisked offshore if threatened again.

By the time Fritz Thyssen inherited the business empire in 1926, Germany's economic recovery was faltering. After hearing Adolf Hitler speak, Thyssen became mesmerised by the young firebrand. He joined the Nazi party in December 1931 and admits backing Hitler in his autobiography, I Paid Hitler, when the National Socialists were still a radical fringe party. He stepped in several times to bail out the struggling party: in 1928 Thyssen had bought the Barlow Palace on Briennerstrasse, in Munich, which Hitler converted into the Brown House, the headquarters of the Nazi party. The money came from another Thyssen overseas institution, the Bank voor Handel en Scheepvarrt in Rotterdam.

By the late 1930s, Brown Brothers Harriman, which claimed to be the world's largest private investment bank, and UBC had bought and shipped millions of dollars of gold, fuel, steel, coal and US treasury bonds to Germany, both feeding and financing Hitler's build-up to war.
Between 1931 and 1933 UBC bought more than $8m worth of gold, of which $3m was shipped abroad. According to documents seen by the Guardian, after UBC was set up it transferred $2m to BBH accounts and between 1924 and 1940 the assets of UBC hovered around $3m, dropping to $1m only on a few occasions.

In 1941, Thyssen fled Germany after falling out with Hitler but he was captured in France and detained for the remainder of the war.
There was nothing illegal in doing business with the Thyssens throughout the 1930s and many of America's best-known business names invested heavily in the German economic recovery. However, everything changed after Germany invaded Poland in 1939. Even then it could be argued that BBH was within its rights continuing business relations with the Thyssens until the end of 1941 as the US was still technically neutral until the attack on Pearl Harbor. The trouble started on July 30 1942 when the New York Herald-Tribune ran an article entitled "Hitler's Angel Has $3m in US Bank". UBC's huge gold purchases had raised suspicions that the bank was in fact a "secret nest egg" hidden in New York for Thyssen and other Nazi bigwigs. The Alien Property Commission (APC) launched an investigation.
There is no dispute over the fact that the US government seized a string of assets controlled by BBH - including UBC and SAC - in the autumn of 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy act. What is in dispute is if Harriman, Walker and Bush did more than own these companies on paper.

Erwin May, a treasury attache and officer for the department of investigation in the APC, was assigned to look into UBC's business. The first fact to emerge was that Roland Harriman, Prescott Bush and the other directors didn't actually own their shares in UBC but merely held them on behalf of Bank voor Handel. Strangely, no one seemed to know who owned the Rotterdam-based bank, including UBC's president.

May wrote in his report of August 16 1941: "Union Banking Corporation, incorporated August 4 1924, is wholly owned by the Bank voor Handel en Scheepvaart N.V of Rotterdam, the Netherlands. My investigation has produced no evidence as to the ownership of the Dutch bank. Mr Cornelis [sic] Lievense, president of UBC, claims no knowledge as to the ownership of the Bank voor Handel but believes it possible that Baron Heinrich Thyssen, brother of Fritz Thyssen, may own a substantial interest."

May cleared the bank of holding a golden nest egg for the Nazi leaders but went on to describe a network of companies spreading out from UBC across Europe, America and Canada, and how money from voor Handel travelled to these companies through UBC.

By September May had traced the origins of the non-American board members and found that Dutchman HJ Kouwenhoven - who met with Harriman in 1924 to set up UBC - had several other jobs: in addition to being the managing director of voor Handel he was also the director of the August Thyssen bank in Berlin and a director of Fritz Thyssen's Union Steel Works, the holding company that controlled Thyssen's steel and coal mine empire in Germany.

Within a few weeks, Homer Jones, the chief of the APC investigation and research division sent a memo to the executive committee of APC recommending the US government vest UBC and its assets. Jones named the directors of the bank in the memo, including Prescott Bush's name, and wrote: "Said stock is held by the above named individuals, however, solely as nominees for the Bank voor Handel, Rotterdam, Holland, which is owned by one or more of the Thyssen family, nationals of Germany and Hungary. The 4,000 shares hereinbefore set out are therefore beneficially owned and help for the interests of enemy nationals, and are vestible by the APC," according to the memo from the National Archives seen by the Guardian.

Red-handed
Jones recommended that the assets be liquidated for the benefit of the government, but instead UBC was maintained intact and eventually returned to the American shareholders after the war. Some claim that Bush sold his share in UBC after the war for $1.5m - a huge amount of money at the time - but there is no documentary evidence to support this claim. No further action was ever taken nor was the investigation continued, despite the fact UBC was caught red-handed operating a American shell company for the Thyssen family eight months after America had entered the war and that this was the bank that had partly financed Hitler's rise to power.

The most tantalising part of the story remains shrouded in mystery: the connection, if any, between Prescott Bush, Thyssen, Consolidated Silesian Steel Company (CSSC) and Auschwitz.
Thyssen's partner in United Steel Works, which had coal mines and steel plants across the region, was Friedrich Flick, another steel magnate who also owned part of IG Farben, the powerful German chemical company.

Flick's plants in Poland made heavy use of slave labour from the concentration camps in Poland. According to a New York Times article published in March 18 1934 Flick owned two-thirds of CSSC while "American interests" held the rest.

The US National Archive documents show that BBH's involvement with CSSC was more than simply holding the shares in the mid-1930s. Bush's friend and fellow "bonesman" Knight Woolley, another partner at BBH, wrote to Averill Harriman in January 1933 warning of problems with CSSC after the Poles started their drive to nationalise the plant. "The Consolidated Silesian Steel Company situation has become increasingly complicated, and I have accordingly brought in Sullivan and Cromwell, in order to be sure that our interests are protected," wrote Knight. "After studying the situation Foster Dulles is insisting that their man in Berlin get into the picture and obtain the information which the directors here should have. You will recall that Foster is a director and he is particularly anxious to be certain that there is no liability attaching to the American directors."

But the ownership of the CSSC between 1939 when the Germans invaded Poland and 1942 when the US government vested UBC and SAC is not clear.

"SAC held coal mines and definitely owned CSSC between 1934 and 1935, but when SAC was vested there was no trace of CSSC. All concrete evidence of its ownership disappears after 1935 and there are only a few traces in 1938 and 1939," says Eva Schweitzer, the journalist and author whose book, America and the Holocaust, is published next month.

Silesia was quickly made part of the German Reich after the invasion, but while Polish factories were seized by the Nazis, those belonging to the still neutral Americans (and some other nationals) were treated more carefully as Hitler was still hoping to persuade the US to at least sit out the war as a neutral country. Schweitzer says American interests were dealt with on a case-by-case basis. The Nazis bought some out, but not others.

The two Holocaust survivors suing the US government and the Bush family for a total of $40bn in compensation claim both materially benefited from Auschwitz slave labour during the second world war.
Kurt Julius Goldstein, 87, and Peter Gingold, 85, began a class action in America in 2001, but the case was thrown out by Judge Rosemary Collier on the grounds that the government cannot be held liable under the principle of "state sovereignty".

Jan Lissmann, one of the lawyers for the survivors, said: "President Bush withdrew President Bill Clinton's signature from the treaty [that founded the court] not only to protect Americans, but also to protect himself and his family."

Lissmann argues that genocide-related cases are covered by international law, which does hold governments accountable for their actions. He claims the ruling was invalid as no hearing took place.
In their claims, Mr Goldstein and Mr Gingold, honorary chairman of the League of Anti-fascists, suggest the Americans were aware of what was happening at Auschwitz and should have bombed the camp.
The lawyers also filed a motion in The Hague asking for an opinion on whether state sovereignty is a valid reason for refusing to hear their case. A ruling is expected within a month.

The petition to The Hague states: "From April 1944 on, the American Air Force could have destroyed the camp with air raids, as well as the railway bridges and railway lines from Hungary to Auschwitz. The murder of about 400,000 Hungarian Holocaust victims could have been prevented."

The case is built around a January 22 1944 executive order signed by President Franklin Roosevelt calling on the government to take all measures to rescue the European Jews. The lawyers claim the order was ignored because of pressure brought by a group of big American companies, including BBH, where Prescott Bush was a director.
Lissmann said: "If we have a positive ruling from the court it will cause [president] Bush huge problems and make him personally liable to pay compensation."


The US government and the Bush family deny all the claims against them.

In addition to Eva Schweitzer's book, two other books are about to be published that raise the subject of Prescott Bush's business history. The author of the second book, to be published next year, John Loftus, is a former US attorney who prosecuted Nazi war criminals in the 70s. Now living in St Petersburg, Florida and earning his living as a security commentator for Fox News and ABC radio, Loftus is working on a novel which uses some of the material he has uncovered on Bush. Loftus stressed that what Prescott Bush was involved in was just what many other American and British businessmen were doing at the time.

"You can't blame Bush for what his grandfather did any more than you can blame Jack Kennedy for what his father did - bought Nazi stocks - but what is important is the cover-up, how it could have gone on so successfully for half a century, and does that have implications for us today?" he said.

"This was the mechanism by which Hitler was funded to come to power, this was the mechanism by which the Third Reich's defence industry was re-armed, this was the mechanism by which Nazi profits were repatriated back to the American owners, this was the mechanism by which investigations into the financial laundering of the Third Reich were blunted," said Loftus, who is vice-chairman of the Holocaust Museum in St Petersburg.

"The Union Banking Corporation was a holding company for the Nazis, for Fritz Thyssen," said Loftus. "At various times, the Bush family has tried to spin it, saying they were owned by a Dutch bank and it wasn't until the Nazis took over Holland that they realised that now the Nazis controlled the apparent company and that is why the Bush supporters claim when the war was over they got their money back. Both the American treasury investigations and the intelligence investigations in Europe completely bely that, it's absolute horseshit. They always knew who the ultimate beneficiaries were."

"There is no one left alive who could be prosecuted but they did get away with it," said Loftus. "As a former federal prosecutor, I would make a case for Prescott Bush, his father-in-law (George Walker) and Averill Harriman [to be prosecuted] for giving aid and comfort to the enemy. They remained on the boards of these companies knowing that they were of financial benefit to the nation of Germany."
Loftus said Prescott Bush must have been aware of what was happening in Germany at the time. "My take on him was that he was a not terribly successful in-law who did what Herbert Walker told him to. Walker and Harriman were the two evil geniuses, they didn't care about the Nazis any more than they cared about their investments with the Bolsheviks."

What is also at issue is how much money Bush made from his involvement. His supporters suggest that he had one token share. Loftus disputes this, citing sources in "the banking and intelligence communities" and suggesting that the Bush family, through George Herbert Walker and Prescott, got $1.5m out of the involvement. There is, however, no paper trail to this sum.

The third person going into print on the subject is John Buchanan, 54, a Miami-based magazine journalist who started examining the files while working on a screenplay. Last year, Buchanan published his findings in the venerable but small-circulation New Hampshire Gazette under the headline "Documents in National Archives Prove George Bush's Grandfather Traded With the Nazis - Even After Pearl Harbor". He expands on this in his book to be published next month - Fixing America: Breaking the Stranglehold of Corporate Rule, Big Media and the Religious Right.

In the article, Buchanan, who has worked mainly in the trade and music press with a spell as a muckraking reporter in Miami, claimed that "the essential facts have appeared on the internet and in relatively obscure books but were dismissed by the media and Bush family as undocumented diatribes".

Buchanan suffers from hypermania, a form of manic depression, and when he found himself rebuffed in his initial efforts to interest the media, he responded with a series of threats against the journalists and media outlets that had spurned him. The threats, contained in e-mails, suggested that he would expose the journalists as "traitors to the truth".

Unsurprisingly, he soon had difficulty getting his calls returned. Most seriously, he faced aggravated stalking charges in Miami, in connection with a man with whom he had fallen out over the best way to publicise his findings. The charges were dropped last month.

Biography
Buchanan said he regretted his behaviour had damaged his credibility but his main aim was to secure publicity for the story. Both Loftus and Schweitzer say Buchanan has come up with previously undisclosed documentation.

The Bush family have largely responded with no comment to any reference to Prescott Bush. Brown Brothers Harriman also declined to comment.

The Bush family recently approved a flattering biography of Prescott Bush entitled Duty, Honour, Country by Mickey Herskowitz. The publishers, Rutledge Hill Press, promised the book would "deal honestly with Prescott Bush's alleged business relationships with Nazi industrialists and other accusations".

In fact, the allegations are dealt with in less than two pages. The book refers to the Herald-Tribune story by saying that "a person of less established ethics would have panicked ... Bush and his partners at Brown Brothers Harriman informed the government regulators that the account, opened in the late 1930s, was 'an unpaid courtesy for a client' ... Prescott Bush acted quickly and openly on behalf of the firm, served well by a reputation that had never been compromised. He made available all records and all documents. Viewed six decades later in the era of serial corporate scandals and shattered careers, he received what can be viewed as the ultimate clean bill."

The Prescott Bush story has been condemned by both conservatives and some liberals as having nothing to do with the current president. It has also been suggested that Prescott Bush had little to do with Averill Harriman and that the two men opposed each other politically.
However, documents from the Harriman papers include a flattering wartime profile of Harriman in the New York Journal American and next to it in the files is a letter to the financial editor of that paper from Prescott Bush congratulating the paper for running the profile. He added that Harriman's "performance and his whole attitude has been a source of inspiration and pride to his partners and his friends".
The Anti-Defamation League in the US is supportive of Prescott Bush and the Bush family. In a statement last year they said that "rumours about the alleged Nazi 'ties' of the late Prescott Bush ... have circulated widely through the internet in recent years. These charges are untenable and politically motivated ... Prescott Bush was neither a Nazi nor a Nazi sympathiser."

However, one of the country's oldest Jewish publications, the Jewish Advocate, has aired the controversy in detail.

More than 60 years after Prescott Bush came briefly under scrutiny at the time of a faraway war, his grandson is facing a different kind of scrutiny but one underpinned by the same perception that, for some people, war can be a profitable business.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Authoritarianism: Bush's Politics of Fear, Anger and Division

Wikipedia:
Authoritarianism - "There are various degrees of authoritarianism; even very democratic and liberal states will show authoritarianism to some extent, for example in areas of national security."

New York Times
EDITORIAL

The Great Divider

Published: November 2, 2006

As President Bush throws himself into the final days of a particularly nasty campaign season, he’s settled into a familiar pattern of ugly behavior. Since he can’t defend the real world created by his policies and his decisions, Mr. Bush is inventing a fantasy world in which to campaign on phony issues against fake enemies.

In Mr. Bush’s world, America is making real progress in Iraq. In the real world, as Michael Gordon reported in yesterday’s Times, the index that generals use to track developments shows an inexorable slide toward chaos. In Mr. Bush’s world, his administration is marching arm in arm with Iraqi officials committed to democracy and to staving off civil war. In the real world, the prime minister of Iraq orders the removal of American checkpoints in Baghdad and abets the sectarian militias that are slicing and dicing their country.

In Mr. Bush’s world, there are only two kinds of Americans: those who are against terrorism, and those who somehow are all right with it. Some Americans want to win in Iraq and some don’t. There are Americans who support the troops and Americans who don’t support the troops. And at the root of it all is the hideously damaging fantasy that there is a gulf between Americans who love their country and those who question his leadership.

Mr. Bush has been pushing these divisive themes all over the nation, offering up the ludicrous notion the other day that if Democrats manage to control even one house of Congress, America will lose and the terrorists will win. But he hit a particularly creepy low when he decided to distort a lame joke lamely delivered by Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. Mr. Kerry warned college students that the punishment for not learning your lessons was to “get stuck in Iraq.” In context, it was obviously an attempt to disparage Mr. Bush’s intelligence. That’s impolitic and impolite, but it’s not as bad as Mr. Bush’s response. Knowing full well what Mr. Kerry meant, the president and his team cried out that the senator was disparaging the troops. It was a depressing replay of the way the Bush campaign Swift-boated Americans in 2004 into believing that Mr. Kerry, who went to war, was a coward and Mr. Bush, who stayed home, was a hero.

It’s not the least bit surprising or objectionable that Mr. Bush would hit the trail hard at this point, trying to salvage his party’s control of Congress and, by extension, his last two years in office. And we’re not na├»ve enough to believe that either party has been running a positive campaign that focuses on the issues.

But when candidates for lower office make their opponents out to be friends of Osama bin Laden, or try to turn a minor gaffe into a near felony, that’s just depressing. When the president of the United States gleefully bathes in the muck to divide Americans into those who love their country and those who don’t, it is destructive to the fabric of the nation he is supposed to be leading.

This is hardly the first time that Mr. Bush has played the politics of fear, anger and division; if he’s ever missed a chance to wave the bloody flag of 9/11, we can’t think of when. But Mr. Bush’s latest outbursts go way beyond that. They leave us wondering whether this president will ever be willing or able to make room for bipartisanship, compromise and statesmanship in the two years he has left in office.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/02/opinion/02thu1.html?_r=1&th&emc=th&oref=slogin

Friday, October 27, 2006

Medical Views of 9/11’s Dust Show Big Gaps (a.k.a. "Cover Ups")

Medical Views of 9/11’s Dust Show Big Gaps (a.k.a. "Cover Ups")


By ANTHONY DePALMA
Published: October 24, 2006

In 2004, Kenneth R. Feinberg, special master of the federal Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund, awarded $2.6 million to the family of a downtown office worker who died from a rare lung disease five months after fleeing from the dust cloud released when the twin towers fell. That decision made the worker, Felicia Dunn-Jones, a 42-year-old lawyer, the first official fatality of the dust, and one of only two deaths to be formally linked to the toxic air at ground zero.

The New York City medical examiner’s office, however, has refused to put her on its official list of 9/11 victims, saying that by its standards there was insufficient medical evidence to link her death to the dust.
Mrs. Dunn-Jones’s case shows how difficult it can be to prove a causal connection with any scientific certainty — and how even government agencies can disagree. With thousands of people now seeking compensation and treatment for dust exposure, the debate about the relationship between the toxic particles and disease will be a central issue in the flood of Sept. 11-related lawsuits. Health experts are starting to document the connections, but any firm conclusion is still years away.

Most of the suits involve workers who spent weeks and months on the pile at ground zero and say the city and other agencies failed to protect them from the toxic dust. Others involve residents who say they were made sick by dust that settled in their homes. Mrs. Dunn-Jones was among those downtown office workers caught in the initial fallout.
The question that arises in all these cases is straightforward: Can a link between the dust and disease be proved with scientific certainty? The answer is anything but simple.

“Certainty is a word we always dance around,” said Joseph Graziano, associate dean for research at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. For him, searching for the cause of disease is like developing film. “At first you see a faint image of what the real picture is,” Dr. Graziano said, “and then, over time, you see it with much more clarity. In these relatively early times, the image is still faint.”

It can take decades to approach any degree of certainty. For instance, only after years of observation did doctors agree that there was a strong link between asbestos and diseases like asbestosis and mesothelioma.

In legal cases, “a reasonable degree of medical certainty” is considered the gold standard in making a causal connection. Last week, a federal judge cleared the way for thousands of workers’ lawsuits to go to trial. When the cases are heard, any proof that does not meet that legal standard is likely to be challenged.

But outside the courtroom, scientists say, even a less rigorous link could be sufficient to warrant expanding the range of illnesses covered by treatment programs, and to serve as the basis for issuing cautions to people in high-risk groups. When the health effects are too new or the evidence is too vague for a strong link, lesser indicators like the concurrence of different studies have to be relied on.

For example, nearly every ground zero study shows that workers and residents exposed to the dust in the hours after the collapse have suffered the worst health problems. The consistency in that data has helped doctors monitor and treat people since Sept. 11.

And it may also help explain why Mrs. Dunn-Jones, a dynamic civil rights lawyer with the United States Department of Education, became so sick so quickly. As she was swallowed by a whirling dust plume filled with asbestos, benzene, dioxin and other hazards when the first tower fell, all she could do was cover her nose and mouth as she fled from her office one block north of the World Trade Center.
It was night by the time she got home to Staten Island. “She was in a state of shock,” her husband, Joseph Jones, recalled. Her clothes were still dusty, but he didn’t pay much attention. “I was just so happy to see her,” he said.

For the next few months, life returned to normal, until Mrs. Dunn-Jones developed a cough. In January 2002, the cough grew worse. On Feb. 10, she suddenly stopped breathing and died.

Mr. Jones, 54, an assistant manager at a Brooklyn pharmacy, was stunned. Then, when he received the official death certificate months later, he was shocked to see an unfamiliar word — sarcoidosis.
“Even though I was in the medical field, I had never heard of it,” he said.

After reading several medical reports on sarcoidosis — including one by Dr. David J. Prezant, deputy chief medical officer of the New York Fire Department — Mr. Jones and his lawyer, Richard H. Bennett, wondered if Mrs. Dunn-Jones’s mysterious death could be linked to 9/11 dust because sarcoidosis, which produces microscopic lumps called granulomas, on vital organs, is often associated with exposure to environmental hazards.

They took the case to Mr. Feinberg and the victim compensation fund, which gave $7 billion to the families of those killed or injured on 9/11.
Mr. Feinberg initially expressed doubts about the claim and demanded to see definitive medical evidence linking Mrs. Dunn-Jones’s sarcoidosis to the dust.

Dr. Prezant, who declined to be interviewed for this article, was one of two experts who testified at a hearing conducted by Mr. Feinberg. In the first four years after 9/11, he found 20 cases of sarcoidosis in the Fire Department, a rate of 80 per 100,000 in the first year (with treatment, all are now stable), compared with a national rate of fewer than 6 per 100,000, according to the American Thoracic Society.

The other expert was Dr. Alan M. Fein, a clinical professor of medicine at the New York University School of Medicine. He, too, was skeptical at first, but he said he changed his mind after reviewing Mrs. Dunn-Jones’s medical record, including the autopsy report. “I’m comfortable saying her death was caused by exposure to the dust,” Dr. Fein said in an interview.
In March 2004, Mr. Feinberg agreed, making Mrs. Dunn-Jones’s death the only dust-related fatality recognized by the fund. Only one other death has been formally linked to the dust: In April, a New Jersey coroner determined that James Zadroga, 34, a New York City police detective, had died of a disease similar to sarcoidosis, also caused by his exposure to ground zero dust.

Mr. Jones welcomed the settlement from the victim compensation fund, and believes that his wife was a 9/11 victim as surely as if she had died in the towers. He sent Mr. Feinberg’s decision to the city’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Charles S. Hirsch, and asked that his wife be put on the official list so that her name could be read on Sept. 11. Dr. Hirsch refused, a spokeswoman said, because the available evidence did not prove the connection “with a reasonable degree of medical certainty”— the highest medical standard generally used in legal cases.

Mr. Feinberg’s decision had been based on a different standard: a preponderance of medical evidence.
That was proof enough for the Staten Island Memorial Commission, which has engraved Mrs. Dunn-Jones’s name on the bone-white memorial on the island’s north shore.

Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, who has fought to get medical care for 9/11 victims, said the contradictory conclusions about Mrs. Dunn-Jones’s death underscored the importance of deciding who has the final say on causal links. “They should be medical decisions, not political ones,” she said, suggesting that city officials may have a conflict of interest in making such determinations since the city is a defendant in the ground zero workers’ lawsuits.
She has introduced a bill to reopen the federal compensation fund to people whose illnesses became known after the original eligibility period ended in 2003.

In the effort to collect definitive data, Dr. John Howard, the federal government’s 9/11 health coordinator, recently circulated a draft set of autopsy protocols that directs pathologists to use a standard of proof that establishes both biological plausibility and unequivocal evidence of a causal connection to the dust. But doctors and elected officials have said those standards are so restrictive that almost no death could be linked to the dust for years to come. A spokesman for Dr. Howard said the guidelines were being refined.

In another effort, the Mount Sinai Medical Center, which has screened thousands of ground zero workers, has begun a long-term study of the incidence of diseases to identify any rates that exceed national averages.

“Right now we’re in the process of confirming every case of interstitial lung disease, every cancer, every sarcoidosis that has been reported to us by responders in their visits,” said Dr. Jeanne M. Stellman, director of the public health program at Columbia University, is leading the data collection project.

“We are actively trying to determine whether Detective Zadroga and Mrs. Dunn-Jones are alone,” she said. “And we are trying to find a way to do this that is scientifically correct while also being responsive to the needs and fears of the communities involved.”

Report Warns of Potential Voting Problems in 10 States

Report Warns of Potential Voting Problems in 10 States

By Amy Goldstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 25, 2006; Page A03

Two weeks before the midterm elections, at least 10 states, including Maryland, remain ripe for voting problems, according to a study released yesterday by a nonpartisan clearinghouse that tracks electoral reforms across the United States

The report by Electionline.org says those states, and possibly others, could encounter trouble on Election Day because they have a combustible mix of fledgling voting-machine technology, confusion over voting procedures or recent litigation over election rules -- and close races.

The report cautions that the Nov. 7 elections, which will determine which political party controls the House and Senate, promise "to bring more of what voters have come to expect since the 2000 elections -- a divided body politic, an election system in flux and the possibility -- if not certainty -- of problems at polls nationwide."

In a state-by-state canvass, the 75-page report singles out places, such as Indiana and Arizona, where courts have upheld stringent new laws requiring voters to show poll workers specific forms of identification. It cites states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania, which have switched to electronic voting machines whose accuracy has been challenged. And it points to states such as Colorado and Washington, which have departed from the tradition of polling sites in neighborhood precincts.

The report of the clearinghouse, sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trusts, is the latest of several warnings in recent weeks and months by organizations and scholars who say that electoral problems persist in spite of six years of efforts by the federal government and states to correct voting flaws. The flaws gripped the public's attention after the close 2000 presidential election, which led to recounts in Florida and the intervention of the Supreme Court.
The election shambles of 2000 prompted Congress to pass in 2002 legislation intended to help states make significant election changes, such as by replacing outdated voting equipment. Some of the changes, including making sure that databases of registered voters are accurate, were required to be in effect by this year.

Doug Chapin, director of Electionline.org, said "things are getting better over time." But he said many of the changes in recent years have led to new problems and disputes. For instance, the decisions by many states to convert to electronic voting machines have yielded new concerns about whether they are secure and accurate, about paper records as backup proof and -- this year -- about whether the electronic or paper record should be considered the official tally if a candidate demands a recount.

The report cites Maryland for what it calls a "dismal primary" in September that "included human and machine failures galore," in part because Montgomery County election officials forgot to distribute to polling places the access cards needed for its electronic machines to work. The study raises questions about whether Montgomery officials are prepared for the bigger crowds in the general election and whether large numbers of mistrustful voters will resort to absentee ballots.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

NY Times Editorial: Money Down the Drain in Iraq

Commentary: The Bush administrations actions with respect to Iraq are not merely misfeasance and incompetence. Bush's actions are criminal. The 600,000+ people murdered in Iraq under the guise of freedom are properly called War Crimes. Dress it up any way you like, but the money the US taxpayers have spent in Iraq has been used for murder and enrichment of American interests (like Halliburton). We're going to be paying for a long time for what Bush started and can never finish.



EDITORIAL

Money Down the Drain in Iraq

Published: October 26, 2006

When the full encyclopedia of Bush administration misfeasance in Iraq is compiled, it will have to include a lengthy section on the contracting fiascos that wasted billions of taxpayer dollars in the name of rebuilding the country. It isn’t only money that was lost.

Washington’s disgraceful failure to deliver on its promises to restore electricity, water and oil distribution, and to rebuild education and health facilities, turned millions of once sympathetic Iraqis against the American presence.

Their discovery that the world’s richest, most technologically advanced country could not restore basic services to minimal prewar levels left an impression of American weakness and, worse, of indifference to the well-being of ordinary Iraqis. That further poisoned a situation already soured by White House intelligence breakdowns, military misjudgments and political blunders.

The latest contracting revelations came in a report issued Tuesday by the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. The office reviewed records covering $1.3 billion out of the $18.4 billion that Congress voted for Iraq reconstruction two years ago. Reported overhead costs ran from a low of 11 percent for several contracts awarded to Lucent to a high of 55 percent for, you guessed it, the Halliburton subsidiary, KBR Inc.

On similar projects in the United States, overhead is typically just a few percent. Given the difficult security environment in Iraq, overhead was expected to run closer to 10 percent. But in many of the contracts examined, it ran much, much higher, in some cases consuming over half the allocated funds. And the report may have actually underestimated total overhead because the government agencies that were supposed to be supervising these reconstruction projects sometimes failed to systematically track overhead expenses.

The main explanation for these excessive overhead rates turned out to be not special security costs but simply the costly down time that resulted from sending workers and equipment to Iraq months before there was any actual work for them to do. That is yet another example of the shoddy contract writing, lax oversight and absent supervision that has consistently characterized Washington’s approach to Iraq reconstruction from the start.

Bush administration incompetence, not corporate greed, is the chief culprit. Still, these charges are one more example of how the favored American companies lucky enough to be awarded reconstruction contracts made large sums of money while the Iraqis failed to get most of the promised benefits.

As Americans now look for explanations of how things went so horribly wrong in Iraq, they should not overlook the shameful breakdowns in reconstruction contracting. They need to insist that Congress impose tough new rules on the Pentagon to ensure more competitive bidding, tighter contract writing and more rigorous supervision. That is the best way to ensure that such a costly and damaging failure never happens again.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Bush War Crimes Billboard Advertisement

This is a photo of an electronic billboard taken on July 14, 2005 along interstate I-10 in a spot where traffic backs up for hours every day in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

PENTAGON PLANTED PROPAGANDA; BUYING OF NEWS BY BUSH'S AIDES IS RULED ILLEGAL - "Covert Propaganda"

Bush has been caught breaking the media laws for quite a while now (Click on the photo and see the other huge Dictator 911 Propaganda Billboards straight from Baton Rouge, La.).

And the Pentagon has been spending Millions for years now on "covert progaganda". This was especially wrong when those millions were first discovered being spent right after Katrina devastated New Orleans. And we all know how Bush handled that. So, let's be clear: Bush is spending your tax dollars to advertise and support the justifcation of an illegal war that has taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilian men, women and children. For freedom of course. At what point does this paradox become a war crime?


Washington Post: EDITORIAL

Planted Propaganda
It's a bad idea, whether or not it violates regulations. Too bad the Pentagon won't say that.
Monday, October 23, 2006; Page A20


THE DEFENSE Department inspector general has concluded that having a Pentagon contractor secretly pay Iraqi journalists and news organizations to run positive news stories about the war doesn't violate any laws or regulations. It's almost impossible to tell whether that conclusion is correct: The scanty, two-page summary released by the Pentagon provides no details about the activities of the contractor, the Lincoln Group, the contract under which it was operating or the applicable rules.

We won't dwell too long, though, on the irony that an assessment of the military's secret propaganda operations is itself -- except for the largely exculpatory conclusion -- secret. The more important point is that, assuming the inspector general's legal assessment is right, it only makes the problem worse. The U.S. government has a legitimate interest in conveying its point of view. The problem is when it does so in secret. The government shouldn't be in the business of covertly peddling propaganda -- especially in a war based on the notion of seeking to export democratic values such as, say, a free press.

But don't just take it from us. Take it from, among others, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace, who criticized the program in comments to the Los Angeles Times in March. "I think there are ways to get your message out, but get it out in a form that people understand how the message got there," Gen. Pace said. "They need to know that, so they can make their own judgment about what they believe and don't believe in the article. The worst thing you can have is people feeling like somehow they've been snookered."

Or take it from Defense Secretary Donald M. Rumsfeld, who told PBS's Charlie Rose in February, "When we heard about it, we said, 'Gee, that's not what we ought to be doing.' " Or take it from Mr. Rumsfeld's former chief spokesman, Lawrence Di Rita, who said in December of the inspector general's investigation, "If somebody comes back to me and says there's nothing wrong with the Department of Defense paying journalists, I'll say, 'Even if there's nothing wrong, does it make sense?' "

No, it doesn't. But when we called the Pentagon to determine its policy position, the response we received -- even after citing the statements of Mr. Rumsfeld and Gen. Pace -- reflected no understanding of that bedrock principle. "The current situation in Iraq necessitates that the coalition maintain the capability to communicate with the Iraqi people via the Iraqi media," the statement said. "A thorough investigation concluded that the U.S. followed established doctrine by paying to place truthful articles and advertisements in Iraqi newspapers. The IG report made no recommendations to the contrary." But making recommendations wasn't the inspector general's job. If this is "established doctrine," it needs swift reexamination.

CONSUMER WATCHDOGS DEMAND RECALL OF SPYCHIPPED CREDIT CARDS

Synopsis: RFID Payment Card Vulnerabilities Technical Report
“There is a certain amount of privacy that consumers expect, and I believe that credit card companies have crossed the line.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 23, 2006

Advises Consumers to Immediately Remove Cards from Wallets

Consumer watchdog group CASPIAN is demanding a recall of millions of
RFID-equipped contactless credit cards in light of serious security
flaws reported today in the New York Times. The paper reports that a
team of security researchers has found that virtually every one of these
cards tested is vulnerable to unauthorized charges and puts consumers at
risk for identity theft.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a controversial technology that
uses tiny microchips to transmit information at a distance. These RFID
microchips have earned the nickname "spychips" because the data they
contain can be read silently and invisibly by radio waves without an
individual's knowledge or consent. The technology has long been the
target of criticism by privacy and civil liberties groups.

"For these financial institutions to put RFID in credit cards, one of
the most sensitive items we carry, is absolute lunacy," said Dr.
Katherine Albrecht, founder and director of CASPIAN, a consumer group
with over 12,000 members in 30 countries worldwide.

Researchers are showing how a thief could skim information from the
cards right through purses, backpacks and wallets. This information
includes the cardholder's name, credit card number, expiration date and
other data that would be sufficient to make unauthorized purchases. They
say the information could even be used to identify and track people, a
scenario Albrecht and co-author Liz McIntyre lay out in their book,
"Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track Your
Every Purchase and Watch Your Every Move."

Despite earlier assurances by the issuing companies that the data
contained in the credit cards would be secure, researchers found that
the majority of cards they tested did not use encryption or protect the
data in any way. The information on them was readily available to
unauthorized parties using equipment that could be assembled for as
little as $50, the researchers said.

"We cautioned companies against using item-level RFID, and they didn't
heed us. Now the credit card industry is facing an unprecedented PR and
financial disaster," says McIntyre, who is also a former bank examiner.
She points to the astronomical cost to replace the cards, not to mention
the potential financial losses, litigation expenses, and erosion of
consumer trust.

Albrecht and McIntyre are calling on the industry to issue a public
alert detailing the dangers of the cards they've issued, institute an
active recall, and make safe versions without RFID available to
concerned consumers.

"This recall has to be very clear and very directed since consumers may
not know their cards contain RFID tags," says Albrecht. "The industry
has repeatedly resisted calls to clearly label the cards. Rather,
they've given the cards innocent-sounding names like 'Blink.'"

CASPIAN is advising consumers to immediately remove the credit cards
from their wallets and call the 800 number on the back to insist on an
RFID-free replacement card. The group is cautioning consumers not to
mail the cards back or simply throw them away due to the risk of their
personal information being skimmed.

Today's New York Times article by John Schwartz can be found here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/23/business/23card.html?ref=business

A research report detailing the findings can be found here:
http://www.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/business/20061023_CARD/techreport.pdf



New York Times:

RFID Payment Card Vulnerabilities Technical Report

By JOHN SCHWARTZ
Published: October 23, 2006

AMHERST, Mass. — They call it the “Johnny Carson attack,” for his comic pose as a psychic divining the contents of an envelope.


Tom Heydt-Benjamin tapped an envelope against a black plastic box connected to his computer. Within moments, the screen showed a garbled string of characters that included this: fu/kevine, along with some numbers.

Mr. Heydt-Benjamin then ripped open the envelope. Inside was a credit card, fresh from the issuing bank. The card bore the name of Kevin E. Fu, a computer science professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, who was standing nearby. The card number and expiration date matched those numbers on the screen.

The demonstration revealed potential security and privacy holes in a new generation of credit cards — cards whose data is relayed by radio waves without need of a signature or physical swiping through a machine. Tens of millions of the cards have been issued, and equipment for their use is showing up at a growing number of locations, including CVS pharmacies, McDonald’s restaurants and many movie theaters.

The card companies have implied through their marketing that the data is encrypted to make sure that a digital eavesdropper cannot get any intelligible information. American Express has said its cards incorporate “128-bit encryption,” and J. P. Morgan Chase has said that its cards, which it calls Blink, use “the highest level of encryption allowed by the U.S. government.”

But in tests on 20 cards from Visa, MasterCard and American Express, the researchers here found that the cardholder’s name and other data was being transmitted without encryption and in plain text. They could skim and store the information from a card with a device the size of a couple of paperback books, which they cobbled together from readily available computer and radio components for $150.
They say they could probably make another one even smaller and cheaper: about the size of a pack of gum for less than $50.

And because the cards can be read even through a wallet or an item of clothing, the security of the information, the researchers say, is startlingly weak. “Would you be comfortable wearing your name, your credit card number and your card expiration date on your T-shirt?” Mr. Heydt-Benjamin, a graduate student, asked.

Companies that make and issue the cards argue that what looks shocking in the lab could not lead to widespread abuse in the real world, and that additional data protection and antifraud measures in the payment system protect consumers from end to end.

“This is an interesting technical exercise,” said Brian Triplett, senior vice president for emerging-product development for Visa, “but as a real threat to a consumer — that threat really doesn’t exist.”

The finding comes at a time of strong suspicion among privacy advocates and consumer groups about the security of the underlying technology, called radio frequency identification, or RFID. Though the systems are designed to allow a card to be read only in close proximity, researchers have found that they can extend the distance.

The actual distance is still a matter of debate, but the claims range from several inches to many feet. And even the shortest distance could allow a would-be card skimmer to mill about in a crowded place and pull data from the wallets of passersby, or to collect data from envelopes sitting in mailboxes.

“No one’s going to look at me funny if I walk down the street and put a flier in everybody’s mailbox,” Mr. Heydt-Benjamin said.

The experiment was conducted by researchers here working with RSA Labs, a part of EMC, an information management and storage company. The resulting paper, which has been submitted to a computer security conference, is the first fruit of a new consortium of industry and academic researchers financed by the National Science Foundation to study RFID.

Security experts who were not involved in the research have praised the paper, and said that they were startled by the findings. Aviel D. Rubin, a professor of computer security at Johns Hopkins University, said, “There is a certain amount of privacy that consumers expect, and I believe that credit card companies have crossed the line.”

The companies, however, argue that testing just 20 cards does not provide an accurate picture of the card market, which generally uses higher security standards than the cards that were tested. “It’s a small sample,” said Art Kranzley, an executive with MasterCard. “This is almost akin to somebody standing up in the theater and yelling, ‘Fire!’ because somebody lit a cigarette.”

Chips like those used by the credit card companies can encrypt the data they send, but that can slow down transactions and make building and maintaining the payment networks more expensive. Other systems, including the Speedpass keychain device offered by Exxon Mobil, encrypt the transmission — though Exxon came under fire for using encryption that experts said was weak.

Though information on the cards may be transmitted in plain text, the company representatives argued, the process of making purchases with the cards involves verification procedures based on powerful encryption that make each transaction unique. Most cards, they said, actually transmit a dummy number that does not match the number embossed on the card, and that number can be used only in connection with the verification “token,” or a small bit of code, that is encrypted before being sent.

“It’s basically useless information,” said David Bonalle, vice president and general manager for advanced payments at American Express. “You can’t steal that data and just play it back and expect that transaction to work.”

While the researchers found that these claims were true for some of the cards they tested, other cards gave up the actual credit card number and did not use a token or change data from one transaction to another. They also took data in from some cards and transmitted it to a card-reader in the lab and tricked it into accepting the transaction. Mr. Heydt-Benjamin, in fact, was able to purchase electronic equipment online using a number skimmed from a card he ordered for himself and which was sealed in an envelope.

(Page 2 of 2)

(None of the cards transmits the additional number on the front or back, known as the card validation code, that some businesses require for online purchases; Mr. Heydt-Benjamin chose a store that does not require the code.)

Mr. Kranzley said the MasterCard-issuing banks decided how much security they wanted to implement, but said that with 10 million of the company’s chip-bearing cards on the market, some 98 percent of them used the highest standards.

“Today, there’s an extremely small percentage of cards that have the characteristics that RSA has looked at in this report,” he said. Visa and American Express representatives said all their cards conformed to the highest security standard.

Beyond the security on the cards themselves, the companies said, they have deployed fraud detection and prevention measures that block suspect purchases. And each company stressed that cardholders were not liable for fraud.

Dr. Fu acknowledged that the research involved a small sample, and added, “We would be happy to examine cards that have better security so that we can verify these claims.” He added, however, that all of the cards they tested were issued this year, and all were felled by at least one of the attacks that they attempted.

Tom O’Donnell, a senior vice president at Chase, the largest issuer of the new cards, said that the attacks described in the paper would be too cumbersome in the real world. And the researchers said that other kinds of fraud, like so-called phishing scams in which criminals trick people into revealing credit card information through misleading e-mail messages and Web sites, were currently more effective.

Still, John Pescatore, vice president for Internet security at Gartner, a technology market research firm, said he was surprised by the lack of security in transmitting personal data. He said it was a mistake that companies often made in rolling out early versions of a technology.

“It’s the classic ‘Let’s depend on security through obscurity — who’s going to look?’ ” he said. “Then, whoops! As soon as somebody does look, you roll out the security.”

All of the card companies said that they were in the process of deleting names from the stream of data transmitted to the card readers. “As a best practice, issuers are not including the cardholder name,” Mr. Triplett of Visa said.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

News Media & Gov. Pay in Scientist Wen Ho Lee Suit Raises Troubling Questions that Suggest Media is Acting in Concert with the Gov. Re: Legal Issues

Synopsis:

Wen Ho Lee, an atomic scientist once suspected of espionage, yesterday settled an invasion of privacy lawsuit against the government for $1,645,000.


Five news organizations are paying almost half that sum to avoid contempt sanctions against their reporters.

In the suit, Dr. Lee said the government had violated privacy laws by telling reporters about his employment history, finances, travels and polygraph tests. The settlement followed seven months of unusual negotiations among Dr. Lee, the government and lawyers for the news organizations.

The five reporters were not defendants, but had been held in contempt of court for refusing to testify and ordered to pay fines of $500 a day for refusing to disclose the identities of their confidential sources.
The news organizations — ABC News, part of the Walt Disney Company; The Associated Press; The Los Angeles Times, part of the Tribune Company; The New York Times; and The Washington Post — agreed to contribute $750,000 to the settlement.

Specialists in media law said such a payment by news organizations to avoid a contempt sanction was almost certainly unprecedented. Some called it troubling.

Jane E. Kirtley, a professor of media law and ethics at the University of Minnesota, said she found the news organizations' decision to participate in the settlement "profoundly disturbing."

"These are very strange times in which we are living," Professor Kirtley said, "and it does appear that sometimes decisions have to be made that would have been unthinkable five years ago. But to make a payment in settlement in this context strikes me as an admission that the media are acting in concert with the government."

Full Text:

www.nytimes.com/2006/06/03/washington/03settle.html?_r=1&...

By ADAM LIPTAK
Published: June 3, 2006
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Sunday, May 21, 2006

LSU Chancellor Sean O’keefe (former NASA head) admits being Bohemian Grove Member

PURPOSE OF THIS BLOG POST:

1. To point out the Sean O’keefe (formerly head of NASA) connection with Bush and Bohemian Grove.

Since the Bush administration has been suppressing and censoring all kinds of scientists in America and at the Universities it is an important question why Sean O'keefe is at LSU. What is his role at the University and how it relates to the well being of Louisiana?

Or does it have to do with Bush appointments in key areas of control in America concerning the suppression of information.

This is notable in his Bio:

- "Appointed Secretary of the Navy in July 1992 by President George Bush, O'Keefe served as Comptroller and Chief Financial Officer of the Department of Defense since 1989. Before joining then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney's Pentagon management team in these capacities, he served on the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations staff for eight years and was Staff Director of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. "

Read this O’keefe interview in the LSU Reveille about Bohemian Grove:

An Elite Alliance
Chancellor confirms membership in club
By Amy Brittain
March 07, 2006

www.lsureveille.com/vnews/display.v/ART/2006/03/07/440d16...

DARK SECRETS INSIDE BOHEMIAN GROVE:

(WATCH THE VIDEO)

Some of the most powerful people in the US government (George Bush, Alan Greenspan. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Greenspan Jimmy Buffet?, Clint Eastwood, Henry Kissinger, Reagan, Dick Cheney, Rumsfeld, Nixon...) attend occult worship events every July at "Bohemian Grove". Is that funny? Do you think it's true? Does that sound like the kind of thing professed Christians and followers of Jesus would do? Decide for yourself. The Bush family are Bohemian Grove Members.

Movies of it (the ritual not pictures of anyone you can see) exist:


Alex Jones was the first person to sneak in Bohemian Grove
and get the “Cremation of Care” ceremony on video. Watch it here:

video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1358319439993514946


The Associated Press December 26, 2004
LSU and O'Keefe: mysteries of his hiring
By Adam Nossiter

www.globalsecurity.org/org/news/2004/041226-lsu-okeefe.htm


Sean O’keefe Bio
www.lsu.edu/chancellor/biography.htm

_________________________________

2. To Protest Sean O’keefe selecting Dick Cheney to speak at the May 19, 2006 LSU graduation ceremony. This was strange and inappropriate to say the least. I'd go so far as to say inviting Dick Cheney (in reality) to speak at LSU was about like having Mussolini:

Benito Mussolini
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

"He created a Fascist state through the use of diplomacy and propaganda. Using his charisma, total control of the media, and outright violence and intimidation against political rivals, he disassembled the existing democratic government system."

SEE: Dick Cheney: "Torture Man" : read about Cheney the man who lobbied a year for the ability to torture beyond any limits of world law. The US is not even a member of the International Courts of justice, Bush signed off on it first thing when he got in office. The US is not accountable to anyone for anything on this planet. And with the people involved in what is the Bush administration, there has been nothing but destruction, exploitation and breakdown of the foundations of all that was good about America. Their "New World Order" PNAC plans include nothing that has anything to do with the preservation and well being of Humanity. (Just ask the Katrina victims New Orleans)

You can't raise the legal limit of the national debt 4 times, a record in American history and not expect the people of that country to pay hell for it at some point. All that military/defense spending, oil/energy and cleanup of the destruction they have created is going right back into the pockets of those that made it happen. It has been a very lethal system. And most people agree that the architect of all this is Dick Cheney.

AND THIS IS THE MAN O'Keefe invited to LSU commencement.
It's deplorable, ridiculous that a man like Dick Cheney would be allowed anywhere near a serious academic institution.

www.flickr.com/photos/antifluff/63137909/in/set-1237029/

_________________________________

3. To Point out that David Gergen of the Clinton Admin. had to step down when his being a member of Bohemian Grove was exposed:

*** Watch David Gergen former Clinton Adviser talk about Bohemian Grove:
www.infowars.com/video/previews/martial_law/wm_bb.htm
www.infowars.com/video/previews/martial_law/qt_bb.htm


Some of the most powerful people in the US government attend occult worship events every July at "Bohemian Grove". Is that funny? Do you think it's true? Decide for yourself. Movies of it exist:

BOHEMIAN GROVE EXPOSED! BUSH=OCCULT or JESUS?


DARK SECRETS INSIDE BOHEMIAN GROVE:

Alex Jones was the first person to sneak in Bohemian Grove
and get the “Cremation of Care” ceremony on video. Watch it here:

video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1358319439993514946

________________________

More Bohemian Grove Info:

CHECK THIS OUT: (REAL PLAYER CLIP)
www.infowars.com/Video/BG/BG_Trailer_fast.ram
www.infowars.com/bg1.html

Occult Activities at the Elite Bohemian Grove in Northern California Exposed!
www.propagandamatrix.com/archivebohemiangrove.html

-More on Bohemian Grove: www.rotten.com/library/conspiracy/bohemian-grove/
www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en-us&q=b...
www.sonomacountyfreepress.com/bohos/bohofact.html

Friday, May 12, 2006

NY Times Editorial on Bush's ILLEGAL NSA Spying Program

NY Times, Editorial

Ever-Expanding Secret


Published: May 12, 2006

Ever since its secret domestic wiretapping program was exposed, the Bush administration has depicted it as a narrow examination of calls made by and to terrorism suspects. But its refusal to provide any details about the extent of the spying has raised doubts. Now there is more reason than ever to be worried — and angry — about how wide the government's web has been reaching.

According to an article in USA Today, the National Security Agency has been secretly collecting telephone records on tens of millions of Americans with the cooperation of the three largest telecommunications companies in the nation. The scope of the domestic spying described in the article is breathtaking. The government is reported to be working with AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth to collect data on phone calls made by untold millions of customers.

President Bush has insisted in the past that the government is monitoring only calls that begin or end overseas. But according to USA Today, it has actually been collecting information on purely domestic calls. One source told the paper that the program had produced "the largest database ever assembled in the world."

The government has stressed that it is not listening in on phone calls, only analyzing the data to look for calling patterns. But if all the details of the program are confirmed, the invasion of privacy is substantial. By cross-referencing phone numbers with databases that link numbers to names and addresses, the government could compile dossiers of what people and organizations each American is in contact with.

The phone companies are doing a great disservice to their customers by cooperating. To its credit, one major company, Qwest, refused, according to the article, because it had doubts about the program's legality.

What we have here is a clandestine surveillance program of enormous size, which is being operated by members of the administration who are subject to no limits or scrutiny beyond what they deem to impose on one another. If the White House had gotten its way, the program would have run secretly until the war on terror ended — that is, forever.

Congress must stop pretending that it has no serious responsibilities for monitoring the situation. The Senate should call back Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and ask him — this time, under oath — about the scope of the program. This time, lawmakers should not roll over when Mr. Gonzales declines to provide answers. The confirmation hearings of Michael Hayden, President Bush's nominee for Central Intelligence Agency director, are also a natural forum for a serious, thorough and pointed review of exactly what has been going on.

Most of all, Congress should pass legislation that removes any doubt that this kind of warrantless spying on ordinary Americans is illegal. If the administration finds the current procedures for getting court approval of wiretaps too restrictive, this would be the time to make any needed adjustments.

President Bush began his defense of the N.S.A. program yesterday by invoking, as he often does, Sept. 11. The attacks that day firmed the nation's resolve to protect itself against its enemies, but they did not give the president the limitless power he now claims to intrude on the private communications of the American people.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Beatles lose Apple court battle

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/4983796.stm

Sir Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and the families of George Harrison and John Lennon control the Apple Corps label.

They claimed the US firm broke a deal aimed at ensuring there would not be two Apples in the music industry.

But Mr Justice Anthony Mann ruled that the computer company used the Apple logo in association with its store, not the music, and so was not in breach.

The ruling means iPods and iTunes will still be able to carry the Apple name and logo.

“With great respect to the trial judge, we consider he has reached the wrong conclusion”

Neil Aspinall
Apple Corps

The Beatles' label, which wanted London's High Court to award damages and stop its rival using the Apple logo in its music operations, will appeal.

Mr Justice Mann ruled iTunes was "a form of electronic shop" and not involved in creating music.

"I conclude that the use of the apple logo ... does not suggest a relevant connection with the creative work," he wrote in his judgment.

"I think that the use of the apple logo is a fair and reasonable use of the mark in connection with the service, which does not go further and unfairly or unreasonably suggest an additional association with the creative works themselves."

Apple Corps must pay its rival's legal bill, estimated at £2m, but the judge refused an interim payment of £1.5m pending further hearings.

Exclusive rights
The record label said the rise of iTunes broke an agreement the two sides hammered out in 1991 after their last dispute.
That deal gave the record label exclusive rights to use the apple trademark for the record business, Geoffrey Vos QC, representing Apple Corps, told the court.

Apple Computer, whose products helped launch the personal computer industry, was founded in 1976 and its logo is an apple with a section removed from the side.

“We have always loved The Beatles, and hopefully we can now work together to get them on the iTunes Music Store”

Steve Jobs
Apple Computer

Apple Corps was set up by The Beatles in 1968 and is represented by a complete green Granny Smith apple.

Apple Corps manager Neil Aspinall said: "With great respect to the trial judge, we consider he has reached the wrong conclusion.

"We felt that during the course of the trial we clearly demonstrated just how extensively Apple Computer had broken the agreement.
"We will accordingly be filing an appeal and putting the case again to the Court of Appeal."

Apple Computer chief executive Steve Jobs said: "We are glad to put this disagreement behind us.

"We have always loved The Beatles, and hopefully we can now work together to get them on the iTunes Music Store."

The launch of the iPod, a portable digital music player, in 2001, and its iTunes music store two years later, prompted the latest battle.

Court download
About three million songs are downloaded from the service every day.
Tracks by The Beatles have not been licensed for downloading and are not available on the service.

Mr Vos demonstrated how to use iTunes during the hearing - downloading Chic's 1978 disco hit Le Freak in the courtroom.
He pointed out to Mr Justice Mann how many times the Apple logo appeared on the computer screen as he went through the process.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Sony Sued for iTunes Royalties

Sony sued for iTunes royalties

Sony is being accused of underpaying music artists' royalties for digital downloads in a new class action lawsuit. The Allman Brothers Band and Cheap Trick are claiming millions of dollars in damages from Sony Music because the entertainment giant is not paying its recording artists half of the net licensing revenue received in connection with music licensed to digital download providers, such as Apple. The suit alleges that Sony Music handles each download as a sale of physical media, paying on only 85 percent of "sales" due to "breakage of product," and deducts another 20 percent for container/packaging charges associated with the digital downloads. Finally, Sony Music is reducing its payments by another 50 percent for an "audiofile" deduction, which results in a payment to recording artists of roughly 4 1/2 cents per digital download, according to Macworld UK.
"Sony Music is presently engaged in a widespread attempt to underpay its recording artists; with the technological advancements in the music industry, where many people download songs to their iPods and other portable devices, it is essential that artists receive the royalty income to which they are entitled," said Brian Caplan, an attorney associated with the action.

http://www.macnn.com/articles/06/04/28/sony.sued.for.royalties/

Saturday, April 01, 2006