Tuesday, 29 December 2009

france: diktat des télés sur le cinéma

Sunday, 27 December 2009

wall street: worse decade since 1820!

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http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704786204574607993448916718.html?mod=WSJ_hp_mostpop_read

ABREAST OF THE MARKET

DECEMBER 20, 2009

Investors Hope the '10s Beat the '00s

by Tom Lauricella

Since End of 1999, U.S. Stocks' Performance Has Been the All-Time Clunker; Even 1930s Beat It
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The U.S. stock market is wrapping up what is likely to be its worst decade ever.

In nearly 200 years of recorded stock-market history, no calendar decade has seen such a dismal performance as the 2000s.

Investors would have been better off investing in pretty much anything else, from bonds to gold or even just stuffing money under a mattress. Since the end of 1999, stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange have lost an average of 0.5% a year thanks to the twin bear markets this decade.

The period has provided a lesson for ordinary Americans who used stocks as their primary way of saving for retirement.

Many investors were lured to the stock market by the bull market that began in the early 1980s and gained force through the 1990s. But coming out of the 1990s—when a 17.6% average annual gain made it the second-best decade in history behind the 1950s—stocks simply had gotten too expensive. Companies also pared dividends, cutting into investor returns. And in a time of financial panic like 2008, stocks were a terrible place to invest.

With two weeks to go in 2009, the declines since the end of 1999 make the last 10 years the worst calendar decade for stocks going back to the 1820s, when reliable stock market records begin, according to data compiled by Yale University finance professor William Goetzmann. He estimates it would take a 3.6% rise between now and year end for the decade to come in better than the 0.2% decline suffered by stocks during the Depression years of the 1930s.

The past decade also well underperformed other decades with major financial panics, such as in 1907 and 1893.

"The last 10 years have been a nightmare, really poor," for U.S. stocks, said Michele Gambera, chief economist at Ibbotson Associates.

While the overall market trend has been a steady march upward, the last decade is a reminder that stocks can decline over long periods of time, he said.

"It's not frequent, but it can happen," Mr. Gambera said.

To some degree these statistics are a quirk of the calendar, based on when the 10-year period starts and finishes. The 10-year periods ending in 1937 and 1938 were worse than the most recent calendar decade because they capture the full effect of stocks hitting their peak in 1929 and the October crash of that year.

From 2000 through November 2009, investors would have been far better off owning bonds, which posted gains ranging from 5.6% to more than 8% depending on the sector, according to Ibbotson. Gold was the best-performing asset, up 15% a year this decade after losing 3% each year during the 1990s.

This past decade looks even worse when the impact of inflation is considered.

Since the end of 1999, the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index has lost an average of 3.3% a year on an inflation-adjusted basis, compared with a 1.8% average annual gain during the 1930s when deflation afflicted the economy, according to data compiled by Charles Jones, finance professor at North Carolina State University. His data use dividend estimates for 2009 and the consumer price index for the 12 months through November.

Even the 1970s, when a bear market was coupled with inflation, wasn't as bad as the most recent period. The S&P 500 lost 1.4% after inflation during that decade.

That is especially disappointing news for investors, considering that a key goal of investing in stocks is to increase money faster than inflation.

"This decade is the big loser," said Mr. Jones.

For investors counting on stocks for retirement plans, the most recent decade means many have fallen behind retirement goals. Many financial plans assume a 10% annual return for stocks over the long term, but over the last 20 years, the S&P 500 is registering 8.2% annual gains.

Should stocks average 10% a year for the next decade, that would lift the 30-year average return to only 8.8%, said North Carolina State's Mr. Jones. It is even worse news for those who started investing in 2000; a 10% return a year would get them up to only 4.4% a year.

There were ways to make money in U.S. stocks during the last decade. But the returns paled in comparison with those posted in the 1990s.

Of the 30 stocks today that comprise the Dow Jones Industrial Average, only 13 are up since the end of 1999, and just two, Caterpillar Inc. and United Technologies Corp., doubled over the 10-year span.

So what went wrong for the U.S. stock market?

For starters, it turned out that the old rules of valuation matter.

"We came into this decade horribly overpriced," said Jeremy Grantham, co-founder of money managers GMO LLC.

In late 1999, the stocks in the S&P 500 were trading at about an all-time high of 44 times earnings, based on Yale professor Robert Shiller's measure, which tracks prices compared with 10-year earnings and adjusts for inflation. That compares with a long-run average of about 16.

Buying at those kinds of values, "you'd better believe you're going to get dismal returns for a considerable chunk of time," said Mr. Grantham, whose firm predicted 10 years ago that the S&P 500 likely would lose nearly 2% a year in the 10 years through 2009.

Despite the woeful returns this decade, stocks today aren't a steal. The S&P is trading at a price-to-earnings ratio of about 20 on Mr. Shiller's measure.

Mr. Grantham thinks U.S. large-cap stocks are about 30% overpriced, which means returns should be about 30% less than their long-term average for the next seven years. That means returns of just 1.6% a year before adding in inflation.

Another hurdle for the stock market has been the decline in dividends that began in the late 1980s.

Over the long term, dividends have played an important role in helping stocks achieve a 9.5% average annual return since 1926. But since that year, the average yield on S&P 500 stocks was roughly 4%. This decade it has averaged about 1.8%, said North Carolina State's Mr. Jones.

That difference "doesn't sound like much," said Mr. Jones, "but you've got to make it up through price appreciation." Unless dividends rise back toward their long-term averages, Mr. Jones thinks investors may need to lower expectations. Rather than the nearly 10% a year that has been the historical average, stocks may be good for only about 7%.

Write to Tom Lauricella at tom.lauricella@wsj.com

Correction & Amplification

The 1950s represented the best decade for stock-market returns. a previous version of this article stated that the best decade was the 1990s.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

missing polish intel officer may be in china

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http://intelligencenews.wordpress.com/2009/12/26/01-346/#more-3968

Missing Polish intel officer probably defected to China

December 26, 2009

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |

We have been keeping an eye on the mysterious case of Stefan Zielonka, a senior signals intelligence officer with Poland’s Military Intelligence Services (SWW), who disappeared without trace in early May. The seriousness of Zielonka’s disappearance stems from his extensive knowledge of Polish undercover intelligence networks operating overseas, including names and contacts of illegals –i.e. agents operating without diplomatic cover. Consequently, Polish intelligence officials have expressed fears that, if Zielonka defected, or was kidnapped by foreign intelligence agents, “much of the country’s intelligence network could be compromised”. The possibility that Zielonka actually defected increased after it became known that his wife and young child also disappeared. Now a new report in Poland’s Dziennik Gazeta Prawna claims that the signals intelligence officer’s mysterious disappearance is connected with a “trail leading to the Far East”, with “all clues lead[ing] to China”. The report states that, even though Zielonka is exceptionally knowledgeable of Polish intelligence operations abroad, his foreign handlers are mostly interested on information on NATO, of which Poland has been a member since 1999.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

internet patrimonio dell'umanita

Internet patrimonio dell'umanità


Il dibattito sulle regole della rete, avviato dopo l’aggressione al premier Berlusconi e la creazione di alcuni gruppi su Facebook che inneggiavano alla violenza, ha segnato un passo importante. Dalla riunione, voluta al Viminale dal ministro dell’Interno Maroni, con i principali operatori di internet e i rappresentanti dei social network (presente anche il responsabile europeo di Facebook, Richard Allan) si è rafforzata l’ipotesi di un codice di autoregolamentazione condiviso che garantisca il diritto alla libertà di espressione permettendo al tempo stesso di rimuovere gli interventi che si configurassero come reati.

Un interessante contributo alla riflessione, svincolato dalle questioni italiane, ma denso di spunti, viene da un intervento su El Paìs di Ignacio Arroyo, docente di diritto mercantile all’Università Autonoma di Barcellona. Arroyo esamina la situazione giuridica della rete nei vari paesi partendo dal principio che si debba “proteggere internet come un bene comune dell’umanità”.

Tre le considerazioni che Arroyo sottopone al dibattito:

1. Problemi comuni esigono soluzioni comuni. Internet pone “un problema planetario, comune a tutta l’umanità”. Il web ha permesso per la prima volta nella storia la comunicazione senza frontiere fra gli uomini, l’accesso libero e gratuito alla cultura e al sapere. Ha esteso a tutti la libertà di espressione. Per tutelare questi diritti, senza rinunciare a combattere l’illegalità e le sue conseguenze, la strada da percorrere è la convocazione di una conferenza internazionale con l’obiettivo di arrivare a una convenzione internazionale su internet e le sue applicazioni.

2. La seconda considerazione si sviluppa su quattro principi:

a) Internet deve essere dichiarato patrimonio comune dell’umanità. Una proposta che fa seguito a quella lanciata dalla rivista Wired che ha candidato il Web al Nobel per la Pace.
b) La legge sul copyright deve essere rivista e attualizzata sui nuovi strumenti digitali. L’attuale periodizzazione della tutela delle opere dell’ingegno non è più giustificata. La durata della protezione deve essere ridotta drasticamente per i “contenuti intellettuali che danno accesso alla cultura, al sapere e all’informazione”.
c) Gli autori devono essere protetti ma “non proibendo totalmente la riproduzione per uso privato e senza scopo di lucro”.
d) Il punto di equilibrio tra una “retribuzione ragionevole e la libertà di accesso” può essere trovato “fissando un canone minimo incluso nella quota di abbonamento alla rete”. Arroyo suggerisce una cifra di 3 euro che dovrebbe essere sufficiente a soddisfare tutte le esigenze. Un “canone digitale destinato alle società che gestiscono i diritti, come già avviene con le fotocopie”, potrebbe essere la soluzione per evitare che i contenuti coperti da copyright vengano scaricati illegalmente da internet.

3. Conclusioni finali: “Non credo che la repressione penale serva a qualcosa”, scrive Arroyo, perché “l’importante è stimolare la cultura e il sapere”. E sotto questo profilo nessuno può avere dubbi: internet oggi è insostituibile.

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http://www.elpais.com/articulo/opinion/Descargas/Internet/elpepiopi/20091223elpepiopi_4/Tes

Descargas en Internet

Ignacio Arroyo

23/12/2009

Gracias a Internet y sus aplicaciones, la comunicación entre los seres humanos no conoce fronteras. El acceso al conocimiento, a la cultura y al entretenimiento se ha democratizado. Por tanto, ¿no deberíamos proteger Internet como un bien común de la humanidad? La respuesta es compleja porque no existe una legislación específica sobre la Red, consecuencia de la falta de consenso entre los intereses enfrentados, y de la disparidad de criterios entre los Estados y los gobiernos.

Por lo que hace a los intereses, los defensores de los derechos de propiedad intelectual -autores y sociedades explotadoras- reclaman, legítimamente, la prohibición o penalización de las descargas o el pago de una contraprestación económica. Por otro lado, los internautas reivindican, legítimamente también, el uso libre y privado de una herramienta disponible. El internauta, además de navegar, puede descargar un contenido (cine, música, literatura, etc.) que está disponible en la Red. Es más, ha pagado por el instrumento (el ordenador y la conexión a Internet) que le permite acceder a los contenidos más variados: el proveedor de Internet le facilita compartir archivos protegidos. Prohibir, limitar o exigir un pago adicional es como prohibir, limitar o exigir un pago por acceder a la cultura, y lo que es más grave, la libertad de expresión.

Respecto de los legisladores, tampoco existe acuerdo. Estados Unidos, Francia e Inglaterra, defensores duros de la propiedad intelectual, han establecido sanciones que incluyen multas, cortar el suministro tras el tercer aviso y juicios penales a quien cometa un delito. La Unión Europea no tiene una política común y ha declinado la regulación a la soberanía de los Estados, exigiendo únicamente la garantía judicial efectiva. O sea, muy poco o nada. Porque en un espacio común, una cuestión esencialmente común como es la comunicación, puede estar legislada de 27 maneras distintas, tantas como Estados miembros, con el único principio compartido de dejar en manos del juez la decisión última de la protección de unos o de otros. Es decir, se fomenta más la disparidad, pues la discrecionalidad judicial fracciona la uniformidad de criterio.

En España la cuestión está más rezagada pues ningún gobierno ha elaborado legislación al respecto. El intercambio de archivos entre particulares ofrece grandes réditos electorales, y los políticos no saben qué hacer exactamente. Los últimos gobiernos del PSOE han emplazado a las partes a buscar un acuerdo. Pero en temas concretos como el P2P, o el más genérico de las posibles restricciones a la libertad en el uso de Internet, no hay, desgraciadamente y por el momento, posibilidad de consenso. Es una lástima porque ambas partes, las operadoras de acceso y la industria del entreteni-miento, están condenadas a entenderse. Economía y cultura, o creatividad y democracia, deben encontrar un pacto de no agresión, pues en eso consiste el derecho. Y en el mundo jurídico siempre es mejor una solución pactada que un criterio impuesto. Pero como el Gobierno, si no hay acuerdo, debe legislar, ha redactado un borrador de anteproyecto de ley que protege la propiedad intelectual, pero advirtiendo, con titubeos, que las descargas "ilegales" no serán sancionadas con el corte del suministro.

Mientras tanto, las descargas siguen produciéndose, se habla de millones en el mundo, y con ello avanza la cultura y el conocimiento. Sin embargo, la legislación vigente reconoce los derechos de propiedad intelectual, amparados por la Ley de Propiedad Intelectual y el Código Penal. Por su parte, los jueces sostienen que las descargas son legales si no hay ánimo de lucro (casos Elitedivx y Sharemula), pero tampoco existe jurisprudencia del Tribunal Supremo.

Así las cosas, cabe preguntarse qué podemos hacer para encontrar una solución duradera. A mi juicio, tres son las consideraciones que someto a debate.

Consideraciones legislativas

a) Empezando por arriba. Sostengo con otros muchos que problemas comunes exigen soluciones comunes. Internet y sus aplicaciones -incluidas, naturalmente, las descargas- plantea un problema planetario, común a toda la humanidad. Ya lo hemos dicho, está en juego la comunicación humana sin fronteras, el acceso libre y gratuito a la cultura y al conocimiento, el ejercicio de la libertad de expresión. Desde esa consideración, es difícil sostener que la regulación deba variar según la raza, la historia, la ideología, la economía o el sistema político de los pueblos. Cuestión distinta es que los Estados, celosos de su soberanía legislativa y judicial, no quieran ceder esas prerrogativas a una autoridad mundial. De ahí que cada Estado quiera decidir cuándo las descargas son ilegales y sus consecuencias. Sin embargo, lo procedente sería convocar una conferencia internacional donde los Estados aprobaran un convenio internacional sobre Internet y sus aplicaciones.

b) La segunda consideración es más compleja, pues exige examinar alguno de los principios de ese instrumento internacional. Mencionaré cuatro. Uno: Internet debe ser declarado patrimonio común de la humanidad, noción aplicada a los fondos marinos de la Zona y que no se identifica con el dominio público. Dos: Hay que revisar la duración de los derechos de explotación exclusiva. Toda la vida más 70 años después de la muerte del autor; 50 años para los artistas intérpretes, productores de fonogramas, grabaciones audiovisuales y radiodifusión, y 25 años para las fotografías, son cifras cabalísticas que no responden a razones infalibles y tampoco justifican la discriminación. ¿Por qué al fotógrafo se le protege menos tiempo que al escritor? ¿O por qué se limita a 20 años el derecho de exclusiva del inventor de una patente? Ya sé que autores reputados critican incluso esa limitación temporal, reivindicando la perpetuidad, alegando que el derecho de propiedad no se extingue con el paso del tiempo. Pero es que el uso de una joya o de un inmueble, a diferencia de una creación intelectual, no puede ser compartido por millones de seres a la vez. En todo caso, el tiempo de paso de la propiedad privada al dominio público debe reducirse drásticamente pues hablamos de contenidos intelectuales, que dan acceso a la cultura, al conocimiento y a la información. Tres: A los creadores hay que protegerlos, pero no prohibiendo absolutamente las reproducciones (sic. descargas) para uso privado y sin ánimo de lucro. Además, sostengo que no son ilegales las descargadas una vez que el producto se ha difundido en un medio público de comunicación (tesis del agotamiento). Y cuatro: el punto de equilibrio entre retribución razonable y libertad de acceso puede venir, por un lado, fijando un canon mínimo incluido en la cuota de acceso a internet. Por ejemplo, aumentar en 3 -� la cuota mensual quizás sea suficiente para satisfacer a todos. Sí, el canon digital destinado a las sociedades gestoras de los derechos, como ya sucede con las fotocopias, y cuya experiencia funciona satisfactoriamente, podría ser la solución para evitar las descargas ilegales en Internet. Y por otro lado, además de ese canon mínimo, habrá que perseguir a los verdaderos piratas culturales, que no son los internautas cuando acceden y se intercambian archivos protegidos.

c) Por último, no creo que la represión penal sirva para mucho. Lo importante es estimular la cultura y el conocimiento, y las descargas en Internet son insustituibles en ese empeño. Y a los creadores hay que protegerlos, pero sin garantías vitalicias pues la seguridad, en este terreno, es enemiga del progreso.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

afghanistan: 121,000 us contractors

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http://www.rense.com/general88/obmii.htm

http://mccaskill.senate.gov/pdf/121709/2009-12-16StaffMemo.pdf

Obama Has 189,000 US Personnel In Afghanistan NOW

Contrary to popular belief, the US actually has 189,000 personnel on the ground in Afghanistan right now - and that number is quickly rising.

By Jeremy Scahill

12-20-9 A hearing in Sen. Claire McCaskill's Contract Oversight subcommittee on contracting in Afghanistan has highlighted some important statistics that provide a window into the extent to which the Obama administration has picked up the Bush-era war privatization baton and sprinted with it. Overall, contractors now comprise a whopping 69% of the Department of Defense's total workforce, "the highest ratio of contractors to military personnel in US history." That's not in one war zone-that's the Pentagon in its entirety. In Afghanistan, the Obama administration blows the Bush administration out of the privatized water. According to a memo [PDF] released by McCaskill's staff, "From June 2009 to September 2009, there was a 40% increase in Defense Department contractors in Afghanistan. Â During the same period, the number of armed private security contractors working for the Defense Department in Afghanistan doubled, increasing from approximately 5,000 to more than 10,000."

At present, there are 104,000 Department of Defense contractors in Afghanistan. According to a report this week from the Congressional Research Service, as a result of the coming surge of 30,000 troops in Afghanistan, there may be up to 56,000 additional contractors deployed. But here is another group of contractors that often goes unmentioned: 3,600 State Department contractors and 14,000 USAID contractors. That means that the current total US force in Afghanistan is approximately 189,000 personnel (68,000 US troops and 121,000 contractors). And remember, that's right now. And that, according to McCaskill, is a conservative estimate. A year from now, we will likely see more than 220,000 US-funded personnel on the ground in Afghanistan. The US has spent more than $23 billion on contracts in Afghanistan since 2002. By next year, the number of contractors will have doubled since 2008 when taxpayers funded over $8 billion in Afghanistan-related contracts. Despite the massive number of contracts and contractors in Afghanistan, oversight is utterly lacking.

"The increase in Afghanistan contracts has not seen a corresponding increase in contract management and oversight," according to McCaskill's briefing paper.

(...)

israel: confirmation of illegal organ harvest

Israël: des organes ont été prélevés sur des corps dans les années 90 sans autorisation, selon un ancien responsable

L'ancien chef du principal institut médico-légal israélien a reconnu que des organes avaient été prélevés sur des corps, notamment de Palestiniens, au cours des années 1990 sans l'autorisation des familles des défunts.

Le Dr Jehuda Hiss a fait ces déclarations dans le cadre d'un entretien accordé en 2000 à un universitaire américain. Ce dernier a décidé de ne le rendre public que maintenant en raison d'une controverse qui a éclaté l'été dernier à la suite d'un article d'un journal suédois laissant entendre que des soldats israéliens tuaient des Palestiniens pour faire commerce de leurs organes. Des allégations qu'Israël a vivement démenties.

Dans l'entretien, le Dr Jehuda Hiss précise que des cornées ont été prélevées sur des cadavres sans le consentement des familles.

L'ancien responsable a été renvoyé de l'institut en 2004, et la deuxième chaîne de télévision israélienne a rapporté, en citant le ministère de la Santé, que cette pratique avait cessé il y a dix ans. AP

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091220/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_organ_harvesting_2

Israel harvested organs in '90s without permission

JERUSALEM – Israel has admitted that in the 1990s, its forensic pathologists harvested organs from dead bodies, including Palestinians, without permission of their families.

The issue emerged with publication of an interview with the then-head of Israel's Abu Kabir forensic institute, Dr. Jehuda Hiss. The interview was conducted in 2000 by an American academic, who released it because of a huge controversy last summer over an allegation by a Swedish newspaper that Israel was killing Palestinians in order to harvest their organs. Israel hotly denied the charge.

Parts of the interview were broadcast on Israel's Channel 2 TV over the weekend. In it, Hiss said, "We started to harvest corneas ... Whatever was done was highly informal. No permission was asked from the family."

The Channel 2 report said that in the 1990s, forensic specialists at Abu Kabir harvested skin, corneas, heart valves and bones from the bodies of Israeli soldiers, Israeli citizens, Palestinians and foreign workers, often without permission from relatives.

In a response to the TV report, the Israeli military confirmed that the practice took place. "This activity ended a decade ago and does not happen any longer," the military said in a statement quoted by Channel 2.

In the interview, Hiss described how his doctors would mask the removal of corneas from bodies. "We'd glue the eyelid shut," he said. "We wouldn't take corneas from families we knew would open the eyelids."

Many of the details in the interview first came to light in 2004, when Hiss was dismissed as head of the forensic institute because of irregularities over use of organs there. Israel's attorney general dropped criminal charges against him, and Hiss still works as chief pathologist at the institute. He had no comment on the TV report.

Complaints against the institute, where autopsies of dead bodies are performed, at the time of Hiss' dismissal came from relatives of Israeli soldiers and civilians as well as Palestinians. The bodies belonged to people who died from various causes, including diseases, accidents and Israeli-Palestinian violence, but there has been no evidence to back up the claim in the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet that Israeli soldiers killed Palestinians for their organs. Angry Israeli officials called the report "anti-Semitic."

The academic, Nancy Sheppard-Hughes, a professor of anthropology at the University of California-Berkeley, said she decided to make the interview public in the wake of the Aftonbladet controversy, which raised diplomatic tensions between Israel and Sweden and prompted Sweden's foreign minister to call off a visit to the Jewish state.

Sheppard-Hughes said that while Palestinians were "by a long shot" not the only ones affected by the practice in the 1990s, she felt the interview must be made public now because "the symbolism, you know, of taking skin of the population considered to be the enemy, (is) something, just in terms of its symbolic weight, that has to be reconsidered."

While insisting that all organ harvesting was done with permission, Israel's Health Ministry told Channel 2, "The guidelines at that time were not clear." It added, "For the last 10 years, Abu Kabir has been working according to ethics and Jewish law."

Friday, 18 December 2009

india: food prices up 20%

Food prices in India have risen to a high of nearly 20% over last year, the highest rate in a decade.

The federal finance minister Pranab Mukherjee has said the government was planning to import food to ease prices.

A short supply of food due to lower farm produce following drought and floods has led to the rising prices.

Overall inflation in India has risen to 4.78% in November, up from 1.34% in October. Economists say this could trigger a rise in interest rates.

Correspondents say that the price rises are bound to increase concerns that poorer people in the country may be more exposed to food shortages and malnourishment.

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said that the food prices were an "area of concern."

"We have to take appropriate measures to see what best could be done by augmenting the supply through imports," he was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India news agency.

Reports say that despite easing of import restrictions to bolster food supplies, food inflation had soared to nearly 20%.

The prices of pulses, milk, wheat and rice - and vegetables like potatoes - have risen sharply.

Potato prices have gone up by 136% and pulses have risen by over 40% over last year.

Senior government officials have said that overall inflation in India could be close to 7% by end of March next year.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

russian institute confirms climate data tampering

from novosti's press review (19:19 - 16/12/2009)

Kommersant

Russia affected by Climategate

A discussion of the November 2009 Climatic Research Unit e-mail hacking incident, referred to by some sources as "Climategate," continues against the backdrop of the abortive UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen (COP15) discussing alternative agreements to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that aimed to combat global warming.

The incident involved an e-mail server used by the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich, East England. Unknown persons stole and anonymously disseminated thousands of e-mails and other documents dealing with the global-warming issue made over the course of 13 years.

Controversy arose after various allegations were made including that climate scientists colluded to withhold scientific evidence and manipulated data to make the case for global warming appear stronger than it is.

Climategate has already affected Russia. On Tuesday, the Moscow-based Institute of Economic Analysis (IEA) issued a report claiming that the Hadley Center for Climate Change based at the headquarters of the British Meteorological Office in Exeter (Devon, England) had probably tampered with Russian-climate data.

The IEA believes that Russian meteorological-station data did not substantiate the anthropogenic global-warming theory.

Analysts say Russian meteorological stations cover most of the country's territory, and that the Hadley Center had used data submitted by only 25% of such stations in its reports.

Over 40% of Russian territory was not included in global-temperature calculations for some other reasons, rather than the lack of meteorological stations and observations.

The data of stations located in areas not listed in the Hadley Climate Research Unit Temperature UK (HadCRUT) survey often does not show any substantial warming in the late 20th century and the early 21st century.

The HadCRUT database includes specific stations providing incomplete data and highlighting the global-warming process, rather than stations facilitating uninterrupted observations.

On the whole, climatologists use the incomplete findings of meteorological stations far more often than those providing complete observations.

IEA analysts say climatologists use the data of stations located in large populated centers that are influenced by the urban-warming effect more frequently than the correct data of remote stations.

The scale of global warming was exaggerated due to temperature distortions for Russia accounting for 12.5% of the world's land mass. The IEA said it was necessary to recalculate all global-temperature data in order to assess the scale of such exaggeration.

Global-temperature data will have to be modified if similar climate-date procedures have been used from other national data because the calculations used by COP15 analysts, including financial calculations, are based on HadCRUT research.

Friday, 11 December 2009

belgique / ue: la corruption gangrene la nation

Tous pourris?

(belga)

09/12/09 17h00

Les citoyens de l'Union européenne, à l'image des Belges, sont convaincus que leurs hommes politiques sont corrompus et ce sentiment s'ancre de plus en plus dans les esprits, révèle mercredi une enquête Eurobaromètre.

Ainsi, 82% des Belges, considèrent que la corruption gangrène leurs institutions nationales, régionales (81%) et locales (82%). Des chiffres en progression, mais qui restent en ligne avec la moyenne européenne.

Plus de trois Belges sur quatre (78%) estiment ainsi que la corruption est un "problème majeur" dans leur pays, soit une progression de 7 points de pourcentage par rapport à uneétude similaire menée il y a deux ans.

Cette nouvelle étude met le doigt sur un fatalisme certain auprès des Belges, 81% d'entre eux jugeant la corruption comme un phénomène inévitable, qui a toujours existé. 69% pensent toutefois que les tribunaux belges ne sont pas suffisamment sévères avec les cas de corruption.

Enfin, un Belge sur deux pense que cette corruption est due à la proximité trop grande entre hommes d'affaires et politiciens. Plus d'un Belge sur trois (35%) estime en outre que les nominations dans l'administration ne sont pas basées sur le mérite ou les qualifications.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

fbi top brass: corruption threatens soul of nation!

Corruption is destroying the soul of US society, warns FBI agent

John Gillies attacks crooked officials, financial fraudsters and philandering sports heroes

Ewen MacAskill in Washington

guardian.co.uk

Wednesday 9 December 2009

One of the FBI's top agents warned yesterday that corruption in the US was increasing and tearing at the fabric of society.

Special agent John Gillies, who has led major anti-corruption drives during his 27-year career with the bureau, focused his words primarily on crooked financiers and unscrupulous officials.

However, he added that sporting heroes such as Tiger Woods were also to blame, letting down children who saw them as role models. The golfer is currently embroiled in scandal since his high-profile car crash on 27 November. "Money can't buy everything," Gillies said.

He told a chamber of commerce meeting in Boca Raton, Florida, that failures in personal ethics and integrity sowed the initial poisonous seeds of corruption in a society.

He said that fallen sporting heroes sent the wrong message to the young: that cheating was acceptable.

In a speech reported by Reuters, he said: "It really gets at the soul and fabric of the United States when people are out there corrupting. It all starts with simple ethics violations."

Gillies described corruption as the number one crime in the US and disclosed that public corruption investigations had jumped by 20% over the last five years and 25% in the last year.

Gillies, who was brought up in Chicago and said he was inspired as a child to join the FBI by reading a history of the organisation and its battles against Al Capone, has held a series of senior positions within the FBI, with a particular focus on corruption.

He has served from Hawaii to New York and established a reputation for bringing corrupt officials to court.

As well as what he saw as a decline in moral standards, he blamed the recession for increasing corruption, with people looking for high-earning financial schemes that often turned out to be scams.

For anyone tempted by easy money or looking for a way out of a dead-end job, he offered this advice: "The worst day at work is still better than the best day in jail."


paul volcker: derivatives putting economy at risk

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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/6764177/Ex-Fed-chief-Paul-Volckers-telling-words-on-derivatives-industry.html

Ex-Fed chief Paul Volcker's 'telling' words on derivatives industry

Paul Volcker
, the chairman of President Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board, stunned a business conference in Sussex yesterday, saying there is "little evidence innovation in financial markets has had a visible effect on the productivities of the economy".

By Louise Armitstead

The former US Federal Reserve chairman told an audience that included some of the world's most senior financiers that their industry's "single most important" contribution in the last 25 years has been automatic telling machines, which he said had at least proved "useful".

Echoing FSA chairman Lord Turner's comments that banks are "socially useless", Mr Volcker told delegates who had been discussing how to rebuild the financial system to "wake up". He said credit default swaps and collateralised debt obligations had taken the economy "right to the brink of disaster" and added that the economy had grown at "greater rates of speed" during the 1960s without such products.

He said he agreed with George Soros, the billionaire investor, who said investment banks must stick to serving clients and "proprietary trading should be pushed out of investment banks and to hedge funds where they belong".

Mr Volcker argued that banks did have a vital role to play as holders of deposits and providers of credit. This importance meant it was correct that they should be "regulated on one side and protected on the other". He said riskier financial activities should be limited to hedge funds to whom society could say: "If you fail, fail. I'm not going to help you. Your stock is gone, creditors are at risk, but no one else is affected."


Wednesday, 9 December 2009

hrw and amnesty: "civil war" crimes in latin america

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http://www.latimes.com/news/nation-and-world/la-fg-mexico-abuse9-2009dec09,0,4623304.story

MEXICO UNDER SIEGE

Rights group faults Mexico over alleged army abuse

Amnesty International, citing cases of alleged slayings by the military in the drug war, criticizes civilian officials, saying they fail to properly investigate or prosecute crimes by the army.

Reporting from Mexico City - The Mexican army, deployed across the nation as part of the government's campaign against drug cartels, has killed prisoners, tortured civilians and captured suspects illegally, Amnesty International said Tuesday.

In a scathing report, the human rights organization was especially critical of Mexico's civilian authorities, saying they had failed or refused to investigate or prosecute military abuses. Complaints against the military are almost entirely handled by military courts, and only a handful of cases, among thousands of denouncements, has been prosecuted.

"The abuses we have seen contribute to the deterioration of the security situation in Mexico," Kerrie Howard, deputy director of Amnesty's Americas Program, said in a statement. "By failing to take action to prevent and punish serious human rights violations the Mexican government could be seen to be complicit in these crimes."

Some human rights advocates have urged the U.S. to hold back part of its drug war aid to Mexico because of alleged abuses, but the Obama administration has declined to do so.

The report highlights five cases involving 35 people, providing what Amnesty International called a representative "panorama" of a bleak human rights record. It cited two factors that impeded a more exhaustive investigation: "unnecessary restrictions" that block publicizing complaints against military personnel or releasing pertinent information, and threats against victims and their families if they denounce abuse.

Cases cited included that of Saul Becerra, whose body was found near the violent border city of Ciudad Juarez in March. He was last seen being taken away by army troops several months earlier. Five men detained with him reported being held in the barracks of a motorized cavalry regiment and beaten and threatened for days.

In another case, 25 municipal police agents from Tijuana said they were seized by the army and held and tortured inside an infantry base for more than a month. Electrical shocks were applied to their feet and genitals, their heads were covered with plastic bags and they were beaten, they said, in an effort to exact false confessions.

In most of the cases, efforts by frantic families to find their missing relatives faced general inaction on the part of authorities, Amnesty International said.

Three men picked up by the army after dinner one night in March in the northern city of Nuevo Laredo were found burned to death about a month later. The families obtained photos and video of soldiers driving around in one of the dead men's cars.

In this case, a rarity, 12 soldiers were arrested by the army, but, Amnesty International said, because of the military's opaque justice system, it has not been possible to find out more about what happened and whether the soldiers were punished.

"Human rights violations by the members of the military are not rare, they are frequent and in some areas routine," Amnesty International said. "The failure of the civilian authorities to effectively oversee military law enforcement operations to ensure respect for human rights is a grave omission."

The government of President Felipe Calderon said it would examine Amnesty International's findings but defended its respect for human rights and noted that the army had received human rights training. The army's role in fighting drug traffickers was necessary but temporary, a government statement said, to "rescue public spaces seized by criminals."

As drug violence and the pace of killings have soared exponentially -- more than 14,000 people have died in drug-related slayings in the last three years -- so has the number of complaints filed against the army with the National Human Rights Commission: 182 in 2006 compared with 1,230 in 2008 and almost 2,000 this year.

The highest number of human rights complaints has been registered in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico's deadliest city, triple this year over last, officials say. Thousands of residents of Juarez took to the streets over the weekend in a march demanding protection from both traffickers and the army. It was a rare show of united public protest against the violence engulfing the region.

wilkinson@latimes.com

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tp://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/world/americas/8402761.stm

2009/12/08 21:48:35 GMT

Brazil police 'use lethal force'

Police in Brazil's two biggest cities, Sao Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro, routinely commit unlawful executions, Human Rights Watch has alleged.

The New York-based group says a two-year investigation found evidence that officers often covered up such killings as justified self-defence.

Authorities in Rio, due to stage the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, are under pressure to reduce violence.

But officials argue the police face often well-armed drug gangs.

Human Rights Watch says a detailed study of 51 cases showed there was credible evidence that police in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro shot alleged criminals and then reported that the victims had died in shootouts while resisting arrest.

Post mortem reports showed that 17 of these victims had been shot at point-blank range, the HRW report said.

"The 51 cases do not represent the totality of potential extrajudicial killings, but are indicative of a much broader problem," HRW said.

Human Rights Watch says government statistics also indicate the scale of the problem.

Police in Sao Paulo and Rio states have killed more than 11,000 people since 2003, while over the past five years there were more police killings in Sao Paulo (2,176) than in South Africa (1,623), which has a higher murder rate.

'Armed combat'

Human Rights Watch says that while some police killings are legitimate acts of self-defence, many others amount to "extra-judicial executions".

The report argues that what is required is more effective policing, not more violence from the police. There was a chronic failure to hold officers to account for murder, it says, and the authorities should set up specialist units that are able to carry out proper investigations.

"There's a system in place where police in many poor neighbourhoods are completely out of control. It's a system of toleration that basically relies on the police to police themselves and they don't do it," said Daniel Wilkinson, Human Right Watch's deputy director for the Americas.

Reacting to the report, a Sao Paulo police statement said that every time someone dies following an armed confrontation with their officers an investigation is opened, and the results are sent to the judicial authorities.

They also pointed out that 50% of criminals involved in confrontations with police were arrested without being harmed, 33% escaped, and 17% were killed.

Human Rights Watch says state officials in Rio have promised a considered response to the report.

Authorities there have highlighted a new community-style policing approach which has been adopted in a small number of favelas or shanty towns, but critics says it needs to be much more extensive.

Officials also argue that critics do not take into account how officers must constantly take on violent drug gangs.

"We have to deal with something few others face: armed combat with drug-traffickers who are equipped with heavy weapons coming from abroad," Rio's state public security director Jose Beltrame told the Associated Press in October.

He was speaking after three police officers died when their helicopter was shot at and brought down in Rio de Janeiro during clashes involving police and drug gangs.

Monday, 7 December 2009

blackwater's erik prince: a cia asset

December 5, 2009

Erik Prince, head of US security firm Blackwater, ‘was CIA operative’

In public he was the lean and ruthless face of American military outsourcing in Iraq. Erik Prince, as founder of the Blackwater security company, packed a mobile phone on one hip and a handgun on the other as he flew in and out of the world’s troublespots co-ordinating protection teams for American VIPs — and handling the backlash when his employees were accused of shooting dead 17 Iraqi civilians at a Baghdad crossroads in 2007.

In private, he was a CIA operative, with his own file as a “vetted asset” at the agency’s headquarters, and a mission to build “a unilateral, unattributable capability” to hunt down and kill al-Qaeda militants for the US Government wherever they could be found.

These claims, made by Mr Prince and supported by others who knew of his activities, form part of a potentially explosive investigation into the life of America’s best-known mercenary.

Mr Prince, aside from his work in Iraq, set up America’s closest forward operating base to the Pakistani border in Afghanistan, and helped to train a CIA assassination team that hunted an alleged senior al-Qaeda financier in Germany, and included A. Q. Khan, a Pakistani nuclear scientist, on its list of targets, according to Vanity Fair magazine.

Mr Prince is a billionaire and former member of the US Navy Seal special forces, who avoided publicity during his long and lucrative period as a favoured security contractor for the Pentagon, the State Department and the CIA. Between 2001 and 2009 his company won government contracts worth an estimated $1.5 billion (£900 million) and built a private air force of Black Hawk helicopters and troop-ferrying aircraft based at a 7,000-acre facility in North Carolina.

Despite the political uproar, and a 15-month investigation by the Department of Justice that followed the 2007 massacre in Baghdad, Mr Prince has to date made few public comments on his company’s work, and none on his own relationship with the CIA.

He now has more reason to go public: according to three sources who spoke to Vanity Fair, Mr Prince was recruited by the agency in 2004 and ran intelligence-gathering operations in an unnamed Axis of Evil country until only two months ago, but was partially “outed” by leaks that followed a closed-door briefing of congressional leaders by Leon Panetta, the CIA director, last summer.

Mr Prince regards those leaks as a betrayal: “When it became politically expedient to do so, someone threw me under a bus,” he said. He claims that his company is now paying $2 million a month in legal bills to defend itself against lawsuits in both Iraq and the US, and has been singled out because of who he is. “I’m an easy target,” he told the magazine. “I’m from a Republican family and I own this company outright. Our competitors have nameless, faceless management teams.”

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Usa/ Il fondatore della Blackwater era un "operativo della Cia"

13:22

05 DIC 2009

Erik Prince incaricato di dare la caccia ai membri di al Qaida

Roma, 5 dic. (Apcom) - Erik Prince, il fondatore della Blackwater, l'agenzia di sicurezza privata impiegata dall'esercito americano in Iraq, era "un operativo della Cia". Lo riporta il Times, che cita quanto scritto dal magazine Vanity Fair. La Blackwater è salita alla ribalta delle cronache dopo che alcuni suoi agenti rimasero coinvolti nel 2007 in una sparatoria a Baghdad in cui persero la vita 17 civili iracheni. La missione affidata a Prince dall'agenzia di intelligence Usa era quella di dare la caccia ai membri di al Qaida, e secondo Vanity Fair nella lista dei suoi obiettivi c'erano un finanziatore del gruppo terroristico in Germania e anche lo scienziato pachistano Abdul Qadere Khan, il padre della bomba atomica pachistana. Ex membro dele forze speciali della marina Usa (Us Navy Seal), Prince con la sua attività è diventato miliardario. Tra il 2001 e il 2009 ha siglato contratti di lavoro con l'amministrazione Usa da un valore stimato di un miliardo e mezzo di dollari.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

kashmir: moderate leader shot at

source: The Economic Times ( The Times of India group)

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/Pro-talks-Hurriyat-leader-shot-at/articleshow/5303182.cms

Pro-talks Hurriyat leader shot at

5 Dec 2009

0417 hrs IST

SRINAGAR: Suspected militants shot at and critically injured Fazl Haq Qureshi, moderate Hurriyat’s most respected face. He came under attack

while coming out of the local mosque in Soura after offering evening prayers. The Al-Nasreen, believed to be an offshoot of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Qureshi was rushed to the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Science (SKIMS) Soura where doctors were operating upon him. Doctors said a bullet pierced through his skull and his condition continued to be critical. Police said they have registered a case and the investigations have begun. Preliminary reports suggest that there were two assailants who fired two bullets at him using pistols before fleeing.

Qureshi was part of the pre-militancy al-Fateh, a separatist group in the early eighties. He later joined state government and served as an officer and was finally dismissed from services after militancy broke out. He was detained for a prolonged period as well. Later along with his friend Musadiq Aadil he founded Peoples’ Political Front and became a member of the then undivided Hurriyat Conference.

Chief minister Omar Abdullah condemned the attack and said the assault was aimed at derailing the negotiations. Terming it “most unfortunate”, the CM said: “Qureshi is one of the separatist leaders who wanted to find a solution to Kashmir problem at the negotiating table”. He said it seems to be the handiwork of “enemies of peace” but asserted the attack would not impact the quiet diplomacy that is going on between the Centre and the separatists.

He also said that the security of all moderate Hurriyat leaders was being reviewed. "We are reviewing the security provided to all the moderate separatist leaders. Fazl Haq Qureshi had also been offered security, but he had declined the offer", the chief minister said.

Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq condemned the attack on Qureshi calling it as an act of "cowardice". "It is an act of cowardice. The attack was carried out by those who do not want resolution of Kashmir issue," the Hurriyat leader said.

He, however, said his amalgam would not be cowed down by such dastardly acts and would pursue the line of dialogue to resolve the issue. Hurriyat has given a strike call for Saturday to protest the attack.

Qureshi shot into prominence when the Hizb-ul Mujahideen appointed him as their pointsman for negotiations with the ministry of home affairs in the wake of 2000 ceasefire. The ceasefire was withdrawn within a fortnight.
For most of the later developments, Qureshi was more comfortable with moderates and was part of all rounds of negotiations that Hurriyat had with prime ministers Atal Behari Vajpayee, Dr Manmohan Singh, the then deputy prime minister L K Advani and more recently with Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Unlike his colleagues, Qureshi leads a simple life. He travels in public transport and is accessible to everybody. Police say he never accepted security. A staunch supporter of talks with New Delhi, Qureshi believes that negotiations are the only way out. At present, he is one of the executive members of the moderate Hurriyat that is engaged in secret parleys with the home ministry.

It is not the first assault that observers here link with the negotiations. Hurriyat lost one of its tall leaders Abdul Gani Lone amid the hype that he was willing to talk with the central government.

Friday, 4 December 2009

germany: die linke well connected to ex-stasi

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http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,665059,00.html

3 dec 2009

Brandenburg Government Under Fire

Stasi Spy Revelations Rock German State

For years, centrist politicians in Germany shunned the far-left Left Party for its rumored connections to East Germany's communist past. Now, just months after the SPD began rethinking that position, numerous Left Party parliamentarians in Brandenburg have been exposed as former Stasi informants.

It was supposed to be the beginning of a new era for Germany's Social Democrats (SPD). Following state elections in Brandenburg, held concurrently with the Sept. 27 general elections in Germany, SPD Governor Matthias Platzeck entered into a governing coalition with the far-left Left Party. Such an alliance has long governed the city-state of Berlin. But following the SPD's election-day debacle -- a miserable result of just 23 percent of the vote -- the party saw fit to begin opening itself up to the left elsewhere as well.

The experiment, as recent events indicate, has been a disaster. On Wednesday, it was revealed that Michael Luthardt, a member of Brandenburg's state parliament, was an informant for the East German secret police, the Stasi. Even worse, his was the seventh such case unveiled since the election.

"What's happening at the moment is extremely painful," Platzeck said this week. He intends to go before the Brandenburg parliament on Friday to address the issue.

'Destroying His Government'

The center-right Christian Democrats (CDU), with whom the SPD had governed Brandenburg for 10 years prior to the September elections, have lost no time in calling for Platzeck to dissolve the current government. "The governor should take this opportunity to extract himself from this coalition," says Hermann Gröhe, the CDU's general secretary at the national level. "The almost daily revelations of further Stasi cases are destroying his government."

Cooperation with the Left Party in Germany had long been seen as taboo. The party was created in 2007 when the Party of Democratic Socialism, the successor party to East Germany's communists, merged with the western German WASG, a collection of disgruntled leftists and champagne socialists. Mainstream parties sought to avoid any form of cooperation with the presumed neo-communists.

But it quickly became apparent that the Left Party was not to be ignored. It has a sizeable following in many eastern German states and, under the leadership of ex-SPD head Oskar Lafontaine, has made impressive advances in western Germany as well. It now has representatives in the state parliaments of 12 of Germany's 16 states.

Forced to Resign

Indeed, much of the party's support came at the expense of the SPD, as the center-left party haemorrhaged members and votes after Chancellor Gerhard Schröder pushed through deep cuts to Germany's welfare benefits earlier in the decade. Following the disappointing results in September, the SPD began a shift back to the left, with many in the party calling for an end to the rejection of the Left Party.

The revelations in Brandenburg, however, could put that project on hold. In addition to Luthardt, the vice president of the Brandenburg parliament, Gerlinde Stobrawa, was forced to resign earlier this week. Left Party parliamentarian Renate Adolph likewise stepped down.

The Brandenburg daily Potsdamer Neueste Nachrichten reported on Thursday that the federal leadership of the Left Party was considering a number of measures to confront the scandal. The paper quoted one anonymous member of the party leadership as saying that an end of the Brandenburg governing coalition was seen as a possibility. The party, however, was quick to deny the report.

cgh -- with wire reports

Thursday, 3 December 2009

pakistan: armed us mercenaries in taliban clothes

US Security Firm Bribes Pakistani Officials, Top Interior Ministry Officer Arrested

Over US $ 250,000 paid as bribes to people inside the Interior Ministry to license illegal weapons

PS to State Minister of Interior arrested

Bribes were paid after US Ambassador personally lobbied for the licenses

Capt. Zaidi, Jamil Abbasi, Mr. Qadir and Dr. Dara are under arrest

Fears the accused are being protected and might possibly be allowed to escape the country

A total of 100 former SSG commandos secretly hired by US to create rapid-intervention teams for unknown purposes


By Ahmed Quraishi


2 December 2009.


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—The American defense contractor DynCorp is suspected of having bribed a personal assistant to the country’s interior minister to get a cache of sophisticated weapons into Pakistan without clearance from Pakistani security authorities.

Mr. Qadir, a personal assistant [P.S.] to Minister of State for Interior Tasnim Qureshi, is currently under arrest with the Federal Investigation Agency. He along with three others is suspected of receiving up to US $ 270,000 as bribe in exchange for issuing licenses to DynCorp that allow the company to use the sophisticated guns anywhere within the territory of Pakistan. The licenses were issued this summer without informing the country’s security agencies responsible for internal security, including the FIA.

This development is particularly embarrassing for US Ambassador Anne W. Patterson who personally lobbied the Pakistani Interior Ministry early this year to secure the licenses for DynCorp. Her lobbying effort is documented, including letters she and her staff wrote to the Ministry. The bribes were paid in the same case that Ambassador Patterson was pushing.

Details of the story, some being published here for the first time, show how the US push to forcibly include Pakistan in Washington’s failed Afghan project has resulted in alarming and inappropriate levels of US meddling inside Pakistan. The case also provides a glimpse into a covert American effort to create and operate private militias inside Pakistan with the help of a pro-US government.

Ambassador Patterson’s personal involvement in the case confirms suspicions inside Pakistan that she is directly linked to a disturbing new trend: the introduction of Blackwater-style private US security militias in the country. Ms. Patterson is quite acquainted with the concept, having worked with similar US groups in Colombia. Her experience in this area might have played a role in posting her to Pakistan.

The arrested assistant to the State Minister for Interior was receiving US $ 2,000 for every license issued for the prohibited weapons. The money was shared with two Pakistanis, one of them a retired Pakistan Army Capt. Ali Jafar Zaidi. Mr. Zaidi is also the founder of Inter-Risk, the local Pakistani affiliate of DynCorp.

The name of Mr. Tasnim Qureshi, the State Minister, came up frequently in the interrogation with his assistant. The Minister’s signatures are all over the paperwork for those illegal weapons. But Mr. Qureshi belongs to the second tier of PPP politicians. He is not expected to have approved the licensing of illegal weapons without clearance from Interior Minister Rehman Malik and/or other senior authorities in the government.

But it is not clear, however, if Minister Qureshi is part of this probe or not.

Up to US $ 270,000 were paid for 138 pieces of advanced weapons. Investigators have been able to account for only half of those weapons. The rest are believed to be hidden inside the US Embassy compound in Islamabad. The US Embassy won’t say where the remaining weapons have gone. The Embassy insists that DynCorp was hired to protect Embassy and Consulate buildings across the country. But Pakistani investigations and piles of evidence shows other activities that are typical of private US militias hired by US military and intelligence for covert missions.

This scandal is not limited to low level staffers in the Interior Ministry. Some reports point finger at Interior Minister Rehman Malik and Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani. These reports suggest both men had some role in letting private US security contractors into the country without the knowledge of the Pakistani military and the country’s intelligence agencies. Security officials refuse to comment on these reports.

The footprint of the private US security contractors in Pakistan is far and wide these days, and has come very close to Pakistan’s most sensitive nuclear installations for the first time ever, as I explain below.

On Nov. 28, Mr. Malik’s Ministry launched a probe into reports that DynCorp had recruited a large number of former officers of the Special Services Group [SSG], Pakistani military’s elite commando unit. The probe appeared to be an attempt by Mr. Malik to appease the Pakistani military. Reports of DynCorp’s secret activities have been highlighted by the Pakistani media as early as April this year.

WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

After Mr. Zardari became President last year, Washington accelerated its agenda in Pakistan, confident it had many people in power in Islamabad who were pro-US. Besides the President, this included National Security Adviser Mehmud Ali Durrani, Ambassador Haqqani, and Interior Minister Malik.

The US agenda included raising Iraq-style private US militias in the country. This reflects Washington’s strong desire to turn Pakistan into a third theater of war after Iraq and Afghanistan, by force if necessary; a desire that continues even now with President Obama and British prime minister’s blunt threats against Pakistan and cheap attempts to blame Islamabad for what essentially are Am-Brit failures.

There is little doubt that Blackwater operated in Pakistan in some capacity over the past few years but not in the same style as in Iraq. There were no private US militias let loose around Pakistan. But this is happening now. And this assignment has been outsourced to DynCorp. The company came to Pakistan in 2008 under the pretext of protecting US diplomatic interests. But it ended up launching a secret program to recruit retired Pakistani military officers. DynCorp has also been found working on creating some kind of rapid-intervention teams made up of former Pakistani army officers trained by American instructors, who in turn are mostly former US military and intelligence officers.

DynCorp hired the services of a Pakistani, Dr. Iqditar Dara, to liaise with various Pakistani government departments. Mr. Dara, in turn, enlisted the services of a well-connected activist of the ruling PPP, Mr. Jamil Abbasi.

The US firm also set up a training facility on the outskirts of the Pakistani capital, appropriately disguised as an automobile repair workshop. [Watch the video.]

According to the interrogations, Mr. Dara and Mr. Abbasi shared the US $ 270,000 with the Minister’s assistant Mr. Qadir. Some amount of the money was also shared with Capt. Zaidi, who received a smaller amount from this booty mainly because he was already making a lot of money from his company’s contract with DynCorp.

Inter-Risk was given one-year provisional approval by the authorities to represent DynCorp in Pakistan. This was in 2008. But by early this year, Inter-Risk failed to get official approval for a license legalizing DynCorp’s activities in Pakistan.

When Inter-Risk’s offices were raided by the Pakistani police in September, DynCorp’s American trainers had already trained and ‘graduated’ 59 former Pakistani SSG officers from their illegal training facility on the outskirts of Islamabad. Fifty nine recruits were divided into two batches. Another 59 former SSG officers were undergoing training in September when the operation was forcibly terminated by Pakistani police.

The US Embassy reacted by quickly moving the 59 ‘graduates’ from the first two batches to the US Consulate in Peshawar.

The US Embassy was upset when, on Sept. 2, Chief Commissioner Islamabad suspended Inter-Risk’s license to operate as a private security firm, and three weeks later the Securities and Exchange Commission ordered Inter-Risk to wind up its business permanently. This in effect meant shutting the doors on DynCorp in Pakistan.

So upset was the US Embassy that no less than the Deputy Head of Mission, Mr. Gerald Feierstein, held a press conference on Oct. 1 to announce publicly that Inter-Risk and DynCorp, both US Embassy contractors, were not barred from operating in Pakistan. He tried to portray the action against Inter-Risk as a misunderstanding.

Next day, the Interior Ministry issued a statement announcing ‘to whom it may concern’ that Inter-Risk has been disbanded. Interestingly, the Ministry of Interior was not ready to name Mr. Feierstein who openly challenged its order. It was obvious the statement came out under pressure from Pakistani security officials outside the Ministry, possibly from the three main intelligence agencies, the FIA, ISI and the MI.

Nor did Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi take notice of the US diplomat’s action, even when Mr. Feierstein used the same press conference to issue a veiled threat of a US attack on the Pakistani city of Quetta.

According to a report published in Karachi’s Business Recorder on Nov. 28:

Sources said that the presence of American military contractors, like Blackwater World-wide, (now known as 'Xe Service') and Dyncorp, operating in Islamabad, had been extensively reported in the local media. Foreigners, mainly of US origin, have reportedly rented around 284 houses in different sectors of Islamabad, they said. According to details, 69 houses were rented by foreigners in F-6 sector, 85 houses in F-7, 62 houses in F-8, 15 houses in F-11, 12 houses in E-7, 38 houses in G-6, and three houses in I-8 sector of the capital.

A local security company, namely Wackenhut, has the contract to provide security to all these 284 houses in different sectors of Islamabad and their guards are deployed at these houses. This company is one of four recommended by the Overseas Security Advisory Council, US Department of State, on diplomatic security on its website.

Sources said that application forms are available at specific photocopy shops and are issued to retired commandos of Special Services Group. These retired commandos have been offered jobs as security guards. These SSG retired commandos would be trained under supervision of American trainers in a private training institute working under the garb of an automobile workshop on the outskirts of Islamabad.

RESCUING INTER-RISK & DYNCORP

Legal loopholes and diplomatic pressure by the US Embassy is behind a coordinated push to revive the work of Inter-Risk and DynCorp in Pakistan.

There are reports that the embassy is planning with some influential officials in the Pakistani government to get the four arrested men in the case out of jail and then smuggle them out of the country, most probably by sea. The three accused know much more than what they have admitted during the interrogations, especially information about the network of informants and other recruits that the US Embassy and DynCorp have cultivated across Pakistan.

These men are also suspected to know something about another suspicious US activity on Pakistani soil: the Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program under US State Department, based at the police training college in Sihala, a few kilometers away from Pakistan’s most important nuclear installations.

Pakistani police officials have reported witnessing unusual activities at the facility. The Interior Ministry came down hard on those police officials who blew the whistle on what the Americans are doing there. This action compounded Pakistani suspicions, in addition to the fact that US citizens based at the Sihala facility insist they want to remain in the area despite the fact that they have not conducted any training programs for some time now.

According to reports, there is a strong suspicion that radioactive material detection equipment is installed at the facility. Low-ranking Pakistani staffers working with the Americans at Sihala have been found driving cars with fake number plates. And four US citizens were arrested in July in the maximum security zone around the Kahuta security facilities. In two and a half hours of interrogation, they couldn’t explain what they were doing there. Finally federal Interior Ministry intervened and forced their release without pressing charges.

Earlier this month, Inter-Risk filed a petition with the Lahore High Court seeking to overturn government’s decision to ban its activities in the country. Interestingly, the Rawalpindi Bench of the Court issued a stay order on Nov. 11, restricting the government from interfering in Inter-Risk’s ‘lawful’ business.

The verdict came as a surprise considering the extent of violations and defiance of Pakistani law committed by Inter-Risk and DynCorp, not to mention endangering the country’s national security.

There have been five or six incidents recorded in and around the Pakistani capital over the past few months where armed US citizens were arrested dressed as Afghan Taliban and carrying weapons that only the Pakistani military is allowed to carry in public.

Eight years after the US landed in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s security stands compromised at the Pak-Afghan border and inside the country. The Americans are part of the problem, not the solution.


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