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Topics - Toppa

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Imagine that at the start of 2014 you were an investor who liked to dabble in the commodity markets. You could sniff something going seriously wrong in Ukraine and you were alarmed by early reports of groups of militants marauding across northern and western Iraq.

With hopes that the global economy would continue to strengthen, the smart money would have been on oil prices continuing to climb. That’s what geopolitical tension plus robust demand usually means.

On this occasion, though, the smart money was wrong. After standing at well over $110 a barrel in the summer, the cost of crude has collapsed. Prices are down by a quarter in the past three months. More oil has been pumped at a time when the global recovery has faltered, with traders caught unawares by the slowdown in China and renewed stagnation in the eurozone.

That, though, is not the whole story. The fourfold increase in oil prices triggered by the embargo on exports organised by Saudi Arabia in response to the Yom Kippur war in 1973 showed how crude could be used as a diplomatic and economic weapon. History is repeating itself.

Think about how the Obama administration sees the state of the world. It wants Tehran to come to heel over its nuclear programme. It wants Vladimir Putin to back off in eastern Ukraine. But after recent experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, the White House has no desire to put American boots on the ground. Instead, with the help of its Saudi ally, Washington is trying to drive down the oil price by flooding an already weak market with crude. As the Russians and the Iranians are heavily dependent on oil exports, the assumption is that they will become easier to deal with.

John Kerry, the US secretary of state, allegedly struck a deal with King Abdullah in September under which the Saudis would sell crude at below the prevailing market price. That would help explain why the price has been falling at a time when, given the turmoil in Iraq and Syria caused by Islamic State, it would normally have been rising.

The Saudis did something similar in the mid-1980s. Then, the geopolitical motivation for a move that sent the oil price to below $10 a barrel was to destabilise Saddam Hussein’s regime. This time, according to Middle East specialists, the Saudis want to put pressure on Iran and to force Moscow to weaken its support for the Assad regime in Syria.

Turning on the oil spigots comes at a cost. The Saudis, like all other producers, have become accustomed to oil above $100 a barrel. The Arab spring in Libya and Egypt raised fears that the political unrest would spread. Oil revenues financed higher public spending, so Saudi Arabia needs the price to be above $90 a barrel to balance the books.

But a bit of pain is acceptable. The Saudis are gambling that they can live with a lower oil price for longer than the Russians and the Iranians can, and that therefore the operation will be relatively short-lived.

There is no question that this new manifestation of cold war muscle is hurting Russia. Oil and gas account for 70% of Russia’s exports and the budget doesn’t add up unless the oil price is above $100 a barrel. Moscow has foreign exchange reserves, but these are not unlimited. The rouble fell by 10% last week. That adds to the debt servicing costs of Russian firms, and the central bank is under pressure to push up interest rates, which should help stabilise the currency, but only at the expense of a deeper recession.

But thus far, Russia’s foreign policy does not appear to have been affected. Support for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria remains strong and there were reports at the end of last week of Russian troops entering eastern Ukraine. It remains to be seen how Iran will react. In the meantime, the Middle East looks as unstable as it has ever done.

Provided it is sustained, a falling oil price will boost global growth. Andrew Kenningham at Capital Economics estimates that if the cost of Brent crude settles at $85 a barrel, the upshot will be a transfer of income from producers of oil to consumers of oil amounting to 0.9% of global GDP. As consumers tend to spend a higher proportion of their income than producers, demand will increase. The big winners will be the big oil consumers: China, India and Europe.

Simultaneously, inflation will fall. The drop in the oil price so far is enough to ensure that headline inflation is around half a percentage point lower in advanced countries next year. That would be enough to take inflation below 1% in the UK and below zero in the eurozone. Lower inflation should help to boost consumer and business spending because budgets will stretch further. For the US, the picture is more mixed. Washington’s willingness to play the oil card stems from the belief that domestic supplies of energy from fracking make it possible for the US to become the world’s biggest oil producer. In a speech last year, Tom Donilon, then Barack Obama’s national security adviser, said the US was now less vulnerable to global oil shocks. The cushion provided by shale oil and gas “affords us a stronger hand in pursuing and implementing our national security goals”.

Recent US production of crude has certainly been impressive, with a jump of almost 50% from 5.7m barrels a day in 2011 to 8.4m barrels a day in the second quarter of 2014. This increase in supply has meant that any reduction in supplies from Iran or Russia due to sanctions can be absorbed without disrupting the global economy.

But the sharp drop in the oil price will make some shale fields unviable. That is especially true of planned new developments, where a high price is needed to cover start-up costs. But it is also true of some of the more mature fields, where the rapid depletion of reserves has forced companies to go deeper – at greater expense – in search of supplies.

At the weekend, George Osborne announced that he supported the idea of putting revenues from shale production in the north of England into a sovereign wealth fund for the north. The idea would be to prevent the proceeds being squandered on day-to-day spending, which – sadly – is what happened to the revenues from the North Sea.

Friends of the Earth said the chancellor’s intervention was a cynical ploy designed to win over strong opposition to fracking. It was certainly ill-timed. One side-effect of the US-Saudi attempt to drive down the oil price will be to prick the shale bubble.


General Discussion / Huge new Israeli settlement in West Bank
« on: September 05, 2014, 07:44:14 PM »
British foreign secretary urges Israel to reverse decision to seize 990 acres of Palestinian land near Gvaot to create new city


Yup, that's their m/o. Every couple years, kill a few thousand Palestinians and then seize more of their land to build all-Jewish settlements.

Disgusting isn't even the word.


A soldier was shot and killed Sunday night in Laventille. Kayode Thomas, 33, of Beverly Hills, Laventille, was driving along Plaisance Road, when he was shot by unknown assailants. Thomas' car crashed and he died at the scene. The killed happened at around 11.30p.m. on Sunday.


The US Justice Department indicted five Chinese military officers with stealing data from six US companies and unions on Monday, inaugurating a major escalation of tensions with China over economic spycraft.

Attorney general Eric Holder announced that the US for the first time would seek to bring officials of a foreign government to the US to face charges of infiltrating American computer networks to steal data beneficial to US trade competitors. The Justice Department even went as far as printing “wanted” posters.

The charges come as revelations about the scale of National Security Agency surveillance from whistleblower Edward Snowden indicate that at least some US surveillance carries an economic benefit.

“The range of trade secrets and other sensitive business information stolen in this case is significant and demands an aggressive response,” Holder said on Monday.

While suspicions about government sponsorship of corporate data theft have swirled around China for years, never before has the US formally accused officials from China, or any other government, of involvement.

Not only has attribution of online espionage long vexed investigators, the prospect of diplomatic or economic retaliation has also been an impediment to taking action. The Justice Department national security chief, John Carlin, and colleagues from the Federal Bureau of Investigation credited a years-long effort, and the willingness of companies to admit to a data breach, with “exposing the faces and the names behind the keyboards in Shanghai.”

Accused are Wang Dong, Sun Kailiang, Wen Xinyu, Huang Zhenyu, and Gu Chunhui, whom a federal grand jury in Pennsylvania indicted on 31 counts of espionage. Carlin described the five men as members of a People’s Liberation Army entity known as Unit 61398.

Last year, a report by the information security firm Mandiant concluded that Unit 61398 was most likely behind data theft comprising hundreds of terabytes, a scale it found to be unlikely to have occurred without government sponsorship.

Mandiant found that the unit’s network infiltrations “periodically revisit the victim’s network over several months or years and steal broad categories of intellectual property, including technology blueprints, proprietary manufacturing processes, test results, business plans, pricing documents, partnership agreements, and emails and contact lists from victim organizations’ leadership.”

The alleged data theft affected aluminum giant Alcoa, US Steel, the US Steelworkers Union, electricity and nuclear energy firm Westinghouse, Allegheny Technologies Inc, and SolarWorld. A senior FBI official, Robert Anderson, said he hoped other companies who experienced theft of proprietary information would “come forward and talk to us”.

China's foreign ministry called the allegations “extremely ridiculous". Ministry spokesman Qin Gang demanded that the US “immediately rectify its mistake" and repeal the lawsuit, according to a statement on its website.

“This grave violation of the basic norms of international relations has harmed Chinese-US cooperation and mutual trust,” he said, adding that China has already lodged a formal complaint with US authorities.

The Chinese government frequently counters hacking allegations by claiming that the country is a safeguard of internet security and that cyber-attacks are a universal problem. Qin said that China “never engages in the activity of stealing commercial secrets through the internet.” He called the allegations “baseless”.

“For a long time, American authorities have conducted large-scale, organized cyber-theft and cyber-espionage activities against foreign dignitaries, companies and individuals,” he said. “This is already common knowledge.”

The US military has for years suspected its Chinese counterpart of stealing proprietary defense information, including about the design of the F-35 family of stealth jets, even as it seeks to forge closer ties with the People’s Liberation Army.

General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, welcomed his PLA counterpart to the Pentagon last week, but both officers avoided talk about cyber espionage in a Thursday press conference.

Some observers said China was all but certain to retaliate, economically or diplomatically. “Clearly, China will need to respond in some fashion,” said a trade lobbyist who requested anonymity. “Hopefully, advancements will be made that won't impact economic development for either country.”

James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the effect would be "intangible" but the formal accusation "sends a strong message" to Beijing.

But Holder said that he wanted China to turn the five officers over to the US to stand charges, an unlikely step for the Chinese to take. “Our intention is for the defendants to have due process in an American court of law,” Holder said.

The US posture is complicated by recent revelations of widespread NSA surveillance that impacts the blurry area between economic and security matters. Since the Edward Snowden disclosures began, the US has drawn a distinction between spying for security purposes, which it considers legitimate, and surveillance intended to reap economic advantages, which it does not.

But the NSA penetrated the servers of the Chinese telecom corporation Huawei, which US officials consider little more than a stalking horse for Chinese surveillance, and put the company’s executives under surveillance, the New York Times and Der Spiegel reported in March.

While the US insists its concerns about Huawei are predicated on security threats from Huawei products sending customer data back to China – and the opportunities of inserting backdoors into Huawei products used by surveillance targets – Huawei has felt those concerns amounted to a pretext. Last year it announced it would abandon the US market, although executives later walked the announcement back somewhat.

Documents leaked by Edward Snowden showed the NSA targeted the Brazilian oil firm Petrobras, even as the NSA insisted that its Defense Department parent “does not engage in economic espionage in any domain, including cyber,” in a statement to the Washington Post.

Holder attempted to distinguish between economic and security surveillance in a Monday press conference. “All nations are engaged in intelligence gathering,” Holder said, but the current indictment involves “a state sponsored entity, state sponsored individuals, using intelligence tools to gain commercial advantages, and that is what makes this case different.”


General Discussion / 19 Reasons Latin Americans Come To The U.S...
« on: April 22, 2014, 01:57:32 PM »
...That Have Nothing To Do With The American Dream.
The first one is more nuanced in that the area seized by the US from Mexico had been settled and developed by American citizens. It was largely unpopulated by the local Mexican population.

1. Took over half of Mexico

In 1846, shortly after the annexation of Texas, President James Polk ordered U.S. troops into disputed lands, precipitating a war against Mexico. The war ended with the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848. This is what Chicano activists mean when they say "the border crossed them." Today, 33.5 million people of Mexican origin live in the United States.

2. Colonized Puerto Rico in 1898

The United States invaded Puerto Rico in 1898 during the Spanish American War and has retained control of the island ever since. More people of Puerto Rican descent currently live in the United States than on the island.

3. Took over Cuba, put a naval base there, and only left when the new government allowed them the right to intervene at will

And yet somehow, U.S. politicians viewed themselves as liberators. Later U.S. administrations would use the naval base to jail suspected terrorists and hold them indefinitely without trial, also submitting them to torture tactics, according to Human Rights Watch.

4. Invaded and occupied Cuba two more times

Because once wasn't good enough, the United States invaded and occupied Cuba again in 1906 and once more in 1912. It retained the legal authority to intervene in Cuba's affairs until the 1933 Sergeant's Revolt overthrew U.S.-backed dictator Gerardo Machado.

5. Invaded Nicaragua and occupied the country for two decades

The United States invaded Nicaragua in 1912 and occupied the country until 1933. Shortly after the U.S. forces left, Anastasio Somoza took over, launching a decades-long dynastic dictatorship with U.S. support.

6. Invaded Haiti and occupied the country for nearly 20 years

Woodrow Wilson ordered the Marines to invade and occupy Haiti in 1915 after the assassination of the Haitian president. The troops didn't leave until 1934.

7. Invaded the Dominican Republic in 1916

Mainly to collect debts, the United States invaded the Dominican Republic in 1916. The occupation lasted eight years.

8. Overthrew Guatemala's elected government in 1954

At the behest of United Fruit Company, a U.S. corporation with extensive holdings in Central America, the CIA helped engineer the overthrow of the Guatemalan government in 1954, ushering in decades of civil war that resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives.

9. Organized the Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961

The CIA organized and financed a group of anti-Fidel Castro exiles in an ill-fated attempt to overthrow the revolutionary government. The botched invasion ended in disaster and Castro declared himself a "Marxist-Lenninist" eight months later.

10. Supported the overthrow of a democratically elected government of Brazil

The administration of Lyndon B. Johnson assisted the overthrow of the democratically elected Brazilian government in 1964. The resulting military dictatorship, which tortured thousands of opponents and "disappeared" hundreds, ruled the country until 1985.

11. Helped overthrow Chile's elected government in 1973

General Augusto Pinochet, with the support of the Nixon administration, overthrew the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende, ushering in decades of violent dictatorship.

12. Backed a military dictatorship in Argentina that killed 30,000
When the military overthrew the Argentine government and installed a dictatorship in 1976, the Nixon administration responded by offering its wholehearted support and financial assistance. The dictatorship lasted until 1983.

13. Paid a failed rebel army to overthrow the Nicaraguan government

When the leftwing Sandinista government rose to power in Nicaragua, it did not please Washington. In 1979, the United States began years of financing the "Contras," a rightwing group responsible for committee atrocities and smuggling drugs into the United States with the Reagan administration's knowledge.

14. Invaded Haiti Again In 1994
One invasion wasn't good enough. The U.S. military returned in 1994.

15. Fomented a rebellion in Panama in order to build a canal

The Theodore Roosevelt administration helped a group of Panamanian nationalists break away from Colombia, after that country's Senate rejected the terms of a deal to allow the U.S. to use its territory there to build a canal. After Panama broke away, the new country ceded permanent control of the canal zone to the U.S. government, which finally returned it in 1999, after years of protests.

16. Backed the Salvadoran military as it committed atrocities in the 1980s

El Salvador's military committed atrocities throughout the 1980s with U.S. funding, including -- but not limited to -- raping nuns, assassinating priests and killing hundreds of children in a single massacre at the village of El Mozote.

17. Refuses to control the flow of weapons into Mexico
Mexican authorities seized almost 70,000 weapons of U.S. origin from 2007 to 2011. In 2004, the U.S. Congress declined to renew a 10-year ban on the sale of assault weapons. They quickly became the guns of choice for Mexican drug cartels.

18. Helped create today's drug cartels

The U.S. funded the Guatemalan military during the 1960s and 1970s anti-insurgency war, despite awareness of widespread human rights violations. Among the recipients of U.S. military funding and training were the Kaibiles, a special force unit responsible for several massacres. Former Kaibiles have joined the ranks of the Zetas drug cartel.

19. Pushes trade policies that lead to unemployment

One of the things that prompted millions of low-wage workers to abandon Mexico over the last two decades was the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994. With NAFTA, cheap imports, particularly agricultural products, flooded the Mexican market, leaving farmers and other low-skilled workers without jobs. NAFTA is just one manifestation of free trade policies pushed in Washington that often have adverse effects in Latin American countries. Former U.S.

President Bill Clinton acknowledged as much after Haiti's devastating 2010 earthquake, saying that opening up the Haitian market to cheap U.S. rice "may have been good for some of my farmers in Arkansas, but it has not worked ... I had to live everyday with the consequences of the loss of capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti to feed those people because of what I did, nobody else."


USAid started ZunZuneo, a social network built on texts, in hope it could be used to organize 'smart mobs' to trigger Cuban spring

In July 2010, Joe McSpedon, a US government official, flew to Barcelona to put the final touches on a secret plan to build a social media project aimed at undermining Cuba's communist government.

McSpedon and his team of high-tech contractors had come in from Costa Rica and Nicaragua, Washington and Denver. Their mission: to launch a messaging network that could reach hundreds of thousands of Cubans. To hide the network from the Cuban government, they would set up a byzantine system of front companies using a Cayman Islands bank account, and recruit unsuspecting executives who would not be told of the company's ties to the US government.

McSpedon didn't work for the CIA. This was a program paid for and run by the US Agency for International Development, best known for overseeing billions of dollars in US humanitarian aid.

According to documents obtained by the Associated Press and multiple interviews with people involved in the project, the plan was to develop a bare-bones "Cuban Twitter," using cellphone text messaging to evade Cuba's strict control of information and its stranglehold restrictions over the internet. In a play on Twitter, it was called ZunZuneo — slang for a Cuban hummingbird's tweet.

Documents show the US government planned to build a subscriber base through "non-controversial content": news messages on soccer, music, and hurricane updates. Later when the network reached a critical mass of subscribers, perhaps hundreds of thousands, operators would introduce political content aimed at inspiring Cubans to organize "smart mobs" — mass gatherings called at a moment's notice that might trigger a Cuban spring, or, as one USAid document put it, "renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society."

At its peak, the project drew in more than 40,000 Cubans to share news and exchange opinions. But its subscribers were never aware it was created by the US government, or that American contractors were gathering their private data in the hope that it might be used for political purposes.

"There will be absolutely no mention of United States government involvement," according to a 2010 memo from Mobile Accord, one of the project's contractors. "This is absolutely crucial for the long-term success of the service and to ensure the success of the Mission."

The program's legality is unclear: US law requires that any covert action by a federal agency must have a presidential authorization. Officials at USAid would not say who had approved the program or whether the White House was aware of it. McSpedon, the most senior official named in the documents obtained by the AP, is a mid-level manager who declined to comment.

USAid spokesman Matt Herrick said the agency is proud of its Cuba programs and noted that congressional investigators reviewed them last year and found them to be consistent with US law.

"USAid is a development agency, not an intelligence agency, and we work all over the world to help people exercise their fundamental rights and freedoms, and give them access to tools to improve their lives and connect with the outside world," he said.

"In the implementation," he added, "has the government taken steps to be discreet in non-permissive environments? Of course. That's how you protect the practitioners and the public. In hostile environments, we often take steps to protect the partners we're working with on the ground. This is not unique to Cuba."

But the ZunZuneo program muddies those claims, a sensitive issue for its mission to promote democracy and deliver aid to the world's poor and vulnerable — which requires the trust of foreign governments.

"On the face of it there are several aspects about this that are troubling," said Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, and chairman of the appropriations committee's State Department and foreign operations subcommittee.

"There is the risk to young, unsuspecting Cuban cellphone users who had no idea this was a US government-funded activity. There is the clandestine nature of the program that was not disclosed to the appropriations subcommittee with oversight responsibility. And there is the disturbing fact that it apparently activated shortly after Alan Gross, a USAid subcontractor who was sent to Cuba to help provide citizens access to the Internet, was arrested."

The Associated Press obtained more than 1,000 pages of documents about the project's development. The AP independently verified the project's scope and details in the documents — such as federal contract numbers and names of job candidates — through publicly available databases, government sources and interviews with those directly involved in ZunZuneo.

Taken together, they tell the story of how agents of the US government, working in deep secrecy, became tech entrepreneurs — in Cuba. And it all began with a half a million cellphone numbers obtained from a communist government.

ZunZuneo would seem to be a throwback from the cold war, and the decades-long struggle between the United States and Cuba. It came at a time when the historically sour relationship between the countries had improved, at least marginally, and Cuba had made tentative steps toward a more market-based economy.

It is unclear whether the plan got its start with USAid or Creative Associates International, a Washington for-profit company that has earned hundreds of millions of dollars in US contracts. But a "key contact" at Cubacel, the state-owned cellphone provider, slipped the phone numbers to a Cuban engineer living in Spain. The engineer provided the numbers to USAid and Creative Associates "free of charge," documents show.

In mid-2009, Noy Villalobos, a manager with Creative Associates who had worked with USAid in the 1990s on a program to eradicate drug crops, started an IM chat with her little brother in Nicaragua, according to a Creative Associates email that captured the conversation. Mario Bernheim, in his mid-20s, was an up-and-coming techie who had made a name for himself as a computer whiz.

"This is very confidential of course," Villalobos cautioned her brother. But what could you do if you had all the cellphone numbers of a particular country? Could you send bulk text messages without the government knowing?

"Can you encrypt it or something?" she texted.

She was looking for a direct line to regular Cubans through text messaging. Most had precious little access to news from the outside world. The government viewed the internet as an Achilles' heel and controlled it accordingly. A communications minister had even referred to it as a "wild colt" that "should be tamed."

Yet in the years since Fidel Castro handed over power to his brother Raul, Cuba had sought to jumpstart the long stagnant economy. Raul Castro began encouraging cellphone use, and hundreds of thousands of people were suddenly using mobile phones for the first time, though smartphones with access to the Internet remained restricted.

Cubans could text message, though at a high cost in a country where the average wage was a mere $20 a month.

Bernheim told his sister that he could figure out a way to send instant texts to hundreds of thousands of Cubans— for cheap. It could not be encrypted though, because that would be too complicated. They wouldn't be able to hide the messages from the Cuban government, which owned Cubacel. But they could disguise who was sending the texts by constantly switching the countries the messages came from.

"We could rotate it from different countries?" Villalobos asked. "Say one message from Nica, another from Spain, another from Mexico"?

Bernheim could do that. "But I would need mirrors set up around the world, mirrors, meaning the same computer, running with the same platform, with the same phone."

"No hay problema," he signed off. No problem.


After the chat, Creative hired Bernheim as a subcontractor, reporting to his sister. (Villalobos and Bernheim would later confirm their involvement with the ZunZuneo project to AP, but decline further comment.) Bernheim, in turn, signed up the Cuban engineer who had gotten the phone list. The team figured out how to message the masses without detection, but their ambitions were bigger.

Creative Associates envisioned using the list to create a social networking system that would be called "Proyecto ZZ," or "Project ZZ." The service would start cautiously and be marketed chiefly to young Cubans, who USAid saw as the most open to political change.

"We should gradually increase the risk," USAid proposed in a document. It advocated using "smart mobs" only in "critical/opportunistic situations and not at the detriment of our core platform-based network."

USAid's team of contractors and subcontractors built a companion website to its text service so Cubans could subscribe, give feedback and send their own text messages for free. They talked about how to make the website look like a real business. "Mock ad banners will give it the appearance of a commercial enterprise," a proposal suggested.

In multiple documents, USAid staff pointed out that text messaging had mobilized smart mobs and political uprisings in Moldova and the Philippines, among others. In Iran, the USAid noted social media's role following the disputed election of then President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June 2009 — and saw it as an important foreign policy tool.

USAid documents say their strategic objective in Cuba was to "push it out of a stalemate through tactical and temporary initiatives, and get the transition process going again towards democratic change." Democratic change in authoritarian Cuba meant breaking the Castros' grip on power.

USAid divided Cuban society into five segments depending on loyalty to the government. On one side sat the "democratic movement," called "still (largely) irrelevant," and at the other end were the "hard-core system supporters," dubbed "Talibanes" in a derogatory comparison to Afghan and Pakistani extremists.

A key question was how to move more people toward the democratic activist camp without detection. Bernheim assured the team that wouldn't be a problem.

"The Cuban government, like other regimes committed to information control, currently lacks the capacity to effectively monitor and control such a service," Bernheim wrote in a proposal for USAid marked "Sensitive Information."

ZunZuneo would use the list of phone numbers to break Cuba's internet embargo and not only deliver information to Cubans but also let them interact with each other in a way the government could not control. Eventually it would build a system that would let Cubans send messages anonymously among themselves.

At a strategy meeting, the company discussed building "user volume as a cover ... for organization," according to meeting notes. It also suggested that the "Landscape needs to be large enough to hide full opposition members who may sign up for service."

In a play on the telecommunication minister's quote, the team dubbed their network the "untamed colt."

At first, the ZunZuneo team operated out of Central America. Bernheim, the techie brother, worked from Nicaragua's capital, Managua, while McSpedon supervised Creative's work on ZunZuneo from an office in San Jose, Costa Rica, though separate from the US embassy. It was an unusual arrangement that raised eyebrows in Washington, according to US officials.

McSpedon worked for USAid's Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI), a division that was created after the fall of the Soviet Union to promote US interests in quickly changing political environments — without the usual red tape.

In 2009, a report by congressional researchers warned that OTI's work "often lends itself to political entanglements that may have diplomatic implications." Staffers on oversight committees complained that USAid was running secret programs and would not provide details.

"We were told we couldn't even be told in broad terms what was happening because 'people will die,'" said Fulton Armstrong, who worked for the Senate Foreign Relations committee. Before that, he was the US intelligence community's most senior analyst on Latin America, advising the Clinton White House.

The money that Creative Associates spent on ZunZuneo was publicly earmarked for an unspecified project in Pakistan, government data show. But there is no indication of where the funds were actually spent.

Tensions with Congress spiked just as the ZunZuneo project was gearing up in December 2009, when another USAid program ended in the arrest of the US contractor, Alan Gross. Gross had traveled repeatedly to Cuba on a secret mission to expand Internet access using sensitive technology typically available only to governments, a mission first revealed in February 2012 by AP.

At some point, Armstrong says, the foreign relations committee became aware of OTI's secret operations in Costa Rica. US government officials acknowledged them privately to Armstrong, but USAid refused to provide operational details.

At an event in Washington, Armstrong says he confronted McSpedon, asking him if he was aware that by operating secret programs from a third country, it might appear like he worked for an intelligence agency.

McSpedon, through USAid, said the story is not true. He declined to comment otherwise.


Shades of Greig
As usual Tony Greig had created diverse impressions on reaching the islands. Against Trinidad at Port of Spain, the final game before the first Test, he had batted with style and panache to score 70 and 100 not out. The sight of a towering figure topped by blond locks, almost struggling to extend his bat to reach the ground, had delighted the spectators. They had been even more entertained by the obvious joy that the charismatic cricketer derived from all the attention showered on him.
But, then, Greig could seldom be content with just winning hearts. He had appealed for leg before a bit too zealously against the local hero, wicketkeeper Deryck Murray. The crowd had not been too enthusiastic about that, the Trinidad side even less so. In response, Murray had resorted to time wasting tactics during the last moments of the game, in a deliberate attempt to prevent Greig from getting to his century.
The Trinidad Guardian had announced “Greig loses popularity at Oval” and had been opportunistic, if somewhat unfair, to use the occasion and harp on his South African origins. It would not be the last time that his heritage would be used against Greig by the Caribbean media.
However, worse was yet to come.
Not that ‘shy’
Mike Denness lost the toss at Queen’s Park Oval against West Indies and England were put in to bat on a humid and cloudy day. Keith Boyce and Garry Sobers made the ball swing around and Greig found himself striding out to bat with the score reading a pathetic 30 for four.
He counterattacked with characteristic mix of guts and skill, twice swinging full tosses from Inshan Ali over mid-wicket, one of the strokes carrying all the way for six. However, just after lunch, he tried to deflect Boyce off his pads and was caught down the leg side. His 37 was the top score and England ended on a measly and disappointing 131.
On the second morning, Bob Willis and Chris Old struck quick blows. But thereafter, Alvin Kallicharran made all the difference. None of the other men stuck around, but the little Guyanese left-hander went on and on. A crowd of over 30,000 enjoyed watching their team build up a massive lead.
Greig himself was not enjoying the proceedings. Kallicharran had played superbly all day and was looking set to bat forever. When Greig had bowled to him, he had been thrashed for three successive boundaries.

When Pat Pocock snared Deryck Murray, the score read 196 for six, and there was some optimism about restricting the hosts to a manageable lead. However, Bernard Julien came out to unleash a flurry of strokes and the Englishmen soon became unhappily aware that the match was slipping away from them.
By the last over of the day, the score had reached 274 for six. Greig was feeling particularly grumpy, and his competitive fervour was soon channelled along a rather dubious course. But for some confusion among the scoreboard operators, the events that transpired could have ended in some serious rioting.
Derek Underwood was bowling the final over of the day, with Greig perched close at silly-point. As Julien played the balls with a virtual dead bat, he crept closer and closer to the batsman until he was almost standing on his toes.
The final delivery was pushed somewhat harder, just wide of Greig’s right hand towards silly-mid-off. Captain Denness later recalled, “I was fielding at mid-off and I could see Greigy [Greig] hovering around and looking up towards Deadly coming in to bowl. I remember thinking to myself, ‘He has got something in mind here’. I could see Greigy going after the ball and not just at a saunter. I remember shouting to him to hold on to it because if he shied at the stumps and missed it was me who was going to have to go after the ball and then walk 100 yards back to the pavilion.”
Greig raced down the track, picked up the ball near silly mid-off and looked at the non-striker’s end. At the other end, Knott was already pulling out the stumps to signify the end of the day. Kallicharran, batting on 142, walked out of the crease, head bowed, heading towards the pavilion. And Greig threw the ball. The startled Underwood flinched as it rocketed past him and struck timber.
“I was thankful that his throw didn’t go for four overthrows,” the left-arm spinner said later.
Kallicharran turned around in shock. Greig appealed and umpire Douglas Sang Hue was aghast. According to Grieg’s biographer David Tossell, ‘Spreading his arms wide like Pontius Pilate [the umpire] had no option but to give the batsman out.”

Kallicharran himself later said that the act was totally in keeping with Greig’s personality. But, as Warwickshire teammate Willis observed, “I have never seen Alvin quite so furious.” He was seen storming off the ground in a fit of temper.
According to teammate Geoff Arnold who was on the field as a substitute, “Greigy nearly got us lynched. Kallicharran walked past me on his way off and smashed his bat on the ground. The crowd went mad and I thought we were not going to get out of Trinidad alive. It was a legitimate wicket because I don’t think the umpire had called ‘over’, but probably only Greigy would have run him out like that. It was typical of him.”
As Greig reached the boundary line on his way out the boos were deafening. The storm that he had created threatened to blow into dangerous proportions. John Woodcock later wrote, “I doubt whether anyone with a love and understanding of cricket can honestly have believed that Greig had played the game.”
The aftershock
It was perhaps fortuitous that the incident had occurred in Trinidad, an island associated with merriment and carnival spirit, rather than Jamaica or Guyana. Fans of the latter two were never too slow to react with extreme and violent demonstrations. However, fate also intervened in another way. The scoreboard operators, unsure of what had taken place, changed the number of wickets back to six. This gave the impression that Kallicharran was still unbeaten, although the official record at the end of play indicated that he was dismissed.
The players drifted to their hotels, but captain Denness and manager Donald Carr were asked to stay back and meet the West Indian Cricket Board representatives. Before going for the meeting, Denness spoke to Greig. “All I wanted to know was whether his action had been premeditated and therefore could be termed unfair play, or involuntary. His reply was that he had done everything on instinct, which was good enough for me. He was very upset about the whole affair, especially the feeling of the West Indian contingent waiting outside.”
Years later Denness confessed, “I think to a certain extent that Tony [Greig] had thought about it. You can’t prove it, but Greigy is not going to say, ‘Yes, it was premeditated because I thought it was the only way we could get him out.’ He didn’t look good because of the way it was done. If the ball had gone down the wicket at any other time in the game, I’m not sure Greigy would have gone after it in the same way. There seemed to be something about it.”

A good percentage of the crowd had stayed behind, and their intentions were obviously to confront the villain of this piece. Garry Sobers now stepped forward and offered to drive him back to the England team hotel.
After a three-hour discussion, the England management informed the West Indian Board that they were withdrawing the appeal. The umpires had acted according to the rules of the game, but they would be asked to reinstate Kallicharran at the wicket. A statement was issued, “Tony Greig in no way intended his instinctive action to be contrary to the spirit of the game and he is truly sorry this has caused an unhappy situation.”
There was also the undercurrent of Greig’s South African origins that the administrators had to worry about. Arnold believed, “They’d have killed us if we hadn’t let him bat the next morning.”
Denness explained, “It was early in the first match of the series and we had five matches to play. We were going on to Jamaica after that, and we did know the locals could become quite volatile. Also I was looking at Tony’s [Greig’s] background and the way apartheid was then… The next day was the rest day but when I walked to the ground for the start of the third day I was being asked as I went past queues of spectators, ‘What is happening with Kalli?’ They were opening little bags and they were full of empty bottles. They said things like, ‘Hopefully Kalli is going to bat, man. If not they are for you.’ I think we probably made the right decision.”
Unfortunately that was not the end of the matter. The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) suggested that Greig should be sent home. Carr denied this later, saying, “There was never any question of taking disciplinary action and sending Greig home. If he had gone home it would have only been for his own safety. We received full approval of our action from Lord’s.”
Greig himself was in two minds about the incident. “It was straightforward and definitely not premeditated. I saw Kalli [Kallicharran] out of the crease and threw his wicket down. As soon as I hit the wicket I thought, ‘Oh dear, this could cause a problem or two.’ I was sorry for what I did in terms of what happened, but it was one of those things.”
Years down the line, he was rather less apologetic.

The press — English and Caribbean — were united against Greig’s act. Henry Blofeld wrote, “I feel strongly that Greig’s action was indefensible. The incident may have been explicable in terms of Greig’s character, his enthusiasm, his sense of competition, his determination to win; but in the final analysis it was surely unforgivable.” Christopher Martin-Jenkins accepted that Greig had probably been unaware that Knott had removed the stumps, but even then felt, “His action was ungracious. It was not worthy of an admirable cricketer, or of someone who, off the field, is a charming personality.”
There were some who felt that the all-rounder had acted according to the laws of the game and had got a raw deal with all the negative press. Willis put it down to the cultural nuances, “He had learned his cricket in South Africa where they play in just such an uncompromising fashion. It would have been almost unthinkable for an English-born cricketer to have run out a batsman as he left the field.” Ted Dexter accused Carr of speaking up to keep the peace instead of backing his player.
Before play began on the third day, Carr called Greig to his hotel room and said, “As far as I am concerned the incident is over. But to keep peace with the crowd I want you to walk over as Kallicharran arrives in the middle and shake his hand.” Greig agreed with considerable reluctance.
He did receive support from an unlikely quarter, though. Mick Jagger, lead singer of the Rolling Stones, was waiting for Greig on the pavilion steps at lunch on the third day. “Good work, I don’t blame you,” he remarked.
What followed
Kallicharran added 16 more to his score before falling to Pocock. Julien remained not out on 86 as West Indies finished their first innings at 392. Despite a superb 174 by Dennis Amiss and his 209-run first wicket partnership with Geoffrey Boycott, England lost their last nine wickets in the space of 64 runs to the combined spin of Lance Gibbs and Sobers. West Indies won by seven wickets.
However, the on-field handshake did little to bring the teams closer. Pat Pocock recalled, “There was a horrendous atmosphere, the worst I have ever known between two cricket teams. We knew we were up against it … so against a guy like Kallicharran, a brilliant player all round the wicket, somebody would have a go at him — very personal. His eyes would stand out like organ stops and he would get mad and slog and we would get him out. Greigy and the others would play on that and it was a deliberate effort to wind blokes up.”
But the Englishmen knew when to draw a line. As Pocock continued, “It all stopped when Garry Sobers walked in. Then, no one said a word. It would have been like swearing in a church.”
The series was tied 1-1. But, it was just a prelude to the differences between Greig and the West Indians.

The scale of America's surveillance state was laid bare on Thursday as senior politicians revealed that the US counter-terrorism effort had swept up swaths of personal data from the phone calls of millions of citizens for years.

After the revelation by the Guardian of a sweeping secret court order that authorised the FBI to seize all call records from a subsidiary of Verizon, the Obama administration sought to defuse mounting anger over what critics described as the broadest surveillance ruling ever issued.

A White House spokesman said that laws governing such orders "are something that have been in place for a number of years now" and were vital for protecting national security. Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic chairwoman of the Senate intelligence committee, said the Verizon court order had been in place for seven years. "People want the homeland kept safe," Feinstein said.

But as the implications of the blanket approval for obtaining phone data reverberated around Washington and beyond, anger grew among other politicians.

Intelligence committee member Mark Udall, who has previously warned in broad terms about the scale of government snooping, said: "This sort of widescale surveillance should concern all of us and is the kind of government overreach I've said Americans would find shocking." Former vice-president Al Gore described the "secret blanket surveillance" as "obscenely outrageous".

The Verizon order was made under the provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa) as amended by the Patriot Act of 2001, passed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. But one of the authors of the Patriot Act, Republican congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, said he was troubled by the Guardian revelations. He said that he had written to the attorney general, Eric Holder, questioning whether "US constitutional rights were secure".

He said: "I do not believe the broadly drafted Fisa order is consistent with the requirements of the Patriot Act. Seizing phone records of millions of innocent people is excessive and un-American."

The White House sought to defend what it called "a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats". White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Fisa orders were used to "support important and highly sensitive intelligence collection operations" on which members of Congress were fully briefed.

"The intelligence community is conducting court-authorized intelligence activities pursuant to a public statute with the knowledge and oversight of Congress and the intelligence community in both houses of Congress," Earnest said.

He pointed out that the order only relates to the so-called metadata surrounding phone calls rather than the content of the calls themselves. "The order reprinted overnight does not allow the government to listen in on anyone's telephone calls," Earnest said.

"The information acquired does not include the content of any communications or the name of any subscriber. It relates exclusively to call details, such as a telephone number or the length of a telephone call."

But such metadata can provide authorities with vast knowledge about a caller's identity. Particularly when cross-checked against other public records, the metadata can reveal someone's name, address, driver's licence, credit history, social security number and more. Government analysts would be able to work out whether the relationship between two people was ongoing, occasional or a one-off.

The disclosure has reignited longstanding debates in the US over the proper extent of the government's domestic spying powers.

Ron Wyden of Oregon, a member of the Senate intelligence committee who, along with Udell, has expressed concern about the extent of US government surveillance, warned of "sweeping, dragnet surveillance". He said: "I am barred by Senate rules from commenting on some of the details at this time, However, I believe that when law-abiding Americans call their friends, who they call, when they call, and where they call from is private information.

"Collecting this data about every single phone call that every American makes every day would be a massive invasion of Americans' privacy."

'Beyond Orwellian'

Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union, said: "From a civil liberties perspective, the program could hardly be any more alarming. It's a program in which some untold number of innocent people have been put under the constant surveillance of government agents.

"It is beyond Orwellian, and it provides further evidence of the extent to which basic democratic rights are being surrendered in secret to the demands of unaccountable intelligence agencies."

Under the Bush administration, officials in security agencies had disclosed to reporters the large-scale collection of call records data by the NSA, but this is the first time significant and top-secret documents have revealed the continuation of the practice under President Obama.

The order names Verizon Business Services, a division of Verizon Communications. In its first-quarter earnings report, published in April, Verizon Communications listed about 10 million commercial lines out of a total of 121 million customers. The court order, which lasts for three months from 25 April, does not specify what type of lines are being tracked. It is not clear whether any additional orders exist to cover Verizon's wireless and residential customers, or those of other phone carriers.

Fisa court orders typically direct the production of records pertaining to a specific, named target suspected of being an agent of a terrorist group or foreign state, or a finite set of individually named targets. The unlimited nature of the records being handed over to the NSA is extremely unusual.

Feinstein said she believed the order had been in place for some time. She said: "As far as I know this is the exact three-month renewal of what has been the case for the past seven years. This renewal is carried out by the [foreign intelligence surveillance] court under the business records section of the Patriot Act. Therefore it is lawful. It has been briefed to Congress."

The Center for Constitutional Rights said in a statement that the secret court order was unprecedented. "As far as we know this order from the Fisa court is the broadest surveillance order to ever have been issued: it requires no level of suspicion and applies to all Verizon [business services] subscribers anywhere in the US.

"The Patriot Act's incredibly broad surveillance provision purportedly authorizes an order of this sort, though its constitutionality is in question and several senators have complained about it."

Russell Tice, a retired National Security Agency intelligence analyst and whistleblower, said: "What is going on is much larger and more systemic than anything anyone has ever suspected or imagined."

Although an anonymous senior Obama administration official said that "on its face" the court order revealed by the Guardian did not authorise the government to listen in on people's phone calls, Tice now believes the NSA has constructed such a capability.

"I figured it would probably be about 2015" before the NSA had "the computer capacity … to collect all digital communications word for word," Tice said. "But I think I'm wrong. I think they have it right now."


The last of the Semites
Last updated: 14 May 2013

It is Israel's claims that it represents and speaks for all Jews that are the most anti-Semitic claims of all.

Jewish opponents of Zionism understood the movement since its early age as one that shared the precepts of anti-Semitism in its diagnosis of what gentile Europeans called the "Jewish Question". What galled anti-Zionist Jews the most, however, was that Zionism also shared the "solution" to the Jewish Question that anti-Semites had always advocated, namely the expulsion of Jews from Europe.
It was the Protestant Reformation with its revival of the Hebrew Bible that would link the modern Jews of Europe to the ancient Hebrews of Palestine, a link that the philologists of the 18th century would solidify through their discovery of the family of "Semitic" languages, including Hebrew and Arabic. Whereas Millenarian Protestants insisted that contemporary Jews, as descendants of the ancient Hebrews, must leave Europe to Palestine to expedite the second coming of Christ, philological discoveries led to the labelling of contemporary Jews as "Semites". The leap that the biological sciences of race and heredity would make in the 19th century of considering contemporary European Jews racial descendants of the ancient Hebrews would, as a result, not be a giant one.
Basing themselves on the connections made by anti-Jewish Protestant Millenarians, secular European figures saw the political potential of "restoring" Jews to Palestine abounded in the 19th century. Less interested in expediting the second coming of Christ as were the Millenarians, these secular politicians, from Napoleon Bonaparte to British foreign secretary Lord Palmerston (1785-1865) to Ernest Laharanne, the private secretary of Napoleon III in the 1860s, sought to expel the Jews of Europe to Palestine in order to set them up as agents of European imperialism in Asia. Their call would be espoused by many "anti-Semites", a new label chosen by European anti-Jewish racists after its invention in 1879 by a minor Viennese journalist by the name of Wilhelm Marr, who issued a political programme titled The Victory of Judaism over Germanism. Marr was careful to decouple anti-Semitism from the history of Christian hatred of Jews on the basis of religion, emphasising, in line with Semitic philology and racial theories of the 19th century, that the distinction to be made between Jews and Aryans was strictly racial.
Assimilating Jews into European culture
Scientific anti-Semitism insisted that the Jews were different from Christian Europeans. Indeed that the Jews were not European at all and that their very presence in Europe is what causes anti-Semitism. The reason why Jews caused so many problems for European Christians had to do with their alleged rootlessness, that they lacked a country, and hence country-based loyalty. In the Romantic age of European nationalisms, anti-Semites argued that Jews did not fit in the new national configurations, and disrupted national and racial purity essential to most European nationalisms. This is why if the Jews remained in Europe, the anti-Semites argued, they could only cause hostility among Christian Europeans. The only solution was for the Jews to exit from Europe and have their own country. Needless to say, religious and secular Jews opposed this horrific anti-Semitic line of thinking. Orthodox and Reform Jews, Socialist and Communist Jews, cosmopolitan and Yiddishkeit cultural Jews, all agreed that this was a dangerous ideology of hostility that sought the expulsion of Jews from their European homelands.
The Jewish Haskalah, or Enlightenment, which emerged also in the 19th century, sought to assimilate Jews into European secular gentile culture and have them shed their Jewish culture. It was the Haskalah that sought to break the hegemony of Orthodox Jewish rabbis on the "Ostjuden" of the East European shtetl and to shed what it perceived as a "medieval" Jewish culture in favour of the modern secular culture of European Christians. Reform Judaism, as a Christian- and Protestant-like variant of Judaism, would emerge from the bosom of the Haskalah. This assimilationist programme, however, sought to integrate Jews in European modernity, not to expel them outside Europe's geography.
When Zionism started a decade and a half after Marr's anti-Semitic programme was published, it would espouse all these anti-Jewish ideas, including scientific anti-Semitism as valid. For Zionism, Jews were "Semites", who were descendants of the ancient Hebrews. In his foundational pamphlet Der Judenstaat, Herzl explained that it was Jews, not their Christian enemies, who "cause" anti-Semitism and that "where it does not exist, [anti-Semitism] is carried by Jews in the course of their migrations", indeed that "the unfortunate Jews are now carrying the seeds of anti-Semitism into England; they have already introduced it into America"; that Jews were a "nation" that should leave Europe to restore their "nationhood" in Palestine or Argentina; that Jews must emulate European Christians culturally and abandon their living languages and traditions in favour of modern European languages or a restored ancient national language. Herzl preferred that all Jews adopt German, while the East European Zionists wanted Hebrew. Zionists after Herzl even agreed and affirmed that Jews were separate racially from Aryans. As for Yiddish, the living language of most European Jews, all Zionists agreed that it should be abandoned.
The majority of Jews continued to resist Zionism and understood its precepts as those of anti-Semitism and as a continuation of the Haskalah quest to shed Jewish culture and assimilate Jews into European secular gentile culture, except that Zionism sought the latter not inside Europe but at a geographical remove following the expulsion of Jews from Europe. The Bund, or the General Jewish Labor Union in Lithuania, Poland, and Russia, which was founded in Vilna in early October 1897, a few weeks after the convening of the first Zionist Congress in Basel in late August 1897, would become Zionism's fiercest enemy. The Bund joined the existing anti-Zionist Jewish coalition of Orthodox and Reform rabbis who had combined forces a few months earlier to prevent Herzl from convening the first Zionist Congress in Munich, which forced him to move it to Basel. Jewish anti-Zionism across Europe and in the United States had the support of the majority of Jews who continued to view Zionism as an anti-Jewish movement well into the 1940s.
Anti-Semitic chain of pro-Zionist enthusiasts
Realising that its plan for the future of European Jews was in line with those of anti-Semites, Herzl strategised early on an alliance with the latter. He declared in Der Judenstaat that:
"The Governments of all countries scourged by anti-Semitism will be keenly interested in assisting us to obtain [the] sovereignty we want."
He added that "not only poor Jews" would contribute to an immigration fund for European Jews, "but also Christians who wanted to get rid of them". Herzl unapologetically confided in his Diaries that:
"The anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies."
Thus when Herzl began to meet in 1903 with infamous anti-Semites like the Russian minister of the interior Vyacheslav von Plehve, who oversaw anti-Jewish pogroms in Russia, it was an alliance that he sought by design. That it would be the anti-Semitic Lord Balfour, who as Prime Minister of Britain in 1905 oversaw his government's Aliens Act, which prevented East European Jews fleeing Russian pogroms from entering Britain in order, as he put it, to save the country from the "undoubted evils" of "an immigration which was largely Jewish", was hardy coincidental. Balfour's infamous Declaration of 1917 to create in Palestine a "national home" for the "Jewish people", was designed, among other things, to curb Jewish support for the Russian Revolution and to stem the tide of further unwanted Jewish immigrants into Britain.
The Nazis would not be an exception in this anti-Semitic chain of pro-Zionist enthusiasts. Indeed, the Zionists would strike a deal with the Nazis very early in their history. It was in 1933 that the infamous Transfer (Ha'avara) Agreement was signed between the Zionists and the Nazi government to facilitate the transfer of German Jews and their property to Palestine and which broke the international Jewish boycott of Nazi Germany started by American Jews. It was in this spirit that Nazi envoys were dispatched to Palestine to report on the successes of Jewish colonisation of the country. Adolf Eichmann returned from his 1937 trip to Palestine full of fantastic stories about the achievements of the racially-separatist Ashkenazi Kibbutz, one of which he visited on Mount Carmel as a guest of the Zionists.
Despite the overwhelming opposition of most German Jews, it was the Zionist Federation of Germany that was the only Jewish group that supported the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, as they agreed with the Nazis that Jews and Aryans were separate and separable races. This was not a tactical support but one based on ideological similitude. The Nazis' Final Solution initially meant the expulsion of Germany's Jews to Madagascar. It is this shared goal of expelling Jews from Europe as a separate unassimilable race that created the affinity between Nazis and Zionists all along.
While the majority of Jews continued to resist the anti-Semitic basis of Zionism and its alliances with anti-Semites, the Nazi genocide not only killed 90 percent of European Jews, but in the process also killed the majority of Jewish enemies of Zionism who died precisely because they refused to heed the Zionist call of abandoning their countries and homes.
The anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies.
Theodor Herzl , Diaries
After the War, the horror at the Jewish holocaust did not stop European countries from supporting the anti-Semitic programme of Zionism. On the contrary, these countries shared with the Nazis a predilection for Zionism. They only opposed Nazism's genocidal programme. European countries, along with the United States, refused to take in hundreds of thousands of Jewish survivors of the holocaust. In fact, these countries voted against a UN resolution introduced by the Arab states in 1947 calling on them to take in the Jewish survivors, yet these same countries would be the ones who would support the United Nations Partition Plan of November 1947 to create a Jewish State in Palestine to which these unwanted Jewish refugees could be expelled.
The pro-Zionist policies of the Nazis
The United States and European countries, including Germany, would continue the pro-Zionist policies of the Nazis. Post-War West German governments that presented themselves as opening a new page in their relationship with Jews in reality did no such thing. Since the establishment of the country after WWII, every West German government (and every German government since unification in1990) has continued the pro-Zionist Nazi policies unabated. There was never a break with Nazi pro-Zionism. The only break was with the genocidal and racial hatred of Jews that Nazism consecrated, but not with the desire to see Jews set up in a country in Asia, away from Europe. Indeed, the Germans would explain that much of the money they were sending to Israel was to help offset the costs of resettling European Jewish refugees in the country.
After World War II, a new consensus emerged in the United States and Europe that Jews had to be integrated posthumously into white Europeanness, and that the horror of the Jewish holocaust was essentially a horror at the murder of white Europeans. Since the 1960s, Hollywood films about the holocaust began to depict Jewish victims of Nazism as white Christian-looking, middle class, educated and talented people not unlike contemporary European and American Christians who should and would identify with them. Presumably if the films were to depict the poor religious Jews of Eastern Europe (and most East European Jews who were killed by the Nazis were poor and many were religious), contemporary white Christians would not find commonality with them. Hence, the post-holocaust European Christian horror at the genocide of European Jews was not based on the horror of slaughtering people in the millions who were different from European Christians, but rather a horror at the murder of millions of people who were the same as European Christians. This explains why in a country like the United States, which had nothing to do with the slaughter of European Jews, there exists upwards of 40 holocaust memorials and a major museum for the murdered Jews of Europe, but not one for the holocaust of Native Americans or African Americans for which the US is responsible.
Aimé Césaire understood this process very well. In his famous speech on colonialism, he affirmed that the retrospective view of European Christians about Nazism is that
it is barbarism, but the supreme barbarism, the crowning barbarism that sums up all the daily barbarisms; that it is Nazism, yes, but that before [Europeans] were its victims, they were its accomplices; and they tolerated that Nazism before it was inflicted on them, that they absolved it, shut their eyes to it, legitimised it, because, until then, it had been applied only to non-European peoples; that they have cultivated that Nazism, that they are responsible for it, and that before engulfing the whole of Western, Christian civilisation in its reddened waters, it oozes, seeps, and trickles from every crack.
That for Césaire the Nazi wars and holocaust were European colonialism turned inwards is true enough. But since the rehabilitation of Nazism's victims as white people, Europe and its American accomplice would continue their Nazi policy of visiting horrors on non-white people around the world, on Korea, on Vietnam and Indochina, on Algeria, on Indonesia, on Central and South America, on Central and Southern Africa, on Palestine, on Iran, and on Iraq and Afghanistan.
The rehabilitation of European Jews after WWII was a crucial part of US Cold War propaganda. As American social scientists and ideologues developed the theory of "totalitarianism", which posited Soviet Communism and Nazism as essentially the same type of regime, European Jews, as victims of one totalitarian regime, became part of the atrocity exhibition that American and West European propaganda claimed was like the atrocities that the Soviet regime was allegedly committing in the pre- and post-War periods. That Israel would jump on the bandwagon by accusing the Soviets of anti-Semitism for their refusal to allow Soviet Jewish citizens to self-expel and leave to Israel was part of the propaganda.
Commitment to white supremacy
It was thus that the European and US commitment to white supremacy was preserved, except that it now included Jews as part of "white" people, and what came to be called "Judeo-Christian" civilisation. European and American policies after World War II, which continued to be inspired and dictated by racism against Native Americans, Africans, Asians, Arabs and Muslims, and continued to support Zionism's anti-Semitic programme of assimilating Jews into whiteness in a colonial settler state away from Europe, were a direct continuation of anti-Semitic policies prevalent before the War. It was just that much of the anti-Semitic racialist venom would now be directed at Arabs and Muslims (both, those who are immigrants and citizens in Europe and the United States and those who live in Asia and Africa) while the erstwhile anti-Semitic support for Zionism would continue unhindered.
West Germany's alliance with Zionism and Israel after WWII, of supplying Israel with huge economic aid in the 1950s and of economic and military aid since the early 1960s, including tanks, which it used to kill Palestinians and other Arabs, is a continuation of the alliance that the Nazi government concluded with the Zionists in the 1930s. In the 1960s, West Germany even provided military training to Israeli soldiers and since the 1970s has provided Israel with nuclear-ready German-made submarines with which Israel hopes to kill more Arabs and Muslims. Israel has in recent years armed the most recent German-supplied submarines with nuclear tipped cruise missiles, a fact that is well known to the current German government. Israel's Defence Minister Ehud Barak told Der Spiegel in 2012 that Germans should be "proud" that they have secured the existence of the state of Israel "for many years". Berlin financed one-third of the cost of the submarines, around 135 million euros ($168 million) per submarine, and has allowed Israel to defer its payment until 2015. That this makes Germany an accomplice in the dispossession of the Palestinians is of no more concern to current German governments than it was in the 1960s to West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer who affirmed that "the Federal Republic has neither the right nor the responsibility to take a position on the Palestinian refugees".
This is to be added to the massive billions that Germany has paid to the Israeli government as compensation for the holocaust, as if Israel and Zionism were the victims of Nazism, when in reality it was anti-Zionist Jews who were killed by the Nazis. The current German government does not care about the fact that even those German Jews who fled the Nazis and ended up in Palestine hated Zionism and its project and were hated in turn by Zionist colonists in Palestine. As German refugees in 1930s and 1940s Palestine refused to learn Hebrew and published half a dozen German newspapers in the country, they were attacked by the Hebrew press, including by Haartez, which called for the closure of their newspapers in 1939 and again in 1941. Zionist colonists attacked a German-owned café in Tel Aviv because its Jewish owners refused to speak Hebrew, and the Tel Aviv municipality threatened in June 1944 some of its German Jewish residents for holding in their home on 21 Allenby street "parties and balls entirely in the German language, including programmes that are foreign to the spirit of our city" and that this would "not be tolerated in Tel Aviv". German Jews, or Yekkes as they were known in the Yishuv, would even organise a celebration of the Kaiser's birthday in 1941 (for these and more details about German Jewish refugees in Palestine, read Tom Segev's book The Seventh Million).
Add to that Germany's support for Israeli policies against Palestinians at the United Nations, and the picture becomes complete. Even the new holocaust memorial built in Berlin that opened in 2005 maintains Nazi racial apartheid, as this "Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe" is only for Jewish victims of the Nazis who must still today be set apart, as Hitler mandated, from the other millions of non-Jews who also fell victim to Nazism. That a subsidiary of the German company Degussa, which collaborated with the Nazis and which produced the Zyklon B gas that was used to kill people in the gas chambers, was contracted to build the memorial was anything but surprising, as it simply confirms that those who killed Jews in Germany in the late 1930s and in the 1940s now regret what they had done because they now understand Jews to be white Europeans who must be commemorated and who should not have been killed in the first place on account of their whiteness. The German policy of abetting the killing of Arabs by Israel, however, is hardly unrelated to this commitment to anti-Semitism, which continues through the predominant contemporary anti-Muslim German racism that targets Muslim immigrants.
Euro-American anti-Jewish tradition
The Jewish holocaust killed off the majority of Jews who fought and struggled against European anti-Semitism, including Zionism. With their death, the only remaining "Semites" who are fighting against Zionism and its anti-Semitism today are the Palestinian people. Whereas Israel insists that European Jews do not belong in Europe and must come to Palestine, the Palestinians have always insisted that the homelands of European Jews were their European countries and not Palestine, and that Zionist colonialism springs from its very anti-Semitism. Whereas Zionism insists that Jews are a race separate from European Christians, the Palestinians insist that European Jews are nothing if not European and have nothing to do with Palestine, its people, or its culture. What Israel and its American and European allies have sought to do in the last six and a half decades is to convince Palestinians that they too must become anti-Semites and believe as the Nazis, Israel, and its Western anti-Semitic allies do, that Jews are a race that is different from European races, that Palestine is their country, and that Israel speaks for all Jews. That the two largest American pro-Israel voting blocks today are Millenarian Protestants and secular imperialists continues the very same Euro-American anti-Jewish tradition that extends back to the Protestant Reformation and 19th century imperialism.  But the Palestinians have remained unconvinced and steadfast in their resistance to anti-Semitism.
European Jews were transformed into the instruments of aggression; they became the elements of settler colonialism intimately allied to racial discrimination…
Yasser Arafat, 1974 UN speech
Israel and its anti-Semitic allies affirm that Israel is "the Jewish people", that its policies are "Jewish" policies, that its achievements are "Jewish" achievements, that its crimes are "Jewish" crimes, and that therefore anyone who dares to criticise Israel is criticising Jews and must be an anti-Semite. The Palestinian people have mounted a major struggle against this anti-Semitic incitement. They continue to affirm instead that the Israeli government does not speak for all Jews, that it does not represent all Jews, and that its colonial crimes against the Palestinian people are its own crimes and not the crimes of "the Jewish people", and that therefore it must be criticised, condemned and prosecuted for its ongoing war crimes against the Palestinian people. This is not a new Palestinian position, but one that was adopted since the turn of the 20th century and continued throughout the pre-WWII Palestinian struggle against Zionism. Yasser Arafat's speech at the United Nations in 1974 stressed all these points vehemently:
Just as colonialism heedlessly used the wretched, the poor, the exploited as mere inert matter with which to build and to carry out settler colonialism, so too were destitute, oppressed European Jews employed on behalf of world imperialism and of the Zionist leadership. European Jews were transformed into the instruments of aggression; they became the elements of settler colonialism intimately allied to racial discrimination…Zionist theology was utilised against our Palestinian people: the purpose was not only the establishment of Western-style settler colonialism but also the severing of Jews from their various homelands and subsequently their estrangement from their nations. Zionism… is united with anti-Semitism in its retrograde tenets and is, when all is said and done, another side of the same base coin. For when what is proposed is that adherents of the Jewish faith, regardless of their national residence, should neither owe allegiance to their national residence nor live on equal footing with its other, non-Jewish citizens -when that is proposed we hear anti-Semitism being proposed. When it is proposed that the only solution for the Jewish problem is that Jews must alienate themselves from communities or nations of which they have been a historical part, when it is proposed that Jews solve the Jewish problem by immigrating to and forcibly settling the land of another people - when this occurs, exactly the same position is being advocated as the one urged by anti-Semites against Jews.
Israel's claim that its critics must be anti-Semites presupposes that its critics believe its claims that it represents "the Jewish people". But it is Israel's claims that it represents and speaks for all Jews that are the most anti-Semitic claims of all.
Today, Israel and the Western powers want to elevate anti-Semitism to an international principle around which they seek to establish full consensus. They insist that for there to be peace in the Middle East, Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims must become, like the West, anti-Semites by espousing Zionism and recognising Israel's anti-Semitic claims. Except for dictatorial Arab regimes and the Palestinian Authority and its cronies, on this 65th anniversary of the anti-Semitic conquest of Palestine by the Zionists, known to Palestinians as the Nakba, the Palestinian people and the few surviving anti-Zionist Jews continue to refuse to heed this international call and incitement to anti-Semitism. They affirm that they are, as the last of the Semites, the heirs of the pre-WWII Jewish and Palestinian struggles against anti-Semitism and its Zionist colonial manifestation. It is their resistance that stands in the way of a complete victory for European anti-Semitism in the Middle East and the world at large.
Joseph Massad teaches Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History at Columbia University in New York. He is the author of The Persistence of the Palestinian Question: Essays on Zionism and the Palestinians.

Reposted on: http://garymlord.blogspot.com.au/2013/05/the-last-of-semites-by-joseph-massad.html

The claimed legal basis for these actions is unknown, but the threats they pose to a free press and the news-gathering process are clear

Associated Press on Monday revealed that the Department of Justice (DOJ) "secretly obtained two months of telephone records of [its] reporters and editors", denouncing it as a "massive and unprecedented intrusion" into the news gathering process. In a letter sent yesterday to Attorney General Eric Holder, AP's President, Gary Pruitt, detailed that the phone records cover more than 20 telephone lines used by AP journalists, including their homes, offices and cell phones. He said the phones for which the DOJ obtained records also include ones at the AP bureaus in New York City, Washington DC, Hartford, and at the House of Representatives.

Pruitt wrote that "we regard this action by the Department of Justice as a serious interference with AP's constitutional rights to gather and report the news." He added that while AP is "evaluating its options", he "urgently request[ed]" that the DOJ "immediately return to the AP the telephone toll records" obtained by the DOJ "and destroy all copies." AP learned of the DOJ's acquisition of these records only after the fact, and thus had no opportunity to raise legal and constitutional objections nor attempt to negotiate to narrow the scope of the records to be sought. Pruitt's letter uses some inflammatory language as it is designed to advance the AP's case and to generate public anger, but that's entirely appropriate. The phone records reveal, at a minimum, all of the telephone numbers called by those AP journalists over the course of two months.

The ACLU last night condemned the DOJ's acts as "press intimidation" and said it constitutes "an unacceptable abuse of power". The Electronic Frontier Foundation denounced it as "a terrible blow against the freedom of the press and the ability of reporters to investigate and report the news". The New York Times' Editorial Page Editor Andy Rosenthal called the DOJ's actions "outrageous" while Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron said they were "shocking" and "disturbing". Even Democratic Sen. Pat Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said: "I am very troubled by these allegations and want to hear the government's explanation."

Numerous media reports convincingly speculated that the DOJ's actions arise out of a 2012 AP article that contained leaked information about CIA activity in Yemen, and the DOJ is motivated, in part, by a desire to uncover the identity of AP's sources. That 2012 AP story revealed that the CIA was able to "thwart" a planned bombing by the al-Qaida "affiliate" in that country of a US jetliner. AP had learned of the CIA actions a week earlier but "agreed to White House and CIA requests not to publish it immediately because the sensitive intelligence operation was still under way." AP revealed little that the US government itself was not planning to reveal and that would not have been obvious once the plot was successfully thwarted, as it explained in its story: "once those concerns were allayed, the AP decided to disclose the plot Monday despite requests from the Obama administration to wait for an official announcement Tuesday."

The legality of the DOJ's actions is impossible to assess because it is not even known what legal authority it claims nor the legal process it invoked to obtain these records. Particularly in the post-9/11 era, the DOJ's power to obtain phone records is, as I've detailed many times, dangerously broad. It often has the power to obtain those records without the person's knowledge (as happened here) and for a wildly broad scope of time (as also happened here). There are numerous instruments that have been vested in the DOJ to obtain phone records, many of which do not require court approval, including administrative subpoenas and "national security letters" (issued without judicial review); indeed, the Obama DOJ has previously claimed it has the power to obtain journalists' phone records without subpoeans using NSLs, and in its relentless pursuit to learn the identity of the source for one of New York Times' James Risen's stories, the Obama DOJ has actually claimed that journalists have no shield protections whatsoever in the national security context. It's also quite possible that they obtained the records through a Grand Jury subpoena, as part of yet another criminal investigation to uncover and punish leakers.

None of those processes for obtaining these invasive records requires a demonstration of probable cause or anything close to it. Instead, the DOJ must simply assert that the records "relate to" a pending investigation: a standard so broad that virtually every DOJ desire will fulfill it. Even if a court were involved in the acquisition of these records - and that's unlikely here - it typically does little more than act as rubber-stamping functionary, just as it does when secretly approving the DOJ's requests for FISA warrants. This is what is reaped from continuously vesting the US government with greater and greater surveillance powers in the name of Terrorism and other fears.

There has long been concern about the DOJ's snooping into the communications which journalists have with their sources precisely because the DOJ's power to obtain phone data and other sensitive records in secret is now so sweeping. Attempts to enact legislation to protect journalists from this type of concealed investigative intrusion into their source communications have been defeated in part due to the DOJ's insistence that it exercises this power responsibly and only in the most extreme cases.

Indeed, the DOJ has adopted its own binding regulations that impose constraints on its ability to obtain the phone records of journalists. Those regulations require that "all reasonable attempts should be made to obtain information from alternative sources" before subpoeans are issued; that "negotiations with the media shall be pursued in all cases in which a subpoena to a member of the news media is contemplated" unless the DOJ determines that such negotiations would "pose a substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation in connection with which the records are sought"; and that "no subpoena may be issued . . . for the telephone toll records of any member of the news media without the express authorization of the Attorney General". The White House has denied involvement in the acquisition of AP's phone records, but presumably, Attorney General Eric Holder personally approved (Esquire's Charles Pierce, in calling for the resignation of Holder, expresses skepticism about White House denials, but I'm neutral at this point on that specific question).

(Never heard of this story before and the article probes deeper questions related to trying children/youths as adults.)

On George Stinney's death certificate, there exists one powerful word: homicide. Stinney was 14 when he was killed by the state of South Carolina for two murders that he may or may not have committed. Stinney figures to forever be the youngest person executed by the modern-day justice system, as a 2005 Supreme Court decision ended the barbaric practice of ceremonially killing human beings for crimes they committed in their youth.

If you told me to write a novel based upon my perceptions of what the justice system might have looked like for black men in 1944, the story would look something like Stinney's actual life. He was accused of killing two white girls in a rural part of a South Carolina mill town. He actually participated in the town's search party for the girls, but he made the fatal mistake of telling people that he had seen the girls on the day they died. One day later, he was arrested and his family was forced to leave the town. His father was fired from his job at the mill, and his siblings were told that they would be lynched if they didn't leave immediately.
George Stinney was put in a small room where three aggressive investigators worked hard for his confession. Landmark Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona hadn't yet been decided, so Stinney was not entitled to an attorney during his questioning. It has been reported that the investigators offered Stinney ice cream if he would confess to the murders - a chilling testament to a 14-year old's inability to comprehend the gravity of situations like his. No notes were taken, and the investigators emerged after a few hours with a confession that may or may not have taken place.

Stinney's trial was a circus, and the injustice continued with the appointment of his attorney. He was given a 30-year old tax planning attorney who had never tried a capital case. Making matters worse, his court-appointed attorney was planning a run for office, putting him in a dangerous conflict of interest that ensured the inadequacy of Stinney's defense. The entire trial, including jury selection, took just more than two hours. The jury was comprised entirely of white folks. At trial, the only evidence put forward by the prosecution was the testimony of the men who interrogated Stinney. The defense declined to cross-examine those witnesses or question their testimony in any way. Instead, the defense attorney opted for a strategy in which he asserted that Stinney was too young to be convicted of the crime. This seems reasonable until you realize that state law allowed 14-year olds to be tried as adults. The prosecution had to only produce evidence of Stinney's age to completely obliterate the entirety of Stinney's "defense."

The jury took ten minutes to deliberate before returning a chilling verdict: GUILTY. After a shameful clown show, George Stinney was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death by electrocution. The state killed him without so much as a direct appeal, as Stinney didn't have the money for an appellate lawyer and his family wasn't allowed in the town to counsel him. From arrest to execution, the entire process took less than three months.

George Stinney was just taller than five feet and he didn't weigh 100 pounds. He bravely carried a Bible under his arm as he walked toward the electric chair. Because the electric chair was not designed to kill small children, the prison guards asked him to use his book as a Biblical booster seat. The electric chair's mask wouldn't fit his face, and it slipped off during the execution, exposing a 14-year old's fear and terror. He died in only four minutes, done in by electrocution inflicted by the state and all of its citizens.

George Stinney's story would be extraordinary on its own. But it's even more important because many of the things that led to this disastrous result are still realities in today's justice system. From the death penalty down the list, many of the pillars of George Stinney's injustice remain, and the ghost of George Stinney's execution haunt a number of American states.
This is not the place where I plan to litigate the morality or utility of the death penalty. My thoughts on the issue are well-documented, and that argument will remain for another day. I will note, however, that the imposition of the death penalty in this case has left all of George Stinney's legal champions looking for little more than a posthumous pardon for his crimes. Even as a bright spotlight has been shined on South Carolina's murder of George Stinney, we cannot bring him back to life. The death penalty is final.

Instead, I want to discuss some of the things that led to George Stinney's heinous execution, and I want to point out to you that many of these things are not interred with Stinney's bones. They are alive and well in the very states that make up the "Death Belt."

The prosecution in Stinney's case was able to quickly rebut the defense's prime arguments because South Carolina law allowed for children - 5'1, 90-pound children - to be tried as adults for their alleged crimes. This practice is especially specious in light of the ice cream story. In one breath, the state held Stinney to be as mentally culpable for murder as an adult. In the next breath, it tried to get him to trade his life for a cone of ice cream. As I detailed two days ago, all states have a system that allows for kids to be tried as adults. Though those states have different methods and criteria for transferring cases from juvenile court to adult court, the result is the same. As of 2003, 7.1% of the kids transferred into adult court were 15 or younger.

General Discussion / White House in Benghazi Cover-up :O
« on: May 09, 2013, 10:23:11 AM »
US officials blocked rescue effort while Benghazi burned, Congress told
Diplomat Gregory Hicks accuses State Department of cover-up in evidence that may yet hurt Hillary Clinton's White House bid

While US diplomats were pulling bodies from a burning Libyan consulate and frantically smashing up hard drives last 11 September, their superiors blocked rescue efforts and later attempted to cover up security failings, according to damaging new evidence that may yet hurt Hillary Clinton's presidential hopes.

In vivid testimony to Congress on Wednesday, Gregory Hicks, deputy to murdered US ambassador Christopher Stevens, revealed for the first time in public a detailed account of the desperate few hours after the terrorist attacks on the US consulate in Benghazi.

He also said that Stevens went to Benghazi to beat a 30 September deadline to convert the mission to a permanent posting. There was additional time pressure because Clinton planned to visit Libya later in the year and to announce the opening of the post, Hicks said.

But Hicks and two other state department witnesses also singled out the government response for criticism. Until now that criticism had been largely dismissed as a partisan effort by Republican congressman to smear former Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time.

Hicks claimed Clinton's chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, telephoned him to complain that he had given critical evidence to congressional investigators without the presence of a "minder" from the state department. "A phone call from that senior a person is generally considered not to be good news," said Hicks, who said he had since been demoted. "She was upset. She was very upset."

The career diplomat also alleged he was actively discouraged by officials from asking awkward questions about why other top Clinton aides, including the UN ambassador Susan Rice, initially blamed the attack on a spontaneous protest that got out of control. He described that briefing he described as "jaw-dropping, embarrassing and stunning". It is now thought the attacks, involving up to 60 heavily armed militia, were co-ordinated by Ansar al-Sharia, a group affiliated to al-Qaida, and timed to coincide with the 11th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.

The allegations of a state department cover-up follow equally embarrassing claims that military leaders blocked efforts to dispatch special forces troops to the Benghazi consulate.

In testimony that first emerged on Monday, Hicks claims that four special forces soldiers with him in Tripoli were "furious" when they were told by superiors in Washington that they could not join a relief flight to Benghazi organised by the Libyan government in the hours after the initial attack.

Mark Thompson, a former marine who heads the foreign emergency support team, also alleged that the White House blocked his efforts to dispatch a specialist group from the US that is designed to respond to incidents such as the Benghazi attaack.

Hicks said he was told that US air force jets based in Italy could have reached the consulate in "two to three hours" but were blocked, out of fear of offending the Libyan government, and because a refuelling tanker could not be found.

Pentagon officials have repeatedly argued that none of the available military assets could have reached Benghazi in time to prevent the death of ambassador Stevens and three other consular staff. But Hicks insisted even if they had been too late, better attempts should have been made. "People in peril in future need to know that we will go to get them," he said. "That night we needed to demonstrate that resolve even if we still had the same outcome."

Hicks also rejected the defence given by Hillary Clinton when pressed on the initial delay in attributing the attack to terrorists, arguing the US undermined its Libyan allies who were rightly pointing to Ansar al-Sharia.

"President Magarief was insulted in front of his own people, in front of the world. His credibility was reduced. His ability to govern was [damaged]. He was angry … He was still steamed about the talk shows two weeks later. I definitely believe it negatively affected our ability to get the FBI team quickly to Benghazi."

Hicks also testified that part of the reason that Stevens was in Benghazi was to make preparations to convert the mission to a permanent post, and to lay the groundwork for a visit by Clinton. "At least one of the reasons the ambassador was in Benghazi was to further the secretary's wish that that post become a permanent constituent post" and because Clinton "intended to visit later that year" to announce the conversion.

Democrats on the committee attempted to play down the significance of the new evidence. "There is no smoking gun today," said Mark Pocan of Wisconsin. "There is not even a lukewarm slingshot." Deputy chair Elijah Cummings said the hearing would not be able to get to a full picture without recalling other military witnesses.

But the powerful and at times emotional testimony of the state department witnesses is likely to rekindle questions over the government's handling of the incident. The Obama administration had hoped that an earlier independent review panel had drawn a line under the issue.

Republicans characterise their refusal to let the Benghazi issue go as a determination to find out what went wrong. But some Democrats have suggested that the real intention is to taint both the White House and Clinton in a bid to dent her chances in 2016 should she decide to run.

Hicks described receiving the final telephone call from ambassador Stephens revealing he was under attack. He said an attaché ran into his villa "yelling Greg, Greg, the consulate's under attack". Hicks looked at his phone and had two missed calls. He called back and got ambassador Stevens. "He said, 'Greg, we're under attack.'"

"I said 'OK' and the line cut."

Hicks then described how he had taken refuge in a secure villa that was set alight with petrol by the attackers. He also told how the embassy building in Benghazi was hit by mortar fire and how a tiny group of soldiers at both sites fought through the night to prevent both facilities from being overrun.

"September 11 was a routine day until we heard the news that our embassy in Cairo had been stormed and they were trying to tear down the flag," recalled Hicks.

"I had bad cellphone reception but walked to the tactical operations centre and heard that our consulate in Benghazi had been breached and at least 20 armed individuals were in the compound."

After twice not recognising the number, he said he received a short call from ambassador Stevens, thought to be his last, who said they "were under attack". He and an assistant, Sean Smith, were led to a safe area inside a villa next to the consulate by security agent Scott Strickland. It was set on fire with jerry cans of fuel shortly after 9pm.

"Scott attempted to lead them out but they didn't follow. He tried to get back in but was beaten back by the smoke," said Hicks. "Petroleum-based fires emit cyanide gas and one full breath can kill you. They managed to pull Sean out, but he was dead. They couldn't find Chris."

A second wave was coming to attack and the remaining consulate staff fell back to a nearby CIA annex. "After about an hour and a half of probing attacks from terrorists that they were able to repulse they decided to evacuate," said Hicks. They met with a response team flown from Tripoli on a Libyan C130 transporter and retreated back to the capital.

Hicks says at this point he still thought that ambassador Stevens might be alive and he received word from the Libyan government that he was being held in a hospital run by the same group responsible for the attack. "I thought we might need a hostage response team to get the ambassador out of a hospital under enemy control," explained Hicks.

At the same time the group was claiming responsibility for the Benghazi attack on Twitter, embassy staff began noticing threats against their facility in Tripoli too.

"We began planning to evacuate, and took 55 people to the annexe," said Hicks. "At 2am Hillary Clinton calls and she asks me what is going on. I brief her mostly about ambassador Stevens and told her we would need to evacuate. At 3am I received a call from from the prime minister of Libya who told me that ambassador Stevens had passed away. It was the hardest call I have ever had to take."

Hicks says he has vivid memories of communications staff in Tripoli destroying classified equipment including a female officer manager "smashing hard drives with an axe". The contingent in Benghazi then tried to drive to the airport around dawn but were hit by two mortar rounds.

"The first mortar was long and landed among the Libyans who were escorting us – they took casualties. The next was short and landed on the annex roof, killing one of our people and seriously wounding another, David. Mark charged onto the roof and strapped David, who was a large man, to his back and carried him down the ladder."

Hicks says he wanted to send further reinforcements to Benghazi where they had been fighting through the night but was unable.

Eric Nordstrom, a security officer who also gave evidence to Congress said the lessons state department employees have taken from Benghazi were scathing: "Whether you're at a mission, preparing for a hearing or you're standing on top of a building "surrounded by a mob," he says, "The message is the same: You're on your own."

• This article was amended on 8 May 2013 to make clear that mortar attacks took place in Benghazi, not Tripoli.


I have been quite skeptical about the ability of the Republican party to win over Latino voters. As others and I have noted, Latinos don't vote Democratic just because of immigration policy. They vote Democratic because they are more ideologically "in sync" with the Democratic party. That's why I've felt that going along with immigration reform was unlikely to net Republicans many Latino voters.

That said, I can't agree either with the math in a Politico article titled "Immigration reform could be a bonanza for Democrats". The article starts off promisingly enough with the premise that if immigration reform passed and undocumented immigrants became citizens, Latinos would start voting Democratic in even larger numbers. I can go along with this because the main reason anyone votes for or against a political party is for its economic platform, and 81% of first generation Latino immigrants say they want a "bigger government with more services", compared to only 48% of Americans overall.

Politico then uses the commonly quoted figure of 11 million undocumented immigrants and claims that there would, therefore, be "up to" 11 million undocumented immigrants up for grabs if they all became citizens. If these 11 million then voted along the lines of the Latinos who cast a ballot in 2012, Obama would have won the national vote by 7pt instead of 4pt. He could have carried Arizona and even Texas, which were each won comfortably by Republican Mitt Romney.

The problem I have, though, is why would anyone use the 11 million figure for reference.

First off, 1 million undocumented immigrants are under the age of 18. I don't care what your immigration status is, you can't vote in United States presidential elections if you are under the age of 18.

Second, of the 10 million adults, 19% aren't actually Latino; 11% are Asian. Asian voting patterns tend to be less stable than Latinos. In the past election, Asians went for President Obama by about 45pt. Twenty years ago, they went for Republican George HW Bush.

Without more research (and there is surprisingly little of it), it's unclear to know how undocumented Asian voting patterns would change given immigration reform. Also, keep in mind that about 60% of these Asian immigrants are in California and Washington State alone – so they're not exactly going to be a game-changer in the electoral college.

Third, I tend to doubt that all 8 million adult Latino undocumented immigrants would go for citizenship. A Latino Decisions poll says 87% of them would, but I'm skeptical. Only 60% of all legal immigrants actually apply for citizenship. Since the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, only about 40% of the newly eligible immigrants by so-said act became citizens. It would be reasonable to expect a similar percentage this time.

Only 36% of Mexican immigrants who are eligible to become citizens have gone through the process. Mexicans make up 72% of all undocumented Latino immigrants. Six in ten of the other 28% of eligible Latino immigrants have become citizens.

All together, if undocumented Latino immigrants become citizens at the rate that eligible Latino immigrants do, then we're looking at 3.5 million new voting-age citizens. That 3.5 million is a far cry from the 11 million we first talking about.

Finally, just how many of these 3.5 million undocumented Latino immigrants can be expected to vote in the presidential election? Per the standard census Current Population Survey (CPS), only 49.9% of all voting age Latino American citizens cast a ballot in 2008. (Note, there is no report available for 2012 as of this point.) Based on pre-election surveys and work by Michael McDonald, there is reason to believe that percentage may have dropped further in 2012.

All told, it would seem that only about 1.7 million new Latino voters would be added if undocumented immigrants were granted citizenship. Nationally, this would be a net of about 775,000 votes. This would increase Obama's vote margin, but not to 7pt; it would only go up to about 4.4pt – in other words, half a point from where it actually was in November 2012. Even adding in new Asian voters, who vote at a lower rate than even Latinos, and other undocumented immigrants (and controlling for the percentage who apply for citizenship, percentage of citizens who vote, and the percentage who voted for Obama), the margin probably only goes up to, at most, 4.6pt.

The amount this would shift individual states in elections is debatable. Take Nevada, where, at last count, there were 190,000 undocumented immigrants – the highest percentage of any state population. Most of them are Latino. Apply the same math we did above, Obama would have gained about 17,000 votes. It would have increased his state margin of victory by 1.4pt. That's not nothing, but we're talking about the state with the largest percentage undocumented immigrants.

Most states aren't close to Nevada's undocumented immigrant population, while the ones that are simply aren't competitive at the president level: Arizona, California, and New Jersey. No state in 2012 would have had a different outcome if undocumented immigrants were given the right to vote.

The truth of the matter is that passing immigration reform won't be a votes "bonanza" for the Democratic party because of potentially or newly enfranchised undocumented immigrants. That doesn't mean passing immigration reform will help the Republican party among Latinos; the GOP should probably still be worrying about its Latino voter appeal. But it's not facing a landslide from a new citizen electorate.


Last year, more active-duty soldiers killed themselves than died in combat. And after a decade of deployments to war zones, the Pentagon is bracing for things to get much worse

<a href="http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2013/2/1/1359735881739/William-Busbee-008.jpg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2013/2/1/1359735881739/William-Busbee-008.jpg</a>

Libby Busbee is pretty sure that her son William never sat through or read Shakespeare's Macbeth, even though he behaved as though he had. Soon after he got back from his final tour of Afghanistan, he began rubbing his hands over and over and constantly rinsing them under the tap.

"Mom, it won't wash off," he said.

"What are you talking about?" she replied.

"The blood. It won't come off."

On 20 March last year, the soldier's striving for self-cleanliness came to a sudden end. That night he locked himself in his car and, with his mother and two sisters screaming just a few feet away and with Swat officers encircling the vehicle, he shot himself in the head.

At the age of 23, William Busbee had joined a gruesome statistic. In 2012, for the first time in at least a generation, the number of active-duty soldiers who killed themselves, 177, exceeded the 176 who were killed while in the war zone. To put that another way, more of America's serving soldiers died at their own hands than in pursuit of the enemy.

<a href="http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/maps_and_graphs/2013/2/1/1359740368278/Soldier-suicides-008.png" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/maps_and_graphs/2013/2/1/1359740368278/Soldier-suicides-008.png</a>

Across all branches of the US military and the reserves, a similar disturbing trend was recorded. In all, 349 service members took their own lives in 2012, while a lesser number, 295, died in combat.

Shocking though those figures are, they are as nothing compared with the statistic to which Busbee technically belongs. He had retired himself from the army just two months before he died, and so is officially recorded at death as a veteran – one of an astonishing 6,500 former military personnel who killed themselves in 2012, roughly equivalent to one every 80 minutes.

'He wanted to be somebody, and he loved the army'

Busbee's story, as told to the Guardian by his mother, illuminates crucial aspects of an epidemic that appears to be taking hold in the US military, spreading alarm as it grows. He personifies the despair that is being felt by increasing numbers of active and retired service members, as well as the inability of the military hierarchy to deal with their anguish.

That's not, though, how William Busbee's story began. He was in many ways the archetype of the American soldier. From the age of six he had only one ambition: to sign up for the military, which he did when he was 17.

"He wasn't the normal teenager who went out and partied," Libby Busbee said. "He wanted to be somebody. He had his mind set on what he wanted to do, and he loved the army. I couldn't be more proud of him."

Once enlisted, he was sent on three separate year-long tours to Afghanistan. It was the fulfillment of his dreams, but it came at a high price. He came under attack several times, and in one particularly serious incident incurred a blow to the head that caused traumatic brain injury. His body was so peppered with shrapnel that whenever he walked through an airport security screen he would set off the alarm.

The mental costs were high too. Each time he came back from Afghanistan. between tours or on R&R, he struck his mother as a little more on edge, a little more withdrawn. He would rarely go out of the house and seemed ill at ease among civilians. "I reckon he felt he no longer belonged here," she said.

Once, Busbee was driving Libby in his car when a nearby train sounded its horn. He was so startled by the noise that he leapt out of the vehicle, leaving it to crash into the curb. After that, he never drove farther than a couple of blocks.

Nights were the worst. He had bad dreams and confessed to being scared of the dark, making Libby swear not to tell anybody. Then he took to sleeping in a closet, using a military sleeping bag tucked inside the tiny space to recreate the conditions of deployment. "I think it made him feel more comfortable," his mother said.

After one especially fraught night, Libby awoke to find that he had slashed his face with a knife. Occasionally, he would allude to the distressing events that led to such extreme behaviour: there was the time that another soldier, aged 18, had been killed right beside him; and the times that he himself had killed.

William told his mother: "You would hate me if you knew what I've done out there."

"I will never hate you. You are the same person you always were," she said.

"No, Mom," he countered. "The son you loved died over there."

Soldiers' psychological damage

For William Nash, a retired Navy psychiatrist who directed the marine corps' combat stress control programme, William Busbee's expressions of torment are all too familiar. He has worked with hundreds of service members who have been grappling with suicidal thoughts, not least when he was posted to Fallujah in Iraq during the height of the fighting in 2004.

He and colleagues in military psychiatry have developed the concept of "moral injury" to help understand the current wave of self-harm. He defines that as "damage to your deeply held beliefs about right and wrong. It might be caused by something that you do or fail to do, or by something that is done to you – but either way it breaks that sense of moral certainty."

Contrary to widely held assumptions, it is not the fear and the terror that service members endure in the battlefield that inflicts most psychological damage, Nash has concluded, but feelings of shame and guilt related to the moral injuries they suffer. Top of the list of such injuries, by a long shot, is when one of their own people is killed.

"I have heard it over and over again from marines – the most common source of anguish for them was failing to protect their 'brothers'. The significance of that is unfathomable, it's comparable to the feelings I've heard from parents who have lost a child."

Incidents of "friendly fire" when US personnel are killed by mistake by their own side is another cause of terrible hurt, as is the guilt that follows the knowledge that a military action has led to the deaths of civilians, particularly women and children. Another important factor, Nash stressed, was the impact of being discharged from the military that can also instil a devastating sense of loss in those who have led a hermetically sealed life within the armed forces and suddenly find themselves excluded from it.

That was certainly the case with William Busbee. In 2011, following his return to Fort Carson in Colorado after his third and last tour of Afghanistan, he made an unsuccessful attempt to kill himself. He was taken off normal duties and prescribed large quantities of psychotropic drugs which his mother believes only made his condition worse.

Eventually he was presented with an ultimatum by the army: retire yourself out or we will discharge you on medical grounds. He felt he had no choice but to quit, as to be medically discharged would have severely dented his future job prospects.

When he came home on 18 January 2012, a civilian once again, he was inconsolable. He told his mother: "I'm nothing now. I've been thrown away by the army."

The suffering William Busbee went through, both inside the military and immediately after he left it, illustrates the most alarming single factor in the current suicide crisis: the growing link between multiple deployments and self-harm. Until 2012, the majority of individuals who killed themselves had seen no deployment at all. Their problems tended to relate to marital or relationship breakdown or financial or legal worries back at base.

The most recent department of defense suicide report, or DODSER, covers 2011 . It shows that less than half, 47%, of all suicides involved service members who had ever been in Iraq or Afghanistan. Just one in 10 of those who died did so while posted in the war zone. Only 15% had ever experienced direct combat.

The DODSER for 2012 has yet to be released, but when it is it is expected to record a sea change. For the first time, the majority of the those who killed themselves had been deployed. That's a watershed that is causing deep concern within the services.

"We are starting to see the creeping up of suicides among those who have had multiple deployments," said Phillip Carter, a military expert at the defence thinktank Center for a New American Security that in 2011 published one of the most authoritative studies into the crisis . He added that though the causes of the increase were still barely understood, one important cause might be the cumulative impact of deployments – the idea that the harmful consequences of stress might build up from one tour of Afghanistan to the next.

Over the past four years the Pentagon, and the US Department of Veterans Affairs, have invested considerable resources at tackling the problem. The US Department of Defense has launched a suicide prevention programme that tries to help service members to overcome the stigma towards seeking help. It has also launched an education campaign encouraging personnel to be on the look out for signs of distress among their peers under the rubric "never let our buddy fight alone".

Despite such efforts, there is no apparent let up in the scale of the tragedy. Though President Obama has announced a draw-down of US troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, experts warn that the crisis could last for at least a decade beyond the end of war as a result of the delayed impact of psychological damage.

It's all come in any case too late for Libby Busbee. She feels that her son was let down by the army he loved so much. In her view he was pumped full of drugs but deprived of the attention and care he needed.

William himself was so disillusioned that shortly before he died he told her that he didn't want a military funeral; he would prefer to be cremated and his ashes scattered at sea. "I don't want to be buried in my uniform – why would I want that when they threw me away when I was alive," he said.

In the end, two infantrymen did stand to attention over his coffin, the flag was folded over it, and there was a gun salute as it was lowered into the ground. William Busbee was finally at rest, though for Libby Busbee the torture goes on.

"I was there for his first breath, and his last," she said. "Now my daughters and me, we have to deal with what he was going through."


It’s as Caribbean as rice and beans and sunshine. Calypso music has been popular along Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast since the late 1800s. More than a century later, the government of Costa Rica has declared the style of music “national patrimony.”

Executive decree No. 37418-C, published in the official government newspaper La Gaceta last week, gives special recognition to Calypso as part of Costa Rica’s cultural and historical identity, the daily La Nación reported.

Calypso was introduced into Costa Rica by Jamaican immigrants who settled along the Caribbean coast. The style of music combines simple, yet catchy, chord structures with lyrics that tell stories as diverse as a region’s history, a family’s financial woes or a no-good, drinking, cheating and gambling spouse. Calypso singers relate the joys of local cuisine, the beauty of the Caribbean and the struggles of the Afro-Caribbean people throughout history.

Calypso is said to have originated in the Caribbean archipelagic state of Trinidad and Tobago, and began as a form of communication between slaves from Africa. For more than a century, calypso singers have entertained throughout the Caribbean province of Limón, and even as far west as the capital, San José. Costa Rica’s most famous calypso musician, Walter Ferguson, who lives in the small southern Caribbean beach community of Cahuita, helped put Costa Rican calypso on the map, having performed in concerts in Europe and elsewhere.

Ferguson, 93, told La Nación he’s happy the government is officially recognizing his beloved style of music. “There are children growing up who want to know what calypso is. I hope they have the chance to learn,” he said.


General Discussion / Cleveland Driver Uppercuts passenger
« on: October 12, 2012, 02:48:19 PM »
The 'girl' is actually 25...wasn't sure where to put this video. Jokes...entertainment. But wow - that uppercut was something else.  :-\

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/BJZvYvLxnaM" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/BJZvYvLxnaM</a>

Details released afterwards.

She didn't want to/couldn't pay her fare; started arguing with the driver when he continued to ask for the fare. Grabbed his throat and spat on him. #Uppercut.

Football / 2012 Super Cup: Chelsea vs Atletico Madrid
« on: August 31, 2012, 01:01:25 PM »
6 min: GOAL! Chelsea 0-1 Atlético Madrid. Chelsea are rocking alright. Chelsea's back line is ripped apart by a simple pass down the middle. Falcao romps after it, picking up possession down the inside-left channel. He takes one step into the area, steadies himself, draws Cech, and dinks an exquisite chip towards the right-hand post. The ball hits the woodwork, and spins into the net, beyond the despairing tootsies of Luiz, who is sliding in at speed. What an amazing finish. Upfield, former charge Fernando Torres looks on in stunned disbelief.

General Discussion / Gandhi a racist?
« on: July 13, 2012, 03:37:48 PM »
I've heard it been mentioned before so I decided to look it up and came across these excerpts.

How much does this detract from his 'legacy'?

Addressing a public meeting in Bombay on Sept. 26 1896 (CW II p. 74), Gandhi said:

Ours is one continued struggle against degradation sought to be inflicted upon us by the European, who desire to degrade us to the level of the raw Kaffir, whose occupation is hunting and whose sole ambition is to collect a certain number of cattle to buy a wife with, and then pass his life in indolence and nakedness.

In 1904, he wrote (CW. IV p. 193):

It is one thing to register natives who would not work, and whom it is very difficult to find out if they absent themselves, but it is another thing -and most insulting -to expect decent, hard-working, and respectable Indians, whose only fault is that they work too much, to have themselves registered and carry with them registration badges.

In its editorial on the Natal Municipal Corporation Bill, the Indian Opinion of March 18 1905 wrote:

Clause 200 makes provision for registration of persons belonging to uncivilized races (meaning the local Africans), resident and employed within the Borough. One can understand the necessity of registration of Kaffirs who will not work, but why should registration be required for indentured Indians who have become free, and for their descendants about whom the general complaint is that they work too much? (Italic portion is added)

The Indian Opinion published an editorial on September 9 1905 under the heading, "The relative Value of the Natives and the Indians in Natal". In it Gandhi referred to a speech made by Rev. Dube, a most accomplished African, who said that an African had the capacity for improvement, if only the Colonials would look upon him as better than dirt, and give him a chance to develop self-respect. Gandhi suggested that "A little judicious extra taxation would do no harm; in the majority of cases it compels the native to work for at least a few days a year." Then he added:

Now let us turn our attention to another and entirely unrepresented community-the Indian. He is in striking contrast with the native. While the native has been of little benefit to the State, it owes its prosperity largely to the Indians. While native loafers abound on every side, that species of humanity is almost unknown among Indians here.

In the Government Gazette of Natal for Feb. 28 1905, a Bill was published regulating the use of fire-arms by the natives and Asiatics. Commenting on the Bill, the Indian Opinion of March 25 1905 stated:

In this instance of the fire-arms, the Asiatic has been most improperly bracketed with the natives. The British Indian does not need any such restrictions as are imposed by the Bill on the natives regarding the carrying of fire-arms. The prominent race can remain so by preventing the native from arming himself. Is there a slightest vestige of justification for so preventing the British Indian?

Commenting on the petition, the Indian Opinion of March 24 1906, declaring that "British Indians have, in order that they may never be misunderstood, made it clear that they do not aspire to any political power," added:

It seems that the petition is being widely circulated, and signatures are being taken of all coloured people in the three colonies named. The petition is non-Indian in character, although British Indians, being coloured people, are very largely affected by it. We consider that it was a wise policy on the part of the British Indians throughout South Africa, to have kept themselves apart and distinct from the other coloured communities in this country.

In a statement made in 1906 to the Constitution Committee, the British Indian Association led by Gandhi (CW. V p.335) said:

The British Indian Association has always admitted the principle of white domination and has, therefore, no desire, on behalf of the community it represents, for any political rights just for the sake of them.

Commenting on a court case, the Indian Opinion of June 2 1906, in its Gujrati section, stated:

You say that the magistrate's decision is unsatisfactory because it would enable a person, however unclean, to travel by a tram, and that even the Kaffirs would be able to do so. But the magistrate's decision is quite different. The Court declared that the Kaffirs have no legal right to travel by tram. And according to tram regulations, those in an unclean dress or in a drunken state are prohibited from boarding a tram. Thanks to the Court's decision, only clean Indians (meaning upper caste Hindu Indians) or coloured people other than Kaffirs, can now travel in the trams. (Italic portion is added)

Football / El Clasico 2011 Real Madrid - Barcelona
« on: December 05, 2011, 12:34:43 PM »
Since Disgruntled rel sticking... :bs:

Saturday 10th December
4pm EST
El Santiago Bernabeu

A power shift in La Liga?

It’s a little premature to suggest there is a shift in power from Catalonia to Madrid, but for the first time in Pep Guardiola’s reign as manager of Barcelona, are Real Madrid looking the favourites ahead of the first Clasico of the league campaign?

To suggest Barcelona are going through a ‘mini-crisis’ would be wide of the mark, they are still the premier footballing side in Europe. But there could be a few doubts creeping in and we’re seeing the side’s weaknesses come a little more to the fore than in previous years.

It seems to be that the ‘lesser’ teams in Spain have cracked the code in how to repel Barcelona’s wave after wave of attacking threat. Getafe last weekend were not the first team to frustrate Guardiola’s men this season, with Sevilla picking up a much-deserved draw at the Nou Camp thanks to the heroics of Javi Varas, and Athletico Bilbao taking advantage of horrendous playing conditions to also grab a point from the reigning champions.

Teams have become more compact against Barcelona’s style of play, that being the patient, meticulous break-down of their opponents. We’re not accustomed to seeing goals scored from whipped in crosses from the flanks, nor do Barcelona’s frontline use the width of the pitch to great effect, rather relying on the marauding Dani Alves to provide options from wide positions.

On the other hand, Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid are looking unstoppable, and it may be for one very obvious reason: the burden of goal scoring is not placed on one player. Cristiano Ronaldo may be first in line for spot-kicks and all free-kicks within range, but Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema have been in sensational goal scoring form so far this season.

Instead of having the tip of the spear pulling defenders out of position and unsettling the nerves of those at the back as Lionel Messi so effortlessly does, Madrid possess a far more lethal sledgehammer of an attack in which to pick up the win.

It’s not that we should detract from the effect Ronaldo has on this Madrid side, it just appears to be that he can have a night off and Mourinho could still call upon surrounding members of the cast to provide equally devastating, counter-attacking football.

However, take Messi out of the equation at Barcelona and we’re looking at a forward line of an out-of-form David Villa who, despite scoring last week against Rayo Vallecano and Zaragoza a few weeks earlier, has not looked the predatory striker that arrived from Valencia. Playing from the left of the attacking trident will of course harm his numbers in front of goal, but his first season at the Nou Camp saw Spain’s all-time leading goal scorer rack up 23 goals in all competitions. Other areas of the Barcelona attack also seem to be going through a similarly dry spell but the return from injury of Alexis Sanchez is welcome and gives Guardiola another option at the Nou Camp.

At this stage of the season Real Madrid are looking more like their bitter rivals both on and off the pitch. We’re yet to hear of a controversial Mourinho moment since he ‘offended’ the Catalan press following their game against Espanyol and his side are displaying a new-found desire in especially troublesome games, as was the case against Valencia a few weeks ago where Ronaldo’s winning goal late in the game was celebrated by Mourinho jumping on Jose Callejon’s back. The Madrid manager stated that Valencia should not be offended by his actions but rather accept it as a “compliment” that his side were able to overcome such a difficult opponent in Unai Emery’s side.

Barcelona’s formula of playing is not something that has all of a sudden broken, they still play wonderful, attacking football that is easy on the eye and they will continue to win by playing this way. But it’s the poor recent form by their standards which sets them up as second favourites in this tie. Their heads drop now when they go behind, they struggle to find the net when they should be getting a score of five or six and, most importantly, they lack the consistent goal scoring of more than one individual, something which may prove to be a problem over the course of the season.


Football / French chiefs approve player quotas - report ????
« on: April 28, 2011, 07:52:05 PM »
PARIS — French football chiefs have approved proposals to limit the number of black and Arab players coming through their national training programmes to 30 percent, according to a report.

The influential Mediapart website claimed Thursday top management at the French Football Federation (FFF), including France manager Laurent Blanc, secretly discussed and approved "unofficial discriminatory quotas".

"For the top brass in French football, the issue is settled: there are too many blacks, too many Arabs and not enough white players in French football," the website claimed.

"Some top officials at the French football federation's National Development Programme (DTN), including national team coach Laurent Blanc, secretly approved at the start of 2011 the principle of unofficial discriminatory quotas in training centres and schools around the country."

Mediapart added that following a meeting in January, where those involved were told to keep the proposals secret, directives to apply the measures were sent to the numerous training centres around the country.

"According to internal sources at the FFF, who have been shocked by the proposals, instructions were sent to the different managers of training schools, notably the National French Institute at Clairefontaine," added the report.

"The figure of 30 percent was even evoked by the Technical Director during a DTN meeting on January 18, 2011."

However the French team's chief press officer Philippe Tournon said Blanc categorically denied the allegations made in the report.

"Laurent Blanc rejects these accusations which run contrary to his whole philosophy," Tournon told AFP.

"Laurent Blanc is outraged that he has been accused in this way, since he rejects any kind of discrimination. He would never agree to such measures."

The report claims that in FFF meetings the problematic issue of players with double nationalities was also discussed.

Tournon added: "One of the problems evoked by Laurent Blanc is the double nationality issue, namely when players who benefit from a three-year stint in a French national training centre then go abroad and play for other teams.

"But to reduce that to an article headlined 'There are too many blacks and Arabs' is simply unbelievable. And it's not going to sit well with Laurent Blanc."

FFF chief Fernand Duchaussoy told AFP: "I've never heard of these proposals and to be honest it would astound me if I did.

"It wouldn't be right, and in any case I wouldn't allow it to happen."

Duchaussoy added: "It's a reality. We have a lot of young players who have double nationality, and some of them go on to choose another country than France when it comes to the national side.

"That is their choice, and we have to accept it. But these kinds of problems haven't been discussed at federal meetings."

General Discussion / ‎48÷2(9+3) = ?
« on: April 13, 2011, 12:17:22 PM »

hahah Let me spread the frustration and hear what the distinguished people of SW.net have to say.

Cricket Anyone / West Indies vs South Africa Opening game
« on: February 23, 2011, 05:58:07 PM »

Live stream (hopefully)


It’s been eight years since Mark Boucher pumped his fists in a short-lived joy on that fateful day in Durban. Then it sunk in that South Africa got their math wrong. Like in Sydney 1992 — best remembered for the bizarre rain rule, 22 off one ball — Messrs Duckworth and Lewis did play their part to imperfection. Shaun Pollock lost his job and a 22-year-old burly chap was handed over the reins of Team South Africa.

Graeme Smith continued from where his predecessor left, failing to win a world title all these years, but something tells you he means business this time. Irrespective of whether South Africa shed the chokers tag — oops, you are not supposed to utter that word in Smith’s presence — or not, he will step down after the World Cup. The Proteas go into the quadrennial showpiece with a superbly-talented squad, an enviable recent record and, above all, a renewed desire to lift that coveted trophy.

Their opponents on Thursday will be the West Indies, a side replete with experienced stalwarts and talented all-rounders, but South Africa have beaten them in each of the last 10 ODIs. To their advantage, the Caribbean outfit is in its ‘rebuilding’ stage, but alas, the new bricks have forever ceased to arrive. What’s more, Darren Sammy & Co have recorded 21 straight losses in ODIs against Test-playing nations. In short, Smith couldn’t have asked for a better opener at a venue that’s not hosted international cricket since December 2009.

“I feel I am best prepared going into this tournament as I have been throughout my career. I am just excited to be able to lead the guys,” he said on Wednesday.

On paper, South Africa look simply marauding. A pace battery that comprises Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and, of course, the ever-reliable Jacques Kallis can send shivers down any batsman’s spine. Interestingly, they have plenty of spinners to choose from too. Robin Peterson, Johan Botha, Imran Tahir and Faf du Plessis can all be a handful on subcontinental wickets. The batting line-up is full of stars with Smith at the top. Hashim Amla, Kallis, AB de Villiers and JP Duminy are the others who’d be expected to be among the runs. The Proteas have always had exciting fielding units, and a dive here and a direct hit there, could always keep them in the game. The ingredients are all there, but inspiration is what this unit needs. Fingers crossed.

Conversely, the West Indians seem to be going in with a nothing-to-lose mindset. Skipper Sammy tackled every query with a smile, but he tackled them nonetheless. “Cricket is one uniting force that binds all the Caribbean islands together. I am proud to be leading this unit. We, too, have a lot to play for,” his tone suddenly changed.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, the Bravo brothers — Dwayne and Darren — and Sammy ooze talent, but can they fire in unison? Kemar Roach and Ravi Rampaul will share the new ball, while left-arm spinners Suleiman Benn, Nikita Miller and offie Gayle will make use of the footmarks.

Thursday’s match will be all about South Africa’s renewed desire, West Indies’s leisurely swagger and, of course, a lot of dew. Who’ll blink first?
Who will blink first -South Africa or West Indies? - Sport - DNA

No place for Lara in teams of the decade

West Indies most celebrated batsman of the last decade, Brian Lara, was not good enough to make it into either one of the Test or One-day teams of the just completed first decade of this century, according to a panel of experts on the cricketing website, Cricinfo. Five Australians have made it into each of the teams, according to the panel which included the Web site’s editors Sambit Bal and Andrew Miller as well as former Australian captain Ian Chappell and Indian batsman Sanjay Manjrekar. Three, along with Sachin Tendulkar, Muttiah Muralitharan and the South African all-round pair of Jacques Kallis and Shaun Pollock, found a place in both sides.

Apart from West Indies, there are no New Zealanders. And only one Englishman, Andrew Flintoff, made it to either side. There were four unanimous picks in the Test side—Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, Glenn McGrath and Muralitharan, but none in the ODI one (Gilchrist came closest, with 12 votes; Ponting, Tendulkar and McGrath got 11 each). According to Cricinfo, Matthew Hayden and India’s Virender Sehwag were the men who paved the way for a change in attitude and mentality while opening the innings. Hayden scored 8364 Test runs from 96 games and reached 29 centuries, while Sehwag hit two triple-centuries and four doubles in 72 Tests. The number three batsman is Ricky Ponting who scored 9458 runs at 58.38 and he has recorded 38 hundreds.

Following Ponting is Sachin Tendulkar, who just completed his 20th year of international cricket, and scored over 7000 Test runs at 53.20 with 21 centuries during the decade. His teammate, Rahul Dravid is at five and the Cricinfo jury stated that Dravid was at the forefront of almost all of India's memorable Test wins in the 2000s including Kolkata 2001, Headingley, Adelaide 2003, Rawalpindi 2004, Kingston 2006 and Perth 2008. South Africa’s Jacques Kallis takes the number six spot, with Adam Gilchrist the wicketkeeper’s spot. He too revolutionised the game, with a Test strike rate of 82 best exemplified in Perth against England in 2006 and by his audacious 204 in Johannesburg in 2002. Gilchrist hit more Test sixes than any batsman in history, 99 of them this decade.

Pollock was the second South African allrounder to make the list. His control of line and length got him 260 Test wickets at under 25 this decade, and though his pace dipped, inevitably, he still managed to extract a significant amount of seam movement in various conditions, and his unnerving accuracy made him hard to get away. Add to this a healthy batting average of 32.56. The ODI team includes Sachin Tendulkar and Sanath Jayasuriya at the top. They have a mind-boggling 30,822 ODI runs between themselves (over 17,000 of those scored this decade). The middle order has a combined career tally of a touch under 25,000 runs. Kallis and Andrew Symonds are in the middle followed by Andrew Flintoff. Gilchrist takes the gloves again along with Pollock while the opening bowlers are Brett Lee and McGrath. Murali is the only spinner.

More info

Test XI
Matthew Hayden, Virender Sehwag, Ricky Ponting, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Jacques Kallis, Adam Gilchrist (wk), Shaun Pollock, Shane Warne, Muttiah Muralitharan, Glenn McGrath
12th man: Andrew Flintoff

Sanath Jayasuriya, Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Jacques Kallis, Andrew Symonds, Adam Gilchrist, Andrew Flintoff, Shaun Pollock, Brett Lee, Glenn McGrath, Muttiah Muralitharan
12th man: Shane Warne

The Jury
Sambit Bal, editor, Cricinfo
Harsha Bhogle, sports presenter and writer
Ian Chappell, former Australia captain
Peter English, Australasia editor, Cricinfo
Jayaditya Gupta, executive editor, Cricinfo
Gideon Haigh, cricket historian, writer
Sanjay Manjrekar, former India batsman
Andrew Miller, UK editor, Cricinfo
Dileep Premachandran, associate editor, Cricinfo
S Rajesh, stats editor, Cricinfo
Christian Ryan, writer
Rob Steen, writer
Telford Vice, writer

Football / Warlock says he's been paid to curse Real Madrid star Ronaldo
« on: October 11, 2009, 07:47:20 PM »
This article was published on 30th Sep.


Then he gets an injury against Marseille misses the Sevilla match. Now he's out for a month after getting injured again in the WCQ.

lol Seriously????


Football / UEFA Champions League 09-10
« on: September 15, 2009, 01:26:01 PM »
How come there isn't a thread?

Real Madrid up 2-0 against FC Zurich right now in the frst half.

Wicked Free kick by Ronaldo and the Raul was set up by Higuain in another good play.

First Day Round Up

Juventus-Girondins Bordeaux 1 : 1

Maccabi Haifa Bayern Munich 0 : 3

Besiktas Manchester United 0 : 1

Wolfsburg CSKA Moscow 3 : 1

FC Zurich Real Madrid 2 : 5

Olympique Marseille AC Milan 1 : 2

Atletico Madrid Apoel Nicosia 0 : 0

Chelsea FC Porto 1 : 0

Football / English Premier League Tops Summer Spending, La Liga In Second
« on: September 02, 2009, 10:48:06 AM »
A financial report published in Spanish paper El Mundo Deportivo this morning sheds light on the economics behind the summer spending of major European leagues.

Topping the charts is the English Premier League, with the total value of all transfers at an astounding €504 million after the close of the transfer window at midnight of September 1st.

Manchester City have alone spent €140 million on eight new players, highlighting the vast spending power of their new Abu Dhabi based owners. Still, the financial crisis has had a disastrous effect on the spending of other top clubs, with Arsenal spending just €11 million, and Chelsea €25 million, the lowest amount since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003.

Spanish clubs, who have taken the transfer market by storm this year, have splashed out a total of €477 million, with over half (€250 million) spent single-handedly by Real Madrid. Madrid and Barcelona account for more than 75% of the total spending of the Spanish League.

Los Blancos have made two consecutive world record signings, Kaka (€65 million), and Cristiano Ronaldo (€94 million), with an additional five players coming to the Bernabeu worth €91 million, bringing the total spending to a world-record €250 million, the most money ever spent by a club in a single summer.

Fourteen players have left Real Madrid, with their value reaching an impressive €88.5 million, which can rise to €93 million in the coming two years.

Some controversy surrounds the value of the transfer activities regarding Catalan outfit Barcelona. President Joan Laporta claims that his club spent €80 million, but the Spanish media believe the total is €110 million, considering the fact that Ibrahimovic came as a player plus cash deal, with Samuel Eto'o valued at €30 million.

Ironically, Barcelona have sold four players, but have recouped €0 in the process.

Despite the enormous spending of Real Madrid and Barcelona, the two Spanish giants have announced world-record budgets of over €400 million for the upcoming season.

Top 5 European Leagues By Summer Spending

1. English Premier League - €504 million

2. Spanish Primera Division - €477 million

3. Italian Serie A - €422 million

4. French First Division - €245 million

5. German Bundesliga - €220 million

Total: €1.868 billion

Football / Espanyol Captain Daniel Jarque Dies Of Heart Failure
« on: August 08, 2009, 09:07:51 PM »

Newly-appointed Espanyol captain Dani Jarque was found dead in his Coviciana hotel room tonight.

The centre-back is said to have suffered from heart failure some time after returning from training during Espanyol's pre-season tour of Italy.

The tragic news came only one month after the player - who had spent his entire professional career at the club - was appointed captain of the Parakeets.

Jarque's death comes two years after the death of Sevilla's Antonio Puerta, who collapsed on the field during his team's Spanish league match against Getafe.

The news was officially confirmed on the Liga side's official website.

Football / Real Madrid - Toronto FC
« on: August 07, 2009, 05:58:31 PM »
2-0 Madrid in the 18th. Second goal was nice - the set up and stuff. Lass passed in the air, C Ronaldo headed it down to Benzema who sent a pass forward and Ronaldo ran up and scored.

Showing on ESPN btw.

Goal.com’s KS Leong ponders if the 'Godfather of the Galacticos' has in fact overspent this summer, or if he has the right to continue making offers that can’t be refused.

When Real Madrid were 'forced' to sell Robinho in August 2008, many believed that the Galactico dream was well and truly over, if it wasn’t already, while the cynics predicted that it would signal the collapse of the club’s seemingly eternal golden era.

And they weren’t wrong. Los Blancos struggled horribly in the immediate few months following 'O Principe’s' departure, they subsequently flopped in the Champions League again, they made a mockery of themselves up in the boardroom and to rub the most caustic of salts into the wound, they had to watch Barcelona win three titles in the month of May.

It seemed as though the most historic and illustrious of football clubs was starting to fade deeper and deeper into their own shadow. Who would’ve imagined, Real Madrid selling one of their best and most promising players and one of their biggest stars to a club like Manchester ‘No History’ City?

But then again, who would’ve thought 12 months later that Madrid would have Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and possibly Franck Ribery all in the same dressing room? And let’s not forget poor Raul Albiol, who doesn’t quite have the star status but is unquestionably one of the best defenders in Spain today.

Like a sleeping giant rudely awaken by the fireworks and the all-night party over at Las Ramblas in Catalunya, Real Madrid are ready to unleash their wrath after years and years being deprived of either trophies or spectacular football.

But as desperate as they are to repair the damage and their image, are Real Madrid right to spend all their money – which is likely to exceed a quarter of a billion dollars by the time the transfer market closes – all in one summer? Has Florentino Perez gone overboard, like Luciano Moggi says?

Well, the answer is simple. For Madridistas, it’s a definite 'no, the president has not gone overboard' and 'yes, they have the right to spend that much amount of money in one year'. If anything, the fans are probably demanding that ‘El Presidente’ close the deal for Ribery and Xabi Alonso as soon as possible no matter the cost and then push for David Villa, David Silva and Maicon.

To the outside world, however, it does seem a tad excessive and extravagant, or as Joan Laporta would describe it, "imperialistic and arrogant". But the Barcelona chief is forgetting one thing: it’s because of the Blaugrana’s ‘triplete’ success that Perez has been driven to such madness. It’s because of Laporta’s constant boasting of having the three best players in the world, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi that has prompted Los Merengues to build their own Dream Team.

Sir Alex Ferguson didn’t do the rest of the world any favours either when he taunted the capital titans last year by calling them "General Franco’s club" and labelling them a mob, before taking another jab by saying he "wouldn’t sell a virus to them". Did he expect to make fun of Madrid and get away with it? He should have let sleeping dogs lie.

And it was perhaps Liverpool who tipped Perez, Jorge Valdano and Emilio Butragueno over the edge. The Reds had the gall to put five goals past the Blancos over 180 minutes of football in the Champions League, a result which spurred the aforementioned ‘White House’ trio, who weren’t in power yet at the time, into action. Who knows what the football transfer climate would be like now had Liverpool stopped at 3-0 during the second-leg clash at Anfield.

But Madrid have always been known to spend big and they’ve always had an obsession to bring the best players in the world to the Santiago Bernabeu. It didn’t start ten years ago with Luis Figo and Zinedine Zidane and in all seriousness, it didn’t re-start because of Fergie, Laporta or Liverpool. It started half a century ago with Alfredo Di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas.

But are they doing the right thing spending over €200 million in one single summer to completely reconstruct the team? Valdano was the first to admit that coach, Manuel Pellegrini won’t have the easiest of tasks making the side click in the first few months. And as Arsene Wenger alluded to, it would have made perfect sense for Madrid to buy two or three players at a time instead.

But Perez isn’t buying footballers. He’s buying the best superstars in the world and you can accuse him all you want of only being interested in selling shirts, but there’s no club, no fan, no coach or manager and no chairman in the world who wouldn’t want the best players in their team if they had access to the right resources. 

Madrid just happen to be that one club who have that kind of access and they know that the window of opportunity to sign these megastars do not stay open for long. Consider Kaka’s case. If Milan had sold Pato to Chelsea first, there would be almost no chance for the Merengues to sign Ricky.

Had they passed up on Cristiano Ronaldo, tore up the infamous ‘pre-contract’ and forfeited €30 million, they would probably never have another shot at the Portuguese. The same would apply for Ribery. With clubs like Manchester United, Chelsea, Barcelona and Arsenal all hot on his trail, if ‘Floren-team’ didn’t make their move this summer, they would never have another opportunity.

And as for Benzema? Well, he is a weird choice. An upfront fee of €35m for a 21-year-old who has never played outside of France to spearhead the frontline of what is expected to be, on paper, the most fearsome attacking unit ever assembled on a football pitch.

It’s a big risk, but Madrid know that with South Africa 2010 looming on the horizon, Benzema has to perform and he has to grab the bull by the horns straight away and impress from day one, or he will risk being dropped from the French national team. Call it tough love, call it motivation, but if there’s a good time to bring in a young, hungry footballer from overseas, it would be during a World Cup year.

What is a concern for most Madrid diehards is whether the club will have any money left to further reinforce the backline, or if Florentino will make the same mistake again and neglect the 'boring' part of the team.

To his credit, he has already signed Albiol and he’s working hard on Alvaro Arbeloa as well as Xabi Alonso, who, although not a defender, will give the rearguard extra steel. And if there were as many superstar defenders in the world today as there are attackers, you can rest assured that he would sign them.

With still roughly two months to go before the curtains come down on the silly season, Madrid are likely to continue spending big, leaving the football community flabbergasted and drawing more stinging criticism. But they don’t care what others say and neither do the fans.

As one of the homemade banners at the Santiago Bernabeu read on that glittering evening when Madrid’s new No. 8 was unveiled to the world: Kaka: €67 million. Cristiano Ronaldo: €94 million. Watching them play in white together: Priceless.

Cricket Anyone / Best Indies v Sri Lanka
« on: June 19, 2009, 09:01:08 AM »

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