Archive for August, 2009

Lockerbie bomber ‘set free for oil’

August 31, 2009

From The Sunday Times

Read entire article here

Jason Allardyce

The British government decided it was “in the overwhelming interests of the United Kingdom” to make Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, eligible for return to Libya, leaked ministerial letters reveal.

Gordon Brown’s government made the decision after discussions between Libya and BP over a multi-million-pound oil exploration deal had hit difficulties. These were resolved soon afterwards.

The letters were sent two years ago by Jack Straw, the justice secretary, to Kenny MacAskill, his counterpart in Scotland, who has been widely criticised for taking the formal decision to permit Megrahi’s release.

The correspondence makes it plain that the key decision to include Megrahi in a deal with Libya to allow prisoners to return home was, in fact, taken in London for British national interests.

Edward Davey, the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, said: “This is the strongest evidence yet that the British government has been involved for a long time in talks over al-Megrahi in which commercial considerations have been central to their thinking.”

Two letters dated five months apart show that Straw initially intended to exclude Megrahi from a prisoner transfer agreement with Colonel Muammar Gadaffi, under which British and Libyan prisoners could serve out their sentences in their home country.

In a letter dated July 26, 2007, Straw said he favoured an option to leave out Megrahi by stipulating that any prisoners convicted before a specified date would not be considered for transfer.

Downing Street had also said Megrahi would not be included under the agreement.

Straw then switched his position as Libya used its deal with BP as a bargaining chip to insist the Lockerbie bomber was included.

The exploration deal for oil and gas, potentially worth up to £15 billion, was announced in May 2007. Six months later the agreement was still waiting to be ratified.

On December 19, 2007, Straw wrote to MacAskill announcing that the UK government was abandoning its attempt to exclude Megrahi from the prisoner transfer agreement, citing the national interest.

In a letter leaked by a Whitehall source, he wrote: “I had previously accepted the importance of the al-Megrahi issue to Scotland and said I would try to get an exclusion for him on the face of the agreement. I have not been able to secure an explicit exclusion.

“The wider negotiations with the Libyans are reaching a critical stage and, in view of the overwhelming interests for the United Kingdom, I have agreed that in this instance the [prisoner transfer agreement] should be in the standard form and not mention any individual.”

Within six weeks of the government climbdown, Libya had ratified the BP deal. The prisoner transfer agreement was finalised in May this year, leading to Libya formally applying for Megrahi to be transferred to its custody.

Saif Gadaffi, the colonel’s son, has insisted that negotiation over the release of Megrahi was linked with the BP oil deal: “The fight to get the [transfer] agreement lasted a long time and was very political, but I want to make clear that we didn’t mention Mr Megrahi.

“At all times we talked about the [prisoner transfer agreement]. It was obvious we were talking about him. We all knew that was what we were talking about.

“People should not get angry because we were talking about commerce or oil. We signed an oil deal at the same time. The commerce and oil deals were all with the [prisoner transfer agreement].”

His account is confirmed by other sources. Sir Richard Dalton, a former British ambassador to Libya and a board member of the Libyan British Business Council, said: “Nobody doubted Libya wanted BP and BP was confident its commitment would go through. But the timing of the final authority to spend real money was dependent on politics.”

Bob Monetti of New Jersey, whose son Rick was among the victims of the 1988 bombing, said: “It’s always been about business.”

BP denied that political factors were involved in the deal’s ratification or that it had stalled during negotiations over the prisoner transfer talks.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman denied there had been a U-turn, but said trade considerations had been a factor in negotiating the prisoner exchange deal. He said Straw had unsuccessfully tried to accommodate the wish of the Scottish government to exclude Megrahi from agreement.

The spokesman claimed the deal was ultimately “academic” because Megrahi had been released on compassionate grounds: “The negotiations on the [transfer agreement] were part of wider negotiations aimed at the normalisation of relations with Libya, which included a range of areas, including trade.

“The exclusion or inclusion of Megrahi would not serve any practical purpose because the Scottish executive always had a veto on whether to transfer him.”

A spokesman for Lord Mandelson said he had not changed his position that the release of Megrahi was not linked to trade deals.


Bill would give president emergency control of Internet

August 28, 2009

August 28, 2009 12:34 AM PDT
Bill would give president emergency control of Internet
by Declan McCullagh
Read entire article here

Internet companies and civil liberties groups were alarmed this spring when a U.S. Senate bill proposed handing the White House the power to disconnect private-sector computers from the Internet.

They’re not much happier about a revised version that aides to Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, have spent months drafting behind closed doors. CNET News has obtained a copy of the 55-page draft of S.773 (excerpt), which still appears to permit the president to seize temporary control of private-sector networks during a so-called cybersecurity emergency.

The new version would allow the president to “declare a cybersecurity emergency” relating to “non-governmental” computer networks and do what’s necessary to respond to the threat. Other sections of the proposal include a federal certification program for “cybersecurity professionals,” and a requirement that certain computer systems and networks in the private sector be managed by people who have been awarded that license.

“I think the redraft, while improved, remains troubling due to its vagueness,” said Larry Clinton, president of the Internet Security Alliance, which counts representatives of Verizon, Verisign, Nortel, and Carnegie Mellon University on its board. “It is unclear what authority Sen. Rockefeller thinks is necessary over the private sector. Unless this is clarified, we cannot properly analyze, let alone support the bill.”

Representatives of other large Internet and telecommunications companies expressed concerns about the bill in a teleconference with Rockefeller’s aides this week, but were not immediately available for interviews on Thursday.

A spokesman for Rockefeller also declined to comment on the record Thursday, saying that many people were unavailable because of the summer recess. A Senate source familiar with the bill compared the president’s power to take control of portions of the Internet to what President Bush did when grounding all aircraft on Sept. 11, 2001. The source said that one primary concern was the electrical grid, and what would happen if it were attacked from a broadband connection.

When Rockefeller, the chairman of the Senate Commerce committee, and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) introduced the original bill in April, they claimed it was vital to protect national cybersecurity. “We must protect our critical infrastructure at all costs–from our water to our electricity, to banking, traffic lights and electronic health records,” Rockefeller said.

The Rockefeller proposal plays out against a broader concern in Washington, D.C., about the government’s role in cybersecurity. In May, President Obama acknowledged that the government is “not as prepared” as it should be to respond to disruptions and announced that a new cybersecurity coordinator position would be created inside the White House staff. Three months later, that post remains empty, one top cybersecurity aide has quit, and some wags have begun to wonder why a government that receives failing marks on cybersecurity should be trusted to instruct the private sector what to do.

Rockefeller’s revised legislation seeks to reshuffle the way the federal government addresses the topic. It requires a “cybersecurity workforce plan” from every federal agency, a “dashboard” pilot project, measurements of hiring effectiveness, and the implementation of a “comprehensive national cybersecurity strategy” in six months–even though its mandatory legal review will take a year to complete.

The privacy implications of sweeping changes implemented before the legal review is finished worry Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco. “As soon as you’re saying that the federal government is going to be exercising this kind of power over private networks, it’s going to be a really big issue,” he says.

Probably the most controversial language begins in Section 201, which permits the president to “direct the national response to the cyber threat” if necessary for “the national defense and security.” The White House is supposed to engage in “periodic mapping” of private networks deemed to be critical, and those companies “shall share” requested information with the federal government. (“Cyber” is defined as anything having to do with the Internet, telecommunications, computers, or computer networks.)

“The language has changed but it doesn’t contain any real additional limits,” EFF’s Tien says. “It simply switches the more direct and obvious language they had originally to the more ambiguous (version)…The designation of what is a critical infrastructure system or network as far as I can tell has no specific process. There’s no provision for any administrative process or review. That’s where the problems seem to start. And then you have the amorphous powers that go along with it.”

Translation: If your company is deemed “critical,” a new set of regulations kick in involving who you can hire, what information you must disclose, and when the government would exercise control over your computers or network.

The Internet Security Alliance’s Clinton adds that his group is “supportive of increased federal involvement to enhance cyber security, but we believe that the wrong approach, as embodied in this bill as introduced, will be counterproductive both from an national economic and national secuity perspective.”


Declan McCullagh is a correspondent for CBSNews.com who writes a daily feature called Taking Liberties focused on individual and economic rights. You can bookmark his CBS News Taking Liberties site here, or subscribe to the RSS feed. You can e-mail Declan at declan@cbsnews.com.

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Senator warns of hyperinflation rivaling the 1980s

August 26, 2009
@ 10:04 am by Michael O’Brien

Read entire article here

The economy could spiral into hyperinflation not seen since the early 1980s if the Federal Reserve does not tighten its monetary policy soon, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) warned Tuesday.

Grassley, speaking about the renomination of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to a second term as head of the Fed, asserted that Bernanke’s ability to hold down inflation would be the metric by which the Fed’s success would be measured.

“We won’t know for a year if he’s done a good job so far, because he shoveled money out of an airplane to save banks and the financial system,” Grassley said in a conference call with Iowa reporters. “But shoveling money out of an airplane to solve problems can be inflationary — in this case, hyperinflationary — if he doesn’t start mopping up some of the money that’s out there.”

Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, said that inflation as a result from government spending on bailouts could result in inflation rivaling rates in 1980, when it hit a peak of 13.5 percent.

“The Fed has the ability to put money out, it’s got the ability to take money back in, and if they don’t do that, we will have hyperinflation worse than we had in 1980 and ’81,” Grassley said. “And I hope he demonstrates that ability.”

Grassley argued that while it would be a year until lawmakers will know whether Bernanke has been successful at bringing inflation under control, it would probably be best to keep the chairman on board for a second term as head of the Federal Reserve.

“I would suggest that right now, when everybody’s nervous about the economy, that you don’t change horses in the middle of the stream, and consequently, it would probably be detrimental to not have him reappointed,” he said.

Memorial Service…You’re invited.

August 17, 2009
Subject: Memorial Service: you’re invited.

We’re hearing a lot today about big splashy memorial services.
I want a nationwide memorial service for Darrell “Shifty” Powers.

Shifty volunteered for the airborne in WWII and served with Easy Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry20Regiment, part of the 101st Airborne Infantry. If you’ve seen Band of Brothers on HBO or the History Channel, you know Shifty. His character appears in all 10 episodes, and Shifty himself is interviewed in several of them.

I met Shifty in the Philadelphia airport several years ago. I didn’t know who he was at the time. I just saw an elderly gentleman having trouble reading his ticket. I offered to help, assured him that he was at the right gate, and noticed the “Screaming Eagle,” the symbol of the 101st Airborne, on his hat.

Making conversation, I asked him if he’d been in the 101st Airborne or if his son was serving. He said quietly that he had been in the 101st. I thanked him for his service, then asked him when he served, and how many jumps he made.

Quietly and humbly, he said “Well, I guess I signed up in 1941 or so, and was in until sometime in 1945 .. . . ” at which point my heart skipped.

At that point, again, very humbly, he said “I made the 5 training jumps at Toccoa, and then jumped into Normandy . . . . do you know where Normandy is?” At this point my heart stopped.

I told him “yes, I know exactly where Normandy is, and I know what D-Day was.” At that point he said “I also made a second jump into Holland, into Arnhem.” I was standing with a genuine war hero . . . . and then I realized that it was June, just after the anniversary of D-Day..

I asked Shifty if he was on his way back from France, and he said “Yes. And it’s real sad because, these days, so few of the guys are left, and those that are, lots of them can’t make the trip.” My heart was in my throat and I didn’t know what to say.

I helped Shifty get onto the plane and then realized he was back in Coach while I was in First Class. I sent the flight attendant back to get him and said that I wanted to switch seats. When Shifty came forward, I got up out of the seat and told him I wanted him to have it, that I’d take his in coach.

He said “No, son, you enjoy that seat. Just knowing that there are still some who remember what we did and who still care is enough to make an old man very happy.” His eyes were filling up as he said it. And mine are brimming up now as I write this.

Shifty died on June 17 after fighting cancer.

There was no parade.
No big event in Staples Center.
No wall to wall back to back 24×7 news coverage.
No weeping fans on television.
And that’s not right.

Let’s give Shifty his own Memorial Service, online, in our own quiet way. Please forward this email to everyone you know. Especially to the veterans.

Rest in peace, Shifty.

Chuck Yeager, MajGen. [ret.]

Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine

August 15, 2009

Just listen to this and decide for yourself.

Find it on this web address

We are all gonna die!!!!!!!!!! Soon

August 13, 2009

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Incheon (Republic of Korea)

11 August 2009

Remarks to the Global Environment Forum

Honourable Ahn Sang-Soo, Mayor of Incheon Metropolitan City,

Honourable Mr. Ko Kun, Co-Chairman of the global Enviroment Forum,

Honourable Mr. Lee Man-yi, Minister of Environment,

Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen, Dear Friends,

It is a great privilege for me to participate in this global Environment Forum.

Let me begin by offering my sincere congratulations to Mayor Ahn and the the citizens of the Metropolitan City of Incheon.

Environment Forum as well as the Global Fair and Festival 2009, you show true global vision ? vision that underlines the importance of local government and cities in coping with the challenges of the 21st century.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As you know, Incheon is famous as the gateway to Korea.

But here today, I am especially proud as UN Secretary-General – and a Korean citizen – to be able to say that Incheon is also a gateway to our common future.

The very fact that this most important Forum meets here today testifies to that.

The Songdo Convensia is one of the world’s most green convention centres. And it is located in one of the world’s most eco-friendly cities.

Songdo is remarkable not only for what it has become but for what it used to be.

People who grew up here remember the smokestacks and toxic fumes.

In a few short decades, these have given way to clean buildings and clear skies.

We are here today to recognize the connections between us and deal with a common problem. Of this, too, Songdo is a symbol and key.

I understand that Songdo modeled itself on the Swedish sister city of Hammarby Sjostad (SCHÖ-stad).

That city, too, used to be an industrial site before it transformed itself through ecofriendly development.

These two cities – one in Europe, the other in Asia – show visionary civic leadership. They understand that we have a choice: adapt or perish.

It is that simple.

Other cities around the world are taking this enlightened approach. Reykjavik in Iceland? Curitiba in Brazil… Kampala in Uganda… Sydney in Australia.

Whenever I visit these places, I am impressed.

People everywhere are accepting that we must all live cleaner, greener, more sustainable lives. This is our future.

I must admit that, as a Korean, Songdo occupies a special place in my heart.

It helps show how Korea has emerged as a world leader on greening the economy.

Some 80 per cent of Korea’s $38 billion national stimulus package is dedicated to green growth? the highest percentage in the world.

Nearly a million green jobs will be created in the coming four years.

This represents a fundamental shift in Korea’s approach to building national prosperity.

I applaud this progress. I commend the visionary leadership of President Lee Myung Bak of Korea.

But Korea must do more.

The world is looking to Korea for leadership. This powerful emerging economy can serve as a bridge between developed and developing countries.

But to do this, Korea must set ambitious goals for reducing its own emissions.

I understand that the Korean Government is now seriously considering amending the mid-term target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

As the Minister of Environment said, the Korean Government is now is considering three options.

As Secretary-General of the United Nations, I urge you to aim high – be more ambitious commensurate with your economic development.

Korea long inspired others with its comeback spirit of renewal. After the Second World War, it arose to become one of the world’s strongest economies.

Songdo was an industrial wasteland, but it transformed itself into one of the world’s greenest cities.

Korea should now go further.

It should make itself a model of international engagement on climate change. Climate change, as all previous speakers have already stated, is the fundamental threat to humankind.

It exacerbates all of the problems we face: poverty, disease, hunger and insecurity. It impedes progress toward the Millennium Development Goals. It deepens the food and energy crises.

That is the harsh reality.

But there is an upside: if we combat climate change with a sustainable, low-emissions approach, just like we see around us in Songdo, we can change the way countries develop.

We can foster a green economy and green growth.

We can fight hunger and poverty while protecting the environment.

The downside is equally dramatic.

If we fail to act, climate change will intensify droughts, floods and other natural disasters.

Water shortages will affect hundreds of millions of people. Malnutrition will engulf large parts of the developing world. Tensions will worsen. Social unrest – even violence – could follow.

The damage to national economies will be enormous. The human suffering will be incalculable.

We have the power to change course. But we must do it now.

As we move toward Copenhagen in December, we must “Seal a Deal” on climate change that secures our common future. I’m glad that the Chairman of the forum and many other speakers have used my campaign slogan “Seal the Deal” in Copenhagen. I won’t charge them loyalty. Please use this “Seal the Deal” as widely as possible, as much as you can. We must seal the deal in Copenhagen for the future of humanity.

We have just four months. Four months to secure the future of our planet.

Any agreement must be fair, effective, equitable and comprehensive, and based on science. And it must help vulnerable nations adapt to climate change.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The science is clear. We know what to do and we know how to do it. Songdo shows us the way.

What is needed is the political will. We have the capacity. We have finance. We have the technology. The largest lacking is political will. That is why I will convey some meetings focused on climate change. I have invited all the leaders of the world including President Lee.

Two years ago, only a handful of world leaders could talk about climate change.

Today, leaders of all the world, all the countries on every continent are aware of the threats we face now.

This is great progress, for we need leadership of the very highest order.

Awareness is the first step. The challenge now is to act.

Since my first day as Secretary-General, I have spoken out about the grave climate change threat.

My words, at times, have been blunt.

When the leaders of the G-8 agreed in July to keep the global temperature increase within two degrees centigrade by the year 2050, that was welcomed and I welcome that statement.

But I also said again, it was not enough.

But leaders have agreed to cut green house gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. That is welcomed again. But that must be accompanied by the ambitious mid-term target by 2020 as science tells us to do. There I said, while I applaud their commitment, that is not enough.

I called for matching these long-term goals with ambitious mid-term emission reduction targets.

Let me be clear about what we need to do.

There are four points [of] very important key political issues.

First industrialized countries must lead by committing to binding mid-term reduction targets on the order of 25 to 40 per cent below 1990 levels.

Unfortunately, the mid-term emission targets announced so far are not close enough to this range. This must change. That is why I am urging at this time, that the Korean government should take more ambitious targets.

Second, developing countries need to take nationally appropriate mitigation actions in order to reduce the growth in their emissions substantially below business as usual.

Their actions must be measurable, reportable and verifiable.

Third, developed countries must provide sufficient, measurable, reportable and verifiable financial and technological support to developing countries.

This will allow developing countries to pursue their mitigation efforts as part of their sustainable green growth strategies and to adapt to accelerating climate impacts.

Significant resources will be needed from both public and private sources.

Developing countries, especially the most vulnerable, will collectively need billions of dollars in public financing for adaptation.

I am talking here about new money – not re-packaged Official Development Assistance. This is one of the most important issues which we are going to discuss on September 22nd in New York, and this year again at the G20 Summit Meeting in Pittsburgh on September 24th.

Fourth, we need an equitable and accountable mechanism for distributing these financial and technological resources, taking into account the views of all countries in decision-making.

Accomplishing all of this requires tough decisions. It will take flexibility and hard work to negotiate the most difficult issues.

Trust between developed and developing countries is essential.

When governments succeed in sealing a deal in Copenhagen, we will have shown the spirit of international solidarity. We will have shown leadership – political will.

Distinguished participants,

The city of Incheon has a remarkable history.

Here, in 1950, the Korean war came to a famous turning point, following a daring landing by UN forces.

Against all the odds, the operation succeeded. Courage and leadership turned the tide.

Today, we need to turn a different tide – the tide of climate change. We need bold “outside of the box” thinking.

We need your support and cooperation.

You can shape the international debate and influence important decisions.

You can encourage countries to work together.

I promise you my best effort as Secretary-General of the United Nations — my best effort to push, pull and cajole national leaders into acting in our common global interest.

Together, we truly can turn the tide, once again, here in Incheon.

I need your support, your commitment, and your leadership.

Thank you very much.

Jihadis thrice attacked Pakistan nuclear sites

August 11, 2009

Article appears here

Chidanand Rajghatta, TNN 11 August 2009, 08:35am IST

WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s nuclear facilities have already been attacked at least thrice by its home-grown extremists and terrorists in littlereported incidents over the las two years, even as the world remains divided over the safety and security of the nuclear weapons in the troubled country, according to western analysts.

The incidents, tracked by Shaun Gregory, a professor at Bradford University in UK, include an attack on the nuclear missile storage facility at Sargodha on November 1, 2007, an attack on Pakistan’s nuclear airbase at Kamra by a suicide bomber on December 10, 2007, and perhaps most significantly the August 20, 2008 attack when Pakistani Taliban suicide bombers blew up several entry points to one of the armament complexes at the Wah cantonment, considered one of Pakistan’s main nuclear weapons assembly.

These attacks have occurred even as Pakistan has taken several steps to secure and fortify its nuclear weapons against potential attacks, particularly by the United States and India, says Gregory.

In fact, the attacks have received so little attention that Peter Bergen, the eminent terrorism expert who reviewed Gregory’s paper first published in West Point’s Counter Terrorism Center Sentinel, said “he (Gregory) points out something that was news to me (and shouldn’t have been) which is that a series of attacks on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons facilities have already happened.”

Pakistan insists that its nuclear weapons are fully secured and there is no chance of them falling into the hands of the extremists or terrorists.

But Gregory, while detailing the steps Islamabad has taken to protect them against Indian and US attacks, asks if the geographical location of Pakistan’s principle nuclear weapons infrastructure, which is mainly in areas dominated by al-Qaida and Taliban, makes it more vulnerable to internal attacks.

Gregory points out that when Pakistan was developing its nuclear weapons infrastructure in the 1970s and 1980s, its
principal concern was the risk that India would overrun its nuclear weapons facilities in an armored offensive if the
facilities were placed close to the long Pakistan-India border.

As a result, Pakistan, with a few exceptions, chose to locate much of its nuclear weapons infrastructure to the
north and west of the country and to the region around Islamabad and Rawalpindi – sites such as Wah, Fatehjang,
Golra Sharif, Kahuta, Sihala, Isa Khel Charma, Tarwanah, and Taxila. The concern, however, is that most of Pakistan’s nuclear sites are close to or even within areas dominated by Pakistani Taliban militants and home to al-Qaida.

Detailing the actions taken by Islamabad to safeguard its nuclear assets from external attacks, Gregory writes that
Pakistan has established a “robust set of measures to assure the security of its nuclear weapons.” These have
been based on copying US practices, procedures and technologies, and comprise: a) physical security; b)
personnel reliability programs; c) technical and procedural safeguards; and d) deception and secrecy.

In terms of physical security, Pakistan operates a layered concept of concentric tiers of armed forces personnel to
guard nuclear weapons facilities, the use of physical barriers and intrusion detectors to secure nuclear weapons
facilities, the physical separation of warhead cores from their detonation components, and the storage of the
components in protected underground sites.

With respect to personnel reliability, Gregory says the Pakistan Army conducts a tight selection process drawing
almost exclusively on officers from Punjab Province who are considered to have fewer links with religious extremism (now increasingly a questionable premise) or with the Pashtun areas of Pakistan from which groups such as the Pakistani Taliban mainly garner their support.

Pakistan operates an analog to the US Personnel Reliability Program (PRP) that screens individuals for Islamist sympathies, personality problems, drug use, inappropriate external affiliations, and sexual deviancy.

The army uses staff rotation and also operates a “two-person” rule under which no action, decision, or
activity involving a nuclear weapon can be undertaken by fewer than two persons. In total, between 8,000 and 10,000 individuals from the SPD’s security division and from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), Military Intelligence and Intelligence Bureau agencies are involved in the security clearance and monitoring of those with nuclear weapons duties.

Gregory says despite formal command authority structures that cede a role to Pakistan’s civilian leadership, in
practice the Pakistan Army has complete control over the country’s nuclear weapons.

It imposes its executive authority over the weapons through the use of an authenticating code system down through the command chains that is deployment sites, aspects of the nuclear command and control arrangements, and many aspects of the arrangements for nuclear safety and security (such as the numbers of those removed under personnel reliability programs, the reasons for their removal, and how often authenticating and enabling (PAL-type) codes are changed).

In addition, Pakistan uses deception – such as dummy missiles – to complicate the calculus of adversaries and is
likely to have extended this practice to its nuclear weapons infrastructure.

Taken together, these measures provide confidence that the Pakistan Army can fully protect its nuclear weapons against the internal terrorist threat, against its main adversary India, and against the suggestion that its nuclear weapons could be either spirited out of the country by a third party (posited to be the United States) or destroyed in the event of a deteriorating situation or a state collapse in Pakistan, says Gregory.

However, at another point, he says “despite these elaborate safeguards, empirical evidence points to a clear
set of weaknesses and vulnerabilities in Pakistan’s nuclear safety and security arrangements.”

Charges Dropped Against Black Panther

August 9, 2009

The article appears here
EXCLUSIVE: No. 3 at Justice OK’d Panther reversal
Case involved polling place in Philadelphia

By Jerry Seper (Contact)

Originally published 04:45 a.m., July 30, 2009, updated 04:59 p.m., July 30, 2009

EXCLUSIVE:

Associate Attorney General Thomas J. Perrelli, the No. 3 official in the Obama Justice Department, was consulted and ultimately approved a decision in May to reverse course and drop a civil complaint accusing three members of the New Black Panther Party of intimidating voters in Philadelphia during November’s election, according to interviews.

The department’s career lawyers in the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division who pursued the complaint for five months had recommended that Justice seek sanctions against the party and three of its members after the government had already won a default judgment in federal court against the men.

Front-line lawyers were in the final stages of completing that work when they were unexpectedly told by their superiors in late April to seek a delay after a meeting between political appointees and career supervisors, according to federal records and interviews.

The delay was ordered by then-acting Assistant Attorney General Loretta King after she discussed with Mr. Perrelli concerns about the case during one of their regular review meetings, according to the interviews.

Ms. King, a career senior executive service official, had been named by President Obama in January to temporarily fill the vacant political position of assistant attorney general for civil rights while a permanent choice could be made.

She and other career supervisors ultimately recommended dropping the case against two of the men and the party and seeking a restraining order against the one man who wielded a nightstick at the Philadelphia polling place. Mr. Perrelli approved that plan, officials said.

Dan Rather wants Obama to help save the news

August 9, 2009

The Article appears here

by Andrew Travers, Aspen Daily News Staff Writer

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather called on President Barack Obama to form a White House commission to help save the press Tuesday night in an impassioned speech at the Aspen Institute.

“I personally encourage the president to establish a White House commission on public media,” the legendary newsman said.

Such a commission on media reform, Rather said, ought to make recommendations on saving journalism jobs and creating new business models to keep news organizations alive.

At stake, he argued, is the very survival of American democracy.

“A truly free and independent press is the red beating heart of democracy and freedom,” Rather said in an interview yesterday afternoon. “This is not something just for journalists to be concerned about, and the loss of jobs and the loss of newspapers, and the diminution of the American press’ traditional role of being the watchdog on power. This is something every citizen should be concerned about.”

Rather, who has been a working reporter for more than six decades and currently hosts “Dan Rather Reports” on HDNet, pointed out that there are precedents for such national commissions, which have been used to help other at-risk industries.

Corporate and political influence on newsrooms, along with the conflation of news and entertainment, has created what Rather called “the dumbing down and sleazing up of what we see on the news.”


Heather Rousseau/Aspen Daily News

Dan Rather shares some of his thoughts on the state of public media as he gives a personal interview at the Aspen Meadows on Tuesday before his speech at the Aspen Institute later that evening.

It has also thinned the amount of investigative and international journalism. The latter loss of correspondents covering America’s two foreign wars, Rather opined, is both a critical detriment to the nation and a disservice to our troops.

Tears welled in the lifelong reporter’s eyes as he discussed the dwindling number of war correspondents.

“I feel particularly strong about coverage of the wars,” he said, noting that covering the war in Afghanistan is his top priority on his HDNet program. “No apologies, both as a journalist and as a citizen I just can’t stand to leave those guys out there, fighting, dying, bleeding, getting torn up and say, ‘Look, it’s page 14 news.’ Or ‘Sorry, not on tonight’s newscast.’ It’s an example of the problem, that and not having the watchdogs.”

The free press, as established by the First Amendment to the Constitution, ought to operate as a public trust, not solely as a money-making endeavor, Rather argued, and it’s time the government make an effort to ensure the survival of the free press. If not the government, he suggested, then an organization like the Carnegie Foundation should take it on. Without action, he predicted, America will lose its independent media.

“If we do nothing more than stand back and hope that innovation alone will solve this crisis,” he said, “then our best-trained journalists will lose their jobs.”

andrew@aspendailynews.com

Comments

liberal government one way

Submitted by michaelp on Thu, 07/30/2009 – 3:20pm.

liberal government one way news ! wow ! we get that now.

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DAN RATHER WANTS OBAMAS HELP FOR NEWS

Submitted by michaelp on Thu, 07/30/2009 – 3:17pm.

michael Dan the fox news is doing very well. conservative radio is also doing very, very well. your problem with your liberal news is ! liberal news is one way reporting, lies,and the people are not stupid anymore.n.y. times and all liberal one way reporting is over. example: bush went to barney and congress about the upcoming banking problems in 2001.it was in the news back in the day. barney laughed, and nothing was done about it.now were in trouble. THERE WAS NO NEWS ABOUT IT ! even though it was on t.v. in 2001. the same people are still in office bankrupting the country now.why read news that is only one way, and the same reason your not working anymore. you got caught slandering the news .but don’t worry ! obama plans on bailing out the one way reporting. and plans on shutting down conservative news. yes our freedom of speech ! we are now a socialist country now.government is taking over everything. i know your happy, along with soros, and the rest of the liberal commies.

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Goober Rather

Submitted by worknmal on Thu, 07/30/2009 – 1:57pm.

Just what we need now to inform the ignorant masses. Gov’t funded news run by a guy that makes it up as he goes along.

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give me a break!

Submitted by williecp on Thu, 07/30/2009 – 1:47pm.

Williecp

Who does this guy think he is? He’s looking for the government to help the press watch the government? Does this sound crazy to anyone else?

If the media is in trouble, then they have no one to blame but themselves. The media hasn’t taken seriously it’s “historic” role as the watchdog on government power since the Nixon Administration. Even more pathetic, we saw most arms of the State Media jump so far in bed with the Obama campaign that it was impossible to tell who was hogging the blanket!

And let’s not even talk about all the water carried for corrupt organizations like Acorn! Dan, you want someone to investigate? Then how about pulling your head out of your nether regions and practice some SERIOUS journalism and expose the rank corruption and downright evil connections between the DNC, Americorp, and the above mentioned ACORN!

It is the steadfast refusal of the mainstream media to treat both sides of the political spectrum with appropriate journalistic impartiality that has resulted in declining revenues and lost jobs. The games up people! We know that you’ve been lying to us for decades and we sick of it. We actually have choices now in where we get out news and you elites just can’t deal with that. Too bad. My advice: Suck it up, Buttercup!

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Dan Blather

Submitted by homo_superior on Thu, 07/30/2009 – 11:30am.

the title says it all

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Is Smart Journalism an Oxymoron?

Submitted by BelMarin on Thu, 07/30/2009 – 11:24am.

Journalists are supposed to be smart enough to catch the government when it is corrupt. They are also supposed to be smart enough to catch when politicians working for themselves and not working for the folks. They are supposed to be smart enough to explain complicated issues to the ordinary person.

Now we have a whole class of journalists and the people who own newspapers who are not smart enough to run their own businesses properly. How can we trust them to carry out their duties as journalists?

Whether they are idiologs or not is irrelevant since they have shown an inability to deal with idiologies they do not like such as GWB. He proved to be far smarter than the press.

We need to somehow attract smart people into journalism instead of glib idiots who could not explain a Credit Default Swap or any other derivitives to anyone. How can they catch the bad guys when the press doesn’t understand what the bad guys are doing? Credit Default Swaps for instance are insurance policies that were written without any actuarial backup. If the press had figured that out, then we would not be in the financial pickle we find ourselves in today.

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Some problems with Dan Rather’s position

Submitted by kraftyse on Thu, 07/30/2009 – 10:54am.

1) So we are supposed to divert our already over-extended government revenues to help prop up the mainstream media?

2) There are lots of new media sources for good coverage. The fact is that in the 21st century delivering a big paper that goes “thud” on your doorstep every morning, or a “you must tune in at exactly 5:30 PM to see a national anchor who may or may not talk about anything you are interested in” are both archaic delivery systems for information.

3) Pity the poor journalists! I don’t see anyone lining up to save other specific white-collar professions, so why do journalists qualify for a government bailout?

4) Didn’t Rather and his leaping to conclusions (and then being caught by bloggers) based on forged letters involving GWB’s national guard service serve as a seminal moment in discrediting the journalistic practices and value of the very organizations/professions he now wants to save?

5) Speaking of GWB, would Dan Rather be just as gung-ho about giving a Republican administration and congress so much power over the mainstream media?

Dan–you know why the mainstream media is getting clubbed? Because it is not delivering value. It’s delivery systems are expensive and not customer-friendly. Its content (which it likes to portray as objective) is too often partisan and poorly-researched. I personally would rather pay attention to bloggers and new media, which cost zero tax dollars and if I catch them in acts of hypocrisy and inaccuracies I can easily find other more reliable new media sources.

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Dan Rather wants Obama to help…

Submitted by loldanrather on Thu, 07/30/2009 – 10:50am.

“A truly free and independent press is the red beating heart of democracy and freedom,”

ROFL. This is so funny. Yes, a truly free and independent press is the red beating heart of democracy and freedom. But the press stopped being truly free and independent YEARS ago. As stated before, they are no longer journalists, but progressive, statist cheerleaders and propagandists. People are hungry for real news, and the reason the press is dying is because they no longer are able to find it.

This last election, with the press acting like infatuated adolescents, is all the evidence the public needed. Who can believe that they are truly free an independent after such a sickening performance?

An overwhelming number of American citizens were long ago concerned about the loss of a free and independent press. The press just would not listen. The public was basically told to shut up and sit down like a good serf…

So we did. We shut up our pocket books and stopped paying attention.

Now Dan Rather wants the government to save the press so that it can be free and independent. ROFL. So, if the government saves the press, how can it then be free an independent and not beholden to the government that just saved it?

This is the logic that doomed the press in the first place. They cannot see the truth when it has just finished pummeling them.

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Rather, etal.

Submitted by lifot on Thu, 07/30/2009 – 5:16am.

An significant number of Americans are content to get their news in ‘20 second sound bites’ and assume that what they hear is correct; when in reality this is most often a poor assumption. Getting at the truth requires an individual effort that most are unwilling to make and even when the truth is blatantly obvious, it is often discounted or ignored.

The major media in this Country no longer appears to be in the news business, rather they are in the ‘business of news’. This results in the news being packaged in a manner that best suits the media’s interest and not an objective presentation of the facts.

Finally, and perhaps the most alarming is that the major media has clearly lost their journalistic values and have become cheerleaders for every left-wing cause and politician, regardless of the facts or consequences.

We have the Cronkites, Rathers to ‘thank’ for this, however it appears that truth is beginning to prevail as their ratings and stocks are plunging.

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DAN RATHER

Submitted by ozzie on Thu, 07/30/2009 – 4:19am.

Dan Rather is exactly what is wrong with the MSM. He is one that has caused the general public to look elsewhere for factual news.

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“not having the watchdogs”

Submitted by William_Brown on Thu, 07/30/2009 – 12:27am.

You were NEVER a watchdog, Rather (pun intended), you were a lickspittle liberal lapdog. I’ve got a memo for you and all of the current crop of state-run media: You helped put this Kenyan communist in office and this citizen invites the whole lot of you to join Cronkite in hell.

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Yeah Right!

Submitted by leroitroisieme on Thu, 07/30/2009 – 12:12am.

He wants a “Goebbels” state, one-side all the time. Save the press? The press needs to start reporting fairly and accurately. I don’t see this happening anytime soon.

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Rather is one of the frauds of his biz

Submitted by Profsportster on Thu, 07/30/2009 – 12:03am.

I’ll never forget Rather fronting fake documents attacking Bush. He is a sleeeeeeeezy son of gun, for sure. How amusing to read of him waxing melancholy over the loss of his elite’s monopoly. I grew up listening to the networks spill their statist garbage, and then came Rush. Bye bye news/Hollywood monopoly, hello talk radio! Go hair spray your wig, Danny Boy.

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What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?

Submitted by LibertarianChick on Wed, 07/29/2009 – 11:57pm.

This is the worst case of calling for the fox to guard the henhouse I have ever heard. We already have an interchangeable media between the administration and traditional media, as well as cross-pollenation of network and cable news organizations and entertainment venues. Dan Rather is not relevant and should quietly fade away with the little respect he has left.

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Dan Rather

Submitted by Opie254 on Wed, 07/29/2009 – 11:21pm.

Dan rather is an example of a very partisan liberal hack that will always overshadow his integrity as a journalist. after a while reader just stop wasting time reading a distorted and made up story which CBs called news.whe I first arrived in this country 30 years ago the first anchor i watch was Dan Rather and sadly he was also the first one that I stop watching. I lost respect in him as a journalist.

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Lap Dogs

Submitted by DWarner on Wed, 07/29/2009 – 11:09pm.

Uhh… that doesn’t even make any sense. The press needs to watch the government, so lets have the government set up a commision to tell us how the press should operate.

Our press is a joke. They are sheep in wolves clothing. 12 trillion dollars of debt, body bags from Afghanistan, Iranian nukes, socialized industries, 785 billion dollars of wasted stimulous money and 9.4% unemployment. Where are the tough questions with follow ups?

“Yes Mr. President that was an eloquent answer, but it realy provided no factual explanation of your policies.”

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“A truly free and independent press”

Submitted by StanM on Thu, 07/30/2009 – 3:47am.

The old dinosaur media hasn’t been “a truly free and independent press” for a long time. First, they changed from reporting the news to reading leftist press releases. And now they have moved on to acting as PR companies for the statists.

I stopped getting my news from TV years ago, and then as the blight spread to print media, I stopped bothering with that also.

If “a truly free and independent press” ever reappears, they will have one more loyal customer. If not, who cares what happens to the current crop of PR flacks>

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Dan Rather

Submitted by stability-flow on Wed, 07/29/2009 – 10:28pm.

Dan really blew it with his ‘investigative reporting’ during the ’04 election…his time has come and gone.

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Dan Rather wants Obama to help…

Submitted by JWayne on Wed, 07/29/2009 – 10:12pm.

Dan Rather and his liberal political sycophant ilk have destroyed the credibility of the main stream media and now Rather wants the obamites he helped create to save their own government, state run, advertising agency?
Oh Danny Boy…the pipes the pipes are calling…. You lost because you refuse to lead with truth. All you yes men needed to do is report the facts. Not your wishes, your opinions…the truth.

The truth comes out anyway and when it does you are shown to be the stooges of the left that you are. You yourself Mr. Rather are the walking reincarnation of Goebbels. If you don’t like the news… make some up! And after that, read this afternoon’s spin from your supplied talking points.

Obama’s health care plan is ‘evil’

August 9, 2009

The article appears here


Aug 8, 4:33 AM (ET)

By MARK THIESSEN

NCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin called President Barack Obama’s health plan “downright evil” Friday in her first online comments since leaving office, saying in a Facebook posting that he would create a “death panel” that would deny care to the neediest Americans.

“The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care,” the former Republican vice presidential candidate wrote.

“Such a system is downright evil,” Palin wrote on her page, which has nearly 700,000 supporters. She encouraged her supporters to be engaged in the debate.

Associated Press writer Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar in Washington contributed to this report.

Cancer Patient Offered Gov’t Suicide Funds But Not Medical Care

August 5, 2009

Patient: Negative economic unit

Cancer Patient Offered Gov’t Suicide Funds But Not Medical Care


Doctor C.L. Gray and his Physicians for Reform group tell us of the horror story of Oregon’s government run healthcare plan that offered a cancer patient named Barbara all the suicide assisted funding she wanted, but not one penny for the medical care that could save her life.

As Doctor Gray put it, Barbara was no longer thought of by government as a patient but instead had become a “negative economic unit.” Oregon’s government run healthcare system wanted Barbara dead because keeping her alive was simply to costly.

Warner Todd Huston Most recent columns

Warner Todd Huston’s thoughtful commentary, sometimes irreverent often historically based, is featured on many websites such as renewamerica.ustownhall.com,opinioneditorials.com, and americandaily.com, among many, many others. He has also written for several history magazines, and appears in the new book “Americans on Politics, Policy and Pop Culture,” which can be purchased on amazon.com. He is also the owner and operator of Publius’ Forum.

Warner can be reached at: igcolonel@hotmail.com