NEWS2U Articles & Comments
Critical Reporting

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Liveblogging Obama On The Gulf Coast
Talking About… Let’s See… Oil Spill?

May 30, 2010

Barack Obama is down in Louisiana near the abandoned beaches and marshes soaked in oil and murder. He has a little podium set up near some rocks, protecting him from the oil and mud and dead animals and unemployment. Let’s see what he has to say, if he ever talks! We hear that he’s going to throw some money at gulf coast people. Hooray!

3:00 — OBAMA’S COMING OUT. It looks so hot out there. Oh good god, he has Charlie Crist on one side, David Vitter on the other. Is it possible for Obama to get out of this situation without a brutal gangbang?

3:00 — Admiral Thad Allen has told him about the progress of OPERATION TOP KILL. The plug is doing “okay.” Regrettably, an entire coastal economy has been destroyed for generations. A local mayor just told Obama a story about how no one can pay a mortgage or for food. And then the oil spill happened!

3:01 — Ha ha Vitter moved out of the picture, can’t be seen with the black during primary season.

3:02 — Obama says he has unleashed millions of boats and shit to stop the oil from gettin’ all up in everyone’s business. He has also told Adm. Allen that he will get whatever he needs — HANDOUTS — to fix this awful situation. Welfare queen.

3:03 — Oooh, did you know that Energy Sec. Chu has won the Nobel Prize??? Oh, right, you did, because the administration won’t shut up about it. Can Steven Chu plug the oil hole with his fucking Norwegian Medal? That and a few golf balls and… well, maybe?

3:03 — The White House and SBA will try to help provide liquidity to people down there holding loans. Just go on the Internet and type in “” and it will take you to the, uhh, small business loan thing for Louisianans, yeah…

3:04 — There is a terrorist seagull who won’t shut up. Racist.

3:05 — Obama says THE BUCK STOPS WITH ME, I AM PRESIDENT. He is Taking Ownership, a phrase pundits like to use for nothing in particular.

3:06 — Seriously someone needs to pour some oil on that seagull. Throw some orange crude right up at that actual flying fuck’s wings, sell it to rednecks, don’t ask any questions.

3:07 — Obama is trying so many things, to stop this. Everything. EVERYTHING. Why can’t he just *fix* it though? the pundits will ask.

3:09 — Obama knows that people on the Gulf Coast have been through their Fair Share of death and constant destruction. He promises to “be there” whenever the cameras leave. The rednecks will not be happy to hear this.

3:10 — Ha ha Haley Barbour didn’t show up, because he’s not a SOCIALIST. Jindal, Vitter, whoever is the governor of Alabama — all socialists.

3:11 — Well that’s over. Chuck Todd (who got a free vacation for this!) says that the presser was delayed 90 minutes because everyone was spending time venting, unloading their problems at the president. Man, these “state’s rights” people are something else. Oh look there’s Obama playing on the beach! The end.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Consumers Are Sleeping With the Enemy – and Paying for It

by Sandy Leon Vest
February 26, 2010

"Those who manipulate the unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested largely by men we have never heard of… In almost every act of our lives whether in the sphere of politics or business in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires that control the public mind."   -Edward Bernays-

Anyone whose mission it is to ‘control the masses’ knows it all begins with good marketing.

Public relations aficionado Edward Bernays understood that.

One of the country’s original PR flacks, Bernays is perhaps best known for forging the decades-long marketing alliance between the AMA and the tobacco industry. The ‘Father of Spin,’ as he is known, also played a major role in the marketing and selling of the First World War to the American public with his now infamous slogan, "Making the World Safe for Democracy."

Having mastered the art of seduction, Bernays understood that luring the public into purchasing products they didn't need was a simple matter of connecting those products to their unconscious desires and (perceived) unmet needs. He called this scientific technique of opinion molding the “engineering of consent.”

Corporations have come a long way since Bernays first began coaching them in the stealthy art of consumer seduction. And we have been forever changed by their success. From credit cards to satellite television to fossil fuels, American consumers, having succumbed to corporate seduction, are today paying a very high price for their acquiescence.

Coal-fired Facebook Fires Up Activists – sort of

The series of events following Facebook’s recent announcement that their ‘energy efficient’ data center in Prineville Oregon would be powered by the dirtiest fossil fuel on earth (coal) is illustrative of the problem.

When Facebook announced the opening of its new data center, its PR people made a point of emphasizing that the facility would be “among the greenest in the industry.” So, it was little wonder that clean energy activists were up in arms when it was revealed that the social networking site had contracted with mega-utility PacifiCorp for its power - since PacifiCorp’s primary power-generation fuel is coal.

What followed was a flurry of Facebook activity, mostly in the form of negative comments on the site itself, but also including at least two petitions - one initiated by and another by Greenpeace – demanding that FB’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg either clean up or abandon the company’s contract with PacifiCorp.

At least so far, the contract is unaltered, although it remains to be seen whether Facebook will succumb to the pressure being applied by its more energy-conscious users.

The proverbial ‘rub,’ of course, lies in just how much pressure FB users will be willing to apply. It may be that the Internet, as Chris Hedges recently asserted, “has become one more tool hijacked by corporate interests to accelerate our cultural, political and economic decline.” Yet, the inevitability of such a prediction is far from certain. How social networking tools like Facebook ultimately impact our collective future and whether or not they actually live up to their promise to “promote democracy and unleash innovation and creativity” may well be up to those who use them.

Having become the most popular social networking site in the world (and the one most utilized by activists of all stripes), Facebook is clearly holding most of the cards. And this is where Bernays’ theory of ‘perceived need’ kicks in big time.

After all, FB users need to communicate with one another. We have products to sell, thoughts to express, ideas to flesh out and events to publicize. And, let’s face it, social networking is the most effective and efficient means toward those ends.

Given this (perceived) need, the threat of a boycott – likely the only truly effective tool activists have to make their point - seems all but out of the question. The irony of consumers feeling empowered by the same technology that captivates them is difficult to miss.

One liberal-leaning blogger expressed the dilemma succinctly: “Do I want more ads and more privacy issues to deal with so Facebook can afford to buy more expensive but cleaner power? Definitely not. Would I use a greener Facebook competitor if it existed? Yes, but not if I had to sacrifice functionality.”

We consumers are not very good at sacrifice.

The Enemy is Here – and We’re Addicted to Their Products

In the same way consumers have become captive to the social networking industry, we have likewise become captive to the telecommunications, satellite television, pharmaceutical, fossil fuel, fast food and credit card industries (to name a few). We may not like the ways in which these corporate behemoths treat us, but we’re too addicted to their products to do much about it. Those addictions to everything corporate may offer the only cogent explanation of why we remain paralyzed in the face of apparently unlimited corporate power.

How much progressives will be willing to sacrifice in order to create the world we (say we) want is not yet clear. But one thing is certain: As long as we remain unwilling to stretch the boundaries of our comfort zones in the interest of the greater good, we will remain relatively powerless. We will, in the most perverse sense of the term, “get what we pay for.”

We are here now – at this point in history. The battle lines between ‘We the People’ and the Corporate State have never been more clearly drawn. At this moment, progressives still have the opportunity to determine the outcome of that battle. But it is only a moment, and we will never get it back. No less than the future of our culture and our species will depend upon what we choose to do next. If we let the moment pass, that non-decision will become our collective destiny.

It seems entirely possible that American consumers are already so damaged by our cultural addictions that we lack the ability to give them up. It is also possible that, like all addicts, Americans will continue consuming their preferred ‘poison’ until the supply is gone or until something equally untenable occurs. Yet, all addicts hit bottom sooner or later – however far down that might be.

We’d better hope that happens sooner than later.

Sandy Leon Vest is the editor and publisher of SolarTimes, an independent quarterly energy newspaper with a progressive point of view. SolarTimes is available online at [1], and distributed in hardcopy throughout the Bay Area and beyond. Sandy LeonVest's work has been published locally, as well as internationally, and includes 15 years in the news department at KPFA Radio in Berkeley, CA.

URL to article:

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Copier security: The newest threat you’ve never heard of

By Joe LaRocca
Senior Asset Protection Advisor
National Retail Federation
May 10, 2010

This entry was posted in Loss Prevention, Technology

We have become accustomed to hearing about sophisticated hackers attempting to steal credit card, customer and employee information from POS and IT systems. Just a few weeks ago, CBS News ran a piece on copier security. If you haven’t heard about this issue already, prepare to fall out of your seat.

The CBS investigation found that nearly every digital copier built since 2002 contains a hard drive, much like the one on your personal computer. These drives store images of every document copied, scanned, or emailed from the machine.

Most businesses lease copiers and return or resell them after a few years – the practice at every company I’ve ever worked for. CBS went to a warehouse/liquidator and with forensic software downloaded from the internet, similar to EnCase, they were able to obtain documents from each machine. Documents included records from the Buffalo Police Department and Affinity Insurance Company.

It got me thinking about how many times I’ve copied documents for meetings or watched the local pharmacy, cellular store and even the hospital copy my ID and other personal records.

But back to the CBS investigation. One of the copiers contained payroll records, including social security numbers. According to a follow-up story, because of medical privacy laws, Affinity was required to then file a breach notification to state and federal regulators and notify all of its clients and anyone who might have ever had information on Affinity copy machines, including current and former employees.

I held off on sending this out, thinking it might just be old news. But late last week, in a meeting full of law enforcement and bank investigators, only a handful had even heard of this story. Needless to say it became a topic of discussion. While there was some joy in having a new avenue for evidence collection, most people were concerned. Very concerned.

Apparently there is an option available on most copiers to encrypt or erase the data. I’m sure most IT folks can figure out how to wipe the drive (or find a good sledgehammer).

I encourage you to make sure your IT, operations and administrative people know about this issue and handle accordingly


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Secret Recording of Blackwater CEO Erik Prince Reveals Previously Undisclosed Blackwater (Xe Services) Operations

By Amy Goodman and Jeremy Scahill
Democracy Now!
May 5, 2010

Sharif Abdel Kouddous: Erik Prince doesn’t like being in the media spotlight.

The reclusive owner of the private military firm known as Blackwater is scheduled to give the keynote address tomorrow at the Tulip Time Festival in his hometown of Holland, Michigan. True to form, Prince told the event’s organizers no news reporting could be done on his speech and they consented to the ban. But journalists and media associations in Michigan protested the move and on Monday, the organizers reversed their position and said the media would be allowed to attend with one caveat: no video or audio recording devices are allowed inside.

Despite Prince’s attempts to shield his speeches from public scrutiny, investigative journalist and Democracy Now! correspondent Jeremy Scahill obtained a rare audio recording of a recent, private speech delivered by Prince to a friendly audience in January. The speech, which Prince attempted to keep from public consumption provides a stunning glimpse into his views and future plans and reveals details of previously undisclosed activities of Blackwater.

Amy Goodman: Jeremy Scahill joins us here in our Democracy Now! studio. He is an award winning independent journalist, Puffin Foundation writing fellow at The Nation Institute, and the author of the international bestseller “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.” Jeremy is also scheduled to speak [on Wednesday] in Holland, Michigan, just hours after Erik Prince, at a separate event organized by the Interfaith Congregation of Holland.

... So, talk about this tape. How’d you get it?

Scahill: Well, Erik Prince has been in the media at times because he has had to respond when its forces killed 17 innocent Iraqis in Nisour Square, he made the rounds on CNN and 60 Minutes and other places. And he generally goes into a very controlled environment. He doesn’t often give speeches, he doesn’t lecture on the university circuit, and when he does give talks, he makes it very clear to the event organizers that there are to be no recording devices and journalists are not allowed.

And so I had contact with someone who had the opportunity to go to this private event that was hosted by the Young Presidents Organization and Erik Prince was giving a speech in front of all these entrepreneurs. It was a private gathering. And they had ROTC cadets from the University of Michigan- the commanders of ROTC there.

And in fact, at one point during his speech, Erik Prince stops after he had been bashing some NATO countries and saying that some of the U.S. allies in Afghanistan should pack up their bags and get out of the country, he singled-out about Canada as a positive example of a force that was doing a good job in Afghanistan, he stopped and he said, “I just want to make it clear everything I’m saying here is off the record in case any journalists slipped into the room."

Let’s remember this is a man whose company does ninety percent of its business with the federal government. Taxpayers fund this man’s corporation. We have a right to know what he’s up to. We have a right to know, when you can’t get documents on Blackwater, what the owner of this company is saying.

So I revealed the details of this tape in the interest of the first amendment freedom of the press, but also because I believe the American people have a right. So someone contacted me, said they weren’t going to be going to this and I asked that individual, "Do you think you could record it?” And so what happened was that this person went into the event and clandestinely recorded Erik Prince speaking. And what he said was really incredible.

There are a number of key points to focus on. One is that Erik Prince said that the United States should send armed mercenaries, he doesn’t use the term, but that’s what they are, armed mercenaries, into Somalia, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Nigeria. With the exception of Nigeria, he talked about Yemen and Somalia and Saudi Arabia facing Iranian threats and the Iranians were, as he put it, at the dead center of badness in the world.

And he said that by sending in private contractors, armed contractors, instead of the military, you solve the political problems of sending a large U.S. force, and said that the private sector can do this in a much smaller footprint way and it also would be politically expedient because there would essentially be plausible deniability on the part of the government. In the case of Nigeria, of course we’ve seen an increase in resistance movements and indigenous movements that are protesting against multinational oil corporations polluting, doing what they perceive to be stealing of Nigeria’s most valuable resources, oil-rich African nation.

Erik Prince talked about these Nigerian groups as stealing oil from the multi-national oil corporations and suggested without providing any evidence whatsoever that revenue from this theft, by Nigerian groups, of the oil was being used to fund terrorist operations.

I talked to some military sources that I have that have extensive experience with U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, Pakistan, and what they found most disturbing about what Prince said was that Prince told a story of July 2009 where his narcotics interdiction unit, a 200-person strike force in Afghanistan that I had never heard of this force before, they actually were operating near the Pakistan border, they came across with a said was a massive hashish and heroin operation and Blackwater forces actually called-in air strikes that then came in and destroyed this facility.

The idea that a private company is individually calling-in air strikes raises serious questions about the chain of command issue in Afghanistan. How is it that a private force is able to simply can get on the phone and within moments call-in air strikes that take out anything?

The other story that disturbs military folks that I’ve talked to is that Erik Prince tells a story of how his Blackwater forces resupply a U.S. military unit with ammunition when they’re running low. And he says that the reason that Blackwater did it is because there was too much lawyering involved with the official military doing it.

So Blackwater was contacted he said, by this military unit, and they brought in the resupply, the ammunition. Again, chain of command issues. How is it that Blackwater is able to just unilaterally work with individual units of the U.S. military? Or, in the case of the so-called drug bust that they’re actually calling-in air strikes. Prince, Amy, also said that Blackwater took down Muntadhar al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes the President Bush and Prince called the Secret Service “flatfooted.

And said that he’s going to be publishing a book in the fall, Erik Prince is. It’s going to be like, you know, “Chicken Soup for the Mercenary Soul.” And he said he’s going to publish a photo of the Blackwater guy taking down the man that Prince called the “Iraqi shoe bomber.” I’ve never heard an allegation there was a bomb there but- when Erik Prince is speaking in front of the media, you get one version of the story.

When he’s talking in front of business leaders and the military, you hear a very different side of things and I think it’s very revealing.

The Pentagon should be asking serious questions right now of Erik Prince about what exactly his forces are doing in Afghanistan. He also said he controls four forward operating bases inside of Afghanistan and including one at the base of the mountains of Tora Bora, which is the closest U.S. base and it’s operated, in Erik Prince’s terms, by Blackwater, to the Pakistan border.

But he described having these in different strategic locations around Afghanistan. This was not a speech by a man who seems like he’s concerned that he’s going out of business anytime soon. He seems to be doing quite well and very much of the center of things in Afghanistan.

Kouddous: Well, Jeremy we want to go to one of those clips. This has never before been broadcast. It’s difficult to hear. We have the transcript up for our television viewers. But for our radio audience, why don’t you set up this clip. This is about the Geneva Conventions.

Scahill: Right, this was recorded by someone who had to do it secretly, so it was recorded from a seat in the audience with the room ambiance, so it’s a bit hard to make out. But what Erik Prince, he says that people have come up to him and said, aren’t you concerned when you operate in the likes of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan–interesting because Blackwater has denied it works in Pakistan, but here’s Erik Prince mentioning his work in Pakistan–aren’t you concerned when you work in these places you don’t have protection under the Geneva Convention?

You know, there’s a debate about this, that they could be classified as ‘unlawful combatants’ because they’re essentially mercenaries, it’s arguable under international law definitions. And Prince said, absolutely not because the people that we’re fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan are ‘barbarians who crawled out of the sewer.

He said that they have a 1200 AD mentality. And that they don’t know where Geneva is, let alone there was a convention there. It’s interesting that he misuses the term convention there because it wasn’t a convention in the sense of a meeting, but a convention in the sense of an international agreement that was brokered that governs now, international affairs. So here’s Erik Prince expressing disdain over the debate about the status of his forces in the Geneva Conventions.

Kouddous: So let’s go to that clip. Listen carefully. This is Eric Prince speaking in January. Never before been broadcast.

Erik Prince: They are there to kill us. They don’t understand- you know, people ask me that all the time, ’Aren’t you concerned that you folks aren’t covered under the Geneva Convention in dealing in the likes of Iraq or Afghanistan or Pakistan?’ And I say, ‘Absolutely not,’ because these people, they crawled out of the sewer and they have a 1200 AD mentality. They’re barbarians. They don’t even know where Geneva is, let alone that there was a convention there. [LAUGHTER]

Kouddous: That was Erik Prince. Again, it was difficult to understand, you can go to our website at for a transcript, it’s up on the screen, of what he’s saying. We’re going to another clip right now, Jeremy. This is him talking about Yemen, about Saudi Arabia, about the Middle East, and specifically about the influence he thinks of Iran.

Scahill: Yeah, as he put it, as Erik Prince put it, as I said, you know Iran is of the dead center of badness in the world. And he painted this picture where Iran is fomenting a Shi’ite revolt in the region and he talked about how they’re stirring-up this revolt in Yemen and doing cross-border raids into Saudi Arabia.

He talked about the Iranian influence in Somalia and other countries and talked about the Iranians providing support for improvised explosive devices in Iraq and he said, that in the case of Yemen and Saudi Arabia an Somalia, that the Iranians have had a very sinister hand in these places.

So, Erik Prince proposed that the U.S. send in forces, small forces of U.S. mercenaries because he said that you’re not going to solve the problem by putting a lot of uniformed soldiers in these countries. It’s way too politically sensitive, he said. The private sector can operate there with a very, very, very small, very light footprint.

Kouddous: Again, let’s go to that tape. This is Erik Prince.

Erik Prince: So, the Iranians are stirring it up in Yemen first, they’re trying to stir it up in the oil fields of Saudi Arabia. The Iranians have had a very, very big hand in Iraq certainly and there’s a lot of evidence that they’re supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan as well. We’ve seen more and more sophisticated IEDs, the Improvised Explosive Devices, that are blowing up our troops on the road, even some evidence of surface-to-air missiles being moved in.

So the Iranians have a very sinister hand in these places. You’re not going to solve it by putting a lot of uniformed soldiers in all these countries. It’s way too politically sensitive. The private sector can operate there with a very, very, very small, very light footprint.

Kouddous: Again, that was Erik Prince speaking in January. Difficult to hear. Jeremy, your article really goes through all of what he says throughout this speech. Talk about- well, go ahead.

Goodman: And interestingly, he’s speaking at the University of Michigan where President Obama just gave the commencement address yesterday.

Scahill: Right, exactly and where he will be speaking on Wednesday is Holland, Michigan is at the DeVos Fieldhouse which is owned by the DeVos family, the owners of the Orlando Magic basketball team. The biggest bank rollers of the rise of the radical religious right. His sister, Betsy, is married to Dick DeVos, the heir to that fortune. And it’s interesting because he almost always speaks of some kind of a venue there that is controlled by either his family or his extended family.

The last part of what Prince said in that clip, though, is very significant. He talked about the issue of the very small footprint. That is in his line for a long time. That the U.S. government has very expensive military operations and that if you take a high-end team of special forces operators like those that work for Blackwater, former SEALS, Delta Force, JSOC guys, joint special operations command guys, that you can send in less of them and that they can inflict much more damage.

So he’s suggesting this will be something that can be done right now, send them into these countries to take out ‘the bad guys,’ as he called it, he constantly uses that term, ‘the bad guys.

Kouddous: And other things that Prince talks about, about training Afghan forces and also about Hurricane Katrina and Blackwater’s presence there in the aftermath.

Scahill: Right, he said that Blackwater trains somewhere in the ballpark of 1,500 Afghans every six weeks. Blackwater is currently competing for this massive training contract to train the Afghan police and there are some other companies doing it, too, but Blackwater right now, has a large part of the market cornered, and so they spend a lot of time with these Afghan forces.

But he also sort of spoke disparagingly in a way that sort of was cultural imperialism about Afghans. He said that the Afghans that come to us, you know, they’ve never been a part of something professional and something that works and he said that, you know, they don’t know how to use toilets- and the first thing we have to do is teach them intro to toilet use.

He also talks about women that are working with Blackwater, and he says, you know, they come to work in their burkas and then they put on their cammies, their camouflage, and he said, you know, they really like the baton work and they get carried away with the handcuffs, wanting to handcuff men all the time.

He was sort of speaking disparagingly of them. And the at the same time turns around and says, ‘but in six weeks we turn these individuals into what U.S. generals have told me is the most effective fighting force in Afghanistan.

You know, I wonder what General McChrystal thinks about that, given his Army Ranger history, that Afghans who spend six weeks with Eric Prince’s force are somehow the most effective fighting force in Afghanistan. And then finally, Sharif, as you mentioned, he- Erik Prince brags that Blackwater saved 128 people during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

I was down there and- we were all down there, Amy, and we saw the Blackwater guys, we talked to some of them. They said that they were there to confront criminals and stop looters. But what Prince says that I think would be offensive to, Louisiana, is he says that Blackwater forces beat the Louisiana National Guard to the scene of the hurricane zone. He says, we jumped from five states over and beat the Louisiana National Guard.

He doesn’t mention that thirty-five to forty percent of the Louisiana National Guard was deployed in Iraq along with massive amounts of equipment that could of been used in recovery operations, that could have been used in humanitarian operations there. So to say Blackwater beat the Louisiana National Guard without mentioning that part of the reason there wasn’t an effective Louisiana National Guard response was because so many of them were in Iraq and deployed abroad. And they expressed anger.

I remember seeing some of them coming back into Louisiana livid with President Bush, saying, ‘He cares more about Iraq than he does about Louisiana and we should have been here.’ And so, he uses that then to launch off, Amy, and say he participated, Prince is a SEAL, in the invasion, he called it, of Haiti in 1994.

And then he said that he had wanted to create a humanitarian barge like this massive vessel that could respond to natural disasters around the world, that could be supported by large pharmaceutical companies and Archer Daniels Midland, but that because of political attacks from the Left, because of his tens of millions of dollars in legal bills, he had to cancel it. And he says, you know, ‘a ship like that sure could come in handy right now in Haiti as it deals with the earthquake.

Goodman: He also talked about the CIA bombing in Khost.

Scahill: Yeah. he did although he didn’t mention the fact that Blackwater was guarding the CIA individuals that were blown up that day. You remember there was a Jordanian double agent that managed to penetrate Forward Operating Base Chapman. He killed eight CIA personnel including two Blackwater operatives.

I have learned from a very well-informed intelligence source within the U.S. government that the Blackwater men were doing security that day. So, in a way, you could say Blackwater operatives failed to protect the CIA individuals that were there that day.

But Prince talked about it being a necessary cost of doing business and that’s when he segued into his disdain for the Geneva Convention, was when he started saying that the people we’re fighting are barbarians that crawled out of the sewer, but he doesn’t mention that Blackwater had personnel killed there.

He also compares themselves to Valerie Plame and says that he was a victim of ‘outing’ and that the government depends on Americans who are not working officially with the government, but are contractors, for the entire intelligence apparatus. And it was unprecedented for someone like him, running a sensitive program which was essentially a CIA assassination program, to be outed publicly and compared themselves to Valerie Plame.

Goodman: Jeremy, you’re going to Holland, Michigan [this Wednesday]. You’re going to be speaking hours after Erik Prince.

Scahill: Right, I mean, an interfaith congregation in Holland, Michigan, when they learned that Erik Prince was going to be speaking, initially it was going to be completely closed-off to any public scrutiny- I mean, what’s the difference between closing of the public and not allowing journalists to record it in audio or video?

And they said, you know, we as residents of the city are offended that this man is going to be speaking at what is supposed to be a sort of cultural celebration of the heritage of people there and that they’re going to shut it down, essentially, from any kind of coverage.

So we want someone to come in and give the other side of the story, because the organizers of the festival said that Prince was going to be talking about the value-based lessons of his childhood. Well, what about the values that Erik Prince’s forces have shown in Iraq when they’ve shot innocent civilians, and stolen childhoods, like Ali Kinani, the 9-year-old boy who was the youngest victim of Blackwater at Nisour Square?

We reported on that at Democracy Now!. My intent is to go there and tell the other side of the story, the one that Erik Prince certainly won’t be discussing inside the DeVos Fieldhouse.

Read Scahill's article on Prince's speech here.

Amy Goodman is the host of the nationally syndicated radio news program, Democracy Now!.

Jeremy Scahill, an independent journalist who reports frequently for the national radio and TV program Democracy Now!, has spent extensive time reporting from Iraq and Yugoslavia. He is currently a Puffin Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute. Scahill is the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army. His writing and reporting is available at

© 2010 Democracy Now! All rights reserved.

View this story online at:

Monday, May 10, 2010

Shell spilled nearly 14,000 tons of oil in Nigeria

May 4, 2010
Associated Press

Royal Dutch Shell PLC spilled nearly 14,000 tons of crude oil into the creeks of the Niger Delta last year, the company has announced, blaming thieves and militants for the environmental damage. 

The amount of oil spilled by Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary was more than double what poured into the delta in 2008, and quadruple what was spilled in 2007 highlighting the worsening situation the oil major faces in Nigeria. 

The oil giant faces regular attacks by militants who have targeted pipelines, kidnapped petroleum company workers and fought government troops since 2006. 

Its chief executive officer has even hinted that the company can no longer depend on Nigeria as a profit-maker, despite its 50-year history in the country. 

Shell blamed the majority of last year’s spills on two incidents one in which thieves damaged a wellhead at its Odidi field, and another where militants bombed the Trans Escravos pipeline. 

In all, some 13,900 tons spilled into the swamps, but Shell said it was able to recover nearly 10,000 tons of that.


Safety fluid was removed before oil rig exploded in Gulf

May 6, 2010
New Orleans Times-Picayune

The investigation into what went wrong when the Deepwater Horizon exploded April 20 and started spilling millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico is sure to find several engineering failures, from cement seals that did not hold back a powerful gas bubble to a 450-ton, 40-foot-tall blowout preventer, a stack of metal valves and pistons that each failed to close off the well.

There was, however, a simpler protection against the disaster: mud.

An attorney representing a witness says oil giant BP and the owner of the drilling platform, Switzerland-based Transocean Ltd., started to remove a mud barrier before a final cement plug was installed, a move industry experts say weakens control of the well in an emergency.

A lawyer for a rig worker who survived the explosions said the mud was being extracted from the riser before the top cement cap was in place, and a statement by cementing contractor Halliburton confirmed the top cap was not installed.

Mud could have averted catastrophe.

If all of the mud had still been present, it would have helped push back against the gas burping up toward the rig, though it might not have held it back indefinitely.


Friday, May 07, 2010

EU Is Collapsing Like Tower Of Babel

World Bank and IMF vultures lying in wait to feed on the remains of Greece

Paul Joseph Watson
May 7, 2010

Monument Securities Chief Economist Stephen Lewis says the chaos in Greece could lead to collapse of the European Union, bringing down with it the dangerous assumption that structures of global governance provide stability in times of financial peril, but the World Bank and IMF vultures will be waiting as ever to feed on the remains of a dying country.

Striking Greek workers and civil servants have violently protested their government’s acceptance of the terms of an EU-IMF bailout, which sacrifices their future prosperity in a trade off for an attempt at stabilizing the Euro zone as a whole, a damning indictment of how global governance, which was introduced under the justification of maintaining financial stability, has had the exact opposite effect, with the virulence of the contagion from Greece threatening to spread to Portugal, Spain and Italy.

“There can be little wonder that the bailout finds little favor with Greek popular opinion,” Lewis said. “It must be obvious to Greek citizens that its terms pay scant regard to their future prosperity, which is being sacrificed in an increasingly forlorn hope of preserving a stable currency for the use of citizens in other member-states.”

Europe’s debt crisis has seen the Euro single currency plunge against the U.S. dollar, while riots were also a contributing factor to yesterday’s alarming U.S. stock market plunge, which at one stage saw the Dow Jones shed almost 1000 points.

BNP Paribas are now predicting that the Euro will hit parity against the U.S. dollar within 12 months, a level not seen for eight years.

“While we have had one of the most bearish forecasts in the market, these previous projections now appear too moderate given the current developments,” states the BNP report.

Economist Lewis firmly lays the blame for the chaos on internationalists who conned European nations into surrendering their sovereignty to the European project under the delusion that the architecture they were trading for their national self-determination would protect their country from precisely the kind of strife now unfolding.

“The guilty men are the eurocrats who stubbornly refuse to recognise that their fanciful construction is collapsing like a Tower of Babel,” Lewis told CNBC.

Lewis also forecasts that the riots and the violence show no signs of abating, so long as the globalists insist on forcing Greece into bondage by implementing the draconian terms of the EU-IMF loan which has now been passed by Parliament.

“Since most Greeks appear to think their government’s debts were incurred in the first place as a result of the nefarious activities of a ruling elite, the chances of their settling down to fulfil the terms of the bailout seem remote at best,” he said.

As was first documented by investigative reporter Greg Palast, what is happening in Greece is a familiar blueprint for how the IMF and World Bank habitually pillage and take over national countries and their economies.

Palast uncovered World Bank documents explaining how the IMF and World Bank deliberately fan the flames of violence and social unrest by raising prices on food, oil and the cost of living, causing riots which then lead to a virtual collapse of society which they then swoop in to exploit.

“The IMF riot is painfully predictable,” Palast quotes former World Bank chief Joe Stiglitz. When a nation is, “down and out, [the IMF] takes advantage and squeezes the last pound of blood out of them. They turn up the heat until, finally, the whole cauldron blows up,” as when the IMF eliminated food and fuel subsidies for the poor in Indonesia in 1998.

Palast uncovered how the riots were “written into the plan” by the IMF and World Bank and that “social unrest” was required to cause a financial panic, allowing for global corporations to then be able to buy up infrastructure on the cheap.

“The IMF riots (and by riots I mean peaceful demonstrations dispersed by bullets, tanks and teargas) cause new panicked flights of capital and government bankruptcies,” writes Palast. “This economic arson has it’s bright side – for foreign corporations, who can then pick off remaining assets, such as the odd mining concession or port, at fire sale prices.”


Saturday, May 01, 2010

Sanctioning Iran Is an Act of War

By Rep. Ron Paul
April 22, 2010

Before the US House of Representatives, April 22, 2010, Statement on Motion to Instruct Conferees on HR 2194, Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act.

I rise in opposition to this motion to instruct House conferees on HR 2194, the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act, and I rise in strong opposition again to the underlying bill and to its Senate version as well. I object to this entire push for war on Iran, however it is disguised. Listening to the debate on the Floor on this motion and the underlying bill it feels as if we are back in 2002 all over again: the same falsehoods and distortions used to push the United States into a disastrous and unnecessary one-trillion-dollar war on Iraq are being trotted out again to lead us to what will likely be an even more disastrous and costly war on Iran. The parallels are astonishing.

We hear war advocates today on the Floor scare-mongering about reports that in one year Iran will have missiles that can hit the United States. Where have we heard this bombast before? Anyone remember the claims that Iraqi drones were going to fly over the United States and attack us? These "drones" ended up being pure propaganda – the UN chief weapons inspector concluded in 2004 that there was no evidence that Saddam Hussein had ever developed unpiloted drones for use on enemy targets. Of course by then the propagandists had gotten their war so the truth did not matter much.

We hear war advocates on the floor today arguing that we cannot afford to sit around and wait for Iran to detonate a nuclear weapon. Where have we heard this before? Anyone remember then-Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice’s oft-repeated quip about Iraq, that we cannot wait for the smoking gun to appear as a mushroom cloud?

We need to see all this for what it is: Propaganda to speed us to war against Iran for the benefit of special interests.

Let us remember a few important things. Iran, a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has never been found in violation of that treaty. Iran is not capable of enriching uranium to the necessary level to manufacture nuclear weapons. According to the entire US Intelligence Community, Iran is not currently working on a nuclear weapons program. These are facts, and to point them out does not make one a supporter or fan of the Iranian regime. Those pushing war on Iran will ignore or distort these facts to serve their agenda, though, so it is important and necessary to point them out.

Some of my well-intentioned colleagues may be tempted to vote for sanctions on Iran because they view this as a way to avoid war on Iran. I will ask them whether the sanctions on Iraq satisfied those pushing for war at that time. Or whether the application of ever-stronger sanctions in fact helped war advocates make their case for war on Iraq: as each round of new sanctions failed to "work" – to change the regime – war became the only remaining regime-change option.

This legislation, whether the House or Senate version, will lead us to war on Iran. The sanctions in this bill, and the blockade of Iran necessary to fully enforce them, are in themselves acts of war according to international law. A vote for sanctions on Iran is a vote for war against Iran. I urge my colleagues in the strongest terms to turn back from this unnecessary and counterproductive march to war.

Read more by Rep. Ron Paul

Article printed from Original:

URL to article: