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Archive for November, 2010

Exclusive: WikiLeaks Will Unveil Major Bank Scandal

Posted by Admin on November 30, 2010

First WikiLeaks spilled the guts of government. Next up: The private sector, starting with one major American bank.

In an exclusive interview earlier this month, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told Forbes that his whistleblower site will release tens of thousands of documents from a major U.S. financial firm in early 2011. Assange wouldn’t say exactly what date, what bank, or what documents, but he compared the coming release to the emails that emerged in the Enron trial, a comprehensive look at a corporation’s bad behavior.

“It will give a true and representative insight into how banks behave at the executive level in a way that will stimulate investigations and reforms, I presume,” he told me.

Read Forbes’ full interview with Assange and our cover storyon what he and WikiLeaks means for business here.

“You could call it the ecosystem of corruption,” Assange added. “But it’s also all the regular decision making that turns a blind eye to and supports unethical practices: the oversight that’s not done, the priorities of executives, how they think they’re fulfilling their own self-interest.”

WikiLeaks recent priority has clearly been the publication of hundreds of thousands of government documents: 76,000 classified documents from the war in Afghanistan, another 392,000 from Iraq, and on Sunday, the first piece of an ongoing exposure of what will likely be millions of diplomatic messages sent between the U.S. State Department and its embassies.

But that government focus doesn’t mean WikiLeaks won’t embarass corporations, too. Since October, WikiLeaks has closed its submissions channel; Assange says the site was receiving more documents than it could find resources to publish. And half those unpublished submissions, Assange says, relate to the private sector. He confirmed that WikiLeaks has damaging, unpublished material from pharmaceutical companies, finance firms (aside from the upcoming bank release), and energy companies, just to name a few industries.

Whether and when those secrets come out is solely a matter of Assange’s discretion. “We’re in a position where we have to prioritize our resources so that the biggest impact stuff gets released first.”

For more, read our cover story on Assange’s plans, how a legendary hacker is working with the Pentagon to stop him, and how Iceland hopes to spring a flood of leaks worldwide.

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China knows less about NKorea than thought

Posted by Admin on November 30, 2010

Logo used by Wikileaks

BEIJINGChina knows less about and has less influence over its close ally North Korea than is usually presumed and is likely to eventually accept a reunified peninsula under South Korean rule, according to U.S. diplomatic files leaked to the WikiLeaks website.

The memos — called cables, though they were mostly encrypted e-mails — paint a picture of three countries struggling to understand an isolated, hard-line regime in the face of a dearth of information and indicate American and South Korean diplomats’ reliance on China’s analysis and interpretation.

The release of the documents, which included discussions of contingency plans for the regime’s collapse and speculation about when that might come, follows new tensions in the region. North Korea unleashed a fiery artillery barrage on a South Korean island that killed four people a week ago and has since warned that joint U.S.-South Korean naval drills this week are pushing the peninsula to the “brink of war.”

The shelling comes on the heels of a slew of other provocative acts: An illegal nuclear test and several missile tests, the torpedoing of a SouthKorean warship and, most recently, an announcement that in addition to its plutonium program, it may also be pursuing the uranium path to a nuclear bomb.

The memos give a window into a period prior to the latest tensions, but they paint a picture of three countries struggling to understand isolated and unpredictable North Korea.

In the cables, China sometimes seems unaware of or uncertain about issues ranging from who will succeed North Korean leader Kim Jong Il to the regime’s uranium enrichment plans and its nuclear test, suggesting that the North plays its cards close to its chest even with its most important ally.

Questioned about the enriched uranium program in June last year, Chinese officials said they believed that was program was “only in an initial phase” — a characterization that now appears to have been a gross underestimate.

China is Pyongyang’s closest ally — Beijing fought on the northern side of the Korean War and its aid props up the current regime — and its actions have often served to insulate North Korea from foreign pressure. It has repeatedly opposed harsh economic sanctions and responded to the latest crises by repeating calls for a return to long-stalled, six-nation denuclearization talks that the North has rejected.

But China would appear to have little ability to stop a collapse and less influence over the authorities in Pyongyang than is widely believed, South Korea’s then-vice foreign minister, Chun Yung-woo, is quoted telling American Ambassador Kathleen Stephens in February.

China lacks the will to push Pyongyang to change its behavior, according to Chun, but Beijing will not necessarily oppose the U.S. and South Korea in the case of a North Korean collapse.

China “would be comfortable with a reunified Korea controlled by Seoul and anchored to the US in a ‘benign alliance’ as long as Korea was not hostile towards China,” Chun said.

Economic opportunities in a reunified Korea could further induce Chinese acquiescence, he said.

The diplomatic cables warn, however, that China would not accept the presence of U.S. troops north of the demilitarized zone that currently forms the North-South border.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China would not comment specifically on the cables.

“China consistently supports dialogue between the North and South sides of the Korean peninsula to improve their relations,” Hong said at a regularly scheduled news conference.

In the leaked cable, Chun predicts the government in Pyongyang would last no more than three years following the death of ailing leader Kim Jong Il, who is seeking to transfer power to his youngest son Kim JongUn, a political ingenue in his 20s.

Chun also dismisses the possibility of Chinese military intervention if North Korea descended into chaos.

Despite that, China is preparing to handle any outbreaks of unrest along the border that could follow a collapse of the regime. Chinese officials say they could deal with up to 300,000 refugees, but might have to seal the border to maintain order, the memos say, citing an unidentified representative of an international aid group.

Chinese officials are also quoted using mocking language in reference to North Korea, pointing to tensions between the two neighbors in contrast to official statements underscoring strong historical ties.

Then-Deputy Foreign Minister He Yafei is quoted as telling a U.S. official in April 2009 that Pyongyang was acting like a “spoiled child” by staging a missile test in an attempt to achieve its demand of bilateral talks with Washington.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday that WikiLeaks acted illegally in posting the leaked documents. Officials around the world have said the disclosure jeopardizes national security, diplomats, intelligence assets and relationships between foreign governments.

Five international media organizations, including The New York Times and Britain’s Guardian newspaper, were among those to receive the documents in advance. WikiLeaks is also slowly posting all the material on its own site.

 

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Signs of diplomacy in NKorea crisis

Posted by Admin on November 30, 2010

Coat of Arms of North Korea

Coat of Arms - North Korea

SEOUL, South Korea – A supercarrier sent jets into overcast skies Tuesday in U.S.-South Korean military drills that North Korea warned could spark war, but signs of diplomacy emerged alongside the tensions over last week’s deadly North Korean attack.

The North’s only major ally, China, hosted a top North Korean officialfor talks, and Japan also planned to send an envoy to China. The U.S., South Korea and Japan agreed to talk next week in Washington about the North’s nuclear weapons and its Nov. 23 artillery barrage that killed four South Koreans.

It was unclear if the Beijing visit by North Korea’s Choe Thae Bok, chairman of the North’s Parliament, would lead to any diplomatic solution. China, under pressure to rein in its ally, proposed emergency regional talks earlier this week, but South Korea, the United States and Japan gave a cool response.

Even as diplomats scrambled, leaked U.S. diplomatic cables revealed signs of a rift in the relationship between China and North Korea, a striking contrast from official statements underscoring their strong historical ties.

Documents from the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks showed China’s frustration with the North and speculated that Beijing would accept a future Korean peninsula unified under South Korean rule.

The North, meanwhile, reminded the world it was forging ahead with its nuclear efforts. Pyongyang said Tuesday that it’s operating a modern uranium enrichment plant equipped with thousands of centrifuges. The main Rodong Sinmun newspaper said in an editorial that the North is also building a light-water reactor.

The North first revealed the uranium program in early November to a visiting American scientist. A light-water nuclear power reactor is ostensibly for civilian energy purposes, but it gives the North a reason to enrich uranium. Uranium enrichment would give the North a second way to make nuclear bombs, in addition to its known plutonium-based program.

North Korea has pushed for renewed international talks on receiving much-needed aid in return for commitments to dismantle nuclear programs, and its recent aggression could reflect frustration that those talks remain stalled.

The North unleashed an artillery barrage last week on a South Korean island that hit civilian areas, marking a new level of hostility along the contested maritime border between the Koreas. The attack killed two civilians and two marines.

In a major address Monday, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak pledged a tough response if the North carries out any further attacks.

Kim Keun-sik, a North Korea analyst at South Korea’s Kyungnam University, said sides in the standoff will have competing ideas on how to resolve tension.

“North Korea and China will want to resolve the matter through a dialogue,” he said, “while South Korea and the U.S. will say ‘Why negotiate at this time?’ and think about pressure and punitive measures” on the North.

The Wikileaks documents further complicate the diplomatic picture.

China, the documents show, “would be comfortable with a reunified Korea controlled by Seoul and anchored to the US in a ‘benign alliance’ as long as Korea was not hostile towards China,” then-South Korean vice-foreign minister, Chun Yung-woo, is quoted as telling U.S. ambassador to South Korea Kathleen Stephens in February.

Chun predicted the government in Pyongyang would last no more than three years following the death of ailing leader Kim Jong Il, who is seeking to pass power to son Kim Jong Un, an untested political newcomer in his 20s.

In Seoul, government officials declined to comment on Chun’s reported comments.

During Tuesday’s U.S.-South Korean military drills, a heavy fog engulfed the USS George Washington supercarrier. The carrier’s fog horn boomed out as U.S. aircraft took off and landed in quick succession.

Cmdr. Pete Walczak said the ship’s combat direction center was closely monitoring any signs of ships, aircraft of any other activity and that nothing unusual was detected from North Korea.

“Absolutely nothing,” Walczak said. “A lot of saber-rattling, fist-shaking, but once our presence is here, reality says that it’s really nothing.”

The North’s propaganda machine warned that the drills could trigger a “full-blown war” on the peninsula. “Our republic has a war deterrent that can annihilate any aggressor at once,” the government-run Minju Joson said.

On the streets of the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, North Koreans spoke with pride of their military.

“Those who like fire are bound to be punished with fire,” Kim Yong Jun, a Pyongyang resident, told international broadcaster APTN.

A rally in Seoul, meanwhile, drew several thousand protesters who burned North Korean flags and called for the overthrow of Kim Jong Il. “We’ve had enough,” said Kim Jin-gyu, 64, adding that North Korea deserves punishment. “We should just smash it up.”

Yonhap news agency reported that Choe, the North Korean official, was expected to meet top Chinese communist party officials and discuss last week’s artillery barrage, the North’s nuclear program and the U.S.-South Korean military drills.

China has sought to calm tensions by calling for an emergency meeting among regional powers involved in six-party nuclear disarmament talks — the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russian and Japan — which have been stalled since last year.

Seoul, however, wants proof of Pyongyang’s commitment to denuclearization as well as a show of regret over the March sinking of a warship.

Japan rejected a new round of aid-for-disarmament talks any time soon, but announced Tuesday that a nuclear envoy would travel to China. Tokyo provided no further details

___

Santana and Kelly Olsen reported from aboard the USS George Washington. AP writers Foster Klug, Kim Kwang-tae and Ian Mader in Seoul, Christopher Bodeen in Beijing, and photographer Jin-man Lee in Yeonpyeong contributed to this report.

 

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The Gateway to Spiritual Consciousness

Posted by Admin on November 29, 2010

by Owen Waters

Love is the saving grace of all of humanity. We contact this primal energy in our finest moments. From the moment a baby is born, it is enshrouded in the unselfish love of its mother. From the moment a person springs into action to save others from peril, their own thoughts of survival are ‘overlighted’ by the love and caring that shines from their heart.

When a person looks back on their life, they see that one thing that mattered the most: Love. Pure, unadulterated, unconditional love.

It is the source of compassion. It is the energy of caring for others. It is the binding force which holds together the entire universe, and it flows through you whenever you simply allow it.

Love is the gateway to spiritual consciousness. It is through activation of the spiritual heart that we pass into a whole new world of expansion and joy. In the realms of spiritual consciousness, we find peace, bliss, and continual inspiration. In the realms of spiritual consciousness, we expand our view of life to see the issues that are important to the soul. We can then see how love can heal and how we can and should make the time to spread a little more love in the world every day, even if it is simply done in silent prayer for the well-being of others.

Let your heart open to love each and every day. When you are attuned to the natural flow of love throughout the universe, you then feel the natural flow of energy within your own being. Your senses of insight and timing develop to help you achieve more and to succeed easily at the tasks that are important to you.

The flow of love is critical to life. Without the all-pervasive love of the Creator which fills the universe, nothing would exist. For centuries, humankind has been playing a role where love and inner inspiration have been blocked off and ignored. Today, the tide is turning and people are opening up to this wonderful flow of natural energy.

Remember the love within, especially when outer circumstances seem dark. Remember that love is the gateway to the higher realms of consciousness where answers can be found to meet every challenge that life presents.

Tune into love. It will never let you down. Instead, it will set your spirit free to explore the realms of consciousness which offer greater vistas of awareness, greater peace of mind, and a sense of constant joy.

This was an excerpt from Owen Waters’ new book, Spirituality Made Simple, which is available both as a paperback and a downloadable e-book, at:

http://www.infinitebeing.com/ebooks/simple.htm

*If you enjoyed today’s article, forward it to a friend! They will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

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The Horror of Bush and the Problem for the Rest of Us

Posted by Admin on November 28, 2010

 

Bush Laden

Bush Laden

Friday 26 November 2010

by: Richard Lichtman, t r u t h o u t | Op-ed

I have long been an avid reader of the writings of William Rivers Pitt, whose strong moral voice and incisive intellect have never been more necessary than in this time of horrendous political and cultural corruption. And I have no doubt that his assessment of Bush and his reign of destruction will resonate strongly with many readers of his account. Everything Pitt notes seems to me to be true: Bush’s class-derived economic policy and its ensuing national chaos; the instigation of a completely contrived war that has already led to the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and the displacement of millions more; the Alfred E. Newmanesque vapidity that marked his original disavowal of national danger and the consequent politicization of fear as an instrument of social policy – the modern, centralized, secular version of the Puritan Jememiad; the overt dishonesty that thrived in the petri dish of contaminating theories of expediently constructed truths; a complete disavowal of the notion of constitutional democracy; the willful, racist abandonment of New Orleans‘ Black population during and after Katrina; the totalitarian inflation of the role of president – and so on into the dark night of disintegration and despair.

What then is there to write about when it has all been said? But something is missing from Mr. Pitt’s essay that is as significant as the consequence of the Bush administration‘s policy. It is the very fact that he became president, that he was voted into office in a purported “democracy,” that so many millions chose to support his candidacy. I do not deny that the election of 2000 was pilfered and that it involved the allied corruption of the Supreme Court, or that significant acts of manipulation occurred in 2004. Hitler also came to power with the aid of terror and overt violence, but it cannot be denied that a plurality of Germans supported him. The actual total of voters who supported Bush in his two elections may never be exactly known, and, in 2000, certainly did not constitute a plurality. The terrible fact remains that he received the enormous support he did not once, but, even more incredibly, twice, and in the context of the devastating war he waged without justification.

The question that has not been asked seriously enough is how this catastrophe could have occurred. After the condemnation of Bush has been certified and recorded, one would have expected an attempt at explanation. What is the nature of the populace that permitted this “small fraction of a man” to prevail? What is the social-psychological disposition of the American people that has furthered the nightmare of willfully chosen subordination? What is the history of America as it stretches back into the recesses of early Puritanism? Consider this passage from Sacvan Bercovitch‘s The American Jeremiad:

Only in the United States has nationalism carried with it the Christian meaning of the sacred. Only America, of all national designations, has assumed the combined force of eschatology and chauvinism. Many societies have defended the status quo by reference to religious values … But only the American Way, of all modern ideologies, has managed to circumvent the paradoxes inherent in these approaches. Of all symbols of identity, only America has united nationality and universality, civic and spiritual selfhood, secular and redemptive history, the country’s past and paradise to be, in a single synthetic ideal. [1]

 

Is there not something of this Puritan view in contemporary American culture and politics, particularly on the right wing of the political spectrum? And have there not, over the generations since that time, been other sediments that have encrusted the nature of the American self and sunk deeper and deeper into its identity? Is it not the case, therefore, that to understand ourselves as a people in our unity and across the complexity of views that mark us as a nation, across all our diversity and contradiction, we need to excavate the layers of political personhood that have led us to the point at which we now find ourselves?

Of course this is a formidable task, but it is made even more difficult by two factors:

First, the social systems that have followed each other in time are sufficiently different from each other so as to act as transformations of the selfhood that has been bequeathed them. In other words, the early Puritan tendency cannot be traced straight through without recognizing the manner in which succeeding epochs of American social and industrial history altered its nature, saving something of its punitive grandiosity, but acquiring new aspects of corporate subordination, fierce individual competitiveness and unmoored anxiety. I am not proposing that old and misleading cliche that to know ourselves we must know what our past has been; rather, I propose that the past is continually present, continually growing within what we recognize as our current identities.

Second, there is the paradoxical fact that we know more about how to approach this history as we have acquired perspectives and comprehensions that previous generations lacked. We know more about political economy, particularly the contribution made available by Marxist theory as it attunes our awareness to the facts of class structure, accumulation, domination of the media and the structures of the political system that are themselves heavily influenced by the underlying systems of corporate power. On the side of “subjectivity,” we have learned a great deal regarding the nature of mental development and its pathologies, so that we can no longer merely read the surface of our society while discarding everything we have learned from psychoanalytic theory and its variations. We have abandoned theological explanations, although there remain sizable constituencies who continue to cling to these remnants of the ancient codes that view society in terms of the hierarchical power of wealth, ethnic identity and gender emanating from transcendent spiritual forces and whose political identity represents much less a “party” – since they lack any entry into the contemporary world – than a terrified embrace of each other and a disdainful rejection of the major tenets of the Enlightenment.

The paradox that I alluded to derives from the fact that, as we know more, we also have more work to do if we are to make full use of our knowledge. If we wish to understand why those on the right abhor science, are terrified by the growing equality of women and ethnic minorities, genuflect to power and cruelty, worship tradition, detest distinction and diversity and glorify “the people” while acting to destroy the protection of individual rights, we will have to bring together these theoretical systems of political economy and psychology. This is not to say that efforts of this sort have been completely lacking, only that they are relatively scarce in proportion to the danger that threatens us. It also seems that very few works even purport to possess the same power as the writings of the Frankfurt School that brought together in one opus the considerations of economics, politics, culture, media, history and psychology that are all so relevant to our current situation. This has become an age of specialization in which most intellectuals know one subject well to the detriment of their understanding of – or even interest in – cognate concerns.

How did this happen? The easy answer is that we know so much more now and, consequently, cannot expect any individual to master the entire relevant corpus needed to reach a comprehensive truth. But this answer is shortsighted and inverted. It is not that the part is easier to understand than the whole; it is difficult or impossible to understand individual subjects when they are isolated from their larger contexts. How would we attempt to understand the rise of Nazism in Germany in the 1930s by concentrating solely on economics, for example? Even if it were the case that the chaos of capitalism in the post- World War I period was enough to explain the ensuing breakdown of traditional order, how would this consideration explain the rise of Hitler? Without knowing a good deal of previous German history, culture, religion, family structure, psychological tendencies, and their reciprocal influences, we would remain at a considerable loss. The idea that the part is easier to understand than the whole is a misconception of our age, a symptom of a tendency toward atomization that has infected modern understanding.

The imperative need to understand the range of relevant disciplines is as true in attempting to understand the current situation in the United States as it was in relation to Nazi Germany. At this moment, current movements to the “right” are explained on the basis of economic chaos – the loss of jobs and homes and the ensuing anxiety they produce. There is no denying that the particular assault on the lives of so many during the current recession is some important part of the explanation for the current passivity and idiocy of our political reality. However, this occasion itself needs to be explained, and we are consequently forced back to prior historical occurrences that have led to massive public apathy: such circumstances as the wrenching decline of the labor movement, the rise of manipulative mass media, the increasing tendency toward fragmented labor, the autonomy of technology, the disintegration of the traditional family and the buying and selling of current political mythology by capitalist elites and their oxymoronically labeled “think tanks.”

It is also true that devoid of any coherent “left” movement, individuals who regard themselves as socialists, progressives, Marxists or other dissenters from the main currents of American life tend to speak from the purview of their own individual life experiences. We lack any coherent, multifaceted, institutionalized organizations in which individuals of different skills and sensibilities can come together to share views, debate the various issues of our time and publish works of value to the larger community. Lacking such an organized stream of reflection fed by many diverse and complementary orders of intelligence, it is no wonder that simple explanations have come to suffice.

The economic explanation of inaction and despair by an appeal to the immediate effects of the current economic crisis seems relevant, until one asks why it is still not enough to produce resistance. Certainly, some part of the answer must be that in a capitalist society with limited experience in organized opposition and even less capacity to remember the resistance that has occurred, we tend to be thrown back upon the circuits of capitalism itself, whereby individuals move in and out of compliance and resentment depending on their experience of the business cycle. Certainly no persistent opposition to capitalism can be founded on the basis of its own determinations. For this reason alone, economic factors cannot provide the motivational foundation of a living, critical perspective, and we must turn to larger currents of social existence to explain our own responses – or lack of them – to what we know to be an ongoing catastrophe.

Understanding ourselves is a complex project, and as we are made up of such aspects of our existence as our history, culture, psychology, economic activity and social life, we are obligated to learn of their nature and influence if we wish to be their agents rather than the mere recipients of their influence. It is certainly necessary and proper to condemn Bush, but it is far from sufficient. Why have we tolerated, accepted and even chosen this egregious monstrosity with so few manifestations of overt opposition? Relevant answers to this question throw light not only on the meaning of Bush’s presidency but also on the relation of the “left” to Obama and his failures, in which, once again, we are so deeply implicated.

How many politically thoughtful friends do you know who were deceived by the promises made by the president during his political campaign – by the empty rhetoric, by the financial support of banking and insurance interests? How many progressives succumbed to the thrill of an apparently progressive candidate ready-made – one they could support, but did not have to labor to know and accept at a level more trenchant than a promise of hope and change. And how many took the opportunity to permit Obama to stand in the realm of their fantasy of American history as the reconciliation of Black and White interests and the resolution of racist antagonisms, the promise of effortless transcendence and the consequent proof of American virtue, and, of course, by implication, of their own – our own. And yet, at this moment, Black impoverishment remains at least twice that of Whites and is not on a course of improvement, for race cannot be separated from the economy and from the long, sordid history of American social injustice and projected fantasies of evil, those parts of ourselves we cannot tolerate and prefer to locate in the lives of others. It is time to pursue these larger truths, for we are constituted out of them and cannot transcend their dehumanizing limits without this most serious struggle.

I hope it is clear that I do not possess the answers to the questions that lie behind my reflections. What I know is that these questions regarding compliance with corruption are difficult and will require the collective efforts of many of us acting in concert. The exercise of this effort will in turn require the capacity to endure in the face of such rot as Bush embodied.

One of Weber’s most trenchant essays ends this way:

It would be nice if matters turned out in such a way that Shakespeare’s Sonnet should hold true:

Our love was new, and then but in the spring,
When I was wont to greet it with my lays;
As Philomel in summer’s font doth sing,
And stops her pipe in growth of riper days.

But such is not the case … Politics is a strong and slow boring of hard boards. It takes both passion and perspective… Only he has the calling
for politics who is sure that he shall not crumble when the world from his point of view is too stupid or too base for what he wants to offer … . [2]

 

We have never known this “new spring,” and yet we shall assuredly meet with what will seem to us endless stupidity and inhumanity. In the embrace of a collective life, we may approach some sense of the ripeness we have not known politically. Our task is to persist in the “boring of hard boards” until they give way to a more hospitable home for our “passion and perspective.”

 

1. Sacvan Bercovitch;   The American Jeremiad;  The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison Wisconsin, 1978, p. 176.

2. H. H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills, editors, From Max Weber;  A Galaxy Book, New York, 1958, p. 128.

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Richard Lichtman is a philosopher who specializes in the relationship between the social and psychological dimensions of human life. His approach is broadly interdisciplinary: he has taught in departments of philosophy (University of California, Berkeley), humanities (San Francisco State University), sociology (University of California, Santa Cruz) and psychology (The Wright Institute, California School of Professional Psychology, etc.) and has been a faculty member of the Council on Educational Development (CED) program at the University of California, Los Angeles. His books also indicate the range of his interests: Essays in Critical Social Theory covers a broad range of topics in economic, social, and political theory, while The Production of Desire is a detailed analysis of the works of Marx and Freud.

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    US briefs allies about next WikiLeaks release

    Posted by Admin on November 27, 2010

    Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, at New Media Days 09

    Julian Assange Founder - WikiLeaks

    By JILL LAWLESS, Associated Press – 2 hrs 46 mins ago

    LONDON – U.S. allies around the world have been briefed by American diplomats about an expected release of classified U.S. files by the WikiLeaks website that is likely to cause international embarrassment and could damage some nations’ relations with the United States.

    The release of hundreds of thousands of State Department cables is expected this weekend, although WikiLeaks has not been specific about the timing. The cables are thought to include private, candid assessments of foreign leaders and governments and could erode trust in the U.S. as a diplomatic partner.

    In Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron‘s spokesman, Steve Field, said Friday that the government had been told of “the likely content of these leaks” by U.S. Ambassador Louis Susman. Field declined to say what Britain had been warned to expect.

    “I don’t want to speculate about precisely what is going to be leaked before it is leaked,” Field said.

    In Washington, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said U.S. diplomats were continuing the process of warning governments around the world about what might be in the documents. Many fear the cables will embarrass the United States and its allies, and reveal sensitive details of how the U.S. conducts relations with other countries.

    “We are all bracing for what may be coming and condemn WikiLeaks for the release of classified material,” he said. “It will place lives and interests at risk. It is irresponsible.”

    The Obama administration on Friday warned that the WikiLeaksrelease would endanger “lives and interests.”

    Italy’s foreign minister, Franco Frattini, said he spoke Friday with the U.S. State Department, which told him that there would be documents regarding Italy in the leak, “but the content can’t be anticipated.”

    “We’re talking about thousands and thousands of classified documents that the U.S. will not comment on, as is their custom,” Frattini said.

    The governments of Canada and Norway also said they had been briefed by U.S. officials. Israel’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment on a report that it, too, had been informed.

    In Iraq, U.S. Ambassador James F. Jeffrey told reporters that the leaks represent a serious obstacle to international diplomacy.

    “We are worried about additional documents coming out,” he said. “WikiLeaks are an absolutely awful impediment to my business, which is to be able to have discussions in confidence with people. I do not understand the motivation for releasing these documents. They will not help, they will simply hurt our ability to do our work here.”

    In Norway, U.S. officials released a statement from the ambassador to the newspaper Dagbladet with the understanding that it would not be published until after the WikiLeaks material came out, but the newspaper published the material ahead of time.

    It quoted U.S. Ambassador to Norway Barry White saying that, while he could not vouch for the authenticity of the documents, he expected them to contain U.S. officials’ candid assessments of political leaders and political movements in other countries. He said diplomats had to be able to have private, honest discussions to do their jobs.

    The Obama administration said earlier this week that it had alerted Congress and begun notifying foreign governments that the whistle-blowing website is preparing to release a huge cache of diplomatic cables whose publication could give a behind-the-scenes look at American diplomacy around the world.

    “These revelations are harmful to the United States and our interests,” U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said. “They are going to create tension in relationships between our diplomats and our friends around the world.”

    Diplomatic cables are internal documents that would include a range of secret communications between U.S. diplomatic outposts and State Department headquarters in Washington.

    WikiLeaks has said the release will be seven times the size of its October leak of 400,000 Iraq war documents, already the biggest leak in U.S. intelligence history.

    The U.S. says it has known for some time that WikiLeaks held the diplomatic cables. No one has been charged with passing them to the website, but suspicion focuses on U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, an intelligence analyst arrested in Iraq in June and charged over an earlier leak.

    Frattini, the Italian foreign minister, said Friday that he had been “told that the person responsible for this leak has been arrested.” The Italian Foreign Ministry later said Frattini was talking about Manning.

    WikiLeaks, which also has released secret U.S. documents about the war in Afghanistan, was founded byJulian Assange.

    The Australian former computer hacker is currently wanted by Sweden for questioning in a drawn-out rape probe. Assange, 39, is suspected of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion. He has denied the allegations, which stem from his encounters with two women during a visit to Sweden.

    ___

    AP writers Rebecca Santana in Baghdad, Matthew Lee in Washington, and Bjoern H. Amland in Oslo contributed to this report.

     

     

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    Defiant North Korea fires artillery warning shots

    Posted by Admin on November 27, 2010

    YEONPYEONG ISLAND, South Korea – A defiant flash of North Korean artillery within sight of the island that it attacked this week sent a warning signal to Seoul and Washington: The North is not backing down.

    The apparent military drill Friday came as the top U.S. commander in South Korea toured Yeonpyeong island to survey the wreckage from the rain of artillery three days earlier. As a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier headed toward the Yellow Sea for exercises next week with South Korea, the North warned that the joint maneuvers will push the Korean peninsula to the “brink of war.”

    South Korea’s government, meanwhile, struggled to recoup from the surprise attacks that killed four people, including two civilians, and forced its beleaguered defense minister to resign Thursday. President Lee Myung-bak on Friday named a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the post.

    Tensions have soared between the Koreas since the North’s strike Tuesday destroyed large parts of Yeonpyeong in a major escalation of their sporadic skirmishes along the disputed sea border.

    The attack — eight months after a torpedo sank a South Korean warship, killing 46 sailors — has laid bare Seoul’s weaknesses in defense 60 years after the Korean War. Lee has ordered reinforcements for the 4,000 troops on Yeonpyeong and four other Yellow Sea islands, as well as top-level weaponry and upgraded rules of engagement.

    The heightened animosity between the Koreas comes as the North undergoes a delicate transition of power from leader Kim Jong Il to his young, inexperienced son Kim Jong Un, who is in his late 20s and is expected to eventually succeed his ailing father.

    Washington and Seoul have pressed China to use its influence on Pyongyang to ease tensions amid worries of all-out war. A dispatch Friday from Chinese state media saying Beijing’s foreign minister had met the North Korean ambassador appeared to be an effort to trumpet China’s role as a responsible actor and placate the U.S. and the South.

    The North sees the U.S.-South Korean drills scheduled to start Sunday as a major military provocation. Pyongyang unleashed its anger over the planned exercises in a dispatch earlier Friday.

    “The situation on the Korean peninsula is inching closer to the brink of war,” the report in the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said.

    A North Korean official boasted that Pyongyang’s military “precisely aimed and hit the enemy artillery base” as punishment for South Korean military drills — a reference to Tuesday’s attack — and warned of another “shower of dreadful fire,” KCNA reported.

    China expressed worry over any war games in waters within its exclusive economic zone, though the statement on the Foreign Ministry website didn’t mention the drills starting Sunday. That zone extends 230 miles (370 kilometers) from China’s coast and includes areas south of Yeonpyeong cited for possible maneuvers, although the exact location of the drills is not known.

    North Korea does not recognize the maritime border drawn by the U.N. in 1953, and considers the waters around Yeonpyeong Island its territory.

    Yeonpyeong Island, home to South Korean military bases as well as a civilian population of about 1,300 people, lies only seven miles (11 kilometers) from North Korean shores.

    The U.S. commander in South Korea, Gen. Walter Sharp, said during a visit to the island that Tuesday’s attack was a clear violation of the armistice signed at the end of the three-year Korean War.

    “We at United Nations Command will investigate this completely and call on North Korea to stop any future attacks,” he said.

    Washington keeps more than 28,000 troops in South Korea to protect its ally — a sore point for North Korea, which cites the U.S. presence as the main reason behind its drive to build nuclear weapons.

    Dressed in a heavy camouflage jacket, army fatigues and a black beret, Sharp carefully stepped down a devastated street strewn with debris and broken glass. Around him were charred bicycles and shattered bottles of soju, Korean rice liquor.

    On Friday, Associated Press photographers at an observation point on the northwest side of Yeonpyeong heard explosions and saw at least one flash of light on the North Korean mainland.

    There were no immediate reports of damage. Only a few dozen residents remain on Yeonpyeong, with most of its population fleeing in the hours and days after the attack as authorities urged them to evacuate.

    Many houses were burned out, half-collapsed or flattened, and the streets were littered with shattered windows, bent metal and other charred wreckage. Several stray dogs barked as they sat near destroyed houses. South Korean marines carrying M-16 rifles patrolled along a seawall at dawn.

    About 200 South Koreans held a rally Friday in Seoul to denounce the government’s response to the attack as too weak. Similar recriminations have come from opposition lawmakers and even members of Lee’s own party, leading to the resignation of Defense Minister Kim Tae-young on Thursday.

    There also has been intense criticism that Yeonpyeong was unprepared for the attack and that the return fire came too slowly. Lee named former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Kim Kwan-jin to the post, the president’s office said Friday.

    While there is some shock at the extent of the damage the North Koreans were able to inflict, most South Koreans want the threat to be contained, not aggravated, and the government response has been muted and cautious, following an initial angry threat from Lee.

    The president, dressed in a black suit, visited a military hospital in Seongnam near Seoul on Friday to pay his respects to the two marines killed in the North Korean attack.

    Lee laid a white chrysanthemum, a traditional symbol of grief, on an altar, burned incense and bowed before framed photos of the two young men. Consoling sobbing family members, he vowed to build a stronger defense.

    “I will make sure that this precious sacrifice will lay the foundation for the strong security of the Republic of Korea,” he wrote in a condolence book, according to his office.

    South Korea assured a meeting of the European Olympic Committees on Friday that it would be able to ensure security at the 2018 Winter Games if it’s picked. The Pyeongchang 2018 bid committee presented its case Friday in Belgrade.

    ___

    Foster Klug reported from Seoul. AP writers Christopher Bodeen in Beijing and Kwang-tae Kim, Kelly Olsen and Jean H. Lee in Seoul also contributed to this report.

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    Another US missile strike kills 3 in Pakistan

    Posted by Admin on November 26, 2010

    MQ-1L Predator UAV armed with AGM-114 Hellfire...

    Remote Controlled Drone Plane

    By RASOOL DAWAR, Associated Press Rasool Dawar, Associated Press 56 mins ago

    MIR ALI, Pakistan – Suspected U.S. missiles hit a vehicle carrying three alleged militants in Pakistan’s northwest on Friday, the latest in a barrage of strikes by unmanned planes on the Taliban stronghold, Pakistani intelligence officials said.

    The officials say a pair of missiles hit a moving vehicle in Pir Kali village in North Waziristan. The area is home to a mix of Afghan and Pakistani Taliban fighters who target American and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

    Taliban fighters and local tribesmen fired at three more drones still hovering after the attack, but their assault rifles could not hit the aircraft. The two Pakistani officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media on the record.

    The U.S. has ramped up its officially unacknowledged drone attacks in Pakistan‘s lawless border region, launching more than 100 missile strikes this year in an attempt to kill key Taliban and al-Qaida figures.

    Most of the attacks have been in North Waziristan, where Islamist militants run terrorist training camps and plot attacks in Afghanistan.

    The U.S. has pressured Pakistan to launch a military offensive in North Waziristan to bring the border region under control. But the army has said its forces are stretched thin fighting the Taliban in other areas and dealing with the aftermath of the country’s worst floods, which have driven about 7 million people from their homes.

     

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    Papers surface alleging land grab by Deve Gowda family

    Posted by Admin on November 26, 2010

    The Vidhana Soudha, the seat of Karnataka's le...

    Vidhana Soudha(Bengaluru),Karnataka

    H.D Deve Gowda(Former Prime Minister of India)

    H.D Deve Gowda(Former Prime Minister of India)

    http://in.yfittopostblog.com/2010/11/24/papers-surface-alleging-land-grab-by-deve-gowda-family/

    HD Kumaraswamy, the JD(S) leader who has been exposing scandal after scandal involving chief minister B S Yeddyurappa, is now in the dock for helping his brother Balakrishne Gowda grab prime land in Bangalore.

    Documents surfaced in Bangalore on Wednesday showing the gifting of prime land to Kupendra Reddy, who in turn sold part of the property to former prime minister HD Deve Gowda’s son Balakrishne Gowda.

    The Bangalore edition of Deccan Chronicle reports:

    In 2007, then chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy who has been crying foul over BSY’s largesse to his kith and kin, granted an absolute sale deed to an extent of 28 acres of prime land belonging to KIADB on the bustling Sarjapur Outer Ring Road for a mere Rs 14 crore. Its market value today — Rs 850 crore.

    Less than two months later, HDK’s brother and other members of the former chief minister’s family received a portion of this very property at a throw away price. Today, Accenture operates out of this office space.

    According to documents available with Deccan Chronicle, the prime beneficiary in this deal is H.D. Balakrishne Gowda (HDK’s brother) who has got 25,000 sqft of built up office space for a mere Rs 3.08 crore at less than Rs 1,200 per sqft whereas the value at that time was Rs 4,000 per sqft of built up structure.

    Deccan Herald had reported the deal back in 2007:

    H D Kumaraswamy may now have to eat his words. A set of documents available with Deccan Herald reveals that his family members, indeed, have  connections with the city-based realtor D Kupendra Reddy, whose house was raided by the I-T department on Tuesday…

    A day after the I-T raids, Mr Kumaraswamy had fumed at media reports that Mr Reddy was close to him and stoutly denied any connection with the realtor. The documents also reveal that the entire commercial space sold to Kavitha (Kumaraswamy’s sister-in-law) and her family members was originally owned by State-owned Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board.

    Three years on, when the case surfaced again this Wednesday, Kumaraswamy told TV9 that Reddy had got the land from the industrial area development board when S M Krishna was chief minister. He claimed he had no knowledge of the deal involving his brother Balakrishne Gowda.

    Earlier in the day, Kumaraswamy said the BJP had acted immorally by letting scandal-tainted Yeddyurappa stay on as chief minister. He said he would take out a yatra in Karnataka to draw the people’s attention to Yeddyurappa’s “misdeeds.” Panchayat elections are due in the state in a month.

     

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    India Preps for an Energy Grab

    Posted by Admin on November 25, 2010

    native Platinum nugget, locality Kondyor mine,...

    Plutonium Nugget

    Written by Dave Forest
    Wednesday, 24 November 2010 16:35
    We’ve heard a lot the last year or two about the race to secure natural resources between Asian nations like China, Japan and Korea. 

    Get ready for that space to grow more crowded. India is jumping into the fray.

    Indian gas utility GAIL India and state-owned petroleum explorer Oil India both said this week they will consider their first-ever overseas debt sales. The issuances would allow foreign investors to buy into these companies, using dollar-denominated instruments.

    The stated purpose for this new capital: M&A. Oil India says it is “actively studying” petroleum assets in Australia, South America and Africa.

    I’ve talked about how India needs to get aggressive with foreign coal assets. Now it appears they are expanding the search into other energy arenas.

    This even includes uranium. It emerged this week that Russian state nuclear company Rosatom has offered Uranium Corporation of India a role in developing the massive Elkon U deposits in Yakutia.

    If India does enter the race for energy assets in earnest, it’s going to make a tight space even tighter. Keep watching the signs.

    Here’s to the other Asian superpower.

    Dave Forest
    dforest@piercepoints.com
    www.piercepoints.com
    Copyright 2009 Resource Publishers Inc.

     

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    South Korea defense minister quits after attack

    Posted by Admin on November 25, 2010

    Topographic map of South Korea. Created with G...

    North/South Korea

     

    YEONPYEONG, South Korea (Reuters) – South Korea’s defenseminister resigned on Thursday, two days after an attack by North Korea and amid criticism that the South’s response was too slow.

    Kim Tae-young became the first political victim of the attack as China expressed muted criticism of forthcoming joint U.S-south Korean military exercises in the Yellow Sea.

    President Lee Myung-bak accepting his minister’s resignation “to improve the atmosphere in the military and to handle the series of incidents”, a presidential official said.

    Kim had also tended his resignation in May after the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel in March, but Lee asked him to stay on in the job. The Cheonan attack, in which 46 sailors were killed, was also blamed on the North.

    North Korea fired a barrage of artillery shells at the island of Yeonpyeong off the peninsula’s west coast on Tuesday, killing two civilians and two soldiers and destroying dozens of houses.

    South Korean troops fired back 13 minutes later, causing unknown damage. Members of Lee’s own party and opposition lawmakers accused the military of responding too slowly.

    The government was also criticized for its perceived weak response to the Cheonan incident. North Korea has denied responsibility for that attack.

    While China objected to the joint military exercises starting this weekend, North Korea threatened further attacks on the South if there were more “provocations”.

    Seoul said it would increase troops on islands near North Korea after the bombardment, which caused a sharp spike in tension in the world’s fastest growing region.

    Washington is putting increasing pressure on China to rein in North Korea, but a foreign ministry spokesman in Beijing said what was needed was a revival of the stalled six-party talks involving the two Koreas, Russia, China, Japan and the United States.

    “We have noted the relevant reports and express our concern about this,” spokesman Hong Lei said, referring to the joint military exercises and the involvement of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier the USS GeorgeWashington in the drill.

    But Beijing has previously used stronger language to signal its displeasure. In August, the People’s Liberation Army said earlier plans to send the George Washington to the Yellow Sea would make it lose respect and threatened long-term damage to Sino-U.S. relations.

    Seoul expressed frustration with Beijing for not taking sides, noting even Russia had condemned this week’s attack.

    “We must engage with China for it to take more responsibility on North Korea’s behavior,” said a government official, who asked not to be identified.

    China has long propped up the Pyongyang leadership, worried that a collapse of the North could bring instability to its own borders. Beijing is also wary of a unified Korea that would be dominated by the United States, the key ally of the South.

    BELLICOSE RHETORIC

    There was no let-up in the typically bellicose language used by North Korea.

    “(North Korea) will wage second and even third rounds of attacks without any hesitation if warmongers in South Korea make reckless military provocations again,” the North’s KCNA news agency quoted a statement from the military as saying.

    “The U.S. cannot evade the blame for the recent shelling,” it added. “If the U.S. truly desires detente on the Korean peninsula, it should not thoughtlessly shelter the South Korean puppet forces, but strictly control them so that they may not commit any more adventurous military provocations.”

    North Korea said the shelling was in self-defense after Seoul fired shells into its waters. The South Korean government official said Seoul had been shocked by the attack for its “indiscriminate bombing of civilians”.

    “We could not imagine such a grave provocation,” he said. “But now we see any kind of provocation is possible … and it makes it very easy to respond in the future.”

    The official said Tuesday’s artillery attack on Yeonpyeong island could only have been ordered by reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

    Kim and his son and designated heir, Jong-un, visited the Yellow Sea coastal artillery base from where shells were fired at Yeonpyeong just hours before the attack, North Korean media reported.

    “This kind of serious provocation could only be planned by Kim Jong-il,” the official said, adding the attack was also designed to promote the younger Kim’s military credentials.

    U.S. officials have said the attack appeared linked to the upcoming succession in North Korea’s leadership.

    It was the heaviest attack by the North since the Korean War ended in 1953 and marked the first civilian deaths in an assault since the bombing of a South Korean airliner in 1987.

    A bitterly cold wind was blowing through the hilly island on Thursday when reporters were allowed to visit for the first time since the attack. North Korea was clearly visible.

    Houses were deserted with most residents having fled to the mainland, many with their roofs caved in and charred black. Broken glass was strewn in the narrow alleyways.

    The deaths of civilians have added to anger in the South, and sparked heated debate in parliament over the military’s slow response — as well as calls for heads to roll. Defense Minister Kim had been one of the main targets.

    While the rhetoric continues, global markets have moved on to other issues after Tuesday’s attack. The stock market opened up in Seoul on Thursday but closed almost flat. (Reporting by Seoul bureau; Writing by Jeremy Laurence; Editing by Nick Macfie and Ron Popeski)

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