Try out several marketplaces to get a feel.
Sell products that interest you but carve a niche.
Write detailed, professional listings and titles with key search terms for your products.
Communicate frequently and openly with buyers to maintain a good reputation.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Our failure at Copenhagen represents a turning point for activism.
Micah White | 18 Dec 2009 | 8 comments
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Our failure at Copenhagen represents a turning point for activism. It was, after all, a nostalgic gesture – a last attempt to revive those heady days when swarms of people locked down Seattle streets in ’99. But the past decade has seen the alterglobalization movement become increasingly predictable and pacified. And while we’ve been considering our weakness to be born of organizational deficiencies or the failure to keep on top of the newest activist technologies, we’ve been oblivious to the shifting ground beneath our feet. The fact is that the green movement has been appropriated by the elites. If activism wishes to maintain its edge of resistance, it must turn blue.
Ever since the ex-vice president of the US became the poster child of the climate change movement, the environmental movement has lost the momentum of history. Old enemies – bureaucrats and technocrats, capitalists and industrialists – have taken our rebellion and turned it into their pet project: a managed capitalist world. The goals at the Battle in Seattle were to disrupt the flows of capital and to show the big bankers that we knew about their posh meetings and were pissed. By Copenhagen, however, we’d become some sort of cheerleading force. Everyone’s talking points agreed: climate change is a major threat and we must do something about it. Hearing bigwigs mouth platitudes about the urgency of the situation, we let our movement fall into their hands. They played as if they were still scared of our signs and shouts, even arrested a few of us for fun, but the joke was on us.
With the capitalists in control of the green movement, dictating global agreements and defining what constitutes a legitimate projection of the future, the future looks bleaker than ever. Some have voiced the valid concern that climate change will be used to justify increasingly authoritarian means of guaranteeing consumerism continues. Others have suggested that ecology is the new opiate of the masses: a unifying narrative that, if spun correctly, can justify any totalitarian corporate behavior. The very forces that brought us to the brink of catastrophe have opportunistically appropriated climate change. The capitalists love it because it has opened up a new market: “green” products. The state loves climate change because a schizophrenic nature is the ultimate terrorist and – as became apparent in New Orleans – militarized police will be needed.
Instead of trying to resuscitate the green movement, it is time to move on. Let’s remember that our concern was never about the physical environment alone. Take Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, for example. The book, which many consider the seminal text of the environmental movement, began with a short story called “A Fable for Tomorrow” in which an idealized, pastoral town succumbs to an evil curse. The rich biodiversity of the imagined Eden disappears and the silence of death reigns. Carson’s prose suggests that trickster spirits or malevolent gods are to be blame. But she ends the story by pulling back from fantasy and pushing toward science: “No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the rebirth of new life on this stricken world.” She concludes that, “The people had done it to themselves.”
Carson goes on to talk about the accumulation of pollutants in our physical environment, positioning environmentalism within the domain of science alone, but one must also wonder whether a different path could have been possible. What if Carson had spoken about how the disappearance of birds was accompanied by the appearance of flickering screens in every home? What if she had drawn a connection between the lack of biodiversity and the wealth of infodiversity? Or the decrease in plant life and the increase in advertised life? To do so would necessitate a new worldview: a blue worldview that acknowledges the interconnection between mental pollution and environmental degradation, spiritual desecration and real-world extinctions.
The green movement failed because of its overemphasis on a secularized, materialist conception of activism. It tried to change the world without confronting the multi-billion dollar advertising industry that skews our desire and distorts our imagination. It is time to shift the green movement toward blue, to throw ourselves into the work of building an insurrection of the mental environment. Ending consumerism, and having the courage to clean up our mental environment by taking control of our public spaces, is the only way to avert imminent catastrophe.
Micah White is a contributing editor at Adbusters and an independent activist. This article is excerpted from a book he is writing about the future of activism. He lives in Berkeley, CA. www.micahmwhite.com or micah (at) adbusters.org
Sunday, December 20, 2009
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From The Sunday Times December 20, 2009
The Copenhagen farce is glad tidings for all
Dominic Lawson After two weeks of increasingly ill-tempered negotiations, one of the European delegates at the Copenhagen summit “to save the planet” had clearly reached breaking point; or perhaps it was the ingratitude of the people he was trying to save that caused this negotiator to tell the BBC’s science correspondent, Susan Watts, that millions of Africans now “deserve” to be incinerated.
Watts was reporting a conversation she had had with an unnamed “European negotiator” after South Africa decided to join the quartet of America, India, China and Brazil in putting its name to a statement rejecting any binding emissions targets, and thus comprehensively sabotaging the entire conference. “South Africa has signed up to this!” the delegate told Watts. “They’re going to fry — and they’ll deserve it.”
One’s heart does not warm to anyone expressing such sentiments, but it’s easy to understand the fury that must have overcome this delegate. Here was Europe offering to impose vast costs on its own industries and peoples to save Africa from the alleged perils of runaway CO2 emissions — and that continent’s most powerful international voice says, thanks very much for the offer, but we think we can best provide health and prosperity to our people by being free to expand our economy exactly as you did in the industrial revolution, by using the wonderfully cheap forms of energy that nature affords: fossil fuels. After all, why is it that in the US many fewer people die as a result of very high temperatures than used to be the case a hundred years ago? Air-conditioning.
I know that for those thousands of “climate activists” who descended on Copenhagen, the idea of air-conditioning in African homes is something almost too revolting to contemplate; but then they have never understood that, for the real inhabitants of the developing world, the American example of achieving health and comfort through technology and subverting harsh nature for human ends is something to be emulated, not shunned.
The climate catastrophists naturally insist that if the developing countries — notably China and India — follow the American path, the planet will become uninhabitable. The most quoted expression of this came in 2004 from Britain’s chief government scientist then, Sir David King, when he said that if we did not act to reduce our carbon emissions, by the end of the century Antarctica would be the world’s only habitable continent.
Even if you share King’s view of what some of the climate models project in terms of anthropogenic CO2’s effect on global temperatures, his apparent belief that man is completely unable to adapt to a changing environment suggests that, whatever his claims as a scientist, he knows next to nothing about either human nature or history.
Unfortunately for those in the same camp as King, the leak of lethally embarrassing emails from the world’s foremost academic climate research unit, at the University of East Anglia, confirmed the suspicions of roughly half the British population, that too much political faith had been placed in the omniscience of a small group of scientists.
The most interesting of those leaked emails came from Kevin Trenberth, head of the climate analysis section of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado. After observing — this was an email dated October 12, 2009 — that in freezing Boulder, “We have broken records the past two days for the coldest days on record ... it smashed the previous records for these days by 10F”, Trenberth turned to the fact that the planet’s average temperature over the past 10 years seemed to have been static and wrote: “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of global warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.” Two days later he reiterated: “We cannot account for what is happening in the climate system.”
Asked last week by the BBC about these emails, King would say only that their leak and publication in the run-up to the Copenhagen summit had to be the work of some malign national agency (the CIA? The Russians?). Since we know that a Briton with Asperger’s syndrome, working on a domestic dial-up internet connection, managed to hack into the Pentagon’s most secret codes, King’s insistence that only a national agency could have hacked into a non-secure academic research unit’s emails seems as sensible as the assertion that we must all plan to settle in Antarctica. Even if he is right that UEA’s emails were put in the public domain as a result of theft, he deserves as much respect for his reaction as any MP whose only response to the leak of Commons expenses claims had been that the newspaper that bought the disc with all the information had broken the law. As a matter of fact, no MP was quite so arrogant.
King’s old boss, Tony Blair, turned up in Copenhagen to give his take on the leaked emails. The former prime minister declared that they did not lessen by one jot what he called “the need for action” and added: “It is said that the science around climate change is not as certain as its proponents allege. It doesn’t need to be.” Blair is clearly not troubled by irony, since this approach is exactly the one that got us into such a mess over Saddam Hussein’s suppositious biological threat. The actual evidence was tenuous at the time — but to persuade the public of the need for action, Blair was prepared to say that it was watertight. For weapons of mass destruction, read weather of mass destruction.
Blair now argues that even if the science is less clear than is claimed by the climate catastrophists, we have to act because of the risks to humanity if their worst fears turn out to be well founded. This would make perfect sense if there were no risks attached to what he calls “action”, just as it would if there had been no lives put at risk by attacking Iraq. In fact, there are vast costs involved in the war against weather, which could actually cost lives. The highly respected climate economist Professor Richard Tol, a senior member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has said that the CO2 tax required to bring emissions down to the levels demanded by the IPCC would reduce global GDP by an amount that would equate — in 2100 — to $40 trillion (£25 trillion) a year. It’s pretty obvious, really: just as cheap energy has transformed the lives of millions for the better, it follows that reversing the process would have an opposite effect.
Carbon cap and trade, recommended by the EU as an alternative to tax, has its own malign effect. Just ask the 1,700 employees being made redundant at Corus’s steel plant in Redcar. The owners of Corus could receive up to $375m (£230m) in carbon credits for laying off those British workers. Then, if they switch production to a so-called clean Indian steel plant, Corus could also receive millions of dollars annually from the United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism fund. The net effect of all that on the environment could be safely estimated as zero.
Gordon Brown, who seems to be embarking on a scorched earth economic policy in his final months in power, evidently regards this as worth it — he wants to go down in history as the man who saved the climate. Yet this government — or the next one — has been given a golden opportunity by the farce in Copenhagen: to abandon the carbon witch hunt altogether. If India, China, America, Brazil (and Uncle Tom Cobley and all) carry on with “business as usual”, then anything Europe does to cut its emissions is irrelevant, at best: it will cause pain and hardship for its own citizens to no purpose whatever.
So let’s toast the negotiators of Copenhagen. By failing so spectacularly, they have presented us with a wonderful Christmas present. All we have to do is open it.
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Tuesday, December 15, 2009
December 13, 2009
Untouchable: Blair to give Iraq War evidence in secret
By Jane Merrick and Brian Brady
Former PM was happy to discuss invasion with Fern Britton on TV show - but the Chilcot inquiry will hear his crucial testimony behind closed doors
Key parts of Tony Blair's evidence to the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq War will be held in secret, sources close to the hearings revealed last night.
His conversations with President George Bush when he was prime minister, and crucial details of the decision-making process that led Britain into war, will fall under the scope of national security and the protection of Britain's relations with the US.
But there are also suggestions by well-placed sources that anything "interesting" will also be shrouded in secrecy, leaving his public appearance containing little more than is already known.
The revelation will dash hopes that Mr Blair will finally detail in public why he committed British troops to the disastrous military invasion on the basis of flimsy intelligence.
The Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg last night condemned the move, saying if a significant proportion of Mr Blair's evidence were held in private then the public would "rightly conclude that the inquiry is simply too weak to give us the truth".
It followed Mr Blair's extraordinary admission to the TV presenter Fern Britton this weekend that he would have gone to war even if he had known Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction.
He would have deployed "different arguments" to remove Saddam, Mr Blair said - undermining his long-held case that Saddam needed to be toppled because of the threat of WMD.
It will be seen as supremely ironic that Mr Blair made the confession in the cosy surroundings of a documentary about his religious beliefs, in Fern Britton Meets... to be broadcast on BBC1 today, yet the public will be denied the chance to see any difficult questioning of how he has changed his justification for war over the past seven years.
All of the evidence held behind closed doors is expected to be redacted from the Chilcot panel's final report on the war.
There are already concerns that Sir John Chilcot and his four fellow panellists have given the 27 witnesses who have so far appeared - mainly senior Foreign Office mandarins - an easy ride over their role in the war.
The former MI6 chief Sir John Scarlett, in evidence last week, distanced himself from the "overtly political" foreword to the September 2002 Downing Street dossier. Yet the panel failed to ask why it was that Mr Blair and Alastair Campbell were able to amend the document he was in charge of. Sir John will also give evidence in private.
The inquiry adjourns for the Christmas break this week. Mr Blair will appear in public in the new year, followed by a private session.
The IoS revealed earlier this year that Mr Blair lobbied Gordon Brown, through the Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell, for the inquiry to be held in private to prevent it turning into a "show trial".
After widespread uproar, the move was blocked and it was announced that all evidence would be public and televised. Yet a source close to the inquiry said yesterday that the "interesting" aspects of Mr Blair's evidence will still be heard behind closed doors.
The source said: "Anyone who thinks the public will have their day in court with Blair is wrong."
It is thought the move arose from a mutual agreement. Whitehall frequently uses national security as a reason to withhold documents from the public. The Freedom of Information Act also blocks the release of details where the effects of disclosure could damage the UK's relations with any other state or international organisation.
A spokesman for the inquiry said: Mr Blair would be appearing "very much in public". He added: "We have said right from the start that he will be a key figure in the inquiry. Mr Blair has said that he is ready and willing to give evidence in public."
Mr Clegg said last night: "It would be wholly unacceptable for any of Blair's testimony to be held in private, except that which could directly compromise national security. Tony Blair's breathtaking cynicism in stating that he would have found any old excuse to go to war simply underlines how vital it is that we hear his testimony in public.
"It is highly ironic that he is willing to speak publicly to Fern Britton but not to the inquiry set up to investigate the Iraq War."
Another source with knowledge of the inquiry said it was clear the "heavy stuff" was being saved for behind closed doors.
Hans Blix, head of the UN weapons inspectorate in 2003, said that Mr Blair's confession to Fern Britton had left a "strong impression of a lack of sincerity", adding that the WMD argument was a "figleaf".
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By H1NG0 ⋅ December 9, 2009 ⋅ Email This Post Email This Post ⋅ Print This Post Print This Post ⋅ Post a comment
Tagged ACT Police, crime, kambah, motor vehicle theft, theft
From the ACT Policing media release site:
ACT Policing is investigating an incident which occurred in Kambah yesterday (Thursday 3 December) at about 10.30pm.
A 28-year-old female was driving southbound along Namitjira Drive when she saw flashing red and blue lights coming from the vehicle behind her. She pulled her vehicle over near the intersection of Kambah Pool Road, believing it to be an unmarked police car.
A male approached the victim’s front window and asked her to exit and move to the rear of her vehicle. As the victim complied with the request, the male got into her vehicle and drove off in the direction of Drakeford Drive, followed by the vehicle from which he had originally exited.
The male offender is described as Caucasian, aged in his mid-20s, about 180cms (5’11”) tall, with a slim build and short light brown hair. He was wearing a black long sleeve collared shirt and black pants. The vehicle from which he initially exited is described as either a dark green Holden Commodore or Ford Falcon.
The victim’s stolen vehicle is a 2001 charcoal coloured Holden Commodore with ACT registration YDF15Q.
Anyone who is approached by a plain clothes police officer may request to see police identification or badge and warrant card to confirm their identity.
Police are appealing for anyone who may have seen a male or vehicle matching the above descriptions, or who knows the whereabouts of the stolen vehicle are asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or via the Crime Stoppers website at www.act.crimestoppers.com.au.
Media and Public Relations Ph: 02 6256 7460
Here is a fascinating lecture by Manly Palmer Hall. Watch, enjoy and learn!
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Yahoo!7 December 10, 2009, 12:11 pm
Experts in Norway have been left baffled by a mysterious spiral of light that has drawn excitement from UFO enthusiasts.
The giant pattern appeared in the pre-dawn sky in the country's north, and could be seen from hundreds of kilometres away.
The flash lasted for about two minutes.
A video was filmed by a worker at an army base. He said it started out as a small light in the sky, but grew into a light show that seemed to disappear into a black hole.
Kristoffer Rakoczy's video was closely examined by Norwegian Space and defence officials.
Witnesses described the light as a spinning spiral of bluish light, centred around a star.
Scientists believe it might be a rocket launch from Russia, but the Russians have denied it.
UFO fans insist it's the strongest proof yet that there is life in outer space.
Another theory is that the light came from a laser show, but reports suggest that the time of day, 8.45am local time, makes that unlikely.
Norwegian Space Centre Chief Scientist Erik Tandberg is quoted as saying,
"I agree with everyone in the science community that this light was the weirdest thing. I have never seen anything like this ever."
Friday, December 4, 2009
EVERYBODY needs to watch this short little documentary, so that they become aware of Codex Alimentarius and what to do about it.
How to Sell on Amazon and eBay
The sites are crowded with sellers, and new third-party marketplaces are cropping up all of the time. And the rules change frequently. EBay angered many longtime sellers in recent years by restricting payment options, changing seller feedback procedures and promoting fixed-price items over its original auction-style listings. Amazon’s Marketplace stopped accepting new sellers in some product categories and requires preapproval in others.
“Merely being listed on eBay or Amazon isn’t a sustainable business,” said Dennis Ceru, an entrepreneurship professor at Babson College in Wellesley, Mass. “There are a lot of people going down this path that are making little or no money.”
Building viable enterprises off these marketplaces requires sourcing inventory cost-effectively, researching each marketplace’s procedures and commissions, polishing customer-service practices and managing your online reputation.
Here’s how to get started:
Figure Out the Basics
Familiarize yourself with the various marketplaces, particularly the giants, eBay and Amazon.
Try listing a few items on each site, which usually costs less than a dollar. You will also have to pay a commission ranging anywhere from 6 percent to 20 percent of the final sales price of any items you sell. Trying out the marketplaces and their various sales methods will help you spot the differences quickly.
Figure out what to sell. For start-up sellers, new goods are typically more lucrative than used items because they are easier to price and list, according to Scot Wingo, chief executive of ChannelAdvisor, a company that helps small businesses sell on the Internet. Collectibles are more difficult to price and are better suited to being sold in auctions.
Identify product areas that interest you, and seek a niche. Rather than sell, say, digital cameras, you might sell a specialty tripod or other accessories that aren’t already sold abundantly online. Skip McGrath, an eBay Powerseller,, started with automatic pepper mills. Based in Anacortes, Wash., he decided to sell specialty kitchen gadgets on eBay. “They’re light, easy to ship and I’m one of the few sellers selling them,” he said. “If I had pots and pans, I’d have 200 competitors.”
Find a reliable wholesaler who offers low enough prices to generate high enough profit margins on resale. Mr. McGrath, who said he generated roughly $150,000 in annual revenue with his eBay store, buys his pepper mills from a Seattle-based wholesale dealer. Finding the right wholesaler can require an extensive search. Many sellers, Mr. McGrath said, source their products offline, through local wholesalers or flea markets. Comparison shopping can still be done online, using sites like Liquidation.com and eBay, which offer wholesale items in bulk.
Choose Your Marketplace
One key to success is identifying the marketplace where the buyers of your products shop. Experts say it’s better to master one site before expanding.
The fast-growing number of choices include Bonanzle.com, Overstock.com, and Etsy.com, a marketplace for handmade crafts. Even social-networking sites like Facebook offer their own marketplaces, although they tend to be geared more toward online classifieds than retail businesses.
In late August, Wal-Mart introduced Wal-Mart Marketplace, which works with other retailers to sell goods on Walmart.com. So far, however, only a few established retailers, including eBags, have been admitted to the program. Alibaba.com, operated by the Alibaba Group of China, is the largest online marketplace in the world but primarily serves audiences outside the United States. It’s a growing option, though, for American retailers looking to generate international business.
EBay and Amazon remain the primary choices for most American-based sellers because they offer far more shopper traffic, said Mr. Wingo of ChannelAdvisor. Amazon had about 54.5 million unique visitors in October, according to Nielsen Online, while eBay had about 51 million.
Still, comparing the big marketplaces can be tricky. Amazon has lured away many eBay sellers in recent years because it doesn’t charge listing fees, meaning sellers have no upfront risk. Overall seller fees on Amazon, however, are often comparable or even slightly higher than those on eBay.
Selling on Amazon is more automated and requires less buyer interaction. The site collects money from customers and deposits it in seller accounts. In most categories of goods, eBay requires that sellers accept payment only through electronic systems, including its own PayPal system. Amazon has no auctions — all items are sold at fixed prices — and automatically sets the shipping fees depending on the item being sold. EBay sellers can choose their own shipping fees and have more control over the look and timing of listings.
Mr. McGrath said that eBay was still the better option for selling clothes, toys and household goods. Books, music and other electronic media, he said, tend to do better on Amazon.
Write Clear, Detailed Listings
Once you have your product and your marketplace, you have to figure out how to stand out from the pack.
One way is to write listings and titles that lure prospective buyers by providing detailed, reliable information about the product and customer service. When possible, include at least one high-quality, attractive photo of every item being sold — more if the item is used or a collectible. Using keywords — words shoppers are likely to enter when searching for the product online — in the item headline and listing is also crucial.
Listings should fully and accurately describe the item’s condition, especially any defects, said Steve Lindhorst, an e-commerce consultant in Atascadero, Calif., and a former eBay University instructor. Include shipping fees and procedures, so buyers know what to expect. Sellers who offer next-day shipping or money-back guarantees, he added, can get a leg up.
Make sure the listing looks reliable. Proofread it carefully and don’t use too many exclamation points or language that suggests you’re inexperienced or unprofessional. “Stay positive, clear and concise — that’s really important,” Mr. Lindhorst said. “It’s all about making the buyer feel comfortable.”
Note that each marketplace displays listings in its search results differently. EBay’s “Best Match” search results, for instance, give higher placement to listings offering free shipping and sellers with high feedback ratings. That’s why many eBay sellers now wrap their shipping fees into the asking price on fixed-price items. Amazon, on the other hand, generally lists the lowest-priced products first. EBay lets sellers pay for “featured” listings that get better placement in search results.
Selling through auction requires more strategy. Sellers generally want their auction listings to expire at the time of week when the listed item tends to sell best. Mr. McGrath, for instance, found his pepper mills and other kitchen gadgets sold best on Sunday and Monday evenings.
Some third-party services like Terapeak.com and HammerTap.com give eBay sellers and other online auctioneers access to marketplace analytics that help them time and write their product listings. The sites show, for instance, the time of day certain products sell best on eBay and identify keywords to include in listings and titles. Monthly subscriptions start around $20 (HammerTap offers a 10-day free trial).
Watch Your Ratings
Maintaining a high seller rating is essential. Most marketplaces ask buyers to rate sellers on a five-star scale. One or two bad reviews can ruin a small seller’s rating, and some sites boot sellers whose positive ratings fall below a certain level.
Detailed and clear product listings can avert miscommunication between buyer and seller. Including contact information also encourages sellers to contact you directly with problems — rather than posting negative comments or ratings.
Belinda North, founder of SophiasStyle.com, began her children’s clothes business on eBay and now sells about 30 percent of her inventory on eBay and Amazon, while the rest is sold mostly from her own site.
Ms. North, based in Omaha, sends all of her buyers an e-mail message immediately after a purchase to let them know the order was received and when it will ship. She follows up by e-mail once the item is shipped and provides her contact information in case of questions or problems.
The e-mail messages, Ms. North said, reassure buyers and show that she’s committed to customer service. They also allow her to continue marketing to new customers and to direct them to her own Web site. “This is your chance to create a customer for life,” Ms. North added.
That kind of branding, experts say, is what separates people who sell online from people who build retail businesses online.
In Secret Meetings, Comcast Wooed G.E. and Won NBC
By ANDREW ROSS SORKIN and TIM ARANGO
The secret meeting was set for an early July afternoon in a condominium along the ninth hole of a golf course in Sun Valley, Idaho. Jeffrey R. Immelt, General Electric’s chief executive, arrived first, taking care to avoid being spotted by his own employee, Jeff Zucker, the chief executive of NBC Universal, who was mingling with other executives nearby.
Ralph J. Roberts, the 89-year-old co-founder of the cable giant Comcast, and its chief operating officer, Steve Burke, arrived 15 minutes later.
The gathering, which had been brokered by James B. Lee Jr., a vice chairman of JPMorgan Chase, was set up for one purpose: Mr. Immelt, who had resisted the urge to sell NBC for years, was finally ready to sell. For months, he had been in discussions with Mr. Roberts’s son, Brian, Comcast’s chief executive. But now, at the investment bank Allen & Company’s annual media conference — known for big deal-making — he wanted to hear it from the mouth of the company’s patriarch.
“Do you want to do this?” Mr. Immelt, dressed informally in a polo shirt, asked Mr. Roberts, who was wearing his trademark bow tie, and Mr. Burke, who was Mr. Immelt’s classmate at Harvard Business School.
“Yes,” Mr. Burke said.
Mr. Roberts, who founded Comcast in Tupelo, Miss., in 1963, said: “I’ve done a lot of deals in my life. Every deal has its time. This is the right time.”
On Thursday, G.E. is planning to finally announce what had leaked more than a month ago: it is selling a controlling stake in NBC Universal to Comcast, a deal that will once again reshape the media landscape.
The transaction, the largest during Mr. Immelt’s tenure as chief executive, will also reshape G.E., refocusing it into an industrial and financial conglomerate without the flash — and financial instability — of a television and film business. And in the process, he has been undoing much of the legacy of his predecessor, John F. Welch Jr.
The deal was a long time in the making and was filled with meetings at the Four Seasons hotel in Philadelphia, in New York City apartments and on helicopter rides. It also featured code names: G.E. was Green, NBC was Navy, Vivendi was Violet and Comcast was Crimson (because of the Harvard link).
More than a half-dozen executives involved in those discussions, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the deal had yet to be formally announced and because the negotiations were considered confidential, helped reconstruct a nearly yearlong dance between G.E. and Comcast.
Mr. Roberts had long wanted to control not just the pipes into people’s homes, but the television shows and movies that flow over them. But since 2004, when he sought and failed to buy the Walt Disney Company, the media industry’s economics had cratered. Broadcast television was suffering through ratings declines, and a falloff in DVD sales had dented profits in Hollywood. But cable channels, of which NBC Universal has many, were flourishing.
The prospect of a deal with G.E. began in earnest in the late afternoon on March 3 on the 48th floor of JPMorgan, when Mr. Roberts and Mr. Burke came to meet with that firm’s chief executive, Jamie Dimon, at the behest of Mr. Lee.
The meeting began with a general discussion of Comcast’s finances, but Mr. Roberts said the company did not need a bank to raise money. Instead, he changed direction by saying he had been pursuing Mr. Immelt about NBC but felt like he was getting nowhere. He felt that G.E. was in a vulnerable position and highlighted the fact that when NBC acquired the Weather Channel earlier in the year, it partnered with private equity instead of buying the network on its own. It was a sign, Mr. Roberts believed, that Mr. Immelt might not be fully committed to the television business. Mr. Lee said he was having breakfast the next morning with Mr. Immelt and agreed to mention Comcast’s interest.
A day later, Mr. Roberts was standing in the lobby of a Marriott hotel in Baltimore, where his daughter was playing in a squash tournament, when Mr. Immelt called his cellphone.
“I want you to know that I’m going to study this,” Mr. Immelt told Mr. Roberts. The two agreed that measures should be taken to ensure secrecy and that only a handful of executives should be informed. Mr. Roberts, who had the failed hostile takeover bid for Disney behind him, had one requirement: he said he would not participate in an auction.
“We’ve got to be monogamous,” he said.
Mr. Immelt’s evolution in thinking about NBC had come over the last year as his company’s fortunes were battered during the financial crisis. In the weeks after Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy, Mr. Immelt had spent many hours on the phone with the Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr., worrying about the conglomerate’s fate.
In the beginning of 2009, as the stock market continued to plunge and G.E. hovered as low as $5.87 a share, Mr. Immelt listened to presentations about its assets at a management retreat, where his thoughts began to crystallize. NBC Universal, whose cable channels continued to do well but whose flagship broadcast network was deteriorating, no longer appeared to be core to the business and he thought his capital could be redeployed better elsewhere.
Comcast had also undertaken an internal review to consider where the company could grow by acquisition. It considered buying another cable company, a mobile phone company or even Facebook. At one point, it considered acquiring Viacom, which owns several cable networks but is unencumbered by a broadcast network, but Sumner M. Redstone, the controlling shareholder in Viacom, was not interested in selling.
As the spring wore on, G.E. and Comcast met repeatedly, trying to come up with a structure for the deal. By August, the broad points, in which Comcast would acquire 51 percent of the company, with G.E. holding 49 percent, were agreed upon. G.E. can begin selling its remaining stake back to NBC three and a half years after the deal closes at a 20 percent premium to the market value. However, it would have to share 50 percent of any increase in the value of NBC with Comcast.
The deal nearly fell apart several times. Once, when it seemed that it had been derailed over price and structure, Michael J. Angelakis, Comcast’s chief financial officer, flew to the summer home of Keith S. Sherin, G.E.’s chief financial officer, in Cape Cod and took him and his wife out to dinner to put the deal back on track. By the end of dinner, they had shaken hands.
The largest complication was that Vivendi, the French conglomerate that owned 20 percent of the company, could force G.E. to pursue an initial public offering if they could not come to terms on a deal.
Even within the last two weeks amid a constant stream of leaks, it appeared the deal could collapse. Vivendi wanted to value the business at $6.1 billion; G.E. wanted to value it at $5.5 billion. They ended up at $5.8 billion, but there was still a worry about what would happen if G.E.’s deal with Comcast were blocked by regulators.
Mr. Immelt, after attending the state dinner last month at the White House, flew to Paris to persuade Vivendi to complete the deal. An agreement was reached over the weekend after he offered to pay Vivendi $2 billion even if the Comcast deal collapsed.
For nearly six months, only a small cadre of G.E. and Comcast executives knew about the deal — nobody at NBC was ever told — and it had not leaked. On Sept. 30, several hours after the talks were disclosed to a tiny group of executives at NBC, the blockbuster talks appeared on TheWrap.com, a Hollywood news site.
“I’m telling you to be prepared for this to leak,” Mr. Sherin had told Mr. Angelakis earlier that day.
Comcast Gets NBC From G.E. in Deal That Reshapes TV
By TIM ARANGO
After nearly nine months of negotiations, Comcast, the nation’s largest cable operator, finally reached an agreement on Thursday to acquire NBC Universal from the General Electric Company.
The deal valued NBC Universal at about $30 billion.
The agreement will create a joint venture, with Comcast owning 51 percent and G.E. owning 49 percent. Comcast will contribute to the joint venture its stable of cable channels, which includes Versus, the Golf Channel and E Entertainment, worth about $7.25 billion, and will pay G.E. about $6.5 billion in cash, for a total of $13.75 billion. For now, the network will remain NBC Universal, but ultimately Comcast could decide to change the name.
Almost immediately, the transaction reshapes the nation’s entertainment industry, giving a cable provider a huge portfolio of new content, even as it raises the sector’s anxieties about the future.
In a joint statement announcing the agreement, Brian L. Roberts, the chief executive of Comcast, said the deal was “a perfect fit for Comcast and will allow us to become a leader in the development and distribution of multiplatform ‘anytime, anywhere’ media that American consumers are demanding.” The deal’s genesis lies in frequent flirtations over the last several years between Comcast and General Electric, although serious talks began in March. For Comcast, the purchase is the realization of its long-held ambition to be a major producer of television shows and movies.
News of the negotiations broke in late September, and in the ensuing weeks G.E. worked to resolve details with Comcast, while simultaneously negotiating to buy out a 20 percent stake in NBC Universal held by Vivendi, the French telecommunications conglomerate. It was this last part that proved difficult.
G.E. and Comcast’s part of the transaction has essentially been complete for weeks, but the final step was held up by the negotiations between G.E. and Vivendi. Vivendi will receive about $5.8 billion for its stake.
Jeff Zucker, the current head of NBC Universal, will stay on as chief executive and would report to the chief operating officer of Comcast, Stephen B. Burke. In a statement released by the companies Thursday morning, Mr. Zucker called the deal the “start of a new era” for NBC.
The deal could take up to 18 months to pass regulatory muster. Although Comcast is based in Philadelphia, NBC’s headquarters will remain in New York, the joint release said.
Most of NBC’s value is in its lucrative cable channels — USA, Bravo, SyFy, CNBC and MSNBC. The NBC network and Universal Studios will comprise only a small portion of the joint venture’s cash flow.
In some respects, G.E.’s decision to sell reflects the deteriorating state of the broadcast television industry, and a desire to exit a business that never quite fit well with its industrial side.
NBC has been mired in fourth place among the major broadcast networks, and the economics of the broadcast television business has deteriorated in recent years amid declining overall ratings and a decline in advertising. By contrast, cable channels have continued to thrive because they rely on a steady stream of subscriber fees from cable companies, such as Comcast.
Mr. Roberts, the Comcast chief executive, failed in 2004 with a hostile takeover bid for the Walt Disney Company. Since then, the company has taken a less ambitious approach to content, buying a stake in MGM and building up smaller cable channels and regional sports networks.
Shortly after news of the deal leaked in September, G.E. and Comcast signed a standstill agreement, which effectively blocked other bidders from entering the fray. Previously, G.E. had sought to entice Time Warner. More recently Rupert Murdoch, who controls the News Corporation, considered making an offer for NBC Universal.
An earlier version of this article mischaracterized a financial aspect of the deal. The agreement valued NBC Universal at $30 billion, that was not the value of deal itself.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
BREAKING: SCOTT FENSTERMAKER, THE 9/11 LAWYER, SPEAKS OUT: JUDGES ARE BREAKING THE LAW, DETAINEES NOT GETTING LAWYERS THEY WANT
Scott Fenstermaker has become the lightning rod for 9/11. He is the only defense lawyer mentioned in the upcoming trials of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four co-conspirators. Although he won’t be defending them in court, he’s been pilloried by the press for daring to suggest that these detainees have any legal rights.
I called him this weekend, and asked him why.
Scott Fenstermaker has represented Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali in various legal proceedings at Guantanamo Bay. Mr. Ali stands accused of conspiracy, murder, destruction of property, hijacking, and terrorism for his part in the September 11th attacks. I could not understand why Mr. Fenstermaker would not defend his client in court, so I began the interview by asking him to clarify this:
TP: Why won’t you represent Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali when he stands trial in New York for the September 11th attacks?
SF: The government would not let me represent him.
TP: Why not?
SF: Well, that’s a good question. The government goes crazy every time the detainees want me to represent them, and the government doesn’t like it.
TP: How does the government prevent you from representing the detainees?
SF: The government wants to control who represents the detainees. The government not only wants to, but it is. The government does this by controlling the judges. The judges are doing exactly what the government wants them to do in these cases. The judges ask what the government wants them to do, and then they do it.
Mr. Fenstermaker flew to Guantanamo Bay when he found out that Ali and four other detainees would stand trial in Federal Court for the 9/11 attacks. On November 21st he told the New York Times that Mr. Ali and his co-defendants will plead not guilty “so they can have a trial and try to get their message out”. Thus began last week’s media circus.
Bill O’Reilly called him “a weasel” on national television. David Horowitz anointed him a member of the “traitor class”. Even the highbrow Huffington Post accused Mr. Fenstermaker of “bringing his own politics to the case”.
Sam Stein wrote the hit piece for the Huffington Post. He quoted “an employee with an NGO working on national security issues”. But he did not name this mysterious employee, or the Non-Government Organization.
Stein’s source said that “Fenstermaker was causing a lot of trouble and was in no way qualified to be representing these guys but had managed to set up a relationship with these detainees”. I read parts of Stein’s essay to Mr. Fenstermaker, and he had no doubt about the NGO.
TP: Who is the Non Government Organization?
SF: The American Civil Liberties Union. They’re working with the government and the judges involved in the cases. The detainees know that the government appointed counsel is working to prosecute.
TP: You mean their Government appointed legal defenders would be working to convict them?
SF: Yes, that’s why they’ve rejected assigned counsel.
TP: Is that why they are going to represent themselves at trial?
In my opinion, this is why the Obama administration is so confident these alleged 9/11 conspirators will be convicted and sentenced to death. Since they will be representing themselves, the trial will be a sham, a show for the American People.
I asked Scott Fenstermaker a final series of questions to clarify his legal representation of Mr. Ali and the other defendants at the upcoming trial.
TP: Did you ask Mr Ali if you could represent him at the trial in New York?
TP: Do you plan to ask Mr Ali if you could represent him?
TP: What if Mr. Ali or one of the other defendants asks you to defend them in court?
SF: I would refuse to do it.
SF: Because I think the international community may one day open up a war crimes investigation into the war on terror, and a lot of these judges and lawyers may be prosecuted themselves.
SF: It’s illegal, what we’re doing with these detainees.
Monday, November 30, 2009
The Safety Net
Food Stamp Use Soars, and Stigma Fades
By JASON DePARLE and ROBERT GEBELOFF
MARTINSVILLE, Ohio — With food stamp use at record highs and climbing every month, a program once scorned as a failed welfare scheme now helps feed one in eight Americans and one in four children.
It has grown so rapidly in places so diverse that it is becoming nearly as ordinary as the groceries it buys. More than 36 million people use inconspicuous plastic cards for staples like milk, bread and cheese, swiping them at counters in blighted cities and in suburbs pocked with foreclosure signs.
Virtually all have incomes near or below the federal poverty line, but their eclectic ranks testify to the range of people struggling with basic needs. They include single mothers and married couples, the newly jobless and the chronically poor, longtime recipients of welfare checks and workers whose reduced hours or slender wages leave pantries bare.
While the numbers have soared during the recession, the path was cleared in better times when the Bush administration led a campaign to erase the program’s stigma, calling food stamps “nutritional aid” instead of welfare, and made it easier to apply. That bipartisan effort capped an extraordinary reversal from the 1990s, when some conservatives tried to abolish the program, Congress enacted large cuts and bureaucratic hurdles chased many needy people away.
From the ailing resorts of the Florida Keys to Alaskan villages along the Bering Sea, the program is now expanding at a pace of about 20,000 people a day.
There are 239 counties in the United States where at least a quarter of the population receives food stamps, according to an analysis of local data collected by The New York Times.
The counties are as big as the Bronx and Philadelphia and as small as Owsley County in Kentucky, a patch of Appalachian distress where half of the 4,600 residents receive food stamps.
In more than 750 counties, the program helps feed one in three blacks. In more than 800 counties, it helps feed one in three children. In the Mississippi River cities of St. Louis, Memphis and New Orleans, half of the children or more receive food stamps. Even in Peoria, Ill. — Everytown, U.S.A. — nearly 40 percent of children receive aid.
While use is greatest where poverty runs deep, the growth has been especially swift in once-prosperous places hit by the housing bust. There are about 50 small counties and a dozen sizable ones where the rolls have doubled in the last two years. In another 205 counties, they have risen by at least two-thirds. These places with soaring rolls include populous Riverside County, Calif., most of greater Phoenix and Las Vegas, a ring of affluent Atlanta suburbs, and a 150-mile stretch of southwest Florida from Bradenton to the Everglades.
Although the program is growing at a record rate, the federal official who oversees it would like it to grow even faster.
“I think the response of the program has been tremendous,” said Kevin Concannon, an under secretary of agriculture, “but we’re mindful that there are another 15, 16 million who could benefit.”
Nationwide, food stamps reach about two-thirds of those eligible, with rates ranging from an estimated 50 percent in California to 98 percent in Missouri. Mr. Concannon urged lagging states to do more to enroll the needy, citing a recent government report that found a sharp rise in Americans with inconsistent access to adequate food.
“This is the most urgent time for our feeding programs in our lifetime, with the exception of the Depression,” he said. “It’s time for us to face up to the fact that in this country of plenty, there are hungry people.”
The program’s growing reach can be seen in a corner of southwestern Ohio where red state politics reign and blue-collar workers have often called food stamps a sign of laziness. But unemployment has soared, and food stamp use in a six-county area outside Cincinnati has risen more than 50 percent.
With most of his co-workers laid off, Greg Dawson, a third-generation electrician in rural Martinsville, considers himself lucky to still have a job. He works the night shift for a contracting firm, installing freezer lights in a chain of grocery stores. But when his overtime income vanished and his expenses went up, Mr. Dawson started skimping on meals to feed his wife and five children.
He tried to fill up on cereal and eggs. He ate a lot of Spam. Then he went to work with a grumbling stomach to shine lights on food he could not afford. When an outreach worker appeared at his son’s Head Start program, Mr. Dawson gave in.
“It’s embarrassing,” said Mr. Dawson, 29, a taciturn man with a wispy goatee who is so uneasy about the monthly benefit of $300 that he has not told his parents. “I always thought it was people trying to milk the system. But we just felt like we really needed the help right now.”
The outreach worker is a telltale sign. Like many states, Ohio has campaigned hard to raise the share of eligible people collecting benefits, which are financed entirely by the federal government and brought the state about $2.2 billion last year.
By contrast, in the federal cash welfare program, states until recently bore the entire cost of caseload growth, and nationally the rolls have stayed virtually flat. Unemployment insurance, despite rapid growth, reaches about only half the jobless (and replaces about half their income), making food stamps the only aid many people can get — the safety net’s safety net.
Support for the food stamp program reached a nadir in the mid-1990s when critics, likening the benefit to cash welfare, won significant restrictions and sought even more. But after use plunged for several years, President Bill Clinton began promoting the program, in part as a way to help the working poor. President George W. Bush expanded that effort, a strategy Mr. Obama has embraced.
The revival was crowned last year with an upbeat change of name. What most people still call food stamps is technically the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.
By the time the recession began, in December 2007, “the whole message around this program had changed,” said Stacy Dean of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington group that has supported food stamp expansions. “The general pitch was, ‘This program is here to help you.’ ”
Now nearly 12 percent of Americans receive aid — 28 percent of blacks, 15 percent of Latinos and 8 percent of whites. Benefits average about $130 a month for each person in the household, but vary with shelter and child care costs.
In the promotion of the program, critics see a sleight of hand.
“Some people like to camouflage this by calling it a nutrition program, but it’s really not different from cash welfare,” said Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation, whose views have a following among conservatives on Capitol Hill. “Food stamps is quasi money.”
Arguing that aid discourages work and marriage, Mr. Rector said food stamps should contain work requirements as strict as those placed on cash assistance. “The food stamp program is a fossil that repeats all the errors of the war on poverty,” he said.
Suburbs Are Hit Hard
Across the country, the food stamp rolls can be read like a scan of a sick economy. The counties of northwest Ohio, where car parts are made, take sick when Detroit falls ill. Food stamp use is up by about 60 percent in Erie County (vibration controls), 77 percent in Wood County (floor mats) and 84 percent in hard-hit Van Wert (shifting components and cooling fans).
Just west, in Indiana, Elkhart County makes the majority of the nation’s recreational vehicles. Sales have fallen more than half during the recession, and nearly 30 percent of the county’s children are receiving food stamps.
The pox in southwest Florida is the housing bust, with foreclosure rates in Fort Myers often leading the nation in the last two years. Across six contiguous counties from Manatee to Monroe, the food stamp rolls have more than doubled.
In sheer numbers, growth has come about equally from places where food stamp use was common and places where it was rare. Since 2007, the 600 counties with the highest percentage of people on the rolls added 1.3 million new recipients. So did the 600 counties where use was lowest.
The richest counties are often where aid is growing fastest, although from a small base. In 2007, Forsyth County, outside Atlanta, had the highest household income in the South. (One author dubbed it “Whitopia.”) Food stamp use there has more than doubled.
This is the first recession in which a majority of the poor in metropolitan areas live in the suburbs, giving food stamps new prominence there. Use has grown by half or more in dozens of suburban counties from Boston to Seattle, including such bulwarks of modern conservatism as California’s Orange County, where the rolls are up more than 50 percent.
While food stamp use is still the exception in places like Orange County (where 4 percent of the population get food aid), the program reaches deep in places of chronic poverty. It feeds half the people in stretches of white Appalachia, in a Yupik-speaking region of Alaska and on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
Across the 10 core counties of the Mississippi Delta, 45 percent of black residents receive aid. In a city as big as St. Louis, the share is 60 percent.
Use among children is especially high. A third of the children in Louisiana, Missouri and Tennessee receive food aid. In the Bronx, the rate is 46 percent. In East Carroll Parish, La., three-quarters of the children receive food stamps.
A recent study by Mark R. Rank, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis, startled some policy makers in finding that half of Americans receive food stamps, at least briefly, by the time they turn 20. Among black children, the figure was 90 percent.
Need Overcomes Scorn
Across the small towns and rolling farmland outside Cincinnati, old disdain for the program has collided with new needs. Warren County, the second-richest in Ohio, is so averse to government aid that it turned down a federal stimulus grant. But the market for its high-end suburban homes has sagged, people who build them are idle and food stamp use has doubled.
Next door, in Clinton County, the blow has been worse. DHL, the international package carrier, has closed most of its giant airfield, costing the county its biggest employer and about 7,500 jobs. The county unemployment rate nearly tripled, to more than 14 percent.
“We’re seeing people getting food stamps who never thought they’d get them,” said Tina Osso, the director of the Shared Harvest Food Bank in Fairfield, which runs an outreach program in five area counties.
While Mr. Dawson, the electrician, has kept his job, the drive to distant work sites has doubled his gas bill, food prices rose sharply last year and his health insurance premiums have soared. His monthly expenses have risen by about $400, and the elimination of overtime has cost him $200 a month. Food stamps help fill the gap.
Like many new beneficiaries here, Mr. Dawson argues that people often abuse the program and is quick to say he is different. While some people “choose not to get married, just so they can apply for benefits,” he is a married, churchgoing man who works and owns his home. While “some people put piles of steaks in their carts,” he will not use the government’s money for luxuries like coffee or soda. “To me, that’s just morally wrong,” he said.
He has noticed crowds of midnight shoppers once a month when benefits get renewed. While policy analysts, spotting similar crowds nationwide, have called them a sign of increased hunger, he sees idleness. “Generally, if you’re up at that hour and not working, what are you into?” he said.
Still, the program has filled the Dawsons’ home with fresh fruit, vegetables, bread and meat, and something they had not fully expected — an enormous sense of relief. “I know if I run out of milk, I could run down to the gas station,” said Mr. Dawson’s wife, Sheila.
As others here tell it, that is a benefit not to be overlooked.
Sarah and Tyrone Mangold started the year on track to make $70,000 — she was selling health insurance, and he was working on a heating and air conditioning crew. She got laid off in the spring, and he a few months later. Together they had one unemployment check and a blended family of three children, including one with a neurological disorder aggravated by poor nutrition.
They ate at his mother’s house twice a week. They pawned jewelry. She scoured the food pantry. He scrounged for side jobs. Their frustration peaked one night over a can of pinto beans. Each blamed the other when that was all they had to eat.
“We were being really snippy, having anxiety attacks,” Ms. Mangold said. “People get irritable when they’re hungry.”
Food stamps now fortify the family income by $623 a month, and Mr. Mangold, who is still patching together odd jobs, no longer objects.
“I always thought people on public assistance were lazy,” he said, “but it helps me know I can feed my kids.”
So far, few elected officials have objected to the program’s growth. Almost 90 percent of beneficiaries nationwide live below the poverty line (about $22,000 a year for a family of four). But a minor tempest hit Ohio’s Warren County after a woman drove to the food stamp office in a Mercedes-Benz and word spread that she owned a $300,000 home loan-free. Since Ohio ignores the value of houses and cars, she qualified.
“I’m a hard-core conservative Republican guy — I found that appalling,” said Dave Young, a member of the county board of commissioners, which briefly threatened to withdraw from the federal program.
“As soon as people figure out they can vote representatives in to give them benefits, that’s the end of democracy,” Mr. Young said. “More and more people will be taking, and fewer will be producing.”
At the same time, the recession left Sandi Bernstein more sympathetic to the needy. After years of success in the insurance business, Ms. Bernstein, 66, had just settled into what she had expected to be a comfortable retirement when the financial crisis last year sent her brokerage accounts plummeting. Feeling newly vulnerable herself, she volunteered with an outreach program run by AARP and the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Food Banks.
Having assumed that poor people clamored for aid, she was surprised to find that some needed convincing to apply.“I come here and I see people who are knowledgeable, normal, well-spoken, well-dressed,” she said. “These are people I could be having lunch with.”
That could describe Franny and Shawn Wardlow, whose house in nearby Oregonia conjures middle-American stability rather than the struggle to meet basic needs. Their three daughters have heads of neat blond hair, pink bedroom curtains and a turtle bought in better times on vacation in Daytona Beach, Fla. One wrote a fourth-grade story about her parents that concluded “They lived happily ever after.”
Ms. Wardlow, who worked at a nursing home, lost her job first. Soon after, Mr. Wardlow was laid off from the construction job he had held for nearly nine years. As Ms. Wardlow tells the story of the subsequent fall — cutoff threats from the power company, the dinners of egg noodles, the soap from the Salvation Army — she dwells on one unlikely symbol of the security she lost.
“I was raised on eating pot roast,” she said. “Just a nice decent meal.”
Mr. Wardlow, 32, is a strapping man with a friendly air. He talked his way into a job at an envelope factory although his boss said he was overqualified. But it pays less than what he made muscling a jackhammer, and with Ms. Wardlow still jobless, they are two months behind on the rent. A monthly food stamp benefit of $429 fills the shelves and puts an occasional roast on the Sunday table.
It reminds Ms. Wardlow of what she has lost, and what she hopes to regain.
“I would consider us middle class at one time,” she said. “I like to have a nice decent meal for dinner.”
Matthew Ericson and Janet Roberts contributed reporting.
Afghans Detail Detention in ‘Black Jail’ at U.S. Base
By ALISSA J. RUBIN
KABUL, Afghanistan — An American military detention camp in Afghanistan is still holding inmates, sometimes for weeks at a time, without access to the International Committee of the Red Cross, according to human rights researchers and former detainees held at the site on the Bagram Air Base.
The site, known to detainees as the black jail, consists of individual windowless concrete cells, each illuminated by a single light bulb glowing 24 hours a day. In interviews, former detainees said that their only human contact was at twice-daily interrogation sessions.
“The black jail was the most dangerous and fearful place,” said Hamidullah, a spare-parts dealer in Kandahar who said he was detained there in June. “They don’t let the I.C.R.C. officials or any other civilians see or communicate with the people they keep there. Because I did not know what time it was, I did not know when to pray.”
The jail’s operation highlights a tension between President Obama’s goal to improve detention conditions that had drawn condemnation under the Bush administration and his stated desire to give military commanders leeway to operate. While Mr. Obama signed an order to eliminate so-called black sites run by the Central Intelligence Agency in January, it did not also close this jail, which is run by military Special Operations forces.
Military officials said as recently as this summer that the Afghanistan jail and another like it at the Balad Air Base in Iraq were being used to interrogate high-value detainees. And officials said recently that there were no plans to close the jails.
In August, the administration restricted the time that detainees could be held at the military jails to two weeks, changing previous Pentagon policy. In the past, the military could obtain extensions.
The interviewed detainees had been held longer, but before the new policy went into effect. Mr. Hamidullah, who, like some Afghans, uses only one name, was released in October after five and half months in detention, five to six weeks of it in the black jail, he said.
Although his and other detainees’ accounts could not be independently corroborated, each was interviewed separately and described similar conditions. Their descriptions also matched those obtained by two human rights workers who had interviewed other former detainees at the site.
While two of the detainees were captured before the Obama administration took office, one was captured in June of this year.
All three detainees were later released without charges. None said they had been tortured, though they said they heard sounds of abuse going on and certainly felt humiliated and roughly used. “They beat up other people in the black jail, but not me,” Hamidullah said. “But the problem was that they didn’t let me sleep. There was shouting noise so you couldn’t sleep."
Others, however, have given accounts of abuse at the site, including two Afghan teenagers who told The Washington Post that they had been subjected to beatings and humiliation by American guards.
A Defense Department spokesman, Bryan Whitman, said Saturday that the military routinely sought to verify allegations of detainee abuse, and that it was looking into whether the two Afghan teenagers who spoke to The Post had been detained.
Without commenting specifically on the site at Bagram, which is still considered classified, Mr. Whitman said that the Pentagon’s policy required that all detainees in American custody in Afghanistan be treated humanely and according to United States and international law.
All three former detainees interviewed by The New York Times complained of being held for months after the intensive interrogations were over without being told why. One detainee said he remained at the Bagram prison complex for two years and four months; another was held for 10 months total.
Human rights officials said the existence of a jail where prisoners were denied contact with the Red Cross or their families contradicted the Obama administration’s drive to improve detention conditions.
“Holding people in what appears to be incommunicado detention runs against the grain of the administration’s commitment to greater transparency, accountability, and respect for the dignity of Afghans,” said Jonathan Horowitz, a human rights researcher with the Open Society Institute.
Mr. Horowitz said he understood that “the necessities of war requires the U.S. to detain people, but there are limits to how to detain.”
The black jail is separate from the larger Bagram detention center, which now holds about 700 detainees, mostly in cages accommodating about 20 men apiece, and which had become notorious to the Afghan public as a symbol of abuse. That center will be closed by early next year and the detainees moved to a new larger detention site as part of the administration’s effort to improve conditions at Bagram.
The former detainees interviewed by The Times said they were held at the site for 35 to 40 days. All three were sent there upon arriving at Bagram and eventually transferred to the larger detention center on the base, which allows access to the Red Cross. The three were hooded and handcuffed when they were taken for questioning at the black jail so they did not know where they were or anything about other detainees, they said.
Mr. Horowitz said he had heard similar descriptions of the jail from former detainees, as had Sahr MuhammedAlly, a lawyer with Human Rights First, a nonprofit organization that has tracked detention issues in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The International Committee of the Red Cross does not discuss its findings publicly and would not say whether its officials had visited the black jail. But, in early 2008, military officials acknowledged receiving a confidential complaint from the I.C.R.C. that the military was holding some detainees incommunicado.
In August, the military said that it had begun to give the Red Cross the names of everyone detained, including those held in the Special Operations camps, within two weeks of capture. But it still does not allow the group face-to-face access to the detainees.
All three detainees said the hardest part of their detention was that their families did not know whether they were alive.
“For my whole family it was disastrous,” said Hayatullah, a Kandahar resident who said he was working in his pharmacy when he was arrested. “Because they knew the Americans were sometimes killing people, and they thought they had killed me because for two to three months they didn’t know where I was.”
The three detainees said the military had mistaken them for Taliban fighters.
“They kept saying to me, ‘Are you Qari Idris?’ ” said Gulham Khan, 25, an impoverished, illiterate sheep trader, who mostly delivers sheep and goats for people who buy the animals in the livestock market in Ghazni, the capital of the province of the same name. He was captured in late October 2008 and released in early September this year, he said.
“I said, ‘I’m not Qari Idris.’ But they kept asking me over and over, and I kept saying, ‘I’m Gulham. This is my name, that is my father’s name, you can ask the elders.’ ”
Ten months after his initial detention, American soldiers went to the group cell where he was then being held and told him he had been mistakenly picked up under the wrong name, he said.
“They said, ‘Please accept our apology, and we are sorry that we kept you here for this time.’ And that was it. They kept me for more than 10 months and gave me nothing back.”
In their search for him, Mr. Khan’s family members spent the equivalent of $6,000, a fortune for a sheep dealer, who often makes just a dollar a day. Some of the money was spent on bribes to local Afghan soldiers to get information on where he was being held; they said soldiers took the money and never came back with the information.
In Mr. Hamidullah’s case, interrogators at the black jail insisted that he was a Taliban fighter named Faida Muhammad. “I said, ‘That’s not me,’ ” he recalled.
“They blamed me and said, ‘You are making bombs and are a facilitator of bomb making and helping militants,’ ” he said. “I said, ‘I have a shop. I sell spare parts for vehicles, for trucks and cars.’ ”
Human rights researchers say they worry that the jail remains in the shadows and largely inaccessible both to the Red Cross and the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, which has responsibility for ensuring humane treatment of detainees under the Afghan Constitution. Manfred Nowak, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on torture, said that the site fell into something of a legal limbo but that the Red Cross should still have access to all detainees.
Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Politics and commentary, coast to coast, from the Los Angeles Times
Oh-oh! Politicians share personality traits with serial killers: Study
June 15, 2009 | 5:58 am
Using his law enforcement experience and data drawn from the FBI's behavioral analysis unit, Jim Kouri has collected a series of personality traits common to a couple of professions.
Kouri, who's a vice president of the National Assn. of Chiefs of Police, has assembled traits such as superficial charm, an exaggerated sense of self-worth, glibness, lying, lack of remorse and manipulation of others.
These traits, Kouri points out in his analysis, are common to psychopathic serial killers.
But -- and here's the part that may spark some controversy and defensive discussion -- these traits are also common to American politicians. (Maybe you already suspected.)
Yup. Violent homicide aside, our elected officials often show many of the exact same character traits as criminal nut-jobs, who run from police but not for office.
Kouri notes that these criminals are psychologically capable of committing their dirty deeds free of any concern for social, moral or legal consequences and with absolutely no remorse.
"This allCapitol Hill Domeows them to do what they want, whenever they want," he wrote. "Ironically, these same traits exist in men and women who are drawn to high-profile and powerful positions in society including political officeholders."
Good grief! And we not only voted for these people, we're paying their salaries and entrusting them to spend our national treasure in wise ways.
We don't know Kouri that well. He may be trying to manipulate all of us with his glib provocative pronouncements. On the other hand ...
"While many political leaders will deny the assessment regarding their similarities with serial killers and other career criminals, it is part of a psychopathic profile that may be used in assessing the behaviors of many officials and lawmakers at all levels of government."
-- Andrew Malcolm
Amy Goodman - Journalist Detained in Canada
Electric shock therapy being used on troubled Victorian teenagers
- Padraic Murphy
- From: Herald Sun
- November 28, 2009 12:00AM
ELECTRIC shock therapy is being used on deeply troubled Victorian teenagers in a last-ditch bid to cure their mental illness.
Documents obtained under Freedom of Information legislation reveal that eight juveniles and a further 107 young adults were given controversial electro-convulsive treatment in 2007-08.
The therapy has split the medical community, with some experts claiming it could harm children.
The revelations have put more pressure on Community Services Minister Lisa Neville, who is facing repeated calls for her resignation amid a continuing crisis in the state's child protection system.
She insists the use of electric shocks to the brains of children was heavily regulated.
Victoria's Chief Psychiatrist, Dr Ruth Vine, said: "The very few adolescents treated with ECT have severe mental illness that has not responded to other treatments - or need very urgent intervention for severe depression or acute psychosis."
But Associate Prof Dr Nick Tonti-Filippini, of the health ethics committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council, said: "I regard the use of ECT on children as experimental. I'm concerned about the lack of evidence that it is safe."
Department of Human Services documents obtained by the Herald Sun show 1815 mentally ill Victorians were treated with Electro-Convulsive Therapy in 2007-2008.
Eight of those were under 18, each treated an average of more than four times.
A further 107 aged 18 to 24 also underwent the treatment. And more than 270 Victorians over the age of 75 also received ECT.
The treatment is used only on severely ill patients and is heavily regulated by the Department of Human Services.
Patients sometimes suffer memory loss and confusion, and, in extreme cases, amnesia.
Dr Tonti-Filippini said: "Parents are not informed about the lack of safety evidence before they agree to let children undergo the treatment. I would like to see its use reviewed by a human research ethics committee."
Shadow health minister Mary Wooldridge said the use of ECT was "disturbing".
Friday, November 27, 2009
Egads! Confidential 9/11 Pager Messages Disclosed
That morning and afternoon, Secret Service agents assigned to protect the president and his family found their pagers constantly buzzing with alerts both true and false. There was a false alarm about a car bomb in downtown Washington, D.C., a report of "two Arab males detained" after asking for directions to the presidential retreat at Camp David, and reassurances that "Twinkle and Turq" -- code names for the Bush daughters -- were safe and accounted for.
This unusual glimpse into the events of 9/11 comes from messages sent to alphanumeric pagers that were anonymously published on the Internet on Wednesday. The pager transcripts, which total about 573,000 lines and 6.4 million words, include numeric and text messages also sent to private sector and unclassified military pagers.
It's impossible to tell whether the logs have been faithfully reproduced in their entirety. But there's evidence they have been: I spoke to three journalists working on September 11, 2001 whose correspondence appeared in the logs or who were familiar with the messages circulated in their newsrooms that day. All three say the logs appear to be legitimate.
This trove of messages is likely to become a boon for historians, a new source of concern for privacy advocates, and, depending on the details, a point of embarrassment or pride for the government agencies and corporations whose internal conversations have been divulged. The files were posted on WikiLeaks.org, which has made a speciality of disclosing confidential documents and boasts that it is "uncensorable."
One string of messages hints at how federal agencies scrambled to evacuate to Mount Weather, the government's sort-of secret bunker buried under the Virginia mountains west of Washington, D.C. One message says, "Jim: DEPLOY TO MT. WEATHER NOW!," and another says "CALL OFICE (sic) AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. 4145 URGENT." That's the phone number for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's National Continuity Programs Directorate -- which is charged with "the preservation of our constitutional form of government at all times," even during a nuclear war. (A 2006 article in the U.K. Guardian newspaper mentioned a "a traffic jam of limos carrying Washington and government license plates" heading to Mount Weather that day.)
FEMA's response seemed less than organized. One message at 12:37 p.m., four hours after the attacks, says: "We have no mission statements yet." Bill Prusch, FEMA's project officer for the National Emergency Management Information System at the time, apparently announced at 2 p.m. that the Continuity of Operations plan was activated and that certain employees should report to Mt. Weather; a few minutes later he sent out another note saying the activation was cancelled.
The first pager message reporting the attacks on the World Trade Center appears to have been sent by Morgan Stanley at 8:50 a.m. ET, saying that "an Aloha call is starting" due to a fire in the complex's south tower. Morgan Stanley leased 840,000 square feet in that building, on over 20 floors.
As the fires spread, and as police and firefighters rushed to the scene, Wall Street firms activated their emergency response plans. Shortly after 9 a.m., Fidelity evacuated its nearby offices at 200 Liberty Street, and sent out a messaging saying: "Those in the area should meet at the Winter Garden. Our plan is to meet there and (have most employees) work from home." (The Winter Garden is a glass-enclosed atrium that was damaged later in the day when the towers collapsed.)
"On that particular day, literally within minutes of the first attack, we already had one of our security people... lining up space outside the New York area for some of our employees," Anne Crowley, a spokeswoman for Fidelity who was with the company in September 2001, told CBSNews.com in a telephone interview.
By 10:29 a.m., Fidelity's Boston offices on Summer St. had been closed, and an alert went out: "National Master Console has been re-routed to Merrimack." It was followed by: "The FBSI war room is operational," referring to Fidelity Brokerage Services Inc.
"That quick thinking led us to be able to move hundreds of New York employees to backup locations (and) enabled us to continue to operate some of our important functions," Crowley said. Even with U.S. equity markets closed, Fidelity's phone centers continued to take orders and could even process some international ones. Crowley said she didn't know what Fidelity's war room referred to, but said the National Master Console is the firm's main phone operation that was shifted to Merrimack, N.H.
Similarly, Bank of America ordered the evacuation of all bank "high rise buildings only," while noting that there is a "nation-wide run on cash." Mastercard evacuated its new York and Delaware offices; MBNA decided to shutter everything but inbound call centers. Another message says: "SITUATION LOCK DOWN ALL AT&T LOCATIONS HAVE BEEN EVACUATED."
How the messages were captured
The pager logs seem to represent messages transmitted on September 11, 2001 through the networks of Arch Wireless, Metrocall, Skytel, and Weblink Wireless.
It's not clear how they were obtained in the first place. One possibility is that they were illegally compiled from the records of archived messages maintained by pager companies, and then eventually forwarded to WikiLeaks.
The second possibility is more likely: Over-the-air interception. Each digital pager is assigned a unique Channel Access Protocol code, or capcode, that tells it to pay attention to what immediately follows. In what amounts to a gentlemen's agreement, no encryption is used, and properly-designed pagers politely ignore what's not addressed to them.
But an electronic snoop lacking that same sense of etiquette might hook up a sufficiently sophisticated scanner to a Windows computer with lots of disk space -- and record, without much effort, gobs and gobs of over-the-air conversations.
Existing products do precisely this. Australia's WiPath Communications offers Interceptor 3.0 (there's even a free download). Maryland-based SWS Security Products sells something called a "Beeper Buster" that it says let police "watch up to 2500 targets at the same time." And if you're frugal, there's a video showing you how to take a $10 pager and modify it to capture everything on that network.
Law enforcement agencies knew of the benefits of monitoring pagers long ago. A 1997 FBI bulletin describes the "use of a clone pager to simultaneously receive the transmission emitted from the pager's service provider to the pager," and the federal courts have a standard form for judges to use when approving interceptions. (The American Association of Paging Carriers has, helpfully, provided its members with a list of how to comply.)
Whatever their origin, the logs are likely to raise more questions than they answer. Take this intriguing message that was sent by Jim Massa, then Cisco's director of federal operations, at 4:18 p.m. It said: "NEED TO DISCUSS FBI TEN THOUSAND UNIT REQUIREMENT ASAP." The recipient appears to be Cisco Chief Development Officer Charlie Giancarlo, who left the company in 2007 and now works at a venture capital firm in Menlo Park, Calif. called Silver Lake.
A Cisco representative said in e-mail to CBSNews.com: "I know we worked closely with law enforcement after the attacks but I don't have any specifics." Massa did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
One possibility is that the FBI urgently needed routers or other Cisco gear to upgrade its own network. But technical experts that CBSNews.com contacted believed it's more likely that the FBI was working with Internet service providers to reconfigure their networks with Cisco hardware to allow wiretaps to be conducted more readily. Around that time, Cisco was beginning to develop wiretap capabilities for its routers -- a concept that eventually became known as "lawful intercept."
The logs are silent on precisely that point. They do show, however, how U.S. network providers scrambled to respond to one of the most unexpected and extensive disruptions in recent memory.
After 7 World Trade Center collapsed (it had been damaged by debris earlier), Sprint lost its payment-processing system called SpeedPay. A subsequent note said: "SpeedPay is down. Site lost power with further collapse of building around 5PM. They are mobilizing to relocate equipment to New Jersey site." A Sprint spokeswoman said that the executives who were with the company on 9/11 are on holiday break and unavailable for comment.
The major telecommunications hub at 60 Hudson Street, about eight blocks from the World Trade Center, was evacuated around 9:20 a.m. About four hours later, it was starting to show signs of overheating, with temperatures reaching the 80s. A WorldCom message worried that New York City might cut power to 60 Hudson, saying, "NYC1 has 4 to 8 hours of battery power if main power was to be cut." A relieved followup said that the company's network operations center had learned that the power would remain on.
Air Force One reportedly threatened
Other tidbits from the logs include:
* A Secret Service page at 10:32 a.m. warned: "ANONYMOUS CALL TO JOC REPORTING ANGEL IS TARGET." Angel is the Secret Service codeword for Air Force One; JOC means Joint Operations Center. When the president's plane had departed Florida about half an hour earlier, it was en route to D.C. That anonymous threat seems to be what diverted President Bush on a high-speed flight across the country, first to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, and then to an underground command center in Nebraska.What's unclear is what the impact of the release of the 9/11 data will be. Nothing immediately apparent in the 573,000-or-so lines of text suggests a rethinking of how we view the events of that day (although conspiracy fanciers are sure to highlight excerpts such as the message suggesting "military planes" forced down a commercial jet, and one saying there was an "explosion and fire at Pentagon").
* Amidst the confusion that day, the Secret Service's New York field office gave contradictory instructions to agents. At 9:06 a.m., their pagers lit up with these orders: "MEET AT THE BASEBALL FIELD BEHIND THE EMBASSY SUITES HOTEL ON WEST STREET NY." Ninety minutes later: "ALL NEW YORK FIELD OFFICE PERSONNEL RESPOND TO STUYVESANT HIGH SCHOOL AT THE CORNER OF CHAMBERS AND WEST STREET ASAP." Later: "ALL NYFO PERSONNEL ARE TO DISREGARD THE LAST PAGE REGARDING STUVYSANT HIGH SCHOOL."
* One message said: "#2 MCLL EXEC WAS ABOARD ONE OF THE PLANES. 1 OF THE ONES WHO BETRAYED HARRY. NO TEARS HERE." Metrocall founder Harry Brock had been ousted as president six years earlier. Metrocall chief operating officer Steven Jacoby died on Flight 77 that day.
* Brinks, the armored car operator, received a series of requests for immediate deliveries from banks running low on cash after Americans rushed to withdraw currency: "Micheal, branch officer, is requesting a same day cash delivery. His branch is low on cash. The charge will be $50.00. Please respond to confirm."
* A press aide for then-California governor Gray Davis spent the day fending off requests for interviews and updates from KABC, the Oakland Tribune, the Long Beach Press-Telegram, the National Guard, KTTV, Fox News, and someone who wanted to know, "Are the schools going to be closed for the rest of the week?"
We've seen something like this before. A few years ago, AOL published the mostly-anonymized search histories of over 650,000 of its users, which gave rise to the kind of data excavation that's currently taking place in connection with the disclosure of the 9/11 pager traffic. In the last few days, the same kind of collective analysis of thousands of files has accompanied the leaked global warming e-mail messages.
This should be a lesson to anyone who would prefer their personal details not go on public display: Without end-to-end encryption, and perhaps even with it, your correspondence is vulnerable to interception and publication. And if you're the Secret Service responding to threats against the president, or FEMA organizing an evacuation to an underground bunker, why are you letting anyone with a $10 pager and a Windows laptop watch what you're doing?
Update 11:45 a.m. ET: Alert CBSNews.com Reader Ryan R. points out that the first automated alert relating to the attacks may have come from (see this file) Cantor Fitzgerald, which had offices in One World Trade Center. The alert is timestamped 8:46 a.m. and says: "Market data inconsistent...Cantor API problem Trading system offline"
Update 11:47 a.m. ET: FEMA spokesman Clark Stevens says "FEMA has no comment." No word yet from the Secret Service.
Update 1:39 p.m. ET: Alert CBSNews.com Reader Bernie S. reminds me of the 1997 interception of pager messages from President Clinton's entourage, including messages from Hillary and Chelsea and love letters exchanged between aides. Here's a summary from Harper's, and a longer writeup from Peter Neumann's always-useful Risks Digest.
Update 3:04 p.m. ET: It didn't take long for the fake 9/11 "Zionist pager intercepts" to appear. Another fake: "WTC south tower will collapse in 1 minute." On an unrelated note, WikiLeaks spokesman Julian Assange previewed the files at a conference in Copenhagen last week; see 55:30 into the video. And I would be remiss not to mention the remarkable 911stories.net site, which is displaying animated highlights.
Declan McCullagh is a correspondent for CBSNews.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and can be followed on Twitter as declanm. You can bookmark Declan's Taking Liberties site here, or subscribe to the RSS feed.
- by Joutue November 26, 2009 6:41 PM EST
- joutue November 26, 2009 5:30 PM
Everyone knows that that Bush and chaney created the disaster of 9/11.
The area was blocked off for several weeks, so the demolition could be set-up to bring the towers on down, after the drones planes hit
Chaney was out playing wars games with the drone planes and had them directed into the towers and the pentagon. And he also had the air-waves blocked off, so the airport couldn't hear what was being said
it all was taking place.
And Goofy Bush set up him a good a excuse at the school reading to kids,but didn't get up right away and leave the school after being told about it. He knew it was going to happen. Sad , so sad for a
lot of families and for the people viewing it on tv.
- Reply to this comment
- by Vet_Turner November 26, 2009 8:59 AM EST
- And Bush sat in a chair for another 17 minutes and read. "My little pet goat."
- Reply to this comment
- by dragon8me November 26, 2009 7:31 AM EST
- CNN this morning has a story about the cencus worker that was killed and cops said it was suicide. No way could he duct tape himself. They are covering for some powerful people. Why dosn't CBS cover it?
- Reply to this comment
- by nokia3210c November 26, 2009 7:28 AM EST
- LET IT BE VERY CLEAR TO ALL WITH BRAINS TO THINK, EYES TO SEE, AND MIND TO DIGEST: THERE WAS NO ARAB OR MUSLIM HAND IN THE 9/11 EVENTS. ASK GEORGE BUSH AND DICK CHENNEY PLUS THEIR CO.
- Reply to this comment
- by takita787 November 26, 2009 1:22 AM EST
You can search all 500,000+ pages here. this is insane
- Reply to this comment
- by mljohns00 November 26, 2009 12:17 AM EST
- I'm re-watching the video of G.W. Bush continuing to watch school children reading after being told that airplanes have crashed into both WTC buildings. Please tell me that he wasn't really elected twice to the Presidency.
- Reply to this comment
- by bankersvox November 26, 2009 3:56 AM EST
- This is insulting. Are you upset that our current President, gave a "shout out" to some guy in the audience before he responded to the attack at Fort Hood, or that he cant explain how this happened ?
- by aintfakin November 25, 2009 11:41 PM EST
- no word on anything that brave stud cheney may have said.
hard to talk when you are cowering under your bed in a bunker at an undisclosed location.
- Reply to this comment
- by jokethis November 25, 2009 9:30 PM EST
- read carefully, absorb entirely. watch "fall of the republic"
- Reply to this comment
- by ynot-tony November 25, 2009 7:06 PM EST
- davemartin12345, you win the award for the most pointless comment.
Do you let Huffington Compost do all the thinking for you?
Nice to see how you neo-comms jump all over a press secretary for an obvious mis-speak, yet give a pass to a sitting President who constantly and willfully lies.
- Reply to this comment
- by 6591Hou November 25, 2009 6:51 PM EST
- If any of the purloined transcripts supported any shred of evidence of government complicity in 9/11 it would have been trumpeted from the headline and center stage in the article - but no, it's not - why? because it isn't there, never happened...but logic and facts never seem to bother the whisper conspiracists, the wink-wink-nod-nod people who know the 'real truth'....stringing unrelated and ludicrous implausibilities together because of paranoid anti-government delusion only makes a case for your doctor to give you more medication.
- Reply to this comment
- by davemartin12345 November 25, 2009 5:48 PM EST
- Dana Perino said on Faux News/GOP TV, "We did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush's term."
So it must be true.
- Reply to this comment
- by EdmondDantes November 25, 2009 5:04 PM EST
- Encrypt, encrypt, encrypt!
If not possible, lie and deceive. Use fake a SSN when dealing with people that have no business asking for it.
- Reply to this comment
- by sean70x November 25, 2009 3:09 PM EST
- The OPEC baboons made alot of money on this war. Their high price for a barrel of oil proves that the cartel was involved in the 9/11 disaster. George W. Bush knew to be in the right place, at the right time. He forced this country to war and inflicted spiraling inflation due to skyrocketing fuel prices.
- Reply to this comment
- by V-4-Vendetta November 25, 2009 2:58 PM EST
- Here are the original 911-leaked text files.
You can download and read them HERE:
- Reply to this comment
- by mebesuzieq November 25, 2009 2:54 PM EST
- Do you people not understand the magnitude of this? Read thru these messages and you'll discover 9/11 was NOT A SURPRISE. They have government text messages from 911 that prove.. to the minute... that this was all staged. They've been caught knowing hours before impact and to the minute of the demolitions in these texts. This is huge!
- Reply to this comment
- by drthvader November 25, 2009 4:53 PM EST
- So you are all 911 "troofers" over here?
- by zmqznczspu November 25, 2009 2:50 PM EST
- Reading about this still makes me sick, after all this time. These were meant to be private messages; don't people have any decency, or respect for privacy, at all?
On a different note, I'm very curious to see what the 9/11 conspiracy freaks say about this.
- Reply to this comment
- by mebesuzieq November 25, 2009 3:16 PM EST
- We're not "freaks". Those of you who continue to sleep after this are the true freaks.
- by drthvader November 25, 2009 4:54 PM EST
- Hey read it for yourself!
- by nowhiningallowed November 25, 2009 2:45 PM EST
- I was airborne when the attacks happened and never made it to my destination, which would later prove to be the end of my new company I had just started. I'm reminded of the horror of this day not because of how it impacted me, but the senseless loss of innocent lives and ruined lives of the survivors. As we reflect on this Thanksgiving, we should all be mindful of the many blessings we have, especially the gift of living in America. God bless all of you.
- Reply to this comment
- by bankersvox November 26, 2009 3:55 AM EST
- That is correct.
Maybe I am old fashion, but I have respect...I don't like the whole tone of "EGAD" on this story about the chaos and loss of 9 11. Do you ?
- by dronemonk November 25, 2009 2:35 PM EST
- You worship secrecy in much the same manner as old school Soviet apparatchiks. For shame. You lost your way, and doubled your efforts.
- Reply to this comment
- by Virgil-1 November 25, 2009 12:34 PM EST
- Reply to this comment
- by babooph November 25, 2009 11:58 AM EST
- With a cowardly White House -chicken little clearly over reacted & then did as he was told-what a leader-no sensible college frat would follow him to a free brothel.
- Reply to this comment
- by declanm-2009 November 25, 2009 1:29 PM EST
- It does seem odd that the president would head across the country just because of an "ANONYMOUS CALL TO JOC REPORTING ANGEL IS TARGET." But there may be more to the story than has been made public; I linked to a CBS News report from a few years ago with some details. --Declan