Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Wikileaks bankster whistleblower Rudolf Elmer: $20 trillion in offshore bank accounts

Business Insider was at the news conference. They reported:
At a press conference in London, whistleblower and former Julius Baer private banker Rudolf Elmer is announcing a brand new data dump he plans to hand over to Wikileaks.
It concerns the state of Swiss banking, and what he says is $20 trillion in assets currently being held in offshore accounts, some of which is hidden to facilitate criminal activity.
Criminal activity? I'm shocked. And interestingly, I haven't seen the $20 trillion figure anywhere else but in the Business Insider reporting on the press conference. This BBC video, although, again interestingly, not the story, says that Elmer was a former compliance officer at Julius Baer, and that other compliance officers are out there, also pissed, and for the same reason Elmer was: The banksters are conniving at tax evasion by not taking their concerns seriously:
[Elmer] told the Observer newspaper he planned to disclose the new set of files to expose activities in offshore financial centers. "The one thing on which I am absolutely clear is that the banks know, and the big boys know*, that money is being secreted away for tax-evasion purposes," he was quoted as telling the newspaper.
There's gold in them that Alps!

The Most Priceless Picture Of Tom Brady Ever!

Here’s a picture of the look on Tom Brady’s face after Jets’ running back Shonn Greene ran in for a touchdown and sealed the fate of the Patriots post season. As a Charger fan, I’m by default a fan of any team that plays against the Patriots and I’m definitely relishing this picture, the Jets’ win and the over the top celebration that took place when the touchdown was scored. I’ll take that 15 yard, unsportsmen like penalty all freaking day!

Clippers Sink Lakers 99-92, Four Ejected

On most nights, if the two Los Angeles franchises – the Lakers and Clippers – get together for 48 minutes of basketball, chances are that not only are the Lakers going to win, but other than the fans at Staples Center, there isn’t a lot of coverage, save for the usual media outlets and basketball blog sites.

Yet a funny thing happened over at 1111 South Figueroa Street.

Three quarters of competitive basketball took place at the venue; however, a 16-3 run in the fourth quarter allowed the Clippers to overtake their cross-town rivals 99-92.

The first quarter was tightly contested, with the Clippers taking their first lead at 12-10 on an Eric Gordon dunk. They would increase their lead to as many as eight on an Eric Bledsoe layup, going into the second period up 27-22.

The Lakers gradually chipped away at their deficit until retaking the lead with 9:49 left in the second on a Lamar Odom three-point play. The Clippers would reclaim the lead on an Ike Diogu free throw, but the Lakers would take a 45-44 lead into their locker room at the break.

The Lakers would hold onto their lead in the third, increasing it to as many as 12 on a Kobe Bryant three-pointer wth 3:04 left in the period; however, the Clippers would gradually chip away until Eric Gordon drained a trey with one second left, leaving them down by only three going into the fourth quarter.
The Lakers held a 77-70 lead on a Shannon Brown 13-footer, but the Clippers would reclaim the lead for good on a Blake Griffin hook shot with 4:09 left to go.

While the Clippers did earn the win, apparently the Lakers took offense with 5 seconds left in the game when some pushing and shoving took place, with four players – two from each team – being ejected. What is interesting in this episode is that no punches were thrown; just the normal shoving and the like. Nevertheless, Ron Artest, Odom, Griffin and Baron Davis were ejected for their roles in the under-the-basket skirmish.
The Clippers’ high scorer was Gordon with a game-high 30 points (including four 3-pointers), along with 2 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals while Griffin added 18 with 15 rebounds and 3 assists. Davis chipped in 14 with 2 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals and a block.

The Lakers were led by Bryant with 27 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals while Andrew Bynum added 18 with 13 rebounds and 3 blocks. Pau Gasol chipped in 13 with 8 rebounds, an assist and 2 blocks.
Both teams return to action on Monday at Staples Center when the Clippers (14-25) host the Indiana Pacers in the matinee matchup while the Lakers (30-12) host the Oklahoma City Thunder in the evening tilt.

by Stephen Rhodes

Starbucks expanding rollout of 31-ounce drink size

NEW YORK (AP) — The bigger-is-better concept seems to be striking a chord among some Starbucks customers. Starbucks will begin a phased-in nationwide rollout Tuesday of its Trenta cup size that can be filled with just shy of a quart's worth of iced beverages such as coffee, tea and lemonade. Starbucks Corp. says Trenta, which means 30 in Italian, will be 31 ounces and cost about 50 cents more than the 20-ounce Venti size. The new cups will be introduced Tuesday in 14 states: Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii, Nevada and Arizona. California residents will be able to buy them beginning Feb. 1 and the nationwide rollout should be complete by May 3. The expansion comes after the cafĂ© chain tested the 31-ounce cup in several markets last year, including Phoenix, Tampa, Fla., and Atlanta

Video: Banker Hands Tax Evasion Docs to WikiLeaks The Associated Press

Video: Apple's Steve Jobs to take medical leave ITN NEWS

Video: People vs Police State: Revolution rage to spread after Tunisia? RT

Philly police announce arrest in stranglings case

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A man recently released from prison and believed to have been wandering the streets and staying in abandoned homes was arrested Monday night after being linked by DNA to the sexual assaults and strangling deaths of three women in a gritty, high-crime section of the city, police said.
Antonio Rodriguez, 21, was taken into custody on an unrelated bench warrant after someone phoned in a tip, police said. The arrest came shortly after a news conference at which Capt. James Clark said Rodriguez was being sought as a "strong" person of interest in the murders in the Kensington section, a few miles north of downtown.

Rodriguez, known in the area as Black, had not been charged with any crime in the stranglings case, and police had not even obtained an arrest warrant for him, Clark said. But the link made by state police in their convicted felon database was "a major break," he said.

Rodriguez, who was sought on a bench warrant from a missed court appearance in an unrelated case police wouldn't discuss, was in custody Monday night and couldn't be reached for comment.

Rodriguez recently had been released from prison, Clark said, but he declined to say for what he had been incarcerated or to detail his criminal history. He said state police had contacted Philadelphia police about the DNA match earlier in the day.

A state police representative was not immediately available for comment Monday on why Rodriguez was in their database.

Clark said it appeared Rodriguez was wandering around Kensington alone.
"Right now, the information we're getting is he's homeless, he's wandering in the area, he's frequenting abandoned houses, sort of just walking around in the Kensington area, so right now we do not believe anyone is helping him out," Clark said.

Police described Rodriguez as 5-foot-9 and 155 pounds with a large scar running from his left ear to the middle of his throat and two tattoos: "Kiera" on his left arm and "Scorpio" on his right arm.
Police investigating nine assaults in the area dating to early October said last month that through DNA they had linked the deaths of three women: Elaine Goldberg and Nicole Piacentini, both of Philadelphia, and Casey Mahoney, of East Stroudsburg, about 100 miles north. The women, all in their 20s, had struggled with drug addiction.

The three deaths occurred between early November and mid-December. The bodies were found in vacant lots within a 10-block radius over a period of several weeks.

Three other women reported surviving sexual assaults in the area. Two of them said they were choked into unconsciousness.

None of the surviving victims had been shown Rodriguez's photo, but Clark said that would be done.
The attacks took place in a stretch of Kensington known for open prostitution and drugs, although an influx of artists and young homebuyers has made parts of the neighborhood a bit trendier in recent years.
Mayor Michael Nutter offered a $30,000 reward sponsored by the city and Citizens Crime Commission for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator. Separately, the local Fraternal Order of Police and Councilman Frank DiCicco offered $7,000 for help simply leading to an arrest with a DNA match.

From Military-Industrial Complex to Permanent War State

by Gareth Porter

Fifty years after Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Jan. 17, 1961, speech on the “military-industrial complex,” that threat has morphed into a far more powerful and sinister force than Eisenhower could have imagined. It has become a “permanent war state,” with the power to keep the United States at war continuously for the indefinite future.

But despite their seeming invulnerability, the vested interests behind U.S. militarism have been seriously shaken twice in the past four decades by some combination of public revulsion against a major war, opposition to high military spending, serious concern about the budget deficit, and a change in perception of the external threat. Today, the permanent war state faces the first three of those dangers to its power simultaneously – and in a larger context of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

When Eisenhower warned in this farewell address of the “potential” for the “disastrous rise of misplaced power,” he was referring to the danger that militarist interests would gain control over the country’s national security policy. The only reason it didn’t happen on Ike’s watch is that he stood up to the military and its allies.

The Air Force and the Army were so unhappy with his “New Look” military policy that they each waged political campaigns against it. The Army demanded that Ike reverse his budget cuts and beef up conventional forces. The Air Force twice fabricated intelligence to support its claim that the Soviet Union was rapidly overtaking the United States in strategic striking power – first in bombers, later in ballistic missiles.
But Ike defied both services, reducing Army manpower by 44 percent from its 1953 level and refusing to order a crash program for bombers or for missiles. He also rejected military recommendations for war in Indochina, bombing attacks on China, and an ultimatum to the Soviet Union.

After Eisenhower, it became clear that the alliance of militarist interests included not only the military services and their industrial clients but civilian officials in the Pentagon, the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, top officials at the State Department, and the White House national security adviser. During the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, that militarist alliance succeeded in pushing the White House into a war in Vietnam, despite the reluctance of both presidents, as documented in my book Perils of Dominance.

But just when the power of the militarist alliance seemed unstoppable in the late 1960s, the public turned decisively against the Vietnam War, and a long period of public pressure to reduce military spending began. As a result, military manpower was reduced to below even the Eisenhower-era levels.

For more than a decade the alliance of militarist interests was effectively constrained from advocating a more aggressive military posture.

Even during the Reagan era, after a temporary surge in military spending, popular fear of Soviet Union melted away in response to the rise of Gorbachev, just as the burgeoning federal budget deficit was becoming yet another threat to militarist bloc. As it became clear that the Cold War was drawing to a close, the militarist interests faced the likely loss of much of their power and resources.

But in mid-1990 they got an unexpected break when Saddam Hussein occupied Kuwait. George H. W. Bush – a key figure in the militarist complex as former CIA director – seized the opportunity to launch a war that would end the “Vietnam syndrome.” The Bush administration turned a popular, clear-cut military victory in the 1991 Gulf War into a rationale for further use of military force in the Middle East. Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney’s 1992 military strategy for the next decade said, “We must be prepared to act decisively in the Middle East/Persian Gulf region as we did in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm if our vital interests are threatened anew.”

The Bush administration pressured the Saudis and other Arab regimes in the Gulf to allow longer-term bases for the U.S. Air Force, and over the next eight years, U.S. planes flew an annual average of 8,000 sorties in the “no-fly zones” the United States had declared over most of Iraq, drawing frequent anti-aircraft fire.
The United States was already in a de facto state of war with Iraq well before George W. Bush’s presidency.
The 9/11 attacks were the biggest single boon to the militarist alliance. The Bush administration exploited the climate of fear to railroad the country into a war of aggression against Iraq. The underlying strategy, approved by the military leadership after 9/11, was to use Iraq as a base from which to wage a campaign of regime change in a long list of countries.

That fateful decision only spurred recruitment and greater activism by al-Qaeda and other jihadist groups, which expanded into Iraq and other countries.

Instead of reversing the ill-considered use of military force, however, the same coalition of officials pushed for an even more militarized approach to jihadism. Over the next few years, it to gained unprecedented power over resources and policy at home and further extended its reach abroad.
The Special Operations Forces, which operate in almost complete secrecy, obtained extraordinary authority to track down and kill or capture al-Qaeda suspects not only in Iraq and Afghanistan, but in many more countries.

The CIA sought and obtained virtually unlimited freedom to carry out drone strikes in secrecy and without any meaningful oversight by Congress.

The Pentagon embraced the idea of the “long war” ” a 20-year strategy envisioning the deployment of U.S. troops in dozens of countries, and the Army adopted the idea of “the era of persistent warfare” as its rationale for more budgetary resources.

The military budget doubled from 1998 to 2008 in the biggest explosion of military spending since the early 1950s – and now accounts for 56 percent of discretionary federal spending.

The military leadership used its political clout to ensure that U.S. forces would continue to fight in Afghanistan indefinitely, even after the premises of its strategy were shown to have been false.

Those moves have completed the process of creating a “permanent war state” – a set of institutions with the authority to wage largely secret wars across a vast expanse of the globe for the indefinite future.
But the power of this new state formation is still subject to the same political dynamics that have threatened militarist interests twice before: popular antipathy to a major war, broad demands for reduced military spending, and the necessity to reduce the federal budget deficit and debt.

The percentage of Americans who believe the war in Afghanistan is not worth fighting has now reached 60 percent for the first time. And as the crisis over the federal debt reaches it climax, the swollen defense budget should bear the brunt of deep budget cuts.

As early as 2005, a Pew Research Center survey found that, when respondents were given the opportunity to express a preference for budget cuts by major accounts, they opted to reduce military spending by 31 percent. In another survey by the Pew Center a year ago, 76 percent of respondents, frustrated by the continued failure of the U.S. economy, wanted the United States to put top priority in its domestic problems.
The only thing missing from this picture is a grassroots political movement organized specifically to demand an end to the permanent war state. Such a movement could establish firm legal restraints on the institutions that threaten American democracy through a massive educational and lobbying effort. This is the right historical moment to harness the latent anti-militarist sentiment in the country to a conscious strategy for political change.

Will Haiti Arrest “Baby Doc” Duvalier?

Baby Doc Duvailer Returns to Haiti, Human Rights Group Urge Ravaged Nation to Arrest and Try Ex-President
According to the BBC, Former Haiti President Jean-Claude Duvalier has returned to the country amidst outrage from Human Rights Groups. Duvalier, known as the “Baby Doc”, committed horrific human rights violations during his 1971-1986 presidency.

The Baby Doc’s human rights violations caused over 100,000 Haitians to flee the country during his reign. Duvalier inherited the title of President from his father, “Papa Doc” Duvalier, when he was just 19. Duvalier immediately declared himself “President-for-Life,” apparently because the title of “dictator” was too succinct for the Haitian teenager.

“Baby Doc” Duvalier was finally ousted in 1986 as the result of extreme political pressure from the US and a popular uprising. He fled to France, where he never officially received political asylum, but likely bought a lot of those light-up Eiffel Towers and angrily threw them at tourists.

Duvalier claimed that he had “come to help,” though his plans are unclear, or if his definition of “helping” has changed since he enjoyed torturing his fellow countrymen over breakfast. Human Rights activist railed against Duvalier very succinctly to the BBC:

“Duvalier’s return to Haiti should be for one purpose only – to face justice,” he said in a statement. “His time to be held accountable is long overdue.

“Duvalier’s presence – unless he is immediately arrested – is a slap in the face to a people who have already suffered so much.”

While we agree, the country’s Prime Minister does not. According to the BBC, “Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said Mr Duvalier was free to return home, adding that there was no reason to believe he would destabilise the country which is facing uncertainty after disputed presidential elections.”

Duvalier has a return ticket back to France for January 20th, but anyone who’s tried to buy a one-way ticket before knows that it’s pretty much impossible. A) First, one-way tickets are usually more expensive and B) it’s a one-way ticket to an investigation room at the airport. Duvalier was once reportedly to be worth over 6 million dollars, although it’s unknown how much money he has now, or if he named his own price on his ticket.

Haiti, ravaged by an earthquake a year ago, has been in turmoil as the world’s attention has turned elsewhere. Their political elections are incredibly uncertain, and Duvalier arrived on the day when the second round of elections were planned to take place to replace outgoing President Rene Preval.

 by Joe Lazauskas