Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Breaking: Glenn Beck To Leave Fox News Program

glenn-beck.jpgBreaking: Glenn Beck's Mercury Radio Arts and FNC have reached a deal that will see Beck "transition off of his daily program" later in 2011. Beck's much-reported troubles with the advertising community are believed to play a role in the decision. Click through to see what his plans are after he leaves Fox News Channel.
Breaking: Glenn Beck to Leave Fox News Program (TVNewser)

Nato Lacks The Strike Aircraft For The Libyan Campaign

Nato Lacking Strike Aircraft For Libya Campaign -- The Guardian

US withdrawal of attack planes puts pressure on European countries, especially France, to offer more strike capability

Nato is running short of attack aircraft for its bombing campaign against Muammar Gaddafi only days after taking command of the Libyan mission from a coalition led by the US, France and Britain.

David Cameron has pledged four more British Tornado jets on top of eight already being used for the air strikes. But pressure is growing for other European countries, especially France, to offer more after the Americans withdrew their attack aircraft from the campaign on Monday.

"We will need more strike capability," a Nato official said.

Read more ....

Is Al-Qaeda Back in Afghanistan?

The Wall Street Journal has an ominous report on evidence that al-Qaeda is returning to Afghanistan:
In late September, U.S. fighter jets streaked over the cedar-studded slopes of Korengal, the so-called Valley of Death, to strike a target that hadn't been seen for years in Afghanistan: an al Qaeda training camp. 
Among the dozens of Arabs killed that day, the U.S.-led coalition said, were two senior al Qaeda members, one Saudi and the other Kuwaiti. Another casualty of the bombing, according to Saudi media and jihadi websites, was one of Saudi Arabia's most wanted militants. The men had come to Afghanistan to impart their skills to a new generation of Afghan and foreign fighters.
Even though the strike was successful, the very fact that it had to be carried out represents a troubling shift in the war. Nine years after a U.S.-led invasion routed almost all of al Qaeda's surviving militants in Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden's network is gradually returning.
Over the past six to eight months, al Qaeda has begun setting up training camps, hideouts and operations bases in the remote mountains along Afghanistan's northeastern border with Pakistan, some U.S., Afghan and Taliban officials say. The stepped-up infiltration followed a U.S. pullback from large swatches of the region starting 18 months ago. The areas were deemed strategically irrelevant and left to Afghanistan's uneven security forces, and in some parts, abandoned entirely.
What's notable about this al-Qaeda comeback, such as it is, is that it occurred during the troop surge, when the U.S. was supposedly breaking the Taliban's momentum. So even at the moment of maximum Western troop presence, al-Qaeda is still able to worm its way into vacant corners of the country. Obviously, some analysts will read this and conclude that we must have American forces in every square inch of Afghanistan forever to prevent small al-Qaeda camps from setting up shop, but how realistic and sustainable is that?

And while the return of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan is troublesome, it also makes them more vulnerable. As the WSJ notes, the U.S. has been conducting ground raids and bombing strikes against al-Qaeda targets in the country - something it cannot aggressively do against al-Qaeda targets in Pakistan.
(AP Photo)

Two Americans Whacked By Mexicans At Border Crossing ID’d, One Mixed Martial Arts Fighter

A mixed martial arts fighter was one of two Americans gunned down in an execution-style killing near the San Ysidro border crossing Monday morning.

Mexican authorities say Sergio Salcido Luna and Kevin Joel Romero were waiting in their company truck while waiting to cross into the U.S. before dawn.

A gunman walked up to the white Mazda truck with California license plates and opened fire at least five times, killing both men as they sat in traffic.

Investigators are still trying to determine a motive for the killing. Salcido, 25, was a professional fighter who began his career in MMA in Bakersfield.

He also worked for a San Diego company called West Coast Beverage Maintenance, which is located on Morena Boulevard.

Salcido, and fellow worker Kevin Joel Romero, 28, of San Diego, were carpooling into work in company truck from their homes in Tijuana, when they were shot and killed.

The owner of West Coast Beverage didn’t want to be identified by name, but he told NBCSanDiego the men were very close friends.

He says Salcido and Romero worked for West Coast for a little more than a year, and they were hard workers who were “very respectful” and “would walk into a room and give you a handshake and a hug.”
The owner says Romero was married and had adopted his wife’s five-year-old son.

He also says the men lived clean lives. Romero didn’t drink and they both trained together as Salcido prepared for upcoming fights.

The owner of West Coast beverage said Romero grew up in San Diego, but he moved to Tijuana because it was cheaper to live there.

He also says both men always wanted to work extra hours to make more money, and they never got into trouble.

Romero and Salcido were shot in the head, arms and body. Investigators told the Associated Press they found 9mm shell casings at the scene. That ammunition is used in weapons favored by drug cartel gunmen in Mexico.
Posted By Pat Dollard.

Video: US Masters: Mickelson overshadows Woods as Augusta favorite NewsX

Michael Steinhardt talks Buffett, America with CNBC

Legendary hedge fund manager, Michael Steinhardt has a few things on his mind and he shares them readily in this interview with CNBC.

A few highlights from Steinhardt's chat with the CNBC crew: 

  • Hedge fund management is not the elite business it once was. Managers today content with low double digit returns, versus emphasis on true performance and 25%-40% annual returns in Steinhardt's days.  
  •  Asked if he could repeat his performance today, Michael demurs, "I don't know". He notes that magnitude of funds involved in hedge funds is much larger today. Emphasis has shifted to making money off a large asset base, as opposed to performing for your investors. 
  • You don't have to do what everyone else is doing. You do need to understand the way in which your perspective is different than the world's (your edge).

  • Steinhardt is concerned about savers (old folks and retirees) getting shafted by near zero interest rates and inflation. This is a terrible situation for Americans.

  • Buffett's carefully crafted PR persona and his philanthropy-in-one-fell-swoop approach are "worth reflecting on". 
  • Superficially, the United States is doing okay. Steinhardt looks at the inflation picture, the valuations in the stock market, and America's economic strength and its cultural standing in more depth.
Seems a lot of the comment surrounding Steinhardt's interview today focused on the Buffett side of the equation (especially given the forum; CNBC is Buffett ass-kissing central). 

While it is interesting to hear someone publicly question Buffett's "PR" persona and his philanthropic gestures,  I'm actually more interested to hear Steinhardt's take on the economy and the reality of inflation, as well as how that affects the average person in America today. 

This rich guy gets it - why do all the pointy-headed academics have such a hard time voicing these simple truths (maybe because they're paid to do the opposite)?  


Election postponement pushes oil price above $120 per barrel
By Martin Ayankola with agency report
Tuesday, 5 Apr 2011

Chairman of INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega
Oil prices rose above $120 a barrel on Monday due to geopolitical risks, including the postponed elections in Nigeria.

Nigeria’s 2011 budget is benchmarked against an oil price of $65 per barrel, meaning that the country is currently having a surplus of $55 per barrel.

The National Assembly elections, which were originally scheduled for Saturday, April 2, 2011, were initially postponed to Monday by the Independent National Electoral Commission, but pressure from stakeholders, including the political parties, forced the electoral body to again shift it to Saturday, April 9.

As a consequence, the presidential, state houses of assembly and governorship elections have been rescheduled to now hold on April 16 and 26 respectively.

Reuters reported that Libya’s continuing conflict and unrest in Yemen could also pose threats to oil supply in the Middle East, keeping the Brent well supported, with Brent benchmark Forties cargo delays and Nigeria’s election delay, adding to its strength.

An analyst at PFGBest Research in Chicago, Mr. Phil Flynn, was quoted as saying, “Brent is up on Libya, Yemen unrest and the Nigerian election.

“United States’ crude is hesitant because there is still worry that the Federal Reserve may be nearing a rate hike or tighter policy, which will lower liquidity and demand and strengthen the dollar.”

Brent crude price for May rose by $1.58 to $120.28 a barrel by 11.57am on Monday, just off its $120.63 peak, which was the highest since August 2008.

Brent has recovered after falling below $108 in the aftermath of Japan’s March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
US crude trading was choppy after posting a two-and-a-half-year high above $108 a barrel ahead of the open outcry trading session in New York.

Analysts and brokers said that a possible US Federal Reserve shift to tighter monetary policy after recent strong jobs report and other economic data limited US price gains. They added that the Brent market remained well supported by its proximity and the more immediate impact of the Middle East and Libya supply threats.

US crude rose by 14 cents at $108.08, off its earlier $108.78 peak and the highest intraday price since September 2008.

US crude trading volumes remained thin on Monday, after the previous two weeks saw the lowest weekly volumes for 2011.

Total US crude volume was just over 248,000 lots, 67 per cent below the 30-day average, with Brent trading above 248,000 lots, but also below average.

Juliano, mourned

From a twitpic: "A stunning photo of Palestinians holding posters of Juliano Mer-Khamis, a map of Palestine targeted on his heart."
Here is a statement from the Palestinian Popular Committees against the wall:
In memory of our beloved friend Juliano Mer-Khamis
Juliano Mer-Khamis embodied the uncompromising struggle for freedom and for dignity. With his brutal murder the Palestinian struggle has lost a brilliant charismatic and courageous fighter for justice and freedom. Both parts of his life's work were seamlessly joined. His art was inseparable from his political commitment. The dignity and humanity which his art sustained were just as important to Palestinian resilience -sumud as his explicitly political work. His life was tragically cut short but he nevertheless managed to live a life full with purpose and meaning. In his typical way he fully dedicated himself to realizing his principles and gave up the comfort of life in Haifa to move to Jenin. 
The Freedom theater which Mer-Khamis founded enriched the lives of countless young participants who all loved Juliano and their audience. It demonstrated the resilience of Palestinians, who transcended the most difficult situations to create a lasting legacy of art and consciousness. The effect of the Freedom theater reached far beyond Jenin and even the West Bank. People throughout the world were inspired to support the work of the theater and Palestinian solidarity in general. 
We offer his family our condolences and support. We will always remember and miss him. His legacy will continue to inspire us to struggle for dignity and liberation. We will follow Juliano's example in his work and in his spirit.

Democracy Now had several remembrances of Mer-Khamis this morning. Here is a great statement from New York theater leaders:
The murder of Juliano Mer-Khamis, actor, director,  founder of the Jenin Freedom Theater, in the Jenin Refugee Camp, is an assault on art and artists, peacekeepers and the creative lives of young people who live under the constant threat of violence. 
As American theater makers whose work is dedicated to understanding of the other and the self, we condemn this unspeakable act.  We condemn the policy of targeted assassination which is widely practiced, by militant non-state actors, and by governments. 
Karen Malpede
George Bartenieff
Theater Three Collaborative
James Nicola
Linda Chapman
New York Theater Workshop

by Philip Weiss

SpaceX to launch the world’s most powerful rocket in 2013 or 2014

Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has just announced their plans for the Falcon Heavy – the world’s largest and most powerful rocket. The Falcon Heavy will have the ability to carry satellites or interplanetary spacecraft weighing over 53 metric tons or 117,000 pounds to orbit. It is touted to have more than twice the performance of the Delta IV Heavy – the next most powerful vehicle. The Falcon Heavy is even capable an entire commercial airplane full of passengers, crew, luggage and fuel all the way to orbit. The launch station will be completed in California by the end of next year, and a lift off to follow soon thereafter. The rocket will be used for both government and commercial space missions. Head over to SpaceX’s website for more details and a simulation video.

The Black Revolution No One Told You About

seminole war
What if I told you that the largest slave rebellion in American history was one no one knows about? Well, we commemorate the successful end of one such rebellion 173 years ago this week…

Some of you may have heard of the Black Seminoles, the free blacks and fugitive slaves who allied with Seminole Indians during the 1800s. These communities of fugitive and free Africans interacting with Indians were not uncommon during slavery, but this one was the largest in North America.

As America expanded, President Andrew Jackson signed the 1830 Indian Removal Act forcing native populations east of the Mississippi west on an infamous trek now known as the “Trail of Tears.” Many Native Americans were murdered and displaced.

However, the Seminoles of the Florida territory were not having it. Numerous Black Seminoles quietly organized their enslaved brethren on nearby plantations and, in December of 1835, the Second Seminole War broke out as the Black/Indian alliance launched coordinated attacks on U.S. territorial establishments.
From 1835 to 1838, a free, landowning and successful brother named John Horse led the largest slave rebellion in U.S. history. At the height of the revolt in 1836, at least 400 escaped Africans fought alongside the black and Indian allies (for an estimated total of over 1000 black warriors) decimating over 21 of North America’s largest and richest sugar plantations.

Although the U.S. troops were failing miserably, 1836 marked a turning point as President Jackson appointed Gen. Thomas Sydney Jesup to head the Florida effort. From the start, he offered this telltale warning:
“This, you may be assured, is a Negro, not an Indian war….”

So let’s put this in context. Think about it. American history has falsely led us to believe that 1) the most significant slave revolts on US territory were the Nat Turner or Louisiana uprisings; and 2) that the Second Seminole War, aka the Florida War, had little to do with black folks. And yet there is a wealth of documentation to the contrary in the form of historical letters and statements from a long list of presidents, generals, congressmen and countless others that say to the contrary.

Back to the story… Jesup changed American war strategy to primarily focus on the black rebels rather than the Indians. By 1838, after using reinforcements and “hit-and-run” tactics to raid black settlements, take rebel family members hostage, and offer freedom to those who surrendered, Jesup’s approach paid off. In April of that year, the allies negotiated a deal where Horse and the Black Seminoles agreed to cease fighting and move west to Oklahoma territory in exchange for legal recognition of their freedom.

However, in 1848, after U.S. Attorney General John Mason effectively reversed this legal recognition, Horse led a contingency of hundreds from the Oklahoma territory to Mexico, battling slave-catchers along the way. Finally, in the 1850s, Horse and the Black Seminoles gained a legally recognized Mexican homeland in Nacimiento, where some of his descendents still live today.

You can learn more about this incredible chapter in American history at J.B. Bird’s research site, .

Stephanie Robinson is President and CEO of The Jamestown Project, a national think tank focused on democracy. She is an author, a Lecturer on Law at the Harvard Law School and former Chief Counsel to the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Stephanie reaches 8 to 10 million listeners each week as political commentator for the popular radio venue, The Tom Joyner Morning Show. Visit her online at

Video: Rubygate trial begins after Berlusconi gets a boost euronews

Ex-ABC Reporter Says He Never Disclosed Name of Confidential Source to FBI; Calls Allegations “Outrageous and Untrue”

Chris Isham/cbs photo
By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON – The Washington bureau chief for CBS News says reports that he gave up a confidential informant to the FBI in the 1990s while he worked at ABC simply aren’t true, according to the Huffington Post.

A story by the Center for Public Integrity said declassified memo suggested that the then-ABC reporter disclosed the name of a confidential source to the FBI in the wake of the Oklahoma bombing.

But the reporter, Christopher Isham, whose name was not in the memo, but who was identified by the website Gawker, issued a statement, according to the Huffington Post, saying the allegations were ” “outrageous and untrue” and that he would have talked to the FBI to verify info or warn of a potential terrorist attack.

“This is consistent with the policies at every news organization,” Isham said, according to the Huffington Post. “But at no time did I compromise a confidential source with the FBI or anyone else.”

The news reports said the source in question was Vincent Cannistrarto, a former CIA official who was working for ABC News at the time as a paid consultant, Huffington Post reported.  Cannistrato passed on a tip that ended up being untrue: that the Iraqi Special Services were linked to the Oklahoma bombing.

“Mr. Cannistraro was not a confidential source, but rather a colleague–a paid consultant to ABC News who had already spoken to the FBI about information he had received,” Isham said, according to the Huffington Post.

Battered, Ivory Coast despot finally surrenders

Ivory Coast’s strongman Laurent Gbagbo has surrendered and asked for United Nations protection, an internal UN document seen by Reuters said on Tuesday.

“…President Gbagbo has also surrendered and has asked UNOCI’s protection,” the document to UN staff said. Gbagbo was negotiating his departure after forces loyal to his presidential rival, backed by UN and French helicopter, struck targets at his residence, his offices and two of his military bases.

France’s prime minister, Francois Fillon, told members of parliament that French representatives were negotiating with two Ivory Coast generals loyal to Gbagbo as the forces of his rival, Alassane Ouattara, surrounded the presidential palace in Abidjan, the nation’s economic capital. Gbagbo was in a bunker beneath his residence, a spokesman for Ouattara’s PM, Guillaume Soro, said on Tuesday.

Gbagbo had clung to power refusing to concede he lost last November’s presidential election to Alassane Ouattara, plunging the world’s top cocoa-growing nation into renewed civil war.

An unidentified senior diplomat reported Ouattara’s forces had taken over the residence. The fighting was reported to have grown in the hours before dawn, with news reports and witnesses speaking of sustained machine-gun and heavy-weapons fire ringing out over the city, and people pinned down in homes.

France, which showed a newfound muscularity by championing military strikes against colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s forces in Libya, attacked heavy artillery and armored vehicles at Gbagbo’s residence and presidential offices, a French military spokesman said.

The United Nations said that it had also carried out helicopter strikes against Gbagbo’s forces at two of his bases to prevent them from using the kinds of heavy weapons that have been aimed at civilians and United Nations personnel during the crisis.

The international attacks coincided with a renewed assault by local troops loyal to Ouattara, the man recognized by the UN, the African Union and other international bodies as the winner of last year’s presidential election. With the attacks under way, Soro, Ouattara’s PM, declared that Gbagbo’s rule was only hours away from ending.