Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Egypt's Mubarak Hospitalized Amid Growing Corruption Probe

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (file photo)
Photo: AP
Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (file photo)

Egyptian authorities say former President Hosni Mubarak has been taken to a hospital in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, where he was under house arrest.

The 82-year-old was expected to face legal questioning over corruption allegations and Western media reported that he was to be interviewed by investigators as early as Tuesday.

During the later years of his rule, he had been suffering health problems and had undergone gallbladder surgery and treatment in Germany. He was ousted from office amid popular protests on February 11.

On Sunday, Egypt's public prosecutor summoned Mubarak for questioning about the killing of protesters and the embezzlement of public funds, as hundreds of protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square demanded he be brought to trial.

A statement from the prosecutor said Mubarak's sons Gamal and Alaa also were summoned in the corruption probe. A later announcement Sunday said authorities detained former prime minister Ahmed Nazif for 15 days as part of a corruption investigation.

The ousted president says the allegations against him are unfounded, and that he has the right to defend his reputation and that of his family. 

Mubarak's remarks were broadcast Sunday by the Al-Arabiya news channel.  They were his first public remarks since mass protests forced his departure in February.

The former leader said he is willing to cooperate with authorities investigating his wealth, and stated that he does not have any foreign bank accounts or large properties abroad.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

Redistricting Revisited

Redistricting Revisited

By Richard A. Lee

The immediate impact of New Jersey’s new legislative map has been to produce a flurry of activity among members of the State Senate and Assembly.

Legislators are retiring, moving out of their hometowns, shifting their election campaigns from the Assembly to the Senate (and vice versa), and trying to win a game of political musical chairs that is being played in districts that now have more incumbents than open seats.

For the most part, the dust will settle by April 11, the filing deadline for this fall’s elections. But maybe we should not be so quick to relegate the contentious issue of redistricting to the backburner for another decade. Why not take some time now – while redistricting and all its flaws and shortcomings are still fresh in our minds – to see how the process can be improved for the next round of legislative map-making?

Just think about the current system, and it will not take long to reach the conclusion that there has to a better way.

For example, every 10 years, once new Census figures are available, the process begins with each of the chairs of the two major political parties appointing five members to the State Apportionment Commission, which is charged with drawing 40 new legislative districts to reflect the new Census numbers. That means five Democrats and five Republicans are expected to agree on a map that will shape New Jersey’s political landscape for the next 10 years. It is a bit like asking the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox to reach a gentlemanly agreement on which team should win the American League East.

When the inevitable occurs and the commission finds itself deadlocked, the process calls for the Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court to appoint an eleventh member as a tie-breaker. As a result, the vote of one person ultimately determines whether the new map will be more favorable to Democrats or Republicans. Continuing with the baseball analogy, this is akin to two teams playing to a tie after nine innings and then allowing an umpire to decide which one should be declared the winner of the game.

In addition, under the existing system, each of the 10 original members of the commission has a vested interest – either directly or indirectly – in the outcome of its work. This is not a recipe for producing a map in the best interests of New Jersey’s 8.7 million residents. Instead, it creates the potential for gerrymandering, political paybacks, and districts that all but guarantee incumbents will be re-elected.

And let’s not forget that, at a time when citizens are demanding more transparency in government, state law exempts the Apportionment Commission from New Jersey’s Open Public Meetings Act.

Finding flaws in the current system is easy; identifying a better way to tackle redistricting is a much greater challenge, but here are a few suggestions to get the ball rolling on improving the process:

·         The State Apportionment Commission should be restructured and made as non-political as is reasonably possible. Take the two major political parties and their chairs out of the process. Give a role to some of New Jersey’s ordinary citizens – the folks the politicians always refer to when they talk about families sitting at the kitchen table and making decisions on how to make ends meet.  We rely on citizens for juries that decide if people are guilty or innocent and whether they should be sent to jail. Surely, we can entrust them with drawing a map.

·         Tap the expertise within our academic community. New Jersey colleges and universities have hundreds of brilliant scholars. State government should make better use of the experts who work in our higher education institutions. Certainly, there are professors with the Socratic ability to determine how 40 sets of boundaries can be fairly drawn.

·         Put some young people on the commission. The map will be in place for a decade, and it should reflect the input of those who are New Jersey’s newest voters and may have fresh ideas on politics and government.

·         Make better use of computers. Machines are not perfect, as anyone who has ever been misdirected by a GPS device knows. Nevertheless, technology can do amazing things today. Redistricting needs a human element, but computers can help build a strong foundation for the work involved in producing a quality legislative map.

Improving the redistricting process will not be an easy task, but we have a decade to work at it. But first we must decide whether we truly want to make the process better, or if we simply want to put the existing system back into its box and not open it again for another 10 years.

# # #

Richard A. Lee is Communications Director of the Hall Institute. A former State House reporter and Deputy Communications Director for the Governor, he also teaches courses in media, politics and government at Rutgers University, where he is completing work on a Ph.D. in media studies. Read more of Rich’s columns at richleeonline and follow him on Twitter.

Who’s in control of Usher’s business?

Sources say Usher is dating his co-manager and stylist Grace Miguel, 43, who is the former Def Jam executive. Reportedly, Miguel is trying to talk him into firing everyone on his staff and replacing them with an entire new team. This is said to include his managers, choreographers, etc.

Longtime agent, Mark Cheatham of Creative Artists Agency is reportedly first on the chopping block. “I don’t know anything about it. I’ve been with Usher for a long time,” Cheatham said. The R&B singer is already missing from the agency’s client list.

The 30 year old R&B singer and Miguel went public with their relationship just after filing for divorce from his ex-wife Foster. Sources say Miguel signed on as Usher’s co-manager after he pulled his mom from the position.

A close source says “Usher will do whatever she (Miguel) wants him [to] do right now.”


Courtroom illustration shows accused serial killer Robert Pickton
NEW YORK, U.S.A - Police are considering the possibility that the serial killer who has dumped at least eight bodies along a Long Island barrier beach may be an ex-cop or other law officer, law enforcement officials familiar with the case said.
The possibility that the killer could be a former law enforcement official or other person with knowledge of law enforcement techniques is being considered based on evidence that the suspect may understand investigators' procedures, they said.

  • Numerous people with possible links to the four slain women who have been identified have come to the attention of police since the investigation began, the officials said. Police are also looking at people who have had regular or routine access to the beach where the bodies were found, and Investigators are also exploring possible links to the serial killer who murdered prostitutes in New Jersey, they said.
  • According to one investigator familiar with the case and the behavior of serial killers, this appears to be an organized serial killer who plans methodically and is probably above average intelligence. It appears that the killer usually lures people, then kills them in one place and disposes of the body in another.
  • This sort of killer is often social -- not a loner -- with family, friends and what would appear to be a normal life, the investigator said.
It was the disappearance of a prostitute that led New York police to stumble on the serial killer's ocean-front dumping ground in western Suffolk County.
Shannan Gilbert, 24, disappeared in May 2010 after arranging online to meet a client. Her disappearance triggered a search in the scrub brush along Gilgo Beach, a popular summer getaway spot, but much less frequently visited in the winter.
In December police found four skeletal bodies, all of them women and all of them prostitutes, but none were Gilbert.

  • Last week, cops found another four bodies. Those bodies have not been identified, but Suffolk County Police said Tuesday that none of the remains belonged to Gilbert.
  • Cops obtained DNA samples of Gilbert's family last year and were able to quickly check the remains against those samples. The police conclusion suggests that Gilbert is possibly a ninth victim of a serial killer.
  • Cops searched the brush along Gilgo Beach and neighboring Oak Beach last week, looking for the bodies of more women potentially killed and dumped in the thick vegetation, while other detectives worked to create a profile of the man who is stalking prostitutes online and killing them.
  • Suffolk County police have kept a tight lid on many of the investigation's details, commenting publicly only on the search efforts, including the canine units with cadaver sniffing dogs and a dozen police recruits from the academy brought in to help search for bodies.
  • Experts outside the investigation consulted by ABC News said cops are compiling a vast database of clues and working up a profile of a single serial killer suspected of killing at least eight women, most of them prostitutes, and dumping their bodies on Gilgo Beach over four years.
In December, while searching for Gilbert, police stumbled on the killer's dumping ground, an area that has turned out to be a seven-mile stretch of beach as more bodies were discovered. 

Publish Post

Posted by SOLYMONE

Cornel West and Al Sharpton Rumble About Obama on MSNBC's Black Agenda

Two hours of my life were lost this past weekend watching Black Agenda, hosted by Ed Schultz, on MSNBC. I kept trying to understand why Ed Schultz was chosen to host the show.  Evidently others had the same concerns.  If any villager can explain why Schultz was the host ... please do so.

Anyhow, there wasn't much new territory covered on the show.  In many respects it seemed like a mini-version of the 'State of Black America' program that Tavis Smiley used to produce each year.   This time MSNBC tried valiantly to cover a number of the issues within the Black community that need to be addressed.

The most entertaining part of the show was also the saddest part. Did any of you see when Cornel West and Al Sharpton started playing the dozens with each other? If they had been sitting next to each other ... or if there wasn't a table in front of them ... then I think that the two old men would have come to blows.

You be the judge!
What was your take on this segment ... or the entire show? Drumbeats

Suspected Calif. Synagogue Bomber Nabbed in Ohio

Ron Hirsch/fbi photo
By Allan Lengel
The nationwide hunt for a transient suspected of bombing a Santa Monica, Calif. synagogue last week ended Monday night with his arrest in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, the FBI said.

The FBI said a citizen tip resulted in the arrest of Ron Hirsch, who had taken a Greyhound bus on the day of last Thursday’s bombing, and was destined for New York, where he has relatives.

“There are at least 10 destinations in between Los Angeles and New York. Additional investigation and video surveillance indicates that Hirsch disembarked the bus in Denver and may have further deviated from his original route,” the FBI said.

The New York Daily News reported that the blast at the Chabad House synagogue “sent a 300-pound concrete-encased pipe ricocheting off the synagogue into a neighboring house where a child was sleeping.” There were no injuries.

Authorities initially thought it was an industrial accident.

Raymond Davis Behind Terrorist Plot To Justify A US Occupied Pakistan

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what was the message Raymond Davis sent after capturing an image with his phone of the dead man he just shot in the back? In Lahore, Pakistan after his arrest police found photos of madrassas and military installations in his camera. Davis’s contacts list included twenty-seven militants from terrorist organizations and relationships with the TTP (Tehrik-e-Taliban) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (the terrorist organization that killed Prime Minister Bhutto and Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl).

Lahore Investigators called the shooting a “blessing in disguise” because it confirmed what they already knew- that Davis was hatching a terrorist plot to justify a US occupied Pakistan. A US occupied Pakistan would be a strategic advantage against Pakistan’s nuclear proliferation and Anti-American sentiment. Manipulating American public opinion through fear mongering requires a terrorist event. Davis was engineering this by working with a group of Taliban ready to do his bidding.

US officials have refused to identify exactly who Davis’s employer is and have maintained through it all – citing the Vienna Convention of 1961 – that Davis was a diplomat and a crime victim. Their story juxtaposed against the facts demonstrates otherwise. The real victim was a Pakistani Intelligence Agent shot in the back by Davis with a Glock nine millimeter. Davis’s tools of “diplomacy,” included M-16 shells, cell phone trackers, infrared telescopes, masks, make up, and business cards for a phony security company, Hyperion LLC. It sounds more like espionage than diplomacy. Past Ministers of Propaganda such as Josef Goebbels know that if a lie is repeated enough people will believe it.

There was nothing diplomatic about Davis’s presence in Pakistan. To add insult to injury the 2.3 million in blood money paid to the families of the slain men will be coming out of Pakistani taxpayers pockets, as the Pakistani government will be footing the bill. The US will continue to fund the Zadari puppet government it supports to the tune of three billion per year.

Title: US Caught in the Big Lie: This Can’t be Happening! Was Correct in Exposing Raymond Davis as a Spy
Author: Dave Lindorff