Reuters photographer says reborn after freed by U.S. – REUTERS

10:46 AM EST – 2/10/10

image
By Suadad al-Salhy

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – The U.S. military freed a Reuters photographer in Iraq on Wednesday, almost a year and a half after snatching him from his home in the middle of the night and placing him in military detention without charge.

The U.S. military has never said exactly why it detained Ibrahim Jassam Mohammed — who worked for Reuters as a freelance TV cameraman and photographer — and locked him away for so long, saying the evidence against him was classified.

“How can I describe my feelings? This is like being born again,” Jassam told Reuters by telephone as he was greeted emotionally by his family.

U.S. and Iraqi forces smashed in the doors of Jassam’s house in Mahmudiya town, south of Baghdad, in September 2008 and whisked him away, first to Camp Bucca, a desert prison on the Iraq-Kuwait border, then the smaller Camp Cropper detention center near Baghdad airport.

Jassam is one of several Iraqi journalists working for foreign news organizations who have been detained by the U.S. military, often for months at a time, since the 2003 U.S. invasion. None has ever been charged, triggering criticism from international journalism rights groups.

“I am very pleased his long incarceration without charge is finally over,” Reuters editor-in-chief David Schlesinger said.

“I wish the process to release a man who had no specific accusations against him had been swifter.”

In Mahmudiya, friends and relatives crowded into Jassam’s small family home, greeting him with hugs, tears and sweets.

“I still cannot believe my son is next to me,” said his mother, Fadhila Alwan. “Thanks be to God. I cannot speak. I will keep him in my arms for days but I will not be able to get enough of him.”

‘SECURITY THREAT’

The U.S. military has asserted that Jassam was a “security threat” because of “activities with insurgents,” it said last year, without giving details.

The term “insurgents” generally refers to Sunni Islamist groups. Jassam is a Shi’ite Muslim.

The military said on Wednesday he was freed under a security pact, effective last year, which required the United States to hand over its thousands of Iraqi detainees to Iraqi authorities.

“As such, detainees that are approved for release by the government of Iraq will be released according to their threat level. It was his time to be released,” the U.S. military said.

The U.S. military still has almost 6,000 detainees who must be handed to Iraqi authorities. If they face Iraqi criminal charges they will be tried, if not they will be freed.

The Iraqi Central Criminal Court ruled in 2008 that there was no case against Jassam.

A month before arresting him, U.S. forces detained Reuters cameraman Ali Mashhadani and held him for three weeks without charge, the third time he had been detained.

“This is happy news but at the same time sad news,” said Ziad al-Ajili, head of The Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, and Iraqi press lobby group. “Who is going to compensate Ibrahim for the 17 months he spent in prison innocent of all the accusations the American army made against him?”

(Additional reporting by Aseel Kami; Writing by Jack Kimball and Michael Christie; editing by Tim Pearce)

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Happiness in Slavery – REVOLT OF THE PLEBS

By Keith Johnson

Don’t open your eyes
You won’t like what you see
The blind have been blessed with security
Don’t open your eyes
Take it from me
I have found you can find
Happiness in slavery

Nine Inch Nails-Happiness in Slavery

Think you’re free? Think again, slave!

This week the Federal government will attempt to auction off 118 billion dollars in U.S. debt to anyone who thinks the U.S. dollar is a great place to be.   Of course if you ask liars like Fed Chief Ben Bernanke or his young sidekick “tiny” Tim Geithner, they will most certainly assure you that the dollar is strong and that the U.S economy is on a miraculous rebound. But this is fiction.

Lets do our own risk assessment, shall we?   After all, barring any foreign investors stupid enough to take the bait, it’s going to be you and I… and several generations of our descendants left holding the check as the fat gluttons on Wall Street lick their plates before dashing out of the restaurant.   But I warn you; what you are about to read is nothing short of horrifying and should convince you – once and for all – that we are in the final stages of a freefall spiral into outright despotism.

Stewart Dougherty is a specialist in inferential analysis, the practice of identifying historic and contemporary patterns and then extrapolating their likely effects upon the future.   In his recent piece, “America’s Impending Master Class Dictatorship”, Mr. Dougherty crunches some numbers for us and finds:

“According to the Federal Reserve’s most recent report on wealth, America’s private net worth was $53.4 trillion as of September, 2009.   But at the same time, America’s debt and unfunded liabilities totaled at least $120,000,000,000,000.00 ($120 trillion), or 225% of the citizens’ net worth.   Even if the government expropriated every dollar of private wealth in the nation, it would still have a deficit of $66,600,000,000,000.00 ($66.6 trillion), equal to $214,286.00 for every man, woman and child in America and roughly 500% of GDP.   If the government does not directly seize the nation’s private wealth, then it will require $389,610 from each and every citizen to balance the country’s books.”

Sorry, but I don’t have that kind of scratch!   Few of us do!   And though we should feel no obligation to pay this debt, we still must bear some of the responsibility for allowing it to happen. Somewhere along the way our ancestors dropped the ball.   Our fathers failed to heed the warnings of great men.   They allowed their words to echo down the memory hole into oblivion only to be replaced with the words of actors, sportscasters and anchormen. They allowed great texts and historical documents in our schools to be substituted with training manuals and rulebooks for the enslaved.   Their apathy has delivered us into dependence, and from there we are entering back into the final stage of a never-ending fatal sequence: bondage.

Democracy may well be the worst of all forms of government.   We are often told of the virtues of democracy and taught that it was under its principles that this nation was founded. But that is not true.   We were born a Republic; a representative form of government designed to protect the rights of the individual. However, from the day of our nation’s founding, insidious forces within and from without have incrementally caused our government to deteriorate into a democracy.   Where once the center of power was concentrated in our elected representatives in the House and senate, that power has now been usurped by the Executive Branch.   The vast majorities of Americans have considered their vote for the presidency as the single most important elected office, and as a result, have rendered their sovereignty to that single entity.

The office of the President has become a seat of power.   Through signing statements and a self appointed “executive privilege”, the President has become a ruler rather than a servant of the people who acts upon the direction of Congress.

Though the author of the following passage is unknown, it has been quoted as part of a speech given in 1943 by American Industrialist H.W. Prentis though much of what he said has been attributed to late 18th Century writer Andrew Fraser Tytler.   Regardless of who or when it was said, it certainly seems prophetic now in relation to the situation we currently find ourselves in…

“A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government.   A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury.   From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.   The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

· From bondage to spiritual faith;
· From spiritual faith to great courage;
· From courage to liberty;
· From liberty to abundance;
· From abundance to complacency;
· From complacency to apathy;
· From apathy to dependence;
· From dependence back into bondage.”

That last part, that has come to be known as the “Tytler Cycle”, could be used to chronicle our nation’s rise and fall from the day our ancestors fled the tyranny of King George (from bondage to spiritual faith), the American Revolution (from spiritual faith to great courage), the Declaration of Independence (from courage to liberty), the Industrial Revolution (from liberty to abundance), the signing of the Federal Reserve Act (from abundance to complacency), the Great Depression (from complacency to apathy), the entry into the United Nations (from apathy to dependence) and everything that has happened since: the endless wars, socialism/facism, the CIA, etc., etc., etc. … (from dependence back into BONDAGE!)

Should we accept our fate?  Surely we can adapt.  A frightening number of men and women whom have received long-term confinement in our nation’s prison system succumb to a thing known as “institutionalized syndrome” characterized by a loss of independence and self-confidence, erosion of desire and skills for social interaction and fear of authority.  Upon the prospect of release many prefer to stay in that nightmarish environment rather than face the world alone due to excessive reliance on these institutions to provide food, clothing and shelter.  Could this be where we are headed?

And what of our destiny?  Will we go the way of North Korea, a communist regime that controls it’s population through hunger and fear?   One only needs to read accounts of daily life in it’s largest city, Pyongyang to conclude that this is precisely what our masters have in store for us.   Imagine living in tiny living quarters within towering, drab apartment complexes that siphon intermittent supplies of water and electricity while reliably feeding government propaganda through living room speakers that can never be fully turned down.   A place where no citizen is allowed to drive or even own a bicycle.   A place where rations of food are so miniscual that hunger and starvation are commonplace.

And though I suspect that none of us will live long enough to be forced to live under such harsh conditions, is it acceptable to use that as an excuse to leave that fate to our children?  Perhaps for some of you it is.  Perhaps the work that lies ahead of us is an insurmountable task.  Perhaps the victories of our enemy have caused you to become complacent, even apathetic in your own personal “Tytler Cycle”? If so, then I wish you well.   Hopefully you will find comfort in the distractions provided to you by our social engineers.   And although you may find your liberty in short supply, be comforted in the fact that there will always be an abundance of drugs, sports, music and all manner of entertainment to keep your buzz going through these tumultuous times.

If you accept this conclusion then I offer, in parting, these words from Samuel Adams:

“If you love wealth more than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, depart from us in peace. We ask not your counsel nor your arms.   Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you.   May your chains rest lightly upon you and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.”

In other words, may you find “Happiness in Slavery”.

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Obama Administration Approves Killing Americans Abroad

by Noel Brinkerhoff
http://www.allgov.com/Top_Stories/ViewNews/Obama_Administration_Approves_Killing_Americans_Abroad_100205
Friday, February 05, 2010
Being a U.S. citizen will not spare an American from getting assassinated by military or intelligence operatives overseas if the individual is working with terrorists and planning to attack fellow Americans. This policy was acknowledged by Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair while testifying on Wednesday before the House Intelligence Committee.   Blair tried to reassure lawmakers that the government would be careful before making the decision to kill Americans. “I just don’t want Americans who are watching this to think that we are careless about endangering—in fact, we’re not careless about endangering American lives as we try to carry out the policies to protect most of the country,” Blair said   One of the Americans most likely to be targeted is U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Aulaqi, now living in Yemen. Born in New Mexico, al-Aulaki earned a B.S. in Civil Engineering at Colorado State University and an M.A. in Education Leadership at San Diego State University. He has has been linked to the Fort Hood shooter, Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, and to Abdul Farouk Umar Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian accused of attempting to blow up a Northwest Airlines plane on Christmas Day.   Apparently the U.S. did try to kill al-Aulaki in an air strike in Yemen the day before Abdulmutallab’s attempted plane bombing, but it would appear that he is still alive. -Noel Brinkerhoff   Intelligence Chief Acknowledges U.S. May Target Americans Involved in Terrorism (by Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post) US May Kill American Extremists Abroad (Agence France-Presse) Imam Says Fort Hood Killer Asked about Killing GIs a Year Ago.

Summers: ‘Statistical Recovery and Human Recession’

Neal Lipschutz
The Wall Street Journal
January 30, 2010

Key Obama economic adviser Larry Summers coined a telling way to look at the current American economic state of play. He said the U.S. is experiencing a “statistical recovery and a human recession.”

It is a phrase that should resonate through much of the industrial world, where high and long-standing unemployment is increasingly becoming a huge domestic political issue.

Speaking on a panel at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Summers said one in five American men aged 25 to 54 are unemployed. He said given a “reasonable recovery,” that rate could improve to one in seven or one in eight. That still contrasts with a 95% employment rate for that group in the mid-1960s.

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Game Over for the American Middle Class – MYBUDGET360

JAN-28-2010 – Game Over for the American Middle Class – Inflation Adjusted Wages up 20 Percent in Last 20 Years While Housing Costs are up 56 Percent and Healthcare Costs are up 155 Percent.

The struggle for average Americans to keep up is largely becoming an act of will power and force in this current grand recession.  Now you wouldn’t think that there is a definite war raging against the middle class if you simply follow the mainstream media but the facts speak to a more distilled and corporatized method of debt slavery.  Americans are working more hours trying to stay in the same place that they believe would keep them on pace to having the American Dream.  And this dream is merely the ability to afford a home, provide your children with a good education (public or private), and save enough to have a retirement that doesn’t require you to eat cat food after a lifetime of working.  That is at the root of what most average Americans would want after a full working career.

But we are at an inflexion point and the middle class is largely being squeezed out.  A recent study from the Commerce Department shed some light on an issue that we already know.  Over the past 20 years the middle class has been falling behind:

middle-class-costs

Everything is relative in this world.  Incomes have gone up during this time but the cost of housing, healthcare, and access to education have outpaced income gains in some cases by four to one.  Money is only worth what you can buy with it.  The grand housing bubble of this decade lured many into buying homes that they simply could not afford.  Banks and Wall Street were more than willing to provide access to this dream since they knew if all bets crashed, and they did, that they would call on their connected politicians to bail them out and send the bill to taxpayers for their adventures in finance.  Take a look at the chart above closely.  Housing price changes have wiped out any gains in income.  The relative amount of income needed to buy a home has put many two income households on the brink of bankruptcy.  And the 4 million foreclosure filings in 2009 alone tell us that many Americans are unable to hold onto one cornerstone of the American Dream.

The middle class is absolutely vital to having a sustainable and flourishing economy.  The massive debt machine coming from the big banks has created a new form of debt servitude.  Some would argue that this is a personal responsibility issue and I will be the first to agree with that.  People should live within their means.  But think of the FICO score that has become like a permanent financial report card.  Some employers actually screen for credit scores before hiring applicants.  Want to rent a home because you don’t want to over extend and buy a home?  You better hope that FICO is up to par.  And many insurance companies base their analysis on this score.  So even if you never had a credit card or any debt, you would be in a bad spot because so many people rely on this number.  This is only one example of how people are actually forced to use debt simply to pursue the avenues of the middle class.

In fact, we have many more people simply trying to stay afloat let alone pursuing the middle class ideal.  Over 37 million Americans are now part of the food stamp program, not only is this the highest number ever but also the highest percentage of Americans ever to be on food assistance:

food-stamps

I sometimes read gut wrenching stories from the Great Depression where people would wash and reuse paper towels or have soup for weeks on end just to keep their families fed.  37 million Americans would be one step away from that existence if it weren’t for some basic safety nets.  It is troubling to say the least that this patch is what is keeping this great recession from being a profound depression.  Yet I think the 27 million underemployed Americans are already in that state of mind.  The idea of a middle class life is slowly drifting away as each and every day we realize that our nation is becoming more of a corporatacracy.

The housing nightmare really played on both ends of this middle class dream.  Banks were more than willing to lend trillions of dollars to people that really could not afford the homes they were buying.  This created the biggest housing bubble the world has ever witnessed and the bursting ramifications are being felt throughout the economy.  Yet if you look at the equation, who is really being punished?  Average Americans are being punished as they have their homes foreclosed on.  Yet banks who are in the supposed position of financial experts, have not only garnered trillions in bailouts but are now back to their speculative ways.  This is disturbing because it is highlighting a marked shift and a near game over for the middle class.

Think of the rise of our economy in the 1940s and 1950s.  Many returning GIs had access to affordable education through new programs and grants.  It is the least you can offer to someone defending this country.  Next, it was possible to support a family with one income because we had a strong and sustainable manufacturing base.  Now, we have families with two incomes in the service sector trying to piece things together.  Throw in a child, and that second income evaporates through childcare costs and educational fees.  In other words, just because people have more income their buying power has collapsed.

And this fact is revealed in the data that two-income households are more of an economic necessity:

two-income-households

So of married couples with two children 76 percent have two earners.  The average American is simply working to stay on track or face being thrown off the treadmill.  Jobs are so important to keeping a solid middle class.  This should be obvious but current policy being driven by thecorporatacracy is simply focusing on keeping prices inflated for the big ticket items (i.e., housing and healthcare).  At this point in the game, housing values have gone up to points that are clearly unsupportable:

the-cost-of-homeownership1

This being the biggest budget item for most households, you would assume that lower prices would be welcomed from the government seeing that many Americans are underemployed and those with jobs have seen stagnant wages.

The middle class dream is at risk.  This is a question of what we want out of our country.  Are we simply obsessed on keeping home values inflated so banking giants could keep gaming accounting rules and claim billion dollar profits?  If we want to prosper in the next decade, there will need to be a radical change to preserve what once was envied by the world.  Otherwise, you can expect banks and their political allies to keep selling away the middle class of America.  On the path we are traveling on the middle class is largely at risk for a big game over in the next decade.

China suspends US talks over Taiwan arms deal – Shanghai Daily

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and President Hu Jintao in June 2009

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and President Hu Jintao in June 2009

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China announced yesterday it will postpone bilateral military programs and security talks and impose sanctions against companies in response to the US government’s planned US$6.4 billion arms deal with Taiwan.

A Foreign Ministry announcement said China had decided to partially halt exchange programs between the two countries’ military forces, as well as vice-ministerial talks on strategic security, arms control and anti-proliferation, scheduled to be held soon.

China will also impose sanctions on US companies involved in the arms deal to Taiwan, the press statement said.

The Obama administration advised US Congress on Friday of the proposed sale to Taiwan, a potential US$6.4 billion package including Black Hawk helicopters, Patriot “Advanced Capability-3” anti-missile missiles, and two refurbished Osprey-class mine-hunting ships.

The Chinese Defence Ministry also lodged a stern protest yesterday afternoon.

Qian Lihua, the Defence Ministry’s Foreign Affairs Office director, summoned the defence attache of the US Embassy in Beijing to lodge the protest, according to a press statement.

In a similar warning lodged with the US ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister, He Yafei, said the country was “strongly indignant” about the proposed sale of weapons.

The US decision “constitutes a gross intervention into China’s internal affairs, seriously endangers China’s national security and harms China’s peaceful reunification efforts,” He was quoted saying in a Foreign Ministry statement.

“The US plan will definitely undermine China-US relations and bring about serious negative impact on exchanges and cooperation in major areas between the two countries, and lead to an aftermath both sides would not prefer,” He said.

He urged the US side to “fully recognize the gravity of the issue, revoke the erroneous decision on arms sales to Taiwan and stop selling weapons to Taiwan.”

The sale is viewed as a serious contravention of three joint communiques between China and the United States, especially the “August 17” communique agreed on in 1982.

The United States said in the 1982 agreement that “it does not seek to carry out a long-term policy of arms sales to Taiwan” and “intends to reduce gradually its sales of arms to Taiwan, leading over a period of time to a final resolution.”

In 2008, China curtailed military exchanges with the United States after the Bush administration approved a US$6.5 billion Taiwan arms deal, including 30 Apache attack helicopters and 330 Patriot missiles.

Read more: http://www.shanghaidaily.com/article/?id=427454#ixzz0e9FTdAO1

Osama bin Laden is ‘worth more alive than dead’, declares his son – UK TIMES ONLINE

Osama bin Laden is worth more to the United States alive than dead because his death could unleash “very,very nasty” attacks by militants, his son has claimed.

In an at times rambling interview with Rolling Stone magazine, which was conducted in part in a Damascus strip club, the terror leader’s fourth-eldest son, Omar Osama bin Laden, said that his father had already won the War on Terror because he had achieved his aim of humbling the US and would probably not feel the need to launch more big attacks.

However, he said that President Barack Obama’s decision to increase troop numbers in Afghanistan was a big mistake that would damage the US economy.

“It is like adding water to sand, as we say in the Arab world. It only makes the sand heavier,” Mr bin Laden told the magazine.

“If I was in his position the first thing I would do is make a truce. Then, for six months or one year, no fighting, no soldiers. Afghanistan can never be won. It has nothing to do with my father. It is the Afghan people.”.

“It is going to be worse when my father dies,” he added. “The world is going to be very, very nasty then. It will be a disaster.” Mr bin Laden, whose autobiographyGrowing Up Bin Laden detailed his childhood growing up in militant camps in Sudan and Afghanistan as his father pursued his jihadist plan, left bin Laden in Afghanistan shortly before the September 11 attack in 2001.

He has since married a British woman almost twice his age whom he met on a trip to the Giza pyramids in Egypt. He makes a living as a scrap metal merchant in the Saudi city of Jeddah. He has been banned from entering Britain with his wife, Zaina, over fears that his presence would cause “considerable public concern”.

He said that he respected former president Bill Clinton for his “smart” decisions to attack his father’s training camp with cruise missiles in retaliation for attacks on US interests in Africa.

“He didn’t get my father but after all the war in Afghanistan, they still don’t have my father,” he said. “They have spent hundreds of billions. Better for America to keep the money for its economy. In Clinton’s time America was very, very smart. Not like a bull that runs after the red scarf.”

He said that his father was delighted when George W. Bush was elected president. “My father was so happy. This is the kind of president he needs — one who will attack and spend money and break the country.

“I am sure my father wanted McCain more than Obama. McCain has the same mentality as Bush. My father would be disappointed because Obama get the position.” The failure of the huge intelligence and military effort to find and kill bin Laden was a piece of luck for America, Mr bin Laden said, because his father’s followers killed for killing’s sake while bin Laden was so controlled that he would only kill if he felt it was necessary.

“People were always asking my father to attack more,” he said of the militants with whom he saw his father in Afghanistan. “They would say, ‘Sheik, we must do more’. Crazy things. My father has a religious goal. He is controlled by the rules of jihad. He only kills if he thinks there is a need.”

He said that he doubted bin Laden would order any more mass attacks.

“He doesn’t need to. As soon as America went to Afghanistan, his plan worked. He has already won.”

by Anne Barrowclough – Times Online