Daily Archives

Senate Rejects Limit on Credit-Card Interest Rates

New York Times – Despite complaints that banks and credit card companies are gouging customers by charging outrageous interest rates, the Senate on Wednesday easily turned back an effort to cap interest rates at 15 percent. The effort by Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, drew only 33 votes and needed 60, with a bipartisan group of 60 senators opposing it as the Senate pushed its credit card overhaul toward the finish line. Some Democrats and consumer groups have said that an interest cap is needed to put real teeth into an otherwise solid bill. Other backers of the measure calculated that an interest rate ceiling would doom the popular legislation. The banking industry, which had some heavy-weight representatives monitoring the vote off of the Senate floor, warned that an interest rate limit could cause a sour reaction in the financial markets. Read Article

Bilderberg meetings remain a mystery

Stars & Stripes Magazine – Ever hear of Bilderberg? If not, that’s the idea. According to various Web sites, the Bilderberg is an “unofficial, annual, invitation-only conference of around 130 guests, most of whom are persons of influence in the fields of politics, business and banking.” The names of alleged past participants of this secretive group include former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and even former President Bill Clinton. The Bilderberg group is currently holding its 57th annual conference at a hotel outside Athens, Greece. And while the list of the some 120 influential people is highly protected, Internet bloggers contend this year’s attendees include Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who supposedly will be “taking orders from the Global Elite,” according to one Web site. Read Article

UK Government loses soldiers’ human rights appeal

Daily Telegraph – Soldiers serving abroad are protected by Human Rights laws, the Court of Appeal has ruled in a landmark judgment against the Government. Three judges, headed by the Master of the Rolls, Sir Anthony Clark, dismissed challenges by the Government to High Court rulings over the death of Private Jason Smith, who died in Iraq while serving with the Territorial Army. Permission to take the case to the House of Lords was granted on condition that the Secretary of State for Defence pays the legal costs whether they win or lose.  Read Article

Israel’s Netanyahu to press Obama on nuclear Iran

Reuters – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will stress the need for urgency in dealing with Iran’s nuclear ambitions when he meets U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday, a senior Netanyahu adviser said. By putting Iran at the top of his agenda, Netanyahu will be sending a strong signal to Obama that Palestinian statehood, backed by the United States but not endorsed by the new Israeli leader, is not an issue requiring immediate attention. “As things are planned, Mr. Netanyahu will focus on the subject of a nuclear Iran,” his national security adviser, Uzi Arad told reporters on the eve of the White House meeting. “There is a sense of urgency on our side,” Arad said, calling a nuclear-armed Iran a threat to Israel’s existence. “The prime minister will emphatically emphasized the element of urgency.” Read Article

The Guardian’s man at Bilderberg: ‘You are not allowed to take pictures of policemen!’

The Guardian – Charlie Skelton is scared, jumpy and hacked off at the police state built around Bilderberg. So hacked off, in fact, he has asked the police to stop following him. Bad move.  need to go back a day and tell you exactly how I came to be in an Athens metro station at 8am, grappling with two strange men, struggling and yelling: “Help me somebody! Security! Please! Someone get security! Get the police!” My voice still hurts. My brain is ready to explode. But that is today. Yesterday divides in half: the half where I flee the Bilderberg resort, too scared and strung out to remain, and the half when I have to bundle myself in a random cab and drive to the British Embassy for my own safety. I am being hounded. And all because I dared report on Bilderberg. Because I dared point my finger at them, there, in the darkness of a seaside peninsula. Read Article

The Historian – With that kind of (state) security and intimidation employed do you still believe that it is just a harmless gathering of 150 industrialists & politicians  which is not newsworthy?

Sri Lanka says wins civil war, kills rebel leader

Reuters – Sri Lankan troops won the final battle in a separatist conflict seen as one of the world’s most intractable wars, and put the island nation under government control for the first time since 1983, the military said. In the climactic final gun battle, special forces troops killed Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran as he tried to flee the war zone in an ambulance early on Monday, state television reported. Read Article

Gen Stanley MacChrystal, America’s new army chief in Afghanistan, under fire over rough tactics and ‘prisoner abuse’

Daily Telegraph – The general chosen by Barack Obama to run the war in Afghanistan permitted abusive treatment and interrogation of detainees in Iraq, according to human rights investigators. Soldiers have described beatings, psychological torture and other physical mistreatment at a camp near Baghdad where General Stanley McChrystal, then commander of US Joint Special Operations forces in Iraq, was frequently seen.A tall Irish-American with a deceptively gentle manner, Gen McChrystal was named last week as the next head of Afghan operations. He is currently operations director for the US Joint Chiefs of Staff. Read Article

‘Climate change’ will overload humanitarian system, warns Oxfam

The Guardian – Number of people affected by extreme weather has doubled in 30 years and is expected to reach 375 million a year by 2015. Emergency organisations could be overwhelmed within seven years by the rising number of people in poor countries affected by floods, droughts, heatwaves, wild fires, storms, landslides and other climate hazards.Analysis by Oxfam International of the 6,500 climate-related disastersby 2015. The figure does not include people hit by other disasters such as wars, earthquakes and volcanoes. Read Article

Polemic – “Number of people affected by extreme weather has doubled in 30 years.”. World population in 1980 was approx 4billion and it now sits around 7billion .. almost doubled, with most of those extra people along coastal areas, living on top of each other. The world’s climate is constantly changing. Always has. Always will. Just nowadays the odds of any major weather event having a numerically large effect on human populations are much, much higher.

Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi on trial

BBC – Burma’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has gone on trial in Rangoon. She is charged with breaching the terms of her house arrest, because of a visit by an American man who swam across a lake to her house earlier this month. A lawyer for Ms Suu Kyi says she will plead not guilty as the American, John Yettaw, had not been invited. The charges have been widely condemned as baseless, but a guilty verdict would mean she was in jail during the run-up to elections planned next year. Ms Suu Kyi has already spent 13 of the past 19 years in jail or detained in her home, and faces a further three to five years’ imprisonment if found guilty of these latest charges.  Read Article

Blackwater-affiliated contractors investigated for shooting

Wall Street Journal – Four U.S. contractors affiliated with the company formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide fired on an approaching civilian vehicle in Kabul this month, wounding at least two Afghan civilians, according to the company and the U.S. military.The off-duty contractors were involved in a car accident around 9 p.m. on May 5 and then fired on the approaching vehicle, which they believed to be a threat, according to the U.S. military. At least some of the men, who were former military personnel, had been allegedly drinking alcohol that evening, according to a person familiar with the incident. Off-duty contractors aren’t supposed to carry weapons or drink alcohol. Read Article

Bailed-out bank directors hit the pensions jackpot

The Independent – More than 20 former bank directors are benefiting from staggering retirement plans, with actual or potential pension pots worth a combined total of more than £111m. These are paying out yearly pensions of £6,430,000 between them.The findings are part of a damning new exposé of some of Britain’s top bankers to be broadcast on Channel 4′s Dispatches programme tomorrow. The select group of wealthy bankers will remain unaffected by the economic catastrophe facing millions of Britons. Many have already been able to give up work years ahead of state retirement age.  Read Article

Experts have analysed the pensions of a number of former directors of British banks, many of which were only saved from collapse by state bailouts

UK Foreign Secretary presses for gag on CIA memo

The Guardian – David Miliband, the foreign secretary, tonight made a fresh attempt to stop high court judges from disclosing information about what Britain’s security and intelligence agencies knew of the ill-treatment and alleged torture of a UK resident.In his third demand for a gagging order, he argued that “real harm to the national security and international relations of the United Kingdom would be caused” if a seven-paragraph summary of CIA intelligence information was disclosed.Miliband made his last-ditch attempt to suppress the information on a day when Paul Jenkins, the government’s most senior lawyer, told the high court in a separate, hotly disputed case that he had written to senior officials throughout Whitehall reminding them of “the rigorous nature and extent of our duties of disclosure”. Read Article

Police defend fining woman for not holding handrail

CTV – Laval police say they handcuffed a woman for not holding an escalator handrail because she refused to heed their warnings. The incident — and the resulting fine — has sparked criticism of the officers for being too aggressive.The officers defended their actions on Saturday, saying they warned 38-year-old Bela Kosoian repeatedly to grab the handrail inside a Laval subway station, but instead she allegedly shouted at them. Read Article

Blind Traveler Asks Too Many Questions On Delayed U.S. Airways Flight, Is Dragged Off, Jailed, Told He’s Faking His Blindness

Consumerist – As 61-year-old Belgian interpreter Nicola Cantisani, who is blind, sat for two hours waiting in the Brussels-bound U.S. Airways jet on the tarmac at Philadephia airport in early April, he wondered why no one was telling passengers about the reasons for the take-off delay. When he requested a glass of water he was shooed away by the crew. When he tried to ask the captain exactly why there was a delay, Cantisani was asked to disembark. When he refused to do so, he was dragged off the plane by three police officers, pinned into a wheelchair, held by the throat, lost the cane he uses to navigate, held at the airport for five hours without food, water, or access to any phone, moved to a 6′ x 7′ police cell at 3 a.m., questioned by a psychiatrist, and detained for 16 hours. And it was only at the end of this ordeal that the police finally believed he wasn’t faking his blindness. Read Article

Rumsfeld’s renegade unit blamed for Afghan deaths

The Independent – Special Forces group implicated in three incidents that claimed the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians / MarSOC was set up by former defence secretary despite opposition from within the Marine Corps. A single American Special Forces group was behind at least three of Afghanistan’s worst civilian casualty incidents, The Independent has learnt, raising fundamental questions about their ongoing role in the conflict.  Read Article