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Unreported Soros Event Aims to Remake Entire Global Economy

Posted by Admin on April 10, 2011

Left-wing billionaire’s own experts dominate quiet push for ‘a grand bargain that rearranges the entire financial order.’
  • By Dan Gainor
  • Wednesday, March 23, 2011 4:48 PM EDT

Two years ago, George Soros said he wanted to reorganize the entire global economic system. In two short weeks, he is going to start – and no one seems to have noticed.
On April 8, a group he’s funded with $50 million is holding a major economic conference and Soros’s goal for such an event is to “establish new international rules” and “reform the currency system.” It’s all according to a plan laid out in a Nov. 4, 2009, Soros op-ed calling for “a grand bargain that rearranges the entire financial order.”
The event is bringing together “more than 200 academic, business and government policy thought leaders’ to repeat the famed 1944 Bretton Woods gathering that helped create the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Soros wants a new ‘multilateral system,” or an economic system where America isn’t so dominant.
More than two-thirds of the slated speakers have direct ties to Soros. The billionaire who thinks “the main enemy of the open society, I believe, is no longer the communist but the capitalist threat” is taking no chances.
Thus far, this global gathering has generated less publicity than a spelling bee. And that’s with at least four journalists on the speakers list, including a managing editor for the Financial Times and editors for both Reuters and The Times. Given Soros’s warnings of what might happen without an agreement, this should be a big deal. But it’s not.
What is a big deal is that Soros is doing exactly what he wanted to do. His 2009 commentary pushed for “a new Bretton Woods conference, like the one that established the post-WWII international financial architecture.” And he had already set the wheels in motion.
Just a week before that op-ed was published, Soros had founded the New York City-based Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET), the group hosting the conference set at the Mount Washington Resort, the very same hotel that hosted the first gathering. The most recent INET conference was held at Central European University, in Budapest. CEU received $206 million from Soros in 2005 and has $880 million in its endowment now, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.
This, too, is a gathering of Soros supporters. INET is bringing together prominent people like former U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown, former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker and Soros, to produce “a lot of high-quality, breakthrough thinking.”
While INET claims more than 200 will attend, only 79 speakers are listed on its site – and it already looks like a Soros convention. Twenty-two are on Soros-funded INET’s board and three more are INET grantees. Nineteen are listed as contributors for another Soros operation – Project Syndicate, which calls itself “the world’s pre-eminent source of original op-ed commentaries” reaching “456 leading newspapers in 150 countries.” It’s financed by Soros’s Open Society Institute. That’s just the beginning.
The speakers include: 

  • Volcker is chairman of President Obama’s Economic Advisory Board. He wrote the forward for Soros’s best-known book, ‘The Alchemy of Finance‘ and praised Soros as “an enormously successful speculator” who wrote “with insight and passion” about the problems of globalization.
  • Economist Jeffrey Sachs, director of The Earth Institute and longtime recipient of Soros charity cash. Sachs received $50 million from Soros for the U.N. Millennium Project, which he also directs. Sachs is world-renown for his liberal economics. In 2009, for example, he complained about low U.S. taxes, saying the “U.S. will have to raise taxes in order to pay for new spending initiatives, especially in the areas of sustainable energy, climate change, education, and relief for the poor.”
  • Soros friend Joseph E. Stiglitz, a former senior vice president and chief economist for the World Bank and Nobel Prize winner in Economics. Stiglitz shares similar views to Soros and has criticized free-market economists whom he calls “free market fundamentalists.” Naturally, he’s on the INET board and is a contributor to Project Syndicate.
  • INET Executive Director Rob Johnson, a former managing director at Soros Fund Management, who is on the Board of Directors for the Soros-funded Economic Policy Institute. Johnson has complained that government intervention in the fiscal crisis hasn’t been enough and wanted “restructuring,” including asking “for letters of resignation from the top executives of all the major banks.”

Have no doubt about it: This is a Soros event from top to bottom. Even Soros admits his ties to INET are a problem, saying, “there is a conflict there which I fully recognize.” He claims he stays out of operations. That’s impossible. The whole event is his operation.
INET isn’t subtle about its aims for the conference. Johnson interviewed fellow INET board member Robert Skidelsky about “The Need for a New Bretton Woods” in a recent video. The introductory slide to the video is subtitled: “How currency issues and tension between the US and China are renewing calls for a global financial overhaul.” Skidelsky called for a new agreement and said in the video that the conflict between the United States and China was “at the center of any monetary deal that may be struck, that needs to be struck.”
Soros described in the 2009 op-ed that U.S.-China conflict as “another stark choice between two fundamentally different forms of organization: international capitalism and state capitalism.” He concluded that “a new multilateral system based on sounder principles must be invented.” As he explained it in 2010, “we need a global sheriff.”
In the 2000 version of his book “Open Society: Reforming Global Capitalism,” Soros wrote how the Bretton Woods institutions “failed spectacularly” during the economic crisis of the late 1990s. When he called for a new Bretton Woods in 2009, he wanted it to “reconstitute the International Monetary Fund,” and while he’s at it, restructure the United Nations, too, boosting China and other countries at our expense.
“Reorganizing the world order will need to extend beyond the financial system and involve the United Nations, especially membership of the Security Council,’ he wrote. ‘That process needs to be initiated by the US, but China and other developing countries ought to participate as equals.”
Soros emphasized that point, that this needs to be a global solution, making America one among many. “The rising powers must be present at the creation of this new system in order to ensure that they will be active supporters.”
And that’s exactly the kind of event INET is delivering, with the event website emphasizing “today’s reconstruction must engage the larger European Union, as well as the emerging economies of Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Asia.” China figures prominently, including a senior economist for the World Bank in Beijing, the director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the chief adviser for the China Banking Regulatory Commission and the Director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations.
This is all easy to do when you have the reach of George Soros who funds more than 1,200 organizations. Except, any one of those 1,200 would shout such an event from the highest mountain. Groups like or the Center for American Progress didn’t make their names being quiet. The same holds true globally, where Soros has given more than $7 billion to Open Society Foundations – including many media-savvy organizations just a phone call away. Why hasn’t the Soros network spread the word?
Especially since Soros warns, all this needs to happen because “the alternative is frightening.” The Bush-hating billionaire says America is scary “because a declining superpower losing both political and economic dominance but still preserving military supremacy is a dangerous mix.”
The Soros empire is silent about this new Bretton Woods conference because it isn’t just designed to change global economic rules. It also is designed to put America in its place – part of a multilateral world the way Soros wants it. He wrote that the U.S. “could lead a cooperative effort to involve both the developed and the developing world, thereby reestablishing American leadership in an acceptable form.”
That’s what this conference is all about – changing the global economy and the United States to make them “acceptable” to George Soros.
– Iris Somberg contributed to this commentary

Dan Gainor is the Boone Pickens Fellow and the Media Research Center’s Vice President for Business and Culture. His column appears each week on The Fox Forum. He can also be contacted on FaceBook and Twitter as dangainor.


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Smiling face of sailor pictured just 48 HOURS before he 'gunned down two of his officers, killing one' on nuclear sub HMS Astute

Posted by Admin on April 10, 2011

By Stephen Wright, Ian Drury and Chris Greenwood
Last updated at 7:35 PM on 9th April 2011


  • Mayor and Southampton City Council chief exec on board during tragedy
  • Royal Navy serviceman arrested for shooting of two colleagues
  • Defence Secretary Liam Fox ‘greatly saddened’ by ‘tragic incident’
  • Victim’s wife: ‘Ian was utterly devoted to his family. Everything he did was for us’

Police are today questioning Ryan Donovan who is believed to have shot two senior officers, killing one of them, on a nuclear submarine before his deadly gun rampage was stopped by a council leader.

Pictured less than 48 hours before the alleged incident in the control room of a nuclear submarine, he can be seen smiling with his ward mates, unaware of the violence that would follow two days later.

Gillian Molyneux, Lt Cdr Molyneux’s wife, said: ‘Ian was utterly devoted to his family. Everything he did was for us. He was very proud to be an officer in the Royal Navy Submarine Service. He will live on in our four beautiful children.’

Scroll down for video report

Smiling: This picture was taken on board HMS Astute showing Ryan Donovan, circled, smiling with his fellow crewmates. Less than two days later he launched a gun attack that killed one senior officer and left another injured

Smiling: This picture was taken on board HMS Astute showing Ryan Donovan, circled, smiling with his fellow crewmates. Less than two days later he launched a gun attack that killed one senior officer and left another injured

Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux with his wife, Gillian. She described him as being 'very proud to be an officer in the Royal Navy Submarine Service'

Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux with his wife, Gillian. She described him as being ‘very proud to be an officer in the Royal Navy Submarine Service’

Lieutenant Chris Hodge, circled, having dinner with some of his colleagues

Lieutenant Chris Hodge, circled, having dinner with some of his colleagues

Captain Phil Buckley, Captain of the Faslane Flotilla to which HMS ASTUTE belongs, said: ‘Ian Molyneux was a thoroughly professional and competent submarine engineer and a great asset to HMS ASTUTE and the Royal Navy’s Submarine Service.

‘His untimely death is a big blow to his family, who have the Flotilla’s deepest sympathy. His loss will also be felt by his shipmates and across the Service. He was, simply, a good bloke.’

Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, First Sea Lord said: ‘This is a very sad day for the Royal Navy and in particular the Submarine service. Our submarines are crewed by a highly professional cadre of sailors, many of whom are actively involved today in operations in the North Atlantic, Mediterranean and Indian Ocean.

Arrested: Ryan Donovan was today being interviewed by police over the alleged shooting

Arrested: Ryan Donovan was today being interviewed by police over the alleged shooting

‘This incident is indeed tragic and the Royal Navy, in cooperation with the Hampshire Constabulary will investigate this incident fully.

My personal thoughts and sympathies and those of the whole Royal Navy are with the family of Lt Cdr Molyneaux, and that of the injured submariner.’

The gunman was overpowered by a visiting council leader, Royston Smith, who last night described the extraordinary scenes on HMS Astute, a £1.2 billion attack submarine.

‘A guy appeared in his gear,’ he said. ‘He had all his body armour and camo on and was carrying a weapon, not a handgun, an SA80.

‘The first two shots I heard, I didn’t see. Three and four were reasonably close. Fortunately most people were out of the way.

‘He was stood in the doorway. I was about five yards away. I didn’t think about it but took a decision that if I didn’t stop him I might get hit or other people might get hit.

‘I just charged at him, and pushed him against the wall. I got hold of his weapon and had a tussle.’

Mr Smith, 46, who served in the RAF as a mechanic, said the gunman made no noise during the struggle.

‘I was shouting a bit. That wasn’t successful so I threw him, charged him against the other wall,’ he added. ‘I managed to pull the rifle away from him.

‘In the first tussle he let off shot number five. I felt something but it didn’t hurt. There were about five or six shots in total.

‘I took the gun and threw it to my left under a table out of his reach.’

Schoolchildren – aged 14 to 16 and on a visit to the vessel in Southampton Docks – ran for cover when the shooting broke out.

HMS Astute is berthed in Southampton docks. The submarine arrived on Wednesday, following 46 days at sea for the 98-strong crew, for a five-day visit

Crime scene: HMS Astute arrived at Southampton docks on Wednesday

Hero: Councillor Royston Smith with Commander Breckenridge alongside HMS Astute

Hero: Councillor Royston Smith with Commander Breckenridge alongside HMS Astute

The dead man is Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux, the submarine’s weapons engineering officer and a father of two who was in his thirties. He was due to transfer to the Navy’s second Astute class sub, HMS Ambush, and was second in rank to the submarine’s commander.

The wounded man was named last night as Lt Cdr Chris Hodge,

The man accused of firing the shots is believed to be able seaman Ryan Donovan, 22. He was under arrest last night and is said to have snapped after being refused shore leave.

Donovan, wearing body armour and camouflage clothing, is alleged to have taken his Navy issue SA80 and fired six shots.

Colleagues said the 5ft 6ins sailor had been pressed into carrying out his previous tour of duty, despite being due shore leave, The Sun reported.

He was believed to be dreading spending another month at sea on more exercises due to start on Monday.



Police and Navy officers guard the docks around the HMS Astute in Southampton where the shooting took place

Police and Navy officers guard the docks around the HMS Astute in Southampton where the shooting took place

Reports also claimed the rating snapped after he was told he could not use a toilet because visiting dignitaries should go first, The Times reported.

A Ministry of Defence source told the newspaper: ‘With civic dignitaries on board, toilet arrangements were stretched to the absolute limit.

‘I’m told the rating said he urgently needed to attend a call of nature only to be ordered to allow visitors first use of a toilet near the control room.’

Mr Smith, a Tory who became leader of the city council last year, added: ‘People were in shock. Most people didn’t do anything but we only had seconds. I wasn’t going to take it lying down.

‘I don’t feel like a hero. I rather wish it had never happened. The naval officers had been shot so they weren’t in a position to do anything. They weren’t in a good state. I’m just lucky that I got to come home tonight because some of those guys won’t.’

Mr Smith was on board with city mayor Carol Cunio and council chief executive Alistair Neill. They all escaped injury.The Ministry of Defence confirmed the shooting was not related to terrorism. A security review will now examine the case for tighter controls on those allowed to carry weapons on nuclear-powered submarines.

The gunman’s psychiatric state will also be examined. Police plan to speak to 30 witnesses to the midday incident. Last night Alec Samuels, a Tory councillor, told the Daily Mail: ‘I’ve heard that Royston Smith helped to overpower the gunman.

‘I’m not surprised because he is an extremely energetic and courageous fellow. That is exactly how I would expect him to respond.

‘He has been keeping fit by climbing mountains to raise money for injured British soldiers coming back from overseas conflicts.

‘This would have stood him in good stead. In fact, I would have been very surprised if he had done nothing on that submarine.’

Armed police, firemen, paramedics and the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance helicopter were sent to the dockside where the submarine had been berthed since Wednesday.

The vessel had been due to stay in the port for five days, on a public relations mission. Brian Cedar, who lives at the city’s marina, said: ‘I saw at least six people carry a stretcher off the gangway into a waiting ambulance.

‘If you can have a shooting like this on a nuclear submarine it is worrying.’

A 50-year-old dock worker said: ‘The whole place just filled with police and we thought it might be a nuclear incident.’

Senior Royal Navy officer, Captain Phil Buckley, who is in charge of nuclear submarines based at Faslane in Scotland, said last night: ‘The submarine is in an entirely normal and safe state. There is no nuclear incident taking place.’


A police boat, two vans, a police car and fire truck are seen rushing to the scene near HMS Astute after the shooting

A police boat, two vans, a police car and fire truck are seen rushing to the scene near HMS Astute after the shooting


An emergency services helicopter lands at the scene of the shooting near the submarine on Southampton docks, where one person has been confirmed dead

An emergency services helicopter lands at the scene of the shooting near the submarine on Southampton docks, where one person has been confirmed dead



The HMS Astute has faced embarrassing setbacks since being revealed as one of the UK’s newest and most powerful attack submarines.

The 97-m long vessel – the flagship of the Navy’s submarine fleet and ‘the stealthiest ever built in the UK’ – can carry up to 38 Spearfish heavy torpedoes and Tomahawk Land Attack Cruise missiles.

But the sub, which at 7,800 tonnes weighs the equivalent of 1,000 double decker buses, has been beset by problems since it was commissioned in August 2010.

Two months later it ran aground on a shingle bank in the Isle of Skye and had to be towed free after 10 hours.

Last December the £1.2 billion Astute suffered a mechanical failure during sea trials off the Scottish coast and was forced to limp back to its home port of Faslane.

The sub is the first of seven new nuclear-powered submarines of its class, with its nuclear reactors meaning it will not need refuelling in its entire 25-year life.

The vessel is faster underwater than it is on the surface and is capable of speeds of 20 knots – though its official top speed remains classified.

Hampshire Police spokesman Alan Smith said: ‘There were a number of naval personnel plus visitors on board at the time of the shooting.

‘What happened forms part of the investigation which is at a very early stage and everyone who was on board is a potential witness.

‘There were around 11 children aged 14 to 16 on the quayside when the incident occurred and they were aware of what happened but left soon after. They are being offered support if needed.’

HMS Astute had been scheduled to host visits from Sea Scouts and school and college pupils from Southampton and the New Forest.

Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox said: ‘I am greatly saddened to hear of this incident and of the death of a Royal Navy service person in this tragic incident.

‘It is right and proper that a full police investigation is carried out and allowed to take its course.

‘My thoughts and sympathies are with those who have been affected and their families.’

Astute hit the headlines when it ran aground on a shingle bank between the Scottish mainland and the Isle of Skye and remained marooned for several hours.

The embarrassing incident in October last year cost Commander Andy Coles his command of the submarine.

He was replaced by Commander Iain Breckenridge.

The silent giant


Crew members in the control room aboard the Royal Navy's newest and most advanced submarine, HMS Astute, in Southampton today where she has arrived for a five day visit to the city.

Crew members pictured in the control room aboard HMS Astute on the day she arrived in Southampton

A crew member climbs into a bunk

A crew member climbs into a bunk. The submarine arrived in Southampton on Wednesday, following 46 days at sea for the 98-strong crew

The galley aboard the Royal Navy's newest and most advanced submarine
Crew members pass in a narrow corridor aboard HMS Astute

The galley on the submarine and (right) a submariner edges along a narrow corridor on board the boat

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Fed Will Release Bank Loan Data as Top Court Rejects Appeal

Posted by Admin on April 10, 2011

West face of the United States Supreme Court b...

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By Greg Stohr and Bob Ivry – Mar 21, 2011 9:52 PM GMT+0530

The Federal Reserve will disclose details of emergency loans it made to banks in 2008, after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an industry appeal that aimed to shield the records from public view.

The justices today left intact a court order that gives the Fed five days to release the records, sought by Bloomberg News’s parent company, Bloomberg LP. The Clearing House Association LLC, a group of the nation’s largest commercial banks, had asked the Supreme Court to intervene.

“The board will fully comply with the court’s decision and is preparing to make the information available,” said David Skidmore, a spokesman for the Fed.

The order marks the first time a court has forced the Fed to reveal the names of banks that borrowed from its oldest lending program, the 98-year-old discount window. The disclosures, together with details of six bailout programs released by the central bank in December under a congressional mandate, would give taxpayers insight into the Fed’s unprecedented $3.5 trillion effort to stem the 2008 financial panic.

“I can’t recall that the Fed was ever sued and forced to release information” in its 98-year history, said Allan H. Meltzer, the author of three books on the U.S central bank and a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

Unprecedented Disclosure

Under the trial judge’s order, the Fed must reveal 231 pages of documents related to borrowers in April and May 2008, along with loan amounts. News Corp. (NWSA)’s Fox News is pressing a bid for 6,186 pages of similar information on loans made from August 2007 to November 2008.

The records were originally requested under the Freedom of Information Act, which allows citizens access to government papers, by the late Bloomberg News reporter Mark Pittman.

As a financial crisis developed in 2007, “The Federal Reserve forgot that it is the central bank for the people of the United States and not a private academy where decisions of great importance may be withheld from public scrutiny,” said Matthew Winkler, editor in chief of Bloomberg News. “The Fed must be accountable to Congress, especially in disclosing what it does with the people’s money.”

The Clearing House Association contended that Bloomberg is seeking an unprecedented disclosure that might dissuade banks from accepting emergency loans in the future.

Obama Administration

“We are disappointed that the court has declined our petitions, which deal with the protection of highly confidential bank information provided to the Federal Reserve,” the group said in a statement after the high court acted.

A federal trial judge ruled in 2009 that the Fed had to disclose the records in the Bloomberg case, and a New York-based appeals court upheld that ruling.

The Clearing House Association’s chances at getting a Supreme Court hearing suffered a setback when the Obama administration urged the justices not to hear the appeal. The government said the underlying issues had limited practical significance because Congress last year laid out new rules for disclosing Fed loans in the Dodd-Frank law.

“Congress has resolved the question of whether and when the type of information at issue in this case must be disclosed” in the future, the administration said in a brief filed by acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, President Barack Obama’s top Supreme Court lawyer.

Discount Window

The Fed had previously fought alongside the banks in opposing disclosure. It also sought to join the industry group in seeking high court review, only to be overruled by Katyal, according to court documents.

Justice Elena Kagan, formerly Obama’s top Supreme Court lawyer, didn’t take part in the court’s consideration of the appeal. Since joining the court last year, she has disqualified herself from cases in which she took part as a government lawyer.

Bloomberg initially requested similar information for aid recipients under three other Fed emergency programs. The central bank released details for those facilities and others in December, after Congress required disclosure through the Dodd- Frank law.

The legislation didn’t apply retroactively to the discount window lending program, which provides short-term funding to financial institutions. Discount window loans made after July 21, 2010, must be released following a two-year lag.

Clearing House Association

“Fortunately, Congress was well aware of the sensitivity of disclosing this information,” the Clearing House Association said in its statement. “As part of the Dodd-Frank Act, Congress adopted a specific rule to ensure that in the future this confidential information will not be disclosed prematurely to the detriment of our financial system.”

The New York-based Clearing House Association, which has processed payments among banks since 1853, includes Bank of America NA, Bank of New York Mellon, Citibank NA, Deutsche Bank Trust Co. Americas, HSBC Bank USA NA, JPMorgan Chase Bank NA, U.S. Bank NA and Wells Fargo Bank NA.

In trying to shield the documents from disclosure, the Clearing House invoked a FOIA exemption that covers “trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential.”

The cases are Clearing House Association v. Bloomberg, 10- 543, and Clearing House Association v. Fox News Network, 10-660.

To contact the reporters on this story: Greg Stohr in Washington at; Bob Ivry in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at; Gary Putka at

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No government shutdown, but what do we have instead?

Posted by Admin on April 10, 2011

So we have a deal and a government, and the eighth-graders visiting Washington (by tradition in the US, it’s in the eighth grade, or form as you call it, when students take their field trips to the capital) can go to the Smithsonian today. That’s all nice.

Also nice is that the offensive (and offensive it was) against Planned Parenthood failed, so at least we haven’t yet reached the point as a society that poor women must die of cervical cancer to satisfy the ideological itches of a few men, although fear not, we’re getting there.

But the $38 billion cut is the largest single-year cut in the history of the country, according to the president, who taped a three-minute video statement shortly after 11 pm Friday night, when the deal was announced by Speaker John Boehner.

It’ll be next week, I’d reckon, before we know exactly what was cut and by how much. As those details come out, an already disgruntled liberal base is just going to get angrier.

I understand what Obama is doing when he talks, as he does in the video, about the government needing to live within its means. I’m sure it polls well with independents, and as I’ve said many times, he needs to rebuild his standing among independents. We all get this.

But but but: to hear Obama kinda-sorta boasting about overseeing a domestic spending cut on a scale that even Ronald Reagan never managed leaves one wondering where and over what he might someday draw a line in the sand.

Last December, he signed George W. Bush’s tax cuts. Then he introduced his own budget, which include a five-year pay freeze for federal employees and cut funding for a couple of subsidy programs for poor and elderly people.

Finally, during this whole process, he never once that I can remember made a forceful public statement singling out a GOP cut as severe or unwise, never defended family planning initiatives, never pointed to one thing and said, this I will not brook.

Yes, I understand, liberals are outnumbered. I’m more understanding of that than most liberals I know, believe me. And Republicans have power now, and they’re extreme, and this is the way it’s going to be for a little while at least. But any skillful politician can find ways to communicate to the middle and his base simultaneously. He just has to want to.

Barack Obama US federal government shutdown US Congress Michael Tomasky Guardian News & Media Limited 2011


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Ivory Coast rebels 'kill hundreds'

Posted by Admin on April 10, 2011

Map of the communes of Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

Ivory Coast

Reports of mass murders and rapes in villages. Pro-government forces also accused of atrocities

Mass killings have been carried out by both sides of the conflict in Ivory Coast, according to the campaign group Human Rights Watch.

Their report documents a trail of death and destruction carried out by rebel forces who have swept through the country and are now fighting on the streets of Abidjan to secure the presidency for Alassane Ouattara.

As Ouattara, backed by the UN and the international community, edges closer to victory, the Guardian has uncovered evidence of atrocities committed by the forces acting in his name. Refugees who scrambled through the rainforest to safety in neighbouring Liberia have described children being burned alive during rebel attacks and bodies littering the streets.

HRW is calling for an investigation into massacres carried out by both the rebels and those loyal to the defiant president, Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to give up power after losing the presidential election in November.

Hundreds have been killed by forces loyal to Ouattara, according to HRW’s report. It found that summary executions of perceived Gbagbo supporters had taken place, and reported accounts of mass rape. Matt Wells, HRW’s Ivory Coast researcher, said: “In village after village, Ouattara’s forces terrorised civilians perceived as supporting Gbagbo, killing hundreds and raping dozens more. In committing to move Ivory Coast out of its longstanding crisis, Ouattara must ensure that the perpetrators of these heinous crimes are brought to justice.”

Pro-Gbagbo forces are also accused of having carried out atrocities, killing more than 100 presumed Ouattara supporters as rebels advanced.

The Guardian spent a week travelling in the border region between Ivory Coast and Liberia, hearing tales of savage attacks on civilians. It also encountered what is emerging as a recurrent aspect of the violence in Ivory Coast: the use of mercenaries from Liberia, believed to have been recruited by both sides in the conflict.

Crouching in the bushes along the banks of the river that separates Liberia from Ivory Coast, two young Liberian men in filthy clothes and flip-flops agreed to a recorded interview after a small payment was made. They described how they had just returned home from a nine-day operation with pro-Ouattara rebels, where they said they were told to kill “anyone and everyone”.

They described barbaric scenes in which they surrounded villages in the west of Ivory Coast and, armed with machetes, killed everyone they saw. “The town we entered first, most of the people were on the road. We killed them, just cutting them with our machetes,” they said.

One of the towns they claim to have attacked was Blolequin. UN investigators said yesterday they had found more than 100 bodies in Blolequin and surrounding towns. Some appeared to have been burned alive and others had been thrown into a well. The UN believes Liberian mercenaries may have been responsible.

Toul�pleu is another town the two mercenaries say they attacked, and where HRW has uncovered evidence of mass killings. One mercenary said: “There are so many bodies in Toul�pleu. A digger came from Danane to bury the bodies. There was no way for cars to go over there because of the bodies on the ground. It stank.”

Now in the safety of a transit camp in Liberia, refugees fleeing from Toul�pleu spoke of the horrors they witnessed there. They described how they grabbed family members and escaped from their homes in a hail of bullets. Whoever and whatever were left behind were burned.

Cradling his five children in the red dust outside the UNHCR tent that is now all he has, Kuide Pehe Ferdinand described the chaos when the attack began. “I had too many children to save when the rebels hit. We tried to pick them all up, but one of my baby girls is disabled and we had to leave her. When I went back, they had burned the house with my baby inside.”

The Audgines were also grieving for a loved one killed after the rebels set fire to their home. “I can’t even eat, I feel such sadness now,” said Rosaline, mother of nine, whose elderly father was burned alive. She said she could do nothing to help him, as he shouted to them from within the flames. She and her children are a few of the many people in the camp who have shaved their heads in a traditional gesture of mourning.

The International Red Cross recently reached Toul�pleu, and said it found a town almost completely razed to the ground.

HRW has documented the executions of elderly people who were unable to escape rebel attacks. It says they were held captive in their villages by the pro-Ouattara rebels, and has evidence that more than 30 were executed. One 67-year-old woman from the village of Dok� told HRW that pro-Ouattara fighters had taken several captives out each day – often men and women between 60 and 80 years old – and executed them at point-blank range.

The pro-Ouattara forces have denied killing civilians in their advance upon Abidjan, blaming any deaths on Gbagbo’s soldiers. Those standing guard at the border crossing with Ivory Coast near Toe Town, eastern Liberia, were in victorious mood when interviewed by the Guardian. In their smart camouflage gear and with AK47s slung around their necks, they swaggered up to the barrier across the bridge between the two countries.

“I pray for democracy in Ivory Coast and that the will of the people will be respected,” said “Angelou”, their commander, gripping his gun. As he talked, the sound of gunfire cracked from the forest behind him and his troops. “We don’t have problem with civilians. If you see someone’s died, it’s because he’s taken up a gun. If he’s taken up arms, he is not a civilian, he is my enemy.”

The conflict threatens to cause a wider humanitarian crisis in the region. More than a million people have been internally displaced within Ivory Coast, while more than 125,000 have crossed the border into Liberia, a country that itself has been devastated by 14 years of civil war. Many Liberian communities are sheltering refugees, but barely have enough food for themselves, and there are fears the crisis will destabilise Liberia’s fragile peace.

Ivory Coast Alassane Ouattara Laurent Gbagbo Rachel Stevenson Guardian News & Media Limited 2011


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Gaddafi envoy in Britain for secret talks

Posted by Admin on April 10, 2011

Exclusive: Contact with senior aide believed to be one of a number between Libyan officials and west amid signs regime may be looking for exit strategy All today’s developments in Libya Libyan fixer’s visit to London may show sons want way out Those who have defected – and those who still support Gaddafi

Colonel Gaddafi‘s regime has sent one of its most trusted envoys to London for confidential talks with British officials, the Guardian can reveal.

Mohammed Ismail, a senior aide to Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam, visited London in recent days, British government sources familiar with the meeting have confirmed. The contacts with Ismail are believed to have been one of a number between Libyan officials and the west in the last fortnight , amid signs that the regime may be looking for an exit strategy.

Disclosure of Ismail’s visit comes in the immediate aftermath of the defection to Britain of Moussa Koussa, Libya’s foreign minister and its former external intelligence head, who has been Britain’s main conduit to the Gaddafi regime since the early 1990s.

A team led by the British ambassador to Libya, Richard Northern, and MI6 officers embarked on a lengthy debriefing of Koussa at a safe house after he flew into Farnborough airport on Wednesday night from Tunisia. Government sources said the questioning would take time because Koussa’s state of mind was “delicate” after he left his family in Libya.

The Foreign Office has declined “to provide a running commentary” on contacts with Ismail or other regime officials. But news of the meeting comes amid mounting speculation that Gaddafi’s sons, foremost among them Saif al-Islam, Saadi and Mutassim, are anxious to talk. “There has been increasing evidence recently that the sons want a way out,” said a western diplomatic source.

Although he has little public profile in Libya or internationally, Ismail is recognised by diplomats as being a key fixer and representative for Saif al-Islam. According to cables published by WikiLeaks, Ismail represented Libya’s government in arms purchase negotiations and as an interlocutor on military and political issues.

“The message that was delivered to him is that Gaddafi has to go, and that there will be accountability for crimes committed at the international criminal court,” a Foreign Office spokesman told the Guardian , declining to elaborate on what else may have been discussed.

Some aides working for Gaddafi’s sons, however, have made it clear that it may be necessary to sideline their father and explore exit strategies to prevent the country descending into anarchy.

One idea the sons have reportedly suggested – which the Guardian has been unable to corroborate – is that Gaddafi give up real power. Mutassim, presently the country’s national security adviser, would become president of an interim national unity government which would include the opposition. It is an idea, however, unlikely to find support among the rebels or the international community who are demanding Gaddafi’s removal.

The revelation that contacts between Britain and a key Gaddafi loyalist had taken place came as David Cameron hailed the defection of Koussa as a sign the regime was crumbling. “It tells a compelling story of the desperation and the fear right at the very top of the crumbling and rotten Gaddafi regime,” he said.

Ministers regard Koussa’s move to abandon his family as a sign of the magnitude of his decision. “Moussa Koussa is very worried about his family,” one source said. “But he did this because he felt it was the best way of bringing down Gaddafi.”

Britain learned that Koussa wanted to defect when he made contact from Tunisia. He had made his way out of Libya in a convoy of cars after announcing he was going on a diplomatic mission to visit the new government in Tunis.

It was also reported that Ali Abdussalam Treki, a senior Libyan diplomat, declined to take up his appointment by Gaddafi as UN ambassador, condemning the “spilling of blood”. Officials were checking reports that Tarek Khalid Ibrahim, the deputy head of mission in London, is also defecting.

The prime minister insisted that no deal had been struck with Koussa and that he would not be offered immunity from prosecution. “Let me be clear, Moussa Koussa is not being granted immunity. There is no deal of that kind,” Cameron said. Within hours of his arrival in Britain, Scottish prosecutors asked to interview Koussa about the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. The Crown Office in Edinburgh has said that it is formally asking for its prosecutors and police detectives to question him.

But government sources indicated that Britain does not believe Koussa was involved. He was at the heart of Britain’s rapprochement with Libya, which started when Tripoli abandoned its support for the IRA in the early 1990s.

He was instrumental in persuading Gaddafi to abandon his weapons of mass destruction programme in 2003. One source said: “Nobody is saying this guy was a saint, because he was a key Gaddafi lieutenant who was kicked out of Britain in 1980 for making threats to kill Libyan dissidents. But this is the guy who persuaded Gaddafi to abandon his WMD programme. He no doubt has useful and interesting things to say about Lockerbie, but it doesn’t seem he said ‘go and do it’.”

However there is unease among Tories about Britain’s involvement in Libya. Underlining those concerns, Boris Johnson, the London mayor, told BBC Question Time that a continued stalemate in Libya could “have terrible consequences”. Johnson said; “I do worry that if we get into a stalemate; and if, frankly, the rebels don’t seem to be making the progress that we would like, we have to be brave, to say to ourselves that our policy is not working, and encourage the Arabs themselves to take leadership in all of this.”

William Hague, the foreign secretary, said he had a sense that Koussa was deeply unhappy with Gaddafi when they spoke last Friday. “One of the things I gathered between the lines in my telephone calls with him, although he of course had to read out the scripts of the regime, was that he was very distressed and dissatisfied by the situation there,” Hague said.

Libya Middle East Arab and Middle East unrest Muammar Gaddafi Foreign policy Peter Beaumont Nicholas Watt Severin Carrell Guardian News & Media Limited 2011


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US government shutdown averted

Posted by Admin on April 10, 2011

US government shutdown averted

Obama and Democrats forced to accept $39bn package of cuts while Republicans gave way on healthcare for women

A shutdown of the US federal government scheduled to begin on Saturday was averted after the Democrats and Republicans reached agreement only hours before midnight on budget spending cuts.

The shutdown would have triggered major disruptions across the country and could have set back the country’s fragile economic recovery. Hundreds of federal agencies would have closed down and about 800,000 federal staff faced suspension.

The deal came after days of negotiation between Obama and the Republican House Speaker, John Boehner, and the Democratic leader in the Senate Harry Reid. A deal had appeared to be tantalisingly close several times but was not finalised, until Friday night.

Boehner, an hour before midnight, told journalists in Congress: “I am pleased that Senator Reid and the White House have come to an agreement that will cut spending and keep government open.”

It would have been the first federal government shutdown since 1995-96 when there was a stand-off between the Republicans and the Clinton White House.

Barack Obama tore up his schedule for Friday, including the start of a family weekend break in Virginia, to concentrate on negotiations with Republicans. He had hoped to reach a compromise Friday morning but discussions dragged out throughout the day.

Obama portrayed the compromise as a tribute to US democracy as he said: “Tomorrow … the entire federal government will be open for business.”

Reid, like Obama, paid tribute to the Republicans in spite of the repeated clashes over the last week. “This has been a long process,” Reid said. “It has not been an easy process. Both sides have had to make tough choices.”

The Republicans forced the Democrats to agree to $39bn (£23bn) in spending cuts in this year’s budget to September, $6bn more than the Democrats were prepared to accept earlier this week. In return, the Republicans dropped a demand to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, an organisation providing healthcare for women. Republicans objected to the organisation’s links to abortion.

Boehner had as many problems in negotiations with his own Republican party as he did with the White House and Democratic members of the House. Many Republicans were elected in November with the support of the Tea Party movement who have demanded huge reductions in the federal deficit.

After reaching a deal with the White House and the Congressional Democrats, Boehner had to take the proposal to Congressional Republicans for final approval.

Boehner said Congress would pass a temporary spending measure to keep the government open until mid-way through next week. This would allow time for passage of the budget bill covering spending up until the end of the fiscal year in September.

The deal came after Obama spoke twice by phone Friday with Boehner.

The Republicans faced being blamed for the disruption if they had not reached a deal. But Obama could have suffered too, accused of weak leadership, unable to prevent a government shutdown.

About 800,000 federal employees would have been suspended without pay from Monday, more than a million troops at home and abroad would not have received pay, tax offices would have been disrupted and, in Washington DC, rubbish collection, parking control and other services would have ceased.

Pollution checks by the Environmental Protection Agency would have stopped across the US, as would monitoring of Wall Street transactions.

The White House, Congress, the Pentagon and hundreds of other bodies would have had to reduce staff.

The immediate impact of a shutdown would have been felt by tourists hoping to visit some of America’s most popular attractions, the 400 national parks, monuments and historic sites.

Queues grew at passport offices on Friday as tourists and people travelling for business or other reasons put in their applications afraid of a closedown.

The dispute offers a glimpse of bigger battles to come over the 2012 budget, in which Republicans are likely to seek much bigger cuts.

A Gallup poll published on Friday showed 58% of those surveyed favoured a compromise in this week’s row, with 33% backing the Republicans to hold out.

US federal government shutdown US politics Barack Obama John Boehner Republicans US Congress Democrats Obama administration United States US economy Ewen MacAskill Guardian News & Media Limited 2011


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Mexico City street gangs mimic cartel violence

Posted by Admin on April 10, 2011

By OLGA R. RODRIGUEZ | Posted: Sunday, April 3, 2011 1:06 pm

Two headless bodies are dumped on a street in suburban Mexico City along with a message sent by a mysterious group called “The Hand with Eyes.” Days later, a severed head shows up in a car abandoned outside an elementary school in the same suburb.

For drug lords, this sprawling metropolis of 20 million has been a favorite hide-out and place to launder money, making Mexico City somewhat of an oasis from the brutal cartel violence along the border and in outlying states.

Now a spate of killings and decapitations never before seen have authorities batting down fears that a once-distant drug war is making its way into the capital. Instead, they say, the violence since late last year comes from street gangs fighting for an increasingly lucrative local drug market.

While drug use in Mexico City doesn’t come close to that in the U.S., it has grown dramatically in the past decade. About 8 percent of middle and high school students here now experiment with drugs, said city drug addiction adviser Patricia Reyes, a number that has climbed from 2.5 percent in 1998 according to national surveys.

Some of the high-profile violence comes from groups that are remnants of the Beltran Leyva cartel, which has splintered and moved closer to the city since the Mexican navy killed leader Arturo Beltran Leyva in December 2009. Others imitate cartel tactics to gain turf.

“I think of these groups as cells, as franchises,” said Alfredo Castillo, attorney general for Mexico state, the suburban area surrounding Mexico City. “As franchises what do they want? They want the know-how, the business model, and in the end, they want their backing in case of an extraordinary problem.”

The mass killings started late last year, when a drive-by shooting in the rough neighborhood of Tepito killed six youths and a family of five was slain in a drug-related attack in the south of the city.

The violence intensified earlier this year as Juan Vasconcelos, a reputed local gang assassin, allegedly went on a cocaine- and alcohol-fueled killing spree that ended with his arrest in February.

The first attack left five people dead on Jan. 8. Another killed eight people Jan. 16 and the third left seven dead Feb. 13.

Police say Vasconcelos has ties in Mexico state to La Familia cartel, based in the neighboring state of Michoacan. While that alliance wasn’t fueling the violence _ Vasconcelos went after rival drug dealers and members of his own gang to consolidate his power _ it made it easier for him to get high-powered weapons.

When police asked in a taped interrogation what he did for a living, Vasconcelos replied, “I kill.”

Then mutilated bodies started showing up, unheard of in the metro area, leading the news media to blame big cartels, including the vicious Zetas gang, and saying the military now patrols parts of the metro area like it does in border cities and other drug hot spots.

The Mexican army denied to The Associated Press that it has patrols in or around Mexico City.

“What we have here is drug dealing, and I’ll say it again: Drug dealing is not considered organized crime,” Mexico City Attorney General Alejandro Mancera was quoted by the newspaper Milenio as saying earlier this month. Mancera did not respond to several requests to be interviewed by the AP.

Mexico City, which still struggles with robberies and high kidnapping rates, has long been considered infested with crime. But murders are dramatically lower in the capital than in northern Mexican cities, where drug violence has been raging for at least four years, and people who long feared the city are now moving there to escape drug violence elsewhere.

Mexico City’s homicide rate was about nine per 100,000 in 2010, lower even than many U.S. cities, including Washington, D.C., which had 22 per 100,000 last year, according to government statistics.

The northern border city of Ciudad Juarez had a staggering 230 per 100,000.

Because many of the country’s wealthy live in the capital, it has long been a neutral place for traffickers to do business undetected and live with their families behind tall gates. According to a recent federal police report, six of the major drug gangs operate in all 16 delegations of Mexico City proper.

While they leave each other alone, the police go after them. Capos have been picked up while jogging in exclusive neighborhoods and caches of weapons have been found in mansions.

At least four top members of the powerful Sinaloa and Juarez cartels have been arrested in Mexico City, including the son of Sinaloa cartel boss Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada and the son of the now deceased Amado Carrillo Fuentes, founder of the Juarez cartel.

La Familia, a newer cartel formed in 2006, began expanding into the suburbs from Michoacan as President Felipe Calderon launched a crackdown on the cartel in his home state. Now, they have a presence northeast of the capital, where they run drug, extortion and car theft operations, Castillo said.

Still, the major cartels tend to lay low. There is a strong police presence, with 90,000 officers assigned to the 16 boroughs, plus the Mexico state police patrolling areas surrounding the city. The capital is also where the army, navy, and federal police are based, something that may inhibit traffickers from launching the brazen attacks seen in other places.

“There is an enormous reactive force concentrated in Mexico City and because of that, drug traffickers have to maintain a low profile,” said Martin Barron, a crime expert at the National Institute of Criminal Justice, a government think tank.

But tensions and violence among local gangs have flared to new levels. So far the attacks are relatively few in number, but drug-related killings have increased from 135 in 2009 to 191 in 2010, according to the Mexican government.

One local gang in Mexico City, the Hand with Eyes, left the decapitated bodies of a man and a woman in the western suburb of Naucalpan in February, along with a note saying, “People of this plaza don’t seem to understand it has an owner.”

Days later, a car with a severed head on the dashboard and the rest of the body in the back seat was abandoned in the same area.

The new gang has been beheading local drug dealers who refuse to join its ranks, Castillo said.


Associated Press writer Gloria Perez in Mexico state contributed to this report.

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