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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 113000 times)
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« Reply #2880 on: Feb 10th, 2011, 09:29am »

New York Times

February 10, 2011
Egypt Foreign Minister Warns of Military Intervention
By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK, ANTHONY SHADID AND ALAN COWELL

CAIRO — As Egypt’s uprising entered its 17th day on Thursday, bolstered by strikes and protests among professional groups in Cairo and workers across the country, a senior official in President Hosni Mubarak’s embattled government was quoted as saying the army would “intervene to control the country” if it fell into chaos.

As tension built ahead of Friday’s planned mass protests, thousands of chanting lawyers in black robes and physicians in white laboratory coats marched into Tahrir Square — the epicenter of the uprising — to join the clamor for Mr. Mubarak’s ouster.

Engineers and journalists also headed for the square on Thursday as the numbers there began to swell once again into the thousands, with demonstrators mingling among the tents and graffiti-sprayed army tanks that have taken on an air of semipermanence.

The warning by Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit seemed to add a further ominous tone to earlier comments by newly appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman, who said the alternatives facing tens of thousands of demonstrators demanding Mr. Mubarak’s ouster were dialogue with the authorities or “a coup.”

Mr. Aboul Gheit told Al Arabiya television, “We have to preserve the Constitution, even if it is amended.”

“If chaos occurs, the armed forces will intervene to control the country, a step which would lead to a very dangerous situation,” he said on the broadcaster’s Web site, a day after he dismissed calls by Egyptian protesters and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to scrap the country’s emergency laws, which allow the authorities to detain people without charge.

Up until now, the military has pledged not to use force against the protesters who have occupied Cairo’s central Tahrir Square and whose tactics have broadened to the establishment of a fresh encampment outside the Egyptian Parliament. But a report released Thursday by Human Rights Watch cast doubt on the military’s impartiality.

“Since Jan. 31, Human Rights Watch has documented the arbitrary arrest by military police of at least 20 protesters who were leaving or heading to Tahrir Square,” the group said in a statement. “Most of these arrests occurred in the vicinity of the square or in other parts of Cairo from where protesters were taking supplies to the square.”

The group said it had also documented at least five cases of the torture of detainees at the hands of the military. A spokesman for the military denied the accusations.

The army has also deployed tanks and reinforcements across the city, setting up a narrow access point to the square that forces would-be protesters into single file after they stand in long lines to enter.

The apparently hardening official line — and the stubborn resistance of the protesters — coincided with a surge of strikes and worker protests affecting post offices, textile factories and even Al Ahram, the government’s flagship newspaper.

While the government turned up pressure on the opposition, there were continued signs of turmoil within its own ranks. State TV reported that the state prosecutor had opened a formal investigation of Ahmed Ezz, a widely hated former senior member of the ruling National Democratic Party and a confidant of the president’s son Gamal Mubarak, and two other former ministers.

Another N.D.P. official, Mamdouh Hosny, director of the Industry and Energy Committee in Parliament, announced he was resigning from the party, the Egyptian daily, Al Masry Al Youm, reported.

The presence of lawyers and other professionals joining the demonstrations seemed to broaden the participation in the uprising, reflecting the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has strong support among Egyptian lawyers and other professions..

Some of the protesters say they have been inspired by Wael Ghonim, a Google executive who has emerged as a prominent voice in a revolt galvanized in part by social networking sites. On Thursday, a Twitter feed in his name in English declared: “I promise every Egyptian that I will go back to my normal life & not be involved in any politics once Egyptians fulfill their dreams.”

But, in an interview on CNN, he was also quoted as saying he was “ready to die” for the opposition’s cause. “And I’m telling this to Omar Suleiman,” he said. “He’s going to watch this. You’re not going to stop us. Kidnap me, kidnap all my colleagues. Put us in jail. Kill us. Do whatever you want to do. We are getting back our country. You guys have been ruining this country for 30 years.”

The protests at Al Ahram by freelance reporters demanding better wages and more independence from the government snarled one of the state’s most powerful propaganda tools and seemed to change its tone: On Wednesday, the front page, which had sought for days to play down the protests, called recent attacks by pro-Mubarak protesters on Tahrir Square an “offense to the whole nation.”

And on Thursday, the newspaper’s online edition in English broke news of hotel closures in Sharm El-Sheikh, the heart of Egypt’s Red Sea tourism industry, which was badly hit when many visitors fled the country as the uprising broke out.

Outside Cairo’s main post office, about 100 people gathered to demand higher wages and more jobs as a series of stoppages percolated through the capital. “Everyone has begun demanding their rights,” said Ahmed Suleiman, 29, a part-time postal worker. “And it’s time for the government to meet them.” He spoke under a banner proclaiming: “Egyptian post office in solidarity with the youth of Tahrir Square.”

As the city braced for bigger protests that organizers are trying to muster for Friday — the Muslim holy day and the beginning of the weekend — the authorities appeared to have strung more razor wire around the state radio and television building towering over the Nile. The move seemed to reflect concern that protesters may try to move to new locations, expanding their presence.

On the diplomatic front, Mr. Aboul Gheit’s retort to Mr. Biden played into the complicated relationship between Mr. Mubarak’s government and the Obama administration, which had urged swift steps toward a political transition, then endorsed Mr. Mubarak’s remaining until the end of his term later this year. Since then, Mr. Biden has suggested that the United States still expects some immediate changes to be made.

On Wednesday, the White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, responded to the Egyptian government’s claims that such changes were premature, saying, “What you see happening on the streets of Cairo is not all that surprising when you see the lack of steps that their government has taken to meet their concerns.”

That attempt to put some distance between the United States and Mr. Mubarak, though, was unlikely to impress the protesters, who say that the Obama administration, by continuing to back the president, also ignores their concerns.

By nightfall on Wednesday, more than 1,000 protesters prepared to sleep outside the Parliament building for a second night, a symbolic move that showed the opposition’s growing confidence as the protesters expanded the scope of their activism beyond Tahrir Square.

Reports from around the country of vigorous and sometimes violent protests also suggested a movement regaining steam.

Security officials said that five people died and more than 100 were injured during protests on Tuesday in El Kharga, 375 miles south of Cairo. Protesters responded Wednesday by burning police stations and other government buildings. In Asyut, protesters blocked a railway line. Television images showed crowds gathering again in Alexandria, Egypt’s second-largest city.

more after the jump
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/11/world/middleeast/11egypt.html?_r=1&ref=world

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« Reply #2881 on: Feb 10th, 2011, 09:34am »

Telegraph

The world's smallest engraving by human hand has been completed on the edge of a razor blade.

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The Wilkinsons Sword blade is now available to buy, with a £47,500 price tag
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8:58AM GMT 10 Feb 2011

Graham Short etched the motto "Nothing is impossible" which measures just a tenth of a millimetre.

The letters are invisible to the naked eye, and can only be read with a medical microscope at 400 times magnification.

It took Mr Short, 64, around 150 attempts before he was able to complete it.

Engraving at such a level requires almost superhuman effort and dedication to remain completely still.

He was only able to work at night, when traffic vibrations are at a minimum, with his right arm bound to the arm of his chair with a luggage strap to minimise unwanted movement. He uses a stethoscope to monitor his heart, attempting a stroke of the letter only between beats, when his body is perfectly still. He swims 10,000 metres a day and can slow his heart rate to 30 beats a minute.

He worked from midnight to 5.30am most nights of the week, for seven months on his razor blade. On a good night he’d manage three minuscule letters.

The Wilkinson’s Sword blade is now available to buy, with a £47,500 price tag.

Mr Short, a copper and steel engraver by profession, makes the dies used to print the green portcullis on House of Commons headed paper and the letterheads for the royal residences - Sandringham, Balmoral and Windsor Castle.

He is, by his own admission, obsessed with miniature engravings.

He has perfected a technique of etching letters onto microscopic surfaces – including the tip of a screw, the head of a pin and the pointed end of a paperclip. Now he believes he can go no smaller.

“I honestly think this is as small as it’s possible to with the human hand,” said Mr Short. “Since I started engraving in the early 1960s, I’ve always wanted to engrave smaller than anyone else in the world. And now I think I’ve done it.

“It’s a matter of minute amounts of pressure. I admit I’ve become a bit obsessed by it, but I just can’t resist the idea of going smaller and smaller.

“When I finished the razor blade I was absolutely thrilled. I had been almost there so many times and then ruined it with one slip. This was probably the 150th blade, but I must admit I lost count.”

Mr Short, from Birmingham, says that many years of swimming – up to 10,000 metres a day, every day – have boosted his fitness levels and mean his heart rate is just 30 at rest.

He sits still for 90 minutes, breathing slowly before each microscopic engraving session to fully calm his body and then toils between midnight and 5am for five or six nights a week.

He works with a magnifying glass and says the relentless strain on his eyes is beginning to take its toll.

His first major microscopic achievement was engraving The Lord's Prayer, all 278 letters and of it, on the head of a gold pin. He says there are 1,841 separate engraved strokes, each of which must be perfect. He put the 35-word 2nd Amendment of the American Bill of Rights – which gives the right to bear arms – onto the firing pin indentation of a silver bullet.

He inscribed “Birmingham city of a thousand trades” on the tip of a brass screw.

And onto the pointed end of a standard paperclip he managed to fit Shakespeare’s “All the world’s a stage: And all the men and women merely players,” from As You Like It.

And for the World Cup he’s catalogued on a single football stud all the England goal scorers from Wilf Mannion in 1950 to Steven Gerrard.

“Compared to a razor blade that was easy, but there were still 36 names to fit in,” said Mr Short.

Engraving takes up many of his hours, but he says his second wife Luba is right behind him. “Nobody else is mad enough to do it, but she positively encourages me."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/8315313/Worlds-smallest-engraving-on-the-edge-of-a-razor-blade.html

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« Reply #2882 on: Feb 10th, 2011, 09:38am »

Wired Danger Room

Pentagon: Drones Can Stop the Next Darfur
By Spencer Ackerman
February 10, 2011 | 12:00 am
Categories: Drones

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When a Predator flies above a conflict-ridden area, it’s usually taking pictures of people doing very bad things. Sometimes, it’s about to use its missiles to kill someone. But Pentagon officials want to put the drones to work on a very different job — saving lives.

The new initiative aims to retask the military’s massive fleet of overhead-surveillance gear — drones, blimps, spy planes, satellites — to place watchful eyes on the perpetrators of mass atrocities. And that’s just the beginning. Jammers might stop the radio transmissions of aspiring genocidaires. Text and social media could alert the American forces about civilians at risk of being slaughtered.

Inside the Pentagon, the term Mass Atrocity Prevention and Response Operations, or MAPRO, is gathering momentum. That’s thanks to Rosa Brooks, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for rule of law and international humanitarian policy, who’s worked since the autumn to turn MAPRO into a basic military function. A big part of that effort is enlisting military tech to provide early warning about where mass murders or rapes are developing.

At its heart, the MAPRO initiative is about saving lives without putting U.S. troops in the middle of foreign quagmires. When mass atrocities happen, senior officials “end up saying, essentially, ‘Mr. President, we can either do nothing — except wring our hands and hope diplomacy alone will work — or else we can send in 30,000 troops,’” Brooks tells Danger Room. Most often, that keeps the United States on the sidelines of civilian bloodbaths. MAPRO gives presidents more options: detection, deterrence and even limited intervention — even though the technologies being considered for them are totally unproven at stopping massacres.

Indeed, MAPRO isn’t just about early warning. A drone that snaps pictures of trucks full of militia heading for a besieged village can also be a “powerful deterrent,” Brooks says, if their boss believes that someday, an international court might enter drone footage as evidence in a genocide trial.

That’s a big if. Not every mass killer cares about ending up in court, or about being watched — especially if he doesn’t think foreign armies will come to topple him. Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir, for instance, surely knew the United States had spy satellites overhead while his forces committed genocide in Darfur, But the slaughter continued. Since no one’s talking about launching missiles from Predators at genocidaires, will any killer really fear having them record full-motion video of his crimes?
But there are coercive things the military can do to stop a brewing genocide — even without sending troops into combat. Think jamming. “Arguably, had the U.S. or another international actor jammed Radio Libre des Mille Collines in Rwanda in 1994, it might have slowed the pace of the killing,” Brooks says, referring to the anti-Tutsi radio station that helped incite the Rwandan genocide.

Other techniques are less conventional. About two weeks ago, Brooks invited a group of think-tankers and techies to the Pentagon for a bull session on emergent technologies that could be put to use to help stop atrocities. “The cutting edge is in leveraging crowdsourced data and mining social networks,” says Sheldon Himmelfarb, a scholar with the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Text and social mapping tools like Ushahidi proved their worth in getting information to relief workers during the Haiti earthquake and Pakistan floods last year, to say nothing of Twitter and Facebook’s role in facilitating the current Mideast uprisings.

It won’t work everywhere, since not every potential atrocity situation occurs in places with good connectivity. And Brooks’ team isn’t entirely sure how to harness crowdsourcing for atrocity prevention. But she’s warming to the idea. “Just as you can get, through social media, a really good crowd-sourced map, really fast, for finding good hot dog stands in Mississippi, you can also potentially use crowd-sourcing and social media to map incidents of police abuse, mass grave sites, or hate radio broadcasts,” she says.

Now to enlist the military. Janine Davidson, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for planning, doubts that it’s such a difficult task: commanders have come a long way from the days when they viewed humanitarian assistance as a job for someone else, thanks in part to Iraq and Afghanistan’s counterinsurgency wars — COIN, in mil-speak. “Protecting populations are a huge part of the COIN problem set,” Davidson says, “and I think this is a sort of logical spin-off, intellectually.”

Getting the civilian bureaucracy on board may be more difficult. Preventing mass atrocities isn’t any one office or official’s specific responsibility, and no one’s exactly jumping up to take it on. Brooks’ goal is to have President Obama issue a document by mid-year that creates a clear set of authorities for handling an atrocity situation once early-detection tools perceive it to unfold.

“We want to be able to say, ‘Mr. President, DOD can offer a much wider range of options beyond sending in the Marines,” Brooks says. “Potentially every [military] asset has some atrocity prevention and response value, if you get creative about it.”

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/02/drones-vs-darfur/

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« Reply #2883 on: Feb 10th, 2011, 09:42am »

Reuters

BP claims process enters new, uncertain phase

Feb 10 (Reuters Legal) -

Kenneth Feinberg, the formerly freewheeling administrator of BP Plc's fund to compensate victims of last year's oil spill, could be forced to revamp dramatically how he handles claims now that the fund has come under the jurisdiction of a federal judge in New Orleans.

A ruling last week by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier that Feinberg stop telling potential claimants that he is "completely independent" of BP brings Feinberg and the fund -- created in the wake of the largest oil spill in U.S. history -- under judicial oversight for the first time.

Beyond the immediate directive about how the fund describes itself, Barbier's decision also opens the door for more changes to how the fund operates, according to experts in mass torts and legal ethics. Specifically, it could lead to the renegotiation or undoing of settled claims, ongoing court intervention in the fund's operations, and more claimants seeking legal representation.

"It's a significant assertion of oversight, if not control, of the claims process by the judge," said David Logan, dean of Roger Williams University School of Law in Bristol, Rhode Island. "There is now a question mark looming over the accuracy of the decisions made up to this point by the (fund) and over how it will work moving forward."

The unprecedented $20 billion Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) was set up after a meeting between BP and President Barack Obama last June. The White House said at the time that the claims process would be independent and Obama tapped Feinberg, who ran the 9/11 victims' compensation fund, to administer it. BP pays $850,000 a month to Feinberg's Washington, D.C., firm, Feinberg Rozen, for his services.

Feinberg, who has promoted his claims process as faster and less costly than litigation, has paid out more than 250,000 awards to individuals and businesses worth more than $3.36 billion. Of those, more than 86,000 claimants signed releases saying they will not sue BP or its partners. Until last week's ruling by Barbier, who is overseeing hundreds of spill-related lawsuits against BP, Feinberg did not answer to any court or government agency.

To be sure, some scholars and practitioners are downplaying the potential impact of Barbier's order and say the court is unlikely to intervene further in the fund's operations. In his ruling, Barbier called his own order a "narrowly focused remedy" that "will not unduly burden BP's, Mr. Feinberg's and the GCCF's ability to speak on their own behalf."

But several academics and plaintiffs' attorneys said that, based on Barbier's ruling, settlements already made with the fund could be reevaluated. A court could invalidate the agreements or allow them to be renegotiated if claimants can prove there was deception on the part of the fund, said Monroe Freedman, a professor at Hofstra University School of Law and contributor to the Legal Ethics Forum, a popular legal blog.

The court's opinion makes it clear that Feinberg acted "misleadingly, at best," by saying he was independent of BP, Freedman said. "As a result, tens of thousands of claimants who were effectively defrauded will have the opportunity to open the settlements they entered into." In an e-mail, BP said, "We do not believe that there is any basis to undo or challenge the settlements that have been concluded." Feinberg declined to comment.

Kevin Dean, an attorney with the plaintiffs' firm Motley Rice in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, said he has reached out to clients who had accepted settlements and given up the right to sue to inform them of the judge's ruling. He said his clients were forced to accept these settlements under financial duress and were not informed of their rights before they signed legal releases. If the court takes no further action in the next 30 to 60 days, Dean said he will confer again with his clients to explore their legal options. "My firm believes that clients were forced financially to take an ill-advised settlement, and that that's a violation of the Oil Pollution Act."

The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 requires the responsible party -- in this case, BP -- to set up a claims fund to compensate victims, but does not specify how the fund should resolve claims and makes no mention of claimants signing legal releases giving up the right to sue. Now that Barbier has brought the fund under his jurisdiction in the Eastern District of Louisiana, he could rule on whether the fund can ask claimants to sign away their legal rights. And he could appoint a special master to supervise the fund's oral and written communications, including release forms.

In addition, more claimants or would-be claimants could seek legal representation for their dealings with the fund. As of this week, fewer than 3 percent of those filing claims had their own lawyers. Plaintiffs' attorney Daniel Becnel, who heads a 21-lawyer firm based in Reserve, Louisiana, said his firm has taken on hundreds of new clients in the days following Barbier's ruling -- most of them looking for help bargaining with the claims fund.

Claimants now understand that the process is adversarial, according to Byron Stier, a professor of mass tort litigation at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles. "It's much more one of haggling and negotiation than of processing paperwork and tendering contracts," Stier said. "It's now clear that claimants need counsel to determine if the fund is the right path for them."

Barbier has asked plaintiffs and defense in the consolidated case against BP to submit briefs by February 11 on the claim fund's compliance with the Oil Pollution Act.

(Reporting by Moira Herbst of Reuters Legal; Editing by Eddie Evans and Eric Effron)

(This article first appeared on Westlaw News & Insight, www.westlawnews.com)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/10/us-oilspill-feinberg-idUSTRE71933X20110210

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« Reply #2884 on: Feb 10th, 2011, 09:45am »

MSNBC

BREAKING NEWS

Mubarak to step down

Egypt's VP to take control, sources tell NBC News

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/

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« Reply #2885 on: Feb 10th, 2011, 09:48am »

Hollywood Reporter

Stunt Woman Sustains Severe Head Trauma on 'Justified' Set
8:35 AM 2/10/2011
by Lindsay Powers

A stunt woman was taken to a hospital with severe head trauma after being hit by a vehicle on the set of Justified last week, TMZ.com reported Thursday.

The woman is currently in critical condition.

She was struck in a "low speed collision," and hit her head on concrete as she fell backwards on the set of the FX show.

According to TMZ.com: www.tmz.com
the L.A. County Fire Department was called to the scene and shut down production. They sent a report to Cal/OSHA, the government department that oversees occupational safety and health.

On Wednesday, production was suspended on NCIS after a security guard was killed in a freak accident.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/stunt-woman-sustains-severe-head-97969

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« Reply #2886 on: Feb 10th, 2011, 09:51am »

Defense News

Rolls-Royce Bows Out Of Contest To Re-Engine Indian Aircraft
By ANDREW CHUTER
Published: 10 Feb 2011 05:34

Rolls-Royce has pulled out of a contest to re-engine Indian Air Force Jaguar strike aircraft according to industry sources attending the Aero India show in Bangalore this week.

The British engine maker had decided not to respond after seeing the terms of a recently released request for proposals from the IAF, said the source.

Only two vendors received the proposal request, so Rolls-Royce's decision to exit the contest leaves the field open to Honeywell with its F-125 engine.

Rolls-Royce declined to comment directly on the claim, with a company spokesman at the show saying, "We discussed our position on the request for proposals with the Indian Air Force but can't reveal the contents of those discussions during the bid process."

Technical and commercial offers are due to be returned to the Indian Air Force at the end of this month to re-engine an aircraft that has become overweight and underpowered since its introduction in India in 1979.

Honeywell and Rolls-Royce have been going head-to-head on the Jaguar update for several years ahead of the request for proposals.

The deal is worth several hundred million dollars to the winner.

The U.S. company is offering the F-125 engine, while Rolls-Royce has been bidding an upgraded variant of the existing Adour power plant used on the Jaguar.

The F-125 is already used to power Taiwan's Indigenous Defense Fighter.

A clue to the reason behind the Rolls-Royce decision to withdraw may have come during the briefing Feb. 10 by Air Force Chief Marshal PV Naik and other senior officers.

The Jaguar request for proposals was for a new engine, not an upgrade of the existing power plant, said one of the air force officers.

Whatever the reason for the withdrawal, a quick look at the exhibition stands of the previously rival bidders told a story of its own: Honeywell's stand was dominated by the F-125 engine and a model of the Indian Jaguar, while the Rolls-Royce exhibit failed to find room for a single mention of the aircraft program.

http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=5671639&c=ASI&s=AIR

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« Reply #2887 on: Feb 10th, 2011, 12:24pm »




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« Reply #2888 on: Feb 10th, 2011, 1:01pm »

MSNBC

10 February 2011
Mubarak could leave with $2 billion
By Robert Windrem
NBC News investigative producer for special projects

If Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak is forced into exile, he is likely to have access to billions in assets. But if Egypt’s successor government tries to recover any of it, it will have a hard time, if history is any judge.

Estimates circulated inside the U.S. government, developed by various agencies, put Mubarak’s wealth at between $2 billion and $3 billion. How much of that total is outside of Egypt, and in what form, is uncertain. How much is recoverable is an even smaller fraction.

AP reported that some in Egypt believed Mubarak controlled $70 billion in assets, but U.S. officials dismissed that number as wildly exaggerated. They noted that Bill Gates, the richest man on the Forbes 400 list, is worth $53 billion.

Nick Peck, Head of Complex Investigations of Nardello & Co., worked in a similar position with Kroll Associates when that company was hired by Kuwait to track Saddam Hussein’s wealth. He’s also familiar as well with Kroll’s attempts to track, and recover, the wealth looted from the Philippines by the Marcos family.

“The initial numbers are often very overblown,” says Peck. “Often suspect in terms of how much the official has.”

Officials say historically most of the assets controlled by dictators remains within their home countries. Peck pointed to a stash of millions of dollars in cash and gold bars found hidden underground in Iraq following the war.

“Always concerned about their own security, they like to keep an amount liquid in their own country,” says Peck. “But if he’s planning long term, for a future outside the country, a dictator will think, ‘Let me stuff some in Swiss bank or a Panamanian nominee account.’”

Indeed, finding the hard currency or the gold bars at home is nowhere near as difficult as tracking paper and real assets overseas. Peck points out that the Marcos family invested heavily in midtown Manhattan real estate, while Saddam held tens of millions of dollars in public stock in European companies. The Shah of Iran used a family foundation to acquire a Fifth Avenue office building.

Proving ownership, says Peck, is difficult.

“If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s likely a duck, but that often doesn’t meet the legal threshold to seize that asset,” he notes. “It’s a tough battle to prove it. There are nominee accounts," accounts in another person's name, "but no bank savings book. What you’ll almost never find is a deposed leader’s name linked to accounts.”

more after the jump
http://openchannel.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/02/10/6025656-mubarak-could-leave-with-2-billion

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« Reply #2889 on: Feb 10th, 2011, 3:02pm »



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« Reply #2890 on: Feb 10th, 2011, 3:57pm »

CBS News

February 10, 2011

Reputed Mobster-Turned-Rancher Nabbed in Idaho

FBI Says Mobster Enrico Ponzo Vanished in 1994
after a Botched Attempt to Kill His Boss, Started Raising Cattle


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This 1994 photo provided by the
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AP) MARSING, Idaho - For more than a decade, the vast farm fields of rural southwestern Idaho provided Enrico Ponzo the isolation he needed to hide from his past as a former New England mobster accused of trying to whack his boss.

He introduced himself to his neighbors as Jeffrey Shaw, a man who went by the nickname "Jay." He paid for everything in cash. He bought his house in his girlfriend's name.

But his past proved a stubborn companion.

Ponzo couldn't hide his vaguely New York accent. He couldn't keep his stories straight. He couldn't hide his expertise with a gun during a trip to the local shooting range. And in a community where Ponzo was surrounded by wide open ranch land, his neighbors could tell he didn't know anything about farming.

The past Ponzo tried to bury finally came calling this week, when federal agents arrived at a subdivision in Marsing and shattered the life he had so carefully crafted.

In a federal courtroom Wednesday, Ponzo pulled the mask off Jeffrey Shaw.

"My name is Enrico M. Ponzo," he said, wearing a yellow jumpsuit with his hands cuffed behind his back.

After the judge read a long list of charges against him, Ponzo pleaded not guilty. He was appointed a public defender and ordered him held without bail until another hearing Friday.

Meanwhile, a tiny farming and ranching community about 40 miles west of Boise was left to wonder how all of them got duped, and for so long. His neighbors reached back as far as they could into their memories, scouring for signs of an elaborate ruse. Some found vindication.

"We always felt that something was a little strange," said Sharie Kinney, a neighbor.

To them, he was Jay Shaw, who worked as a graphic designer from home and was known for fixing computers. He raised about a dozen cows and lived in a light green two-story home on a hilltop with his girlfriend, who moved out of the house several months ago with their two small children.

To the FBI, he was a New England mobster who vanished in 1994 after a botched attempt to kill his boss.

Cara Lyn Pace is now living with her parents in Utah.

Ponzo now faces charges from a 1997 indictment accusing him and 14 others of racketeering, attempted murder and conspiracy to kill rivals. He is also charged in the 1989 attempted murder of Frank Salemme. Known as "Cadillac Frank," Salemme is the ex-head of the Patriarca Family of La Cosa Nostra.

Authorities declined to say how the FBI discovered him. During his arrest Monday, agents seized 38 firearms, $15,000 and a 100-ounce bar of either gold or silver from the home.

Neighbors say Ponzo moved into the community, which sits at the base of the Owyhee Mountains in southwestern Idaho, about 10 or 11 years ago. He told some he was from New York, and to their ears, he had the accent to prove it. But he told others that he was from New Jersey.

Bodie Clapier, a rancher who lived next door, remembers Ponzo said his parents were killed when he was young, and that he had no other family.

"My dad just said, one time (Ponzo) was telling him, `Yeah, I was in the military and 15 of us got blown up and I was the only one that survived,"' Clapier said. "Well, isn't it weird that the number of people that were indicted was 15? ... Isn't that kind of bizarre?"

Some details that once seemed strange now fit together like a puzzle.

"Every time I talked about a gun he'd say `I've got one of those,"' said Clapier, who went out with Ponzo to shoot guns on a hot September day last year.

Clapier and his son came away impressed.

"After we got in the truck and were leaving, (his son) said: "Man, that guy knows how to handle a gun," Clapier said. "When he go up to shoot it was just: Boom! Boom! Boom!."

Other details now seem chilling.

"We got in a big argument one time about something. I kind of told him `You know what Jay, just get out of my face. I don't want to talk to you.' But then he came right back the next day smiling and said: `It's ok,"' Clapier said. "I feel like I dodged a bullet. Literally."

Ponzo was arrested at the entrance of the subdivision, where he served on the board that regulates the water supply. Federal agents took him into custody on Monday afternoon, just as children were coming off the school bus, neighbors said. Ponzo later called from the Ada County Jail in Boise, Clapier said.

"He said `I've been arrested, it's all a bunch of bulls---, but I'm going to be in here for a long time. Would you please feed my cows?'"

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/02/10/national/main20031304.shtml?tag=strip

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« Reply #2891 on: Feb 10th, 2011, 4:05pm »



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« Reply #2892 on: Feb 10th, 2011, 6:05pm »

New York Times


Mubarak Refuses to Step Down

By ANTHONY SHADID AND DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK
February 10, 2011

CAIRO — President Hosni Mubarak told the Egyptian people Thursday that he would delegate authority to his vice president, Omar Suleiman, but that he would not resign, enraging hundreds of thousands gathered to hail his departure and setting the stage for what protesters promised would be the largest demonstrations since the uprising began last month.

The declaration by Mr. Mubarak that he would remain president marked another pivotal turn in the largest popular revolt in Egypt’s history, and some protesters warned that weeks of peaceful protests might give way to violence as early as Friday’s demonstrations. The 17-minute speech itself underlined the yawning gap between ruler and ruled in Egypt: Mr. Mubarak, in paternalistic tones, talked specifics of constitutional reform, while sprawling crowds in Tahrir Square, in a mix of bewilderment and anger, demanded he step down.

“It’s not about Hosni Mubarak,” he said.

After the speech, the mood in Tahrir Square, celebratory throughout the day, suddenly turned grim, as angry protesters waved their shoes in defiance — considered a deeply insulting gesture in the Arab world — and began chanting “Leave! Leave!”

Mohamed ElBaradei, the opposition leader and Nobel laureate, called for the military to intervene to avoid an outbreak of violence. “Egypt will explode,” he wrote on his Twitter account. “Army must save the country now.”

Mr. Mubarak spoke after a tumultuous day in which the newly appointed head of his ruling party said the president had agreed to step down, and the military issued a communiqué in which it said it was intervening to safeguard the country, language some protesters and opposition leaders read as word of a possible coup d’état.

Instead, Mr. Mubarak, an 82-year-old former general, struck a defiant, even provocative note. While he acknowledged that his government had made some mistakes, he made clear he was still president and that reforms in Egypt would proceed under his government’s supervision and according to a timetable leading to elections in September.

He echoed the contention of his officials in past days that foreigners might be behind an uprising that has marked the most sweeping popular protests in the modern Middle East. “We will not accept or listen to any foreign interventions or dictations,” he said.

Even as he spoke, angry chants were shouted from the sprawling crowds in Tahrir Square, many of whom had gathered in anticipation of his resignation and were instead confronted with a plea from Mr. Mubarak to endorse his vision of gradual reform.

“Mubarak didn’t believe us until now, but we will make him believe tomorrow,” said Ashraf Osman, a 49-year-old accountant.

The president’s statement marked the latest twist and turn in a raucous uprising. Earlier in the day, the Egyptian military appeared poised to assert itself as the leading force in the country’s politics, declaring on state television that it would take measures “to maintain the homeland and the achievements and the aspirations of the great people of Egypt” and meet the demands of the protesters who have insisted on ending Mr. Mubarak’s 30-year rule.

Several government officials said during the day that Mr. Mubarak was expected to announce his own resignation and pass authority to Mr. Suleiman. Even President Obama seemed to believe Mr. Mubarak would go further than he did. In a speech in Michigan before Mr. Mubarak’s address, he said Egypt was “witnessing history unfold.”

The new leader of the ruling National Democratic Party, Hossam Badrawy, said he was sure the president would step down.

“I know it is difficult for him,” he said. But he added, “I think I convinced him to do that as soon as possible.”

Earlier in the day, the military’s chief of staff, Sami Anan, made an appearance in Tahrir Square, where he pledged to safeguard the people’s demands and their security. Thousands of protesters roared in approval, but they also chanted “Civilian! Civilian!”

Gen. Hassan al-Roueini, military commander for the Cairo area, also appeared in Tahrir Square and told the demonstrators, “All your demands will be met today.” Some in the crowd held up their hands in V-for-victory signs, shouting, “The people want the end of the regime” and “Allahu akbar,” or “God is great,” a victory cry used by secular and religious people alike.

Officials in Mr. Mubarak’s government had been warning for several days that protesters faced a choice between negotiating in earnest with the government on constitutional changes or having the military step in to guard against a descent into political chaos. Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit seemed to add a further ominous tone to those comments on Thursday, telling Al Arabiya television, “If chaos occurs, the armed forces will intervene to control the country, a step which would lead to a very dangerous situation.”

But if those words were meant to intimidate the protesters, they were ill-conceived. For weeks, the protesters have hoped the military would intervene on their side, even though it remained unclear whether the military would support democratic reforms that would threaten its status as the most powerful single institution in the country.

For much of its modern history, the military has played a powerful but behind-the-scenes role, reflecting its confidence that any government would protect its stature. Across the political spectrum, many wondered whether that posture had shifted after the military’s announcement.

“We’re excited and nervous,” said Ahmed Sleem, an organizer with an opposition group led by Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel laureate. “If Mubarak and Suleiman leave, it would be a great thing. A six-month deadline for elections would be suitable.”

Asked about the possibility of a military takeover, he said he was not afraid. “We know how to force them to step down. We know the way to Tahrir Square.”

The overlapping statements by the military and civil authorities seemed to indicate a degree of confusion — or competing claims — about what kind of shift was underway, raising the possibility that competing forces did not necessarily see the power transfer the same way.


Reporting was contributed by Kareem Fahim, Liam Stack, Mona El-Naggar and Thanassis Cambanis from Cairo and Sheryl Stolberg from Marquette, Mich.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/11/world/middleeast/11egypt.html?_r=1&hp

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« Reply #2893 on: Feb 10th, 2011, 6:09pm »



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« Reply #2894 on: Feb 11th, 2011, 08:32am »

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