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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 112981 times)
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« Reply #4920 on: Sep 2nd, 2011, 09:07am »

New York Times

September 1, 2011
U.S. Is Set to Sue a Dozen Big Banks Over Mortgages
By NELSON D. SCHWARTZ

The federal agency that oversees the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is set to file suits against more than a dozen big banks, accusing them of misrepresenting the quality of mortgage securities they assembled and sold at the height of the housing bubble, and seeking billions of dollars in compensation.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency suits, which are expected to be filed in the coming days in federal court, are aimed at Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank, among others, according to three individuals briefed on the matter.

The suits stem from subpoenas the finance agency issued to banks a year ago. If the case is not filed Friday, they said, it will come Tuesday, shortly before a deadline expires for the housing agency to file claims.

The suits will argue the banks, which assembled the mortgages and marketed them as securities to investors, failed to perform the due diligence required under securities law and missed evidence that borrowers’ incomes were inflated or falsified. When many borrowers were unable to pay their mortgages, the securities backed by the mortgages quickly lost value.

Fannie and Freddie lost more than $30 billion, in part as a result of the deals, losses that were borne mostly by taxpayers.

In July, the agency filed suit against UBS, another major mortgage securitizer, seeking to recover at least $900 million, and the individuals with knowledge of the case said the new litigation would be similar in scope.

Private holders of mortgage securities are already trying to force the big banks to buy back tens of billions in soured mortgage-backed bonds, but this federal effort is a new chapter in a huge legal fight that has alarmed investors in bank shares. In this case, rather than demanding that the banks buy back the original loans, the finance agency is seeking reimbursement for losses on the securities held by Fannie and Freddie.

The impending litigation underscores how almost exactly three years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the beginning of a financial crisis caused in large part by subprime lending, the legal fallout is mounting.

Besides the angry investors, 50 state attorneys general are in the final stages of negotiating a settlement to address abuses by the largest mortgage servicers, including Bank of America, JPMorgan and Citigroup. The attorneys general, as well as federal officials, are pressing the banks to pay at least $20 billion in that case, with much of the money earmarked to reduce mortgages of homeowners facing foreclosure.

And last month, the insurance giant American International Group filed a $10 billion suit against Bank of America, accusing the bank and its Countrywide Financial and Merrill Lynch units of misrepresenting the quality of mortgages that backed the securities A.I.G. bought.

Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan all declined to comment. Frank Kelly, a spokesman for Deutsche Bank, said, “We can’t comment on a suit that we haven’t seen and hasn’t been filed yet.”

But privately, financial service industry executives argue that the losses on the mortgage-backed securities were caused by a broader downturn in the economy and the housing market, not by how the mortgages were originated or packaged into securities. In addition, they contend that investors like A.I.G. as well as Fannie and Freddie were sophisticated and knew the securities were not without risk.

Investors fear that if banks are forced to pay out billions of dollars for mortgages that later defaulted, it could sap earnings for years and contribute to further losses across the financial services industry, which has only recently regained its footing.

Bank officials also counter that further legal attacks on them will only delay the recovery in the housing market, which remains moribund, hurting the broader economy. Other experts warned that a series of adverse settlements costing the banks billions raises other risks, even if suits have legal merit.

The housing finance agency was created in 2008 and assigned to oversee the hemorrhaging government-backed mortgage companies, a process known as conservatorship.

“While I believe that F.H.F.A. is acting responsibly in its role as conservator, I am afraid that we risk pushing these guys off of a cliff and we’re going to have to bail out the banks again,” said Tim Rood, who worked at Fannie Mae until 2006 and is now a partner at the Collingwood Group, which advises banks and servicers on housing-related issues.

The suits are being filed now because regulators are concerned that it will be much harder to make claims after a three-year statute of limitations expires on Wednesday, the third anniversary of the federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

While the banks put together tens of billions of dollars in mortgage securities backed by risky loans, the Federal Housing Finance Agency is not seeking the total amount in compensation because some of the mortgages are still good and the investments still carry some value. In the UBS suit, the agency said it owned $4.5 billion worth of mortgages, with losses totaling $900 million. Negotiations between the agency and UBS have yielded little progress.

The two mortgage giants acquired the securities in the years before the housing market collapsed as they expanded rapidly and looked for new investments that were seemingly safe. At issue in this case are so-called private-label securities that were backed by subprime and other risky loans but were rated as safe AAA investments by the ratings agencies.

In the years before 2007, “the market was so frothy then it was hard to find good quality loans to securitize and hold in your portfolio,” said David Felt, a lawyer who served as deputy general counsel of the finance agency until January 2010. “Fannie and Freddie thought they were taking AAA tranches, and like so many investors, they were surprised when they didn’t turn out to be such quality investments."

Fannie and Freddie had other reasons to buy the securities, Mr. Rood added. For starters, they carried higher yields at a time when the two mortgage giants could buy them using money borrowed at rock-bottom rates, thanks to the implicit federal guarantee they enjoyed.

In addition, by law Fannie and Freddie were required to back loans to low-to-moderate income and minority borrowers, and the private-label securities were counted toward those goals.

“Competitive pressures and onerous housing goals compelled them to operate more like hedge funds than government-sponsored guarantors, ” Mr. Rood said.

In fact, Freddie was warned by regulators in 2006 that its purchases of subprime securities had outpaced its risk management abilities, but the company continued to load up on debt that ultimately soured.

As of June 30, Freddie Mac holds more than $80 billion in mortgage securities backed by more shaky home loans like subprime mortgages, Option ARM and Alt-A loans. Freddie estimates its total gross losses stand at roughly $19 billion. Fannie Mae holds $38 billion of securities backed by Alt-A and subprime loans, with losses standing at nearly $14 billion.


http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/02/business/us-is-set-to-sue-dozen-big-banks-over-mortgages.html?_r=1&hp

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« Reply #4921 on: Sep 2nd, 2011, 09:10am »

Reuters

Exclusive: China curbs Iran energy work

By Chen Aizhu and Chris Buckley
BEIJING | Fri Sep 2, 2011 9:17am EDT

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has put the brakes on oil and gas investments in Iran, drawing ire from Tehran over a pullback that officials and executives said reflected Beijing's efforts to appease Washington and avoid U.S. sanctions on its big energy firms.

The stakes are high for OPEC's second-largest producer, as China is one of the only powers on the international political stage capable of providing the billions of dollars of investment Tehran needs to maintain the capacity of its strategic oil sector.

Four energy executives in Beijing described retreats and slowdowns of Chinese ventures in Iran in recent months, even as China has bought more crude from its Middle East partner, which leans on Beijing for backing and investment to counter sanctions over its disputed nuclear plans.

The slowing of China's energy investments in Iran was prompted, at least partly, by Beijing's efforts since late 2010 to ease tension with the Obama administration and cut the risk of Chinese oil firms being hit by U.S. sanctions that Congress has vigorously backed, said officials.

President Barack Obama and key members of his cabinet have pressed Beijing to do more to help rein in Iran's nuclear activities, and Vice President Joe Biden raised the issue during his recent visit to China, White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told Reuters.

Obama, Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "all have stressed the need for continued Chinese restraint in investing in Iran's energy sector, by slowing down existing activities and by not concluding any new deals," said Hayden.

U.S. officials have literally come knocking at the doors of Chinese energy executives, one of the executives said.

"The Chinese are quietly taking credit with U.S. officials for being cooperative" on Iran, a senior U.S. Congressional aide who closely follows U.S.-China relations told Reuters.

"I really date it back to mid-to-late 2010, when they began to signal to us very clearly: 'We can't say it publicly, but you will notice that we're not proceeding with these new contracts,'" said the aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of diplomacy with China.

Tehran has noticed and has warned Chinese firms they need to make progress on energy projects. U.S. pressure appears to have compounded commercial tension over the terms of Chinese energy investments in Iran, and those strains have grown this year.

There are no signs China will risk rupturing its relationship with Tehran, but ties could become testier and harder to manage.

Beijing has worked to ensure United Nations sanctions on Iran do not imperil its energy investments and oil and gas purchases. But unilateral U.S. sanctions could be invoked to punish Chinese firms with operations in the United States for their work in Iran. The Obama administration has avoided taking that step, mindful that such a move is likely to anger Beijing.

Western powers believe Iran is using its nuclear program as a means to build weapons. Tehran says it needs nuclear-generated electricity.

DOUBLE WARNING FOR CNPC

Since June, CNPC, China's biggest state oil and gas group, was twice warned by its Iranian counterpart to speed up work at the giant South Pars natural gas field or risk losing the multi-billion-dollar deal, Iranian media have reported.

CNPC has delayed drilling exploration wells since it signed a $4.7 billion deal to develop phase 11 of South Pars in 2010.

The warnings to CNPC came after China's third largest energy firm CNOOC pulled its team from Iran's North Pars gas venture, two Chinese executives said. In late 2010, CNOOC was told by the Chinese government to stop work at the project, one said. The Chinese industry officials all spoke on condition of anonymity.

Company spokesmen declined to answer Iran-related questions.

China's second-largest oil and gas firm Sinopec Group, which Beijing-based oil sources said has done more work on the ground than the other two, has delayed the start date of the $2 billion Yadavaran oil development.

Those moves could also reflect Chinese unhappiness with business hardships in Iran. International oil firms have long seen the terms of Iran's contracts as unattractive. One Chinese executive described the Iranians as "tough negotiators."

But observers said an understanding between Washington and Beijing encouraged Chinese firms to slow down the Iran projects, reinforcing commercial reasons for doing so.

"My understanding is that there was a tacit agreement reached between the two countries, so that Chinese companies active in Iran would not undertake new investments -- specifically, they would not backfill -- and in return the U.S. would not sanction them for prior investments," said Erica Downs, a Brookings Institution expert on Chinese energy companies. Backfilling refers to firms jumping in to take over projects abandoned by rivals.

Chinese companies apparently hope they can keep their presence in Iran at "Goldilocks" temperature: neither too cold to risk a break, nor so warm as to risk sanctions from Washington, where Congress last year pushed through tougher potential penalties on companies that do business with Iran.

Downs, a former energy analyst for the CIA, said Chinese firms were playing for the longer term, biding time so they could be among those first in line when Iran opened back up.

KNOCK KNOCK, SANCTIONS MAN CALLING

Iran's other big Asian customers have cut back oil imports or are in payment disputes with Tehran. But China's slowdown in investment and work at Iran's fields have not been accompanied by any slowdown in the flow of crude.

Instead, it has bought more. The volume of imports in the first seven months of 2011 rose almost half on the year. At nearly 560,000 barrels per day, the flow was about a quarter of Iran's crude exports and is worth some $20 billion a year.

China refining giant Sinopec has lined up a new import deal for 90,000 barrels per day of condensate, a super light crude oil, this year, boosting China's Iranian oil buys to new peaks.

The Obama administration has probably not explicitly raised the threat of using unilateral sanctions against Chinese firms working on Iran's oil and gas fields, said the Congressional aide. The implied risk could well have encouraged Beijing to be more accommodating to U.S. pressure on Iran, he said.

U.S. officials have taken their case directly to Chinese oil companies, going beyond the usual channel of dealing with China's foreign ministry, said a senior Chinese oil executive and a Beijing-based researcher, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"He flew twice from Washington to talk to me in my Beijing office," the executive said of a U.S. sanctions official he met. "Whatever we do in Iran, the Americans were watching."

U.S. officials lobbying Chinese firms included Robert Einhorn, State Department special adviser for non-proliferation and arms control who helps steer policy over the Iran nuclear dispute, the researcher said.

"China places a high priority on energy security," Einhorn told a seminar held by the Arms Control Association in Washington D.C. in March, according to a transcript on its website (www.armscontrol.org).

"But we believe, for whatever reasons, they have exercised voluntary restraint. They've adopted what we call a 'go-slow' approach," Einhorn said of Chinese energy investments in Iran.

Chinese oil companies have felt direct pressure from their own government, which has sought to steady ties with Washington after a chain of disputes in the first half of 2010 over Internet policy, Taiwan, Tibet and other regional issues.

Until later in 2010, Beijing shunned U.S. requests to rein in energy investment in Iran, said the congressional aide. But that changed, echoing a broader Chinese effort to douse down tensions with Washington. "They have essentially put out the word, 'Hold off'," he said.

"The thing that I can tell you for certain is that the Chinese are taking credit for their restraint," he said.

Many U.S. lawmakers believe Beijing has not done enough to curtail ties with Iran. New legislation could increase pressure on the Obama administration to punish Chinese energy firms, said Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington D.C.-based institute that favors stronger sanctions against Iran.

Moving into an election year, he said, "the administration will not want to be seen to be weak on this issue."

(Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed and Jeff Mason in WASHINGTON; Editing by Brian Rhoads)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/02/us-china-iran-usa-idUSTRE78112K20110902

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« Reply #4922 on: Sep 2nd, 2011, 09:10am »

back in a bit
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« Reply #4923 on: Sep 2nd, 2011, 11:46am »

The Wrap

Rupert Murdoch Nets $12.5M Bonus, Son James Gets $6M

Published: September 02, 2011 @ 8:27 am
By Lucas Shaw

After speculation about how large a bonus News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch would receive while his company is besieged by scandal, it turns out the real number is $12.5 million. For those keeping score at home, his total payday will be $33 million, 47 percent more than last year.

Murdoch’s son James, chairman and CEO of News Corp. Europe & Asia, received a $6 million bonus for a total of $18 million – 74 percent more than last year.

Both bonus figures are likely to cause some consternation given the phone hacking scandal that has dominated all News Corp.-related discussion for two months.

James’ bonus may be particuarly galling to some given that he oversees News International, the British publishing division that ran the News of the World, the defunct tabloid that conducted phone hacking and is suspected of having bribed public officials.

That may help explain why both this release and the announcement of changes to the News Corp. board were timed for the Friday before Labor Day weekend, when no one in the United States is paying much attention.

Still, neither Murdoch has been directly linked to performing or having any knowledge of wrongdoing in this matter. James is the Murdoch with his feet to the fire at the moment, as questions have emerged as to whether he misled the UK Parliament in his testimony.

The bonuses of other prominent News Corp. figures were also announced with COO Chase Carey netting $10 million, for an overall take of $30 million -- a smaller bonus than last year but greater overall compensation.

Fox News honcho Roger Ailes earned a $1.5 million bonus for a total of $15.5 million.

http://www.thewrap.com/media/column-post/rupert-murdoch-nets-125m-bonus-son-james-gets-6m-30670

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« Reply #4924 on: Sep 2nd, 2011, 11:50am »

Star Wars Remix

Posted by Scott Walker
Friday, September 2, 2011
Darth Lamp

Kurt Marquart (no stranger to DIY projects) remixed quite a few everyday items into a cool rendition of Vader.


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http://starwarsremix.blogspot.com/

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« Reply #4925 on: Sep 2nd, 2011, 12:45pm »

Hi Crystal

All that money won't buy them a better bed if they end up in the slammer. Alan Bond was a millionaire and ended up in the slammer.

Luvey

on Sep 2nd, 2011, 11:46am, WingsofCrystal wrote:
The Wrap

Rupert Murdoch Nets $12.5M Bonus, Son James Gets $6M

Published: September 02, 2011 @ 8:27 am
By Lucas Shaw

After speculation about how large a bonus News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch would receive while his company is besieged by scandal, it turns out the real number is $12.5 million. For those keeping score at home, his total payday will be $33 million, 47 percent more than last year.

Murdoch’s son James, chairman and CEO of News Corp. Europe & Asia, received a $6 million bonus for a total of $18 million – 74 percent more than last year.

Both bonus figures are likely to cause some consternation given the phone hacking scandal that has dominated all News Corp.-related discussion for two months.

James’ bonus may be particuarly galling to some given that he oversees News International, the British publishing division that ran the News of the World, the defunct tabloid that conducted phone hacking and is suspected of having bribed public officials.

That may help explain why both this release and the announcement of changes to the News Corp. board were timed for the Friday before Labor Day weekend, when no one in the United States is paying much attention.

Still, neither Murdoch has been directly linked to performing or having any knowledge of wrongdoing in this matter. James is the Murdoch with his feet to the fire at the moment, as questions have emerged as to whether he misled the UK Parliament in his testimony.

The bonuses of other prominent News Corp. figures were also announced with COO Chase Carey netting $10 million, for an overall take of $30 million -- a smaller bonus than last year but greater overall compensation.

Fox News honcho Roger Ailes earned a $1.5 million bonus for a total of $15.5 million.

http://www.thewrap.com/media/column-post/rupert-murdoch-nets-125m-bonus-son-james-gets-6m-30670

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« Reply #4926 on: Sep 2nd, 2011, 3:46pm »

on Sep 2nd, 2011, 12:45pm, Luvey wrote:
Hi Crystal

All that money won't buy them a better bed if they end up in the slammer. Alan Bond was a millionaire and ended up in the slammer.

Luvey



Hi Luvey,

Well it looks as if they were doing some dirty things. The money may buy them out of any jail time. We'll see.

Crystal
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« Reply #4927 on: Sep 2nd, 2011, 6:57pm »

Astronauts—it’s not ALL work and no play.....

http://www.wimp.com/astronautsmissions/
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« Reply #4928 on: Sep 2nd, 2011, 7:55pm »

on Sep 2nd, 2011, 6:57pm, Swamprat wrote:
Astronauts—it’s not ALL work and no play.....

http://www.wimp.com/astronautsmissions/


Hey Swamp! grin

Crystal
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« Reply #4929 on: Sep 2nd, 2011, 7:56pm »

UPI


Study: Lasers might be used to create rain
Published: Sept. 2, 2011 at 5:01 PM


GENEVA, Switzerland, Sept. 2 (UPI) -- Swiss researchers say laser beams fired into humid air to create water droplets could determine when and where rain falls.

Scientists at the University of Geneva have used the technique, known as laser-assisted water condensation, to generate the droplets in very humid conditions over the Rhone River in Switzerland, Britain's Daily Telegraph reported Wednesday.

The lasers create nitric acid particles which draw water molecules together and stop them from evaporating, the study published in the journal Nature Communications said.

While the generated droplets were far too small to fall as rain, researchers said, if they could be made hundreds of times larger they could create rainfall given the right conditions.

For instance, they said, if the lasers were fired into air currents that are blowing towards mountains the air might cool enough as it rises for the droplets to grow large enough to fall as rain.


© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2011/09/02/Study-Lasers-might-be-used-to-create-rain/UPI-87011314997300/print/#ixzz1WqY2NVxj

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« Reply #4930 on: Sep 2nd, 2011, 11:29pm »

Hi Crys... smiley

You're probably right, unless of course they hit some people who can't be bought.

I saw on the news today that James declined the money....

James Murdoch turns down bonus

http://finance.ninemsn.com.au/newsbusiness/aap/8293721/james-murdoch-turns-down-bonus

Luvey



on Sep 2nd, 2011, 3:46pm, WingsofCrystal wrote:
Hi Luvey,

Well it looks as if they were doing some dirty things. The money may buy them out of any jail time. We'll see.

Crystal
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« Reply #4931 on: Sep 3rd, 2011, 08:29am »

on Sep 2nd, 2011, 11:29pm, Luvey wrote:
Hi Crys... smiley

You're probably right, unless of course they hit some people who can't be bought.

I saw on the news today that James declined the money....

James Murdoch turns down bonus

http://finance.ninemsn.com.au/newsbusiness/aap/8293721/james-murdoch-turns-down-bonus

Luvey



Good morning Luvey,

Maybe you are right. He did mess with some high powered people.

As for giving back the bonus, Please! rolleyes

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« Reply #4932 on: Sep 3rd, 2011, 08:34am »

New York Times

September 2, 2011
Files Note Close C.I.A. Ties to Qaddafi Spy Unit
By ROD NORDLAND

TRIPOLI, Libya — Documents found at the abandoned office of Libya’s former spymaster appear to provide new details of the close relations the Central Intelligence Agency shared with the Libyan intelligence service — most notably suggesting that the Americans sent terrorism suspects at least eight times for questioning in Libya despite that country’s reputation for torture.

Although it has been known that Western intelligence services began cooperating with Libya after it abandoned its program to build unconventional weapons in 2004, the files left behind as Tripoli fell to rebels show that the cooperation was much more extensive than generally known with both the C.I.A. and its British equivalent, MI-6.

Some documents indicate that the British agency was even willing to trace phone numbers for the Libyans, and another appears to be a proposed speech written by the Americans for Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi about renouncing unconventional weapons.

The documents were discovered Friday by journalists and Human Rights Watch. There were at least three binders of English-language documents, one marked C.I.A. and the other two marked MI-6, among a larger stash of documents in Arabic.

It was impossible to verify their authenticity, and none of them were written on letterhead. But the binders included some documents that made specific reference to the C.I.A., and their details seem consistent with what is known about the transfer of terrorism suspects abroad for interrogation and with other agency practices.

And although the scope of prisoner transfers to Libya has not been made public, news media reports have sometimes mentioned it as one country that the United States used as part of its much criticized rendition program for terrorism suspects.

A C.I.A. spokeswoman, Jennifer Youngblood, declined to comment on Friday on the documents. But she added: “It can’t come as a surprise that the Central Intelligence Agency works with foreign governments to help protect our country from terrorism and other deadly threats.”

The British Foreign Office said, “It is the longstanding policy of the government not to comment on intelligence matters.”

While most of the renditions referred to in the documents appear to have been C.I.A. operations, at least one was claimed to have been carried out by MI-6.

“The rendition program was all about handing over these significant figures related to Al Qaeda so they could torture them and get the information they wanted,” said Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director of Human Rights Watch, who studied the documents in the intelligence headquarters in downtown Tripoli.

The documents cover 2002 to 2007, with many of them concentrated in late 2003 and 2004, when Moussa Koussa was head of the External Security Organization. (Mr. Koussa was most recently Libya’s foreign minister.)

The speech that appears to have been drafted for Colonel Qaddafi was found in the C.I.A. folder and appears to have been sent just before Christmas in 2003. The one-page speech seems intended to depict the Libyan dictator in a positive light. It concluded, using the revolutionary name for the Libyan government: “At a time when the world is celebrating the birth of Jesus, and as a token of our contributions towards a world full of peace, security, stability and compassion, the Great Jamhariya presents its honest call for a W.M.D.-free zone in the Middle East,” referring to weapons of mass destruction.

The flurry of communications about renditions are dated after Libya’s renouncement of its weapons program. In several of the cases, the documents explicitly talked about having a friendly country arrest a suspect, and then suggested aircraft would be sent to pick the suspect up and deliver him to the Libyans for questioning. One document included a list of 89 questions for the Libyans to ask a suspect.

While some of the documents warned Libyan authorities to respect such detainees’ human rights, the C.I.A. nonetheless turned them over for interrogation to a Libyan service with a well-known history of brutality.

One document in the C.I.A. binder said operatives were “in a position to deliver Shaykh Musa to your physical custody, similar to what we have done with other senior L.I.F.G. members in the recent past.” The reference was to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which was dedicated to the overthrow of Colonel Qaddafi, and which American officials believed had ties to Al Qaeda.

When Libyans asked to be sent Abu Abdullah al-Sadiq, another member of the group, a case officer wrote back on March 4, 2004, that “we are committed to developing this relationship for the benefit of both our services,” and promised to do their best to locate him, according to a document in the C.I.A. binder.

Two days later, an officer faxed the Libyans to say that Mr. Sadiq and his pregnant wife were planning to fly into Malaysia, and the authorities there agreed to put them on a British Airways flight to London that would stop in Bangkok. “We are planning to take control of the pair in Bangkok and place them on our aircraft for a flight to your country,” the case officer wrote.

Mr. Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch said he had learned from the documents that Sadiq was a nom de guerre for Abdel Hakim Belhaj, who is now a military leader for the rebels.

In an interview on Wednesday, Mr. Belhaj gave a detailed description of his incarceration that matched many of those in the documents. He also said that when he was held in Bangkok he was tortured by two people from the C.I.A.

On one occasion, the Libyans tried to send their own plane to extradite a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, Abu Munthir, and his wife and children, who were being held in Hong Kong because of passport irregularities.

The Libyan aircraft, however, was turned back, apparently because Hong Kong authorities were reluctant to let Libyan planes land. In a document labeled “Secret/ U.S. Only/ Except Libya,” the Libyans were advised to charter an aircraft from a third country. “If payment of a charter aircraft is an issue, our service would be willing to assist financially,” the document said.

While questioning alleged terror group members plainly had value to Western intelligence, the cooperation went beyond that. In one case, for example, the Libyans asked operatives to trace a phone number for them, and a document that was in the MI-6 binder replied that it belonged to the Arab News Network in London. It is unclear why the Libyans sought who the phone number belonged to.

The document also suggested signs of agency rivalries over Libya. In the MI-6 binder, a document boasted of having turned over someone named Abu Abd Alla to the Libyans. “This was the least we could do for you to demonstrate the remarkable relationship we have built over recent years,” an unsigned fax in 2004 said. “Amusingly, we got a request from the Americans to channel requests for information from Abu Abd through the Americans. I have no intention of doing any such thing.”

Scott Shane contributed reporting from Washington.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/03/world/africa/03libya.html?_r=1&hp

Crystal
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #4933 on: Sep 3rd, 2011, 10:31am »

Definitely some food for thought here. Since over 80% of the world business is conducted in English, shouldn't we cherish it? Even the Chinese view it as the language of commerce and are learning it as fast as possible due to their desire to be even more successful globally.

Colorado high school principal Dennis Prager’s TV speech:

To the students and faculty of our high school
By Dennis Prager

I am your new principal, and honored to be so. There is no greater calling than to teach young people.

I would like to apprise you of some important changes coming to our school. I am making these changes because I am convinced that most of the ideas that have dominated public education in America have worked against you, against your teachers and against our country.

First, this school will no longer honor race or ethnicity. I could not care less if your racial makeup is black, brown, red, yellow or white. I could not care less if your origins are African, Latin American, Asian or European, or if your ancestors arrived here on the Mayflower or on slave ships. The only identity I care about, the only one this school will recognize, is your individual identity -- your character, your scholarship, your humanity. And the only national identity this school will care about is American.

This is an American public school, and American public schools were created to make better Americans. If you wish to affirm an ethnic, racial or religious identity through school, you will have to go elsewhere. We will end all ethnicity, race and non-American nationality-based celebrations. They undermine the motto of America , one of its three central values -- e pluribus Unum, "from many, one." And this school will be guided by America 's values. This includes all after-school clubs. I will not authorize clubs that divide students based on any identities. This includes race, language, religion, sexual orientation or whatever else may become in vogue in a society divided by political correctness.

Your clubs will be based on interests and passions, not blood, ethnic, racial or other physically defined ties. Those clubs just cultivate narcissism -- an unhealthy preoccupation with the self -- while the purpose of education is to get you to think beyond yourself. So we will have clubs that transport you to the wonders and glories of art, music, astronomy, languages you do not already speak, carpentry and more. If the only extracurricular activities you can imagine being interested in are those based on ethnic, racial or sexual identity, that means that little outside of yourself really interests you.

Second, I am uninterested in whether English is your native language. My only interest in terms of language is that you leave this school speaking and writing English as fluently as possible. The English language has united America's citizens for over 200 years, and it will unite us at this school. It is one of the indispensable reasons this country of immigrants has always come to be one country. And if you leave this school without excellent English language skills, I would be remiss in my duty to ensure that you will be prepared to successfully compete in the American job market. We will learn other languages here -- it is deplorable that most Americans only speak English --but if you want classes taught in your native language rather than in English, this is not your school.

Third, because I regard learning as a sacred endeavor, everything in this school will reflect learning's elevated status. This means, among other things, that you and your teachers will dress accordingly. Many people in our society dress more formally for Hollywood events than for church or school. These people have their priorities backward. Therefore, there will be a formal dress code at this school.

Fourth, no obscene language will be tolerated anywhere on this school's property -- whether in class, in the hallways or at athletic events. If you can't speak without using the f-word, you can't speak. By obscene language I mean the words banned by the Federal Communications Commission, plus epithets such as "Nigger," even when used by one black student to address another black, or "bitch," even when addressed by a girl to a girlfriend. It is my intent that by the time you leave this school, you will be among the few your age to instinctively distinguish between the elevated and the degraded, the holy and the obscene.

Fifth, we will end all self-esteem programs. In this school, self-esteem will be attained in only one way -- the way people attained it until decided otherwise a generation ago -- by earning it. One immediate consequence is that there will be one valedictorian, not eight.

Sixth, and last, I am reorienting the school toward academics and away from politics and propaganda. No more time will be devoted to scaring you about smoking and caffeine, or terrifying you about sexual harassment or global warming. No more semesters will be devoted to condom wearing and teaching you to regard sexual relations as only or primarily a health issue. There will be no more attempts to convince you that you are a victim because you are not white, or not male, or not heterosexual or not Christian. We will have failed if any one of you graduates this school and does not consider him or herself inordinately lucky -- to be alive and to be an American.

Now, please stand and join me in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of our country. As many of you do not know the words, your teachers will hand them out to you.
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #4934 on: Sep 3rd, 2011, 11:12am »

Swampy,
This Principal should cloned and sent to every district in the USA to run our education systems. For too damned long the progressive ideas of the left wing have denigrated our education system with ideas that have lowered the standards and the basic knowledge of our children. Enough is enough and this persons ideas should be allowed to flourish among Academia. Unfortunately, this will most likely only happen when 'Hell Freezes Over'!
Lone
« Last Edit: Sep 3rd, 2011, 11:13am by LoneGunMan » User IP Logged

De Opresso Libre! I Have Been many Men, In Many Times, I Shall Be Again!
\"The real destroyer of the liberties of the people is he who spreads among them bounties, donations and benefits.\"
Plutarch



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