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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 91103 times)
cld2011
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5445 on: Nov 7th, 2011, 10:11am »

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5446 on: Nov 7th, 2011, 11:25am »

on Nov 7th, 2011, 10:11am, cld2011 wrote:
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Good morning cld2011,

Beautiful, thank you.

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« Reply #5447 on: Nov 7th, 2011, 11:27am »

New York Times

November 6, 2011
D.E.A. Squads Extend Reach of Drug War
By CHARLIE SAVAGE

WASHINGTON — Late on a moonless night last March, a plane smuggling nearly half a ton of cocaine touched down at a remote airstrip in Honduras. A heavily armed ground crew was waiting for it — as were Honduran security forces. After a 20-minute firefight, a Honduran officer was wounded and two drug traffickers lay dead.

Several news outlets briefly reported the episode, mentioning that a Honduran official said the United States Drug Enforcement Administration had provided support. But none of the reports included a striking detail: that support consisted of an elite detachment of military-trained D.E.A. special agents who joined in the shootout, according to a person familiar with the episode.

The D.E.A. now has five commando-style squads it has been quietly deploying for the past several years to Western Hemisphere nations — including Haiti, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Belize — that are battling drug cartels, according to documents and interviews with law enforcement officials.

The program — called FAST, for Foreign-deployed Advisory Support Team — was created during the George W. Bush administration to investigate Taliban-linked drug traffickers in Afghanistan. Beginning in 2008 and continuing under President Obama, it has expanded far beyond the war zone.

“You have got to have special skills and equipment to be able to operate effectively and safely in environments like this,” said Michael A. Braun, a former head of operations for the drug agency who helped design the program. “The D.E.A. is working shoulder-to-shoulder in harm’s way with host-nation counterparts.”

The evolution of the program into a global enforcement arm reflects the United States’ growing reach in combating drug cartels and how policy makers increasingly are blurring the line between law enforcement and military activities, fusing elements of the “war on drugs” with the “war on terrorism.”

Bruce Bagley, a University of Miami professor who specializes in Latin America and counternarcotics, said the commando program carries potential benefits: the American teams could help arrest kingpins, seize stockpiles, disrupt smuggling routes and professionalize security forces in small countries through which traffickers pass drugs headed to the United States.

But there are also potential dangers.

“It could lead to a nationalist backlash in the countries involved,” he said. “If an American is killed, the administration and the D.E.A. could get mired in Congressional oversight hearings. Taking out kingpins could fragment the organization and lead to more violence. And it won’t permanently stop trafficking unless a country also has capable institutions, which often don’t exist in Central America.”

Because the presence of armed Americans on their soil raises sensitivities about sovereignty, some countries that have sought the assistance of the United States will not acknowledge it, and the D.E.A. is reluctant to disclose the details of the commando teams’ deployments. Others — like Mexico, which has accepted American help, including surveillance drones — have not wanted the commando squads.

Federal law prohibits the drug agency from directly carrying out arrests overseas, but agents are permitted to accompany their foreign counterparts on operations. The Americans work with specially vetted units of local security forces that they train and mentor. In “exigent circumstances,” they may open fire to protect themselves or partners.

The firefight in Honduras last March, described by officials of both countries, illustrates the flexibility of such rules. The Honduran minister of public security at the time, Oscar Álvarez, said that under the agreement with the D.E.A., the Americans normally did not go on missions.

But in that case, he said, a training exercise went live: an American squad was working with a Honduran police unit in La Mosquitia rainforest when they received word that a suspicious plane from Venezuela was being tracked to a clandestine landing strip nearby.

After the plane landed, the Honduran police identified themselves and the traffickers opened fire, officials of both countries said. After a 20-minute gunfight, the Hondurans and Americans seized the cocaine and withdrew to evacuate the wounded officer.

“I don’t want to say it was Vietnam-style, but it was typical of war action,” said Mr. Álvarez; he declined to say whether the Americans took part in the shooting, but another person familiar with the episode said they did.

The FAST program is similar to a D.E.A. operation in the late 1980s and early 1990s in which drug enforcement agents received military training and entered into partnerships with local forces in places like Peru and Bolivia, targeting smuggling airstrips and jungle labs.

The Reagan-era initiative, though, drew criticism from agency supervisors who disliked the disruption of supplying agents for temporary rotations, and questioned whether its benefits outweighed the risks and cost. The Clinton administration was moving to shut down the operation when five agents died in a plane crash in Peru in 1994, sealing its fate.

In 2000, when the United States expanded assistance to Colombia in its battle against the narcotics-financed insurgent group called FARC, the trainers were military, not D.E.A. But after the invasion of Afghanistan, the Bush administration assigned Mr. Braun, a veteran of the earlier effort, to design a new program.

Begun in 2005, the program has five squads, each with 10 agents. Many are military veterans, and the section is overseen by a former member of the Navy Seals, Richard Dobrich. The Pentagon has provided most of their training and equipment, and they routinely fly on military aircraft.

The deployments to Afghanistan have resulted in large seizures of drugs, and some tragedy: two of the three D.E.A. agents who died in a helicopter crash in October 2009 were with FAST. Last week, an agent was shot in the head when his squad came under fire while leaving a bazaar where they had just seized 3,000 kilograms, about 6,600 pounds, of poppy seeds and 50 kilograms, about 110 pounds, of opium. Airlifted to Germany in critical condition, he is expected to survive, an official said.

The commandos have also been deployed at least 15 times to Latin America. The D.E.A. said some of those missions involved only training, but officials declined to provide details. Still, glimpses of the program emerged in interviews with current and former American and foreign officials, briefing files, budget documents and several State Department cables released by WikiLeaks.

For example, an American team assisted Guatemalan forces in the March 2011 arrest of Juan Alberto Ortiz-López, whom the D.E.A. considered a top cocaine smuggler for the Sinaloa cartel, an official said. Videos of the raid show masked men in black tactical garb; it is unclear if any are Americans.

A diplomatic cable describes another mission in Guatemala. On July 21, 2009, seven American military helicopters carrying D.E.A. and Guatemalan security forces flew to the compound of a wealthy family, the Lorenzanas — four of whom were wanted in the United States on drug trafficking charges.

After a “small firefight” in which a bullet grazed a Lorenzana family member, agents found “large numbers of weapons and amounts of cash” but not the targets, who may have been tipped off, according to the cable. The Guatemalan news media documented the failure, portraying the joint operation as a “D.E.A. raid.”

A former head of Guatemala’s national security council, Francisco Jiménez, said in an interview that American participation in such operations was an “open secret” but rarely acknowledged.

In October 2009, another official said, the agency deployed a squad aboard a Navy amphibious assault ship, the Wasp, off the coast of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, where it focused on planes used for smuggling.

Cables also show the agency has twice come close to deploying one of its units to the Darién region of Panama, where FARC incursions have established cocaine smuggling routes. But both missions were aborted, for fears that it was too unsafe for the Americans or that their involvement could escalate the conflict.

FAST has repeatedly deployed squads to Haiti, helping to arrest three fugitives this year and train 100 Haitian counternarcotics officers this fall. Mario Andresol, the Haitian police chief, says he needs such help. “We know the smuggling routes,” he said, “but the problem is we don’t have enough people to go after them.”

Randal C. Archibold contributed reporting from Honduras and Haiti, and Ginger Thompson from Washington.


http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/07/world/americas/united-states-drug-enforcement-agency-squads-extend-reach-of-drug-war.html?_r=1&hp

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« Reply #5448 on: Nov 7th, 2011, 11:32am »

Wired Threat Level

Feds Seek Unfettered GPS Surveillance Power as Location-Tracking Flourishes
By David Kravets
November 7, 2011 | 6:00 am
Categories: Surveillance, privacy





The Supreme Court is set to hear historic arguments Tuesday in what perhaps is the most important Fourth Amendment case in a decade — one weighing the collision of privacy, technology and the Constitution.

The question before the justices asks: May the police secretly install a Global Positioning System device on a vehicle without a probable cause warrant issued by a judge in order to track a suspect’s every move?

The last time the justices were confronted with the blending of technology and privacy was a decade ago before the mass proliferation of GPS gadgets. The high court at the time ruled in favor of constitutional protections when it concluded that thermal-imaging devices used to detect marijuana-growing operations inside a house amounted to a search and therefore required a court warrant. Contrast this to a prior ruling in 1983 when the justices said it was okay for the government to use beepers known as “bird dogs” to track a suspect’s vehicle without a warrant.

Technology has advanced since both of these cases, feeding the government’s growing hunger for cost-efficient, easy-to-use spy tools, and making the latest debate before the justices seem Orwellian. Today, one’s exact position on Earth can easily be secretly monitored with devices costing less than $200. Add to this the government’s argument in court briefs that “a person has no reasonable expectation of privacy in his movements from one place to another,” and you have the makings for widespread, unchecked surveillance.

Behind the scenes of the hotly contested GPS case, which is garnering press attention far and wide, is a fledgling enterprise capitalizing on the appetite for tools to track people by both police and private citizens.

The Justice Department has said that law enforcement agents employ GPS as a crime-fighting tool with “great frequency.”

Law enforcement agents, from the local police to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, are purchasing the devices by the thousands, according to interviews conducted by Wired.com. Often they sell the gadgets through restricted web sites that require a password and proof of law enforcement affiliation to enter.

Marci Utakis, marketing director of GPS Intelligence LLC, of Scottsdale, Arizona, said in a telephone interview that his 5-year-old company has sold “thousands” of GPS monitoring devices to various police agencies, but declined to name any clients.

“If the bad guys know what law enforcement is doing, then [police] can’t catch the bad guys,” Utakis said.

Perhaps a bigger issue than the one before the Supreme Court next week, is the private use of GPS trackers.

A number of companies selling GPS trackers also market devices the size of playing cards to private citizens – such as to parents for tracking children, to private investigators and attorneys for tracking errant spouses, and to businesses with fleets of vehicles for tracking employee whereabouts.

There are no clear rules regarding when private citizens can place a tracking device on someone else’s vehicle. And even if the Supreme Court rules that the police violate the Fourth Amendment by using trackers without a warrant, that ruling won’t apply to citizens. It would take Congress or state authorities to pass a law regulating private use of tracking devices.

In the GPS case now before the justices, the Obama administration is demanding the high court reinstate the conviction and life sentence of a District of Columbia cocaine dealer named Antoine Jones whose vehicle was tracked via GPS for a month without a court warrant.

Jones was convicted based on court warrants that allowed investigators to search for drugs in the locations where he had traveled. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed the conviction after concluding that the monitoring of Jones’s movements amounted to an illegal search in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Lower courts across the U.S. have weighed in differently on whether GPS tracking requires a warrant. Three federal appeals courts have ruled that GPS monitoring does not require a warrant. The Obama administration petitioned the Supreme Court justices to hear the Jones case in order to clear these conflicting lower-court rulings and, it hopes, will uphold the three federal appeals courts in deciding, once and for all, that warrants aren’t required.

In urging the Supreme Court to take on the GPS case, the Justice Department said the federal appeals court was “wrong” for reversing Jones’s conviction.

“The court of appeals’ decision seriously impedes the government’s use of GPS devices at the beginning stages of an investigation when officers are gathering evidence to establish probable cause and provides no guidance on the circumstances under which officers must obtain a warrant before placing a GPS device on a vehicle,” the Obama administration told the justices.

The administration feels that GPS trackers are no different from the beepers that investigators used two decades ago and want the justices to stick with the precedent the Court set in 1983 in United States v. Knotts, the case involving the use of beepers or “bird dogs” to track a suspect’s vehicle without a warrant.

But Robert L. Easton, the principal inventor of the GPS, has noted in a friend-of-the-court brief to the justices that beepers and modern GPS tracking tools are vastly different.

Beeper-assisted surveillance, he said, requires “a police officer to follow the targeted vehicle, for the duration of the surveillance, in order to ascertain the vehicle’s location. That is because the beeper and receiver function only as directional finders, indicating the vehicle’s direction relative to the receiver, and thereby aiding in visual surveillance by pointing the police in the direction of the vehicle. The vehicle’s actual location can be determined only through the police officer’s observations.”

GPS technology, Easton added, “enables the police to monitor and record the vehicle’s location without ever observing or following the car themselves.”

Stephen Leckar, Jones’s attorney, said in a telephone interview that he wasn’t ready to entertain what the fallout might be if the Supreme Court upholds the warrantless search on his client.

“It’s all rather Big Brother,” he said, “to think the government can put these on vehicles whenever it wants without any probable cause.”

The Justice Department said GPS surveillance by the police is used with “great frequency,” but only bits and pieces of evidence have so far come to light to support this assertion.

•Oakland, California police officers employed a GPS monitoring device, without a warrant, which led to the conviction of high-profile defendant Yusuf Bey IV in connection to the 2007 murder of local journalist Chauncey Bailey.

•Last year, Wired.com reported that a 20-year-old Santa Clara, California man named Yasir Afifi found an unmarked GPS device underneath his car, which the FBI had placed there and demanded back. Afifi is suing the government over the tracking device, claiming the surveillance violated his civil liberties.

•A handful of animals rights and environmental activists have come forward in recent years to reveal that they also have found GPS trackers on their vehicles.

•On Tuesday, Wired.com will report on another case of a California man who recently found two different GPS trackers on his vehicle.

The nature of the GPS devices that law enforcement agents use vary, from older models that require large battery wands to operate, to newer ones that have batteries embedded in them or that can be wired to the vehicle’s battery to draw power from it. Some devices are weatherproof and have batteries that can last months.

Leckar said the government never divulged the model of the GPS device the authorities affixed underneath Antoine Jones’s vehicle. “There’s no evidence of it in the record,” he said.

more after the jump
http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/11/gps-tracking-flourishes/all/1

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« Reply #5449 on: Nov 7th, 2011, 11:36am »

Space.com

US Military Wants to Launch Satellites from Airplanes

InnovationNewsDaily Staff
Date: 07 November 2011
Time: 12:08 PM ET


U.S. military operations rely heavily upon satellites to spy on battlefields and coordinate friendly forces across the globe, but fast-changing ground conditions or enemy attacks on satellites can threaten to overwhelm the system. That's why the Pentagon has announced $164 million to turn airliners into airborne launch platforms that can send small satellites into orbit within 24 hours.

An airplane-based launch means that the U.S. military could swiftly deploy satellites from any normal airfield, rather than rely upon expensive and possibly vulnerable ground-based launch pads. The Pentagon's research agency, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) also anticipates slashing small satellite payload costs from more than $30,000 per pound to less than $10,000 per pound — making such launches three times cheaper.

Taking off from an airliner flying at 25,000 feet allows the theoretical space launch vehicle to start out above most of the atmosphere. It also adds a starting speed boost to the space launch vehicle, and allows designers to create a larger, more efficient rocket nozzle.

DARPA wants the program to demonstrate at least 12 launches of 100-pound payloads to low Earth orbit, with each launch costing about $1 million. Launches could start as soon as 2015, according to DARPA's official announcement of the program on Nov. 4.


http://www.space.com/13529-darpa-military-airplane-satellite-launches.html

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« Reply #5450 on: Nov 7th, 2011, 11:42am »

Military Times

‘Hero Dogs’ to be honored on Capitol Hill

The Associated Press
Posted : Monday Nov 7, 2011
11:42:54 EST

WASHINGTON— Some four-legged heroes will be honored in Washington this Veterans Day.

Dogs that worked in Iraq and in the Pentagon and the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, will be visiting the offices of the House Veterans Affairs Committee on Monday. They’re the winners of the first-ever American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards, which will air on Hallmark Channel on Friday.

The recipients include Roselle, a seeing-eye dog that led its handler, Michael Hingson, down 78 flights of stairs in the burning World Trade Center on Sept. 11.

A dog that served in Iraq and now helps comfort soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder will also be honored.

http://www.militarytimes.com/news/2011/11/ap-dogs-to-be-honored-by-congress-110711/

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« Reply #5451 on: Nov 7th, 2011, 11:50am »

Taos News

Encountering Travis Walton at Taos' Paranormal Symposium

Posted: Friday, November 4, 2011 12:00 am
Updated: 10:31 am, Mon Nov 7, 2011.

by Rick Romancito
The Taos News

Ever since I was a kid I have loved science fiction movies. I’ve collected dozens of DVDs and VHS tapes of my favorites, everything from “When Worlds Collide” the the “Alien” series to “Fire in the Sky.” It was the latter that drove me to meet Travis Walton, the man whose alien abduction experience formed the basis for that Hollywood movie. Walton was making a personal appearance at the Paranormal Symposium.

The Symposium, organized by the Alliance Studying Paranormal Experience, moved this year from Angel Fire to Taos where it appeared to enjoy good sized audiences listening to folks give presentations on supernatural phenomena, Native American spirituality, UFOs and other subjects.

I don’t consider myself a “true believer” in the sense that I sat with rapt attention soaking up every claim without question. On the contrary, being a journalist means I’m a questioner by profession, and although I’m fascinated by sci-fi, I want to find out what that man behind the curtain is really doing. So, as I was introduced to Walton, I wanted to see if maybe some aspect of his experience was somehow palpable.

Walton is a tall, pale, slim man with short-cropped hair, whose wary eyes seem to be constantly checking out the room. Asked about what it’s like to travel around talking about something that happened to him 36 years ago, he said it’s not easy. He doesn’t like talking about the details of his abduction. He’s done enough of that and, really, he’d rather you read his book. The one that was adapted for a 1993 movie in which actor D.B. Sweeney played him.

He has said before that he isn’t crazy about what Paramount Pictures did with his story and is still embarrassed when starry eyed fans greet him saying they experienced exactly what happened to him aboard that UFO. Walton says he tries to politely tell them “all that stuff never happened like that. That was all Hollywood.”

Since that experience, Walton has taken charge of his image. Unsatisfied with the original book deal, he turned around and wrote an updated account and published it himself. When Paramount chose to not distribute any more DVD copies of “Fire in the Sky,” Walton bought up all the remaining copies and sells them at his appearances. In Taos, he had the last 50.

Ultimately, Walton says he is hoping to interest a filmmaker in doing the definitive version of his story, the one he’d be in charge of telling, or in getting Paramount to release a Blue-Ray verson of the movie with commentary by him.

Either way, he’d like to be done with it. He’s said enough.

As for me, I just met a guy who really did have a story to tell, and that’s all we need to hear I guess.

http://www.taosnews.com/news/blogs/article_ed46fea6-0962-11e1-b53c-001cc4c002e0.html

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« Reply #5452 on: Nov 7th, 2011, 7:38pm »

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« Reply #5453 on: Nov 8th, 2011, 07:43am »

New York Times

November 7, 2011
Promises Made, and Remade, by Firms in S.E.C. Fraud Cases
By EDWARD WYATT

WASHINGTON — When Citigroup agreed last month to pay $285 million to settle civil charges that it had defrauded customers during the housing bubble, the Securities and Exchange Commission wrested a typical pledge from the company: Citigroup would never violate one of the main antifraud provisions of the nation’s securities laws.

To an outsider, the vow may seem unusual. Citigroup, after all, was merely promising not to do something that the law already forbids. But that is the way the commission usually does business. It also was not the first time the firm was making that promise.

Citigroup’s main brokerage subsidiary, its predecessors or its parent company agreed not to violate the very same antifraud statute in July 2010. And in May 2006. Also as far as back as March 2005 and April 2000.

Citigroup has a lot of company in this regard on Wall Street. According to a New York Times analysis, nearly all of the biggest financial companies — Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America among them — have settled fraud cases by promising that they would never again violate an antifraud law, only to have the S.E.C. conclude they did it again a few years later.

A Times analysis of enforcement actions during the past 15 years found at least 51 cases in which the S.E.C. concluded that Wall Street firms had broken anti-fraud laws they had agreed never to breach. The 51 cases spanned 19 different firms.

On Wednesday, Judge Jed S. Rakoff of the Federal District Court in Manhattan, an S.E.C. critic, is scheduled to review the Citigroup settlement. Judge Rakoff has asked the agency what it does to ensure companies do not repeat the same offense, and whether it has ever brought contempt charges for chronic violators. The S.E.C. said in a court filing Monday that it had not brought any contempt charges against large financial firms in the last 10 years.

Since the financial crisis, the S.E.C. has been criticized for missing warning signs that could have softened the blow. The pattern of repeated accusations of securities law violations adds another layer of concerns about enforcing the law. Not only does the S.E.C. fail to catch many instances of wrongdoing, which may be unavoidable, given its resources, but when it is on the case, financial firms often pay a relatively small price.

Senator Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the Senate permanent subcommittee on investigations and has led several inquiries into Wall Street, said the S.E.C.’s method of settling fraud cases, is “a symbol of weak enforcement. It doesn’t do much in the way of deterrence, and it doesn’t do much in the way of punishment, I don’t think.”

Barbara Roper, director of investor protection for the Consumer Federation of America, said, “You can look at the record and see that it clearly suggests this is not deterring repeat offenses. You have to at least raise the question if other alternatives might be more effective.”

S.E.C. officials say they allow these kinds of settlements because it is far less costly than taking deep-pocketed Wall Street firms to court and risking losing the case. By law, the commission can bring only civil cases. It has to turn to the Justice Department for criminal prosecutions.

Robert Khuzami, the S.E.C.’s enforcement director, said never-do-it again promises were a deterrent especially when there were repeated problems. In their private discussions, commissioners weigh a firm’s history with the S.E.C. before they settle on the amount of fines and penalties. “It’s a thumb on the scale,” Mr. Khuzami said. “No one here is disregarding the fact that there were prior violations or prior misconduct,” he said.

But prior violations are plentiful. For example, Bank of America’s securities unit has agreed four times since 2005 not to violate a major antifraud statute, and another four times not to violate a separate law. Merrill Lynch, which Bank of America acquired in 2008, has separately agreed not to violate the same two statutes seven times since 1999.

Of the 19 companies that the Times found by the S.E.C. to be repeat offenders over the last 15 years, 16 declined to comment. They read like a Wall Street who’s who: American International Group, Ameriprise, Bank of America, Bear Stearns, Columbia Management, Deutsche Asset Management, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Putnam Investments, Raymond James, RBC Dain Rauscher, UBS and Wells Fargo/Wachovia.

Two others, Franklin Advisers and Massachusetts Financial, said that their two settlements were made simultaneously and therefore one incident did not violate a previous cease-and-desist order.

A spokesman for Citigroup said “there is no basis for any assertion that Citi has violated the terms” of any settlement.

But some experts view many settlements as essentially meaningless, particularly since they usually do not require a company to admit to the accusations leveled by the S.E.C. Nearly every settlement allows a company to “neither admit nor deny” the accusations — even when the company has admitted to the same charges in a related case brought by the Justice Department — so that they are less vulnerable to investor lawsuits.

In 2005, Bank of America was one of several companies singled out for allowing professional traders to buy or sell a mutual fund at the previous day’s closing price, when it was clear the next day that the overall market or particular stocks were going to move either up or down sharply, guaranteeing a big short-term gain or avoiding a significant loss.

In its settlement, Bank of America neither admitted nor denied the conduct, but agreed to pay a $125 million fine and to put $250 million into a fund to repay investors. The company also agreed never to violate the major antifraud statutes.

Two years later, in 2007, Bank of America was accused by the S.E.C. of fraud by using its supposedly independent research analysts to bolster its investment banking activities from 1999 to 2001. In the settlement, Bank of America without admitting or denying its guilt, paid a $16 million fine and promised, once again, not to violate the law.

But two years later, in 2009, the S.E.C. again accused Bank of America of defrauding investors, saying that in 2007-8, the bank sold $4.5 billion of highly risky auction-rate securities by promising buyers that they were as safe as money market funds. They weren’t, and this time Bank of America agreed to be “permanently enjoined” from violating the same section of the law it had previously agreed not to break.

In fact, the company had already violated that promise, according to the S.E.C when it was accused last year of rigging bids in the municipal securities market from 1998 through 2002. To settle the charges, Bank of America paid no penalty, but refunded investors $25 million in profits plus $11 million in interest. And, the bank promised again never to violate the same law.

The S.E.C. led the bank settle without admitting or denying the charges, even though Bank of America had simultaneously settled a case with the Justice Department’s antitrust division admitting the same conduct.

Companies routinely argue that while they may be settling multiple violations of the same law, the facts of each case are different — and therefore not exactly a repeat offense.

But Jayne Barnard, a law professor at the William & Mary Law School who has studied repeat securities fraud violators, said “it stretches the truth” to claim that a company’s multiple violations of the same law “are just a freakish coincidence.”

The S.E.C. can target repeat violations. It could bring civil contempt charges against a company for violating one of orders, but it rarely does. The S.E.C. does not publicly refer to previous cases when filing new charges.

Mr. Khuzami, the agency enforcement chief, said it prefers to use its resources to bring charges of new violations against a company rather than to pursue contempt charges in court.

“If you’ve got a company that settles a case involving its research analysts one year, and several years later it is accused of fraud in selling a C.D.O. to customers, those are very different parts of a company,” Mr. Khuzami said, referring to collateralized debt obligations, a form of derivative that contributed to the housing bubble.

Donna M. Nagy, a professor at the Indiana University law school and an author of a widely used textbook on securities law enforcement, said that by ignoring previous accusations of violations, the S.E.C. was minimizing the value of its actions.

Edward Skyler, a spokesman for Citigroup, said that the fact that the company entered into a $285 million settlement last month does not mean that it had violated the terms of any previous settlement. “Like all other major financial institutions, Citi has entered into various settlements with the S.E.C. over the years and there is no basis for any assertion that Citi has violated the terms of any of those settlements,” he said.

Mr. Levin, the Michigan senator, said he believed that the S.E.C.’s settlements were the problem. “It’s like a cop giving out warnings instead of giving tickets,” he said. “It’s a green light to operate the same way without a lot of fear that the boom is going to be lowered on you.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/08/business/in-sec-fraud-cases-banks-make-and-break-promises.html?_r=1&hp

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« Reply #5454 on: Nov 8th, 2011, 07:46am »

LA Times

U.S. put new restrictions on CIA drone strikes in Pakistan

The changes, which came in response to public outrage in Pakistan, have increased the percentage of 'high-value' militants killed by the drone strikes, a study says.

By Ken Dilanian, Los Angeles Times
11:18 PM PST, November 7, 2011
Reporting from Washington


The White House over the summer put new restrictions on CIA drone strikes in the wake of concerns that the program was primarily targeting lower-level militants while provoking anger in Pakistan, U.S. officials said.

Since then, according to an independent analysis, the strikes have yielded a significant increase in the percentage of people killed whom the government considers "high-value targets." But the program is still killing mainly rank-and-file fighters, the study indicates.

And the adjustments in the program have not altered the fundamental character of the secret drone strikes: The CIA continues to attack identified Al Qaeda and Taliban militants as well as rank-and-file fighters whose names are not known.

Under the new rules, however, the State Department, which has been concerned about the anger the strikes have aroused in Pakistan, has more input on each attack. And the U.S. has promised to inform Pakistan if a strike will target a particularly large group of militants.

How much those policies have altered the program in practice remains unclear. "I don't think this really changed very much," said a congressional aide who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss the classified program.

The changes grew out of an internal Obama administration debate in the wake of a March 17 drone attack that the government of Pakistan condemned as a mistake, saying it killed more than 40 civilians. The U.S. says the attack killed "a large group of heavily armed men … all of whom acted in a manner consistent with Al Qaeda-linked militants."

Dennis C. Blair, who was ousted in 2010 as President Obama's director of national intelligence, has criticized such strikes, saying there is little point in killing easily replaceable foot soldiers if the cost is public outrage in Pakistan. Similar concerns have been expressed within the administration, officials said.

The CIA classifies its drone strikes into two categories. In one type, known as "personality strikes," the agency tracks and targets a specific person who has been placed on a "kill list" because he has been deemed a threat to the United States.

The other type, known as "signature strikes," is the one primarily affected by the new rules. In those attacks, the CIA watches a group of suspected militants through drone surveillance video and other means until officials are satisfied that the targets are plotting or carrying out attacks against U.S. troops or American interests, officials have said. The names of those militants are not necessarily known.

On numerous occasions, senior militant figures on target lists were killed in signature strikes, U.S. officials say, and their identities were discovered only afterward.

Some legal experts contend that the strikes amount to illegal assassinations. The State Department and many international law experts, however, say drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas are legal because Afghan insurgents take refuge in those areas, making them part of the Afghanistan conflict zone.

Signature strikes are not allowed in Yemen, U.S. officials say, even though some U.S. counter-terrorism officials say they believe such attacks would be legal and potentially effective.

Since June, when some of the new strictures went into place, CIA drone strikes in Pakistan have killed 235 suspected militants. Thirteen of those, or 5.5%, were significant Al Qaeda figures or militant commanders, according to data compiled by Long War Journal, a website that tracks the strikes through Pakistani and Western news reports.

In 2010, just 2.2% of 801 militants killed were known significant figures, the numbers show. The percentage for the first half of 2011 was similar.

"We are removing leaders faster than they can be replaced. And even when they are replaced, it is with younger, less experienced individuals who lack the abilities and expertise of their predecessors," said a U.S. official regularly briefed on the program.

Estimates of noncombatants killed in the strikes vary widely. Long War Journal counted 14 civilians reported killed in 2010 and 30 in 2011. Some Pakistani and British activists say the number of civilian deaths is in the hundreds. U.S. officials, including Democrats in Congress who oversee the program, insist that the number is far lower. One U.S. official said there had been "a handful" of civilian deaths in 2011.

U.S. officials say they are confident they know who has been killed because they watch each strike on video and gather intelligence in the aftermath, observing funerals for the dead and eavesdropping on conversations about the strikes.


http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-cia-drones-20111108,0,6365110.story

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« Reply #5455 on: Nov 8th, 2011, 07:52am »

Huffington Post


by Alejandro Rojas
Celebrities Tweet UFO Sightings
Posted: 11/8/11 12:13 PM ET

October was a busy month for celebrity UFO sightings and, in a sign of the times, all of these sightings were tweeted. Even more surprising, a couple of the tweets included pictures of the alleged UFOs and two of the tweets were accompanied by tweets from other witnesses.

The first celebrity UFO tweet of the month came from 19-year-old singer Demi Lovato on the 10th. She tweeted:

Did anyone else see a UFO or weird thing in the sky tonight in LAhuh

Her friend tweeted soon after:

@ddlovato that UFO was nuts!


Paparazzi caught up with Lovato and her friends soon after the UFO sighting. Lovato described what they saw as some strange lights in the night sky over Los Angeles.

Nearly two weeks later, on the 23rd, country music singer Billy Ray Cyrus tweeted a UFO sighting that included a picture. He wrote:

O. K. . ..my first U F O sighting.Looks like 5 or 6 disk like shapes hovering. Special moment 4 DAD http://yfrog.com/nw2z9ssj

Cyrus appeared to be excited by his sighting, although it is difficult to make much out of the picture he snapped.

This isn't the first time Cyrus has pondered the UFO mystery, in fact he was slated to host a UFO show on the SyFy channel. In September of 2010 SyFy announced that Cyrus, along with his son Trace, were going to host a show called, UFO: Unbelievably Freakin' Obvious, which would focus on debunking UFO sightings. It has been over a year since the announcement and there has been no word that the show is going to air. Perhaps Cyrus has had a change of heart when it comes to the veracity of the UFO phenomenon.

The most recent celebrity UFO tweet came from ex-Spice Girl and British superstar, Victoria Beckham. On the 28th she tweeted a link to her UFO picture and wrote:

UFO hovering above our house last night!!!!! X vb http://yfrog.com/khvopmhj

Her friend Ken Paves, a Hollywood hairstylist, also witnessed the UFO and snapped his own picture. He tweeted:

UFO hovering above Beckham's house. Grab the kids @victoriabeckham and RUN-RUN @victoriabeckham RUN! http://twitpic.com/76vfat


Neither Cyrus nor Beckham have commented on their UFO tweets and pictures. Could these celebrities be using twitter to have a bit of fun, or are UFO sightings on the increase over Hollywood?


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alejandro-rojas/celebrities-tweet-ufo-sig_b_1077462.html

Crystal


« Last Edit: Nov 8th, 2011, 12:21pm by WingsofCrystal » User IP Logged

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« Reply #5456 on: Nov 8th, 2011, 12:25pm »

Wired

Busted! Two New Fed GPS Trackers Found on SUV
By Kim Zetter
November 8, 2011 | 5:30 am
Categories: Surveillance


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The second of two GPS trackers found recently on the vehicle of a young man in California.
Photo: Jon Snyder/Wired.com



As the Supreme Court gets ready to hear oral arguments in a case Tuesday that could determine if authorities can track U.S. citizens with GPS vehicle trackers without a warrant, a young man in California has come forward to Wired to reveal that he found not one but two different devices on his vehicle recently.

The 25-year-old resident of San Jose, California, says he found the first one about three weeks ago on his Volvo SUV while visiting his mother in Modesto, about 80 miles northeast of San Jose. After contacting Wired and allowing a photographer to snap pictures of the device, it was swapped out and replaced with a second tracking device. A witness also reported seeing a strange man looking beneath the vehicle of the young man’s girlfriend while her car was parked at work, suggesting that a tracking device may have been retrieved from her car.

Then things got really weird when police showed up during a Wired interview with the man.

The young man, who asked to be identified only as Greg, is one among an increasing number of U.S. citizens who are finding themselves tracked with the high-tech devices.

The Justice Department has said that law enforcement agents employ GPS as a crime-fighting tool with “great frequency,” and GPS retailers have told Wired that they’ve sold thousands of the devices to the feds.

But little is known about how or how often law enforcement agents use them. And without a clear ruling requiring agents to obtain a “probable cause” warrant to use the devices, it leaves citizens who may have only a distant connection to a crime or no connection at all vulnerable to the whimsy of agents who are fishing for a case.

The invasive technology, for example, allows police, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and other agencies to engage in covert round-the-clock surveillance over an extended period of time, collecting vast amounts of information about anyone who drives the vehicle that is being tracked.

“A person who knows all of another’s travels can deduce whether he is a weekly church goer, a heavy drinker, a regular at the gym, an unfaithful husband, an outpatient receiving medical treatment, an associate of particular individuals or political groups — and not just one such fact about a person, but all such facts,” wrote U.S. Appeals Court Judge Douglas Ginsburg in a recent ruling that the Supreme Court will be examining this week to determine if warrants should be required for use with trackers.

Greg says he discovered the first tracker on his vehicle after noticing what looked like a cell phone antenna inside a hole on his back bumper where a cable is stored for towing a trailer. The device, the size of a mobile phone, was not attached to a battery pack, suggesting the battery was embedded in its casing.

photos and more after the jump
http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/11/gps-tracker-times-two/all/1

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« Reply #5457 on: Nov 8th, 2011, 8:34pm »

Archaeology - SCITECH

Lost Civilization Discovered in Sahara Desert


Published November 08, 2011

New evidence of a lost civilization in an area of the Sahara in Libya has emerged from images taken by satellites.

Using satellites and air photographs to identify the remains in one of the most inhospitable parts of the desert, a team from the University of Leicester in England has discovered more than 100 fortified farms and villages with castle-like structures and several towns, most dating between AD 1 to 500.

"It is like someone coming to England and suddenly discovering all the medieval castles. These settlements had been unremarked and unrecorded under the Gadhafi regime," said project leader David Mattingly, professor of Roman archaeology at the university. The fall of the regime has opened up Libya to more exploration by archaeologists of its pre-Islamic heritage.

These "lost cities" were built by a little-known ancient civilization called the Garamantes, whose lifestyle and culture was far more advanced and historically significant than ancient sources had suggested.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/11/08/lost-civilization-discovered-in-sahara-desert/?test=faces#ixzz1dAfz1cJy
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« Reply #5458 on: Nov 8th, 2011, 8:58pm »

That team must have lost their minds when they saw what was there! What a find! Thanks Swamprat.

Crystal



on Nov 8th, 2011, 8:34pm, Swamprat wrote:
Archaeology - SCITECH

Lost Civilization Discovered in Sahara Desert


Published November 08, 2011

New evidence of a lost civilization in an area of the Sahara in Libya has emerged from images taken by satellites.

Using satellites and air photographs to identify the remains in one of the most inhospitable parts of the desert, a team from the University of Leicester in England has discovered more than 100 fortified farms and villages with castle-like structures and several towns, most dating between AD 1 to 500.

"It is like someone coming to England and suddenly discovering all the medieval castles. These settlements had been unremarked and unrecorded under the Gadhafi regime," said project leader David Mattingly, professor of Roman archaeology at the university. The fall of the regime has opened up Libya to more exploration by archaeologists of its pre-Islamic heritage.

These "lost cities" were built by a little-known ancient civilization called the Garamantes, whose lifestyle and culture was far more advanced and historically significant than ancient sources had suggested.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/11/08/lost-civilization-discovered-in-sahara-desert/?test=faces#ixzz1dAfz1cJy
« Last Edit: Nov 8th, 2011, 8:59pm by WingsofCrystal » User IP Logged

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« Reply #5459 on: Nov 9th, 2011, 11:19am »

New York Times

November 9, 2011
Iran Escalates Anti-U.S. Rhetoric Over Nuclear Report
By ROBERT F. WORTH and RICK GLADSTONE

WASHINGTON — Professing outrage over the release of a United Nations report on Iranian nuclear ambitions, Iran’s leaders escalated their anti-American vitriol on Wednesday, calling the report a fabrication, denouncing its chief author as a Washington stooge and vowing that their country would not be bullied into abandoning its nuclear program.

The tone of their reaction suggested that Iran’s leaders were clearly worried that the long-awaited report, released Tuesday by the International Atomic Energy Agency, could sway world opinion and deepen Iran’s isolation, complicating its repeated claims that the goal of the nuclear program is energy, not weapons. France, Britain and Germany quickly signaled they would join the United States in seeking new ways to pressure Iran, although Russia said it was opposed to any new sanctions and China was noncommittal.

The report, buttressed by voluminous evidence not previously disclosed, concluded that Iran had been secretly engaged in behaviors that suggested it was seeking to construct a nuclear weapon. The report also asserted that Iran may be researching ways to deliver a nuclear weapon via a missile warhead. It was the first time that the agency, an arm of the United Nations, had made such assertions.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran led the verbal assault on the report, speaking to crowds during a visit to southwestern Iran on Wednesday. In his first response since the report’s release, he said it had been orchestrated by Iran’s enemies, principally the United States, which he said had dictated the report’s findings.

“Why do you exploit the I.A.E.A dignity in favor of the U.S. administration?” Mr. Ahmadinejad asked rhetorically in a question directed at Yukiya Amano, the director general of the agency, who oversaw the production and content of the report.

“Some bullying powers are armed with atomic bombs and they claim Iran is seeking such bombs,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said, in remarks reported by Iranian news agencies. “The Iranian nation does not fear you if it wants to make a bomb, but it does not need a bomb.”

Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s chief delegate to the United Nations nuclear agency, was quoted by Iranian news agencies as saying Mr. Amano had violated the agency’s charter by asserting false claims in the report and that “the chief of the watchdog body will see consequences of his historical mistake.”

France, a strong advocate of harsher sanctions against Iran but opposed to a military response, reacted strongly on Wednesday. France and its allies are ready to impose “unprecedented sanctions” on Iran if it fails to cooperate fully with the atomic agency, Foreign Minister Alain Juppé said in a statement. He also said that France wanted to convene the Security Council, which has already imposed four rounds of sanctions on Iran. “We cannot accept this situation, which is a threat,” Mr. Juppe told RFI radio. “We need hard sanctions that prevent Iran from continuing to obtain resources that allow it to pursue its activities in violation of all international rules.”

Britain’s foreign secretary, William Hague, said in the House of Commons that “no option is off the table” concerning Iran penalties. Mr. Hague said that “we would go further” than Russia and China in imposing sanctions on Iran. “In light of the I.A.E.A. report, we will want to focus minds both in Beijing and Moscow on this subject.”

A spokeswoman for Catherine Ashton, the European Union foreign-policy chief, said that the U.N. report “seriously aggravates existing concerns on the nature of the Iranian nuclear program, since this report puts particular emphasis on information corroborated by the I.A.E.A. regarding possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program.” The spokeswoman, Maja Kocijancic, added: “Overall these findings strongly indicate the existence of a full fledged nuclear weapons development program in Iran.”

The European Union, like the United States, has already imposed sanctions on Iran, Iranian individuals and companies that go beyond sanctions specified by the Security Council. They include travel bans and asset freezes on 35 people and 215 entities.

The German foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, called the new report “alarming” and said: “If Iran continues to refuse to conduct serious negotiations on its nuclear program, new, more severe sanctions would be inevitable.” He added: “We rule out all discussion on a possible military option.”

Whether the weight of evidence in the report could alter the calculus of Russia and China, who have for years been Iran’s chief defenders against European and American claims about Iran’s nuclear intentions, remained unclear. China said Wednesday that it wanted time to study the report, while Russia said that it would not support new or stricter sanctions on Iran regardless of what the report suggested. “Any additional sanctions against Iran would be perceived by the international community as an instrument for regime change in Tehran,” Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Gennady Gatilov, was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency. “Dialogue is the only solution.”

Iranian officials had suggested prior to the report’s release that it was intended to bolster the case for a pre-emptive military strike on Iran by Israel, which considers Iran its most lethal enemy and has dropped hints of planning such an attack.

In an indication of deepening concern, Iranian officials also stepped up a campaign of threats to retaliate massively against any military action, with one lawmaker warning Tuesday that such a strike would make a battlefield not of Iran but of “the entire Europe and the U.S.,” according to Iran’s Fars news agency.

Reacting to the report on Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjahim Netanyahu of Israel said nothing about a military response. But in a statement, he said the report “corroborates the position of the international community, and of Israel, that Iran is developing nuclear weapons.”

On Tuesday, President Ahmadinejad delivered a speech before the report’s release mocking Western claims about the nuclear program and saying that Iran did not need nuclear weapons to “cut off the hands of the United States.”

After the report was released, Iran’s state news agency, IRNA, published a more detailed rebuttal, saying the new evidence was derived from a laptop said to have been stolen from an Iranian official in 2004. The news agency noted that Mr. Amano had visited Washington last week, and the news agency accused him of following American orders to release the report. It also argued that the detailed simulations and tests described in the document were speculative and unrelated to any actual weapons program.

“Even if we accept that those evidences were true,” the rebuttal said, “they are all based on some computerized simulations and not a ‘practical activity.’ That is why the agency has called the whole project ‘studies.’ There is no evidence in those documents to prove that the studies have been changed into practical projects or activities.”

Finally, IRNA referred to diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks in 2010 in which Mr. Amano appeared to say that his position on Iran’s nuclear program was not substantially different from the American administration — an admission the Iranian news agency took as proof that he was an American pawn.

The basic allegations in the report have been discussed by experts for years. Many of them appear to be those first uncovered in the laptop stolen in 2004, said Muhammad Sahimi, a professor of chemical engineering and materials science at the University of Southern California who has written extensively on Iran’s nuclear program.

But the new report states that the allegations have been corroborated in evidence provided by 10 member nations and by the inspectors’ own research.

“I think the I.A.E.A. has gone out of its way to explain the source of the information,” said Valerie Lincy, who is the editor of Iranwatch.org.

Ultimately, mutual distrust may render the evidence largely irrelevant. “For those who are cynical about Iranian intentions, any amount of proof is sufficient,” said Karim Sadjadpour, an analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, “and for those who are cynical about U.S. intentions, no amount of proof is enough.”

Robert F. Worth reported from Washington and Rick Gladstone from New York. Reporting was contributed by Steven Erlanger from Paris, Michael Schwirtz from Moscow, Ethan Bronner from Jerusalem and Artin Afkhami from Boston.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/10/world/middleeast/iran-seeks-to-frame-un-nuclear-report-as-american-bullying.html?_r=1&hp

Crystal
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