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Mon, 11 Dec 2023
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US: Nevada Sen. Ensign Announces Resignation as Successor is Viewed

© Dep/The Associated Press
In this Aug. 17, 2010 photo, U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., participates in the Tahoe Summit at the Sand Harbor State Park near Incline Village, Nev. Ensign announced he will resign amid an ethics investigation. Ensign said Thursday, April 21, 2011, he will send Vice President Joe Biden a letter Friday making the resignation official.
Nevada Sen. John Ensign announced Thursday he will resign amid an ethics probe, while Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV) is likely to be appointed as his successor, sources tell Fox News.

Heller and Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV) both recently just jumped into the Senate contest. If Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) appoints Heller, it could give him an advantage in the state's 2012 Senate election.

Heller's district is the largest and most rural in Nevada, where the tea party has strong support.

Ensign insisted he's done nothing wrong, but said he could no longer subject his family and constituents to further investigation.

He said in a statement that he will send Vice President Joe Biden a letter Friday making the resignation official.

Arrow Up

Gold soars to new record

Gold Chart
© Toronto Star
Gold prices reached new highs Wednesday, as investors fretted over stern warnings on U.S. debt and growing inflation risks in China and India.

The same forces pushed up prices for silver, oil, and other commodities, as well as the Canadian dollar, as the U.S. greenback fell sharply.

Spot gold rose to an all-time high of $1,505.70 (U.S.) an ounce.

The precious metal has hit new records for four straight days, aided in large part by Monday's threat of a downgrade to the United States' triple-A credit rating and lingering euro zone debt worries that have depressed the dollar.

Investors typically flock to gold as a hedge against inflation and uncertainty. Both China and India reported higher than expected inflation last week.

Silver also surged above $45 (U.S.) for the first time since 1980 Wednesday.

Bad Guys

How a big US bank laundered billions from Mexico's murderous drug gangs

soldier guards marijuana
© Arias/AP
A soldier guards marijuana that is being incinerated in Tijuana, Mexico. Photograph: Guillermo

As the violence spread, billions of dollars of cartel cash began to seep into the global financial system. But a special investigation by the Observer reveals how the increasingly frantic warnings of one London whistleblower were ignored

On 10 April 2006, a DC-9 jet landed in the port city of Ciudad del Carmen, on the Gulf of Mexico, as the sun was setting. Mexican soldiers, waiting to intercept it, found 128 cases packed with 5.7 tons of cocaine, valued at $100m. But something else - more important and far-reaching - was discovered in the paper trail behind the purchase of the plane by the Sinaloa narco-trafficking cartel.

During a 22-month investigation by agents from the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service and others, it emerged that the cocaine smugglers had bought the plane with money they had laundered through one of the biggest banks in the United States: Wachovia, now part of the giant Wells Fargo.

Evil Rays

iPhone and iPad with iOS 4 Records Your Moves

© Physorg.com
Researchers have raised privacy fears with the latest discovery: any iPhone or iPad with iOS 4 can track your whereabouts by recording your latitude and longitude coordinates along with a timestamp. Apple was contacted but has not responded to any inquires.

Security researchers have discovered that any iPhone or iPad that has been updated with iOS 4 records everywhere you have been to a secret file. The file is also copied to the owner's computer whenever the two are synchronized.

According to the Guardian, all your locations are logged to a file called "consolidated.db" and contain latitude and longitude coordinates along with a timestamp. The file can contain tens of thousands of data points since iOS 4's release in June 2010.

Pete Warden and Alasdair Allan, founder of Data Science Toolkit, discovered the file and presented their findings today to the Where 2.0 conference in San Francisco. Alasdair has also looked into Google's Android phones for similar tracking code and could not find any.

It's not sure why Apple is collecting this data but it's clearly intentional because the data is being restored across backups and phone migrations. Apple's Product Security team was contacted but no one has responded.

Light Sabers

UK: Scotland Yard plans pre-emptive strike against royal wedding anarchists

© The Associated Press
Police officers contain a group of student protesters outside Buckingham Palace last November
Scotland Yard is planning a "pre-emptive strike" against anarchists who are planning to disrupt the royal wedding, senior officers have revealed

Keen to prevent the scenes of disorder which accompanied the TUC march last month, the Metropolitan Police says it plans to identify and potentially arrest known trouble-makers in advance of the wedding on April 29.

Senior officers say that 60 anarchists arrested during the TUC march have bail conditions which prevent them entering central London two days before the wedding and two days after, as well as the actual day itself.

Police "spotters" - normally used to combat football hooligans - will be used throughout the country to watch those on bail, and other anarchists who have previously committed public order offences at demonstrations, to ensure they are not planning on disrupting the wedding.

Comment: If any anarchists attend the royal wedding, be sure of the high probability that they're argent provocateurs, there to keep the media propaganda engine ticking over and giving the government more excuses to restrict civil liberties.

Eye 2

'Undisclosed location' disclosed: A visit offers some insight into Cheney hide-out

© Unknown
Welcome to the undisclosed location.

Known familiarly to government insiders as the "underground Pentagon," this is where Vice President Dick Cheney set up shop in the aftermath of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and where he sometimes is when his office is being secretive about Cheney's whereabouts.

The location is a highly secure complex of buildings inside Raven Rock Mountain near Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., close to the Maryland-Pennsylvania state line and about seven miles north of Camp David.

A recent book, A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America's Intelligence Agencies, by James Bamford, was credited with spilling the beans about the supposedly supersecret hideaway.

Still, there is great sensitivity about the compound, as emphasized to an uninvited reporter the other day who was inadvertently allowed to briefly enter a guardhouse.

"I work physical security at an undisclosed location in southern Pennsylvania, that's all I can say," said a well-armed fatigues-clad Army guard as he politely but firmly told the reporter that "everything you see is classified."

There is not all that much to be seen.


BP's Secret Deepwater Blowout

Greg Palast
© gregpalast.com
Greg Palast investigating BP's blowout in the Caspian, Baku, Azerbaijan 2010.

Only 17 months before BP's Deepwater Horizon rig suffered a deadly blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, another BP deepwater oil platform also blew out.

You've heard and seen much about the Gulf disaster that killed 11 BP workers. If you have not heard about the earlier blowout, it's because BP has kept the full story under wraps. Nor did BP inform Congress or US safety regulators, and BP, along with its oil industry partners, have preferred to keep it that way.

The earlier blowout occurred in September 2008 on BP's Central Azeri platform in the Caspian Sea.

As one memo marked "secret" puts it, "Given the explosive potential, BP was quite fortunate to have been able to evacuate everyone safely and to prevent any gas ignition." The Caspian oil platform was a spark away from exploding, but luck was with the 211 rig workers.

It was eerily similar to the Gulf catastrophe as it involved BP's controversial "quick set" drilling cement.

The question we have to ask: If BP had laid out the true and full facts to Congress and regulators about the earlier blowout, would those 11 Gulf workers be alive today - and the Gulf Coast spared oil-spill poisons?


DOJ Argues For Rehearing in Dick Cheney's Secret Service Lawsuit

© Associated Press
Denver -- The U.S. Department of Justice has sided with attorneys for two Secret Service agents who were sued after arresting a man who confronted former Vice President Dick Cheney.

The department argues that the law protects agents when they're making split-second decisions while protecting the president and vice president.

DOJ documents filed Monday in the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals support the agents' request that the court overturn a three-judge panel's ruling last month that allows a lawsuit filed by Steven Howards to proceed on First Amendment grounds.

Attorneys general from Colorado, Oklahoma, Utah, Wyoming, South Carolina and Vermont filed similar documents, arguing that the lawsuit would subject local police to lawsuits.


Koch Industries buying ads to refute news stories

© Unknown
Koch Industries has launched a website and is buying advertisements on Google and Facebook to counter news stories critical of the politically-active company.

Charles and David Koch, owners of Koch Industries, were principle financiers of Wisconsin's Republican Governor Scott Walker and the tea party movement. They are also supporters of groups like Americans for Prosperity, the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Reason Foundation.

In response to a story by the Center for Public Integrity that outlined Koch's multimillion-dollar lobbying network in Washington, Koch Industries has started an ad campaign targeting the nonprofit organization.

The Center for Public Integrity has a screen shot of the Google ad, which says "Slanted Reporting on Koch: Bias, hidden agenda at the Center for Public Integrity" after a search for the words "Center for Public Integrity" and "Koch." A similar ad is also apparently on Facebook.


Fidel Castro resigns as head of Cuba's Communist Party

© UN Photo/ Evan Schneider
Havana - Fidel Castro confirmed his exit from the Communist Party leadership on Tuesday, ceding power to his brother Raul as delegates prepare to vote on changes that could bring term limits to key posts.

The move came after the sixth Communist Party Congress approved a flurry of measures on Monday aimed at keeping Cuba's centrally planned economy from collapse but without any broad embrace of market-oriented change.

"Raul knew that I would not accept a formal role in the party today," Fidel wrote in an article on the Cubadebate.cu portal, referring to his absence from the party's new Central Committee, elected on Monday.

Castro, 84, had served as first secretary in the Central Committee of the party -- which underpins the country's Communist government -- since the party's creation in 1965.