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Tue, 31 Jan 2023
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Rumsfeld: Bush ordered invasion of Iraq war just 15 days after 9/11

Former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld says in his memoirs that ex-President George W. Bush ordered the Iraq war just two weeks after September 11.

In his autobiography scheduled to be released on February 8, Rumsfeld writes that 15 days after 9/11, when Pentagon's focus was on Afghan war, Bush called him to his office and ordered a review plans for Iraq war.

"Two weeks after the worst terror attacks in our nation's history, those of us in the Department of Defense were full occupied," but Bush called for a "creative" option for invading Iraq, The Huffington Post reported on Thursday.

However, Rumsfeld says Iraq war has been worth the costs and offers no apology for the way he handled the conflict.

He says if former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's regime was not ousted, the Middle East would be "far more perilous than it is today."


Mubarak Resigns...As Head of National 'Democratic' Party

© AP Photo
Out-of favor Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his son Gemal have stepped down from the positions they held in the ruling party as anti-government protests intensify.

Hosni Mubarak resigned as the head of National Democratic Party (NDP) along with the party's secretary general Safwat el-Sherif on Saturday, DPA reported. Moreover, Gemal stepped down from a position he held in the party.

Hossam Badrawi, a member of the Upper Chamber of the Egyptian Parliament, is expected to take over as secretary general, state media reported.

The developments come as millions of people gathered in Cairo's Liberation Square for the 12th straight day, calling on Mubarak to immediately step down.

Egyptians also continued massive anti-government rallies on Saturday across major cities of the country. Large rallies were also held in other cities including Alexandria and Suez.


Obama resists calls to cut military aid to Mubarak regime

© Jim Young/Reuters
Hosni Mubarak with Barack Obama in 2009. The White House sees Egypt's military as the key to removing its beleaguered president.
White House says suspension of $1.3bn in annual aid to Egypt would undermine push towards a post-Mubarak system

The Obama administration today resisted calls to cut its massive military aid to Egypt and is instead working behind the scenes with the commanders of the country's armed forces on how to oust President Hosni Mubarak.

The White House sees the Egyptian military as the key to removing Mubarak, regarded as a necessary first step towards implementing substantive political and economic reforms. Cutting aid would risk alienating them.

The US defence secretary, Robert Gates, the chair of the joint chiefs of staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, and other senior Pentagon figures have been in regular contact with their Egyptian counterparts all week.

Mullen, in an interview with ABC television today, said the US should wait to see what happens next before suspending aid, which amounts to more than $1.3bn (£800m) a year.


Mubarak Family Fortune Could Reach $70 Billion

© Cris Bouroncle/AFP/Getty Images
Gamal and Hosni Mubarak are reported to have built up huge fortunes, including properties in London.
Egyptian president has cash in British and Swiss banks plus UK and US property

President Hosni Mubarak's family fortune could be as much as $70bn (£43.5bn) according to analysis by Middle East experts, with much of his wealth in British and Swiss banks or tied up in real estate in London, New York, Los Angeles and along expensive tracts of the Red Sea coast.

After 30 years as president and many more as a senior military official, Mubarak has had access to investment deals that have generated hundreds of millions of pounds in profits. Most of those gains have been taken offshore and deposited in secret bank accounts or invested in upmarket homes and hotels.

According to a report last year in the Arabic newspaper Al Khabar, Mubarak has properties in Manhattan and exclusive Beverly Hills addresses on Rodeo Drive.

Bad Guys

BP, Vodafone, British Gas and British banks play crucial role supporting Mubarak regime

Firms such as BP criticised for being too close to government of president Hosni Mubarak

© Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
An anti-government demonstrator in Tahrir Square wears a hat made from a newspaper carrying an advert for Vodafone. Vodafone has flown 25 people and their families back to the UK in recent days.
British companies are flying out staff and halting operations as the civil disorder escalates in Egypt but they have also found themselves under verbal attack for being too close to the government of president Hosni Mubarak.

BP has also been accused of working "hand in glove with dictatorship" while Vodafone is under fire for bowing to presidential pressure to shut the mobile telephone network down.

BP, which has sunk $14bn into oil operations and is hoping to double production there, said "hundreds" of employees or their dependents were being evacuated from Cairo and some drilling operations had been halted.

BG, formerly part of British Gas, said it had closed its Cairo office and flown home all non-essential expatriate staff from Egypt, but its production of liquefied natural gas goes on.


Chomsky: It's not radical Islam that worries the US - it's independence

© Lefteris Pitarakis/AP
The nature of any regime it backs in the Arab world is secondary to control. Subjects are ignored until they break their chains

'The Arab world is on fire," al-Jazeera reported last week, while throughout the region, western allies "are quickly losing their influence". The shock wave was set in motion by the dramatic uprising in Tunisia that drove out a western-backed dictator, with reverberations especially in Egypt, where demonstrators overwhelmed a dictator's brutal police.

Observers compared it to the toppling of Russian domains in 1989, but there are important differences. Crucially, no Mikhail Gorbachev exists among the great powers that support the Arab dictators. Rather, Washington and its allies keep to the well-established principle that democracy is acceptable only insofar as it conforms to strategic and economic objectives: fine in enemy territory (up to a point), but not in our backyard, please, unless properly tamed.

One 1989 comparison has some validity: Romania, where Washington maintained its support for Nicolae Ceausescu, the most vicious of the east European dictators, until the allegiance became untenable. Then Washington hailed his overthrow while the past was erased. That is a standard pattern: Ferdinand Marcos, Jean-Claude Duvalier, Chun Doo-hwan, Suharto and many other useful gangsters. It may be under way in the case of Hosni Mubarak, along with routine efforts to try to ensure a successor regime will not veer far from the approved path. The current hope appears to be Mubarak loyalist General Omar Suleiman, just named Egypt's vice-president. Suleiman, the longtime head of the intelligence services, is despised by the rebelling public almost as much as the dictator himself.

Bad Guys

What's Wrong With a Psychopath?

Ian Fleming
© Express Newspapers / Getty Images
The British author Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, might have been a psychopath.

Psychopath: the very word conjures up the image of a deranged killer. Yet the Hollywood portrayal of psychopaths has only served to conceal a disturbing truth: that many of us share our workplace or even our home with cunning psychopaths adept at masking their malevolence. They may never have committed a crime or resorted to violence, yet they share the same cold, manipulative and chillingly self-centred mindset of a serial killer.

Such corrosive personalities have been with us for millennia. According to the American psychiatrist Dr Hervey Cleckley, who pioneered research into the subject in the 1940s, the Athenian statesman and general Alcibiades shows all the classic traits, from childhood delinquency and dishonesty to a complete lack of scruples or remorse. Latter-day candidates for the label of "socialised" psychopath range from Josef Stalin and Saddam Hussein to the author Ian Fleming - perhaps not coincidentally, the creator of the famously ruthless fictional hero James Bond.

Given their malign impact on those around them, from workplace bullying to marital violence and even murder, psychopaths have long been a focus of psychiatric research. To date the results have largely left unresolved the enigma of this destructive personality disorder. But now researchers are uncovering important new clues about its causes.

Psychiatrists are clear that, whatever else they might be, psychopaths are not insane. Indeed, they appear to have an all too effective grasp of reality, being able to manipulate those around them to fit their self-centred grand plan.

Bad Guys

E.L. Rothschild LLC Acquires a Majority Stake in Weather Central, LP

Lynn Forester de Rothschild
© Business Wire
Lynn Forester de Rothschild CEO, E.L. Rothschild LLC
E.L. Rothschild LLC, a private investment company led by Chairman Sir Evelyn de Rothschild and CEO Lynn Forester de Rothschild, today announced the signing of a definitive agreement to acquire a 70% interest in Weather Central, LP (www.wxc.com). The world's leading provider of interactive weather graphics and data services for television, web, and mobile, Weather Central's highly accurate and personalized forecasting offers businesses and consumers a truly unique suite of science-driven weather information products. The company will continue to operate under CEO and founder, Terry Kelly, as well as current management. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Founded in 1974, Weather Central is a global provider of professional on‐air, online, print, mobile, and enterprise weather solutions and forecasting. With 180 employees, including 70 meteorologists, Weather Central provides dynamic weather graphic systems, proprietary forecast models, and dedication to high-quality customer service. Weather Central has secured a leading 46% market share of North America's weather information delivery market for broadcast and media delivering content to hundreds of millions of viewers. It is the largest provider of broadcast and interactive web weather solutions for media companies in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Weather Central has more than 400 broadcast television clients in 21 countries worldwide. It provides weather forecasts to millions of users daily by distributing real-time personalized forecasts, interactive maps, and storm warnings based on each user's exact address.

Comment: Wayne Madsen wonders the following about this story, and so do we:

"What is it that these financial ogres don't want us to know about future weather on the planet? The mind boggles."


Egypt gas pipeline attacked

© Al Jazeera
Unknown attackers have blown up a pipeline that runs through El-Arish area of Egypt's north Sinai area and supplies gas to Jordan and Israel, according to Egypt's state television.

The Jordanian route that runs from El- Arish to Aqaba and then up to Amman has been damaged by Saturday's explosion.

But it has been reported that the gas pipeline running to Ashkelon in Israel has not been affected.

The explosive material was placed inside or adjacent to the control station of the gas supply line. There were no immediate reports of any casualties as a result of the blast.

"Saboteurs took advantage of the security situation and blew up the gas pipeline," a state television correspondent reported, saying there was a big explosion.

State TV quoted an official as saying that the "situation is very dangerous and explosions were continuing from one spot to another" along the pipeline.


Mubarak's true colours

Hosni Mubarak
© Amr Abdallah Dalsh
Hosni Mubarak

Throughout these historic two weeks in Egypt, it has been difficult to know what Hosni Mubarak was thinking. Did he recognize the legitimacy of his people's cry for democracy? Has he known all along that change was nigh, but wanted to make his exit in his own time and his own way?

Mubarak answered all such questions definitively when he sent his thugs to rough up journalists and human rights activists this Thursday and Friday.

That reveals much more than his naming of a vice-president or his talk of "political, social and economic reform" and "constitutional and legislative amendments" in his Tuesday speech.