Puppet MastersS

Dollar

IMF Leads Global Push for Euro Zone to Boost Firewall

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© Reuters/Christian HartmannHead of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde attends a session at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, January 28, 2012.
Davos, Switzerland - International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde led a global push on Saturday for the euro zone to boost its financial firewall, saying "if it is big enough it will not get used."

Lagarde, supported by the British finance minister, George Osborne, said the IMF could boost its support for the euro zone but pressed its leaders to act first. Some attendees at the Davos Forum still doubted the viability of the currency union.

Countries beyond the 17-country bloc want to see its members stump up more money before they commit additional resources to the IMF, which this month requested an additional 500 billion euros ($650 billion) in funding.

"Now is the time - there has been a lot of pressure building in order to see a solution come about," Lagarde told a Forum panel discussion on the economic outlook from which euro zone leaders - most notably Germany - were conspicuously absent.

"It is critical that the euro zone members develop a clear, simple firewall that can operate both to limit the contagion and to provide this sort of act of trust in the euro zone, so that the financing needs of that zone can actually be met," she said.

Comment: "..if it is big enough it will not get used.."

This is confusing. It almost sounds like I should wash my car keys, cause if they're clean, I won't lose them.

I should mention, I'm no economist, but this editor imagines a little tiny pillow absorbing and somehow cushioning the fall of a 300 tonne object. Effective?


Evil Rays

Treating People Like Luggage ( Drive-by Scanning ) : Officials Expand Use and Dose of Radiation for Security Screening

U.S. law enforcement agencies are exposing people to radiation in more settings and in increasing doses to screen for explosives, weapons and drugs. In addition to the controversial airport body scanners, which are now deployed for routine screening, various X-ray devices have proliferated at the border, in prisons and on the streets of New York.

customs backscatter vans
© Customs and Border ProtectionCustoms and Border Protection used backscatter vans, like the one above, at Super Bowl XLIV in Miami in 2010.
Not only have the machines become more widespread, but some of them expose people to higher doses of radiation. And agencies have pushed the boundaries of acceptable use by X-raying people covertly, according to government documents and interviews.

While airport scanners can show objects on the surface of the body, prisons have begun to use X-rays that can see through the body to detect contraband hidden in cavities. U.S. Customs and Border Protection is in the process of deploying dozens of drive-through X-ray portals to scan cars and buses at the border with their passengers still inside.

X-ray scanners have been tested at ferry crossings, for visitor entries at the Pentagon and for long-range detection of suicide bombers at special events. And drawing the ire of privacy groups, Customs and the New York Police Department have deployed unmarked X-ray vans that can drive to a location and look inside vehicles for drugs and explosives.

Attention

Propaganda Alert! Iraq Car Bomber Hits Shiite Cortege, Killing 33

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© The Associated Press/Khalid MohammedPeople gather at the scene of a car bomb attack in Zafaraniyah, Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, Jan. 27, 2012.
A suicide car bomber struck a Shiite funeral procession Friday, killing 33 people as suspected al Qaeda militants stepped up apparent efforts to provoke a counterattack by Shiite militias on Sunnis that could pave the way toward open sectarian warfare now that U.S. troops have left Iraq.

The powerful blast - the second deadliest attack in Iraq this month - set nearby stores and cars ablaze alongside scattered flesh and mutilated bodies. It shattered windows and damaged walls in the local hospital, wounding a nurse and four patients; Within minutes, the hospital was scrambling to treat scores of others.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack in the predominantly Shiite neighborhood of Zafaraniyah in southwestern Baghdad. But the bombing resembled previous attacks by al Qaeda in Iraq.

Heart - Black

Children Among 74 Dead in 2 Days of Syrian Turmoil

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© The Associated Press/Local Coordination Committees in SyriaThis citizen journalism image provided by the Local Coordination Committees in Syria and released on Friday Jan. 27, 2012, purports to show the bodies of five Syrian children wrapped in plastic bags, with signs in Arabic identifying them by name.
Two days of bloody turmoil in Syria killed at least 74 people, including small children, as forces loyal to President Bashar Assad shelled residential buildings and fired on crowds in a dramatic escalation of violence, activists said Friday.

Video posted online showed the bodies of five small children, five women and a man, all bloodied and piled on beds in what appeared to be an apartment after a building was hit in the city of Homs. A narrator said an entire family had been "slaughtered."

Much of the violence was focused in Homs, where heavy gunfire hammered the city Friday in a second day of chaos. A day earlier, the city saw a flare-up of sectarian kidnappings and killings between its Sunni and Alawite communities, and pro-regime forces blasted residential buildings with mortars and gunfire, according to activists.

At least 384 children have been killed, as of Jan. 7, in the crackdown on Syria's uprising since it began nearly 11 months ago, the U.N. children's agency UNICEF said Friday. The count, based on reports from human rights groups, included children under age 18.

Most of the deaths took place in Homs and most of the victims were boys, UNICEF said. It said 380 children have been detained, including some under age 14. The United Nations estimates that more than 5,400 people have died in the turmoil.

Nuke

Best of the Web: Governments Worldwide Raise Acceptable Radiation Levels Based Upon Politics ... Not Science

radiation hazard sign
© n/a
Instead of Protecting People, Governments Cover Up by Raising "Safe" Radiation Levels

American and Canadian authorities have virtually stopped monitoring airborne radiation.

Neither American nor Canadian authorities are testing fish for radioactivity.

Does that mean that we don't have to worry about radiation from Fukushima?

It is a little hard to know, given that what is deemed a "safe level" of radiation is determined by politics ... rather than science. For example, current safety standards are based on the ridiculous assumption that everyone exposed is a healthy man in his 20s - and that radioactive particles ingested into the body cause no more damage than radiation hitting the outside of the body.

Chess

US: Los Angeles Hosts Military Training Exercises

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Joint military training exercises will be held evenings in downtown Los Angeles through Thursday, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

The LAPD will be providing support for the exercises, which will also be held in other portions of the greater Los Angeles area, police said.

Training sites ''have been carefully selected to ensure the event does not negatively impact the citizens of Los Angeles and their daily routine,'' a department official said.

The training, which a department official said would involve helicopters, has been coordinated with local authorities and owners of the training sites, police said.

MIB

US: Obama Hosts George H.W. and Jeb Bush at White House

Jeb,HW & Obama
© White House Photo
Unbeknownst to the press, President Obama met Friday evening with former president George H.W. Bush and his son, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, in the Oval Office.

White House officials did not list the meeting on the president's schedule but released a photo on Flickr. According to the photo's time stamp, the meeting occurred shortly after 5 p.m., about the time the president returned to the White House from a fundraiser.

When asked what the men discussed and why it wasn't on the schedule, the White House released a statement saying, "The three men enjoyed a personal visit in the Oval Office - as they have done on previous occasions when President Bush is Washington."

The Bushes are in town to attend the exclusive Alfalfa Club dinner Saturday, an annual get-together for Washington power brokers that Obama also is scheduled to attend, according to the Associated Press.

The meeting came at an interesting time politically, just one day after Obama, in an interview with ABC News, blamed predecessor George W. Bush for policies that brought on the greatest recession since the Great Depression. He also blamed him for initiating the expansion of food stamp rolls.

Jeb Bush has also played a critical role in the GOP presidential primary contest in Florida -- primarily by saying he wouldn't play a role. His endorsement would have been key in the race, currently neck and neck between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, but Jeb Bush said last week that he would remain neutral.

Arrow Down

Fitch cuts Italy, Spain, other euro zone ratings

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© Unknown

New York - Fitch Ratings on Friday downgraded the sovereign credit ratings for Italy, Spain, Slovenia, Belgium and Cyprus indicating there is a 1-in-2 chance of further downgrades in the next two years.

In its statement, Fitch said these countries have near-term vulnerability to monetary and financial shocks. "Consequently, these sovereigns do not, in Fitch's view, accrue the full benefits of the euro's reserve currency status," Fitch said.

Laptop

The Corporate Usurpation of the Internet

money rules graphic
© n/a
In the wake of a public outcry against internet regulation bills such as SOPA and PIPA, representatives of the EU have signed a new and far more threatening legislation yesterday in Tokyo. Spearheaded by the governments of the United States and Japan and constructed largely in the absence of public awareness, the measures of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) dramatically alter current international legal framework, while introducing the first substantial processes of global internet governance. With complete contempt towards the democratic process, the negotiations of the treaty were exclusively held between industry representatives and government officials, while excluding elected representatives and members of the press from their hearings.

Under the guise of protecting intellectual property rights, the treaty introduces measures that would allow the private sector to enforce sweeping central authority over internet content. The ACTA abolishes all legal oversight involving the removal of content and allows copyright holders to force ISPs to remove material from the internet, something that presently requires a court order. ISPs would then be faced with legal liabilities if they chose not to remove content. Theoretically, personal blogs can be removed for using company logos without permission or simply linking to copy written material; users could be criminalized, barred from accessing the internet and even imprisoned for sharing copyrighted material. Ultimately, these implications would be starkly detrimental toward the internet as a medium for free speech.

Candle

Police: 16 kilograms of cocaine seized at UN

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© Agence France Presse
United Nations - A shipment containing 16 kilograms of cocaine was seized last week at the U.N.'s mail intake center, a New York Police Department spokesman said Thursday.

Paul Browne, NYPD's chief spokesman, said the drug was in a white bag evidently masquerading as a diplomatic pouch that raised suspicions when it was being scanned because it was stamped with what looked like a poorly concocted version of the U.N. logo.

Browne said there was no name or address on the shipment sent from Mexico City through Cincinnati.

U.N. security officials called the NYPD and Drug Enforcement Administration, which confirmed the substance inside the shipment intercepted Jan. 16 was cocaine, the police spokesman said.

U.N. undersecretary-general for safety and security Gregory B. Starr told reporters Thursday evening that "there is nothing to indicate that this had anything to do with anybody at the United Nations."

Starr said the drug was actually stashed in two bags that were stamped with the sky-blue U.N. logo of a world map in an apparent effort to masquerade as diplomatic pouches, which are not supposed to be inspected. Inside the bag, the drug was hidden in hollowed-out notebooks, he added.

The U.N. official showed journalists a photograph of the bags that were seized, and compared them with a real diplomatic pouch used by the U.N., which is somewhat larger and made of a different material.

"This did not come from a United Nations facility," Starr said of the shipment. "It was not, in my opinion, not intended to go to a United Nations facility."