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Prominent Vietnam dissident jailed for seven years

© Reuters
The son of a Vietnamese revolutionary leader was jailed for seven years on Monday for spreading anti-state propaganda, in one of the communist nation's most politically charged cases in years.

After a trial lasting about half a day, Cu Huy Ha Vu was convicted of advocating an end to one-party communist rule. The 53-year-old was charged after twice trying to sue the prime minister.

"Cu Huy Ha Vu's behaviour is serious and harmful to society. His writings and interviews blackened directly or indirectly the Communist Party of Vietnam," said Nguyen Huu Chinh, the head judge.

The veteran activist could have faced up to 12 years in prison on the charge, which rights campaigners say criminalises peaceful dissent.

His case led to "an unprecedented movement of popular support", much of it on the Internet, from diverse groups including Catholics, academics, and even high-level communists, said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch (HRW).


Karma: Israeli troops mysteriously get cancer

Israel Soldiers
© PressTV
A photo, appearing in an Israeli periodical, shows servicemen enlisted with the elite commando unit

High occurrence of cancer has been detected in Israel's elite naval commando unit, apparently due to the waste disposal by Israeli firms in Kishon River.

The river, which flows into the Mediterranean Sea in the northern city of Haifa, has been used for training the unit, known as Shayetet 13.

Carmel Olefins Ltd., Israel's sole manufacturer of petrochemical products used in the plastics industry, as well as other firms have been accused of directing their waste into the river, which is notorious for being the most polluted stream in Israel.

The manufacturer was in possession of thousands of documents on the servicemen's affliction with cancer following a long swim in Kishon.

The firm trusted an expert in New York with the papers so that they would be used in its defense. They, however, disappeared under mysterious circumstances.

Control Panel

Ireland forced into new £21bn bailout by financial elites' manufactured debt crisis

Irish finance minister Michael Noonan said country had been left with an 'appalling legacy' as a result of the banking crisis

Europe's debt crisis deepened on Thursday night as Ireland was forced into another €24bn (£21bn) rescue of its banking system and jittery financial markets pushed Portugal closer to a bailout.

In a furious attack on the previous government, the Irish finance minister Michael Noonan said the country had been left with "an appalling legacy: a legacy of debt, of unemployment, of emigration, of falling living standards and of low morale" as a result of the banking crisis.

After stress tests to assess the vulnerability of the banks to a drastic worsening of the economy, Noonan announced that the government would take a majority stake in all the major lenders. These are to be radically reduced in size and focused on just two players.


Libyan foreign minister Moussa Koussa's defection surprises Gaddafi, was he an MI6 agent all along?

'It would be fair to say this all happened rather quickly' says key Whitehall source of Gaddafi ally's defection

For a man so cultured in the dark arts of international diplomacy, perhaps it should not have been a surprise that Moussa Koussa engineered his escape in the way that he did.

Koussa, who spent Thursday being debriefed by MI6, appears to have taken the Libyan regime completely by surprise - and perhaps the British too.

The flight that took him from Tunisia to Farnborough on a rainy Wednesday afternoon was the last leg of a choreographed getaway that he may have planned for weeks, but dared not confide to anyone. Certainly he told nobody in Tripoli, the city in which he was born, and which he left on Monday in a cavalcade of armoured limousines, having convinced the regime that he needed medical treatment across the border.


'US spies in Libya before Obama aid bid'


Hi, we're the Libyan revolutionaries. We spontaneously uprose and spontaneously acquired these hardcore weapons.
US intelligence operatives had been on the battlefields in Libya before President Barack Obama signed an order allowing covert assistance to the opposition forces, officials say.

With the battles in Libya taking on the theme of a shadow intelligence war, two US officials have stated that American Special Forces and CIA operational teams were dispatched to the conflict-torn Libya to make contacts with anti-regime forces and to organize and train them, Reuters reported on Thursday.

"They're trying to sort out who could be turned into a military unit and who couldn't," said Bob Baer, a former CIA operative in the Middle East, adding that the operatives may have entered Libya through neighboring Egypt and are lightly equipped.

Another US government source also stated that the Obama administration is mulling over plans under which US Special Forces with experience in the Afghan war would collaborate with CIA officers in efforts to provide training to Libyan opposition fighters.

Comment: It seems that Libya was crawling with US and UK spies in the run-up to this latest controlled 'civil war':

British "diplomat" captured along with SAS unit in Libya was MI6 spy

Monkey Wrench

UK: Our man in Washington helped with Gaddafi son's 'dodgy' PhD: Ex-Blair aide 'collaborated' with tyrant's family

Sir Nigel Sheinwald gaddafi
© Reuters
Curious: Sir Nigel Sheinwald (left), who was handed his Washington post by Tony Blair, offered Saif Gaddafi'active assistance' with his 429-page PhD thesis during his time at LSE

Sir Nigel Sheinwald showed 'profound interest' in Saif Gaddafi's studies

Colonel Gaddafi's son was given help with his 'dodgy' PhD thesis by Britain's ambassador to the United States.

Last night's extraordinary revelation provides further evidence of the close links between the Blair government and the Libyan tyrant's murderous regime.

His son Saif, 38, has become notorious for tirades and threats against Libyan rebels.

The doctorate awarded him by the London School of Economics was already thought suspect because he followed it with a £1.5million donation.
And now the Mail has learnt that Sir Nigel Sheinwald, who was handed his Washington post by Tony Blair, offered Gaddafi junior 'active assistance' with the 429-page work.

Saif Gaddafi
© Reuters
Saif Gaddafi
Sir Nigel was at Mr Blair's side for the first meeting with Colonel Gaddafi in 2007 that resulted in a massive BP oil contract. When the Mail asked him whether he had had a hand in Saif's PhD his staff replied on his behalf that the idea was 'ludicrous'.

However, a senior source at the London School of Economics confirmed that Sir Nigel had shown a 'profound interest' in Saif's academic studies and offered 'active assistance' in his work.

Comment: Sir Nigel actions are not surprising, given his past. Psychopathic governments attract those of the same ilk to work in them.


Japan - Damage to reactor called severe

© Atsushi Taketazu/Yomiuri Shimbun via Associated Press
An evacuation center in Onagawa, northeastern Japan, housed displaced victims yesterday, three weeks after the devastating earthquake and tsunami. About 16,000 remain missing.
Washington - Energy Secretary Steven Chu said yesterday that roughly 70 percent of the core of one reactor at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan had sustained severe damage.

His assessment of the damage to Reactor No. 1 was the most specific yet from a US official on how close the plant came to a full meltdown after it was hit by a severe earthquake and massive tsunami March 11.

Japanese officials have spoken of a "partial meltdown'' at some of the stricken reactors. But they have been less than specific, especially on the question of how close No. 1 - the most badly damaged reactor - came to a full meltdown.


This isn't going to get any better: Radioactive water leaks from Japan nuclear plant

© AP Photo/Lee Jin-man
Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan, center at right, bows with other officials for the victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami-destroyed town of Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, northern Japan, Saturday, April 2, 2011.
Tokyo - Japanese nuclear official says highly radioactive water is leaking from a damaged nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean.

Nuclear safety spokesman Hidehiko Nishiyama says the air above the leak contains 1,000 millisiverts of radioactivity. Exposure to 500 millisiverts over a short period of time can increase the risk of cancer.

The water was seeping Saturday from a crack in the containment for a maintenance pit on the edge of the nuclear site.

The Fukushima Dai-ichi plant has been spewing radioactivity since it was hit by a tsunami three weeks ago.

This is a breaking news update. AP's earlier story is below.


Slash and Burn capitalism: Big Business Stock Buyback Plan - Guess Who's Winning?

This has gotta be a joke. According to a new report by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased by $69-billion (7-percent), while personal income rose by only $38-billion (3-percent) in February. So consumers are back to their old ways again -- spending more than they earn?

Er, not exactly. The truth is, consumer spending is slowing down because food and energy are taking a bigger chunk out of the old paycheck. After factoring in inflation, personal consumption is up just 3-percent while real income fell to 1-percent. So, inflation makes the numbers look a lot different.

The reason all this matters, is because consumption is 70-percent of GDP, so if the consumer is on the ropes and getting pummeled by stagnant wages and inflation at the same time, then you can bet the economy is headed for the dumpster. Of course, a good portion of the blame for this mess goes to Ben Bernanke, whose miracle QE2 elixir has kept the stock market bubbly while commodities and food prices have skyrocketed. That's the real source of the problem -- an uneven policy that rewards the investment class while leaving the worker-bees (you and me) fending off soaring prices.

Bernanke says we shouldn't worry about the higher prices because core inflation is still low (roughly 1%). That's easy to say for a guy who's never filled his gas tank in his life, but for everyone else inflation is a killer that forces them to cut their spending or shed more debt, neither of which is easy to do.

Brick Wall

American Hypocrisy at it's Best: Obama Receives Transparency Award at Secret Meeting

© Unknown
Senate bill sponsors Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill discussing the Coburn–Obama Transparency Act, 2006
On Monday President Obama received an award for transparency, which ironically was given to him during a closed, unannounced meeting. Bestowed upon the President from a group of transparency advocates, the ceremony took place in secret, even though - as of two weeks ago - it was supposed to be open to the press.

According to Politico, the meeting was "inexplicably postponed" and rescheduled without notice for Monday "without disclosing the meeting on [the President's] public schedule or letting photographers or print reporters into the room."

Those present at the ceremony, which took place in the Oval Office, included Gary Bass of OMB Watch, Tom Blanton of the National Security Archive, Danielle Brian of the Project on Government Oversight, Lucy Dalgish of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and Patrice McDermott of OpenTheGovernment.org.

Gary Bass commented:
Our understanding going into the meeting was that it would have a pool photographer and a print reporter, and it turned out to be a private meeting." He adds, "He was so on point, so on target in the conversation with us, it is baffling why he would not want that message to be more broadly heard by reporters and the public interest community and the public generally.