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Tue, 03 Oct 2023
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Puppet Masters


What is Plan B if China dumps its U.S. debt?

made in china, barcode
© Reuters/Brian Snyder
The box for a wine refrigerator reading ''Made in China'' at a Costco store in Everett, Massachusetts, January 18, 2011.

When borrowing money it's always good to have a Plan B in case a big creditor pulls the plug. That should be true whether the sum is a few thousand dollars or about a trillion, the size of the United States government's debt to China.

With Chinese President Hu Jintao due to arrive in Washington on Tuesday, it is worth asking about U.S. officials' Plan B just in case one day relations take a surprise turn for the worse and Beijing dumps its holdings of U.S. treasuries.

China is officially the United States' biggest foreign creditor, with roughly $900 billion in Treasury holdings -- or over $1 trillion with Hong Kong's holdings included.

That means it could do severe damage to U.S. debt markets if it suddenly started selling large amounts.


US: Utah considers making semiautomatic pistol a state symbol

© Wikipedia
An M1911A1 semiautomatic, .45-caliber pistol manufactured by Remington Rand. Utah gunmaker John M. Browning designed the original M1911 firearm, which lawmakers want to make the nation's official state gun.

A House committee voted, 9-2, yesterday to endorse a bill that would make Utah gunmaker John Moses Browning's M1911 semiautomatic pistol a state symbol. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman, said the .45-caliber handgun is something that represents Utah, The Tribune reported.

"It's an implement of freedom that has defended America for 100 years," he said.

The M1911, which was the standard-issue sidearm for U.S. forces from 1911 to 1985, was used by military heroes such as Alvin York and Audie Murphy, Wimmer said. The House Political Subdivisions Committee passed the measure, which several gun rights groups backed. The bill goes to the full House, which Republicans control.

Mr. Potato

Egypt: Mubarak's son flees to Britain as protests increase


Dominoes! Jamal Mubarak left for London on Tuesday.
The Egyptian president's son has fled to Britain as thousands continue to protest across the country against Hosni Mubarak's decades-long rule.

Mubarak's son, who is considered his successor, left the country along with his family amid the anti-government protests across Egypt which are the largest since Mubarak took power three decades ago.

The plane with Jamal Mubarak, his wife and daughter on board left for London Tuesday from an airport in western Cairo, the US-based Arabic website, Akhbar al-Arab reported on Wednesday.

His departure comes as situation in Egypt remains tense with people pouring into the streets across the country to protest against Mubarak.

Heavily armed riot police have been deployed in major cities as the Egyptian government has banned any demonstrations, warning that protesters would be detained.


Exporting terrorism abroad: 'Palestine Papers' reveal British MI6 role behind internment and torture in Occupied Territories

© Loay Abu Haykel/Reuters
Palestinian "special guards" - made in the UK
Internment and replacement of imams among measures

Document proposed 'direct lines' to Israeli intelligence

New files reveal Israel requested assassination of militant

British intelligence helped draw up a secret plan for a wide-ranging crackdown on the Islamist movement Hamas which became a security blueprint for the Palestinian Authority, leaked documents reveal. The plan asked for the internment of leaders and activists, the closure of radio stations and the replacement of imams in mosques.

The disclosure of the British plan, drawn up by the intelligence service in conjunction with Whitehall officials in 2004, and passed by a Jerusalem-based MI6 officer to the senior PA security official at the time, Jibril Rajoub, is contained in the cache of confidential documents obtained by al-Jazeera TV and shared with the Guardian. The documents also highlight the intimate level of military and security cooperation between Palestinian and Israeli forces.

The bulk of the British plan has since been carried out by the West Bank-based PA security apparatus which is increasingly criticised for authoritarian rule and human rights abuses, including detention without trial and torture.


This Won't Hurt a Bit...

It's that time of year again - the President of the United States is taking an hour or so out of his evening to explain to the 15% of the American public who didn't change the channel that things aren't as bad as they seem. It's called the State of the Union Address - though this year it was introduced by ABC News as 'The State of OUR Union' - just keep spinning things, folks, play continuity, community and any faint whiff of ownership - perhaps one or two of those guys in Illinois won't change the channel.

The intro on CBS led in with the congressional shooting and how the congresswoman Gaby Giffords is recovering. It's always wise to lead in with emotion, it hooks people, before they can reach for the remote.

The Republicans and Democrats will be 'seated together' this year, as opposed to the customary seating which separates them 'across the aisle'. What does this mean? Nothing. Forcing children who dislike each other to sit together rarely accomplishes much. While waiting for the president to enter, the camera pans across all the congressmen standing and milling around and shaking hands with each other as if this is ground-breaking behavior - a background hum of casual chatting and friendly camaraderie ensues; dancing on the deck of the Titanic.

Quite a lot is made of this by the news commentators, as it is explained that Republicans and Democrats paired up with each other as 'dates' to sit together, mixed on both sides of 'the aisle'. The media refers to it as a 'prom' - they even speak of a 'prom queen and king', the "better looking members of the senate who paired up early". This is the country's Legislative Branch of government acting like, being treated like they are teenagers at a prom. While this is a classic marketing tactic to humanize and familiarize a loathed branch of government to the 'common man', who is mentally and emotionally 14 years old, all I can say is, please save us from marketers.


US: Arizona to Pass 2012 Eligibility Law: Obama Will Have to Produce Birth Certificate to Run Again

It could be a game-changer.

A plan in Arizona to require presidential candidates to prove their eligibility to occupy the Oval Office is approaching critical mass, even though it has just been introduced.

The proposal from state Rep. Judy Burges, who carried a similar plan that fell short last year only because of political maneuvering, was introduced yesterday with 16 members of the state Senate as co-sponsors.

It needs only 16 votes in the Senate to pass.

In the House, there are 25 co-sponsors, with the need for only 31 votes for passage, and Burges told WND that there were several chamber members who confirmed they support the plan and will vote for it, but simply didn't wish to be listed as co-sponsors.

The proposal, which also is being taken up in a number of other states, is highly specific and directly addresses the questions that have been raised by Barack Obama's occupancy of the White House. It says:
Within ten days after submittal of the names of the candidates, the national political party committee shall submit an affidavit of the presidential candidate in which the presidential candidate states the candidate's citizenship and age and shall append to the affidavit documents that prove that the candidate is a natural born citizen, prove the candidate's age and prove that the candidate meets the residency requirements for President of the United States as prescribed in article II, section 1, Constitution of the United States.


Justice Department Seeks to Have all Web Surfing Tracked

eye laptop
© unknown
Mandatory data retention 'raises serious privacy and free speech concerns'

The US Justice Department wants Internet service providers and cell phone companies to be required to hold on to records for longer to help with criminal prosecutions.

"Data retention is fundamental to the department's work in investigating and prosecuting almost every type of crime," US deputy assistant attorney general Jason Weinstein told a congressional subcommittee on Tuesday.

"Some records are kept for weeks or months; others are stored very briefly before being purged," Weinstein said in remarks prepared for delivery to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security.

He said Internet records are often "the only available evidence that allows us to investigate who committed crimes on the Internet."

Internet and phone records can be "crucial evidence" in a wide array of cases, including child exploitation, violent crime, fraud, terrorism, public corruption, drug trafficking, online piracy and computer hacking, Weinstein said, but only if the data still exists when law enforcement needs it.


British government tortures Palestinians by proxy

The British government is complicit in torturing political prisoners detained and jailed in the occupied West Bank by the Palestinian Authority (PA), a senior British officer said.

The officer, James MacInnis is charged with training the PA's top security officials as part of a plan to provide assistance and financial support to PA agents in arresting and torturing members of the Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas.

MacInnin admitted to the British role in torturing Palestinian prisoners after an Arab organization for human rights in London revealed that the PA has been torturing prisoners affiliated with Hamas for years.

Torture techniques used in PA prisons included shabh (hanging) of all kinds, beatings with cables, pulling out nails, suspension from the ceiling, flogging, kicking, cursing, electric shocks, sexual harassment and the threat of rape, according to the report.

At least six Palestinians have died under torture in PA prisons and many former detainees have permanent physical disabilities, the report found.

Arrow Down

Canada: Alberta Premier Stepping Down as Deficit Lingers

Alberta premier Stelmach
© unknown
Alberta premier Stelmach answers questions at a news conference in Calgary
Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach surprised voters on Tuesday by saying he will resign, just three years after winning the largest parliamentary majority in the oil-rich province's history.

Stelmach, 59, a farmer by trade who has had a tumultuous relationship with Alberta's powerful energy industry, told reporters he plans to step down as head of the governing Progressive Conservative Party before the next election.

"There is no doubt that my decision today will come as a shock to many and a disappointment to my friends and Albertans," he said.

Alberta is one of the top suppliers of oil to the United States, thanks largely to its vast oil sands, the largest crude reserves outside the Middle East.

In his first election as leader, Stelmach's party won a landslide victory in the Western Canadian province of 3.3 million in 2008, despite discontent over his moves to boost royalties levied on the oil sector.

Since then, the premier has taken hits from disgruntled oil and gas producers, though royalty rates were rolled back during the recession, while facing accusations that his Conservatives have mismanaged the province's healthcare system.


Moscow airport bomb may have been delivered by two people and detonated remotely, ruling out suicide

© RIA Novosti/Reuters
"Yes Mr. President, it was you-know-who..."
Dmitry Medvedev today accused government officials of allowing security checks at Domodedovo airport to slip into "a state of anarchy", amid reports that a Black Widow suicide bomber detonated the bomb that killed 35 people there yesterday.

The Russian president told chiefs of the federal security service (FSB) that those responsible for transport security "could be dismissed or face other sanctions" as a result of the negligence.

"We will have to put in place a much tougher inspection system, total inspections. It will likely take passengers longer, but it's the only way out," he said. "The information available to us [from Domodedovo] suggests that it was simply a state of anarchy. People were able to enter [the airport] from any place. Control over people's movements was partial and did not apply to those waiting for passengers."

Medevedev said earlier in the day: "What happened shows that there were clear security violations."