Models

For a long time, people thought our solar system revolved around the Earth. Copernicus (or Galileo to some) came around and proved the planets revolved around our Sun.

Models are important - they are the perspective of an individual's perception of any given event. Models are always biased, but the objective should be to choose a model with the least bias possible.

How is this achieved?

Scrutinize opposing aspects, think critically, and have an open mind.

"All Truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as self-evident."

- Arthur Schopenhauer

Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't.

- Mark Twain


These opinions below may be my own or may belong to the authors whom I reference. They are posted for the benefit of mankind, so that we may collectively achieve a common ground and transition into a new golden era as seamlessly as possible.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Sirius Documentary is Finally Here

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Sirius

“Sirius” is a feature length documentary that follows Dr. Steven Greer – an Emergency room doctor turned UFO researcher – as he struggles to disclose top secret information about classified energy & propulsion techniques. Along the way, Dr. Greer investigates new technology and sheds light on criminal and murderous suppression. He accumulates over 100 Government, Military, and Intelligence Community witnesses who testify on record about their first-hand experience with the cover-up. Though he feels the pressure of an imminent assassination attempt, he comes upon an amazing find: a possible ancient E.T. skeleton, 6 inches long, is discovered in the Atacama desert. Dr. Greer, along with his team, backed by crowd funding supporters, travel to Europe to get a sample of bone fragment in order to have an IVY league university run genetic tests on the skeleton. What they find will completely change the reality of human existence.

While on this odyssey, the audience gains a whole new perspective on technology, human evolution, and clandestine organizations who have manipulated and controlled the public for centuries.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Ultimate Antibody Found to be Effective Against Every Type Of Cancer


(Photo : Reuters)
It is estimated that more than 12,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer in the U.S. this year and about 4,000 women will die of the disease.


By Mark HoffmanFirst 
Posted: Mar 31, 2013 12:15 PM EDT


Over ten years of cancer research paid off with the truly groundbreaking discovery of an "ultimate antibody" against cancer -- since it kills not just one or two, but all types of human cancer that it was tested on until now, it could result in a single treatment that would go a long way against the disease.

Scientists at the Stanford School of Medicine discovered a suspicous link between cancer cells and high levels of a protein called CD47 while studying leukemia a decade ago. Irving Weissman, the biologist behind the breakthrough, continued to study CD47 and found a CD47-blocking antibody that could cure some cases of leukemia by helping the immune system to recognize cancer cells as foreign and hostile cells that have to be destroyed.

The trick of the cancer cells is that the elevated amounts of CD47 produced by them function as a stealth cloak, effectively tricking the immune system into not destroying the cancer cells. Weissman discovered this by establishing a link between CD47 and most of the primary cancer types that affect humans, finding that cancer cells always had higher levels of CD47 than healthy cells.

"What we've shown is that CD47 isn't just important on leukemias and lymphomas," says Weissman, according to Science magazine. "It's on every single human primary tumor that we tested."

Weissman and his team used that observation to develop an antibody that blocks cancer cells' CD47, causing the body's immune system to attack the cancerous cells.

In tests on laboratory mice infected with a litany human cancers -- breast, ovarian, colon, bladder, brain, liver prostate -- the antibody was demonstrated to trigger the mice's immune systems to kill the tumorous cells.

"We showed that even after the tumor has taken hold, the antibody can either cure the tumor or slow its growth and prevent metastasis," said Weissman.

The next step is a period of clinical tests in humans, which can be initiated now thanks to a $20 million grant by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to move the findings to human safety tests.

"We have enough data already that I can say I'm confident that this will move to phase I human trials," said Weissman.

People Not In Labor Force Soar By 663,000 To 90 Million, Labor Force Participation Rate At 1979 Levels



Things just keep getting worse for the American worker, and by implication US economy, where as we have shown many times before, it pays just as well to sit back and collect disability and various welfare and entitlement checks, than to work .The best manifestation of this: the number of people not in the labor force which in March soared by a massive 663,000 to a record 90 million Americans who are no longer even looking for work. This was the biggest monthly increase in people dropping out of the labor force since January 2012, when the BLS did its census recast of the labor numbers. And even worse, the labor force participation rate plunged from an already abysmal 63.5% to 63.3% - the lowest since 1979! But at least it helped with the now painfully grotesque propaganda that the US unemployment rate is "improving."

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

UN GOES FOR GUNS




The U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday approved a sweeping, first-of-its-kind treaty aimed at regulating the estimated $60 billion international arms trade, brushing aside gun rights groups’ concerns that the pact could lead to a national firearms registry in the U.S.

The long-debated U.N. Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) requires countries to regulate and control the export of weaponry such as battle tanks, combat vehicles and aircraft and attack helicopters, as well as parts and ammunition for such weapons.

The treaty also provides that signatories will not violate arms embargoes or international treaties regarding illicit trafficking, or sell weaponry to countries where they could be used for genocide, crimes against humanity or other war crimes.

“This is a good day for the United Nations, and a good day for the peoples of the world,” said Australian Ambassador Peter Woolcott, the lead negotiator during the process.

With the Obama administration supporting the final treaty draft, the General Assembly vote was 155-3, with 22 abstentions. Iran, Syria and North Korea voted against the proposal.

U.S. gun rights activists say the treaty is riddled with loopholes and is unworkable in part because it includes “small arms and light weapons” in its list of weaponry subject to international regulations. The activists said they do not trust U.N. assertions that the pact is meant to regulate only cross-border trade and would have no impact on domestic U.S. laws and markets.

One provision requires participating countries to keep records of arms exports and imports, including the quantity, value, model/type, and “end users, as appropriate” for at least 10 years.

Gun record-keeping is a thorny issue in the U.S., where similar questions have stalled a debate over expanding background checks to include all private gun sales.

Second Amendment supporters worry that such records eventually will pave the way for a national firearms registry, currently prohibited by federal law.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott wrote a letter to President Obama on Tuesday saying he would sue to block the treaty if it is ratified. It “appears to lay the groundwork for an international gun registry overseen by the bureaucrats at the UN,” the letter said.

The Senate last month also signaled its aversion, voting 53-46 to oppose the treaty in a nonbinding test vote as part of the budget debate. Eight Democrats joined all 45 Republicans in opposing the treaty.

Sen. Jerry Moran, Kansas Republican, said Tuesday that it made no sense to pass a treaty that will bind the U.S., while Iran, Syria and North Korea will ignore it.

“The U.S. Senate is united in strong opposition to a treaty that puts us on level ground with dictatorships who abuse human rights and arm terrorists, but there is real concern that the administration feels pressured to sign a treaty that violates our constitutional rights,” Mr. Moran said.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday that the White House was pleased with the outcome, but “as is the case with all treaties of this nature, we will follow normal procedures to conduct a thorough review of the treaty text to determine whether to sign the treaty.”

Amnesty International and the Arms Control Association hailed the U.N. vote.

Under the treaty, countries must consider whether weapons would be used to violate international humanitarian or human rights laws and facilitate acts of terrorism or organized crime.

“The treaty’s prohibition section, if it were in force today, would prohibit the ongoing supply of weapons and parts and components to the Assad regime in Syria,” said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the ACA, a national group that works on arms-control policies.

The American Bar Association released a white paper arguing that the treaty would not affect Second Amendment rights.

The U.N. vote clears the way for countries to add their signatures to the treaty starting June 3. The treaty will take effect 90 days after 50 nations sign it.

Within one year of signing on, each country must submit a report outlining the steps it has taken to comply. But more specifics on the implementation, enforcement and possible punishment for violations of the treaty remain to be seen. Countries have the right to withdraw from the treaty, but are not, as a result, excused from obligations they had while participating.

“This is a very good framework, I think, to build on — it’s fair, I think it’s balanced, and it’s strong. But it’s only a framework,” Mr. Woolcott said. “And it’ll only be as good as its implementation.”

More rule-making is to be delegated to a conference of participating countries, to convene within one year after the treaty goes into effect to review its implementation and consider amendments.

Proponents hoped that the treaty could be ratified by acclamation at a final negotiating conference last week, but Syria, Iran and North Korea objected.

Some abstaining countries, including India and Egypt, said the treaty did not go far enough on its language regarding terrorism or human rights.


Monday, April 1, 2013

What the UN Doesn't Want You to Know



In 1999, Kathryn Bolkovac went to Bosnia as part of a UN mission. She discovered terrible wrongdoing - and refused to stay silent about it. She tells Nisha Lilia Diu her incredible story, now the subject of a film starring Rachel Weisz.

'Do you want coffee? Baileys? Coffee and Baileys?’ Kathryn Bolkovac pours a dash of liqueur into a black onyx mug. 'That’s what I’m having.’

She’s just home from work on this icy Friday evening in a small city near Amsterdam.
She has lived in Holland, with her Dutch husband, ever since her life was transformed by events so extraordinary they have been made into a film, The Whistleblower, starring Rachel Weisz.

Before going on a UN peacekeeping mission to Bosnia 13 years ago , Bolkovac, 51, was a police officer in Nebraska. She specialised in sex crimes, was nicknamed Xena: Warrior Princess, and had a 95 per cent conviction rate.

'It was actually higher than that,’ she corrects me, settling on an L-shaped chocolate suede sofa. I tell her that in Britain the rape conviction rate is more like 6 per cent. She laughs, amazed.

'You have to get confessions. That’s the trick – knowing how to interview people.’

But with 10 years on the street and two failed marriages behind her, it was time for a change.
She signed up with DynCorp, the private contractor providing American personnel for the UN mission in Bosnia. The war was only recently ended and the country’s legal infrastructure was in disarray.

Bolkovac thought of 'all the good, meaningful work I was going to do’, training Bosnian police officers and re-establishing law and order.

The first of several nasty shocks came before she’d even left: among the recruits at DynCorp’s training week in Texas was a man from Mississippi. He’d been to Bosnia before and had had such a good time he was going again.

He told them all how scenic it was, adding, 'and I know where you can get really nice 12- to 15-year-olds’. Bolkovac was baffled, believing she’d misheard.

In Bosnia, where there were so many dead the Olympic football stadium had been turned into a cemetery, she threw herself into her work.

Soon Madeleine Rees, the head of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, had recruited her to run a pilot project on violence against women.

While there, working in a police station with a hole in the floor for a lavatory, Bolkovac secured Bosnia’s first conviction for domestic violence.

Then one day the body of a skimpily dressed Ukrainian girl came floating down the River Bosna. Soon after, a Moldovan girl was found wandering the river banks.

Bolkovac attempted to interview her but only understood one word, 'Florida’, the name of a nightclub where she’d often see UN vehicles parked.

When she arrived the club was deserted. She found stacks of American dollars and foreign passports in a safe and, behind a locked door, seven girls. 'Sheer terror,’ says Bolkovac of the looks on the girls’ faces. 'It was exactly as you see in the film:

'they’re huddled, they’re holding each other, they’re on these bare, stained mattresses.’ They were too afraid to talk. One of them pointed to the river outside. 'We don’t want to end up floating.’

Dozens of girls began turning up at Bolkovac’s station with 'eerily similar’ stories:
They’d taken a job abroad as a waitress or cleaner or nanny - often at the insistence of their own families - but during the journey everything had gone wrong.

They were taken somewhere else altogether, forcibly stripped and sold to someone who humiliated, beat and raped them into dead-eyed submission. Now they were imprisoned in brothels in Bosnia.

'People ask me what’s true,’ says the film’s director, Larysa Kondracki. 'But it’s barely scratching the surface. We had to tone it down.’

The problem was so widespread, says Rees (now secretary general of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom), 'Kathy ended up having time to deal with nothing but trafficking.’

Girls who escaped were frequently found – sometimes grabbed outside safe houses – and brutally punished by their pimp, with the others made to watch. But that wasn’t the only reason they wouldn’t testify.

'They didn’t expect [the police] to help them,’ says Bolkovac.

She discovered numerous individuals in the Bosnian and UN police (which was made up of some 1,800 officers from 45 countries) who were not only using trafficked prostitutes but were on the traffickers’ pay-roll.

They were paid to give warnings on raids, return girls who escaped or, when rescued girls were repatriated ('dumped somewhere on the border’, according to Bolkovac), let the traffickers know where they could collect them so they could be 'recycled back into the system.

'Free access to the girls was an added perk.’

Bolkovac is fresh-faced and young-looking, with a thick ponytail of light-blonde hair, but she seems tired.

'I found it intolerable,’ she says. The more she investigated, the more her UN colleagues turned against her.

'She’d been very popular and one of the lads,’ says Rees. 'And you could see she was getting increasingly isolated in the cafeteria; people weren’t sitting with her.’

Bolkovac’s files went missing, her superiors pulled her cases, people warned her to back off.
Eventually, she wrote an email detailing everything she’d learnt and sent it to 50 senior mission personnel, with the subject 'Do not read this if you have a weak stomach or a guilty conscience’.

Four days later she was demoted, and a few months after that DynCorp fired her for falsifying her timesheets.

But Bolkovac had kept copies of all her files; her mantra, she says, has always been 'document, document, document’. She successfully sued DynCorp for unfair dismissal for making a protected disclosure – legal-speak for whistleblowing.

The tribunal stated, 'It is hard to imagine a case in which a firm has behaved in a more callous manner.’

Within hours of the ruling DynCorp settled a second whistleblowing case against it, offering an undisclosed sum to an aircraft mechanic from Texas called Ben Johnston, who had evidence of UN personnel buying and selling girls elsewhere in Bosnia.

Johnston signed a gagging order. 'It was very disappointing,’ says Bolkovac with a sigh.
Most disappointing of all was what happened next: several men were sent home, but none was punished further. No future employer will ever know what these men were guilty of.
I asked DynCorp if its guidelines had become more stringent since 2001 and was sent its code of ethics.

It states that 'engaging in or supporting any trafficking in persons […] is prohibited. Any person who violates this standard or fails to report violations of this standard shall be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.’

So nothing has changed.

DynCorp continues to win multimillion-dollar military contracts with the American government in Iraq, Afghanistan and Haiti among other places.

This is despite paying a $155,000 settlement to a contractor in Iraq in January 2012 and, in June 2011, $7.7 million to the US State Department itself over charges of filing false paperwork.

Unlike those who had been quietly sent home, Bolkovac’s professional record was blighted by her dismissal and she’s been unable to find work in international law enforcement since.

She currently works at an auctioneers which deals in industrial and agricultural equipment, as well as consulting and speaking at universities and NGOs in her own time.

The UN mission in Bosnia finished in January 2003 but the abuses did not end there.
In fact, Jacques Paul Klein, the head of the UN mission in Bosnia, went on to lead the UN mission in Liberia, where he presided over similar scandals.

He has now 'dropped off the face of the earth’, says Bolkovac.

He was retired from the UN after allegedly having an affair with a woman who was taking his UN secrets to the Liberian dictator, Charles Taylor. 'You couldn’t make it up, could you?’ says Rees.
Recent years have seen allegations of sexual exploitation by UN peacekeepers in the Ivory Coast, the Congo, Columbia… The list goes on.

But UN personnel have hitherto been protected by diplomatic immunity – meaning they can’t be prosecuted in their mission country – and political expediency. Once they're home governments often have little desire to highlight their troops' bad behaviour.

As a result of Bolkovac’s revelations, however, the UN set up a conduct and discipline unit in 2007.

Susana Malcorra, who heads it up, tells me the UN can waive immunity if needs be: 'It does not cover personal misconduct.’

More usually, the UN kicks people off its missions and hands the investigation and punishment over to the member state.

'We go back to member states quarterly to remind them of cases they still have open,’ says Malcorra. 'We will not give up on following up on every single case that is pending in our file.’
Have there been prosecutions? 'In the most horrible cases I have seen jail for significant periods.’

Nevertheless, Bolkovac believes trafficking is still not taken seriously. '

You should see the amount of money that’s put into training for anti-terrorism and gun-smuggling,’ she says. 'But when it comes to human trafficking and violence against women you don’t see the same resources being generated.’

Sex trafficking is not, unfortunately, confined to areas with a military presence.

The New York-based Somaly Mam Foundation, set up by a Cambodian woman who was trafficked as a child, estimates there are 2.7 million people enslaved globally, 85 per cent of whom are women and girls in forced prostitution.

The most recent figure for England and Wales is 12,000, which Abigail Stepnitz of the British anti-trafficking organisation Poppy Project, calls 'a tip-of-the-iceberg number’.
'For me the idea is to go after the demand end, to stop focussing on the victims,’ says Bolkovac. 'We have to focus on prosecution of the perpetrators.’

This is starting to happen.

Joseph Yannai, an author based in New York State, was convicted last June of trafficking girls from Europe, tricking them with adverts seeking editorial assistance. He’s facing a sentence of up to 80 years.

Also last year, a Romanian father and son operating a huge forced prostitution ring in Britain were given 21 years.

And, as Ariel Siegel at the Somaly Mam Foundation says, 'Men have to realise that the women they have encounters with might not be willing, despite appearances.’ In Britain it is illegal to pay for sex with someone who is being coerced.

The Whistleblower was recently screened at UN headquarters in New York (though not before an internal memo was leaked showing that some officials wanted to ignore its release).

Bolkovac has since been invited by the UN to hold a signing of her book, a riveting, fast-paced account of her time in Bosnia, also called The Whistleblower. 'I’ve followed up twice to set a date,’ she says. 'No response whatsoever.’

No one within the organisation, or at DynCorp, has yet apologised to Bolkovac for the treatment she received, much less praised her for going after wrongdoing and attempting to raise the standard.

Not yet.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Sirius Disclosure - World Premiere will be held on April 22, 2013


The Sirius World Premiere will be held on April 22, 2013 in Los Angeles, CA. Click here for more details.

The Earth has been visited by advanced Inter-Stellar Civilizations that can travel through other dimensions faster than the speed of light. They use energy propulsion systems that can bring us to a new era. Humans have also developed these systems but those in power have suppressed them in order to keep us at the mercy of fossil fuels. It is time for you to know…and this documentary will let you in.


Sirius Disclosure is a research project working to fully disclose the facts about UFOs, extraterrestrial intelligence, and classified advanced energy & propulsion systems. We have over 500 government, military, and intelligence community witnesses testifying to their direct, personal, first-hand experience with UFOs, ETs, ET technology, and the cover-up that keeps this information secret. - See more at: http://siriusdisclosure.com/#sthash.RD5aqRD7.dpuf


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Watch Out, World Bank. Here Comes the BRIC Bank




Leaders of the five BRICS nations plan to create a development bank in a direct challenge to the World Bank that they accuse of Western bias.

The bank would use $50 billion of seed capital shared equally between Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa but would undoubtedly be dominated by China. It would be the first institution of the informal forum started in 2009 amid the economic meltdown to chart a new and more equitable world economic order.

At a summit meeting on Wednesday in Durban, South Africa, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave support for the bank but cautioned it "must work on market principles."

India's trade minister said BRICS will "have a defining influence on the global order of this century."

The five countries represent a fifth of global GDP and share high growth and geopolitical importance in their separate regions, but have struggled to find common ground that would convert their economic weight into joint political clout.

The two biggest economies of the group, China and Brazil, marked their determination to make changes in the world's trade and financial architecture by signing a three-year currency swap agreement covering up to $30 billion a year in bilateral trade.

Brazilian officials said the aim was to ensure their fast-growing commercial ties would not suffer if a new banking crisis caused dollar trade finance to dry up.

"Our interest is not to establish new relations with China, but to expand relations to be used in the case of turbulence in financial markets," Brazilian Central Bank Governor Alexandre Tombini told reporters after the signing.

Brazil's mineral resources and farm products have helped fuel China's industrial growth and feed its people while bringing prosperity to the Latin American giant.

Bilateral trade totaled around $75 billion last year, with Brazil selling iron ore, soy products and crude oil, and buying Chinese machinery, electronics and manufactured goods.

Brazilian officials have said they hope to have the trade and currency deal operating in the second half of 2013.

"If there were shocks to the global financial market, with credit running short, we'd have credit from our biggest international partner, so there would be no interruption of trade," said Economy Minister Guido Mantega.

At the Durban summit, the group's fifth since 2009, the BRICS leaders were also expected to endorse plans to create a joint foreign exchange reserves pool.

The proposed development bank and reserves pool reflect frustration among emerging nations at having to rely on the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, which some see as reflecting the interests of rich nations.

The reserves pool of central bank money would be available to emerging economies facing balance of payments difficulties or could be tapped to stabilize economies during crises, according to documents obtained by Reuters outlining it.

Officials had said BRICS states aimed to inject an initial $50 billion into a new infrastructure bank, but there was disagreement over whether each should contribute $10 billion or if contributions should vary by the size of their economies.

China's economy is about 20 times the size of South Africa's and four times as big as Russia's or India's.

The bank would support financing needs in emerging and developing nations for roads, ports, power and rail services.

The BRICS leaders were also due to discuss economic ties with Africa, at a time when many on the continent are seeking more balance and a different focus in trade and investment, especially from China. (Read More: China's New President Offers Africa 'No Strings' Aid)

New Chinese President Xi Jinping is attending on his first visit as head of state to Africa. In Tanzania on Monday, Xi told Africans he wanted a relationship of equals that would help the continent develop, responding to concerns that Beijing is only interested in its raw materials.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Revolt against City of London's medieval elders





AFP - For almost a thousand years the City of London Corporation has run the British capital's financial hub, winning hearts with opulent banquets and parades of red-robed dignitaries, pikemen and musketeers.

But campaigners want to open up the secrets of this arcane organisation, arguing that its medieval structures are helping one of the world's top financial centres avoid reform after the global crisis.

Dating from when Londoners lived in huts of wattle and daub, the City of London survived the Black Death and the Great Fire of London to emerge as a powerful but opaque force in modern Britain.

Today the corporation manages the "Square Mile" as a separate enclave within London with its own police force, employing 3,500 people and commanding billions of pounds (dollars) in funds.

But critics say it has failed to respond to the problems in the financial industry laid bare following the global crisis, instead protecting its own.

"The machine of the City of London serves the dealmakers," said William Campbell-Taylor, a Church of England vicar and longtime critic of the corporation.

"The myth of (finance as) the goose that lays the golden eggs is one that is nurtured in the Guildhall", the 15th-century banqueting hall where the corporation was traditionally based, he said.

The corporation plays a key role as a forum for top-level financial and political networking, often carried out at lavish banquets or through visits abroad by the Lord Mayor, its ceremonial envoy.

But reformers criticise the secrecy of some of its operations, including parts of its accounts and the allocation of votes to City workers in elections -- as well as its unorthodox blend of private and public functions.

Elections for the councillors and aldermen who run the corporation are held without political party affiliations.

The City Reform Group, which was formed last year in the wake of the financial crisis by a group including a Conservative lawmaker and a former fund manager, has seized on elections this month as an opportunity to push for change.

Many are standing for positions themselves so that they can agitate from the inside, while they are also asking other candidates to sign up to seven pledges that emphasise accountability.

The reform group's top demand is the release of full accounts for the "City's Cash", an 800-year-old, £1.3 billion ($1.9 billion, 1.5-billion-euro) endowment fund which is cloaked in secrecy.

Today, the fund which includes income from the corporation's 11,000 acres of British land, aims to promote Britain's financial services, on which the corporation says it spent £12 million in 2012.

But critics say the City has succeeded in lobbying for the status quo despite widespread calls for changes to the way banks in particular are regulated.

"We think the corporation should be leading standards in the way that the guilds and the livery did," says writer and reformist Jonathan Myerson, who will be standing in the elections.

London's ancient guilds or livery companies -- where the corporation has its roots -- were set up to provide guarantees of quality for different professions from goldsmiths to fishmongers.

The corporation itself sees its role promoting the finance industry as a success story.

"Most of (the lobbying work) is about getting business into Britain," Mark Boleat, the corporation's policy chief, told a debate about the City's future in February.

Financial services brought in more than 10 percent of Britain's tax take in 2009-10, according to studies by accountants PwC.

The corporation is now wooing Chinese banks to set up London offices, and it has also been instrumental in the arrival of a clump of new skyscrapers on the skyline.

Tony Travers, professor at the London School of Economics, doesn't believe the corporation was a factor in the financial crisis, telling AFP: "If that were true, that wouldn't explain how it happened in New York or other cities in Europe."

He said the "soft diplomacy" of banquets and parades was a way of "sustaining the mystique of the City. It's hard to believe that doesn't have beneficial impacts, but it's hard to measure".

Demands for change have emerged before, but a 2002 deal with the then-ruling Labour party -- whose policy had once been to abolish the corporation altogether -- entrenched many of its peculiarities in law.

For many locals, exactly how the corporation works is far from the forefront of their minds.

"People are more worried about whether their company is still going to be here tomorrow," said Robert Bates, 42, an insolvency partner at an accountancy firm, drinking in a busy City pub.

But David Pitt-Watson, a reformer and ex-fund manager, believes change is inevitable.

"London's economic future depends on the reform of financial services," he said. "The alternative to reform (of the corporation) is not the status quo, it's revolution."

Michael Moore Admits on CNN Live: We Are Ruled by Shadow Government



Sandy Hook truthers are not giving up


Brendan Hunt (Credit: brendanhunt.com)

Meet Brendan Hunt, a 20-something NYC resident with a video camera. He and his movement are on a mission
BY ALEX SEITZ-WALD 


Brendan Hunt is nothing like the other Sandy Hook conspiracy theorists we’ve encountered. Yes, he thinks the December shooting was a kind of hoax to help the government seize power. But he’s not some right-wing “gun nut.” He’s not a militia member. And he’s not middle-aged and living in the middle of the country.

Hunt is in his 20s and lives in New York City, where he is an “actor, musician, artist and independent journalist.” He’s starred in Shakespeare plays and independent films and written books and news reports. His roots aren’t in the radical-right or libertarian movements, but on the left side of the political spectrum, where he’s aligned himself with Occupy Wall Street and says he’s produced segments for WBAI, a well-known public radio station in New York affiliated with the proudly “radical” left-wing Pacifica network.

Social scientists have used the term “fusion paranoia” to describe the merging of the radical left and right into a common concern about the government and centralized power to a point where they are almost indistinguishable on many issues. A British study released last year found that many conspiracy theories are pushed by core groups of people who are prone to believe in conspiracies of all kind — even contradictory ones.

And this isn’t Hunt’s first conspiracy rodeo. He has an e-book positing that Nirvana lead singer Kurt Cobain did not commit suicide, but was in fact murdered, and a movie about the Illuminati.

Hunt and a friend took a ride up to Newtown, Conn., to produce an “exposé” recently. In his videos, he identifies himself as a reporter with WBAI as he travels around speaking with residents, including Gene Rosen, the man who helped save six children and has been harassed by conspiracy theorists for it. (Several officials at WBAI did not immediately return requests for clarification on Hunt’s affiliation with the station.)

Wearing hoodies, Hunt and the friend come upon Sandy Hook Elementary from the woods in the back. They gingerly approach the fence line, taking time to point out the barbed wire and sign, noting that it’s under electronic surveillance. They point out key locations where they think one of the extra gunmen may have escaped through the woods while fleeing the scene.

“I believe that this event was pulled off by a group of tactical police officers of some kind, working as a unit, and that they didn’t complete their job in time, before the local police showed up and busted up whatever operation they had going,” he says in another video.

At the Masonic Lodge, which is — of course — involved in their theory, they find an ominous sign: A Masonic “G” written on the pavement. They try to peer inside the building through the windows. “I can barely make out a fridge and things like that,” one says.

Later they surreptitiously record a conversation with a bartender, whose real name they repeat. Hunt burps, complains about needing to make better “rendezvous points” with his buddy, and leaves huge portions of unedited video as he wanders around looking for his friend in the dark.

It’s not exactly the Zapruder film. The footage is innocuous and low-budget. One gets the impression that these are kids harmlessly goofing around, acting out a little secret mission in the woods. But with the power of the Internet, that little mission can be amplified to anyone looking, which makes the next part a bit disturbing.

Outside a tidy white house, the screen goes dark. It’s Gene Rosen’s house and Hunt hides the camera to surreptitiously record audio. When he answers, Hunt introduces himself: “My name’s Brendan from WBAI. I have a little radio show and TV show.”

“WBAI in New York City?” Rosen asks inquisitively. “Yeah,” one of the two friends responds. “It’s a neutral blog we’re doing, we’re sort of trying to play both sides, we’re not, you know …” the other says, before trailing off.

Rosen says he’s been through a lot already with the truthers and isn’t really interested in talking more. The two friends say they totally understand where he’s coming from, and agree those truthers are terrible. Rosen declines the interview (as he did for this story, citing a desire to avoid encounters like this).

Jeffrey Pyle, a First Amendment lawyer with the Boston-based law firm Prince Lobel, tells Salon that while Connecticut requires all parties to consent to being recorded over the telephone, only one person needs to consent in person, so the recording is probably kosher.

They return later that night. “You can get a close look at Gene’s house,” he says zooming in on the white house, while remarking about nearby landmarks and road names, making the location easily identifiable. He continues to “snoop around,” but eventually backs off to avoid raising suspicion.

The two friends are hardly intimidating — Hunt proactively asks a police officer if he’s not allowed to be where he’s standing at one point in the video — but the video suggests the Truther conspiracy is more resilient than many suspect, and how this kind of “just asking questions” could lead to unintended consequences.

Hunt and I went back and forth in an interview over many rounds of emails. After I sent him some questions, he posted them on his website with answers, and asked commenters to edit them before he’d send them back to me. He later seemed to get cold feet.

In the publicly posted answers on his website, he started off eager to talk, saying, “I think there are some real discrepancies in the official narrative, which deserve to be looked at by mainstream media outlets. I would be more than happy to discuss them with you.” That quickly turned to suspicion: “It has come to my attention that you’ve written several articles about Sandy Hook skeptics, not exactly portraying them in the best light.”

Asked about his interest in conspiracy theories, Hunt says he’s “suspicious of both mainstream and alternative media, and I try to make an informed opinion on current events by thinking critically about important issues. Some topics that I’ve been researching recently include the trial of Bradley Manning, and the U.S. drone bombing campaign in the Middle East.”

“I first started to get interested in the alternative Sandy Hook theories,” he explains, “when I saw the helicopter footage of police chasing someone into the woods directly in back of the school.”

The last time we checked in with the Sandy Hook truthers, the movement was flagging a bit after a meteoric rise in the month following the shooting.

But the theory has shown surprising resilience, spiking back up near its record high again and again in the last few weeks on social media. For instance, on February 19, a video purporting to show that victims’ families are “crisis actors” got social media 150 simultaneous mentions, according to Topsy, another claiming to be the “ultimate” hoax video got almost 200 a week later, and a third “official” video climbed even higher the next week. And it’s been climbing in the past week, since March 12. And this time, outside the gaze of the media, the interest seems to be driven by the conspiracy websites, not mainstream news reports.

David Mikkelson, the co-founder of the myth-busting website Snopes.com, tells Salon the Sandy Hook material is currently “warm,” if not the single most dominant topic he’s monitoring: “There’s a fair amount of interest, but there are many topics (e.g., Angolan witch spider, burundanga, Facebook privacy warnings) that are generating far more search/inquiry interest on our site right now.”

Will it ever go away? “I’d say, like all conspiracy theories, it’ll hang around for a while — holding less interest for the general public over time, but never going away completely,” Mikkelson explains. “I think a lot of the interest or belief is driven by the fact that we still know so little about the shooter and his motivations, so people naturally try to fill in the blanks (as they did with, say, the JFK assassination) by positing that the whole thing must have been part of a larger and grander plot rather than an act committed by a single person for no sensible reason.”

Indeed, the Hartford Courant excoriated officials in a recent editorial for “clamping down” on information. “Secrecy feeds into the whispers of those conspiracy theorists who believe that the police have something to hide,” the editors wrote.

After the Newtown town clerk was “inundated” by requests for death certificates of the children killed, lawmakers considered restricting access to the documents, but that only fueled the theorists and prompted a resurgence in activity on conspiracy message boards as people assumed there must be something to hide.

“We are being denied to see the death certificates to prove that children actually died in Sandy Hook. At this time, there are no actual photos of them dead, body bags, or videos of them in the school,” wrote one poster on LiveLeak. “How come for the first time ever, they are trying to cover up the Death Certificates?”

This cycle of conspiracy theory and government secrecy is typical, experts explained to me, putting officials in an awkward lose/lose situation when it comes to tamping down myths. If they release more information, it might be mined for inconsistencies with initial reporting, which is always spotty and often wrong. If they don’t release more information, it will be taken as proof positive that there is something fishy going on.

If Hunt’s material is any indication, this is what’s happening with Sandy Hook. In other words, the movement is far from over.


Alex Seitz-Wald is Salon's political reporter. Email him at aseitz-wald@salon.com, and follow him on Twitter @aseitzwald.

Monday, March 18, 2013

EURO ZONE ORDERS CYPRUS TO SEIZE 10% OF BANK ACCOUNTS




By Michele Kambas
NICOSIA | Sun Mar 17, 2013 6:06pm EDT

NICOSIA (Reuters) - Cyprus was working on a last-minute proposal to soften the impact on smaller savers of a bank deposit levy after a parliamentary vote on the measure central to a bailout was postponed until Monday, a government source said.

In a radical departure from previous aid packages, euro zone finance ministers want Cyprus savers to forfeit a portion of their deposits in return for a 10 billion euro ($13 billion) bailout for the island, which has been financially crippled by its exposure to neighboring Greece.

The decision, announced on Saturday morning, stunned Cypriots and caused a run on cash points, most of which were depleted within hours. Electronic transfers were stopped.
The originally proposed levies on deposits are 9.9 percent for those exceeding 100,000 euros and 6.7 percent on anything below that.

The Cypriot government on Sunday discussed with lenders the possibility of changing the levy to 3.0 percent for deposits below 100,000 euros, and to 12.5 percent for above that sum, a source close to the consultations told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The source said the discussions had the "blessing" of a troika of lenders from the European Commission, the IMF and the European Central Bank.

In Brussels, a spokesman for Olli Rehn, the European commissioner in charge of economic affairs, said discussions were still under way in Cyprus.

"If the Cypriot leaders agree on a more progressive scale for the one-off levy, in view of making it fairer for smaller savers and provided this would have the same financial impact, the Commission would be ready to recommend that the Eurogroup endorse such an agreement," the spokesman said.

The move to take a percentage of deposits, which could raise almost 6 billion euros, must be ratified by parliament, where no party has a majority. If it fails to do so, President Nicos Anastasiades has warned, Cyprus's two largest banks will collapse.

One bank, the Cyprus Popular Bank, could have its emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) funding from the European Central Bank cut by March 21.

A default in Cyprus could unravel investor confidence in the euro zone, undoing the improvements fostered by the European Central Bank's promise last year to do whatever it takes to shore up the currency bloc.

A meeting of parliament scheduled for Sunday was postponed for a day to give more time for consultations and broker a deal, political sources said. The levy was scheduled to come into force on Tuesday, after a bank holiday on Monday.


Making bank depositors bear some of the costs of a bailout had been taboo in Europe, but euro zone officials said it was the only way to salvage Cyprus's financial sector.
European officials said it would not set a precedent.

In Spain, one of four other states getting euro zone help and seen as a possible candidate for a sovereign rescue, officials were quick to say Cyprus was a unique case. A Bank of Spain spokesman said there had been no sign of deposit flight.

But the chief of Greece's main opposition, the anti-bailout Syriza party, Alexis Tsipras, blamed the move on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, according to Greek state news agency ANA.

"We must all together raise a shield to protect the peoples (of Europe) from Ms Merkel's criminal strategy," said Tsipras, who wants a pan-European debt conference to forgive debt.
The crisis is unprecedented in the history of the Mediterranean island, which suffered a war and ethnic split in 1974 in which a quarter of its population was internally displaced.

Anastasiades, elected only three weeks ago, said savers will be compensated by shares in banks guaranteed by future natural gas revenues.

Cyprus is expecting the results of an offshore appraisal drilling this year to confirm the island is sitting on vast amounts of natural gas worth billions.

In a televised address to the nation on Sunday, Anastasiades said he had to accept the tax in return for international aid, or else the island would have faced bankruptcy.

"The solution we concluded upon is not what we wanted, but is the least painful under the circumstances," Anastasiades said.

With a gross domestic product of barely 0.2 percent of the bloc's overall output, Cyprus applied for financial aid last June, but negotiations were stalled by the complexity of the deal and the reluctance of the island's previous president to sign.

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde, who attended the meeting, said she backed the deal and would ask the IMF board in Washington to contribute to the bailout.

According to a draft copy of legislation, failing to pay up would be a criminal offence liable to three years in jail or a 50,000 euro fine.

Those affected will include rich Russians with deposits in Cyprus and Europeans who have retired to the island, as well as Cypriots themselves.

"I'm furious," said Chris Drake, a former Middle East correspondent for the BBC who lives in Cyprus. "There were plenty of opportunities to take our money out; we didn't because we were promised it was a red line which would not be crossed."

"I've lost several thousand," he told Reuters.

British finance minister George Osborne told the BBC on Sunday that Britain would compensate its 3,500 military personnel based in Cyprus.

Anastasiades' right-wing Democratic Rally party, with 20 seats in the 56-member parliament, needs the support of other factions for the vote to pass. It was unclear whether even his coalition partners, the Democratic Party, would fully support the levy.

Cyprus's Communist party AKEL, accused of stalling on a bailout during its tenure in power until the end of February, would vote against the measure. The socialist Edek party called EU demands "absurd".

"This is unacceptably unfair and we are against it," said Adonis Yiangou of the Greens Party, the smallest in parliament but a potential swing vote.

Many Cypriots, having contributed to bailouts for Ireland, Portugal and Greece - Greece's second bailout contributed to a debt restructuring that blew the 4.5 billion euro hole in Cyprus's banking sector - are aghast at their treatment by Europe.

Cyprus received a "stab in the back" from its EU partners, the daily Phileleftheros said.
But it and another newspapers highlighted the danger of plunging the banking system into further turmoil if lawmakers sat on the fence.

"Even if the final agreement is wrong, if this is not approved by parliament the damage will be even greater," Politis economics editor Demetris Georgiades said in an editorial
.
(Additional reporting by John O'Donnell; Editing by Stephen Powell)