Monday, April 26, 2010

Jesse Ventura Hammered Over 9/11 Statements

Shame On Jesse Ventura! ... The former Minnesota governor has discredited himself, and dishonored and defamed his country by promoting the mistaken view that our government was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. Jesse Ventura should be ashamed of himself and embarrassed. The former Minnesota governor recently lent his political credentials to the discredited 9/11 "Truther" movement by alleging that the Sept. 11 attacks were either planned or permitted by the United States government. This recent admission was only a small part of Ventura's new book, "American Conspiracies: Lies, Lies and More Lies the Government Tells Us," which echoes a revisionist account of American history that holds the Bush administration responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks by implying that the Bush administration either knew about the attacks, did nothing to stop them or actually participated in them. During a March 10 interview with Barbara Walters on "The View," Ventura implied the Bush/Cheney administration used 9/11 as a pretense to start the Iraq War under false pretenses. Ventura apparently developed this theory after former Kennedy/Johnson adviser Robert McNamara visited him at Harvard and allegedly admitted to him that the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which escalated the Vietnam War, never actually happened. Perhaps what Ventura is missing is that there is probably more incontrovertible evidence and more witnesses who have already established what happened on Sept. 11, 2001 than most major historical events. To dispute the conventional historical account is intellectually dishonest and nonsensical. – FOX News

Dominant Social Theme: Questions about 9/11 are "beyond the pale."

Free-Market Analysis: The news in this article, excerpted above, has hit the US blogosphere hard. Throughout Friday, there were more and more comments like an inflowing tide – as could be seen if one did a little bit of research on Google. What was it in the article that caused such a ruckus? About midway through the article, the author Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, writes the following:

Shortly before the building [WTC 7] collapsed, several NYPD officers and Con-Edison workers told me that Larry Silverstein, the property developer of One World Financial Center was on the phone with his insurance carrier to see if they would authorize the controlled demolition of the building – since its foundation was already unstable and expected to fall.

This is a surprising assertion since as many have already pointed out, it can take weeks to wire a building for demolition. Thus, the blogosphere speculated, either the building was already wired or Larry Silverstein was thinking about wiring it in the future. Perhaps Silverstein himself will come forward to comment on Shapiro's statement and clear the matter up. Even a simple denial might help, but Silverstein might be reluctant to say anymore on the matter because in the past statements of his have only further complicated an already confused narrative – especially an interview he gave early in the decade about the building's fate.

A website "" has a considerable explanation devoted to comments Silverstein made as follows for a television documentary: "I said, you know, we've had such terrible loss of life. Maybe the smartest thing to do is to pull it." The narrative continues as follows:

"On September 9, 2005, Mr. Dara McQuillan, a spokesman for Silverstein Properties, issued the following statement [on the issue of Larry Silverstein's "pull it" comment]: Seven World Trade Center collapsed at 5:20 p.m. on September 11, 2001, after burning for seven hours. There were no casualties, thanks to the heroism of the Fire Department and the work of Silverstein Properties employees who evacuated tenants from the building. ... Later in the day, the Fire Commander ordered his firefighters out of the building and at 5:20 p.m. the building collapsed. No lives were lost at Seven World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Mr. McQuillan has stated that by "it," Mr. Silverstein meant the contingent of firefighters remaining in the building. [US Department of State]

This statement seemingly put the matter to rest. But now Shapiro, passionately disappointed with Jesse Ventura's suspicions over 9/11, has opened the issue all over again, presumably inadvertently. The admission comes on the heels (relatively speaking anyway) of fairly incendiary statements in a book by the former Attorney General for the State of New Jersey and former senior counsel for the 9/11 Commission, John Farmer, who is also, his biography notes, FEMA certified. Farmer writes bluntly in his foreword: "At some level of the government, at some point in time, this book concludes there was a decision not to tell the truth about what happened."

Pretty strong stuff as a broad gamut of government agents testified before the commission, including FBI and CIA agents along with Bush administration, military and Pentagon personnel. But reportedly other 9/11 commissioners share Farmer's point of view and some were so incensed during the hearings that criminal charges were apparently pondered.

9/11 is a central, even mythic issue, for America. It has launched at least two wars in the Middle East and caused a wholesale change in the way Americans relate to their government. While civil liberties have been prized in the US, post 9/11 many civil liberties were disregarded because of the perceived threat of additional terrorism. There is almost unlimited wiretapping in the US these days along with aggressive intelligence operations aimed at tracking US terrorism. The entire texture of freedoms in America – and Britain and Europe as well – has been changed by 9/11.

While the Patriot Act and other abrogations of traditional American liberties can perhaps be justified on domestic security grounds, the lack of clarity about what really happened during 9/11 cries out for additional clarification. There is no need to accuse the US government or its penumbras (including Israel) of complicity in the killing of 3,000 American citizens. (Why would they?) But what should be seen as necessary is a truly independent "commission" of concerned Americans who would gather ALL the relevant evidence available about 9/11 in order to come up with a narrative that is less conflicted and does away with the increasing confusions so amply noted in the blogosphere and throughout the 'Net.

In our estimation, leaders owe it to Americans to perform a truly patriotic act by re-investigating 9/11 and getting to the heart of what went on in a dispassionate and logical way. Up to one third of all Americans (and maybe it is more now) apparently don't believe the official 9/11 story – nor does the Commission's lead attorney. In fact, a recent Pew poll revealed that up to 80 percent of Americans don't trust their government. These numbers have never existed in America before. Something is not right.

Conclusion: Imagine the relief and approval that a new investigation of 9/11 would generate. It would likely convince Americans – who ache to believe in their government at all levels – that the largest and most powerful government on the planet, the American federal government with all its attendant security agencies and military appurtenances, was dedicated to an aggressive level of honesty about one of the country's most important and controversial issues. Surely Americans and their federal government deserve no less.

Bet Against The American Dream

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Facebook: 5 Privacy Settings You Must Tweak Now

Privacy has long been a thorny issue for Facebook: Three years ago, the social networking site unveiled its Beacon advertising project, which resulted in a class-action lawsuit. December's privacy changes aimed at encouraging users to share more information publicly evoked plenty of criticism. And this week at Facebook's f8 conference, Facebook announced even more changes that affect users' privacy.

Keeping track of Facebook's ongoing updates, upgrades and changes--and how they affect your privacy--can be confusing and frustrating. We've sorted through the new wrinkles for you. Here's a list of five essential privacy settings you should review now and tweak accordingly to ensure your information remains safe.

1. Facebook Privacy Settings: "Instant Personalization" and "Like" Buttons

What the "Like" button is: Facebook's big announcement this week from the f8 conference was the new "Like" button, which you'll start seeing on blogs and news sites across the Web. When you click the button on an external website, you authorize Facebook to publish your activity to your Facebook profile (which, in turn, will also be published to your friends' news feeds). Also, when your friends visit the external site, they will see that you've visited that site, too.

What "instant personalization" is: The second part to Facebook's announcements this week was it's announcement of "instant personalization" on partner sites, which (right now) include Pandora and Yelp. Without adjusting your privacy settings, when you visit these sites, they can pull in information from your Facebook account, which includes your name, profile picture, gender and connections (and any other information that you've made visible to the public). If you visit Pandora, for example, the site could also pull in your favorite music artists, create playlists accordingly, and then notify your Facebook friends.

[Want more Facebook tips and tricks? Check out, "Facebook Bible: Everything You Need to Know About Facebook.]

How to change the privacy settings: The answer to the first part is easy--if you don't want your online whereabouts known, don't click any "Like" buttons.

The second part is more complicated. Click the "Account" option on your Facebook toolbar, then choose "Privacy Settings" and select the "Applications and Websites" option. At the bottom, you'll see, "Instant Personalization." Click "Edit Setting," then uncheck the box on the bottom of the page.

Note that unchecking the box will be enough to prevent partner sites from viewing your public information on Facebook, but when your friends visit these sites, your public information can be shared through them. To prevent this, you need to block the individual applications.

Next, visit the Pandora app page and Yelp app page, and choose "Block Application" for both.

2. Facebook Privacy Settings: Application Settings

What it is: When you add Facebook applications to your profile, you agree to allow the application to access certain information in your profile. Sometimes this includes which friends can and can't view the application from your profile, and whether or not you give the application permission to post stories to your wall and your friends' news feeds.

[For more on Facebook apps, read: "4 Facebook Apps That Add Professionalism to Your Profile.]

How to change these privacy settings: Go to your "Privacy Settings" page and choose "Applications and Websites." Then, click the "Learn More" button next to "What you share." Follow the link at the bottom of the page that says, "You can view the full list of Applications you have authorized on this page."

Here, you can view which applications you are using, delete any you no longer use and edit the settings for each individual one.

3. Facebook Privacy Settings: What Your Friends Can Share About You

What it is: Sure, you may have painstakingly weeded through your privacy settings and think your information is secure, but much of your information can still be accessed through applications that your friends use.

For example, lets say your friend uses a greeting card application. This application can access the information you've made publicly available (such as your name, profile picture, gender, current city, networks, friend list and pages), unless you change your settings.

How to change this privacy setting: Go to your "Privacy Settings" page and choose "Applications and Websites." Then, click the "Edit Settings" button next to "What your friends can share about you." This page will show you all the options that your friends' applications can access. Check or uncheck them based on what you're willing to share.

Chinese Replica Jet in Dogfight for Copyright

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$338.3 Billion Paid to Service America’s Illegal Aliens

My friend Gary Karlin over at the Evanston Conservative blog has spent the last year or so collecting a series of stories detailing the costs of illegal aliens to the United States.

With just the 14 news stories he highlights, the cost rings in at a staggering $338.3 Billion in money wasted by government giving freebies to illegal aliens as well as in law enforcement costs.

Free schools, free medial care, free Medicaid, free food, free social services, it’s a veritable cornucopia of freebies streaming out of our various government’s coffers to these people who broke our laws to get here and are breaking our laws to stay.

Again, I want to stress that the costs that Gary added up are only the costs as detailed in the 14 news stories he chronicles. Not mentioned is the billions of dollars that the states pay out to mollify illegals every year not to mention the other costs to the federal government that illegals incur that aren’t detailed in the stories that Karlin reviews.

Karlin pointedly asks his readers to imagine what the U.S. could have done with these billions in this harsh economy if we didn’t have to waste this King’s fortune on illegal aliens? The question is a good one to ponder.

Now I don’t agree with Gary that this unnecessary (in fact illicit) expenditure is why the economy is failing. There are far more reasons than the illegal problem dogging our great nation. But Karlin is right to point out that these billions wasted on lawless illegals is certainly not helping our economic outlook!

Just imagine what we could have done with the $338.3 Billion wasted on illegals!
“The only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”
–Samuel Johnson

Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer, has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and is featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart’s,,,,,, Human Events Magazine,, and the New Media Journal, among many, many others. Additionally, he has been a frequent guest on talk-radio programs to discuss his opinion editorials and current events and is currently the co-host of “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Conservatism” heard on BlogTalkRadio. Warner is also the editor of the Cook County Page for

He has also written for several history magazines and appears in the new book “Americans on Politics, Policy and Pop Culture” which can be purchased on He is also the owner and operator of Feel free to contact him with any comments or questions : EMAIL Warner Todd Huston

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Flu shot fatality - toddler dies 12 hours after having vaccination

A FAMILY is in mourning after their toddler unexpectedly died less than 12 hours after receiving a seasonal flu vaccination.

Two-year-old twin Ashley Jade Epapara had been "perfectly fine" before dying at her Upper Mt Gravatt home, on Brisbane's southside, on April 9. Parents David and Nicole are shattered by the mysterious death of their baby girl. "It's dreadful, it's a very hard time," Mr Epapara said yesterday.

National health authorities have ordered doctors to stop giving seasonal influenza vaccinations to children under five after dozens of serious reactions, including convulsions.

Ashley's death is being investigated by police and the office of the coroner. A spokesman for Brisbane coroner John Lock confirmed yesterday that a report was being prepared.

Mrs Epapara told The Sunday Mail that "tests are being carried out" on her little girl. But the young mother didn't want to comment further as she began shaking and her eyes welled with tears. Ashley's twin sister, Jaime, also received the flu jab at the same time and is believed to have been vomiting the night before her sister died.

Asked whether he or his wife thought the influenza vaccine had anything to do with their child's death, Mr Epapara said: "It's very coincidental."

More than 45 children experienced convulsions and fever, with some having to be taken to hospital in intensive care after receiving the vaccine in Western Australia.

Queensland chief health officer Jeannette Young confirmed 15 children in Queensland had been recorded as having an adverse reaction to the vaccine.

Australia's chief medical officer Professor Jim Bishop said in a statement that the West Australian events were being "urgently investigated by health experts and the Therapeutic Goods Administration".

The World Health Organisation last year said a "small number of deaths" had occurred in people vaccinated for influenza, with 65 million people vaccinated globally.

Computerized Front Running and Financial Fraud

How a Computer Program Designed to Save the Free Market Turned Into a Monster

While the SEC is busy investigating Goldman Sachs, it might want to look into another Goldman-dominated fraud: computerized front running using high-frequency trading programs.

Market commentators are fond of talking about “free market capitalism,” but according to Wall Street commentator Max Keiser, it is no more. It has morphed into what his TV co-host Stacy Herbert calls “rigged market capitalism”: all markets today are subject to manipulation for private gain.

Keiser isn’t just speculating about this. He claims to have invented one of the most widely used programs for doing the rigging. Not that that’s what he meant to invent. His patented program was designed to take the manipulation out of markets. It would do this by matching buyers with sellers automatically, eliminating “front running” – brokers buying or selling ahead of large orders coming in from their clients. The computer program was intended to remove the conflict of interest that exists when brokers who match buyers with sellers are also selling from their own accounts. But the program fell into the wrong hands and became the prototype for automated trading programs that actually facilitate front running.

Also called High Frequency Trading (HFT) or “black box trading,” automated program trading uses high-speed computers governed by complex algorithms (instructions to the computer) to analyze data and transact orders in massive quantities at very high speeds. Like the poker player peeking in a mirror to see his opponent’s cards, HFT allows the program trader to peek at major incoming orders and jump in front of them to skim profits off the top. Note that these large institutional orders are our money -- our pension funds, mutual funds, and 401Ks.

When “market making” (matching buyers with sellers) was done strictly by human brokers on the floor of the stock exchange, manipulations and front running were considered an acceptable (if morally dubious) price to pay for continuously “liquid” markets. But front running by computer, using complex trading programs, is an entirely different species of fraud. A minor flaw in the system has morphed into a monster. Keiser maintains that computerized front running with HFT has become the principal business of Wall Street and the primary force driving most of the volume on exchanges, contributing not only to a large portion of trading profits but to the manipulation of markets for economic and political ends.

The “Virtual Specialist”: the Prototype for High Frequency Trading

Until recently, most market making was done by brokers called “specialists,” those people you see on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange haggling over the price of stocks. The job of the specialist originated over a century ago, when the need was recognized for a system for continuous trading. That meant trading even when there was no “real” buyer or seller waiting to take the other side of the trade.

The specialist is a broker who deals in a specific stock and remains at one location on the floor holding an inventory of it. He posts the “bid” and “ask” prices, manages “limit” orders, executes trades, and is responsible for managing the uninterrupted flow of orders. If there is a large shift in demand on the “buy” side or the “sell” side, the specialist steps in and sells or buys out of his own inventory to meet the demand, until the gap has narrowed.

This gives him an opportunity to trade for himself, using his inside knowledge to book a profit. That practice is frowned on by the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), but it has never been seriously regulated, because it has been considered necessary to keep markets “liquid.”

Keiser’s “Virtual Specialist Technology” (VST) was developed for the Hollywood Stock Exchange (HSX), a web-based, multiplayer simulation in which players use virtual money to buy and sell “shares” of actors, directors, upcoming films, and film-related options. The program determines the true market price automatically, by comparing “bids” with “asks” and weighting the proportion of each. Keiser and HSX co-founder Michael Burns applied for a patent for a “computer-implemented securities trading system with a virtual specialist function” in 1996, and U.S. patent no. 5960176 was awarded in 1999.

But things went awry after the crash, when Keiser’s company HSX Holdings sold the VST patent to investment firm Cantor Fitzgerald, over his objection. Cantor Fitzgerald then put the part of the program that would have eliminated front-running on ice, just as drug companies buy up competing patents in order to take them off the market. Instead of preventing front-running, the program was altered so that it actually enhanced that fraudulent practice. Keiser (who is now based in Europe) notes that this sort of patent abuse is illegal under European Intellectual Property law.

Meanwhile, the design of the VST program remained on display at the patent office, giving other inventors ideas. To get a patent, applicants must list “prior art” and then prove that their patent is an improvement in some way. The listing for Keiser’s patent shows that it has been referenced by 132 others involving automated program trading or HFT.

HFT has quickly come to dominate the exchanges. High frequency trading firms now account for 73% of all U.S. equity trades, although they represent only 2% of the approximately 20,000 firms in operation.

In 1998, the SEC allowed online electronic communication networks, or alternative trading systems, to become full-fledged stock exchanges. Alternative trading systems (ATS) are computer-automated order-matching systems that offer exchange-like trading opportunities at lower costs but are often subject to lower disclosure requirements and different trading rules. Computer systems automatically match buy and sell orders that were themselves submitted through computers. Market making that was once done with a “specialist’s book” -- something that could be examined and audited -- is now done by an unseen, unaudited “black box.”

For over a century, the stock market was a real market, with live traders hotly bidding against each other on the floor of the exchange. In only a decade, floor trading has been eliminated in all but the largest exchanges, such as the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE); and even in those markets, it now co-exists with electronic trading.

Alternative trading systems allow just about any sizable trader to place orders directly in the market, rather than routing them through investment dealers on the NYSE. They also allow any sizable trader with a sophisticated HFT program to front run trades.

Flash Trades: How the Game Is Rigged

An integral component of computerized front running is a dubious practice called “flash trades.” Flash orders are permitted by a regulatory loophole that allows exchanges to show orders to some traders ahead of others for a fee. At one time, the NYSE allowed specialists to benefit from an advance look at incoming orders; but it has now replaced that practice with a “level playing field” policy that gives all investors equal access to all price quotes. Some ATSs, however, which are hotly competing with the established exchanges for business, have adopted the use of flash trades to pull trading business away from the exchanges. An incoming order is revealed (or flashed) to a trader for a fraction of a second before being sent to the national market system. If the trader can match the best bid or offer in the system, he can then pick up that order before the rest of the market sees it.

The flash peek reveals the trade coming in but not the limit price – the maximum price at which the buyer or seller is willing to trade. This is what the HFT program figures out, and it is what gives the high-frequency trader the same sort of inside information available to the traditional market maker: he now gets to peek at the other player’s cards. That means high-frequency traders can do more than just skim hefty profits from other investors. They can actually manipulate markets.

How this is done was explained by Karl Denninger in an insightful post on Seeking Alpha in July 2009:

“Let’s say that there is a buyer willing to buy 100,000 shares of BRCM with a limit price of $26.40. That is, the buyer will accept any price up to $26.40. But the market at this particular moment in time is at $26.10, or thirty cents lower.

“So the computers, having detected via their ‘flash orders’ (which ought to be illegal) that there is a desire for Broadcom shares, start to issue tiny (typically 100 share lots) ‘immediate or cancel’ orders - IOCs - to sell at $26.20. If that order is ‘eaten’ the computer then issues an order at $26.25, then $26.30, then $26.35, then $26.40. When it tries $26.45 it gets no bite and the order is immediately canceled.

“Now the flush of supply comes at, big coincidence, $26.39, and the claim is made that the market has become ‘more efficient.’

“Nonsense; there was no ‘real seller’ at any of these prices! This pattern of offering was intended to do one and only one thing -- manipulate the market by discovering what is supposed to be a hidden piece of information -- the other side’s limit price!

“With normal order queues and flows the person with the limit order would see the offer at $26.20 and might drop his limit. But the computers are so fast that unless you own one of the same speed you have no chance to do this -- your order is immediately ‘raped’ at the full limit price! . . . [Y]ou got screwed for 29 cents per share which was quite literally stolen by the HFT firms that probed your book before you could detect the activity, determined your maximum price, and then sold to you as close to your maximum price as was possible.”

The ostensible justification for high-frequency programs is that they “improve liquidity,” but Denninger says, “Hogwash. They have turned the market into a rigged game where institutional orders (that’s you, Mr. and Mrs. Joe Public, when you buy or sell mutual funds!) are routinely screwed for the benefit of a few major international banks.”

In fact, high-frequency traders may be removing liquidity from the market. So argues John Daly in the U.K. Globe and Mail, citing Thomas Caldwell, CEO of Caldwell Securities Ltd.:

“Large institutional investors know that if they start trying to push through a large block of shares at a certain price – even if the block is broken into many small trades on several ATSs and markets -- they can trigger a flood of high-frequency orders that immediately move market prices to the institution’s disadvantage. . . . That’s why institutions have flocked to so-called dark pools operated by ATSs such as Instinet, and individual dealers like Goldman Sachs. The pools allow traders to offer prices without publicly revealing their identities and tipping their hand.”

Because these large, dark pools are opaque to other investors and to regulators, they inhibit the free and fair trade that depends on open and transparent auction markets to work.

The Notorious Market-Rigging Ringleader, Goldman Sachs

Tyler Durden, writing on Zero Hedge, notes that the HFT game is dominated by Goldman Sachs, which he calls “a hedge fund in all but FDIC backing.” Goldman was an investment bank until the fall of 2008, when it became a commercial bank overnight in order to capitalize on federal bailout benefits, including virtually interest-free money from the Fed that it can use to speculate on the opaque ATS exchanges where markets are manipulated and controlled.

Unlike the NYSE, which is open only from 10 am to 4 pm EST daily, ATSs trade around the clock; and they are particularly busy when the NYSE is closed, when stocks are thinly traded and easily manipulated. Tyler Durden writes:

“[A]s the market keeps going up day in and day out, regardless of the deteriorating economic conditions, it is just these HFT’s that determine the overall market direction, usually without fundamental or technical reason. And based on a few lines of code, retail investors get suckered into a rising market that has nothing to do with green shoots or some Chinese firms buying a few hundred extra Intel servers: HFTs are merely perpetuating the same ponzi market mythology last seen in the Madoff case, but on a massively larger scale.”

HFT rigging helps explain how Goldman Sachs earned at least $100 million per day from its trading division, day after day, on 116 out of 194 trading days through the end of September 2009. It’s like taking candy from a baby, when you can see the other players’ cards.

Reviving the Free Market

So what can be done to restore free and fair markets? A step in the right direction would be to prohibit flash trades. The SEC is proposing such rules, but they haven’t been effected yet.

Another proposed check on HFT is a Tobin tax – a very small tax on every financial trade. Proposals for the tax range from .005% to 1%, so small that it would hardly be felt by legitimate “buy and hold” investors, but high enough to kill HFT, which skims a very tiny profit from a huge number of trades.

That is what proponents contend, but a tiny tax might not actually be enough to kill HFT. Consider Denninger’s example, in which the high-frequency trader was making not just a few pennies but a full 29 cents per trade and had an opportunity to make this sum on 99,500 shares (100,000 shares less 5 100-lot trades at lesser sums). That’s a $28,855 profit on a $2.63 million trade, not bad for a few milliseconds of work. Imposing a .1% Tobin tax on the $2.63 million would reduce the profit to $26,225, but that’s still a nice return for a trade that takes less time than blinking.

The ideal solution would fix the problem at its source -- the price-setting mechanism itself. Keiser says this could be done by banning HFT and installing his VST computer program in its original design in all the exchanges. The true market price would then be established automatically, foreclosing both human and electronic manipulation. He notes that the shareholders of his former firm have a good claim for voiding out the sale to Cantor Fitzgerald and retrieving the program, since the deal was never consummated and the investors in HSX Holdings have never received a penny for the sale.

There is just one problem with their legal claim: the paperwork proving it was shipped to Cantor Fitzgerald’s offices in the World Trade Center several months before September 2001. Like free market capitalism itself, it seems, the evidence has gone up in smoke.

Ellen Brown developed her research skills as an attorney practicing civil litigation in Los Angeles. In Web of Debt, her latest of eleven books, she turns those skills to an analysis of the Federal Reserve and “the money trust.” She shows how this private cartel has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves, and how we the people can get it back. Her websites are,, and

Greek domino topples; Rest of the “PIIGS” next!

It’s Sunday morning and I’m enjoying some quality time with my two girls. Yesterday it was a local baseball game; today they’re all excited about seeing the new “Oceans” movie. I guess you could say it’s the typical quiet family weekend.

But in the bond market, it’s been anything BUT quiet. In fact, the first major sovereign debt domino toppled this past week — in Greece.

The Mediterranean nation is buried under a massive load of debts and deficits, and the numbers are shocking.

The European Union’s (EU) statistics agency has been combing through Greece’s books, and it just revised the country’s 2009 deficit tally up to a whopping 13.6 percent of Gross Domestic Product. Further revisions could send that even higher, to 14.1 percent.

That’s more than four times the official “limit” for a country in the EU. And the nation’s total debt load is now closing in on $400 billion, or 115 percent of GDP. That’s among the worst ratios on the planet.

Greece used to be able to fund its deficits at relatively low yields. But not anymore …

Greek interest rates have exploded higher, with yields on 10-year Greek government bonds surging above 10 percent. Meanwhile, two-year note yields soared past 11 percent, more than a subprime mortgage borrower pays in the U.S.!

That’s a recipe for disaster for a country that needs to sell $72 billion in debt to cover its deficits just in the coming months.

Facing a full-scale meltdown, Greece did the unthinkable on Friday. It asked for a bailout from the EU and the International Monetary Fund. The lifeline will take the form of up to $40 billion in three-year loans from the 15 other nations that share the euro currency. Those loans will carry a below-market rate of just 5 percent. Greece can also get its hands on another $20 billion in low-rate loans from the IMF.

The market breathed a sigh of relief in the wake of the Greek aid request. Bond yields fell and stock prices rose in Athens. But …

This Is Just the Eye of the Sovereign Debt Hurricane!

I say that because Greece is far from alone.

Take another of the so-called “PIIGS” countries, Portugal.

The country’s GDP shrank 2.7 percent in 2009, the worst recession in more than six decades. The unemployment rate recently hit a 23-year high of 10.1 percent, while the budget deficit jumped to 9.3 percent of GDP. Total debt is more than 85 percent of GDP, the worst in 20 years.

Ireland? The budget deficit is almost 12 percent of GDP.

Italy? Its total debt load is on track to hit 117 percent of GDP.

Plus, Spain is battling a budget deficit of 11.4 percent of GDP.

Bottom line: Greece is just the first domino to fall. Many other European countries are next in line.

And the biggest domino of all is right here in the U.S.!

Our budget deficit is soaring. Our debt load is exploding. Our bond yields are starting to rise. And our risk premium is beginning to climb.

The folks in Washington are sticking their heads in the sand, ignoring the warning signs all around them. They believe the same kind of bond market collapse that just struck Greece can’t happen here. So they’re continuing to bail out banks, brokers, mortgage companies, insurance companies, automakers, unions, homeowners and the unemployed.

But now, with demand for U.S. Treasuries waning — as evidenced by a string of disastrous auctions and continued net selling by China — the only question that remains is, “Who will bail out Washington?”

The simple fact is, no institution or group of institutions on Earth has the resources to save Washington when the bond market finally gives up on our ability to manage our own finances. When that day dawns, the bond market will come apart at the seams. Interest rates will shoot the moon. Our feeble economic recovery could vanish.

So I have created The Great Interest Rate Explosion of 2010-2011 to give you a clear, actionable plan for protecting your wealth and also USING this great convulsion to potentially make enormous profits.

And I’m so convinced that this report may prove to be the single most crucial one you’ve read in years, I’m even offering to send it to you free.

Of course, The Great Interest Rate Explosion of 2010-2011 can’t help you if you don’t read it.

And it will help you most if you’re one of the investors who reads it first!

But the deadline for making sure
you’re one of the first to receive
The Great Interest Rate Explosion of 2010-2011

At this very moment, we’re putting the finishing touches on The Great Interest Rate Explosion of 2010-2011. It will be released to the world — including our 660,000 readers — at 7:59 AM on Monday, May 3, 2010.

I expect thousands of investors to begin buying the investments I recommend in it almost immediately.

That’s why I want you to get your free copy five days early — this coming Wednesday — so you can get a head start.

But the only way for you to get your head start is to add your name to our Head-of-the-Line Pass no later than this coming Tuesday — just two short days from today!

The Great Interest Rate Explosion of 2010-2011 is your comprehensive guide to protecting your wealth and profiting as this great bond market fiasco strikes.

In this landmark report, I reveal why America is now speeding towards a financial Armageddon that could:

  • Trigger a collapse in the value of ALL long-term bonds — government, corporate, state and municipal — choking off a vital source of capital for every town and city in America …

  • Send interest rates on mortgages, auto loans and business loans soaring — setting off a new wave of personal and corporate bankruptcies …

  • Provoke sweeping cuts to public entitlements — Medicare, Social Security and other “essential” government services, and …

  • Ultimately plunge America headlong into the next, far more devastating phase of this great debt crisis.

Plus, you’ll also discover …

  • The $34.7 trillion bond market bubble: Why Washington’s debt crisis has now GUARANTEED that, whether you own bonds or not, you are in for the most chilling ride of your investment lifetime …

  • Five powerful catalysts that virtually guarantee surging interest rates ahead …

  • Why the Fed can’t rescue the bond market … or prevent interest rates from surging …

  • Why exploding interest rates can not only crush your bonds, but can also impact your fixed annuities, life insurance, pensions, and bank deposits — and how to protect yourself …

  • 10 mutual funds that are most likely to get crushed when the bond market collapses and interest rates surge …

  • 10 toxic ETFs set to plunge: If you own any of them, consider speed-dialing your broker and selling them NOW …

  • The safest place to park your cash now …

  • Three ultra-powerful “Profit Tools” — investment strategies and vehicles likely to spin off windfall profits as interest rates rise …

  • Five types of investments that will get killed by rising rates. Dump them now or kick yourself later …

  • Three steps to shield your family’s finances from soaring interest rates …

  • How to USE this great bond market crash and interest rate explosion to go for windfall profits in 2010-2011 …

This historic report is free and adding your name to our Head-of-the-Line Pass takes only seconds. So click here to make sure you do not miss this all-important report and to give yourself a five-day head start on the investments it recommends!

Best wishes,

Mike Larson

Give the Damned Money Back!

A February 17, 2010 Associated Press article that appeared in the New York Times titled, “European Union Sets Deadline for Greece to Make Cuts.” It said: “European finance ministers gave the Greek government on Tuesday just a month to show it is making drastic budget cuts in a bid to calm markets and stop Athen’s debt crisis from spreading to other countries. …Euro-zone finance ministers said Monday that they want the Greek government to ready new spending cuts, increase sales and energy taxes and impose new levies on luxury goods, including cars if it cannot by mid-March show that it is making hefty deficit reductions. Greece has promised it will take such extra measures if it has to in order to restore its credibility, shattered by news that it falsified statistics to make its deficit look smaller last year, and that it used complex financial deals to massage figures dating back to 2001.”

In other words, if the Greek Government, after lying and cheating on financial deals doesn’t squeeze more money out of its workers, The European Union ain’t gonna help!

But really, what does that mean?

This is no different than what’s happening here in the U.S. just as it’s happening in capitalist countries around the globe. Through fraud, fakery and debauchery the capitalists around the globe have stolen huge amounts—not just by exploiting workers who create the products that bring in the profits—but by charging over-inflated prices for products that are worth far less.

Of course, the U.S. government can also credit itself with spending tens-of-trillions on wars, occupations and military bases around the world as well as bailouts for the wealthy.

In communities across the country workers are finding out first hand all about over-inflated prices like on housing. All the little “concrete mansions” built recently in “bedroom communities” around the country—originally built as “disposable housing”—are already falling apart. With concrete walls and concrete floors that crack and crumble; and downright faulty appliances that have to be replaced immediately after you move in; these homes were way overpriced from the get-go, and the banks knew it.

For most workers, this meant moving from the city into a suburb that entails an hour or more commute-time and more mileage on your car. Not just to get to jobs. These communities have virtually no public transportation system so workers have to haul their kids around everywhere. Distances in these suburbs are made for driving, not for walking.

Not to mention the role these suburban housing developments played in urban gentrification, i.e. Black and Brown removal and dispersal!

Those homes, now going unsold for $125,000 were sold to anxious-to-buy potential homeowners for $550,000 and up! And they bought them because they could! Because the banks sold it to them knowing they would not be able to afford it in the long run! And because they had nothing to lose, and tens-of-billions of dollars in profits to gain.

Families moved to the suburbs by the droves optimistic that they could maintain their $3500.00 monthly mortgage payments—not including utilities. After all, they did have jobs at the time. And they underestimated the hardship that having no public transportation would have on them.

Banks targeted urban areas that still had relatively large numbers of Black and Brown homeowners, but who were also in debt. The banks bought their homes with high property values, such as in the predominantly Black Bayview/Hunters’ Point district of San Francisco, for a steal—for what would become a down payment on a “new home in the suburbs” for the former San Francisco homeowner—yet with much more owed to the banks once the deal was sealed!

But the bottom line is, the banks knew that those houses in the suburbs were not worth that kind of money. They’re not stupid. Now millions are in foreclosure and many more are barely hanging on waiting for the roof to fall in—literally and figuratively.

How is this not a criminal offence—a swindle, a fraudulent conspiracy between the banks and government? And, if so, why can’t they be forced to give the damned money back to those they stole it from?

Here are some ways workers could get their money back

First and foremost is to end all the wars, close all the U.S. military bases and bring all the troops and mercenary contractors back immediately and turn the Pentagon budget into a human needs budget. All bailouts to the wealthy should immediately be paid back with interest!

All mortgages should be cut to the actual value of the home. If a family purchased a home for $550,000 and it’s only worth $150,000, then their mortgage owed to the bank should drop to $150,000 minus any mortgage payments already made. Workers have been ripped-off long enough.

Tax the rich

All social services including comprehensive healthcare should be provided free of charge to all. It should be paid for by a progressive tax on corporate profits and on individuals with an income over $250,000 per year.

According to, “Roughly one in 50 households take in more than $250,000 a year.” That’s two percent or less of households that would be affected by this progressive taxation. (Median yearly household income in the U.S. is around $50,000. That means that about half earn under $50,000 and half earn over $50,000.) According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 0.02 percent of households (that’s two-tenths of one percent of households) earn over one million dollars a year. And, according to, the people with the top 32 percent of incomes pay no taxes at all! This must be immediately turned around.

The amount of the progressive tax should be scaled to the cost of rebuilding and hiring people for a Public Works government program of rebuilding infrastructure such as hospitals and healthcare, schools, bridges, roads, mass transportation, alternative power sources and even for rebuilding homes in case of a natural disaster. And to pay for the repair of all the damages that U.S. wars and occupations have inflicted around the world.

How to provide enough jobs
for everyone

The progressive tax should also be tied to providing jobs to the unemployed in the form of instituting across-the-board at every workplace, a sliding scale of wages and hours.

That is, in order to employ the unemployed, workers’ hours will be scaled down with no reduction in their pay in order to employ more workers. That, along with massive rebuilding of infrastructure, will make a job available to anyone who needs one.

This will also require a massive growth in education to train qualified people to fulfill these jobs.

All students should be provided an education through university level and beyond and the means to complete it—food, housing, healthcare, etc.—free of charge so they can concentrate on their studies and become the best they can be.

Wage scales

Wages should be scaled to true inflation. It should be tied to how much all the basic necessities of life cost—the milk, food, toothbrushes, clothes, shoes, sheets, towels, transportation, etc.

There should be no taxes on earnings of less than $250,000 per year. And there should be no hidden taxes such as parking meters, tickets, etc., (drunk and dangerous drivers should not be allowed to drive until sober or retrained effectively, of course.)

All utility bills, cable and Internet bills should be free as they have become a part of modern communication and belong to everyone. Again this should be paid for by a progressive tax structure—tax the rich; it’s workers’ money anyway!

Workers must take control of their lives worldwide

In order to maintain these very democratic, progressive, pro-labor (98 percent of working people don’t earn more than $250,000 per year) tax and employment initiatives, workers must become organized on the job independently of their employers.

Workers must assume the right to join or form a union by a majority of signatures of employees on a job. These organizations should be run democratically and no elected union official should earn more than the average pay of the workers they represent. Only in this way will union officials truly understand the needs of their membership.

To make each and every one of these worker’s organization powerful and capable of enforcing these pro-labor initiatives, all worker’s organizations should be united together in a broad, representational, democratically run political organization that would function entirely independently of the employers and with the avowed mission to fight and defend—to withhold their labor in a general strike if necessary—any and all who are a part of their united front of working people anywhere in the world; and whenever working people are under attack, suffering or threatened by the state or the employer.

Workers have been robbed long enough and need payback!

Workers must stand up and fight for what has been stolen from them for centuries. Workers are all colors, all beliefs, and all sexual identities. Workers constitute the overwhelming majority of humanity.

Workers do have the power to enforce these pro-labor initiatives if they can stick together and recognize that it is the system of capitalism, that holds private profit and wealth above all else, that is the cause of all human strife and suffering.

Capitalism stands in the way of humanitarian efforts even in a time of horrific natural disasters like Haiti or Katrina. They have shown this over and over again just this last decade!

Capitalism’s plunder of the environment; its filthy oil spills; massive generation of waste due to such things as excessive packaging; its mountain and forest removal; its poisonous silver and gold mines; its murderous diamond mines; must be handed over to the workers to run safely and fairly.

Lives lost must be compensated for to the family members who have suffered the loss. The massive expense of compensation and clean up must come out of the pockets of big business, not the pockets of working people. Not out of the pockets of the families of those who lost their lives digging diamonds and gold for the wealthy!

Children in poverty also live in war zones. The poor steal from the poor because the rich are protected in their homes and the poor have nowhere else to steal from. (Ask any teenage girl who tried to steal a lipstick from the drugstore. You get caught most of the time and they “prosecute” to the fullest extent of the law these days.)

Workers have been cheated and lied to; propagandized to death; pitted against each other; manipulated; bullied and imprisoned; and now they are watching their children being thrust into abject poverty with no future to look forward to and shorter lives to live.

That’s the nature of capitalism and the purpose it serves—to criminalize masses of people, turn them against one another and collectively hold them responsible for their own poverty.

That’s what inner-turf and so-called gang wars are about because they are unjust. All sides suffer living amidst the violence brought on by poverty.

So, even if they’re lucky enough to dodge a bullet, working-class youth—especially the poorest, non-white, and undocumented youth—are still more likely to land in jail than land a good-paying job or graduate from college.

Workers are experiencing this now on a vastly wider scale. They are watching their children suffer while billionaires are bailed out and the wars are financed by the taxes and fees workers are forced to pay and that are automatically taken from their paychecks by those very same capitalist thieves!

What can we do?

The above points are raised as a few of workers’ common concerns and some practical solutions to the problems they face today. There are many more solutions that can be put forward by working people planning together independently of the capitalists.

The statistics showing the ratio between the wealthy and the poor is irrefutable. The wealthiest ruling elite makes up less than two-tenths of one-percent of the population yet owns and controls 98 percent of the wealth that working people produce.

The solution to the economic crisis that working people face today could be solved simply—the capitalists must be made to pay back the damned money they stole; turn their 28-room mansions into schools and homes for the homeless; then go get a real job like everybody else!

Lloyds' £1bn profit from pension cuts: Anger as alert issued on boardroom pay

Profits at Lloyds Banking Group will be boosted by at least £1 billion this year because of a planned cut to the value of staff pensions.

The bank, 41 per cent-owned by the taxpayer, said in December it was capping the rate at which staff built up their pensions.

The move took effect this month and will cap pensionable salary rises for about 60,000 staff at just two per cent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower.

Lloyds bank

Pension change: The move will cap pensionable salary rises for about 60,000 staff at just two per cent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower

Although it does not limit pay rises, it does restrict the amount of any salary rise that can be counted towards a company pension. That, say analysts, will boost Lloyds' bottom line by £1 billion or more this year.

The bank may refer to the oneoff gain in its interim management statement this week, although no figures will be included in the announcement.

The boost from the pension pruning should make it almost certain that the bank will return to profit this year and is likely to fuel hopes that the Government may sell its stake in the near future.

Analysts believe that for a selloff to be successful, politicians will have to wait at least until 2011. Unions have already expressed fury at the pension move. While future staff pensions have been trimmed to improve Lloyds' financial fortunes, the bank's directors have seen their earnings rise.

Lloyds is facing investors unease over recent bonuses and last week leading shareholder group the Association of British Insurers issued an alert on the group's boardroom pay.

The remuneration committee at Lloyds recommended millions of pounds in bonuses to directors.

Though chief executive Eric Daniels has waived his £2 million bonus, four other board members, including retail director Helen Weir and finance director Tim Tookey, were paid bonuses worth a total of more than £4 million.

Lloyds made a loss before tax of more than £6.3 billion. The bank said: 'The remuneration committee has sought to strike a balance between the fact that the group is loss-making and the need to motivate executives to run the business to maximise returns for shareholders, including the taxpayer.'

Barclays has also come under attack for its pay levels from corporate governance activist PIRC, which advises a number of local authorities' public sector pension schemes. It urged investors to vote against Barclays' pay report at this week's annual meeting, describing rewards as 'potentially excessive'.

Goldman shareholders sue Blankfein

Shareholders in besieged investment bank Goldman Sachs are suing chief executive Lloyd Blankfein over an alleged subprime mortgage fraud that threatens to overwhelm the once untouchable Wall Street titan.

Two investors, Morton Speigel and Robert Rosinek, filed complaints in the New York State Supreme Court late last week, claiming Blankfein had failed in his duty to investors.

Goldman has been fighting a rearguard action against fraud charges brought by America's Securities and Exchange Commission and a barrage of other allegations over its conduct.

A number of its directors, including Blankfein and the alleged fraudster Fabrice Tourre, will appear on Tuesday before a Senate committee. The hearing is likely to centre on the fraud claim levelled by the SEC.

Goldman has denied the SEC's claim that it helped the hedge fund, Paulson & Co, to gamble on the collapse in the US sub-prime mortgage market while tricking other clients into bearing $1 billion (£650 million) of losses.

Sources said it hoped to negotiate a financial settlement with the authorities. But Goldman would have to ensure the settlement made clear it was not admitting culpability. It is not expected to file its defence until after this week's hearings.

Meanwhile this weekend, Goldman denied allegations that it had used its position as an adviser to Lloyds Banking Group to increase the value of bonds it held in the bailed-out bank.

No one marching for the banks

Two days before President Barack Obama called on Wall Street titans to ask their lobbyists to stand down in the fight over financial regulation reforms, JP Morgan mobilized its entire New York workforce to join the battle.

On Tuesday, it dispatched an e-mail on the reform package the Senate is considering to 30,000 employees, noting sections it liked and those it didn’t, including a tough proposal to overhaul the way banks handle derivatives.

More than 530,000 New Yorkers who work in the financial services industry could be adversely affected by the provision, the e-mail warned, according to a person familiar with it. JPMorgan workers were asked to e-mail to Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand urging her to stand up for them.

But it’s unlikely that rallying cry will spark much of a popular uprising against the financial regulation reform legislation. If anything, it underscores the inability of the Big Banks and their allies to latch onto a phrase or argument that could resonate with the public and provide the industry’s Republican defenders with the leverage to reverse the momentum in the regulation fight.

During the health care debate, GOP opponents withstood accusations of becoming the ‘Party of No’ and charges that they were denying coverage to children because they could see palpable support for their position in the screaming protesters at town hall meetings and the tanking poll numbers of Obama and health-care supporters.

Now, the shouting is on the Democrats’ side. Labor leaders next week are organizing marches on Wells Fargo and Bank of America, and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is expected to lead about 10,000 workers in a march down Wall Street in support of the reforms.

Change to Win Chair Anna Burger said it is “pretty outrageous” for the big banks to draw their workers into the fight. “They’re making their staff lobby against consumer protections,” she said.

“These are the same people who they forced to push bad products that put workers into debt. And now they’re using them to stop Wall Street reform,” she added.

Muscling amendments past labor’s supporters in the Senate might be an achievable goal if polls didn’t provide ample evidence that it’s not just union members who are still outraged at the financial industry.

A recent Pew study found that 61 percent of Americans say it is “a good idea for the government to more strictly regulate the way major financial companies do business.” Even the tea party activists can’t provide much cover. The Wall Street bailouts of 2008 were one of the galvanizing causes of the movement.

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Greece hit by new riots as pressure grows to quit euro

Support for the bail-out of debt-ridden Greece was in doubt last night, leaving the country on the brink of financial meltdown as top German politicians said it should be forced to quit the euro.

Riots erupting during workers’ protests over planned public spending cuts, just hours after Greek Premier George Papandreou sought emergency £35billion of loans from eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund.

The Greek government was finally forced to ask for international help after the cost of its borrowing spiralled to a new high, making it prohibitively expensive to borrow money to service existing debts.

Greek workers facing cutbacks battle police in Athens

Clash: Greek workers facing cutbacks battle police in Athens

Leading members of Germany’s Christian Social Union, sister party in Bavaria to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, said Greece should be forced out of the euro.

Leading CSU MP Hans-Peter Friedrich said: ‘Greece has not only a liquidity problem but also a fundamental growth and structural problem.’

He said that this should prompt Greek politicians to ‘seriously consider leaving the eurozone’.

Werner Langen, head of the CDU/CSU group in the European Parliament, added: ‘I am extremely sceptical as to whether the aid package conforms with European Union law and the German constitution.

‘The real alternative is for Greece to leave the currency union and become competitive again via hard structural reforms.’

Chancellor Merkel, whose country is the largest contributor to the Greek bail-out, has said she would be reluctant to help unless the stability of the euro was threatened and the Greek government implemented tough reforms.

Demonstrators rally in front of the Greek Parliament

Nationwide strike: Demonstrators rally in front of the Greek Parliament

The threat to the international lifeline to Greece came as its financial crisis dominated an IMF meeting in Washington yesterday attended by Chancellor Alistair Darling.

But in potentially good news for Britons, travel bosses predicted that the crisis could reduce the price of holidays to Greece and its popular islands like Crete and Corfu as it tries to lure more visitors with cut-price deals.

Greece has lost out this year to Turkey and Egypt, which have provided better value for holidaymakers.

Frances Tuke, of the Association of British Travel Agents, said: ‘The current debt crisis will not affect the value of the euro in the short-term but holidaymakers can expect plenty of deals as the Greeks try to lure us over there to give them much-needed revenue.’

However, British families who own holiday homes on the Greek mainland and its popular islands like Crete and Corfu face the prospect of paying 20 per cent surcharges on extensions and extra rooms they have added to their properties.

A draft bill going through the Greek parliament could result in British apartment and villa owners paying thousands of pounds more in taxes if they are found to have built undeclared rooms.

Currently, Greek property taxes are based on the size of all internal rooms.

But soon owners could be surcharged up to £600 or more for extensions.

The bail-out cash for Greece excluded any donation from Britain, which is not part of the eurozone.

In return for the cash lifeline, the Greek government has offered to impose a series of austerity measures, including a cut in public service workers’ pay, plus freezing pensions and raising taxes.

The moves have already led to street protests and strikes by Greek workers, and could lead to more in the next few days.

Analysts have warned that similar bail-outs might in future be needed in Ireland, Portugal, Italy and Spain.

Last night Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor Vince Cable said: ‘What has happened to Greece shows how quickly economic problems can snowball when there is not a coherent plan to ensure both the health of the public finances and growth in the economy.

‘While Britain is not in the same situation as Greece, we must be aware that damage to growth or implausible plans to tackle the deficit may send us down the same road.’

"Climate Change" World Tax for Life

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The 7/7 London Bombings: How to Set Up a Patsy

7/16/2005 Daily Mirror front page - click for article

7/16/2005 Sun front page - click for article

The first surveillance footage of the leaders of the July 7 bomb plot has been shown to a jury, showing them meeting with a “committed terrorist” outside an East London kebab shop. The video ... shows Mohammed Sidique Khan, with a beard and short hair, and Shezhad Tanweer, wearing a woolly hat, as they walk down a street in Upton Park, East London with four other men. [Telegraph]
Note the date of the surveillance video.

Mohammad Sidique Khan, the teacher who killed himself and six others in the Edgware Road bombing, attended Parliament as the guest of a Labour MP. He was invited in July 2004 by Jon Trickett MP in his capacity as a learning mentor at Hillside Primary School in Beeston, Leeds where Mr Tickett's wife Sarah is headteacher. [Telegraph]

Is it standard protocol for terrorist suspects to be allowed into the Houses of Parliament?

A consultancy agency with government and police connections was running an exercise for an unnamed company that revolved around the London Underground being bombed at the exact same times and locations as happened in real life on the morning of July 7th.

ITV News interview with Peter Power, Managing Director of Visor Consultants, and a former Scotland Yard official who worked at one time with the Anti Terrorist Branch.

Video of interview - 2.3 MB WMV download

POWER: Today we were running an exercise for a company—bear in mind now that I'm in the private sector—and we sat everybody down in the city—1000 people involved in the whole organization—with the crisis team. And the most peculiar thing was it was we based on a scenario of simultaneous attacks on a underground and mainline station. So we had to suddenly switch an exercise from fictional to real. And one of the first things is, get that bureau number, when you have a list of people missing, tell them. And it took a long time—

INTERVIEWER: Just to get this right, you were actually working today on an exercise that envisioned virtually this scenario?

POWER: Almost precisely. I was up to 2 o'clock this morning, because it's our job, my own company. Visor Consultants, we specialize in helping people to get their crisis management response, how you jump from slow time thinking to quick time doing. And we chose a scenario with no assistance, which is based on a terrorist attack because they've been close to a property occupied by Jewish businessmen there in the city, and there are more American banks in this city than there are in the whole of New York—a logical thing to do.

INTERVIEWER: How extraordinary today must feel for you as it unfolds. You mentioned a few moments ago there our experience with Irish Republican terrorism. And of course it was very different wasn't it because however perverted their behavior, the IRA believed itself to have some sort of code of honour, and tended to issue some kind of warnings, of course they often came too late to do any good.

I got an email with an interesting rumor going around London that just before the attacks, someone was trying to hire Muslims to play terrorists for a terror drill, to try to sneak onto the trains and buses with fake bombs to test out the security.

We know the terror drill was real. We know they were running the drill at the exact same stations the bombings actually occurred.

We know that the accused bombers don't fit the profile of men ready to die for Allah. Indeed, it is reported that some of them were not particularly religious.

Yet we are faced with the strange claim that these men, one of whom had a new family, and another whose wife was pregnant, carried bombs set on timers and stood there waiting for them explode.

If these men thought they were committing suicide, why did they buy RETURN TICKETS ON THE TRAIN? Why did they pay for "pay and display" tickets for their cars at the parking area?

This makes sense ONLY if they thought they were carrying fake bombs as part of a terror drill. This also explains the nervousness of the man on the bus who had probably just heard of the real explosions and was starting to suspect that the fake bomb he was carrying might not be fake after all.

"Hey you, Muslim person. Wanna make a hundred pounds? You could use that kind of dough, with a new kid and all. We're running a terror drill, and all you gotta do is take this here harmless backpack with a fake bomb inside to work with you tomorrow, just to see if the subway guards catch you or not. Mum's the word, this is national security and all; you can't tell anyone!"


The London Police claim the bombers were photographed at the Luton station, then rode the 7:40 train to King's Cross, where they were photographed again.

But according to the actual train timetable, the 7:40 train was cancelled that day and even had it not been cancelled, would not have arrived in time for the men to be photographed at King's Cross at 8:26. [Full details]

American student Sean Baran was walking towards Edgware Road Station when the explosion occurred. "One gentleman told me that the floor of the train he was on was blown out, it was just gone," he said. [Sky News]

Bruce Lait, in a tube carriage in which an explosion occurred:

As they made their way out, a policeman pointed out where the bomb had been. "The policeman said 'mind that hole, that's where the bomb was'. The metal was pushed upwards as if the bomb was underneath the train. They seem to think the bomb was left in a bag, but I don't remember anybody being where the bomb was, or any bag," he said. [Cambridge News]

Are we to believe that suicide bombers were strapped beneath the carriages when they detonated their explosives?

Miliband wastes £80,000 changing official font on Foreign Office logo

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has spent tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money on a new logo – which is almost identical to the previous design.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband ordered the £80,000 makeover at the same time as the department was being forced to draw up a hit list of embassies and consulates around the globe it will close to save money.

In addition to the new branding costs, the FCO will be forced to spend more money on new stationery carrying the updated look.

Last year the Foreign Office was £110million over budget – mainly caused by its massive spending on upgrading its security and on counter-terrorism work.

Yet at the same time senior mandarins called in image consultants to rebrand the department which has been in existence since 1782.

A glossy brochure which accompanies the rebrand claims that the new identity – featuring the Royal Crest and a new typeface for the words ‘Foreign & Commonwealth Office’ – will ‘subtly represent the ‘‘Power to influence”’.

The new FCO brand came into effect last month with all embassies and other posts around the world issued with a ‘brand tool kit’ including a lists of do’s and don’ts on how to use the new logo.

An 80-page pamphlet states: ‘Our logo consists of the Royal Crest and name beneath it...we need to use all our print materials.’


Spot the difference: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has spent tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money on a new logo- which is almost identical to the previous design

The image consultants also designed a simplified version of the crest for use on the FCO website – removing the Royal motto ‘Dieu et mon droit’ – ‘God and my right’ – and the motto of the Order of the Garter ‘Honi soit qui mal y
pense’ – loosely translated as ‘Evil be to him who evil thinks’.

The highly-paid consultants also chose a new typeface to be used on all the FCO’s paperwork. The font, called Frutiger, is also used by the National Health Service.

According to the FCO, its new brand represents six words: ‘Empowering, Insightful, Principled, Persuasive, Strategic and Intelligent’.

Officials drawing up invitations and staging events at embassies around the world have been warned not to ‘cramp’ the logo on letters and other material.

And the list of ‘don’ts’ includes: ‘Do not render the logo in any other colour than the FCO blue, reversed out white or black’ and ‘Be careful never to expand or condense the master artwork’.

A spokesman for the FCO said: ‘This will actually save money over time – for example, getting rid of the need for individual embassies to hire design teams when they produce publications or exhibition materials.’

He said the department had ‘engaged’ a ‘design consultant’ at a cost of £80,000. He did not disclose the additional cost of the new stationery needed across the department’s global operations.