Archive for category Lebanon

riddle me this - with updates and logic bombs

i’m sorry. i mean no disrespect but there are some very strange things about this plane crash.

1. yesterday they said they found the black boxes of the plane, and it was a matter of recovering them, and it depended whether they were inside the plane or not, and was the wreckage in a trench, etc. there were a lot of caveats.

“The boxes were found approximately 10 kilometers (six miles) west of the airport, 1,300 meters (4,265 feet) below the surface of the sea,” an army spokesman told AFP. The Lebanese army said in a statement issued before midday Thursday that the Ocean Alert, a civilan vessel, was trying to find the Ethiopian plane’s flight recorders after the U.S. navy destroyer the USS Ramage detected new signals from the black boxes.

UPDATE: friday night: boxes now three miles farther out and a couple hundred feet deeper. source gee, one more adjustment like that and they’ll be unrecoverable.

Information Minister Tareq Mitri said late Thursday that the black boxes were about 14 kilometers (9 miles) off the coast at a depth of 1,500 meters (4,920 feet) and in an area of seven square kilometers (2.7 square miles).

An army official had earlier said the US navy destroyer USS Ramage, part of an international search operation, had picked up the signals approximately 10 kilometers west of Beirut airport at a depth of 1,300 meters.

Ocean Alert is equipped to access objects 2000 meters (6,561 feet) below sea level.

UPDATE: friday night: Ocean Alert leaving for a time, logistical reasons, to be replaced by a French vessel. source

The Ocean Alert, a privately-operated U.S. civilian vessel stationed in Cyprus, will leave Lebanon tomorrow for logistic reasons related to refueling its tanks and it will return later to continue its mission, LBC TV network reported on Friday.
Ocean Alert will be replaced by a French ship until it returns from Cyprus, according to the report.

The report of LBC TV network added: “If the black boxes (from the crashed Ethiopian plane) are located outside of what is left of the plane’s body, then there is a possibility to send a submarine — that can pull weights ranging from 150 to 200 kilograms from the sea bottom – in order to pull out the boxes. But if the boxes exist inside of what is left of the plane’s body, then the search-and-rescue teams will have to use submarines with bigger capabilities – not available at the moment — in case the plane’s debris weighs more than 200 kilograms.”

The Ocean Alert is equipped to reach objects 2000 meters (6,561 feet) below sea level.

Transport Minister Ghazi Aridi has earlier said: “We expect to have them sometime today.”

He told AFP that the body of the Boeing 737-800 had yet to be located four days after the tragedy.

Aridi said that while search teams had picked up the flight data recorder signals, it remained unclear whether the boxes were still inside the body of the Boeing 737-800, which plunged into the Mediterranean on Monday with 90 people on board.

“If the black boxes are not in the body of the plane, it is easier to access them,” Aridi said. “But if they are still inside the plane, this will necessitate another procedure completely.”

The boxes were located in a seafloor trench and their recovery may take time, a defense ministry official told AFP.

more @ naharnet

2. well now that didn’t work out. no boxes yet.  it’s apparently very, very difficult to find these boxes. they keep throwing depth numbers around like maybe there’s some limit to how deep they can go, and i’m starting to get the impression that the boxes will be unrecoverable or lost in some trench. maybe they should call James Cameron seeing as he was able to reach the titanic two miles underwater to make a gazillion dollars on a hollywood movie, and ask him how he did that. so we still can’t find out what really happened, and why the pilot made that strange turn was he avoiding something? and the strangest statement yet …keep reading…..

The two ships Ocean Alert and USS Ramage tasked with finding the black boxes of the doomed Ethiopian plane are receiving signals emitted by them, but the exact location has not yet been determined, Transport Minister Ghazi Aridi said Thursday, stressing that operations are underway to precisely locate the boxes and pull them from the sea. The operation of pulling out the black boxes requires using the submarine specialized in this field existing on board of the civilian rescue vessel, Ocean Alert, which had detected the whereabouts of the black boxes through special sonar equipment able to access objects 2000 meters (6,561 feet) below sea level.

On Wednesday, the situation room operating under the command of the Lebanese Army received information from the U.S. navy destroyer USS Ramage about detecting new signals from the black boxes which were reportedly found approximately 10 kilometers (six miles) west of the airport, 1,300 meters (4,265 feet) below the surface of the sea. The boxes were located in a seafloor trench and their recovery may take time, a defense ministry official told AFP.

After Cabinet’s extraordinary session Thursday evening under PM Saad Hariri, Information Minister Tarek Mitri said “the black boxes had been detected at a depth ranging from 200 to 1400 meters below the surface of the sea.”

Mitri added that the submarine which will be sent after locating the place is for taking pictures and determining the exact position of the boxes as another submarine will be used to pull them from the sea. On the other hand, Health Minister Mohammed Jawad Khalife declared Thursday that the DNA genetic diagram of the plane victims had been completed as testing had identified the bodies of the two victims Anna Mohammed Abes and Ali Ahmed Jaber whose body was handed over to his family to be buried Friday in his hometown Nabatiyeh.

Khalife confirmed that Rafik Hariri state hospital had received many body parts and that tests revealed they do not belong to humans. [is this a typo? what the....?? ]

yeah. i don’t know what to make of that. more @ naharnet

3. well we had heard numbers like 34 bodies recovered as of Monday. but now the number is 14. ?????????

BEIRUT — An Ethiopian Airlines plane carrying 90 people caught fire and crashed into the sea minutes after taking off from Beirut early Monday, setting off a frantic search as passenger seats, baby sandals and other debris washed ashore. At least 34 bodies were recovered.

All 83 passengers and seven crew are presumed dead. Only 14 bodies, including those of two toddlers, and body parts have been found so far.

4. also, isn’t it a little strange that, given that only 14 bodies have been identified so far, and this has required DNA testing because the bodies are burned and/or dismembered, that Hassan Tajideen was found and identified and buried so quickly? that just seems super extra odd to me, given the incredible difficulty we hear now about finding the body of the plane and the rest of the passengers and the black boxes. Tajideen was buried on Tuesday, but good luck finding out any info. there’s no coverage of it.

Al-Liwaa also pointed to Hizbullah’s noteworthy presence in the funeral of one of the plane victims identified as Hassan Tajeddine in the southern town of Hanaway.

more @ naharnet

totally, totally bizarre.

5. UPDATE: answers lead to more questions…

The eight identified victims from the Ethiopian doomed plane were business class passengers, hence they were seated in the plane’s front, knowing that the business class seats count 16 out of 138 seats available on the plane, An Nahar daily reported on Saturday.

The business class compartment had also additional three passengers, hence totaling the passengers at 14 added to Ethiopian security guard whose body has been found without being officially identified, knowing that his wallet and gun were found with the body. According to aviation sources, the security guard is usually situated in the front part of the plane.

An Nahar added that the victim Hasan Tajeddine, a businessman, occupied the seat A1 located behind the cockpit, knowing that the plane’s first door is located between the cockpit and the seat A1, and that Tajeddine used to choose this seat for its nearness to the door. His body was found with no major deformations.

The report suggested that the head of the plane — including the business class compartment and the toilet allocated for this section — had been detached from its body, knowing that the civil defense members had previously found the remains of one of the plane’s toilets near Ramlet al-Bayda shore, and that the seats recovered until today are mostly blue, indicating they belong to the aforementioned compartment.

Two bodies for Ethiopian hostesses exist at Rafik Hariri state hospital, according to medical sources.

Following the same analysis, the passengers of the economy class totaled 66, situated in the second part of the plane – the seats starting from row 11 to row 33, knowing that each row had six seats.

Hence, the passengers of economy class are still confined to their seatbelts inside the biggest part of the plane at the sea bottom. The probability for their bodies to float on the surface is related to the unfastening of the seatbelt, according to the report.

more @ naharnet

LOGIC BOMB: well, let’s see here. if the head of the plane detached from the body, then the cockpit, which is with the head of the plane, should be where they found the recovered bodies.

seeing as the black boxes would be in the cockpit, they should be recoverable too.

and seeing as tajideen was sitting right behind the cockpit, and his body is not burnt, then we can presume that the black boxes would also be in good condition and near the area where tajideen was recovered. NO? does that all not follow?????

why would the black boxes be in the trench with the body of the plane? that makes no sense.

2/11/10 — i was wrong. there is a data collection unit in the cockpit but the data goes to the black boxes, which are in the tail end of the plane.

updates on various fronts

1. black box found. what will it say? let us hope the box is recovered without incident. so many experts around…

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board and the French body for civil aviation security Bureau D’Enquetes et D’Analyses (BEA) have sent experts to join a team investigating the tragedy. The search operation has been led by Lebanese navy troops, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) as well as US navy destroyer the USS Ramage and a civilian boat from Cyprus with sonar equipment.

more @ naharnet

2. Headley pleads not guilty, said to be cooperating with investigators

CHICAGO - AN AMERICAN pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to US charges that he scouted targets for a militant Pakistani group blamed for the attack on Mumbai in 2008 that killed more than 160 people. David Headley, 49, has been cooperating with US investigators since his arrest in October….

Headley, who was born in the United States but spent several years in Pakistan, has previously pleaded not guilty to similar charges. His accused co-conspirator, 49-year-old Pakistani-born Chicago businessman Tahawwur Rana, entered a not-guilty plea on Monday to charges he provided material support to the plots and to Lashkar. — REUTERS

source: straits times

3. did Headley cut a deal with DoJ? and why does Dana Perino come out of the woodwork all of a sudden??? to support the intelligence services having maximum latitude and political cover at all times, or they can’t do their job and we’ll all be killed.

As Mumbai terror plot accused David Coleman Headley pleaded not-guilty during an arraignment in Chicago, he could become the centrepiece of a debate on how to treat terror suspects in the US. Headley, who was presented before US Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys on Wednesday morning, expectedly entered a plea of not guilty to all the 12 counts of indictment against him.

Just one day before the arraignment former Bush White House press secretary Dana Perino used his case to challenge the Obama administration’s strategy to deal with such cases. The main point of contention of President Barack Obama’s detractors and critics is that in such cases it makes no sense to treat suspects as criminal defendants.

Citing the Obama administration’s supposed argument Perino and Bill Burck, a former federal prosecutor and deputy counsel to president Bush, wrote in the National Review Online: “Most recently, David Headley, who has been indicted in Chicago for helping plan the 2008 Mumbai attacks, has given us information of enormous intelligence value.”

The two then countered it saying: “So the Justice Department has cut a deal with Headley to get him to talk. It will be interesting to see how much prison time will be shaved off for his cooperation. We’ll find out after he pleads guilty and is sentenced. Headley’s deal might give us a preview of how much time the Justice Department is contemplating for Abdulmutallab: 50 years? 20? Two?”

The reference to Abdulmutallab is about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian who nearly blew up a Delta jet on Dec 25 flying in from Amsterdam.

Perino’s mention of Headley is part of a larger piece titled “Obfuscation after obfuscation” that wonders whether the Obama administration’s statement on Abdulmutallab’s interrogation hides more than it reveals. It is critical of the decision to treat Abdulmutallab as a criminal defendant “with Miranda rights, a decision we now know was made without consulting the intelligence services whose job it is to protect the country from attacks”.

source: hindustan times

4. Philippines: air force general and 8 others killed in Cotabato City, southern Philippines, near Jolo Island. general stationed in Zamboango City, very near to Jolo Island, where Abu Sayyaf allegedly operates from.

COTABATO CITY, Philippines—(UPDATE 4) An Air Force general and eight other people were killed when a military Nomad plane crashed into a residential area here before noon Thursday, authorities said. Mayor Muslimin Sema said the Nomad plane crashed into at least two houses in Barangay Rosary Heights here around 11:35 a.m., killing all eight passengers, including Maj. Gen. Mario Lacson of the 3rd Air Division based in Zamboanga City.

Gumitom said she heard a loud noise before the plane hit her house.

…Maj. Randolph Cabangbang, spokesperson of the Eastern Mindanao Command, said Lacson and his party were on their way to Zamboanga City. “The plane crashed two minutes after takeoff,” Cabangbang said by phone.

Maj. Gen. Carlix Donila, commander of the 5053rd Search and Rescue Squadron based in Davao City, said moments before the crash the “pilot made a call (to the Cotabato airport tower) and he said ‘power loss.’” Sema said based on witnesses’ account, the plane was trying to land again at the airport after takeoff and appeared to be having “some trouble.” “It was flying in a zig-zag mode and crashed.”

more @ enquirer

5. tension in Sri Lanka — Colombo also involved in the recent capture of Mohammed Abdul Khwaja, a purported LeT terrorist, who during interrogation made statements that led to the recent terrorist warnings in the UK

COLOMBO - SRI Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse won his second war in a year, crushing an electoral challenge by his former army chief, who was left holed up in a hotel surrounded by troops yesterday. But a defiant General Sarath Fonseka refused to accept the result, which gave Mr Rajapakse 57.9 per cent of the popular vote in Tuesday’s presidential election against his own 40.1 per cent.

He vowed to challenge the result in court because of ‘obvious rigging’. In an apparent effort to dispel the acrimony of the campaign, the 64-year-old President said: ‘From today onwards, I am the President of everyone, whether they voted for me or not.’ He urged Sri Lankans to join together to rebuild the country, which is still recovering from a 26-year civil war with Tamil Tiger rebels that ended last year.

Speaking from the Colombo hotel where he has been encamped since Tuesday evening, Gen Fonseka accused Mr Rajapakse of intimidation and said his staff had received threatening phone calls.

source: straits times

sabotage ruled back in and other news

1. CIA denies ever knowing David Headley, ever, at any point in time, ever. Period.

Washington, Dec 17: America’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) today strongly refuted reports that Pakistani- origin US national David Coleman Headley, charged with criminal conspiring in the 26/11 terror attacks, was its agent at any point of time.“I can’t comment on an ongoing investigation, but any suggestion that this individual worked for the CIA is flat wrong,” CIA spokesperson Marie E Harf told PTI when specifically asked about Headley and his links with CIA. Headley now languishing in a Chicago-jail was arrested by the FBI on October 3 when he was planning to go to Pakistan via Philadelphia. He has been charged by the federal prosecutors for being involved in the planning of the Mumbai terrorist attack.

News reports from India, quoting unnamed officials from investigating agencies, and several news reports in the US in the past few days have said that Headley may well have been a “double agent” working for the CIA as well as Pakistani terror groups including Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which carried out the Mumbai terrorist attack.


many many sublinks re: headley if you click through to the source

2. Malaysia arrests 10, including 9 foreigners, for acts of terror — internationally linked, countries not identified

Malaysia said Wednesday it had arrested 10 people including nine foreigners for “acts of terrorism,” saying they were members of an international terror team and threatened national security. Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the 10 were being held under the Internal Security Act (ISA) which allows for indefinite detention without trial.

“I can confirm that 10 people have been arrested under the ISA for acts of terrorism,” he told a press conference. “They are internationally linked and will affect the security of our country if we do not take action,” he said. “We have worked with international intelligence organizations in this operation.”

Hishammuddin said that “all 10 are involved in international terrorism” but would not reveal whether they had planned or carried out attacks. He also declined to say when and where they were arrested. Neither would he say which intelligence organizations had helped in the arrests, but said that “if they are with an international terror organization and if they are caught in Malaysia, then we will take action on them.”

Malaysia’s controversial ISA has been used in the past against alleged militants, including members of regional terrorist organization Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) which is linked to al-Qaida. Government officials said there were now 25 people, including the 10 new detainees, being held under the ISA. Detainees are typically held at the Kamunting detention centre in the northern state of Perak.

more @ naharnet, including a little “rule of law rule of law” whining…that might be a clue re: who is involved

3. Nigeria: four killed in naval helicopter crash, chopper left from Liquified Natural Gas plant, 4 dead, important documents retrieved

A helicopter flying from Bonny to Port Harcourt crashed on Tuesday afternoon at Isiokpo, near Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, killing all four persons aboard. The naval helicopter crashed into a swamp at about 2pm on Tuesday, at Isiokpo, headquarters of the Ikwerre local government area of Rivers State. The zonal coordinator of the Nigerian Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Emenike Umesi, said the four occupants comprised two pilots and two engineers, said to be of Lieutenant Commander Rank. The NEMA chief, in charge of the south-south zone, said the aircraft took off from Bonny, which is home to the Liquefied Natural Gas plant.

A search and rescue operation commenced immediately after the crash, with massive a crowd gathering around the crash site. Just one body had been recovered at the time of this report. The Joint Task Force (JTF) spokesperson, Timothy Antigha, also confirmed the crash, saying “a search party has been dispatched to the crash site which is in a swamp.” He offered no other details. Security agents at the accident scene however said naval personnel recovered “some vital documents” at the scene. Officials of the Accident Investigation Bureau of the ministry of aviation were yet to arrive at the scene to unravel the reason for the air crash at press time. The last time such a fatal crash happened in Nigeria was just a few months ago, when a Wings aircraft went down in Cross River State in May 2009.

source: next

4. Lebanon: Imam kidnapped

Imam of the eastern Lebanese town of Majdal Anjar, Sheikh Mohammed Abdel Fatah al-Majzoub, was kidnapped Tuesday night, the National News Agency reported. NNA said al-Majzoub was kidnapped by unknown assailants from outside the mosque at 11:30 pm Tuesday. The agency said his white Mercedes was still parked on the side of the road when Lebanese security forces arrived to the area. His white turban was also found on the floor. The army immediately threw a tight security dragnet around the town and internal security forces launched an investigation into the alleged kidnapping.


5. SABOTAGE ruled back in in Ethiopian plane crash in Lebanon

Hypotheses and speculations mounted about a “sabotage” action in the Ethiopian plane crash which plunged into the Mediterranean sea in stormy weather earlier this week with 90 passengers and crew on board feared dead. the Ethiopian plane crash which plunged into the Mediterranean sea in stormy weather earlier this week with 90 passengers and crew on board is likely a “deliberate” attack, some media reports said Wednesday.

While the daily al-Liwaa said the crash is likely a “deliberate” attack, pan-Arab Asharq al-Awsat did not rule out “sabotage” after the disaster presumably killed all 90 passengers and crew.

OTV, meanwhile, which is close to Hizbullah and is reputed to have strong ties with Hizbullah circles, cited official circles as saying that the Ethiopian plane was likely hit by a rocket.

Al-Liwaa based its hypothesis on Hizbullah’s heightened concern about the catastrophe and the fact that a Hizbullah delegation, including Hashem Safieddine and MP Nawar al-Sahili, was supposed to be on the plane. It said the trip was cancelled at the last minute upon instructions by Speaker Nabih Berri to allow Sahili to attend a parliamentary session scheduled for Monday. Berri, however, called off the meeting after the plane crash disaster.

Al-Liwaa also pointed to Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s keenness to “personally” attend the funeral of one of the plane victims identified as Hasan Tajeddine in the southern town of Hanaway. It said Tajeddine has close ties with Hizbullah.

Navigation sources, meanwhile, told Asharq al-Awsat that “all possibilities are open.” They said an “explosion” likely took place on the plane, pointing out that lightning by itself cannot bring down an aircraft.

The sources also raised the possibility that the lightning hit the plane in a “sensitive area” that, together with human and technical errors, led to the crash.

Witnesses said the aircraft was in flames as it dropped into the sea.

Lebanese leaders, including President Michel Suleiman, Defense Minister Elias Murr and Transportation Minister Ghazi Aridi, have ruled out sabotage in the plane crash. (AP photo inside shows Sheik Nabil Kaouk, right, Hizbullah’s commander in south Lebanon, and Hizbullah MP Hasan Fadlallah, left, attending Tajeddine’s funeral on Tuesday.)


passenger of interest

According to reports*, one of the people killed in the Ethiopian plane crash off the coast of Lebanon was Hassan Tajideen, the administrator of Angolan-based food import company Arosfran.

A short report in, (UK) 12/17/07:

Trocadero boss in $20m fraud suit

In documents filed at the High Court, Golfrate’s new owners, Hassan Tajideen, his brother Kassim and Nasser Eid, allege that Aziz – whose company Criterion Capital is worth £620m – doctored accounts, invented false expenses claims and used company money to pay for luxury trips.

In 2003 Kassim Tajideen was arrested in Belgium in connection with fraud, money laundering and diamond smuggling, although he was never charged.

Aziz declined to comment, other than to say that he was fighting the case and would file a counter-claim.

Asif Aziz is the Chief Executive of Criterion Capital. From Criterion’s website:

Asif’s career began in 1992 at Morgan Grenfell Laurie, where he advised international clients on their real estate strategies. In 1995, he founded an FMCG distribution company and negotiated exclusive territory distribution agreements with Nestle, Unilever and Kraft. {See this post at aangirfan for recent activity regarding Kraft Foods. Kraft Foods is very pro-Israel.} This business was sold in 2005, allowing Asif to focus full time on his role as investment advisor.

A list of the ten wealthiest Muslims in the UK, dated 6/25/06, in the Islamic Times, included Asif Aziz and family:

7- Asif Aziz and Family - Born in Malawi - 39 year old Asif and his Golftrate Group bought the Trocadero in Piccadilly for 200 million pounds. The Golftrate group owns assets worth at least 620 million pounds, and with interests in Africa, the family is said to be worth many millions more. Asif himself, is said to be worth around 100 million pounds.

A story expanded on the allegations against Aziz, 12/16/07:

Asif Aziz, the property magnate who owns the Trocadero, is being sued for $20m over claims that he defrauded a Lebanese businessman once alleged to be involved with the trade in African “blood diamonds”. [ 4 years earlier -- he was not charged ]

Aziz is accused of illegally ramping the price of Golfrate Africa and Ovlas Trading, two Angolan food manufacturing businesses he sold in 2005, just before he bought the Trocadero, a vast building on London’s Piccadilly Circus that houses shops, restaurants, a cinema and Funland, an indoor fairground.

In documents filed at the High Court and obtained by The Sunday Telegraph, Golfrate’s new owners, Hassan Tajideen, his brother Kassim and Nasser Eid, allege that Aziz - whose company Criterion Capital is worth £620m - doctored accounts, invented false expenses claims and used company money to pay for luxury trips. In 2003 Kassim Tajideen was arrested in Belgium in connection with fraud, money laundering and diamond smuggling, although he was never charged.

Aziz declined to comment, other than to say that he was fighting the case and would file a counter-claim.

The Lebanese claim that Aziz, who is personally worth more than £100m, asked his company accountants to exaggerate the value of the companies, which package and distribute food in Angola.

The High Court claim form refers to a series of e-mails sent by Aziz to his chief accountant, Clifford Gundry.

In one e-mail Aziz allegedly asks: “Will they check each figure - can we not bullshit the numbers another way? Food for thought.”

In a further e-mail littered with spelling mistakes to another executive, Aziz allegedly says: “This morning I had a discussion with Clifford on BULSHITTING [sic] issue. There are following thing [sic] which could be maneuvered [sic] but possibilities are little. STOCK: Easiest thing to manipulate.”

The new owners also claim that Aziz falsified a series of expenses claims or spent money on expensive luxury clothes and trips just before selling the company on.

…The claim also details $51,200 spent on car hire, according to a voucher in the companies’ accounts.”Attached to the said voucher was a copy of a purported ‘agreement’ dated 1 May 2005 between Mr Aziz (purportedly signing in his capacity as “Honorary Consul of Malawi”), and Mr Rehman [another company executive], who signed on behalf of Golfrate. Under the terms of the ‘agreement’ Golfrate purportedly rented four vehicles at a rate of US$6,400 per month from the Malawi Consulate.”

Malawi-born Aziz was forced to abandon plans for a 503-bedroom hotel in the Trocadero last month when Westminster councillors criticised his redesign for the building. They branded as “hideous” a planned new glass façade that was to be lit up with different colours.

It was the second time Westminster Council had turned down Aziz’s redevelopment plans, which he can resubmit early next year.


On January 25, 2010, the BBC very helpfully reported on the history of the Lebanese in West Africa, so you would know these following important things:

The crash…has highlighted the strong ties between Lebanon and Africa.

Many passengers are believed to have been on their way to West Africa, where Lebanese are the biggest non-African migrant community.

…Nevertheless, the Lebanese community across West Africa, thought to be between 80,000 and 250,000 strong, has not only continued to do business but has thrived.

…The Lebanese in West Africa have always been merchants, using their connections abroad to source goods for import, and - like other migrant groups - they use their family networks to keep their costs down. As a result they have built a strong economic presence across the region.

Nowadays, the Lebanese community has interests in many areas and are the backbone of most markets - car importing, mining, oil services, defence contracts - and the more shadowy worlds of gun-running, diamond-smuggling and crude-oil theft.

Many Africans say openly how much they hate the Lebanese in their respective countries. But the Lebanese tenacity, aptitude for business and drive to succeed mean they have been sown into the fabric of West African economics, politics and culture.

You may also recall that DEA director Jay Bergman recently said the following, as reported on 1/4/10 by Reuters:

“As suggested by the recent arrest of three alleged al Qaeda operatives, the expansion of cocaine trafficking through West Africa has provided the venue for an unholy alliance between South American narco-terrorists and Islamic extremists,” Bergman said in an interview over the weekend.

Several prominent people were asserting various connections between Venezuela, Iran, FARC, Hamas, Hezbollah, al qaeda, Europe, drugs, airports, etc. a few weeks back. Around the same time — a flurry of visitors to Lebanon, including David Johnson, assistant secretary for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs.

So we see the narrative setting up. First we heard that the drugs were coming from West Africa, and now we learn that the Lebanese are in West Africa, playing a long-standing dominant role.

And now someone has died in the plane crash, who, you will see, fits into this narrative.


On 5/27/09, the US Treasury issued a press release about Kassim Tajideen:

WASHINGTON- The U.S. Department of the Treasury today designated Kassim Tajideen and Abd Al Menhem Qubaysi, two Africa-based supporters of the Hizballah terrorist organization, under E.O. 13224. E.O. 13224 targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism by freezing any assets the designees have under U.S. jurisdiction and prohibiting U.S. persons from engaging in any transactions with them.

“We will continue to take steps to protect the financial system from the threat posed by Hizballah and those who support it,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey. “Not only is Hizballah itself a terrorist organization with global reach, it also recently acknowledged publicly that it provides support to Hamas.”

Kassim Tajideen is an important financial contributor to Hizballah who operates a network of businesses in Lebanon and Africa. He has contributed tens of millions of dollars to Hizballah and has sent funds to Hizballah through his brother, a Hizballah commander in Lebanon. In addition, Kassim Tajideen and his brothers run cover companies for Hizballah in Africa. In 2003, Tajideen was arrested in Belgium in connection with fraud, money laundering, and diamond smuggling. [Though he was never charged. !! They FORGOT to mention that. And they don't name his brother either.]

Abd Al Menhem Qubaysi is a Cote d’Ivoire-based Hizballah supporter and is the personal representative of Hizballah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah. Qubaysi communicates with Hizballah leaders and has hosted senior Hizballah officials traveling to Cote d’Ivoire and other parts of Africa to raise money for Hizballah. Qubaysi plays a visible role in Hizballah activities in Cote d’Ivoire, including speaking at Hizballah fundraising events and sponsoring meetings with high-ranking members of the terrorist organization.

Qubaysi also helped establish an official Hizballah foundation in Cote d’Ivoire which has been used to recruit new members for Hizballah’s military ranks in Lebanon.

This information was then gleefully and promptly echoed through the echo chamber by chaps like Matthew Levitt at WINEP, etc.

Although it appears that nobody tracks down Kassim’s brother’s name. They just refer to him as “his brother, a Hizbollah commander in Lebanon.” What, no name?

So is Hassan Tajideen, who died in the plane crash, the brother of Kassim Tajideen, who the US Treasury has designated an “important financial contributor to Hizbullah?” It would seem so from the lawsuit against Asif Aziz.

But whether he was also a Hizbollah commander in Lebanon… ???

He must have had excellent time management skills.

Ovlas Trading SA

We are an import and export company with several branches, wholesales and supermarkets all over West and South Africa. Our operations are mainly in Angola “Grupo Arosfran” & “Golfrate Holdings”, D.R. Congo “Congo Futur” & “ATCOM”, Sierra Leone “Tajco” & “Tradex”, Ghana “Taj Investment” & “SRG Factories”, Gambia “Kairaba Supermarkets” & “HT Stores”, Mozambique and last but not least South Africa. With offices in Lebanon, China, Brazil and Belgium.

* attempts to confirm lead to dead ends

it doesn’t add up to “accident”

1. the pilot acted strangely, nobody knows why he didn’t respond

Defense Minister Elias Murr and Transportation Minister Ghazi Aridi, meanwhile, pointed a finger on the Ethiopian pilot, blaming him for failing to follow instructions from a flight control tower for unknown reasons.

“A command tower recording shows the tower told the pilot to turn to avoid the storm, but the plane went in the opposite direction,” Murr said in an interview with LBC television late Monday. “We do not know what happened or whether it was beyond the pilot’s control,” he added, stressing that the reason as to why the pilot did not respond remains unknown.

…Aridi, in turn, said the control tower sent the pilot a second warning when he failed to heed the first one.

“The pilot, however, continued to fly the same route, then he made a sudden, strange turn before disappearing from the radar,” Aridi said, stressing that control tower officials did their job.

It was not clear why the pilot ignored the control tower or perhaps it was beyond his control. Being 737, like most other airliners, also is equipped with its own onboard weather radar which the pilot may have used to avoid flying into cumulonimbus, which is a rounded mass of cumulus cloud often appearing before a thunderstorm.

“We’d better wait until the black boxes are recovered to determine what really went wrong,” Aridi added.

Navigation sources told the daily As-Safir in remarks published Tuesday that air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane only four minutes after takeoff. While they declined to confirm whether or not the jetliner exploded into a huge fireball or burst into flames before plunging into the sea or bad weather was cause of the crash, they ruled out any terrorist attack. Until the two black boxes are recovered, many scenarios and assumptions were put forward which included that the plane was struck by lightning, caught fire or encountered engine failure immediately after takeoff.

more @ naharnet

reminiscent of Egypt Air 990

who was on the plane?

2. birds?

Aviation safety analyst Chris Yates said reports of fire on the Ethiopian Airliner that crashed in the Mediterranean sea Monday could suggest “some cataclysmic failure of one of the engines” or that a bird or debris had been sucked into the engine.

He noted that modern aircraft are built to withstand all but the foulest weather conditions.

“One wouldn’t have thought that a nasty squall in and of itself would be the prime cause of an accident like this,” said Yates, an analyst based in Manchester, England.(AP-Naharnet)


3. bad weather?

A fierce storm appears to have caused the crash of an Ethiopian Airline jet that plunged in a ball of fire into the sea with 90 people on board, Defense Minister Elias Murr said on Monday.

“Bad weather was apparently the cause of the crash,” Murr told reporters.

“We have ruled out foul play so far,” he added.

The fact that soldiers combing the Lebanese shoreline had recovered pieces of the plane supported the belief that the crash was caused by the storm rather than an explosion, Murr said.

“When there is an explosion (on board an airplane) nothing is usually left.” [?????? really ??????]

“We will continue search operations in the hope of finding survivors,” Murr said, adding that no deadline had been set.

“We are seeking to recover the black box and the recording between the control tower and the pilot to determine what happened.”

more @ naharnet

4. ‘plane tumbled out of sky’

BEIRUT - THE first sign of trouble was a flash of light on the horizon on Monday - and then witnesses said the Boeing 737 tumbled like ‘fire falling down from the sky’ into the stormy Mediterranean Sea….’We saw fire falling down from the sky into the sea,’ said Khaled Naser, a gas station attendant who saw the plane plunge into waters that had reached 64 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius) by Monday afternoon.The Lebanese army also said the plane was on fire shortly after takeoff. A defense official said some witnesses reported the plane broke up into three pieces. — AP

more @ straits times

5. 20 Lebanese on plane lived and worked in Angola

Luanda - Twenty of the Lebanese nationals on board the Ethiopian Airlines plane which crashed into the sea this week lived and worked in Angola, state media in Luanda reported on Tuesday.

The government-owned Jornal de Angola named one of the victims as Hassan Tajideen, who was the administrator of Angolan-based food import company Arosfram. Four other Arosfram staffers also died in the crash, the company’s general administrator Kito dos Santos told the newspaper. Dos Santos was due to travel to Beirut on Tuesday to attend the victims’ funerals, it said.

A large number of Lebanese nationals work in oil and diamond-rich Angola, mostly running food import businesses but with some involvement in the diamond industry.

- AFP source: news 24

6. bodies severely burned

Investigators were Monday night carrying out DNA tests on severely burned bodies recovered from the sea after an Ethiopian Airlines flight carrying 90 people caught fire during a lightning storm and crashed into the Mediterranean minutes after taking off from Beirut.

As darkness fell no survivors had been found in the stormy waters off Lebanon, despite search and rescue efforts by the country’s military, U.N. naval peacekeepers and units from nearby Cyprus who were tonight joined by British and French helicopter teams.

The plane’s 83 passengers included 56 Lebanese - two with dual British nationality - 22 Ethiopians and individuals from Canada, Syria, Iraq and Russia, as well as the American-born wife of the French ambassador to Lebanon. By tonight at least 34 bodies had been recovered.

Lebanon’s National News Agency tonight confirmed that 57-year-old Afif Karshat was one of two Lebanese with dual British nationality among the casualties.

more @ free internet press

7. other passengers:

One of the Britons on board was Afif Krisht, 57, whose ex-wife and family live in Plymouth, Devon. The name of the other Briton has not yet been confirmed.

…The others included 20 Ethiopians and two French citizens, one of them Marla Sanchez Pietton, the wife of Denis Pietton, the French Ambassador to Beirut. Her body was among those recovered.

Mr Krisht’s uncle, Mohammed Tajieddine, said that he was travelling with two others to Angola, where he had a business. The father of six had dual British-Lebanese nationality. His former wife, Tania, said that he was based in Lebanon but visited his family in Britain.

Mr Krisht owned a haulage company and has three sons with Tania Krisht: Mike, 26, Alex, 20, and Adam, 18. He also has three sons with his second wife, Ahlam, in Lebanon.

…The majority of the Lebanese passengers were Shia Muslims from south Lebanon, many of them en route to Angola where they lived and worked.

more @ times online

8. The Syrian Social Nationalist Party or SSNP leader MP Assaad Hardan has announced that one of the crashed Ethiopian plane is party member Faris Rashid Thibyan

9. the other Brit: Kevin Grainger

10. others yet to be identified

“Flight ET-409 carries 82 passenger plus eight Ethiopian crew members. Out of the total passengers 23 are Ethiopian, 51 Lebanese, one Turkish, one French, two British, one Russian, one Canadian, one Syrian and one Iraqi national.”

more @ trend news

bizarre coincidences to ponder

When Moshe Saba’s helicopter crashed outside Mexico City, most of the stories cited the foggy weather. One source, an Israeli investment news service, cited eyewitness accounts that the helicopter burst into flames before crashing:

Mexican Jewish billionaire Moises (Moshe) Saba, 46, along with members of his family, have died in a crash of a helicopter outside Mexico City,. Six people were killed altogether, including the pilot. The Saba family is one of Mexico’s wealthiest families. The family’s pharmaceuticals firm, Grupo Casa Saba SA de CV (NYSE; Mexico: SAB) is one of the family’s business interests, which also include real estate, communications, and media. Moshe Saba was one of the investors whom Joseph Maiman approached to participate in the investment in Channel 10 in 2004, but he declined. Eyewitness accounts said that the helicopter burst into flames while still in the air. The helicopter hit a billboard before hitting the ground. Rescue services found no survivors. Although the accident occurred in a built-up area, there were no casualties on the ground.

Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard went to the site of the crash. He said that Mexico’s civil aviation authorities had opened an investigation. The accident was believed to have been caused by the stormy and foggy weather conditions at the time in the area on Sunday night. Moshe Saba was close to Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, and was a donor to many haredi (ultra-orthodox) institutions. He also a donor to Zaka - Identification, Extraction and Rescue, which today announced that a delegation would go to Mexico City to identify the dead. Ovadia Yosef’s son, Rabbi David Yosef, will accompany the delegation.

You can find the link here.

It’s just kind of strange because the Ethiopian jet crash also took place in stormy weather, but eyewitness reports also note an explosion and fireball.

“The weather undoubtedly was very bad,” Aridi told reporters at the airport….Witnesses reported seeing flames as the plane plunged into the sea. One employee of a gas station near the site of the crash said he heard an explosion and saw “a huge ball of fire” as the plane crashed. Another witness said: “It was like the whole sea lit up.” The accident took place amid heavy rains and storms in Lebanon in the past two days that have caused heavy flooding and damage in some parts of the country.

So could it have been struck by lightning? Possibly, but unlikely.

Estimates show that each commercial airliner averages one lighting hit per year but the last crash that was attributed to lightning was in 1967 when the fuel tank exploded, causing the plane to crash.

The other weird thing was this story:

Police in Oslo are to investigate suspicions that Norwegian drug gangs may be connected to the grisly find of two burned bodies in the boot of a car in western Sweden last week….Though a full identification is not expected until the end of the week, family members of the supposed victims, with a background in northern Iraq, have already begun grieving their loss, Expressen reports. “The car is mine. I have lost hope that my son and his uncle are still alive. This is the worst catastrophe of my life,” the 25-year-old’s father told Expressen. The 42-year-old, a resident of Arvika in central Sweden, had previously lived in Oslo where he ran a business and had a large number of contacts. He was believed to have been travelling from the Norwegian capital to Malmö on the day of the macabre find. With him in the car was his 25-year-old nephew and three million Norwegian kronor ($535,000), believed to have been the proceeds of a drug deal, Dagbladet reports.

Today The Local reported that these victims were ’shot through the eye.’

At least one of the two victims of a brutal double murder in southern Sweden earlier this month was shot through the eye in a gangland-style execution, reports newspaper Aftonbladet. The older of two victims found in a burning Volvo car on January 6th, 2010, believed to be the 42-year-old uncle of the second victim, was shot through the eye, an anonymous police source told the newspaper.

Both men suffered fractured skulls, caused by an extremely powerful blow. “It would have required strong force and extreme violence,” said the police source.The attackers – we are sure there were several – were incredibly brutal.”

Police have yet to fully identify the victims and have issued an arrest warrant for a 35-year-old man, believed to have been part of the gang which carried out the executions at a house near Lund, before transporting the bodies along the E4 motorway and setting the car alight.

The murders are believed to be connected to an international drug smuggling ring, involving a Norwegian criminal gang, according to earlier police reports. According to local Swedish Radio in Halland county in western Sweden, a 44 year old Norwegian man is also wanted in connection with the crime.

And the last time I recall gory details like that was in relation to Mumbai.

Ethiopian plane crash in Lebanon

1. Ethiopian plane crashes in Lebanon. Africa + Lebanon. the plane erupts into flames and crashes into the water. no survivors. no black box yet. UNIFIL and various resources are diverted to the area to help recover the dead bodies. the weather was bad, but the plane burst into a fireball. JUST LIKE THE helicopter crash that killed the Mexican-Israeli Moshe Saba. meanwhile, Clash of Civilization narrative goes on full tilt in The West. coverage of this accident definitely not top of the fold. in The West the discussion is on People of The West being endangered by Muslims. meanwhile the Muslims are dying in plane crashes, wars, etc.

“The weather undoubtedly was very bad,” Aridi told reporters at the airport.

Witnesses reported seeing flames as the plane plunged into the sea.

One employee of a gas station near the site of the crash said he heard an explosion and saw “a huge ball of fire” as the plane crashed.

Another witness said: “It was like the whole sea lit up.”

The accident took place amid heavy rains and storms in Lebanon in the past two days that have caused heavy flooding and damage in some parts of the country. The Lebanese army, navy as well as the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) were assisting in the rescue, Aridi added. “We have contacted everyone, inside and outside the country, that can assist us and the Lebanese navy, the army and UNIFIL have joined in the rescue,” the minister added. He said the French organization responsible for technical investigation of civil aviation accidents was taking part in the probe. A government official said Cyprus was assisting in the search and rescue efforts. He said a U.N. helicopter from Cyprus was dispatched to the site. A German naval UNIFIL boat was also at the site.
more @ naharnet

2. UNIFIL and many other resources diverted to plane crash site. what might be the opportunity cost of diverting all these resources, at a time when Lebanon needs to watch many things very closely? UK, Cyprus, US, Germany, France, UNIFIL……. — all now paying attention to the crash site.
A massive international task force comprising planes, helicopters and ships was on Monday scouring the Lebanese coast for survivors after an Ethiopian jet plunged flaming into the sea, officials said. Lebanon, the United Nations, the United States, Britain, France and Cyprus hastily scrambled search and rescue teams after Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409, carrying 90 passengers and crew, crashed shortly after takeoff at around 2:30 am (0030 GMT) on Monday.

more @ naharnet

3. Hariri sends divers to find the black box

4. overview of crash — France sent BEA, an organization that handles technical investigations of civil aircraft accidents. that should help (wink).

Lebanese President Michel Suleiman said he did not think the plane had been brought down deliberately. As of now, a sabotage act is unlikely. The investigation will uncover the cause, Suleiman told a news conference.

According to one source, residents on the coast saw a ball of fire crashing off Na’ameh.

Wake said the plane, built in 2002, last underwent a maintenance check on Dec. 25 and no technical problems were found. It had been leased by Ethiopian Airlines in September 2009 from CIT Aerospace.

more @ express india

controlling the message

1. the PROBLEM of US hegemony and abuse of the internet … definitely a problem. BUT what should be done about this problem??

Concerns about the US monopoly of the domain name server (DNS) system grew among other nations as much as their reliance on the Internet for issues ranging from politics and the economy to defense and the general society. Years ago, there was a proposal that the Internet be administered by the United Nations or under international cooperation. The European Union insisted that the World Wide Web is an international resource that should be jointly managed by all nations. Some developing countries pointed out that at the early stage of Internet development, developed countries seized large amounts of domain names, leaving a limited few for them, and demanded a share with the US over Internet administration. American officials opposed the suggestion.

…US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Twitter and other social networking sites are “strategic assets of great importance” because “these new technologies make it harder for the ‘dictator regimes’ to control information”. A former intelligence official said the channeling of US ideology via the Internet is much easier than sending spies to target countries or training local agents in target countries who identify with US ideology. The move the US government made in June 2009 — when it dissented over the Chinese government’s order to install the filtering software Green Dam and pressured China’s government for interfering in the freedom on the ‘Net and the freedom of information flow — is probably related to its intention to infiltrate China.

According to a Hong Kong media agency, the CIA invests tens of millions of US dollars every year to aid “Chinese net traitors” to infiltrate Chinese net users with US ideology. They haunt major Chinese forums and portals. A website called “Wazhe Online” (Chinese Pinyin) is a secret mission with the cooperation of US government institutions and overseas “Tibetan splittist organizations” with the tasks of agitating, deluding, infiltrating and instigating Chinese net users, making up rumors to initiate riots and collecting information via the Internet. A Tibetan youth who once worked with one organization said it is an online spy agency which is supported by the US financially, controlled by the Americans and serves the Americans. A commentary on Hong Kong-based Ta Kung Pao said those who publish stories sensitive to China’s policies on the net have complex backgrounds and are hired by US and Japanese spy agencies.

much more @ chinaview

2. Hillary Clinton: would everybody PLEASE condemn people who engage in cyber attacks???

WASHINGTON - UNITED States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday called for global condemnation for those who carry out cyber attacks, as China sought to contain tension with the United States over online censorship and hacking.

In what was flagged as a major policy speech on Internet freedom, she said: ‘Countries or individuals that engage in cyber attacks should face consequences and international condemnation. In an interconnected world, an attack on one nation’s networks can be an attack on all.’…The Internet has already been a source of tremendous progress in China, and it’s great that so many people there are now online,’ she said. ‘But countries that restrict free access to information or violate the basic rights of Internet users risk walling themselves off from the progress of the next century.’

more @ straits times

3. FOR INSTANCE, let’s talk about Hezbollah’s news outlet al Manar. now as we all know Hezbollah is designated a “terrorist” operation, so the fact that they have a pretty decent news outlet is of NO CONSEQUENCE! they refer to israel as “the zionist entity.” that is so hurtful. it is practically hate speech! you better not be getting any news from al Manar tv or next thing you know the US govt will conflate you will aiding and abetting terrorists. capice? especially if any weapons happen to fall into Hezbollah’s hands, as bibi keeps predicting over and over and over again, and something happens to an israeli who is only acting in self-defense, and some Iranian weapons hurt a hair on his head via Hezbollah, and Hezbollah has a news channel…. you see where this is going right? if you read al Manar tv you might as well just fly to Iran and get a weapon and use it on an innocent israeli yourself. SAME THING. so shield your eyes. be innocent of knowledge.

The U.S. Embassy said Friday that a bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives calling for punitive measures against Hizbullah’s al-Manar TV was not a measure taken against freedom of expression.

…The U.S. government believes

there is no difference

between a terrorist organization

and a media outlet run by it, Gliha said.

more @ naharnet

4. google’s deep CIA connections

Google is, in fact, is a key participant in U.S. military and CIA intelligence operations involving torture; subversion of foreign governments; illegal wars of aggression; and military occupations of countries which have never attacked the U.S. and which have cost hundreds of thousands of lives in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and elsewhere.

To begin with, Google is the supplier of the core search technology for ‘Intellipedia, a highly-secured online system where 37,000 U.S. spies and related personnel share information and collaborate on their devious errands.

Agencies such as the so-called ‘National Security Agency’ have also purchased servers using Google-supplied search technology which processes information gathered by U.S. spies operating all over the planet.

In addition, Google is linked to the U.S. spy and military systems through its Google Earth software venture. The technology behind this software was originally developed by Keyhole Inc., a company funded by Q-Tel , a venture capital firm which is in turn openly funded and operated on behalf of the CIA.

more @ pravda

5. US state dept ‘not the foreign policy arm of google’ — that’s right. it’s the CIA.

Speaking of the cyberattacks which Internet giant Google said last week originated in China, Ross said: “I think it is important to emphasize the private nature of some of this.” “This is primarily an issue between Google and 30 plus other private entities and the Chinese government,” he said at the start of a panel discussion sponsored by the New America Foundation and Slate magazine. “But we have responded with what I think is justifiable concern,” Ross said. “We’ve asked for an explanation.”

Ross added that the United States and China “have had conversations over the years where we’ve made clear our opinions both about the freedom of expression as well as cybersecurity. “So we’re taking this very seriously,” he said. “But all of that said, the State Department is not the foreign policy arm of Google,” he said.

more @ inquirer

6. other managed messages:

no need to worry about the safety of the World Cup in South Africa. this little incident here is nothing to worry about - just a little operant conditioning.

The two men were wielding guns and preparing to unleash terror on the nation. With their faces obscured, they were apparently loading their guns in preparation to rob tourists and cause mayhem during the forthcoming World Cup in South Africa. This was the image a controversial television channel,, beamed to South Africa and probably the world when they broadcast a documentary about criminals trying to upset the progress made by South Africa to host the international football tournament.  But the image is causing a huge controversy among South Africans and journalists for what they term irresponsible journalism, and the media house has now been subpoenaed under Section 205 of the South African (SA) constitution, to reveal the identities of the two men shown in the video.

the departing US envoy to the Philippines, Kristie Kenney, is very very very grateful to the Malacanang Press

She thanked the Malacañang Press Corps for the “kind” treatment of US officials. “You’ve been meeting me with wonderful kindness but I see you’ve been wonderful to all of our official visitors and I appreciate that so deeply—Cabinet members, members of the US Congress have all found Malacañang Press Corps, you know, very kind and even and fair-tempered to people. I know how hard all of you work everyday, so thank you very much,” she said.

and i’m sure we all agree that people like this don’t know the difference between fantasy and reality and it’s a good thing he’s not in power anymore he could have caused a serious diplomatic incident. !!! !!!!! !!!!! boy, show some respect for the dead. sheesh.

‘Conspiracy theories aside, people actually died in that suicide attack. Dr Mahathir’s statement is disrespectful to the victims for it to be described that way, with reference to a Hollywood movie,’ he said on Thursday. Mr Ibrahim said that as the founder of the Perdana Global Peace Organisation, Dr Mahathir should know the root causes of terrorism and point out what led him to draw such conclusions. DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang in a statement said that Dr Mahathir would have created ‘an international incident’ between Malaysia and the United States if he was still the Prime Minister.

7. well in any case you have NOTHING to worry about because We Are Ready

The president of the United States has always had the constitutional authority, and duty, to protect the American people and direct the national response to any emergency that threatens the security and safety of the United States. The Rockefeller-Snowe Cybersecurity bill makes it clear that the president’s authority includes securing our national cyber infrastructure from attack. The section of the bill that addresses this issue, applies specifically to the national response to a severe attack or natural disaster. This particular legislative language is based on longstanding statutory authorities for wartime use of communications networks.

OK that seems pretty clear that the president can secure (control) the national infrastructure from attack as part of the national response to a severe attack or natural disaster based on statutory authorities for wartime use of communication networks. Right?


To be very clear, the Rockefeller-Snowe bill will not empower a “government shutdown or takeover of the Internet” and any suggestion otherwise is misleading and false.

Oh wow, that’s so confusing. The statement says one thing, and then it says the complete opposite! Yes you will allow the president to secure the private infrastructure based on the Rockefeller-Snowe bill based on longstanding statutory authorities for wartime use of communications networks, but no you will not suggest that the Rockefeller-Snowe bill empowered the president to shutdown or take over the internet. That would make you a LIAR.

So here’s the instruction: “Securing the private infrastructure based on longstanding statutory authorities for wartime use of communications networks” IS NOT “shutting down or taking over the internet.”



The purpose of this language is to clarify how the president directs the public-private response to a crisis, secure our economy and safeguard our financial networks, protect the American people, their privacy and civil liberties, and coordinate the government’s response.

No. The purpose of this language is mind-fucking people into supporting the government takeover of the internet after a false-flag terrorist attack. You will support President Obama. You will listen to whatever he says. Turn on the teevee.

circling the wagons

1. report: Israel to strike Iran in March, Lebanon could get involved

Diplomatic sources haven’t ruled out to al-Liwaa newspaper Lebanon’s involvement in a possible war between Israel and Iran. The sources told the daily that the Jewish state is planning in coordination with the U.S. to strike Iranian nuclear states next March. Israel and the U.S. will not allow Iran to put into operation its nuclear project, the diplomat said, adding that the Jewish state’s seven-member inner cabinet has given the green light for the attack.

The sources didn’t rule out the involvement of Lebanon and the Gaza strip in the war, in response to the Israeli attack. Last week, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned Hizbullah to “avoid entering in conflict with us.” “We need to constantly prepare for a change in the status quo, though we don’t know when it will occur,” he said. “We don’t want for it to happen, and it might not, but we will not be afraid to react if we have to fight back.”

Top U.S. general David Petraeus also said earlier this month that Washington has developed contingency plans to address Iran’s nuclear ambitions if negotiations falter. Petraeus, who heads U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) that oversees the Middle East, told CNN that Iran’s nuclear facilities “certainly can be bombed,” even though they are reported to be heavily fortified.

source: naharnet

2. Israel withholding NGO employees’ work permits

The Interior Ministry has stopped granting work permits to foreign nationals working in most international nongovernmental organizations operating in the Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, Haaretz has learned.

In an apparent overhaul of regulations that have been in place since 1967, the ministry is now granting the NGO employees tourist visas only, which bar them from working.

Organizations affected by the apparent policy change include Oxfam, Save the Children, Doctors Without Borders, Terre des Hommes, Handicap International and the Religious Society of Friends (a Quaker organization). Until recently, the workers would register with the international relations department at the Social Affairs Ministry, which would recommend the Interior Ministry to issue them B1 work permits. Although the foreign nationals are still required to approach the Social Affairs Ministry to receive recommendations to obtain a tourist visa, the Interior Ministry is aiming to make the Ministry of Defense responsible for those international NGOs and also requiring them to register with the coordinator of government activities in the territories (COGAT), which is subordinate to the Ministry of Defense.

Foreign nationals working for NGOs had understood they would receive a stamp or handwritten note alongside their tourist visa, permitting them to work “in the Palestinian Authority.” Israel is refusing work visas to most foreign nationals who state that they wish to work within the Palestinian territories, such as foreign lecturers for Palestinian universities and businessmen.

Israel does not recognize Palestinian Authority rule in East Jerusalem or in Area C, which comprises some 60 percent of the West Bank. The NGO workers say they’ve come to believe that the new policy is intended to force them to close their Jerusalem offices and relocate to West Bank cities. This move would prevent them from working among the Palestinian population of East Jerusalem, defined by the international community as occupied territory.

The organizations fear the new policy will impede their ability to work in Area C, whether because Israel doesn’t see it as part of the Palestinian Authority or because they will eventually be subjected to the restrictions of movement imposed on the Palestinians. Such restrictions include the prohibition to enter East Jerusalem and Gaza via Israel, except with specific and rarely obtained permits; and prohibition to enter areas west of the separation fence, except for village residents who hold special residency permits and Israeli citizens.

One NGO worker told Haaretz that the policy was reminiscent of the travel constraints imposed by Burmese authorities on humanitarian organizations, albeit presented in a subtler manner.

NGO workers told Haaretz that they had been informed by the COGAT official that a policy change was forthcoming, as early as July 2009. When a number of them approached the Interior Ministry in August to renew their visas, they found that their applications had been submitted to a “special committee.” They were not told who constituted this committee, and had to make do with a “receipt” confirming that they had submitted the request. The workers said the tourist visas they received differed from each other in duration and travel limitations, and surmised from this that the policy has not been entirely fleshed out.

Latest in a series of steps

A number of NGO workers who spoke with Haaretz voiced deep apprehensions about having to submit to the authority of the Defense Ministry. The groups are committed to the Red Cross code of ethics, and therefore see being subjugated to the ministry directly in charge of the occupation as problematic and contradictory to the very essence of their work.

Between 140 and 150 NGOs operate among the Palestinian population. Haaretz could not obtain the exact number of foreign nationals they employ.

The new limitations do not apply to the 12 organizations that have been active in the West Bank prior to 1967. Those groups, which include the Red Cross and several Christian organizations, were registered with the Jordanian authorities.

The new move by the Interior Ministry is the latest in a series of steps taken in the last few years to constrain the movement of foreign nationals in the West Bank and Gaza, including Palestinians with family and property in the occupied territories. Most of those who have been effected are nationals of countries with which Israel has diplomatic relations, especially Western states. Israel does not apply any similar constraints on citizens of the same countries traveling within Israel and West Bank settlements.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement that the only relevant authority empowered to approve the stay of foreign citizens in the Palestinian Authority is the coordinator of government activities in the territories. “The Interior Ministry is entrusted with granting visas and work permits within the State of Israel. Those staying within both the boundaries of Israel and the Palestinian Authority are required to secure their permits accordingly,” the ministry said.

“Recently, a question was raised on the issue of visas granted to those staying in the Palestinian Authority and in Israel, as it transpired that they spend most of their time in the PA despite having been provided with Israeli work permits,” the statement continued. “The matter is under intense discussions, with the active participation of the relevant military authorities, with a view to finding the right and appropriate solution as soon as possible.”


3. Israel silences political protest

JERUSALEM - ISRAEL is arresting a growing number of prominent opponents to its policies toward the Palestinians, say critics who are accusing the government of trying to crush legitimate dissent.

In the most high-profile case yet, Jerusalem police detained the leader of a leading Israeli human rights group during a vigil against the eviction of Palestinian families whose homes were taken by Jewish settlers. Since the summer, dozens of Palestinian and Israeli activists have been picked up, including those organizing weekly protests against Israel’s West Bank separation barrier as well as others advocating international boycotts of Israeli goods. Some of the Palestinians were released without charge only after weeks and months of questioning.

The arrests come at a time of shifting tactics in the protests against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and annexation of east Jerusalem, territories the Palestinians want for their future state. Israel captured both from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war. The main protest efforts are Friday demonstrations against the West Bank barrier in the Palestinian villages of Bilin and Naalin and vigils in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheik Jarrah, where Palestinians have been evicted. There appears to be an increased police crackdown on the protests with greater numbers of activists being arrested. In the West Bank, troops fire tear gas, stun grenades, and live rounds to disperse anti-barrier protesters. Israel says the protests are illegal, and the harsh tactics are a response to stone-throwing and violent rioting. In east Jerusalem, police have arrested some 70 demonstrators during marches in recent months, according to Israeli rights groups. — AP

source: straits times

iran is not the isolated country

1. Lebanon’s Hariri to Abu Dhabi, then to France

Prime Minister Saad Hariri met on Monday with UAE’s Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum at Mushrif palace in Abu Dhabi, Emirates News Agency reported. Sheikh Mohammed is also UAE vice president and Dubai’s ruler. The meeting was attended by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan and National Security Advisor Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed al-Nahyan, according to WAM. Hariri was in the UAE on a two-day official visit. The premier is scheduled to travel to Paris on Wednesday for talks with top French officials.

source: naharnet

note that Erdogan is also in Abu Dhabi, and this links back to the assassination in Cyprus: here and here — Lieberman again

2. Jumblatt: Syria reconciliation nearly complete

“I believe that three-quarters of the road to Syria has opened up and what remains is the final gesture which depends on the right moment,” said Jumblatt in an interview with AFP at his ancestral home in Lebanon’s Shouf mountains, southeast of Beirut.  The 60-year-old hereditary chieftain of Lebanon’s Druze minority has come under fire since defecting in August from the US-backed March 14 ruling coalition he helped create in order to move closer to the Hezbollah-led opposition camp supported by Syria and Iran. The move came as Syria emerges from its international isolation and amid a rapprochement between Damascus and Riyadh, two key regional players. Jumblatt justified his U-turn, saying it was a necessary step to preserve the peace and avoid sectarian bloodshed. “I am willing to sacrifice everything for the civil peace even if my decisions are not popular,” he said. “One must at times swim against the current.” He said the sectarian unrest that brought Lebanon close to civil war in May 2008, when members of his Druze clan fought bitter battles with the Shiite Hezbollah in the Shouf region, had been a rude awakening.

more @ iloubnan

3. meanwhile, Iran seems pretty popular. Iran and Syria, Iran and Georgia, Iran and Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela, etc.

TEHRAN (FNA)- Relations between Tehran and Damascus are invulnerable to third party interference, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki reiterated on Monday .

“Iran and Syria don’t allow any third party to interfere in their ties,” Mottaki stressed.  Mottaki, who was speaking to reporters in a joint press conference with his Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze, further pointed to the relations between Tehran and Tbilisi, and said the two nations enjoy historical, cultural and geographical bonds.

Iran and Saudi Arabia enjoy great potential

Asked on the relations between Tehran and Riyadh, Mottaki reiterated that Iran has designed a framework for the promotion of cooperation and intimate relations with the regional countries and the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) member states, including Saudi Arabia.  “We utilize capacities and potentials to develop cooperation,” he said, and added, “We are in contact with these states.  The two-day conference dubbed as “Persian Gulf: Challenges and Regional Mechanism” was officially kicked off at the ministry’s Political and International Studies Office following an inaugural address by Mottaki. Experts from 15 countries, including Kuwait, Oman, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Romania, France, Germany, Japan, India, China and Russia as well as academics from around the globe are present in the gathering to discuss protection of the environment, PGCC, Iraq’s role in Persian Gulf developments and stability, security of the area as well as the global economic crisis and its impacts on the Persian Gulf.

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TEHRAN (FNA)- Venezuela’s oil reserves do not pose a threat to Iran’s position in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) as the two countries cover the two ends of the market, an Iranian oil ministry official said following the discovery of major oil reserves in the Latin American country….Venezuela and Iran are two of the 12 members of OPEC along with Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.  Iran and Saudi Arabia are considered as OPEC kingpins with strong clout on the policies and decisions adopted by the oil cartel.

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Georgia welcomes Iran’s presence in Nabucco — yeah this one is a little suspicious

TEHRAN (FNA)- Georgia announced on Monday that it supports Iran’s presence and partnership in the Nabucco gas pipeline project to carry natural gas from Central Asia to Austria via Turkey and the Balkan states, bypassing Russia and Ukraine.

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4. Iran to send 5th fleet of warships to Gulf of Aden because of Somali pirates

TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior Iranian commander announced on Monday that the Navy is due to dispatch a fifth fleet of warships to the Gulf of Aden late January to defend the country’s cargo ships and oil tankers against continued attacks by Somali pirates.

5. Japanese envoy underscores Iran’s role in regional security

TEHRAN (FNA)- Japanese Ambassador to Tehran Akio Shirota stressed Iran’s key role in the restoration of security and tranquility in the region.