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Archive for December 7th, 2010

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NYTimes

Tax Deal Suggests New Path for Obama

DAVID M. HERSZENHORN and JACKIE CALMES
Published: December 6, 2010

WASHINGTON — President Obama announced a tentative deal with Congressional Republicans on Monday to extend the Bush-era tax cuts at all income levels for two years as part of a package that would also keep benefits flowing to the long-term unemployed, cut payroll taxes for all workers for a year and take other steps to bolster the economy.

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Nigeria charges former US VP Cheney over bribery

By JON GAMBRELL

The Associated Press  Via- The Washington Post
Tuesday, December 7, 2010; 3:50 PM

LAGOS, Nigeria — Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency on Tuesday charged former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney over a bribery scheme involving oil services firm Halliburton Co. during time he served as its top official, a spokesman said.

The charges stem from a case involving as much as $180 million allegedly paid in bribes to Nigerian officials, said Femi Babafemi, a spokesman for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

Halliburton and other firms allegedly paid the bribes to win a contract to build a $6 billion liquefied natural gas plant in Nigeria’s oil-rich southern delta, he said.

Terrence O’Donnell, a lawyer representing Cheney, denied the allegations.

“The Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission investigated that joint venture extensively and found no suggestion of any impropriety by Dick Cheney in his role of CEO of Halliburton,” O’Donnell’s said in a statement sent to The Associated Press. “Any suggestion of misconduct on his part, made now, years later, is entirely baseless.”

The Halliburton case involves its former subsidiary KBR, a major engineering and construction services firm based in Houston. In February 2009, KBR Inc. pleaded guilty in U.S. federal court to authorizing and paying bribes from 1995 to 2004 for the plant contracts in Nigeria.

KBR, which split from Halliburton in 2007, agreed to pay more than $400 million in fines in the plea deal.

Halliburton spokeswoman Tara Mullee Agard said the company had not seen the new charges Tuesday, but insisted the company had nothing to do with the project.

Babafemi said Halliburton, its Nigerian subsidiary, Halliburton CEO David J. Lesar, former KBR CEO Albert “Jack” Stanley and current KBR CEO William Utt all face similar charges in the case. The spokesman said each charge in the 16-count indictment carried as much as three years in prison.

Heather L. Browne, a KBR spokeswoman, said in a statement that Utt joined the firm in 2006, two years after prosecutors say the bribery case concluded.

“The actions of the Nigerian government suggest that its officials are wildly and wrongly asserting blame in this matter,” Browne’s statement read. “KBR will continue to vigorously defend itself and its executives, if necessary, in this matter.”

Stanley pleaded guilty in 2008 to federal bribery charges for his role in the scheme. He is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court on Jan. 19.

MORE HERE

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KBR Statement Regarding Latest Nigerian FCPA Charges

Houston, Texas – December 7, 2010 – Recent press reports name KBR Chairman, President and CEO William P. Utt in the latest apparent charges to be filed by the Nigerian Government. The issues related to this latest set of charges involve violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) that occurred between 1994 and 2004.

William P. Utt joined KBR in February 2006 and the remainder of KBR’s executive team was appointed thereafter. No one on KBR’s current executive team was involved in the FCPA violations. KBR in no way condones or tolerates illegal or unethical behavior. Conducting our business with the utmost integrity is at the core of the work we perform each day.

The actions of the Nigerian government suggest that its officials are wildly and wrongly asserting blame in this matter.

KBR will continue to vigorously defend itself and its executives if necessary, in this matter.

MORE HERE

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by Maidhc Ó Cathail, Foreign Policy Journal, December 4, 2010

Even those familiar with the long and shameful history of America’s appeasement of Israel were taken aback by the Obama administration’s extraordinary offer to Netanyahu.

In exchange for a paltry one-off 90 day freeze on illegal settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem), Israel will get 20 F-35 stealth fighter jets worth $3 billion and a slew of other goodies. Yet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reportedly gave up to eight hours with Netanyahu trying to persuade him to accept “one of the most generous bribes ever bestowed by the United States on any foreign power.” Praising the Israeli Prime Minister for eventually agreeing to put the offer to his security cabinet, President Obama took it as “a signal that he is serious.”

Continues >>

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Wikileaks founder Julian Assange arrested.

Wikileaks Arrest: Julian Assange In Custody, Court Battle Underway

Huff Post- First Posted: 12- 7-10 10:21 AM   |   Updated: 12- 7-10 10:35 AM

LONDON (AP) — A British judge has denied bail for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who told a London court he intends to fight his extradition to Sweden on sex crime allegations.

Judge Howard Riddle told Assange that he had “substantial grounds” to believe the 39-year-old Australian wouldn’t turn up for subsequent proceedings. He then put Assange into U.K. custody ahead of an extradition hearing.

Assange faces allegations of sex crimes in Sweden. He denies the accusations.

See the latest details below:

live blog

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11:24 AM ET Interview, Part Five

 

HP: Which leak has generated the most reader interest?

AR: If you mean which individual cable: the first day attracted the biggest traffic – though I think there is a huge number of people monitoring events today over the fate of Assange himself. The UN spying story generated a lot of reader interest. Of the individual countries I think Russia attracted the biggest traffic.Breaking news: a colleague reports: “The inside piece on how the US manipulated climate accord has been the biggest single story. Then the North Korea-China story, followed by Prince Andrew. Russia was pretty big as a package rather than for individual stories catching fire.”

So that’s scientific, as Julian Assange would say, as opposed to speculation.

11:21 AM ET Live Interview, Part Four

 

HP: What has the popular reaction been in the U.K. to the decision to publish the cables?

AR: There have been one or two snap pieces of polling which didn’t show a strong feeling one way or the other. Some papers have been critical of individual cables released by Assange. Generally, the UK press has been avidly reporting the cables.

MORE HERE

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By Marjorie Cohn , ZNet,  September 29, 2010

Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is accused of leaking military secrets to the public.  [His] supporters are holding rallies in 21 cities, seeking Manning’s release from military custody. Manning is in the brig for allegedly disclosing a classified video depicting U.S. troops shooting civilians from an Apache helicopter in Iraq in July 2007. The video, available at www.collateralmurder.com, was published by WikiLeaks on April 5, 2010. Manning faces 52 years in prison. No charges have been filed against the soldiers in the video.

In October 1969, the most famous whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg, smuggled out of his office and made public a 7,000 page top secret study of decision making during the Vietnam War. It became known as the Pentagon Papers. Dan risked his future, knowing that he would likely spend life in prison for his expose.

The release of the Pentagon Papers ultimately helped end not only the Nixon presidency, but also the Vietnam War, in which 58,000 Americans and three million Indochinese were killed. Dan’s courageous act was essential to holding accountable our leaders who had betrayed American values by starting and perpetuating an illegal and deadly war.

Manning’s alleged crimes follow in this tradition. The 2007 video, called “Collateral Murder,” has been viewed by millions of people on the Internet. On it, U.S. military Apache helicopter soldiers from Bravo Company 2nd Battalion 16th Infantry Regiment can be seen killing 12 civilians and wounding two children in Iraq. The dead included two employees of the Reuters news agency.

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M&G News, Sep 27, 2010

Washington – One of five US soldiers charged with premeditated murder described his unit leader as ordering the gruesome death of unarmed Afghan civilians in a military interrogation video obtained by US media on Monday.

Corporal Jeremy Morlock, who faced a pretrial military hearing Monday in Washington state, admitted in the interrogation his role in the slayings of three Afghans. He described how his ‘crazy’ Staff Sargent Calvin Gibbs would seek out civilians and order them killed by the military unit.

‘We identify a guy. Gibbs makes a comment, like, you know, ‘You guys wanna wax this guy or what?” Morlock told the military interrogators.

The soldiers allegedly cut off fingers and other body parts of their victims to keep as trophies, according to charging documents released earlier this month. The murders were allegedly committed in January, February and May by the soldiers from an armoured brigade out of Washington that was deployed to Afghanistan’s Kandahar province.

Morlock, Gibbs, Specialist Adam Winfield, Specialist Michael Wagnon II and Private First Class Andrew Holmes face the death penalty or life in prison if convicted by a military court.

Aside from premeditated murder, they also face charges of using hashish, obstructing justice, possessing human body parts and retaining mortar rounds for personal use.

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