Friday, July 31, 2009

The Insanity of Ayn Rand

By Tallulah Morehead
Huffington Post
June 4, 2009

I watch a lot of old movies on TCM, mostly because TCM are my initials. (I'm Tallulah Clytemnestra Morehead) and I just finished watching a doozy of a terrible movie on TCM, one that has to be seen to be disbelieved: the ultra-hilarious piece of right-wing objectivist claptrap, the movie of Ayn Rand's ridiculous novel, The Fountainhead, starring Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal, as glamorous, sexy Fascists, I mean an architect and his best gal.

I'm afraid Juliette's blowing up the H-Bomb on that island on Lost must have screwed up the Time-Space Continuum. This can't be Normal Reality, because this movie is the most absurd piece of twaddle I have sat through since the final season of Roseanne.

Enormously well-hung Gary Cooper plays Howard Roarke, the most brilliant, unpopular, and egotistical architect in the world. The movie is all about how people are always trying to get Howard Roarke to design buildings just like the same ones everyone else designs, but Howard is too great to listen to anyone, even his clients. People are always telling him his designs are too outré, although his houses are all Frank Lloyd Wright rip-offs, and his office buildings are all rectangular glass and steel structures that look exactly like every souless office building clogging the downtowns of every major city in the world, the very style that Jacques Tati spent his great movie Playtime attacking. "We can't take a chance," they always say to him, as though they were gambling their lives building an office tower or a block of flats. Has the designer of Disney Hall in Los Angeles been lynched yet?

The villain of the story is a newspaper architectural critic, who wields tremendous public power. He writes a column of architectural criticism, and his slightest word can bring the city to a halt. What planet is this? When the publisher fires the architectural critic, the staff walks out in support of the critic, and the paper buckles under to the critic, and the publisher shoots himself. Star Trek is more realistic.

Howard does not consider architecture to be a collaborative art. Rather, it's the solitary work of a lone artist, toiling away in an attic somewhere. Making even the tiniest change in any of his designs is intolerable to Roarke.

He means it. When a block of flats he designed are built while he is on a vacation with Patricia Neal, with changes made at the orders of the people paying for it to be built, Roarke dynamites it. He stands trial for blowing up this building he didn't own, in the middle of Manhattan, without so much as a blasting permit. It's a wildly illegal, irresponsible, dangerous, negligent act of overwhelming egotism, an SMD: a Snit of Mass Destruction.

He's found innocent, and the jury and the whole courtroom erupts into applause at this horrific miscarriage of justice. He has admitted committing the crime on the stand. His defense was that he has way better taste than the pigs who paid for it, so he should be able to blow it up. The jury buys this idiocy. The movie paints him as a hero.

The first clue that Howard Roarke has something weirdly wrong with him comes early on. He's going out of business. A friend offers him a loan, and he refuses it. Okay. He has too much pride to take help. That's fine. But he says, "I never ask for nor give help."

What? He never "gives help"? He never helps anyone?

Yup. That's exactly what he means. He's anti-helping his fellow man. In his trial summation, six minutes of Gary Cooper giving a completely unhinged, turgid speech, he actually says, "The world is perishing in an orgy of self-sacrifice ."

Whatever finishes off mankind, it won't be an excess of self-sacrifice. The movie is pro-selfishness and egoism (which is just egotism misspelled), and anti-altruism. It preaches, at length and in a superior tone, that Altruism is Bad. And it means it.

The "love" story subplot is a scream. Patricia Neal is an architect's daughter who hates anything that makes her happy, because her taste is too supurb, and the masses with their bad taste will destroy anything she likes, so she deliberately throws out any stuff she has that she likes (We first meet her dropping a lovely nude statue down an airshaft), and she refuses to marry the man she loves, and instead marries a man she finds creepy, to avoid being happy, so happiness can't be taken from her. She'd rather be miserable, than be happy, and risk being made miserable by the masses. If you can find any sense in that, let me know.

So she's vacationing in a lovely home that adjoins a marble quarry where they dynamite rock all day, every day. Let me repeat this: she is intentionally vacationing in a house next door to a site that is blasting rocks with dynamite all day long, every day. You can't get more relaxing than that.

Her idea of sight-seeing is riding her horse to the quarry and then wandering around, drooling over the hunky, muscular workmen driving pickaxes into walls of granite. This is, in my opinion, the only sensible thing in the whole movie. And her favorite workman is Howard Roarke, who is working there after driving himself out of business with his too-high standards of taste. She first sees him holding a jackhammer, drilling away into into solid rock. She is turned on by the ever-so-subtle sexual implication of his drilling into rock with a jackhammer. She must imagine she has a marble hymen.

Now she can't get him out of her mind. She rides around on her horse, imagining Howard and his drill while she's being jostled in the saddle. At one point she rides up to him and slashes him across the face with a riding crop, which makes him grin, and the unforgettable final shot of the film is her riding up over 100 stories in an outdoor elevator (No elevator can go that far. It takes three to get to the top of the Empire State Building.) to where Howard is standing, on top of his not-yet-finished "Tallest building in the world." The shot tracks in on his crotch as he stands astride his masterpiece, the world's-biggest-phallic symbol.

The movie was written by the novelist-nutball, Russian-American, writer-philosopher Ayn Rand. She promoted a form of highly-anti-communist philosophy called "Objectivism," probably because it is so objectionable.

Being virulently anti-Communism-and-Socialism, she believed that ownership and rights of property were sacrosanct, although when Howard Roarke, her Ideal Man, blows up other people's property because he doesn't like it, it's a righteous act, not a violation of other people's rights of property. Ayn was a hypocrite.

Ayn wrote every word of dialogue, and forbade a word of it to be changed. She was the Howard Roarke of screenwriters. What she was not was a good writer of dialogue, none of which sounds like human speech, and all of which sounds like a lecture from a Fox News lunatic.

Ayn insisted that Gary Cooper say every damn word of her summation speech, which is utterly nuts from beginning to end. Jack Warner, no slouch in the anti-Commie department himself, ended up cutting it down a little. It's still six minutes of Gary Cooper standing in one place, making a completely insane-yet-boring speech, in praise of selfishness, condemning altruism, and stating that there are only two types of humans: "Creators" and "Parasites." That's it. No shades of gray. No middle-management.

When Ayn learned that some slight cuts had been made to her speech, she squawked and hollered, but she did not blow up Warner Brothers, nor set fire to the negative and all prints, nor even beat Jack Warner into paste with a poker (Damn!), which makes her a raging hypocrite. It's what Howard Roarke would have done. It's what Bette Davis would have done.

Ayn is having a small vogue right now (very small, as the country is becoming far less happy with rightwing nutballs), because her magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged, an insane novel that makes The Lord of the Rings seem like a speedy short story, is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary just now. This means that the people who began reading it the day it came out, are nearly through it by now, those that haven't hanged themselves.

Ayn believed in a woman looking up to The Ideal Man, and Howard Roarke is Him. And Ayn claimed she wrote it for Gary Cooper, so he's her sexual ideal. Well, at least she's left Hugh Jackman for me.

Have you ever seen a photograph of Ayn Rand? For a woman who wants strong muscular men to drill her like a jackhammer, Ayn went to a lot of trouble to look like a Bloomsbury literary Lesbian. In fact, she looked rather like a young Rosa Klebb, only not as sexy.

Ayn died the day after John Belushi died, although I don't think she did so to cheer us up again.

Life is too short to spend any of it reading the insane horrors which are the writings of Ayn Rand. Read my book instead.

I'll be back Monday darlings, with my review of The Tony Awards. Until then, Cheers darlings.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Think Tank Founder Stirred Controversy as State Dept. Nominee

By Adam Bernstein
Washington Post
July 30, 2009

A Senate panel rejected Ernest Lefever for the human rights job. (1981 Twp File Photo By James K.w. Atherton)

Ernest W. Lefever, 89, who founded a conservative public policy organization in Washington and was an embattled nominee for a State Department human rights job under President Ronald Reagan, died July 29 at a Church of the Brethren nursing home in New Oxford, Pa. He had Lewy Body dementia, a progressive brain disorder.

Dr. Lefever, a Chevy Chase resident, was an international affairs specialist with the National Council of Churches, a staff consultant on foreign affairs to then-Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey (D-Minn.) and a senior researcher at the Brookings Institution before starting the Ethics and Public Policy Center in 1976. The center studies the link between Judeo-Christian morality and national and foreign policy.

In 1981, Reagan nominated Dr. Lefever for the State Department position of assistant secretary of human rights. After months of accusations over conflicts of interest involving his think tank and insurmountable controversy about his views of the human rights job, Dr. Lefever withdrew his bid after rejection by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

What drew the most media attention during his nomination was his distinction between "authoritarian" regimes that supported U.S. policy -- right-wing juntas, for example -- and "totalitarian" regimes run by communists who saw the United States as a foe.

Authoritarian states, he said, could be accorded "quiet diplomacy" to effect change, but totalitarian countries were diplomatically untenable.

"Our friends deserve quiet support and public encouragement in their quest for a more humane society," Dr. Lefever wrote at the time. "We must earn this respect by being a steadfast ally rather than an erratic and capricious partner given to moral posturing.

"We should be concerned more with results than with rhetoric," he added, "more with doing good than with feeling good. Getting one innocent man out of prison is worth more than a dozen noisy and ineffectual TV demonstrations."

Many critics said Dr. Lefever's distinction between authoritarian and totalitarian regimes was arbitrary. Among his opponents were his two younger brothers, Donald and John. Donald Lefever, a department manager for a Minneapolis farm cooperative, told the Foreign Relations Committee that both types of autocratic societies repressed human rights and that his brother was not the man for the job.

The presence at the hearings of Jacobo Timerman, a prominent journalist who was tortured by the military regime in his native Argentina, was said to have been a factor in the Senate committee's rejection of Dr. Lefever.

There were also allegations that Dr. Lefever's think tank had a quid pro quo arrangement with Nestle, the Swiss food company that controversially marketed its baby-food formula to developing countries.

Nestle had given Dr. Lefever's Ethics and Public Policy Center $25,000 as the think tank sponsored a study into the medical needs of developing countries. The study was never written up, but the author, a reporter at Fortune magazine, wrote an article heavily favoring the company's perspective. Dr. Lefever's center reprinted the article.

The human rights post went to State Department official Elliot Abrams, who later that decade pleaded guilty to withholding information from Congress during hearings into the Iran-contra scandal. Abrams was pardoned by President George H.W. Bush for a role in a scandal in which U.S. officials covertly sold arms to Iran to win the release of U.S. hostages in the Middle East and used some of the profits to support Nicaraguan rebels known as the contras.

Ernest Warren Lefever was born Nov. 12, 1919, into what he called a "pious, religious, pacifist family" in York, Pa. He became an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren, a Christian denomination that grew out of Germany in 18th century and, like Quakers and Mennonites, emphasizes Christian pacifism.

He was 1942 graduate of Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania and a 1945 graduate of Yale University divinity school. In 1956, he received a doctorate in Christian ethics at Yale.

In 1951, he married Margaret Briggs. She survives, along with two sons, David Lefever of New Rochelle, N.Y., and Navy Capt. Bryce Lefever of Norfolk; a brother, John Lefever of Lancaster, Pa.; and four grandchildren.

Dr. Lefever disavowed his early belief in pacifism after traveling to Europe after World War II. In his 1998 book, "The Irony of Virtue," he wrote about seeing "scattered rib bones in the red clay" at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany. In subsequent lectures, he showed audiences a bone he had taken from the camp, a tangible reminder of mankind's potential for evil.

From his visit to Bergen-Belsen forward, he called himself a "humane realist."

"My parents felt suffering love was the way you conquered evil," he told an interviewer, citing Jesus and Mohandas K. Gandhi as examples of that martyr tradition. He came to believe "governments don't behave like sacrificial lambs. . . . Governments in my view, have a right to defend themselves and, if necessary, fight aggression."

Dr. Lefever wrote and edited more than 20 books, including "Spear and Scepter: Army, Police and Politics in Tropical Africa" (1970) and "America's Imperial Burden: Is the Past Prologue?" (1999).

In the mid-1970s, he wrote a well-publicized study on television bias, "TV and National Defense: An Analysis of CBS News, 1972-1973," that said the network short-changed the views of Vietnam War hawks and those favoring increased defense spending.

Looking back on his scuttled State Department nomination, Dr. Lefever told C-Span in 1998 that "I became the fall guy for the Reagan revolution" and that he had "a human rights record second-to-none in this country."

His wife, Margaret, said yesterday that "there was a certain repair" among Dr. Lefever and his younger brothers in the years after her husband's nomination for the State Department job.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Valassis Wins $300M In Lawsuit Vs. News Corp Unit

By Nat Worden
JULY 23, 2009

NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--Valassis Communications Inc. (VCI), a marketing company for consumer goods, said Thursday that it won $300 million in damages from a lawsuit alleging unfair competitive practices against News Corp. (NWSA) unit News America Marketing.

News Corp., owner of this newswire, said it was "disappointed" with the jury's verdict in a county court in Michigan, and it intends to appeal the decision.

The lawsuit, one of three against News America by Valassis, alleged that News America used its dominant market position in its in-store marketing business to undercut Valassis in its freestanding insert, or newspaper coupon, business.

News America denied the charges and said the Valassis lawsuit was "merely part of a larger strategy to get News America Marketing to raise its prices, a move that would have affected both our clients and their customers by reducing the number of coupons available - a consequence that would be extremely unfortunate in this economy."

News America also said its case was hampered by the court's decision not to allow a complaint against Valassis filed by the Federal Trade Commission in 2006 that said the company made "an effort to induce collusion" when it announced a new pricing policy on a public conference call with investors.

Valassis Chief Executive Alan Schultz said the pricing announcement he made was relevant to the investment community and that it wasn't an effort to collude on prices with anyone.

News of the jury's decision in its favor sent Valassis shares sharply higher, up 23%, to $8.63. News Corp.'s A shares rose 2.1%, to $9.87, amid a broad market rally.

Valassis's profits had been dented in recent years because of lost pricing power. Segment profit in its newspaper coupon business has fallen from $185 million in 2001, when it made up 93% of its overall profits, to $1.8 million in 2008, when it made up less than 2% of its profits.

The Michigan jury found News America liable on both counts of Valassis's suit. Meanwhile, Schultz said the company was looking forward to moving ahead on two other cases against News America Marketing - a federal antitrust case and a state unfair-competition suit in California. He said the company could triple its damages in federal court and double them in California.

A News America spokeswoman disputed Valassis's ability to win additional damages.

Elsewhere, shares of Insignia Systems Inc. (ISIG), which competes with News America in the in-store marketing business, rose over 20% in Thursday trading in reaction to the court's decision. Insignia - which has some business relationships with Valassis - also has filed suit against News America for unfair competition in federal district court in Minneapolis.

News America has responded with a motion to dismiss the case and said Insignia's case is unrelated to Thursday's verdict.

-By Nat Worden, Dow Jones Newswires; (212) 416-2472;

MediaBistro.Com and Organized Crime founder Laurel Touby ..., the Hollywood jobs listings, tart "conservative" punditry & celeb news web site, was founded with seed money from MARTIN PERETZ and his business partners. (For details, scroll to the name "Peretz" here.)

Excerpt from: Dendreon & Deceit: Jim Cramer, Pequot Capital
By Mark Mitchell
July 19th, 2009

Financial analyst Jim Cramer "had once planned to run his hedge fund out of the offices of Ivan Boesky, the famous co-conspirator of the criminal stock manipulator Michael Milken. When Boesky was indicted, Cramer instead went to work with Michael Steinhardt, the Boesky-Milken crony and “prominent” hedge fund manager whose father was the “biggest Mafia fence in America” and who was financier for the fugitive billionaire Marc Rich, for whom Steinhardt later arranged a pardon from Bill Clinton. ... It is worth noting that Cramer’s financial news website,, had several founding partners. One was Cramer. Another was Marty Peretz, a Milken-Boesky crony who was–along with Marc Rich, Boesky, and the Genovese Mafia—a key limited partner of Michael Steinhardt (the hedge fund manager who gave Rocker his start and also incubated Cramer’s hedge fund). ... "

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Editor Says a Murdoch Paid to Settle on Phone Tap

July 22, 2009

The editor of News of the World, a London tabloid, told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday that James Murdoch, the son of the media baron Rupert Murdoch, had approved a $1.1 million payment to settle phone-tapping allegations against the paper.

The case — in which the payment was made to Gordon Taylor, the head of the Professional Footballers’ Association — was settled at a 2008 meeting among James Murdoch; Colin Myler, the editor of News of the World; and Tom Crone, a company lawyer, Mr. Myler told a committee of the House of Commons, Bloomberg News reported.

“It was an agreed collective decision,” Mr. Myler told the committee, according to Bloomberg. “It’s how newspapers work.”

The testimony on Tuesday followed a report in The Guardian newspaper two weeks ago that suggested two tabloid newspapers owned by the News Corporation, the media conglomerate controlled by Rupert Murdoch, had engaged in the widespread use of private investigators to illegally hack into the cellphone messages of public officials and celebrities in Britain. News Corporation has denied the allegations.

Shortly after The Guardian article was published, Rupert Murdoch told Bloomberg News that he was unaware of any such payment. “If that had happened,” he said, “I would know about it.”

A News Corporation spokesman declined to comment on Tuesday.

The case involving Mr. Taylor emerged after the 2007 conviction of Clive Goodman, then the editor responsible for News of the World’s coverage of the royal family, on charges that he had hacked into the cellphones of three of its members. Mr. Goodman received a four-month prison sentence. Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator hired by News of the World, received a six-month sentence. Andy Coulson, who was editor of the paper during the hacking, resigned.

When The Guardian article was published, it caused an uproar in Britain and shined a light on the practices often used by British tabloid journalists. For example, a 2006 report published by the British information commissioner concluded that newspapers commonly hired private investigators. After The Guardian article, Scotland Yard said it would not reopen the matter, adding that it conducted a thorough inquiry three years earlier.

Many editors in London say that newspapers have largely ended the practice. Since the Goodman case, News of the World has enforced a code of conduct that prohibits reporters from hiring private investigators.

The Washington Post's Aversion to the Word "Torture"

Excerpt from: "The WaPo Takes The Next Step In Condoning Torture"
The Daily Dish
27 Jul 2009

" ... The Washington press corps still refuses to call the Bush techniques torture, adopting the lies of the government as truth, allowed brazen defenses of torture on its op-ed pages, has one columnist, Charles Krauthammer, who has pioneered and championed the torture of prisoners, fired anti-torture columnists like Dan Froomkin, and now want to cast a blessing on the torture program by singling out just a few who went beyond it. So they get the appearance of actually caring about the subject while protecting their friends from any unpleasantness caused by brutally torturing hundreds of prisoners. I mean: how can one invite Don Rumsfeld for a salon at Lally Weymouth's house if he is, gasp, a war criminal? But Rumsfeld is a war criminal, and he should be treated as such in Washington. He isn't. Because he is of their class. Lynndie England, doing what Rumsfeld told her to do? She went to jail. Rummy gets a fat book contract and invites to Washington parties. ... "

Monday, July 27, 2009

Dendreon & Deceit: Jim Cramer, Pequot Capital

By Mark Mitchell
July 19th, 2009

“SELL! SELL! SELL!” shouted Jim Cramer on March 28, 2007.

The CNBC “journalist” assured his viewers that the FDA advisory panel would vote that Dendreon’s treatment for prostate cancer was neither safe nor effective (notwithstanding the fact that the FDA had given the treatment “priority review” status because Provenge had shown strong trial results and was destined for critically ill patients).

On the following day, when the FDA advisory panel voted unanimously that Provenge was safe and overwhelmingly that it was effective, Cramer said, once again, that he had made “a mistake.” By way of explanation, Cramer said that he had mixed up Dendreon’s treatment, Provenge, with Provaisic, the fictional drug from the 1993 Hollywood movie “The Fugitive,” in which Harrison Ford plays a doctor trying to expose an evil pharmaceutical company called Devlin MacGreggor.

But Cramer, again drawing upon his vast medical expertise, continued to insist that Provenge remained unlikely to gain FDA approval.

By this time, a number of bloggers and stock market observers had noted that Cramer, a former hedge fund manager, had recently made a video available to a limited number of high-paying subscribers to his financial news website, In this video, Cramer advised his viewers – mostly Wall Street operators — to illegally drive down stock prices.

“Maybe you need $10 million capital to knock [a stock] down,” Cramer had said. “It’s a fun game and it’s a lucrative game…By the way, no one else in the world would ever admit that, but I don’t care…Now, you can’t foment…You can’t create yourself an impression that a stock’s down. But you do it anyway because the SEC doesn’t understand it…This is just actually blatantly illegal…But I think it’s really important to foment…You get [the CNBC reporter]…talking about it as if there’s something wrong [with the stock]…Then you would call The Wall Street Journal and get the bozo reporter…if you’re not doing it maybe you shouldn’t be in the game.”

The bloggers and observers who pointed to this video as evidence of Cramer’s skulduggery also noted that Cramer had once planned to run his hedge fund out of the offices of Ivan Boesky, the famous co-conspirator of the criminal stock manipulator Michael Milken. When Boesky was indicted, Cramer instead went to work with Michael Steinhardt, the Boesky-Milken crony and “prominent” hedge fund manager whose father was the “biggest Mafia fence in America” and who was financier for the fugitive billionaire Marc Rich, for whom Steinhardt later arranged a pardon from Bill Clinton.

By 2007, I had (while working as an editor for the Columbia Journalism Review) spent close to a year studying the work of Cramer and a clique of influential journalists, most of whom had previously worked in high-level positions for Cramer’s website, I had discovered that the existence of short-side stock manipulation was denied by these journalists (including Cramer, when he was communicating to general audiences, as opposed to when he was explaining to select groups of Wall Street operators how to do the thing he was publicly saying does not exist).

The journalists were especially keen to whitewash the crime of naked short selling, and given the threat that this crime posed to so many companies and the very stability of the financial system, it seemed to me that these journalists were engaged in a cover-up of immense proportions.

I had also discovered that these journalists routinely reported negative stories that contained bias, falsehoods, and well-timed “mistakes.” The vast majority of these stories were sourced from one particular network of hedge fund managers and miscreants. Invariably, these stories were about public companies that the hedge fund managers had sold short. And, invariably, these stories were aired right at the time that the target companies were getting bombarded with phantom stock.

Moreover, most of the hedge funds and miscreants in this network seemed, like Jim Cramer, to be connected in important ways to the criminals Michael Milken and Ivan Boesky, or their close associates. One of them was David Rocker.

Last year, Rocker’s hedge fund, Copper River (previously known as Rocker Partners), was shut down. Soon after, Carol Remond, a Dow Jones Newswires journalist who had close ties to Rocker, revealed that Rocker’s most important trading strategy had been to abuse “the Madoff Exemption” allowing market makers to engage in naked short selling (see “Carol Remond Tells a Joke She Doesn’t Get” for details) .

According to Remond, when the SEC closed this loophole, making it more difficult for Rocker Partners/Copper River to work with option market makers to manufacture phantom stock, the hedge fund went out of business. What she left unexplained, however, was that such exploitation was illegal. Therefore, Dow Jones reporter Carol Remond was in fact bemoaning the tragedy that a hedge fund had to close because it was not able to break the law anymore.

Rocker had previously worked as a top trader for Michael Steinhardt, the Boesky and Genovese Mafia crony whose offices had also housed Jim Cramer’s hedge fund. In later years, Rocker became the largest outside shareholder in Cramer’s financial news website,

In 2006, staff at the Securities and Exchange Commission suspected that Rocker and other hedge funds in his network were working with an “independent” financial research shop called Gradient Analytics and a select group of journalists to disseminate false information in order to drive down stock prices. The SEC issued subpoenas to Rocker, Gradient,, Jim Cramer, Herb Greenberg (a founding editor of who was then working for and CNBC), and that Dow Jones reporter, Carol Remond.

In response, Cramer famously vandalized his subpoena on live television. Other journalists (most of them tied to Cramer) went berserk, claiming that Rocker had done no wrong and the SEC’s subpoenas had violated the media’s first amendment right to free speech. Soon after, the SEC said it would not enforce the subpoenas it had issued to journalists. And a year later, the commission dropped its investigation of Gradient and Rocker.

In May of 2006, shortly after the SEC announced that it would not enforce its subpoenas, a recently dismissed SEC attorney named Gary Aguirre wrote an eye-popping letter to the United States (USO, X, USL) Congress in which he stated that he had led an SEC investigation into allegations of rampant naked short selling and insider trading at a hedge fund called Pequot Capital.

Aguirre said that his rank-and-file colleagues at the SEC believed that Pequot’s naked short selling had the potential to “seriously injure the financial markets,” but before he could complete his investigation, Aguirre’s superiors at the SEC, captured by powerful Wall Street interests, had fired him for political reasons.

Since then, a U.S. Congressional Committee has investigated and issued a lengthy report noting that there seemed to be evidence that Pequot was indeed engaged in “stock manipulation” (naked short selling). As for the SEC’s failure to fully investigate Aguirre’s allegations, the Congressional Committee concluded that the “picture is colored with overtones of a possible cover-up.”

The SEC inspector general also issued a report that backed up all of Aguirre’s claims.

Late in 2008, the SEC re-opened its investigation into Pequot Capital. And in May, 2009, Pequot manager Art Samberg shut down the fund, noting that the investigations had made the “situation increasingly untenable for the firm and for me.”

But from what is known publicly, the SEC is only looking into insider trading at Pequot. As for Aguirre’s investigation into Pequot’s alleged naked short selling – the crime that had the potential to “seriously injure the financial markets”—the SEC has said nothing.

Remember, as far as the SEC is concerned, illegal naked short selling is a big secret – “proprietary trading strategies.”

At any rate, it is worth noting that Cramer’s financial news website,, had several founding partners. One was Cramer. Another was Marty Peretz, a Milken-Boesky crony who was–along with Marc Rich, Boesky, and the Genovese Mafia—a key limited partner of Michael Steinhardt (the hedge fund manager who gave Rocker his start and also incubated Cramer’s hedge fund).

A third founding partner of was famously alleged to have engaged in rampant illegal naked short selling, just as David Rocker, once the largest outside shareholder of, was reported (by Dow Jones reporter Carol Remond, unwittingly) to have engaged in rampant illegal naked short selling in cahoots with options market makers.

The name of this third founding partner of Cramer’s website,, was…Pequot Capital, the hedge fund whose alleged naked short selling and insider trading were the targets of Gary Aguirre’s SEC investigation — the investigation that got quashed, leading to one of the greatest scandals in SEC history.

So it goes almost without saying that Pequot Capital was the fifth of seven “colorful” hedge funds that held large numbers of put options in Dendreon at the end of March, 2007 – right at the time when Cramer was shouting “SELL! SELL! SELL!” and criminal naked short sellers were flooding the market with at least 9 million phantom Dendreon shares.

* * * * * * * *

In addition to Cramer’s rants, there were other indications that Dendreon might be in the sights of some powerful players, and might therefore be in trouble – despite the fact that its treatment for prostate cancer seemed to be on the fast track to FDA approval.

On March 22, 2007, CNBC’s Mike Huckman wrote in a blog that he remembered “sitting at a table at a rare Dendreon analyst meeting a few years ago and someone from a Connecticut hedge fund leaned over and whispered in my ear, ‘It [Provenge] doesn’t work.’” Huckman made no indication of questioning whether the hedge fund might have had a motive for saying that.

There were odd mutterings from other quarters as well. On the day before the FDA’s advisory panel met to vote on Provenge, Matthew Herper of Forbes magazine published an article casting doubts on Dendreon’s prospects. He wrote that “researchers, statisticians and Wall Street analysts are fiercely debating whether there is enough data about [Dendreon’s] radical new treatment.”

In fact, there was no “fierce” debate at all. For most Wall Street analysts, the calculation was rather simple. Given that Dendreon’s trials had shown that Provenge was safe, and given that the treatment was destined for end-stage patients (hence its “priority review” status), the advisory panel was likely to vote in its favor. In 97% of all cases, the FDA had followed the recommendations of its advisory panels. And when FDA advisory panels recommended approval for drugs destined for dying patients, the FDA had accepted its panels’ recommendations 100% of the time.

When the FDA approved treatments, the companies that developed them almost always saw their stock prices go up. So from the perspective of most Wall Street analysts, the future for Dendreon looked bright.

As for those “researchers and statisticians,” most agreed that Provenge was not only safe, but also effective. However, a small number of researchers and statisticians were, along with the hedge funds, whispering in reporters’ ears. They were saying that Provenge doesn’t work.

But there were excellent reasons to doubt the words of the researchers who were critical of Provenge. And, as we will see, the most prominent of them were preparing (with the possible connivance of a criminal “philanthropist” named Michael Milken and seven “colorful” hedge fund managers) to cash in on one of the stranger occurrences in the FDA’s 80 years of existence.

Family Group Compares Homosexuality to Nazism

by Michael A. Jones
July 27, 2009

Wow. That's pretty much all I can think of as a response to this. But it's true ... a staff member at the Illinois Family Institute (IFI) has penned a screed that not only compares LGBT people to Nazis, but urges the Christian Church to fight homosexuality as if it were akin to nazism or slavery.

The article, written by Laurie Higgins, IFI's Division of School Advocacy Director, describes how since the Christian Church acted too late in combatting nazism, it shouldn't be haste in acting to defeat homosexuals. After reading that, and reading Laurie Higgins's bio (where you'll see she's a former school teacher), I can only be thankful that someone with this much hate in their system isn't in charge of teaching children anymore.

Here's an excerpt, and prepare to be horrified:

What is alarming about the account of the German Evangelical Church's reprehensible failure [to fight nazism] is its similarity to the ongoing disheartening story of the contemporary American church's failure to respond appropriately to the spread of radical, heretical, destructive views of homosexuality. Don't we today see church leaders self-censoring out of fear of losing their positions or their church members? Don't we see churches criticizing those who boldly confront the efforts of homosexual activists to propagandize children and undermine the church's teaching on homosexuality? Aren't the calls of the capitulating German Christians for "a more reasonable tone" and a commitment to "honor different views" exactly like the calls of today's church to be tolerant and honor "diversity"? Don't pastors justify their silence by claiming they fear losing their tax-exempt status (i.e. government assistance)? Don't they rationalize inaction by claiming that speaking out will prevent them from saving souls?

What is even more reprehensible in America, however, is that church leaders don't currently face loss of livelihood, imprisonment, exile, or death, as they did in Germany, and yet they remain silent.

Someone give this "religious" writer a history book, and maybe let her know that LGBT people were also victims of the Holocaust. But beyond the historical point, isn't this disturbing? It's literally a call to action to churchgoers to combat homosexuality as if it were akin to the threat of one of the worst, most violent movements ever to exist in the history of the planet.

I say this goes beyond even the Fred Phelps level of hatred and anger toward LGBT people. And the scarier part? The Illinios Family Institute is relatively mainstream within the conservative movement. ...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Oh, the Irony: Swift Boat Funder Pickens Blogging for The Huffington Post

Billionaire oilman has greenwashed his reputation enough to write for a notoriously liberal blog despite funding the Swift Boat campaign.

By Stephanie Rogers
Jul 14 2009

How did T. Boone Pickens, a conservative billionaire who made his fortune in the oil industry, manage to reinvent himself in the public eye as an environmentalist?

Pickens, who admittedly jumped onto the wind power bandwagon purely for financial reasons rather than environmental ones, was set to build the world's largest wind farm before economic turmoil and a lack of transmission lines prompted him to postpone the project.

Now his name and photo are prominently displayed alongside an entreaty for the passage of a natural gas act in Congress in the Green section of liberal media powerhouse The Huffington Post. And it's hardly the first post that he's written there – he has contributed no fewer than 15 times since January, covering energy-related topics including, of course, The Pickens Plan.

Gawker points out the irony in this, considering that Pickens was a major funder of "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth," which has become virtually synonymous with dirty, slanderous smear attacks after its campaigns against Democratic candidates including former presidential candidate John Kerry.

The New York Times sums up the fallacy of the Swift Boat attacks, saying "Extensive media accounts undermined the Swift Boat charges in 2004, pointing out that some of the Swift Boat critics had written statements during Vietnam lauding Mr. Kerry for extraordinary bravery in the incidents they later said he made up."

"And you know," Gawker says, "we could find some examples of Arianna Huffington and everyone else on that site decrying the Swift Boat attacks of 2004, or even just using 'Swift Boat' as a shorthand for incredibly underhanded smear campaigns that are hurting America."

As a matter of fact, a search of the term 'Swift Boat' at The Huffington Post returns 71 pages of results including an editorial that asks, "Will John Podesta and Carl Pope a) greenwash a Republican operative oil man who funded the swift boat vets and has plans to make billions selling natural gas and exploiting our water supply? or b) do the right thing?"

Considering that T. Boone Pickens is one of America's most successful oily salesmen, giving his reputation a green makeover is just another day at the office.

Bastard Children of the Rand Corporation


Link to a Times review of the book: SOLDIERS OF REASON: The RAND Corporation and the Rise of the American Empire, by Alex Abella (Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $15.95.) “All of us are bastard children of RAND,” Abella writes in this comprehensive history, the think tank’s first. RAND helped shape nuclear strategy, health care (it developed the idea of deductibles and co-payments) and, through its championing of rational choice theory, the Reagan revolution and the current economic crisis. Not to mention the Vietnam War.


American War Propaganda Top Ten

By Susan A Brewer
June 30, 2009

Susan A. Brewer is Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Her new book, Why America Fights: Patriotism and War Propaganda from the Philippines to Iraq, is a fascinating history of how successive presidents have conducted what Donald Rumsfeld called “perception management”. In the original post below she looks at the top ten American propaganda messages of the last century.

Propaganda sells wars. Emotionally powerful and instantly recognizable, propaganda messages serve to simplify complex international crises for public consumption. A persuasive blend of fact and fiction, they resonate with what Americans want to believe about themselves. Here are the top ten messages used by the U.S. government over the past century to rally public support for war.

10. WE FIGHT TO STOP ANOTHER HITLER. There was only one Hitler, but he lives on in wartime propaganda since World War II.

9. WE FIGHT OVER THERE SO WE DON’T HAVE TO FIGHT HERE. In this message, America typically is portrayed as a pastoral land of small towns, not as an urban, industrialized superpower.

8. WE FIGHT CLEAN WARS WITH SUPERIOR TECHNOLOGY. This message suggests that U.S. troops will not be in much danger, nor will innocent civilians be killed in what is projected to be a quick and decisive conflict.

7. WE FIGHT TO PROTECT WOMEN AND CHILDREN. A traditional theme of war propaganda since ancient times, it is accompanied by compelling visuals and heartrending stories.

6. WE FIGHT BRUTISH, FANATICAL ENEMIES. Another classic, it dehumanizes enemy fighters.

5. WE FIGHT TO UNITE THE NATION. Here war is shown to heal old wounds and unify the divisions caused by the Civil War, class conflict, racial and ethnic differences, or past failures such as the Vietnam War.

4. WE FIGHT FOR THE FLAG AND THE REPUBLIC FOR WHICH IT STANDS. The trend has been to emphasize the flag over the republic. The more flags on display, the less likely the people’s elected representatives will debate foreign policy or exercise their power to declare war.

3. WE FIGHT TO LIBERATE THE OPPRESSED. When the oppressed resist U.S. help, they appear ungrateful and in need of American guidance especially if they have valuable resources.

2. WE FIGHT TO MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE. During the Philippine War, for example, this message advised that Uncle Sam knew what was best for the little brown brothers.

1. WE FIGHT TO PROTECT THE AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE. Although the American way of life stands for peace, it requires a lot of fighting.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

G. Gordon Liddy - Portrait of a Terrorist and Convicted Felon

What a spokesman for "conservative principles" ...

" ... Liddy served four and a half years in prison in connection with his conviction for his role in the Watergate break-in and the break-in at the office of the psychiatrist of Daniel Ellsberg, the military analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers. Liddy has acknowledged preparing to kill someone during the Ellsberg break-in "if necessary"; plotting to kill journalist Jack Anderson; plotting with a "gangland figure" to kill Howard Hunt to stop him from cooperating with investigators; plotting to firebomb the Brookings Institution; and plotting to kidnap "leftist guerillas" at the 1972 Republican National Convention -- a plan he outlined to the Nixon administration using terminology borrowed from the Nazis. (The homicide, firebombing, and kidnapping plots were never carried out; the break-ins were.) During the 1990s, Liddy reportedly instructed his radio audience on multiple occasions on how to shoot Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms agents and also reportedly said he had named his shooting targets after Bill and Hillary Clinton. ... "

Jon Stewart Walks in Cronkite's Footsteps

Jon Stewart: America's most trusted news anchor?
by Adam Markovitz
Jul 23, 2009

Jon Stewart has certainly come a long way from hosting Short Attention Span Theater: A Time Magazine online poll shows that 44 percent of Americans trust The Daily Show host over network hotshots Katie Couric, Charlie Gibson, and Brian Williams (the runner-up with 29 percent). ...

Friday, July 24, 2009

CIA Special Agent (Jackal) on Air America

Air America throws Rice at Limbaugh

“Live from Washington with Jack Rice” is the new offering from Air America, airing in the noon-3:00 pm slot opposite Rush Limbaugh. It’s the time slot that for much of Air America’s existence was filled by now-US Sen. Al Franken (D-MN).

Rice is a former CIA Special Agent and Field Operations Officer, as well as a former prosecuting attorney and trial lawyer. More recently, he has been an award winning journalist and correspondent, who travels around the world to cover policy, politics, national and international affairs. He was nominated in 2007 for a Peabody Award for his work in Iraq. In addition to his radio work, Rice is a frequent contributor to “NBC Nightly News,” MSNBC and Fox News Channel.

The new show has recently featured such guests as “Vanity Fair’s” Todd Purdum (author of the Sarah Palin/”It Came From Wasilla” article), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (discussing the CIA’s decision to keep confidential information from the House Intelligence Committee), Congresswomen Allyson Schwartz (speaking about health care reform), and David Gaynes, documentary filmmaker of the upcoming film “Saving Hubble.”

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The WPost’s David Ignatius Pens Another Exculpatory Brief for CIA

By Melvin A. Goodman
The Public Record
Jul 23rd, 2009

David Ignatius, the mainstream media’s leading apologist for the Central Intelligence Agency, has written another exculpatory brief for the CIA. In today’s Washington Post, Ignatius defends the CIA’s assassination program and implies that no investigation is needed since “nobody had been killed.”

A week ago, Ignatius argued that it was “just plain nuts” to have an investigation and that CIA operatives would refuse assignments in counterterrorism in the wake of any investigation. What Ignatius doesn’t do is discuss the legal and moral implications of a secret assassination program or the CIA’s tortured history in this field.

The CIA is no stranger to the field of assassination where they have contributed to numerous disasters. Revelations of assassination plots in Cuba, the Congo, the Dominican Republic, and Vietnam in the early 1960–at the direction of the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations–led to a ban on CIA political assassinations in the mid-1970s. None of these assassination attempts helped U.S. national security interests, and all of them led to increased violence, even terrorism.

An assassination plot against Patrice Lumumba in the Congo led to the emergence of Mobutu Sese Seku, the most evil tyrant in modern African history. CIA’s covert actions against the democratically elected Salvador Allende led to the emergence of Augusto Pinochet.

Ignatius discusses CIA training of a Lebanese assassination team after the 1983 bombings of the U.S. embassy and the Marine barracks, but fails to mention the team’s only operation. In 1985, the CIA-trained team set off a car bomb that killed 80 innocent people in Beirut and wounded 200. The devastation, fires, and collapsed buildings from the bomb killed, hurt, or terrorized anyone who happened to be in the immediate neighborhood.

The target of the bomb, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, escaped without injury, and his supporters placed a “Made in the USA” banner in front of a building that had been blown out. In that same year, despite the ban on political assassination, the CIA demonstrated its contempt for the ban and produced a manual for the Contras that discussed
"neutralizing" officials in Nicaragua.

Ignatius does not discuss the Phoenix operation in Vietnam, where the CIA ran a paramilitary campaign of arrest, interrogation, torture, and assassination that targeted many innocent victims. William Colby ran this program from 1968 to 1971 and, when he became CIA director in the mid-1970s, he decided to share sensitive intelligence on the assassination plots with the Church Commission because of his regrets over the Phoenix program.

Nor does Ignatius mention the CIA training of death squads in Central America, including Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador. The CIA misled the congress about most of these actions, and we still lack complete information on CIA support for the repressive regime in Guatemala over a forty-year period. All of these activities raised serious questions about the judgment and objectivity of high-ranking CIA officials and demonstrated that these illegal covert activities are addictive to some operational officers.

It is noteworthy that Ignatius relies on his information from retired and active clandestine operatives who seem to have no difficulty in passing sensitive information, including operational code names, to a sympathetic journalist like Ignatius. Three years ago, however, an officer in the Office of the Inspector General was fired and frog-marched out of CIA headquarters for having unauthorized conversations with journalists.

Her name was Mary McCarthy, and she accused senior Agency officials of lying to congress about detentions and interrogations, the very abuses that cause Ignatius no concern. CIA director Leon Panetta must understand that such a double standard exists at the CIA and he should wonder why it took him five months to learn about the secret assassination program. And perhaps he should make sure that a new statutory Inspector General is named at the CIA to replace the one who announced his retirement five months ago.

Even democracies must rely on secret intelligence for their survival, but the role of a secret intelligence agency in a democracy will always be difficult and occasionally controversial. The CIA’s role in torture and abuse, secret prisons, and extraordinary renditions is an example of the illegal and immoral activity that can take place without proper leadership.

These activities must be investigated, and CIA director Panetta was certainly correct to report any assassination program to the congress, even one that had not conducted any assassinations. When the CIA oversteps its moral and legal boundaries, it must be stopped.

Just as illicit CIA actions during the Vietnam War and Iran-contra led to the introduction of reforms, the CIA’s unlawful activities in the wake of the Iraq War must be examined and never repeated. Unfortunately, Ignatius believes that such a period of discovery will weaken the CIA; it is more likely to strengthen the CIA. The creation of a congressional oversight process in the 1970s was an important reform; the creation of a statutory Inspector General in the 1980s was another.

Ignatius may be a Robert Ludlum wannabe, but he should realize that there are no Jason Bournes at the Central Intelligence Agency.

Melvin A. Goodman, a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and adjunct professor of government at Johns Hopkins University, is The Public Record’s National Security and Intelligence columnist. He spent 42 years with the CIA, the National War College, and the U.S. Army. His latest book is Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

NEW YORKER: "What Did Seymour Hersh Say About Assassinations?"



... Let’s start with motive. In “What Went Wrong,” in the October 8, 2001, issue—on newsstands October 1, 2001, and reported as the dust was still settling at Ground Zero—a “C.I.A. man” spoke to Hersh about the need to consider tactics that “defy the American rule of law”:

“We need to do this—knock them down one by one,” he said. “Are we serious about getting rid of the problem—instead of sitting around making diversity quilts?”

Hersh picked up the story in “Manhunt,” in the December 23 & 30, 2002, issue. The piece began with the killing, by Hellfire missile, of an Al Qaeda leader named Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi. At the time, Bush Administration officials told reporters that Harethi was on a list of “ ‘high-value’ targets whose elimination, by capture or death, had been called for by President Bush.” A Yemeni official told Hersh that in the course of the operation

there had been two intelligence “mistakes” that almost resulted in targeting innocent Bedouins.

Hersh went on,

The al-Harethi operation also marked a dramatic escalation of the American war on terrorism. For more than a generation, state-endorsed assassination has been anathema in the United States. In 1975, after revelations of C.I.A. efforts in the nineteen-sixties to kill Fidel Castro and other hostile foreign leaders, a Senate committee led by Frank Church concluded that such plotting “violates moral precepts fundamental to our way of life.”… In 1976, President Gerald Ford signed an executive order banning political assassination, and that order remains in force.

In the aftermath of September 11th, however, the targeting and killing of individual Al Qaeda members without juridical process has come to be seen within the Bush Administration as justifiable military action in a new kind of war, involving international terrorist organizations and unstable states.

On July 22nd, [2002,] Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld issued a secret directive ordering Air Force General Charles Holland, the four-star commander of Special Operations, “to develop a plan to find and deal with members of terrorist organizations.” He added, “The objective is to capture terrorists for interrogation or, if necessary, to kill them, not simply to arrest them in a law-enforcement exercise.” The manhunt would be global in its reach, Rumsfeld wrote, and Holland was to cut through the Pentagon bureaucracy and process deployment orders “in minutes and hours, not days and weeks.”

Hersh wrote that many of those he spoke to in the military and the intelligence communities

have expressed alarm at the Pentagon policy about targeting Al Qaeda members. Their concerns have less to do with the legality of the program than with its wisdom, its ethics, and, ultimately, its efficacy.

Senior officers “argued that Rumsfeld’s plans would turn the military’s most élite forces … into hunter-killer teams”:

“They want to turn these guys into assassins,” a former high-level intelligence officer told me. “They want to go on rumors—not facts—and go for political effect, and that’s what the Special Forces Command is really afraid of. Rummy is saying that politics is bigger than war, and we need to take guys out for political effect: ‘You have to kill Goebbels to get to Hitler.’”

Later in the piece, Hersh writes:

In internal Defense Department memos, Rumsfeld and the civilian officials close to him laid out the case for a new approach to the war on terrorism, one that would rely, in part, on the killing of selected individuals.

In one such memo,

Rumsfeld was told, “We ‘over-plan’ for every contingency…. This denies us the agility and tactical surprise so necessary for manhunts, snatches, and retribution raids. We must be willing to accept the risks associated with a smaller footprint.” The paper urged the Secretary to “ensure that the military leadership understands fully the cultural change you seek.” The manhunting teams must be kept “small and agile,” the paper noted, and “must be able to operate clandestinely, using a full range of official and non-official cover arrangements to travel and to enter countries surreptitiously.”

What did this mean? A Pentagon consultant told Hersh:

“We’ve created a culture in the Special Forces—twenty- and twenty-one-year-olds who need adult leadership. They’re assuming you’ve got legal authority, and they’ll do it”—eagerly eliminate any target assigned to them. Eventually, the intelligence will be bad, he said, and innocent people will be killed. “And then they’ll get hung.”


A year later, in “Moving Targets” (December 15, 2003), Hersh wrote about assassination as a tactic in Iraq, where what had looked like a quick victory by American forces was beginning to look much murkier:

A new Special Forces group, designated Task Force 121, has been assembled from Army Delta Force members, Navy SEALs, and C.I.A. paramilitary operatives, with many additional personnel ordered to report by January. Its highest priority is the neutralization of the Baathist insurgents, by capture or assassination. The revitalized Special Forces mission is a policy victory for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who has struggled for two years to get the military leadership to accept the strategy of what he calls “Manhunts”…

But many of the officials I spoke to were skeptical of the Administration’s plans. Many of them fear that the proposed operation—called “preëmptive manhunting” by one Pentagon adviser—has the potential to turn into another Phoenix Program. Phoenix was the code name for a counter-insurgency program that the U.S. adopted during the Vietnam War, in which Special Forces teams were sent out to capture or assassinate Vietnamese believed to be working with or sympathetic to the Vietcong …

[A] former Special Forces official warned that the problem with head-hunting is that you have to be sure “you’re hunting the right heads.” ...


Monday, July 20, 2009

News Corp. Celebrity Hacking - the Disgusting Details

Murdoch Tabloids’ MP Sex, Celebrity Scoops Face Legal Backlash
By Simon Thiel and Lindsay Fortado

July 13 (Bloomberg) -- On March 22, U.K. tabloid News of the World’s front-page headline screamed “MP has Sex Romp in Commons.” Inside was a photo of lawmaker Nigel Griffiths and a woman who wasn’t his wife in underwear and black stockings.

Griffiths, who acknowledged the story was true, is suing the tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., for obtaining the photos in an “extremely underhand way,” his lawyer David Price said. “My client had a sexual liaison in his office in Parliament, which he photographed, and which was on his computer, and somehow got into the News of the World.”

Politicians and celebrities may join Griffiths in taking legal action, saying U.K. tabloids go too far with news- gathering methods in their push to get exclusives and increase circulation. Potential claims might get a boost after the U.K.’s Information Commission, which oversees the media, on July 9 said 31 journalists at Murdoch’s tabloids, News of the World and Sun, acquired information through “blagging,” or underhand means.

The commission said it provided the information for a 2008 lawsuit, showing the practice was more widespread than thought in 2007, when News of the World reporter Clive Goodman and a private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were jailed for intercepting phone messages left for members of Prince Charles’ staff.

The commission’s statement followed a July 8 report in The Guardian alleging that News of the World, the U.K.’s best- selling Sunday newspaper, systematically used private detectives to hack into cell phones of public figures to obtain personal information. It said News Corp. paid more than 1 million pounds ($1.6 million) to settle lawsuits that claimed journalists got private investigators to illegally bug mobile phones.

No Evidence

News Corp. in an e-mailed statement July 10 denied allegations that News of the World journalists systematically accessed voicemails or employed private investigators to do so.

It said it settled in 2008 a complaint brought by Gordon Taylor, head of the Professional Footballers Association, after reporters on its News of the World newspaper gained information from voicemails. Aside from the Taylor settlement and 2006 Goodman-Mulcaire case, it said there’s no evidence other reporters hacked into phones or told private detectives to do so.

News Corp. spokeswoman Alice Macandrew said since February 2007, the company has worked with journalists to ensure full compliance with the relevant legislation and code of conduct.

“At the same time, we will not shirk from vigorously defending our right and proper role to expose wrongdoing in the public interest,” she said.

London police said July 9 they won’t reopen their probe following the Guardian report because “no additional evidence has come to light” since its investigation three years ago.

‘Merciless Fight’

News Corp. executives will still face questions this week from a Parliamentary Committee, which said it plans to hold hearings on the issues raised by the Guardian.

The hearings may touch on the role of Andy Coulson, formerly deputy editor and then editor of the News of the World and now the press chief of David Cameron, leader of the U.K.’s opposition Conservative Party. He has denied any wrongdoing.

For Adrian Monck, head of the journalism department at City University in London, the attempt by tabloid journalists to obtain personal information illegally is no surprise.

“The intense competition between quite a few publications in a rather small market obviously increases the pressure to produce exclusive, newspaper-selling stories,” Monck said in a phone interview. “There’s a merciless fight for scoops and journalists sometimes overstep the boundaries.”

The U.K.’s eight national tabloids need scoops as they face sliding circulation amid free papers and online information.

‘Higher Circulation’

“Big exclusive stories about well-known people have an enormous commercial value as they guarantee tabloids higher circulation,” said Max Clifford, a top U.K. publicist who has represented clients such as O.J. Simpson, David Beckham and Simon Cowell.

Murdoch journalists weren’t the only ones to use illegal means for obtaining scoops.

The Information Commission said in 2006 that illegal trade in confidential information is rampant in the tabloid world. It said 305 journalists were identified “as customers driving the illegal trade in confidential personal information.” Of those, 58 worked for the Daily Mail, 50 for the Sunday People, 45 for the Daily Mirror, 33 for the Mail on Sunday and 23 for the News of the World, it said. It also included four reporters from the Observer, the Guardian’s sister publication.

The Commission didn’t say how common this practice is at present. Even so, the Guardian report on the News of the World is prompting some celebrities to consider lawsuits.

‘Horrible Feeling’

Clifford is one of them. In 2005, the police and network operator O2 told him that his mobile phone had been tapped by Goodman and Mulcaire.

“At the time, the News of the World assured me and everybody else that it was just two people working off their own back, so I gave them the benefit of the doubt,” he said in a phone interview. “Now, it looks increasingly unlikely that this is the case. It was a horrible feeling to know that others had listened into my private conversations.”

Clifford, who has sued News Group for an unrelated issue, has yet to file a notice of claims on any phone-tapping.

Graham Shear, a media lawyer whose clients have included Jude Law, Daniel Craig and Pierce Brosnan said he has been contacted by clients from the film and television industry as well as a number of professional sportspeople.

Requesting Disclosure

“We will make the necessary inquiries of the public and private bodies, the police, the CPS and others, and ask them to disclose information about named individuals that they’re holding,” he said. “We will be requesting disclosure from different news organizations, and we will be considering different procedures, including Freedom of Information Act, Data Protection Act and pre-action disclosure, if necessary.”

Graham Atkins, a media lawyer whose clients have included Josh Hartnett and Kate Beckinsale, said he has “half a dozen or so celebrities or people of high-public profile” who are “looking” into the matter.

Elle Macpherson, whose phone hacking was revealed in the Guardian report, is “very concerned that her private conversations and those of other people may have been intruded upon,” her lawyer Michelle Lewiston said in an e-mailed statement. The supermodel is “confident in the ability and the determination” of the authorities to take appropriate action.

“This is not a new problem,” City University’s Monck said. “Journalists always have used all kinds of means to get secret information. A hundred years ago, journalists tried to intercept telegrams. Nowadays, they try to intercept phone calls and e-mails.”

News Corp., which also owns the Wall Street Journal and Fox television network, competes with Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, in providing financial news and information.

To contact the reporter on this story: Simon Thiel in London at

Cronkite Belatedly Called War in Vietnam Unwinnable, Not An Atrocity

by Jay Janson
July 19, 2009

Walter Cronkite, toward the end of his life looked like your typical gentle grandfather. This death of one of corporate media's own is being used to portray him as having been trustworthy, and extend this portrayal of trustworthiness to the U.S. media cartel justifying continuing brutal wars of occupation and promoting the predatory financial globalization of human and planetary resources.

Cronkite reported on location during the Vietnam War, and of course for years made no waves, and was no more trustworthy than other reporters who managed to stomach what was being done to that beautiful Buddhist society of ancient cultural roots.

Following Cronkite's editorial report during the Tet Offensive that the Vietnam War was unwinnable, President Lyndon Johnson is reported to have said, "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost Middle America."

Johnson's whimper reminds us that Cronkite was for years not reporting the real conditions in South Vietnam, not reporting the deceptions that led to the creation of the puppet government, not reporting Eisenhower's and South's refusal to hold promised elections, not reporting that Ike confessed, U.S. W.W.II ally Ho Chi Minh would have won by 80% the all Vietnam election blocked, the rampant corruption at every level, the brutal French colonial history, the carnage from years of bombing the delta. Cronkite and CBS had acted like servants and sycophants of our government, dutifully trumpeting almost every lie and distortion passed to them by the Pentagon and White House.

During the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Cronkite was anchoring the CBS network coverage as violence and protests occurred outside the convention, as well as scuffles inside the convention hall. When Dan Rather was punched to the floor (on camera) by security personnel, Cronkite commented, "I think we've got a bunch of thugs here, Dan."

Cronkite would have never in thousand years have called the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force, crucifying the agrarian French colonial population of Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, "a bunch of thugs."

Now, as in Walter Cronkite's lifetime, major humanity is still in a fight for a billion lives against the military and banks of the Anglo-American Empire, with the EU, NATO and Japan in tow, China and Russia going along for now, the Third World watchful and apprehensive. Conglomerate owned satellite powered media is not on the side of major humanity, but the tool and protection of its capitalist governance.

But Walter Cronkite's death should not be an occasion of our criticizing him for what he was not. Nor for propaganda to make media be seen as trustworthy. Walter worked in corporate media, a regular guy, pretty much in mainstream. He was no Gandhi, no Nelson Mandela, no Martin Luther King Jr. or Albert Einstein, who were trustworthy and always honest about imperialist foreign policy, but Cronkite did have a few moments of realization that U.S. use of military in foreign policy was less than sane.

The deceased deserve their rest in peace, with some respect for their contributions. Commercial media hype to distract us from conglomerate owned media's mission of war-mongering, support for empire and predatory global financial hegemony is obvious, insensitive and inappropriate to our mourning the passing of a fellow human being.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Walter Cronkite: Most Trusted Asset of Operation Mockingbird

Kurt Nimmo
July 19, 2009

“It is impossible to imagine CBS News, journalism or indeed America without Walter Cronkite,” said Sean McManus, president of CBS News on the passing on Walter Cronkite. “More than just the best and most trusted anchor in history, he guided America through our crises, tragedies and also our victories and greatest moments.”

I wonder if Mr. McManus knew the real Cronkite — Cronkite the a former intelligence officer who was lured away from his UPI Moscow desk by Operation Mockingbird’s Phil Graham.

Of course he did. Because the corporate media, at least at the level Walter Cronkite occupied, is rife with spooks, government agents, and disinfo operatives. The CIA has “important assets” inside every major news publication in the country, a fact established by numerous FOIA documents. A rare glimpse was also provided by Frank Church’s committee in the mid-70s.

Some of the journalists working the CIA’s side of the street “were Pulitzer Prize winners, distinguished reporters who considered themselves ambassadors-without-portfolio for their country,” Carl Bernstein wrote in an article published in Rolling Stone in October, 1977. “Most were less exalted: foreign correspondents who found that their association with the Agency helped their work; stringers and freelancers who were as interested it the derring-do of the spy business as in filing articles, and, the smallest category, full-time CIA employees masquerading as journalists abroad.”

“It was not until 1982 that the Agency openly admitted that reporters on the CIA payroll have acted as case officers to agents in the field,” writes Alex Constantine in "Tales from the Crypt: The Depraved Spies and Moguls of the CIA’s Operation MOCKINGBIRD."

“Most consumers of the corporate media were — and are — unaware of the effect that the salting of public opinion has on their own beliefs.”

“In the 1950s, outlays for global propaganda climbed to a full third of the CIA’s covert operations budget. Some 3, 000 salaried and contract CIA employees were eventually engaged in propaganda efforts. The cost of disinforming the world cost American taxpayers an estimated $265 million a year by 1978, a budget larger than the combined expenditures of Reuters, UPI and the AP news syndicates.”

Cronkite was a trusted and valued part of that huge mass propaganda effort. Cronkite betrayed his kindly and fatherly demeanor in 1999 when he accepted the Norman Cousins Global Governance Award at the ceremony at the United Nations:

"It seems to many of us that if we are to avoid eventual catastrophic world conflict, we must strengthen the United Nations as a first step toward a world government patterned after our own government with a legislature, executive and judiciary, and police to enforce its international laws and keep the peace. To do that, of course, we Americans will have to yield up some of our sovereignty. That would be a bitter pill. It would take a lot of courage, a lot of faith in the new order. But the American colonies did it once and brought forth one of the most nearly perfect unions the world has ever seen."

It is said Cronkite “somehow spoke for the nation he spoke to,” according to the Los Angeles Times, when in fact — like all corporate media figures — Cronkite was reading from a script provided by the CIA at the behest of the ruling elite.

Larry King: Encounters with Richard Nixon & John Kennedy

From Larry King dishes lots of dirt in new autobiography
By Glenn Garvin
McClatchy Newspapers
July 18, 2009

... King’s new autobiography "My Remarkable Journey" isn’t exactly chamber-of-commerce-brochure stuff. He dishes plenty of dirt — on himself, and on South Florida, where he broke into broadcasting and for two decades led an often seamy rags-to-riches-to-rags life.

King gambled. He wrote bad checks. He was arrested on charges of stealing $5,000 from financier Louis Wolfson. ... He regrets a lot of what happened, particularly his involvement with the freewheeling millionaire Wolfson. What started as a friendship devolved into a twisted, lurid codependency as King helped Wolfson shuttle clandestine money to favored politicians and causes, then assisted in the financier’s increasingly frantic (and ultimately unsuccessful) efforts to avoid prison on charges of selling unregistered stock.

King says he even agreed to carry Wolfson’s offer of a $4 million campaign contribution to Richard Nixon just as Nixon was about to enter the White House — an unspoken plea for a presidential pardon. But as he talked with Nixon, King flinched.

"I sure am glad I didn’t make the proposition to Nixon — which, to be honest, I almost did," King says. "If I had done it, we would have had the King hearings right along with the Watergate hearings. This would inevitably have come out during the Watergate investigation, and Nixon would have called it a bribe, even though it wasn’t intended as a bribe."

King’s other encounter with a president-to-be was also out there on the fringes of the law. In 1958, soon after arriving in South Florida, he ran into John F. Kennedy on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach. Not as in, "saw him shopping." As in, "rammed his convertible with a ratty old car."

Kennedy was not yet president, but he was America’s most famous senator, and at the moment, its maddest, too. "How could you?" he roared. "Early Sunday morning, no traffic, not a cloud in the sky, I’m parked — how could you run into me?" King knew the truthful answer — that he was a dumb kid newly arrived from the seedy side of Brooklyn and had been gawking at Palm Beach’s fairy-tale boutiques — wasn’t a good one.

’All I could say was, ’Senator, do you want to exchange information from our driver’s licenses?’" recalls King. ’Eventually he calmed down, and he said he’d forget the whole thing if we just promised to vote for him when he ran for president. We did, and he drove away — though not before saying, ’Stay waaay behind me.’ ...

David Ignatius: The Mainstream Media’s Chief Apologist for CIA Crimes

by Mel Goodman

The Washington Post’s David Ignatius has become the mainstream media’s apologist for the Central Intelligence Agency.

In Thursday’s column, he has lambasted Attorney General Eric Holder for even considering the appointment of a prosecutor to investigate possible war crimes by CIA officers; congressional Democrats who want to conduct genuine oversight of the CIA; and President Obama who perhaps now understands that an investigation of the CIA is not merely about "petty grievances." ...


CIA/Mafia Media Shill Gerald Posner Claims that Michael Jackson "Killed Himself" to Escape Stresses of Performing

Acclaimed "author"/disinformationist Gerald Posner

Gerald Posner - arguably the most obvious CIA/Mafia media shill in the world - is incapable of telling the truth about anything, I do believe. He concocts cover stories like the Case Closed shaggy-dog story that had Lee Harvey Oswald killing John F. Kennedy on his lonesome. The book distorts from the first sentence to the last. Anyone who has studied the Kennedy murder knows this, but Posner is a CIA-Mob propagandist so, of course, all doors to the deeply corrupt corporate media fly open for this sleazy ferret.

Now, with people named Jackson insisting that Michael was murdered, here comes Gerald Posner from the Daily Beast to obfuscate once again with a cover story that turns murder (or, it has been argued, manslaughter) into an accidental overdose. (Blaming the victim is a favorite CIA/Mafia propaganda stunt.) According to Posner, Jackson was trying to "make himself sick." Posner's media appearances are a telltale sign that there was much more to it - the "author" has no credibility whatsoever; his function is covering up Nazi and Mafia crimes, eg. the Kennedy assassination. Of course, media interviewers grovel in his presence, and never question his far-fetched, distorted, serial manipulations of evidence. Posner's "work" on al Qaeda - trumpeting "confessions" obtained through CIA torture, leaked to him, conveniently distracting attention from CIA and DoD involvement in world terrorism - has been discredited by subsequent news reports. The following story is so much "Jesus Juice" - he's covering up, IMhO. My job is to figure out what he's hiding and I'll be attempting to do just that in the weeks ahead. - AC

Jacko Accidentally Killed Himself

1 July 2009

Michael Jackson inadvertently killed himself while trying to get sick enough to avoid tour commitments, according to a prominent author.

Michael Jackson (Reuters Photo)

Jackson's contract with the firm handling the 50-show tour stated that if the singer cancelled any concert, he would have to pay a penalty to the promoters, according to The Daily Beast.

However, most contracts have a medical infirmity clause, whereby if a performer is hospitalised no penalty needs to be paid, reports

Author Gerald Posner says that a top member of the singer’s entourage has told him that Jackson wanted to cancel several shows without having to pay out his touring company.
Jackson intentionally took a large amount of prescription drugs to induce a trip to hospital, according to the advisor,

The advisor reportedly said: "Like a child who doesn’t want to go to school... Michael thought he could get away from his obligations if he had a ''note from the doctor''.”

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Politics of Heroin at Fox News - Rupert Murdoch, the CIA, Nugan Hand Bank & Crimes of Patriots

"Introduction to George Shultz, International Terrorist," posted on November 4, 2007
By Alex Constantine

Nugan Hand's Status in the World

... Alex Butterfield, recall, made headlines when he casually announced that the president had tape recorded conversations in the oval office. That was the end of Richard Nixon, who was badly kicked around .. and not one reporter stopped to ponder why a spook in the White House would crucify his boss with this devastating revelation.

Butterfield gave away the store at another key point in history when he spilled the dope beans to Wall Street Journal reporter Jonathan Kwitny, author of The Crimes of Patriots. When asked about Bernie Houghton and other principals at Australia's Nugan Hand Bank, the CIA's cash laundry, Butterfield gave him a few names that broke the bank, so to speak.

Kwitny was referred to General Heine Aderhold, who ran covert operations throughout Asia with John Singlaub, and was in a position to observe the actions of Maurice "Bernie" Houghton at Nugan Hand.

Houghton, it emerged, had been active in the opium trade in the Golden Triangle. Kwitny's investigation led him to dig up a legal claim letter signed by Tom Rahill, an American worker in Dhahrain, Saudi Arabia.

According the this letter, "Mr. Houghton's representatives would visit Aramco construction camps in Saudi Arabia shortly after each monthly payday. We investors would turn over Saudi royals to be converted at the prevailing dollar exchange rate, and receive a Nugan Hand dollar certificate. ... The monies, we were told, were to be deposited in the Nugan Hand Hong Kong branch for investments in various 'secured' government bonds."

But Aramco wasn't the only company that turned Nugan Hand into a burgeoning financial center. "Other large U.S concerns are said by investors to have boosted Nugan Hand, and let salesmen hold meetings on company property. Among them were Bechtel, the giant international construction firm then guided by George Shultz and Caspar Weinberger, and University Industries, Inc. of San Diego." (University Industries is still around, now known as JWP West. The corporate website reports that the company was founded "in the mid-1960s as a water supplier to Long Island and Queens, New York, JWP transformed itself through acquisition. By the start of the 1980s, JWP was the nation's largest computer reseller and the biggest electrical and maintenance contractor. Essentially, clients use JWP to help increase productivity and decrease costs by upgrading their facilities through, for example, more efficient communication and computer systems. JWP designs, installs, and supports these technical systems." For more, see: Pollack, Andrew, "JWP Gains Control of Businessland," New York Times, August 6, 1991, and Steinberg, Jacques, "Water Utility of a Thousand Faces," New York Times, November 2, 1991.. )

Employees of Aramco, Beck, Bechtel and University Industries (officials there actually confirmed Kwitny's allegations, to his complete surprise, with the comment, "sounds like you've got quite a story there.") were directed to Bernie Houghton, who talked them into investing in the bank at a promised return of 18%. Houghton only dealt in hard cash, and was seen leaving Bechtel with garbage bags stuffed full of paper money.

When the bank went bust, the employees lost their investments. The scheme made Enron's stock manipulations look like a putting gteen. ...
From: "Media Mafia (Part Five): The CIA/Mafia's Rupert Murdoch, Jim Cownie, et al," posted September 13, 2007
Edited by Alex Constantine

... Michael Jon Hand, the son of a civil servant, was born in the Bronx on 8th December, 1941. According to Jonathan Kwitny in his book The Crimes of Patriots: A True Tale of Dope, Dirty Money, and the CIA: "Hand passed every class he took, and was noted for exceptional character, courtesy, cooperation, and appearance. His IQ registered an also exceptional 131."

In 1959 his mother died after falling or jumping from a third-floor window. Soon afterwards he attended a one-year course at the New York State Ranger School. This was followed by a year managing a sports school in Los Angeles.

In May 1963 Hand joined the US Army and started his training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. During the Vietnam War he won the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC). According to the DSC citation he almost single-handedly held off a fourteen-hour Vietcong attack on the Special Forces compound at Dong Xaoi.

In 1966 he left the army to work "directly for the U.S, Government". Friends of Michael Hand have suggested that he was employed on undercover missions for the Central Intelligence Agency in Vietnam and Laos. One reported that he "helped train the mountain people - Montagnards - and worked closely with the Air America crews that supplied them". According to Jonathan Kwitny, Hand worked under William Colby during the Vietnam War.

Michael Hand moved to Australia in September, 1967. At first Hand went to work selling development lots along the Australian coast. The company, Ocean Shores Development, was run by lawyer Fred Miller, a senior executive for the shipping empire owned by Sir Peter Abeles, the longtime business partner, Rupert Murdoch. One of the largest investors in this scheme was the singer Pat Boone. The registered directors included Boone of Beverly Hills, California and Patricia Swan of Sydney, Australia. Swan was Frank Nugan's secretary. ... "



[Rupert Murdoch's CIA-Mafia business partners are the most probable suspects. Hand's partner Frank Nugan was also murdered by Murdoch's CIA-Mafia business partners. Many others have been murdered by Murdoch's CIA-Mafia business partners. The murders by Murdoch's CIA-Mafia business partners are often disguised as "suicides."- AC]

" ... In May 1963 Hand joined the US Army and started his training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. During the Vietnam War he won the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC). According to the DSC citation he almost single-handedly held off a fourteen-hour Vietcong attack on the Special Forces compound at Dong Xaoi. In 1966 he left the army to work "directly for the U.S, Government". Friends of Michael Hand have suggested that he was employed on undercover missions for the CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY in Vietnam and Laos. ... "


" ... Bob Hawk's (Australian Prime Minister from 11th March, 1983 until 20th December, 1991) little mate SIR PETER ABELES was the US MAFIA representative in Australia for many years and is known to have attempted to bribe well known anti-corruption journalist Bob Bottom. Of course Bottom refused but it was well known that Abeles would tie someone up in court for years if they dared to print anything derogatory about him ... "


" ... Abeles and RUPERT MURDOCH (I seem to have heard that name before) just happened to own 55% of Australia's second biggest domestic airline - ANSETT. Ansett in turn just happened to own a 20% share in another airline - AMERICA WEST Airline. One of their planes was caught in the US chock a block full of DRUGS in the US. The result was intertesting to say the least. ... "


" ... Twenty percent of the stock of AMERICA WEST was owned by ANSETT AIRLINES of Australia and 55% of ANSETT was held by Sir Peter Ables and Rupert Murdock. We know from Jonathan Kwitney's book THE CRIMES OF PATRIOTS that Burny Houghton, perhaps the key figure in the founding of the CIA drug money laundering bank NUGAN)HAND in Australia, had coffee with Sir Peter Ables the night of his first day in Australia. ... "

CIA's Paul Helliwell meets Michael Hand and Frank Nugan

When Frank Nugan was found dead in Australia in 1980, it was accepted as a suicide and the sighs of relief could almost be heard in Langley, on the other side of the globe. But then William Colby's business card was found in Nugan's wallet, and Nugan's partner, Michael Hand, had been a contract agent for the CIA in Vietnam. Australian authorities began tracking Nugan Hand Bank, which developed into the most fun story of Golden Triangle drugs, money-laundering, profiteering, corporate shell games, and financial fraud that has yet surfaced in the CIA's unofficial history.

The most intriguing aspect of Nugan Hand Bank was the list of Yankees who were in on the scam. Theodore Shackley, Richard Secord, Thomas Clines, and Edwin Wilson played peripheral roles, while Gen. Edwin Black ran the Nugan Hand Hawaii office, Gen. Erle Cocke ran the Washington office, Gen. LeRoy Manor ran the Philippine office, Colby was their lawyer, former CIA deputy director Walter McDonald was a consultant, Adm. Earl Yates was president of Nugan Hand, and Robert Jantzen, a former CIA station chief in Thailand, got out of Nugan Hand when he smelled drugs. He needn't have bothered; apart from Kwitny's Wall Street Journal articles in 1982, Nugan Hand received little coverage and no official interest in the U.S.


The Guardian July 7, 1999

Peter Abeles "is paraded as an example of 'rags to riches' by hard work — landing in Australia in 1949, penniless, but one year later running his own trucking company.There have been rumours from time to time, UNFOUNDED of course, of organised crime links and reported sightings with mafia connections in the US. ... "

Inside story: the Bush gang and Barrick Gold Corporation

" ... Abeles is reportedly known in Europe as 'the White Knight,' in reference both to his British knighthood, and his reported large role in the cocaine trade. Jonathan Kwitney, in {The Crimes of Patriots} (New York: W.W. Norton, 1987), reports that, after Abeles encountered labor union problems in his American business, Abeles gave to gangster 'associates of ... the most powerful Mafia leader in the United States ... a 20% stake in his U.S. operations.' His partners were indicted for hiding his payments, but Abeles refused to come to America to testify, and charges were dropped. ... "


EXCERPT FROM: "Adnan Khashoggi Linked to 9/11 Terrorists (Part One)," by Alex Constantine (2004):

Decades before burning skyscrapers, codified torture, secret trials and mass detentions, there was Barrick Gold, a mining concern in Canada with roots in the American intelligence establishment. It is fitting that gold, the seductive but dead heart of world capitalism, should christen a story about the most unconscionable event in Wall Street history: 911.

Barrick's incorporation is obscure. Most accounts claim that the firm was founded by Peter Munk, a former radio manufacturer who made a splash in the Canadian press when he disposed of his shares in the company shortly before it was declared insolvent, a golden parachute paid for by investors and the Canadian taxpayer. His name was instantly mud in the investment community, but fortunately for Munk, no indictment was ever brought against him.

Today, his overall worth is estimated at $350 million. Munk's redemption was the work of Saudi entrepeneur Adnan Khashoggi, who would go on to notoriety as an Ollie North intermediary in the Iran-Contra affair.

Khashoggi and Munk kicked off their partnership with a series of hotel investments. In 1983, the Saudi entrepeneur raided his fat cash reserves to purchase Barrick. Munk was installed as chairman.

Khashoggi distanced himself from Barrick shortly after the Iran-Contra scandal broke (but held onto his stock, tied up as collateral for North's arms transfers to Iran in 1985), notes Observer reporter Gregg Palast in a book on the 2000 presidential election, before Bush was invited in.

That was in 1995: "Munk's reputation was restored, at least in his own mind, in part by massive donations to the University of Toronto. Following this act of philanthropy, the university awarded Munk an honorary degree. Several students were arrested protesting what appeared to them as a cash-for-honors deal."

The bonds were positively Sicilian. in 1986, Khashoggi was was arrested for fraud and held in a New York prison. Munk paid his $4 million bail.

This was roughly the same time that Roosevelt cemented relations with Khashoggi, who brought Munk along, on behalf of the CIA. The offshore division of Khashoggi's Barrick Resources controlled Jetborne, Inc., a company in Toronto used by Khashoggi to ship arms to Iran under the direction of Reagan's NSC. ...

Sir Peter Abeles
Friday, 25 June , 1999 00:00:00
Reporter: Elizabeth Jackson

REPORTER: But when it comes to Sir Peter Abeles' contribution to Australian society, not everyone is as impressed as the Prime Minister. During the 1980s Wendy Bacon was a journalist with the National Times. Now Associate Professor of Journalism at the University of Technology in Sydney, she says there are still a lot of unanswered questions concerning Sir Peter Abeles.

WENDY BACON: I think he certainly did exert influence. I think that he was involved in activities that otherwise would have got a lot more political, legal and media attention than they did. I'm thinking particularly of some corrupt activities that he was involved in in Australia involving the Transport Workers' Union and also his connections with the US Mafia when his company became involved in the trucking industry in the States in 1969.

Also see: