U.S. OKs business with terror-supporting nations
Loopholes let companies get lucrative deals with Iran, Cuba, North Korea
By JO BECKER
NEW YORK – Despite sanctions and trade embargoes, over the past decade the United States government has granted special licenses allowing American companies to do billions of dollars in business with Iran and other countries blacklisted as state sponsors of terrorism, an examination by The New York Times has found.
At the behest of a host of companies – from Kraft Food and Pepsi to some of the nation’s largest banks – a little-known office of the Treasury Department has made nearly 10,000 exceptions to American sanctions rules, approving deals involving countries that have been cast into economic purgatory, beyond the reach of American business.
Tag: Docudharma Times
Dec 24 2010
Dec 23 2010
Swiss close to charging three in nuclear smuggling plot
U.S. tried to derail case against associates of Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan
By Michael Isikoff
National investigative correspondent
A Swiss judge is recommending that smuggling charges be brought against three alleged members of the world’s most notorious nuclear trafficking ring, reviving a politically sensitive case that U.S. officials have repeatedly tried to squelch because it might expose sensitive CIA secrets, NBC News has learned.
After more than two years of investigation, Swiss magistrate Andreas Mueller said he plans to announce Thursday that he is recommending that his country’s attorney general criminally charge Swiss engineer Friedrich Tinner and his two sons, Marco and Urs, as middlemen in the nuclear smuggling network of rogue Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan.
Dec 21 2010
U.S. seeks to expand ground raids in Pakistan
Military commanders see intelligence windfall in expanding campaign across border
By MARK MAZZETTI and DEXTER FILKINS
WASHINGTON – Senior Americanmilitary commanders in Afghanistan are pushing for an expanded campaign of Special Operations ground raids across the border into Pakistan’s tribal areas, a risky strategy reflecting the growing frustration with Pakistan’s efforts to root out militants there.
The proposal, described by American officials in Washington and Afghanistan, would escalate military activities inside Pakistan, where the movement of American forces has been largely prohibited because of fears of provoking a backlash. Story: Investigator: Billions in U.S. aid wasted in Afghanistan
The plan has not yet been approved, but military and political leaders say a renewed sense of urgency has taken hold, as the deadline approaches for the Obama administration to begin withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan.
Dec 20 2010
S. Korea conducts live-fire exercise despite warnings from North
In possible breakthrough, U.S. troubleshooter says he wins nuclear concessions from Pyongyang
msnbc.com news services
YEONPYEONG ISLAND, South Korea – South Korea fired artillery in a 90-minute drill from a front-line island Monday and launched fighter jets to deter attacks after North Korea warned of catastrophic retaliation for the maneuvers.
But amid the tension there was also a report of a potential diplomatic breakthrough, with U.S. troubleshooter Bill Richardson winning concessions from the North on the return of nuclear inspectors, according to CNN.
There was no sign of any North Korean military response during the drill, a South Korean Defense Ministry official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, citing office rules.
Dec 19 2010
Gains outweigh setbacks in a landmark year for gay rights
Repeal of the military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy may be the movement’s biggest victory yet, activists say.
By Robin Abcarian and Jessica Garrison, Los Angeles Times
December 19, 2010
Today the military, tomorrow the marriage altar?
In an era when gay Americans have seen stunning progress and many setbacks in the quest for equality under the law, many believe 2010 will go down in history as a watershed that will lead inexorably to more legal rights.
Saturday’s vote in the Senate to allow the repeal of the federal law banning gays from openly serving in the military is “one of the greatest, if not the greatest, victory in the history of the movement for gay and lesbian equality,” said Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, a UC Santa Barbara think tank that studies the issue of gays in the military.
Dec 18 2010
Top CIA spy in Pakistan pulled amid threats after public accusation over attack
By Greg Miller and Karin Brulliard
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, December 18, 2010; 1:20 AM
U.S. officials said Friday they are increasingly convinced that Pakistan’s intelligence service deliberately exposed the identity of the CIA’s top spy in Pakistan, triggering death threats and forcing the agency to pull him from his post.
The allegation marks a new low in the relationship between the CIA and its Pakistani counterpart at a time when both intelligence services are under pressure to root out militant groups and the CIA is waging a vastly accelerated campaign of drone strikes.
The CIA officer was rushed out of the agency’s massive station in Islamabad on the same day that President Obama issued a new warning to Pakistan’s leaders that “terrorist safe havens within their borders must be dealt with.”
Dec 17 2010
Japan defence review warns of China’s military might
Japan has unveiled sweeping changes to its national defence polices, boosting its southern forces in response to neighbouring China’s military rise.
The BBC 17 December 2010
Japan, which shares a maritime border with China, said Beijing’s military build-up was of global concern.
Japan will also strengthen its missile defences against the threat from a nuclear-armed North Korea.
The policy document has been approved by the cabinet and will shape Japan’s defence policy for the next 10 years.
Japan is changing its defence policy in response to the shifting balance of power in Asia, analysts say.
Dec 16 2010
U.S. rethinks strategy for an unthinkable attack
Administration’s problem: How to spread advice without causing alarm?
By WILLIAM J. BROAD
Suppose the unthinkable happened, and terrorists struck New York or another big city with an atom bomb. What should people there do? The government has a surprising new message: Do not flee. Get inside any stable building and don’t come out till officials say it’s safe.
The advice is based on recent scientific analyses indicating that a nuclear attack is much more survivable if you immediately shield yourself from the lethal radiation that follows a blast, a simple tactic seen as saving hundreds of thousands of lives. Even staying in a car, the studies show, would reduce casualties by more than 50 percent; hunkering down in a basement would be better by far.
Dec 13 2010
$52bn of American aid and still Afghans are dying of starvation
Patrick Cockburn reports from Kabul on the rampant corruption that has left the country on its knees
Monday, 13 December 2010
The most extraordinary failure of the US-led coalition in Afghanistan is that the expenditure of tens of billions of dollars has had so little impact on the misery in which 30 million Afghans live. As President Barack Obama prepares this week to present a review of America’s strategy in Afghanistan which is likely to focus on military progress, US officials, Afghan administrators, businessmen and aid workers insist that corruption is the greatest threat to the country’s future.
In a series of interviews, they paint a picture of a country where $52bn (£33bn) in US aid since 2001 has made almost no impression on devastating poverty made worse by spreading violence and an economy dislocated by war.
Dec 12 2010
WikiLeaks’ advocates are wreaking ‘hacktivism’
By Ian Shapira and Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff Writers
In England, a 26-year-old advertising agency employee caters to multinational clients but on the side has been communicating with a secretive band of strangers devoted to supporting WikiLeaks.
Halfway around the world, a 24-year-old in Montana has used a publicly available – and, according to security experts, suddenly popular software program called Low Orbit Ion Cannon with the goal of shutting down Web sites of WikiLeaks’ perceived enemies.
Dec 11 2010
How I met Julian Assange and secured the American embassy cables
December 11, 2010
GETTING to WikiLeaks’s secret headquarters took quite some time and was not without complications.
This year a careful reading of statements by the WikiLeaks co-founder, Julian Assange, led me to conclude his small organisation had landed what could be the biggest leak of classified information – a vast trove of US documents that, among other things, would provide deep insight into the realities of Australia’s relationship with our most important ally, the US.
Dec 10 2010
Goldman has an unexpected ally in court: federal prosecutors
The banking giant, which has been under relentless scrutiny for its role in the financial crisis, relies on the U.S. government to protect its trade secrets in a trial of a former worker accused of stealing valuable computer code.
By Nathaniel Popper, Los Angeles Times
Reporting from New York – Goldman Sachs, the most powerful firm on Wall Street, makes an unlikely victim.
That, however, is the role that the bank has played over the last two weeks in a Manhattan courtroom, where prosecutors have argued that Sergei Aleynikov, a skinny, bespectacled former computer programmer at Goldman, stole valuable computer code from the bank before moving to a start-up firm that was trying to build its own trading operations.
Although the code in question was a mere 32 megabytes – less than a 10th of what fits on a data CD – Goldman executives have said it was a central cog in their high-frequency trading operations, a lucrative division at one of the most profitable companies in the world.