"Am I therefore become your enemy,because I TELL YOU THE TRUTH...?"
(Galatians 4:16)

Saturday, March 7, 2009


I am compelled by the Holy Spirit to send out an urgent message to all on our mailing list, and to friends and to bishops we have met all over the world.AN EARTH-SHATTERING CALAMITY IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN.IT IS GOING TO BE SO FRIGHTENING, WE ARE ALL GOING TO TREMBLE-EVEN THE GODLIEST AMONG US.For ten years I have been warning about a thousand fires coming to New York City. It will engulf the whole megaplex, including areas of New Jersey and Connecticut. Major cities all across America will experience riots and blazing fires-such as we saw in Watts, Los Angeles, years ago.There will be riots and fires in cities worldwide. There will be looting-including Times Square, New York City.What we are experiencing now is not a recession, not even a depression. We are under God's wrath.
In Psalm 11 it is written,"If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?" (v. 3).
God is judging the raging sins of America and the nations.He is destroying the secular foundations.
The prophet Jeremiah pleaded with wicked Israel, "God is fashioning a calamity against you and devising a plan against you. Oh, turn back each of you from your evil way, and reform your ways and deeds. But they will say, It's hopeless! For we are going to follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart" (Jeremiah 18:11-12).
In Psalm 11:6, David warns, "Upon the wicked he will rain snares (coals of fire).fire.burning wind.will be the portion of their cup."
Why? David answered, "Because the Lord is righteous" (v. 7).
This is a righteous judgment-just as in the judgments of Sodom and in Noah's generation.
First, I give you a practical word I received for my own direction. Lay in store a thirty-day supply of food, toiletries and other essentials. In major cities, grocery stores are emptied in an hour at the sign of an impending disaster.As for our spiritual reaction, we have but two options. This is outlined in Psalm 11.
We "flee like a bird to a mountain." Or, as David says, "He fixed his eyes on the Lord on his throne in heaven-his eyes beholding, his eyelids testing the sons of men" (v. 4). "In the Lord I take refuge" (v. 1).
I will say to my soul: No need to run,no need to hide.
This is God's righteous work.
I will behold our Lord on his throne, with his eye of tender, loving kindness watching over every step I take-trusting that he will deliver his people even through floods, fires, calamities, tests, trials of all kinds.
Note: I do not know when these things will come to pass, but I know it is not far off. I have unburdened my soul to you. Do with the message as you choose.
God bless and keep you.
In Christ,
DW:bbm 3-05-09
As in the days of Noah....

World's Biggest Banks to Meet in London

Chief executives of leading banks from Japan,Europe and the United States will meet in London to discuss regulation of the financial sector, according to a report.The British government will host the talks on March 24, ahead of an April summit of Group of 20 leaders, the Nikkei economic daily said, without naming sources.Invitations have been sent to the chiefs of leading institutions including US-based JPMorgan Chase and Co. and British bank HSBC, it said.From Japan, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group president Nobuo Kuroyanagi will attend the meeting, it said.No confirmation of the report was available from the Japanese bank on Saturday.Leaders of the Group of 20 developed and developing nations are to get together in London on April 2.Supervision of financial institutions is expected to be high on the agenda.
As in the days of Noah...

GOPer Shows America what 9,286 Earmarks Look Like

Republican Study Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-GA) goes through the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill, a pork-stuffed spendfest with over 9,000 earmarks that comes in at just under half a billion dollars....

Obama: Crisis Is Time of ‘Great Opportunity’

PESTILENCE WATCH:Spain reports fifth human death from mad cow disease

The Spanish government late Friday confirmed the country's fifth fatality from the human variant of mad cow disease, a woman who died in the northern city of Santander in January.The health ministry said laboratory tests confirmed that the woman had Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) as the human variant of bovine spongiform encephalopathy(BSE), or mad cow disease, is known."The appearance of sporadic cases of the disease does not indicate new risks for the health of the public," it said in a statement. The last death in Spain which was confirmed to have been due to the brain-wasting disease took place in August 2008 in the northwestern region of Castilla and Leon.Spain recorded its first human death from mad cow disease in June 2005 when a 26-year-old woman succumbed to it in Madrid.More than 200 people around the world are suspected to have died, most of them in Britain,from the human variant of the disease, which was first described in 1996.Scientists believe the disease was caused by using infected parts of cattle to make feed for other cattle.
Authorities believe eating meat from infected animals can trigger the human variant of the fatal brain-wasting disease.The 27-member EU, of which Spain is part, has banned high-risk materials such as spinal cord from use in feed and stricter labelling was also introduced.
As in the days of Noah...

Cybersecurity director resigns amid turf battles

WASHINGTON-The head of the nation's cybersecurity center has resigned amid persistent turf battles and confusion over the control and protection of the country's vast computer networks and systems.Rod Beckstrom's decision to step down as director of the National Cybersecurity Center comes as the White House is conducting a broad 60-day review of how well the government is using technology to protect everything from classified national security data to key financial systems and air traffic control.In a blunt letter to Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano, Beckstrom complained about a shortage of money for the center and a clash over whether the National Security Agency should control cyber efforts. The role of the NSA in protecting domestic computer networks has triggered debate, particularly among privacy and civil liberties groups who oppose giving such control to U.S. spy agencies.Intelligence officials argue, however, that they must be involved in order to adequately defend the country and its networks.Beckstrom's letter was dated Thursday, and said his resignation would be effective March 13.Homeland Security Department spokeswoman Amy Kudwa said the department is working with other federal agencies, specifically the NSA, to protect civilian networks,and is reaching out to the private sector to find additional ways to improve cybersecurity.President Barack Obama last month ordered a 60-day review of the nation's cybersecurity, and put former Bush administration aide Melissa Hathaway in charge of the effort. Hathaway has been meeting with industry leaders,Capitol Hill staff and other experts, seeking guidance on what the federal government's role should be in protecting information networks against an attack.She also is asking for recommendations on how officials should define and report cyber incidents and attacks; how the government should structure its cyber oversight and how the nation can increase security without stifling innovation.As a candidate, Obama criticized Bush's cybersecurity efforts, and suggested that - as president - he would have a cyber adviser who would report directly to him. It was not known whether that is still the plan. On Thursday, Obama named a federal chief information officer, Vivek Kundra, to work in the White House. Kundra is to have a role in overseeing the ability of computer systems to speak to each other and the security for the federal government's vast information databanks.
Associated Press writer Eileen Sullivan contributed to this report.
On the Net:
Homeland Security Dept
.: http://www.dhs.gov/index.shtm
By Lolita C Baldor
As in the days of Noah...


WASHINGTON-President Barack Obama on Saturday challenged his country to see its hard times as a chance to "discover great opportunity in the midst of great crisis." "That is what we can do and must do today. And I am absolutely confident that is what we will do," Obama said in his weekly radio and video address, taped a day earlier at the White House.The work week ended on more down news, with the report of 651,000 more American jobs slashed and an unemployment rate climbing to 8.1 percent. That is the highest rate of people out of work in more than 25 years, as the recession continued to put enormous pressures on families and industries.Obama recapped the work of the latest hectic week in his young presidency. His goal was to reassure the country that he and his team are taking specific steps to create jobs in the short term and begin to address huge issues such as health care.His rundown of the past week: the launch of a more detailed plan to help struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure; a new credit plan to spur lending for people and businesses; an overhaul of the way the government hands out private contracts to reduce waste; and a summit on how to overhaul health care.On the last point, Obama has set a goal of signing a bill this year that would fix the U.S. health care system, which is the costliest in the world and leaves an estimated 48 million people uninsured, plus many others lacking adequate coverage."Our ideas and opinions about how to achieve this reform will vary, but our goal must be the same: quality, affordable health care for every American that no longer overwhelms the budgets of families, businesses and our government," Obama said.Obama says he is not wedded to a plan on how to fix the problem. But one proposal he has endorsed, giving Americans the option of buying medical coverage through a government plan, is drawing opposition from Republicans.Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., emphasized that point in the Republican weekly radio address."I'm concerned that if the government steps in it will eventually push out the private health care plans millions of Americans enjoy today," Blunt said. "This could cause your employer to simply stop offering coverage, hoping the government will pick up the slack."As the White House takes on so many huge issues at once, Obama is encouraging people to take a longer view, and not get caught up in the fits and starts. The president said in his address that the nation will continue to face difficult days in the months ahead. Still, he ended with hope."Yes, this is a moment of challenge for our country," Obama said."But we've experienced great trials before. And with every test, each generation has found the capacity to not only endure, but to prosper - to discover great opportunity in the midst of great crisis."
On the Net:
Obama address
: http://www.whitehouse.gov/
By Ben Feller

As in the days of Noah....

Friday, March 6, 2009

Chávez turns to Russians in gold venture;Falling oil price drives Venezuelan mining...

As the helicopter skims low over one of the largest undeveloped gold deposits in the world, just south of the ragtag mining town of El Dorado, the pilot shrugs bleakly.“It’s a great shame,” he says, gesturing at the scar blighting the pristine forest in south-eastern Venezuela, cleared by thousands of small-scale, illegal miners in their hunt for gold.But after a decades-long free-for-all in which prospectors have wreaked environmental havoc while private companies have failed to extract an ounce of gold from Las Cristinas, Hugo Chávez, the president, has said it may be exploited in a joint venture between the state and Rusoro Mining, a Russian miner.Since oil provides more than 90 per cent of export revenues and more than half of government spending, collapsing energy prices have ignited the government’s interest in the sizeable gold reserves in order to bolster its earnings, as well as in commodities such as coffee and cacao-once Venezuela’s biggest export.The partnership between the socialist president and the Russian company is one of the fruits of a budding friendship between Caracas and Moscow-part of the strategy of Venezuela’s anti-imperialist president to challenge US influence in the region.“The spirit of goodwill between the two governments has certainly helped us a lot,” says George Salamis, president of Rusoro, which has already acquired and turned round two struggling mining operations here in the past year.Some foreign companies have had a rough ride in Venezuela in recent years as Mr Chávez sought to make an example of capitalist companies while deepening his socialist revolution.As well as companies affected by the state’s drive to take over “strategic” industries during the past two years, one of the companies with the most disappointing performance has been Canada’s Crystallex, which has been waiting for a permit to develop Las Cristinas since it was granted the concession in 2002.“My main concern is removing the perception that Venezuela is a risky place to do business, which has been exacerbated by what has happened at Las Cristinas over the last 15 years,” says Mr Salamis.
By Benedict Mander in Caracas

As in the days of Noah...

WRONG RED BUTTON:Clinton gift gaffe to Russia:"Overcharge"

GENEVA-After promising to “push the reset button” on relations with Moscow, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton planned to present Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with a light-hearted gift at their talks here Friday night to symbolize the Obama administration’s desire for a new beginning in the relationship.It didn’t quite work out as she planned. She handed him a palm-sized box wrapped with a bow. Lavrov opened it and pulled out the gift—a red plastic button on a black base with a Russian word “peregruzka” printed on top.“We worked hard to get the right Russian word. Do you think we got it?” Clinton said as reporters, allowed in to observe the first few minutes of the meeting, watched.“You got it wrong,” Lavrov said, to Clinton’s clear surprise.Instead of "reset," he said the word on the box meant “overcharge.” Clinton and Lavrov guffawed.“We won’t let you do that to us,” she said.Despite the shoddy translation work on the U.S. side, Clinton and Lavrov emerged from their meeting a few hours later saying they had accomplished their initial goal—reducing the frostiness in U.S.-Russia relations that had taken hold by the end of the Bush administration. At a joint press conference afterward Clinton and Lavrov called each other by their first names and said they had conducted wide-ranging discussions on Iran, missile defense, Afghanistan, and nuclear arms reduction. They agreed to intensify preparations for opening a new round of nuclear arms negotiations to replace the one that expires at the end of this year. They each emphasized that major disagreements and disputes remain on matters such as U.S. support for Georgia, the former Soviet republic invaded by Moscow last year, and on an announced sale by Moscow of advanced air defense missiles to Iran. The improvement in tone was unmistakable compared to the icy encounters that Lavrov used to hold with Clinton’s predecessor. But in a meeting largely devoid of concrete accomplishments, Clinton’s gift became a source of continuing amusement to everyone except her staff, who realized that flubbing a foreign language hardly made their boss, the nation’s top diplomat, look good. When a Russian reporter asked her about the mistake, Clinton conceded that Lavrov had “corrected our word choice” and went on to gamely make the best of it. “In a way the word that was on the button turns out also to be true,” she argued Though Lavrov had said that word on the button meant overcharge, Clinton suggested that that peregruzka could also be translated as overload. “We are resetting so the minister and I have an overload of work,” she said But Lavrov refused to let the matter rest there, bringing it up twice more during the press conference in a way that suggested he wasn’t completely unhappy at Clinton’s discomfort. “We have reached agreement on how reset should sound in both Russian and English,” he announced at one point. “We have no disagreement here.” A few minutes later, he referred to the gift again, noting that he and Clinton had pressed the button together—a move that summoned up thoughts not of easing tension but of launching a nuclear strike. “It is a very, very large red button,” he said. “I do hope that Russia and the United States and other countries would never ever push any other buttons associated with initiation of destructive hostilities.” He told Clinton he would put the button on his desk in Moscow.
By David S Cloud
PS:Up to this point I don't know who is worse,whether BHO with his teleprompter,"Stand Up Chuck"Biden or Hellary almost causing an Intl Conflict by that silly gift with the wrong word she gave to Lavrov...!!!!!
We are surely the World's laughing-stock today...!!!!
As in the days of Noah...

Chavez calls on Obama to follow "Path of Socialism"

Caracas - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Friday called upon US President Barack Obama to follow the path to socialism, which he termed as the "only" way out of the global recession. "Come with us, align yourself, come with us on the road to socialism. This is the only path. Imagine a socialist revolution in the United States," Chavez told a group of workers in the southern Venezuelan state of Bolivar.The controversial Venezuelan leader, who taunted the United States as a source of capitalistic evil under former president George W Bush, added that the United States needs a leader who can take it to a "higher" destiny and bring it out of "the sad role that it has been given, as a murderous, attacking power that is hated all around the world." Chavez said that people are calling Obama a "socialist" for the measures of state intervention he is taking to counter the crisis, so it would not be too far-fetched to suggest that he might join the project of "21st century socialism" that the Venezuelan leader is heading."Nothing is impossible. Who would have thought in the 1980s that the Soviet Union would disappear? No one," he said."That murderous, genocidal empire has to end, and some day there has to come a leader...who interprets the best of a people who also include human beings who suffer, endure, weep and laugh," the outspoken Chavez said.

As in the days of Noah...

ENVIRO CRAZE WATCH:Heated Exchange:Gore Confronts His Critics...Its 'kind of silly' to keep debating the science...

The Goreacle has spoken–again.Former Vice President Al Gore repeated his message that climate change is a planetary emergency at the WSJ’s Eco:nomics conference in California. The Nobel-prize winner declined to take any questions from reporters, but he did receive a couple of challenges from attendees, including Bjorn Lomborg. But don’t expect Mr. Gore to debate the merits of how best to tackle climate change anytime soon.Mr. Gore stuck to his prepared script about the urgency of taking action to curb global greenhouse-gas emissions, down to well-worn phrases he trots out at conferences across the country: America is at “a political tipping point” on climate change, and even if Washington has failed to address the energy challenge in the last 35 years, “political will is a renewable resource.”But he was challenged by Mr. Lomborg, the Danish skeptical environmentalist who thinks the world would be better off spending more money on health and education issues than curbing carbon emissions. “I don’t mean to corner you, or maybe I do mean to corner you, but would you be willing to have a debate with me on that point?” asked the polo-shirt wearing Dane.“I want to be polite to you,” Mr. Gore responded. But, no. “The scientific community has gone through this chapter and verse. We have long since passed the time when we should pretend this is a ‘on the one hand, on the other hand’ issue,” he said. “It’s not a matter of theory or conjecture, for goodness sake,” he added. As an example, he pointed to a new addition to the budget for the island nation of the Maldives: “Funds to buy a new nation.”
Posted By Keith Johnson
As in the days of Noah...

Georgia revamps military amid Russia tensions

Georgia is revamping its military to boost defence capabilities amid increasing tensions with Russia over two Moscow-backed breakaway regions, its defence minister said Friday.Defence Minister David Sikharulidzepicture left) told AFP in an interview that the presence of thousands of Russian troops in Abkhazia and South Ossetia posed a "serious" risk to Georgian security."We have to be prepared to defend our homeland from invasion," he said."These occupied territories and Russia's increased military presence on Georgian soil... raises concern and heavily affects the Georgian security environment."Georgia's military in August sent troops into South Ossetia in a bid to retake the region, which had received extensive backing from Moscow for years.In response, Russia sent troops and tanks deep inside Georgia and carried out a string of air attacks, provoking the worst crisis in ties between Moscow and the West since the Cold War.Sikharulidze said Georgia "will be putting more and more emphasis on defensive operations" as part of a government-wide rethink of security policies.Efforts will focus on training and education to improve the military's ability to respond to threats, he said, adding that anti-aircraft and anti-armour defences will be the two "most important capabilities we will be focusing on in the close future."He said it was too soon to discuss what new military hardware Georgia might be seeking under the reforms."It's a complex issue, it's not only equipment but first of all education and training, then acquisitions," he said.Georgia's military has been accused both at home and by foreign allies of mishandling the conflict.A Pentagon assessment after the war said the Georgian armed forces suffered from widespread mismanagement, unqualified leadership and substandard practices, The New York Times has reported.Sikharulidze said Georgia was counting on continued Western support to rebuild and reform its military. "International cooperation, both bilateral and multilateral, is very important for the success of our reforms," he said.Washington has provided hundreds of millions of dollars of assistance, including substantial military aid, to its ally Georgia in recent years, straining relations with Russia...
To read more go to:

As in the days of Noah...

South Korea diverts flights

Airlines stay clear of North Korea after threat

United Nations Command officials, left, talk with North Korean officials during their meeting at the border village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between the two Koreas, north of Seoul, Friday, March 6, 2009. Senior military officials from North Korea and the U.S.-led U.N. Command in South Korea opened talks at the border Friday, a day after the North threatened passenger planes flying near its airspace. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, Pool)
SEOUL, South Korea-South Korean and foreign airlines rerouted their flights away from North Korean airspace Friday after the North threatened passenger planes amid heightened tensions on the divided peninsula, officials said.The move-which will cost carriers thousands of dollars for each flight-comes after North Korea warned in its state-run media that it cannot guarantee security for South Korean civil airplanes flying near its airspace and accused the U.S. and South Korea of attempting to provoke a nuclear war with upcoming joint military drills.It did not say what kind of danger South Korean planes would face or whether the threat meant the North would shoot down aircraft.South Korea urged the North to retract the threat."The military threat against civil airplanes' normal flights is a violation of international norms and an inhumane act that cannot be justified under any circumstances," Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Ho-nyeon told reporters.Kim hinted that the warning may be intended to clear the airspace before a possible missile test by North Korea, but declined to elaborate. North Korea announced last week that it is preparing to send a communications satellite into space. Regional powers suspect it is actually planning to launch a long-range missile that is capable of reaching Alaska. In Tokyo, the U.S. special envoy on North Korea, Stephen W. Bosworth, called the threat against South Korean planes "unacceptable." He also urged North Korea to refrain "from the provocation of firing a missile."He was to head to South Korea on Saturday.The United Nations Command, the U.S.-led body overseeing the 1953 armistice that ended the three-year Korean War, called the North's threat "entirely inappropriate."During a meeting Friday with North Korean generals, members of the command urged the North to retract the threat. North Korea rejected the demand, saying it made the decision to ban South Korean planes from flying near its airspace as a "self-defense measure" to fend off U.S. military threats, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency.The North's chief delegate to the talks warned of "strong countermeasures" unless the United States calls off the joint military exercises with South Korea due to start Monday, KCNA said, without elaborating.
Associated Press writers Jae-soon Chang in Seoul and Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this report.
By KWANG-TAE KIM--Associated Press Writer
As in the days of Noah...

US Overture to Iran

US to invite Iran to conference on Afghanistan

BRUSSELS-In a sign of the new emphasis on diplomacy, the Obama administration said Thursday that Iran would be invited to a high-level conference on Afghanistan's future. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton proposed the session, which could be held at the end of this month, at the same time the Obama administration is reformulating its strategy in a stalemated Afghanistan war.The new approach is expected to emphasize nonmilitary means of blunting the power of the Taliban and other insurgents and to sharpen the focus on the role of next-door Pakistan in lessening the threat of terrorism or extremism in both countries."The whole question about Afghanistan and Pakistan is one that we've given a great deal of thought to," Clinton said. "It is clear that the border areas between the two countries are the real locus of a lot of the extremist activity. It's becoming obvious that Pakistan faces very serious internal threats, and that Afghanistan faces continuing external threats that emanate out of Pakistan."
Pakistan would attend the conference of nations with a stake in Afghanistan, Clinton said, and U.S. officials said Iran would be invited as a neighbor. It could be an early opportunity to test President Barack Obama's campaign promise to extend a friendlier hand to the old U.S. adversary when it is in U.S. interests to do so.The United States and Iran have cooperated on Afghanistan before, with promising contacts following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, and held inconclusive talks that the United States had hopes would improve security and stability in Iraq.
As in the days of Noah...

Clinton: "Never waste a good crisis"

Tongue-tied Clinton gets EU dignitaries' names wrong...

BRUSSELS-Hillary Clinton raised eyebrows on her first visit to Europe as secretary of state when she mispronounced her EU counterparts' names and claimed U.S. democracy was older than Europe's.Clinton has set herself a grueling pace on visits to Egypt, Israel and Brussels soon after touring the Far East, attending dozens of meetings and giving speech after speech, with little time worked into her schedule for sleep.Tiredness appeared to show Friday when she answered questions in front of 500 young Europeans at the European Parliament, where she was the highest-ranking U.S. visitor since the late U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1985.A veteran politician, Clinton compared the complex European political environment to that of the two-party U.S. system, before adding:"I have never understood multiparty democracy."It is hard enough with two parties to come to any resolution, and I say this very respectfully, because I feel the same way about our own democracy, which has been around a lot longer than European democracy."The remark provoked much headshaking in the parliament of a bloc that likes to trace back its democratic tradition thousands of years to the days of classical Greece.One working lunch later with EU leaders, Clinton raised more eyebrows when she referred to EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who stood beside her, as "High Representative Solano."She also dubbed European Commission External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner as "Benito."Still, Clinton has been well received in Brussels, where the Obama administration has been viewed as a breath of fresh air after the unpopular leadership of George W. Bush. His secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, often drew protests on her travels.Fellow foreign ministers stood and applauded Clinton's presentation at a meeting with NATO counterparts Thursday and extra space had to be set aside for a spillover audience of 800 at the European Parliament.Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering was effusive in his praise, saying that with the new administration, the United States and Europe once again "share the same values.""What you said mostly could have been said by a European," he told Clinton after she fielded questions ranging from climate change to energy security and aid to Africa and one on gay rights from a participant wearing an "I love Hillary" t-shirt.
(Additional reporting by Sue Pleming, Sarah Luehrs and Darren Ennis; Editing by Giles Elgood)
As in the days of Noah...

"NEVER WASTE A GOOD CRISIS":Clinton says on climate

BRUSSELS-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told an audience Friday "never waste a good crisis," and highlighted the opportunity of rebuilding economies in a greener, less energy-intensive way.Highlighting Europe's unease the day after Russia warned that gas flows via Ukraine might be halted, she also condemned the use of energy as a political lever.Clinton told young Europeans at the European Parliament that global economic turmoil provided a fresh opening."Never waste a good crisis...Don't waste it when it can have a very positive impact on climate change and energy security," she said.Europe sees the United States as a crucial ally in global climate talks in Copenhagen in December, after President Barack Obama signaled a new urgency in tackling climate change, in stark contrast to his predecessor George W. Bush.Europe has already laid out plans to cut carbon dioxide emissions to about a fifth below 1990 levels in the next decade, while Obama has proposed a major shift toward renewable energy and a cap and trade system for CO2 emissions.But with many countries in the grip of a punishing recession, some question whether businesses can muster the hundreds of billions of dollars needed to cut carbon emissions."Certainly the United States has been negligent in living up to its responsibilities," said Clinton, on her first visit to Europe as secretary of state."This is a propitious time...we can actually begin to demonstrate our willingness to confront this."
By Pete Harrison
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As in the days of Noah...

Britain's Business Secretary Attacked With Green Custard

Lord Mandelson has green custard thrown at him
Leila Deen, an activist from campaign group Plane Stupid, covered the politician in pea-green goo as he got out of his ministerial car.He immediately went inside the building as Miss Deen watched and then calmly walked away.She told Sky News she was protesting about reports that Lord Mandelson met lobbyists from Heathrow owner BAA before the Government gave the controversial go-ahead for a third runway at the London airport.A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "Police are investigating circumstances surrounding an incident in Carlton House Terrace, SW1."Officers from Westminster CID investigate. There have been no arrests. No complaint has been received."Talking about the goo, Ms Deen said: "It's green custard - I could eat this right now, it's totally harmless."She went on: "The only thing green about Peter Mandelson is the slime coursing through his veins."And she added: "I don't want to get up early in the morning and throw custard at Peter Mandelson but I don't have a choice because democracy has failed us."We should stand up against people who are going to make political capital out of pretending to be green."Gordon Taylor, who lives next door to the Deen family home in Brighton, said: "I think her mother would be proud."Lord Mandelson dismissed the incident, which raises questions about his personal security, as an "adolescent protest".After a quick clean-up, he told Sky News: "She was so busy throwing what seemed like green soup or something in my face that she failed to tell me what the protest was about, but as you can see thankfully it wasn't paint and I've come through it intact."Prime Minister Gordon Brown was also due to attend the summit along with other Government representatives and business leaders to discuss the "greening" of industry and opportunities for new jobs.Plane Stupid has launched a series of high profile stunts in recent years against the Government's environmental policies, including sit-in protests bringing Stansted and Aberdeen airports to a stand-still.The former deputy prime minister John Prescott said it was "unacceptable" that the Ms Deen was allowed to walk away with impunity.Mr Prescott, who was the victim of a number of similar incidents, said the Plane Stupid activist Leila Deen should have been arrested for her "assault".
"What is totally unacceptable is the way the woman walked away claiming it was her right in democracy. She should have been arrested," he said on his blog.

As in the days of Noah...

SENATE moves to give FDIC $500B LOAN

WASHINGTON-Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd is moving to allow the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to temporarily borrow as much as $500 billion from the Treasury Department.The Connecticut Democrat's effort-which comes in response to urging from FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner-would give the FDIC access to more money to rebuild its fund that insures consumers' deposits, which have been hard hit by a string of bank failures.Last week, the FDIC proposed raising fees on banks in order to build up its deposit insurance fund, which had just $19 billion at the end of 2008. That idea provoked protests from banks, which said such a burden would worsen their already shaken condition.The Dodd bill, if it becomes law, would represent an alternative source of funding.Mr. Dodd's bill could also give the FDIC more firepower to help address "systemic risks" in the economy, potentially creating another source of bailout funds in addition to the $700 billion already appropriated by Congress.Mr. Bernanke said in a Feb. 2 letter to Mr. Dodd that such a "mechanism would allow the FDIC to respond expeditiously to emergency situations that may involve substantial risk to the financial system."The FDIC would be able to borrow as much as $500 billion until the end of 2010 if the FDIC, Fed, Treasury secretary and White House agree such money is warranted. The bill would allow it to borrow $100 billion absent that approval. Currently, its line of credit with the Treasury is $30 billion.The FDIC's deposit-insurance fund has fallen precipitously with 25 bank failures in 2008 and 16 so far in 2009. Some bank failures have a bigger impact on the fund than others, as IndyMac's failure cost the fund more than $10 billion, while many others cost the fund less than $100 million.A 1991 law generally caps the amount of money the FDIC can borrow from the Treasury at $30 billion, and the FDIC hasn't borrowed money from the Treasury in more than a decade.Ms. Bair said a change in the law would give the FDIC more options to determine the best way to rebuild its depleted fund.In an interview, she stressed that all insured deposits were already backed by the "full faith and credit of the United States government."A change in the law would ease "the mechanics of how seamlessly we can access our lines of" funding. "I'm the kind of person that likes to be prepared for all contingencies," she said.
By Damian Paletta

As in the days of Noah...


--Jobless rate 8.1%... Developing...
As in the days of Noah...

50,000 take to NYC streets to Protest Budget Cuts...

NEW YORK-A massive budget backlash came to lower Manhattan on Thursday.Tens of thousands of New Yorkers marched on City Hall, rallying to stop proposed funding cuts.The rally cries of labor unions, community groups and families outside City Hall could be heard throughout lower Manhattan.Desperation for an economic lifeline brought out more than 50,000 people along several blocks of Broadway in a self-described "Rally For New York." Their message for Gov.David Paterson came in the form of booming chants: "No more cuts! No more cuts!" Everyday New Yorkers had their own personal messages for the governor as well. "Governor Paterson, I wish you could have an open heart that we are going to suffer if this budget cut goes through," said China Lankford of Jamaica. Paterson has proposed closing a $15 billion state budget gap by making cuts across the board, including $2.5 billion in education, $3.2 billion in health care and billions more in cuts to vital programs such as senior services, disability services, housing assistance and crisis intervention programs. Protestors insisted Thursday that there's a better way. They're asking for what they call "fair tax reform"-raising state taxes for New Yorkers making $250,000 or more on top of the president's proposed hikes."For those of you who prosper during boom time, we ask them pay a little bit more. Pay a little more so New York can avoid cutting the services that our most vulnerable need,"United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said."The cut back is putting people out of jobs,"said Ruth Cardona of Local 1199."No health care and also the education part of it is wrong." George Altomare, a retired teacher, made his voice heard as well."You can't cut the budget the way it is and still have the quality we're aiming for,"Altomare said.Workers said they will continue to fight for their part of the economic pie. Simultaneous rallies were also coordinated in cities around the state on Thursday, including Albany, Buffalo and White Plains.
By Hazel Sanchez

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"Obama snacks" don't go down well in Indonesia

A gimmicky snack bearing a caricature of US President Barack Obama making a peace sign has gone on sale in Indonesia,but worried consumer activists are already calling for it to be banned.
The "Obama" snack packet shows a grinning Obama making a peace sign with his right hand and spinning the globe like a basketball on the fingers of his left hand.It also bears a peace symbol and the word "peace," along with a teaser suggesting that if you are lucky you might win a bonus.The Indonesian Consumer Foundation has called on the government to investigate, saying the snack is defamatory to President Obama and potentially harmful to children's health."What's the aim of using such an image? It's defamation and the producer should be investigated," Foundation head Indah Suksmaningsih said.Each 500-rupiah (four-cent) packet of "Obamas" contains a small plastic toy which is "unhygienic" and could be mistaken as food by infants, said foundation legal affairs officer Sularsi, who only uses one name."We urge the government to investigate the product, which might have a dubious permit," he said."Obamas" hit the streets recently in the West Java city of Bandung.President Obama lived in the Indonesian capital Jakarta from 1967 to 1971 after his mother divorced his Kenyan father and married an Indonesian man.This childhood connection-and his pledge to break with the foreign policy of the Bush administration-has made him hugely popular in the Southeast Asian country of some 234 million people.
VIDEO:In indonesian....


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Food stamp enrollment jumps to record 31.8 million...

WASHINGTON-A record 31.8 million Americans received food stamps at the latest count, an increase of 700,000 people in one month with the United States in recession, government figures showed Thursday.Food stamps, which help poor people buy groceries, are the major U.S. anti-hunger program, forecast to cost at least $51 billion in this fiscal year ending Sept. 30, up $10 billion from fiscal 2008."A weakened economy means that many more individuals are turning to SNAP/food stamps," said the Food Research and Action Center. Last summer food stamps were renamed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.The average food stamp benefit is $115 a month for individuals and $255 a month per household.Enrollment for food stamps in December was up 2.2% from the previous month with increases in all but three states. Ohio had the largest increase among large states, up 3.4%, to 1.26 million people. Texas had the largest enrollment, 3.05 million, up 1.8%.The previous record for food stamp enrollment was 31.6 million last September, which included "disaster" stamps for states hit by hurricanes and floods.In April, food stamp benefits will increase temporarily by 13% under provisions of the recently enacted economic stimulus law. Ellen Vollenger of the Food Research and Action Center said some families will see increases of $80 a month.
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Obama's Radicalism Is Killing the Dow:"A financial crisis is the worst time to change the foundations of American capitalism"

It's hard not to see the continued sell-off on Wall Street and the growing fear on Main Street as a product, at least in part, of the realization that our new president's policies are designed to radically re-engineer the market-based U.S. economy, not just mitigate the recession and financial crisis.The illusion that Barack Obama will lead from the economic center has quickly come to an end. Instead of combining the best policies of past Democratic presidents -John Kennedy on taxes, Bill Clinton on welfare reform and a balanced budget, for instance-President Obama is returning to Jimmy Carter's higher taxes and Mr. Clinton's draconian defense drawdown.Mr. Obama's $3.6 trillion budget blueprint, by his own admission, redefines the role of government in our economy and society. The budget more than doubles the national debt held by the public, adding more to the debt than all previous presidents-from George Washington to George W. Bush-combined.It reduces defense spending to a level not sustained since the dangerous days before World War II, while increasing nondefense spending (relative to GDP) to the highest level in U.S. history. And it would raise taxes to historically high levels (again, relative to GDP). And all of this before addressing the impending explosion in Social Security and Medicare costs.To be fair, specific parts of the president's budget are admirable and deserve support: increased means-testing in agriculture and medical payments; permanent indexing of the alternative minimum tax and other tax reductions; recognizing the need for further financial rescue and likely losses thereon; and bringing spending into the budget that was previously in supplemental appropriations, such as funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.The specific problems, however, far outweigh the positives. First are the quite optimistic forecasts, despite the higher taxes and government micromanagement that will harm the economy. The budget projects a much shallower recession and stronger recovery than private forecasters or the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office are projecting. It implies a vast amount of additional spending and higher taxes, above and beyond even these record levels. For example, it calls for a down payment on universal health care, with the additional "resources" needed "TBD" (to be determined).
Picture by Michael Kozlowski
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PRO ABORTION OBAMA WATCH:Catholic hospitals may close under new federal abortion legislation

A proposed bill promising major changes in the U.S. abortion landscape has Roman Catholic bishops threatening to close Catholic hospitals if the Democratic Congress and White House make it law. The Freedom of Choice Act failed to get out of subcommittee in 2004, but its sponsor is poised to refile it now that former Senate co-sponsor Barack Obama occupies the Oval Office.A spokesman for Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said the legislation "is among the congressman's priorities. We expect to reintroduce it sooner rather than later."FOCA, as the bill is known, would make federal law out of the abortion protections established in 1973 by the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade ruling.The legislation has some Roman Catholic bishops threatening to shutter the country's 624 Catholic hospitals-including 11 in the Archdiocese of St. Louis-rather than comply.Speaking in Baltimore in November at the bishops' fall meeting, Bishop Thomas Paprocki, a Chicago auxiliary bishop, took up the issue of what to do with Catholic hospitals if FOCA became law."It would not be sufficient to withdraw our sponsorship or to sell them to someone who would perform abortions," he said."That would be a morally unacceptable cooperation in evil." But even within the Catholic community, there is disagreement about the effects FOCA might have on hospitals, with some health care professionals and bishops saying a strategy of ignoring the law, if it passes, would be more effective than closing hospitals.Ilan Kayatsky, Nadler's spokesman, said he anticipates that the bill's other original sponsor, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., will introduce FOCA in the U.S. Senate. "We expect it to be more or less the same bill with some minor tweaks," Kayatsky said.Boxer's office declined to comment...
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"Deception at Core of Obama Plans":Krauthammer

WASHINGTON-Forget the pork. Forget the waste. Forget the 8,570 earmarks in a bill supported by a president who poses as the scourge of earmarks. Forget the "$2 trillion dollars in savings" that "we have already identified," $1.6 trillion of which President Obama's budget director later admits is the "savings" of not continuing the surge in Iraq until 2019-11 years after George Bush ended it, and eight years after even Bush would have had us out of Iraq completely.Forget all of this. This is run-of-the-mill budget trickery.True,Obama's tricks come festooned with strings of zeros tacked onto the end. But that's a matter of scale, not principle.All presidents do that.But few undertake the kind of brazen deception at the heart of Obama's radically transformative economic plan, a rhetorical sleight of hand so smoothly offered that few noticed.The logic of Obama's address to Congress went like this:"Our economy did not fall into decline overnight," he averred. Indeed, it all began before the housing crisis. What did we do wrong? We are paying for past sins in three principal areas: energy, health care, and education-importing too much oil and not finding new sources of energy (as in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Outer Continental Shelf?), not reforming health care, and tolerating too many bad schools.The "day of reckoning" has now arrived. And because "it is only by understanding how we arrived at this moment that we'll be able to lift ourselves out of this predicament," Obama has come to redeem us with his far-seeing program of universal, heavily nationalized health care; a cap-and-trade tax on energy; and a major federalization of education with universal access to college as the goal.Amazing. As an explanation of our current economic difficulties, this is total fantasy. As a cure for rapidly growing joblessness, a massive destruction of wealth, a deepening worldwide recession, this is perhaps the greatest non sequitur ever foisted upon the American people.At the very center of our economic near-depression is a credit bubble, a housing collapse and a systemic failure of the entire banking system. One can come up with a host of causes: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pushed by Washington (and greed) into improvident loans, corrupted bond-ratings agencies, insufficient regulation of new and exotic debt instruments, the easy money policy of Alan Greenspan's Fed, irresponsible bankers pushing (and then unloading in packaged loan instruments) highly dubious mortgages, greedy house-flippers, deceitful homebuyers.
By Charles Krauthammer
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Obama rude to UK but wants to meet Queen?

A bit of regal glamour is quick to woo Barack Obama (Photo: PA)
President Obama has been rudeness personified towards Britain this week. His handling of the visit of the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, to Washington was appalling. First Brown wasn't granted a press conference with flags, then one was hastily arranged in the Oval office after the Brits had to beg. Obama looked like he would rather have been anywhere else than welcoming the British leader to his office and topped it all with his choice of present (*) for the PM. A box of 25 DVDS including ET, the Wizard of Oz and Star Wars? Oh, give me strength. We do have television and DVD stores on this side of the Atlantic. Even Gordon Brown will have seen those films too often already.This was coupled with Michelle Obama's casual choice of gifts for the Brown sons-matching models of the helicopter which ferry her husband around. While Sarah Brown had spent time choosing gifts for the Obama girls, Michelle had clearly sent an aide to the White House gift shop at the last moment.All in all, he doesn't think much of us, as I explained in my post here earlier this week.But what's this? Something, suddenly, seems to have made the Obama White House perk up and start to take an interest in the Brits. The Queen has invited the President to tea when he's here for the G20 in April. And he's in through the front door of Buckingham Palace faster than a Harley Davidson roaring along Route 66.Note how the coolness of Team Obama disappears when a bit of regal glamour is introduced into the equation. He might not like the Brits, but he can recognise a global superstar when he encounters one. He wants to be associated with her. He's shameless.(*) If Obama, or someone in his inner circle, had spent two minutes thinking about what present to get Brown then they could easily have come up with something appropriate. He likes books. He loves American history. Get him a signed first edition of a good Robert Dallek book such as the brilliant Flawed Giant on LBJ. Come to think of it, Obama should read it too, if he hasn't yet, as it reveals a great deal about how a Presidency can go so wrong.
Posted by Ian Martin

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"Lady Macbeth Michelle" behind snub to UK?

Michelle Obama's dress sense may be impeccable, but what of her politics? (Photo: Getty)
On US radio's Garrison show today, I was asked for my reaction as a true born Englishman to President Obama's double insult-first the sending back of the Winston Churchill bust, then his snub to Gordon Brown."Tough one. Really tough one,"I said,torn-as most of surely are-between delight at seeing Brown roundly humiliated, and dismay at having the special relationship so peremptorily, cruelly and bafflingly ruptured.Iain Martin is quite right here: no matter how utterly rubbish we have become as a nation in the Blair/Brown years,Britain's friendship is something Obama will come to regret having dispensed with so lightly. This was not the act of a global statesman, but of a hormonal teenager dismissing her bestest of best BFs for no other reason than that she felt like it and she can, so there.What was the guy thinking? In researching my new book Welcome to Obamaland, I discovered that Obama's judgment is pretty dreadful-but this?My favourite theory so far-suggested by presenter Greg Garrison-was that it was a move calculated to please his Lady Macbeth. At the moment in Britain, we're still in the "Doesn't she look fabulous in a designer frock" stage of understanding of Michelle Obama. Gradually, though, we'll begin to realise that she is every bit the terrifying executive's wife that Hillary Clinton was. Or, shudder, Cherie Blair.We may just LURVE Michelle's fashion sense. But Michelle doesn't reciprocate our affection, one bit. Her broad-brush view of history associates Brits with the wicked white global hegemony responsible for the slave trade. Never mind that a white,Tory Englishman-William Wilberforce-brought the slave trade to an end. Judging by her record, Michelle does not make room for such subtle nuance.Consider her notorious statement that:"For the first time in my adult life I am really proud of my country." Consider her (till-recently suppressed) Princeton thesis, "Princeton Educated Blacks And The Black Community."In it she writes: "I have found that at Princeton, no matter how liberal and open-minded some of my white professors and classmates try to be toward me,I sometimes feel like a visitor on campus; as if I really don't belong.Regardless of the circumstances underwhich I interact with whites at Princeton, it often seems as if, to them, I will always be black first and a student second."Here we see that she has mastered the authentic voice of grievance culture. She also - the thesis was written in 1985 - pre-empts the Macpherson report's ludicrous, catch-all definition of racism: "A racist incident is any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person." No matter how hard young Michelle's white undergraduate contemporaries try to be nice, it's not their behaviour that counts, but how Michelle feels.More worrying, though, and dangerous, than young Michelle's desperate quest for validation through victimhood is the other strain within her thesis. "As I enter my final year at Princeton," she writes."I find myself striving for many of the same goals as my White classmates - acceptance to a prestigious graduate or professional school or a high paying position in a successful corporation. Thus, my goals at Princeton are not as clear as before." "Yes, exactly, you silly girl" you want to shriek at young Michelle as you give her a good shake. "It's called 'opening your mind', 'broadening your experience', 'allowing youthful dogma to be shaped by reality.' It's why people go to university, don't you know?"
Posted By: James Delingpole
PS:You are either born with CLASS or...you're just plain CLASSLESS....I think the truth is pretty obvious here....MO and BHO are one of the sorriest President and first lady ever...I think she is even worse than Hellary...cause you feel all the time that she kinda wants to "get even" with "mean white America..."
Hope now MO--being the first lady and all--is REALLY PROUD OF HER COUNTRY....while we are once more made the laughing stock on the entire planet
As in the days of Noah...

Obama Doesn't Go Anywhere Without His Teleprompter

President Barack Obama doesn’t go anywhere without his TelePrompter.The textbook-sized panes of glass holding the president’s prepared remarks follow him wherever he speaks. Resting on top of a tall, narrow pole, they flank his podium during speeches in the White House’s stately parlors. They stood next to him on the floor of a manufacturing plant in Indiana as he pitched his economic stimulus plan. They traveled to the Department of Transportation this week and were in the Capitol Rotunda last month when he paid tribute to Abraham Lincoln in six-minute prepared remarks. Obama’s reliance on the teleprompter is unusual — not only because he is famous for his oratory, but because no other president has used one so consistently and at so many events, large and small. After the teleprompter malfunctioned a few times last summer and Obama delivered some less-than-soaring speeches, reports surfaced that he was training to wean himself off of the device while on vacation in Hawaii. But no such luck. His use of the teleprompter makes work tricky for the television crews and photographers trying to capture an image of the president announcing a new Cabinet secretary or housing plan without a pane of glass blocking his face. And it is a startling sight to see such sleek, modern technology set against the mahogany doors and Bohemian crystal chandeliers in the East Room or the marble columns of the Grand Foyer.“It’s just something presidents haven’t done,” said Martha Joynt Kumar, a presidential historian who has held court in the White House since December 1975. “It’s jarring to the eye. In a way, it stands in the middle between the audience and the president because his eye is on the teleprompter.” Just how much of a crutch the teleprompter has become for Obama was on sharp display during his latest commerce secretary announcement. The president spoke from a teleprompter in the ornate Indian Treaty Room for a few minutes.Then Gov. Gary Locke stepped to the podium and pulled out a piece of paper for reference.The president’s teleprompter also elicited some uncomfortable laughter after he announced Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as his choice for Health and Human Services secretary. “Kathy,” Obama said, turning the podium over to Sebelius, who waited at the microphone for an awkward few seconds while the teleprompters were lowered to the floor and the television cameras rolled. Obama has relied on a teleprompter through even the shortest announcements and when repeating the same lines on his economic stimulus plan that he's been saying for months — whereas past presidents have mostly worked off of notes on the podium except during major speeches, such as the State of the Union.

by Carol E Lee
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PS:Excellent piece by Carol Lee...!
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OBAMA'S STIMULUS UPDATE:"Trillion:It's Now the New Billion"

Trillion's the new billion.At least to the Obama administration, which last month unveiled its $3.6 trillion budget for next year-a number that easily keeps the federal deficit north of $1 trillion dollars.But a trillion is more than just a 1 followed by 12 zeroes. It's a thousand billions...a million millions...it's BIG.And, remember, we're talking about a trillion more than three times over!For a look at what $1 trillion dollars looks like, click here for the folks at pagetutor.com, who've put the entire number in eye-popping perspective. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/first100days/2009/03/06/trillion-new-billion/
PS:The page"pagetutor.com"has been suspended since FOX posted this article...But I think that we all have a pretty good idea on how a trillion looks like anyways....
As in the days of Noah...

Colonies of 'Cybots' May Defend Government Networks

The Cybot Age could soon be upon us.But be not afraid; this isn't Star Trek. We're not talking droves of evil cyborgs bent on galaxy domination. If all goes as planned, in just a few years colonies of software robots-"cybots"-linked into a "hive" mind could be defending the largest computer systems in America against network intruders. Researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory say the program behind the cybots-Ubiquitous Transient Autonomous Mission Entities (UNTAME)-will be very different from current cybersecurity systems.Joe Trien, who leads the team at the lab's Computational Sciences and Engineering Division, said what will make cybots so useful is that they will be able to form groups, function autonomously and respond almost immediately.Trien likened the UNTAME framework to the Borg, a fictitious race of cybernetic organisms in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" that assimilated other cultures throughout the galaxy."The difference between an agent-based system and UNTAME is that the cybots are designed to function on their own and they can regenerate," he said. "It works with other robots, and what it does is known by the collective. So when you lose a robot, the collective hasn't lost the information that robot was able to achieve up until the point it was killed."That's a quantum leap from current network "intelligent agents," which specialize in a single task and report to a central node or human administrator.Trien said there is little danger that cybots will organize and take over the world, stressing that the real-life "cyborg collective" would be bound by human directives. But he did acknowledge that there is a risk of malicious cybots running awry."There's always that risk, and that's why we’re hesitant right now," Trien said."If we don't put some boundaries on these cybots, they could turn against us. The potential is always there."UNTAME's new levels of speed and automation will likely prevent hackers from targeting one area of an network while using a diversion at another location.And that couldn't come a better time. Cyberattacks on government computer networks spiked 40 percent last year, according to US-CERT, the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team. President Obama is now making computer security a priority and is asking Congress for $355 million to make private and public cyber systems more secure, as part of his Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative....
By Joshua Rhett Miller
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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Kyrgyzstan says it's open to talks on US troops

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan-Kyrgyzstan is willing to negotiate a new deal allowing American troops to operate there despite its recent decision to shut a U.S. air base essential to the war in Afghanistan, the president's spokesman said Thursday.The Central Asian nation last month ordered the United States to vacate the Manas air base within six months.President Kurmanbek Bakiyev announced the closure shortly after Russia pledged $2.15 billion in aid and loans for impoverished former Soviet nation.Presidential spokesman Almaz Turdumamatov said the decision on Manas would not be changed but indicated that a separate arrangement allowing U.S. troops in the country could be negotiated."The decision on the base is final and by this year every last American soldier will have left the territory of Kyrgyzstan," he said."Notwithstanding, the doors for negotiation with the United States are open and we are prepared to consider a new agreement."Bakiyev's office also quoted him as saying that Kyrgyzstan is ready to provide a corridor for transit of non-lethal U.S. military supplies headed for nearby Afghanistan. Its neighbors Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan have also agreed to such transit.Kyrgyzstan does not border Afghanistan and is not the most direct route for U.S. supplies to Afghanistan by land via Russia and Central Asia. The transit corridor offer appeared to be an olive branch in the wake of the base closure decision, but it was unclear how much further Kyrgyzstan would be willing to go beyond that.The base is a transit point for 15,000 troops and 500 tons of cargo each month to and from Afghanistan. Bakiyev had complained that the United States ignored repeated demands for an increase on the $17.4 million paid in annual rent for the base. The move to revoke the basing agreement with the United States was later overwhelmingly backed by parliament and signed into law...
By LEILA SARALAYEVA, Associated Press Writer
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NATO to embrace Russia

Moscow and NATO are expected to resume formal ties this Thursday. Relations were suspended when Russia repelled Georgia's attack on South Ossetia last August.

NATO resumes ties with Russia, Moscow welcomes move

BRUSSELS-NATO foreign ministers agreed Thursday to resume high-level formal ties with Russia, suspended last year after Moscow's military thrust into Georgia.Russia immediately welcomed the move."This decision is a step in the right direction,"Russia's RIA news agency quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as saying.NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer announced the decision after Lithuania dropped its objections to work resuming within the NATO-Russia Council, the body that directs cooperation between the two sides on security issues."The ministers reached agreement to formally resume the NATO-Russia Council including at ministerial level...as soon as possible after the NATO April summit,"said de Hoop Scheffer.""Russia is a global player. Not talking to them is not an option," he added.Earlier U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, attending her first NATO summit, pressed for a fresh start to relations with Moscow.But she said the door to alliance membership must be kept open for ex-Soviet Georgia and Ukraine. Moscow strongly opposes their membership of the U.S.-led military alliance."We can and must find ways to work constructively with Russia where we share areas of common interest, including helping the people of Afghanistan,"said Clinton.The Bush administration led the suspension of formal dialogue in the joint council.Clinton is set to hold her first substantive talks with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva Friday and agreement on resuming ties will help the atmosphere in that encounter.The agreement of all 26 allies was needed and diplomats said Lithuania blocked a deal in a first round of talks on the issue.A senior U.S. official said the Baltic country had wanted more discussions at the April 3-4 NATO summit whereas others thought it was not a good idea to hold back despite doubts about Russia.Clinton and other allies emphasized that differences persisted with Russia, particularly over Georgia. But she said NATO had to find ways to "manage" these differences while also standing up for its principles when security or other interests were at stake."We should continue to open NATO's door to European countries such as Georgia and Ukraine and help them meet NATO standards," Clinton said.British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said that reviving formal NATO-Russia ties now was the way to deal directly with concerns.
(Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom; writing by David Brunnstrom and Sue Pleming; editing by Richard Balmforth)
By Sue Pleming and Ingrid Melander http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090305/pl_nm/us_nato_russia
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Ukraine Gas Giant Raided

Dozens of armed masked men have entered the headquarters of Ukraines national energy company Naftogaz in the capital Kiev.

New attempted raid on Ukraine gas offices

KIEV/MOSCOW-State security officials tried on Thursday to stage a raid for the second straight day on Ukraine's gas industry, heightening long-running tensions between the president and prime minister.A similar raid on Wednesday by armed SBU officers on the offices of national energy company Naftogaz as the firm was making arrangements to settle a critical bill for Russian gas revived feuding between President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin briefly waded into the dispute on Thursday by threatening a new cutoff of gas if Ukraine failed to pay.But within hours Moscow said Ukraine had settled the bill for February gas totaling $360 million. Naftogaz said it had paid 80 percent of it a day earlier before a Saturday deadline.The SBU reports to the president and Yushchenko backed the initial action by its forces as a lawful criminal investigation. Tymoshenko, once a close ally and now a rival of Yushchenko for the presidency, said it threatened Ukraine's legal system.A Naftogaz spokesman said SBU officials tried on Thursday to gain entry to Ukrtransgaz, the offices of the company overseeing Ukraine's pipelines. They later left after a confrontation with members of parliament who rushed to the scene.Putin, addressing his government, said failure by Ukraine to pay could prompt Gazprom to curtail supplies, as it did for three weeks in January, and again cut off customers in Europe."If as a result of law enforcement actions and arrests of a number of officials there will be no payment, it will lead to the stoppage of our energy deliveries to our customers in Ukraine as well as customer in Europe," Putin said. Ukraine is the main transit route for Russian gas exports to Europe, and a dispute over prices with Russia in January disrupted supplies to many countries at the height of winter.
European Union Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso later voiced concern over the Russian president's warning. EU countries have called for closer coordination between Kiev and Moscow to rule out any further cutoff of supplies.SBU spokeswoman Maryna Ostapenko had earlier said the two SBU operations were conducted as part of an investigation connected to "abuses in the gas sector."Tymoshenko, addressing her cabinet, said the security forces were out of control and acting at the president's behest."...The prosecutor's office is doing nothing because it has its own interests, the SBU is blatantly breaking the law and the president is covering up for them," she said."This is not merely a violation of the constitution, but in essence the destruction of the very foundation of the state's legal norms."Yushchenko's spokeswoman on Wednesday said the SBU's first raid on Naftogaz had acted within the law.Yushchenko has criticized the prime minister for her conduct in clinching a deal in January under which Ukraine is to pay far more for imported Russian gas.Tymoshenko initially said Wednesday's action by security forces was part of a row over the takeover by customs of 11 billion cubic meters of gas from RosUkrEnergo, an intermediary eliminated from the gas trade under the latest deal.On Wednesday, SBU officers in riot gear pushed their way into Naftogaz offices, conducting a search for what company officials said were the original copies of the January deal.Naftogaz said they left hours later without the documents. Ukraine's key industries and its currency have been battered by the financial crisis. Yushchenko and Tymoshenko briefly abandoned their antagonism this week to make a joint submission to the International Monetary Fund to keep intact a $16.4 billion loan program.
(Aditional reporting by Natalya Zinets and Mikhail Yelchev)
(Editing by Richard Balmforth)
By Ron Popeski and Aleksandras Budrys
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