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KN4M 02-21-08

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  • Robert Sterling
    Please send as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Robert Sterling Editor, The Konformist http://www.konformist.com
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 21, 2008
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      Please send as far and wide as possible.

      Robert Sterling
      Editor, The Konformist


      February 13, 2008
      Death of billionaire Georgian leader in London 'is suspicious'
      Tony Halpin in Moscow

      An exiled Georgian billionaire who claimed less than two months ago
      that he was the target of an assassination plot has been found dead
      in London.

      Police said that they were treating the death of Badri
      Patarkatsishvili, 52, as "suspicious". The businessman, who was
      Georgia's richest man and a close friend of the anti-Kremlin
      oligarch Boris Berezovsky, died of an apparent heart attack at his
      £10 million mansion in Leatherhead, Surrey, last night.

      "As with all unexpected deaths it is being treated as suspicious. A
      post-mortem examination will be held later today to establish the
      cause of death," a Surrey police spokeswoman said.

      Mr Patarkatsishvili, worth an estimated £6 billion, funded an
      opposition campaign against Georgia's pro-western leader Mikheil
      Saakashvili and stood against him in last month's presidential
      election. Georgia accused him of plotting a coup after airing a tape
      of him offering a $100 million bribe to a police chief to support
      opposition demonstrators.

      Mr Patarkatsishvili hired Lord Goldsmith, the former Attorney
      General, to represent him as Georgian authorities mounted
      investigations into his business interests in the former Soviet

      Mr Berezovsky said that his former business partner had complained
      about his heart when the pair met earlier on Tuesday, but had not
      been ill.

      Mr Patarkatsishvili lived in Russia between 1993 and 2001. He was
      wanted by Russian authorities on charges of theft from the country's
      largest car factory AvtoVAZ in the 1990s, which he ran with Mr

      He was also accused of plotting to arrange the escape from custody
      in 2001 of Nikolai Glushkov, deputy director of Aeroflot, Russia's
      national airline, who had been accused of fraud.

      The man charged with breaking out Mr Glushkov was Andrei Lugovoy,
      who was arrested and jailed after the attempt failed. Mr Lugovoy is
      wanted by the British Crown Prosecution Service for the murder of
      Alexander Litvinenko, the dissident former Russian spy poisoned in
      London with radioactive polonium-210 in 2006.

      Mr Lugovoy was responsible for protecting Mr Patarkatsishvili and Mr
      Berezovsky at the time as head of security at the Russian TV channel
      ORT, which the two men controlled.

      Mr Patarkatsishvili remained good friends with Mr Lugovoy, a former
      KGB officer who is now a member of Russia's Parliament. The pair
      were seen socialising together in the Georgian capital Tbilisi
      shortly before Mr Litvinenko was poisoned.

      Mr Litvinenko also had links with the Georgian businessman. Sources
      in Tbilisi have told The Times that he stayed at Mr Patarkatshvili's
      residence in Georgia en route to Turkey when he fled Russia to seek
      asylum in London in 2000.

      Russian prosecutors claim that Mr Litvinenko also visited Mr
      Patarkatsishvili as well as Mr Berezovsky in London shortly before
      he was poisoned. They accuse Mr Berezovsky of involvement in the
      murder of the former Federal Security Service (FSB) agent as part of
      a plot to damage President Putin's international image.

      Georgia's former Defence Minister, Irakli Okruashvili, accused Mr
      Saakashvili of encouraging him to kill Mr Patarkatsishvili in 2005,
      although he later retracted the claim.

      The tycoon helped to finance the "Rose Revolution" that swept Mr
      Saakashvili to power in Georgia in 2003. But the two men later fell
      out and he accused the president of turning into a dictator.

      When Georgian police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse
      opposition street protests in November, special forces troops also
      stormed the studios of Imedi TV and forced it to shut down. Mr
      Patarkatsishvili founded the station and News Corporation, which
      also owns The Times, was managing it at the time of the incident.



      Homes in Bubble Regions Remain Wildly Overvalued
      February 12, 2008

      If you own a home in a former bubble region like California or
      southern Florida, there's bad news… and really bad news.

      And they suggest that it is still way too early to go bargain
      hunting in these markets, although -- of course -- there is always
      the occasional deal around.

      The bad news is fresh market data published Monday night by real-
      estate Web site Zillow.com. They show prices, as expected, kept
      slumping through the end of last year.

      A new report from Zillow.com shows home values dropped nationwide by
      3%. Chief Financial Officer Spencer Rascoff discusses which cities
      saw the largest declines.
      But the really bad news is that, even after a year of misery and
      falling prices, homes in many of these regions still aren't cheap.
      They remain wildly overvalued compared to average personal incomes.

      There is a strong long-term correlation between the two figures. And
      in many regions, house prices would still have to fall a very long
      way to get back into line.

      How far?

      Try around a third in Florida and Arizona -- and closer to 40% in

      Yes, from here. The long-term chart for California is shown below.

      Even if house prices stabilized, it would take a decade or more for
      rising incomes to catch up.

      The data on median house prices and per capita personal income in
      these states have been tracked by Karl Case, economics professor at
      Wellesley College. (He is one half of the duo behind the closely-
      watched Case-Schiller real estate index).

      Professor Case's numbers ran through the end of the third quarter.
      I decided to see how they might look today, using Zillow's data for
      the fourth quarter.

      The company hasn't posted statewide data, but the price falls across
      the many cities it tracks give a pretty strong picture. From these I
      assumed, for the sake of calculations, that California prices fell
      8% last quarter from the third quarter, a huge number by historic
      measures but not out of line with Zillow's data. For Florida and
      Arizona I assumed declines of 5% and 5.5%. You could use other, more
      modest estimates for the recent declines: They won't change the
      outcomes much. I also assumed personal incomes in these states rose
      in line with recent and historic averages."

      The results? In all three markets, the prices are well off their
      peaks when compared to incomes. But they remain far above historic

      Median prices in California peaked in 2006 at 13.3 times per capita
      incomes. Hard to believe, but true. They may be down now to about
      11.1 times.

      But that's still way above the ground. Throughout most of the 80s
      and 90s they ranged between six and seven times incomes.

      Just to get down to seven times incomes, prices would have to fall
      37% tomorrow.

      Those who bought at the peak of the cycle may be pinning their hopes
      instead on "incomes catching up" instead. But they had better be
      patient. Even if house prices stayed exactly where they are, it
      would take around 10 years for rising incomes to bring the ratios
      back into any sort of alignment.

      And it would take even longer before prices started to look very
      cheap again.

      That's based on average personal income growth of 4.6% a year in
      California and Florida and 4.2% in Arizona.

      Yes, these are projections and estimates. Time and chance will play
      their usual roles. And there will doubtless be different pictures
      within regions of the same state.

      Nonetheless the overall picture is pretty clear. And, if you are a
      homeowner in any of these regions, none too appealing.

      Write to Brett Arends at brett.arends@...



      Daily Kos: CIA Engineered Controlled Opposition?
      Thursday August 09th 2007

      Is it possible Markos Alberto Moulitsas Zúñiga, leader of
      the "Kossaks," that is to say followers and fawners of the Daily
      Kos, is a CIA operative? Francis Holland, posting on the My Left
      Wing messageboard, details Moulitsas' relationship with the CIA:

      "Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, owner of the DailyKos website, now admits
      that he spent six months in the employ of the US Central
      Intelligence Agency in 2001," writes Holland. "In a one-hour
      interview on June 2, 2006 at the Commonwealth Club, Moulitsas, also
      known as `Kos,' admitted that he was a CIA employee and would
      have `no problem working for them' in the present."

      "I applied to the CIA and I went all the way to the end, I mean it
      was to the point where I was going to sign papers to become
      Clandestine Services," Moulitsas admits in the interview. "And it
      was at that point that the Howard Dean campaign took off and I had
      to make a decision whether I was gonna kinda join the Howard Dean
      campaign, that whole process, or was I was going to become a spy.
      (Laughter in the audience.) It was going to be a tough decision at
      first, but then the CIA insisted that if, if I joined that, they'd
      want me to do the first duty assignment in Washington, DC, and I
      hate Washington, DC. Six years in Washington, DC that makes the
      decision a lot easier."

      Moulitsas considers the CIA "a very liberal institution," never mind
      the agency, according to John Stockwell, former CIA Station Chief in
      Angola (see my John Stockwell: The Third World War video), is
      responsible for killing more than six million people.

      This is a very liberal institution. And in a lot of ways, it really
      does attract people who want to make a better, you know, want to
      make the world a better place…. Of course, they've got their Dirty
      Ops and this and that, right but as an institution itself the CIA is
      really interested in stable world. That's what they're interested
      in. And stable worlds aren't created by destabilizing regimes and
      creating wars…. I don't think it's a very partisan thing to want a
      stable world. And even if you're protecting American interests, I
      mean that can get ugly at times, but generally speaking I think
      their hearts in the right place. As an organization their heart is
      in the right place. I've never had any problem with the CIA. I'd
      have no problem working for them

      Is it possible Mr. Moulitsas does not have a problem with the
      documented fact the CIA's predecessor, the Overseas Secret Service,
      imported Nazis to work for the soon to be created CIA under General
      Reinhard Gehlen? "Gehlen was far from the only Nazi war criminal
      employed by the CIA. Others included Klaus Barbie ('the Butcher of
      Lyon'), Otto von Bolschwing (the Holocaust mastermind who worked
      closely with Eichmann) and, SS Colonel Otto Skorzeny (a great
      favorite of Hitler's)," writes Mark Zepezauer (The CIA's Greatest
      Hits, Odonian Press, 1994). "There's even evidence that Martin
      Bormann, Hitler's second-in-command at the end of the war, faked his
      own death and escaped to Latin America, where he worked with CIA-
      linked groups.

      Or that the CIA financed the P-2 Masonic lodge, connected with the
      Vatican and the Mafia, and enthusiastically supported Operation
      Gladio, the "strategy of tension" terrorist "stay behind army"
      effort in Europe, responsible of train station bombings and
      assassinations, run by former SS Nazis? Is it possible Mr. Moulitsas
      supports the CIA effort to create shell banks such as the Bank of
      Credit and Commerce International, accurately characterized by
      former CIA director and current Sec. Def. Robert Gates as "the Bank
      of Crooks and Criminals International"? Does Moulitsas support the
      idea of MK-ULTRA, a program designed to test "radiation, electric
      shocks, electrode implants, microwaves, ultrasound and a wide range
      of drugs on unwitting subjects, including hundreds of prisoners at
      California's infamous Vacaville State Prison," as Zepezauer notes?
      Or what about the CIA getting into the heroin business with the
      Corsican Mafia, paving the way for highly profitable drug
      importation operations in Central America and Afghanistan, money
      used not only to enrich the "investment" (in death and misery)
      bankers but also used for the CIA's black budget? How liberal is it
      to engage in assassination, genocide, and plotting the overthrow of
      governments in Iran, Guatemala, Indonesia (where more than 500,000
      people were put to death, many of them due to CIA drafted "death
      lists"), and dozens of other countries?

      Of course, the CIA long ago penetrated the "liberal" as well as
      the "conservative" corporate media in America. "Among the executives
      who lent their cooperation to the Agency were William Paley of the
      Columbia Broadcasting System, Henry Luce of Time Inc., Arthur Hays
      Sulzberger of the New York Times, Barry Bingham Sr. of the
      Louisville Courier-Journal and James Copley of the Copley News
      Service. Other organizations which cooperated with the CIA include
      the American Broadcasting Company, the National Broadcasting
      Company, the Associated Press, United Press International, Reuters,
      Hearst Newspapers, Scripps-Howard, Newsweek magazine, the Mutual
      Broadcasting System, The Miami Herald, and the old Saturday Evening
      Post and New York Herald-Tribune. By far the most valuable of these
      associations, according to CIA officials, have been with The New
      York Times, CBS, and Time Inc.," writes Watergate journalist Carl
      Bernstein (Rolling Stone, Oct. 20, 1977). "From the Agency's
      perspective, there is nothing untoward in such relationships, and
      any ethical questions are a matter for the journalistic profession
      to resolve, not the intelligence community."

      Indeed, it would appear Markos Moulitsas finds nothing "untoward in
      such relationships," if we are to believe his above quoted comments.

      Finally, Moulitsas' relationship with the CIA makes perfect sense,
      as Daily Kos appears to be yet another political front operation
      tasked with cracking the whip over "progressive" Democrats and
      marching them off to support the Bilderberger Queen Hillary Clinton
      and her probable running mate, Barack Obama, both on record as
      supporting the neocon plan to reduce the Muslim world to a
      smoldering wasteland, albeit with stylistic policy changes. It is no
      secret the CIA has long stage managed the controlled opposition and
      Moulitsas' admitted relationship with the agency should be
      considered a coup de grâce, an effort designed to reduce
      the "progressive" Democrat opposition to the invasion and occupation
      of Iraq and the impending attack to be leveled against Iran as
      little more than an empty and absurd rhetorical slogan.



      February 14th, 2008
      House holds Bush confidants in contempt
      By Julie Hirschfeld Davis / Associated Press

      WASHINGTON - The House voted Thursday to hold two of President
      Bush's confidants in contempt for failing to cooperate with an
      inquiry into whether a purge of federal prosecutors was politically

      Angry Republicans boycotted the vote and staged a walkout.

      The vote was 223-32 to hold presidential chief of staff Josh Bolten
      and former White House counsel Harriet Miers in contempt. The
      citations charge Miers with failing to testify and accuse her and
      Bolten of refusing Congress' demands for documents related to the
      2006-2007 firings.

      Republicans said Democrats should instead be working on extending a
      law — set to expire Saturday — allowing the government to eavesdrop
      on phone calls and e-mails in the United States in cases of
      suspected terrorist activity.

      "We have space on the calendar today for a politically charged
      fishing expedition, but no space for a bill that would protect the
      American people from terrorists who want to kill us," said Rep. John
      A. Boehner, R-Ohio, the minority leader.

      "Let's just get up and leave," he told his colleagues, before
      storming out of the House chamber with scores of Republicans in tow.

      The White House said the Justice Department would not ask the U.S.
      attorney to pursue the House contempt charges. However, the measure
      would allow the House to bring its own lawsuit on the matter.

      It is the first time in 25 years that a full chamber of Congress has
      voted on a contempt of Congress citation.

      The action, which Democrats had been threatening for months, was the
      latest wrinkle in a more than yearlong constitutional clash between
      Congress and the White House.

      The administration has said the information being sought is off-
      limits under executive privilege, and argues that Bolten and Miers
      are immune from prosecution.

      Democrats said they were acting to protect Congress' constitutional

      If Congress didn't enforce the subpoenas, said Rep. Steny Hoyer of
      Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat, it would "be giving its tacit consent
      to the dangerous idea of an imperial presidency, above the law and
      beyond the reach of checks and balances."

      Republicans argued that there had been no evidence of wrongdoing in
      the prosecutors flap, and called the vote a waste of time that would
      actually damage Congress' standing.

      "We don't have evidence that we can give to the U.S. attorney. What
      we're giving to him is the desire to continue a witch hunt which has
      produced up to today zero — nothing," said Rep. Chris Cannon, R-

      Under former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Justice Department
      officials consulted with the White House, fired at least nine
      federal prosecutors and kindled a political furor over a hiring
      process that favored Republican loyalists.

      Bush's former top political adviser, Karl Rove, has also been a
      target of Congress' investigation into the purge of prosecutors,
      although Thursday's measure was not aimed at him.

      Fred Fielding, the current White House counsel, has offered to make
      officials and documents available behind closed doors to the
      congressional committees probing the matter — but off the record and
      not under oath. Lawmakers demanded a transcript of testimony and the
      negotiations stalled.

      The White House blasted Democrats for scheduling action on the
      contempt measures instead of moving to extend the eavesdropping law.

      "The American people will find it baffling that on a day that House
      leaders are trying to put off passing critical legislation to keep
      us safer from the threat of foreign terrorists overseas, they are
      spending scarce time to become the first Congress in history to
      bring contempt charges against a president's chief of staff and
      lawyer," said Dana Perino, the White House spokeswoman.

      The contempt debate sparked an unusually bitter scene even in the
      fractious House. Democrats accused Republicans of marring the
      Capitol memorial for their fallen colleague Rep. Tom Lantos, D-
      Calif., by interrupting it with a protest vote. GOP leaders shot
      back that it was Democrats who were responsible for dishonoring
      Lantos, by calling the House into session for the contempt debate
      before the service had ended.

      It's not clear that contempt of Congress citations must be
      prosecuted. The law says the U.S. attorney "shall" bring the matter
      to a grand jury.

      The House voted 259-105 in 1982 for a contempt citation against EPA
      Administrator Anne Gorsuch, but the Reagan-era Justice Department
      refused to prosecute the case.

      The Justice Department also sued the House of Representatives in
      that case, but the court threw out the suit and urged negotiation.
      The Reagan administration eventually agreed to turn over the

      The last time a full chamber of Congress voted on a contempt of
      Congress citation was 1983. The House voted 413-0 to cite former
      Environmental Protection Agency official Rita Lavelle for contempt
      of Congress for refusing to appear before a House committee. Lavelle
      was later acquitted in court of the contempt charge, but she was
      convicted of perjury in a separate trial.

      On Thursday, three Republicans joined 220 Democrats to support the
      contempt resolution, including Rep. Walter B. Jones of North
      Carolina, presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and Rep.
      Wayne T. Gilchrest of Maryland, who was defeated this week in a
      primary. One Republican, Rep. Jon Porter of Nevada, voted "present."



      Castro resigns as president, state-run paper reports
      Fidel Castro announces resignation as Cuban president, commander in
      Castro ceded power to brother Raul Castro in July 2006 after
      intestinal surgery
      Castro's reign started in 1959, outlasted nine U.S. presidents

      HAVANA, Cuba (CNN) -- Fidel Castro announced his resignation as
      president of Cuba and commander-in-chief of Cuba's military on
      Tuesday, according to a letter published in the state-run newspaper,

      Castro, 81, temporarily handed power to his younger brother Raul
      Castro in July 2006 after undergoing intestinal surgery. He hasn't
      been seen in public since his surgery, but he has appeared in
      numerous videos and photos in state media.

      The announcement of Castro's resignation appeared just before 3 a.m.
      on the Web site of the state-run newspaper.

      The news is likely to send shock waves across the island and through
      the tens of thousands of Cuban exiles who have sought refugee in the
      United States.

      In December 2007, a Cuban television news anchor read a letter
      reportedly written by Fidel Castro promising he would not "cling to
      office" or be an impediment to rising young leaders.

      Castro took power in Cuba in 1959 and has ruled the island nation
      ever since, governing the first communist nation in the Western

      Fidel Castro captured the world's attention and imagination at 32
      when the bearded revolutionary led a band of guerillas that
      overthrew a corrupt dictatorship -- and then became an irritating
      thorn in Washington's paw by embracing communism and cozying up to
      the Soviet Union.

      For the next 47 years, Castro reigned in Havana with an iron hand,
      outlasting nine American presidents and defying a punishing U.S.
      economic embargo designed to dislodge him.

      Raul Castro is generally seen as more pragmatic and less inclined to
      deliver the kind of long-winded speeches for which his brother is

      Ordinary Cubans have wondered whether a permanent change in power in
      Cuba will lead to lower food prices, higher salaries and more
      freedom to travel.
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