Monthly Archives: May 2008

CIA Protecting Al-Qaeda

CIA Protects Al-Qaeda Group From Extradition
Published on Friday, May 23, 2008.
Source: Prison Planet – Paul Joseph Watson

The CIA is protecting an Al-Qaeda linked terror group formerly headed by the alleged mastermind of 9/11 from being extradited to Iran according to an ABC News report, which also reveals that U.S. intelligence has been meeting and advising the group that has been blamed for bombings in Iran.
As the London Telegraph reported last year, “The CIA is giving arms-length support, supplying money and weapons, to an Iranian militant group, Jundullah, which has conducted raids into Iran from bases in Pakistan.”
Jundullah is a Sunni Al-Qaeda offshoot terrorist group formerly headed by the alleged mastermind of 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, reported the Asia Times in 2004.
The group also produces propaganda tapes and literature for al-Qaeda’s media wing, As-Sahab, which is in turn closely affiliated with the military-industrial complex front IntelCenter, the group that makes available Al-Qaeda videos to the western media.
IntelCenter was caught last year adding their logo to alleged Al-Qaeda tapes at the same time as the Al-Qaeda media brand, stoking suspicions that the Pentagon affiliated IntelCenter was directly releasing fake Al-Qaeda videos.
Jundullah has been blamed for a number of bombings inside Iran aimed at destabilizing Ahmadinejad’s government and is also active in Pakistan, having been fingered for its involvement in attacks on police stations and car bombings at the Pakistan-US Cultural Center in 2004.
“In another sign of growing tensions with the United States, Pakistan is threatening to turn over to Iran six members of a tribal militant group Iran claims are “spies” for the CIA,” reports ABC News.
“The group, Jundullah, operates in Baluchistan on both sides of the border between Iran and Pakistan and has carried out a number of violent attacks on Iranian army facilities and officers inside the country.”
“The CIA has denied any direct ties with the group, but U.S. officials tell ABC News U.S. intelligence officers frequently meet and advise Jundullah leaders, and current and former intelligence officers are working to prevent the men from being sent to Iran.”
The fact that the highest echelons of the U.S. intelligence apparatus are meeting, advising and funding Sunni Al-Qaeda groups as a means of facilitating terrorist bombings and regime change in Iran completely invalidates the “war on terror” as a fabled fraud and renders ludicrous Bush administration rhetoric about fighting Al-Qaeda cells in Iraq.
Neo-Cons drooling at the prospect of an invasion of Iran have hardly been shy about their support of terror attacks aimed against Iran by means of Jundullah, MEK and other groups listed as terror organizations by the State Department.
Ret. Gen. Thomas McInerney, who was part of the Pentagon’s “message force multipliers” propaganda program, recently called for the Bush administration to commit acts of terror in Iran on Fox News.
In November 2007, Fox and Friends host Brian Kilmeade openly called for US support for acts of terrorism, such as car bombings, in Tehran. Colonel David Hunt, who has over 29 years of military experience including extensive operational experience in Special Operations, Counter Terrorism and Intelligence Operations, agreed with Kilmeade, stating “absolutely” in response to Kilmead’s question about whether cars should start blowing up in Tehran.

Last weekend, the Iranian Intelligence Ministry busted a CIA-backed terror group that was planning to bomb scientific, educational, and religious centers, and carry out assassinations in Iran, according to a report in the Tehran Times.

Pennsylvania Turnpike On Verge Of 75 Year Lease To Spanish Toll Road Operator


Steve Watson
Infowars.net
Tues
day, May 20, 2008

$12.8 billion offer may say another piece of U.S. sold off to foreign investors

The Pennsylvania Turnpike may soon be more aptly referred to as the Barcelona Turnpike if a $12.8 billion proposal by a Spanish toll road operator is approved by the Pennsylvania Legislature.

Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell made the announcement yesterday that Abertis Infraestructuras, of Barcelona won the right to operate the turnpike on a 75-year lease.

In making the largest bid ever for the private operation of a U.S. toll road, Abertis partnered with a subsidiary of U.S. investment bank Citigroup, and Spanish investment firm Criteria CaixaCorp, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The next-highest bid was $12.1 billion by New York’s Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Transurban Group, Australia’s second-largest toll-road operator.

“This bid will allow us to increase spending on roads, bridges and transit above what is in the current plan, Act 44, which includes plans to tolls I-80,” Rendell said at a press conference in Harrisburg. “This is a very good deal.”

If the deal goes ahead, the Abertis/Citi consortium would also secure the right to raise tolls 25 percent next year and 2.5 percent or the rate of inflation every consecutive year. This would translate as an increase from $22.75 to travel 358 miles on the turnpike now, to at least $36.40 within a decade.

This is not the first time Rendell has attempted to lease the 537-mile (864-kilometer) turnpike. Last year saw a move to instigate a lease deal before the plans were eventually scuppered due to opposition from the Legislature. In response, Rendell signed into law Act 44, and began the much maligned “I-80 Project” which allowed the state to establish tolls on the 311-mile I-80. The I-80 Project, which has not yet gained federal approval, is expected to be scrapped should the Turnpike deal go ahead.

Legislative approval for the deal is expected to take months and much opposition from lawmakers is anticipated.

http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js (Article continues below) In recent years the Bush administration has overseen a policy of selling off key U.S. infrastructure to the highest bidder – in most cases foreign owned corporations. Virginia’s Pocahontas Parkway and a Texas toll road from Austin to Sequin are just two of the roads to have been siphoned off to foreign companies who will all enjoy billions in profits from American citizens forced to pay the tolls, while others will be thrown off their land and have their property revoked without just compensation following the trend of recent eminent domain rulings.

2004 saw the management of the Chicago Skyway, a stretch of elevated road connecting I-90 and I-94, granted to Cintra, another Spanish operation that outbid Abertis at $1.83 billion. Abertis lost out to Cintra again when the Indiana Toll Road was taken over in 2006 for $3.85 billion.

Cintra, which in turn is owned by the King of Spain Juan Carlos, now has leases to operate the two roads for 99 and 75 years respectively. Cintra and it’s partner Macquarie lost out on the Pennsylvania Turnpike as it registered a bid of just $8.1 billion.

Cintra/Macquarie also owns the contract for The Texas Department of Transportation’s Trans Texas Corridor superhighway, a key link in the proposed internationalization of America’s highway systems into a NAFTA Super Highway that many, including U.S. representatives, have warned would facilitate a move towards a North American Union.

Last year Macquarie agreed to buy dozens of newspapers in Texas and Oklahoma that had been harsh critics of the Trans Texas Corridor and were shedding light on the wider NAFTA highway agenda.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike is a key part of the infrastructure of the proposed Atlantic Corridor, one of four transport channels being promoted by coalitions of interest under the NAFTA umbrella.

The leases for these roads are being made possible through “public-private partnerships” (PPP’s), now under the stewardship of the secretive Security and Prosperity Partnership, which operates without Congressional oversight.

Essentially Government-sanctioned monopolies, PPP’s are contracts between public agencies and private entities that enable private sector participation in public amenities such as roads, highways, transit routes, airports, pipelines, railways and train stations, river canal systems and port facilities, telecommunications networks and teleports.

The PPP’s will seemingly expand to whatever the public owns – waste management, public parking facilities, even lotteries and sports stadiums. The USA is literally up for sale.

Former World Bank economist and Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, has stated that the process of foreign corporations buying up U.S. infrastructure is part of the globalization endgame, where the America literally goes into receivership to other countries.

Plan To Jail Property Owners In Canton Ohio For Tall Grass Sparks Outrage

Plan To Jail Property Owners In Canton Ohio For Tall Grass Sparks Worldwide Flurry On Web

UPDATE:
11:56 AM, Wednesday, May 21, 2008
BY ED BALINT
REPOSITORY STAFF WRITER

HIGH GRASS Artie Timberlake of the Canton Street Department mows grass at 717 Sylvan Ct. NE on Tuesday. Repeat violators of Canton’s high-grass law would face jail time if a proposed amendment passes. Council is expected to vote on the legislation Monday.
REPOSITORY BOB ROSSITER

CANTON The city of Canton has been compared to communists, fascists and terrorists in response to a proposed law that sends repeat violators of the city’s high-grass law to jail.

The legislation has drawn the ire and scorn of people as far away as Tulsa, New Orleans, North Carolina, and Sydney, Australia. A Repository story in Tuesday’s edition about the plan generated heavy traffic on the newspaper’s Web site and triggered scores of e-mail from people outside the area who say it’s a blatant example of over-reaching and liberty-infringing government.

One e-mail was titled: “Sounds like Russia to me.” Another reader was equally harsh, asking, “Where do they find these Hitlerian morons? 30 days in jail? Something has gone very wrong in this country. What a joke!”

“Putting people in jail for tall grass sounds like an act of terrorism to me,” wrote an attorney from Louisiana.

City Council is expected to vote Monday on a proposed amendment to make a second violation of the city’s weed and high grass law, a fourth-degree misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $250 and up to 30 days in jail. Existing city law already makes a first-time violation a minor misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $150 and no jail time. The existing law — and the proposed amendment — also apply to litter on the lots.

CITY RESPONDS

City officials say they would rather not bother with mowing high grass, because it sucks up time and taxpayer money. But severely overgrown lots — with grass and weeds ranging from around 12 inches to sometimes 4 feet high — drag down city neighborhoods, said Mark Adams, director of environmental health for the city health department.

“We’re not after a home in which grandpa had a heart attack and the grass is a little too tall,” Law Director Joseph Martuccio said. “This (proposed law is) designed to deter repeat offenders, those who have already been given due process by the city and the bill, and then have subsequently been convicted by a court of law the first time on a minor misdemeanor.”

“We’re driven by complaints from the neighbors to get these neighborhoods cleaned up,” said Councilman Greg Hawk, D-1, a strong proponent of the legislation. “The good neighbors who live next to these vacant lots … mow their yards (and) they don’t want to live next to houses where the grass and weeds are knee-high.”

At a council committee meeting Monday night, Martuccio said it may be unlikely that a judge would sentence a repeat high grass violator to jail, unless the judge wants to set an example to deter other violators.

E-MAIL FIRESTORM

Helping drive the avalanche of responses was the posting of the newspaper story on various Web sites, most notably the popular Drudge Report, which wrote its own headline on the article: “City vows to jail people who don’t mow lawns.”

A reader e-mailed this warning: “Small laws are pieced together into huge tyrannies.” At least 40 e-mails streamed in, including one praising Canton: “What a great idea! How about we make this a national law! I wish Broken Arrow and Tulsa, (Okla.) had this same attitude towards property neglect.”

‘Deplorable condition’

The city’s intent is not to patrol city streets and measure yards with rulers to check if grass exceeds the city’s existing 8-inch limit, said Service Director Thomas Bernabei. “It’s grass which is extraordinarily noticeable,” he said — “A foot or two longer than the average lot,” with many lots in “deplorable condition.”

Martuccio agreed. “This is definitely for repeat offenders who pose a safety threat to their neighbors by having the potential for rodents or hidden cans, for example, that a child might fall on and get cut while they’re playing.”

Increasing the potential punishment is also designed to cut the city’s grass-cutting costs on noncity lots, Martuccio said. Hawk said the money would be better spent on hiring police officers and firefighters.

The average overgrown lot costs the property owner $100 per mowing, including labor and equipment costs and a $35 administrative fee, said Kevin Monroe, street superintendent.

VACANT LOTS

Reinforcing the existing law is focused on vacant lots and lots with abandoned houses, Bernabei said. The city cuts about 2,000 noncity-owned lots a year deemed to have excessively high grass, many “way over” 12 inches in height, said Adams of the Health Department. A handful of those lots have owner-occupied homes, he estimated. Twelve of the lot owners are dead. The owners of about 1,100 of the lots have city mailing addresses, Adams said, and about 1,500 are owned by individuals. Banks and corporations own some lots.

Violation notices and bills sent in the mail often get ignored, according to city officials. Tax liens also are filed, Hawk said. The city is considering seeking court judgments to collect the money, he said.

As for Canton being compared to Russia, Adams replied, “If you think this is Russia, don’t bother coming into Canton, don’t bother coming into a city (with people) who want to live in a sensible and reasonable community.”

Reach Repository writer Ed Balint at (330) 580-8315 or e-mail:

We Are Change Ohio Questioning Oliver North Had Video Footage Seized


By Jessie Halladay • <!– var prefix = 'ma' + 'il' + 'to'; var path = 'hr' + 'ef' + '='; var addy22643 = 'jhalladay' + '@'; addy22643 = addy22643 + 'courier-journal' + '.' + 'com'; var addy_text22643 = 'jhalladay' + '@' + 'courier-journal' + '.' + 'com'; document.write( '‘ ); document.write( addy_text22643 ); document.write( ” ); //–>\n jhalladay@courier-journal.com <!– document.write( '‘ ); //–> This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it <!– document.write( '’ ); //–> • May 23, 2008

Members of a group called We Are Change had video footage seized after a scuffle at the National Rifle Association meeting Sunday.

Four members of the group, all of whom had media credentials, were asked to leave the Kentucky Exposition Center after asking Oliver North questions after his presentation.

Cody Deitz, a member of the group, said he was ordered to turn over memory cards from the equipment they were using or risk being arrested.

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“It is our policy to remove anyone who becomes disruptive, whether they are media or not,” Arulanandam said.

Several off-duty police officers working security for the event escorted the four men, including Deitz, from the property.

Three of the officers are employed by Louisville Metro Corrections, said Tom Campbell, corrections director. They were not on duty at the time and their names were not released. A written report on the incident was not available yesterday, but Campbell said it began when members of We Are Change were asked to stop taping at the North event and refused.

“Our officers were asked to escort them off the property,” Campbell said.

At some point during the incident, Campbell said, his officers were asked by either NRA security staff or North’s security team to confiscate the video footage for their review. Campbell said his officers complied.

Arulanandam said, however, at no time did anyone with the NRA ask for the video footage.

“No one from the NRA requested that their footage be seized,” Arulanandam said. “And when we found out, we asked for the footage to be returned.”

Deitz tells a different story.

He said his crew politely asked their questions of North, including one about the Iran-contra affair, a political scandal in the mid-1980s in which the United States secretly sold weapons to Iran and sent some of the proceeds to rebel groups in Nicaragua. As the We Are Change people were leaving, Deitz said they were accosted by a security team.

“They just threatened us with everything,” he said.

Deitz said his group, which has chapters throughout the country, is trying to question government corruption. Their Web site indicates they have been calling for further investigation into what happened in the Sept. 11 attacks.

“We’re out there trying to show the corruption and the evils our government is involved in,” Deitz said.

For the past several days, Deitz said, he has been trying to get the video footage back. He said four memory cards and several batteries were taken.

After the incident, the corrections officers turned over the footage to an Audubon Park Police Department officer who also was working off-duty, said Sgt. Keith Ferriell of the Audubon Park police.

That officer was told that the NRA security wanted to review the footage, but they never did, Ferriell said. He did not name the officer.

The Audubon Park officer logged the footage into the property room at police headquarters, where it has remained, Ferriell said.

Yesterday, Ferriell said he consulted with metro corrections and was told that no criminal charges were going to be filed against Deitz or the other men so the footage could be returned.

Ferriell said a letter will be sent to We Are Change telling them how to can get their property back.

Reporter Jessie Halladay can be reached at (502) 582-4081.

WeAreChange Assaulted by Police in Louisville

source: wearechangeohio.com

Members of WeAreChange were physically removed from the Louisville Exposition Center on Sunday after confronting Iran Contra figure Oliver North. Members questioned North on his involvement with Continuity of Government, the need for a new 9/11 investigation and concentration camps in America.

Lt. Colonel Oliver North, a FOX News host, was confronted by a combination of activists from WeAreChange Ohio and Kentuckiana Change. Cody Deeds stood up during a question and answer session and asked North to explain exactly what the Continuity of Government was, at which point North went into his involvement with REX 84 during the Reagan Administration. North explained that at the time it was a plan to continue the government in the event of a Soviet attack. As a follow-up question, Deeds asked, “Given the knowledge of secondary devices in [World Trade Center] building 7, would you support a new investigation of 9/11.” North initially scoffed at the notion of government involvement, but Deeds reiterated that he had not mentioned the government and only wanted know if given knowledge of secondary devices, would he support a new investigation. At which point, North replied, “Investigate everything.”

On North’s way out of the forum, Sam Logulo asked North about the Iran Contra hearings and the presence of concentration camps in America. North claimed that American concentration camps were shut down after World War II. Logulo replied, “Some of them are being reopened,” at which North responded, “show me the proof.” Logulo specifically mentioned the suburban town of Beech Grove, outside of Indianapolis. North told Logulo to send the evidence to his email address.

Full Article

On the way out, the members gave a variety of DVDs including TerrorStorm and Blueprint for Truth to North. In addition, the members gave a Patriots Question 9/11 flier to North and an article about ex-Congressman Daniel Hamburg regarding evidence that the U.S. government created Al-Qaeda and was involved in 9/11.

Later, Logulo told North that he would send him the information on the camps, but at this point, police surrounded the WeAreChange members. The officers told the members to shut off their cameras. Adam Covington from Kentuckiana Change asked an officer, “Why can’t I record this when I have a press pass, and this is a second and first amendment venue?” Despite the lack of explanation from the police, the members shut off their devices and proceeded to walk out of the building.

While being escorted out, a plainclothes officer yelled “Give me your camera,” and tried to snatch Logulo’s camera from behind. Four officers tackled Logulo, and drove him to the ground. One officer put Logulo into a headlock.

“Easy, easy, easy!” Logulo exclaimed. “I’m not resisting.”

As Logulo was being assaulted, Deeds was filming his fellow WeAreChange member in order to record the abuse. He was told to stop filming at which point he did not comply and continued filming anyway.

“Get him!” yelled a plainclothes officer as he ran at Deeds. Three officers took Deeds down to his knees as they ripped the camera out of his hand. Deeds tried to take the memory stick out of his camera, and was accused of “tampering with evidence,” a Class D felony according to officer Rehm. Deeds later explained, “The footage was my only defense.”

The police confiscated four memory cards, two battery packs, two sets of batteries, and a disc. Throughout the thirty minute ordeal, the members of Change were interrogated, harassed, and searched. To prevent further harassment at future events, members have stated that they would appreciate any attorneys that would provide their support. All attorneys may contact Cody Deeds at WeAreChangeOhio.com.

If you would like to see the video footage, call the Louisville Metro Police at (502) 574-7111 or write:

Louisville Metro Police Department
633 W Jefferson St
Louisville, KY 40202

Barack Obama Should Scare the ____ Out of You


Karen De Coster
LRC Blog
May 19, 2008

Jim, your comments calling out Obama’s Hate Americans First platform are exactly right. Obama also spoke before the Detroit Economic Club one year ago, and he lambasted automaker execs for being so irresponsible for…….making…….cars…….that guzzle gas. Our oil dependency is jeopardizing our planet, said Obama. Amazingly, he goes on to blame “global climate change” for “drought, famine, forest fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, and typhoons.” As if these are all modern phenomenons. And of course, “rapidly melting ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland will raise global sea levels high enough to swallow up portions of every coastal city around the world.” The fossil fuels we burn “are setting off a chain of dangerous weather patterns that could condemn future generations to global catastrophe,” said Obama. It was only at about this time that Obama ditched his V-8 Chrysler HEMI for a Ford Escape hybrid, so he could deflect the very legitimate claim of being a two-faced fraud.

That is why Barack Obama must be elected president, they say. He will end the “age of oil.” In fact, he will do much to stifle the age of prosperity and the advancing quality of life that capitalism and markets have provided for Americans. He will do all he can to make us less prosperous and comfortable, because in ObamaLand, that’s just not fair. The Third World’ers just won’t stand for our progress and increasing comfort, and neither will he.

I can see an Obama dictatorship banning vehicles that don’t conform to his latest policy platform; limiting food supplies to the people that can pay for it; and launching a program to forcibly end the era of the comfy “72-degree house.” That any presidential candidate is talking about this stuff (such as “we are eating too much”) is, as you said Jim, completely insane.

I wonder if such a statement means that Obama and his global warming alarmist cohorts in D.C. have given up their fine dining and expensive food habits? Nah. Does this mean an Obama White House will make do with boxed macaroni & cheese and frozen dinners instead of a very large staff of Chefs and food preparers and the highest-quality food anywhere? Of course not – the Kings will continue to live like Kings, and the rest of us will have our food rationed and our furnaces tapped into by the government.

Corbett Report Confronts Bohemian Grove Member

JonesReport.com | May 15, 2008

The Corbett Report decided to call up Barry Cooper, a political theory and social sciences professor at the University of Calgary who happens to be one of many Bohemian Grove members whose name appears in the 2006 roster that was sent anonymously to the Infowars office. Many of these members belong to the world of academia, and some are even listed alongside their university.

Cooper admitted to being a member of the Bohemian Club and to attending the grove annually, but declined to further discuss what goes on at the power meeting, though he did deny taking part in the Cremation of Care ritual that grove members take part in each year.

The Corbett Report asked a number of poignant questions that Cooper left untouched, among them, one addressing the lack of transparency about the real political power structure, even as Cooper himself admits he leaves his students in the dark about what goes on behind the scenes.

CORBETT REPORT: “Do you ever mention the Grove when you’re talking to your students about the power structures that govern global geopolitics?”

COOPER: “I doubt it.”

Clearly a key meeting of the shadow government is indeed relevant to that global power structure, though much of its power draws from secrecy itself.

E-Fuel Unveils World’s First Home Ethanol System


by Staff Writers
Los Gatos CA (SPX) May 12, 2008

With its breakthrough membrane technology, E-Fuel has made an industrial process possible on a much smaller scale, and without dangerous combustion processes. Additionally, the MicroFueler has achieved an 80% power improvement over commercial ethanol manufacturers, thus raising the bar of the renewable fuel standard for carbon reduction.

The world’s first home ethanol system, which allows consumers to create their own ethanol and pump it directly into their cars, was unveiled today by E-Fuel. The revolutionary EFuel100 MicroFueler is the first product that allows anyone to reduce their dependency on oil, greatly diminish their carbon footprint and produce fuel for under $1.00 per gallon.

The MicroFueler is a leading edge product that allows consumers to create ethanol, simply and safely, with the readily available ingredients of sugar, yeast and water, and a standard household 110-220 AC power supply. Cars running on sugar-based ethanol produce 85% fewer carbon emissions than gasoline. Businesses, such as breweries, bars and restaurants can even use discarded alcohol beverages to create ethanol, for as little as $0.10 per gallon.

“E-Fuel will have a profound impact on the way we obtain and consume fuel, not unlike the paradigm shift that occurred in the 80s from the mainframe computer to the PC,” said Tom Quinn, E-Fuel Founder and CEO.

“Just as the PC brought desktop computing to the home, E-Fuel will bring the filling station to the home. Making local sugar-based ethanol fuel production possible, E-Fuel can solve the commercial ethanol transportation and pump station problems while providing consumers lower cost fuel due to micro efficiencies.”

The portable MicroFueler unit houses the same consumer-friendly LCD touch screen interface and hose pumping system found at the corner gas station, so consumers can produce where they consume, eliminating energy waste and saving dollars. The retractable pumping hose extends up to 50 feet, eliminating the need to situate the unit directly beside the household vehicle.

With its breakthrough membrane technology, E-Fuel has made an industrial process possible on a much smaller scale, and without dangerous combustion processes. Additionally, the MicroFueler has achieved an 80% power improvement over commercial ethanol manufacturers, thus raising the bar of the renewable fuel standard for carbon reduction.

“Henry Ford started the automobile revolution using ethanol, predicting that this renewable and accessible fuel it would become the ‘fuel of the future,'” said Mr. Quinn. “If not for the Prohibition laws in the 1920s and the subsequent rise of the oil industry, ethanol may never have lost its public appeal. E-Fuel will deliver on Ford’s prediction, and enable consumers to bypass the costly oil infrastructure and their reliance on fossil fuels,” said Mr. Quinn.

Employment Verification Plan Triggers Fears Of Big Brother


Rob Hotakainen
McClatchy Newspapers
May 19, 2008

WASHINGTON — For critics, the idea is an Orwellian nightmare: The federal government would begin signing off on every hiring decision made in the United States.

It’s the latest plan to stop illegal immigrants from entering the country. The nation’s 7.4 million employers would be required to provide the government with Social Security numbers for all new employees — more than 55 million each year — and federal employees would then use a massive electronic database to do crosschecks. The new system would aim to detect any workers who got their jobs by using fraudulent Social Security numbers.

For advocates, though, it’s a fine idea, an easy way to quickly verify the eligibility status of new employees.

“If the government turns a blind eye to illegal behavior, our rule of law will be undermined and chaos will ensue,” said Rep. Dennis Moore, D-Kan., one of 32 House of Representatives members pushing a bill to create the system.

Whether it’s regarded as Big Brother or a big improvement, the plan is getting a good vetting on Capitol Hill. It has enormous implications for employers and the Social Security Administration, which would conduct the background checks.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which opposes the plan, says the legislation would create a “no-work list” in the Washington bureaucracy.

“Americans should not have to ask their federal government if they have permission to accept a new job,” said Caroline Fredrickson, the director of the ACLU’s Washington legislative office.

Other opponents fear the assignment would overwhelm the Social Security Administration, which is already lagging in its work.

“Disability cases are piling up, and needy people are waiting years to receive their benefits,” said Barbara Kennelly, president and chief executive officer of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

Testifying before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security last week, she said that the plan would divert the agency’s workers from their current jobs. And she noted the high cost: $10 billion over nine years, or nearly 10 percent of the agency’s administrative budget.

Amid much politicking, Congress has been stymied in its efforts to pass any major immigration bills in recent years. The new plan is much more modest and may have a better chance of becoming law.

Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Tucson, whose district includes a 114-mile section of the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border, said Congress should follow the lead of her home state. It’s the first state to mandate a so-called E-verify program.

“To give you some context, last year 387,000 illegal immigrants were apprehended in Arizona,” Giffords said. “That’s approximately 1,000 illegal immigrants every single day.”

John Trasvina, the president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said the plan would drive more illegal immigrants to the underground economy to avoid deportation. That would cost the federal government an estimated $770 a million a year in lost tax revenues, he said, citing an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation.

Trasvina said the plan’s biggest winners would be unscrupulous employers. Employees would be less likely to complain about working conditions, and employers could more easily avoid payroll taxes and the costs of workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance, he added.

“They will continue to employ unauthorized workers, knowing they are more susceptible than ever before to exploitation and intimidation,” he said.

Currently, about 61,000 employers are running background checks on their employees as part of a voluntary pilot project, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. In a recent report to Congress, the office said that a mandatory system could be vulnerable to fraud and abuse if employers limit work assignments or pay while the government verifies employees. And it questioned whether the system could detect employees who present genuine Social Security documents that may have been stolen or sold to them.

Despite the risks, Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, the plan’s chief sponsor, said Americans are “tired of broken laws and broken promises” and that it’s time for Congress to act. The House’s Social Security subcommittee has held 10 hearings on employment verification systems in the last four years, he said.

“Like it or not, Social Security has the only database able to confirm citizenship for American citizens,” said Johnson, the top-ranked Republican on the Social Security subcommittee. “… It is time to start solving the problem of how to do electronic employee verification and stop asking if we need to do it.”

Fears Of Supply Shortages Drive Oil Above $135


Larry Elliott and Graeme Wearden
The Guardian
May 22, 2008

The price of oil hit a new high of $135 a barrel today, prompting Libya’s top oil official to admit that it could soon reach $200.

After dwindling stocks of fuel in the United States and the weak dollar pushed crude oil to yet another new high, Shokri Ghanem said that oil cartel Opec was already doing all it could to boost supply.

“It is out of our hands. We are as worried as you are,” he said, speaking on Bloomberg TV. “$200 a barrel is not logical, but even $135 is not logical, so yes oil could reach $200 a barrel. Why not?” he added, insisting that speculators are responsible for the seemingly unstoppable rise.

At $135.04 a barrel, oil is more than twice as expensive as a year ago – having hit a series of new highs since it broke through the $100 mark in January. As well as forcing petrol prices higher, dearer oil is fuelling inflation across the economy by making it more expensive to transport goods such as food.

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