This video is called Baltic Gitmo: CIA ‘black site’ to land Lithuania in court.
Here is a CIA secret prison in Lithuania video.
From British daily The Morning Star:
Tuesday 22 December 2009
by Tom Mellen
The head of parliament’s national security and defence committee revealed that the domestic intelligence service had opened two detention centres in co-operation with the CIA.
Arvydas Anusauskas said that top officials had not been informed about the jails, and that they had not been appproved by politicians.
The investigation found that five planes related to the CIA landed in Lithuania in 2003-2006 and that domestic intelligence officials stopped customs and border guards from inspecting them.
“Regarding the ‘cargo,’ I can’t confirm anything, because Lithuanian authorities could not carry out the usual checks, so what was being transported was unknown,” Mr Anusauskas explained.
The panel of MPs kicked off its investigation into the CIA prisons in November after the US channel ABC alleged that the ex-Soviet republic had hosted a so-called CIA “black site,” or secret interrogation facility, up to 2005.
ABC cited unnamed former intelligence officials and records of flights between Afghanistan and Lithuania.
It alleged that Lithuanian officials had agreed to host the prisons in return for Washington’s support for Lithuania’s 2004 admission into NATO.
Mr Anusauskas said: “We have identified the sites. The first project was developed from 2002.
“In response to the wishes of our partners and the conditions that were imposed, the site was meant to host one person. The second site was created in 2004.”
He said that the parliamentary probe had concluded that Lithuania’s two presidents over the period were “not informed, or only informed superficially” about the sites.
The parliamentary commission asked prosecutors to investigate three of the country’s former state security officials over possible abuses of power.
Responding to the commission’s findings, Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius said: “It is deeply worrying that a small group of state security department officials could make a decision to establish a detention centre without informing the society and state officials.”
Mr Kubilas declared that the officers had violated Lithuanian law and ignored the negative consequences to Lithuania’s international reputation.
“Lithuania is a strategic US ally, and co-operation in many fields, including secret operations and counter-terrorism, is very important,” he said, adding: “However, the strategic partnership with the US cannot be an excuse to essentially operate under Soviet methods, to ignore the civil control of special services and to violate existing laws.”
Lithuanian foreign minister quits in CIA prison row: here.
David Tepper, manager of the hedge fund Appaloosa Management, is set to pocket more than $2.5 billion this year after successfully gambling that the Obama administration would provide unlimited public funds to bail out the banks: here.
Wall Street’s 10 Biggest Lies of 2009: here.
This video is about The Power of Yes, a David Hare play on the economic crisis.
Massive bank scandal: Austrian right-winger Jörg Haider’s legacy
22 December 2009
Austrian far-right politician Jörg Haider, at the time governor of the province of Carinthia, died in October 2008 in an automobile crash—while driving twice the speed limit and with a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit.
His legacy, however, is now costing billions, tearing holes in the budgets of Carinthia and Germany’s Bavaria. The crisis surrounding the Hypo Group Alpe Adria (HGAA) bank, in which Haider played a central role, is a prime example of the coming together of high finance and right-wing politics.
A week ago, the Austrian government took control of ailing HGAA to prevent the immediate collapse of the sixth-largest banking house in the Alpine republic. In the settlement, the previous owners—Bayerische Landesbank (BayernLB), the province of Carinthia, and Austrian mutual insurer Grazer Wechselseitige—each received one euro. They had collectively pumped in several hundred million euros to try and secure the survival of the bank.
The state-owned BayernLB, which became the majority owner two and a half years ago, must now deal with losses of nearly €4 billion. These will largely fall on the Bavarian state treasury and will be recouped through cuts in public spending. A year ago, the state of Bavaria pumped in €10 billion to protect Germany’s second-largest Landesbank (owned 94 percent by the Bavarian government) from bankruptcy.
The fate of HGAA is closely linked with the rise of Haider’s ultra-right Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) and its successor, the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ). Haider, who served 12 years as governor of Carinthia, used the bank to finance his political projects, enrich his friends in the party, and buy votes.
Under Haider’s charge, the financial institution, founded in 1896, rose from being a provincial bank into a market leader in the Balkans. The bank funded Haider’s money-losing prestige projects in Carinthia, such as the luxurious Schlosshotel Velden and the floating stage on the Wörthersee in Klagenfurt, as well as financing the province’s growing debts. Carinthia is now considered the “debt emperor” among Austria’s provinces.
In return, the state government guaranteed the bank’s creditworthiness, underwriting guarantees amounting to €19 billion. That is almost 10 times the state’s annual budget of €2 billion. The bankruptcy of HGAA would inevitably have resulted in Carinthia’s insolvency.
In the manner of an emperor in ancient Rome, Haider used the cash flow from HGAA to win the support of the voters. He introduced various forms of family benefits, payments for commuters, heating and diesel fuel subsidies, and an inflation relief payment. Under Haider’s successors, young people who acquired a driver’s license were given €1,000. These monetary gifts did little to lessen social inequality; with 76,000 people at risk for poverty, Carinthia is the second poorest of Austria’s provinces—but it ensured that the BZÖ won substantial majorities.
In the successor states of Yugoslavia, the HGAA financed a semi-criminal and corrupt elite, which resembled the one surrounding Haider. “In Macedonia, Bosnia or Montenegro, banking geniuses were drawn hypnotically into the wake of Jörg Haider, needy entrepreneurs who could make good use of inexpensive bridge financing for their cash flow,” the Frankfurter Allgemeine commented.
- Austria Spat With Bavaria Intensifies Over Hypo Billions – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Austria considers legal action to hand back Hypo to Germans (uk.reuters.com)
- Ex-Hypo Alpe Managers Charged With False Accounting, Misuse – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- UPDATE 1-Bavaria to take Hypo/BayernLB spat to EU (uk.reuters.com)
From British daily The Guardian:
Kew discovers new plant species in one of its own glasshouses
Botanists at Kew unveil a bumper crop of new plant species for 2009 including one that had been growing under their noses for 50 years
* Ian Sample, science correspondent
* Tuesday 22 December 2009 00.00 GMT
The quest to catalogue Earth’s rich flora has taken botanists to the farthest flung and most treacherous corners of the world, from the humid rainforests of the Amazon to the highest peaks of Borneo.
Which made it all the more surprising when Iain Darbyshire stumbled upon a species of plant unknown to science while taking a lunchtime stroll around the Royal Botanic Gardens in west London.
Darbyshire, an expert in African botany at Kew, happened upon the foot-tall plant in full bloom, its striking green and grey heart-shaped leaves set off by tiny white and pink flowers.
“I just happened to take a different route through the glasshouse that lunchtime and stumbled across it,” Darbyshire told the Guardian. “I knew instantly that it was a new species. It was just sat there waiting for someone to study it.”
Record books revealed the plants had been donated by Swedish botanists in the 1990s after an expedition to the Eastern Arc mountains of Tanzania. Unsuspecting gardeners had tended them for more than a decade, using them as tropical bedding in Kew’s Princess of Wales Conservatory.
The plant was officially named Isoglossa variegata last month and is among more than 250 new plant and fungus species discovered and described by the gardens’ botanists in the past year.
Kew Gardens, London, recently invited New Scientist to take a look at its internationally renowned conservation, classification and research work: here.