Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Extra-judicial killings - CIA chief admits 666 terrorism suspects, including 177 civilians, killed by USA -

Reading - Extra-judicial killings - CIA chief admits 666 terrorism suspects, including 177 civilians, killed by USA -

CIA Chief Leon Panetta has said the US counter terrorism polices in Pakistan are legal and highly effective and that he is acutely aware of the gravity of some of the decisions thrust upon him.

In an interview Wednesday at CIA headquarters, Panetta refused to directly address the matter of Predator strikes, in keeping with the agency’s long-standing practice of shielding its actions in Pakistan from public view.

“Any time you make decisions on life and death, I don’t take that lightly. That’s a serious decision,” he said. “And yet, I also feel very comfortable with making those decisions because I know I’m dealing with people who threaten the safety of this country and are prepared to attack us at any moment.”

Panetta had personally authorized the Drone strike that killed Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud at his fatiehr in law’s home on August 5, 2009, according to a senior intelligence official who described the sequence of events.

Since 2009, as many as 666 terrorism suspects, including at least 20 senior figures, have been killed by missiles fired from unmanned aircraft flying over Pakistan, according to figures compiled by the New America Foundation as of mid-March. According to the foundation, 177 civilians may also have been killed in the airstrikes since 2009.

Intelligence officials say their count of noncombatants killed is much lower and noted that on Aug. 5 only Mehsud and his wife were killed, despite reports that other family members and bodyguards died in the attack.

Panetta authorizes every strike, sometimes reversing his decision or reauthorizing a target if the situation on the ground changes, according to current and former senior intelligence officials.

After weathering a number of storms on Capitol Hill, including a face-off with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after the California Democrat accused the CIA of lying, Panetta has studiously cultivated his old colleagues, holding informal get-togethers with the Senate and House intelligence committees.

Another former senior intelligence official, who served under Bush, commends Panetta for his aggression but noted that the current successes are built upon agreements made with Pakistan in the final year of the previous administration. The Obama administration has “been operating along the same continuum,” the former official said.

In the interview, Panetta said he recognized that the administration’s strategy entailed risk. “You can’t just conduct the kind of aggressive operations we are conducting against the enemy and not expect that they are not going to try to retaliate,” he said. —INP

Puke: China recycles cooking oil... from raw sewage - tainted 1 out of every 10 meals cooked in the China -

Reading - Puke: China recycles cooking oil... from raw sewage - tainted 1 out of every 10 meals cooked in the China -

Chinese cooking oil siphoned from restaurants' waste tanks and stripped out of raw sewage is being resold on the cheap and has for years tainted approximately one out of every ten meals cooked in the eastern nation, according to a recent study.

The revelation, first noted by state media, sent Chinese health inspectors into a snit as they scrambled to reassure the public that the claims were being investigated.

"He Dongping, a professor at the Wuhan Polytechnic University, has been studying the problem for seven years," newspaper Epoch Times noted. "According to China Youth Daily, he found that China recycles an estimated two million to three million tons of waste oil per year. Combining that figure with the estimated 22.5 million tons of total vegetable oil and animal fat consumed by the Chinese per year, it is estimated that 10 percent is returning to people’s dining tables."

The only apparent difference between the toxic sewage oil and normal oil is the remarkable price difference, with the tainted cooking stock selling for approximately half the price of its legitimate competitor.

"In addition to an effective method of detection having yet to be found, the difficulty is compounded once the illegal oil has been blended into ordinary ones," state media China Daily reported. The 'illegal cooking oil' is usually made from discarded kitchen waste that has been refined [after being sieved out of raw sewage]. Although it looks clean and clear, it actually contains toxic substances, including 'aflatoxin', which can cause cancer."

"Aflatoxins are toxic metabolites produced by certain fungi in/on foods and feeds,"according to Cornell University. "They are probably the best known and most intensively researched mycotoxins in the world. Aflatoxins have been associated with various diseases, such as aflatoxicosis, in livestock, domestic animals and humans throughout the world. The occurence of aflatoxins is influenced by certain environmental factors; hence the extent of contamination will vary with geographic location, agricultural and agronomic practices, and the susceptibility of commodities to fungal invasion during preharvest, storage, and/or processing periods."

The state-run China Daily news agency encourages consumers to be suspicious, recommending that buyers "taste" the cancer-causing substance before making a purchase.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer has identified aflatoxin B1 has a confirmed carcinogen in humans.

China's State Food and Drug Administration has vowed to close down any eatery found using tainted cooking oil.

This most recent food safety scandal comes on the heels of a devastating episode in which hundreds of thousands of Chinese infants were poisoned in 2008 by the chemical melamine, which had been used as a spacing ingredient in baby formula.

China consumes over 22 million tons of cooking oil each year, according to the study.

Read more -http://www.blacklistednews.com/news-7933-0-6-6--.html

Dallas-Fort Worth commercial foreclosure filings top $1 billion - in APRIL 2010 -

Reading - Dallas-Fort Worth commercial foreclosure filings top $1 billion - in APRIL 2010 -

Commercial property foreclosure filings in the Dallas-Fort Worth area top $1 billion for the upcoming April sales.

That's much higher than commercial foreclosure posting totals in recent months.

"It's certainly the highest we've seen in this cycle," George Roddy of Foreclosure Listing Service said Monday.

The Addison-based foreclosure-tracking firm counts 333 D-FW commercial properties scheduled for auction by lenders next month.

During the last few months, the auction totals have averaged about 250.

Among the properties set for sale next month are the Element Hotel inIrving, with $13.1 million in debt, and the Firewheel Distribution Center in Garland, with $13.1 million in debt, according to Foreclosure Listing Service.

Part of Allen's Star Creek development on State Highway 121, with about $15 million in debt, also made the April foreclosure list.

The biggest current foreclosure posting is still the Four Seasons Resort and Club at Las Colinas, with $183 million.

Although the 400-acre resort has been facing auction for several months, owner BentleyForbes and its lenders have reached a "standstill agreement" while debt negotiations continue.

BentleyForbes officials said earlier this month that they "expect that a resolution will be reached in the near future."

But it's not unusual for a mortgage holder to continue posting a property for foreclosure while talks go on.

Not all properties listed for foreclosure each month are actually sold by the lender. Many times, the borrower reaches a new mortgage agreement or delays the forced sale.

In 2009, the number of commercial properties posted for foreclosure in Dallas-Fort Worth jumped almost 27 percent. More than 2,400 properties, including offices, warehouses, shopping centers, hotels, apartments and commercial land, were posted for foreclosure last year.

It's no wonder that Dallas-Fort Worth's commercial property foreclosures are spiking.

A new report by First American CoreLogic says that D-FW led the nation in commercial mortgage maturities in February. More than $4 billion of about $20 billion in U.S. commercial property loans that came due in February were on properties in North Texas, the researchers found.

The Houston area was second, with almost $3 billion in maturing commercial mortgages.

With lenders still keeping a tight rein on real estate debt, it's often impossible for borrowers to extend or refinance commercial property loans.

Read more -http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/bus/stories/032310dnbuscommercial.3b4450f.html

Top Ten List - What Makes a Guy 'Undateable'? -

Reading - Top Ten List - What Makes a Guy 'Undateable'? -

OK, this also made "Undateable"'s list, but we feel the need to reiterate, as it was the first Tourette's-like exclamation out of our mouths. Even if you're European. With a god-like body. You can't get away with wearing the bottom half of a bikini on a beach. The same effects it has on your man sack, boys, the Speedo has on a girl's libido.

Mr. Have You Met My Chest? In other words, the guy who stubbornly (and regretfully) refuses to ever button his two top buttons. The fact remains: However smooth or hairy, bare chests are tacky. You're not in GQ, and nobody wants to see those curlicues God gave you -- especially at a restaurant.

Super-Dirty Baseball Caps: Yeah, we get that it's your lucky hat. All we're saying is, hose it down every once in a while. Otherwise, we assume your head smells. And you can imagine where we go from there. Besides, all you have to do is stick the stinking thing in the dishwasher. (You're welcome.)

Bad Spellers:
We solemnly swear it's impossible to swoon when a guy doesn't know the difference between "definitely" and "defiantly." In fact, when one of our former dates said he was "defiantly" looking forward to seeing us on the night that would have been date three, he didn't so much as get to first base.

Tween Texters: Guess what? The same way 90 percent of communication is nonverbal, 90 percent of how far we're going to go with you has already been decided by the time we arrive at a date, and a lot of that depends on your ability to communicate. Listen: Use words. If u text us 2 meet up 2 nite, we'll assume you're in eighth grade, and, dude, that ain't legal.

Guys Who Order Salads: Thing is, we're having the ribs -- and if you have no appetite at dinner, we can only imagine what you'll be like in bed.

Guys Who Wear Rings: Class ring, my-ass ring. This is just not attractive. In fact, a dude with brass knuckles would come closer to depantsing us than any guy who adorns any of his digits with anything but a wedding ring. Though those have occasionally been known to get us hot.

Guys Who Can't Grow a Mustache: Just give it up. It's the rare man who can pull off facial hair to begin with, and being in the running means you have to be able to grow it in the first place. Besides, that patchy little thing above your upper lip looks like a Chia Pet that didn't take. Just not hot.

Shiny, Pointy Shoes: The Wicked Witch of the West called: She wants her footwear back! This we plain can't figure out. Do dudes in these shoes think they're Don Corleone? Or that we'll think they're high rollers? Thing is, we're girls -- we know what feet are shaped like, and that silhouette isn't doing you, or our inner lust-o-meter, any favors.

Men Who Don't Like Animals: C'mon, a brine shrimp? How about a lizard? You must like something. But the bottom line is, if you're not feeling the love for something as undyingly loyal as a dog, we flat-out don't trust you.