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By Admin (from 06/10/2010 @ 14:15:07, in en - Global Observatory, read 2116 times)

- The following video was broadcast by Romanian television channel Antena 3 on September 18, 2010 and is an excerpt from the official recording of September 15, 2010 session of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies (posted on

- It clearly shows that the ruling party -- the Democratic-Liberal Party (PD-L), member of the European Popular Party - committed a huge and blatant fraud while voting a new law of pension reform:

After the opposition parties left the room, in protest of how the voting was carried out, Mrs. Roberta Anastase, the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, continued the vote, although in the room there were 76 deputies, which is far from the required quorum to pass an organic law (168 votes in favor).

- Although the Rules of the Chamber clearly state that the main voting system is the electronic vote, the Speaker used the vote by raising hands, and after each vote she announced the results after less than two-three seconds, inventing numbers of votes in favor or against, i.e. between 158 to 170, while in the plenary room there were not even 80 deputies.
- The video clearly shows that the Secretary of the session (in this case, PD-L Deputy Sever Voinescu -- sitting next to the Speaker) did not perform his duty, which was to count the votes -- in fact no one did - but this did not prevent the Speaker to announce numbers of votes necessary to pass the law, without even looking at the deputies present in the room.



More than half of Californians now say that they will vote ‘yes’ this November on Proposition 19, which would legalize the private adult use and cultivation of limited amounts of cannabis, and allow local governments the option of regulating its commercial production and retail distribution.

The latest poll of 2,004 likely voters throughout the state by the Public Policy Institute of California reports that 52 percent of Californians back Prop. 19, versus 41 percent opposed and seven percent undecided.

Of the statewide propositions polled, only Prop. 19 possessed majority support among California voters. In fact, the same poll reports that a greater percentage of voters now back Prop. 19 than support incumbent Democrat Senators Barbara Boxer (42%) and Dianne Feinstein (44%), Senate Republican challenger Carly Fiorina (35%), Gubernatorial Democrat candidate Jerry Brown (37%) or Gubernatorial Republican candidate Meg Whitman (38%).

Historically, ballot initiative campaigns lose support in the months prior to election day. But Prop. 19 is bucking this trend, as recent results from the Field Poll, Survey USA, and clearly show that marijuana legalization is maintaining, and in some cases gaining, voter support as we approach November 2, 2010.

Proposition 19 is endorsed by a broad coalition of divergent and powerful interest groups, including the California NAACP; the Latino Voters League; the Service Employees International Union (SEIU); the National Black Police Association; the United Food and Commercial Workers, (UFCW) Western States Council; the California Council of Churches IMPACT; Firedog Lake; the California Green Party; and the Republican Liberty Caucus. These organizations, along with millions of Californians, agree that it is time to end criminal marijuana prohibition in California.

If you live in California but are not registered to vote, you can do so by going here. Help make history on November 2!

Source: ; Author: Paul Armentano


Romania’s Interior Minister resigned as protests over pay cuts for public employees test Prime Minister Emil Boc’s will to continue austerity measures in the face of efforts to topple his Cabinet.

As many as 10,000 state employees are expected to take to the streets tomorrow and all public worker unions are in talks over calling a general strike. The government reduced wages for civil servants by 25 percent to narrow the budget deficit and comply with terms of an International Monetary Fund-led bailout.

The opposition Social Democrats and Liberals say they will try to oust the government in the second half of October as the IMF forecasts the economy will shrink 1.9 percent this year, extending Romania’s worst recession since the end of communism. Boc’s coalition, with 258 seats in the 471-member parliament, survived a June no-confidence vote by eight votes.

“The current government is really close to losing its majority, and this is the beginning of the end,” said Adrian Moraru, an analyst at the Institute for Public Policies in Bucharest, in a phone interview. “It’s a difficult situation because it seems a new political crisis is emerging on top of the current economic crisis.”

Minister Resigns

Vasile Blaga quit today as Interior Minister after police officers who report to his ministry staged an illegal demonstration on Sept. 24 and will be replaced by Traian Igas, 42, a senator and head of the ruling Liberal Democrats’ group in the Senate. President Traian Basescu later signed off on the nomination.

Romania, which joined the European Union in 2007, is relying on 20 billion euros ($27 billion) of loans from the IMF, European Union and others to fuel an economic recovery.

To qualify for the loans, Boc’s government has cut state wages, increased the value-added tax by 5 points to 24 percent and boosted the retirement age for men and women to 65. The Cabinet has also announced plans to eliminate 74,000 jobs.

The police strike was condemned by Boc and Basescu, who both gave up their police security escorts for what they called an “unauthorized” protest.

‘Honor’ Resignation

“This is a resignation of honor,” Blaga said today at a news conference in Bucharest. “Police have the right to protest just like any other citizen, but they have to do it legally. They and all the other workers from the Interior Ministry have to understand that they are as important as doctors and teachers, so they can’t make an exception.”

Anger over the government’s program has boosted support for the opposition.

La instalarea lui Igaș, Băsescu l-a lăudat pe Blaga pentru „gest” și i-a certat pe polițiști: „N-aveți nicio scuză și nicio scăpare până nu-mi prezentați raportul în CSAT” Foto: Publimedia//Octav Ganea

La instalarea lui Igas, Bãsescu l-a lãudat pe Blaga pentru „gest” si i-a certat pe politisti: „N-aveti nicio scuzã si nicio scãpare pânã nu-mi prezentati raportul în CSAT” Foto: Publimedia//Octav Ganea

The Social Democrats were supported by 37.1 percent of voters, compared with 14.6 percent for Boc’s Liberal Democrats in a survey of 1,093 people conducted Sept. 9-13 by GSS 2000. The poll, commissioned by the opposition Liberals, had a margin of error of 3 percent.

“If the unions manage to get many people out into the streets this may create pressure on government lawmakers,” said Cristian Parvulescu, a political analyst at Asociatia Pro Democratia, a Bucharest-based group that promotes democracy. Boc’s Liberal Democrat party includes “former union leaders who may feel extra pressure to vote against the government.”

Raffaella Tenconi, an economist at Bank of America/Merrill Lynch in London, said she expects Boc’s government will survive the confidence vote, though further fiscal consolidation will be “very challenging” given the depth of the recession.

“We are not surprised to see growing popular discontent given the recently announced austerity measures,” she said. “We expect this trend to continue in coming months, accentuating the low popular support for the ruling party PDL.”

European Discontent

Workers across eastern Europe are taking to the streets to protest budget cuts after the global financial crisis slashed tax revenue and investment flows. The EU is demanding that all of its members bring their budget deficits in line with the bloc’s limit of 3 percent of GDP after Greece’s ballooning debt undermined confidence in the euro.

Tens of thousands Czech firemen, policemen and other state workers rallied Sept. 21 in Prague to protest planned wage cuts, while Slovak unions plan demonstrations against proposed tax increases. Slovenian civil servants went on strike today to protest plans to cut or freeze their salaries. Some 80,000 workers, or half the public workforce joined the strike, according to the Ljubljana-based newspaper Delo.

“It’s an experience from all over Europe that austerity measures, which very often include budget cuts, are leading to similar demonstrations,” Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas said at the rally against his government’s plans. The moves “are quite naturally unpopular.”

‘Delicate Situation’

The decline of Romania’s economy, which contracted a 7.1 percent last year, slowed in the second quarter as demand for goods such as cars, chemicals, steel and textiles increased in western Europe. GDP shrank 0.5 percent from a year earlier, after a 2.6 percent decline in the previous three months, according to the National Statistics Institute in Bucharest.

Parliament approved Boc’s government in December, ending a stalemate that had left Romania without leadership for more than two months and delayed payments from international lenders. Boc replaced six members of his Cabinet, including the finance and economy ministers, on Sept. 2 in an effort to shore up support for his program in the face of increasing protests.

Romania’s political squabbles have helped weaken the country’s currency. The leu has dropped 1 percent against the euro during the past 12 months, the second-worst performance among 25 emerging-market currencies tracked by Bloomberg. The Romanian leu weakened 0.1 percent to 4.2465 per euro as of 4:23 p.m. in Bucharest, while the Bucharest Stock Exchange’s benchmark BET index rose 1.3 percent to 5,279.64.

“Boc’s Cabinet is already facing an extremely delicate situation, and it will lead a hard life if it survives the planned confidence motion,” said Alexandru Cumpanasu, political analyst and deputy head of the Association for Implementing Democracy, in a phone interview. “If we see more protests on a bigger scale in October, then the pressure on lawmakers to vote for the motion will be huge.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Irina Savu in Bucharest at isavu at; Andra Timu in Bucharest at atimu at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez in Prague at jagomez at


By Admin (from 27/09/2010 @ 14:38:11, in en - Global Observatory, read 1555 times)

President Barack Obama's administration has invoked the state secret privilege to avoid a lawsuit on behalf of Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, whose father charges the US government of targeting him for assassination.

Nasser al-Awlaki last month asked two civil rights groups to sue the White House and the Central Intelligence Agency for placing his son on a list of people targeted for killing.

The younger Awlaki is considered a dangerous terrorist by the US government and is currently believed to be hiding in Yemen.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed the court action seeking to force the US government to say how it decides to target US citizens for murder far from any armed conflict without due process.

The lawsuit names Obama, CIA director Leon Panetta and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and seeks an order to "prohibit the government from carrying out targeted killings outside of armed conflict."

Panetta filed a declaration Friday before a federal court in Washington "to formally assert and claim the state secrets privilege... to protect intelligence sources, methods and activities" that may be implicated in the Awlaki case.

"It is my belief that... this case cannot be litigated without risking or requiring the disclosure of classified and privileged intelligence information that must not be disclosed," wrote Panetta.

The ACLU and CCR, in an email to AFP Saturday slammed Panetta's reasoning.

"The idea that courts should have no role whatsoever in determining the criteria by which the executive branch can kill its own citizens is unacceptable in a democracy.

"In matters of life and death, no executive should have a blank check."

Born in the southwestern US state of New Mexico, Awlaki, 39, rose to prominence last year after he was linked a US army major who shot dead 13 people in Fort Hood, Texas, and to a Nigerian student accused of trying to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight on December 25.

In April, a US official said the Obama administration had authorized the targeted killing of Awlaki, after American intelligence agencies concluded the Muslim cleric was directly involved in anti-US plots.

In July, the US government said Awlaki was a key leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, placing him on its list of terrorism supporters, freezing his financial assets and banning any transactions with him.



In what federal officials described as the largest human-trafficking case ever brought by the government, Mordechai Orian, president and chief operating officer of Global Horizons, was indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice for "engaging in a conspiracy to commit forced labor and document servitude."

The alleged victims of the Los Angeles-based labor recruiter are some 400 Thai citizens who were brought to work on farms in the U.S. between May 2004 through September 2005. They were hired under H-2A visas which allow farm workers into the country for seasonal work.

In late 2006, after CorpWatch published an article and a cartoon about the recruitment and abuse of Thai farm workers, Orian sued the non-profit. Orian stated that our reporter, Kari Lydersen was "part of (a) campaign against the H-2A program and [was trying] to protect illegal immigrant and the legal groups who stand to profit from the representation of illegal aliens." CorpWatch refused to retract the article or the cartoon but the two parties came to an out-of-court settlement in April 2007 to correct a few disputed facts in the story. No money was paid by either side.

Orian, himself an immigrant from Israel, was formally charged on September 1st along with five others -- Pranee Tubchumpol, Shane Germann and Sam Wongsesanit of Global Horizons Manpower Inc. as well as Thai labor recruiters Ratawan Chunharutai and Podjanee Sinchai. Federal agents raided Orian's Malibu home at dawn the next day only to discover that he was in Texas.

On September 2nd, Orian "deceived and evaded federal FBI agents for approximately 24 hours by providing sporadic, misleading, and conflicting information concerning his location, willingness to surrender in Dallas, and failing to report," government lawyers stated in documents filed with the federal court. They further charged that Orian "flew to Hawaii on another flight to avoid contact with federal agents at the airport."

Today Orian is sitting in a Honolulu jail awaiting Judge Leslie Kobayashi's decision on a government request to deny Orian's release on $1 million bail secured on his exclusive West Moonshadows Drive home in Malibu. Susan Cushman, assistant U.S. Attorney for Hawaii, has filed documents stating that Orian is a flight risk, noting that he had used 26 different aliases and four different Social Security numbers in the past. "The Pretrial Services' report found the defendant posed a risk of danger to the community because of the nature of the offense and similar allegations in Israel and Canada," wrote Cushman.

Multiple Court Cases

Cushman's request to keep Orian locked up until trial also described numerous violations of the law, according to a filing delivered to the Honolulu court on September 9.

The documents show that in 2000, Orian attempted to enter the U.S. from Mexico even though his visa had been revoked "based on false representations the Defendant made about his employment in Israel and the United States."

Cushman provided the court with a copy of a 2003 report, "Migrant Workers in Israel -- A Contemporary Form of Slavery," published the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network and the International Federation for Human Rights. It states that Orian took $3,000 from each of 19 Chinese workers for the "privilege" of working in Israel for two years.

"By the end of February Mr. Orian owed each of the workers between 2-3 months wages," the report concluded. "Instead of paying the workers, he sent ten armed guards to surprise the workers in their sleep, beat them and drive them to the airport, where they were forcibly deported."

In another document filed by Cushman, U.S. Department of Labor Judge William Dorsey concluded on November 30, 2006, that Global Horizons Manpower, Inc. had "willfully and fraudulently represented it had contracts with Taft Farms" [in Bakersfield, California] to obtain visas for more than 200 workers between August 1, 2003 and April 30, 2004 under the H-2A program. The non-immigrant visas, granted to more than 50,000 temporary farm laborers in 2007, are a mainstay -- along with undocumented labor -- of the U.S. agricultural system.

Dorsey found that the company had neither a contract nor jobs for the 200 workers. Unable to find them paid employment, Global Horizons fired the workers "for poor performance, when in fact, they were terminated for lack of work," Dorsey wrote in his final decision. He ordered that Orian be barred for three years from bringing guest workers into the U.S.

On September 7, 2007, Philipda Modrakee, a U.S. Department of Labor investigator, filed a report on 156 Global Horizons workers employed at the Maui Pineapple Farm in Hawaii. Modrakee estimated that Global Horizons owed $459,256 in fines for failure to pay wages at the minimum rate and on time, for illegally deducting money from the workers' pay checks for housing, and for failing to provide them with transportation to their work sites.

Immigration attorney Melissa Vincenty of Honolulu, who is representing 80 clients with claims against Global Horizon, told the Maui News last week that the company had confiscated the workers' passports and visas. "It is called document servitude," Vincenty told the newspaper, noting that passports are required for travel between the islands that make up the state of Hawaii.

Orian bought a twin-engine aircraft for inter-island transport of the Thai workers, thereby avoiding the necessity of presenting identification/passport to government officials, according to the documents filed before the court. Cushman noted that the airplane was recently seized as evidence.

Orian has drawn legal scrutiny in other states and nations. On July 2, 2008, Judge James Hutton in the Eastern District Court, ordered Orian to appear before his court in Spokane, Washington to explain why Global Horizons had failed to pay multiple court fines running into thousands of dollars. At the hearing Orian testified that the company was insolvent, although the court found that seven employees, including Orian, were still being paid salaries.

On July 29, 2009, immigration judge Christine Bither ordered Orian, who is an Israeli citizen, deported from the U.S. for falsely claiming five times to be a U.S. citizen when signing documents to hire farm workers under the H-2A visa program.
Finally, Cushman provided the court with a March 26, 2010 ruling by Judge John Madden IV in Denver, Colorado, ordering Global Horizons to pay a Nepali man named Rajan Gurung $108,257 to settle a dispute over the hiring of 24 workers from Nepal. In 2008, Gurung said he paid Global Horizons Canada $72,000 to arrange work visas for the 24 people in Canada, but that the company was unable to produce any evidence that it had actually applied for the visas.

Instead, Orian appeared before the court and claimed that he had not applied for the visas because all the workers had the same last name, Gurung, which indicated a potential violation of Canadian immigration law that does not allow family members to be employed in temporary jobs. (Gurung is one of the most common family names in Nepal.) Madden found Orian's claim to be without merit and ordered him to repay Gurung with interest as well as pay his court costs.

Responding to the Government

It was against this history of questionable dealings that Orian's attorney Mark Werksman, asked for his client to be released on bail. Werksman's September 10 filing presented a series of arguments and documents to prove that his client was not a flight risk.

For example, Werksman says that the 2009 deportation order was being appealed and that his client, "a busy business owner" had inadvertently checked boxes claiming to be a citizen. Werksman also noted that since Orian was "vigorously" contesting the deportation order, he was not a flight risk. Rather, he had a "desperate yearning to remain in the United States."

The 26 alleged aliases (such as O'Ryan and Moty) were "insignificant misspellings or typographical errors," Werksman said,

"The government appears to be asking the court to detain Mr. Orian because it thinks he is a bad employer and a chronic lawbreaker and deserves to be punished," wrote Werksman. "There is no evidence of this outside of the government's cherry-picked examples of adverse administrative rulings." And the government's immigration and labor bureaucracies are bound to have "disagreements, legal snafus and paperwork hassles."

Orian never intended to deceive the FBI, but simply took a lower-priced flight to Hawaii Werksman says. "What Mr. Orian did not know, is that the FBI intended to make a high-profile arrest at the airport," he charges in the court documents.

This claim is backed up by Kara Lujan, a public relations executive who represents musicians including soul artist Kelly Price and the rhythm & blues band "Heads of State" who told CorpWatch that she negotiated Orian's "surrender with the FBI agent Tom Simon."

"He is not a flight risk, he is not a danger to society," Lujan told Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper. "He pleaded not guilty on Friday, denying the charges. He never threatened Thai workers, never took their passports, and there is no evidence of that."

Werksman also submitted documents from Orian's friends. Lisa Machenberg, who lists herself as a certified hypotherapist, says that her son went to the same pre-school as Orian's son Dillon, and that she believes that Orian is a "fair and good man."

Thai Workers Stand Up

But while Cushman and Werksman were filing competing documents in Honolulu, some of Orian's former employees were playing out a parallel drama in Los Angeles.

There, on September 8, in front of the Wat Thai Buddhist temple some 25 Thai farm workers lined up wearing sunglasses, baseball caps, and traditional Thai scarves to disguise themselves for fear of retaliation, they said. One-by-one they told media assembled at a press conference organized by the Thai Community Development Center about their treatment at the hands of Global Horizons.

One 42-year-old man told reporters that recruiters promised him a fulltime job for $1,000 a month -- ten times more than he made as a rice farmer. The recruiters told that him that Global Horizons could find him work picking apples in Washington and pineapples in Hawaii. Lee, a pseudonym, arrived in Seattle on July 4, 2004 to discover that he would have to pay $18,000 to the recruiters.

"I thought I would find freedom and jobs here," Lee said at the news conference. "I thought the United States was a civilized nation, the highest in the world. I never imagined this kind of thing could happen here."

Like the Thai workers that CorpWatch reported on in
our 2006 article who were housed in trailers and crowded motel rooms, Lee says he was housed in a wooden shack. Lee says he was also threatened with violence and deportation if he tried to escape or to speak to any outsiders. In September 2005, Lee says he escaped one night by running through pineapple fields.

Lee's story was confirmed by Chanchanit Martorell, Executive Director of the Thai Community Development Center. Martorell and her staff say they have interviewed more than 200 farmworkers and filed civil charges against Global Horizons. She noted that some of the farm workers were so badly treated that they had to survive on eating leaves from plants or fish they caught in a nearby river.

Damrong Kraikruan, the consul general of Thailand in Los Angeles, told the Los Angeles Times newspaper that Thailand had revoked Global Horizons' license to work there in 2005, and convicted one of the firm's Thai associates of operating a job procurement business without a license.

Jorge Guzman, of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also appeared at the Thai Community Development Center news conference to praise the organization for raising awareness about the problem. "Awareness is crucial to making this shameful practice a thing of the past," Guzman said, urging the public to report any suspicions about human trafficking.

The FBI says it is taking the Global Horizons case very seriously. "In the old days, they used to keep slaves in their place with whips and chains," FBI Special Agent Tom Simon told the Beverly Hills Courier. "Today, it is done with economic threats and intimidation."

* This article was produced in partnership with Inter Press Service News Agency. Pratap Chatterjee may be reached at “pchatterjee (at)”


By Admin (from 24/09/2010 @ 10:00:16, in en - Global Observatory, read 2436 times)

The Internet age has spawned a culture in which information is rapidly assimilated and distributed around the world every second of every day. WikiLeaks, an organization that exposes classified information, has caused much controversy in recent months.

The documents that WikiLeaks publishes are leaked by individuals in corporate, religious, and government organizations.

The WikiLeaks organization states on its website that its mission is "to protect whistleblowers, journalists, and activists who have sensitive materials to communicate to the public." In effect, it is a site dedicated to the exposure of classified information and asserts a message that advocates for "better accountability by governments and other institutions."

"The Internet is wonderful but increasingly problematic. Sometimes we are kept in the dark for a reason. I would not want retaliation against innocent people due to the release of such information," said Stephanie Howell, a communications professor.

"While I do appreciate exposure of government, implications can be problematic and people can be hurt when the whole story isn't told."

In late July 2010 WikiLeaks released 77,000 documents pertaining to U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, followed by an additional 15,000 classified reports leaked illegally by Private Bradley Manning. Entitled the "Afghan War Diaries," this collection of highly sensitive military information paints a comprehensive picture of past and ongoing efforts of the war, including possible evidence of war crimes and military misconduct.

This included the release of a 2007 video entitled "Collateral Murder," filmed from the cockpit of a U.S. Army Apache helicopter. The video displays a lethal airstrike resulting in the deaths of a group of Afghan citizens and two Reuters news journalists, allegedly based on the premise of one man's possession of an artillery weapon. Various human rights groups and media organizations have lodged their support for the site, and despite some initial criticism surrounding the leak of names of Afghani informants, organizations such as Reporters Without Borders have pledged "support for WikiLeaks, its work, and its founding principles."

Critics have argued that the indiscriminate disclosure of intimate details on the war threatens both ongoing military operations in Afghanistan and the safety of its Afghani informants.

Opinions are sharply divided along ideological lines in the U.S., outlying the struggle to balance national security interests with First Amendment rights.

Benjamin Cosic, a senior majoring in communications and business, is in favor of WikiLeaks as long as it does not put peoples' lives or well-being in danger.

"WikiLeaks must take into account the ethical consequences of releasing such information to the public. However, websites like WikiLeaks could be revolutionary in terms of contributing to a more neutral, informed public," said Cosic.

"Most major news outlets are for profit corporations and possess a bias based on the need to present information in a way that turns a profit."

This debate has intensified with the Internet's capability of providing an anonymous forum for opinion and a venue in which to share information. With the rise of such technology, the notion of privacy and confidentiality, in the traditional sense, is rapidly changing.

WikiLeaks reflects a struggle between the right to free speech and the necessity to protect information critical to corporate, government, and organizational security. The question posed to modern-day society is how to draw the line between Internet freedom and necessary secrecy.

"If an open society means that people have to censor themselves, I believe people will be more cautious about what they put online," said Paul Booth, an assistant professor in the College of Communications who specializes in technology and new media.

"It's hard to say if the majority of people have a favorable opinion of WikiLeaks, but I think most people are in favor of open dialogue and debate. They don't want to compromise the safety of others, but they want to have as much information as possible."


By Admin (from 23/09/2010 @ 15:07:35, in en - Global Observatory, read 1744 times)

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has been named as the wealthiest person in the US for the 17th year in a row.

Bill Gates

Forbes magazine put his fortune at $54bn (£34.5bn), with investment guru Warren Buffet second with $45bn.

Software tycoon Larry Ellison was in third place, while Wal-Mart heir Christy Walton was fourth on Forbes' list of the 400 richest Americans.

It took a net worth of at least $1bn to earn a spot in the rankings - up from $950m in 2009.

The collective net worth of the 400 billionaires rose by 8% from 2009, totalling $1.37 trillion - approximately the same as the GDP of Spain or Canada.

Social network trend

Those gaining wealth in the list included Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, whose wealth grew by 245% to $6.4bn, the report said, putting him at 35 in the list.

His fellow co-founder Dustin Moskovitz is the youngest to make the top 400. The 26-year-old is eight days younger than Mr Zuckerberg and one of 16 new entrants to the list, which also includes another Facebook figure, Eduardo Saverin.

Another gainer was Manchester United owner Malcolm Glazer and family, while among those losing ground were the family behind confectionery giant Mars.

And there were 34 dropping off the list, including real estate mogul Tamir Sapir.

The 18 people returning to the list after a period of absence included Sidney Kimmel, at number 365, who made his fortune in the clothes business before producing films including The Kite Runner.

The report also found that among the 400 members of the list, 231 had donated to the Democratic Party between 2006 and 2010 - giving a total of $6.2bn. This compared with the 247 people who donated $7.3bn between them to the Republican Party.


RankNameWealthSourceChange from 2009



Bill Gates



+ $4bn


Warren Buffett


Berkshire Hathaway

+ $5bn


Lawrence Ellison



No change


Christy Walton & family





Charles Koch





David Koch





Jim C Walton



+ $500m


Alice Walton



+ $700m


S Robson Walton



+ $700m


Michael Bloomberg



+ $500m



U.S. officials said BP Plc killed its Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico after creating another cement seal, plugging the source of the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

BP Plugs Gulf Well

“The Macondo 252 well is effectively dead,” said National Incident Commander Thad Allen in a statement today (Sep 19, 2010 - n.d.R. TA). BP completed its last pressure test on the plugs at 5:54 a.m. local time before declaring the well sealed, according to the statement.

The 87-day spill, triggered by an April 20 rig explosion that killed 11 workers, tainted hundreds of miles of U.S. coastline. It also wiped out more than $70 billion of BP’s market value, brought new drilling in the Gulf to a standstill and cost Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward his job. About 400 lawsuits are pending, and the trial judge overseeing those predicted hundreds more will be filed.

“The whole industry is terrified it could happen to them,” Peter Hitchens, an analyst for Panmure Gordon UK Ltd. in London, said in an interview. “The whole way we drill wells could actually change. They’re going to take a lot longer. They’re going to be a lot more scrutinized.”

Another series of plugs probably will be required by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement before BP can abandon the well, Daren Beaudo, a company spokesman, said in an interview before today’s announcement.

BP Response

BP has spent at least $8 billion responding to the spill. The well, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) off the Louisiana coast, gushed more than 4 million barrels of oil into the Gulf. No crude or gas has leaked since BP capped the well July 15.

The disaster revealed that BP was unprepared to stanch a gusher 5,000 feet (1,524 meters) below the ocean surface, where pressure turns natural gas into pipe-clogging slush. BP took 87 days to design, build and deploy a 75-ton cap that stopped the flow after a series of failures.

Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., ConocoPhillips and Royal Dutch Shell Plc have pledged $1 billion to create a system to capture oil from underwater blowouts.

Weather slowed BP’s efforts to intercept the well. On June 25, the company said it would take a few weeks for the relief drilling to reach the level where it would enter Macondo.

Interception occurred Sept. 16, at 17,997 feet (5,485 meters) below the sea surface, BP said a day later.

Blaming Transocean

The well’s blowout preventer, a stack of valves designed to stop the sort of surge of oil and gas that led to the rig explosion, is at a government site in New Orleans for testing and inspection by the U.S. Justice Department and others.

BP expects to demobilize a fleet of drilling rigs and other ships that have been stationed at the well for months now that the well is permanently plugged, Beaudo said. That fleet has included two drillships, three drilling rigs, production vessels, tankers and ships that operated underwater robots.

BP on Sept. 8 published a 234-page report on the causes of the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, saying that its own managers and contractors involved with the well made mistakes that contributed to the disaster. The company blamed many of the errors onTransocean Ltd., which owned the Deepwater Horizon, and on service providers such as Halliburton Co.

BP’s report concealed the well’s “fatally flawed” design, which “set the stage” for the explosion, Geneva-based Transocean said Sept. 8. The driller cited a series of cost- savings decisions by BP that added risk.

Cathy Mann, a spokeswoman for Houston-based Halliburton, said the report had “substantial omissions and inaccuracies” and that BP dictated design and testing procedures for the well.

Anadarko Petroleum Corp., based near Houston, has a 25 percent stake in Macondo. A unit of Mitsui Oil Exploration Co., which is 70 percent owned by Japan’s Mitsui & Co., holds a 10 percent interest. BP was operator and held a 65 percent stake.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jim Polson in New York at;Christian Schmollinger in Singapore at;


By Admin (from 20/09/2010 @ 09:15:24, in en - Global Observatory, read 1762 times)

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is free to leave Sweden, after prosecutors said there was no arrest warrant against him for an alleged case of rape, one of his lawyers said Saturday.

Bjorn Hurtig said an investigation was still under way but the head of the whistleblowing website had been given no summons for questioning.

"I have been told that there is no arrest warrant against him," meaning Assange could do what he liked, including going abroad, Hurtig said.

Sweden's director of prosecutions Marianne Ny said on September 1 she was reopening a rape probe against the Australian, who had an arrest warrant against him issued on August 20 but saw it withdrawn by another prosecutor the following day.

Assange, 39, has said the allegations against him are part of a "smear campaign" aimed at discrediting his website, which is locked in a row with the Pentagon over the release of secret US documents about the war in Afghanistan.

A source familiar with the case said one of Assange's two alleged victims had been questioned on Friday and the other would be seen on Monday.

In a telephone interview with AFP on September 8 Assange said the charges against him were part of "a clear set-up," and had caused damage to WikiLeaks.

He said that he had decided to stay in Sweden to prove his innocence.

"This entire rape investigation has been conducted without my input," he said, adding that the police refused to say if there was a warrant out for him or not.

Assange has admitted that he had met both women in question, but refused to say if had had sex with either of them, calling it "a private matter."

In his interview with AFP he would not point a direct finger at US intelligence services, which have expressed alarm at WikiLeaks' publishing of thousands of confidential documents.

But he said his website had "two reliable intelligence sources that state that Swedish intelligence was approached last month by the United States and told that Sweden must not be a safe haven for WikiLeaks."

Two days before the allegations against Assange were made public, he had applied for a Swedish work and residency permit.

Some of the servers hosting the WikiLeaks website are kept in a basement in the Stockholm suburb of Solna.

WikiLeaks published nearly 77,000 classified US military documents on the war in Afghanistan on July 23, and intends to publish another 15,000.

Newsweek magazine said last week that WikiLeaks was teaming up with news outlets to release a "massive cache" of classified US military field reports on the conflict in Iraq.


By Admin (from 16/09/2010 @ 13:00:40, in en - Global Observatory, read 1829 times)

Anti-Islam protesters in the US have desecrated the Quran on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks -- a move bound to stir up strong feelings in the Muslim world.

Anti-Islam protesters in the US have desecrated the Quran on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks -- a move bound to stir up strong feelings in the Muslim world.

The streets near Ground Zero in New York, where a memorial service was held for the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks, became the scene of opposing demonstrations Saturday night.

Over 1,000 people marched in favor of a proposed construction of an Islamic center near Ground Zero, the site of the World Trade Center prior to the 9/11 attacks, while a block away, other groups rallied against its construction.

In the opposition's rally, a man burned pages from the Muslim holy book in front of press photographers.

Two evangelical preachers in Tennessee also set copies of the Quran on fire and members of the group Operation Rescue tore pages from Islam's holy book.

In another incident, a man ripped out pages from the holy Quran and made vulgar gestures with them. The police did not try to stop any of the incidents.

This comes after a Florida preacher called off plans to burn copies of the Quran on the anniversary of 9/11 attacks.

The pastor's plans sparked criticism by the international community, particularly the Muslim world, and led to protests in several countries including Iran, Afghanistan and India.



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