NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal said Monday that he and his investment firm, Kingdom Holding Company, are purchasing a $300 million stake in Twitter.
The billionaire prince said the investment was made after “several months of negotiations” and would represent “a strategic stake” in the microblogging service.
We believe that social media will fundamentally change the media industry landscape in the coming years. Twitter will capture and monetize this positive trend,” KHC executive director of private equity and international investments Ahmed Halawani said in a press release.
The prince’s Twitter shares were bought on the secondary market, according to Fortune reporter Dan Primack — which means that Twitter didn’t directly recieve any of the cash.
While it’s unclear how much control Alwaleed’s investment will provide, the prince’s investment firm looks to become long-term investors in its portfolio investments and “seeks to work closely with the management of those companies and participate in strategic decisions,” according to its site.
With a reported net worth of $21.3 billion, Prince Alwaleed has topped Arabian Business’s Arab Rich list for eight consecutive years. source – CNN Money
5,000 Outraged Texans Join Rally in Support of Christmas Scene After Atheists Called for its Removal
Up to 5,000 people joined a rally on Saturday in support of a Nativity scene in Texas that a Wisconsin-based atheist group wanted to take down.
The atheist Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) had sent a letter to authorities in Henderson County, Texas, saying that a local resident had complained and that the Nativity should be removed from the courthouse lawn in Athens.
Nathan Lorick, the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Malakoff and one of the organizers of Saturday’s rally in Athens, said: ‘We are humbled at the turnout of the crowd.’
‘We believe that God led us to do this and so we knew he was up to something great,” he told Fox News & Commentary.
‘This message is resonating in the hearts of people all over the country. This was a real statement to the nation that Christians are tired of the persecution and suppression.’
The FFRF said that for non-Christians, the Nativity sent a message of intimidation and exclusion. But their outcry in turn lead to anger through Texas.
The Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott sent out a ‘don’t mess with texas’ message and said he would defend the county if the atheists sued.
Saturday’s rally passed without incident and included speeches, patriotic music, Christmas carols and prayers.
The FFRF sent a banner to the court house that it wanted displayed, with a very different message than the birth of Christ.
The group’s banner read ‘At this season of the Winter Solstice, let reason prevail.’ ’There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but a myth & superstition that hardens hearts & enslaves minds,’ it finished. source – Daily Mail UK
**MUST READ: Obama’s Private Army and FEMA Camps. We have warned you for years that the day was coming where, under the pretext of “national security”, that the US government would soon begin to imprison American citizens that they feel are a “threat”. That day is now here. Believe it.
Military given go-ahead to detain US terrorist suspects without trial
Barack Obama has abandoned a commitment to veto a new security law that allows the military to indefinitely detain without trial American terrorism suspects arrested on US soil who could then be shipped to Guantánamo Bay.
Human rights groups accused the president of deserting his principles and disregarding the long-established principle that the military is not used in domestic policing. The legislation has also been strongly criticised by libertarians on the right angered at the stripping of individual rights for the duration of “a war that appears to have no end”.
Human Rights Watch said that by signing the bill Obama would go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in US law.
The law, contained in the defence authorisation bill that funds the US military, effectively extends the battlefield in the “war on terror” to the US and applies the established principle that combatants in any war are subject to military detention.
The legislation’s supporters in Congress say it simply codifies existing practice, such as the indefinite detention of alleged terrorists at Guantánamo Bay. But the law’s critics describe it as a draconian piece of legislation that extends the reach of detention without trial to include US citizens arrested in their own country.
“It’s something so radical that it would have been considered crazy had it been pushed by the Bush administration,” said Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch. “It establishes precisely the kind of system that the United States has consistently urged other countries not to adopt. At a time when the United States is urging Egypt, for example, to scrap its emergency law and military courts, this is not consistent.”
There was heated debate in both houses of Congress on the legislation, requiring that suspects with links to Islamist foreign terrorist organisations arrested in the US, who were previously held by the FBI or other civilian law enforcement agencies, now be handed to the military and held indefinitely without trial.
The law applies to anyone “who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaida, the Taliban or associated forces”.
Senator Lindsey Graham said the extraordinary measures were necessary because terrorism suspects were wholly different to regular criminals.
“We’re facing an enemy, not a common criminal organisation, who will do anything and everything possible to destroy our way of life,” he said. “When you join al-Qaida you haven’t joined the mafia, you haven’t joined a gang. You’ve joined people who are bent on our destruction and who are a military threat.”
Other senators supported the new powers on the grounds that al-Qaida was fighting a war inside the US and that its followers should be treated as combatants, not civilians with constitutional protections.
But another conservative senator, Rand Paul, a strong libertarian, has said “detaining citizens without a court trial is not American” and that if the law passes “the terrorists have won”.
“We’re talking about American citizens who can be taken from the United States and sent to a camp at Guantánamo Bay and held indefinitely. It puts every single citizen American at risk,” he said. “Really, what security does this indefinite detention of Americans give us? The first and flawed premise, both here and in the badly named Patriot Act, is that our pre-9/11 police powers were insufficient to stop terrorism. This is simply not borne out by the facts.”
Paul was backed by Senator Dianne Feinstein.
“Congress is essentially authorising the indefinite imprisonment of American citizens, without charge,” she said. “We are not a nation that locks up its citizens without charge.”
Paul said there were already strong laws against support for terrorist groups. He noted that the definition of a terrorism suspect under existing legislation was so broad that millions of Americans could fall within it.
“There are laws on the books now that characterise who might be a terrorist: someone missing fingers on their hands is a suspect according to the department of justice. Someone who has guns, someone who has ammunition that is weatherproofed, someone who has more than seven days of food in their house can be considered a potential terrorist,” Paul said. “If you are suspected because of these activities, do you want the government to have the ability to send you to Guantánamo Bay for indefinite detention?”
Under the legislation suspects can be held without trial “until the end of hostilities”. They will have the right to appear once a year before a committee that will decide if the detention will continue.
The Senate is expected to give final approval to the bill before the end of the week. It will then go to the president, who previously said he would block the legislation not on moral grounds but because it would “cause confusion” in the intelligence community and encroached on his own powers.
But on Wednesday the White House said Obama had lifted the threat of a veto after changes to the law giving the president greater discretion to prevent individuals from being handed to the military.
Critics accused the president of caving in again to pressure from some Republicans on a counter-terrorism issue for fear of being painted in next year’s election campaign as weak and of failing to defend America.
Human Rights Watch said that by signing the bill Obama would go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in US law.
“The paradigm of the war on terror has advanced so far in people’s minds that this has to appear more normal than it actually is,” Malinowski said. “It wasn’t asked for by any of the agencies on the frontlines in the fight against terrorism in the United States. It breaks with over 200 years of tradition in America against using the military in domestic affairs.”
In fact, the heads of several security agencies, including the FBI, CIA, the director of national intelligence and the attorney general objected to the legislation. The Pentagon also said it was against the bill.
The FBI director, Robert Mueller, said he feared the law could compromise the bureau’s ability to investigate terrorism because it would be more complicated to win co-operation from suspects held by the military.
“The possibility looms that we will lose opportunities to obtain co-operation from the persons in the past that we’ve been fairly successful in gaining,” he told Congress.
Civil liberties groups say the FBI and federal courts have dealt with more than 400 alleged terrorism cases, including the successful prosecutions of Richard Reid, the “shoe bomber”, Umar Farouk, the “underwear bomber”, and Faisal Shahzad, the “Times Square bomber”.
Elements of the law are so legally confusing, as well as being constitutionally questionable, that any detentions are almost certain to be challenged all the way to the supreme court.
Malinowski said “vague language” was deliberately included in the bill in order to get it passed. “The very lack of clarity is itself a problem. If people are confused about what it means, if people disagree about what it means, that in and of itself makes it bad law,” he said. source – Guardian UK
**MUST READ: Obama’s Private ARmy and FEMA Camps
WLS Radio’s Bill Cameron reports from City Hall that the mayor is asking the aldermen to give him temporary authority to close all of the city’s parks, playgrounds and beaches at 11 p.m. during the NATO and G8 summits.
He also wants to add more security cameras, deputize more people to be police officers and dramatically raise fines on protesters who don’t obey the police. Also requested has the ability to give him more freedom to execute contracts for goods and services connected to the NATO and G8 summits.
While many of the lessons that Barack H. Obama learned as “a community organizer” have been attributed to his training and reading Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals,” it is worth noting how similar some of the methods are those to those routinely employed by organized crime. Misleading the public with blatant propaganda, calculated deceptions and outright lies are familiar Mafia tools. Likewise, gaming the political process, promoting vote fraud at the polls and bribing venal politicians to secure their votes are time honored methods utilized by the gangsters. The Chicago Syndicate once dominated the political life of the West Side and the most corrupt politicians in the General Assembly were frequently referred to simply as “the West Side Bloc.” The primary role of this particular group was to act as obstructionists who would bottle up important reform legislation and prevent its passage through a combination of chicanery and occasional smear tactics.
When Alinsky returned to his community and labor organizing efforts, he put to good use some of the techniques that he had learned from Nitti. In the years following the repeal of Prohibition, the Mob had to find alternative methods of raising revenue. While vice profits from gambling and prostitution activities continued, labor union racketeering grew in importance. Controlling and monopolizing bar and restaurant supply services was also highly profitable and Nitti once claimed to look forward to the day when the Syndicate realized a profit from the use of a single olive in every martini. The Mob achieved these ambitions by co-opting numerous labor unions.
While Alinsky proposed that his followers engage in a march through the institutions as a quiet method of gaining political power, the mob similarly sought to infiltrate labor unions and to establish profitable rackets. Al Capone, himself, once stated that if rank and file union members saw a few additional dollars in their pay envelopes, the majority of the members would hardly concern themselves with mobsters seizing control of their union locals and using the political power of the organizations for their own nefarious purposes. In a like fashion, Obama has promised the country virtually free health care and a pristine environment. The payoff methods that his administration has used to obtain votes from legislators have bordered upon open bribery. Obama’s primary interest is not in achieving these largely unattainable goals, however, as much as it is about enlarging the size and scope of the Federal government and thereby increasing his own power.
One thing that the political thugs and make believe tough guys in the Obama White House have overlooked is that most of the Chicago Syndicate members privately held the opinion that their bought and paid for political allies were little better than paid prostitutes. The job of passing bribes to politicians was often entrusted to lower level hoodlums.
This is “the Chicago Way” writ large, indeed. source – ChicagoDailyObserver.com
The weakest president ever?
If there was ever a time we needed some Cowboy Diplomacy, this is it.
President Barack Obama said Monday that the U.S. wants the top-secret aircraft back. “We have asked for it back. We’ll see how the Iranians respond,” Obama said during a White House news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Monday.
In an interview broadcast live Monday night on Venezuelan state television, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said nothing to suggest his country would grant the U.S. request.
“The Americans have perhaps decided to give us this spy plane,” Ahmadinejad said. “We now have control of this plane.”
Speaking through an interpreter, Ahmadinejad said: “There are people here who have been able to control this spy plane, who can surely analyze this plane’s system also. … In any case, now we have this spy plane.”
He added, “Very soon, they’re going to learn more about the abilities and possibilities of our country.”
On Tuesday, a semi-official Iranian news agency said authorities have shrugged off the U.S. request. Defense Minister Gen. Ahmad Vahidi said the United States should apologize for invading Iranian air space instead of asking for the return of the unmanned aircraft.
Obama wouldn’t comment on what the Iranians might learn from studying the downed aircraft. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said it’s difficult to know “just frankly how much they’re going to be able to get from having obtained those parts.”
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Panetta said they’re not optimistic about getting the drone back because of recent Iranian behavior that Clinton said indicated “that the path that Iran seems to be going down is a dangerous one for themselves and the region.”
“We submitted a formal request for the return of our lost equipment as we would in any situation to any government around the world,” Clinton told reporters at a State Department news conference with British Foreign Secretary William Hague.
“Given Iran’s behavior to date we do not expect them to comply but we are dealing with all of these provocations and concerning actions taken by Iran in close concert with our closest allies and partners,” she said.
Panetta said the request to return the drone was appropriate. “I don’t expect that that will happen,” he said. “But I think it’s important to make that request.”
Neither Obama nor Clinton would provide details of the drone request, but diplomatic exchanges between Washington to Tehran are often handled by Switzerland, which represents U.S. interests in Iran. The State Department said Monday that the Swiss ambassador to Iran met with Iranian foreign ministry officials last week but refused to say what they discussed.
Iran TV reported earlier Monday that Iranian experts were in the final stages of recovering data from the RQ-170 Sentinel, which went down in Iran earlier this month. Tehran has cited the capture as a victory for Iran and displayed the nearly intact drone on state TV. U.S. officials say the aircraft malfunctioned and was not brought down by Iran.
Despite the incident, Clinton said the administration and its allies would continue to push Iran to engage over its nuclear program while at the same time increasing pressure on the regime with new, enhanced sanctions.
“We obviously believe strongly in a diplomatic approach. We want to see the Iranians engage and, as you know, we have attempted to bring about that engagement over the course of the last three-plus years. It has not proven effective, but we are not giving up on it,” she said.
Standing beside Clinton, Hague agreed.
“We’re not giving up on engagement with Iran, but on a number of occasions Iran has behaved in a way in recent weeks and months which has intensified confrontation with the rest of the world,” he said. “We have seen an increasing predilection for dangerous and illegal adventures on the part of at least parts of the Iranian regime.”
Clinton and Hague referred to the storming of British diplomatic compounds in Tehran, allegations that Iran tried to arrange the assassination of the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Iran’s ongoing support for militant groups and its continued defiance of demands to prove its nuclear program is peaceful. source – My Way News
Iran challenges US
Big-headed from capturing the US stealth RQ-170 Sentinel drone, Tehran Monday, Dec. 12 announced plans to conduct a navy drill son for practicing the closure of the Strait of Hormuz, the most important oil transit channel in the world for 40 percent of its fuel. Iranian lawmaker Parviz Sorouri, member of the Majlis national security committee, who announced the drill said, “Iran will make the world unsafe if the world attacks Iran.”
On Dec. 12, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called Iran “a very grave threat to all of us” and warned that any Iranian disruption of the free flow of commerce through the Persian Gulf “is a red line” for the United Sates. Tehran’s announcement of a navy drill in Hormuz augments the Syrian ruler Bashar Assad’s mantra since his people rose up against him nine months ago, that an attack on his regime would start a regional blaze.
The Iranian lawmaker spoke at length about how his government planned to use the military and intelligence software mined from the top-secret US UAV on Dec. 4.
He said Iranian engineers and technicians were “in the final stages of “cracking” the drone’s secret technology, although he did not say when this research would be complete. “Our next action will be to reverse-engineer the aircraft,” he said and boasted: “In the near future will be able to mass produce it. Iranian engineers will soon build an aircraft superior to the American one.”
This data would also be used, the Iranian lawmaker said, in a lawsuit against the United State for the “invasion” by the unmanned aircraft. Sorouri did not say where the lawsuit would be filed but Tehran is thought to be preparing an complaint to the international war crimes court at the Hague.
debkafile’s Iranian and military sources note that the linkage Sorouri made between the capture of the RQ-170 and the naval drill in the Strait of Hormuz was intended to inform Washington that Tehran in possession of the drone no longer fears the ability of the naval air carriers the US has deployed in the Persian Gulf to prevent its closure of the strategic waterway.
In the last six months, Adm. Habibollah Sayyari has emphasized more than once that the Iranian Navy which he commands is master of the Persian Gulf and dominates the Strait of Hormuz. After trapping the American stealth drone, Iran is mounting a challenge to the warning issued by Panetta and testing the resolve of Washington and the Saudi-led Gulf Arab region to contest the Hormuz drill.
Mere verbal protest will not serve. It will just leave Tehran crowing over its possession of the US drone as the key to the military and intelligence mastery of the Persian Gulf waters and the ability to make US back down. However a real threat by the US and Gulf oil powers to stop the drill by force will send regional tensions shooting up.
In the meantime, Saeed Jalili, head of Iran’s National Security Council has arrived in Moscow to clinch a deal for the transfer of drone secrets to Russia in return for nuclear technology and sophisticated military hardware. source – DEBKA
Internet piracy bill: A free speech ‘kill switch’
What began as an attempt to restrain foreign piracy on the Internet has morphed into a domestic “kill switch” on First Amendment freedom in the fastest-growing corner of the marketplace of ideas.
Proposed federal legislation purporting to protect online intellectual property would also impose sweeping new government mandates on internet service providers – a positively Orwellian power grab that would permit the U.S. Justice Department to shut down any internet site it doesn’t like (and cut off its sources of income) on nothing more than a whim.
Under the so-called “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA) the federal government – which is prohibited constitutionally from abridging free speech or depriving its citizens of their property without due process – would engage in both practices on an unprecedented scale. And in establishing the precursor to a taxpayer-funded “thought police,” it would dramatically curtail technology investment and innovation – wreaking havoc on our economy.
Consider this: Under the proposed legislation all that’s required for government to shutdown a specific website is the mere accusation that the site unlawfully featured copyrighted content. Such an accusation need not be proven – or even accompanied by probable cause. All that an accuser (or competitor) needs to do in order to obtain injunctive relief is point the finger at a website.
Additionally, SOPA would grant regulators the ability to choke off revenue to the owners of these newly classified “rogue” websites by accusing their online advertisers and payment providers as co-conspirators in the alleged “piracy.” Again, no finding of fact would be required – the mere allegation of impropriety is all that’s needed to cut the website’s purse strings.
Who’s vulnerable to this legislation?
“Any website that features user-generated content or that enables cloud-based data storage could end up in its crosshairs,” writes David Sohn, senior policy council at the Center on Democracy and Technology. “(Internet Service Providers) would face new and open-ended obligations to monitor and police user behavior. Payment processors and ad networks would be required to cut off business with any website that rights-holders allege hasn’t done enough to police infringement.” source – The Hill