Daily Archives: November 21, 2007

Churches sell sweatshop crucifixes

Associated Press | Nov 20, 2007

By VERENA DOBNIK

NEW YORK (AP) — A labor rights group alleged Tuesday that crucifixes sold in religious gift shops in the U.S. are produced under “horrific” conditions in a Chinese factory with more than 15-hour work days and inadequate food.

“It’s a throwback to the worst of the garment sweatshops 10, 20 years ago,” said Charles Kernaghan, director of the National Labor Committee.

Kernaghan held a news conference in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral to call attention to conditions at a factory in Dongguan, a southern Chinese city near Hong Kong, where he said crosses sold at the historic church and elsewhere are made.

Spokespeople for St. Patrick’s and another New York landmark, the Episcopal Trinity Church at Wall Street, said the churches had removed dozens of crucifixes from their shops while they investigate the claims.

“I don’t think they have a clue where these crucifixes were made – in horrific work conditions,” Kernaghan said.

Kernaghan said the factory’s mostly young, female employees work from 8 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. seven days a week and are paid 26 cents an hour with no sick days or vacation. Workers live in filthy dormitories and are fed a watery “slop.”

Kernaghan said factory workers took photos and smuggled out documents detailing practices there. While none of the crucifixes sold in New York were identified as made in China, they bore serial numbers matching products made at the factory in question, Kernaghan said.

Joe Zwilling, a spokesman for St. Patrick’s, said church officials had not heard about the issue before Tuesday. Trinity spokeswoman Diane Reed said her church had been “under the impression that these were mass-produced in Italy.”

St. Patrick’s and Trinity bought the crosses from the Singer Co., a religious goods company based in suburban Mount Vernon. Co-owner Gerald Singer said the religious objects were made in China and purchased through a Chinese manufacturer called Full Start.

“Whether they came out of a sweatshop, we do not know,” Singer said. “We asked Full Start to sign off that there are no sweatshop conditions involved, and no children and that they abide by Chinese law. This is a black eye for us.”

An after-hours call to a U.S. office of Full Start Ltd. in East Providence, R.I., was not immediately returned Tuesday.

A man at the Full Start factory in Dongguan said the allegations were “totally incorrect.”

The working conditions at the factory were “fine,” said the man, who refused to give his name. The 200-plus employees work from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day, with an hour and a half break for lunch, he said.

The employees were rarely asked to work overtime, but were compensated when they did, he said. When pressed for more details, the man said he wasn’t in charge of those issues and hung up the phone.

Kernaghan said the crosses were exhibited at an annual trade show organized by the Association for Christian Retail, a Colorado-based trade association that works with thousands of religious stores across the country.

Bill Anderson, president and chief executive of the Christian trade association, issued a statement saying: “While we occasionally hear this issue raised, and believe there are factories in China where human rights are violated, we believe claims that products sold through CBA member stores are made in these shops are irresponsible and unfounded.”

Dongguan lies at the center of China’s export manufacturing industry, which relies heavily on low wages to remain competitive. Factories there have been accused in the past of labor abuses, including those making products for McDonald’s, Disney, Mattel and the Beijing Olympics.

Asean Leaders Agree to Form EU-Style Bloc

Bloomberg | Nov 20, 2007

By Shamim Adam and En-Lai Yeoh

Nov. 20 (Bloomberg) — Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations today agreed to eliminate trade barriers for goods and services in an attempt to create a European Union-modeled economic community by 2015.

The 10 members of the group adopted an Asean Economic Community Blueprint that also promises investors better dispute- settlement mechanisms and more transparent and consistent rules.

Member nations say integration, styled after the EU without a common currency or passport-free travel, is essential for the group as it competes with China and India for exports and investments. The Asean countries have a combined gross domestic product of over $1.03 trillion and a population of about 570 million.

“Businesses say we have a five-year window in terms of catching up with China and India,” said Robert Yap, chairman of the Asean Business Advisory Council. The blueprint, he said, “is to make sure we are there on time to compete.”

The report sets out commitments, targets and timelines for a single market and production base with an unrestricted flow of goods, services investments and skilled jobs.

Export-Dependent

Southeast Asia’s developing economies are almost twice as reliant on exports as the rest of the world, with more than 60 percent of overseas sales ultimately destined for the U.S., Europe and Japan.

“Simple, harmonized and standardized trade and customs, processes, procedures and related information flows are expected to reduce transaction costs in Asean,” the blueprint states. That “will enhance export competitiveness and facilitate the integration of Asean into a single market for goods, services and investments and a single production base.”

Asean leaders today also signed a charter, the first legally binding document since the group’s founding 40 years ago. Members found to be in violation of its rules will be referred to the leaders of the 10 Asean countries for action. The group will still rule by consensus, having rejected proposals to add voting, expulsion or sanctions on its members.

The charter will “allow us to evolve Asean into a community,” Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said in an interview.

`No Restrictions’

The group plans to remove “substantially” all restrictions on trade in services for four industries, including air transport, health care and tourism by 2010, the report said. Trade barriers in logistics services are expected to be removed by 2013, while all other services industries will be opened two years later.

“There will be substantially no restriction to Asean services suppliers in providing services and in establishing companies across national borders within the region, subject to domestic regulations,” the report said.

Asean also plans to “remove or relax” restrictions on capital flows to promote the development of its capital markets.

“A free and open investment regime is key to enhancing Asean’s competitiveness in attracting foreign direct investment as well as intra-Asean investment,” the blueprint stated. “Sustained inflows of new investments and reinvestments will promote and ensure development of Asean economies.”

Dispute Mechanism

The group aims to attract investment by providing “enhanced protection” such as dispute settlement mechanisms, and developing more transparent and consistent rules and procedures, it said.

Still, some analysts say the gaps in development between the group’s richest and poorest members may slow the pace of integration, making the 2015 target an unrealistic one.

“The probability is somewhat low it will happen by 2015,” said V. Anantha-Nageswaran, head of investment research for Asia and the Middle East at Bank Julius Baer in Singapore. “Given the relative unevenness of growth between them, I’m not entirely sure they will be able to keep to the deadline.”

One such area where the blueprint’s enforcers may have difficulty in opening up industries would be in financial services, said Citigroup Inc.’s Piyush Gupta.

“Countries say `given our state of development, there is no way we can give up control of our monetary, fiscal and macroeconomic policies,”’ Gupta said. “That’s what underlines people’s worries and fears and why financial integration doesn’t proceed as quickly as you want it to.”

Transport Networks

Some progress has been made in infrastructure development, where the group said it will boost cooperation to develop better land, sea and air transport networks.

The Southeast Asian nations agreed earlier this month to fully liberalize aviation services by 2015, which will permit Singapore Airlines Ltd. and Malaysia’s AirAsia Bhd. to have more flights within the region.

“An efficient, secure and integrated transport network in Asean is vital for realizing the full potential of the Asean free- trade area,” the report said.

Asean also highlighted the completion of a 5,500-kilometer railway line linking Singapore and the Chinese city of Kunming as a priority. It will also work together to ensure a secure and reliable supply of energy in the region.

Asean’s members are Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

North American Union ‘a couple years away’

Bilderberg author who 1st exposed plot in 1996 sees EU replication as imminent

WorldNetDaily | Nov 19, 2007

WASHINGTON – The next giant step toward world government will be integration of the U.S., Canada and Mexico in European Union-style merger in the next few years, says the author of a best-selling book on the power of shadowy international organizations promoting the move.

“I would say [it’s just] a couple of years away,” reports Daniel Estulin, author of “The True Story of the Bilderberg Group.”

Estulin, a Canadian now living in Europe, says the original plans for a North American Union involved the U.S. and Canada as the prime participants. It was motivated primarily by the desire to harvest Canada’s abundant natural resources.

In his new book, Estulin reveals the first efforts in this plan date back to 1996 when the elite Bilderberg Group first discussed plans for the dismantlement of Canada as an independent nation and proposed its merger – minus Quebec – with the United States into a Greater North America.

“Actually, the North American Union, or rather a Canada-U.S. merger, was initially discussed shortly after the Reagan-Bush candidacy won the White House,” he says in an interview with WND. “Upon taking over the reins of the country, George Bush and Ronald Reagan called in the presidents of the key trans-national companies and asked them for the real picture. The money people told them that if the United States were a corporation it would have to be shut down immediately. It was bankrupt.”

(Story continues below)

The solution proposed then, according to Estulin, was merger between the U.S. and Canada.

“Canada is virgin country with a multitude of natural resources, water, mines, oil, gas, etc.,” he explains. “They decided that it was going to take 14 or 15 years to put the whole project together. In the interval, the economies, social programs and laws of the two countries would be quietly harmonized as much as possible.”

Back then, part of that harmonization plan involved the separation of Quebec as an independent state, he says.

“Actually, when all is said and done, it all comes down to money,” Estulin says. “Money makes its own rules. If your goal is to make the most money possible using Canada’s natural resources, what would you ask for? Number one, give me control over the sun. Number two, give me control over the air. Number three, give me control over water. Now, we know we cannot control the sun, nor can we control the air. But we can control water. Water, after all, is the most important element that can be controlled.”

But the plot for a North American Union, as exposed in detail in Jerome Corsi’s new bestselling book, “The Late Great USA,” is but a prelude, Estulin says, to the ultimate merger – one-world government.

“Everything is in place,” he says. “Europe is now one country, one currency and one constitution. North America is about to become one. The African Union has had its working model going for over a decade. Asia is openly discussing the near-future Asian Union, being sold to us as an economic inevitability beneficial to all its citizens.”

Estulin sees the current focus in the U.S. on the presidential election of 2008 as something of a farce in light of this trend.

“Does it really matter who wins?” he asks. “As I make very clear in ‘The True Story of the Bilderberg Group,’ every politician of note and promise belongs to the Bilderbergers, CFR (Council on Foreign Relations) or the Trilateral Commission. Unless you are one of them, you can hardly hope to win the presidency. If we vote for the lesser evil, forced upon us by the secret oligarchies and the powerful men behind the curtain, we end up playing the game imposed upon us by them. Democracy, I guess what I really want to say, is a fallacy, an unattainable dream, a useless label trotted out and dusted off by the rulers every four years for the benefit of the great unwashed – us. There are two sides in this equation – the powerful elite who control the world’s wealth and the rest of humanity.”

Estulin “guarantees” today’s Republican front-runner Rudy Giuliani will not get the nomination of his party. With less certitude, he speculates the current mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, could still be positioned to head the GOP ticket.

“Bloomberg, according to my sources within Bilderberg, will emerge as a credible candidate of consensus for the discredited American political establishment, your virtual “People’s Choice” candidate,” he says.

What is the agenda behind these groups, which Estulin says are comprised of “self-interested elitists protecting their wealth and the investments of multinational banks and corporations in the growing world economy at the expense of developing nations and Third World countries”?

“The policies they develop,” he writes, “benefit them as well as move us towards a one-world government.”

Those questioning Estulin’s conclusion as mere speculation need only recall organizational financer David Rockefeller’s own words as recorded in his “Memoirs.”

“Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ and conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure – one world, if you will,” he wrote. “If that’s the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.”

Estulin’s book, first written in 2005 in Spain, has been translated into 24 languages, most recently this English edition. He has covered the Bilderberg Group as a journalist for more than 15 years.

Why does he singularly devote so much attention to exposing their activities?

“They cannot survive the light, and they know it,” he says. “This is why the powerful people have long insulated themselves from that possibility. You see, the greatest form of control is when you think you are free while you are being manipulated and dictated to. People have been disarmed through the greatest hypnotist the world has ever known – the oblong box almost everyone has in the corner of their living rooms known as the television. By persuading ordinary people that what they can see with their eyes is what is there to see, the men behind the curtain have ensured their own survival, because people will laugh in your face when you explain to them that there is a bigger picture they are not seeing.”

What is his personal prescription for fighting back? He offers a five-point program:

1. Understanding that governments do not represent the people nor have their best interests at heart.

2. Understanding that corporate media’s main job is to hide the transgressions of the most powerful people in the world not shine the light of truth on it.

3. Understanding that the corporate media forms part of the world’s elite societies such as the Bilderbergers, the CFR and the Trilateral Commission.

4. Understanding how money works and how through intelligent use of money we can destroy the Bilderbergers of this world.

5. Getting out of debt now.

The empire’s operatives exposed: The Krongards, 9/11, and Blackwater/Iraq

The New World Order’s “above the law” criminals — from the Krongards and the entire Blackwater apparatus, to Bush, Cheney, Blair, and the entire membership of the Bilderberg Group — have committed unprecedented atrocities out in the open, and have more than earned the kind of “interrogations” that they and their armed-to-the-teeth functionaries continue to inflict on political adversaries and innocent patsies in CIA prisons all over the world.

Online Journal | Nov 19, 2007

By Larry Chin

New bombshell testimony before Congress has revealed that Alvin B. “Buzzy” Krongard, the former CIA executive director connected to 9/11 insider trading, is a consultant and advisory board member of Blackwater USA, the New World Order’s leading intelligence-related corporate mercenary death squad now under investigation for war crimes, murder, arms smuggling, and fraud in Iraq.

“Buzzy” Krongard’s Blackwater role was confirmed by “Buzzy”’s brother, Howard “Cookie” Krongard, who (not ironically) is the Bush/Cheney administration’s State Department’s inspector general, and the official under fire for stonewalling and quashing attempted probes of Blackwater’s operations.

It was during the last Wednesday’s hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Henry Waxman (D-CA), that “Cookie” Krongard denied, then confirmed later in the same testimony, the fact that his own brother was a Blackwater advisory board member throughout the period in which “Cookie” engaged in the cover-up of Blackwater. It is not known if “Cookie” Krongard lied, or was lied to, but he has now recused himself from “all matters having to do with Blackwater.”

As thoroughly documented by Michael C. Ruppert in Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil, until 1997, A.B. “Buzzy” Krongard was the vice chairman of investment bank A.B.Brown (Alex. Brown). A.B. Brown and its previous incarnations have been involved with Bush family business ventures for generations, including deals with the Carlyle Group. It was also one of many major investment houses implicated for money laundering in congressional probes.

Brothers in illegal arms

Krongard joined the CIA in 1998 as the counsel to CIA Director George Tenet, and was named CIA executive director (the CIA’s #3 position) by George W. Bush in March 2001. The Deutsche Bank/Alex.Brown private banking operation headed by Krongard through 1998, and taken over by Krongard’s colleague Mayo Shattuck III, was one of the major hubs of 9/11 insider trading, where put options were purchased on United Airlines and other 9/11-related stocks. As written by Ruppert, “the trades could only have been made by people high enough in the US, Israeli and European intelligence community (including Russia) to know about the attacks and — more importantly — which of the many planned attacks were going to be successful.”

It is no surprise that Howard “Cookie” Krongard has, along with brother “Buzzy,” enjoyed high official Bush/Cheney positions, and profits, from the “war on terrorism” — apparently continuously from 9/11 all the way to the present Iraq occupation and quagmire.

These and other damning facts add to the multitude of direct lines leading from 9/11 to Iraq and beyond, and have been exposed piecemeal in recent years and months (in media reports that are largely ignored and misunderstood by the masses). They confirm and underscore years of exhaustive existing evidence about the true nature of the “war on terrorism,” its imperial architects from across the international political spectrum, and its multinational universe of “soldiers” (exemplified by the Krongards), and intelligence proprietaries, cut-outs, and political and media fronts.

The New World Order’s “above the law” criminals — from the Krongards and the entire Blackwater apparatus, to Bush, Cheney, Blair, and the entire membership of the Bilderberg Group — have committed unprecedented atrocities out in the open, and have more than earned the kind of “interrogations” that they and their armed-to-the-teeth functionaries continue to inflict on political adversaries and innocent patsies in CIA prisons all over the world.

Tragically, particularly in the present milieu, it is more than likely that the Krongards will not be touched, any more than Bush, Cheney, et al will receive the punishment they deserve.

Not only have no “heads rolled” since 9/11, but virtually all of the 9/11/ “war on terrorism” criminals continue to hold the highest offices of power, brazenly committing new crimes in the open, while holding the people of world in contempt. The criminals, and their crimes, are on television, every hour on the hour. Witness the fact that Rudolf Guiliani, who was thoroughly exposed as a hands-on participant in the 9/11 operation in Mike Ruppert’s Crossing the Rubicon, is a leading 2008 presidential candidate. Senator Joe Biden, one of many members of Congress who enjoyed breakfast on 9/11 with Pakistani ISI chief and 9/11 “money man” Mahmoud Ahmad, is also running for president.

Given the bipartisan complicity of the US Congress, it is likely that the Blackwater probes, like all congressional “investigations” in modern history, are simply more limited hangouts, designed to strengthen, not expose, what remains a massive ongoing cover-up of imperial crimes.

Charter transforms ASEAN into legal entity like EU

Xinhuanet | Nov 20, 2007

BEIJING, Nov. 20 (Xinhuanet) — In order to be more ready to face challenges, the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) signed a Charter on Tuesday, which transforms the ASEAN into a rules-based legal entity like the European Union.

The Charter was signed by the bloc’s 10 leaders in Shangri-La Hotel in the downtown of Singapore. Under the Charter, the member states of ASEAN are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Here are a rough guide of the Charter:

Legal personality

In order to be more ready to face challenges, ASEAN needs a legal foundation and institutional framework for building up the regional integration, the Charter says.

“ASEAN, as an inter-governmental organization, is hereby conferred legal personality,” says the Charter. (ASEAN to be conferred legal personality )

Single market and elimination of all barriers

ASEAN leaders promised in the Charter to create a single market and production base with effective facilitation for trade and investment in which there is free flow of goods, services and investment. They also promised to gain freer flow of capital. (ASEAN vows to create single market in the region )

According to the Charter, ASEAN will adhere to multilateral trade rules to eliminate all barriers to regional economic integration in a market-driven economy.

The Charter says that ASEAN will enhance consultations on matters seriously affecting the common interest of the group.(ASEAN plans to eliminate all barriers to regional economic integration )

Dalai Lama May Appoint Successor Instead of Reincarnating

AP | Nov 20, 2007

TOKYO (AP) – The Dalai Lama says he may appoint a successor or rely on an election before his death in a break with tradition, a Japanese newspaper reported Tuesday, following recent orders that China must approve Tibet’s spiritual leaders.

According to centuries of Tibetan Buddhist tradition, the search for the reincarnation of spiritual leaders, or lamas—including the Dalai Lama—has been carried out by Tibetan monks following the leaders’ deaths.

“The Tibetan people would not support a successor selected by China after my death,” the Dalai Lama was quoted as saying on a trip to Japan by the Sankei Shimbun, a national daily.

“If the Tibetan people wish to uphold the Dalai Lama system, one possibility would be to select the next Dalai Lama while I am still living,” he was quoted as saying in an interview.

“Among options being considered are a democratic selection by the high monks of Tibetan Buddhism, or the appointment of a successor by myself,” he said.

The exiled leader also accused Chinese authorities of stepping up persecution of Tibetan monks and civilians, and called the region’s relations with the Chinese government “the most tense in recent years,” according to the newspaper.

China’s new order, which came into force in September, states that all future lama appointments related to Tibetan Buddhism “must get government approval,” according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

It also prevents any outside source from having “influence” in the selection process, the agency reported.

The order has led to concerns that the central government may forcibly select a pro-Beijing leader once the current popular Dalai Lama is dead.

China has ruled Tibet with a heavy hand since its Communist-led forces invaded in 1951, and it has accused the Buddhist monk of defying its sovereignty by pushing for Tibetan independence.

The Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharmsala, India, regards the Chinese order as an attempt to further repress and undermine the religious culture of the Himalayan region.

In 1995, the Dalai Lama chose 6-year-old Gendun Choekyi Nyima as the 11th Panchen Lama, the most exalted figure of Tibetan Buddhism after the Dalai Lama. The boy and his family disappeared soon after and have not been heard from since.

China’s communist-led government later named Gyaltsen Norbu as the 11th Panchen Lama and said Nyima and his family were being kept in a secret location for their protection.

The Dalai Lama says he wants “real autonomy” for Tibet, not independence. He has lived with followers in exile in India since fleeing Chinese soldiers in 1959.

He arrived in Japan last week for a nine-day visit. He has been snubbed by Japanese officials, who are working to improve relations with neighboring China.

9/11 Families Counter Giuliani

 

Andy Anbro listens as families of 9/11 hold a town meeting to criticize former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani in Hanover, N.H., Monday, Nov. 19, 2007. New York firefighters, including two who lost sons in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, joined other victims’ family members Monday to argue that Rudy Giuliani’s character and actions make him unfit to become president.

AP | Nov 20, 2007

By HOLLY RAMER

HANOVER, N.H. (AP) — New York firefighters, including two who lost sons in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, joined other victims’ relatives Monday to argue that Rudy Giuliani’s character and actions make him unfit to be president.

Members of the group, 9/11 Firefighters and Families, long have been vocal critics of Giuliani’s performance as New York mayor, but Monday marked their first trip to another state.

For his part, Giuliani was in Mission, Texas, discussing border security.

“They deserve a legacy of the facts, a true story about what happened to them, our city, and really to our country. That’s why we’re not going to give up,” said a tearful Sally Regenhard, whose firefighter son died at the World Trade Center. “We want people to know the truth about Rudy Giuliani running for president as a false hero.”

The group accused Giuliani of politicizing the firefighters’ deaths by making his post-9/11 leadership the centerpiece of his presidential campaign.

Jim Riches, a deputy New York fire chief, and Al Santora, who retired in 2000, said Giuliani ignored recommendations to equip firefighters with radios that would have allowed them to communicate with police and to set up a unified command center so both departments could share decision-making during big emergencies. Both men lost sons at the trade center.

“Lives were lost because of the lack of preparation and (Giuliani’s) lack of leadership,” said Riches, who spent 16 days in a coma after the attacks due to respiratory failure. “All he did was run that day, and get on TV and provide a calming influence for the United States of America. And they made him a hero.”

Howard Safir, who served Giuliani as fire commissioner and later police commissioner, said the group has its facts wrong. He acknowledged some radio failures but said many also worked well.

“Anybody who lost a son or daughter in 9/11 has suffered a tragedy that is immeasurable. People grieve in different ways. Some get very biter, some do positive things,” he said.

Safir also said he suspected the International Association of Fire Fighters, which opposes Giuliani’s candidacy and has endorsed Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, of pulling the strings.

“There are many, many 9/11 families who lost relatives who are very, very supportive of Rudy and what he did before and after 9/11,” Safir said. “It’s sad when people get used politically.”