Archive for February 23, 2011


New Madrid Bicentennial Galas Planned

woodcutSeveral of the largest historical earthquakes to strike the continental United States occurred in the winter of 1811-1812 along the New Madrid Seismic Zone, which stretches from just west of Memphis, Tennessee into southern Illinois. These earthquakes produced at least three temblors between magnitude 7-8, and hundreds of aftershocks.

In 2011 and 2012, there will be events held throughout the central United States observing the 200th Anniversary of the great 1811 and 1812 New Madrid earthquakes that forever changed the mid-western landscape. These quakes were felt across the U.S. and as far south as the Gulf of Mexico, and as far north as Canada. Organizations from across the United States will participate in the bicentennial events, which range from conferences, workshops, public outreach events, multi-state earthquake exercises, field trips, and more.  Organizers of the New Madrid Bicentennial events (NMB) are already planning the following activities:

Bicentennial Kickoff – February 11, 2011
Earthquake Awareness Month –
February 2011
Seismological Society of America Meeting
– April 2011
Great Central U.S. ShakeOut
– April 28, 2011 @ 10:15a.m.
National Level Exercise (NLE2011)
– May 16-20, 2011
Earthquake Awareness Month
– February 2012
National Earthquake Conference
– April 2012
EERI Annual Conference
– April 2012
St. Jude Dream Home Partnership –
April 2012

In recognition of the 200th Anniversary of the New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811-1812, the US Geological Survey has released several short videos on YouTube.  The videos come in time for the official NMB Kickoff, slated for February 11, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Kickoff is being held as part of the 18th Annual “Earthquakes:  Mean Business” seminar being hosted by St. Louis University.

The video series include topics on New Madrid earthquake history, science, planning, and more.  View the videos below or by visiting the YouTube channel at –


As Days of Rage continue across the Middle East, and thoughts are far from the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the Israeli Foreign Ministry took the unusual step earlier this week of quietly shutting down four embassies and putting others on high alert. That’s because as attention has turned to protests in Bahrain, Yemen, Algeria, and Iran, sabers are rattling between Lebanon and Israel. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned that his nation could once again enter Lebanon, and Hezbollah once again promised to avenge its martyrs.

That would be one martyr, in particular. At least this week.

While Israel’s embassy in Cairo was already in flux due to the 18-day Egyptian uprising, the decision to shut down four, thus far unnamed, diplomatic missions coincides with the third anniversary of the death of Imad Mughniyeh, a Hezbollah leader, in Lebanon. Mughniyeh was killed in a car bombing in February 2008; Hezbollah blamed Israel. Israel denied culpability.

Observers pointed out that there were others around the globe who were happy to see Mughniyeh dead (the United States is at the top of that list). Mughniyeh was widely believed to be involved in the hijacking of TWA flight 845 in the early 1980s (and was indicted for that crime in the U.S.) and other attacks on Americans, as well as bombings against Jewish and Israeli sites in Argentina — including the deadly AMIA bombing in 1994 against a Jewish community center that killed 85 people and wounded 151 more. He then dropped off the radar for years, though intelligence believed him to be still active — and even blamed him for the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia in 1996.

Upon his death, then State-Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, “The world is a better place without this man in it. One way or the other, he was brought to justice.” And the FBI’s Richard Kolko told the Associated Press, “If this information proves true, it would be considered good news in the ongoing fight against terrorism.”

But good news for fighters of terrorism didn’t mean there wasn’t revenge in the works. Hezbollah promised as much. Wednesday morning, at a rally marking the party’s Martyr’s Day, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah reiterated that promise. “I say to the Zionist leaders and generals: Wherever you go in the world . . . at any time, to watch your heads because the blood of Imad Mughniyeh will not be wasted.”

He promised war and he promised bombs. “I say to the fighters of the Islamic Resistance: Be ready. If a new war is imposed on Lebanon we may ask you to take Galilee, to free Galilee,” Hassan Nasrallah said. “I hope the people of Israel have good bomb shelters.”

Agence France-Press reported that on the dais with Nasrallah was Mohammed Yusuf Mansour, a Hezbollah leader who escaped from a Cairo prison last week.

Indeed, this week the Israeli Foreign Ministry acknowledged it had received enough credible threats to believe the lives of embassy staffers were at risk. “A number of irregular incidents targeting Israeli destinations were recorded in the last few days,” the ministry said in a statement Tuesday. “At this point we estimate that a threat exists against the locations and it is being dealt with. The relevant Israeli authorities are in contact with the relevant authorities in the countries in question.”

The countries weren’t named, but observers noted that on Friday Israel’s Counter Terrorism Bureau declared eight countries were high risks for Israeli and Jewish travelers — Egypt, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, the Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania and Venezuela. The foreign ministry did not confirm embassy closings in those nations, possibly to throw off any planned attacks.

Closing an embassy is a relatively unusual step. The United States and the United Kingdom, however, temporarily closed embassies in Yemen in early January 2010 due to threats of an al-Qaeda attack there.

Former CIA Analyst Ray McGovern Arrested and Beaten at Hillary Clinton’s Lecture About Free Speech

Feb 17th, 2011 | By Hayden | – Kevin Hayden

As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lectured about freedom to the rest of the world at George Washington University and condemed governments that arrest protestors and do not allow free expression, 71-year-old Ray McGovern was seized from the audience right in front of her by police and an unknown official in plain clothes.  He was brutalized and left bleeding in jail.  And yet Hillary never even paused; didn’t skip a beat in her speech.

When Secretary Clinton began her lecture to the world, Ray McGovern was standing silently in the audience and turned his back to her.  Mr. McGovern, a veteran Army Officer who also worked for the CIA for 27 years, was wearing a “Veterans for Peace” t-shirt.

McGovern discussed his protest and subsequent arrest at Secretary Clinton’s “Freedom Speech” in an interview with blogger Rob Kall.

“I turned my back to her and stood [silently]. When she came in, I not only remained standing but I turned my back to her… I didn’t think that would get me roughed up and arrested for disorderly conduct.”

He was suddenly grabbed by security officers and police.  As he was being hauled out the door, Mr. McGovern remarked, “So this is America?” Mr. McGovern received bruises, lacerations and contusions from officers.

“It is the ultimate definition of lip service that Secretary of State Clinton would be trumpeting the US government’s supposed concerns for free speech rights and this man would be simultaneously brutalized and arrested for engaging in a peaceful act of dissent at her speech,” stated attorney Mara Verheyden-Hilliard of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF).

Take a look at this Jon Stewart video contrasting Clinton’s reaction to McGovern with that of Donald Rumsfeld at a speech four years ago – this one broadcast live on CNN.  McGovern asked the former Secretary of Defense why he had “lied about weapons of mass destruction.”

Comparing the two experiences, McGovern told Kall, “As bad as Donald Rumsfeld was, he let me speak.  He let me speak and engaged me in dialog.”

Mr. McGovern now works for Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, D.C.  He has been featured on several documentaries for his opinion and expertise from 27 years as a CIA analyst, including Aaron Russo’s film, “America: Freedom to Fascism.”

Ray McGovern with bruises Ray McGovern with bruises

CIA may shut up ‘Davis’ by killing him: Lahore jailers

20. Feb, 2011

Seal of the Central Intelligence Agency of the...Jaul authorities fear ‘Davis’ may be killed by American to shut him up. Image via Wikipedia

Pakistan has never arrested an American mercenary before, so there is a learning curve. Islamabad has increased the security around the US national “Raymond Davis”. Fearing that the high-profile prisoner may be killed the Pakistani Police, Intelligence, Civilian and Military authorities have taken a few extraordinary security measures to protect Davis. They have also planned to keep Davis at some distance from the U.S. officials visiting him. The ajil authorities decided to disallow physical contact between Davis and U.S. officials, who visit him. “Davis’ visitors would now be allowed to interact with him from across a glass wall, as it happens in the West and the United States. There is  apprehensions about a possible attempt on “Davis” life. Some suspect that the Americans could take “Davis” out because he knows too much. The Russian Agencies have him identified as part of the CIA Task Force with deep links to the terrorists.

According to news reports emanating from Pakistan the new security measures include limiting physical contact between Davis and the U.S. officials and diplomats. According to officials  a directive has been issued to strictly check the food provided to the American killer. Outside food will not be allowed to be given to the CIA mercenary. According to a new report “A food committee has been constituted, which would ensure that he is not provided poisoned food in the jail.” According to the pres reports “Even chocolates, brought by the U.S. officials, would not be provided to Davis.” Surveillance cameras had also been installed zeroing in on Davis in the Kot Lakhpat Jail.

“Davis”, despite being a lowly technical assistant, has the kind of importance that U.S. President Barack Obama had to ask for his early release and an influential Senator John Kerry rushed to Pakistan to try to take him back to the U.S.. It snot often that Pakistan arrests a diplomat, especially one carrying a customized Block Pistol which uses an illegal bore.

Police in Lahore arrested “Raymond Davis” after he shot dead two Pakistanis on Jan. 27. He shot the kids in the back (shooting them through the front windshield of his vehicle) and then got out of his vehicle walked over the injured cyclists and then pumped five bullets into each young man. Davis claimed that he killed them in self defense because they were trying to rob him. Davis was in his colossal bullet-proof SUV, they were on puny 70 cc motorbikes. How could they rob him?

The U.S. government demanded the urgent release of  Davis with conflicting statements about his status. The case is still in the Lahore High Court which has placed Davis’ name in the exit control list. The court has directed the Pakistani government to decide within 15 days that whether Davis is a diplomat or not. The Court has also directed the Police to find the other murderer.

The key document governing diplomatic immunity is the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, specifically articles 29, 31, 37, and 39. :

Article 29: A diplomatic agent “shall not be liable to any form of arrest or detention.”

It is obvious that Mr. “Davis” was not a diplomat. Pakistan Law requires the diplomat be identified as such and that his name be submitted to the Pakistani Foreign Office which has the option of approving the diplomatic immunity or not. Mr. Davis’s name was not on the list of US diplomats on the day of the accident. The US Embassy tried to submit his name the next day

According to Brig (Retd) Shaukat Qadir “On January 25th 2011, just two days before Davis shot and killed the two young Pakistanis, the US Embassy submitted a list of its diplomatic and non-diplomatic staff in Pakistan to the Pakistani Foreign Office (FO), as all foreign nations are required to do annually. The list included 48 names. Raymond Davis was not on the list. The day after Davis shot and killed the two Pakistanis, the US Embassy suddenly submitted a “revised” list to the Foreign Office which added Davis’ name!

When Pakistani police took Davis into custody on January 27th, he had on his person an ordinary American passport with a valid ordinary Pakistan visa, issued by the Pakistan Embassy in Washington. On January 28th, a member of the US Consulate wanted the Pakistani police to exchange that passport in Davis’ possession with another one. The fresh passport being offered was a diplomatic passport with a valid diplomatic visa dated sometime in 2009. This visa was stamped in Islamabad by the FO!”

It gets ridiculously funnier. The prosecutor representing the Punjab government has presented two letters from the US Embassy as evidence before the Lahore High Court, forwarded to the Punjab government through the FO. The first letter, dated January 27, reads: “Davis is an employee of the US Consulate General Lahore and holder of a diplomatic passport.” The second, dated February 3rd, states that Davis is a member of the “administrative and technical staff of the US Embassy Islamabad!” Just how gullible do the Americans take Pakistanis to be!

The Washington Post admits that “The U.S. embassy complicated matters by first sending a diplomatic note to the Pakistani Foreign Ministry on Jan. 27 describing Davis as “an employee of U.S. Consulate General Lahore and holder of a diplomatic passport.” A second note, on Feb. 3, described him as “a member of the administrative and technical staff of the U.S. embassy.”The difference in the phrasing of Davis’s employment confirms that if his status had been accpeted “Davis” would have been  covered by 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, and thus has a lesser form of immunity. Foreign Minsiter Mahmood Quresh clearly stated that “Davis” did not have blanket and universal immunity that the the US has claimed”

“But consular staff also enjoy immunity from the jurisdiction of the receiving state with respect to their consular functions.” Mr. “Davis” was not perfoming any Consular functions in Mozung Chungi.

Article 31:”A diplomatic agent shall enjoy immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of the receiving State,” with certain exceptions involving property and commercial activity.

Article 37: “Members of the administrative and technical staff of the mission, together with members of their families” will have the same privileges and immunities in articles 29 and 31 as long as they are not nationals or permanent residents of the country. The one exception is that they are not immune from civil suits for acts performed outside the course of their official duties.

Article 39: “Every person entitled to privileges and immunities shall enjoy them from the moment he enters the territory of the receiving State on proceeding to take up his post or, if already in its territory, from the moment when his appointment is notified to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs or such other ministry as may be agreed.”

The Notification is missing in the case of Mr. “Davis”.

Article 43 of that Convention states that “consular officers and consular employees shall not be amenable to the jurisdiction of the judicial or administrative authorities of the receiving State in respect of acts performed in the exercise of consular functions.” There are exceptions for some civil disputes, such as “damage arising from an accident in the receiving State caused by a vehicle, vessel or aircraft.”

–the key words are in respect of acts PERFORMED IN THE EXERCISE OF HIS CONSULAR FUNCTIONS.” Mr. “Davis” while he was shooting two kids in the back (through the front windshield of his SUV) with an illegal Block pitol was obviously not performing his Consular functions. In fact there are no identifiable Consular Functions which Mr. “Davis” performed at any time. He was visitng places whic are no go areas and taking pictures of places which photography is prohibited.

Even the Washington Post admitted that “President Obama, however, may have pushed the envelope when he referred to Davis as “our diplomat.” Davis may have had diplomatic cover, but not many diplomats carry a Glock pistol — and then use it with lethal results. The circumstances of his employment — and the incident in Lahore — remain too murky to make a definitive judgment on the president’s statement at this point”