Many at Gitmo are innocent – Ex-Bush administration official

Six to seven years in prison at Guantanamo being innocent!

Camp Delta detention compound, which has housed foreign prisoners since 2002, at Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in Cuba. (AP)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Many detainees locked up at Guantanamo were innocent men swept up by U.S. forces unable to distinguish enemies from noncombatants, a former Bush administration official said Thursday. “There are still innocent people there,” Lawrence B. Wilkerson, a Republican who was chief of staff to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, told The Associated Press. “Some have been there six or seven years.”

Don’t miss: Former CIA officer: Bush should have executed Gitmo detainees

Wilkerson, who first made the assertions in an Internet posting on Tuesday, told the AP he learned from briefings and by communicating with military commanders that the U.S. soon realized many Guantanamo detainees were innocent but nevertheless held them in hopes they could provide information for a “mosaic” of intelligence.

“It did not matter if a detainee were innocent. Indeed, because he lived in Afghanistan and was captured on or near the battle area, he must know something of importance,” Wilkerson wrote in the blog. He said intelligence analysts hoped to gather “sufficient information about a village, a region, or a group of individuals, that dots could be connected and terrorists or their plots could be identified.”

Wilkerson, a retired Army colonel, said vetting on the battlefield during the early stages of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan was incompetent with no meaningful attempt to discriminate “who we were transporting to Cuba for detention and interrogation.”

Read moreMany at Gitmo are innocent – Ex-Bush administration official

Million French workers march against Sarkozy

Continental employees burn tyres during a demonstration in Compiègne, north of Paris Photograph: Michel Spingler/AP

More than a million angry French workers took to the streets Thursday in a nationwide strike to force President Nicolas Sarkozy to boost wages and protect jobs as the economic crisis deepens.

“Sarkozy has to take from the billionaires and give a bit back to the poor,” said teacher Jean-Baptiste Voltuain, echoing mounting calls for the right-wing government to boost social spending by hiking taxes on the rich.

Voltuain was one of the marchers at a rally in Paris which was fronted by the leaders of France’s eight main unions as it snaked its way through the east of the city in warm spring sunshine.

The CGT union said three million people took part in protests across the country, but police put the number at 1.2 million.

Related articles:
France braced for huge street protests over economic crisis (Guardian)
Sarkozy warned of ‘class war’ (Financial Times)

A million civil servants went on strike, officials said, while protestors from both public and private sectors marched in the capital and in Marseille, Lyon, Strasbourg and around 200 other towns.

Riot police used tear gas to disperse about 200 youths who threw stones and other objects and lit fires in the street as the Paris march came to an end at Place de la Nation.

In Toulouse, police used batons and flashballs to disperse around 200 protestors who threw bottles and set fire to rubbish bins in the southwestern city. One officer was slightly injured.

Protestors smashed windows at the MEDEF employers’ federation in Rouen in the north.

But mostly the one-day strike, which polls say had the support of nearly 80 percent of the French, was peaceful.

Read moreMillion French workers march against Sarkozy

US is Already Bankrupt: Analyst (03/19/09)

Technically, the U.S. is already bankrupt because it has a debt that is almost four times the size of its economy, says Puru Saxena, CEO of Puru Saxena Wealth Management. He tells CNBC’s Amanda Drury & Sri Jegarajah that the U.S. is at risk of hyperinflation.

Related video:
Fed to Buy Treasurys is Not a Good Sign (Chairman for Asia at Morgan Stanley)

Airtime: Thurs. Mar. 19 2009

MadWorld: Most violent computer game ever launched on Nintendo Wii

Coming to your neighborhood soon.

MadWorld, a new computer game claimed to be “the most violent ever”, is being launched on the Nintendo Wii console.

MadWorld - 'most violent computer game ever' - launched on Nintendo Wii
MadWorld has already caused controversy abroad, being banned in Germany, while parent groups in the US have also called for a ban

Players in MadWorld use chainsaws, spiked clubs, daggers and spears to execute victims

Players in MadWorld use chainsaws, spiked clubs, daggers and spears to execute victims.

They can impale their enemies on road signs, fry them on electrical sockets and rip out their hearts.

The game’s ‘bloodbath challenges’ see characters mown down by trains, crushed in the back of refuse collection vehicles and blown up as ‘human fireworks’.

A challenge called ‘human darts’ sees players pick up Madworld citizens and hurl them onto giant spiked dartboard.

Sega, publishers of the game, said it is “tipped to be the most violent video game in history”.

Read moreMadWorld: Most violent computer game ever launched on Nintendo Wii

Global News (03/19/09)

Preparing for Civil Unrest in America (Global Research):
In the words of Rep. Ron Paul: “…the fusion centers, militarized police, surveillance cameras and a domestic military command is not enough… Even though we know that detention facilities are already in place, they now want to legalize the construction of FEMA camps on military installations using the ever popular excuse that the facilities are for the purposes of a national emergency. With the phony debt-based economy getting worse and worse by the day, the possibility of civil unrest is becoming a greater threat to the establishment. One need only look at Iceland, Greece and other nations for what might happen in the United States next.”

Leaked Australian blacklist reveals banned sites (Sydney Morning Herald):
Wikileaks, an anonymous document repository for whistleblowers, obtained the list, which has been seen by this website, and plans to publish it for public consumption on its website imminently:
Australian government secret ACMA internet censorship blacklist (Wikileaks)

Fannie Mae chiefs in line for huge bonuses (Times Online):
Fannie Mae will pay its top executives retention bonuses of up to $611,000, the state-controlled mortgage lender and guarantor revealed yesterday amid the furore over compensation at AIG.

Israel troops admit Gaza abuses (BBC News):
An Israeli military college has printed damning soldiers’ accounts of the killing of civilians and vandalism during recent operations in Gaza. One account tells of a sniper killing a mother and children at close range whom troops had told to leave their home.

Underwater volcano sends huge columns of ash into Pacific sky (Times Online):
Scientists are on their way to the site of a large undersea volcano that has been erupting for days near Tonga, sending columns of smoke and ash thousands of feet into the sky above the Pacific Ocean.

Magnitude-7.9 earthquake hits Tonga (Xinhua)

Google launches Street View in UK (Guardian):
Google has launched its controversial Street View mapping service in the UK, with web and mobile phone users able to see 360-degree views of 25 cities from Southampton to Aberdeen

Soldier suicides skyrocket (Salon):
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., called the latest trends “alarming.” Army Vice Chief of Staff Peter Chiarelli admitted, “I, and the other senior leaders of our Army, readily acknowledge that these current figures are unacceptable.”

Fed to Buy Treasurys is Not a Good Sign (Chairman for Asia at Morgan Stanley)

AIG will not exist in four years, says chairman (Telegraph)

Credit card fraud soars by 14% as criminals find ways to hack ‘secure’ chip and pin (Daily Mail):
Losses on plastic cards totalled £609.9million during the year, up from £535.2million in 2007, according to payments group Apacs.

US House passes tax to recoup most of AIG bonuses (Reuters):
WASHINGTON, March 19 (Reuters) – Moving with unusual speed, the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed legislation to recoup most of the $165 million in retention bonuses paid to American International Group Inc (AIG.N) employees.

Real cost of EU is ten times higher than EC figures show, Taxpayers’ Alliance says (The Telegraph):
According to the Taxpayers’ Alliance, EU membership costs every Briton £2,000 per year, compared with the £220 quoted by the EU.

Attorney general signals shift in marijuana policy (AP):
WASHINGTON – Attorney General Eric Holder signaled a change on medical marijuana policy Wednesday, saying federal agents will target marijuana distributors only when they violate both federal and state law. (The ‘high’ comes from dying brain cells. People are destroying their brain.)

’07 US Births Break Baby Boom Record (New York Times)

Kentucky counties fined $400,000 for posting Ten Commandments (Guardian):
Two southern Kentucky counties where officials posted copies of the Ten Commandments in courthouses have been ordered by a federal judge to pay more than $400,000 to the American Civil Liberties Union and citizens who successfully challenged the displays.

Read moreGlobal News (03/19/09)

Federal Reserve is now playing a high-risk game with inflation

The US Federal Reserve is increasing its balance sheet by another $1 trillion, including $300bn of Treasury bonds, the Federal Open Market Committee said on Wednesday.

Yet the pace of US economic decline seems to be slowing, while deflation is nowhere visible. Fed policy is now high-risk, and resurgent inflation may strike sooner than expected.

Read moreFederal Reserve is now playing a high-risk game with inflation

From the Palm Islands to Emirates Bank, grand Dubai, United Arab Emirates, feels the economic crunch

From the Palm Islands to Emirates Bank, grand Dubai, United Arab Emirates, feels the economic crunch

They were heralded as “The 8th Wonder of the World” by numerous travel sites. They required a staggering $60 billion to construct, according to their developers. They attracted A-List celebrities from the Jolie-Pitts to the Beckhams to Lindsay Lohan. They were, in fact, “one of the most enterprising and ambitious ventures to ever have been imagined,” according to travel Web site Destination 360.

“They” are the epic Palm Islands, a series of three man-made islands in the shape of a palm tree, that along with the surrounding city of Dubai, were considered the “it” playground to the stars, a chic status-symbol to the rich, and a mammoth, epic, super-expensive, luxury landmark to the rest of us.

When you”re this high, you”ve got a long way to fall… And fall they have.

Yes, the global recession seems to be official, as the Palm Islands and Dubai have smacked into economic trouble, according to numerous published reports.

“It is clear that tens of thousands have left, real estate prices have crashed and scores of Dubai”s major construction projects have been suspended or cancelled,” the New York Times reports.

And the Palm Islands themselves? Not looking so good. The Mirror reports that the islands” real estate values have plummeted – by about half. Properties that were selling for about $4.5 million are now going for around $2.3 million. Probably not welcome news to celebs like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie who own property there, the paper reports.

But it gets worse. Real estate developer, Nakheel, maker of Dubai”s Palm Islands, has suffered recent layoffs, according to ABC News. The Guardian reports that the third of the Palm Islands, the Palm Deira, which was previously under construction, is on hold, and reports that it is downsizing in scale.

Read moreFrom the Palm Islands to Emirates Bank, grand Dubai, United Arab Emirates, feels the economic crunch

U.N. panel says world should ditch dollar

The Fed is printing like there is no tomorrow, the U.S. can’t pay it’s debt back, the dollar will eventually lose it’s status as reserve currency, which all leads to the total collapse of the dollar.

LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) – A U.N. panel will next week recommend that the world ditch the dollar as its reserve currency in favor of a shared basket of currencies, a member of the panel said on Wednesday, adding to pressure on the dollar.

Currency specialist Avinash Persaud, a member of the panel of experts, told a Reuters Funds Summit in Luxembourg that the proposal was to create something like the old Ecu, or European currency unit, that was a hard-traded, weighted basket.

Persaud, chairman of consultants Intelligence Capital and a former currency chief at JPMorgan, said the recommendation would be one of a number delivered to the United Nations on March 25 by the U.N. Commission of Experts on International Financial Reform.

“It is a good moment to move to a shared reserve currency,” he said.

Related article: Russia wants to start debate on new reserve currency at G20

Central banks hold their reserves in a variety of currencies and gold, but the dollar has dominated as the most convincing store of value — though its rate has wavered in recent years as the United States ran up huge twin budget and external deficits.

Some analysts said news of the U.N. panel’s recommendation extended dollar losses because it fed into concerns about the future of the greenback as the main global reserve currency, raising the chances of central bank sales of dollar holdings.

Read moreU.N. panel says world should ditch dollar

Military Laser Hits Battlefield Strength

Huge news for real-life ray guns: Electric lasers have hit battlefield strength for the first time — paving the way for energy weapons to go to war.

In recent test-blasts, Pentagon-researchers at Northrop Grumman managed to get its 105 kilowatts of power out of their laser — past the “100kW threshold [that] has been viewed traditionally as a proof of principle for ‘weapons grade’ power levels for high-energy lasers,” Northrop’s vice president of directed energy systems, Dan Wildt, said in a statement.

That much power won’t get you a Star Wars-style blaster. But it should be more than enough to zap the mortars and rockets that insurgents have used to pound American bases in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The battlefield-strength breakthrough is just one part in a larger military push to finally make laser weapons a reality, after decades of unfulfilled promises. The Army recently gave Boeing a $36 million contract to build a laser-equipped truck. Raytheon is set to start test-firing a mortar-zapper of its own. Darpa is funding a 150 kilowatt laser project that is meant to be fitted onto “tactical aircraft.”

Read moreMilitary Laser Hits Battlefield Strength

U.S. Injecting Billions Into Foreign Central Banks

For more than a year, the U.S. Federal Reserve System has been increasingly acting as the world’s central bank, injecting hundreds of billions of dollars into foreign government treasuries in an effort to increase liquidity in those countries.

The foreign central banks have used the U.S. currency to bail out financial institutions within their borders. The Fed program links its balance sheet directly to the fates of foreign central banks at a time when they’re on the ropes.

The program has so far gone unreported in the mainstream media and is a major expansion of Federal Reserve involvement in the global economy. It represents a stark break from the prior role of the Fed, moving it into territory more traditionally occupied by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Read moreU.S. Injecting Billions Into Foreign Central Banks

Sir Fred Goodwin received £2.7m pension lump sum tax-free

A new row erupted over the pension for Sir Fred Goodwin today when MPs were told the former Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive had taken a £3m lump sum from his £16.9m pension pot – and the bank had paid 40% tax on the payment.

The City minister, Lord Myners, told the Treasury select committee that the board of RBS was “in denial” and had “bent over backwards” to be generous to Goodwin, its departing chief executive, last October when the bank was on the brink of collapse.

Myners revealed that Goodwin had agreed to repay the lump sum, provided his pension entitlement was increased.

It later emerged that the exact sum withdrawn was £2.7m, at a cost to RBS of £4.5m when the tax payment is taken into account, and that Goodwin had not yet returned the sum because there was no agreement with the Revenue that he would not be liable for tax.

Related article: Ministers ‘to sue’ RBS directors over Sir Fred Goodwin’s pension (Telegraph)

Myners, who was accused by MPs of being “bloody naive”, revealed more details of Goodwin’s “extraordinary” pension agreements. The bank treated Goodwin as though he had joined the pension scheme at the age of 20, rather than at 40 when he actually joined. None of his pension savings from previous employers were included in the scheme and 50-year-old Goodwin was allowed to choose his 12-month earnings figure from the best year in the previous decade.

Documents released by the committee show that Peter Cummings, the HBOS executive who ran the division which caused record-breaking losses at the bank, has also been allowed to retire immediately even though he is only 53. He is receiving £352,000 a year after HBOS, now part of Lloyds Banking Group, treated departing executives as if they were made “redundant”.

Read moreSir Fred Goodwin received £2.7m pension lump sum tax-free

BMW slashes pay as profits plunge

BMW profits are down 78% on last year. Photograph: Simon Stuart-Miller

BMW is slashing boardroom pay by 40%, executive pay by a third and employee wages and salaries by 10% in an effort to preserve cash and retain its independence in the current savage car-market downturn.

The German group had €8bn (£7.3bn) in cash at the end of last year when it saw profits drop from more than €4bn in 2007 to just €921m, after demand plunged by a quarter at the end of last year.

Norbert Reithofer, BMW’s chief executive, told a press conference: “I am convinced that our employees understand the difficulty of the current situation and are willing to accept this hardship.” The dividend has been cut from €1.06 to €0.30 in a savage blow to shareholders.

Reithofer is paid a basic salary of €600,000 but saw his overall package last year cut to €2.3m from €3.75m in 2007, largely because his bonus was slashed in half to €1.65m as group earnings and sales plunged.

One official said: “I can live with this. At least I’ve got a job, a flat and a car.” But it is unclear how the 100,000-strong workforce will react after seeing a net 5,700 jobs go last year, 6,000 temporary staff lose their posts, including 850 at Mini’s Oxford factory, and plants put on a four-day week.

Read moreBMW slashes pay as profits plunge

A Silenced Drug Study Creates An Uproar

The study would come to be called “cursed,” but it started out just as Study 15.

It was a long-term trial of the antipsychotic drug Seroquel. The common wisdom in psychiatric circles was that newer drugs were far better than older drugs, but Study 15’s results suggested otherwise.

As a result, newly unearthed documents show, Study 15 suffered the same fate as many industry-sponsored trials that yield data drugmakers don’t like: It got buried. It took eight years before a taxpayer-funded study rediscovered what Study 15 had found — and raised serious concerns about an entire new class of expensive drugs.

Study 15 was silenced in 1997, the same year Seroquel was approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat schizophrenia. The drug went on to be prescribed to hundreds of thousands of patients around the world and has earned billions for London-based AstraZeneca International — including nearly $12 billion in the past three years.

The results of Study 15 were never published or shared with doctors, even as less rigorous studies that came up with positive results for Seroquel were published and used in marketing campaigns aimed at physicians and in television ads aimed at consumers. The results of Study 15 were provided only to the Food and Drug Administration — and the agency has strenuously maintained that it does not have the authority to place such studies in the public domain.

Read moreA Silenced Drug Study Creates An Uproar

Court ruling challenges India’s caste system

Human beings do not respect themselves, others and also not their home planet. This is a recipe for disaster. All human beings are equal. A caste system looks like stone-age consciousness to any evolved being.

A landmark legal ruling which granted India’s downtrodden ‘untouchables’ the right to defend their reputations has been hailed as a symbolic victory for the country’s lower castes.

An appeal court judge in Jammu and Kashmir decided that all Indians were worthy of respect and entitled to a good reputation regardless of their wealth or social status.

The ruling amounts to a direct challenge to India’s caste-focused society in which attacks on ‘untouchables’ or dalits because of their ‘polluting presence’ are common.

There are cases of dalits killed for daring to drink water from the same well as their caste ‘superiors’ or to complain when their daughters are raped.

Against this background, the ruling has been hailed as revolutionary.

Read moreCourt ruling challenges India’s caste system

Russia wants to start debate on new reserve currency at G20

MOSCOW, March 18 (RIA Novosti) – Russia is proposing that discussions into the possibility of creating a new world reserve currency are initiated at the upcoming G20 summit in London, a government source said on Wednesday.

“We fully agree that this is not the issue, which would enable us to get out of the crisis and cut costs. The main idea is to initiate discussions on this issue,” the government source said.

Russia earlier put forward a suggestion to the G20 summit which would see the IMF examining possibilities for creating a supra-national reserve currency, and also forcing national banks and international financial institutions to diversify their foreign currency reserves.

“We believe it is necessary to consider the IMF’s role in this process and also define the possibility and the need to adopt measures allowing for Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) to become an internationally recognized super-reserve currency,” Russia’s proposals read.

Read moreRussia wants to start debate on new reserve currency at G20

Senate quietly stripped measure restricting bonuses from bailout legislation

A new revelation in the scandal surrounding AIG’s decision to pay multi-million dollar bonuses to executives — a provision that would have restricted companies receiving federal government bailout aid from paying bonuses was quietly stripped from a bill last month.

The measure, introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), was removed by negotiators in a late-night, close door meeting. In the negotiations, senators agreed to limit executive compensation but decided to forgo barring excessive bonuses — in fact, they specifically exempted it.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) (above right) dodged a question about the decision when asked by a reporter.

“I’m wondering sir, if that was a mistake by Democrats to drop that and you wish you hadn’t at this time?” the reporter asked.

“I think we should look at what we did put in the bill,” Reid replied. “We did put the Dodd language.”

In an interview with The Huffington Post, Sen. Wyden bemoaned the removal of his bonus-limiting provision.

Senator Ron Wyden said on Tuesday that the furor surrounding AIG’s bonus payments could have been avoided had the Obama White House and members of Congress simply backed legislation that he and Sen. Olympia Snowe introduced more than a month ago.

Read moreSenate quietly stripped measure restricting bonuses from bailout legislation

Global News (03/18/09)

Former Bush aide gets 30 months in prison (AP):
WASHINGTON (AP) — A former Bush White House aide was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for stealing nearly $600,000 from a government program that promotes democracy in Cuba.

Aboriginal elder arrived ‘with third-degree burns’ (The Australian):
A RESPECTED Aboriginal elder who died in the back of a non-airconditioned prison van while being transported across the West Australian outback in the middle of summer arrived at hospital drenched in sweat, unconscious and with third-degree burns on his stomach, an inquest has heard.

Government launches bid to allay fears over GM food (Independent):
PM hopes to gather enough evidence to prove genetically modified crops are safe
(Which proves that there is obviously not enough evidence that genetically modified crops are safe! GM food is lethal junk and that has been proven many times.)

Israeli army ordered to devise Iran war (PressTV):
Tehran is a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and, according to the UN nuclear watchdog, has not opted to violate the treaty. (Plus U.S. intelligence agencies agree that Iran does not have ANY weapon grade uranium: Iran still lacks arms-grade nuclear material: U.S. So could those warmongers please shut the f… up.)

Israel could use ballistic missiles against Iran-report (Reuters):
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Ballistic missiles could be Israel’s weapon of choice against Iranian nuclear facilities if it decides on a pre-emptive attack and deems air strikes too risky, according to a report by a Washington think-tank. (PS: According to Jimmy Carter Israel has about 150 nuclear weapons. What Iran does is “perfectly legal” according to Ron Paul and attacking Iran would be just another war crime and a violation of international law.)

Avigdor Lieberman – branded Arab-hating racist – set to be Israeli foreign minister (Times Online)

Robert Fisk: Why Lieberman is worst thing that could happen to the Middle East (Independent):
World Focus: I can identify Lieberman’s language with the language of Messrs Mladic and Karadzic and Milosevic

Britain will be only nation still in recession next year (Independent):
The British economy is heading for its worst year since the Great Depression, according to the latest predictions from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
(Britain will go into depression this year.)

Goldman Offers Loans to Stretched Employees (New York Times):
(Maybe I should make a documentary: ‘Goldman: The Poorest Guys in the Room.’)

Unemployment surges through 2m (Guardian):
Unemployment has topped 2 million on the widest measure of joblessness, while the claimant count has suffered its biggest jump on record. (And the economic crisis has just started!)

UniCredit to seek €4bn aid (Financial Times):
UniCredit, one of Italy’s top two banks, is to seek up to €4bn in state aid, joining a growing list of European banking groups turning to governments to boost their capital base as they grapple with the global financial crisis.

Murder in Nairobi: Wikileaks related human rights lawyers assassinated (WikiLeaks):
The two were on their way to a meeting at the Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights. Both had been investigating extra-judicial assassinations by the Kenyan Police. Part of their work forms the basis of the “Cry of Blood” report Wikileaks released on November 1 last year and subsequent follow ups, including a UN indictment last month.
Since 2007 the Oscar foundation has documented 6,452 “enforced disappearances” by police and 1,721 extra-judicial killings.

Madoff’s accountant released on $2.5m bail (AP):
Bernard Madoff’s longtime accountant has been released on $2.5 million in bail. The 49-year-old David Friehling was arrested on fraud charges Wednesday and accused of helping the disgraced money manager cheat thousands of investors out of billions of dollars.

Russia plans military upgrade to match Nato (Guardian):
Russia plans to boost both conventional armed forces and nuclear forces to counter a growing threat from Nato, President Dmitry Medvedev said yesterday, raising the spectre of a military confrontation between Moscow and the west.

Shell dumps wind, solar and hydro power in favour of biofuels (Guardian):
(Dump Shell!)

World Bank warns China can’t make up for collapse in Western demand (Telegraph):
David Dollar
, the Bank’s country director for China, added that the world should not expect China’s economy to make up for plummeting demand in the West in the near future. (David Dollar! You just couldn’t make these things up.)

Eurozone recession to deepen, says IMF (Financial Times):
“The scenario will be worse but the managing director has already said this,” she said in Lisbon. “This is a true global crisis, impacting all parts of the world and countries at different levels of development.”

Ford cuts production in Europe (Guardian)

Plan Would Limit Prison Chapel Books (New York Times)

Pope’s attack on condoms sickens Aids campaigners (Times Online):
The Pope caused dismay among Aids campaigners yesterday by declaring on his first trip to Africa that condoms were not the solution to the epidemic ravaging the continent.

Blackwater got a new $22.2 million deal from the State Department

More change!

Days after the Baghdad government decided it no longer wanted the company then known as Blackwater in Iraq, the State Department signed a $22.2 million deal in February to keep the embattled contractor working there through most of the summer, contract records show.

The decision keeps Blackwater – since renamed Xe – in Iraq months longer than anyone has suggested publicly, while raising questions about why the U.S. would pay a contractor for work in Iraq if it may not be able to operate there legally.

The State Department has been under pressure from Blackwater critics, including several in Congress, not to renew the company’s contracts in Iraq. Much of the concern stems from a 2007 incident that left 14 Iraqi civilians dead and six former Blackwater guards facing manslaughter charges. One of the guards pleaded guilty, but the company was accused of no wrongdoing in the incident.

In late January, the Iraqi government said it would not renew Blackwater’s operating license and that the company would have to leave as soon as a joint Iraqi-U.S. committee completes its work on guidelines for the operation of private security companies. State Department officials said they would honor the decision.

Read moreBlackwater got a new $22.2 million deal from the State Department

Fed to Buy $300 Billion of Longer-Term Treasuries

Related article: China’s Leader Says He Is Worried Over U.S. Treasuries

Now China should be much more than just worried!

Now watch the dollar!!!

March 18 (Bloomberg) — The Federal Reserve said it will buy $300 billion in Treasury securities and acquire more mortgage and agency debt in an effort to bolster housing and hasten the end of the recession.

“To provide greater support to mortgage lending and housing markets, the committee decided today to increase the size of the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet further by purchasing up to an additional $750 billion of agency mortgage- backed securities,” the Federal Open Market Committee said after a unanimous vote in Washington today. “Moreover, to help improve conditions in private credit markets, the committee decided to purchase up to $300 billion of longer-term Treasury securities over the next six months.”

Chairman Ben S. Bernanke is opening a new front in monetary policy after unemployment climbed to 8.1 percent and economists forecast the economy will shrink through the middle of the year. Fed officials also kept the benchmark interest rate at between zero and 0.25 percent and said it will consider expanding the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility to include “other financial assets,” the statement said.

Read moreFed to Buy $300 Billion of Longer-Term Treasuries