September 2009


America’s superrich are getting poorer. For only the fifth time since 1982, the collective net worth of The Forbes 400, our annual tally of the nation’s richest people, has declined, falling $300 billion in the past 12 months, from $1.57 trillion to $1.27 trillion.

Faltering capital markets and real-estate prices, along with divorce and fraud, pushed down the fortunes of 314 members and drove 32 plutocrats off the rankings.

Hurt the most: Warren Buffett, America’s second-richest citizen. The Oracle of Omaha dropped $10 billion from his personal balance sheet as shares of Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, news, msgs) fell 20% in 12 months. He is now worth $40 billion.

Beating out Buffett for the 16th straight year as America’s richest man is Microsoft (MSFT, news, msgs) co-founder Bill Gates. Sluggish Microsoft shares and declining outside investments pushed the software visionary’s net worth down $7 billion in 12 months. (Microsoft is the publisher of MSN Money.)

Rounding out the top 10 on The Forbes 400: Oracle (ORCL, news, msgs) founder Larry Ellison ($27 billion); Wal-Mart Stores (WMT, news, msgs) heirs Christy Walton ($21.5 billion), Jim C. Walton ($19.6 billion), Alice Walton ($19.3 billion) and S. Robson Walton ($19 billion); media maven Michael Bloomberg ($17.5 billion); and energy titans Charles and David Koch ($16 billion each).

Price of entry falls below $1 billion

The 10 richest Americans lost a combined $39.2 billion in the past 12 months, a 14% decline.

Other big losers include casino mogul Kirk Kerkorian, whose nest egg shed $8.2 billion in the past year. Shares of his gambling giant, MGM Mirage (MGM, news, msgs), have fallen 90% from their October 2007 high.

Also hitting the brakes: Enterprise Rent-A-Car founder Jack C. Taylor. His fortune is down $7 billion in a year as the travel industry has slowed and private-company valuations have fallen.

The biggest gainer is banker Andrew Beal, who tripled his net worth to $4.5 billion by buying up cheap loans and assets as the markets crumbled last fall.

Membership on the list was made easier as the price of admission dropped $350 million, from $1.3 billion last year to $950 million this year, paving the way for 19 newcomers and 19 returnees.

Newcomers to the list include Marvel Entertainment (MVL, news, msgs) chief Isaac Perlmutter, whose net worth soared to $1.55 billion after Walt Disney (DIS, news, msgs) agreed to buy the superhero outfit in August for $4 billion in cash and stock.

Other new members include Bloomberg co-founder Charles Zegar ($1 billion), mapping-software magnate Jack Dangermond ($2 billion) and trading titan Steven Schonfeld ($1 billion). More

Be afraid people. Be very afraid.


A former Guantanamo detainee has reportedly been killed in a shootout between the Yemeni Army and Houthi rebels in northern Yemen. The former detainee, Fahd Saleh Suleiman al Jutayli, was captured in Pakistan after fleeing the Tora Bora Mountains in 2001. He was repatriated to his native Saudi Arabia in May 2006.

According to the Yemen Post, two other former Gitmo detainees – Yusuf al Shehri and Othman al Ghamdi – called their families to tell them Jutayli had been killed in the fighting and asked them to inform Jutayli’s family.

Earlier this year, the Saudi government included all three of these former Guantanamo detainees – Jutayli, Shehri, and Ghamdi – on a list of the Kingdom’s 85 most wanted terrorists. After being released from Guantanamo, the three graduated from Saudi Arabia’s rehabilitation program and joined eight other former Gitmo detainees in fleeing south to Yemen. All eleven joined al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Yusuf al-Shehri, a former Gitmo detainee, reportedly informed his family of Jutayli’s death. Photo courtesy of the NEFA Foundation.

The escape of the eleven former Gitmo detainees from Saudi Arabia was reportedly organized by still other Gitmo veterans. Writing in the May 2009 issue of the CTC Sentinel, Dr. Christopher Boucek, an associate in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said that Saudi officials found their disappearance “was well-coordinated in advance.” Their escape “was allegedly coordinated with other non-Saudi former Guantanamo detainees who have been repatriated to other countries, indicating that returnees have maintained ties from Guantanamo,” Boucek reported.

That the eleven, one of whom has since been returned to Saudi custody, were brought back into al Qaeda’s fold is not surprising. All of them, including the recently deceased Jutayli, have longstanding ties to al Qaeda. (For a detailed analysis of each of the eleven former detainees, see Evan Kohlmann’s report for the NEFA Foundation.)

According to documents produced at Guantanamo, US intelligence officials found that Jutayli was recruited by the notorious Saudi Sheikh Ha Al Uqla to wage jihad in “Kashmir, Pakistan or Chechnya.” Jutayli “joined the Taliban after receiving a Fatwa from Sheik Ha Al Uqla at the Immam Muhammad Bin Saud College in Burayda, Saudi Arabia.”

Othman al-Ghamdi, former Gitmo detainee, reportedly informed his family of Jutayli’s death. Photo courtesy of the NEFA Foundation.

Sheikh Uqla, “who issued fatwahs and encouraged people to fight jihad against Christians and Jews” and condoned the September 11 attacks, allegedly facilitated Jutayli’s trip to Afghanistan in 2001. Jutayli stayed at the Nebras Arab guesthouse, outside of the al Farouq training camp. Jutayli was then trained at al Farouq on various weapons during September 2001. According to the US government, an al Qaeda explosives expert oversaw Jutayli’s training.

After the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, Jutayli fled to the Tora Bora Mountains. US intelligence officials found that Jutayli “was identified by a senior al Qaeda operative as a fighter belonging to the Khallad Bin Attash group at Tora Bora in late 2001.” Jutayli was “described as a new mujahidin.”

Jutayli was asked about his al Qaeda ties during his combatant status review tribunal (CSRT) at Gitmo. Jutayli denied that he had been recruited to go to Afghanistan or that Sheikh Uqla facilitated his travels. Jutayli said he hadn’t heard of al Qaeda until he was detained at Guantanamo, and that he had ended up at Tora Bora in late 2001 by chance. He claimed that while he had gone to Afghanistan to learn how to fight, he was only trained on a handgun and did not know the name of the training facility (al Farouq) where he was instructed.

But in the context of these denials, Jutayli made a number of important admissions. For example, he did not pretend he went to Afghanistan for charitable purposes. In a Q&A session with US military officials, Jutayli conceded that he went to Afghanistan for training.

Q. What training did you desire? A. Just light training. I didn’t know what kind of training it was.

Q. Why did you need to go all the way to Afghanistan to get light training? Could you not have received it in your home country? A. I didn’t know there was [sic] problems in Afghanistan.

Although he denied knowing the name of the al Farouq camp (one of al Qaeda’s chief pre-9/11 training facilities) when he trained there, he did not dispute during his CSRT that al Farouq is where he trained. Jutayli only denied that he had been at al Farouq for two months:

Q. You got to Afghanistan and went to al Farouq for a while and you also spent time in Tora Bora trying to get out? What else did you do? A. I didn’t stay in al Farouq for 2 months.

Q. Your total time in Afghanistan was 2 months, then? A. Approximately, yes.

Jutayli’s description of how he made his way to al Farouq matches what is known about al Qaeda’s procedures for filtering new recruits into its training facilities. Jutayli said that he carried money and his passprt to Afghanistan. But as his tribunal members surely noticed, his story sounded eerily similar to al Qaeda’s standard operating protocols.

Q. What happened to the money you took with you to Afghanistan? A. It was with my passport.

Q. So, you lost the money and your passport also? A. Yes.

Q. Who did you give your money and passport to? A. A person I do not remember.

Q. Where did you give it to them and why? A. So that he could take care of it for me and it would not get lost.

Q. Did you choose to do this or did this person persuade you to do this? A. He suggested it to me.

Jutayli then explained that “they” took his passport at “a small house,” which “they” put him in as soon as he arrived.

The scenario described by Jutayli during his CSRT has been reenacted time and again. Al Qaeda typically takes new recruits’ passports and other identifying information and gives them a new jihadist identity. This marks a break with their pre-al Qaeda past and also makes it difficult for them to be identified should they be detained.

Because al Qaeda’s leaders take their recruits’ passports and other paperwork, the safety deposit boxes and safe houses where they are stored have become valuable intelligence collection points for authorities. In fact, al Qaeda’s substantial bureaucracy leaves an evidentiary trail that makes it possible for investigators to piece together at least some of the details of a Gitmo detainee’s past.

This was the case with Jutayli. US intelligence authorities found Jutayli’s name “on a computer used by suspected al Qaeda members,” which listed “associates incarcerated in Pakistan.” Another list including Jutayli’s name was “recovered from safehouse raids associated with suspected al Qaeda [members] in Karachi, Pakistan.”

And perhaps most importantly, Jutayli’s name “was found on a hard drive associated with a senior al Qaeda operative seized during raids on 1 March 2003 in Pakistan.” Although the government’s documents do not explicitly say so, this “senior al Qaeda operative” may very well be Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was captured on that same day in Rawalpindi.

Despite the abundant evidence against Jutayli, including his own admissions, the Saudi was repatriated to his home country. Interestingly, this move was made despite the fact that a “Foreign Government Service listed [Jutayli] as a high priority Saudi.”

Conversely, Jutayli promised “he would not participate in another Jihad if he was released.” Obviously, he lied. Although the precise circumstances of his death have not been reported, Jutayli took off for Yemen after being freed by the Saudis. There, he took part in one of al Qaeda’s most violent and dangerous jihads – the war for Yemen.

By Jeff Poor
Business & Media Institute

It’s just what the primetime cable news lineup needed – another hour-long program tilted toward left-of-center politics with character assassination on conservatives. CNN Headline News debuted its “The Joy Behar Show” on Sept. 29, which included appearances by lefty comedian Jeanane Garofalo, CNN’s Jack Cafferty and actress Bette Midler. Garofalo doubled down on her low regard for conservative 9/12 and tea party protesters, labeling them as racists. Cafferty went after President Barack Obama for his disregard of the carbon footprint his lobbying efforts in Copenhagen for Chicago to host the 2016 Summer Olympics.  

However, actress-turned-Vegas entertainer Bette Midler went straight after former CNN Headline News host Glenn Beck. She was prodded by host Joy Behar, who mentioned Beck as someone who is encouraging a breakdown in so-called “political discourse.”

“Someone like Glenn Beck has made gazillions of dollars because he’s out there being sort of hateful in many ways,” Behar said. “He calls himself a clown and a comedian. Do you think it’s funny?” Midler confirmed what one would probably expect – she’s not a fan of Beck at all. “I don’t think he’s funny even a little bit,” Midler said. “I’ve never had a laugh from Glenn Beck. In fact, I find him terrifying. I find him terrifying. He’s like an old school demagogue, and it’s really frightening.” What did Midler compare Beck to? She likened the popular Fox News host to the instigators of the Rwandan civil war, which was the catalyst for the Rwandan genocide where an estimated 800,000 to 1 million lost their lives. “If you look around at the rest of the world and what this kind of behavior has done, like in Rwanda, where the demagogues got on the radio and fomented all that hate between the Tutsis and the Hutus and the devastation that happened from that, I mean, it’s terrifying,” Midler said. According to Midler, that’s a possibility in the United States. “And that could happen, you know, you could turn on a dime,” Midler warned. “That could happen here.” Behar reminded Midler the United States is a society that has free speech. However, according to Midler Beck isn’t exercising free speech. He exercising hate speech she maintained. “I don’t think hate speech is so free,” Midler said. “I’m not for censorship. But I also feel like, be a human being.” Behar explained basic civics to Midler – that what she deems “hate speech” is constitutionally protected. Midler blamed the education system for that sort of rhetoric. 

“I think that the people who are educated to be civil are civil,” Midler continued. “That’s all there is to it. And people who are not educated in any way, who are just a little on the barbaric side, what can you do? But that’s the fault of the education system, I think, and the way they’re brought up.”


 Dave Gibson


Fernando Ramirez

On April 17, 2009, the Orange County Board of Supervisors agreed to pay $3.75 million, plus an additional $900,000 in medical expenses to an illegal alien who was severely beaten by other inmates in the Orange County Central Jail. The Mexican national filed a lawsuit shortly after the incident.

Fernando Ramirez, 24, was in jail after being charged with molesting a 6-year-old girl at a local park. He eventually pled guilty to the lesser charge of battery against a child.

According to his attorney, Ramirez suffered brain damage and now needs help walking. Attorney Mark Eisenberg also claims that his client has been left with an intellect of a 4-year-old child.

Despite the dire financial crisis facing Orange County, Ramirez received the largest settlement ever awarded by the county for an in-custody incident. The Board of Supervisors made their decision in a closed-door session and have refused any comment on the matter.

If anyone would like to contact the Orange County Board of Supervisors to discuss the Ramirez settlement, I have included the following contact list for your convenience:

-Board Chair Patricia C. Bates, Supervisor Fifth District (ph #: 714-834-3550)

-Vice Chair Janet Nguyen, Supervisor First District (ph #: 714-834-3110)

-John M.W. Moorlach, Supervisor Second District (ph #: 714-834-3220)

-Bill Campbell, Supervisor Third District (ph #: 714-834-3330)

-Chris Norby, Supervisor Fourth District (ph #: 714-834-3440)

Reporter’s note: Except for one story carried by the Orange County Register, there has been no press coverage of this matter. One would think that an illegal alien child molester becoming a millionaire through taxpayer funding would be big news.

Of course, a story such as this one would make people angry, and maybe even angry enough to hold their elected representatives accountable for the enormous crime wave being perpetrated by this country’s illegal alien population.

I don’t know which is more outrageous, the now-daily accounts of illegal aliens raping our women and children; our elected officials allowing our land to be transformed into a Third World nation; or a complicit mainstream press, eager to assist in the cover-up of our destruction.

CARACAS, Venezuela—Venezuela’s top prosecutor is asking Interpol to capture former President Carlos Andres Perez for violence committed during street protests two decades ago.

Prosecutors will ask Interpol to issue a "red alert" for the capture of 85-year-old Perez, who lives in Miami, Attorney General Luisa Ortega told Venezuelan state television on Tuesday. She said his capture is necessary as part of investigations into the riots, known as the "Caracazo"—a play on the name of the capital that also means forceful blow.

Perez was president when the rioting broke out on Feb. 27, 1989, triggered by a hike in gasoline prices and public transportation fares. Venezuela’s army was deployed to quell the unrest, leaving at least 300 dead. But rights activists say hundreds more were killed—many of them shot indiscriminately by security forces.

On this year’s Feb. 27-28 anniversary, President Hugo Chavez called on authorities to administer justice for crimes committed during the Caracazo. None of the government officials, military officers or police responsible for putting down the riots has gone to trial for the deaths.

Prosecutors said in 2007 that they were preparing to ask for Perez’s extradition for crimes committed during the riots. Perez, who has lived in the U.S. for the past nine years and is reportedly suffering from health problems following a stroke, is also wanted in Venezuela on corruption charges.

In July, prosecutors charged Perez’s former defense minister, retired Gen. Italo del Valle Aliegro, with ordering murders and violating international agreements during the unrest.

Last week, authorities began opening tombs to identify the remains of dozens of people killed during the riots and look for evidence against police and soldiers.

Ortega said Tuesday that the remains of 125 people have been exhumed and are being studied to identify them and determine the dates of their deaths.


FORT DIX, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey military installation where Elvis Presley slept and tens of thousands of recruits passed through is getting a new name.

Fort Dix will join neighboring McGuire Air Force Base and Lakehurst Naval Air Station to become the nation’s first three-service combined base. Its new name will be Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. A Wednesday afternoon ceremony is planned.

Combining the bases in the middle of New Jersey is a way to keep them open after the Defense Department’s last round of base closures and realignments. The idea is to share more services to save costs.

Fort Dix has been a major wartime mobilization and demobilization center since World War I. More than 77,000 troops headed for Iraq and Afghanistan have passed through there since 2001.


Let me call you back, we’ve got a crappy connection…

Photo courtesy of Devon Kuser.
Seen in Manzhouli, China

From CNN White House Correspondent Dan Lothian

WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Barack Obama, in an effort to stimulate the economy and support critical research, will announce $5 billion dollars in grants when he visits the National Institutes of Health on Wednesday, according to an administration official.

The money comes from Recovery Act funds and is aimed at supporting "12,000 critical research projects — and tens of thousands of jobs associated with them, ranging from teachers and lab technicians to database managers and scientists," the official wrote in an e-mail.

Obama, who will be joined by Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and other top medical experts, will tour a lab before speaking at the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland.

More than 450 NIH employees, scientists, local officials and members of Congress are expected to be on hand.

The White House says the research grants are part of the Recovery Act’s overall investment of $100 billion in innovative research and advancing science and technology infrastructure.

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