Daily Archives: 11/02/2011

(The Ecologist) Increasing density of livestock production and poor biosecurity in Asia is encouraging epidemics, with a new disease emerging every four months, says new International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) report

Less industrialised countries, particularly in Asia, are struggling to cope with the disease outbreaks associated with the rapid intensification of meat production, according to new research.

Animal diseases spreading to humans are responsible for 16 per cent of infectious diseases in less-industrialised countries. However, researchers from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) said the obsession with increasing meat production and profit was ‘largely ignoring’ the spread of animal diseases to humans.

The speed of intensification in many countries could not be matched by improvements in management, hygiene and veterinary capacity, said John McDermott, who led the ILRI research.

‘Wealthy countries are effectively dealing with livestock diseases, but in Africa and Asia, the capacity of veterinary services to track and control outbreaks is lagging dangerously behind livestock intensification. This lack of capacity is particularly dangerous because many poor people in the world still rely on farm animals to feed their families, while rising demand for meat, milk and eggs among urban consumers in the developing world is fueling a rapid intensification of livestock production,’ he said.

The spread and subsequent establishment of avian influenza (AI) in previously disease-free countries, such as Indonesia, was a classic example, the researchers say, of the risks posed by high-density chicken and duck operations as well as the rapid global movement of both people and livestock. In addition, large-scale irrigation designed to boost agricultural productivity, they say, has created conditions that facilitate the establishment of diseases such as the Rift Valley fever virus in new regions, with occasional outbreaks killing hundreds of people along with thousands of animals.

According to reaseachers, 61 percent of all human pathogens, and 75 per cent of new human pathogens, are transmitted by animals, and some of the most lethal bugs affecting humans originate in our domesticated animals. ‘A new disease emerges every four months; many are trivial, but HIV, SARS, and Avian influenza illustrate the huge potential impacts,’ said McDermott.

The researchers say less industrialised countries need to improve their monitoring and veterinary capacity to stop or contain livestock epidemics before the become widespread. They estimated the potential cost of a human pandemic from avian influenza, for example, could be US$3 trillion.

by Tom Levitt


( Egyptian president has cash in British and Swiss banks plus UK and US property

President Hosni Mubarak’s family fortune could be as much as $70bn (£43.5bn) according to analysis by Middle East experts, with much of his wealth in British and Swiss banks or tied up in real estate in London, New York, Los Angeles and along expensive tracts of the Red Sea coast.

After 30 years as president and many more as a senior military official, Mubarak has had access to investment deals that have generated hundreds of millions of pounds in profits. Most of those gains have been taken offshore and deposited in secret bank accounts or invested in upmarket homes and hotels.

According to a report last year in the Arabic newspaper Al Khabar, Mubarak has properties in Manhattan and exclusive Beverly Hills addresses on Rodeo Drive.

His sons, Gamal and Alaa, are also billionaires. A protest outside Gamal’s ostentatious home at 28 Wilton Place in Belgravia, central London, highlighted the family’s appetite for western trophy assets.

vAmaney Jamal, a political science professor at Princeton University, said the estimate of $40bn-70bn was comparable with the vast wealth of leaders in other Gulf countries.

“The business ventures from his military and government service accumulated to his personal wealth,” she told ABC news. “There was a lot of corruption in this regime and stifling of public resources for personal gain.

“This is the pattern of other Middle Eastern dictators so their wealth will not be taken during a transition. These leaders plan on this.”

Al Khabar said it understood the Mubaraks kept much of their wealth offshore in the Swiss bank UBS and the Bank of Scotland, part of Lloyds Banking Group, although this information could be at least 10 years old.

There are only sketchy details of exactly where the Mubaraks have generated their wealth and its final destination.

Christopher Davidson, professor of Middle East politics at Durham University, said Mubarak, his wife, Suzanne, and two sons were able to accumulate wealth through a number of business partnerships with foreign investors and companies, dating back to when he was in the military and in a position to benefit from corporate corruption.

He said most Gulf states required foreigners give a local business partner a 51% stake in start-up ventures. In Egypt, the figure is commonly nearer 20%, but still gives politicians and close allies in the military a source of huge profits with no initial outlay and little risk.

“Almost every project needs a sponsor and Mubarak was well-placed to take advantage of any deals on offer,” he said.

“Much of his money is in Swiss bank accounts and London property. These are the favourites of Middle Eastern leaders and there is no reason to think Mubarak is any different. Gamal’s Wilton Place home is likely to be the tip of the iceberg.”

Al Khabar named a series of major western companies that, partnered with the Mubarak family, generated an estimated $15m a year in profits.

Aladdin Elaasar, author of The Last Pharaoh: Mubarak and the Uncertain Future of Egypt in the Obama Age, said the Mubaraks own several residences in Egypt, some inherited from previous presidents and the monarchy, and others the president has commissioned.

Hotels and land around the Sharm el-Sheikh tourist resort are also a source of Mubarak family wealth.

by Phillip Inman


( Anonymous counter-intelligence operations have uncovered evidence of an effort by Bank Of America (BoA) to disrupt both Wikileaks and Anonymous. Details of BoA’s involvement began emerging on February 8th, 2011, during Anonymous’ Operation #HBGary.
Operation #HBGary was retribution against (in)security firm HBGary, and its associate company HBGary Federal, for threatening to release innacurate and fallacious information about Anonymous. During the operation, Anonymous double-penetrated HBGary’s corporate network, compromised the personal email and social networking accounts of several HBGary employees (evidence of which is still online at the time of this document’s creation), retrieved some 50,000 corporate emails, discovered HBGary “product” source code, and wiped Aaron Barr’s personal iPad (for shits ‘n’ giggles).

Among the emails retrieved from HBGary, Anonymous uncovered communications between Bank of America’s legal representation, HBGary, Palantir, and BericoTechnologies detailing efforts to weaken Wikileaks through misinformation and targeted cyber attacks.

In the proposal to be presented to Bank of America, representatives from the three security companies outlined strategic operations against Wikileaks and its supporters, including psy-ops and cyber attacks against the Wikileaks infrastructure and its supporters.

BoA’s interest in supressing/disrupting Wikileaks is evidence that they fear becoming the next focal point of Wikileaks, and that they, and their associates, will stop at nothing to protect their own selfish interests at the expense of innocent people around the globe. Anonymous will not sit idle while corporate greed and government power-mongering wreak havok on civil liberties.

The unedited emails are included at the end of this release and the proposal can be viewed on-line at:

Anonymous has a message for corporations and governments around the world:
Fuck with the truth at your own peril.

We are Anonymous.
We are Legion.
We do not forgive.
We do not forget.
Expect us.

P.S.: The kind of “research” being conducted by HBGary and co. is a flagrant violation of Facebook’s Terms of Service. See Article 5.7 for further clarification:

* “Article 5. Protecting People’s Rights. Subarticle 7. If you collect information from users, you will: obtain their consent, make it clear you (and not Facebook) are the one collecting their information, and post a privacy policy explaining what information you collect and how you will use it.”

Original Emails, Source:


ThinkProgress has learned that a law firm representing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the big business trade association representing ExxonMobil, AIG, and other major international corporations, is working with set of “private security” companies and lobbying firms to undermine their political opponents, including ThinkProgress, with a surreptitious sabotage campaign.

According to e-mails obtained by ThinkProgress, the Chamber hired the lobbying firm Hunton and Williams. Hunton And Williams’ attorney Richard Wyatt, who once represented Food Lion in its infamous lawsuit against ABC News, was hired by the Chamber in October of last year. To assist the Chamber, Wyatt and his associates, John Woods and Bob Quackenboss, solicited a set of private security firms — HB Gary Federal, Palantir, and Berico Technologies (collectively called Team Themis) — to develop tactics for damaging progressive groups and labor unions, in particular ThinkProgress, the labor coalition called Change to Win, the SEIU, US Chamber Watch, and

According to one document prepared by Team Themis, the campaign included an entrapment project. The proposal called for first creating a “false document, perhaps highlighting periodical financial information,” to give to a progressive group opposing the Chamber, and then to subsequently expose the document as a fake to undermine the credibility of the Chamber’s opponents. In addition, the group proposed creating a “fake insider persona” to “generate communications” with Change to Win. View a screenshot below:

The security firms hoped to obtain $200,000 for initial background research, then charge up to $2 million for a larger disinformation campaign against progressives. We don’t know if the proposal was accepted after Phase 1 was completed.

The e-mails ThinkProgress acquired are available widely on the web. They were posted by members of “Anonymous,” the hactivist community responsible for taking down websites for oppressive regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, and American corporations that have censored WikiLeaks. Anonymous published the emails from HB Gary Federal because an executive at the firm, Aaron Barr, was trying to take Anonymous down. Barr claimed that he had penetrated Anonymous and was hoping to sell the data to Bank of America and to federal authorities in the United States. In response, members of Anonymous hacked into Barr’s email and published some 40,000 company e-mails.

It is widely believed that Wikileaks has sensitive information about Bank of America, and plans to expose it later this year. This revelation prompted Bank of America to hire the law/lobbying firm Hunton and Williams, which in turn, according to the e-mails posted online by Anonymous, hired HB Gary Federal and other firms to go after Anonymous and supporters of Wikileaks. For instance, one proposal from HB Gary Federal and its associates proposed targeting Salon reporter and Wikileaks-supporter Glenn Greenwald with “actions to sabotage or discredit” him.

ThinkProgress has published a series of articles investigating the Chamber and its activities. We exposed the Chamber’s efforts to coordinate a lobbying campaign on behalf of large banks, including JP Morgan, to kill significant portions of financial reform. In October, we published a series looking into the Chamber’s efforts to solicit donations from foreign corporations for the same account the Chamber used to run partisan attack ads during the midterm campaign, as well as the Chamber’s participation in secret fundraising meetings convened by the billionaire plutocrats David and Charles Koch.

ThinkProgress will be posting more details of the Chamber lobbyist campaign to target progressives soon.

– With reporting from Scott Keyes


( President Hosni Mubarak has dashed the hopes of hundreds of thousands of Egyptians waiting for what they thought would be his resignation speech by defiantly announcing that he would not bow to domestic or foreign pressure to quit.

In a televised address that appears to have set the stage for further confrontation on the streets – as well as heightened tensions with the US – Mubarak said he would hand powers to his deputy, Omar Suleiman, but will stay on as president with his regime controlling the transition to free elections.

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