April --- 2006


SOTT Editorials and Features 4/06

Ponerology: The Science of Evil Now Available!
Ponerology CoverPreface to the book:
Political Ponerology: The Science of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes by Laura Knight-Jadczyk

Political Ponerology, by Dr. Andrew M. Lobaczewski, may be the most important book you will ever read; in fact, it WILL be. No matter who you are, what your status in life, what your age or sex or nationality or ethnic background, you will, at some point in your life, feel the touch or relentless grip of the cold hand of Evil. Bad things happen to good people, that's a fact. - Order your copy now! -

Beware of the Fox
I think it is important to point out the many concrete examples which conclusively prove the Israel Lobby thesis. The thesis is so obvious that this should hardly be necessary, but for the loud whining from the apologists for the Lobby and their Chomskeyite American-Empire-explains-everything fellow travelers.

War Crimes: A Question of Conscience
Yesterday's UK Daily Mail informs us that RAF doctor Malcolm Kendall-Smith has been sentenced to eight months in jail after being found guilty by a court martial of failing to comply with "lawful orders" after refusing to serve in the Iraq war. Kendall-Smith is said to have told a pre-trial hearing last month that he refused to go to Iraq because he believed the war was illegal and he did not want to be complicit with an act of aggression contrary to international law. He reportedly said that he had "evidence that the Americans were on a par with Nazi Germany with its actions in the Persian Gulf. I have documents in my possession which support my assertions. This is on the basis that on-going acts of aggression in Iraq and systematically applied war crimes provide a moral equivalent between the US and Nazi Germany."

The 'Ponerization' of Humanity
Surprise Surprise! Yet another "Bin Laden tape" has surfaced wherein the Harry Houdini of the Islamic terror world and eternal straw man for American and Israeli demagogues reiterates his call to arms for the destruction of Western civilisation...

Flight 93 Movie Ignores Officially Reported Facts About The Fate Of Flight
Joe Quinn
Signs of the Times
While browsing the news websites recently, I noticed an advertisement for an upcoming movie about Flight 93 that 'crashed' in the Pennsylvannia countryside on September 11th 2001.
Here's the ad:

Flight 93 movie
Without doubt, this is a deliberate government-sponsored/inspired attempt to further brainwash the masses about the truth of what happened on 9/11. Unfortunately for the Bush gang, the officially recorded events about the final moments of Flight 93 present us with some of the clearest evidence that the U.S. government is lying about what really happened to Flight 93, and by implication, about all other aspects of the 9/11 event.

Meeting Doctor Doom
There is always something special about science meetings. The 109th meeting of the Texas Academy of Science at Lamar University in Beaumont on 3-5 March 2006 was especially exciting for me, because a student and his professor presented the results of a DNA study I suggested to them last year. How fulfilling to see the baldcypress ( Taxodium distichum ) leaves we collected last summer and my tree ring photographs transformed into a first class scientific presentation that's nearly ready to submit to a scientific journal (Brian Iken and Dr. Deanna McCullough, "Bald Cypress of the Texas Hill Country: Taxonomically Unique?" 109th Meeting of the Texas Academy of Science Program and Abstracts, Poster P59, p. 84, 2006). But there was a gravely disturbing side to that otherwise scientifically significant meeting, for I watched in amazement as a few hundred members of the Texas Academy of Science rose to their feet and gave a standing ovation to a speech that enthusiastically advocated the elimination of 90 percent of Earth's population by airborne Ebola. The speech was given by Dr. Eric R. Pianka (Fig. 1), the University of Texas evolutionary ecologist and lizard expert who the Academy named the 2006 Distinguished Texas Scientist.

Diseased Minds
The planet is in a bad state, but some of the cures, such as that of killing off 90% of the population by ebola, are worse than the disease... or are in fact part of the disease.

Another brick in the wall
If I were an Israeli I would have built a wall, but not as a way of stealing land
We have been conned again. The Israeli elections, we are told, mean that the dream of "Greater Israel" has finally been abandoned. West Bank settlements will be closed down, just as the Jewish colonies were uprooted in Gaza last year. The Zionist claim to all of Biblical Israel has withered away. Likud, the nightmare party of Menachem Begin and Benjamin Netanyahu, has been smashed by the Gaullist figure of the dying Ariel Sharon, whose Kadima party now embraces Ehud Olmert and that decaying symbol of the Israeli left, Nobel prizewinner Shimon Peres. This, at least, is the narrative laid down by so many of our journalists, "analysts" and "commentators". But it is a lie.

The Israel Lobby and Democratic Public Discourse
"Perhaps the most obvious political effect of controlled news is the advantage it gives powerful people in getting their issues on the political agenda and defining those issues in ways likely to influence their resolution." -- W. Lance Bennett
A taboo but critically important subject is how pro-Israel lobbyists influence U.S. foreign policy, and whether it is in America's long term interests to let its foreign policy be designed along such narrow lines.

The Palestinian people are fed up with traitors
"Our authorities have already made thousands of appeals to the international community, to the United States, to Europe, all in vain. And now that we have been labeled as a 'terrorist' people for having voted for Hamas, nobody even wants to talk to us. So, we are punished for having democratically elected a government they qualify as 'terrorist'."

The Disheartening Fall of Doug Thompson
In the last few days, people have lamented the fall of Doug Thompson, editor of Capitol Hill Blue. Last week Thompson came out against the nine eleven truth movement, basically called those of us who believe the attacks were pulled off by elements within the United States government conspiracy nuts. I am not surprised by this. Capitol Hill Blue is a "liberal" website, often in favor of Democrats, and suffering from the disease most Democrats suffer from-a pathetic belief in the efficacy of government, if only we endeavor to elect good people.

What Is Not Talking About
I have been looking at Rense's website for the last two years and have gathered from Laura's research that he most likely, whether consciously or not, is an asset of Cointelpro. Rense's website gives the image of having no limits on what they will put up and yet there are some glaring omissions.

The Israel Lobby and Democratic Public Discourse
"Perhaps the most obvious political effect of controlled news is the advantage it gives powerful people in getting their issues on the political agenda and defining those issues in ways likely to influence their resolution."--W. Lance Bennett
A taboo but critically important subject is how pro-Israel lobbyists influence U.S. foreign policy, and whether it is in America's long term interests to let its foreign policy be designed along such narrow lines.

The Palestinian people are fed up with traitors
Remarks collected by Silvia Cattori from Omar, a resident of Gaza
"Our authorities have already made thousands of appeals to the international community, to the United States, to Europe, all in vain. And now that we have been labeled as a 'terrorist' people for having voted for Hamas, nobody even wants to talk to us. So, we are punished for having democratically elected a government they qualify as 'terrorist'."

The Disheartening Fall of Doug Thompson
In the last few days, people have lamented the fall of Doug Thompson, editor of Capitol Hill Blue. Last week Thompson came out against the nine eleven truth movement, basically called those of us who believe the attacks were pulled off by elements within the United States government conspiracy nuts. I am not surprised by this. Capitol Hill Blue is a "liberal" website, often in favor of Democrats, and suffering from the disease most Democrats suffer from-a pathetic belief in the efficacy of government, if only we endeavor to elect good people.

What Is Not Talking About
I have been looking at Rense's website for the last two years and have gathered from Laura's research that he most likely, whether consciously or not, is an asset of Cointelpro. Rense's website gives the image of having no limits on what they will put up and yet there are some glaring omissions.

Saddam's Crimes Pale in Comparison to those of the Neocons
It would seem the only case the Iraqis and the United States have against Saddam Hussein, or the man they claim is Saddam Hussein, is the alleged mass extermination of the Kurds in the 1980s. However, in the case of the Halabja massacre, as I wrote on September 20, 2003 (Colin Powell in Iraq: Exploiting the Dead of Halabja), it appears Saddam is innocent of gassing Kurds and his innocence was proclaimed by none other than the State Department. Stephen C. Pelletiere stated in early 2003: "We cannot say with any certainty that Iraqi chemical weapons killed the Kurds. I am in a position to know because, as the Central Intelligence Agency's senior political analyst on Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, and as a professor at the Army War College from 1988 to 2000, I was privy to much of the classified material that flowed through Washington having to do with the Persian Gulf. In addition, I headed a 1991 Army investigation into how the Iraqis would fight a war against the United States; the classified version of the report went into great detail on the Halabja affair."

Is The Capitol Building Next, Or Do The Tunnels Go Deeper?
In light of the 'insider' fingerprints left all over the 9/11 attacks, a few recent stories made us sit up and take notice...

Feigned Emotion
"One of the great things about America, one of the beauties of our country, is that when we see a young, innocent child blown up by an IED, we cry." - George W. Bush, Mar. 29

Another Shrine Bombing, More Conflicting Reports
What kind of people would deliberately massacre dozens of people attending their place of worship? Are these agents of MI5 and the Mossad human at all? Because let's face it, it is absolutely clear that the only beneficiaries of the spate of shrine bombings in Iraq are the ones currently illegally occupying that country - Britain America and Israel.

The Real Iraq News
Reporters from across the spectrum gathered to answer the question: 'Is the Media Telling the True Story?'
It's good news, bad news time. Again. By now the pattern is blatantly obvious: As the war in Iraq worsens, so too does the war on journalists. While still clinging to the tired canard that most reporters are too liberal to tell the truth -- the "real" story -- about Iraq, the Bush administration and its allied conservative commentators also impugn the journalists' motives and question their patriotism.

Word Control Part 2
Let us again open with a Word on words from a brilliant scholar. "Words are means by which Human Beings communicate and we call it a language. In order to communicate, you have to have an understanding of the words you use and that is where the problem arises. The meanings of most of the words we use were learned in context with other words, and we assume from this that we know the meaning of the word. When you do this, and your understanding of a word is the same as its real meaning, no problem arises. However, when what you assume the meaning of a word is does NOT agree with the true meaning of the word, then misunderstanding is the result. It is most rewarding to understand the words; by understanding, the true meaning of the word is meant. The best sources for obtaining this information are dictionaries, encyclopedias and dictionaries in OTHER languages." [Karl von Eckartshausen, Principles of Higher Knowledge,

America's "Noble" Cause: Preserving its Right to Murder, Exploit, Torture, and Impoverish with Impunity
America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between. - Oscar Wilde
"Why are we over there in Iraq?"
"To protect our freedoms."
"How are the Iraqis threatening our freedoms?"
"They attacked us on 9/11."
"If that is true, why are so many Americans against the war?"
"I don't know, but I think Cindy Sheehan and all the other war protestors should be rounded up and shot."

"It Can't Happen Here" Edition
At the risk of offending anyone out there, I really need to ask a question here: what the hell is the matter with you people? And by "you people," I don't mean specifically the regular readers of these newsletters, but rather the American people in general. So to all you John and Jane Q. Publics out there, let me rephrase the question: what the hell does it take to get a reaction out of you?

The Anti-War Movement?
The anti-war movement is not on the "verge of collapse" because we are not organized, or because we don't take a "warriors" view of attacking the neocons and the war machine using the tactics of Napoleon, or Sun Tzu-but because the two-thirds of Americans who philosophically agree that the war is wrong, BushCo lied, and the troops should come home, will not get off of their collective, complacent, and comfortable behinds to demonstrate their dissent with our government.

The War on Immigrants
"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore." Once that was true, but no longer. Emma Lazarus' beautiful and memorable words we've all heard many times and know well are fading into memory. If we're honest, they should be removed from "Lady Liberty" and be replaced with something like: We'll take your Anglos, especially well-off ones, and the ones we choose with needed skills; you keep the rest, especially your poor, dark-skinned and desperate. We needed 'em once for our homegrown sweatshops. No longer. We've got plenty all around the world. It now looks like we'll make an exception though for the menial or toughest low pay, no benefits, no security jobs no one else wants. We're still debating it and will let you know.

Vive la France!
The world learned today that taking to the streets in massive numbers can still have an effect. French president Jacques Chirac announced that the hated law, known as the CPE, a law that would impose job precarity on the youngest members of the work force, would be repealled. It took several days of strikes and millions in the streets of France's main cities, but it worked. Just as the French refused the neo-liberal European Constitution last year, they are refusing the neo-liberal economics of capitalist globalisation.

Is Doomsday Coming For U.S. Forces In Iraq?
Having many cherished friends, from many walks of life, a good listener hears many different voices from many different sources. Let this listener share with you those things he has been told of late from many whom he dearly loves and does not want to lose. They, all those human beings who dare to Be and to Love, in this brief whirl of endless doubts we think of as life, are precious, and the Shadow now falling over far too many of them on the blood soaked sands of Iraq seems very dark and dire.

US Military Massacre In Haditha
In the middle of methodically recalling the day his brother's family was killed, Yaseen's monotone voice and stream of tears suddenly stopped. He looked up, paused and pleaded: "Please don't let me say anything that will get me killed by the Americans. My family can't handle any more."
The story of what happened to Yaseen and his brother Younes' family has redefined Haditha's relationship with the Marines who patrol it. On Nov. 19, a roadside bomb struck a Humvee on Haditha's main road, killing one Marine and injuring two others. The Marines say they took heavy gunfire afterwards and thought it was coming from the area around Younes' house. They went to investigate, and 23 people were killed. Eight were from Younes' family. The only survivor, Younes' 13-year-old daughter, said her family wasn't shooting at Marines or harboring extremists that morning. They were sleeping when the bomb exploded. And when the Marines entered their house, she said, they shot at everyone inside.

Another Neocon Step to War ...this Time Against Iran
"When people speak to you about a preventive war, you tell them to go and fight it. After my experience, I have come to hate war."
--Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969), 34th president of the United States
When a country's leaders are bent for war, and they believe to have the means to do it, there is little that can stop them. This was amply demonstrated before World War I, when the German High Command under Army Chief of Staff Helmuth von Moltke had been preparing for war for a long time. The archduke's assassination, in the summer of 1914, provided the pretext for war. Germany then launched a ''preemptive'' war against France and Russia, and the rest is history. Adolf Hitler did the same thing to start World War II. He launched "preventive" attacks and invaded Czechoslovakia in 1938, and Poland in 1939, ostensibly to provoke "regime change" in these countries.

Neocon Plan to Wreck the Economy
If we are to believe Sterling Seagrave, “co-author of Gold Warriors and an extremely well-connected financial source in both the US and China as well as Europe,” the White House, that is to say the Straussian neocons in control of the White House, have ordered the Federal Reserve to print a whopping two trillion in funny (or not so funny fiat) money.

More Patsies Take a Fall For Israeli, British and American Terrorism
Today, in an example of the joke that the Western 'justice' system has become, a Spanish judge passed down sentences on 29 Moroccon patsies for their alleged yet wholly uncorroborated part in the Madrid Train bombings...

An Environmental 9/11
Most Americans now live downwind or downwater, no matter in how seemingly rural, remote and pristine an environment, from a major source of toxic levels of air and/or water pollution that is directly and adversely affecting their physical health. These pollution levels were nowhere near so life threatening just a bit more than five short years ago, back when the EPA was still alive, well, and enforcing the clean air and clean water standards. But over five years of deliberately unleashing almost unrestrained environmental pollution from all sources have rendered almost every last square mile of the continental U.S. a hazardous wasteland filled with toxic particulates, vapors and soups.

Iran Can Now Make glowing Mickey Mouse Watches
- Bush and Ahmadinejad could be working together toward the Perfect Storm.- Despite all the sloppy and inaccurate headlines about Iran "going nuclear," the fact is that all President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday was that it had enriched uranium to a measely 3.5 percent, using a bank of 180 centrifuges hooked up so that they "cascade."

A Markerless Grave in Vacaville
I am so tired of the Rovian, heartless, and ignorant smear machine attacking me and my family at every turn of my back. The latest abomination in their scrutiny of my life is the fact that Casey has no "tombstone." As if it were anybody's business but Casey's family. I am sure every last person who has a problem with this has buried a child and they know what we are going through. I am being smeared because I have a new car and I have "blown" through "$250,000.00" dollars of Casey's insurance money. I am sure that they have ready access to my bank accounts, too. I know I am writing this to compassionate people who would rather focus on an administration who lies, tortures, kills innocent people using conventional and chemical weapons, spies on its citizens without due process, and is treacherous in outing a CIA operative for petty high school-like revenge, thereby endangering her, her family, and her fellow CIA agents. If it weren't for these criminals, my son wouldn't need a tombstone.

Meaningful Consequences Equals Dead Iranians
Now that John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt, academic dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, have been effectively marginalized and portrayed as raving anti-Semites by the corporate media for their lukewarm assessment of AIPAC and the Straussian neocons as Israel Firsters, the road ahead, leading to shock and awe against the people of Iran, is wide open.

Will I live long enough to finally hear the truth?
Hmmm. I wonder. I'm 42 now, male, not overly stressful job. Let's figure I make it to 70. So that's approximately 30 years. Guliani has apparently "sealed" his "papers" for 25 years. (Can he do that?) So it might be a close shave . . . For the purposes of this essay, let us go on the assumption that there is MUCH more to the events of September 11th of 2001 then our current administration and the so-called "bipartisan" 911 commission has told us commoners. Let us also assume that at least one of the deaths of either Missouri governor and Senate candidate Mel Carnahan and his son, et al (October 16, 2000 - private plane crash) or U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone and his family, et al (October 25, 2002 - private plane crash) were suspicious, having occurred 3 weeks prior and 11 days prior, respectively, to the elections in which they were candidates. Let us further assume that the death - "suicide" - of Ray Lemme of the Florida Inspector General's Office on July 1, 2003 - conveniently occurring in a motel just inside the next-door state of Georgia where autopsies are not mandated in such circumstances - is also suspicious. (Thanx Brad! - careful of the pics folks - truly not for the faint of stomach.)

JFK and 9/11
There seems to be a strong feeling on the left that, somehow, 9/11 is irrelevant. That to focus on it distracts from "real" issues such as Iraq and domestic spying. Again, almost to minimize the importance of 9/11, treat it as bygone history, and concentrate only on the misuse of the event by the administration. There are a number of problems with this approach. It leaves in place the people that did it, and the mechanisms used for covering it up. It leaves in place the use of the "war on terror" as justification for the current administration's abuses, and allows the 9/11 rallying cry to continued to be used, and often accepted, to justify these abuses. And it leaves open the very distinct possibility that this kind of attack will be used again to justify further abuses.

Government-Assured Deception
For all those I see teetering on the brink of falling for the foul-smelling propaganda about Iran and its "nuclear threat" to the world...

Have a Nice Apocalypse
Free download of Jean-Pierre Petit's comic book Have a Nice Apocalypse, a simple discussion of the hows and whys of the arms race.

Nine Eleven: A Response to Doubting Doug
Doug Thompson, editor and publisher of Capitol Hill Blue, has slipped into warp drive. He believes you and I-those who believe the government was complicit or behind the attacks of nine eleven-are "fruitcakes, lemmings and scam artists." I'm not sure why Thompson has become so enraged at those of us who don't buy the official version (a fairy tale) and why he assumes we are either crazed tinfoil hatters or snake oil salesmen looking for a quick buck (and believe me, if you're interested in making a quick buck, you'd have more luck going door-to-door as a hawker of Amway products). His venom leads me to believe something is going on behind the scenes. I find it remarkably strange that Thompson believes his government is capable of setting up a police state, while on the other is unable to grasp the idea that very same government would kill its own citizens, as it has slaughtered thousands and thousands of Iraqis (and millions of Asians before the latest round of serial murder).

The Judicial Hijacking Of The 9-11 Victim Lawsuits
While the media plays up the significance of the government show trial of the seemingly deranged "20th hijacker" Zacharias Moussaoui, not one 9-11 victim's lawsuit has been allowed to be heard in a trial by jury. Why have the 9-11 victims' families not been given the same right to have their cases heard in an open trial by a jury of their peers?

AIPAC's Complaint by Eric Alterman
Eric Alterman's take on the Mearsheimer-Walt article on The Israel Lobby seems to be the way that liberals and some on the left have chosen to respond to its damning evidence of the the lobby's pernicious influence on US Middle East policy. They begin by praising the authors for raising the issue and then attempt to discredit key elements of M-W's thesis by creating straw men and arguments that don't stand up to scrutiny. What is important is that the discussion about the role of the Israel Lobby is now a subject of a long-overdue public debate, and more important, exposure, and can no longer be bottled up.

The U.S. Now Planning A Fourth Attempt To Oust Hugo Chavez
This essay has a duel purpose. I began it initially to explain how sophisticated and effective the dominant corporate media is in programming the public mind to believe whatever message they deliver regardless of whether it's true which it rarely is. I chose the title Reeducation 101 - Defogging and Reversing the Corporate Media's Programming of the Public Mind which I'm now using as the heading of my introductory section. Along with that discussion, I then planned a detailed case study example of how they're doing it by demonizing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Frias with a building and resonating drumbeat of invective in advance of the US government's fourth attempt to oust him. That discussion follows my introductory section.

Immigration and eliminationism
Those mass marches are having their effect: They're scaring the crap out of the nativists. And they're fighting back in the usual, expected fashion ... by lying and making ugly but empty threats. At least, we hope they're empty. Because what they're advocating, increasingly, is eliminating all 11 million illegal aliens in the United States. How they'll achieve that is something, however, they leave to our imaginations.

More Thoughts on the French Demonstrations
With each day, more and more people living in the western democracies are awakening to the fact that their politicians and civil servants do not represent the real interests of the ordinary citizen, if so broad a generalisation may be permitted. In the photos taken in the halls of power, we see row after row of white men in suits. In the US, minorities are sorely underrepresented, and women, well, it is a joke to think women have made any progress. In France, the "leaders" are groomed in a series of elite schools where they learn the ropes and earn the privilege of addressing each other with the familiar "tu". In the US, the mere admittance into an Ivy league school, regardless of your academic achievements, assures the power-hungry are part of the club. The situation is the same no matter where you look.

Civilized Ways to the Geopolitical Future
How to have peace and order among independent and sovereign nations in an economically globalized modern world, without having the hydra of imperialism and colonialism resurface from past centuries? That is the international challenge of the 21st Century. In fact, this has been the challenge since the Peace of Westphalia, signed after the 30-year long religious war, on October 24, 1648.

As Elections Loom, Venezuela's Opposition Won't Commit to Participation
Last Thursday the New York Times ran a remarkable profile of the Venezuelan opposition. Titled "Rifts Plague Anti-Chavez Venezuelans," [1] Times reporter Juan Forero details the chaos that marks Venezuelan opposition parties in the run-up to the this year's presidential elections. Significantly, these rifts are not ideological in nature -- precious little of the discussion centers on values, ideas or agendas. The split within the anti-Chavez faction involves whether or not they will participate in elections at all. Having controlled all aspects of Venezuelan political life for generations before President Chavez was elected in 1998, the traditional parties are fighting over whether they will commit to democracy.

Capitol Hill Blue Bites Back
Teresa Hampton, editor of Capitol Hill Blue, has responded to my criticism of Doug Thompson for his characterization of people interested in nine eleven truth as fools, lemmings, scam artists, and other not so nice names (a link to this article no longer exists). Ms. Hampton seems to believe I am lining my pockets here via Pay Pal donation button (less obtrusive than numerous flashing banner ads courtesy of multinational corporations) while Thompson gives ad money to charity. I am roundly chastised for not reading the Capitol Hill Blue FAQ on such things. Ms. Hampton calls this shoddy journalism, or a "mouth" with a "modem."

20 Basic Facts AboutThe Israeli Palestinian Problem
Did you know...
That, when the Palestine Problem was created by Britain in 1917, more than 90% of the population of Palestine was Arabs?. And that there were at that time no more than 56,000 Jews in Palestine?

Bush: the Decider Dictator
I recall months ago, when folks began first murmuring about booting Donald Rumsfeld, arriving at the obvious conclusion-Donald Rumsfeld is not going anywhere, not anymore than Cheney is (short of a heart attack). Rumsfeld and Cheney are integral to the Straussian neocon hold on both the Pentagon and the Oval Office. Bush may appoint Rob Portman to head the Office of Management and Budget, and Dan Senor (former AIPAC flunky, director of the US-Israel Business Exchange, and associate at the Carlyle Group) may replace Scott McClellan, but Cheney and Rumsfeld are like white on rice.

The Day Of The Jackal
You hypocrites; you know the jackal's name and dare not call it out. Then you ridicule any who do, to preserve your sanctioned seat at the banquet table and soothe yourself with the platitudes that you must compromise the truth to be an ally of the truth! And those that insist and will not compromise the truth, they will have won the prize behind the door — the sayan.

Forget the Middle East: North America Harbors the World's Most Dangerous Terrorists
“After the explosion itself, anyone on the edge of the explosion (who were lucky enough to survive) would have melted flesh and severe burns, the skin would literally fall off the bone. Anyone who had seen the blast from such a distance would have permanent loss of vision.”

Breaking the silence
John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government have put their hands into a hornet's nest with their paper in the London Review of Books, titled "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy." As political scientists who routinely analyze U.S. foreign policy, they have gained a reputation for lucid and principled argument, but outside the halls of academia are not exactly household names. In daring to simply describe the well-known operations of the Israel lobby, however, they have made themselves targets of a massive smear campaign. Ironically, this reaction is just what their paper predicted.

The Really Real "Long War"
Savvy players in the military-industrial racket know that the "War on Terror" is just short-end money: fat and sweet, sure, but it doesn't really have legs. "Islamofacism" is too empty a concept to sustain the kind of decades-long looting of the public treasury that the dear old Cold War used to provide – the overwhelming majority of Muslims in the world just aren't interested in dressing up in Nazi drag and playing their assigned roles in the Pentagon-Neocon-Theocon war game. I mean, Jesus Herbert Walker Christ, you can even walk your army right into the heartland of Islam and kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people, and they still won't take the bait. Not a single Muslim nation has gone jihad over Iraq; they haven't all turned into a nice, big monolithic evil empire set on the utter destruction of America. It's like they're all just ordinary people or something, good, bad and indifferent, largely occupied with their own concerns – personal, economic, social, religious, national.

The U.S. Nuclear Bunker Buster: 3 Million will die
Click this link to view a 'Flash' animation on the likely effects of the use of a nuclear "bunker buster" against underground facilities in Iran by the U.S government and military. Please note that the US government appears determined to use such devices, in full awareness of the fact that millions of innocent people would probably die as a result. It would appear that, in terms of the current U.S. administration and the general global ruling "elite", we are not dealing with men and women but monsters.

The Destruction of the 911 Truth Movement
Lately, it sure looks like the whole Alternative News and 911 Truth movement is being subjected to the Ponerization process (being twisted to become an agent for Evil), so perhaps now would be a good time to take a look at how that process develops. First, a little background.

The Asian Development Bank warns of threatening monetary turmoil
The oil trade is uneasy about the increasing impossibility of reinvesting the petrodollars they are accumulating, whereas the bank world is pondering over the dollar's real value. A downturn in trade has just begun on the stock exchanges of the Gulf, even as the Asian Development Bank was warning its members against a possible collapse of the US currency. What if the dollar was really no longer anything but fiat money?
For several months a lively debate has been developing within international financial circles: is the dollar so overvalued as to be at risk of a brutal collapse, on the order of 15 to 40% depending on the commentator? The controversy is kept alive by a disputed rumour whereby some oil contracts might be on the verge of being converted from dollars into euros. This, in turn, would spawn a depreciation of the US currency.
Until now, official statements on this issue seemed to belong to the realm of psychological warfare between rival powers. As such, they were subject to question. But suddenly, on March 28th, 2006, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) chose to put its credibility at stake among its members by issuing a memo advising them to be ready for a collapse of the dollar.

Helping George
Helping George Comic Book

A group of George's Texas cronies decide to help out their friend....
Click the picture to find out how they do it.

Who's the dog? Who's the tail?
"The findings of the two professors are right to the last detail. Every Senator and Congressman knows that criticizing the Israeli government is political suicide. Two of them, a Senator and a Congressman, tried - and were politically executed. The Jewish lobby was fully mobilized against them and hounded them out of office. This was done openly, to set a public example. If the Israeli government wanted a law tomorrow annulling the Ten Commandments, 95 Senators (at least) would sign the bill forthwith."  I don't usually tell these stories, because they might give rise to the suspicion that I am paranoid.

Surprise Surprise! Another "Terrorist Attack" In Egypt
One day after Osama reminded us all that he is still a threat to the entire world (and quite possibly the known universe), as if by magic, three bombs explode in Egypt's Sinai resort of Dahab, killing 30 people and wounding dozens more.

Hostile Takeover - The Corporate Control Of Society And Human Life
Large transnational corporations are clearly the dominant institution of our time. They're preeminent throughout the world but especially in the Global North and its epicenter in the US. They control or greatly influence what we eat and drink, where we live, what we wear, how we get most of our essential services like health care and even what we're taught in schools up to the highest levels. They create and control our sources of information and greatly influence how we think and our view of the world and them. They even now own patents on our genetic code, the most basic elements of human life, and are likely planning to manipulate and control them as just another commodity to exploit for profit in their brave new world that should concern everyone. They also carefully craft their image and use catchy slogans to convince us of their benefit to society and the world, like: "better things for better living through chemistry" (if you don't mind toxic air, water and soil), "we bring good things to life" (for them, not us), and "all the news that's fit to print" (only if you love state and corporate friendly disinformation and propaganda). The slogans are clever, but the truth is ugly.

The 10 Worst Corporations of 2005
2005 was a good year for bad corporations. There were no U.S. elections to worry about, with their troubling possibility of politicians running on the popular platform of curbing corporate power. There were corporate scandals and corporate crime and violence galore, but none that rated the ongoing banner headlines of Enron and WorldCom. Indeed, the ongoing prosecutions of individuals associated with corporate financial scandals enabled Big Business and its apologists to claim there had actually been a crackdown on corporate crime. All leaving corporations free to buy legislation, profiteer, pollute, poison and mistreat workers without restraint.

THE CORPORATION explores the nature and spectacular rise of the dominant institution of our time. Footage from pop culture, advertising, TV news, and corporate propaganda, illuminates the corporation's grip on our lives. Taking its legal status as a "person" to its logical conclusion, the film puts the corporation on the psychiatrist's couch to ask "What kind of person is it?" Provoking, witty, sweepingly informative, The Corporation includes forty interviews with corporate insiders and critics - including Milton Friedman, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, and Michael Moore - plus true confessions, case studies and strategies for change.

Surprise Surprise! 'al-Zarqawi' Comes Out Of The Closet
The problem, you understand, is that George's approval rating is at an all-time low (32%), a large majority of Americans believe that he should be impeached, and the world's population is slowly waking up to the distinct possibility that the 'war on terror' is, to one extent or another, a creation of the very people that claim to be fighting it...

What President Ahmadinejad Actually Said About Israel and Iran's Nuclear Program
The following is the full text of the President of the Islamic Revolution, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's address at the opening session of the Third International Qods (Jerusalem) Conference supporting the rights of the Palestinian people. This text has been portrayed in the Western press as calling for the "wiping off" of Israel from the face of the earth. Read it and make up your own minds if that is what he said. Read it for yourselves and see if his words were accurately reported, and then think about everything else you read and hear in the Western media.

Of Propaganda and Disinformation in Politics
Propaganda is defined as a specific type of message presentation, directly aimed at influencing the opinions of people, rather than impartially providing information. It is a branch of the public relations industry. Political propaganda, on the other hand, is the art of conscious and intelligent manipulation of the attitudes and behavior of the electorate in order to control the democratic process.

Have a Koch and a Smile
Free Markets and Property Rights Trump Humanity and the Environment! So long as the markets are free and the rich stay that way, human suffering and environmental devastation are irrelevant. Beneath the "feel good" facade of baseball, apple-pie, mom, and Chevrolet lurks this sinister reality of the American Way. Much of humanity is shackled by poverty and besieged by the violence of war. Earth is experiencing a slow, agonizing death. Animal and plant species are disappearing at an alarming rate. Despite these tragic and inevitable consequences, the United States persists in spreading the cancers of Americanized Capitalism and Democracy.

Murder and Plunder Mean Honors for Armitage
Richard Armitage: First in war, first in subversion, first in the hearts of someone else's countrymen...

9-11, Nukes, Bird Flu, & Monica Lewinsky
Charlie Sheen's revelations about 9-11 being an inside job (i.e. World Trade Center controlled demolition, etc) have now been broadcast on CNN during primetime, while the Scholars for 9-11 Truth have mobilized the forces with renewed energy and purpose. In addition, new 9-11 articles appear in mainstream publications on a weekly basis, while independent researchers keep releasing new information on the Pentagon and Shanksville hoaxes.

Corporate Congress Critters Kill Net Neutrality
Corporate whores in Congress have officially inaugurated the process of turning the internet into another platform for ephemeral junk culture, an interactive version of television where there are 500 channels and nothing on. "Internet carriers, including AT&T Inc., have been strident supporters of upending the Internet's tradition of network neutrality and have lobbied Congress to make it happen. They argue that Web sites, particularly those featuring video and audio that require significant bandwidth, should be able to pay extra so that users don't have to wait as long for downloads," reports the San Francisco Chronicle. "Internet carriers say they would use the money they earn to expand the Internet's capacity." I suppose this would operate the same way multinational oil corporations use their massive profits to search for new oil reserves or expand refining capacity. "By a 34-22 vote, members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee rejected a Democratic-backed Net neutrality amendment that also enjoyed support from Internet and software companies including Microsoft, and Google," writes Declan McCullagh for CNET News.

Who's accountable?
The irreplacable Digby dug up an interesting exchange the other day between a student [edited] and President Bush:
Q: Thank you, Mr. President. It's an honor to have you here. I'm a first-year student in South Asia studies. My question is in regards to private military contractors. Uniform Code of Military Justice does not apply to these contractors in Iraq. I asked your Secretary of Defense a couple months ago what law governs their actions.

THE PRESIDENT: I was going to ask him. Go ahead. (Laughter.) Help. (Laughter.)

Q: I was hoping your answer might be a little more specific. (Laughter.) Mr. Rumsfeld answered that Iraq has its own domestic laws which he assumed applied to those private military contractors. However, Iraq is clearly not currently capable of enforcing its laws, much less against -- over our American military contractors. I would submit to you that in this case, this is one case that privatization is not a solution. And, Mr. President, how do you propose to bring private military contractors under a system of law?

THE PRESIDENT: I appreciate that very much. I wasn't kidding -- (laughter.) I was going to -- I pick up the phone and say, Mr. Secretary, I've got an interesting question. (Laughter.) This is what delegation -- I don't mean to be dodging the question, although it's kind of convenient in this case, but never -- (laughter.) I really will -- I'm going to call the Secretary and say you brought up a very valid question, and what are we doing about it? That's how I work. I'm -- thanks. (Laughter.)
The Confusion of Tongues
Do I understand your question, man, Is it hopeless and forlorn? - Bob Dylan
Yesterday morning I was watching a streaming English-language news broadcast from Russia. (And I expect that's enough cause right there for the telecommunication giants to seek the end of the Internet as we know it.) The lead story was the press conference of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the main points hit by the Russia Today correspondent were Ahmadinejad's renouncing nuclear weapons as contrary to Islam and his reiteration of Iran's 30-year commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, though Iran reserved the right to revisit its commitment if adherence to the treaty imperiled its sovereignty. It was an unexpectedly optimistic piece. Ahmadinejad was allowed to speak at length and appeared relaxed and informed while fielding questions. If the excerpts were representative and the translation accurate, he appeared to be credibly attempting to defuse the crisis.

What's it like to live in the 21st century? Can we see it as it really is? Can we make out the wood for the trees? Or do we need dreams to make sense of it? In 1924 Fritz Lang and his wife Thea von Harbou set about creating the silent film Metropolis. Several million Marks later, the film was released in 1927 - to mixed reviews. Visually stunning, even today, it was perhaps too much for many people to grasp. The storyline, too, seems somehow distant and otherworldly: evocative of something vaguely other, and yet rooted in the world of today, the world we know. Or think we know. A world of dreams - and making the same sort of sense that dreams do.

Tony Snow Job
Ask me why I am not surprised. "President Bush on Wednesday named Tony Snow, a conservative pundit who has nonetheless been critical of the administration, as his press secretary-the latest move in Bush's effort to remake his troubled White House," reports MSNBC. "Snow, a Fox News commentator and speech-writer in the White House under Bush's father, has written and spoken frequently about the current president-not always in a complimentary way. While Snow is an experienced Washington hand, he is an outsider when it comes to Bush's tight core of advisers."

Glimpses Of Truth 4/06

US 'intoxicated' by power: Gorbachev
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who triggered the demise of the Soviet Union's Communist empire, said in an interview that the United States was "intoxicated" by its power and should not impose its will on others.

Blix: Iran Years Away From Nuclear Bomb
Former U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix said Monday that Iran is a least five years away from developing a nuclear bomb, leaving time to peacefully negotiate a settlement.
Blix, attending an energy conference in western Norway, said he doubted the U.S. would resort to invading Iran. "But there is a chance that the U.S. will use bombs or missiles against several sites in Iran," he was quoted by Norwegian news agency NTB as saying. "Then, the reactions would be strong, and would contribute to increased terrorism."

Smoke and ire
As waitress Sharon Johnson sees it, the newly enacted statewide smoking ban is less about protecting people's health than about snuffing out their rights.
"If they can do this, what else can they do?" she says, referring to the legislators who voted to prohibit smoking in virtually all public places beginning July 1. "It's pretty obvious where this is going. Our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness at this point is gone. I suppose the next thing they'll do is take away my right to remodel my house the way I want to do it."

Comment: Audacity and Mendacity
The audacity and mendacity of the Bush Administration mount by the day. This Presidency has become an increasing menace to our constitutional system.

Bush's Unprecedented Arrogance

President George Bush continues to openly and defiantly ignore the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) -- the 1978 statute prohibiting electronic inspection of Americans' telephone and email communications with people outside the United States without a court-authorized warrant. (According to U.S. News & World Report, the President may also have authorized warrantless break-ins and other physical surveillance, such as opening regular mail, in violation of the Fourth Amendment.)

The president's war madness

President Bush said he invaded Iraq to rid the world of a madman. It is ever-more clear Bush went mad to start it.

When War Crimes Are Impossible

Is President Bush guilty of war crimes? To even ask the question is to go far beyond the boundaries of mainstream U.S. media.

The Neocon Imaginary Middle East: Again

Speaking of political frauds, the Web site Newshog has nailed Kenneth R. Timmerman for falsely alleging that Iran has bought nuclear warheads from North Korea. In fact, Jane's Defense Weekly reported that Iran bought some ancient missile from Pyongyang, and there was never any question of a warhead. Timmerman is taken seriously by the White House, Congress, and the US press but in fact has no credibility as an Iran expert (at IC we like our Iran experts to know Persian, the way you'd expect an expert on France to know French; we're funny that way). Even the usually canny Jon Stewart gave Timmerman a respectful hearing.

The Real Reason Tom DeLay Quit
Tom DeLay's having "won" his party's primary uncovered some very damaging voting "problems" and seriously questionable vote counts in the elections machinery of numerous Texas counties. The primary's balloting was done on ES&S machines, an electronic voting company started and owned by Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, upon which company's iVotronic machines being first used throughout Nebraska he won his own first "election" to the Senate in 1996, of course. He won by a "stunning upset victory" when he'd been more than 17 points behind in statewide polls the night before.

Israel allows Palestinian Christians to Easter services
The Israeli army has said that it would give permission to 34,000 Palestinian Christians to travel from the
West Bank in order to attend festivities over the upcoming Easter weekend. The main services will be held in Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, considered Jesus Christ's burial place.

The Five-Letter Word to End War--Draft
What are we going to do to stop the messianic president, George W. Bush, from blowing Iran to bits to further his and Mommy Dearest's belief that he was born to save the world? How are sane people going to stop an avalanche of obsession from smothering Democracy? What can we do to bring our troops home and ensure peace? A draft. That's the answer. Only if we reinstate conscription will Americans march in the streets to protest war. That's when our electorate will be affected by the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), the plan for world domination that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Rice are forcefully peddling. Only then will soccer moms and T-ball dads awaken from their complacency and say, "Not my child."

U.S. Blind to Harbinger of Its Decline
The first step for turnaround is to bring troops home
The miscalculated policies of the U.S. administration in the Middle East are quickly depleting the country's ability to sustain its once unchallenged global position. Winds of change are blowing everywhere, and there is little that Washington's ideologues can do to stop that. The above claim is increasingly finding its way into the realm of mainstream thinking, despite all attempts to mute or relegate its import.

This George Is No Washington
Each was elected president of the United States, but George the 43rd possesses none of the courage, intelligence, or wisdom of the first.

The American Caesar: Time to Hold Bush and Cheney Accountable

In the name of fighting stateless terrorism, George W. Bush is looming as the American Caesar running roughshod over the civil liberties of the American people who have turned against him in ever larger majorities. In the name of fighting terrorism, George W. Bush fabricated numerous excuses for illegally invading Iraq and occupying it for now over three costly years in ways that are magnets for the recruitment and training of ever more stateless terrorists. His own CIA Director, Porter Goss, made exactly this point in testimony before the U.S. Senate in February 2005. So too have many retired intelligence and military specialists including those who recently worked for George W. Bush.

Connecting the Dots to Treason

Bush lied about having found WMD in Iraq for almost a year after the story had been discredited by the Pentagon itself. But this was the same year that Valerie Plame would be "outed" by George W. Bush. Is there a connection?

How to Break the American Trance
If we Americans are split into two meaningful camps, it is not conservative versus liberal. The two camps are the politically awake and the hypnotized. The following is a speech given by 92-year-old Doris "Granny D" Haddock, who walked across the U.S. in 1999-2000 for campaign finance reform. She made this speech to Citizens for Participation in Political Action in Boston, on Sept. 27, 2002.

Bush WMD Statements Based On Debunked Evidence
The White House said Wednesday that President George W. Bush's claim three years ago that weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq was based on information later proved wrong. Bush had said in a TV interview that weapons were found, and that two trailers seized in Iraq were mobile biological labs. The Washington Post reported experts on a Pentagon-backed trip had already told Washington the trailers had nothing to do with bio weapons.

Powell says Bush took 'misleading' Cheney advice, ignored State Department
The president played the scoundrel -- even the best of his minions went along with the lies -- and when a former ambassador dared to tell the truth, the White House initiated what Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald calls "a plan to discredit, punish or seek revenge against Mr. Wilson." That is the important story line. If not for the whistle-blower, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, President Bush's falsehoods about the Iraq nuclear threat probably would never have been exposed.

Truth about Iraq's mobile weapons factories ignored, experts say
ON MAY 29, 2003, 50 days after the fall of Baghdad, President George Bush proclaimed a new victory for his Administration in Iraq: two small trailers captured by US troops had turned out to be long-sought mobile "biological laboratories". "We have found the weapons of mass destruction," he trumpeted.

What Happens When You Remain Silent?
Sixty-four summers ago, when Hitler fabricated Polish provocations in his attempt to justify Germany's invasion of Poland, there was not a peep out of senior German officials. Happily, in today's Germany the imperative of truth telling no longer takes a back seat to ingrained docility and knee-jerk deference to the perceived dictates of "homeland security." The most telling recent sign of this comes in today's edition of Die Zeit, Germany's highly respected weekly. The story, by Jochen Bittner holds lessons for us all.

Did Bush Pull a Fast One on Fitzgerald? How the White House Keeps Getting Away with Murder

With the latest revelations in the CIA leak case, the question on the minds of most Americans, is whether Bush and Cheney were the masterminds in an organized plot to destroy Joe Wilson by revealing his wife's name and status as a undercover agent of the CIA. Hands down, yes they were. And a brilliant scheme it was; especially when one considers that the combined IQ of Bush and Cheney is probably not equal to that of a goat...

Now Powell tells us

THE President played the scoundrel - even the best of his minions went along with the lies - and when a former ambassador dared to tell the truth, the White House initiated what Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald calls "a plan to discredit, punish or seek revenge against Mr. Wilson." That is the important story line. If not for the whistle-blower, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, President Bush's falsehoods about the Iraq nuclear threat likely would never have been exposed. On Monday, former Secretary of State Colin Powell told me that he and his department's top experts never believed that Iraq posed an imminent nuclear threat, but that the president followed the misleading advice of Vice President Dick Cheney and the CIA in making the claim. Now he tells us. The harsh truth is that this president cherry-picked the intelligence data in making his case for invading Iraq and deliberately kept the public in the dark as to the countervailing analysis at the highest level of the intelligence community. While the president and his top Cabinet officials were fear-mongering with stark images of a "mushroom cloud" over American cities, the leading experts on nuclear weaponry at the Department of Energy (the agency in charge of the U.S. nuclear-weapons program) and the State Department thought the claim of a near-term Iraqi nuclear threat was absurd.

The Art of War for the anti-war movement
It's high time to recognize that we as a nation are engaged in a life-or-death struggle of competing ideologies with those who promote war as an American value and virtue. In the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq by a US-led coalition, and for three years since, I have spent many hours speaking to numerous anti-war forums across the country and around the world. I have always been struck by the sincerity of the vast majority of those who call themselves anti-war, and impressed by their willingness to give so much of themselves in the service of such a noble cause.

Signs Comment: What Scott Ritter - and most people - do not realize is that it is not a war of ideologies - those are just tools - but rather a war between different types of humans! All of this is fully explained in clinical detail in "Political Ponerology: The Science of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes." "The first manuscript of this book went into the fire five minutes before the arrival of the secret police in Communist Poland. The second copy, reassembled painfully by scientists working under impossible conditions of repression, was sent via a courier to the Vatican. Its receipt was never acknowledged, no word was ever heard from the courier - the manuscript and all the valuable data was lost. The third copy was produced after one of the scientists working on the project escaped to America in the 1980s. Zbigniew Brzezinski suppressed it. "Political Ponerology: The scientific study of Evil adjusted for Political Purposes was forged in the crucible of the very subject it studies. Scientists living under an oppressive regime decide to study it clinically, to study the founders and supporters of an evil regime to determine what common factor is at play in the rise and propagation of man's inhumanity to man. "Shocking in its clinically spare descriptions of the true nature of evil, poignant in the more literary passages where the author reveals the suffering experienced by the researchers who were contaminated or destroyed by the disease they were studying, this is a book that should be required reading by every citizen of every country that claims a moral or humanistic foundation. For it is a certainty that morality and humanism cannot long withstand the predations of Evil. Knowledge of its nature, how it creates its networks and spreads, how insidious is its guileful approach, is the only antidote." You can get this book from RedPillPress: Probably the most important book you will ever read.

A tale of two Congress members and the Capitol Police
Suppose Tom Lantos had been Black - like Cynthia McKinney It's another tale of two members of Congress, of racism and hypocrisy, and it serves as a reminder, as if one was needed, that Washington, D.C., is in the heart of the old Confederacy. Rep. Tom Lantos and Rep. Cynthia McKinney are members of the Democratic Party, but there the similarities end.

Behind the Military Revolt
The calls by a growing number of recently retired generals for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have created the most serious public confrontation between the military and an administration since President Harry S. Truman fired Gen. Douglas MacArthur in 1951. In that epic drama, Truman was unquestionably correct -- MacArthur, the commanding general in Korea and a towering World War II hero, publicly challenged Truman's authority and had to be removed. Most Americans rightly revere the principle that was at stake: civilian control over the military. But this situation is quite different.

More Americans feel US should mind its own business: poll
Nearly half of Americans believe their government should mind its own business internationally and only one third approves of how US President George W. Bush is handling Iraq, a USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll said.
Bush's rating, which rose from 32 percent in September to 39 percent in the ensuing months, has fallen back to 32 percent in the latest survey, the USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll said.

Blood on Our Hands

The insightful Mr. K Gajendra Singh writes:
USA could slip into fascism, with its political leadership, corrupt to the core, as new scandals prove everyday, if not checked by its great US people. People around the world have started doubting if it were ever true.
This country, my country, has already become a fascist police state. Our government lies to the people, spies on citizens, kidnaps, imprisons without trial, engages in torture, and is leading the country to ruin. Incredibly, all of this is done with the support of its citizens. How is this possible? How can a democratic government abandon the people it serves and squander blood, treasure, and traditions in an irrational pursuit of global domination? First, realize that the government no longer serves the people. It has been bought by the transnational corporate power structure and serves them, and is now simply the military arm of the corporations. Meanwhile, the corporate media fulfills the propaganda role - they control what the people experience as reality and therefore control how the people think. They have the public so filled with fear that they will agree to anything.

Lock him away to stop the next war
With his presidency reduced to a mess, George W. Bush may just decide to lash out wildly at Iran. We cannot wait any longer for the impeachment of George W. Bush. Far more efficient to have Bush certified. There is no need for further debate on his mental state. The US President is bonkers. Having turned the White House into a madhouse, having taken more lunatic positions on more issues than any head of state since GeorgeIII (are they, perchance, related?). GWB needs a long rest and a change of medication. And it shouldn't be too hard to guide him into a padded cell. Just tell him it's the presidential bomb shelter.

Prominent U.S. Physicists Send Warning Letter to President Bush
Thirteen of the nation's most prominent physicists have written a letter to President Bush, calling U.S. plans to reportedly use nuclear weapons against Iran "gravely irresponsible" and warning that such action would have "disastrous consequences for the security of the United States and the world."

City of Montgomery apologizes to Rosa Parks, five decades later
Civil rights activist Rosa Parks has received a belated apology from the city council of Montgomery, Ala., for the way she and other black citizens were treated during the 1950s. Parks died in October 2005, 50 years after she was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a city bus to a white male passenger.

Signs Comment: We wonder where are the Rosa Parks' of today? People who by a small act of standing up for the truth, are capable of igniting change. Cindy Sheehan was becoming such a figure last summer. It is through small acts of creation, and the refusal of Rosa Parks to give up her seat was just such an act, that real change becomes possible. If there were millions of such small gestures each day in the United States, the regime couldn't remain in place. But the fear of the consequences for such actions must be overcome. Yes, there will be opposition, but there are also millions of people who think and feel as you do about the crimes of the Bush Reich. But they have been isolated. They worry that they will stick out if they raise their voices, or even innocently express disagreement with the Commander-in-Chief. By discussing Bush's crimes and lies openly, people can change the perceptions that they are alone.

Winston Churchill: Another View of a Paper God
The personality of Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill could very well be a subject of interest to an alienist who, by definition, is a physician who treats mental disorders. There is a saying that the world is governed with very little sense and there are times when one could add to this statement that it often has been governed by lunatics. Churchill was born in 1874 and died in 1965. His father was Randolph Spencer-Churchill, a son of the Duke of Marlborough. The first Duke was John Churchill, one of England's most capable military commanders, who died without male issue in 1722 and the title was given to one of his nephews, a Spencer. As a courtesy, the Spencer family was allowed to add Churchill to its name, separated by a hyphen. Winston always wanted to believe that he was a gifted military leader in the mold of the first Duke but his efforts at generalship were always unqualified disasters that he generally blamed on other people. This chronic refusal to accept responsibility for his own incompetent actions is one of Churchill's less endearing qualities. Randolph Churchill died early as the result of rampant syphilis that turned him from an interesting minor politician to a pathetic madman who had to be kept away from the public in the final years of his life. His mother was the former Jennie Jerome, an American. The Jerome family had seen better days when Jennie met Randolph. Her father, Leonard, was a stock-market manipulator who had lost his money and the marriage was more one of convenience than of affection.

A Silly Pretext
Democracy and Socialism
No Arab or Islamic country armed even with the smallest of atomic bombs will be ready to hit Israel. And that, is because Israel is a small country interwoven and surrounded by Palestinian and Arab nations. The explosion of an atomic bomb will kill the Palestinians and Arabs too. The radio-active fallout will reach the entire Middle-East including Iran itself.

When GI Joe Says No
A young former US Army sniper wearing a desert camo uniform, an Iraqi kaffiyeh and mirrored sunglasses scans a ruined urban landscape of smashed homes, empty streets and garbage heaps. His sand-colored hat bears a small regulation-style military patch, or tab, that instead of reading "Airborne" or "Ranger" or "Special Forces" says "Shitbag"--common military parlance for bad soldier. This isn't Baghdad or Kabul. It's the Gulf Coast, and the column of young men and women in desert uniforms carrying American flags are with Iraq Veterans Against the War. They are part of a larger peace march that is making its way from Mobile to New Orleans. This is just one of IVAW's ongoing series of actions.

Attack Iran, destroy the US constitution
During the 2004 election, President George W Bush famously proclaimed that he didn't have to ask anyone's permission to defend the United States of America. Does that mean he can attack Iran without having to ask Congress? A new resolution being drafted by Democratic Congressman Peter DeFazio may be a vehicle to remind Bush that he can't.

Qana Massacre
"A man was lying in two pieces. There was a woman who was pregnant and I could see the arm and leg of her unborn baby poking out of her stomach. There was a man who had shrapnel in his head. He was not dead but you could see a piece of metal in his neck, like he'd had his throat cut. He told his daughter to come to help him and lift him up. And I heard her say: 'Wait a minute, I'm trying to put my brother together -- he's in two pieces.' There was another brother holding a child in his arms. The child had no head..." - Fawzieh Saad, survivor of the 18th April 1996 Qana massacre - (Robert Fisk, Pity the Nation: The Abduction of Lebanon, p. 669)

U.S. museum exhibit focuses on anti-Semitic 'Protocols'
A century-old forgery used to justify ill-treatment of Jews in Czarist Russia and widely circulated by the Nazis is distributed even today in many languages to stoke hatred of Israel, says an exhibit at the U.S. Holocaust Museum. Colorfully bound editions of "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" have appeared recently in Mexico and in Japan, where there are few Jews, says exhibit historian Daniel Greene. High-school texts in Syria, Lebanon and schools run by the Palestinian Authority use the book as history, he says.

Signs Comment: Change "The Elders of Zion" for "Pathocrats" in this infamous text, and you have a very accurate description of the strategy and tactics of the pathocracy to rule over and divide the rest of the population of the planet. The pathocrats, that is, the psychopaths in power the world over, use every religion as a mask. They use race and language and culture to focus our attention on the obvious physical differences among us in order to hide the fundamental difference: that between people of conscience and people who have no conscience. There is the real distinction, the one that must be made "visible" if people with conscience are to ever live free in the world. The psychopath has no moral compass, no inner voice to distinguish right from wrong. What is "right" is whatever furthers his or her needs. What is "wrong" is any impediment to those needs. Think of the Bush administration and the ever-growing list of lies they have told to justify invading Afghanistand and Iraq, as well as the lies they continue to tell to justify a war against Iran. Think of the lies told by Israel about the Palestinians, their double standard where the death of a Palestinian child is of no importance, while the death of an Israeli child demands retribution. The pathocrats are everywhere. It is time that they were unmasked and shown for who and what they are. To understand more on this crucial topic, read Political Ponerology by Andrew Lobaczewski, available at

Bush was warned there were no WMD, says former CIA man
The Central Intelligence Agency tried to warn the Bush administration on the eve of the 2003 invasion of Iraq that Saddam Hussein did not appear to have weapons of mass destruction but the warning was dismissed because the US political leadership was not interested in what the intelligence showed, according to a retired senior CIA operative.

The West's Secret Marshall Plan For The Mind
Originally published in, and posted here with permission from the International Journal of Intelligence and Counter Intelligence, a Journal publication of the Taylor & Francis Group.
In recent years the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has taken a beating from the press and public for its exposed "moles", its failures of commission -- the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade - and omission -- the events of 11 September 2001. And rightly so. Many believe it has grown so inflated and incompetent that the only solution is to scrap it and start over. It was not always thus. During the days of the Cold War, when the cloud of nuclear annihilation still hung over the country, the CIA, for all of its deceptions, was one of the United States's most effective lines of defense. Not only did it amass vital information with its U-2 spy planes photographing Soviet reality on the ground, it helped to fight, with its many clandestine operations around the world, both the spread of Communism and the Communists' ability to absorb the areas they had already conquered. Radio Free Europe, broadcasting to Eastern Europe, and Radio Liberty, broadcasting exclusively to the Soviet Union, are two well-known examples. Additional subtle undertakings, such as the Congress for Cultural Freedom, have over time been revealed.1
But one CIA project was so subtle, because it was so natural, that it remains classified to this day. It intimately affected, and continues to affect, hundreds of thousands of educated people in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. While, over time, it consumed millions of dollars, it was probably one of the least expensive of the CIA's many secret operations. And it went on for thirty-seven years, lasting beyond the demise of the Soviet Union. Most important, well over ten million books and magazines--the best the West had to offer--were put into the hands of key individuals living in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

The Quiet Death Of Democracy

People ask: Can this be happening in Britain? Surely not. A centuries-old democratic constitution cannot be swept away. Basic human rights cannot be made abstract. Those who once comforted themselves that a Labour government would never commit such an epic crime in Iraq might now abandon a last delusion, that their freedom is inviolable. If they knew. The dying of freedom in Britain is not news. The pirouettes of ambition of of the prime minister and his political twin, the treasurer, are news, though of minimal public interest. Looking back to the 1930s when social democracies were distracted and powerful cliques imposed their totalitarian ways by stealth and silence, the warning is clear. The Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill has already passed its second parliamentary reading without interest to most Labour MPs and court journalists; yet it is utterly totalitarian in scope.

Is Our Democracy Sleepwalking Into a Nightmare?
We hear a lot about "madmen" taking power in far-off lands, most often lands with large oil reserves. A few pertinent questions:

Has the White House lost its collective mind?
Do the president and his minions believe that Americans can be stampeded into another needless war to save his party from the consequences of the catastrophe in Iraq?
Is the Bush administration seriously thinking of bombing Iran for political purposes? Of a nuclear strike?
Is it actually possible, as has been said, that George W. Bush believes himself to be on a divine, messianic mission?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then our democracy may be sleepwalking into its worst crisis since the Civil War. A pre-emptive strike on Iran, because it might hypothetically develop nuclear weapons five or 10 years hence, would be a naked act of aggression. Not to mention an offense against the U. S. Constitution. On what authority would Bush make war on a nation that played no role in 9 / 11, bears enmity toward al-Qa'ida and has never seriously threatened to attack the United States? His own God's? So far, Iran hasn't even violated the non-proliferation treaty giving signatories the right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful use. It boasts of purifying a small amount of uranium ore to the standard needed to generate electricity. Experts say Iran would need roughly 100 times its present refining capacity over several years to accumulate enough weapons-grade uranium to make a bomb. Despite the absurd and offensive posturing of its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a demagogic politician playing to his own base, no immediate danger exists. Yet many of the same keyboard commandoes who orchestrated the propaganda campaign that drove the U. S. into Iraq are beating war drums. Scary "intelligence" claims again proliferate. The same geniuses who claimed to know the precise location of Iraq's nonexistent weapons of mass destruction now warn us of Iran's double-secret arms programs. Full-page ads have appeared in newspapers in the U. S. and Europe conjuring the prospect of Iranian nuclear attacks against Israel and the West, an entirely imaginary scenario.

War privatisation talks in Warsaw

The increasing privatisation of war is being discussed at a Warsaw conference. Specialists from around the world will discuss the growth of private military firms in conflict zones including Iraq. The firms are increasingly taking over roles traditionally carried out by the military during war, in a booming industry worth $100bn (£178bn) a year.

GAO Says Government Pesters Wounded Soldiers Over Debts
Nearly 900 soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan have been saddled with government debts as they have recovered from war, according to a report that describes collection notices going out to veterans with brain damage, paralysis, lost limbs and shrapnel wounds.

Signs Comment: For all their talk about "our brave boys in uniform", this is how the pathocrats really see their soldiers: cannon fodder to be expended as necessary to impose their force.

The United States of Israel?
Stephen Walt towers over me as we walk in the Harvard sunshine past Eliot Street, a big man who needs to be big right now (he's one of two authors of an academic paper on the influence of America's Jewish lobby) but whose fame, or notoriety, depending on your point of view, is of no interest to him. "John and I have deliberately avoided the television shows because we don't think we can discuss these important issues in 10 minutes. It would become 'J' and 'S', the personalities who wrote about the lobby - and we want to open the way to serious discussion about this, to encourage a broader discussion of the forces shaping US foreign policy in the Middle East."

Where Is The Outrage?
When an award winning play is prevented from being staged in New York due to pressure, some might to call it intimidation, from a section of the community that has determined it has the right to determine what all New Yorkers should or should not see -we have to ask which is worse - the suppression of legitimate theatre or the lack of outrage among Americans at large? Is the First Amendment off limits to theatrical productions that deal with the Middle East? I refer of course to the decision made by the New York Theatre Workshop in March to "postpone" the British production of "My Name is Rachel Corrie" out of concern to the sensitivities of unnamed Jewish groups unsettled by the Hamas victory in the Palestinian elections.

Bush And His Cronies 4/06

White House shake-up to continue?
Presidential press secretary Scott McClellan and Treasury Secretary John Snow could be next in a shake-up in the Bush administration, according to White House and GOP sources. The possible departure of both men could be among "several senior-level staff" announcements to come within the next couple of weeks, said former White House staff members, GOP strategists and administration officials. "You're going to have more change than you expect," one GOP insider said.

Signs Comment: If Bush is still in office, it isn't enough change.

Former Head Of Star Wars Program Says Cheney Main 9/11 Suspect
Official version of events a conspiracy theory, says drills were cover for attacks. The former head of the Star Wars missile defense program under Presidents Ford and Carter has gone public to say that the official version of 9/11 is a conspiracy theory and his main suspect for the architect of the attack is Vice President Dick Cheney.

An Average Joe's Spectacular Lies
Sin has many tools, but a lie is the handle which fits them all.
- Edmund Burke
Page four of Sunday's Washington Post carried a story titled "The President as Average Joe," which described how George W. Bush is trying once again to cast himself as a regular fella so as to boost his anemic poll numbers. "As he takes to the road to salvage his presidency," reported the Post, "Bush is letting down his guard and playing up his anti-intellectual, regular-guy image."

Signs Comment: So, given all of the above, when will William Rivers Pitt wake up to the truth about 9/11?

Tom DeLay Plans to Resign From Congress
Succumbing to scandal, former Majority Leader Tom Delay intends to resign from Congress within weeks, closing out a career that blended unflinching conservatism with a bare-knuckled political style.
Republican officials said Monday night they expect the Texan to quit his seat later this spring. He was first elected in 1984, and conceded he faced a difficult race for re-election.

Former Republican boss DeLay bows out
US lawmaker Tom DeLay, the Republican former strongman largely responsible for transforming his party into a juggernaut that dominates US politics, announced his resignation, as a criminal corruption probe looms.
The flamboyant ex-House of Representatives leader -- whose strong-arm politics earned him the nickname "The Hammer" for his ability to push through President George W. Bush's legislative agenda in Congress -- announced that he will give up his US Congress seat and end his bid for reelection in November's mid-term congressional elections.

Bush's Paper Trail Grows
The New York Times published an article based on access to the full British record of the Iraq policy conversation that President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair held on January 31, 2003, as recorded by Blair's then-national security adviser David Manning. British legal scholar Philippe Sands had already revealed this discussion in his book Lawless World, and the British television network Channel 4 had -- two months ago -- printed many of the same excerpts of Manning's memo, but the Times coverage focused new attention on the memo, previously ignored by the U.S. media. The memo reveals that the two leaders agreed that military action against Iraq would begin on a stipulated date in March 2003 -- despite the fact that no weapons of mass destruction had been found there. The memo reveals how the two leaders mulled over ways to supply legal justification for the invasion. Indeed this record supplies additional evidence for the view that Bush planned all along to unleash this war. Suddenly, the media descended upon the Bush White House demanding explanations. Spokesman Scott McClellan answered that "we were preparing in case it was necessary, but we were continuing to pursue a diplomatic solution." McClellan tried to turn the question around by insisting that the press had been covering Bush at the time chronicled in the memo, implying that if the truth were different the press should have known better.

Signs Comment: The following is a comment on this article posted by an Alternet reader:

Posted by: Tom Degan on Apr 4, 2006 2:30 AM

Imagine, if you will, that a president who led the children of America into a war based on indisdputable lies was named Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton! A duly elected representitive of all the people who was almost removed from office for lying about having a harmless fling with a half-witted intern! Can you just imagine the hell that would have broken loose on the far right? Impeach? They would now be seeking the death penalty!

Why is it that Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and John Conyers of Michigan, two men of undeniable courage, are now treated by their colleagues as political pariah's? In short, what's wrong with this picture?

Why is it that the House and Senate are unable to muster up the courage to pass a mere censure of the president? What's wrong with our representitives?

A man walked up to me after having a look at the large, magnetic, custom-made "IMPEACH BUSH" sign on my van (that was stolen late that evening) and he said to me, "If Bush is impeached, someone oughtta put a bullet in Bill Cinton's brain". What's wrong with that man?

Twice the electorate sent to the White House an administration so mired in corruption, incompetence and stupidity that anyone paying even cursory attention couldn't have failed to pick up on it.

What's wrong with America?

And now, due to the wrecklessness and criminality of our "rulers" we're about to experience a total socio-economic catasrophe and I'm not even contemplating moving to Canada.

I ask you: What the hell's wrong with me?

Pray for peace.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Homeland Deputy Arrested in Seduction Case
The deputy press secretary for the U.S. Department of
Homeland Security was arrested Tuesday for using the Internet to seduce what he thought was a teenage girl, authorities said. Brian J. Doyle, 55, was arrested at his residence in Maryland on charges of use of a computer to seduce a child and transmission of harmful material to a minor. The charges were issued out of Polk County, Fla.

Ohio Official Invested in Vote Machine Co.
The state's top elections official said Monday he accidentally invested in a company that makes voting machines.

Poll: Bush, GOP hit new lows in public opinion
'These numbers are scary,' GOP pollster says as Democrats eye opportunity
President Bush's approval ratings hit a series of new lows in an AP-Ipsos poll that also shows Republicans surrendering their advantage on national security - grim election-year news for a party struggling to stay in power. Democratic leaders predicted they will seize control of one or both chambers of Congress in November. Republicans said they feared the worst unless the political landscape quickly changes.

Top general defends Rumsfeld
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff defended Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld from new criticism by former Pentagon brass Tuesday, telling reporters that "nobody works harder than he does." "He does his homework. He works weekends. He works nights," Gen. Peter Pace said. "People can question my judgment or his judgment, but they should never question the dedication, the patriotism and the work ethic of Secretary Rumsfeld."

Signs Comment: Isn't this great? Rummy is clearly linked to the lies about WMD's in Iraq, the torture and indefinite detainment of prisoners in the so-called "war on terror", and rendition - and yet the "debate" going on right now can be summarized as follows:
Big Tough Retired General: "Rummy, you're a bad man. You should have planned better so we could win in Iraq!"
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: "Don't badmouth Rummy! He works hard! Even evenings and weekends! How dare anyone question his patriotism!"
Reporter: "Mr. Rumsfeld, are you being affected in your job by this absolutely huge scandal?"
Rumsfeld: "No. Why would I be? This 'scandal' has taken the spotlight off the REAL crimes I've committed! [cackles like a madman]"
Top officer defends Rumsfeld
The top U.S. military officer on Tuesday defended Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld against three retired generals demanding his ouster, and denied that the United States invaded Iraq without sufficiently weighing its plan.
Standing next to Rumsfeld at a Pentagon briefing, Marine Corps Gen. Pete Pace said critics could legitimately question the defense secretary's judgment but not his motives. Retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton and Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni have recently separately called for Rumsfeld to be replaced. This comes as opinion polls show eroding public support for the 3-year-old war in which about 2,360 U.S. troops have died. "I don't know how many generals there have been in the last five years that have served in the United States armed services -- hundreds and hundreds and hundreds," said Rumsfeld, whom critics have accused of bullying senior military officers and stifling dissent. "And there are several who have opinions, and there's nothing wrong with people having opinions. And I think one ought to expect that when you're involved in something that's controversial as certainly this war is," he said.

Cheers, boos as Cheney opens U.S. baseball game
A loud mixture of cheers and boos greeted Vice President Dick Cheney on Tuesday as he threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Washington Nationals baseball game.
Cheney, wearing a red Nationals warmup jacket, tossed a pitch that reached Nationals catcher Brian Schneider on one bounce. The vice president, whose popularity is slumping along with that of President Bush, walked out on the field to cheering and booing from the near-sellout crowd. The boos appeared to be little louder than the cheers at RFK Memorial Stadium.

Blair isolated on Iraq conflict as Berlusconi bows out
The defeat of Silvio Berlusconi has left Tony Blair isolated in Europe as the last political leader supporting the war in Iraq. Mr Berlusconi had been the only ally of Mr Blair and President George Bush in Europe after Jose Maria Aznar, the Spanish prime minister, was defeated in the aftermath of the Madrid bombings in March 2004. Mr Blair is likely to put a brave face on the defeat, although many will see it as a further nail in his own political coffin. However, he knows Mr Berlusconi's successor Romano Prodi from his time as the European Commission president.

Australian PM faces grilling at Iraq bribes inquiry
Australian Prime Minister John Howard has been summoned for questioning at an official inquiry into the payment of sanctions-busting bribes to Saddam Hussein's
Iraq. Howard, who will be the first prime minister in almost a quarter of a century to appear before a commission of inquiry, said in a statement he was "happy" to comply. The commission is probing the role of national wheat exporter AWB, formerly the government's Australian Wheat Board, in the corruption of the UN's oil-for-food programme in Iraq.

The Slander That Launched Don Rumsfeld's Career
An anecdote from James Carroll's magnificent new book, House of War (which I'll be reviewing here soon) provides a brief but penetrating glimpse at the gutter politics and moral nullity that have marked the entire career of the Pentagon warlord -- and the rest of his cohorts in the Bush gang.

Bush Must Be Shocked: He's The Leaker

Last week, we learned through Dick Cheney's former aide, "Scooter" Libby, that it was President Bush who authorized the leaking of a classified document that detailed certain conclusions about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Since then, politicians, lawyers, and Constitutional experts have been debating whether the president has the legal right to declassify classified material whenever he wants. I'll leave that debate to them. What concerns me is, why didn't President Bush just come out and say that he was the leaker? Instead, when this leak first became public, the president said that anyone in his administration involved in the leak would be fired. Is he going to fire himself now?

Hawk-Tied Democrats

As the Russian foreign minister correctly reminds us, there is a lot about the manufactured crisis over Iran that is déjà vu: the axis of evil again, attempts to tie Iran to Al Qaeda, accusations about WMD, U.S. government efforts to play footsie with Iranian exiles, and bluster about demanding action by the United Nations or else. One other thing looks familiar, too: just as the Democrats meekly got in line to support the invasion of Iraq, many (perhaps most) elected Democrats are demanding a confrontation with Iran, too. Some, such as Hillary Clinton, are even trying to out-Bush the president in demanding a showdown with Iran.

Bush wins 2006 Jefferson Muzzle award
President George W Bush and the Justice Department are among the winners of the 2006 Jefferson Muzzle awards, given by a free-speech group to those it considers the most egregious violators of constitutional rights in the past year.

On "Preventive War," Kissinger Becomes Bush's "Useful Idiot"
Having recently revisited the international law governing the use of military force by reading Christine Gray's book, International Law and the Use of Force, I approached Henry Kissinger's April 9, 2006, Op-Ed in the Washington Post with eager interest. Unfortunately, as I waded through his Rules On Preventive Force, I found myself in the midst of a smoke and mirrors justification for "extending" international law to permit the type of illegal preventive war that should earn President George W. Bush impeachment and a subsequent trial by a War Crimes Tribunal.

Scalia says he's proud he didn't recuse himself in Cheney case
 Conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had some advice Wednesday for those who questioned his impartiality after he refused to recuse himself from a case involving his hunting buddy, Vice President Dick Cheney.
"For Pete's sake, if you can't trust your Supreme Court justice more than that, get a life," Scalia said.

George Bush: Mastermind???

In today's New York Times, a senior Bush administration official "confirmed" that the president ordered the declassification of prewar intel "to rebut critics" but "left open several questions, including when Mr. Bush acted and whether he did so on the advice of Mr. Cheney. Still unclear is the nature of the communication between Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney." Please. The "nature of the communication" may not be confirmed but is it really unclear?

Rumsfeld praised by Bush, won't step down
President George W. Bush expressed confidence in embattled US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld despite five retired generals calling for his resignation, blaming his arrogant leadership for critical mistakes in Iraq.
Rumsfeld has not discussed the controversy with the White House and was not considering resigning, said Eric Ruff, a spokesman for the secretary. White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Bush believes Rumsfeld "is doing a very fine job during a challenging period in our nation's history.

More US generals turn on Rumsfeld
Two more retired US generals called overnight on Donald Rumsfeld to resign as US defence secretary, adding to a deepening rift within the Pentagon. Six generals - two of whom commanded troops in Iraq - have now called on Mr Rumsfeld to stand down over his leadership of the war. Retired Major General Charles Swannack, who led the 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq, said Mr Rumsfeld, 73, had "micromanaged the generals who are leading our forces". He told CNN: "I really believe that we need a new secretary of defence because Secretary Rumsfeld carries way too much baggage with him." Retired Major General John Riggs told National Public Radio that Mr Rumsfeld had helped create an atmosphere of "arrogance" among the Pentagon's civilian leadership. "They only need the military advice when it satisfies their agenda. I think that's a mistake, and that's why I think he should resign," he said.

General joins attack on Rumsfeld over Iraq war - Fourth retired officer calls on defence chief to resign

The Pentagon yesterday faced a deepening rift between its civilian and military leadership over the war on Iraq after a fourth retired general called for the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, to stand down. In the latest in a torrent of criticism centred on the Pentagon chief, Major General John Batiste, who led a division in Iraq, said Mr Rumsfeld's authoritarian leadership style had made it more difficult for professional soldiers. "We need leadership up there that respects the military as they expect the military to respect them. And that leadership needs to understand teamwork," he told CNN on Wednesday.

Supporters rally around embattled Rumsfeld
More supporters rallied behind embattled US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, whose future at the Pentagon has been called into question by several prominent retired generals demanding his resignation. Retired generals John Crosby, Thomas McInerney, Burton Moore and Paul Vallely said Rumsfeld was "arguably one of the most effective secretaries of defense our nation has ever had." Writing in The Wall Street Journal, the four generals said that as long as Rumsfeld retains the confidence of President George W. Bush, he will make the important calls at the top of the Department of Defense. "That's the way America works," the general noted. "So let's all breathe into a bag and get on with winning the global war against radical Islam."

Signs Comment: Wow, that's pretty sad. The best these four generals could come up with is a standard manipulative tactic that plays on the emotions of the masses: "So let's all breathe into a bag and get on with winning the global war against radical Islam." In other words, anyone who questions the Bush gang is "hyperventilating" and preventing the Land of the Free from defeating the "bad guys".

Army report on al-Qaida accuses Rumsfeld
Donald Rumsfeld was directly linked to prisoner abuse for the first time yesterday, when it emerged he had been "personally involved" in a Guantánamo Bay interrogation found by military investigators to have been "degrading and abusive". Human Rights Watch last night called for a special prosecutor to be appointed to investigate whether the defence secretary could be criminally liable for the treatment of Mohamed al-Qahtani, a Saudi al-Qaida suspect forced to wear women's underwear, stand naked in front of a woman interrogator, and to perform "dog tricks" on a leash, in late 2002 and early 2003. The US rights group said it had obtained a copy of the interrogation log, which showed he was also subjected to sleep deprivation and forced to maintain "stress" positions; it concluded that the treatment "amounted to torture". However, military investigators decided the interrogation did not amount to torture but was "abusive and degrading". Those conclusions were made public last year but this is the first time Mr Rumsfeld's own involvement has emerged.

Signs Comment: Again, we find it rather interesting that the mainstream US media is not talking about this story - the real story. Instead, they are spreading the news of the war of words between the pro-Rummy and anti-Rummy military brass.

Blair gets away with his assault on liberty, because we let him
Lord Steyn's attack on the Prime Minister is a wake-up call to those who think their own freedoms are unaffected . Lord Steyn's attack on the Prime Minister last week won headlines for his condemnation of Guantanamo and Britain's defiance of international law, but the former law lord opened a much more serious front against New Labour in the Attlee Foundation lecture. In the most measured tones, he threw down a challenge to ministers who have become used to wielding the vast power they claim is mandated by Labour's majority in the House of Commons.

Tomgram: History Ambushes the Bush Administration
You can count on one thing. All over Washington, Republicans are at least as capable as I am of watching and interpreting the polling version of the smash-up of the Bush administration. With each new poll, the numbers creep lower yet. Presidential approval in the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll dropped another 3% in the last month and now sits at 38%, while disapproval of the President continues to strengthen -- 47% of Americans now "strongly disapprove" of the President's handling of the presidency, only 20% "strongly approve." (62%, by the way, disapprove of the President's handling of the war in Iraq.)

Bush: 'I'm the decider'
President Bush on Tuesday emphasized once again his support for his defense secretary, saying Donald Rumsfeld "is doing a fine job." At a Rose Garden ceremony announcing his nominees for budget director and trade representative, Bush referred to the controversy in which six retired generals recently have called for Rumsfeld's resignation. "I hear the voices, and I read the front page and I know the speculation," the president said. "But I'm the decider, and I decide what's best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense."

Signs Comment: How do Americans feel about the fact that their President seems to lack even a rudimentary understanding of the English language and that he regularly displays this to the world? You see, there is no word "decider" that means "someone who decides". Then again, "put food on your families" doesn't make much sense either.

President Bush Now Caught In The Tangled Web He Spun
President George W. Bush's character is diseased. Serial lies spew from his forked tongue as the result of a damaged mind and personality that will not permit him to face the truth. He lies about leaks and leaks about lies.

Here's Donny! In His Defense, a Show Is Born
Summary: It has become a daily ritual, the defense of the defense secretary, complete with praise from serving generals, tributes from the president and, from the man on the spot, doses of charm, combativeness and even some humility. A session on Tuesday was the third time in five days that Donald H. Rumsfeld had sought to make a public case to remain as defense secretary. [...] Such extended repeated public displays of self-defense are not the norm in Washington, where beleaguered officeholders usually seek to maintain the pretense that criticism does not matter. Those who do respond most often use surrogates to extol their virtues.

Signs Comment: It sure is a show. The mainstream US media STILL are not talking about the recent revelation that Rummy was even "personally involved" in one Guantanmo Bay torture session - er, interrogation.

Rove Relinquishes Some Control, McClellan Resigns in Shake-Up
White House political mastermind Karl Rove surrendered a key policy role Wednesday and press secretary Scott McClellan resigned in an escalation of a Bush administration shake-up driven by Republican anxieties. Rove gave up his responsibilities as chief policy coordinator, a position he assumed just over a year ago that strengthened his influence over matters ranging from homeland security and domestic policy to the economy and national security. The promotion had left him stretched too thin in the eyes of some officials, as the White House grappled with mounting problems. With Wednesday's change, Rove will be able to focus more on politics, fundraising and big-picture thinking with the approach of the November congressional elections, officials said.

Signs Comment: It's not surprising that Rove will apparently be focusing on the upcoming elections. It is well-known that he built his reputation by employing dirty tricks in previous elections.

Death warrants - Saddam 148, Bush 152
The difference between Saddam Hussein and George Bush is that both signed death warrants but only one of them is in the dock. Let us draw some parallels between these two men and reach some conclusions. Saddam Hussein, we now hear, signed the death warrants of 148 Shiite villagers who had risen up against him in Dujail in 1982, for which Saddam Hussein sits in the dock and could face the death penalty. George Bush, in his six-year tenure as Governor of Texas, signed 152 death warrants, a record for any governor of any state in the history of the USA. An example of what George Bush is capable of is provided by the signing of the death warrant of Terry Washington, a mentally retarded man of 33 with the brain of a seven-year-old. Pleas of clemency were denied after a hearing which lasted barely half an hour.

Bush Counsel May Be Next in Shake-Up
Joshua B. Bolten, the new White House chief of staff, has raised the possibility of moving Harriet E. Miers from her job as President Bush's counsel as part of a continuing shake-up of the West Wing, an influential Republican with close ties to Mr. Bolten said Thursday.
The Republican, who was granted anonymity to talk openly about sensitive internal White House deliberations, said that Mr. Bolten had floated the idea among confidants, but that it was unclear whether he would follow through or if the move would be acceptable to Mr. Bush, who has a longtime personal bond with Ms. Miers.

Cheney Gets Booed, Sheen Gets Applauded

But the media reports it the opposite way around.
An interesting contrast was provided last week with the American public's reaction to two very different high profile personalities, Charlie Sheen and Dick Cheney. Sheen appeared on a Friday night ABC talk show and Cheney threw the first pitch at a Washington Nationals baseball game.
Cheney was clearly booed by at least 80% of the attending fans at the RFK Memorial Stadium, yet the media reported a mixed reaction and the Washington Post went as far as to outright lie and claim the boos were a result of the bad pitch that bounced before the Nationals' Brian Schneider caught it, when in reality the cat-calls began as soon as Cheney's name was announced. The boos raged even though Cheney was accompanied by three injured US servicemen who had fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. What would the percentage have been if Cheney had walked out on his own? Charlie Sheen told a Hollywood audience that he felt "the only real validation that I needed [for speaking out on 9/11] was being a tax paying citizen that loves my country." For that he received warm applause and the audience did not react negatively at any point when Sheen discussed his stance on 9/11. Watch the video and check it out for yourself.

04/20/06 FOX Poll: Bush Approval at New Low
More Americans disapprove than approve of how George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Congress are doing their jobs, while a majority approves of Condoleezza Rice. President Bush's approval hits a record low of 33 percent this week, clearly damaged by sinking support among Republicans.
Opinions are sharply divided on whether Rumsfeld should resign as secretary of defense. In addition, views on the economy are glum; most Americans rate the current economy negatively, and twice as many say it feels like the economy is getting worse rather than better. These are just some of the findings of the latest FOX News national poll.

Bush Impeachment - The Illinois State Legislature is Preparing to Drop a Bombshell Utilizing a little known rule of the US House to bring Impeachment charges. The Illinois General Assembly is about to rock the nation. Members of state legislatures are normally not considered as having the ability to decide issues with a massive impact to the nation as a whole. Representative Karen A. Yarbrough of Illinois' 7th District is about to shatter that perception forever. Representative Yarbrough stumbled on a little known and never utlitized rule of the US House of Representatives, Section 603 of Jefferson's Manual of the Rules of the United States House of Representatives, which allows federal impeachment proceedings to be initiated by joint resolution of a state legislature. From there, Illinois House Joint Resolution 125 (hereafter to be referred to as HJR0125) was born.

Almost 70 lawmakers sign Bush impeachment letter
Almost 70 Vermont legislators have signed a letter urging Congress to begin an investigation of President Bush's domestic surveillance program and the reasons for the war in Iraq and, which would lead to impeachment proceedings, if warranted.

Bush Brandishes Jail Time at Critics
Over the past five-plus years, the American people have gotten a taste of what a triumphant George W. Bush is like, as he basked in high approval ratings and asserted virtually unlimited powers as Commander in Chief. Now, the question is: How will Bush and his inner circle behave when cornered?

White House Letter: New chief with broom gives staff the jitters
There is fear and moaning in the West Wing these days as Andrew Card Jr., the genial father figure who promoted a family- friendly White House, has been replaced as chief of staff by Joshua Bolten, a Goldman Sachs-trained workaholic who is exposing President George W. Bush's aides to market forces. In other words, after a big set of staff changes last week - Karl Rove gave up his policy portfolio to focus on the midterm elections and Scott McClellan, the press secretary, resigned - no one is sure who is in and who is out. Aides say they are on edge, and Bolten has promised more housecleaning this week, after Bush returns from a four-day trip to California. Treasury Secretary John Snow is possibly the next to go. The White House has never been a cozy place to work, but under this President Bush, who hates change and who has rarely been able to dismiss anyone, it became something of a sinecure. (Bush had Vice President Dick Cheney fire Snow's predecessor, Paul O'Neill, in 2002.) Aides stayed an unusually long time, and Card was widely liked for his easy manner and tolerance for working mothers who slipped out for school events. People may have come in at 6 or 7 a.m., but they left at 7 p.m., relatively early for Washington. Bolten, who is single, keeps investment banker hours and is well known for staying at the office until 11 p.m. When he was White House deputy chief of staff in Bush's first term, he was also known for making it to the 7:30 a.m. senior staff meeting with only minutes to spare.

Bush admits he offered Blair way out of the Iraq conflict
George Bush yesterday revealed the extent of the political gamble Tony Blair took over Iraq, disclosing that he had spurned the offer of a get-out clause on the war even amid fears that it would cost him his government. In a rare glimpse inside the so-called special relationship, the US President disclosed how he had offered to release his 'close friend' Blair from the military coalition because he feared that domestic opposition to the war would actually bring him down. But the Prime Minister retorted that he would rather lose his government than retreat. Article continues Bush's description of the events surrounding what he called a 'confidence vote' - the knife-edge Commons vote in March 2003 over military action - reveal not just the depth of trouble Blair was in, but the extent to which he was willing to gamble.

Signs Comment: And thus the question remains: why was Blair so willing to commit even political suicide just to help his "friend" GW Bush??

Dangerous Times Ahead
The noose is tightening around George Bush and his gang of White House crooks and liars, with prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald reportedly getting closer to an indictment of Karl Rove, and now with the Illinois and California state legislatures considering resolutions that would have those states submit bills of impeachment to the U.S. House of Representatives--an alternative means of bringing an impeachment case against a president when, as now, the sitting members of Congress don't have the courage or conviction to do so themselves. These are dangerous times, because the Bush family history, and the Rove M.O., are to attack viciously and without restraint when cornered.

Clashes in Athens as War Whore Rice visits

Athens police have fired teargas during a clash with anti-war demonstrators protesting against a visit by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Some protesters hurled petrol bombs, sticks and stones in return. Ms Rice is meeting Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis as part of a five-day trip to Europe that also includes Turkey and Bulgaria.

Fox Anchor Tony Snow likely to take White House post
Sources close to the White House said Monday that Fox anchor Tony Snow is likely to accept the job as White House press secretary, succeeding Scott McClellan. The sources said they expect him to announce his decision within the next few days.

Signs Comment: What could possibly be more appropriate than a Fox News anchor as Bush's White House Spokesman??

Mick beats George to suite
PRESIDENT George Bush can't get no satisfaction - after Mick Jagger grabbed his hotel room. The Rolling Stone splashed out £3,600 a night for the suite days before the US leader tried to book it. Now Mick, 62, who has been a fierce critic of the Bush-led war in Iraq, is refusing to give it up.

Bush's approval ratings drop to new low

The approval ratings for U.S. President George W. Bush have dropped to a new low, with only 32 percent of Americans saying they approve of his job performance, a new poll released on Monday showed.
The survey, released by the Cable News Network (CNN) on its website, found that 60 percent of those polled said they disapproved the way the president was handling his job, and 8 percent said they did not know.

Can we criticize Israel without being labeled anti-Semitic?
A few weeks ago, the Financial Times ran an editorial titled, "Why can't we talk about Israel?" It's a fair question, though anyone that tries runs the risk of being labeled anti-Semitic. The Times was commenting on a wave of claims of anti-Semitism that clobbered two professors and foreign policy scholars who wrote a paper criticizing America's unconditional support for Israel. In it John Mearshiemer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard University claim that the Israeli lobby's influence on Congress is harmful to our foreign policy and this is major reason for Middle Eastern antagonism toward America. It's no mystery that the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the largest Israeli lobby, wields enormous influence in Washington. According to it's Web site, "Through more than 2,000 meetings with members of - at home and in Washington - AIPAC activists help pass more than 100 pro-Israel legislative initiatives a year." So what's wrong with a critical analysis of yet another interest group buying access to Congress?

Is the US Waging Israel's Wars?
Many throughout the Muslim world and beyond are asking this question: What are the real reasons behind the US invasion of Iraq and its wish to overthrow the governments of Syria and Iran? For all their grandiose posturing, in truth, Iraq, Syria and Iran have never posed a direct threat to the US mainland. Put simply, they're too far away from the neighbourhood. So why would the US be willing to expend so many human lives and so much treasury on changing the regimes of countries it doesn't like?

Cheney still profits from Halliburton ties
WASHINGTON - It's not the $2 million tax refund. It's the $211,465.  That is the amount of deferred compensation Vice President Dick Cheney received from Halliburton last year. It is the final payment, his lawyer says, of money due Cheney under an agreement that had the giant oil-services firm paying him for his past services as its chief executive officer. The payments continued after Cheney was elected and became chief honcho of American energy policy and one of the chief architects of the war in Iraq. The size of the refund owed to the vice president and his wife, Lynne, was the news event of the tax-filing season. What headline writer could resist a to-the-rich-go-the-refunds story? But we should not begrudge the Cheneys. The rich are indeed different from you and me. They have vastly more wealth, pay more taxes and get more back when their complex and ever-so-legal deals net a refund. The far smaller sum from Halliburton is a more exquisite symbol of the vice president's unrepentant arrogance. The $211,465 that Halliburton paid him in 2005 was more than Cheney's government salary of $205,031. So who does he really work for?

Blair's embarrassing day goes from bad to worse
TONY BLAIR'S Government is in turmoil after scandal and crisis have left three of his most senior cabinet ministers fighting to save their careers.
On the most chaotic day since Labour came to power, Britain's Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, became an object of ridicule over a two-year affair with a civil servant; the Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, was under intense pressure to resign over a scandal involving foreign prisoners; and the Australian-born Health Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, was heckled and slow-handclapped by nurses.

Top Bush aide Rove appears again before grand jury

Top White House adviser Karl Rove testified before a grand jury investigating the leak of a
CIA officer's identity, in his fifth appearance before the panel, his lawyer said. Rove "testified voluntarily and unconditionally at the request of the Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald to explore a matter raised since Mr Rove's last appearance in October 2005," Robert Luskin said in a statement. "In connection with this appearance, the special counsel has advised Mr Rove that he is not a target of the investigation. Mr Fitzgerald has affirmed that he has made no decision concerning charges," Luskin said.

Judge Won't Dismiss Case Against Libby
A federal judge refused Thursday to dismiss charges against I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the former top White House aide who was indicted on perjury and obstruction charges last year in the CIA leak scandal. In a 31-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton turned down a motion by lawyers for Vice President Dick Cheney's one-time top assistant, who challenged the authority of Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald to handle the case. Libby's lawyers had argued that Fitzgerald was given too much power - more than the attorney general - and that the appointment should have been made by the president with the Senate's approval. Walton said Thursday he did not need to "look far" in the law to reject the claim by Libby's defense team. The judge said there is no question the attorney general can delegate any of his functions.

Signs Comment: If the headline of this story was "Judge Refuses to Dismiss War Crimes Case Against Entire Bush Administration", THEN we'd have something to cheer about...

The Economy 4/06

Signs Economic Commentary
Donald Hunt Signs of the Times April 3, 2006
Friday was the last day of the first quarter of 2006, so let's recap the year so far. Gold went from $519.70 an ounce to $583.50, a rise of 12.3% in three months. Oil went from 61.04 dollars a barrel to $66.35, an increase of 8.7% after having risen 40.5% in 2005. The yield on the ten-year U.S. Treasury note increased 46 basis points from 4.39 to 4.85 so far this year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up for the quarter, going from 10,717.50 to 11,109.32, a rise of 3.7%. The NASDAQ rose 6.1%, from 2,205.32 to 2,339.79 in Q1 2006. Sounds like good news for the U.S. stock market, unless you compare stock prices to the price of oil or gold. The dollar fell 2.3% from 0.8440 to 0.8252 euros so far in 2006.

Signs Economic Commentary
Donald Hunt Signs of the Times April 10, 2006
Last week we looked at the high rate of corporate profits realized lately. With stocks strong, global growth rates high, and profits high, why does the economy feel so bad for most people? The following article contains some clues:

Signs Economic Commentary
Donald Hunt Signs of the Times April 17, 2006
Gold, oil and U.S. interest rates continued rising last week, rises that do not bode well for the imperial economy. However, as we have been saying for the past year, the future of the economy has more to do with non-economic events than economic ones. Specifically, if the United States attacks Iran (as seems increasingly likely), it's all over. Economic self-interest no longer explains the actions of those driving world events right now. The Neocons worship power, not money. In spite of the official economic ideology of the U.S. empire, they have little use for neoliberalism, except insofar as it advances their ambitions for power and control.

Signs Economic Commentary
Donald Hunt Signs of the Times April 24, 2006
The mainstream media discovered gold and precious metals last week, having to explain the sharp rise in the last two weeks. Unfortunately for the media, the causes are hard to avoid: massive triple deficits in the United States and the apparently serious threat of an attack on Iran, or maybe Venezuela. Many analysts see no way around war in Iran short of an overthrow of the Bush/Neocon presidency, something that would also be bad for the dollar and good for gold.The visit to the United States by Chinese president Hu this past week, had implications for all of the issues outlined above. China owns a great deal of U.S. government debt, and China's patience with the United States is one of the main reasons the dollar hasn't collapsed already.

U.S. stocks close down on day, up on quarter
U.S. stocks closed lower Friday, although the major indices all posted strong quarterly gains, with the S&P 500 scoring its strongest first-quarter gain in seven years, after new data pointed toward a resilient economy.
Friday's losses were linked to end-of-quarter portfolio and index adjustments and did not mark a departure from the bullish sentiment seen in most of the quarter. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1.03 point to 2.339.79. For the first quarter the Dow had its best first quarter since 2002, scoring a 3.7% quarterly gain. The Nasdaq Composite rose 6.1% during the priod, marking its best first quarter since 2000. The S&P 500 increased 3.7%, its best quarterly gain since the first quarter of 1999.

GM to sell GMAC stake to Cerberus group

General Motors Corp. on Monday said it had agreed to sell a 51 percent stake in its financing arm, General Motors Acceptance Corp., to a consortium led by hedge fund Cerberus Capital Management LP for $14 billion, payable over three years.
The Cerberus-led investor group, which includes the private equity unit of Citigroup and Japan's Aozora Bank Ltd., had been viewed as the front-runner for the GMAC stake in what has been a complicated and drawn-out bidding process. GM said GMAC will continue to be managed by its existing executive management following the deal, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2006.

Experts See Danger in Rising Oil Prices
Oil prices appear headed back toward $70 a barrel, a level not seen since Hurricane Katrina battered the Gulf Coast and sporadic shortages sent gasoline at the pump above $3 a gallon nationwide.
While last summer's price spike triggered outrage in Congress and hurt sport utility vehicle sales, it caused only a hiccup in motor-fuel consumption. And for now, with demand back on the rise, the economy seems capable of absorbing uncomfortably high prices. Analysts warn, however, that consumers and businesses could be just one major supply disruption away from more serious financial consequences.

Wolfowitz looks at opening World Bank Iraq office
World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz is considering expanding bank operations in Iraq,
which would put his agency at the center of rebuilding from a war he helped plan as the Pentagon's former No. 2 official. Senior bank officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because no final decision had been made, said key donor countries including Britain, Japan, Germany and Denmark are pressuring Wolfowitz to establish a Baghdad office.

US Defence Work To Be Taken Out Of Alcatel-Lucent Merger
Sensitive defence work carried out for the US Defence Department by Lucent Technologies will be put into a separate US-controlled entity following its merger with Alcatel of France, the two said. It is one of a series of notable details of the deal announced by the two on Sunday that will create a 33 billion dollar internet equipment and technology giant.

O'Hare Set for Largest-Ever U.S. Expansion

After decades of debate and scrapped blueprints, crews are moving dirt and pouring concrete at O'Hare International Airport for the largest airport expansion in the nation's history.
The seven-year, $15 billion project is designed to eliminate most weather-related delays and erase O'Hare's reputation as the perennial knot in the nation's aviation system.

US project to rebuild health system has run out of money
A plan to build 142 health clinics in Iraq has run out of money with only 20 of the centres completed. The contract, awarded to the US company Parsons, was intended to restore Iraq's healthcare system, once considered the best in the region. Instead the contractor will walk away having completed just 15 per cent of the planned construction, unless emergency funding can be found.

Signs Comment: But there's still plenty of money left for killing people!

China official urges cut in US debt holding
China should trim its holdings of U.S. debt and can stop buying dollar bonds, a vice chief of the national parliament said, rattling markets on Tuesday, weeks before President Hu Jintao visits Washington.
As China is a leading financier of the U.S. current account deficit and holds the world's largest foreign exchange reserves, the comments from Cheng Siwei sent the dollar lower against the euro and yen and pushed U.S. government bond prices down.

Big Gain for Rich Seen in Tax Cuts for Investments

The first data to document the effect of President Bush's tax cuts for investment income show that they have significantly lowered the tax burden on the richest Americans, reducing taxes on incomes of more than $10 million by an average of about $500,000. An analysis of Internal Revenue Service data by The New York Times found that the benefit of the lower taxes on investments was far more concentrated on the very wealthiest Americans than the benefits of Mr. Bush's two previous tax cuts: on wages and other noninvestment income.

Maxtor to cut 900 jobs
Maxtor Corp, the computer disk drive maker being acquired by competitor Seagate Technology, on Tuesday said it will cut about 900 jobs in Singapore, and cut its outlook due to the pending acquisition.
The Milpitas, California-based company said it expects to post a net loss of $100 million to $104 million, or 39 cents to 40 cents per share, on revenue ranging from $875 million to $885 million.

Mass. Lawmakers OK Mandatory Health Bill
Lawmakers have approved a sweeping health care reform package that dramatically expands coverage for the state's uninsured, a bill that backers hope will become a model for the rest of the nation. The plan would use a combination of financial incentives and penalties to expand access to health care over the next three years and extend coverage to the state's estimated 500,000 uninsured.

Nasdaq, S&P 500 hit 5-year highs
U.S. stocks rose on Wednesday, with the Nasdaq and S&P 500 indexes closing at 5-year highs, as investors bought tech stocks after Apple Computer Inc. released software that could expand the number of users of its Mac computers.
Energy company stocks rose with a jump in U.S. crude oil futures prices above $67 a barrel. An index of oil companies' shares rose nearly 2 percent.

Treasury's Snow sees strong jobs data
Treasury Secretary John Snow on Wednesday said he expects payroll data on Friday to reflect a strong economy that will increase federal tax revenues and help to shrink budget deficits. Testifying before a House of Representatives Appropriations subcommittee on the Treasury's proposed fiscal 2007 budget, Snow said he believed the U.S. economy would continue its growth path as long as Congress extends tax cuts.

Signs Comment:
See? Everything's fine. No member of the Bush administration would ever omit important data, twist facts, and blatantly lie - right?

NYC Welfare Rolls Falling Again, Amid Worries About Poverty

The number of New York City residents receiving public assistance fell to 402,281 last month, the lowest number since December 1964, at the start of President Lyndon B. Johnson's war on poverty, and a decline of nearly two-thirds from its peak of nearly 1.2 million in March 1995, officials announced yesterday. After falling sharply during the mayoralty of Rudolph W. Giuliani, when more than 600,000 people left the rolls, the city's caseload began to creep upward in September 2002, during Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's first year in office and on the tail of a national recession. The modest increases continued until October 2004, when the caseload figure again started to decline.

Risk of falling US home prices climbs: report
All but two of the 50 largest local U.S. housing markets face an increased risk of falling home prices this quarter, but declines will be gradual, according to a report released on Wednesday.
A strong economy will allow the U.S. housing market, which has seen prices soar in recent years, to slow its rate of price appreciation, unless a shock slashes demand for homes, according to the report by PMI Mortgage Insurance Co., a Walnut Creek, California-based subsidiary of credit enhancement company The PMI Group Inc.

Retailers See Tepid Sales in March
A moderating economy and cooler weather gave consumers little incentive to shop in March and left retailers with tepid sales for the second month in a row. The later arrival of Easter this year also hurt business.
As the nation's merchants reported their monthly results Thursday, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., J.C. Penney Co., Gap Inc., Abercrombie & Fitch Co. and Sharper Image Corp. were among the disappointments. Bright spots were wholesale club operator Costco Wholesale Corp. and Nordstrom Inc., both of which beat Wall Street expectations. "We are seeing the economy slowing down, and that is affecting same-store sales," said Jharonne Martis, an analyst at Thomson Financial.

Trillion Dollar War: "The War Is Bad for the Economy"

Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, 63, discusses the true $1 trillion cost of the Iraq conflict, its impact on the oil market and the questions of whether the West can afford to impose sanctions on Iran.

Stocks fall as rate worries overtake data gains
U.S. stocks fell on Friday as interest-rate worries outweighed expectations that stronger-than-expected jobs creation and tame wage inflation in March would lead to growing profits.
Stocks began to lose steam after U.S. Treasury long-term debt yields rose to their highest in more than three years on expectations the Federal Reserve will continue raising interest rates following the employment report.

Gold spot price storms to 25-year high near $600

Spot gold hovered just shy of the landmark $600 an ounce level on Friday as investment funds took a breather, awaiting important U.S. jobs data.
Spot gold rose as high as $598, surpassing the previous 25-year high of $596.50 reached the previous day, but the market was careful about chasing it strongly before U.S. jobs data due later in the day. Gold has surged about 5 percent in the past week and more than 15 percent since the start of the year.

Oil Prices Move Toward $68 a Barrel

Oil and gasoline futures rose Thursday, continuing to rally on U.S. government data released the day before showing a decline in domestic supplies of motor fuel.
Although crude stocks increased, tension between the West and Iran, violence in Nigeria and Venezuelan state pressure on major foreign oil companies added to bullish market sentiment.

Consumer Confidence in Economy Improves
Consumer confidence in the economy's prospects improved in early April even as gasoline prices and borrowing costs marched higher.
The RBC CASH (Consumer Attitudes and Spending by Household) Index, based on results from the international polling firm Ipsos, showed confidence at 89.4 in early April, up from March's 86.2. The new reading also was better than a year ago, when consumer confidence clocked in at 84.5.

Gas Prices Jump Nearly 17 Cents in U.S.
Retail gas prices across the country soared an average of nearly 17 cents in the past two weeks, according to a survey released Sunday.
The weighted average for all three grades increased to $2.69 a gallon by Friday, said Trilby Lundberg, who publishes the semimonthly Lundberg Survey of 7,000 gas stations in the country.

Summer fuel shortages, spikes possible: Bodman

U.S. consumers may face gasoline shortages or price hikes at the pump this summer due to fuel additive changes at refineries and a likely strong hurricane season, the U.S. Energy Secretary said on Friday.
"We face a combination of factors that could mean some localized shortages," Samuel Bodman said in an interview with Reuters, adding that the markets should sort themselves out quickly.

Six months to housing hell
For the past decade, homeowners in the United States have been living in "Housing Heaven". In this heavenly place, profits are always made; prices only go up; interest rates only go down; developers keep building, marketing, and selling megabuck, luxurious spa-like residences, that are all sold pre-construction; property speculators always make money, and pyramid their purchases into owning many properties to flip for a quick profit; and, second-homes are not an expensive luxury, but a wise investment for retirement. [...] Consumer debt is up to $2 trillion (not including $440 billion of revolving home equity loans and $600 billion of second mortgages). Not only do consumers owe a whopping $9 trillion in mortgage debt, but home equity extraction has reached $600 billion annually. Homeowners have basically received, and spent, in excess of $2 trillion that they never earned. (Just take a look at the increase in total mortgage debt in the Federal Reserve's Flow of Funds Data since 2000).
Below are some of the reasons why many property owners are about to descend into "Housing Hell":

Increasingly Vicious Laws Push Out Homeless
Communities nationwide appear intent on testing the lengths they can go to suppress or expel their homeless populations -- anything to avoid having to see, let alone help, the least fortunate. Richmond, Va.; - In the face of rising homelessness, cities across the country are increasingly trying to push desperate people out of sight and out of mind. In addition to anti-panhandling, anti-camping and anti-loitering ordinances, some are targeting the few remaining public spaces where homeless people can go during the day - including parks and libraries. Your privacy is strictly respected. On a recent sunny Sunday afternoon in Richmond's Monroe Park, about 50 people gathered with plates of seasoned tofu and zucchini, squash and potatoes, fruit salad, sweets and coffee. The meal was organized by the local chapter of Food Not Bombs, a global network of anti-war, anti-poverty volunteers that provide free, vegetarian meals in hundreds of city parks. "We like the park because it's a public space, it's a place where everybody can come," said volunteer Maria Medas. But volunteers say the group's weekly food distribution efforts and similar programs face a looming threat of being pushed out of the park, long an anchor of nourishment and community for the city's homeless. Next to the Food Not Bombs tables, several homeless people help Sam Bowser distribute the Sunday meal provided by the local chapter of HOPE Ministries Worldwide. "I've been serving homeless people for 20 years," Bowser said, "and the questions always asked is, 'Do the people need it?' Yes they do. I find the people depend on me to be here and anyone else who comes out here to feed the homeless people."
Whether it's public parks or private shelters, homeless people have fewer and fewer places to go.

Gold speeds past $600; highest since December 1980

Gold raced above its fabled $600-an-ounce level on Tuesday, the highest since December 1980, as investors poured money into the metal on worries about inflation, Middle East tensions and uncertainties over the dollar's outlook.
Silver tracked gold's gains and rose to another 23-year high before retreating, while platinum paused for breath after hitting a record high the previous day.

Oil nears $69 as Iran tensions mount

Oil prices shot back towards record levels on Monday amid growing tensions over Iran's nuclear ambitions after weekend press reports claimed that the US government was studying military options for action. An article in the New Yorker magazine said US officials were considering the possibility of using nuclear bombs against Iran's suspected underground nuclear facilities. Barclays Capital said that although the Bush administration insisted that it was seeking a diplomatic solution to its dispute with Iran, its statement fell short of an outright denial, leaving market fears free to grow.

Bank of America to cut 1,900 jobs, 3 call centers

Bank of America Corp. on Monday said it will eliminate 1,900 jobs by closing three call centers by year end, as part of its integration of credit card issuer MBNA Corp.

CEO pay soars in 2005 as a select group break the $100 million mark

Even after a decade of sharply rising CEO pay, 2005 proved a watershed for a select group of executives. Their paydays - or potential paydays - broke $100 million. Led by Capital One Financial's Richard Fairbank, several corporate chieftains earned nine-figure sums or the prospect of that much. HOW MUCH ARE CEOs PAID?: CEOs ranked by top pay | Alphabetical list of largest companies
Compensated only by stock options since 1997, Fairbank claimed one of the biggest windfalls among CEOs, exercising 3.6 million options for gains of nearly $250 million. His personal haul exceeded the annual profits of more than 550 Fortune 1000 companies, including Goodyear Tire & Rubber, Reebok and Pier 1.

'Absolutely innocent,' ex-CEO tells Enron trial

Former Enron chief executive Jeffrey Skilling told a Texas court Monday that he is "absolutely innocent" of fraud charges related to the bankruptcy of the once mighty energy and communications giant. Testifying in his own defence in Houston, Skilling said he would "fight these charges until the day I die."

US economy's latest output: better high-paying jobs
The US economy isn't just producing jobs these days, it's also producing good jobs. Alongside the ads for jobs handling a cash register or a spatula are these new opportunities:
- In St. Louis, AFB International is enlisting both technicians, paid $30,000 to $40,000, and PhD scientists, offered $80,000 to $100,000, in its quest for the perfect pet food.
- In Delaware, Honeywell plans to hire people at $40,000 to $100,000 to work in a data-storage center.
- In southern California, some of the latest openings involve working on the railroad, for $35,000 to $70,000 a year. Union Pacific plans to add 2,000 employees altogether.

Signs Comment: Don't have the skills to land one of these fancy shmancy jobs? Don't worry - low-paid jobs are also increasing! Nevermind that for most Americans, that means that they still can't get a job that let's them "put food on their families".

Bridging the Dollar Gap: The Price of US Education

To help pay for her college education, Thanh Phuong Nguyen, a sophomore at Washington University in St. Louis, delivers sobering news about paying for college to applicants. On behalf of the Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis, she visits high schools to warn teenagers against expecting financial aid to cover all of their college costs. (In fact, only about half of students get any kind of grant or scholarship, and those average just $4,000 a year.) Most students shouldn't expect parents to cover the costs, either. (The average sticker price of about $67,000 for four years at a public university would more than wipe out the savings accounts of at least 80 percent of Americans.) And, Nguyen says, it is extremely difficult to work enough to pay for college and still succeed in class. That means they'll have to do what Nguyen is doing--take out thousands of dollars of loans to fill the gap left after scholarships, savings, and earnings. "Most kids don't want to borrow. It is really hard to show them the reality," says the double major in psychology and finance.

Less international tourists coming to US
US tourism industry leaders and top government officials on Tuesday urged collaboration between the public and private sectors to stem shrinking US market share of international visitors. Michael Chertoff, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), told travel industry leaders at the Global Travel & Tourism Summit held in Washington that government is attempting to balance strong security with welcoming foreign tourists.

US says gas cost to hit record
The price U.S. drivers will pay for
gasoline this summer will average a record $2.62 a gallon, up 25 cents from last summer, and motor fuel demand will be 1.5 percent higher, the government's top energy forecasting agency said on Tuesday. "Gasoline prices are expected to increase because of the higher cost of crude oil compared with last year and the increase in production and distribution costs associated with (low sulfur fuel requirements) and the phase-out of MTBE" by refiners for ethanol as the preferred fuel additive, the Energy Information Administration said in its summer forecast.

Less international tourists coming to US
US tourism industry leaders and top government officials on Tuesday urged collaboration between the public and private sectors to stem shrinking US market share of international visitors. Michael Chertoff, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), told travel industry leaders at the Global Travel & Tourism Summit held in Washington that government is attempting to balance strong security with welcoming foreign tourists.

Comment: Ah, yes - the old "fear of the true diagnosis" syndrome. As Lobaczewski writes:
There are other needs and pressures felt by the pathocrats, especially from outside. The pathological face must be hidden from the world somehow, since recognition of the deviant rulership by world opinion would be a catastrophe.

Ideological propaganda alone would then be an inadequate disguise.

Primarily in the interests of the new elite and its expansionary plans, a pathocratic state must maintain commercial relations with the countries of normal man. The pathocratic state aims to achieve international recognition as a certain kind of political structure; and it fears recognition in terms of a true clinical diagnosis.

All this makes pathocrats tend to limit their measures of terror, subjecting their propaganda and indoctrination methods to a certain cosmetology, and to accord the society they control some margin of autonomous activity, especially regarding cultural life. The more liberal pathocrats would not be averse to giving such a society a certain minimum of economic prosperity in order to reduce the irritation level, but their own corruption and inability to administer the economy prevents them from doing so.
Millionaires and Poverty - Daily Wisdom:Words From an Old Man
There was a small blip the other day on the business channel about millionaires. Seems as though the latest count put them at more than eight million. This was money over and above any equity in their homes. It is ironic that forty years after Johnson started his war on poverty this country now has a higher per-centage of the population living in poverty, but we've managed to increase the number of millionaires eight-fold.  Does this suggest we might be doing something wrong?

Americans will buy SUVs even if gas hits four dollars a gallon: Ford

A core group of US consumers will continue to buy large sports utility vehicles (SUVs) even if gasoline prices rise to four dollars a gallon and stay that way, a senior executive at the Ford Motor Company said. "There is a certain portion of the marketplace and customers who want that flexibility that is provided with a traditional SUV," Mark Fields, president of the automaker's Americas division, said during a conference with analysts. "So I don't think our strategy would change too much."

GE reports record first-quarter results

General Electric announced record first-quarter earnings of four billion dollars, up 14 percent from the figure for the first quarter of 2005.
It amounted to 0.39 dollars per share, up 18 percent from last year, the company said.

US counts cost of Treasury yields amid exodus of Asian investors

Yields on 10-year US Treasuries have risen above 5pc for the first time since 2002 on heavy selling by big institutions, sending tremors through the US mortgage and corporate credit markets. The US 10-year bond is the key instrument used to price borrowing in the American economy, with ripple effects through the global system. Yields have risen sharply by 0.6 percentage points so far this year, reaching 5.036pc in New York last night. The powerful upward draft has lifted German, French and other eurozone bonds in step, driving up the cost of borrowing on the capital markets. Analysts said the spike in yields is chiefly caused by an exodus of Asian investors, who hold a huge chunk of the US national debt.

Interest Rates Set to Rise as Treasury Note Tops 5%

The era of cheap money may finally be nearing its end. Investors pushed up the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note to its highest point in nearly four years today, signaling that some consumers will soon be paying more interest on credit cards and home mortgages. The change will have the biggest impact on people who took out home loans with low introductory interest rates but adjust to higher rates in later years.

Oil Prices Rise Above $69 Per Barrel

Oil prices rose above $69 a barrel on Thursday ahead of the long weekend, as
worries about possible supply disruptions overshadowed the news that U.S. crude inventories are at their highest level in eight years. Gasoline prices also rose, extending gains that have begun to trickle down to U.S. consumers, who are now paying on average $2.717 for a gallon of gasoline, according to AAA's daily fuel gauge report Thursday. That is up more than 45 cents from a year ago.

Gold edges up on oil, Iran

Gold prices edged higher on Friday, supported by concerns over high oil prices and U.S.-Iran tensions, but lacked the momentum to extend gains with key markets closed for the Good Friday holiday.
The firmness in Tokyo Commodity Exchange gold futures underpinned dollar-based spot precious metals prices following falls in New York the previous day.

Oil up near $70 as funds flow in, Iran rumbles on

Oil leapt to $70 a barrel for the first time in seven and a half months on Monday, extending strong gains made last week as tension mounted between Iran and the West over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
U.S. May crude oil futures traded 53 cents up at $69.85 a barrel by 0742 GMT, having hit $70 earlier, its highest since Hurricane Katrina battered the U.S. Gulf Coast in late August last year to send U.S. prices to a record-high of $70.85.

Gold hits new 25-yr high over $604, silver surges

Gold jumped to a new 25-year high above $604 per ounce on Monday as lingering concerns over Iran's nuclear aspirations and surges in the key U.S. crude price spurred active speculative buying.
Silver rose as high as to $13.33 per ounce, the highest since May 1983, as speculators continued to buy on hopes of an imminent launch of the first silver exchange-traded fund.

Poll: Most Americans Say Tax System Unjust
Almost as certain as death and taxes is the public's feeling that the U.S. income tax system is not fair. An Ipsos Poll released this week found almost six of 10 people, 58 percent, say the system is unjust, a number that is virtually unchanged from two decades ago.
People think the middle class, the self-employed and small businesses pay too much in taxes, the poll found. And they think those with high incomes and big businesses don't pay enough.

Exxon Chairman Gets $400 Million Retirement Package Amid Soaring Gas Prices
Soaring gas prices are squeezing most Americans at the pump, but at least one man isn't complaining. Last year, Exxon made the biggest profit of any company ever, $36 billion, and its retiring chairman appears to be reaping the benefits. Exxon is giving Lee Raymond one of the most generous retirement packages in history, nearly $400 million, including pension, stock options and other perks, such as a $1 million consulting deal, two years of home security, personal security, a car and driver, and use of a corporate jet for professional purposes.

Bush expected to approve dramatic pandemic flu response plan

U.S. President George W. Bush is expected to approve within days a national pandemic influenza response plan under which the government would expand the Internet and possibly permit foreign countries to print U.S. currency during a flu pandemic.
Washington Post reported on Sunday that the document is the first to spell out how the U.S. government would detect and respond to a flu outbreak and continue to function through what could be an 18-month crisis capable of killing up to 1.9 million Americans.

"Unbridled Capitalism Will Lead to Very Real Problems"
Harvard economist Kenneth Rogoff discusses the dangers of unbridled capitalism, the greed of corporate CEOs and a fundamental problem with the United States economy. SPIEGEL: Professor Rogoff, the US economy is surging forward, while President Bush celebrates high growth rates. But most Americans believe they are living in a recession. Who is right? Rogoff: I too have asked myself whether people have gone crazy. But the fact is that the share of wages in total growth is shrinking.

Uncertainty pushes oil - price gushes to over $70

Crude-oil prices on Monday crashed through another barrier in their three-year surge, closing above $70 per barrel in New York trading for the first time. Driven by fears of war with Iran and unrest in Africa, oil prices have now entered territory not seen in a generation, after adjusting for inflation. Many analysts expect them to climb higher still, at least in the short-term, perhaps reaching $80.

Dollar Falls Sharply in Asian Trading

The dollar fell against the euro and yen in Asia Monday on a media report suggesting that China might reduce its purchases of U.S. Treasuries, and amid speculation that U.S. interest rates may have peaked. The U.S. dollar fell as low as 118 yen at one point before trading at 118.28 yen in Tokyo midafternoon, down 0.36 yen from late Friday in New York. The euro rose to $1.2178 from $1.2108.

US tourism industry on the decline

Stricter visa requirements after 9/11 has deterred tourists. Tourist operators in the United States say stringent visa requirements and criticism over the invasion of Iraq have discouraged international travellers from visiting the country. The US market share of international tourism trade is at an all-time low and has dropped 35% since 1992, according to the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA).

Black business owners on rise
Black Americans are becoming entrepreneurs at a rapidly increasing rate and Pittsburgh is following the trend, a new report issued by the Census Bureau suggests. The report, "Survey of Business Owners: Black-Owned Firms: 2002," says that between 1997 and 2002, the number of black-owned businesses in the United States rose 45 percent to 1.2 million, while the combined revenue increased 25 percent to $88.8 billion. "It's encouraging to see not just the number but the sales and receipts of black-owned businesses are growing at such a robust rate, confirming that these firms are among the fastest growing segments of our economy," said Census Bureau Director Louis Kincannon.

Signs Comment: We are anxiously awaiting Barbara Bush's response to this good news...

Consumer prices rise in March, core up 0.3 pct

Soaring energy costs helped push U.S. consumer prices up a steep 0.4 percent last month, while rising apparel prices spurred core inflation more than expected, a government report showed on Wednesday.
The overall increase in the Labor Department's consumer price index for March matched expectations on Wall Street, but a 0.3 percent rise in prices excluding food and energy was a bit swifter than forecast. The department pinned 70 percent of the gain in the core price index on rising costs for apparel and shelter, which is housing excluding utility and furniture costs.

Home loan demand down as rates hit new highs
Mortgage applications fell for a second consecutive week, led by a decline in demand for home purchase loans, as interest rates reached new multiyear highs, an industry trade group said on Wednesday. The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage application activity for the week ended April 14 decreased 1.7 percent to 569.6 from the previous week's 579.4. Borrowing costs on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, excluding fees, averaged 6.56 percent, up 0.06 percentage point from the previous week, its highest level since the week ended June 7, 2002 when it reached 6.65 percent.

Signs Comment: In other US financial news today, there were numerous reports of increasing corporate profits, which no doubt continue to fuel the illusion that there is nothing wrong with the US economy, and stories like this can just be ignored.

Why so high? Oil markets riding new currents.

Perhaps it's a sign of the times, but in some quarters oil has become investors' black gold.
By one estimate, some $125 billion has flowed into commodity index funds often heavily invested in energy. And with oil prices rising faster than the price of land in La Jolla, Calif., or New York's Hamptons, it may seem fashionable to own a piece of old Spindletop. Oil Tuesday hit a record intraday level of $70.88 a barrel in London.

$13,700 an Hour
The New York Times recently reported that--for the first time--a full-time worker earning minimum wage cannot afford a one-bedroom apartment anywhere in America at market rates. That means more and more people like Michelle Kennedy--a former Senate page and author of Without a Net: Middle Class and Homeless (With Kids) in America--are finding themselves homeless and living out of their cars. At a town hall meeting in Ohio on April 2, Representative Sherrod Brown, a staunch advocate for social and economic rights (he and Bernie Sanders are the two best candidates running for Senate in 2006) railed against the economic hardship brought on by stagnant wages: "It is unacceptable that someone can work full-time--and work hard--and not be able to lift their family out of poverty." He blasted a system where a full-time minimum-wage worker earns $10,500 a year, while "last year the CEO of Wal-Mart earned $3,500 an hour. The CEO of Halliburton earned about $8,300 an hour. And the CEO of ExxonMobil earned about $13,700 an hour."

Oil hits record $74 on Iran, US gasoline stocks
Oil hit a record $74 a barrel Wednesday on fears Iran's intensifying dispute with the West may hit oil supplies and after U.S. gasoline stocks dropped.
London's Brent crude settled $1.22 higher at $73.73 a barrel after peaking at a record $74. U.S. gasoline stocks slumped more than 5 million barrels last week, government data released Wednesday showed. It was a larger fall than analysts polled by Reuters expected, and supplies are now nearly 5 percent below last year's level.

Alternative investments pay off for the very rich
The number of very rich people in the US grew last year at the fastest pace in at least a decade as their moves into international stockmarkets, real estate and alternative investments paid off. The number of households with $5m (€4m) or more in investable assets - excluding the family home - rose by 26 per cent to a record 930,000, according to a study by Spectrem Group. That is the biggest jump since Spectrem began its survey in 1996. The number of millionaires rose by 11 per cent, to a record 8.3m - the second biggest jump in the decade since they were surveyed. The overall affluent market - households with $500,000 or more - rose by 7 per cent to a record 14m.

Beverly Hills gas reaches $4.049 a gallon
The price of full service high octane gas reaches $4.049 dollars per gallon Thursday, April 20, 2006, at a gas station in Beverly Hills, Calif. Oil prices held steady near record highs Thursday after weekly data showed a drop in U.S. gasoline stocks, raising worries that refiners don't have an adequate inventory cushion ahead of the peak summer driving season.

Pumps go dry at some gas stations

As if rising prices weren't enough, the tanks have run dry at some Philadelphia-area service stations in the last few days as the refining industry stumbles through a change in the formulation of gasoline. Oil refiners are phasing out a petrochemical that makes gasoline burn cleaner but which also has been found to contaminate groundwater. Refiners are switching to corn-based ethanol.

Dow ends at 6-year high, eBay hits Nasdaq
The Dow industrials ended at the highest level in six years on Thursday as encouraging quarterly reports from companies such as General Motors Corp. boosted optimism about earnings.
Tech shares slid and the Nasdaq fell after Web auctioneer eBay Inc. gave a disappointing revenue forecast. The Dow is not far from its lifetime high of 11,750.28, which it hit on January 14, 2000. The Nasdaq and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index hit five-year intraday highs.

IMF shake-up could reduce influence of UK

Britain and other rich nations could be forced to surrender some of their power at the International Monetary Fund if plans to give China and its fellow Asian tiger economies a greater voice in the globalised economy go through, it emerged yesterday. The head of the IMF, the world's financial watchdog, will unveil plans tomorrow for a major overhaul of its voting structure and board of directors. Rodrigo de Rato, the IMF's managing director, also proposed setting up a multilateral forum to try to resolve the massive global financial imbalances it fears could trigger a recession.

Russia's 100 richest worth $248 billion: Forbes
The 100 richest Russians have assets worth $248 billion or more than a quarter of Russia's nominal gross domestic product, according to the Russian version of Forbes magazine which hit news-stands on Thursday.
Roman Abramovich, 39, owner of English soccer club Chelsea, stayed at the top with a fortune of $18.3 billion, a gain of $3.6 billion on last year, said the magazine. Collectively, the fortunes of Russia's richest who are often termed "oligarchs" grew by $107 billion over the past year. "The rich are becoming richer because the Russian economy is becoming richer," Kirill Vishnepolsky, deputy chief editor of Forbes in Russia, told Reuters. "The value of many Russian companies has risen faster than the economy over the past year as they were undervalued." Russia now has 44 dollar billionaires. But their fortunes compare to average wages of $3,600 per year, according to official Russian statistics.

Brown unveils major IMF shake-up
Gordon Brown unveiled the biggest reform of the International Monetary Fund in almost four decades at the weekend as countries across the globe faced up to the need to prevent financial instability from triggering a global recession. The Chancellor, who chairs the IMF's policy committee, said the fund would institute a new surveillance system to highlight the impact one country's policies had on other nations and the global economy. The move came at the end of a week that saw oil prices hit a new record, world trade talks move closer to collapse, and talks between the presidents of the United States and China end without any solid outcome. It followed a stern warning by the IMF's economists that world leaders had only a small window of opportunity to tackle threats to the global economy from oil prices, the record US trade deficit and the rise in protectionism.

OPEC says powerless to drive down $75 oil
OPEC ministers conceded on Monday there was nothing they could do to halt surging oil prices that threaten consumer nations' economies and could trigger a collapse in demand disastrous to producer states.
The group, already pumping as much as refiners can handle, concluded at talks here that raising its 28 million barrels per day output ceiling would not rein in runaway prices. "The market determines the oil price," Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi, OPEC's most influential voice, told reporters.

Oil, Gas Prices Drop on Bush Supply Move - Analysts Say it Won't be Enough

Crude oil and gasoline futures fell Tuesday after President Bush gave the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to relax regional clean-fuel standards to attract more imports of gasoline to the United States and to make it easier for supplies to be moved from one state to another. President Bush also said he would halt deposits of oil to the nation's strategic petroleum reserve until the fall, but analysts said that measure would have next to no impact on crude prices and certainly would not help make gasoline any cheaper. Even the fuel-specification waivers will have a marginal impact, analysts said, given that the main force behind today's soaring pump prices is the near-record price of crude oil.

Why Gas Prices Won't Go Down

The steps proposed by President Bush on Tuesday to rein in soaring gasoline prices would do little to cut fuel costs for outraged motorists before the summer driving season, industry experts said. That's because the factors driving today's record gasoline prices are varied and complex - and beyond the reach of presidential dictate. They include a shortage of refining capacity, rampant speculation in oil markets, oil company choices about fuel additives, unrelenting gasoline demand and high industry profits.

Blame Everyone but the Culprit

With gas prices at an all-time high, Democrats, Republicans and President Bush are all quick to point blame. But they're ignoring the biggest offender: all of us.

Preparing for the Economic Typhoon

Gold traders love George Bush. They know that his blundering mismanagement of the economy will keep gold soaring well into the future. In the last year alone gold increased nearly $200 an ounce capping off a 5 year run that has taken it from $274 per ounce to $635 at Friday's close. These are serious numbers and they reflect the uneasiness with the global political situation (Iran, Nigeria) as well as concern about the oceans of debt generated by our Oval Office numbskull. Is it really possible for one man to single-handedly obliterate the world's most robust economy?
Guess so.

Faber says gold price may reach $US6000
MARC FABER, who told investors to bail out of US stocks a week before the 1987 Black Monday crash and began recommending commodities at the end of 2001, said gold might rise tenfold in the next 10 years. "If the Dow Jones [index] goes up three times in the next 10 years, I think gold prices will go up by a minimum 10 times to something like $US6000 an ounce," said Faber, 60, who founded Hong Kong-based Marc Faber Ltd and manages about $US200 million ($268.3 million).

Wars, Debt and Outsourcing: The World is Uniting Against the Bush Imperium
Is the United States a superpower? I think not. Consider these facts:
The financial position of the US has declined dramatically. The US is heavily indebted, both government and consumers. The US trade deficit both in absolute size and as a percentage of GDP is unprecedented, reaching more than $800 billion in 2005 and accumulating to $4.5 trillion since 1990. With US job growth falling behind population growth and with no growth in consumer real incomes, the US economy is driven by expanding consumer debt. Saving rates are low or negative. The federal budget is deep in the red, adding to America's dependency on debt. The US cannot even go to war unless foreigners are willing to finance it. Our biggest bankers are China and Japan, both of whom could cause the US serious financial problems if they wished. A country whose financial affairs are in the hands of foreigners is not a superpower.

The Biggest Gas Station on Earth

Oil finished at $72.35 at the close of the market on Tuesday.
The current price per barrel is just one more damning bit of evidence that the Iraq war was waged on a mountain of lies. The oil industry is built on projections; they pride themselves on knowing where every drop of petroleum is located across the planet. They knew this day was coming. They knew that the world was facing shortages and that they'd have to hoodwink the American people into a war. They also knew they could count on Bush to mobilize public opinion behind a smokescreen of fabrications about "mushroom clouds" and Niger uranium. Here's something to think about while President Buffoon goes through his "conservation" gyrations on national TV. In 2001, Bush family consigliore, James Baker, presented a report to the powerful Council on Foreign Relations which found that "a new era of energy scarcity was upon the world...presenting fundamental obstacles to continued growth and prosperity." (Lawrence Shoup "The CFR Debates Torture" Z Magazine March 2006) Baker's conclusions resulted in the formation of the White House Energy Policy Development Group headed by Dick Cheney. This was the secretive group of oil executives which divided up Iraq's enormous oil reserves before the first bomb was dropped. The plan was clearly endorsed by American elites at the CFR who must have known the WMD-scare was a ruse from the very beginning. The plan to steal Iraq's oil puts Bush's farcical "on-air" burlesque into perspective. US foreign policy is driven by the oil industry, just as the decision to invade was decided on the basis of peak oil, not WMD.

Don't Believe the Oilman-In-Chief
You know President George W. Bush's ratings are in the toilet when he starts bashing oil companies in the name of protecting what he repeatedly called "our consumers," as he did yesterday. And you know the Party in Power -- just back from getting an earful from angry constituents about rising gasoline prices -- is shaking in its shoes at the prospect of tomorrow's profit announcement by ExxonMobil.

Oil Prices Drive Up Exxon Mobil 1Q Profit
Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's largest oil company, said Thursday that higher oil prices drove first-quarter profit up 7 percent from the prior year.
Net income rose to $8.4 billion, or $1.37 per share, in the January-March period from $7.86 billion, or $1.22 per share, a year ago. Excluding a gain on the sale of an interest in China's Sinopec, the company's year-ago profit was $7.4 billion, or $1.15 per share. But analysts polled by Thomson Financial were looking for a higher profit of $1.47 per share for the latest quarter, and shares fell $1.55, or 2.5 percent, to $61.55 in premarket trading.

Dollar Falls, Gold Rises in Europe

The U.S. dollar fell against other major currencies in late European trading Thursday. Gold prices rose.

The euro traded at $1.2537, up from $1.2453 late Wednesday in New York. Later, in midday trading in New York, the euro fetched $1.2530.

High Oil Price Driven By Fear: BP Chief

British Petroleum (BP) Chief Executive John Browne has warned that fear was driving the price of crude to artificially high levels, Guardian reported on Wednesday.
Turbulence in Iran, Iraq and Nigeria was leading to continual speculation about oil shortages and there were "all sorts of things that suggest it is getting worse," the BP chief executive said on Tuesday. Guardian said higher oil prices helped BP produce underlying profits of 5.3 billion U.S. dollars in the first quarter, an increase of 7 percent, but Browne said global supply and demand for oil was moving towards balance.

Feds propose $100 million hydrogen prize

Rising gas prices have sparked a new proposal in Congress that would pony up millions of taxpayer dollars to reward hydrogen energy breakthroughs.
Backed primarily by Republicans, the H-Prize Act of 2006 would create three categories of prizes to be awarded over the next decade, including a $100 million berth for "transformational changes in technologies for the distribution or production of hydrogen that meet or exceed far-reaching objective criteria." It would be up to the U.S. Department of Energy to designate an independent, non-governmental organization to set the contest's rules and pick its judges.

BS Alert: US Lawmakers Support Green technologies

Hydrogen Horse Hockey

House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Ill., center, gets out of a Hydrogen Alternative Fueled automobile, left, as he prepares to board his SUV, which uses gasoline, after holding a new conference at a local gas station in Washington, Thursday, April 27, 2006 to discuss the recent rise in gas prices. Hastert and other members of Congress drove off in the Hydrogen-Fueled cars only to switch to their official cars to drive back the few block back to the U.S. Capitol. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Bush seeks hikes in passenger car fuel standards

The Bush administration formally asked Congress on Thursday for authority to overhaul fuel economy standards for passenger cars, which have not changed in 16 years.
Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta said in a letter to House and Senate leaders that the step was needed to lessen dependency on imported oil. The administration in March upped fuel standards for sport utility vehicles and pickups to 24.1 miles per gallon by 2011. Cars must now average 27.5 mpg.

Big-Mouth Bush Told Clinton How To Handle OPEC
While on the campaign trail in 2000, Bush told President Bill Clinton how to handle OPEC, in public no less. "What I think the president ought to do," he said, "is he ought to get on the phone with the OPEC cartel and say we expect you to open your spigots." And in a brilliant, highly educational follow-up comment, Bush informed the audience: "One reason why the price is so high is because the price of crude oil has been driven up." "OPEC has gotten its supply act together," Bush advised listeners, "and it's driving the price, like it did in the past." "And," he said in direct advice to Clinton, "the president of the United States must jawbone OPEC members to lower the prices." Apparently, Bush has lost the phone numbers for OPEC members, or they are refusing to take his calls, because I think its safe to assume that he did not "jawbone" members of the OPEC cartel.

Airlines again hike ticket prices blaming fuel costs
Air France-KLM, Singapore Airlines and a string of other carriers are increasing the fuel surcharge element in their long-haul ticket prices, again passing on to passengers the rising cost of aviation fuel.
The airlines justify the price hikes by the recent surge in crude prices, sparked by fears that the international crisis over Tehran's nuclear programme could trigger disruptions in supplies from Iran, the world's fourth largest oil producer.

Oilman In Chief
You know President George W. Bush's ratings are in the toilet when he starts bashing oil companies in the name of protecting what he repeatedly called "our consumers," as he did yesterday. And you know the Party in Power-just back from getting an earful from angry constituents about rising gasoline prices-is shaking in its shoes at the prospect of tomorrow's (April 27) profit announcement by ExxonMobil. So the president did what a floundering politician does: he tried to change the subject.

America's rags-to-riches dream an illusion: study

America may still think of itself as the land of opportunity, but the chances of living a rags-to-riches life are a lot lower than elsewhere in the world, according to a new study published on Wednesday.
The likelihood that a child born into a poor family will make it into the top five percent is just one percent, according to "Understanding Mobility in America," a study by economist Tom Hertz from American University.

US economy grows 4.8% in first quarter
The US economy grew at a 4.8 per cent annualised rate at the start of the year, spurred by a swift rebound in consumer spending. The outcome was in line with expectations with most economists forecasting a revival after a growth rate of just 1.7 per cent in the forth quarter of last year.

New home sales soar in March, but price weaknesses shown
New home sales posted the biggest jump in 13 years in March, but sales got a boost as builders cut prices to cope with higher mortgage rates and a growing backlog of houses on the market.

Signs Comment: Strangely enough, the original title of this article was "New home sales soar". Sounds pretty encouraging, doesn't it? Well, read the rest of the article for the small print...

Dollar continues slide after Bernanke testimony

The dollar slipped to a fresh seven-month low against the euro on Friday as traders continued to digest Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke's testimony to US Congress. By mid-morning, the dollar fell 0.1 per cent against the euro to $1.2544, slipped 0.3 per cent against the Swiss franc to SFr.2561 and eased 0.1 per cent against sterling to $1.8035. Analysts at Calyon said Mr Bernanke effectively indicated that the Fed was close to a pause in its tightening cycle, with May likely to be the last interest-rate rise in the current cycle. "The big addition to the rhetoric was the statement: 'at some point in the future the committee may decide to take no action at one or more meetings'," analysts said. "This will be sufficient for markets to believe that a peak is very close."

Intel sees PC market slowing

Intel on Thursday forecast slowing growth for the personal computer industry this year and reported that several million of its microprocessors had piled up with its customers over the past two quarters. In an admission that Intel's execution was as much a problem as industry conditions, Paul Otellini, chief executive, told an analysts meeting in New York that work was under way to "restructure, re-purpose and resize" the company to set its course for the next few years.

Pentagon tells Congress of weapons cost overruns

Two multibillion-dollar Northrop Grumman Corp. projects -- the Global Hawk surveillance drone and a weather satellite system -- are running more than 25 percent over budget, the U.S. Defense Department told Congress on Friday in a filing that could lead to program cancellations.
Another Northrop project, a mini-submarine designed to deliver elite Navy Sea-Air-Land special forces, is being terminated. It too was running more than 25 percent over budget as of December 31, 2005, the Pentagon reported.

US Armys Cash Priority
The U.S. Army has made it official. What those who work in Washington have long known -- that the Pentagon is about money, not war -- is now Army policy. According to the March 10 draft of the Army Campaign Plan, "The Army's center of gravity is the resource process." Yep, it sure is, as the cost of the Future Contract System readily attests.
Still, the Army deserves some sort of award for its truth in advertising. How about a medal showing a hand with a West Point ring on it reaching for someone else's wallet?

GAO Annual Report: U.S. Government Finances Are a Mess, Trillions Unaccounted For

[...] More troubling still is the federal government's overall financial condition and long-term fiscal imbalance. While the fiscal year 2005 budget deficit was lower than 2004, it was still very high, especially given the impending retirement of the "baby boom" generation and rising health care costs. Importantly, as reported in the fiscal year 2005 Financial Report of the United States Government, the federal government's accrual-based net operating cost--the cost to operate the federal government--increased to $760 billion in fiscal year 2005 from $616 billion in fiscal year 2004. This represents an increase of about $144 billion or 23 percent. The federal government's gross debt was about $8 trillion as of September 30, 2005. This number excludes such items as the gap between the present value of future promised and funded Social Security and Medicare benefits, veterans' health care, and a range of other liabilities, commitments, and contingencies that the federal government has pledged to support. Including these items, the federal government's fiscal exposures now total more than $46 trillion, representing close to four times gross domestic product (GDP) in fiscal year 2005 and up from about $20 trillion or two times GDP in 2000. Given these and other factors, a fundamental reexamination of major spending programs, tax policies, and government priorities will be important and necessary to put us on a prudent and sustainable fiscal path. This will likely require a national discussion about what Americans want from their government and how much they are willing to pay for those things.

Government Spending Hits Record in March

Government spending hit an all-time high for a single month in March, pushing the budget deficit up significantly from the red-ink level of a year ago. In its monthly accounting of the government's books, the Treasury Department reported Wednesday that federal spending totaled $250 billion last month, up 13.7 percent from March 2005.

Empire's War on Labor

Most of the workers in this country are at will employees who have no protection from the tyranny of their employers, and no recourse to the law when they are unjustly fired, as so many are. Yet they are too timid and too frightened to rebel. The situation demands bold action. The streets should be filled with angry and indignant protesters committing acts of civil disobedience, economic disruption and sabotage against an unjust system of wage slavery. But the masses remain well behaved, resigned to their fate of servitude; content with the few morsels that fall from the tables of the rich. There should be social unrest, angry mobs in the streets that refuse to go away and a revival of revolutionary unionism.

The Arrogance Of Power

One of the great privileges of power is the right to attack others for doing --- or allegedly doing (see below) --- exactly what you do without anybody who matters calling you on your hypocrisy. Think of the affluent white Americans who criticize the alleged personal irresponsibility, cultural inadequacy, and welfare dependency of the inner city poor. Never mind that the these wealthy Americans engage in an ongoing orgy of conspicuous and ecologically toxic consumption. Forget that they typically invest in and/or receive generous salaries from corporations that receive massive public subsidies while cheating customers, subverting regulations, deepening inequality, slashing wages and benefits, abandoning communities, discriminating against women and minorities, and/or otherwise contributing to human misery at home and abroad. Such blantant hypocrisy generally proceeds without without public notice or exposure.

Hillary Clinton: Miss Piggy at the Trough: Company Finds Clinton Useful, and Vice Versa

Corning Inc., one of upstate New York's largest and oldest employers, has supported Republican candidates for so long that its chairman once joked that it had not raised money for a Democrat since 1812. But since Hillary Rodham Clinton was elected to the Senate in 2000, Corning and its mainly Republican executives have become one of her largest sources of campaign contributions. And in that time, Mrs. Clinton has become one of the company's leading champions, delivering for it like no other Democratic lawmaker.

Bushes Pay $187,768 in Taxes for 2005

President Bush and the first lady paid about $187,000 in federal taxes this year on income of about $735,000. Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife made more than 10 times as much, overpaid the tax man and are looking for a $1.9 million refund.

Bush picks Portman for budget
President George W. Bush announced two new senior economic aides on Tuesday and signaled more changes are on the way but again strongly rejected criticism of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Bush named U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman as his budget director and the deputy trade representative, Susan Schwab, to replace Portman.

Why a strong economy is no GOP asset
 Of all the problems Republicans face heading into the fall political season, one of the most exasperating is the economy.
In many ways, they say, these are the best of times: Unemployment is at 4.7 percent, lower than the averages of the 1970s, '80s, and '90s. The economy is showing strong, consistent growth, without significant inflation. And the stock market is roaring along. Yet many Americans just aren't impressed. A majority tell pollsters they trust the Democrats more than the GOP to handle the economy. When asked in an open-ended question which is the most important problem facing the country today, respondents to a recent CBS News poll named "economy/jobs" second after the Iraq war - and ahead of immigration, terrorism, and healthcare.

$13,700 an Hour
The New York Times recently reported that--for the first time--a full-time worker earning minimum wage cannot afford a one-bedroom apartment anywhere in America at market rates. That means more and more people like Michelle Kennedy--a former Senate page and author of Without a Net: Middle Class and Homeless (With Kids) in America--are finding themselves homeless and living out of their cars. At a town hall meeting in Ohio on April 2, Representative Sherrod Brown, a staunch advocate for social and economic rights (he and Bernie Sanders are the two best candidates running for Senate in 2006) railed against the economic hardship brought on by stagnant wages: "It is unacceptable that someone can work full-time--and work hard--and not be able to lift their family out of poverty." He blasted a system where a full-time minimum-wage worker earns $10,500 a year, while "last year the CEO of Wal-Mart earned $3,500 an hour. The CEO of Halliburton earned about $8,300 an hour. And the CEO of ExxonMobil earned about $13,700 an hour."

June 30, 2004
Agence France Presse
WASHINGTON - The US Congress, the domed bastion of democracy in the capital of capitalism, abounds with deep-pocketed politicians whose fortunes have made the legislative branch of government a millionaire's club. In the 435-member House of Representatives, 123 elected officials earned at least one million dollars last year, according to recently released financial records made public each year. Next door in the ornate Senate, whose blue-blooded pedigree includes a Kennedy and a Rockefeller, one in three people are millionaires.
By comparison, less than one percent of Americans make seven-figure incomes. The American greenback is bipartisan, filling the pockets of liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans without discrimination. Liberal stalwart and Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, brother of the late John Kennedy, disclosed that he has 45 million dollars in the bank. West Virginia Senator John Rockefeller, also a Democrat, reported to have earned 80 million dollars. The Senate is also home to Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry, whose wife Teresa Heinz inherited 500 million dollars when her previous husband, senator John Heinz, of the ketchup empire, died in a plane crash in 1991.

Congress Struggles With Pension Bill
Squabbles over special treatment for bankrupt airlines and beleaguered auto companies are delaying final action in Congress on a pension bill that would affect millions of workers, retirees and taxpayers.
Lawmakers trying to merge House and Senate versions already have missed one deadline, April 15, when some companies had to recalculate their pension fund obligations. Memorial Day, May 29, is the new target for sending to President Bush a bill to prop up the finances of defined-benefit pension plans covering some 44 million people in the United States.

Emergency spending bill spotlights GOP division
The White House and Senate Republican leaders are gearing up to oppose a $106.5 billion spending bill for the war in Iraq and Hurricane Katrina this week because some lawmakers have added unrelated aid for farmers and fisheries, highways and ports. The unusual battle pits President Bush and Republican leaders concerned about rising federal budget deficits against members of the Senate Appropriations Committee who have attached dozens of items sought by individual lawmakers. Even more new spending will be sought by senators during the weeklong debate. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., wants to add veterans health care; Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., wants to add border security.

Signs Comment: As if President Bush and Republican leaders actually care about the rising federal budget deficits!! They've pushed through numerous war spending bills to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars while simultaneously shortchanging programs that actually benefit the American people.

Bush aims to boost ratings and halt gas price rise
President George W. Bush, his popularity sinking while gas prices soar, hopes to stave off a potential election-year problem for fellow Republicans with a drive to stop price gouging and push alternative fuels. With oil prices hitting record highs and gas topping $3 a gallon at some pumps, Democrats hoping to win control of Congress in November have used the issue to slam White House energy policy and Republicans' ties to big oil companies. Bush's public approval rating has fallen to 32 percent, a new low for his presidency, according to a CNN poll released on Monday. Sixty percent of Americans said they disapproved of the way Bush was handling his job, the poll showed. In a 10:05 a.m. EDT speech on Tuesday, the president will push a four-part plan to ensure fair treatment for motorists, promote fuel efficiency and alternative fuels, and boost U.S. gas supply, his spokesman said.

Signs Comment:
"Bush will call on energy companies to reinvest their profits into expanding refining capacity, developing new technologies and researching alternative energy sources."
Even if oil companies DID reinvest their profits in this way, it would take far too long for any new technologies or energy sources to become widespread enough that it would have an effect on the average American's wallet. In any case, how willing will oil companies be to shoot themselves in the financial foot? Not very, we suspect. As such, Bush's latest measures seem to be nothing more than a weak attempt to fool the people into believing that he actually cares about them and that "everything's going to be fine"...

Bush threatens to veto bloated war-funds bill
President George W. Bush threatened on Tuesday to veto a bill to fund the war in Iraq and U.S. hurricane rebuilding after conservatives from his own party complained it was becoming bloated with special interest projects. Bush, who has never vetoed a bill in more than five years as president, put the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate on notice that he could not go along with the $106.5 billion bill it was debating.

Signs Comment: Yeah, maybe Amuricans didn't understand the "president" the first 20 times: BUSH is the decider. He makes all the decisions, and if you don't like his choices, tough luck.

War privatisation talks in Warsaw
The increasing privatisation of war is being discussed at a Warsaw conference. Specialists from around the world will discuss the growth of private military firms in conflict zones including Iraq. The firms are increasingly taking over roles traditionally carried out by the military during war, in a booming industry worth $100bn (£178bn) a year.

GAO Says Government Pesters Wounded Soldiers Over Debts
Nearly 900 soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan have been saddled with government debts as they have recovered from war, according to a report that describes collection notices going out to veterans with brain damage, paralysis, lost limbs and shrapnel wounds.

Signs Comment: For all their talk about "our brave boys in uniform", this is how the pathocrats really see their soldiers: cannon fodder to be expended as necessary to impose their force.

How Much is the War in Iraq Costing?

The Congressional Research Service has just released a new report on the past and possible future costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pending Congress' action on the new emergency supplemental, which should complete fiscal year 2006 expenses, the costs will be up to $439 billion by the end of this year. But that's just the tip of the iceberg; details follow. The full report is available at

France's Alcatel to buy Lucent for $13 bln
French telecoms equipment group Alcatel said on Sunday it had finalized a deal to buy Lucent Technologies for around $13 billion to strengthen its position in a consolidating market.
The transaction, which will see Alcatel shareholders have the lion's share of the new company, comes amid a wave of consolidation in the telecoms industry and will create a company with combined revenues of around 21 billion euros ($25 billion).
The companies said the deal would result in a 10 percent reduction in their combined global workforce.

French PM admits error in handling CPE law

French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said in a newspaper interview with the French weekend newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche published on Sunday that he made errors in his management of the controversial First Employment Contract (CPE) jo b law.

Sarkozy making the most of CPE debacle

The crisis over France's botched youth jobs reform has prompted an important power-shift in the French government, with a discredited Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin eclipsed by his powerful rival Nicolas Sarkozy, commentators said Monday.

French strike in new bid to kill youth job law
French transport workers and teachers staged new strikes on Tuesday and students across the country prepared to take to the streets for a protest they hope will sound the death knell for a youth hire-and-fire law.
France's ruling conservatives stopped short of agreeing to scrap the law but, faced with sliding poll ratings and internal rifts over how to deal with the crisis, signaled they could offer more concessions in possible talks with trade unions.

France's political crisis grows as 3 million take to streets

Police fought running battles with rioters in central Paris last night as youths attacked officers with bangers, bottles and concrete at the end of a mass demonstration against a youth employment law that has caused a political crisis for Jacques Chirac's ruling party.

Gangs clash with French riot police after jobs protests

Gangs of youths clashed with riot police who responded with tear gas as violence erupted in Paris and other French cities after more than a million people protested against an unpopular youth jobs plan.
Police said they had arrested 312 people across the country after a series of skirmishes as the day's marches -- which had been peaceful -- wrapped up, with unions claiming up to three million on the streets.

Opponents Set April 17 Deadline to Rescind French Labor Law

French union and student leaders said Wednesday that if the government did not, by April 17, rescind a labor law to which there have been widespread objections, more nationwide strikes and protests would occur.

France seeks exit strategy as youth job law talks wind up

France's ruling party held a final day of talks with unions on Friday over a divisive youth jobs reform, as business leaders called for a rapid end to the crisis to avoid harming the French economy.
Unions and student groups - in a position of strength after two months of demonstrations that have drawn millions into the street - have threatened more mass protests unless the measure is abrogated by the end of next week.

Driver rams car into protesting French students
A driver rammed into a group of French students protesting in central Paris against the government's youth jobs law on Friday, injuring nine people, police said. Four students were knocked down and one of them was dragged along several metres, according to an AFP photographer at the scene.

French PM regrets dropping of CPE law

 French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, sponsor of the controversial First Employment Contract (CPE) job law, stated in a televised broadcast that he regretted the law could not be applied.

Socialists' Royal biggest winner of CPE tussle

As the French government grapples with the fiasco of a botched youth job reform, the Socialist Ségolène Royal is staking an ever stronger claim to carry the left-wing banner in next year's presidential election.

French trade deficit figures better than expected

The French trade balance showed a sharply reduced deficit in February, official data showed on Tuesday.
But one analyst commented that the figures did not change an underlying trend towards a deepening imbalance, saying that France now had a structural trade deficit.

French see winners left and right in job row
Most French believe conservative presidential hopeful Nicolas Sarkozy and his potential Socialist rival Segolene Royal have been strengthened by the dispute over a hated youth jobs law, according to a poll on Friday.
Nearly 90 percent considered President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin to have been weakened by the two-month stand-off which prompted a humiliating government climbdown on Monday, the survey by pollster TNS-Sofres found.

US media reacts to French protests with hatred and fear
The US media, not known for following the internal political developments of other countries too closely unless it has a direct impact upon the US, has provided an inordinate amount of ill-tempered commentary on the wave of protests and strikes in France against the introduction of a law that enables employers to fire young workers without cause. The reaction of the media has been universally hostile, varying from denunciations by the right-wing press of "mob rule" to the more low-key perplexity expressed by the liberal media, which suggests that French are suffering from some type of collective dementia because they believe they have the right to such things as job security.

French far-right bolstered by riots in the suburbs: poll
France's far-right appears to have been reinforced from last year's suburban riots, with one third of people saying it is in tune with the country's concerns, the authors of a new poll said Friday.
Thirty-four percent of respondents in the IFOP survey said the far-right was "close to the concerns of French people", while 35 percent said it "enriched" the national debate with its tough line on immigration and security.

Paris mayor defends France's wariness of U.S. tech
The mayors of San Francisco and Paris locked arms Thursday and pledged to bridge the digital divide together. Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe joined San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in a round-table discussion at San Francisco's City Hall about how each city can help the other spur growth in their respective digital-media sectors. Also in attendance were representatives from local tech companies, including Lucasfilm, Dreamworks, the Orphanage and Wildbrain, as well as French technology leaders. The meeting came as Franco-U.S. relations are supposed to be at an all-time low. Many Americans haven't forgiven France for declining to support the U.S. mission in Iraq. On the other side of the Atlantic, the French are wary of U.S. control of the Internet.

Signs Comment: Continuing to blame France for a war that started based on what everyone now knows was the Bush administration's lies is ridiculous. If we believe another's lies, WE are responsible for the consequences, as well as finding a solution to the whole mess. Real change starts within each of us, not by pointing the finger at some other nation whose people recognized Bush's BS.

France to get Internet game to explain budget
The French government is to launch an Internet game called Cyberbudget to help teach the public about the difficulties of balancing the country's books, Budget Minister Jean-Francois Cope said Wednesday.
In a speech announcing new arrangements for income tax collection, Cope said the game will be available online by the end of May. "It is an idea which comes from Japan and we've adapted it for the public at large. Players have to take my place as budget minister, draw up the state budget and then manage it in the face of unforeseen circumstances. It should be a fun way to think about budget issues," he said.

Consortium launches its agreed $9 bln bid for VNU
A group of six private equity firms has officially launched its 7.5 billion euro ($9.1 billion) bid agreed last month for market research firm VNU NV . The acceptance period for the offer lasts from April 4 to May 5, VNU said in a statement on Monday, although many analysts say the bid is too low and might fail. The Valcon Acquisition BV consortium -- AlpInvest Partners, The Blackstone Group, The Carlyle Group, Hellman & Friedman, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and Thomas H. Lee Partners -- has bid 28.75 euros per share for the Netherlands-based company.

Signs Comment: So, the Carlyle Group wants to acquire a US-focused Dutch company that mainly sells data about consumer habits after the company's plans to buy a healthcare data provider flopped...

Chavez seeks to peg oil at $50 a barrel

Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez is poised to launch a bid to transform the global politics of oil by seeking a deal with consumer countries which would lock in a price of $50 a barrel. A long-term agreement at that price could allow Venezuela to count its huge deposits of heavy crude as part of its official reserves, which Caracas says would give it more oil than Saudi Arabia. "We have the largest oil reserves in the world, we have oil for 200 years." Mr Chávez told the BBC's Newsnight programme in an interview to be broadcast tonight. "$50 a barrel - that's a fair price, not a high price."

UK Economy hit by job losses and manufacturing decline

The outlook for the UK business sector suffered a triple blow yesterday as a tyre maker announced it was shutting a factory with more than 600 job losses, manufacturing output fell and growth in services slowed. The pound hit a 15-month low against the euro as traders bet the Bank of England would be forced to cut interest rates by the end of the year.

Asian medical tourism to become multi-billion-dollar industry: report

 Asia's medical tourism industry is expected to generate over 4.4 billion dollars a year by 2012, with India, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea the top destinations, a leading travel firm said.
Low-cost, high-quality healthcare in Asia is already attracting more than 1.6 million tourists each year, mostly from within the region, according to a report issued by Singapore-based air ticketing firm Abacus International.

US threatening Russia with economic retaliation

Fearful of Russia helping Iran build a nuclear bomb and the Kremlin reverting to authoritarianism, the US is threatening Mosow with economic retaliation, a media report said on Tuesday.
"The United States is the last major country to put up obstacles to Russian entry to the WTO.

Bolivian Government Confirms No Agreement with IMF

The government of President Evo Morales ratified Monday its refusal to sign agreements with the International Monetary Fund or a free trade treaty with the US.

Saudi Arabia vows to help stabilize oil market as prices soar
Saudi Arabia, the world's top crude exporter, will continue its role of stabilizing the oil market, Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz said as prices surged toward 70 dollars a barrel.
Speaking at a public lecture in Singapore, he said the kingdom "has worked constantly to fulfill her promises of stabilising the oil market in order to support the development of the world economy." To this end, Saudi Arabia has embarked on a 50-billion dollar program to increase production capacity to 12.5 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2009, he said.

Chinese leader to visit as Saudi expands Asia ties

A planned visit by China's president to Saudi Arabia, soon after a trip by the Saudi monarch to Beijing, underlines the oil-rich kingdom's quest to forge partnerships with Asia.
President Hu Jintao's April 22-24 visit will also come close on the heels of an Asian tour by the Saudi crown prince, confirming that Riyadh is increasingly looking eastwards for both export markets and the import of technology. "With a persistent very high growth in GDP (gross domestic product), China needs energy to fuel its growth," said prominent Saudi economist Ihsan Bu Hulaiga.

Faltering Peugeot Citroen to cut 2,300 jobs in UK

The French car maker PSA Peugeot Citroën said on Tuesday that it planned to close a British car factory near Coventry in 2007 with the loss of 2,300 jobs.
The French group said that a study in the first quarter of this year had revealed that the plant suffered from high production and logistical costs at a time of falling demand and increasing competition in Europe.

U.S. Ambassador unhappy about Japan's idea of East Asia FTA

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Thomas Schieffer expressed concern on Wednesday about Japan's idea to create a free trade zone in East Asia, claiming it could damage U.S. regional interests, Kyodo News reported.

China's Rising Need for Oil Is High on U.S. Agenda

The competition for access to oil is emerging high on the agenda for President Hu Jintao's visit to the White House this week. President Bush has called China's growing demand for oil one reason for rising prices, and has warned Beijing against trying to "lock up" global supplies.
With crude oil selling for more than $70 a barrel and American motorists paying $3 a gallon for gasoline, American officials say the subject cannot be avoided at Thursday's meeting in the Oval Office, as it was sidestepped when Mr. Bush visited Beijing last fall.

China acts to secure oil reserves amid record crude prices

Beijing's desire for a Saudi-fed strategic oil reserve in China underlines the Asian nation's drive to secure crude supplies amid rocketing energy prices, analysts here said. However, they added that any deal between the two nations was unlikely to put pressure on global crude inventories.
Chinese President Hu Jintao discussed a proposal to set up an oil stockpile in China during a weekend visit to Saudi Arabia, a Chinese official said Sunday. China plans to fill the first of its strategic oil reserve facilities by the year end, a senior planning official said in March, adding that three other reserves would be ready in 2007-2008.

Missing 'Bin Ladens' puzzle Spain
Spain's government said yesterday it had ordered an investigation into how the country was soaking up a quarter of one of the world's largest denomination bank notes, the €500 (£345) bill. With tax officials and the Bank of Spain unable to explain where all the notes were going to, the country's ample black market and many money-launderers became the chief suspects. The €500 notes are popularly known in Spain as "Bin Ladens" because like the al-Qaida leader, everybody knows they are around but hardly anyone has seen them.

Eurozone inflationary pressures rise

The odds on the European Central Bank hiking the cost of borrowing in June shortened considerably on Friday after a slew of data suggested inflationary pressures were building in the eurozone. Eurostat, the European Union statistics office, said prices across the region rose by 2.4 per cent on an annual basis in April, a faster pace than the 2.2 per cent recorded in March. Analysts had forecast no change on the previous month and the stronger than expected reading gave the euro a boost.

U.S. Foreign Policy Including Iraq And Iran 4/06

Wolfowitz looks at opening World Bank Iraq office
World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz is considering expanding bank operations in Iraq,
which would put his agency at the center of rebuilding from a war he helped plan as the Pentagon's former No. 2 official. Senior bank officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because no final decision had been made, said key donor countries including Britain, Japan, Germany and Denmark are pressuring Wolfowitz to establish a Baghdad office.

Former US general says Rumsfeld should quit over Iraq
A former senior US military commander, Anthony Zinni, called for the dismissal of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld over critical mistakes made in the Iraq war. Zinni, who headed the US Central Command from 1997 to 2000, was asked if anyone should lose their job over how Washington has managed its Iraq policy. "Secretary of defense to begin with," he told NBC's "Meet the Press" program.

Signs Comment: Bush's approval ratings are rock bottom, the people are unhappy with him, and members of his administration come out and effectively blame the military for thousands of "tactical mistakes"??

Diary: Iraq is splitting into three different parts
Iraq is splitting into three different parts. Everywhere there are fault lines opening up between Sunni, Shia and Kurd. In the days immediately following the attack on the Shia shrine in Samarra on 22 February, some 1300 bodies, mostly Sunni, were found in and around Baghdad. The Shia-controlled Interior Ministry, whose police commandos operate as death squads, asked the Health Ministry to release lower figures. A friend of mine, a normally pacific man living in a middle-class Sunni district in west Baghdad, rang me. 'I am not leaving my home,' he said. 'The police commandos arrested 15 people from here last night including the local baker. I am sitting here in my house with a Kalashnikov and 60 bullets and if they come for me I am going to open fire.'

Rice says next Iraqi prime minister must be strong, unifying force
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Monday that the next Iraqi prime minister must be a "strong leader" capable of unifying the people of this fractured country.

Signs Comment: We think this headline, written by AP, pretty well sums up the situation. It is "force" that will be the next leader in Iraq.

US says 2 pilots dead after chopper lost in Iraq

The U.S. military confirmed on Monday that two of its pilots died after their helicopter crashed in
Iraq. The fate of the pair had been unclear although they were presumed dead after their helicopter went down southwest of Baghdad on Saturday. The U.S. military said the aircraft was probably shot down by insurgents.

Iraq terror backlash in UK 'for years'

SPY chiefs have warned Tony Blair that the war in Iraq has made Britain the target of a terror campaign by Al-Qaeda that will last "for many years to come." A leaked top-secret memo from the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) says the war in Iraq has "exacerbated" the threat by radicalising British Muslims and attracting new recruits to anti-western terror attacks. The four-page memo, entitled International Terrorism: Impact of Iraq, contradicts Blair's public assurances by concluding that the invasion of Iraq has fomented a jihad or holy war against Britain.

5 Marines die, 3 missing in Iraq accident
A U.S. military truck rolled over in a flash food in western Iraq's Anbar province, killing five U.S. Marines, injuring another and leaving three other troops missing, the military said Monday.

Prodi pledges to withdraw Italian troops from Iraq if elected

The center-left candidate for Italy'srole of prime minister, Romano Prodi, said on Monday he would bring Italian soldiers in Iraq back home as soon as possible if his coalition won the general elections on April 9-10.

West accused of fiddling figures on Iraq aid

Britain and other Western nations are using huge debt write-offs to Iraq to boost development aid statistics and give a misleading impression of their generosity to the Third World, campaigners say. The UK, France, Germany and Italy have all bracketed debt cancellations to Iraq as part of their assistance to the world's poorest nations. Figures released today by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development are expected to show that most, if not all, of the 15 nations in the EU before its 2004 expansion increased aid contributions. But the statistics will include massive write-offs to Iraq in 2005 when the UK cancelled €499m (£350m) of debt to Baghdad, France €1.6bn, Germany €1.28bn and Italy €925m.

Those Ungrateful Iraqis
Daniel Pipes gave an interview yesterday to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review entitled "Pipes calls war a success". In it Pipes calls Iraq a success:

Wisc. Communities Vote on Iraq Withdrawal
Eighteen Wisconsin communities approved referendums Tuesday calling for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, while six others voted against such measures in early returns from 32 communities weighing in on the war. People in communities large and small gathered signatures on petitions that put the referendums on the spring election ballot, urging President Bush to bring home the troops. Though the referendums carry no weight - municipal governments can't dictate the federal government's actions - organizers hoped to send a message.

Signs Comment:
"Logic tells you you can't pull out of there. It would be a mess," said Trenchard, 67.
Logic also tells us that, based on the available evidence, Bush lied about the reasons for invading Iraq. Logic also tells us that Bush, who claims the terrorists "hate our freedoms", has done more than any president in history to destroy those liberties - and is therefore unfit to lead the nation. Finally, logic tells us that using "logic" as an excuse to not do anything in the face of such blatant crimes is entirely against the values for which America supposedly stands.

Iraq shelves political talks despite US pressure

Iraqi leaders shelved talks on forming a government despite a warning from the United States and Britain against any further delay, as at least 23 were killed in violence across the country.

Iraq much worse off than before we "liberated" it

In 1980, Ronald Reagan's chances to unseat Jimmy Carter improved dramatically when he asked one simple question of Americans during a debate: "Are you better off now then you were four years ago?" With inflation running rampant, Americans held hostage in Iran and mortgage rates at 18 percent, the answer from the masses came back a resounding: "No!." Today, if you asked the average Iraqi the same question you would get the same answer. Four years ago, Iraqis enjoyed electricity in most of their homes, walked the streets of Baghdad without fear and, as long as they stayed out of the crosshairs of Saddam Hussein's campaign of terror, led relatively normal lives. More Americans, per capita, died from crime on our streets than from crime in Iraq. Not so today.

Rice Dismisses Talk of U.S. Bases in Iraq

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday brushed aside suggestions that the United States wants an indefinite troop presence and permanent military bases in Iraq. "The presence in Iraq is for a very clear purpose, and that's to enable Iraqis to be able to govern themselves and to create security forces that can help them do that," Rice told the House Appropriations Committee's foreign operations panel. "I don't think that anybody believes that we really want to be there longer than we have to," the chief U.S. diplomat added.

Video Claims to Show U.S. Pilot Dragged
A video posted Wednesday on the Internet in the name of an extremist group claimed to show Iraqi insurgents dragging the burning body of a U.S. pilot on the ground after the crash of an Apache helicopter.
Parts of the video were blurry, and the face of the man was not shown. His clothes were so tattered it was impossible to tell if he was wearing an American military uniform, but he appeared to be wearing military fatigues.

Rumsfeld Challenges Rice on 'Tactical Errors' in Iraq
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he did not know what Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was talking about when she said last week that the United States had made thousands of "tactical errors" in handling the war in Iraq, a statement she later said was meant figuratively.

Democracy In Iraq Not A Priority in U.S. Budget
While President Bush vows to transform Iraq into a beacon of democracy in the Middle East, his administration has been scaling back funding for the main organizations trying to carry out his vision by building democratic institutions such as political parties and civil society groups.

Saudi ambassador salutes Israeli strike
Turki al-Faisal, speaking in San Francisco, says Israel's 1981 strike on Iraqi nuclear reactor was 'certainly a positive move'

German inquiry to probe Iraq war, CIA links
Germany's parliament gave the green light on Friday for a parliamentary inquiry into whether German spies in Baghdad helped the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 at a time when the government was publicly opposed to the war. Lawmakers voted to approve the probe, which will examine various sensitive aspects of the security services' work and their cooperation with the United States. It will also look into the Central Intelligence Agency's alleged abduction of a German national and secret transfer of at least one terrorist suspect via Germany.

Signs Comment: Gee, we're so shocked that Merkel was against the investigation!

The tethered goat strategy
Since the Iraqi elections in January, US foreign service officers at the Baghdad embassy have been writing a steady stream of disturbing cables describing drastically worsening conditions. Violence from incipient communal civil war is rapidly rising. Last month there were eight times as many assassinations committed by Shia militias as terrorist murders by Sunni insurgents. The insurgency, according to the reports, also continues to mutate. Meanwhile, President Bush's strategy of training Iraqi police and army to take over from coalition forces - "when they stand up, we'll stand down" - is perversely and portentously accelerating the strife. State department officials in the field are reporting that Shia militias use training as cover to infiltrate key positions. Thus the strategy to create institutions of order and security is fuelling civil war.

How Massacres Become the Norm

US soldiers killing innocent civilians in Iraq is not news. Just as it was not news that US soldiers slaughtered countless innocent civilians in Vietnam. However, when some rare reportage of this non news from Iraq does seep through the cracks of the corporate media, albeit briefly, the American public seems shocked. Private and public statements of denial and dismissal immediately start to fill the air. We hear, "American soldiers would never do such a thing," or "Who would make such a ridiculous claim?" It amazes me that so many people in the US today somehow seriously believe that American soldiers would never kill civilians. Despite the fact that they are in a no-win guerrilla war in Iraq which, like any other guerrilla war, always generates more civilian casualties than combatant casualties on either side.

Yawn--Oops, Wrong Title. Go to the End of the Article
I hope someone counted the number of times George W. Bush said 9/11 and Iraq in the same sentence during his speech today in North Carolina. I couldn't because I was unwilling to watch the entire performance. Enough is enough is enough. It's the same old push, the tired words that fewer and fewer believe. This much I did hear: "We must defeat the enemy overseas so we won't face them here." The people of Iraq were not the enemy, although many most certainly are now, since we've dropped white phosphorous, a chemical banned by international law, leveled their cities, and killed thousands of civilians, including children. Collateral damage.

40 killed in Iraq mosque attack
At least 40 people have died in a suicide bombing attack on a Shia mosque in Baghdad, Iraqi police said today. Two suicide bombers blew themselves up at the Buratha mosque in the north of the capital, one inside the building and the other outside, Reuters reported.

US propaganda magnifies Zarqawi threat: report

Officers familiar with the propaganda program were cited as saying that one goal was to drive a wedge into the insurgency by emphasizing Zarqawi's terrorist acts and foreign origin. "Villainize Zarqawi/leverage xenophobia response," a U.S. military briefing document from 2004 stated, the Post reported.
The U.S. military is conducting a propaganda campaign to overstate the threat to stability posed by the al Qaeda leader in Iraq, The Washington Post reported on Monday. Some senior military intelligence officers believe the importance of the Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi may have been exaggerated, the newspaper reported, citing military documents and officers familiar with the program. According to the article, Col. Derek Harvey, who served as a military intelligence officer in Iraq, told a U.S. Army meeting last summer: "Our own focus on Zarqawi has enlarged his caricature, if you will -- made him more important than he really is, in some ways." "The long-term threat is not Zarqawi or religious extremists, but these former regime types and their friends," Harvey said in a transcript of the meeting at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, the Post reported.

By Adrian Blomfield outside Fallujah
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the terrorist leader believed to be responsible for the abduction of Kenneth Bigley, is 'more myth than man', according to American military intelligence agents in Iraq. Several sources said the importance of Zarqawi, blamed for many of the most spectacular acts of violence in Iraq, has been exaggerated by flawed intelligence and the Bush administration's desire to find "a villain" for the post-invasion mayhem. Zarqawi fuels his ambition with the release of a video of the beheading of Nick Berg. US military intelligence agents in Iraq have revealed a series of botched and often tawdry dealings with unreliable sources who, in the words of one source, "told us what we wanted to hear". "We were basically paying up to $10,000 a time to opportunists, criminals and chancers who passed off fiction and supposition about Zarqawi as cast-iron fact, making him out as the linchpin of just about every attack in Iraq," the agent said.

March 4, 2004
BAGHDAD, Iraq - A Jordanian extremist suspected of bloody suicide attacks in Iraq was killed some time ago in U.S. bombing and a letter outlining plans for fomenting sectarian war is a forgery, a statement allegedly from an insurgent group west of the capital said. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed in the Sulaimaniyah mountains of northern Iraq "during the American bombing there," according to a statement circulated in Fallujah this week and signed by the "Leadership of the Allahu Akbar Mujahedeen." The statement did not say when al-Zarqawi was supposedly killed, but U.S. jets bombed strongholds of the extremist Ansar al-Islam in the north last April as Saddam Hussein's regime was collapsing. It said al-Zarqawi was unable to escape the bombing because of his artificial leg.

U-S ambassador warns of threat of sectarian war to entire Middle East
The US ambassador to Iraq says a conflict that could affect the entire Middle East might emerge if efforts to build an Iraqi government don't succeed. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad tells the BBC that the political contacts between Iraq's groups are improving, but the country faces the possibility of sectarian civil war if the government formation doesn't work. He says that the role of armed militias is in part to blame for the intensifying "polarization along sectarian lines." Khalilzad says the best way to prevent a conflict is to form a government that includes representatives of all groups - an effort that has stalled because of opposition to Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari. Khalilzad says the international community must do everything possible "to make this country work."

Signs Comment: Finally, someone "in authority" comes out and publicly recognises what we have been saying for years. However, it should be noted that, contrary to what the good ambassador says, it is NOT the armed militias that are in any way to blame for the intensifying "polarization along sectarian lines". The responsiblity for that lies with the people who have been carrying out Shrine and Mosque bombings and indiscriminate so-called "suicide car bombings" against the Iraqi people. Who might those people be? See here for the answer.

Saudis plan to fence off Iraq border

SAUDI ARABIA has invited bids for the construction of a security fence along the entire length of its 900km (560mile) desert border with Iraq in a multimillion-pound project that will attract interest from British defence companies. The barrier is part of a package to secure the Kingdom's 6,500km of borders in an attempt to improve internal security and bolster its defences against external threats.

Iraqi Troops Start Rolling Out in Ramadi

The troops didn't go far, the mission didn't last long and the neighborhood wasn't the most dangerous in town. But when Iraqi army troops moved out on a recent patrol in central Ramadi, they took a crucial step forward, rolling out in their own armored Humvees for the first time.

Until now, this unit has mostly patrolled their small, relatively quiet slice of downtown on foot, leaving the worst parts of the turbulent city center to better-equipped U.S. troops.

Iraqi official: 'It's civil war'
A senior official in the Iraqi government has for the first time admitted the country is in a state of civil war. Deputy interior minister Hussein Ali Kamal said Iraq had been in "undeclared" civil war for the past year. He told reporters: "Actually Iraq has been in an undeclared civil war for the past 12 months. "On a daily basis Shias, Sunnis, Kurds and Christians are being killed and the only undeclared thing is that a civil war has not been officially announced by the parties involved. Civil war is happening but not on a wide scale." Mr Kamal's admission mirrors the words of former Iraqi prime minister Iyad Allawi who last month said Iraq was in civil war. Mr Allawi warned that the violence was reaching the point of no return and Europe and the USA would not be spared the consequences. But British ministers have repeatedly denied civil war is either imminent or inevitable. Criticising anti-war protesters, Defence Secretary John Reid recently suggested those who argued that Iraq was on the brink of civil war were siding with the terrorists.

Signs Comment: The time is not yet right to declare civil war in Iraq, even though agents of the American, British and Israeli governments have been actively attempting to "create" civil war in Iraq. Only when the international spotlight has moved from Iraq, probably when an attack on Iran ensues, will Iraq's civil war status be revealed, with the blame being put on "Islamic terrorists" or some other ridiculous assertion. From there, the process of breaking Iraq up into managable (by the US, Britain and Israel) statlets will begin.

Iraqis struggle to cope with lower food rations
Critics blast government's decision to slash subsidies in face of mounting deprivation
BAGHDAD: A government decision to cut food rations has hurt poor Iraqis who cannot afford high prices on the open market, say economists and Baghdad residents. Despite rising poverty in Iraq, the government has decided to cut the food ration budget from $4 billion to $3 billion in 2006, as the country shifts from a socialist to a free market economy. The Iraqi government has provided subsidies on basic food items such as flour and sugar for decades. The United Nations expanded the program when the country was under crippling economic sanctions. However, subsidies have now been cut on staples including salt, soap and beans. Trade Ministry spokesman Faraj Daud said the government will continue to supply Iraqis with free rice, sugar, flour and cooking oil. The ministry claims that items that were once scarce during sanctions are now widely available on the open market and therefore do not need to be distributed by the government. Approximately 96 percent of Iraq's 28 million people receive food rations managed by 543 centers. The UN World Food Program estimated in a 2004 report that one-quarter of the population is highly dependent on the rations, warning that without them "many lower-income households, particularly women and children, would not be able to meet their food requirements."

How predictions for Iraq came true
It was a few weeks before the invasion of Iraq, three years ago. I was interviewing the Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, in the ballroom of a big hotel in Cairo.

'Searching for attackers lurking in the night'
There is enormous political symbolism in the circuitous route that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice took for visiting Baghdad on Monday. She headed first to the quiet British town of Blackburn for a weekend's bonding with her British allies, and then proceeded to Iraq, accompanied by British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.

Situation in Iraq could not be worse

A cruel and bloody civil war has started in Iraq, a country that President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair promised to free from fear and establish democracy. I have been visiting Iraq since 1978, but for the first time, I am becoming convinced that the country will not survive.

Iraqi interior minister admits 'death squads' exist

Iraq's interior minister has acknowledged the existence of so-called death squads within certain security forces but denied any link with his own ministry.
Bayan Jabr Solagh, in an interview with the BBC on Wednesday, pointed the finger at special security forces that provide protection for ministries and key installations, as well as the myriad private security companies in Iraq. Asked if there were unofficial death squads operating within these security forces, he replied: "Sometimes, yes, I can tell you... with these security companies it is not right... you do not know what they are doing."

Video: Falluja April 2004

"Director Toshikuni DOI exposes the side of the U.S. war in Iraq that Americans do not see or hear in mainstream media." Warning: This film contains graphic images. Viewer discretion advised. Click here to watch the video (.WMV, 41MB)

'Our childhood is killed in Iraq. It is killed'

Summary: The question to the group of women delegates from Iraq was "What would you like to see come out of this meeting?" I was not prepared either for the answer or for its explanation: "What we need now," one of the Iraqi woman said, "is the end of the blood-letting. Women are very necessary to this operation. Fifty-five to 60 percent of Iraqis are women. The minority is ruling ... Women must interfere in the affairs of men. We should take over." It was hardly a statement I expected to hear in this place from these women. But I couldn't forget it... "And what is the first thing that must be done to rebuild the country?" we asked them. I sat with my hands over the keyboard, sure that the list would be long and varied. I was wrong. To a woman, the call was clear: "Take care of our children."

Roadside bomb kills four people in Baghdad

A roadside bomb targeting a police patrol killed three civilians and one policeman in Baghdad on Wednesday, police said.
The attack in the Waziriya district of the capital also wounded four people.

Facing attacks, Shi'ite Muslims flee to south
In the face of ongoing sectarian violence, hundreds of Shi'ite Muslim families have fled to the Shi'ite-dominated cities in the country's south seeking shelter with relatives, according to local officials. "We managed to put up generators to ensure electricity for displaced families, and we're still providing them with blankets, beds, foodstuffs and cooking stoves," said Ali Abbas, a representative of the Ministry of Displacement and Migration. Abbas added that, in Kut, some 160km south-east of Baghdad, 950 families have occupied a public amusement park after fleeing their homes in Baghdad, where they faced threats and intimidation from Sunni militants. "I lost about 30 of my cousins," said Fadhil Ali, 42, a Shi'ite who fled his home in the Abu Ghraib district of the capital along with seven family members. "We all know who are behind these killings, but government control in Abu Ghraib is completely absent."

Signs Comment: Sounds like Israel's three state plan for Iraq is coming along nicely. Kurds already in the North, Sunnis in the center, and now the Shi'ites are fleeing to the south.
"The only viable strategy, then, may be to correct (Iraq's) historical defect and move in stages toward a three-state solution: Kurds in the north, Sunnis in the center and Shiites in the south" -- Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations; from "Three-state Solution" NY Times 11-25-2003
IRAQ: Doctors, NGOs warn of high infant mortality in Basra
As a result of water-borne diseases and a lack of medical supplies, infants born in the southern city of Basra are subject to abnormally high mortality rates, say officials of an international NGO devoted to child health issues. "For weeks, there were no I.V. fluids available in the hospitals of Basra," said Marie Fernandez, spokeswoman for European aid agency Saving Children from War. "As a consequence, many children, mainly under five-years old, died after suffering from extreme cases of diarrhoea."

Signs Comment: Oh joy! "Freedom and Democracy" at its finest!

Bush WMD Statements Based On Debunked Evidence
The White House said Wednesday that President George W. Bush's claim three years ago that weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq was based on information later proved wrong. Bush had said in a TV interview that weapons were found, and that two trailers seized in Iraq were mobile biological labs. The Washington Post reported experts on a Pentagon-backed trip had already told Washington the trailers had nothing to do with bio weapons.

Powell says Bush took 'misleading' Cheney advice, ignored State Department
The president played the scoundrel -- even the best of his minions went along with the lies -- and when a former ambassador dared to tell the truth, the White House initiated what Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald calls "a plan to discredit, punish or seek revenge against Mr. Wilson." That is the important story line. If not for the whistle-blower, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, President Bush's falsehoods about the Iraq nuclear threat probably would never have been exposed.

Truth about Iraq's mobile weapons factories ignored, experts say
ON MAY 29, 2003, 50 days after the fall of Baghdad, President George Bush proclaimed a new victory for his Administration in Iraq: two small trailers captured by US troops had turned out to be long-sought mobile "biological laboratories". "We have found the weapons of mass destruction," he trumpeted.

US denies Iraqi weapons knowledge
The White House has angrily denied a newspaper report that suggested President George W Bush in 2003 declared the existence of biological weapons laboratories in Iraq while knowing it was not true. On May 29, 2003, Bush hailed the capture of two trailers in Iraq as mobile biological laboratories and declared, "We have found the weapons of mass destruction." The report in The Washington Post said a Pentagon-sponsored fact-finding mission had already concluded that the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons. The newspaper cited government officials and weapons experts who participated in the secret mission or had direct knowledge of it.

White House angrily denies report on Iraq WMD
The White House on Wednesday angrily denied a newspaper report that suggested President George W. Bush in 2003 declared the existence of mobile biological weapons laboratories in Iraq while knowing it was not true. "It's reckless reporting. Everybody should be agitated about it," White House spokesman McClellan told reporters of The Washington Post report.

Signs Comment: Yup, McClellan did the expected: "It's nothing but rehashing of old news..." routine. Lobaczewski writes:
Spellbinders are generally the carriers of various pathological factors, some characteropathies, and some inherited anomalies. Individuals with malformations of their personalities frequently play similar roles, although the social scale of influence remains small (family or neighborhood) and does not cross certain boundaries of decency.

Spellbinders are characterized by pathological egotism. Such a person is forced by some internal causes to make an early choice between two possibilities: the first is forcing other people to think and experience things in a manner similar to his own; the second is a feeling of being lonely and different, a pathological misfit in social life. Sometimes the choice is either snake-charming or suicide.
Triumphant repression of self-critical or unpleasant concepts from the field of consciousness gradually gives rise to the phenomena of conversion thinking, or paralogistics, paramoralisms, and the use of reversion blockades. They stream so profusely from the mind and mouth of the spellbinder that they flood the average person's mind. Everything becomes subordinated to the spellbinder's over-compensatory conviction that they are exceptional, sometimes even messianic. An ideology emerges from this conviction, true in part, whose value is supposedly superior. However, if we analyze the exact functions of such an ideology in the spellbinder's personality, we perceive that it is a nothing other than a means of self-charming, useful for repressing those tormenting self-critical associations into the subconscious. The ideology's instrumental role in influencing other people also serves the spellbinder's needs.

The spellbinder believes that he will always find converts to his ideology, and most often, they are right. However, they feel shock (or even paramoral indignation) when it turns out that their influence extends to only a limited minority, while most people's attitude to their activities remains critical, pained and disturbed. The spellbinder is thus confronted with a choice: either withdraw back into his void or strengthen his position by improving the effectiveness of his activities.
White House Demands Media 'Correct' Itself
The Truth Will Set You Free
The White House is fumbling over today's report that it knew there were no WMD's before Bush made his fateful speech.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan called the account "reckless reporting" and said Bush made his statement based on the intelligence assessment of the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), an arm of the Pentagon.
* * *
A U.S. intelligence official, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, confirmed the existence of the field report cited by the Post, but said it was a preliminary finding that had to be evaluated.

"You don't change a report that has been coordinated in the (intelligence) community based on a field report," the official said. "It's a preliminary report. No matter how strongly the individual may feel about the subject matter."
Field reports are raw, they say. It always needs some cooking.

War Pimping: Iran Could Produce Nuclear Bomb in 16 Days, U.S. Says

Iran, which is defying United Nations Security Council demands to cease its nuclear program, may be capable of making a nuclear bomb within 16 days if it goes ahead with plans to install thousands of centrifuges at its Natanz plant, a U.S. State Department official said.

Mainstream Media Willfully Ignores Charlie Sheen's Challenge
The London Observer carried an article in this week's edition by movie critic Mark Kermode which again wholesale refused to address any of the evidence that Charlie Sheen had raised to clarify his stance on 9/11. Charlie Sheen is an actor who has exhaustively researched 9/11. Mark Kermode is a movie critic who, judging from his pathetic hit piece, has swallowed without question what the US government told him happened on 9/11 without one iota of independent investigation. Kermode alludes to the tired old argument that believing the government was involved in the attack enables people to sleep better at night because it brings a sense of order to a chaotic world. This echoes syndicated columnist Betsy Hart's ravings, who said that people who think anyone else but Al-Qaeda was involved are just afraid to face the frightening reality of Muslim hordes who want to kill us.

New Italian PM to Pull Iraq Troops

Romano Prodi, the leader of the Union coalition, which won the latest elections in Italy, said on Wednesday that he will withdraw the Italian troops from Iraq when he takes office, claiming there was no justification for the US-led invasion of the Arab country.
In an interview with the French Le Monde daily, the Italian Prime Minister Elect said that he will fulfill his election promise of withdrawing his country´s troops from Iraq.

Video: "We Think the Price Is Worth It"

Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it? Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it.

SOS over Iraqi scientists

Since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, an alarming number of the country's leading academics have been killed. A human rights organisation puts the number at about a thousand and has a documented list of 105 cases. These professors, it says, were not random casualties - they were assassinated. The first documented case is that of Muhamad al-Rawi, the president of Baghdad University, who was killed on 27 July, 2003, when two men entered his private clinic, one of them feigned severe stomach pain and was doubled over. Concealed against his stomach was a gun with which he shot al-Rawi dead.

Zarqawi-gate: More important than you think...

Is the threat posed by Jordanian-born terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi real? Is Zarqawi himself a fiction, as some maintain? The Washington Post's recent revelation that a Pentagon psyop unit hyped up the Zarqawi threat may turn into the next big scandal, especially since the leaked document specifices that the propaganda campaign targeted the "U.S. Home Audience."

Iraqi women much worse off under occupation

Iraqi women were treated far better during the Saddam Hussein era, and their rights were much more respected, local rights NGOs concluded after an extensive survey in Iraq. "We interviewed women in the country and met with local NGOs dealing with gender issues to develop this survey, which asked questions about the quality of women's life and respect for their rights," said Senar Muhammad, president of Baghdad-based NGO Woman Freedom Organization, a sister organization of MADRE, an international women's rights group. "The results show that women are less respected now than they were under the previous regime, while their freedom has been curtailed." According to the survey, women's basic rights under Saddam's regime were respected and guaranteed in the constitution, with women often occupying top government posts. But now, although women's rights are still enshrined in the national constitution, they complain that they lost almost all of their rights. "Before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, women were free to go to schools, universities and work, and to perform other duties," Senar said. "Now, due to security reasons and repression by the government, they're being forced to stay in their homes."

Mounting sectarian unrest claims more Iraqi lives
At least 38 Iraqis killed in attacks over past 24 hours as sectarian attacks intensify across Iraq. At least 38 Iraqis have been killed in attacks over the past 24 hours, security officials said Friday, as politicians pressed four-month-old coalition talks amid mounting sectarian unrest. Three Iraqis, including a police major from the northern oil centre of Kirkuk, were killed in drive-by shootings Friday. In the main southern city of Basra, two Iraqis were killed and four British soldiers wounded when suicide bomber blew up a vehicle as a four-vehicle convoy passed, British officials said. Police said 11 employees of a construction company were also kidnapped in the city and murdered Thursday. Six policemen were also killed and more than 20 went missing when a large group of policemen transporting police vehicles was ambushed by gunmen near Baghdad Thursday, a security official said. Late Thursday, a car bomb attack killed 15 people in a Baghdad Shiite neighbourhood - the fourth such bombing against either shrines or residential areas of the majority community in the past eight days. The attacks, believed to be the work of Sunni hardliners loyal to the Al-Qaeda network, come at a time when Iraq is gripped by a power vacuum. [...]

Signs Comment: Ae we, and many other, including members of the Iraqi government, have repeatedly said; the alleged "sectarian" attacks are being carried out by those would benefit most from civil war in Iraq: The British, American and Israeli governments.

US plots "new liberation of Baghdad"
The American military is planning a "second liberation of Baghdad" to be carried out with the Iraqi army when a new government is installed.
Pacifying the lawless capital is regarded as essential to establishing the authority of the incoming government and preparing for a significant withdrawal of American troops. Strategic and tactical plans are being laid by US commanders in Iraq and at the US army base in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, under Lieutenant- General David Petraeus. He is regarded as an innovative officer and was formerly responsible for training Iraqi troops. The battle for Baghdad is expected to entail a "carrot-and-stick" approach, offering the beleaguered population protection from sectarian violence in exchange for rooting out insurgent groups and Al-Qaeda.

Signs Comment: Sadly, everyone appears to be committed to refusing to deal with the one issue that is the source of the problem and, if dealt with, would solve the entire Iraq problem: the illegal occupation of Iraq by a foreign enemy and the desire of the majority of the Iraqi people for US and British troops to leave as soon as possible.

Ethnic cleansing grows in Iraq
The Shiite refugees have fled their predominantly Sunni neighborhoods where, before the U.S. occupation and subsequent terrorist activity, they lived in peace, the newspaper said.

Signs Comment: It is strange, is it not, how two demoninations under the Muslim religion can live peacefully together and intermarry for hundreds of years and yet within a mere three years of US, British and Israeli occupation of their country they are suddenly intent on wiping each other out? It is unlikely in the extreme that such a scenario have evolved without the aid of a agent provocateur.

Iraqi leaders cancel parliament session as government talks snarl

Efforts to form a unity government suffered a new setback Sunday as Iraqi leaders postponed a parliament session after failing to agree on a prime minister. Bombs targeted Shiites near a mosque and on a bus as attacks countrywide killed at least 35 people.
Meanwhile, four U.S. marines were reported killed in fighting west of Baghdad.

Iraq's political crisis deepens
Iraq was thrown into deep political crisis after leaders cancelled a much-awaited parliament session following their failure to resolve a bitter dispute over the prime minister. Four months after the landmark elections for the first permanent post-Saddam Hussein government, Iraqi leaders continued to squabble over who would lead the next cabinet and also hold key posts in the parliament.

New U.S. "embassy" being built in Baghdad
The fortress-like compound rising beside the Tigris River here will be the largest of its kind in the world, the size of Vatican City, with the population of a small town, its own defense force, self-contained power and water, and a precarious perch at the heart of Iraq's turbulent future. The embassy complex -- 21 buildings on 104 acres, according to a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee report -- is taking shape on riverside parkland in the fortified "Green Zone." "Embassy Baghdad" will dwarf new U.S. embassies elsewhere, projects that typically cover 10 acres. The embassy's 104 acres is six times larger than the United Nations compound in New York, and two-thirds the acreage of Washington's National Mall. It will have its own water wells, electricity plant and wastewaster-treatment facility, "systems to allow 100 percent independence from city utilities," says the report, the most authoritative open source on the embassy plans.  Security, overseen by U.S. Marines, will be extraordinary: setbacks and perimeter no-go areas that will be especially deep, structures reinforced to 2.5-times the standard, and five high-security entrances, plus an emergency entrance-exit, the Senate report says. Iraq's interim government transferred the land to U.S. ownership in October 2004, under an agreement whose terms were not disclosed.

Signs Comment: The "Interim Iraqi government" that appointed this land to American forces itself just happened to be appointed by the US government. It doesn't get any more rotten than this folks. Freedom and Democracy? Give me a break.

Baghdad street battle smacks of open civil war
Snipers held rooftop positions as masked Sunni Arab insurgents said they were gearing up for another open street battle with pro-government Shi'ite militiamen in Baghdad's Adhamiya district on Tuesday.
The Arab Sunni stronghold is still feeling ripples from overnight clashes on Monday that appeared to be the closest yet to all-out sectarian fighting. It's a reality that has Washington scrambling to avert civil war as Iraqi politicians struggle to form a government four months after parliamentary elections.

Zarqawi; the Pentagon's ongoing war of deception
In more than 3 years of war, there has never been a positive citing of alleged terror mastermind Abu Musab al Zarqawi. This has led many to believe that he is merely a creation of Pentagon propagandists working with their agents in the western press. Colonel Derek Harvey strengthened those suspicions last week when he admitted in a Washington Post article that the military intentionally "enlarged Zarqawi's caricature" to create the impression that the ongoing struggle against occupation was really a fight against terrorism. But, that is not the case. As Harvey notes, "The long term threat is not Zarqawi or religious extremists, but former regime types and their friends".

Gallup: 57% Say U.S. Won't Win in Iraq
A report on a new Gallup poll released today shows that President Bush approval rating on his handling of Iraq is now at 32% -- tied for the lowest rating Gallup has measured. The survey, taken April 7-9, also shows that 57% of Americans think the United States will not win in Iraq.

Signs Comment: Just what criteria would have to be met to be able to say "The US won the war in Iraq"? What would be the concrete outcome?

IRAQ: Ministry copes with rising numbers of orphaned children
Orphans in Iraq, who often lack protection, food supplies and medical assistance, require urgent assistance, according to officials at the Orphans Houses Department at the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. "Orphaned children have become a very serious issue," said department director Abeer Mahdi al-Chalabi. "We have 23 orphanages with limited capacity, capable of housing only about 1,600 orphans."

Signs Comment: Does anyone think that Bush and Co. actually care about the orphaned Iraqi children, or their parents that the US military has been arbitrarily gunning down for the last 3 years? If they actually cared, does anyone think that there would be so many orphans? "By their fruits you shall know them".

Robbery, not reconstruction, in Iraq

The great liberator of Iraq was actually the hyena that cleaned out the nation.
Piece by piece, Halliburton over here, a corrupt company over there, we have heard various individual cases of overcharging and fraud by American firms in the reconstruction of Iraq. Last weekend, a Globe story connected some of the dots of corruption. Of $20.7 billion in Iraqi bank accounts and oil revenues seized by the Coalition Provisional Authority in the US-led invasion of Iraq, $14 billion was given out for reconstruction but tens of millions of dollars were unaccounted for. A year ago, an audit by the inspector general found no evidence of work done or goods delivered on 154 of 198 contracts. Sixty cases of potential swindles are under investigation. Halliburton and its hundreds of millions of dollars of overcharges or baseless costs are well known. But millions more were taken by companies that promised to build or restore libraries or police facilities, or deliver trucks and construction equipment. Money was given to the puppet government with no follow-up. US government investigators can account for only a third of the $1.5 billion given by the CPA to the interim government and it appears that a substantial portion of the $8 billion given to Iraqi ministries went to ''ghost employees.''

Teachers beheaded in Baghdad in front of students

Separate groups of gunmen entered two primary schools in Baghdad on Wednesday and beheaded two teachers in front of their students, the Ministry of State for National Security said. "Two terrorist groups beheaded two teachers in front of their students in the Amna and Shaheed Hamdi primary schools in Shaab district in Baghdad," a ministry statement said. A ministry official said he believed the attacks were aimed at: "intimidating pupils and disrupting learning."

Iraq Police Deny Report of Teachers Killed
Militants killed two people at elementary schools in a mainly Shiite district of Baghdad on Wednesday, the government said. But police in the neighborhood denied any attack occurred. The contradictory accounts could not immediately be reconciled. The National Security Ministry initially said in a statement that militants broke into the Amna and Shaheed Hamdi schools and "slaughtered" a teacher in each one in front of students in the Shaab neighborhood of the capital. But the ministry later said the dead were a school guard and a teacher. It said the guard was stabbed to death by militants in front of students, while the teacher was shot outside the school as he arrived in the morning for classes.

Who's planting media lies about a possible civil war in Iraq?
The debate over whether Iraq is on the verge of a bloody civil war was fueled by recent remarks by UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and his Saudi counterpart during a conference in Riyadh. On BBC news website, Sir Lawrence Freedman, Professor of War Studies at King's College London explained the historical precedents and why the argument over a possible outbreak of a civil war in Iraq matters. He discussed what causes a civil war, referring to historical examples like, civil war in Russia, Lebanese civil war. Sir Lawrence Freedman suggested that once a broadly-based government is agreed, it might get a grip on the situation, and stop the almost daily sectarian killings and attacks in Iraq. In an editorial published on, the media is seen as a key element in instigating a civil war in Iraq. Following the February 22 attack on one of the most revered Shia mosques in the Iraqi city of Samarra, all media reports were focusing on allegations that Iraq has swept up in a wave of retaliatory religious violence, and national news outlets in the U.S. continued for weeks to feed Americans with daily headlines, all affirming the bloody sectarian violence Iraq has fallen into. 90% of the main stream media was dedicated to painting a bleak image of the situation in Iraq, focusing on the between 90 and 200 Sunni mosques across Iraq that were attacked, burned or bombed.

Sex and money bought Iraq contracts

A CONTRACTOR in Iraq has pleaded guilty to providing money, sex and designer watches to US officials in exchange for more than $US8 million ($10.8 million) in reconstruction contracts. Philip Bloom faces up to 40 years in prison after admitting paying more than $US2 million in bribes to US officials with the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ruled Iraq after the US-led invasion in 2003. Bloom's guilty plea on bribery and money-laundering charges is the latest development in a widening corruption scandal centred on a network of US civilians and military officials who worked out of a coalition outpost in the south-central Iraqi town of Hillah.

CIA Warned Bush Of No WMD In Iraq

The Central Intelligence Agency warned US President George W. Bush before the Iraq war that it had reliable information the government of Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, a retired CIA operative disclosed.
But the operative, Tyler Drumheller, said top White House officials simply brushed off the warning, saying they were "no longer interested" in intelligence and that the policy toward Iraq had been already set.

Abuse of prisoners in Iraqi jails continues: report

U.S. and Iraqi inspectors have discovered abuse of prisoners in detention centers run by Iraq's Interior Ministry that were visited as recently as February, the Washington Post reported on Monday.
Citing U.S. and Iraqi sources involved with the inspections, the Post said U.S. troops did not respond by transferring all of the detainees to safety, as they did after finding 173 prisoners, some of whom showed signs of torture, in a secret Baghdad bunker in November. Only a small number of the most severely abused detainees at one of six detention centers inspected since November were moved for medical treatment, while prisoners at two others were transferred to ease overcrowding, the Post said. Leaving some of prisoners in centers where their abusive treatment was discovered has prompted inspectors to ask whether the military is following a pledge made by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Peter Pace in November that U.S. troops would try to stop any inhumane treatment they saw, the Post said.

Hundreds of Iraqi girls are being sold for sex - Situation far worse than under Saddam
The man on the phone with the 14-year-old Iraqi girl called himself Sa'ad. He was calling long distance from Dubai and telling her wonderful things about the place. He was also about to buy her. Safah, the teenager, was well aware of the impending transaction. In the weeks after she was kidnapped and imprisoned in a dark house in Baghdad's middle-class Karada district, Safah heard her captors haggling with Sa'ad over her price. It was finally settled at $10,000. Staring at a floor strewn with empty whiskey bottles, the orphan listened as Sa'ad described the life awaiting her: a beautiful home, expensive clothes, parties with pop stars. Why, she'd be joining two other very happy teenage Iraqi girls living with Sa'ad in his harem. Safah knew that she was running out of time. A fake passport with her photo and assumed name had already been forged for her. But even if she escaped, she had no family who would take her in. She was even likely to end up in prison. What was she to do?

Bush admits he offered Blair way out of the Iraq conflict
George Bush yesterday revealed the extent of the political gamble Tony Blair took over Iraq, disclosing that he had spurned the offer of a get-out clause on the war even amid fears that it would cost him his government. In a rare glimpse inside the so-called special relationship, the US President disclosed how he had offered to release his 'close friend' Blair from the military coalition because he feared that domestic opposition to the war would actually bring him down. But the Prime Minister retorted that he would rather lose his government than retreat. Article continues Bush's description of the events surrounding what he called a 'confidence vote' - the knife-edge Commons vote in March 2003 over military action - reveal not just the depth of trouble Blair was in, but the extent to which he was willing to gamble.

Signs Comment: And thus the question remains: why was Blair so willing to commit even political suicide just to help his "friend" GW Bush??

Four UK soldiers tried for Iraqi death by drowning

A British military court began hearings on Monday in the case of four soldiers accused of manslaughter for forcing an Iraqi prisoner into a canal in Basra where he drowned.
Soldiers James Cooke, 22, Joseph McCleary, 24, Martin McGing, 22, of the Irish Guards and Color Sergeant Carle Selman of the Coldstream Guards, 39, will face a seven-member court martial panel. Legal arguments began on Monday, with prosecutors due to present their case later this week in a trial expected to last about six weeks.

When GI Joe Says No
A young former US Army sniper wearing a desert camo uniform, an Iraqi kaffiyeh and mirrored sunglasses scans a ruined urban landscape of smashed homes, empty streets and garbage heaps. His sand-colored hat bears a small regulation-style military patch, or tab, that instead of reading "Airborne" or "Ranger" or "Special Forces" says "Shitbag"--common military parlance for bad soldier. This isn't Baghdad or Kabul. It's the Gulf Coast, and the column of young men and women in desert uniforms carrying American flags are with Iraq Veterans Against the War. They are part of a larger peace march that is making its way from Mobile to New Orleans. This is just one of IVAW's ongoing series of actions.

Bush was warned there were no WMD, says former CIA man
The Central Intelligence Agency tried to warn the Bush administration on the eve of the 2003 invasion of Iraq that Saddam Hussein did not appear to have weapons of mass destruction but the warning was dismissed because the US political leadership was not interested in what the intelligence showed, according to a retired senior CIA operative.

Cadets hear a voice from the left wing
West Point - Considering the venue, heckles might have been expected for a guy who once called the United States "a leading terrorist" country.
But at the U.S. Military Academy, where soldier-scholars are born, even left-wing political dissidents are given an ear. So it was yesterday evening. Amid an army of white over gray, renowned political theorist Noam Chomsky took on an issue of paramount importance for the 4,000 cadets training to wage the nation's battles: What defines a just war? It's an issue scholars disagree on. But for Chomsky, Iraq is not even close.

Seven car bombs rock Baghdad as US steps up pressure

Car bombings and shootings killed 20 people and wounded more than 100 in Baghdad Monday as Washington stepped up pressure for Shiite premier designate Jawad al-Maliki to form a government and halt Iraq's slide into civil war.
Insurgents set off seven car bombs, two of them at a Baghdad university, security officials said. Five people died in the coordinated attack on the Mustansiriya University that also wounded 25.

Iraq Can't be Compared to Post-World War II

In the past three years the Bush administration has vigorously made comparisons between reconstruction in Iraq and post-World War II Germany and Japan. Many of the administration's analogies have been forced, at best. A variety of historians, political scientists, and even former government officials have suggested that the comparisons are rather tenuous. But a new report by the Congressional Research Service has essentially demolished the administration's analogies.

A Paper Lid On Iraq's Volcano
The civil war in Iraq won't end with the naming of a hard-line Shiite fundamentalist as Iraq's next prime minister. President George W. Bush, desperate to find some progress in the violent chaos of Iraq, calls the designation of Jawad al-Maliki "awesome." Zalmay Khalilzad, putting on his game face, says of Maliki: "He is a tough guy," before adding, hastily, that he meant "tough-minded." But a man in Baquba, the war-battered city north of Baghdad, had a far more appropriate comment on Maliki. He told The Guardian: "He is a hateful sectarian who has made venomous comments about Iraq and Arabs. Jawad al-Maliki is the final nail in Iraq's coffin." And so he is. The Bush administration hopes that Maliki will lead a government of national unity. But in fact Maliki is just a paper lid on the volcano that is Iraq. The Iraqi press is already filled with commentary that Maliki is weak, not tough. Among no faction is Maliki seen as a strong or intimidating presence. Even with the Shiite alliance, he is a secondary figure in one of the alliance's less powerful parties, Al Dawa. And his selection ratifies the descent of Iraqi into sectarian division. Weakening Maliki further is the fact that he is prime minister only because Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Iraq at the beginning of April and, in public, for all Iraqis to see, demanded that Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari step down. Her demand, backed by a letter from President Bush that was given to Iraqi leaders, was-not surprisingly-carried out by the collection of exile politicians who were installed by Washington in the first place. But by its very nature, Rice's imperial ultimatum makes the replacement of Jaafari by Maliki look like the American diktat that it was. And that makes Maliki look even more like a water-carrier for the U.S. occupation, shredding his credibility among ordinary Iraqis.

Signs Comment: Just the kind of guy to reign over a descent into a manipulated Iraqi civil war.


It is astonishing how many Americans believe that Iraq is in a civil war.
Haven't we already proved to everyone's satisfaction that the storyline leading up to the war was entirely false; that all of the charges and claims of WMD and connections to 9-11 were completely baseless? And wasn't "alleged" terrorist mastermind, Abu Musab al Zarqawi exposed last week in a Washington Post article as a fraud; a shabby invention of the fertile imaginations of Pentagon planners and their surrogates in the media?
Colonel Derek Harvey candidly admitted that the military intentionally "enlarged Zarqawi's caricature" to create the impression that the struggle against occupation was really a fight against terrorism. What more proof do we need?

Shiite militias move into oil-rich Kirkuk
KIRKUK, Iraq - Hundreds of Shiite Muslim militiamen have deployed in recent weeks to this restive city -- widely considered the most likely flash point for an Iraqi civil war -- vowing to fight any attempt to shift control over Kirkuk to the Kurdish-governed north, according to U.S. commanders and diplomats, local police and politicians. Until recently, the presence of the militias here was minimal. U.S. officials have called the Shiite armed groups the deadliest threat to security in much of the country. They have been blamed for hundreds of killings during mounting sectarian violence in central and southern Iraq since the bombing of a revered Shiite shrine in February. The Mahdi Army, led by firebrand cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, has sent at least two companies, each with about 120 fighters, according to Thomas Wise, political counselor for the U.S. Embassy's Kirkuk regional office, which has been tracking militia activity. The Badr Organization, the armed wing of Iraq's largest Shiite political party, has also boosted its presence and opened several offices across the region, military officers here said.

Turkish military action in Iraq will take place if needed - Ozkok
Chief of the Turkish General Staff Hilmi Ozkok said Turkey will conduct military action in northern Iraq if needed.
According to Turkey's Anadolu Agency, Ozkok said since article 51 of the UN Charter allows beyond-the-border military action, Turkey might enter Iraq to eliminate Kurdish separatists. While explaining that each nation makes decisions independently depending in its needs, he said this issue has no link with the visit of US State Secretary Condoleezza Rice to Ankara on Tuesday. Ozkok explained that moving the Land Forces Command to the Turkish border has no special connotation, adding that "it was only a matter of needing the command over there."

An Intel Story Finally Told
The shocking account of Tyler Drumheller, former top CIA spy in Europe, aired Sunday on '60 Minutes.' So why isn't anyone talking about it?

Signs Comment: Blah blah blah. "Oh, sorry folks, I participated in a cover-up two years ago, and even though I knew it was wrong, that YOU needed this information, I kept my mouth shut. But now you're ignoring me..." Throw the bums out, all of them, the ones in Congress, in the White House, in the Supreme Court, and in the media. All of them. They are all crooks and criminals. Of course these people know what is really going on! Of course, they know the truth about Iraq. They knew it before the war started, only they were afraid of making waves, of losing their jobs. They are spineless mouthpieces for fascism. They do not deserve or respect, our support, or our aid. Get rid of them all! Put them on the unemployment lines, living on nothing. Educate them to the facts of life, to what it is like to have to go out and hold down two jobs just to make ends meet.

US military sees Iraq edging away from civil war

The U.S. military said on Thursday Iraq was moving away from the risk of civil war and insurgent and sectarian bloodshed would fall dramatically when a new government of national unity is formed.
Attacks on civilians had jumped 90 percent across Iraq since a Shi'ite shrine was bombed in February, but "ethno-sectarian" bloodshed had more than halved in Baghdad in the past week, U.S. spokesman Major General Rick Lynch told a news conference.

New Iraqi Vice President's Sister Killed

A sister of Iraq's new Sunni Arab vice president was killed Thursday in a drive-by shooting in Baghdad, a day after the politician called for the Sunni-dominated insurgency to be crushed by force.

Rice, Rumsfeld Impressed by Iraq Leaders

President Bush's top defense and diplomatic aides were encouraged by the grit of
Iraq's newly elected leader but the Americans' itinerary on their second day of an unannounced visit underscored the difficulties ahead for U.S. forces and the emerging government. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld began his day Thursday with a briefing on the latest programs and technologies to counter increasingly sophisticated roadside bombs that are a prime killer of U.S. forces.

How Much is the War in Iraq Costing?

The Congressional Research Service has just released a new report on the past and possible future costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pending Congress' action on the new emergency supplemental, which should complete fiscal year 2006 expenses, the costs will be up to $439 billion by the end of this year. But that's just the tip of the iceberg; details follow. The full report is available at

Government in secret talks about strike against Iran
The Government is to hold secret talks with defence chiefs tomorrow to discuss possible military strikes against Iran.

By Asghar Bishbareh
Information Clearing House
20 Mar 06
A brief history of Iran since 16th century

Summary: Iran is one of the few countries in the world that has never become a colony of any of the imperialist powers. However, during the reign of Kajar dynasty from 1795 to 1925, Iran plunged into a deep crisis, and to some extent, colonial powers dominated Iran both economically and politically thanks to inept and corrupt monarchs. [...] In 1953, the U.S.'s CIA and UK's MI-6 staged the military coup and toppled Iran's democratically elected Prime Minister, Dr. Mossadegh's government, which by any Western standards was much more democratic than that of Americans under the Bush-Cheney administration. In fact, the anti-American revolution of 1979 was the direct consequences of US's policy of regime change in Iran in which US brought down the democratic government and restored the absolute monarchy.

U.S. attack on Iran may prompt terror
Experts say strikes on nuclear facilities could spark worldwide retaliation
As tensions increase between the United States and Iran, U.S. intelligence and terrorism experts say they believe Iran would respond to U.S. military strikes on its nuclear sites by deploying its intelligence operatives and Hezbollah teams to carry out terrorist attacks worldwide. Iran would mount attacks against U.S. targets inside Iraq, where Iranian intelligence agents are already plentiful, predicted these experts. There is also a growing consensus that Iran's agents would target civilians in the United States, Europe and elsewhere, they said.

US not to resolve Iran nuke issue by force: ambassador to UN
U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, on Sunday dismissed the allegation that Washington would solve the Iran nuclear issue by force, saying that his country was seeking a peaceful settlement, according reports from the Qatari capital of Doha.

Signs Comment: We are, how shall we put it, a little sceptical of Bolton's word's. Neo-con speaks with forked tongue.

Iran test-fires high-speed underwater missile
Iran successfully test-fired a new high-speed underwater missile capable of destroying huge warships and submarines, a top military commander announced. "Today we have successfully test-fired a high-speed underwater missile with a speed of 100 meters per second, which is able to overcome the enemy's sonar and radar," Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, the deputy commander of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards naval force, told state television.

Signs Comment: With the US breathing down its neck, Iran seems to be doing everything possible to provoke the Beast... For more information on high speed torpedos and the technology behind them, listen to our podcasts with Jean-Pierre Petit.

Bush Offers Quake Assistance to Iran

Setting aside political differences, the United States offered Iran temporary shelter to house up to 100,000 earthquake victims, the State Department said Friday. The offer came after President Bush said in Cancun, Mexico, that the administration was willing to send assistance despite the differences with Iran's Islamic government on its nuclear program and other issues.

Thousands Of Iran Quake Victims Seek Shelter
Iranian authorities were battling Saturday to provide shelter and aid for thousands of people left homeless by a 6.0 magnitude earthquake in the west of the country that killed 70 people.
Amid fears of aftershocks, survivors of Friday's pre-dawn earthquake in the west of Lorestan province -- which also injured at least 1,265 -- spent the night in the cold open air as they awaited the distribution of relief items.

War Pimp Alert: No more pussyfooting around Iran
Three years on, we are still unable to look at foreign policy except through the lens of the Iraq war. This is especially true when it comes to Iran, whose alphabetical and geographical proximity to Iraq makes for facile comparisons. In particular, it is argued that deploying force against Teheran would bring about the same unhappy consequences as the toppling of Saddam: it would lead to more instability; it would inflame Muslim opinion throughout the world, including in Western cities; it would violate international law; and it would worsen the lives of ordinary Iranians. Once again, the motives of those calling for direct action are called into question.

Signs Comment: A message to the Telegraph: WAKE UP!
"This is not some symbolic goal: the ayatollahs are building nuclear weapons because they want to use them."
Oh, kind of like how the US is developing new "mini-nukes" because they plan on using them? The only problem is, with Bush threatening any nation he wants, who wouldn't be developing a nice stash of nuclear arms so that they can cause a nuclear standoff and thereby prevent the US from attacking? Of course, given that the US government has previously overthrown a democratically elected government in Iran, and the fact that Iran's current leadership seems to be doing all it can to provoke Bush, it seems that perhaps there may still be CIA involvement in Iranian affairs...

Germany urges direct US-Iran talks on nuclear dispute
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier urged the US government to address Iran's disputed nuclear program in mooted bilateral talks with Tehran on Iraq.
Steinmeier said ahead of a meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that direct negotiations between Washington and Tehran held the potential to break a deadlock over the protracted nuclear crisis. However, the chief German diplomat told reporters after his meeting with Rice that "there were no signals in that direction", suggesting Washington would not comply with Berlin's urgings.

Iran claims third missile test
Iran said Wednesday it has successfully test-fired a "top secret" missile, the third in a week, state-run television reported.
The report called the missile an "ultra-horizon" weapon and said it could be fired from all military helicopters and jet fighters.

Why the United States will attack Iran in 2006
There's been a lot of speculation about whether or not the United States will attack Iran. Roughly equal numbers of people believe the U.S. will and will not attack. Disregarding the public blustering from both governments, I believe the U.S. will attack Iran in 2006. Here's why. The master plan of the United States is to control the oil in the Middle East. Only two countries stood in the way of that plan: Iraq and Iran. Iraq has been neutralized and will remain impotent for the next decade because of civil war. Iran alone now stands in the way of the U.S. master plan. But before proceeding with this line of argument, let's take a side trip.

Signs Comment: Missing from the above analysis is mention of Israel and the fact that US operations in the Middle East are at the behest of the Zionist warmongers.

'Two B-2s could take out Iran's nuclear assets'

Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions will be history by the time US President George W Bush leaves office, said a report published here.
Veteran foreign correspondent Arnaud de Borchgrave, writing for the United Press International, quotes a "prominent neo-con" with good White House and Department of Defence contacts, as the source of the assertion. Asked what would the US do if sanctions did not make Iran turn away from its nuclear target, the source replied, "B-2s. Two of them could do the job in a single strike against multiple targets."

Iranian crisis - the inevitable result of Israel's US-backed WMD monopoly in the region

The Iranian crisis can only be understood as the inevitable result of Israel's US-backed WMD monopoly in the region. There is widespread international agreement that Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons is an alarming prospect, but very little attention is paid to the most obvious, immediate reason why: that there is already a Middle Eastern nuclear power, Israel, insistent on preserving its monopoly. So the crisis has been foreseeable for decades; it would be automatically triggered by the emergence of a second nuclear power, friendly or unfriendly to the west. Iran is the unfriendliest possible, encouraging the widespread assumption that it alone is responsible for creating the crisis - and settling it. But is it?

War Pimp Bolton: Look Past Security Council on Iran

The Bush administration is considering diplomatic and economic options to deter Iran from developing nuclear weapons if diplomacy at the United Nations fails, and it envisions sanctions if Tehran won't back down, U.N. Ambassador John Bolton said Thursday.
"It would be, I think, simply prudent to be looking at other options," Bolton said at a breakfast meeting of the State Department Correspondents Association.

Iran's Nukes: Are the U.S. and Europe Out of Sync?

The international community is united, as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says, in demanding that Iran refrain from building nuclear weapons. But behind the statements of common purpose, there is not nearly as much agreement on how to achieve that end as the U.S. would like to admit. That's because the Europeans, who are running the diplomatic process, are not only talking about threatening greater penalties, but also offering Iran more incentives, particularly security guarantees. This carrot and stick approach may be standard diplomatic practice, but it raises an awkward question for an administration whose own de-facto Iran policy veers towards regime change. Almost every nation that backs the U.S. against Iran going nuclear would be equally adamant against any U.S. effort to force a change of regime in Tehran. The Europeans believe that regime change, although desirable, must occur as a result of internal pressure, because - as the nuclear standoff has shown - any external threat rallies even opponents of the mullahs behind their regime, and any attack on Iran would create chaos in the region.

Bush 'is planning nuclear strikes on Iran's secret sites'
The Bush administration is planning to use nuclear weapons against Iran, to prevent it acquiring its own atomic warheads, claims an investigative writer with high-level Pentagon and intelligence contacts.

Bush critics alarmed over reports of possible strike on Iran
Critics of the George W. Bush administration expressed alarm about explosive new reports that the president is mulling military options to knock out Iran's nuclear program. Retired General Anthony Zinni, the former head of US Central Command, told US television Sunday that he had no detailed knowledge of the alleged military plans, but he suggested a preemptive strike against Iran's nuclear program would be extremely risky.
"Any military plan involving Iran is going to be very difficult. We should not fool ourselves to think it will just be a strike and then it will be over," said Zinni.

Signs Comment: Surprise, surprise! The Bush gang is calling Ahmadinejad a "potential Hitler", just like they did with Saddam. Guess what happens next?

Iran accuses US of "psychological war"

Iran on Sunday brushed aside what it called a U.S. "psychological war" against its nuclear programme after a published report described Pentagon planning for possible military strikes against Iranian atomic facilities. A report by influential investigative journalist Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker magazine, citing unnamed current and former officials, said Washington has stepped up plans for possible attacks on Iranian facilities to curb its atomic work. The article said the United States was considering using tactical nuclear weapons to destroy Iran's underground uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz, south of Tehran. "This is a psychological war launched by Americans because they feel angry and desperate regarding Iran's nuclear dossier," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told a weekly news conference. "We will stand by our right to nuclear technology. It is our red line. We are ready to deal with any possible scenario. Iran is not afraid of threatening language," he added.

US dismisses Iran attack claims
The US has rejected suggestions that it might be preparing to use nuclear weapons against targets in Iran. A report in The New Yorker magazine said the US was increasing planning for a possible air attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. It said one option being considered was a tactical nuclear strike against underground nuclear sites. Dan Bartlett, a senior adviser to President George W Bush, said the report was "ill-informed".
Those who drew definitive conclusions based on normal defence and intelligence planning "are not knowledgeable of the administration's thinking on Iran", he said. The US has previously refused to rule out military action, but Mr Bartlett said again that the US was committed to a diplomatic solution on the issue of Iran's nuclear development. UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said talk of a US nuclear strike was "completely nuts".

Signs Comment: It is, of course, completely normal for the Bush and Blair administrations to deny that they are planning the use of "low-yield" nuclear weapons on Iran, after all, they have lied about everything else, why would they stop now? In short, this denial can be ignored and we can fully expect that the apparently bloodthristy American and British power elite would like nothing better than to turn Iran into one giant glass parking lot for their war machinery.

Iran: No hurry to set date for talks with US over Iraq

Iran said on Sunday that there was no need to set the date for talks with the United States on Iraq in a hurry, ruling out a recent allegation that the postponement of the proposed talks was related to the formation process of the Iraqi government.

Moscow issues West a warning

With Chancellor Angela Merkel shifting German foreign policy more markedly toward the United States and the defense of human rights, Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, on Thursday warned the West against isolating his country from helping to broker disputes with Iran and other conflicts in the Middle East. His warnings come amid growing criticism by the Bush administration and several EU countries over Russia's crackdown on human rights groups and of the Kremlin's willingness to use its vast energy resources as political pressure on its neighbors. "We often hear from some countries that Russia is becoming strong and unpredictable. But this is not the case," said Lavrov, a former ambassador to the UN who was appointed foreign minister in March 2004. "In the 1990s, when the Commonwealth of Independent states was disintegrating and there were fears of Russia breaking up too, some people in the West said they wanted a strong and united Russia. Now we are here. They should be grateful."

Bush Plans to Use Illegal B61-11
It's said Bush and his bevy of Straussian neocons will nuke Iran (according to research conducted by journalist Seymour Hersh) using nuclear-armed B61-11 "bunker-busters." Bush will do this "to prevent [Iran] acquiring its own atomic warheads," the UK Telegraph summarizes Hersh's conclusion. "Hersh claims that one of the plans, presented to the White House by the Pentagon, entails the use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon, such as the B61-11, against underground nuclear sites. One alleged target is Iran's main centrifuge plant, at Natanz, 200 miles south of Teheran."

Solana: EU Should Consider Iran Sanctions
A top European Union official said Monday that the 25-nation bloc should consider sanctions against Iran, including a visa ban on nuclear officials, because Tehran refuses to cooperate with the United Nations on its nuclear program.
"We have to begin thinking about that possibility," EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana told reporters outside an EU foreign ministers meeting.

Sino-Russian military alliance turns the tables on Bush
A Sino or Russian alliance with Iran would be a logical response to Bush's flawed ME policies. A program on the History Channel television last week profiled U.S. presidents from George Washington to George W. Bush. Every segment featured bullet point summaries of each president and ended with a theme of each presidential administration. George W. Bush's condensed profile was the most unfavorable. The channel didn't make an ending theme for Bush because his presidential term isn't over. But an article on suggests that Bush's theme will be that of a president who was constantly surprised by many "predictable challenges" that were caused directly by his decisions. According to the author, Grant F. Smith, Bush will be remembered as the president who was handed warnings of imminent attacks by al-Qaeda but chose not to act until it was too late. He is the president who wasn't willing to budget reinforcement of levies against the destructive consequences of predictable hurricanes, a mistake that led to the destruction of much of New Orleans. Bush is the president who declared an end to the Iraq War when it was just the beginning. He is the president who was surprised that American soldiers abused Iraqi detainees while he didn't ban such abuses. Bush is the president who was undermined by the criminal persecution of corrupt officials of the same political machine that brought him into power

Iran defies UN with nuclear breakthrough

Iran announced it had successfully enriched uranium to make nuclear fuel, a major breakthrough in its disputed atomic drive that defies a UN Security Council demand for the work to stop.
The Islamic regime's hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also called for a no-holds-barred acceleration of enrichment work -- a process that can be extended to make the fissile core of an atom bomb. The United States immediately warned Iran was "moving in the wrong direction." Iran now runs the risk of UN sanctions when a Security Council deadline expires on April 28.

U.S. slams Iran's nuclear move

The United States has condemned Iran's announcement it has successfully enriched uranium for nuclear fuel, saying "once again they have chosen the pathway of defiance." On Tuesday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad confirmed Iran had produced low-grade enriched uranium to power nuclear plants, a move greeted with jubilation on the streets of Tehran. But the West, led by the United States, believes that Iran plans to build nuclear weapons, and says the move only underscores why the global community has serious concerns about Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

Report: Israel pressuring U.S. over Iran attack
The Washington Post reports that despite fact U.S. intelligence sources believe that Iran needs another 10 years before having nuclear weapons, Israel believes critical breakthrough will happen within months, and is therefore pressuring the Americans WASHINGTON - The U.S. government is continuing to aspire for a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear problem, but doubts for chances of success are growing, a Washington Post article published on Sunday said. According to the paper, Israeli officials who visited Washington recently gave the Americans an urgent message regarding Iran: The Islamic Republic was closer to developing a nuclear bomb than Washington realizes, and the moment of decision is approaching quickly. On Saturday, a New Yorker article said that the U.S. government is planning to massively bomb Iran, and even use nuclear bunker-busting bombs in order to destroy Iranian facilities and development sites containing nuclear weapons.

Signs Comment: Israel is lying, as usual. Iran is at least 10 years from having a nuclear bomb, and even if it did have a bomb it would pose not more threat to anyone that any of the other nuclear countries.

Will the US attack Iran?....yes, it will sooner than later

Regardless of the facade the US is giving the world about Iran's nuclear proliferation, the truth of the matter is that it is irrelevant what Iran is trying to do...whether it is trying to develop nuclear weapons or if it is planning to open a new bourse to sell oil in euros which would undermine the US control of the dollar in the world. For those of you who have not done so yet, click this link, download the PNAC document and read it from beginning to end. Once you read and understand PNAC, The Project for the New American Century document, it is easier to understand what the US is doing.

US shelved evidence discounting Iraq's WMD: report
The Bush administration publicly asserted that two trailers captured by U.S. troops in Iraq in May 2003 were mobile "biological laboratories" even after U.S. intelligence officials had evidence that it was not true, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday. On May 29, 2003, President George W. Bush hailed the capture of the trailers, declaring "We have found the weapons of mass destruction."

Signs Comment: Yup, Bush lied about the WMD's in Iraq. The whole war was a lie. So what happens to Bush now? Well, one thing is certain: if ordinary Americans don't do anything, then absolutely nothing will happen to Bush, and he'll just keep on lyin'!

Nuking Iran
Foaad Khosmood: In the April 17 issue of New Yorker Magazine Seymour Hersh has an eye-opening piece that quotes Administration insiders who suggest nuclear war with Iran is a serious option. You had written back in October of 2005 that "The strategic decision by the United States to nuke Iran was probably made long ago." What led you to that conclusion at that time? What do you think of the Hersh piece?

Nuclear Chicken and the "Madman" Theory

A few months ago, I predicted that there would be no U.S. military strikes on Iran. While the Bush administration would desperately love to, given the balance of forces it is almost certain to be a strategic disaster. This kind of argument is dangerous when dealing with an administration that is severely insulated from reality, but I made it. Was I wrong? On April 2, the Daily Telegraph, favored mouthpiece for the British military, ran a story about British meetings and evaluations of U.S. plans to attack Iran; anonymous officials said that a strike on Iran was "inevitable" if it did not comply with demands to freeze uranium enrichment.

Kinky Karl Rove says Iran leader not rational

Reaching a diplomatic solution over Iran's nuclear ambitions will be difficult because Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is "not a rational human being," a senior White House adviser said on Wednesday.
The United States is pressing for the U.N. Security Council to take further action against Iran for pursuing its nuclear program, which the Bush administration says is a cover for producing weapons while Tehran says is for peaceful energy generation.

Israel sez: Nuclear Iran is threat to whole world

Iran's announcement that it has successfully enriched uranium should worry not just israel but the entire world, the Israeli military's chief of staff said today.
"This announcement is worrying for everyone as we have seen with the international reaction," General Dan Halutz told army radio. A nuclear-powered Iran "represents a threat to the whole world and not only Israel," added Halutz.

Israel Making a New Demand for War, on Iran This Time
What really hangs in the balance between the new paradigms of all out rape, pillage and plunder-versus a world with a future? "Change is the order of the day" say those in the Israeli Lobby. But the only thing anyone either there or in Washington wants to do is "move-on." Nothing apparently deserves an explanation; even death is no longer respected - no matter how many are maimed or killed. Whose War on the World is this? Why are Americans and so many others, except Israel, expected to fight in the Middle East when the only so-called state that appears to have actually wanted this current disaster is Israel? Where are the super-tough troops with the IDF patch on their shoulders - and when will Israel explain to the rest of the planet just exactly why the Israelis should remain 'out of bounds' on this ever-deepening disaster?

Signs Comment: Everyone keeps wondering what is really going on, and I'll tell you, in the words of Andrzej Lobacewski:
Psychopaths are conscious of being different from normal people. That is why the "political system" inspired by their nature is able to conceal this awareness of being different. They wear a personal mask of sanity and know how to create a macrosocial mask of the same dissimulating nature. When we observe the role of ideology in this macrosocial phenomenon, quite conscious of the existence of this specific awareness of the psychopath, we can then understand why ideology is relegated to a tool-like role: something useful in dealing with those other naive people and nations. [...]

Pathocrats know that their real ideology is derived from their deviant natures, and treat the "other" - the masking ideology - with barely concealed contempt. [...]

The main ideology succumbs to symptomatic deformation, in keeping with the characteristic style of this very disease and with what has already been stated about the matter.

The names and official contents are kept, but another, completely different content is insinuated underneath, thus giving rise to the well known double talk phenomenon within which the same names have two meanings: one for initiates, one for everyone else. The latter is derived from the original ideology; the former has a specifically pathocratic meaning, something which is known not only to the pathocrats themselves, but also is learned by those people living under long-term subjection to their rule.

Doubletalk is only one of many symptoms. Others are the specific facility for producing new names which have suggestive effects and are accepted virtually uncritically, in particular outside the immediate scope of such a system's rule. We must thus point out the paramoralistic character and paranoidal qualities frequently contained within these names. The action of paralogisms and paramoralisms in this deformed ideology becomes comprehensible to us based on the information presented in Chapter IV. Anything which threatens pathocratic rule becomes deeply immoral. [...]

This privileged class of deviants feels permanently threatened by the "others", i.e. by the majority of normal people. Neither do the pathocrats entertain any illusions about their personal fate should there be a return to the system of normal man. ...

If the laws of normal man were to be reinstated, they and theirs could be subjected to judgment, including a moralizing interpretation of their psychological deviations; they would be threatened by a loss of freedom and life, not merely a loss of position and privilege. Since they are incapable of this kind of sacrifice, the survival of a system which is the best for them becomes a moral imperative. Such a threat must be battled by means of any and all psychological and political cunning implemented with a lack of scruples with regard to those other "inferior-quality" people that can be shocking in its depravity. ...

Pathocracy survives thanks to the feeling of being threatened by the society of normal people, as well as by other countries wherein various forms of the system of normal man persist. For the rulers, staying on the top is therefore the classic problem of "to be or not to be". ....

Thus, the biological, psychological, moral, and economic destruction of the majority of normal people becomes, for the pathocrats, a "biological" necessity. Many means serve this end, starting with concentration camps and including warfare with an obstinate, well-armed foe who will devastate and debilitate the human power thrown at him, namely the very power jeopardizing pathocrats rule: the sons of normal man sent out to fight for an illusionary "noble cause." Once safely dead, the soldiers will then be decreed heroes to be revered in paeans, useful for raising a new generation faithful to the pathocracy and ever willing to go to their deaths to protect it. ...

Pathocracy has other internal reasons for pursuing expansionism through the use of all means possible. As long as that "other" world governed by the systems of normal man exists, it inducts into the non-pathological majority a certain sense of direction. The non-pathological majority of the country's population will never stop dreaming of the reinstatement of the normal man's system in any possible form. This majority will never stop watching other countries, waiting for the opportune moment; its attention and power must therefore be distracted from this purpose, and the masses must be "educated" and channeled in the direction of imperialist strivings. This goal must be pursued doggedly so that everyone knows what is being fought for and in whose name harsh discipline and poverty must be endured. The latter factor - creating conditions of poverty and hardship - effectively limits the possibility of "subversive" activities on the part of the society of normal people.

The ideology must, of course, furnish a corresponding justification for this alleged right to conquer the world and must therefore be properly elaborated. Expansionism is derived from the very nature of pathocracy, not from ideology, but this fact must be masked by ideology.1 Whenever this phenomenon has been witnessed in history, imperialism was always its most demonstrative quality.
Iran Showdown Tests Power of Israel Lobby
One month after the publication by two of the most influential international relations scholars in the United States of a highly controversial essay on the so-called "Israel Lobby," their thesis that the lobby exercises "unmatched power" in Washington is being tested by rapidly rising tensions with Iran. Far more visibly than any other domestic constituency, the Israel Lobby, defined by Profs. John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt, academic dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, as "the loose coalition of individuals and organizations who actively work to shape U.S. foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction," has pushed the government - both Congress and the George W. Bush administration - toward confrontation with Tehran.

Democracy Be Damned - Republicans Need Another War

George W. Bush is at it again. This time, reports Sy Hersh in The New Yorker, it'll be Iran. (Those of us who guessed it would have been Syria first apparently underestimated his hubris.) And this time he wants to be able to use nukes. In the novel 1984 by George Orwell, the way a seemingly democratic president kept his nation in a continual state of repression was by keeping the nation in a constant state of war. Cynics suggest the lesson wasn't lost on Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon, who both, they say, extended the Vietnam war so it coincidentally ran over election cycles, knowing that a wartime President's party is more likely to be reelected and has more power than a President in peacetime.

Democracy Now Interview: Seymour Hersh: Bush Administration Planning Possible Major Air Attack on Iran

We speak with Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh about his latest article in the New Yorker that the Bush administration has increased clandestine activities inside Iran and intensified planning for a possible major air attack.

Is War With Iran Inevitable?

In the last six months, Americans have been treated to quite a spectacle: famous pundits and politicians hitting the sawdust trail to the mourner's bench to confess, "Had I only known then what I know now, I would never have supported this war in Iraq." Lots of folks are calling for Donald Rumsfeld's head, but thus far, none of the pundits or politicians has forfeited his roost or declared himself unworthy of further public trust. They have all "moved on."

The Human Costs of Bombing Iran

George Bush didn't exactly deny Seymour Hersh's report in The New Yorker that the Administration is considering using tactical nuclear weapons against Iran. Neither did Scott McClellan. Bush called it "wild speculation," and McClellan said the United States would go ahead with "normal military contingency planning." Those are hardly categorical denials.

If ever there was a nation not to drive to extremes, it is Iran

This week's most terrifying remark came from the foreign secretary, Jack Straw. He declared that a nuclear attack on Iran would be "completely nuts" and an assault of any sort "inconceivable". In Straw-speak, "nuts" means he's just heard it is going to happen and "inconceivable" means certain. A measure of the plight of British foreign policy is that such words from the foreign secretary are anything but reassuring. Straw says of Iran that "there is no smoking gun, there is no casus belli". There was no smoking gun in Iraq, only weapons conjured from the fevered imagination of Downing Street and the intelligence chiefs. It is a racing certainty that Alastair Campbell look-alikes are even now cajoling MI6's John Scarlett into proving that Iran is "far closer" to a bomb than anyone thinks.

Don't Attack Iran

Fresh from a resounding victory in Iraq, George Bush swaggered onto the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and boldly and confidentally declared victory. It was a pretty war, it was a clean war, it looked stunning in all of its shock and awe. Wow, never was there such a swift and amazing American victory and it all looked so damn glamorous on CNN! As fake as his codpiece was, so was his "cakewalk" of an invasion. Over 2000 thousand dead soldiers, billions of wasted dollars, thousands of maimed young people, innocent Iraqis dead by the hundreds of thousands, still no consistent electricity or clean water in their country, later, and this swaggering imbecile of a "leaker in chief" has the nerve to be trying to sell all of us on a new war in Iran.

If You Liked the Iraq War, You'll Love the Iran War
If you liked gas at three dollars a gallon, you'll love it at five dollars or more. If you liked fighting 26 million people in Iraq, you'll love fighting 68 million in Iran. If you liked turning Sunni Muslims against us, you'll love turning Sunni and Shiite Muslims against us. If you liked war in the Persian Gulf, you'll love war all over the Middle East. If you thought things were bad now, wait till Iran retaliates against our air strikes by bombing Israel. When Israel strikes back, the whole Middle East will have to get sucked into the war. And then the fun really starts.

War Whore Rice says U.N. must adopt tough Iran resolution
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Thursday the United Nations must consider strong action against Iran, such as a resolution that could lead to sanctions or lay the groundwork for force. Asked what options the U.N. Security Council should consider, Rice said it should look at chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter to force Iran to comply with international obligations over its nuclear plans.

Signs Comment: Now the Bush gang is talking about using force to deal with Iran again. Gosh, we had no idea that was coming! It seems that as with Iraq, the rest of the world is poised to do absolutely nothing to stop them.

To Battle Stations! To Battle Stations!
Led by a familiar clutch of neo-conservative hawks, major right-wing publications are calling on the administration of Pres. George W. Bush to urgently plan for military strikes -- and possibly a wider war -- against Iran in the wake of its announcement this week that it has successfully enriched uranium to a purity necessary to fuel nuclear reactors.

So how close is a showdown over Iran?
The Observer Paul Harris in Washington, Gaby Hinsliff in London and Robert Tait in Tehran.  It would seem, to Middle Eastern eyes scanning the latest headlines online yesterday, yet further evidence of secret plans for the conflict that everyone is now dreading. Britain, it was suggested, had taken part in an American war game that simulated an invasion of Iran, in an apparent mockery of both countries' insistence that they want a diplomatic - not a military - solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis.

Iran's leader will meet Saddam's fate, says Peres
The Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will come to the same end as Saddam Hussein, Shimon Peres predicted at the weekend amid growing Israeli impatience with the international community's failure to curb Tehran's march towards the nuclear club. Israel's elder statesman, who was number two on the victorious Kadima list in last month's parliamentary elections, denounced the hard-line Iranian leader as a representative of Satan, not God. "History," he said, "has known how to ostracise the lunatics and those who brandish swords. Everyone who behaves like that ends the same way."

Signs Comment: Pot, Kettle, Black. Interestingly, if the Iranian leader is to meet the same fate as Saddam as Peres claims, then he can expect to find himself holed up somewhere like Belorussia while some doped up lookalike stands trial on trumped up charges.

Iran: Iraq replayed?

For those who think that Iraq is the worst that can happen in the region, wait till Iran retaliates against possible air strikes by Israel or the U.S. Wait till the Jewish state and America decide in return to launch an unprecedented retaliatory attack, inflicting an unexpected extent of damage upon the entire Middle East. However, some experts expect that the current U.S.-Iran standoff over the Islamic Republic's nuclear program to end with a diplomatic settlement, given the struggle the U.S. Army is facing in post- Iraq war. But, with recently published reports suggesting the opposite, many analysts are warning against an imminent U.S.-Iran war the coming weeks. There will be an attack. According to an editorial on The New Statesman, as long as the madman (Bush) is in the White House, now considering bombing another country in the region, a Third World War is imminent.

Iran promises $50 million for Palestinians

Iran has decided to give the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority $50 million US, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on Sunday. Iranian television reported his statement, made at a conference held in Tehran, a day after Russia also offered to help bail out the Palestinian Authority.

New Worry Rises After Iran Claims Nuclear Steps

Of all the claims that Iran made last week about its nuclear program, a one-sentence assertion by its president has provoked such surprise and concern among international nuclear inspectors they are planning to confront Tehran about it this week. The assertion involves Iran's claim that even while it begins to enrich small amounts of uranium, it is pursuing a far more sophisticated way of making atomic fuel that American officials and inspectors say could speed Iran's path to developing a nuclear weapon.

Iran was not ordered to Stop Enrichment

It's easy to get confused about developments in Iran because the media does everything in its power to obfuscate the facts and then spin the details in way that advances American policy objectives. But, let's be clear; the Security Council did NOT order Iran to stop enriching uranium. It may not even be in their power to do so since enrichment is guaranteed under the NPT (Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty). For the Security Council to forbid Iran to continue with enrichment activities would be tantamount to repealing the treaty itself. They didn't do that. What they did was "request" that Iran suspend enrichment activities so that the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) could further prove that Iran's nuclear programs were entirely for peaceful purposes. Iran, of course, did the only thing they could do; they graciously declined. After all, Iran followed every minute step that the Bush administration took in the long march to war with Iraq, so it is only natural that they would choose to take a different path.

US has been planning "Iran War" since 2003

The United States began planning a full-scale military campaign against Iran that involves missile strikes, a land invasion and a naval operation to establish control over the Strait of Hormuz even before the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, a former U.S. intelligence analyst disclosed.
William Arkin, who served as the U.S. Army's top intelligence mind on West Berlin in the 1970s and accurately predicted U.S. military operations against Iraq, said the plan is known in military circles as TIRANNT, an acronym for "Theater Iran Near Term."

U.S. Program Is Directed at Altering Iran's Politics

As the Bush administration confronts the Tehran government over its suspected nuclear weapons program and accusations that it supports terrorism, a newly created office of Iranian affairs in the State Department is poring over applications for a rapidly expanding program to change the political process inside Iran.
The project, which will spend $7 million in the current fiscal year, would become many times larger next year if Congress approves a broad request for $85 million that the Bush administration has requested for scholarships, exchange programs, radio and television broadcasts and other activities aimed at shaking up Iran's political system. The effort, overseen by Elizabeth Cheney, a deputy assistant secretary of state who is a daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney, has been denounced by Iran's leaders as meddling in their internal affairs.

Iran suicide bombers 'ready to hit Britain'
IRAN has formed battalions of suicide bombers to strike at British and American targets if the nation's nuclear sites are attacked. According to Iranian officials, 40,000 trained suicide bombers are ready for action. The main force, named the Special Unit of Martyr Seekers in the Revolutionary Guards, was first seen last month when members marched in a military parade, dressed in olive-green uniforms with explosive packs around their waists and detonators held high. Dr Hassan Abbasi, head of the Centre for Doctrinal Strategic Studies in the Revolutionary Guards, said in a speech that 29 western targets had been identified: "We are ready to attack American and British sensitive points if they attack Iran's nuclear facilities." He added that some of them were "quite close" to the Iranian border in Iraq. In a tape recording heard by The Sunday Times, Abbasi warned the would-be martyrs to "pay close attention to wily England" and vowed that "Britain's demise is on our agenda".

Key senator bucks Bush, urges US-Iran talks
The United States should hold direct talks with Iran on its nuclear program and go slow on pressing for sanctions, contrary to Bush administration strategy, the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman said on Sunday. Breaking with President George W. Bush's insistence on a multilateral approach through the U.N. Security Council, Sen. Richard Lugar said direct U.S. talks with Iran would be useful as part of a broad dialogue on energy. Lugar, on the ABC television program "This Week," said it was too soon to press hard for sanctions aimed at halting Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program even as the Bush administration prepares to do so at a meeting in Moscow Tuesday.

Ahmadinejad warns Iran is ready to 'cut the hand of any aggressor'

Iran's hard line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned on Tuesday Iran would "cut the hand of any aggressor" and insisted the country's military had to be ready with the most modern technology.
"Today, you are among the world's most powerful armies because you rely on God," Ahmadinejad declared at a parade to commemorate Army Day. "Iran's enemies know your courage, faith and commitment to Islam and the land of Iran has created a powerful army that can powerfully defend the political borders and the integrity of the Iranian nation and cut the hand of any aggressor and place the sign of disgrace on their forehead," Ahmadinejad said.

U.S. senator says no plans to attack Iran: newspaper

A visiting U.S. senator has said that his country is not planning a military strike on Iran and Washington still prefers a diplomatic solution to Tehran's nuclear issue, the Egyptian Gazette daily reported on Tuesday.

U.S. could attack Iran next year - Russian expert

The United States may attack Iran next year if it gains the support of the international community, a senior Russian international security expert said Monday.
"If [the U.S.] ventures a military operation, it will conduct it next year after thorough political, military and propaganda preparations," Alexei Arbatov, head of the International Security Center in Moscow, told RIA Novosti. But he said unilateral American actions, including the invasion of Iraq, had undermined Washington's position on the Iranian issue. "The Americans say Europe and Russia - with its proposal to enrich uranium for Iran - had an opportunity to reach and agreement with Iran. But these attempts have ended in failure, and therefore America will take another path," Arbatov said.

Iran: Bombs That Would Backfire

WHITE HOUSE spokesmen have played down press reports that the Pentagon has accelerated planning to bomb Iran. We would like to believe that the administration is not intent on starting another war, because a conflict with Iran could be even more damaging to our interests than the current struggle in Iraq has been. A brief look at history shows why.

A war of nerves

THE war of words between Washington and Teheran over Iran's modest but growing nuclear programme has reached new and dangerous intensity. Respected investigative journalist Seymour Hersh even claimed the Bush administration was considering the use of tactical nuclear weapons against Iran's underground nuclear facilities.

Ahmadinejad Did Not Say - "Wipe Israel Off The Map"

Let's fill in the Blanks in the Speech of Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad was addressing a conference in Tehran entitled "The World without Zionism", attended by around 3,000 students on Wednesday and the following day, we could find "Israel should be Wiped of the Map" title in nearly all of the news sources around the world. The remarks by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prompted a chorus of international condemnation. Sometimes it seems easier to copy paste some parts of a speech or article and create a noisy atmosphere. Hence, it will be better to analyze all dynamics of this event and try to find out the missing points. At the beginning, it will be helpful to explain the aim of this conference. In 1979, the Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini declared the last Friday of the Muslim month of Ramadan as an international day of struggle for the "liberation" of Jerusalem (in Arabic Al-Qods) and against occupier Zionist Regime. Henceforth, on "Al-Qods Day", Muslims all over the world were to demonstrate against the existence of the state of Israel. Annually, the Iranian regime organizes a big Al-Qods Rally in Tehran and prior to this rally there is always a conference related to the Palestine Problem. "The World without Zionism" conference is also one of these organizations and the speech made by Mr. Ahmedinejad was aimed the liberation of Al-Qods and Palestinians.

Rafsanjani says Gulf countries will not assist U.S. if it attacks Iran

The former Iranian president said on Monday that talk of U.S. contingency planning for a military attack on Iran was overblown because such a move would be too dangerous.
"Reports about plans for an American attack on Iran are incorrect. We are certain that Americans will not attack Iran because the consequences would be too dangerous," former president Hashemi Rafsanjani said in an appearance in the Kuwait parliament.
Rafsanjani also said he was certain that Arab countries in the Persian Gulf would not join the United States. "We are certain that Persian Gulf countries will not help the United States to attack Iran," Rafsanjani, said. Earlier Monday the former leader met with Kuwait's emir, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, who counseled caution.

Russia opposes sanctions on Iran for nuclear issue

Russia is against using sanctions to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said here on Tuesday prior to the opening of the six-party consultations on over the delicate issue.
"We are convinced that neither sanctions nor (the) use of force will lead to the solution of the problem," Kamynin was quoted by the Itar-Tass news agency as saying.

The Disintegration of Iran and the US

Some political activists and opponents of the Islamic Republic of Iran do not hide their fears that the United States may embark on a policy to disintegrate Iran. They suspect that the US intends to separate the oil rich province of Khouzestan from Iran and establish a small government in that region in its drive to control Middle-East oil. But is this fear realistic, or just part of the imagination of some Iranians?

Threat of world war builds, Israel warns
Israel has warned the United Nations that a new "axis of terror" - Iran, Syria and the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority - is sowing the seeds of a new world war. But the Palestinians accuse Israel of an escalating military campaign using indiscriminate force to kill civilians and entrench its occupation. The Israeli and Palestinian envoys traded charges at an open Security Council meeting held on Monday in response to the recent surge in Israeli attacks in Gaza.

Signs Comment: "Sowing the seeds of a new world war"? Iran? Syria? Hardly. Who has illegaly stationed 130,000 troops in a foreign country? Who has been illegally occupying the lands of another people for 50 years? Let's get real here. Iran has never invaded another nation, neither had Syria nor any Palestinian army. If a world war breaks out, as it seems it surely must, then the only groups responsible wil be those currently stoking the fires of religious and ethnic hatred in the Middle East.

British foreign secretary sees signs Iran is responding to pressure

 Iran is showing signs of responding to international pressure on its atomic program, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Wednesday, although he added that he doubts Tehran will meet the UN Security Council's deadline for ceasing uranium enrichment.

Lieberman: US could attack Iran's nukes

The US is probably incapable of completely destroying the Iranian nuclear program, but as a last resort it could attempt to knock out "some of the components" in order to "delay and deter it," Senator Joe Lieberman, the former Democratic vice presidential candidate and a serving member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has told The Jerusalem Post. Speaking at a time of almost daily declarations from Teheran concerning both progress in the nuclear program and hostility to Israel, Lieberman said he knew of no "set war plans" being drawn up by the Bush Administration and, "I don't think anyone's yearning for military action against Iran."

Countdown Over Iran

It's both fascinating and dismaying watching the manufactured 'crisis' over Iran reach new intensity each week. Iran poses no real military threat to anyone, but listening to the Bush Administration or the US media one would think that that Tehran was about to unleash a nuclear holocaust on the world.

Israel: Real Threat To World

Iran's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Mohammad Javad Zarif Tuesday called for respect and support of the international community for the rights of the Palestinian people.
Addressing the audience and the Security Council's president, he said the Israeli decision to halt the transfer of taxes due to the Palestinians is considered to be blackmailing the Palestinian people for exercising their democratic rights, and the rest rictions applied by certain countries regarding the aids to the Palestinian authority amounts to punishment of the Palestinians for exercising their basic rights in choosing their own representatives. In fact, by taking such inadmissible punitive measures against a nation, the principles of democracy and democratic choice of the people are abundantly breached by those who often pretend to preach them, he said.

Bush: 'All Options on the Table' With Iran
President Bush said Tuesday that ''all options are on the table'' to prevent Iran from developing atomic weapons, but said he will continue to focus on the international diplomatic option to persuade Tehran to drop its nuclear ambitions. "We want to solve this issue diplomatically and we're working hard to do so," Bush told reporters in the Rose Garden. Bush also said there should be a unified effort involving countries "who recognize the danger of Iran having a nuclear weapon," and he noted that U.S. officials are working closely nations such as Great Britain, France and Germany on the issue." "We will continue to work diplomatically," he said. As Bush spoke, diplomats from six countries converged in Moscow to map out the next step toward solving the Iranian nuclear standoff. The United States and Britain say that if Iran does not comply with the U.N. Security Council's April 28 deadline to stop uranium enrichment, they will seek a resolution that would make the demand compulsory but Russia and China remain wary of sanctions. Bush said he intends to call on Chinese President Hu Jintao to step up pressure on Iran when the two leaders meet Thursday at the White House. Iran has so far refused to give up uranium enrichment, which the United States and some of its allies suspect is meant to produce weapons. Tehran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. Bush was asked if his administration was planning for the possibility of a nuclear strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. "All options are on the table," he said. But, the president added: "We'll continue to work diplomatically to get this problem solved."

Signs Comment: By now we can understand that Bush is a compulsive liar and the term "all options are on the table" is code for "we are planning an illegal and unjustified attack on Iran". In Bush's reality, war is peace, good is evil and freedom is slavery

Chirac due in Egypt, says Iran with atomic weapons is "unacceptable"
French President Jacques Chirac, due here on a two-day visit, told Egyptian daily Al-Ahram that it was "unacceptable" for Iran to have nuclear weapons, and called for "necessary gestures" from Israel and the Palestinians for "real negotiations" to resume. The Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be high on the agenda when Chirac meets Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday. The Iranian leaders "must understand that, for the international community, the prospect of a militarily nuclearized Iran is unacceptable," Chirac said in an interview.

Signs Comment: Israel continues to constantly threaten Palestine, and some estimates indicate that Israel possesses 200 nuclear warheads. Why does Iran have to disarm weapons that no one can even prove it has, and yet Israel can keep its nukes and threaten death and destruction as it pleases with the USA's backing in the

Prominent U.S. Physicists Send Warning Letter to President Bush
Thirteen of the nation's most prominent physicists have written a letter to President Bush, calling U.S. plans to reportedly use nuclear weapons against Iran "gravely irresponsible" and warning that such action would have "disastrous consequences for the security of the United States and the world."

"New urgency" to curb Iran - US
Russia said on Wednesday it wanted no action against Iran before an April 28 U.N. deadline set for it to halt uranium enrichment, but a top U.S. official said other countries were inching toward sanctions.
Tensions remained high, with oil prices hitting a high above $73, partly driven by fears the dispute could disrupt shipments from the world's fourth-largest oil exporter. "What I heard in the room last night was not agreement on the specifics but to the general notion that Iran has to feel isolation and that there is a cost to what they are doing," UnderSecretary of State Nicholas Burns told reporters. "Now we need to go beyond that and agree on the specifics of what measures we need to put that into operation," he said.

Iranian defense minister dismisses U.S. threat

Iran does not fear U.S. President George W. Bush's threat about a possible nuclear strike on nuclear facilities, Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said in Baku on Thursday.
"The United States has been threatening Iran for 27 straight years and this is no news for us. For this reason we do not fear the threats," Najjar told reporters during a visit to Azerbaijan.

Does Iran's President Want Israel Wiped Off The Map - Does He Deny The Holocaust?

"But now that I'm on Iran, the threat to Iran, of course -- (applause) -- the threat from Iran is, of course, their stated objective to destroy our strong ally Israel. That's a threat, a serious threat. It's a threat to world peace; it's a threat, in essence, to a strong alliance. I made it clear, I'll make it clear again, that we will use military might to protect our ally, Israel, and -- (applause.)" -- George W. Bush, US-President, 2006-03-20 in Cleveland (Ohio) in an off-the-cuff speech (source: But why does Bush speak of Iran's objective to destroy Israel? Does Iran's President wants Israel wiped off the map? To raze Israel to the ground, to batter down, to destroy, to annihilate, to liquidate, to erase Israel, to wipe it off the map - this is what Iran's President demanded - at least this is what we read about or heard of at the end of October 2005. Spreading the news was very effective. This is a declaration of war they said. Obviously government and media were at one with their indignation. It goes around the world. But let's take a closer look at what Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said. It is a merit of the 'New York Times' that they placed the complete speech at our disposal. Here's an excerpt from the publication dated 2005-10-30:

Most Americans Do Not Trust Bush on Iran

Many adults in the United States no longer have confidence in their president to deal with a potential crisis, according to a poll by Bloomberg and the Los Angeles Times. 54 per cent of respondents say they do not trust George W. Bush to make the right decision about whether the country should go to war with Iran or not. After being branded as part of an "axis of evil" by Bush in January 2002, Iran has contended that its nuclear program aims to produce energy, not weapons. 61 per cent of respondents in the U.S. believe the Islamic country will eventually get nuclear weapons. In November 2004, the Iranian government announced a voluntary suspension of its uranium enrichment program following international pressure. In August 2005, Iran resumed uranium conversion activities at the Isfahan facility. In January, Iran removed the international seals from the Natanz site. 48 per cent of American respondents would support taking military action against Iran if it continues to produce material that can be used to develop nuclear weapons, while 40 per cent disagree.

Iranian official's presence in U.S. queried

The Bush administration yesterday was at a loss to explain the rare presence in Washington of an Iranian government official who slipped into the United States under mysterious circumstances, apparently to attend a scholarly conference.
The State Department said that Mohammad Nahavandian, an economics and technology aide to Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, "is not here for meetings with U.S. government officials." However, former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said yesterday Mr. Nahavandian had received "an invitation to participate in a conference in America, being organized by U.S. scholars." "I heard reports that he held official talks in Washington but Iran has denied such reports," he said at a press conference in Kuwait but did not elaborate. Homeland Security Department spokesman Russ Knocke said last night: "We are aware of the case and continue to look thoroughly into it"

Russian Military Will Not Intervene In Iran

Russia's military will not intervene on one side or the other should the current Iran crisis lead to an armed conflict, the chief of the Russian general staff said Wednesday.
"You are asking which side Russia will take. Of course Russia will not, at least I as head of the general staff, suggest the use of force on one side or the other. Just as was the case in Afghanistan," General Yury Baluevsky told reporters, referring to the 2001 US-led intervention to oust the Taliban.

Stop Us Before We Kill Again!

So, if you're wondering whether the U.S. will back off from attacking Iran, or whether corporations will no longer be given the ability to dictate Administration environmental policy, or whether domestic spying on U.S. citizens will cease, or whether Scalia might recuse himself on cases he's already pre-judged -- if you still harbor any or all of those illusions, forget about it.

US to call for freeze on Iran assets and visa curbs

The US is pressing other world powers to consider what it called targeted sanctions against Iran as an April 30 United Nations deadline looms for Tehran over its nuclear program.
World crude oil prices topped $US70 ($95.50) a barrel on Monday, the highest level for nearly eight months, as Iran's pursuit of its nuclear program heightened market fears that Washington might take military action against the oil-producing Islamic republic. But American talk of laying the groundwork for possible force was widely expected to be dismissed overnight, when the UN Security Council's five veto-wielding permanent members and Germany meet. The US, which already has a broad range of sanctions in place against Iran, said on Tuesday that it wanted the Security Council to be ready to take strong diplomatic action, including targeted measures, such as a freeze on assets and visa curbs. "We're kind of sanctioned out at this point. We're down to pistachios and rugs," a US State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack, said.

Brazil follows Iran's nuclear path, but without the fuss
As Iran faces international pressure over developing the raw material for nuclear weapons, Brazil is quietly preparing to open its own uranium-enrichment center, capable of producing exactly the same fuel. Brazil - like Iran - has signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and Brazil's constitution bans the military use of nuclear energy. Also like Iran, Brazil has cloaked key aspects of its nuclear technology in secrecy while insisting the program is for peaceful purposes, claims nuclear weapons experts have debunked. While Brazil is more cooperative than Iran on international inspections, some worry its new enrichment capability - which eventually will create more fuel than is needed for its two nuclear plants - suggests that South America's biggest nation may be rethinking its commitment to nonproliferation. "Brazil is following a path very similar to Iran, but Iran is getting all the attention," said Marshall Eakin, a Brazil expert at Vanderbilt University. "In effect, Brazil is benefiting from Iran's problems."

Signs Comment: Difference between Brazil and Iran? The state of Israel was not unlawfully founded in South America.

US Intel Chief Says Iran Still Years Away From Having Nukes

US intelligence chief John Negroponte said Thursday Iran's resumption of uranium enrichment is "troublesome" but the country is still years away from having enough fissile material to make a nuclear weapon.

US raises threat of 'coalition of the willing' against Iran

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says a 'coalition of the willing' may move ahead on tough measures against Iran for its nuclear programme if the UN Security Council does not.
Rice, speaking at a foreign-policy event in Chicago late Wednesday, said she remains confident that the crisis can be resolved with diplomacy - though not necessarily always via the UN. 'You know that there are states that have been saying that if we don't get meaningful measures inside the Security Council, perhaps a coalition of the willing will think about other financial or political measures that could be taken,' she told the audience.

Experts Warn Against Iran Sanctions

While Washington continues to solicit international support to slap sanctions against a defiant Iranian regime, experts at an international conference in Almaty Thursday suggested that the economic and other embargoes against Tehran may not prove effective.
"We have seen in the past that the economic sanctions against various states have proved to be counter effective," Vyacheslav Kuznetsov, Director of the Institute of Social and Political Research, said at the Fifth Annual Eurasian Media Forum.

Russia will deliver air defense systems to Iran - top general

The chief of the General Staff said Wednesday that Russia would honor its commitments on supplying military equipment to Iran.
"We discussed supplies of military equipment to Iran, including the Tor M1, in the framework of bilateral cooperation, but it does not fall into the category of strategic weapons," Army General Yury Baluyevsky said after talks in Moscow with NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe General James Jones. "And I can assure you it will be delivered under the control of the relevant organizations," he said. At the end of 2005, Russia concluded a $700-million contract on the delivery of 29 Tor M1 air defense systems to Iran.

Russia toughens opposition to UN sanctions on Iran

Hardening its opposition to sanctions against Iran, Russia said on Friday only proof that the Islamic Republic was seeking atom bombs could justify consideration of such measures by the U.N. Security Council.
The council is awaiting a report on April 28 from the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on whether Tehran is meeting its demands for a halt to uranium enrichment and answers to queries about its nuclear program. The United States, Britain and France want the Security Council to weigh sanctions if, as widely expected, IAEA director Mohamed ElBaradei concludes Iran has not met U.N. demands. But Russia made clear that it would not view such non-compliance on its own as justifying punitive measures. "We will only be able to talk about sanctions after we have concrete facts confirming that Iran is not exclusively involved in peaceful nuclear activities," Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said, Itar-Tass news agency reported.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman: I'd Support Iran Attack
Sen. Joseph Lieberman said Tuesday that he would back a U.S. airstrike on Iran's nuclear facilities if diplomatic options fail, becoming the first Democrat to announce his support for such a move. "I think the only justifiable use of military power would be an attempt to deter the development of their nuclear program if we felt there was no other way to do it," the former vice presidential candidate tells the Jerusalem Post.
Lieberman said he uses the word "deter" because it's doubtful that even an extensive air assault could eliminate all of Iran's nuclear facilities, many of which are buried underground. The goal of such an attack, he explained, would be to "delay" Iran's nuclear program, hoping that "by the time they catch up back to where they were, there's been a change in the government. That's the limited objective that I would see."

Signs Comment: "Yay!" for the two party system in the US! "Yay!" for effect oppostion to the ruling party! Ya gotta love American Democracy!

Eminent physicists warn US against nuclear option

Call it a pre-emptive strike. Thirteen high-profile physicists, including five Nobel laureates, have written to President Bush warning him not to use tactical nuclear weapons. To do so would threaten life on this planet says Jorge Hirsch, a solid-state physicist at the University of California, San Diego, and lead author of the letter. "Once the US uses a nuclear weapon again, it will heighten the probability that others will too," he writes.
The letter was prompted by reports earlier this month that the Bush administration had not ruled out using tactical nuclear weapons against nuclear facilities in Iran. "As members of the profession that brought nuclear weapons into existence, we urge you to refrain from such an action," say the physicists. From issue 2548 of New Scientist magazine, 21 April 2006, page 7

Been there, done that: Talk of a U.S. strike on Iran is eerily reminiscent of the run-up to the Iraq war
By Zbigniew Brzezinski, Zbigniew Brzezinski was national security advisor to President Carter from 1977 to 1981. April 23, 2006
IRAN'S ANNOUNCEMENT that it has enriched a minute amount of uranium has unleashed urgent calls for a preventive U.S. airstrike from the same sources that earlier urged war on Iraq. If there is another terrorist attack in the United States, you can bet your bottom dollar that there also will be immediate charges that Iran was responsible in order to generate public hysteria in favor of military action.

Russian split with US on Iran widens

Anxious to be treated as a major world power, Russia now faces a stark cost-benefit dilemma as it weighs consequences of a widening split with the United States over how to confront Iran's nuclear ambition, analysts say. The United States raised the ante last week, signalling that it intends to exact a price if Russia persists in its refusal to jump aboard an accelerating US diplomatic bandwagon for quick and tough international steps to isolate Iran. A top US diplomat, Nicholas Burns, emerged from talks here on Iran with Russia and other UN Security Council powers -- talks in which Russia did not budge in opposing US calls for Iran sanctions -- demanding that Moscow drop lucrative nuclear energy and weapons contracts with Tehran. To hammer the point home, Burns also said the United States now wanted to see "problems" in ex-Soviet republics on the agenda of the Group of Eight (G8) powerful states -- highly sensitive issues for Russia with the potential to seriously tarnish its first-ever G8 chairmanship this year.

A Financial Hit on Iran?

Ahead of this week's U.N. Security Council deadline for Iran to abandon its nuclear activities and an expected report from nuclear watchdog Mohamed ElBaradei, U.S. officials have been mapping a plan to hit the defiant regime. But the attacks will be financial, not military. The U.S. and its European allies will ask the council next month for a resolution that would pave the way for political and economic sanctions. If, as expected, Russia and China threaten a veto or stall, the U.S. intends to work outside the U.N. to isolate Tehran "diplomatically and economically," Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns said last week. "Countries that trade with Iran ... ought to begin to rethink those commercial trade relationships." Among the plan's first targets: Iran's accounts and financial institutions in Europe.

Israel plans to launch satellite to spy on Iran's nuclear program

Israel was launching a satellite Tuesday to spy on Iran's nuclear program, an Israeli defence official said, as Iran's leader persisted with his calls for the Jewish state's destruction.
Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz, meanwhile, said Iran has already funnelled $10 million US to Palestinian militant groups since the start of the year, according to a newspaper report Tuesday. Israel has for years regarded Iran as the primary threat to its survival, disputing Tehran's claims that its nuclear program is peaceful.

U.S. terrorism finance expert arrives to discuss measures against Iran

An official U.S. terrorism finance expert arrives here Tuesday to discuss economic measures against Iran and the Palestinian Hamas government. The official, Stuart Levey, is Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence in the Department of the Treasury. It was reported this week that Washington was planning a "financial assault" on Iran that would include targeting Iranian bank accounts in Europe and Iranian-owned financial institutions. Israel and the U.S. are also cooperating in efforts to prevent the transfer of funds to the Hamas government.

Iran Threatens to Hide Its Nuclear Program
Iran's top nuclear negotiator said Tuesday that Tehran would halt all cooperation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog if the Security Council imposes sanctions against it, and warned it might go further and hide its nuclear program if the West takes any other "harsh measures." The statements by Ali Larijani were Iran's strongest statement of defiance yet before a Friday deadline the Security Council has given the country to stop all uranium enrichment. They came a day after Iran's president boldly predicted the Security Council would not impose sanctions on Tehran and warned he was thinking about dropping out of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. "Military action against Iran will not end our program," Larijani said Tuesday, speaking at a conference on the energy program. "If you take harsh measures, we will hide this program. If you use the language of force, you should not expect us to act transparently."

Signs Comment: The point is that the Bush administration is using the same tactics with Iran that it used on Iraq, and we all see now what really happened before and after the invasion of Iraq. Why should Iran stick to the NPT when the Bush administration and its lapdop "friends" around the world have made it abundantly clear that it doesn't matter what Iran does? If Iran right now said that they have destroyed all their nuclear projects, the world would simply claim they are lying and invade anyway. You cannot rationally discuss such matters with psychopathic types.

War Whore Rice: US still 'on a diplomatic course' on Iran nuclear dispute

Greeted by thousands of Iraq war protestors, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice began a four-day visit to southeast Europe designed to rally diplomatic support for a solution to the Iran nuclear dispute.
"The agenda is to reinforce our diplomatic effort," Rice told a news conference here after talks with Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Tuesday. "The US president does not take any options off the table, but we are on a diplomatic course here, that is the agenda that we are pursuing, that is the agenda the foreign minister and I discussed," she said.

Ahmadinejad: Oil Price Is Lower Than Value

Wading into oil politics for the first time,
Iran's hard-line president said Wednesday that crude oil prices - now at record levels - still are below their true value. In statements likely to rattle world oil markets, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also said developed countries, not producing countries like Iran, are benefiting the most from the current high prices. "The global oil price has not reached its real value yet. The products derived from crude oil are sold at prices dozens of times higher than those charged by oil-producing countries," state-run Tehran radio quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.

THE ROVING EYE What's really happening in Tehran

"Tehran appears hell-bent on defying the international community and pursuing a nuclear program that is of growing concern."
- Sean McCormack, US State Department spokesman. This followed a rare press conference with the international media in Tehran on Monday in which Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad suggested that Tehran might withdraw from the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency and the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and also said "there is no need" for US-Iranian talks on Iraq.

Because of the opacity of Iran's theocratic nationalism, outsiders may be tempted to assume that the official Iranian position is the one expressed last week in Baku, Azerbaijan, by Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najar: "The United States has been threatening Iran for 27 years, and this is not new for us. Therefore, we are never afraid of US threats." President George W Bush and other US administration officials have frequently said that "all options are on the table" with regard to Iran's nuclear program, which the United States suspects is designed to develop nuclear weapons.

Attack Iran, destroy the US constitution

During the 2004 election, President George W Bush famously proclaimed that he didn't have to ask anyone's permission to defend the United States of America. Does that mean he can attack Iran without having to ask Congress? A new resolution being drafted by Democratic Congressman Peter DeFazio may be a vehicle to remind Bush that he can't.

The Confusion of Tongues
Yesterday morning I was watching a streaming English-language news broadcast from Russia. (And I expect that's enough cause right there for the telecommunication giants to seek the end of the Internet as we know it.) The lead story was the press conference of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the main points hit by the Russia Today correspondent were Ahmadinejad's renouncing nuclear weapons as contrary to Islam and his reiteration of Iran's 30-year commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, though Iran reserved the right to revisit its commitment if adherence to the treaty imperiled its sovereignty.

War Pimp Alert: Iran 'greatest threat to Jews'

The Israeli defence minister today said Iran's nuclear programme was the biggest threat to Jews "since Hitler". Speaking before comments from the Iranian president that Israel could not "logically continue to live", Shaul Mofaz urged vigorous diplomatic action over Iran's uranium enrichment activities, which Tehran maintains are purely peaceful.

US will go for other states after Iran and Iraq, says Margolis
Well-known journalist calls Bush's statements on Iran's N-programme 'ridiculous and nonsense'.
LAHORE: Renowned American journalist Eric Margolis has said that the US will "go for" Pakistan and Saudi Arabia after Iraq and Iran.
"We have leaks from reliable sources that after Iraq and Iran, the US plans to go for Pakistan and Saudi Arabia," Margolis said in an interview with IWT NEWS on Saturday. Margolis supported Iran's nuclear weapons programme, saying that it poses no threat to the world community. US President George W Bush's statements on Iran's nuclear programme were "ridiculous and nonsense", he said. "Iran has no nuclear bombs and no capability to bomb a country with these weapons," Margolis said.

Signs Comment: But you see, it's all about finding Osama bin Laden who attacked us on 9/11...remember? And if that means that we have to invade and occupy every country in the world, then so be it. But just remember, we are looking for Bin Laden...once we find him, we will dismantle all military installations and go back home. Ok? You believe us, don't you? I mean, in the fight against terror, it's logical to send 150,000 American troops to invade and occupy a country that had no history of terrorism and posed no threat to anyone, isn't it? Contrary to what you may be thinking, this is not evidence of an alterior motive behind the war on terror.

What's really happening in Tehran
[...] As some Iranian analysts and ministry officials have told Asia Times Online in Tehran off the record, there are reasons to believe the leadership is misreading an avalanche of US signs related to the military and psychological preparation for a possible war. For instance, fundamentalist Christians in the US - who support Zionism for theological reasons - unleashed a ferocious media campaign depicting Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad as the Antichrist who wants to destroy Jerusalem and prevent Jesus' comeback. There are even indications that the Iranian leadership has not taken the Bush administration's explicit desire for regime change seriously. It's as if the leadership is persuading itself Washington would never dare to escalate the situation - especially after such US bodies as the Union of Concerned Scientists and the National Academy of Sciences have stated that a tactical nuclear strike could kill more than a million Iranians. At Monday's press conference, Ahmadinejad, asked about possible military strikes, smiled broadly and dismissed the notion. "Military attacks? On what pretext?" he asked, adding that Iran was strong and could defend itself.

Iran should know about the very real, very serious U.S. plans for military intervention

Does the United States have a war plan for stopping Iran in its pursuit of nuclear weapons? President Bush recently dismissed news reports that his administration has been working on contingency plans for war - particularly talk of the possibility of using tactical nuclear weapons against Tehran - as "wild speculation." Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld chimed in, calling it "fantasyland." He declared to reporters that "it just isn't useful" to talk about contingency planning. But the secretary is wrong. It's important to talk about war planning that's real. And it is for Iran. In early 2003, even as U.S. forces were on the brink of war with Iraq, the Army had already begun conducting an analysis for a full-scale war with Iran. The analysis, called TIRANNT, for "theater Iran near term," was coupled with a mock scenario for a Marine Corps invasion and a simulation of the Iranian missile force. U.S. and British planners conducted a Caspian Sea war game. And Bush directed the U.S. Strategic Command to draw up a global strike war plan for an attack against Iranian weapons of mass destruction. All of this will ultimately feed into a new war plan for ''major combat operations'' against Iran that military sources confirm now exists in draft form.

Iran-Israel Linkage By Bush Seen As Threat

President Bush is risking a backlash that could injure the Jewish community - and his own cause - by repeatedly citing Israel as his top rationale for possible U.S. military conflict with Iran, Jewish leaders and Middle East analysts warned this week. Bush's repeated, sometimes exclusive, focus on Israel could spark public fury against the Jewish state and Jews if U.S. military action is accompanied by skyrocketing gas prices, terrorism at home or fallen G.I.'s who might be seen as dying for Israel, some said. Others feared it could fracture the shaky international coalition Bush is striving to assemble to oppose Iran's nuclear program by framing the threat as primarily to Israel rather than international stability. Ambassador Edward Walker, a former U.S. envoy to Israel who now heads the Middle East Institute in Washington, termed Bush's Israel focus "a terrible idea."

Tehran insider tells of US black ops

A former Iranian ambassador and Islamic Republic insider has provided intriguing details to Asia Times Online about US covert operations inside Iran aimed at destabilizing the country and toppling the regime - or preparing for an American attack.
"The Iranian government knows and is aware of such infiltration. It means that the Iranian government has identified them [the covert operatives] but for some reason does not want to show [this]," said the former diplomat on condition of anonymity. Speaking in Tehran, the ex-Foreign Ministry official said the agents being used by the US "were originally Iranians and not Americans" possibly recruited in the United States or through US embassies in Dubai and Ankara. He also warned that such actions will engender "some reactions".

Last-ditch talks between Iran and UN nuclear agency

The head of Iran's nuclear agency, Vice President Gholam Reza Aghazadeh, was to hold last-ditch talks with the UN nuclear watchdog, two days before a UN deadline for Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment.
However hardline Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reiterated in Tehran earlier Wednesday that Iran would ignore any UN Security Council demands to halt its disputed nuclear program. "We won't back down one iota on our lawful and inalienable rights," the president was quoted as saying by the official news agency IRNA.

Iran Marks 1980 US Debacle, Warns Washington It Risks Repeat

Thousands of religious hardliners chanting "Death to America" gathered in Iran's central desert on Tuesday to celebrate a failed US hostage rescue mission 26 years ago. The anniversary of the US military debacle came amid a mounting war of words with Washington, reported to be mulling the use of force to rein in the Islamic republic's disputed nuclear programme.

Russian Missile exports to Iran alarm US

Washington has asked Moscow to reconsider selling Iran anti-aircraft missiles as the crisis over its nuclear programme continues. Russia plans to sell Tehran 29 TOR M1 mobile surface-to-air missile defence systems in a deal said to be worth about US $700 million (£392m). "This is not time for business as usual with the Iranian government," a top US state department official said. The US also urged other states like China to review defence sales to Iran.

Russian Rocket Carries Israeli Satellite to Spy on Iran

A Russian booster rocket has been launched from the Svobodny cosmodrome carrying an Israeli Eros B satellite. The Israeli military say it will be used to spy on Iran. The Eros B satellite is designed to spot objects on the ground as small as 70 centimeters across, and will be used to help Israel gather information on Iran's nuclear program and its long-range missiles, which are capable of striking Israel, Ha'aretz newspaper wrote. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said on Tuesday that Israel would not "turn a blind eye" to the Iranian threat.

Israel: Iran now has missiles that put Europe within firing range
Iran has received a first batch of BM-25 surface-to-surface missiles that put some central European countries within firing range, Israel's military intelligence chief was quoted as saying Thursday. The missiles, purchased from North Korea, have a range of 2,500 kilometres and are capable of carrying nuclear warheads, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

Signs Comment: From the same intelligence services that brought you Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, we are now hearing that Iran can attack Europe. Of course, these "sources" can't be identified because then one day, much later, comeone might actually hold them accountable for their lies. Well, not really. Imagine what would have to change in the world for the war criminals in Israel and the US to be held accountable for their lies....

Iran nuclear standoff looms large as NATO ministers meet in Bulgaria

Iran's nuclear standoff with the West is expected to dominate talks Thursday between foreign ministers from NATO and European Union countries on the eve of a UN deadline for Tehran to halt uranium enrichment.
The Iran question is not on NATO's official agenda and the alliance's spokesman, James Appathurai, stressed "NATO does not have a formal role to play" in the debate. However the issue will be discussed at an informal dinner bringing together NATO and EU countries on the sidelines of the regular spring gathering of NATO foreign ministers. Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay will take part in the meeting.

Iran has right to develop civil nuclear industry: Putin

Iran has the right to develop its civil nuclear technologies and industry, Russia's President Vladimir Putin said at a joint press conference in the Siberian city of Tomsk on Thursday.

Iran's oil stock exchange, next week

Oil Minister Kazem Vaziri Hamaneh said on Wednesday that the establishment of Oil Stock Exchange is in its final stage and the bourse will be launched in Iran in the next week.
He told reporters, upon arrival from Qatar where he attended the 10th General Assembly of International Energy Agency and consultations with OPEC member states, that registration of the Oil Stock Exchange is underway and the entity will operate after being approved by by Council of Stock Exchange. He rejected a statement attributed to him saying that Oil Stock Exchange will bring to the ground the US economy and said, "I don't know who has speculated that I've not talked about US economy." Asked about conference on energy in Doha, he said that more than 60 countries and 30 oil companies and consultants took part in the conference.

Russia walking fine line in Iran nuclear dispute

Asian giant trying not to anger U.S., maintain business tie to neighbor
Russia is standing on a small and shrinking patch of middle ground as it tries to protect its huge business relationship with Iran while seeking a diplomatic resolution for U.S. and European concerns that Iran has a secret nuclear-weapons program. Russia opposes the spread of nuclear weapons, but it's building Iran its first nuclear-power plant and this year plans to deliver 29 short-range antiaircraft missiles to the Iranian government, all over U.S. objections. The Kremlin sees no harm in its delicate and, some say, dangerous position of cooperating with Iran on civilian nuclear energy and supplying it with defensive weapons. But tougher choices face Russia if no negotiated breakthrough is found to ease concerns that an increasingly defiant Iran is trying to acquire nuclear weapons under cover of its nuclear energy program.

Russia and China warn UN not to antagonise Iran

Russia and China on Thursday warned against escalating the dispute over Iran's nuclear programme. The call came on the eve of an eagerly awaited report on whether the country has met United Nations demands.

Chavez seeks to peg oil at $50 a barrel
Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez is poised to launch a bid to transform the global politics of oil by seeking a deal with consumer countries which would lock in a price of $50 a barrel. A long-term agreement at that price could allow Venezuela to count its huge deposits of heavy crude as part of its official reserves, which Caracas says would give it more oil than Saudi Arabia. "We have the largest oil reserves in the world, we have oil for 200 years." Mr Chávez told the BBC's Newsnight programme in an interview to be broadcast tonight. "$50 a barrel - that's a fair price, not a high price."

Venezuela takes back oil fields

Venezuela has taken control of two oil fields operated by French firm Total and Italy's Eni.

British Channel 4 paints President Chavez as a Dictator -- Hugo to go?

A special report by Jonathan Rugman on Venezuela's extraordinary President Chavez -- friend of the poor, enemy of the gringo. But is he coming off the rails? Broadcast 03/27/06 Channel 4 UK

Venezuela in Washington's Sights

Since early 2006, US officials have increased their verbal attacks against Venezuela. US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld compared President Hugo Chavez to Hitler in an insult that is not an isolated action and which was made following Pat Robertson's calls to assassinate the Venezuelan President. In the face of the left-oriented shift of Latin America's politics, the Bush administration seems to be determined to block the re-election of the Bolivarian president. It looks like the design of the FTAA, the dream of the White House, will only be a reality over the ashes of a Bolivarian counter-model that they need to destroy.

Chavez threatens to kick out US ambassador

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez on Sunday threatened to expel the US ambassador after accusing him of provoking tensions in a warning that will further strain diplomatic ties.
The threat came two days after pro-Chavez demonstrators lobbed eggs, fruit and vegetables at the ambassador's car and the State Department warned Venezuela it could face consequences if it did not protect the US envoy. Chavez, an ally of Cuba who often charges Washington with trying to topple him, said Ambassador William Brownfield had stirred up Friday's protest and warned he would declare him persona non grata if he provoked more incidents. "Start packing your bags Mister, if you keep on provoking us, start packing your bags, because I'll kick you out of here," Chavez said on his regular television program. "If Washington takes any measure against Venezuela because of your provocations, you will be responsible and you will have to leave here, we'll declare you persona non grata in Venezuela," he said.

Rice moves to block Chavez power play

Condoleezza Rice, the American Secretary of State, is heading a concerted, but little-publicised, diplomatic effort by Washington to thwart the ambitions of Hugo Chavez, the firebrand Venezuelan President, to create and lead an anti-American axis in Latin America. Faced by a resurgence of Left-wing populism in the Hispanic world, the Bush administration has decided to try "to do business" even with its harshest critics, if it can block the regional power play by Mr Chavez, backed by his friend Fidel Castro, the Cuban dictator.

The Danger of Hugo Chávez's Successful Socialism

When the hated despots of nations like Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan loot their countries' treasuries, transfer their oil wealth to personal Swiss bank accounts and use the rest to finance (in the House of Saud's case) terrorist extremists, American politicians praise them as trusted friends and allies. But when a democratically elected populist president uses Venezuela's oil profits to lift poor people out of poverty, they accuse him of pandering.

US ambassador to Venezuela agrees to report activity plans

U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela William Brownfield has agreed to inform the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry of his public activity plans in Venezuela after experiencing repeated harassment here, a government official said on Sunday.

Another Raw Diehl: The Washington Post's Chief Anti-Chavez Cheerleader Is Primed for Elections
Axis of Logic
Anyone looking to keep up to date with the current talking points for the Venezuelan opposition need only follow the writings of Jackson Diehl in the Washington Post. As deputy editorial page editor, Diehl drafts the un-bylined editorials about President Hugo Chavez.
When Diehl writes a particularly unsubstantiated column, the Post publishes his work on the right-hand side of the opinion page, effectively distancing his rants from the official opinion of the paper.

Bolivia, Uruguay and Paraguay sign natural gas pipeline accord
The presidents of Bolivia, Uruguay and Paraguay agreed on Wednesday to study a project for a natural gas pipeline linking the three South American nations, according to reports from Asuncion.
The initiative was proposed by Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez at a one-day energy summit among the four nations in the Paraguayan capital Asuncion, where he joined Evo Morales of Bolivia, Tabare Vazquez of Uruguay and Nicanor Duarte of Paraguay to discuss energy cooperation.

Venezuelan, Uruguayan leaders call for reform of Mercosur

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his Uruguayan counterpart Tabare Vazquez on Wednesday stressed the necessity of reforming the Common Market of the South (Mercosur), said reports from Paraguay's capital Asuncion.
Chavez said that Mercosur need reform to ensure its continued function.

The U.S. Now Planning A Fourth Attempt To Oust Hugo Chavez
This essay has a duel purpose. I began it initially to explain how sophisticated and effective the dominant corporate media is in programming the public mind to believe whatever message they deliver regardless of whether it's true which it rarely is. I chose the title Reeducation 101 - Defogging and Reversing the Corporate Media's Programming of the Public Mind which I'm now using as the heading of my introductory section. Along with that discussion, I then planned a detailed case study example of how they're doing it by demonizing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Frias with a building and resonating drumbeat of invective in advance of the US government's fourth attempt to oust him. That discussion follows my introductory section.


Does any reader of online progressive web sites still watch, listen to or read anything from the corporate media? If so, how do you stand it without having a good supply of stomach soothers and strong headache relief handy. I thought most everyone with enough smarts and common sense understood that this collective institutional juggernaut's mission is to sedate and seduce us - a sort of one, two punch. They mostly do it with diverting and distracting entertainment. Is that what it's called? You 'coulda fooled me with what's on all my 300 + cable channels I don't watch except when I go to bed and need something mind numbing to make me sleepy. The only reason I have them all is I live in a building that subscribes to the cable service, and everyone gets them, like it or not.

Chavez says US warships threaten Venezuela, Cuba
President Hugo Chavez, who accuses Washington of planning to invade Venezuela, said on Tuesday recent deployment of U.S. warships in the Caribbean Sea threatened his country and its ally Cuba.
Four U.S. warships, including an aircraft carrier, and 6,500 sailors, are in a two-month deployment in the Caribbean Sea dubbed "Partnership of the Americas" by the U.S. Navy. "They are doing maneuvers right here," Chavez told a student meeting in the country's west. "This is a threat, not just against us, against Venezuela, against Cuba." Chavez has repeatedly accused the United States of trying to oust him. U.S. officials say the self-styled socialist revolutionary and friend of Cuban President Fidel Castro threatens regional stability. Chavez, who has created a civilian reserve to resist the assault he says Washington is planning, has threatened to repel U.S. forces with arrows coated with poison. The United States, a leading buyer of oil from Venezuela, the world's No. 5 exporter, has dismissed his invasion talk as a ridiculous invention aimed at stirring up his supporters.

Venezuela blasts US decision not to extradite bombing suspects

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Ali Rodriguez issued a statement on Tuesday criticizing the United States for not deporting two Venezuelans linked to 2003 bomb attacks on the Colombian and Spanish embassies in Caracas.
The decision not to extradite Jose Antonio Colina and German Varela, who were former Venezuelan national guard officers, showed that Washington believed "there is good terrorism and bad terrorism", Rodriguez said in the statement. On April 12, a U.S. court declined to extradite Colina and Varela, currently held at a U.S. immigration center in Houston, in the U.S. state of Texas, saying that they might be persecuted or tortured. Rodriguez said that the torture allegations were a "pretext", noting that there were no cases of torture under President Hugo Chavez's seven-year rule.

Chavez Begins Training Civilian Militia

President Hugo Chavez constantly warns Venezuelans a U.S. invasion is imminent.
Now he's begun training a civilian militia as well as the Venezuelan army to resist in the only way possible against a much better-equipped force: by taking to the hills and fighting a guerrilla war.  Supporters of the president, a former paratroop commander, are increasingly taking up his call. Chavez wants 1 million armed men and women in the army reserve, and 150,000 have already joined, surpassing the regular military's force of 100,000. Now Venezuelans are also organizing neighborhood-based militia units for Chavez's Territorial Guard. Critics of Chavez say the real goal of the mobilization is to create the means to suppress internal dissent and defend Chavez's presidency at all costs. Thousands of Territorial Guard volunteers - housewives, students, construction workers - are undergoing training, earning $7.45 per session. "'We're going to be a country of soldiers," declares Roberto Salazar, an unemployed 49-year-old, after scrambling under barbed wire, wading through a mud trench and skirting burning tires with other volunteers.

Venezuela announces exit from Andean trade bloc
Venezuelan Minister of Light Industry and Trade Maria Cristina Iglesias announced on Sunday that her country had decided to withdraw from the Community of Andean Nations (CAN).
The pullout would be "a long process" of about five years, she said, but adding that Venezuela's relationship with other CAN members -- Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia -- would remain unchanged.

Fidel Ordered Chávez's 'Rescue'
In the book "Fidel Castro, a two-voiced biography," published by the Debate Publishing House, the Cuban president told Ignacio Ramonet information not previously released about the events of April 2002 in Venezuela. Castro states that he phoned Miraflores Palace before Chávez surrendered and told him: "Don't kill yourself, Hugo. Don't do like Allende, who was a man alone. You have most of the Army on your side. Don't quit, don't resign." Later, Fidel directed Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque, to fly to Caracas in one of two planes to pick up Chávez and fly him to safety. Castro contacted "a general who sided with [Chávez]" to tell him that the world knew the president had not resigned and to ask the general to send troops to rescue the president.

U.S. Military Secrets for Sale at Afghan Bazaar
No more than 200 yards from the main gate of the sprawling U.S. base here, stolen computer drives containing classified military assessments of enemy targets, names of corrupt Afghan officials and descriptions of American defenses are on sale in the local bazaar.
Shop owners at the bazaar say Afghan cleaners, garbage collectors and other workers from the base arrive each day offering purloined goods, including knives, watches, refrigerators, packets of Viagra and flash memory drives taken from military laptops. The drives, smaller than a pack of chewing gum, are sold as used equipment. The thefts of computer drives have the potential to expose military secrets as well as Social Security numbers and other identifying information of military personnel.

Six children killed in rocket attack on Afghan school
A rocket slammed into a primary school in eastern Afghanistan, killing six children and wounding 14 others.
Two rockets were fired into Asadabad, the capital city of Kunar provice, and one hit a school in a mosque, killing six students aged between seven and 10 years, provincial deputy police chief Mohammad Hassan Farahi told AFP.

Taliban In Control Of Much Of Afghanistan

While the Bush administration is on the defensive for its conduct of the war in Iraq, the real setback in the U.S. war effort is coming in Afghanistan where the Taliban is alive, well and thriving throughout the countryside and even in much of neighboring Pakistan, according to an exclusive report in Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin.

The U.S. War in Afghanistan

As hundreds of millions of people in Central Asia and the Middle East watch their oil and natural gas being extracted and transported for the profit of Western companies, the prospects for a massive, violent backlash against the U.S. and its client regimes are likely to grow. As horrific as the September 11 attacks were, they may only be the beginning.

16 Afghan civilians killed or wounded by U.S. troops

More than 16 Afghan civilians have been reported killed or wounded this week by U.S. soldiers as troops battled an outbreak of insurgent activity in warmer spring weather, according to Afghan officials.

Japanese Nuclear Plant Starts Tests
Japan's first plant to extract plutonium and uranium from spent nuclear fuel started test runs Friday in hopes of providing much-needed energy despite protests from residents and environmentalists.
The 17-month test is expected to lead to full-fledged production next year in the northern village of Rokkasho, providing a new form of energy to one of the world's biggest oil importers.

Pacifist Japan To Rejoin US-Thai War Games
Officially pacifist Japan will again take part in the largest US war games in Asia, officials said Thursday. Indonesia and Singapore will also join the annual exercises, set to run in Thailand from May 15-26, which are to focus largely on training for multinational peacekeeping operations, Thai and US officials said.

Australia And China Poised To Sign Uranium Deal

China is poised to sign a safeguards agreement paving the way for uranium exports from Australia, Premier Wen Jiabao said Sunday as Canberra insisted it was not granting the Asian powerhouse special privileges.
Wen, in Perth on the first leg of a four-day tour of Australia, confirmed the two nations would sign the agreement in Canberra on Monday -- the first step in helping energy-hungry China satisfy the needs of its rapidly expanding nuclear power industry.

China offers aid package to Pacific Islands
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao announced a new package of aid to Pacific countries as he sought to deepen China's influence over the island nations and contain Taiwan's diplomatic clout.
Wen offered new loans and aid and promised that the world's most populous country was committed to long-term engagement with some of the world's smallest and least populated nations. On the first-ever visit by a Chinese premier to the Pacific Islands, Wen told island leaders and ministers at the opening of an economic and development conference that China was in the region to stay.

Why the Chinese love Seattle

It is no coincidence that Chinese President Hu Jintao is to make Seattle the maiden stop on his first visit to the United States as president. Every Chinese leader since Deng Xiaoping has made it a point to spend some time in that pleasant city of half a million people in the contiguous United States' northwestern corner. Deng toured the famous Boeing airplane-assembly plant during his stopover in 1979. Former president Jiang Zemin added a folksy touch by paying a call on the family of a "typical" Boeing worker in their home. Hu, by contrast, was due to dine on Tuesday at the lakeside mansion of Microsoft founder and chairman Bill Gates. He was to be the guest of honor at a dinner at the Gates mansion, though officially hosted by Washington state Governor Christine Gregoire. Local corporations are paying US$20,000 per seat to attend the dinner.

Greeting Hu with a 21-Gun "Salute"

On Tuesday April 18, Chinese President Hu Jintao landed in the United States and, after a tour of a Boeing plant, made his official way, with all due pomp and ceremony, to the expectable "state banquet" in Washington… no, not at the White House but at the Washington State home of Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates. In fact, the Chinese leader came to Seattle, Washington, ready to toss money at Microsoft goodies and Boeing jets in an atmosphere as celebratory as money can make things. Thursday, Hu will arrive in the "other" Washington in a less celebratory mood -- at a time when Chinese relations with the Bush administration are in a state of heightening tension and likely to get worse. He will arrive for a… Well, what is it? The Chinese insist that Hu is coming on an official "state visit" and point to the traditional presidential greeting on the White House lawn and the 21-gun salute for a state leader as evidence of that. The White House, which is offering neither a state dinner, nor a cabinet meeting for the Chinese president to attend but a simple working lunch, begs to differ. What's happening is only a visit-type visit, nothing more. ("'It's an official visit, it's a visit, is the way I would describe it,' said White House spokesman Scott McClellan. We have ‘one visit, different interpretations.'") At the micro-level of protocol, this catches much about our East Asian moment.

Containing China
Slowly but surely, the grand strategy of the Bush administration is being revealed. It is not aimed primarily at the defeat of global terrorism, the incapacitation of rogue states, or the spread of democracy in the Middle East. These may dominate the rhetorical arena and be the focus of immediate concern, but they do not govern key decisions regarding the allocation of long-term military resources. The truly commanding objective -- the underlying basis for budgets and troop deployments -- is the containment of China. This objective governed White House planning during the administration's first seven months in office, only to be set aside by the perceived obligation to highlight anti-terrorism after 9/11; but now, despite Bush's preoccupation with Iraq and Iran, the White House is also reemphasizing its paramount focus on China, risking a new Asian arms race with potentially catastrophic consequences.

America meets the new superpower

The visit of President Hu to Washington underlines the inevitable loss of America's economic supremacy to China When President Hu Jintao of China shakes hands with President George Bush in Washington tomorrow and gives one of his fixed grins for photographers, it will not be just another meeting between the leader of a large developing country and the chief executive of the richest nation on earth. China is rising fast and is expected to eclipse the United States economically in the future - its gross domestic product is tipped to overtake that of America by 2045.  While Mr Bush has only given Mr Hu an hour of his time for a state lunch, the global balance of power is changing and in future meetings, the Chinese will set the timetable. The rise of China is posing awkward questions for the US, along with the realisation that its days as the world's economic superpower are numbered.

Hu expects stronger relations with US after summit

China's President Hu Jintao predicted stronger relations with the United States following a summit on Thursday with US leader George W. Bush, despite the lack of clear progress on major international problems and trade tensions between the powers.

China heckler at White House prompts Bush apology

A heckler from the Falun Gong spiritual movement, who entered White House grounds as a reporter, interrupted a formal arrival ceremony for Chinese President Hu Jintao on Thursday, prompting President George W. Bush to apologize to his guest.
After being welcomed by Bush, the Chinese president was just beginning his response when a woman, who had been allowed into the press section, started shouting. She was escorted away by a uniformed U.S. guard. "President Hu, your days are numbered. President Bush, make him stop persecuting Falun Gong," the woman yelled. U.S. officials later identified her as Wang Wenyi, 47, a reporter with The Epoch Times, an English-language publication strongly supportive of the meditation movement that is banned in China.

Bush, Hu show little progress in narrowing differences

US President George Bush and China's Hu Jintao pledged to boost economic and diplomatic cooperation but showed little progress in healing rifts dividing the two powers.
The two met for an hour and had lunch in a delicately choreographed summit marred by a noisy Chinese heckler whose protest on the White House lawn prompted an apology from Bush. The leaders of the world's superpower and its budding Asian rival agreed on the need to ease trade tensions and work together to keep the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea in check.

US looks to increase Palestinian humanitarian aid

The United States wants to increase humanitarian assistance to Palestinians and help them control an outbreak of bird flu even though it will not give aid to a Hamas-led government, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Tuesday.
Rice is close to concluding a review of U.S. aid to Palestinians as she seeks to balance efforts to prevent suffering among Palestinians while avoiding any U.S. dealings with Hamas, which Washington considers a terrorist group despite having won a parliamentary election in January.

US running out of patience over North Korea: envoy
The United States is losing patience at North Korea's boycott of six-party talks aimed at ending its nuclear weapons ambitions, US ambassador to Seoul Alexander Vershbow said. He urged the Stalinist North to revive the nuclear talks which have been stalled for five months. "Everyone in Washington would like to reach a negotiated solution, but everyone in Washington is also running out of patience," Vershbow said in a message on a website run by the embassy.

Poland Set For Talks On Hosting US Missile Defence Site
 Washington has proposed holding detailed talks with Warsaw on locating part of a US anti-missile defence system on Polish soil, Poland's deputy foreign minister Witold Waszczykowski said Friday.
"They asked us officially if we were still interested in discussing the issue. Of course we said 'yes' and we are awaiting details," Waszczykowski was quoted as saying by Poland's PAP news agency. "If Poland is chosen as a partner in these discussions, they could begin in July," he added.

Russia no 'junior partner' for US: Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev, the ex-Soviet leader credited with a crucial role in ending the Cold War, has lamented rising tension in US-Russian relations but made clear Moscow would not be consigned by Washington to the role of "junior partner" on the world stage.
In an article published in the government daily Rossyskaya Gazeta, Gorbachev said there had of late been "several worrying trends in relations between the United States and Russia" on topics ranging from Middle East security to Russian democracy and influence in former Soviet republics.

Russia, US slipping into familiar 'chill'?

Call it cold war II, the sequel. An intensifying shouting match between the US and Russia has stirred fears that the two former adversaries could be drifting back to a familiar ideologically charged rivalry.

Russia says seminar in U.S. "urged new terrorist attacks"

The Foreign Ministry summoned the U.S. ambassador in Moscow Tuesday to hand him a note of protest against a seminar in Washington which it said called for new terrorist attacks in Russia.
"The organization of such events in the United States contradicts the country's international obligations in the sphere of counter-terrorism," the ministry said. A seminar entitled, Sadullaev's Caucasian Front: Prospects for the Next Nalchik, took place in Washington on April 14 under the aegis of Jamestown Foundation, an American non-governmental organization. The Russian Foreign Ministry said the floor had been given to speakers who called for new terrorist acts in Russia. "Such concessions on the part of Washington to Chechen militants and separatists also run counter to the spirit of partner-based bilateral anti-terrorist cooperation, and damage bilateral relations," the Russian ministry said. In October 2005, at least 150 militants attacked administrative buildings in the city of Nalchik, the capital of the North Caucasus republic of Kabardino-Balkaria. Russian officials say that during two days of fighting, 35 law-enforcement officers and 12 civilians were killed. A total of 92 militants were killed and dozens captured.

U.S. Backs Israel's Defense, Urges Caution
Israel has a right to defend itself but should consider the effect on peace prospects as it weighs a response to a deadly suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, the State Department said Tuesday. The mixed message, which is virtually identical to past statements by the Bush administration after terror attacks on Israel, was expressed by department spokesman Sean McCormack. It reflects a long-standing position by President Bush that the Israeli government is entitled to use retaliatory force in defense of the Israeli people.

Signs Comment: Unfortunately, everything Israel does is viewed by the Bush administration as "defense".

US plans to open three military bases in Turkey
The United States will soon come up with a draft on creation of three military bases in Turkey, which will acquire the same legal status as the US-Turkish base Ingirlik dating the Cold War era, Turkish daily Gumhuriet said. Two locations have been already set apart in the seaports of Iskenderun at the Mediterranean and Urla at the Aegean Sea. The third base will probably be situated in the seaport of Mordogan, near Izmir. As it is the case with Ingirlik, the bases must include Turkish representatives. All issues linked to military facilities will be resolved with the local authorities.

Trouble splitting the bill
The US and Japan rarely waste an opportunity to remind the world that their military alliance is the most important in the Asian-Pacific area. But when it comes to hammering out details of the biggest reorganisation of US forces in Japan since the second world war, Tokyo and Washington are discovering, to their embarrassment, that money speaks as loudly as the best of diplomatic intentions. That the world's two biggest economic powers are squabbling over who should pay the lion's share for removing thousands of marines from Japan and sending them back to the US is richly ironic, but as the past few days have illustrated, there is far more at stake than the bottom line.

Kyrgyzstan threatens to close U.S. airbase

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev said on Wednesday he may close a U.S. military base in his country if Washington does not agree to a new contract by June 1.

US embassy tells diplomats' families to leave Nepal as violence goes on
The US embassy ordered the families of its diplomats to leave crisis-hit Nepal as opposition leaders planned a huge rally after nearly three weeks of violent protests against the king.
The royal government imposed a fresh daytime curfew but clashes continued on the outskirts of the capital Kathmandu Monday and six people died in an attack by Maoist rebels in the country's northeast. Fifteen protesters were injured when police fired teargas and rubber bullets, and used batons against a group of some 2,000 protesters on the northeastern edge of the capital, a doctor said.

War Whore Rice: US seals deal on military bases in Bulgaria
The United States signed an agreement on Friday to establish three military bases in Bulgaria as it shifts troops from old Cold War positions to smaller installations closer to the Middle East and Africa.
Under the deal, the U.S. will deploy 2,500 soldiers on short rotations to Bulgaria as it draws down tens of thousands of troops from Cold War bases in Europe and Asia.

Italy's new leader: U.S. will still be a friend

Incoming Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi offered assurances Thursday that U.S.-Italian ties would remain strong, but he emphasized that he is an advocate of European integration and opposes the war in Iraq.
In his first interview with a U.S. newspaper since his victory over Silvio Berlusconi in elections this month, Prodi, 66, discussed issues ranging from what he called his "friendship" with President Bush to the war on terror to domestic priorities, including better coordination with the rest of Europe.

Musharraf insists: I'm not George Bush's poodle
General Pervez Musharraf, facing a surge of anti-American sentiment, yesterday warned that covert US air strikes against al-Qaida inside Pakistan were an infringement of national sovereignty. Admitting that his popularity was waning, the Pakistani president insisted he was "not a poodle" of George Bush and rejected accusations he was running a military dictatorship. Speaking to the Guardian at Army House in Rawalpindi weeks after a tense visit by the US president that brought a torrent of domestic criticism, Gen Musharraf insisted he was his own man.

Signs Comment: We beg to differ with the good general. It is well known that the CIA armed Islamic "terrorists" in Afghanistan through Pakistan's ISI back in the days of the good old Evil Commie Soviet Empire. And it doesn't end there: Pakistan and the ISI played a very interesting role in 9/11! Click here for more.

U.S. Domestic Policy And Creeping Totalitarianism 4/06

High Court Declines to Take Up 'Dirty Bomber' Case
The Supreme Court decided Monday against hearing the celebrated case of Jose Padilla, the supposed "dirty bomber," but only because the Bush administration had freed him from military custody. By a 6-3 vote, the justices dismissed an appeal filed on Padilla's behalf because his case raised only a "hypothetical" claim about unchecked presidential power.

Signs Comment: And here we see the effects of Bush's two stolen elections and his stacking of the Supreme Court. He can now rule as he wishes.

Justices Decline Terror Case of a U.S. Citizen
Jose Padilla, the American citizen held for more than three years in military custody as an enemy combatant, fell one vote short on Monday of persuading the Supreme Court to take his case. Four votes are necessary for the court to take a case, and Mr. Padilla's appeal received only three. The result was to leave standing a decision by the federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., that endorsed the government's power to seize a citizen on United States soil and keep him in open-ended detention. Nonetheless, the outcome was not the unalloyed victory for the Bush administration that it might have appeared to be.

Signs Comment: Sure it was. The Supreme Court is dancing around and putting on a good show while the Bush gang continues to play games with Americans' lives. Think about it: the Supreme Court "endorsed the government's power to seize a citizen on United States soil and keep him in open-ended detention". If that isn't fascism, what is?! It's also nice to see that, to protect our liberties from those "evil terrorists", Bush and his gang are destroying those same freedoms. Alas, the "terrorists" have won and Bush has failed. Isn't that a good reason to impeach the whole White House gang?

N.Y. Sen. Clinton says immigration bill would make her a criminal
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton charged Wednesday that a House GOP immigration bill would make her and her Senate aides criminals, and warned of a "ticking time bomb" lurking in the U.S. economy.
Clinton's latest comments on the immigration debate in Congress follow earlier remarks in which she said the bill, written by Reps. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., and Peter King, R-N.Y., would probably criminalize "even Jesus himself."
Speaking to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, she claimed her work on behalf of New York constituents would run afoul of the House bill setting penalties for anyone who knowingly assists or encourages illegal immigrants to remain here.

Document fraud prompts U.S. big cities to take action

The growing problem of fraud involving counterfeit identification documents and immigration prompted 10 U.S. cities to take urgent action to curb the scourge, federal officials said on Wednesday.

USA won't pursue seat on U.N. Human Rights Council
The United States decided to forgo a seat on the new U.N. Human Rights Council this year rather than risk a losing battle for a panel it considers deeply flawed.
But 42 countries announced their candidacy, including Cuba and Iran. The United States was alone among the five veto-wielding members of the U.N. Security Council to avoid the 47-nation human rights body. Russia, China, Britain and France all applied for a seat.

US Senate achieves breakthrough on immigration legislation

The US Senate reached a breakthrough agreement on legislation that would grant legal residency status to millions of undocumented residents in the United States. The 11th-hour legislation would allow many undocumented residents to remain in the United States, but would boot out hundreds of thousands of others.

Are Robots The Answer To Immigration?
Can robots do the dirty work most Americans don't want to do and meet some of the low-wage labor shortage facing the United States? Or better still, could robotic technology be part of the solution to the immigration conundrum that is facing the nation?
For some companies, the answer is a perhaps maybe. For accomplishing basic tasks such as household cleaning and keeping an eye on the kids and the elderly, technology may indeed provide a partial answer to the many problems that come with domestic service, at least at first blush.

Supreme Court Judges Bush - NOT!
The Supreme Court is now deliberating on the most important case in the Bush presidency, a case that can set precedents for future presidents during what the defendant, Donald Rumsfeld, admits will be a decades-long war against terrorism. It is so important that Chief Justice John Roberts made available audiotapes of the oral arguments on the same day. The last time I remember that happening was in the case of Bush v.Gore, which resulted in the Bush presidency. On the surface, Hamdan v.Rumsfeld would appear to be primarily about the 10 prisoners at Guantánamo set to appear before military commissions established by the sole order of the president in Military Order No. 1 of November 13, 2001. As USA Today charged in a lead editorial on the day of the oral arguments, these commissions are "a set-up in which the executive branch alone serves as judge, prosecutor and jury; rules of evidence are one-sided and his lawyers don't even have the right to know what the [most crucial] evidence is." But the much deeper significance of the case is emphasized in Hamdan's brief to the high court, calling on the justices to stop George W. Bush's "unprecedented arrogation of power."

Signs Comment:
"Nonetheless, I predict that we the people, and the Constitution, will win, 5-3, thereby significantly slowing George W. Bush's kneecapping of the separation of powers. Next week, I'll tell you why. We probably won't know if I'm right until June."
Well, we're all ears. From everything we have seen to date, none of the "victories" for civil rights in the US have amounted to a hill of beans in the "real world". Sure, the media makes it seem like things are changing, but the facts on the ground and the actual laws in effect clearly indicate that Bush still has dictatorial powers. Our guess is that nothing is in peril... it's all for show and to make Bush's dictatorship "legal".

International laws hinder UK troops - Reid
Defence secretary calls for Geneva conventions to be redrawn
John Reid demanded sweeping changes to international law yesterday to free British soldiers from the restraints of the Geneva conventions and make it easier for the west to mount military actions against other states. In his speech, the defence secretary addressed three key issues: the treatment of prisoners, when to mount a pre-emptive strikes, and when to intervene to stop a humanitarian crisis. In all these areas, he indicated that the UK and west was being hamstrung by existing inadequate law.

Signs Comment: Let's see if we have this straight: the UK has now joined the US in calling for the the Geneva Conventions - which exist to protect human rights - altered so that the two nations can violate human rights legally...

More Americans Frustrated With Politics
Robert Hirsch wonders where all the statesmen have gone. Ed Laliberte wishes politicians would stop bickering and start fixing the nation's ills. Diane Heller says everybody in Washington is corrupt or out of touch.
''I don't see any great leaders on the horizon,'' says Heller, a Pleasant Valley, N.Y., real estate broker. These voters are not alone. More and more, Americans are frustrated with politics as usual in Washington, where incompetence, arrogance, corruption and mindless partisanship seem the norm rather than the exception - a pox on both the Republican and Democratic parties. Analysts say the public may be getting angry enough to give the U.S. political system a jolt, one way or another.

How Big Is Bush's Big Government?

When teaching economics I sometimes find it beneficial to use government budget data to apply the lessons of economics to our current political circumstances. The students tend to be surprised at the size of our government, the amount of tax revenues that we "pay," and the amount of government debt. The following numbers get the point across. We, in the United States, live under the rule of the largest civil government, measured in budgetary terms, in history. Federal spending alone in fiscal year 2006 is expected to be over $2.7 trillion, which means the federal government spends $7.4 billion a day or $5.1 million in every minute of the year. This is 815 times the level of federal spending in 1930.

'No Child Left Behind Act' Raises School Segregation Fear

Betty Sternberg is in charge of two school systems. One, scattered throughout the state, is rich and white. The other, isolated in seven large towns, is poor and minority.
Sternberg is the state's education commissioner, and one of her jobs is to unite the two systems so Connecticut can move past its role as defendant in the nation's longest-running desegregation lawsuit. On paper, it wouldn't seem to be that difficult. No one involved in the lawsuit disagrees with its contention that Connecticut hasn't always given its poor and minority students an education as good as it's given its rich and white students. No one thinks the gap between the two systems is a good thing. And no one wants the disparities to continue.

Bush Impeachment - The Illinois State Legislature is Preparing to Drop a Bombshell
Utilizing a little known rule of the US House to bring Impeachment charges. The Illinois General Assembly is about to rock the nation. Members of state legislatures are normally not considered as having the ability to decide issues with a massive impact to the nation as a whole. Representative Karen A. Yarbrough of Illinois' 7th District is about to shatter that perception forever. Representative Yarbrough stumbled on a little known and never utlitized rule of the US House of Representatives, Section 603 of Jefferson's Manual of the Rules of the United States House of Representatives, which allows federal impeachment proceedings to be initiated by joint resolution of a state legislature. From there, Illinois House Joint Resolution 125 (hereafter to be referred to as HJR0125) was born.

California Becomes Second State to Introduce Bush Impeachment
California has become the second state in which a proposal to impeach President Bush has been introduced in the state legislature. And this one includes Cheney as well.
California Assemblyman Paul Koretz of Los Angeles (where the LA Times has now called for Cheney's resignation) has submitted amendments to Assembly Joint Resolution No. 39, calling for the impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney. The amendments reference Section 603 of Jefferson's Manual of the Rules of the United States House of Representatives, which allows federal impeachment proceedings to be initiated by joint resolution of a state legislature.

Almost 70 lawmakers sign Bush impeachment letter
Almost 70 Vermont legislators have signed a letter urging Congress to begin an investigation of President Bush's domestic surveillance program and the reasons for the war in Iraq and, which would lead to impeachment proceedings, if warranted.

House softens lobbying measure
House Republican leaders have quietly scaled back their plan to limit the political influence of lobbyists, dropping proposed requirements that lobbyists disclose which lawmakers and aides they have contacted and how they have raised money for politicians. The changes were made public in an amended bill posted on the House Rules Committee website Friday while Congress was wrapping up a two-week recess. Even before the latest move, political ethics experts had called the House plan weaker than a lobbying bill the Senate passed last month. The legislation is to be considered this week as Congress returns to address a political influence scandal that has gripped Washington. The House bill would leave unchanged current rules that allow members of Congress and their staffs to accept gifts from lobbyists.

Debate versus Division - The Polarization of America
Since arriving from England in 1998,I have played golf every week with a roster of about 12 guys, here in Minneapolis. Almost to a man, they happen to be hard-right Christian conservatives who support Bushco unquestioningly, call the Iraq War "a just and noble cause", think Saddam Hussein perpetrated 9/11 and tell me the likes of Jimmy Carter, Helen Thomas and Garrison Keillor are traitors and should be deported or hung.
They are also good honorable family men and friends of mine. One of the trends that has most disturbed me, observing over the last 8 years, is the gradual demise and now the almost total lack of political dialogue in this country.

Signs Comment: What's really sad is that the author, one of those folks who desires true debate, still believes that 9/11 was carried out by Saudis. Rational thought is far more dead in the US than he realises...

Construction Begins at Ground Zero

After months of disputes over the future of ground zero, state and city officials finally brought in the heavy equipment and began construction Thursday on the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower that will rise at the World Trade Center site.
"It is going to be a symbol of our freedom and independence," Gov. George Pataki said after three yellow construction trucks - driven by workers wearing hard hats emblazoned with the American flag and the words "Freedom Tower, World Trade Center" - rolled down a ramp to applause from politicians.

Red Cross Gives Up Control of Katrina Aid

The American Red Cross is relinquishing control over some disaster aid dollars and cracking down internally on "improper conduct" that tainted its response to Hurricane Katrina.
A 24-page statement to a Senate panel, set to be released later Monday, is the first in a series of reforms undertaken by the nation's largest charity since acknowledging last year that its $2 billion response to the Aug. 29 Gulf Coast storm fell short.

US Struggling To Find New Disaster Chief
The administration of US President George W. Bush is struggling ahead of the looming hurricane season to recruit a new federal disaster management chief after several candidates turned the job down, The New York Times reported Sunday.
"Seven of these candidates for director or another top FEMA job said in interviews that they had pulled themselves out of the running," the Times said.

Bush picks former firefighter as FEMA chief
President George W. Bush chose acting Federal Emergency Management Agency Director David Paulison on Thursday as permanent head of the embattled agency with hurricane season two months away.
Paulison, 59, a veteran firefighter, was named acting director of FEMA after Michael Brown resigned last September in the face of bitter complaints about the federal government's bungled response to Hurricane Katrina.

Audit: Money From Abroad for Katrina Lost
Federal auditors on Thursday laid out a scenario of omissions, missteps and bureaucratic nightmares that caused a loss of money and other donations sent from abroad to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Lawmakers at a congressional hearing on the subject reacted harshly to a Government Accountability Office report that attributed the errors, which involved as many as eight government agencies, to the United States' lack of experience as a recipient of huge amounts of aid from others.

New York City Losing Blacks, Census Shows
An accelerating exodus of American-born blacks, coupled with slight declines in birthrates and a slowing influx of Caribbean and African immigrants, have produced a decline in New York City's black population for the first time since the draft riots during the Civil War, according to preliminary census estimates.

New Orleans waters cede foul, decrepit wasteland
Vile yellow sewage pools in streets choked with the odor of sulphur, and a squad of soldiers turns back at the water's edge, after a dog staggers to dry land and dies.

Cover-Up: Toxic Waters 'Will Make New Orleans Unsafe for a Decade'
Toxic chemicals in the New Orleans flood waters will make the city unsafe for full human habitation for a decade, a US government official has told The Independent on Sunday. And, he added, the Bush administration is covering up the danger.

Storm Evacuees Are Straining Texas Hosts
To the long list of adjectives used to describe Texans since last summer's hurricanes - munificent, intrepid, scrappy - add one more: fed up. Seven months after two powerful hurricanes blew through the Gulf Coast, elected officials, law enforcement agencies and many residents say Texas is nearing the end of its ability to play good neighbor without compensation. Houston is straining along its municipal seams from the 150,000 new residents from New Orleans, officials say. Crime was already on the rise there before the hurricane, but the Houston police say that evacuees were victims or suspects in two-thirds of the 30 percent increase in murders since September. The schools are also struggling to educate thousands of new children.

Signs Comment: Poor Babs Bush. She must be on the verge of a brain aneurysm.

FEMA Wants $4.7M Back From Katrina Victims
Thousands of Gulf Coast residents have been told they must repay millions of dollars in federal Hurricane Katrina benefits that were excessive or, in some cases, fraudulent.
In Mississippi alone, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said it is seeking $4.7 million from 2,044 people, telling them in a form letter that they have four months to repay or set up a payment plan. Some storm victims got duplicate or extra benefits because of FEMA errors, FEMA spokesman Eugene Brezany said, and others might have received benefits for expenses that later were reimbursed by insurance settlements.

Only 'best residents' to be allowed back in St. Thomas complex
Housing Secretary Alphonso Jackson shed little light Monday on the future of public housing in hurricane-battered New Orleans, but said that "only the best residents" of the former St. Thomas housing complex should be allowed into the new mixed-income development that replaced it.

In a wide-ranging interview with reporters, Jackson was asked about the relatively small number of apartments in the 60-acre River Gardens development in Uptown that have been set aside for former residents of St. Thomas. Jackson estimated it was 18 to 20 percent, although housing advocates said it is less. "Some of the people shouldn't return," Jackson said. "The (public housing) developments were gang-ridden by some of the most notorious gangs in this country. People hid and took care of those persons because they took care of them. Only the best residents should return. Those who paid rent on time, those who held a job and those who worked."

Katrina Report Again Rips Bush Admin
A Senate inquiry into the government's Hurricane Katrina failures ripped the Bush administration anew Thursday and urged the scrapping of the nation's disaster response agency. But with a new hurricane season just weeks away, senators conceded that few if any of their proposals could become reality in time.
The bipartisan investigation into one of the worst natural disasters in the nation's history singled out President Bush and the White House as appearing indifferent to the devastation until two days after the storm hit. It said the Homeland Security Department either misunderstood federal disaster plans or refused to follow them. And it said New Orleans for years had neglected to prepare for large-scale emergencies.

US readying new counterterror plan
Four and a half years after the September 11 attacks, the Bush administration is nearing completion of a government-wide strategic plan for the war on terror that would assign counterterrorism tasks to specific federal agencies and departments, officials said on Tuesday.

Associated Press
Mar 27 7:21 PM US/Eastern
WASHINGTON - Undercover investigators slipped radioactive material - enough to make two small "dirty bombs" - across U.S. borders in Texas and Washington state in a test last year of security at American points of entry.

Radiation alarms at the unidentified sites detected the small amounts of cesium-137, a nuclear material used in industrial gauges. But U.S. customs agents permitted the investigators to enter the United States because they were tricked with counterfeit documents.

Flashback: Denver Airport Screener Roughs Up Woman, 83, in Wheelchair
April 2, 2006
'I don't know if she thought my mom had a bomb in her Depends or what'

An infuriated Denver woman has filed a complaint with the Transportation Security Administration after a security screener forced her 83-year-old mother to get out of her wheelchair and walk to a pre-flight screening area, despite doctor's orders not to stand and an orthopedic card saying she had a metal plate in her hip.

The incident at Denver International Airport occurred eight days ago when Sally Moon, her sister and a Frontier Airlines employee were transporting Bernice "Bea" Bogart to a special security screening area. Moon's sister, who did not have concourse clearance and the Frontier employee were left behind as Moon pushed her mother to the screening site.

9/11 Commissioner Eyes More Anti-Terror
The country is less vulnerable to terrorists since the 2001 attacks, but billions more must be spent to be prepared for another assault, Sept. 11 commissioner Bob Kerrey said Tuesday. "I still don't believe that Congress and the Bush administration are giving enough to thwart a terror attack here or to train first responders in (the New York) region," said Kerrey, a former U.S. senator from Nebraska, during a lecture at Rutgers University's campus in Newark.

Signs Comment:
"You could have hauled an AK-47 onto a plane on 9/11."
So what? If we are to believe the official story, a ragtag bunch of "A-rab terrorists" used boxcutters to carry out one of the most heinous attacks of all time. Recently, undercover agents were able to smuggle dirty bomb materials through airport security, while little old incapacitated 83-year-old ladies are being roughed up when they try to board flights to visit family. Somehow, we doubt that dumping another several billion dollars into the pot is going to improve matters any if the real goal is to "securitize" the US. On the other hand, the psychopaths in power would certainly profit nicely from such an investment while at the same time turning the US into an even better police state.

Phone-Jamming Records Point to White House

Key figures in a phone-jamming scheme designed to keep New Hampshire Democrats from voting in 2002 had regular contact with the White House and Republican Party as the plan was unfolding, phone records introduced in criminal court show.
The records show that Bush campaign operative James Tobin, who recently was convicted in the case, made two dozen calls to the White House within a three-day period around Election Day 2002 - as the phone jamming operation was finalized, carried out and then abruptly shut down.

America's Secret Police?

Intelligence experts warn that a proposal to merge two Pentagon intelligence units could create an ominous new agency. A threatened turf grab by a controversial Pentagon intelligence unit is causing concern among both privacy experts and some of the Defense Department's own personnel. An informal panel of senior Pentagon officials has been holding a series of unannounced private meetings during the past several weeks about how to proceed with a possible merger between the Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), a post-9/11 Pentagon creation that has been accused of domestic spying, and the Defense Security Service (DSS), a well-established older agency responsible for inspecting the security arrangements of defense contractors. DSS also maintains millions of confidential files containing the results of background investigations on defense contractors' employees.

America wants to meet its foreign visitors eye to eye
There was a distinct sense of rebellion in the air last week. At the annual Global Tourism and Travel Summit in Washington DC, the buzz was all about how the authorities had made it simply too difficult to get into the country, to the detriment of the entire US economy. "Last year, 30 million Chinese travelled abroad," the revered hotelier JW Marriott Jnr told delegates. "They flocked to France, Germany, Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong. But only 270,000 came to the US, and that's because it's so darn tough for Chinese visitors to get their visa."

Blocked e-passports for US travel finally ready

France is to issue its first electronic passports Friday, ending a months-long dispute that has caused a bottleneck for citizens travelling to the United States, the interior ministry said.
Initially available in the Hauts-de-Seine department west of Paris, the passports will be rolled out across the country by the end of June - ahead of a European Union deadline of August 28. Under new US rules, visitors from 27 mainly European countries need to have biometric data encoded in a microchip in their passport, if it was issued after October 2005, to continue to enjoy visa-free travel to the country.

The 'American Inquisition'
Through the mist of time, the Spanish Inquisition has come down to us as one of the most barbarous periods in all of history. Its viciousness peaked in the late 15th century, during the reign of the messianic "Catholic kings," Ferdinand and Isabella. Paranoia gripped Spanish society as the Inquisition coincided with a Christian war against the Muslims of southern Spain. Clandestine trials, secret prisons, rampant eavesdropping, torture, desecration of Islam's holy books, and gruesome public executions created an atmosphere of pervasive terror. Suspects were assumed to be guilty, with no recourse to a defense, to a jury, or to a legitimate court. In the chaos now roiling the Western world, does any of this sound familiar? It is time to ask whether the United States, with some of these same touchstones, is entering a period of its own peculiar Inquisition. Of course, there are no burning places for heretics in America now. No Tomás de Torquemada presides over this period of internal anxiety and investigation.

Scientists say they're being gagged by Bush; White House monitors their media contacts
Scientists doing climate research for the federal government say the Bush administration has made it hard for them to speak forthrightly to the public about global warming. The result, the researchers say, is a danger that Americans are not getting the full story on how the climate is changing. Employees and contractors working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, along with a U.S. Geological Survey scientist working at an NOAA lab, said in interviews that over the past year administration officials have chastised them for speaking on policy questions; removed references to global warming from their reports, news releases and conference Web sites; investigated news leaks; and sometimes urged them to stop speaking to the media altogether. Their accounts indicate that the ideological battle over climate-change research, which first came to light at NASA, is being fought in other federal science agencies as well.
These scientists -- working nationwide in research centers in such places as Princeton, N.J., and Boulder, Colo. -- say they are required to clear all media requests with administration officials, something they did not have to do until the summer of 2004.

Signs Comment: Ask yourself why the Bush administration would want to hide climate change data.

FBI Rebuffed on Reporter's Files

The family of the late newspaper columnist Jack Anderson yesterday rejected a request by the FBI to turn over 50 years of files to agents who want to look for evidence in the prosecution of two pro-Israel lobbyists, as well as any classified documents Anderson had collected. Kevin P. Anderson, son of the storied Washington-based writer, said the family is outraged at what it calls government overreaching and "a dangerous departure" from First Amendment press protections, a stance joined by academic and legal experts.