MUST READ!!! The Local Phone Call MIRACLE To Stop Alito
This is the most important alert we will ever send
All the other issues we care about, stopping the war in Iraq, stopping the widespread illegal domestic wire taps for political purposes, stopping the abuses of the Patriot Act, stopping the looting of our national budget by special interests at the expense of the people's needs, ALL these
things can be achieved if we just unify behind this one issue of stopping Alito now. With Alito on the court, NONE of those other issues will EVER be addressed!
Let us be able to look back and say we did everything we could have done to win this victory in spite of the corrupt media pundits who are working overtime to tell us what we cannot do. We are proving them wrong day by day.
There is a political earthquake taking place right now and the mainstream media and some in the political establishment are DESPERATELY trying to cover it up and deny it. The people of the United States are rising up in open democratic revolt to demand that their representatives actually listen
to them and fight for their rights.
Thanks to the actions of everyone who has participated, John Kerry has found the courage to call for a filibuster of the Alito nomination, there WILL be a cloture vote on Monday, and if enough of us call and fax, there is NO senator we cannot turn around. Otherwise, why should they even be allowed to remain in office?
With millions of people trying to get through to their senators, we have had reports the phone messaging system in Washington is completely jammed. Does that mean we stop trying?
We crank it up to the next level by filling every local district office answering machine they have,and consuming every piece of fax paper they've got. Here are the LOCAL phone and fax numbers for your own senators:
LOCAL PHONES, LOCAL PHONES, LOCAL PHONES!
LOOK UP your senators' LOCAL phone numbers with the one click function at:
Our message to our senators is simple. Your vote to support a filibuster will NOT cost you an election. Any other vote absolutely will. Respect the will of the people and you will have the most mobilized and committed activists in the country to contribute and work tirelessly for your behalf. Oppose the will of the people and we will raise challengers to you in your own primaries and contribute every dime we have to them to defeat you, and failing that we will look to find ANY other candidate in the general election to support. Listen to the people or your political career will be the REAL done deal. EMPHASIZE that you are a constituent (IF you are) and provide contact information to prove it.
If you have Republican senators, it is just as important to contact them with the additional message of how outraged you will be if they try to pull some nuclear option stunt.
You should concentrate on the local office closest to you, and if you are doing faxing, you should also definitely hit the Washington number as well, on the chance that there is a piece of fax paper left there. If you are looking to do even MORE, here is the master list of ALL phone and fax numbers
for ALL senators, with annotations about which are the most critical swing votes.
If you are are calling senators in other states, be candid that you are not a direct constituent. But the message is the same, if you stand with the party on this one we will go out of our way to help you. Otherwise we will flood your state with money and labor to support ANY candidate who runs
against him/her until the end of time.
It is wonderful if you want to make massive numbers of phone calls yourself. But you can IMMENSELY amplify your effectiveness by FIRST forwarding this message to absolutely every other person you know so that they can be similarly mobilized. It is not just the sheer volume of messages, even more critical is the number of DIFFERENT people speaking out at once.
We have heard reports that even Ben Nelson of Nebraska, the first Democratic senator to betray the cause, is monitoring his phone messages this weekend, as are Robert Byrd (WV) and Tim Johnson (SD).
Please take action NOW, so we can win all victories that are supposed to be ours, and forward this message to everyone else you know.
Comment on this Article
Bush Presses Alito's High Court Nomination
By DEB RIECHMANN
Sat Jan 28, 10:06 AM ET
WASHINGTON - President Bush gave Supreme Court nominee
Samuel Alito a broadcast boost Saturday, calling for a simple up-or-down Senate confirmation vote despite a blocking effort by some Democrats.
A final vote on whether to make the conservative federal appellate judge the nation's 110th Supreme Court justice is scheduled for Tuesday unless opponents win an uphill battle to impose a filibuster.
"The Senate has a constitutional responsibility to hold an up-or-down vote on Judge Alito's nomination," Bush said in his weekly radio address. "Throughout its 216-year history, the Senate has held an up-or-down vote on every Supreme Court nominee with majority Senate support."
The president spoke as liberals led by Sens. Edward Kennedy and John Kerry, D-Mass., worked to deprive supporters of the 60 votes needed to limit debate. They faced resistance from some fellow Democrats as well as solid Republican opposition to the stalling tactic.
Alito, a former federal prosecutor and Reagan administration lawyer, would replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. She is the court's first female justice and the swing vote on several 5-4 rulings that maintained abortion rights, preserved affirmative action and limited the application of the death penalty.
"Sam Alito is a man of great character and integrity," Bush said in his broadcast, citing accolades Alito has received from fellow judges on the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, including seven who testified on his behalf.
"He has more prior judicial experience than any Supreme Court nominee in more than 70 years," the president said. "He understands that the role of a judge is to strictly interpret the law, not to advance a personal or political agenda."
Senate leaders say Alito has enough bipartisan support to overcome any filibuster attempt by minority Democrats, many of whom contend that Alito's confirmation would jeopardize individual rights and liberties.
Kerry, defeated by Bush for the presidency in 2004, called for a filibuster Thursday while attending a world economic conference at a Swiss resort.
Asked Friday if the administration was taking Kerry's call seriously, White House press secretary Scott McClellan chuckled and said:
"It was a pretty historic day. This was the first time ever that a senator has called for a filibuster from the slopes of Davos, Switzerland. I think even for a senator, it takes some pretty serious yodeling to call for a filibuster from a five-star ski resort in the Swiss Alps."
Comment on this Article
Hil's for filibuster
By RICHARD SISK
DAILY NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU
27 Jan 06
WASHINGTON - Sen. Hillary Clinton yesterday backed a rebel band of Senate Dems seeking to filibuster a vote on the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Samuel Alito.
Democratic leaders had warned that filibuster efforts were going nowhere and would let President Bush score easy political points, but Clinton said, "I oppose his nomination and support efforts to block his confirmation."
"I do not think Judge Alito would advance the principles Americans hold most dear," she said, adding she would vote against a move to cut off a filibuster should one occur.
Any senator can filibuster - or command the floor to block a vote. It takes 60 votes to invoke cloture to end a filibuster.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) made it clear earlier in the day that the party didn't have the votes to defeat a cloture vote, so a filibuster was doomed to failure.
Nevertheless, Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) have pushed for a filibuster, a move that delights Republicans.
"If the Democratic left does a filibuster led by Kerry, that's found money for us," a top GOP official said.
The filibuster tactic could have repercussions for Clinton. Her move is bound to be seen as an appeal to the liberal base that dominates the Democratic presidential primaries, following several Senate votes that could be seen as attempts to move to the center.
In an interview on the "CBS Evening News," Bush said of Clinton's 2008 chances, "She's formidable."
A spokesman for Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he had made no decision on a filibuster and declined comment on Clinton's move.
Comment: The populist movement against Alito is finally making some waves. No time to let up the effort now. Keep calling, FAXing and emailing everyday. If the mediawhores won't help the people, the people have to help themselves!
Comment on this Article
Ann Coulter 'Jokes' That a Supreme Court Justice Should Be Poisoned
By E&P Staff
January 27, 2006 2:50 PM ET
NEW YORK Universal Press Syndicate columnist Ann Coulter "joked" during a Thursday speech that liberal Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens should be poisoned. "We need somebody to put rat poisoning in Justice Stevens' creme brulee," Coulter said at Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Ark. "That's just a joke, for you in the media."
She made other "off-color" jokes about liberal Supreme Court justices that made the audience "squeal," according to an article today in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. No pies were thrown.
Coulter did provoke some booing, though, especially after she stopped two black men during questions, telling them, "I'm not gonna be lectured to," according to the newspaper account. She also was booed when she said that the crack cocaine epidemic "has pretty much gone away."
Blacks "are the most loyal group for Democrats and you ought to be getting a little more out of them by giving them competition through the Republicans," Coulter said.
She hailed the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, suggesting that now there might be a fair vote on abortion.
Afterward, black students stood around "lashing" back at Coulter's "rhetoric," the newspaper said. One sophomore girl said: "We need someone on the Democratic side who is just as outspoken as she is."
The college president, Walter Kimbrough, had told the audience, that inviting Coulter to speak at the black school made sense because like hip hoppers she is "raw, outspoken, uncensored." He also called her the "conservative answer to rapper Lil' Kim -- [both] attractive and sexy, long-haired blondes. ..."
Coulter said it was "the best introduction" she'd ever had.
Lil' Kim is currently in the middle of a 366-day jail sentence for perjury and conspiracy.
Comment on this Article
Congressional Hearing Spells Out Clear Case For Impeachment
"He is claiming absolute power that no one in American history has ever claimed. This cannot stand," said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.
"If you’re dealing with what appears to be a criminal conspiracy by the president, the vice president, the attorney! general and others, you cannot ask the attorney general and the people under him to fairly investigate," Nadler said. "Obviously, they will dismiss this out of hand because they will not admit how real this is."
"I want to be absolutely clear, what the president ordered in this case was a crime," said Jonathan Turley.
and disregard those very freedoms?
"This type of violation should be a textbook example of an impeachment violation. ... If you believe the president violated criminal provisions of the law, I don’t see how it wouldn’t qualify. ... If the president commits a criminal act, you are obligated to hold impeachment hearings."
"The implausibility of the president’s claim seems to be self-evident," said Bruce Fein, a Washington attorney who worked in the Justice Department during the Reagan administration. "I don’t think a! ny more needs to be said about the fact that he is violating FISA."
"The Constitution was based on the principle that ’trust me’ isn’t good enough," Fein said.
President Bush’s argument that he has executive power to authorize such surveillance "flies in the face of both common sense and legal precedent," said Rep. John Conyers Jr. "The president of the United States is violating our nation’s laws by authorizing the National Security Agency to engage in warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens."
"If we let domestic spying programs continue, if we let our president convince us that we are at war, so that he can do what he wants, we will allow to stand the principle that the president alone can decide what laws apply to him."
Congressman Wexler -- "I am eager to hear from this distinguished panel because I can simply not understand how the Administration can justify brazenly skirting existing safeguards that were put in place after Watergate to deter wanton domestic spying on American citizens. It is outrageous that law-abiding Americans like the peace activists and retirees who make up the Truth Project in my congressional district are considered to be a credible threat to this country ...."
"This Administration has groundlessly circumvented judicial review and taken America down a frightening path to a police state, which preys on a culture of fear while casually disregarding existing civil liberties ...."
Following the September 11 attacks, the President addressed this Congress and told the American p! eople that the terrorists hate our "democratically elected government. ... They hate our freedoms." Why then did the President circumvent this democratically elected government
complete transcript of hearing PDF
Comment on this Article
Big Oil Keeps Chugging With Chevron's Record Quarter
By MICHAEL LIEDTKE
AP Business Writer
27 Jan 06
SAN RAMON, Calif. Jan 27, 2006 — Chevron Corp.'s fourth-quarter profit climbed 20 percent to $4.14 billion, a company record that continued the most prosperous stretch in its 126-year history as the oil company capitalizes on high fuel prices that are squeezing consumers and ruffling politicians.
Its profit of $14.1 billion for the full year was also a record for Chevron. It now has posted record annual profits in each of the last two years, earning a combined $27.4 billion.
The San Ramon, Calif.-based company's earnings for 2005's final quarter, released Friday, represented the most it has made in any three-month period since its inception in 1879. The performance edged the $4.13 billion earned during the second quarter of 2004 the early stages of a two-year boom.
Oppenheimer & Co. Fadel Gheit believes Chevron will set yet another new earnings record this year as the company continues to mine crude oil prices that are expected to remain above $60 per barrel. "We are only scratching the surface," Gheit said. "In my view, this company is hitting on all cylinders."
The windfalls that Chevron has been generating aren't unique in its industry. Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's largest publicly traded oil company, earned nearly $10 billion in the third quarter and may top that performance when it releases its fourth quarter results Monday.
Chevron's latest quarterly profit, translating to $1.86 per share, compared with net income of $3.44 billion, or $1.63 per share, in the comparable 2004 period.
Revenue totaled $53.8 billion, a 26 percent increase from $42.7 billion in the comparable 2004 period.
Despite the robust gains, the quarterly earnings fell 3 cents below the average estimate among analysts polled by Thomson Financial.
Chevron's shares fell 21 cents to $60.01 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
For all of 2005, Chevron's $14.1 billion profit amounted to $6.54 per share, topping its previous highest annual profit of $13.3 billion, or $6.14 per share, established in 2004. Last year's gains partially reflect Chevron's increased size after completing a $17.8 billion takeover of Unocal Corp. in August.
Comment: It's actually obscene to read about Bush's Oil Buddies making record profits while he and his Neo-killers continue to cut benefits for the poor and sick, and continue to ignore the needs for a national health insurance and free education for every qualified child in the U.S. "Compassionate Conservative?" What a sick joke.
Comment on this Article
President Charles Manson
by Helen & Harry Highwater
Jan. 27, 2006
This is of course an entirely hypothetical question, but what would happen if, in some future administration, a President of the United States lost his marbles?
Charles Manson could look Presidential, if you sprang him from prison, bought him a nice suit, gave him a shave, and taught him to smile for the cameras. A President is human like anyone else, so in theory, any President could go over the edge.
What if the power of the Presidency went to a hypothetical President's head, and he became psychotic or otherwise mentally unstable? If a hypothetical President went bananas, but maintained the ability to smile smoothly for the cameras, and spoke in a soft tone of voice whenever he was in public, how would we know he was nuts?
What if, in the privacy of the Oval Office, The President ordered his political opponents spied upon, swore vengeance on imagined enemies, and commanded attacks on nations that posed no threat to America?
What if the people who surrounded this madman wanted to keep his craziness a secret? What if his political cronies decided -- perhaps in good conscience, or perhaps for nefarious purpose -- to simply cut the deranged president "out of the loop," make decisions without him, and use him only as a camera-friendly figurehead?
These are tough questions, and aren't you glad they're only hypothetical? It would be a real dilemma if it ever really happened, because no matter how stale a fruitcake in the White House became, he would still be The President.
It would make no difference whether he was a Democrat, a Republican, or a Whig. Whatever his politics, the people in his own party would naturally want to overlook his shortcomings, and any outspoken opposition from another party would be portrayed as shrill politics from hypothetical-President-haters.
Why, even if The President sent hundreds of thousands of American troops into wars against a nation or two which presented no danger at all to America, he would still be The President. Even if his needless wars killed thousands of American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, The President could just shrug and claim that anyone who wanted to end the wars didn't "support the troops."
And even if his wars without reason left hundreds of thousands of foreigners dead, still, if The President rattled sabers and threatened war against a third nation that couldn't harm America, or maybe even a fourth nation, many Americans would stand behind him.
After all, they would say, we're at war. We have to stand behind our Commander-in-Chief.
Perhaps this imaginary, unhinged President would try to keep more and more of his policies and actions secret, and refuse to allow serious investigations into any aspect of his administration. Perhaps he would sidestep any question by simply saying "national security" is at stake, and refusing to answer.
And many Americans would say, we're at war. We have to stand behind our Commander-in-Chief.
Perhaps this un-named, completely hypothetical but completely insane President would make chilling speeches, explaining that public debate remains acceptable, but harsh criticism is now over the line. It's treasonous to disagree, he could say -- it's aiding and abetting the enemy, and it's lowering the morale of US troops.
And many Americans would agree, enthusiastically. We're at war, they would echo, so we have to stand behind our Commander-in-Chief.
Perhaps a President, hypothetically out of his hypothetical mind, might ignore the Constitution, break laws left and right, and openly claim the power to rewrite or ignore any law. It might be worrisome to imagine it, but hypothetically, a bonkers administration might seize and hold thousands of people in secret prisons, without ever charging them with a crime. The President could even make torture an official US policy, while unblinkingly telling Americans that our nation would never torture.
No matter what an administration of maniacs might do, millions of Americans would still say it's downright un-American to speak against The President while we're at multiple wars. And so the wars would keep coming, wars without any sane purpose, but wars without end.
That's one hell of a catch, that Catch 22. The President gains special powers while we're at war, and it's un-American to question the validity of any war underway, and it's unpatriotic to criticize The President while we're at war ... but the wars never end.
In such a speculative setting, where would you stand? Could you see past your own politics, and recognize a madman when he gives the State of the Union address? Would you remain loyal to your political party's man no matter what -- or would you be loyal to your nation, its laws, its Constitution, its troops, and the freedoms they fought to establish and defend?
Comment on this Article
Political bias affects brain activity, study finds
6:46 p.m. ET Jan. 24, 2006
Democrats and Republicans both adept at ignoring facts, brain scans show
Democrats and Republicans alike are adept at making decisions without letting the facts get in the way, a new study shows.
And they get quite a rush from ignoring information that's contrary to their point of view.
Researchers asked staunch party members from both sides to evaluate information that threatened their preferred candidate prior to the 2004 Presidential election. The subjects' brains were monitored while they pondered.
The results were announced today.
"We did not see any increased activation of the parts of the brain normally engaged during reasoning," said Drew Westen, director of clinical psychology at Emory University. "What we saw instead was a network of emotion circuits lighting up, including circuits hypothesized to be involved in regulating emotion, and circuits known to be involved in resolving conflicts."
Bias on both sides
The test subjects on both sides of the political aisle reached totally biased conclusions by ignoring information that could not rationally be discounted, Westen and his colleagues say.
Then, with their minds made up, brain activity ceased in the areas that deal with negative emotions such as disgust. But activity spiked in the circuits involved in reward, a response similar to what addicts experience when they get a fix, Westen explained.
The study points to a total lack of reason in political decision-making.
"None of the circuits involved in conscious reasoning were particularly engaged," Westen said. "Essentially, it appears as if partisans twirl the cognitive kaleidoscope until they get the conclusions they want, and then they get massively reinforced for it, with the elimination of negative emotional states and activation of positive ones."
Notably absent were any increases in activation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain most associated with reasoning.
The tests involved pairs of statements by the candidates, President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry, that clearly contradicted each other. The test subjects were asked to consider and rate the discrepancy. Then they were presented with another statement that might explain away the contradiction. The scenario was repeated several times for each candidate.
A brain-scan technique known as functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, revealed a consistent pattern. Both Republicans and Democrats consistently denied obvious contradictions for their own candidate but detected contradictions in the opposing candidate.
"The result is that partisan beliefs are calcified, and the person can learn very little from new data," Westen said.
Other relatively neutral candidates were introduced into the mix, such as the actor Tom Hanks. Importantly, both the Democrats and Republicans reacted to the contradictions of these characters in the same manner.
The findings could prove useful beyond the campaign trail.
"Everyone from executives and judges to scientists and politicians may reason to emotionally biased judgments when they have a vested interest in how to interpret 'the facts,'" Westen said.
The researchers will present the findings Saturday at the Annual Conference of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.
"The study points to a total lack of reason in political decision-making."While this stufy is certainly interesting, we've been revealing the total lack of reason in US politics for years already!
Comment on this Article
Broadcaster says serious news at risk
By JAN SJOSTROM
Palm Beach Daily News
Thursday, January 26, 2006
The anchorman whose boss once characterized him as ice compared with his successor's fire was anything but chilly in the impassioned speech he delivered Tuesday at The Society of the Four Arts.
"Truth no longer matters in the context of politics and, sadly, in the context of cable news," said Aaron Brown, whose four-year period as anchor of CNN's NewsNight ended in November, when network executives gave his job to Anderson Cooper in a bid to push the show's ratings closer to front-runner Fox News.
Brown said he tried to give viewers a balanced diet of light and serious news with NewsNight. "But I always knew when I got to the Brussels sprouts, I was on thin ice," he said.
When NewsNight spent four hours covering the arrest of actor Robert Blake for the murder of his wife, Brown received thousands of e-mails criticizing the amount of time the show spent on the story. Nevertheless, that show, which aired in April 2002, received the highest ratings of any program since NewsNight's coverage of the November 2001 crash of American Airlines flight 587.
"Television is the most perfect democracy," Brown said. "You sit there with your remote control and vote." The remotes click to another channel when serious news airs, but when the media covers the scandals surrounding Laci Peterson, the Runaway Bride or Michael Jackson, "there are no clicks then," the journalist said.
With the departure from the screen of the "titans" — Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings and Dan Rather — who "resisted the temptations of their bosses to go for the ratings grab, it will be years before an anchorman or anchorwoman will have the clout to fight these battles," he said.
Brown has spent most of his 30-year career in television news. He's covered everything from the Columbine High School murders to the aftermath of the space shuttle Columbia disaster. But viewers may remember best his on-the-spot coverage of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.
He's shocked "by how unkind our world has become," he said. E-mail and talk radio appear to have given people the license to say anything, regardless of how cruel or false it may be, he said.
He cited the example of an e-mail faulting what the sender considered to be NewsNight's inadequate coverage of an anti-war protest in Washington, D.C. The note ended with, "I hope the violence visited on the people of Iraq will someday be visited on your children."
Those on the opposite side of the political spectrum are no more tolerant, Brown said. "Any criticism of the administration is regarded as hatred of the president and hatred of the country itself," he said.
Important issues, such as the prosecution of the war in Iraq at home and abroad, are being clouded over by "mud-wrestling" that skirts substance, he said. Consider what he called "the swift-boating of John Murtha," the Democratic congressman whose war record was smeared when he called for an exit strategy in Iraq. "Cable didn't search for the truth, but engaged in mock debates pitting those making the charges against Murtha's defenders," he said.
Many Americans on the left and the right aren't interested in the truth, but simply want news that confirms their viewpoints, he said. "You'd think that it's no more complex than good vs. evil," he said.
Journalists have fallen short in presenting important news in ways that allow viewers to see how it matters in their lives. But viewers must take up the battle as well, he said. "It's not enough to say you want serious news. You have to watch it. It isn't enough to say you want serious debate. You have to engage in it."
Comment on this Article
US publishing rocked by 'fake author' scandal
By David Usborne in New York
28 January 2006
Just as the American publishing industry was recovering from the storm over the memoirist James Frey and the alleged distortions in his book A Million Little Pieces, a fresh controversy has broken in the form of a writer known simply as Nasdijj, and his popular works about his supposedly troubled life as a Native American.
It appears that the author may not be an Indian, according to a number of scholars and experts on Native American culture. The alternative newspaper LA Weekly argued in its latest issue that Nasdijj raised the possibility that he was in fact a writer of gay erotica called Timothy Barrus.
The man claiming to be Nasdijj was keeping his silence yesterday. But his publisher, Ballantine Books, said it was "looking carefully at these allegations" and added: "If in fact they are true, we would be very distressed to have published memoirs that may be deliberately inaccurate."
This latest revelation adds to the turmoil among publishers and editors, accused of turning a blind eye to writers who may have defrauded readers by embellishing or faking their life stories. Questions have also been raised about the cult novelist and alleged Hollywood insider J T Leroy, with some doubters saying he may in fact be a composite of several writers.
In a dramatic turn-about, Oprah Winfrey, who sent sales of A Million Little Pieces sky-rocketing late last year when she recommended it on her television show, invited its writer, Frey, back on air on Thursday and tearfully accused him of flat-out deception.
"I feel duped," Winfrey told Frey on the live programme. "More importantly, I feel that you betrayed millions of readers." Frey is accused of grossly inflating details of his story about recovery from addiction. They include claims that he spent 87 days in prison when he was apparently held by police for only a few hours, and that he underwent dentistry without anaesthetic.
Frey acknowledged that he had stretched the truth but still said he considered his book to be a memoir rather than fiction.
Also on Oprah was Nan Talese, the veteran editor at Doubleday, which published Frey's book. She said she only learnt about the inaccuracies when they were highlighted by The Smoking Gun website. Meanwhile, Riverhead Publishing, an imprint of Penguin Books, said it was reviewing a two-book contract it signed with Frey. If they prove to be founded, the allegations surrounding the so-called Nasdijj appear to be more serious still. Andrew Stuart, the literary agent for the writer until 2004, did not dismiss them when contacted by journalists. He said the LA Weekly article appeared "well researched and highly persuasive ... I will be curious to see if Nasdijj produces evidence to the contrary."
An online blog attributed to Nasdijj and his wife, Tina Giovanni, yesterday carried a diatribe against government, publishers and Oprah. "The real scandal is that publishing publishes absolute shit and that publishers make a fortune from it and can't recognise the problem," it said. Nasdijj surfaced in 1999 in an article in Esquire magazine about his adoptive son, Tommy Nothing Fancy, a Navajo Indian, and his alleged death from fetal alcohol syndrome. It launched a career of memoir writing by Nasdijj. He wrote a full memoir in 2000 for Houghton Mifflin, The Blood Runs Like a River Through My Dreams, followed by two books for Ballantine - Geronimo's Bones and The Boy and the Dog are Sleeping, which won a PEN award.
Nasdijj claimed he was born to a violent white cowboy and alcoholic Native American mother on a reservation in 1950. Allegedly, he was shunted between migrant camps after his mother died and as a child was "hungry, raped, beaten, whipped, and forced at every opportunity to work in the fields".
Among those raising the red flag is Sherman Alexie, the popular writer of American Indian novels. "When I first read his work, I almost thought it was some kind of parody by a famous white writer, because he takes so many things from me and other writers," she says.
Comment on this Article
Studio that scrubbed Abramoff/Bush photo earned $140,000 from 2004 campaign
January 26, 2006
A photograpy studio which admitted to scrubbing at least one photograph of President George Bush and disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff was paid more that $140,000 by the Bush/Cheney campaign in 2004, RAW STORY has learned.
Reflections Photography president Joanne Amos told Joshua Micah Marshall of Talking Points Memo that a "business decision" led the company to remove a photograph taken in late 2003 that is believed to feature Bush and Abramoff together. According to Amos, the photograph is "not relevant."
Another blog reported that Amos donated $2,000 to President Bush. The studio owner also gave $4,000 to the Republican National Committee in 2004. Steven Amos, vice president of Reflections, has contributed $2,000 to Bush and $4150 to the RNC. According to Political Money Line, each gave the RNC $750 on the same day last April.
A press release from July of 2003 shows that the photography studio was awarded a contract with the Bush/Cheney 2004 campaign. "We are, of course, extremely pleased about this contract," said Joanne Amos in the press release. "This is an incredible opportunity for our company."
Two years ago, The Washington Post reported that the studio was paid over $140,000.
This link which lists itemized disbursements from the campaign in 2004 shows that the studio was paid $28,520 for photography services on February 26, 2004.
On October 1, 2003 Congressman Tom Davis (Rep-VA) gave a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives in recognition of the "achievments" of Joanne Amos in her 25 years of work in photography (pdf link). Davis also noted her contract with Bush/Cheney 2004.
"Joanne Amos now resides in the 11th district of Virginia; from this base she will be providing event photography for the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign," said Rep. Davis. "This contract was won on the sheer quality of Reflection's reputation and will grant them the opportunity to show they can coordinate nationwide media coverage. Reflections will make full use of their extensive network of photographers and web-based technology to keep pace with the aggressive schedule set by the President's campaign."
A few weeks later, on October 31, Joanne Amos contributed $2,000 to the Bush/Cheney campaign.
Comment on this Article
Why I Now Genuflect to Charles Krauthammer
by Jason Miller
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
"But when he awoke, he found that he could no longer be certain whether he was a man dreaming he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was a man..."
An insightful reader recently informed me that "the world will always owe America a huge debt of gratitude for all the good things we have done”. As a vehement critic of many aspects of American society and politics in numerous essays on a variety of topics, I paused when I read that statement. And I contemplated. The longer I considered it, the more confused and ashamed I became. My mind was reeling. Within a period of a few short hours, my emotional condition had declined to a state of morose withdrawal and eventually deteriorated to a paralyzing anxiety with intermittent bursts of debilitating self-loathing. Words have not evolved that could portray my pitiful condition.
Thank God there was a copy of the Kansas City Star near me as my crisis reached its zenith. Plumbing the depths of emotional agony, I sat facing the wall, rocking and banging my head against the textured stucco to punish myself for my acts of betrayal. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a fleeting glimpse of an all too familiar sight. Charles Krauthammer’s tiny black and white photo on the Op/Ed page was giving me his patented sneer, that malevolent half-smile which I had cursed so many times in the past. Yet today he appeared much less derisive. In fact, he had an avuncular appearance as he kindly beckoned me to imbibe the brilliance emanating from his recently penned piece, which was accompanied by his reassuring image on the slightly yellowed newsprint. Drawn in by Krauthammer’s irresistible Siren’s Call, I halted my self-flagellation and devoured his masterful drumbeat for war against Iran in which he proclaimed his unflinching support for the Bush Regime's War on Terror. In that moment, I came to a stunning realization. Charles Krauthammer is a prophet!
Tears streamed down my face as I realized how many filthy distortions I had written about our great nation. How could I ever redeem myself? True American heroes like Michael Savage, Rush Limbaugh, and Michelle Malkin courageously risk their lives each day as they deliver the truth about our noble, courageous, and benevolent Homeland. The poor, uneducated masses thirst deeply for enlightenment as they wander in the desert of ignorance in search of the oasis of knowledge tended by these pillars of American society. Savage and his fellow purveyors of truth risk Terrorist attacks with each word they utter or write. Who knows around which corner Osama could be lurking, ready to strike them down with a dash of Anthrax powder to the face or a gash of the carotid with a pair of box cutters. Meanwhile, over the last year, I had written essay after essay in support of silly, idealistic notions like social justice, peace and human rights, even supporting the cause of those evil Palestinians! It takes the breath away. I had been playing right into the hands of the Terrorists. How could I have been so naive? What could I do to make it better?
Desperate, I looked back at the bold countenance of Krauthammer. Through his stern yet conservatively compassionate example, Charles showed me the way. I knew what I had to do. Feeling calm and determined, I began my metamorphosis and flew into action.
Jumping on my computer, I opened a new email and quickly composed a few words. In the subject line, I typed, "America the Beautiful." Opening my address book, I felt a rush of elation as I sent it to virtually all 3,000 of the liberal scourge and repulsive foreigners (associates from what was now a previous life) whose email addresses contaminated my computer. The email read as follows:
"Our intentions are always good. We may kill a few million innocent civilians here and there, but you have to crack some eggs if you want to make an omelette. We Americans are God's gift to humanity and we can do no wrong! It is time that you liberal cockroaches and foreign dogs engage in some serious fear and trembling. Get on your knees and bow before the Almighty USA...."
That felt so good that I posted it on Thomas Paine's Corner, my blog (and direct conduit to the Internet). Almost 150,000 people have visited my humble site since May of last year, and I vowed that future readers would encounter a very different animal. Gone would be the focus on human rights and dignity. War, corporate power, winning at all costs, Social Darwinism, and the spread of America's version of freedom and democracy would breathe new purpose and meaning into my pathetically idealistic site.
Thankfully, George Bush, a man who I now viewed as a hero, was speaking that day at Kansas State University (not far from my home). His presence further strengthened my spirit. Just thinking about his courageous defense of his noble actions to protect us from those vile Terrorists gave me goose bumps. I made a mental note to compose an essay arguing that all Americans need to consider civil liberties a luxury that must be sacrificed in the face of the Terrorist threat. Further, I resolved to write a piece to persuade the American people that Congress and the Supreme Court need to stay out of Bush's way as he pursues evil men like bin Laden. Bush is a man of God and we know that we can trust him to do what is best for our country, our families and for us. Those traitorous Americans who dare to dissent against him deserve to join the captured Terrorists for an indefinite stay at Guantanamo Bay. The Bill of Rights is an impediment to expedient justice and needs to be re-written, or perhaps simply discarded altogether.
(Note to self: Burn the ACLU and Amnesty International Cards and tell the wife to direct future donations to the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society).
Turning my attention to foreigners , which is what we real Americans call those pitiable individuals on whom our Christian God did not bestow the blessing of birth on US soil, I decided to pen a quick discourse for Thomas Paine's Corner explaining to them that Americans are morally superior, smarter, stronger, wealthier, and essentially superior to them:
"Our nation dominates the world, militarily, culturally, and financially, and those of you who do not embrace the McWallStreet Way deserve to wallow in the misery of your limited existence. If you are not going to play the game by our rules, you do not deserve the resources you have. If we do not wrest them from you militarily, we will see to it that our puppets dominate your governments and enable our powerful corporate entities to exploit you through free trade agreements. Learn English (the language we stole from our flunkies across the Atlantic) because we will not bother studying your trivial means of communication. As White Goodman said in the movie Dodgeball:
“We’re better than you, and we know it!”
Having duly informed the foreigners (with whom we so generously share the air we breathe) that they represent mere ants in the afterbirth of our great nation, I decided it was time to remind them to feel appreciative that America allows them to continue in their miserable existence. I wanted to write something that would bring them to the realization that when they arise each morning, it isn't their chosen deity they need to thank for making it to another day; it is the United States. Simultaneously, I wanted to remind my fellow patriots (and those skeptical liberal cowards) why the United States is such a glorious nation on which God continues to bestow bountiful blessings.
Driven by my renewed sense of purpose, and my blazing passion to follow my new-found inspiration, mentor, and idol, Charles Krauthammer, I elected to compile a compelling (yet succinct) detail, an accounting if you will, of the world's debt to America. Men like Charles were born to deliver sight to the blind and knowledge to the ignorant. I took a moment and prayed that one day I would have the strength to carry such a burden, and to do it as well as Charles. Meanwhile, I vowed to press ahead. Realizing that the Project for the New American Century must be implemented, regardless of the human or financial cost, I felt duty bound to quantify the world’s debts to America, which most certainly validate the PNAC:
1. While only representing 3% of the population, Americans consume 25% of the world's resources. We are keeping the other 97% of the population spiritually healthy. Detachment from the material world is critical on the path to enlightenment.
2. We cleared the North American continent of millions of backward, inferior savages to pave the way for the splendor, beauty, and glory of our culture and technology.
3. We civilized millions of savages from the continent of Africa and allowed them to share our continent. We fed and clothed them in return for the work they performed. When that was not enough to satisfy them, we freed them. They did not like a man named Jim Crow, so we got rid of him. We integrated them into our schools. We even put them into token positions of power. There is virtually no end to what we have done for African Americans.
4. We have been instrumental in ensuring a Jewish homeland in the Middle East, and have provided Israel the financial wherewithal to continue in their eradication of those barbaric Palestinians.
5. We had the guts to use atomic weapons to end the war against those bellicose Japanese. Look how many lives we saved by ending the war!
6. We showed those artists and wounded soldiers at Dresden not to mess with the United States.
7. The citizens of Tokyo will not soon forget the lesson we taught them during the fire-bombing.
8. We saved over 100,000 Japanese-Americans from retribution by their fellow citizens as we placed them in protective custody during World War II.
9. We let nature take its course in New Orleans and thereby eliminated an array of problems associated with those animals living in the Lower Ninth Ward.
10. We killed over 3 million Communist-loving Vietnamese, and would have eliminated more if it hadn't been for those pacifist, reefer-smoking Hippies. Don't even get me started on Jane Fonda. I still wonder how she evaded execution for her treason.
11. We create 25% of the greenhouse gasses, providing a plethora of carbon dioxide on which plants and trees can thrive. And who wouldn’t enjoy a warmer climate? Winter is a miserable time of the year anyway. Those very same people who gripe about "Global Warming" are the ones who scream the loudest when we deregulate the utilities (making money is the essence of Capitalism, by God) and cry about their gas bills being too high when it gets cold.
12. Despite having killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis (between the Gulf War, the post-war economic sanctions, and the Iraq War), we have eliminated a rogue dictator who we now believe was preparing to acquire weapons of mass destruction. We have also taken the fight to the Terrorists on their own turf. If we weren't fighting them in the Middle East, we would be waging war against them in Pittsburgh or Cleveland or God only knows! Excuse me a moment; I just got a case of the shivers…
13. As the wealthiest nation in the world, we have the intestinal fortitude to allow a significant number of our citizens to suffer homelessness, poverty, and inadequate medical treatment so that the top 1% of our populace can live as royalty. After all, what kind of a civilized society would we be without nobility?
14. We continue cutting unnecessary programs to benefit the poor, minorities, consumers, education, and working people so we can funnel incredible sums to our military industrial complex. We are the arms dealer to the world and our weapons manufacturers make a fortune, boosting the economy. Our powerful military enables us to police the globe and keep America safe!
15. We routinely ignore international law, cutting through nettlesome rules that prevent us from “gittin’ er done”. America is a "can do" nation. We don't have time to trifle with petty laws and rules.
16. We put John Bolton in the UN. He will finally teach those American- hating humanitarian idealists that they can do it our way, or not do it at all.
17. To our credit, those moral abominations known as homosexuals have few, if any, protected rights in our nation. In fact, under the inspired leadership of Bush and his highly competent administration, we are moving closer to eliminating the Bill of Rights for the population as a whole. Those individual liberties just make it too unwieldy to manage the rabble of the poor and working class.
18. We helped our allies impose brutally oppressive terms on Germany after WW I, which created a sociopolitical environment in which Hitler thrived. Despite the ensuing tragedy, misery, and suffering, the horror of WW II marked the ascent of America to its throne atop the world and gave birth to an economy which thrives on perpetual war, a natural and unavoidable aspect of the human condition. Thank God America is here to manage the inevitable wars by manufacturing and selling its implements, waging it, and creating new ways to market it to the public.
19. We implement free trade policies.(Take note of how adroitly we disguise imposition as negotiation—people seldom stop to realize that few of the miniscule nations acquiescing to the free trade agreements would dare say no to a behemoth like us). These free trade agreements are bonanzas for our powerful corporations. Under the "negotiated" terms, they are able to utilize other countries by tapping their resources and paying their people the wages their “free”markets will bear, unfettered by that nonsensical “minimum wage”. In exchange, those ungrateful foreigners get employers who keep their people off the street (and out of trouble) and a small percentage of the profits on their resources, which they were too technologically backward to access anyway. It is all quite fair.
20. We relieved Mexico of half of its territory under the fine guidance of President James K. Polk and it only cost 25,000 Mexican lives. We are to be commended for keeping the body count low.
21. When that ruthless monarch, Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii, threatened the corporate interests of Dole, we annexed her islands. Her people were far better off living under our democracy than under her despotic rule.
22. We use depleted uranium in our “conventional” weaponry to ensure that there is lasting suffering for our conquered foes in the wake of our wars of necessity.
23. We wrested control of Guam, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Cuba away from those insidious Spaniards (who tainted much of our Hemisphere with their language, which most Americans do not understand or want to understand).
24. We did engage in torture, scorched earth tactics, and the murder of 1,000,000 civilians, but by God we beat those Filipino bastards. We won and held on to what was ours. In the end, that was all that mattered in the Philippines.
25. We cleverly created the “War on Drugs” as a means to maintain our corporate domination of Central and South American countries. Where would those poverty-stricken, Third World nations be without the free market capitalism our corporations inject into their economies? I shudder to think.
26. To act in the best interests of the people (again by protecting our corporations), we sent financing and equipment to military rulers in Guatemala, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Communist peasants (indigenous Mayans). Thank God for the strength Reagan showed in supporting Rios Montt’s Christian campaign, in which he annihilated 20,000 of those Commie bastards and drove another 100,000 out of the country.
27. Reagan showed similar mettle in El Salvador and Nicaragua. Under his leadership, we exterminated another 70,000 subversive Communists.
28. Despite that dreaded Platte Amendment, we held onto Guantanamo Bay. What a stroke of fortune for the world! Our great nation has imprisoned some of the world's most dangerous Terrorists at "Gitmo", and they will not be getting out anytime soon.
29. To punish Fidel Castro for robbing us of our ability to properly utilize Cuban people and resources, we have tried to assassinate or overthrow him on numerous occasions. Castro provided Cubans with education, jobs and health care. We imposed harsh sanctions on the Cuban economy that remain in effect today. Despite our lack of success in removing this Communist scourge from our Hemisphere, Castro's national health care system (which wastes money on indigents and the undeserving) has not infected America. Our capitalist model of health care for profit remains vibrant. We have done well.
30. We project an image of altruism by giving more money in foreign aid than any other nation. However, the American taxpayers need not worry. The reality is that we contribute a mere .15% of our national income, a percentage which is significantly lower than at least twenty other countries. We are miserly with our charity but we look good doing it, and those ingrates around the globe dam well better appreciate it, even if it does not involve true sacrifice on our part.
I would love to have added more to my accounting of the world's debt to our great nation, but Sunday morning rolled around and I needed to run. My wife and children were away, but I still had a big day planned to revel in my rebirth. As I headed to McDonald's to down a few McGriddles, I gassed up my Suburban, which only set me back about $100.00. I made it to the First Cavalry Fundamentalist Church of Christ in time to listen to Pastor Jeremiah McNeil remind his flock that Hugo Chavez is a Terrorist, homosexuals are morally depraved, the End Times are near (but we will be OK because we are Rapture-ready), and that we must stand firm and resolute with our Wartime President. Later, I headed to Wal-Mart to do some serious shopping with my credit cards. Tired of my abstemious existence (foolishly struggling stay debt free), I dropped about $8k on an array of computer and electronics equipment. Now that is the American Way. Play now and pay later! I felt ecstatic to save a few bucks and did not care an iota about the Chinese who had suffered deplorable working conditions to manufacture the goods I was buying. I was indifferent to the poverty level wage the clerk was earning as she rang me up.
As I completed a few more errands, I tuned in to Angry Man's radio and listened to the latest rants against the grave domestic threats posed by liberals and socialists. And I loved it because I felt validated, and because it drowned out the sound of my SUV sucking my gas tank dry. I devoted the rest of my day to manly activities, like watching football and drinking beer (so I could reassure myself of my heterosexuality). Evening descended and I turned on Fox News to ensure I would get "fair and balanced" coverage. They showed Cheney drumming up support for the war against Iran. I found myself nodding emphatic agreement when he said that we had to consider military options because the fundamentalist Islamic government was months away from developing nuclear weapons. War. Must make war. War. Must make war. That little chant ran through my head for several minutes, even after the Cheney segment was over. It had a rhythmic, almost hypnotic quality to it. Goddamn those Terrorists!
Later in the evening, I delved into The Savage Nation for more powerful insight into the leftist cancer eating away at America. After a couple of chapters, mental fatigue set in and I could no longer read. My thoughts wandered to a Website I had recently spotted called Jihad Unspun. I felt the rage welling up inside me. Those filthy Muslims contaminate our minds with their propaganda and threaten our way of life with their Terrorism. That sealed it for me. Tomorrow I would change the name of my blog from Thomas Paine's Corner to Neocon Unspun to counter those bastards. My anger subsided and slowly shifted to joy as I began planning my revamped site format. Finally closing my eyes, I smiled contentedly as I recalled the images of "Old Glory" and Charles Krauthammer, both of which had been indelibly etched into my mind. God bless the USA and thank you for Neoconning me, Charles.
Jason Miller is a 39 year old activist writer with a degree in liberal arts. When he is not spending time with his wife and three sons, researching, or writing, he is working as a loan counselor. He is a member of Amnesty International and an avid supporter of Oxfam International and Human Rights Watch. He welcomes responses at email@example.com or comments on his blog, Thomas Paine's Corner, at http://civillibertarian.blogspot.com/.
Comment on this Article
Greenspan's Fed Chief Reign Comes to Close
By MARTIN CRUTSINGER
AP Economics Writer
January 28, 2006
WASHINGTON - It will be business as usual when Alan Greenspan wraps up nearly two decades at the Federal Reserve on Tuesday.
He probably will raise interest rates one last time as he presides over the Federal Open Market Committee. Afterward, there will be a low-key luncheon with his colleagues and a reception for Fed staffers.
Greenspan will be leaving on top — rare in Washington — when he walks out the door of the Fed's imposing marble building on Constitution Avenue.
Widely viewed as the most successful chairman in the Fed's 92-year history, Greenspan presided over an era of low inflation rates, low unemployment and the longest economic expansion in U.S. history — a decade of uninterrupted growth from March 1991 to March 2001.
Greenspan was a master in handling not only the economy but also the treacherous shoals of politics. He won nominations for the Fed job from four presidents — three Republicans and one Democrat. The occasional critics said he was too political.
Upset over Greenspan's support of President Bush's tax cuts, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Greenspan was "one of the biggest political hacks we have in Washington."
In Greenspan's early days, Wall Street investors also harbored concern that Greenspan, who had advised Republican Presidents Nixon, Ford and Reagan, would lack the iron-willed independence needed to fill the shoes of Paul Volcker.
Volcker conquered a decade-long bout of double-digit inflation by driving up interest rates to levels not seen since the Civil War.
Showing his own inflation-fighting credentials, Greenspan pushed through a half-point rate increase at his first Fed policy meeting. After just two months on the job, the stock market crashed. It was called Black Monday, Oct. 19, 1987; many blamed Greenspan's credit-tightening.
The Fed declared it stood ready to lend freely to distressed institutions. It was a policy that would become a hallmark of Greenspan's tenure. The market stabilized and began rising. So did Greenspan's star.
It was the first of many economic crises that would confront Greenspan.
- From 1989 to 1992, hundreds of savings and loans and banks - more than at any time since the Great Depression - went out of business.
- A global currency crisis began in Asia in 1997 and spread to Russia. Some 40 percent of the global economy was pushed into recession. The U.S. economy seriously was threatened before Greenspan's Fed stepped in with a series of rapid-fire rate reductions in the fall of 1998.
- The stock market bubble burst in 2000, wiping out trillions of dollars in paper wealth.
During Greenspan's 18 1/2 years in office, the country had two recessions. The first was in 1990-91, when oil prices spiked after Iraq invaded Kuwait. The second came in 2001 in the aftermath of the steep plunge in stock prices in the previous year. Both were mild downturns that lasted eight months each.
By contrast, in the 18 years before Greenspan took over at the Fed, the country experienced four severe downturns.
By the numbers, the overall economy has done well during Greenspan's terms.
Consumer inflation soared as high as 13.3 percent in 1979 amid a decade of oil shocks. It was at 3.4 percent last year, even though the country was hit by another oil surge that pushed gasoline prices above $3 per gallon.
Unemployment stands at 4.9 percent after dropping to a four-decade low of 4 percent in 2000. Greenspan was able to convince skeptical Fed colleagues that rising productivity would allow jobless rates to fall without triggering inflation.
"He was the first economist in the United States to perceive what was happening," said Lyle Gramley, a former Fed board member.
Greenspan says he was merely building upon the inflation gains made by Volcker. Greenspan credits factors such as globalization and deregulation of U.S. industries for setting the stage for the country's prosperity.
Private analysts believe Greenspan is being modest.
"Greenspan has had the most successful tenure in Fed history. He kept inflation under very tight control while avoiding any major recessions," said David Wyss, chief economist at Standard & Poor's in New York.
Of course, there were controversies.
Many analysts cite Greenspan's decision to support the current president's tax cuts in 2001. They helped push the federal budget from trillion-dollar surpluses to record deficits.
Greenspan says he would recommend tax cuts again, given projections — which failed to happen — of budget surpluses that would total $5.6 trillion over a decade.
He is also faulted for failing to rein in the high-flying stock market in time. He did famously wonder in 1996 whether investors could be in the grip of "irrational exuberance." But prices kept climbing. When the bubble burst, Greenspan moved to contain the damage by lowering interest rates.
"If Greenspan had been stronger in his views, then the bubble would not have been as large and the subsequent correction not as severe," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com.
Greenspan's response: To pop the bubble earlier, the Fed would have had to raise interest rates so high that the country would have been pushed into a severe recession.
He worked to transform the Fed from a secretive, poorly understood institution into one that communicates more effectively with the public and investors.
Before his arrival, Wall Street financial houses hired armies of economists to try to determine when the Fed was moving its main interest rate, since there was no public announcement.
In 1994, Greenspan nudged reluctant colleagues to reverse that policy. That has been followed by clearer policy statements signaling future intentions and earlier release of the Fed's minutes.
"Without any question, the Fed is vastly different now in terms of openness and transparency," said economist David Jones, the author of four books on the Greenspan Fed. "Greenspan's theme has been the more markets know, the better."
As his influence grew, Greenspan was called upon to advance opinions on matters beyond the realm of monetary policy. Not only did he lend support to Bush's tax cuts, but eight years earlier he blessed
President Clinton's tax increases to deal with troubling budget deficits.
This has opened him to attacks from both Republicans and Democrats.
By comparison, Ben Bernanke, the former Princeton economics professor selected to succeed Greenspan, says he plans to limit his public advice to areas directly under the Fed's control. Bernanke also has pledged to follow the Greenspan play book when it comes to running the economy.
That may turn out to be Greenspan's most lasting legacy.
Comment on this Article
NATIONAL FORECLOSURES INCREASE MORE THAN 13 PERCENT IN DECEMBER
27 Jan 06
Irvine, Calif. – January 12, 2006 – RealtyTrac™ (www.realtytrac.com), the leading online marketplace for foreclosure properties, today released its December 2005 Monthly U.S. Foreclosure Market Report, which shows 81,290 properties nationwide entered some stage of foreclosure in December, a 13.5 percent increase from the previous month. The report shows a December national foreclosure rate of one new foreclosure for every 1,422 U.S. households, the highest foreclosure rate reported in 2005.
RealtyTrac publishes the largest national database of pre-foreclosure and foreclosure properties, with more than 550,000 properties in nearly 2,000 counties across the country, and is the foreclosure data provider to MSN House & Home, Yahoo! Real Estate, AOL Real Estate and HomeGain.com.
“December’s higher US foreclosure rates were almost exactly the same foreclosure rates reported in October, which means that the two months with the highest numbers of foreclosures were both in the fourth quarter of 2005,” said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac. “These rising numbers to finish off the year may indicate that economic factors such as higher interest rates are making it harder for some homeowners stay current on their mortgage payments.”
Texas documented the highest foreclosure rate of any state thanks to a 61 percent increase in new foreclosures in December. The state reported 12,753 properties entering some stage of foreclosure, one new foreclosure for every 631 households and the most new foreclosures reported by any state. Texas accounted for more than 15 percent of the nation’s new foreclosures.
Increasing foreclosures in Ohio and Indiana kept foreclosure rates in those states among the nation’s five highest for the second month in a row. Ohio reported 6,767 properties entering some stage of foreclosure, a 36 percent increase and one new foreclosure for every 707 households. Indiana reported 3,387 properties entering some stage of foreclosure, a 21 percent increase and one new foreclosure for every 746 households.
Foreclosures jumped 30 percent in Nevada and 22 percent in Utah, and foreclosure rates in those states also ranked among five highest nationwide. Nevada reported 1,124 properties entering some stage of foreclosure, one foreclosure for every 772 households, and Utah reported 871 properties entering some stage of foreclosure, one foreclosure for every 882 households.
Foreclosure rates in Colorado, Georgia and Florida dropped out of the five highest nationwide thanks to decreasing foreclosures in December. Colorado reported 1,264 properties entering some stage of foreclosure — a 53 percent decrease — and the state’s foreclosure rate registered below the national average for the first time in 2005. Georgia reported 3,007 properties entering some stage of foreclosure, a 32 percent decrease and one new foreclosure for every 1,030 households. Florida reported 8,050 properties entering some stage of foreclosure, a 9 percent decrease and one new foreclosure for every 908 households.
California reported 7,674 properties entering some stage of foreclosure, a 27 percent increase and the third most new foreclosures reported by any state in December. But with new one foreclosure for every 1,592 households, the state’s foreclosure rate remained below the national average. New York also maintained a foreclosure rate below the national average with 4,500 new foreclosures, a 4 percent decrease from the previous month.
The RealtyTrac Monthly U.S. Foreclosure Market Report provides a graphical map that illustrates foreclosure percentiles by state (appended to this press release or available by request), as well as the total number of homes in some stage of foreclosure nationwide and by state over the preceding month. Data is also available at the individual county level. RealtyTrac’s report includes properties in all three phases of foreclosure: Pre-foreclosures — Notice of Default (NOD) and Lis Pendens (LIS); Foreclosures — Notice of Trustee Sale and Notice of Foreclosure Sale (NTS and NFS); and Real Estate Owned, or REO properties (that have been repurchased by a bank).
Comment on this Article
America's Withdrawal Behind a Steel Wall
By Tahar Selmi
Translated By Pascaline Jay
January 23 - January 29 Issue
President Bush has badly stained America's image with his 'radical warmongering policies.' Given this reality, according to this op-ed article from Tunisia's Tunis Hebdo, it's no wonder that along the Mexican border, George Walker Bush is 'erecting towers and barbed wire, rather than bridges and bonds of friendship with the outside world.'
Globalization is by definition an opening to the world, an exchange of goods and people, a method of cooperation. It is therefore the opposite of withdrawal and reclusion.
From this point of view, the decision of George Bush - the alleged champion of globalization - to build a separation wall between his country and Mexico, not only surprises but seems out of place. It reminds us of other sinister walls of history. Before being an actual construction, a wall must be built psychologically and mentally. It reveals that state of mind that troubles people and forces them into retreat, at least as far as physical safety is concerned.
The fear of terrorist attacks - which by the way, we denounce severely, no matter what the motivation behind it may be – has become so haunting, that the White House chief has been forced to take action on two levels: externally, by building insurmountable barriers; and internally, by subjecting the American people to all kinds of inspections and surveillance (phone-tapping, e-mail reading, automated cameras …).
The strangest thing is that Mr. George Bush still says he "doesn't understand" why his country is so "hated" and "detested" around the world. On this subject, everyone remembers his famous question: "Why do they hate us. We are such a kind-hearted people?" In reality, the American chief executive simply cannot be unaware of the answer.
The badly stained image of the country of Abraham Lincoln and Jimmy Carter is the result of radical warmongering international policies, now being applied [by Bush] without thought for the six years that he and his cartel of neoconservatives have been in the White House.
Even during the Vietnam War, America never scorned its own values as much as it does today, the same values it wishes to instill in others! Given this situation, it is no wonder that George Walker Bush is erecting towers and barbed wire, rather than bridges and bonds of friendship with the outside world.
This project, which is no different at all from the one in Gaza, has already reached an advanced phase of preparation. On December 16th, Congress voted in favor of the wall by a crushing majority. This steel wall, which is meant to thwart illegal immigration and terrorism, is to be over 1,000 kilometers in length, along the United States border. An actual modern version of the Great Wall of China. This 15-foot-high wall will bristle with watchtowers, be lit with powerful searchlights and scanned by sophisticated video cameras.
The news of the passage of the project by the Congress came as a bombshell in the most directly concerned neighboring countries. State Secretaries from around Central America, including Mexico, Columbia and the Dominican Republic, held an emergency meeting in Mexico to offer a common response to the U.S. decision.
But it is Mexico, with its 3,200 kilometer border with the United States, that will be most penalized by this edifice.
This explains President Vicente Fox's blaze of anger. Even though he usually has moderate reactions to his "friend George's" decisions, he was incredibly harsh when he denounced his "hypocrisy" on this subject: "During the 20th century, it would have been unimaginable for a wall to be built between two border States, two sister nations, two partner nations." he exclaimed. "It is a deeply negative signal, announcing nothing good from a country that prides itself for being a democracy built by immigrants." For the former President of Coca-Cola Mexico, the Congressional vote is "a slap in the face."
According to consulates in the United States, 3,800 Mexican citizens have been killed over the past few years by U.S. border patrol officers, 441 in 2005. It is a slaughter which encouraged the Mexican press to compare this wall to another wall, just as "shameful" and "deadly": the Berlin Wall.
It is a disapproval shared by the most influential American newspapers: "This wall is xenophobic and shameful. It tarnishes the image of the United States" sums up a disappointed "New York Times" editorial …
Comment on this Article
Iraq: Documents Show Army Seized Wives As Tactic against Insurgents
By CHARLES J. HANLEY
AP Special Correspondent
27 Jan 06
The U.S. Army in Iraq has at least twice seized and jailed the wives of suspected insurgents in hopes of "leveraging" their husbands into surrender, U.S. military documents show.
In one case, a secretive task force locked up the young mother of a nursing baby, a U.S. intelligence officer reported. In the case of a second detainee, one American colonel suggested to another that they catch her husband by tacking a note to the family's door telling him "to come get his wife."
The issue of female detentions in Iraq has taken on a higher profile since kidnappers seized American journalist Jill Carroll on Jan. 7 and threatened to kill her unless all Iraqi women detainees are freed.
The U.S. military on Thursday freed five of what it said were 11 women among the 14,000 detainees currently held in the 2 1/2-year-old insurgency. All were accused of "aiding terrorists or planting explosives," but an Iraqi government commission found that evidence was lacking.
Iraqi human rights activist Hind al-Salehi contends that U.S. anti-insurgent units, coming up empty-handed in raids on suspects' houses, have at times detained wives to pressure men into turning themselves in.
Iraq's deputy justice minister, Busho Ibrahim Ali, dismissed such claims, saying hostage-holding was a tactic used under the ousted
Saddam Hussein dictatorship, and "we are not Saddam." A U.S. command spokesman in Baghdad, Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, said only Iraqis who pose an "imperative threat" are held in long-term U.S.-run detention facilities.
But documents describing two 2004 episodes tell a different story as far as short-term detentions by local U.S. units. The documents are among hundreds the
Pentagon has released periodically under U.S. court order to meet an
American Civil Liberties Union request for information on detention practices.
In one memo, a civilian Pentagon intelligence officer described what happened when he took part in a raid on an Iraqi suspect's house in Tarmiya, northwest of Baghdad, on May 9, 2004. The raid involved Task Force (TF) 6-26, a secretive military unit formed to handle high-profile targets.
"During the pre-operation brief it was recommended by TF personnel that if the wife were present, she be detained and held in order to leverage the primary target's surrender," wrote the 14-year veteran officer.
He said he objected, but when they raided the house the team leader, a senior sergeant, seized her anyway.
"The 28-year-old woman had three young children at the house, one being as young as six months and still nursing," the intelligence officer wrote. She was held for two days and was released after he complained, he said.
Like most names in the released documents, the officer's signature is blacked out on this for-the-record memorandum about his complaint.
Of this case, command spokesman Johnson said he could not judge, months later, the factors that led to the woman's detention.
The second episode, in June 2004, is found in sketchy detail in e-mail exchanges among six U.S. Army colonels, discussing an undisclosed number of female detainees held in northern Iraq by the Stryker Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division.
The first message, from a military police colonel, advised staff officers of the U.S. northern command that the Iraqi police would not take control of the jailed women without charges being brought against them.
In a second e-mail, a command staff officer asked an officer of the unit holding the women, "What are you guys doing to try to get the husband — have you tacked a note on the door and challenged him to come get his wife?"
Two days later, the brigade's deputy commander advised the higher command, "As each day goes by, I get more input that these gals have some info and/or will result in getting the husband."
He went on, "These ladies fought back extremely hard during the original detention. They have shown indications of deceit and misinformation."
The command staff colonel wrote in reply, referring to a commanding general, "CG wants the husband."
The released e-mails stop there, and the women's eventual status could not be immediately determined.
Of this episode, Johnson said, "It is clear the unit believed the females detained had substantial knowledge of insurgent activity and warranted being held."
Comment: Twice? Don't kid yourself. More like hundreds or even thousands of incidents.
Comment on this Article
Bush to Propose Trimming Army Reserve
By LOLITA C. BALDOR
January 28, 2006
WASHINGTON - President Bush will use his new budget to propose cutting the size of the Army Reserve to its lowest level in three decades and stripping up to $4 billion from two fighter aircraft programs.
The proposals, likely to face opposition on Capitol Hill, come as the Defense Department struggles to trim personnel costs and other expenses to pay for the war in Iraq and a host of other pricey aircraft and high-tech programs. Bush will send his 2007 budget to Congress on Feb. 6.
The proposed Army Reserve cut is part of a broader plan to achieve a new balance of troop strength and combat power among the active Army, the National Guard and reserves to fight the global war on terrorism and to defend the homeland.
The Army sent a letter to members of Congress on Thursday outlining the plan. A copy was provided to The Associated Press.
Under the plan, the authorized troop strength of the Army Reserve would drop from 205,000 — the current number of slots it is allowed — to 188,000, the actual number of soldiers it had at the end of 2005. Because of recruiting and other problems, the Army Reserve has been unable to fill its ranks to its authorized level.
Army leaders have said they are taking a similar approach to shrinking the National Guard. They are proposing to cut that force from its authorized level of 350,000 soldiers to 333,000, the actual number now on the rolls.
Some in Congress have vowed to fight the National Guard cuts. Its soldiers and resources are controlled by state governors unless Guard units are mobilized by the president for federal duty, as Bush did after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
"I remain convinced that we do not have a large enough force," Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., said in a letter to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.
Proposals to cut funding in two key jet fighter programs were described by defense analysts and congressional aides, some of whom spoke on condition of anonymity because the reductions have not been announced.
One plan would eliminate funding for an alternative engine for the Joint Strike Fighter, the military's next-generation combat plane.
The second would cut money for F-22 fighters during 2007. But it is actually a contract restructuring that would add that money back — and more — over the long run by stretching out the program for an additional two years and buying up to four more planes. The new plan calls for buying 60 aircraft through 2010, rather than 56 in the next two years.
The Joint Strike Fighter engine is being built by General Electric and England-based Rolls Royce, and the plan to dump them as suppliers has triggered intense lobbying, including a handwritten note from British Prime Minister
Tony Blair to Bush.
On the homefront, the close to $2 billion cut would hit General Electric engine plants, and possibly jobs, in Ohio and Massachusetts and a Rolls Royce plant in Indiana.
"This is a big question for GE," said Loren Thompson, military analyst with the Lexington Institute think tank. "They could get shut out of the fighter engine business over the next 10 years."
The proposal would benefit Connecticut-based Pratt & Whitney, which got the original contract for the Lockheed Martin aircraft, and delivered its first engine last month.
GE spokesman Dan Meador said the alternate engine program provides competition for Pratt & Whitney, helping to drive down costs while also providing a back-up if problems arise.
"It's very important to GE and Rolls Royce, and we're performing well," he said.
Defense officials, however, said the Pratt & Whitney engine has performed well and within budget, and noted that a number of other jet fighter programs — including the F-22 — have just one engine maker. Pratt & Whitney also makes the engines for the F-22.
Comment: So, Bush plans on shrinking the Army Reserve by doing... absolutely nothing!
Comment on this Article
800 Japanese protest crimes by US military personnel
Saturday January 28, 7:58 PM
Some 800 Japanese have protested near a US naval base south of Tokyo, demanding an end to crimes committed by US military personnel after a US sailor was indicted for beating a Japanese woman to death.
The demonstrators marched near the US naval base in Yokosuka, Kyodo news agency said, one day after prosecutors indicted 21-year-old William Reese for killing and robbing 56-year-old Yoshie Sato earlier this month.
"Not just in Yokosuka, but in cities with bases such as Okinawa ... there are many incidents and accidents involving US soldiers," Kyodo quoted local lawyer Masahiko Goto Saturday, who took part in the demonstration, as saying.
Reese, a crew member of the Yokosuka-based aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk, was arrested on January 7, four days after allegedly killing Sato and stealing 15,000 yen (129 dollars) from her.
Last month, a 23-year-old female US naval officer hit three elementary school children while driving, seriously injuring one of them, but fled the scene without reporting to police.
Local police arrested the woman after a 90-minute search but released her at the demand of the US military, which claimed that she was on official duty.
The Japan-US Status of Forces Agreement allows a US military court rather than a local court to handle such cases.
Residents of communities that host US military bases have long called for a review of the agreement. They believe US laws are too lenient toward service members who commit crimes in Japan and say local laws should be applied.
Comment on this Article
BMD Watch: Trident Subs Will Fight Terror
By Martin Sieff, UPI Senior News Analyst
Jan 25, 2006
The U.S. Navy is converting some of its prized nuclear strategic submarines to launch precision, conventional munitions strikes against terrorist bases and similar targets.
Four ultra-stealth Ohio-class SSBNs are having their 24 Trident II D-5 nuclear ballistic missiles removed and replaced with up to 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles, Defense Industry Daily reported Jan. 18.
The program is assured of bipartisan support with Democratic Sens. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and Clarence Pell of Rhode Island all supporting it, DID said.
The Ohios are being converted into so-called "Tactical Tridents," designated SSGNs, with accommodation for 66-102 special forces troops, special attachments for new Advanced SEAL Delivery Systems (ASDS) or the older Seal Delivery Vehicle (SDV) "mini-subs," and a mission control center. In future, the SSGNs may also carry UUV underwater robotic vehicles and even UAVs for aerial operations, the report said.
"These modifications provide the (United States) with an impressive and impressively flexible set of conventional firepower, in a survivable and virtually undetectable platform that can remain on station for very long periods," DID said. The conversion program will cost $1.4 billion, it said.
The program will allow the Navy to avoid having to decommission the four Trident subs, the USS Ohio (SSBN 726), USS Michigan (SSBN 727), USS Florida (SSBN 728) and USS Georgia (SSBN 729).
Funding for the conversion was originally approved in the Fiscal Year 2002 military appropriations bill and it proved popular in Congress. The Senate approved funding four all four nuclear subs, where President George W. Bush had only asked to convert two of them.
To create a Tactical Trident submarine, two of the Ohio Class SSBNs' 24 large vertical missile launch tubes are converted to lockout chambers to enable exit from the hull underwater, the report said. However the ASDS program is suffering from serious development problems. Until those are sorted out, existing Seal Delivery Vehicles (SDVs) will have to be used instead, DID said.
The conversion costs for the four Ohios is far less than the $1.7 billion cost for each of the new nuclear-powered Virginia class (SSN-744).
BMD will cost $247 billion by 2024: CBO
The annual cost of the Bush administration's missile defense plans could more than double to $19 billion by 2013, and total $247 billion from 2006 through fiscal 2024, according to a recent report.
The report, "The Long-Term Implications of Current Defense Plans and Alternatives: Detailed Update for Fiscal Year 2006," was produced by the Congressional Budget Office and released this month as an update to a September 2004 report, the Global Security Newswire reported Tuesday. The study projected an average $13 billion per year cost for missile defense through 2024, it said.
The Bush administration requested about $8.5 billion for the program last year for the current fiscal 2006, according to the report. The annual cost should climb rapidly to $19 billion by 2013, due to major equipment purchases, before dropping significantly to about $8 billion annually by 2024, it says. All figures are in 2006 dollars.
Administration officials have said they are pursuing a "layered" approach to missile defense, which involves developing multiple technological approaches to striking various ballistic missiles from land, sea, air and possibly space.
The report's projections also incorporate an assumption for the unexpected cost growth of the systems under development, based on historic cost-growth rates for major weapons systems since the Vietnam War. GSN said.
The report incorporates potential costs for the following major systems: Ground-based Midcourse Defense system interceptors and radars; nine low-orbit, infrared Space Tracking and Surveillance System satellites; a boost-phase kinetic energy interceptor system; seven Airborne Laser 747 aircraft; additional Patriot Advanced Capability 3 (PAC-3) short-range missile defense systems; and Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD) components.
The report also includes costs for the sea-based Aegis missile defense system under development, and space-based and mobile ground-based interceptor systems that are under early consideration. But it does not factor in the U.S. Air Force's troubled SBIRS-High early warning satellite program. They are intended for non-missile defense uses as well. Nor does the report specify how many ground-based, space-based, or sea-based systems it assumes will be purchased.
Victoria Samson, a Center for Defense Information missile defense analyst who released an analysis of the report last week, told GSN she believed the report, if anything, underestimated the probable cost of the administration's plans. "If they did everything they wanted to, reports have estimated it could run over a trillion dollars," she said, citing a 2003 report by prominent economists that drew such a conclusion.
The projected growth for missile defense costs corresponds with substantial overall Defense Department cost increases, according to the CBO report. Military funding reached $509 billion in fiscal 2005, including $74 billion in supplemental funding, it says.
The CBO report says the annual total could average about $522 billion a year through 2011 and $563 billion per year from 2012 through 2024, if historical cost growth and military expenditures to fight terrorists abroad are factored. That estimate, though, appears to assume that supplemental appropriations for U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq will end in Fiscal Year 2006.
General Dynamics wins $56 million Trident contract
General Dynamics has won a $56 million contract modification to provide operational support and engineering services for the Trident submarine-launched ballistic missile system. The contract may be worth $147 million if all options are exercised, the company said Monday.
General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems will be responsible for fire-control production, operational support and field engineering services for the Trident II Fire Control system. The unit also will handle repairs and returns, training, and system development. Advanced Information Systems will perform the work in Pittsfield, Mass, Washington Technology reported.
The contract also covers lifecycle cost control and technology refresh for the SSGN Attack Weapons Control Systems.
Comment on this Article
Two Production RQ-4A Global Hawks Deploy In Global War On Terrorism
by SPX Staff Writers
Jan 26, 2006
U.S. forces supporting the war on terrorism gained two critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets this month when the U.S. Air Force deployed the first two production RQ-4A Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles to theater.
Global Hawk is designed and produced by Northrop Grumman.
"The Air Force is committed to bringing real-time reconnaissance information to the commanders and is confident that Global Hawk is the right high-altitude asset to provide persistent surveillance over the battlefield," commented Jerry Madigan, vice president of Northrop Grumman's High Altitude Long Endurance programs.
The two RQ-4A Global Hawks arrived at the operating base earlier this month. The deployment team began functional test flights of the two vehicles immediately upon arrival. The Global Hawks, their sensors and ground stations were all tested and performed to Air Force requirements before the deployment.
They joined a previously deployed Global Hawk test asset, designed and developed as part of the system's advanced concept technology demonstration phase. That air vehicle has logged more than 3,000 hours in combat during a total of approximately two years in theater.
Madigan added that during a combat situation, "Global Hawk can loiter over an assigned area for more than a day or can be re-tasked to gather information over hot spots at a moment's notice. Once the Global Hawk is over the specific area, commanders can view problem areas quickly and make crucial decisions within minutes."
Through three deployments in support of the war on terrorism, more than 250 missions and 5,000 combat flight hours have been logged by just three aircraft.
Global Hawk flies autonomously at an altitude of more than 60,000 feet, above inclement weather and prevailing winds, for more than 35 hours at a time. During a single mission, it can provide detailed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information in near-real time over 40,000 square miles – approximately the size of Illinois.
"During a single mission, it can provide detailed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information in near-real time over 40,000 square miles – approximately the size of Illinois."Gee, with a relatively small number of Global Hawks, Bush could expand his spying program to include real-time reconnaissance on the entire population of the US!
Comment on this Article
Big Brother is watching you on Britain's roads
Saturday January 28, 12:54 PM
Big Brother-style surveillance is growing on Britain's roads, where police will have the greatest ability in the world to scrutinise, control and record the movements of drivers by the end of the year.
Thousands of cameras reading vehicle number plates and comparing data with a central data base will analyse some 35 million pieces of information per day.
The data will be transmitted to the police and also MI5, Britain's domestic intelligence agency, to help in the hunt for suspected criminals or terrorists. It will be kept for two years, but the period may be extended to five years.
Prime Minister Tony Blair's centre-left government has invested some 15 million pounds (27 million dollars, 22 million euros) in the project this year.
"The plan is to deny criminals the use of the road," said retired police officer John Dean, who is coordinating the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) programme.
"We will combine our efforts in a national network which, we hope, will be active from May," Dean told AFP.
The entire country will be hooked up to the ANPR system between now and the end of 2006.
The network of cameras will automatically alert the authorities when it finds a car listed as stolen, with an out-of-date tax disk or a vehicle that is not insured.
The system also raises the alarm if it recognises there is an arrest warrant out for the driver of a vehicle. And it can be used simply to track the movement of a certain person who is of police interest.
The licence plate recognition technology is already in use at Britain's ports, tunnels, around the City of London and on the motorway that surrounds the British capital.
In every regional police department across the country, there will be a group of officers assigned to the ANPR program and will have authority to stop cars.
The system could be expanded to include closed-circuit television at service stations as well as carparks at supermarkets, taking advantage of the fact that Britain boasts 10 percent of the world's video surveillance cameras.
The amount of data being processed is also set to grow. By March 2008, the system will be able to analyse 50 million pieces of information per day.
It is difficult to measure the effectiveness of the surveillance programme in the fight against crime, terrorism and minor road offences.
A test by the Home Office, however, showed that the annual detention rate for a police officer shot up from an average of 10 to 100.
Despite such claims, Tony Vickers, of the Association of British Drivers (ABD), is against the scheme, brandishing it intrusive and expensive.
"We believe it would be more useful, and much less expensive to put officers on the roads to spot bad behaviour at the wheel," he said.
In addition, the surveillance system is ineffective because most criminals use stolen number plates, Vickers noted.
Frank Whiteley, chair of the Association of Police Officers ANPR Steering Group, dismissed this argument.
If the number plates "have been reported stolen, then they will be put on the Police National Computer and we will be able to detect any vehicle using them at some point," said Whitely, who is chief constable of the Hertfordshire Constabulary in southern England.
Critics also say the system is too intrusive in a country which is already over-populated by video cameras -- Londoners are filmed on average 300 times a day.
Vickers said: "We are strongly opposed to the scheme. This is an intrusion in the privacy of every driver in this country, and it makes everyone become a presumed suspect."
"This is an intrusion in the privacy of every driver in this country, and it makes everyone become a presumed suspect." And that's the whole idea: if everyone knows they are a presumed suspect, they will live in constant fear. So far, it is working. In all the countries around the world where terrorism and crime are being used to justify spying on the population and the removal of civil liberties, how many citizens have stood up together and declared that enough is enough??
Comment on this Article
Antiwar Group Infiltrated by the FBI
by Carlos Miller
The Raw Story
January 27, 2006
Infiltrated by feds, antiwar group turns on photographer
The first time federal agents infiltrated the Broward Antiwar Coalition was in July 2003, two months before a planned protest against President George W. Bush, according to one member of the South Florida activist group.
The second time was in September 2003, two months before the infamous Free Trade Area of the Americas meeting in downtown Miami, which resulted in several lawsuits against the Miami Police Department for using excessive force against protesters.
And the third time was less than a year ago, just days before the Organization of American States meeting in downtown Fort Lauderdale, said Ray Del Papa, one of the original members of the activist group.
Each time, it was a different person who had joined their group or befriended one of its members, asking prying questions and knowing just a little too much personal information about the activists. Each time, the individual seemed to contradict statements they had made about themselves and their background. And each time, that person would disappear within a few months, never to be heard from again.
So last month, when NBC revealed that the federal government had been spying on antiwar groups around the country, including several in South Florida, it confirmed what Broward Antiwar Coalition members had suspected for more than two years: that Big Brother had been watching all along.
And it left them with a simmering rage -- and paranoia from being spied upon -- that exploded on the streets of Miami earlier this month when one of its members allegedly attacked a photojournalist, landing the activist in jail. The incident revealed the untold price of domestic surveillance: that people who feel they are being spied upon are liable to turn on each other.
Kate Healey, 44, was charged with one count of misdemeanor battery. She declined to be interviewed for this article.
Photographer attacked on suspicion of surveillance
The incident began during a demonstration against Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito Jan. 9 in downtown Miami. Members of the Broward Antiwar Coalition were among several groups protesting against Alito. As usual, a number of counter-protesters, including a group of pro-lifers, had shown up to voice their opposition to the activist groups.
Photojournalist Danny Hammontree said he was taking pictures of a screaming argument between an anti-Alito protester and a pro-life woman waving a Bible, when the anti-Alito woman turned to him and demanded: "Who the fuck are you?"
Hammontree told her he was a freelancer who specializes in shooting protests. The woman, later identified as Healey, told him he was not allowed to take her photo because it was against the law, he said.
"I said, 'I have as much right to photograph you as you have to be here protesting,'" he said.
"Then she attacked me."
Hammontree said that Healey stormed up to him as he was holding the camera up to his face and shoved the lens hard into his eye.
"Then she started punching me in the chest and body," he said. "It didn't really hurt me. It was really more of a threat against my equipment than against me."
Watching the whole incident unravel was a member of Miami's Civilian Investigative Panel, a watchdog group that was established to monitor the Miami Police Department, after a series of questionable police shootings on civilians that eventually landed several cops in jail.
"A lady from the CIP came and pulled her off me," Hammontree said.
Dean Lautermilch, another South Florida photojournalist who specializes in protests, said Healey initially confronted him before turning her anger towards Hammontree.
"She was screaming at one of the Christians and during a pause, I tapped her on the shoulder and said hello," he said. "Then she started screaming at me, 'Don't you understand, we got infiltrated by the FBI. We don't know who to trust anymore.'
"Danny then took a photo and she turned on him."
After taking statements from witnesses, police asked Hammontree if he wanted to press charges against Healey, which he did.
"I did it out of principle because I want them to know that in the future, I'm not going to tolerate them attacking me," he said. "Especially with all my equipment. I work for myself so I don't have a company to replace my camera gear."
Suspicion festers among group members
Meanwhile, Del Papa, who was furious at watching one of his fellow group members arrested, accused Hammontree and Lautermilch of being spies for the FBI.
"He was getting all crazy, the cop had to hold him back," Hammontree said. "He was saying, 'I know you guys are with the FBI' or some crazy shit like that. So I took his photo."
Del Papa said he is suspicious of Lautermilch because of an incident last year when the photojournalist refused to photograph another Broward Antiwar Coalition member getting arrested during a protest against the Central America Free Trade Agreement in July 2004.
"He tries to tell me he is exercising his right to take photographs, but when it comes to taking a picture of one of our guys getting arrested, he refuses," Del Papa said. "And he likes to take a lot of portrait shots, real close up photos of our faces. If you're photographing a protest, why do you need portraits?"
Lautermilch said Ft. Lauderdale Police intimidated him and Hammontree from taking the photo of the arrest that day.
"It was clear from their body language that if I took that photo, they would have come after me," he said. "We felt terrible and we apologized several times, but I'm not going to lose $5,000 of Nikon equipment over the incident that happened in the tunnel."
Christian Minaya, 25, said he was initially arrested for "prowling", even though he was on a public sidewalk. That charge was later reduced to trespassing. Minaya said he does not suspect the photographers of being informants.
"I've seen the cops confiscate cameras so that is probably why they wouldn't take the photo," he said.
Both photographers laughed at the idea that they are FBI informants.
"I've never even gone to any of their meetings," Lautermilch said, adding that he takes portrait shots because that is his photography style. "I always try to make them look good."
Hammontree said that he is likely to have his own FBI file because he grew up in a hippy commune.
"The whole irony is that I'm on their side," Hammontree said. "I am antiwar and anti-Bush. But I'm against anyone who is going to attack me for taking their photo."
While Hammontree and Lautermilch were photographing protesters during the anti-Alito rally, members of the Broward Antiwar Coalition were also photographing people whom they believed to be undercover cops.
"There were like four undercover police officers there," said Paul Lefrak, one of the founding members of the Broward Antiwar Coalition.
"We go up and photograph them. They're always these lone, buff guys, standing in the crowd, looking around. They try to avoid getting photographed. We tell them we just want their photograph."
Lefrak said he did not witness the incident between Healey and the photojournalists, but he pleaded with Hammontree to drop the charges. Lefrak is fully aware the group has been infiltrated in the past, but would not go as far as to associate either of the two photographers with the FBI.
"I would only make an accusation of someone being a cop or an informant if I had strong evidence," he said. "But I'm not going to say I will vouch for (Lautermilch). It's a question mark."
Group was infiltrated three times
In the past, the infiltrators were usually more obvious.
For example, the first time the group was infiltrated was in 2003, when Del Papa was befriended by a new employee at his job in a hobby store.
"He would come in and work on Saturdays. He was an active duty officer stationed in Miami. And he knew a lot of stuff about me. What my interests were, people I associated with outside of politics.
"On his first day, he drops the name of a close friend of mine who lives in Baltimore. That was a red flag."
And as they got to know each other, the man kept prying into events that Del Papa attended with the Broward Antiwar Coalition.
"He told me he was a sympathizer to the cause and that his wife is a socialist," Del Papa said.
Del Papa, who is a professional model builder, said the man claimed to be a model aficionado.
"But as we started working together, I realized the man didn't know a whole lot about the hobby," Del Papa said. "I never trusted him. I always kept him at a distance."
Two months later, after the man stopped showing up to work, never to be heard from again, another man started showing up at the group's meetings. On Nov. 11, during the Free Trade Area of the Americas meeting in Miami, the man showed up with a woman they had never seen before.
"They were dressed in Black Bloc attire, but he was wearing Nikes," Del Papa said. "Nobody in the Black Bloc wears Nikes. And he said he was from Pittsburgh, but when I asked him about Pittsburgh, his knowledge was very limited.'
Not surprisingly, the man and the women disappeared after the FTAA protest.
Just last year, in the days leading to the protest against American States meeting in downtown Fort Lauderdale, Del Papa spoke on phone to another member about the need for a medic at the protest. Less than 24 hours later, a woman showed up out of the blue at a group meeting, claiming to be a medic.
On the day of the protest, the woman organized a group of young people to plant themselves in front of the police. The youths sat down less than 15 feet from a group of police officers, who were fully dressed in riot gear.
"It was 4 p.m. and we were supposed to disperse at 5 p.m. because that was when the permit was going to expire," he said. "We weren't sure if the kids were going to disperse and we didn't want to give the cops an excuse to do what they did in Miami."
They managed to get the young people to stand up before the 5 p.m. deadline without incident. The woman never returned.
Lefrak said the Broward Antiwar Coalition is a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights against the federal government over the spying.
"To me, it just shows that anytime the government resorts to oppression against popular movements, it shows they fear the mass movement," Lefrak said. "That is something that can encourage us. And we're not afraid of it. We will continue to do our part."
Comment: "The incident revealed the untold price of domestic surveillance: that people who feel they are being spied upon are liable to turn on each other."
But don't you get it? That's exactly what they want!
Comment on this Article
Hacker's five-line program allowed him to change electronic election results, leaving no audit trail
by Marc L. Songini
Jan. 19, 2006
When Herbert Thompson, director of research at Wilmington, Mass.-based Security Innovation, talks about e-voting security, he speaks from firsthand experience. Security Innovation conducts security testing and Thompson is the co-author of several books, including How to Break Software Security.
He volunteered to use his expertise in tests to determine whether it's possible to hack electronic voting gear last May and again last month in Leon County, Fla. With fellow security expert Harri Hursti, Thompson took part in the hacking of an optical scan system made by Diebold Elections Systems Inc., allegedly proving that election results could be changed.
Thompson spoke recently with Computerworld about e-voting reliability. Diebold declined to make anyone available for an interview on the topic, but a spokesman dismissed the concerns raised by Thompson. Diebold’s response follows Thompson’s comments below.
Q: Can you tell us about some of your e-voting machine hacking activities?
A: On Tuesday, Dec. 13, we conducted a hack of the Diebold AccuVote optical scan device. I wrote a five-line script in Visual Basic that would allow you to go into the central tabulator and change any vote total you wanted, leaving no logs. It requires physical access to a machine, which in many counties isn’t very difficult to get -- you have elections offices full of volunteers. In Leon County, they have good policies and procedures in place. But in many counties, where such awareness doesn’t exist, that brings up some serious concerns about someone being able to tamper with the results.
Harri Hursti changed the contents of a memory card used in the optical scan device and preloaded it. During the [pre-election testing] procedure, it will tell you there are no votes on the card, but there is executable content on it. If you can get access to the memory card, you can change its logic and have it do whatever you want -- even print a smiley face. That hack was like prestuffing a ballot box to handicap one candidate by giving them negative votes and giving another positive ones.
Q: Is e-voting security a political issue?
A: I’m strictly an independent person donating my time. It’s not political. Bad software is the issue. I’m a software security guy. I see a lot of bad software. All software has security vulnerability -- this is just particularly bad. As an election official, you have to be wary when touching a tabulator or a memory card, it has to be treated like a box of live ballots.
A: Diebold has claimed that the hacks have been unfair. Your response?
A: I would love to do a demonstration where Diebold participates.
There are certainly other voting companies that make tabulation software as well as optical scan gear, and we’re seeing the same vulnerabilities as we’ve seen in Diebold’s systems, which raises a broader question. That’s about whether the verification and validation processes these machines go through are woefully inadequate or not. The e-voting companies aren’t volunteering up their systems for independent audits and analysis.
Q: Is the security in e-voting up to the standards business executives would demand in their business applications?
A: No way. Definitely not. Five years ago, yes, but in the current climate, no. These guys are betting their critical business processes on software. They need to consider who might do harm to that system. This level of rigor isn’t applied to e-voting systems.
Q: What do you think should be done?
A: There should be much more severe security testing requirements. The key, from my perspective, is you need to raise awareness that these vulnerabilities do exist and can be exploited and you need a way of measuring security.
Diebold has publicly denounced the Leon County tests as being invalid. In fact, the vendor contended that Leon County Elections Supervisor Ion Sancho’s decision to sponsor the hacking attempts were potential violations of licensing agreements and intellectual property rights. In a letter to Sancho on June 8, Diebold said Sancho had committed a “very foolish and irresponsible act.” In that same letter, Diebold said the May hack was akin to “leaving your car unlocked, with the windows down and keys left in the ignition and then acting surprised when your car is stolen or the interior vandalized.”
Diebold spokesman David Bear responded to some of Thompson’s claims about Diebold gear. The design of the equipment used in the Leon County demonstration dates back to the early 1990s, Bear said. Diebold’s current touch-screen voting machines have far more sophisticated security that would prevent this type of attack.
Additionally, Bear said, the older optical scan machines are only vulnerable to such a hack when normal security procedures are not followed. “Even the older memory cards are sealed in the machines after pre-election testing is complete,” he said. “The cards are not given to third parties for ‘hacking purposes’ as was done during the demo. If any of the seals are broken or there is any hint of a security breach, the paper ballots can be recounted. Furthermore, many locations require a certain percentage of ballots be recounted even when there is no suspected fraud.”
He also said that Diebold regularly enhances its products to bolster security, and the enhancements are discussed, implemented, tested, certified and made available to customers. “This situation is no different,” he said. “Procedures are available which fully protect against this style of attack.”
Comment on this Article
India changes tune, defends Iran
By Jawed Naqvi
28 Jan 06
NEW DELHI - India on Friday distanced itself from US-led calls to isolate Iran at next week’s meeting of the IAEA after controversial remarks on the issue by Washington’s envoy to Delhi enraged the nation as seldom seen before.
The Indian foreign ministry, facing a barrage of criticism for apparent obsequiousness towards Washington that ranged from allies in the Left Front to former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, appeared to have rowed back from its recent bonhomie with the United States.
“During the past two weeks, India has been undertaking active consultations with all key members of the IAEA Board of Governors and with Iran, in order to avoid confrontation and to promote the widest possible consensus on handling the Iran nuclear issue,” a spokesman for the Indian foreign ministry said.
He explained that in all the consultations, India has urged “that Iran’s right to develop peaceful uses of nuclear energy for its development consistent with its international obligations and commitments should be respected”.
The spokesman said: “Iran’s willingness to work together with the IAEA to remove any outstanding issues, about its nuclear programme should be welcomed.” In this regard, the agency should be allowed to proceed according to its work programme and submit a detailed report, he said.
India, he said, also welcomes all initiatives, “including from Russia, which could enable a consensus to be reached on this issue and urges further intensive efforts in that direction”.
In the bargain India appealed to “all concerned countries (to) avoid confrontation and work in the spirit of seeking a mutually acceptable solution”.
The Indian clarification, which came in response to a question, coincided with comments by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that India should be ready to make hard choices ahead.
Earlier this week, US Ambassador David Mulford, in apparent eagerness to clinch a civil nuclear energy deal with India before President George W. Bush arrives here on March 1, said the move could die in the US Congress if India did not vote against Iran at the February 2 IAEA meeting.
The Indian Express, which supports the deal, cautioned: “India and the US are raucous democracies. Public statements from either side quickly feed into the domestic politics of the other and complicate the negotiations between the two governments. India and the US have made much progress in the last few years because they have learnt one hard lesson from the wasted decades of the past: avoid hectoring each other in public. Mulford’s remarks are an awful deviation from that sensible rule.”
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government is already under considerable pressure from the Left as well as sections of the Congress to reverse its IAEA vote, the Express wrote. “By linking the implementation of the nuclear pact and the Iran vote, Mulford has undercut the prospects of India moving forward on both.”
The Hindu said: “In publicly warning India, on Republic Day eve, to vote against Iran or else, (Mulford) has outrageously crossed the line of diplomatic propriety, inviting condemnation from political players ranging from the Left to Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
“But he has also done India a service by letting the cat out of the bag, if it was ever fully in. In his interview to the Press Trust of India, he has spotlighted the pitiful terms of the bargain struck by the Manmohan Singh government with Washington under the signboard of civilian nuclear cooperation,” The Hindu said.
“Who can, after Mr Mulford’s egregious forthcomingness, doubt that the bargain requires India to behave like a marionette — forced at every turn of major international events to go against its own national instincts and interests for fear of offending Washington? Today it is a fatwa on Iran, tomorrow it will be a diktat on India’s plan to separate its civil and military nuclear facilities, which Mr. Mulford has found to fall short of ‘minimum standards’.”
The Asian Age, commenting on Mr Mulford’s faux pas, observed: “Sometimes when you say something often enough, you start saying it in your sleep. This is what appears to have happened to US Ambassador to India David C. Mulford who stunned his own, and definitely Manmohan Singh’s, governments with his recent interview to a news agency.”
Comment on this Article
Prepare yourself for the unthinkable: war against Iran may be a necessity
27 Jan 06
THE UNIMAGINABLE but ultimately inescapable truth is that we are going to have to get ready for war with Iran. Being of a free-speaking, free-thinking disposition, we generally find in the West that hand-wringing, finger-pointing and second-guessing come more easily to us than cold, strategic thinking. Confronted with nightmarish perils we instinctively choose to seize the opportunity to blame each other, cursing our domestic opponents for the situation they’ve put us in.
The rapidly intensifying crisis with regard to Iran exemplifies the phenomenon. On the right, it is said that the decision to let the Europeans play nuclear footsie with the mullahs in Iran for more than two years was a terrible blunder. Pacifist evasion is what the world has come to expect from continental Europe, but the decision by Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, to become an enabler to their procrastinations was of a different order of strategic error. An emboldened Tehran seized the chance to play them all along while advancing its ambitions in great leaps.
On the left the hands are being wrung over Iraq. It is argued that the decision to invade the wrong country has made our situation intolerably worse. Iran was always the bigger threat. While we were chasing phantom nuclear weapons in Mesopotamia, next door Iran was busy building real ones. Now we are enfeebled, militarily and politically, our diplomatic tools blunted beyond repair by the errors in Iraq.
I tend to side more with the former crowd (though let it not be said that the latter do not have a point) but it is important for all of us to understand that this debate is now for the birds. All that matters now is what we do.
The unavoidable reality is that we now need urgently to steel ourselves to the ugly probability that diplomacy will not now suffice: one or way or another, unconscionable acts of war may now be unavoidable.
Those who say war is unthinkable are right. Military strikes, even limited, targeted and accurate ones, will have devastating consequences for the region and for the world. They will, quite probably entrench and harden the Iranian regime. Even the young, hopeful democrats who despise their theocratic rulers and crave the freedoms of the West will pause at the sight of their country burnt and humiliated by the infidels.
A war, even a limited one, will almost certainly raise oil prices to recession-inducing levels, as Iran cuts itself off from global markets. The loss of Iranian supply and the already stretched nature of production in the Arab world and elsewhere means prices of $150 per barrel are easily imaginable. Military strikes will foster more violence in the Middle East, strengthen the insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan, fuel anti-Western sentiment among Muslims everywhere and encourage more terrorism against us at home.
All true. All fearfully powerful arguments against the use of the military option. But multiplied together, squared, and then cubed, the weight of these arguments does not come close to matching the case for us to stop, by whatever means may be necessary, Iran from becoming a nuclear power.
If Iran gets safely and unmolested to nuclear status, it will be a threshold moment in the history of the world, up there with the Bolshevik Revolution and the coming of Hitler. What the country itself may do with those weapons, given its pledges, its recent history and its strategic objectives with regard to the US, Israel and their allies, is well known. We can reasonably assume that the refusal of the current Iranian leadership to accept the Holocaust as historical fact is simply a recognition of their own plans to redefine the notion as soon as they get a chance (“Now this is what we call a holocaust”). But this threat is only, incredibly, a relatively small part of the problem.
If Iran goes nuclear, it will demonstrate conclusively that even the world’s greatest superpower, unrivalled militarily, under a leadership of proven willingness to take bold military steps, could not stop a country as destabilising as Iran from achieving its nuclear ambitions.
No country in a region that is so riven by religious and ethnic hatreds will feel safe from the new regional superpower. No country in the region will be confident that the US and its allies will be able or willing to protect them from a nuclear strike by Iran. Nor will any regional power fear that the US and its allies will act to prevent them from emulating Iran. Say hello to a nuclear Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia.
Iran, of course, secure now behind its nuclear wall, will surely step up its campaign of terror around the world. It will become even more of a magnet and haven for terrorists. The terror training grounds of Afghanistan were always vulnerable if the West had the resolve. Protected by a nuclear-missile-owning state, Iranian camps will become impregnable.
And the kind of society we live in and cherish in the West, a long way from Tehran or Damascus, will change beyond recognition. We balk now at intrusive government measures to tap our phones or stop us saying incendiary things in mosques. Imagine how much more our freedoms will be curtailed if our governments fear we are just one telephone call or e-mail, one plane journey or truckload away from another Hiroshima.
Something short of military action may yet prevail on Iran. Perhaps sanctions will turn their leadership from its doomsday ambitions. Perhaps Russia can somehow be persuaded to give them an incentive to think again. But we can’t count on this optimistic scenario now. And so we must ready ourselves for what may be the unthinkable necessity.
Because in the end, preparation for war, by which I mean not military feasibility planning, or political and diplomatic manoeuvres but a psychological readiness, a personal willingness on all our parts to bear the terrible burdens that it will surely impose, may be our last real chance to ensure that we can avoid one.
Comment: What an idiot... more drum beating for war when it is clear that Iran is NOT the problem.
Comment on this Article
Robert Fisk: The problem with democracy
28 January 2006
Oh no, not more democracy again! Didn't we award this to those Algerians in 1990? And didn't they reward us with that nice gift of an Islamist government - and then they so benevolently cancelled the second round of elections? Thank goodness for that!
True, the Afghans elected a round of representatives, albeit that they included some warlords and murderers. But then the Iraqis last year elected the Dawa party to power in Baghdad, which was responsible - let us not speak this in Washington - for most of the kidnappings of Westerners in Beirut in the 1980s, the car bombing of the (late) Emir and the US and French embassies in Kuwait.
And now, horror of horrors, the Palestinians have elected the wrong party to power. They were supposed to have given their support to the friendly, pro-Western, corrupt, absolutely pro-American Fatah, which had promised to "control" them, rather than to Hamas, which said they would represent them. And, bingo, they have chosen the wrong party again.
Result: 76 out of 132 seats. That just about does it. God damn that democracy. What are we to do with people who don't vote the way they should?
Way back in the 1930s, the British would lock up the Egyptians who turned against the government of King Farouk. Thus they began to set the structure of anti-democratic governance that was to follow. The French imprisoned the Lebanese government which demanded the same. Then the French left Lebanon. But we have always expected the Arab governments to do what they were told.
So today, we are expecting the Syrians to behave, the Iranians to kowtow to our nuclear desires (though they have done nothing illegal), and the North Koreans to surrender their weapons (though they actually do have them, and therefore cannot be attacked).
Now let the burdens of power lie heavy on the shoulders of the party. Now let the responsibilities of people lie upon them. We British would never talk to the IRA, or to Eoka, or to the Mao Mao. But in due course, Gerry Adams, Archbishop Makarios and Jomo Kenyatta came to take tea with the Queen. The Americans would never speak to their enemies in North Vietnam. But they did. In Paris.
No, al-Qa'ida will not do that. But the Iraqi leaders of the insurgency in Mesopotamia will. They talked to the British in 1920, and they will talk to the Americans in 2006.
Back in 1983, Hamas talked to the Israelis. They spoke directly to them about the spread of mosques and religious teaching. The Israeli army boasted about this on the front page of the Jerusalem Post. At that time, it looked like the PLO was not going to abide by the Oslo resolutions. There seemed nothing wrong, therefore, with continuing talks with Hamas. So how come talks with Hamas now seem so impossible?
Not long after the Hamas leadership had been hurled into southern Lebanon, a leading member of its organisation heard me say that I was en route to Israel.
"You'd better call Shimon Peres," he told me. "Here's his home number."
The phone number was correct. Here was proof that members of the hierarchy of the most extremist movements among the Palestinians were talking to senior Israeli politicians.
The Israelis know well the Hamas leadership. And the Hamas leadership know well the Israelis. There is no point in journalists like us suggesting otherwise. Our enemies invariably turn out to be our greatest friends, and our friends turn out, sadly, to be our enemies.
A terrible equation - except that we must understand our fathers' history. My father, who was a soldier in the First World War, bequeathed to me a map in which the British and French ruled the Middle East. The Americans have tried, vainly, to rule that map since the Second World War. They have all failed. And it remains our curse to rule it since.
How terrible it is to speak with those who have killed our sons. How unspeakable it is to converse with those who have our brothers' blood on their hands. No doubt that is how Americans who believed in independence felt about the Englishmen who fired upon them.
It will be for the Iraqis to deal with al-Qa'ida. This is their burden. Not ours. Yet throughout history, we have ended up talking to our enemies. We talked to the representatives of the Emperor of Japan. In the end, we had to accept the surrender of the German Reich from the successor to Adolf Hitler. And today, we trade happily with the Japanese, the Germans and the Italians.
The Middle East was never a successor to Nazi Germany or Fascist Italy, despite the rubbish talked by Messrs Bush and Blair. How long will it be before we can throw away the burden of this most titanic of wars and see our future, not as our past, but as a reality?
Surely, in an age when our governments no longer contain men or women who have experienced war, we must now lead a people with the understanding of what war means. Not Hollywood. Not documentary films. Democracy means real freedom, not just for the people we choose to have voted into power.
And that is the problem in the Middle East.
Comment on this Article
Angry Fatah gunmen storm onto parliament roof
Sunday January 29, 12:06 AM
Gunmen have fired volleys from the roof of the Palestinian parliament in Ramallah as thousands of Fatah supporters called for party leaders to resign after their defeat in this week's election.
And in Gaza City, hundreds more Fatah party supporters, including security officers, barged into the Gaza Strip's parliamentary compound, firing into the air, an AFP reporter said.
The turmoil, which risks intensifying with Hamas to be charged with forming a new government soon, erupted as the Islamist movement's supreme leader promised that his group would face up to its responsibilities.
Thousands of angry Fatah members protested Saturday for the second day over their electoral loss. In the West Bank town of Ramallah, 40 gunmen climbed onto the roof of the parliament, firing into the air to demand that Fatah leaders resign.
Militants from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, loosely affiliated to the party, and around 600 activists then marched to the Palestinian leadership compound, furious with their humiliation in last Wednesday's election.
They erected a Palestinian flag, a yellow Fatah banner and a picture of their late leader, Yasser Arafat, on the roof of the Palestinian Legislative Council.
Gunmen fired into the air outside the gates of the Muqataa compound while others entered the courtyard, but without opening fire, in order to pay their respects at Arafat's tomb.
"Dahlan, Abbas, don't participate with Hamas," some chanted, referring to leading Fatah MP Mohammed Dahlan and Palestinian Authority president Mahmud Abbas, who has said he will ask Hamas to form a new government.
"We will do our best to change our bad leaders for good ones... we will protect Abu Mazen (Abbas)," one Brigade leader, Ramzi Obeid, told journalists.
Hamas's victory in the election, giving it 76 seats to Fatah's 43 in the 132-member parliament, decisively ended the ruling party's decades-long grip on power and thrown into turmoil hopes of bringing peace to the region.
Around 3,000 supporters of Fatah also took to the streets in the troubled northern West Bank town of Nablus to demand the party leadership resign or else be "punished", and to boycott any new Hamas-led government.
Some 80 masked Al-Aqsa militants fired rounds into the air and vowed that they would no longer adhere to a de facto Palestinian truce in attacks on Israel. The truce officially expired at the end of 2005.
"Our bullets will go to the head of the occupation and the head of those who hurt the Fatah movement," a masked militant shouted through a megaphone.
A further 1,000 marched through the streets of Tulkarem, calling on Fatah's central committee to resign and for the party not to enter a coalition with Hamas. Fatah failed to get a single MP elected in the city's constituency.
The supreme leader of Hamas, who lives in exile in Syria following an Israeli attempt to assassinate him, announced in Damascus that his movement would prove as effective in politics and reform as in fighting Israel.
"We have succeeded in the resistance and we will succeed in politics, reforms and change," Khaled Meshaal told reporters.
"We have been chosen by our people and we assume our responsibility," he added, saying Hamas's priorities were to introduce political reform and protect the resistance.
Meshaal charged that Hamas would take account of realities in its approach to Israel, although there was no question of reversing its non-recognition of the Jewish state.
Israel, which pulled out of Hamas's Gaza Strip stronghold last year, has steadfastly rejected talks with the movement which refuses to recognise the Jewish state's right to exist and has carried out scores of suicide attacks.
Israel in its turn has carried out targeted killings of Hamas militants and leaders.
In the town of Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, around 200 masked Al-Aqsa gunmen broke down the door of the empty Fatah headquarters, calling on the local party leadership to resign.
Dozens of Fatah supporters closed off streets in the central Gaza Strip town of Deir al-Balah, burning tyres and calling for the resignation of the party's central committee, witnesses said.
On Friday, nine people, five of them security officers, were wounded in shootouts between Fatah and Hamas gunmen in the volatile southern Gaza Strip.
Comment on this Article
Google Is Destined To Fail In China
By Perry Wu
26 Jan 06
Google (GOOG) seems to think that it can not rule the world without having a firm grip over China's Internet population. And that probably won't happen any time soon.
Comment on this Article
EU says French anti-takeover rules 'protectionist'
Jan 26, 2006
BRUSSELS - The European Union executive arm considers new French rules to shield French firms from foreign takeovers to be "protectionist" and "discriminatory", a spokesman said Thursday.
The European Commission sent a letter to French authorities at the beginning of the week to voice its concerns about the legislation, the spokesman for internal market commissioner Charlie McCreevy told AFP.
The commission considered parts of the legislation, which went into effect in December, to be "protectionist" and "discriminatory" because it requires foreign firms to get the green light from the government before taking over French companies in "strategic" industries
The French finance ministry said in Paris that it would examine the letter, to which it has a month to reply or face legal proceedings from the commission.
Last August, the French government drew sharp criticism in France and abroad for plans to draw up a list of "strategic" sectors in which it could block hostile takeovers of a French firm by a foreign company.
The rules cover 11 industries, including casinos, private security firms, the development and production of antidotes, equipment for intercepting communications, computer security systems and some dual civil-military technology and cryptology activities.
Comment: The attempt to protect private security firms, the production of antidotes, eavesdropping equipment, computer security systems, and cryptology activities is particularly interesting - and hardly surprising. Given the state of today's world, France's actions could simply be the result of some good old fashioned common sense.
Comment on this Article
Roof Falls on Crowded Hall in Poland
January 28, 2006
WARSAW, Poland - The snow-covered roof of a trade hall in southern Poland collapsed Saturday, and police said as many as 500 people were inside at the time for a carrier pigeon exhibition.
Katowice police spokesman Janusz Jonczyk said the roof likely collapsed from the weight of the snow, and rescue efforts in the Bytkow district were ongoing.
"There could be even up to 500 people inside," Jonczyk said. "We have no number of victims right now."
About 30 people were taken to the hospital.
"Hospitals are making preparations to take in more of the injured," Jonczyk said.
Katowice has been hit with the heavy snow plaguing much of eastern and central Europe this winter.
On Friday, the roof of a town hall in the southern Austrian village of Mariazell collapsed under snow. No injuries were reported.
On Jan. 2 in the German Alpine spa town of Bad Reichenhall, the snow-covered roof of a skating rink collapsed, killing 15 people, including 12 children.
Comment on this Article
Don't follow super-size Americans, says Prince
By Andrew Pierce
The Sunday Times
January 27, 2006
THE Prince of Wales warned the British people last night that they were in danger of becoming as obese as many Americans because they did not walk or cycle enough.
The Prince, who has a fleet of chauffeur-driven cars and has rarely if ever been seen in public on the saddle of a bike, said: “We are perhaps not very far behind our American cousins in the ‘super-sizing epidemic’.”
In his speech at St James’s Palace he gave warning of a worrying sharp rise in childhood obesity. His intervention comes after the British Medical Association said that Britain’s fat youngsters, who account for a third of all obese children in Europe, were at high risk of developing life-threatening conditions, including diabetes and heart disease. One million under-16s were so fat that they were putting their health at risk, the BMA said.
The most recent statistics from the Department of Health indicate that more than 40 per cent of men and 33 per cent of women are overweight and 20 per cent of both are obese.
The Prince, who credits his trim figure to a diet of one organic meal a day, which he calls the Des O’Connor diet, and long walks on the Scottish moors when he is at Balmoral, said that the rise in obesity was partly caused by the design of modern towns and cities.
“Research suggests that walking or cycling for just half an hour a day can have a significant improvement on our state of health. But why don’t we do it more?” The answer, he said, was that too many towns made it virtually impossible. “It might help if the built environment was more appealing and attractive to pedestrians.”
He urged the Government to embrace the work of Richard Jackson, a former adviser on health to Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Governor of California. The Prince said: “Dr Jackson and his colleagues have pointed to a disturbing link between the built environment, physical inactivity and what he terms a syndemic of diseases, including, perhaps most worryingly, childhood obesity.”
Last year Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, and Margaret Hodge, the Children’s Minister, said that junk food advertisements during children’s television programmes would be banned by law if the industry failed to agree a voluntary code. They were contradicted by Tessa Jowell, the Culture Secretary, who said that the scheme would undermine income for ITV.
The topic of how building design affects public wellbeing is one of the Prince’s favourite hobby horses. He set up the Foundation for the Built Environment, which hosted last night’s event, to promote traditional urban design and architecture that put communities at the centre of the process.
In the past, he has called for greater integration of complementary medicine, to be used to tackle obesity, especially in youngsters. In November he backed demands for healthier, more nutritional, school meals.
Comment on this Article
Major quake triggers panic in Indonesia
Jan 28 2:52 AM US/Eastern
A major earthquake measuring 7.7 on the Richter scale has rocked eastern Indonesia, cracking walls and triggering panic, the US Geological Survey and local residents said.
The quake struck at 1:58 am (1658 GMT Friday) in the Banda Sea, around 195 kilometers (120 miles) south of Ambon city at a depth of 340 kilometres (220 miles), the US Geological Survey said in on its website.
There were no immediate reports of major damage or casualties.
Several buildings in Ambon, including the main shopping center, the Ambon Plaza, sustained cracks to the walls, but there was no major damage.
"It was so strong that people who were soundly sleeping were awakened," Ambon resident Sulaiman Tuasikal.
Detikcom news portal said the quake also cracked the walls of houses and government buildings in Masohi in Central Maluku, which is closest to the quake epicenter.
Hundreds of Masohi residents had fled to higher ground and refused to return to their homes, fearing a tsunami, it said.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii, which monitors seismic events and their tidal wave-generating potential, put out a bulletin following the quake, but said no tsunami was anticipated.
"A destructive tsunami is not expected from the earthquake," Stuart Weinstein, the center's assistant director, told AFP.
"The quake was very deep. It's 340 kilometers or roughly 220 miles deep. It's so far under the surface that it's not going to cause enough displacement of the sea floor that it'll generate a tsunami," he added.
On December 26, 2004, Indonesia's Aceh province was the hardest hit by the 9.3-magnitude quake off Sumatra that triggered tsunamis which killed more than 220,000 people around the Indian Ocean.
An official with the Jakarta meteorological office said it had recorded the latest quake at 7.3 on the Richter scale.
The tremor was also felt in Tual and Saumlaki, also in the Maluku island chain, as well as in Sorong in Papua province, Kupang in East Nusa Tenggara province and the South Sulawesi provincial capital of Makassar, he told AFP.
A local policeman in Ambon, who declined to be identified, said the quake was "felt very strongly in Ambon and caused many people to flee their homes".
"I ran out of the office along with my colleagues," he told AFP, adding that he was not sure whether there were any casualties or damage.
The sprawling Indonesian archipelago sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", where the meeting of continental plates causes high volcanic and seismic activity.
Comment on this Article
Cold snap triggers 'orange' weather alert across France
Jan 27, 2006
NANTES – In anticipation of heavy snow and frost, the French national weather-forecasting service has declared a 'level orange' alert through Sunday for 36 departments.
The temperature has dropped precipitously across France this week as a cold front has swept in from eastern Europe.
The weather service, Météo France, expects especially heavy snow Friday night and Saturday along the length of the Rhine valley.
Saturday heavy snow and wind up to 110km/h are expected for the southern part of the central mountain range, the Massif Central; the storm is expected to sweep as far west as the Pyrénées Orientales.
While snowfall while be lighter to the north, the low temperature and high winds will still cause heavy frost through the Aquitaine, Charentes, Limousin, and has far north as southern Brittany.
Snow levels are predicted to reach five to 10 centimetres in most low-lying areas and as much as 30 centimetres above 500 metres.
Temperatures for Saturday morning are forecast from 0 to -5 degrees everywhere except the Côte d'Azur, where the mercury will probably register at least four degrees warmer.
'Orange' is the next to highest alert level indicating the need for extreme vigilance and possible local reaction to specific threats, such as the closing of some roads, the restriction of truck traffic — already in place in the Var, for example — or the opening of emergency shelters for the homeless.
The mayor of Paris already ordered, as of Thursday, the addition of 300 more beds to existing facilities for the homeless.
Drivers are recommended to carry heavy clothes or blankets in their cars to protect themselves in case their car breaks down.
The list of regions falling in the 'orange' alert zone include: Aquitaine, Languedoc-Roussillon, Limousin, Midi-Pyrénées, Poitou-Charentes, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Ardèche, Cantal, Drôme, Isère, Loire, Haute-Loire, Puy-de-Dôme, Rhône, Saône-et-Loire and the Vaucluse.
The cold snap has already claimed dozens of lives in other European countries, including seven in Germany since last week and 39 in the Ukraine in one mere 24-hour period.
The arrival of truly glacial cold, however, does nothing to calm meteorologists' fears of a dry winter; based on October-December 2005 rainfall, Météo France also warned last week of an even more severe drought for 2006 than that of 2005, which was the driest year for some three decades.
Comment on this Article
Arctic Ocean Ice Surges Onto Alaskan Shore
Sat Jan 28, 4:52 AM ET
BARROW, Alaska - Ridges of sea ice packing car-sized chunks of the cold stuff slammed onto a road in this northern Alaskan town in quantities not seen in nearly three decades.
Two ice surges, known to Alaska Natives as ivus, stunned residents who had never seen such large blocks of ice rammed ashore.
"It just looked like a big old mountain of ice," said L.A. Leavitt, 19, who left his nightshift job at the city to check out the ridges.
Ivus are like frozen tsunamis and crash ashore violently. They have killed hunters and are among the Arctic's most feared natural phenomena.
The ivus crashed ashore Tuesday after strong winds from Russia and eastward currents began pushing pack ice toward Barrow last weekend, said North Slope Borough disaster coordinator Rob Elkins.
By late Monday, thick, old sea ice known as multiyear ice had shoved younger, thinner ice onto shore.
Witnesses here said the northernmost ridge was about 20 feet high and 100 feet long and contained car-size blocks. Ice left a coastal road with only one lane, they said.
"It was just an amazing sight," said Elkins. "It looks like huge stacks of huge ice cubes."
Comment on this Article
Canada issues warning to US over Arctic passage
By Rupert Cornwell in Washington
28 January 2006
Canada's Prime Minister- elect has issued a blunt "hands off" warning to the US over territorial rights in the Arctic - increasingly coveted now that global warming threatens to open up new waterways in the once solidly frozen far north.
Two days after his Conservative party ended 13 years of Liberal rule, Stephen Harper declared he would keep his campaign promises to step up Canada's military presence in the region, despite opposition from the US and various European countries.
The often edgy relations between Washington and Ottawa had been expected to improve under Mr Harper. But that was anything but the case on Thursday as the Prime Minister-elect used his first post-election press conference to take direct aim at David Wilkins, the US ambassador to Canada, who last week described the North-west Passage as "neutral waters".
Mr Harper was not asked by reporters about the ambassador's comment, but he refused to let it pass unchallenged.
"The United States defends its sovereignty, the Canadian government will defend our sovereignty," he said. "It is the Canadian government we get our mandate from, not the ambassador of the United States."
The assumption here is that Canada's new leader was sending a message that he would be no pushover for Washington.
With global warming steadily melting the passage, the period during which it is navigable is growing year by year, offering access to untapped fish stocks, and a shipping route that shortens the journey between Europe and Asia by almost 2,500 miles.
But climate change also provides new opportunities for smugglers and traffickers. For that reason, Canada's new leadership says, it must assert its sovereignty over the remote area.
Control of the Arctic sea lanes has long been a contentious issue, with the US in particular sending submarines through waters claimed by Canada. During the Cold War - and perhaps even now - British, Russian and French submarines also travelled under the ice. But without the resources to enforce its sovereignty, Ottawa generally turned a blind eye.
That attitude may now be changing. During the campaign, Mr Harper said he would send three armed Canadian Navy icebreakers to the North-west Passage, and build a $1.7bn (£995m) deep-water port in Iqaluit in south-east Baffin Island. The new government also plans a network of underwater "listening posts" to monitor sea traffic.
The US government insists that Mr Wilkins was merely restating a long-standing policy. "We don't recognise Canada's claims ... most other countries do not recognise their claims," he reportedly said.
Comment on this Article
Eastern European avian flu similar to 1918 strain
CanWest News Service
Friday, January 27, 2006
More similarities have been found between the bird flu creeping into Eastern Europe and the 1918 Spanish flu that decimated populations worldwide, including the discovery of an entirely new way bird flu may kill human cells.
Researchers from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., have found that bird flu viruses carry a gene that can latch onto many crucial proteins inside human cells, presumably disrupting their function and causing far more severe disease than human viruses.
The research provides a new hypothesis for why certain bird flu viruses are particularly lethal for humans.
Published in today's issue of the journal Science, the research comes as Canada prepares to release an updated pandemic flu plan that includes new infection control and border measures, from strategies to get people to wash their hands and cough into Kleenex, to surveillance systems in airports and emergency rooms to detect the virus's introduction into Canada.
There's no evidence so far that the H5N1 avian flu is transforming into the next human pandemic flu strain, but "we certainly are really increasing our efforts in terms of preparedness," says Dr. Theresa Tam, of the Public Health Agency of Canada.
But a SARS survivor, and infectious disease specialist, says Canada is "nowhere close" to being ready for a pandemic should it happen. Dr. Allison McGeer, of Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, says more money and time needs to be spent on looking for new drugs for influenza, which masks will truly protect people, how sick people will be cared for when there aren't enough health-care workers and getting Canadians to agree on "fair and reasonable" distribution of vaccines.
In what is being described as the first large-scale mapping of bird flu viruses, researchers from St. Jude mapped 2,196 bird flu genes culled from ducks, gulls, shorebirds and poultry samples collected over 30 years, looking for patterns and comparing them to human flu bugs.
They also mapped the complete genome for 169 bird flu viruses. The work doubles the amount of genetic information available on avian flu.
The team honed in on a gene called NS 1. After looking at nearly 1,200 bird, human and swine NS 1 proteins, they found a particular feature of that gene which is unique in bird viruses and different from human ones.
In bird viruses, the gene produces a protein that allows the virus to bind to "scaffolding" proteins inside human cells.
"It's like a large number of policemen being held hostage. Society falls apart," says McGeer.
In human viruses, the protein doesn't bind to certain cells, which may explain why they're not as virulent.
It hasn't been proven yet. "But, we think that if you interfere with that many proteins in cells, you're going to have a deleterious consequences," said author Dr. Clayton Naeve of St. Jude.
The finding fits with what doctors on the ground in Asia have seen: The H5N1 virus can attack not just the airways, like regular flu, but multiple organs and systems, including the kidney, liver, spleen and brain. Infection has been fatal in more than half the reported cases, and most cases occur in previously healthy children and young adults.
The H5N1 avian flu sweeping across Asia has this "bird" form of the protein. The milder pandemics of 1957 and 1968 had the "human" one.
The 1918 Spanish flu virus, which scientists now believe came from birds, had a very similar "bird" protein that the researchers believe behaves the same way. The protein could become a key target for the development of vaccines and new anti-flu drugs.
McGeer says the research answers "a big piece of the puzzle.
"Does it tell you H5N1 is going to be the next pandemic? No. What it does is add to our understanding of the evolution of influenza viruses."
Naeve says it is possible that whatever makes H5N1 so pathogenic, or toxic to humans, could persist even if the virus adapts to spread easily from humans to humans, and becomes pandemic.
If or when that happens is anyone's guess. Some virologists believe H5N1 is not going to be the next human pandemic.
The virus, which surfaced in Hong Kong in 1997, has been in contact with humans for eight years "and we haven't seen the required mutation," says Dr. James Mahony, a professor of pathology and molecular medicine at McMaster University.
The 1918 virus, by contrast, jumped from birds to humans and was quickly lethal.
On Thursday, Indonesia reported that a 22-year-old chicken seller infected with the H5N1 virus died, the country's 15th death from bird flu.
China on Wednesday confirmed the country's 10th case of human infection with H5N1, a 29-year-old woman from Chengdu City in the province of Sichuan. It's not known if she was exposed to infected birds.
The virus has infected 152 people in six countries since 2003, killing 84 of them.
At least some species of migratory birds are carrying the virus to new areas along migratory flyways, according to a report presented this week to the WHO's executive board, and the chance the virus will spread to poultry in new areas "is now high."
Health officials in Canada are monitoring the outbreak of bird flu in Turkey, where two people have died. "To date, people are still convinced there is no efficient human to human transmission," says Tam, associate director of the immunization and respiratory infections division at the Public Health Agency of Canada.
But, "we really have no idea how this virus will behave next if it undergoes some mutation."
The updated influenza pandemic plan will include recommendations for the use of masks. Droplets, or larger "blobs" of secretions primarily spread flu. General surgical masks should be enough should a pandemic happen, Tam says.
"Public health experts feel that putting a mask on an ill person when they're coughing or sneezing and have to move around ... is a sensible thing to do.
"Having well people milling about on the streets wearing masks all the time, we don't know if it's effective or not."
The public focus will be on hand hygiene, Tam says.
Comment on this Article
Scientists follow the money to predict epidemics
By Patricia Reaney
Wed Jan 25, 1:16 PM ET
LONDON - A popular U.S. Web site that tracks the geographical circulation of money could offer new insights into predicting the spread of infectious diseases like bird flu.
Money, like diseases, is carried by people around the world, so what better way to plot the spread of a potential influenza pandemic than to track the circulation of dollar bills, researchers reasoned.
Researchers in Germany and the United States did just that to develop a mathematical model of human travel that can be used to plot the spread of future pandemics.
"There are some universal rules governing human travel and they can be used to develop a new class of model for the spread of infectious disease," said Dr Dirk Brockmann, a physicist at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization in Gottingen, Germany.
Health experts fear the H5N1 bird flu virus that has killed at least 82 people in six countries since 2003 could mutate into a highly infectious strain in humans that could cause the next pandemic.
"We can now plug in the parameter ranges that we think will apply to influenza and then simulate a pandemic that runs through Europe and see what happens," said Brockmann, who reported the findings in the journal Nature on Wednesday.
In addition to giving insights into how an infectious disease would spread, mathematical models and computer simulations could help to develop measures to take against it, he added.
WHERE IS GEORGE?
Human movement is a main cause of the spread of infectious disease but with modern-day travel involving boats, planes, trains, cars and other means of transport it is virtually impossible to compile a comprehensive set of data on travel.
The scientists analyzed information from www.wheresgeorge.com, an online bill-tracking Internet site. Users, most of whom mark their bills with the Web site address, register on the site and follow the trail of their money after they spend it.
About 50 million banknotes have been registered on the site, according to Brockmann.
The information from the site enabled the researchers to develop a mathematical theory of human travel behavior. When they compared their results with traffic flow of aviation networks in the United States, they found it correlated very closely.
"This is a very good estimate of how humans travel," Brockmann said.
"The things that we observed in the United States may also be valid for Europe or Canada. If that is so, we can develop models for the spread of infectious disease that can reveal universal characteristics of modern pandemics," he added.
Comment on this Article
Yale Study: Not Enough Metals In Earth To Meet Global Demand
Jan 27, 2006
Researchers studying supplies of copper, zinc and other metals have determined that these finite resources, even if recycled, may not meet the needs of the global population forever, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
According to the study, even the full extraction of metals from the Earth's crust and extensive recycling programs may not meet future demand if all nations begin to use the same services enjoyed in developed nations.
The researchers – Robert Gordon and Thomas Graedel of Yale University and Marlen Bertram of the Organisation of European Aluminum Refiners – suggest that the environmental and social consequences of metals depletion became clear from studies of metal stocks--in the Earth, in use by people and lost in landfills--instead of tracking the flow of metal through the economy in a given time and region.
"There is a direct relation between requisite stock, standard of living and technology in use at a given time," said Gordon, professor of geology and geophysics. "We offer a different approach to studying use of finite resources--one that is more directly related to environmental concerns than are the discussions found in the economics literature."
Using copper stocks in North America as a starting point, the researchers tracked the evolution of copper mining, use and loss during the 20th century. Then the researchers applied their findings and additional data to an estimate of global demand for copper and other metals if all nations were fully developed and used modern technologies.
According to the study, titled "Metal Stocks and Sustainability," all of the copper in ore, plus all of the copper currently in use, would be required to bring the world to the level of the developed nations for power transmission, construction and other services and products that depend on copper.
For the entire globe, the researchers estimate that 26 percent of extractable copper in the Earth's crust is now lost in non-recycled wastes; for zinc, it is 19 percent. Current prices do not reflect those losses because supplies are still large enough to meet demand, and new methods have helped mines produce material more efficiently.
The study suggests these metals are not at risk of depletion in the immediate future. However, the researchers believe scarce metals, such as platinum, risk depletion in this century because there is no suitable substitute for use in devices such as catalytic converters and hydrogen fuel cells. They also found that, for many metals, the average rate of use per person continues to rise. As a result, the report says, even the more plentiful metals may face similar depletion risks in the future.
"This is looking at recycling on a broader scale," said Cynthia Ekstein, the National Science Foundation (NSF) officer who oversees the Yale award. "This is looking at the metal lifecycle from cradle to grave."
Comment: So, if you were a psychopath and in a position of power in the world today, and you read this report, what would be your solution to the problem??
Comment on this Article
Ark's Quantum Quirks
January 28, 2006
Comment on this Article