Editorial: Four And a Half Years...
Has anybody noticed that news isn't what it used to be?
What happened to the general up and down, back and forth, flow of events, both good and bad, that used to be our daily fare? It used to be possible to read the news and the good news somehow was able to counterbalance the bad news. Yes, there were evil things afoot, but there were also good things in the works.
And it wasn't just denial of the bad things either. There used to be serious groups working for peace and global understanding and betterment who were actually making progress even if they did have to fight for every step forward against corporations only out for money or against corrupt government power fiends. Nowadays, the news is almost unrelentingly horrible and the only "good news" seems to be from delusional characters who are paid to propagandize, trying to convince all of us that black is white and sour is sweet.
I don't know about you, but as bad as it might have been under the surface or behind the scenes, I want the old days back... the days before George W. Bush was appointed to a presidency he did not win. Since George Bush was hoisted to the highest office in the land, everything has gone downhill like nuclear train.
I mean, just take a look at some of the stories headlines here - just a few out of a much larger selection:
Shi'ite militia, insurgents clash in Baghdad
Ten imams murdered in Iraq as sectarian killings intensify :
Dozens of Mosques Attacked, Over 100 Dead, Thousands Protest :
Ted Koppel in 'NYT': Iraq for U.S. Is 'About the Oil' :
Germany admits its spies helped US in Iraq war:
Taleban kill four Afghan soldiers in ambush:
Further Evidence That Senior Officials Approved Abuse of Prisoners at Guantánamo :
Blair condones Amin-style tactics against terrorism, says Archbishop:
Balata Refugee Camp under invasion again :
Car bombers attack Saudi oil plant:
Emergency declared in Philippines:
Venezuela cuts US airline flights :
Venezuelan-Owned Citgo Faces Congressional Inquiry For Offering Discounted Oil to U.S. Poor
A Global Infrastructure for Mass Surveillance :
UAE terminal takeover extends to 21 ports:
Watchdog Group Questions 2004 Fla. Vote :
To combat hunger, more in US turn to soup kitchens:
Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Iran, Venezuela, Philippines, people in the US being spied on and going hungry while their president steals their money to give to his pals to bomb more people and stir up more violence, so he has to take more money to give to his friends to bomb more people and citizens of the US keep sliding further and further into poverty and despair.
What the HELL is going on? Four and a half years ago the world was not like this! I could read the news without feeling like the ground was being snatched from under my feet! I could read the news and not wonder who was going to bomb who first and who was going to nuke who first. Sure, there were problems - mostly caused by subversive Intell agencies trying to manipulate the global players into position so that what is being done today COULD be done, but at least they were being partly contained by actions from those seeking peace and stability. In four and a half years, we've gone from the point where postive changes could have taken the world in an entirely different direction, to a point where it looks like the days of this civilization are, indeed, numbered.
It all started when George Bush stole his first election.
Last night, my mother called. She's 84 years old, lives in a retirement village, and she tells me that nearly ALL her neighbors talk about it, that Bush is not even the legal president of the US, and what's more, he's nothing but a psychopathic liar. Naturally, the older generation are more than a little hostile, being on the "receiving" end of many of Bush's social service cutbacks to save money to make more war.
Getting back to the news that I wish I didn't have to read: here's something that really raised the hair on the back of my neck. Fear, the Mother of Violence:
So regardless of the mechanism, if the grim reaper's shadow is cast, the collective mind should begin to exhibit fear proportional to the magnitude of the menace. This should be revealed first in the markets.
My past writings have been guided by Kondratieff. Those of us that have correctly used the long cycle to strategically manage our investments and our lives have done quite well. But the recent run up in precious metals has surprised most analysts and investors with uncharacteristic signs of strength.[...]... gold reaching parity with the Dow would be at the lower end of the range of probable outcomes. Nearly all scenarios for gold above this level include a significant role by the horsemen in reducing excess human capital.[...]
So the action in precious metals may become more important as a prophet of obscene events than for the realization of obscene profits. Much is being revealed and it will be prudent for us all to adjust our strategies for life accordingly.
Now, this is a website about economics, about INVESTING, for God's sake! And what do they say? They are reading signs in the financial markets that predict "a catastrophic burst in the global bubble in human capital." The guy is absolutely spot on in using market trend analysis on human populations and that leads us almost to the core of the problem: why does it take a market analyst to see what's going on? Why aren't scientists in disciplines that we might expect to know these things telling us that there is a big problem on our planet and it's getting ready to go nuclear? More than that, why couldn't they predict it and thereby help to prevent it?
For a hundred years or so, so-called "Liberals" have been talking about birth-control, population management, ecological management, and a whole host of Environmental issues that have been fought tooth and nail by a minority of people in positions of power. Why? Are they really that stupid that they didn't foresee the results of their actions?
No, the problem is actually quite different: it is a consequence of not only dumbing down the population so that they can be controlled, it has been a process of dumbing down even those who are supposed to be well-educated so that those who are greedy for power and control can get and hold it.
"In all times, and in all places, those who are at the top of the heap will do whatever is necessary to stay at the top of the heap." (Richard Dolan)
Four and a half years ago, right at the time of the bogus Muslim Terrorist Attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon (in which the current Administration was obviously complicit), we were attacked by a cyberthug who seemed to be just a disgruntled opportunist, a grifter. As a result of this relentles, ongoing attack that seemed to have a lot more behind it than just a guy who wanted to take us for our money and who was blocked from his objective, we began to do research. That research eventually led to our work in Psychopathy which has become a central feature of our message to humanity. It is central for a very good reason as we were to learn eventually from others who had, under similar circumstances, undertaken similar studies.
Last year, we were contacted by a clinical psychologist who is possibly the last remaining member of that earlier research team that was able - at great peril - to study the same phenomenon the world faces today from the "inside," so to say. They had, as their subjects, both the German Nazi and Soviet Communist Regimes. The parallels between those regimes and the current Neocon Administration in the US are legion. What is more, the parallels between the reactions of the global community at large vis a vis what is happening in the US and what happened in Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia are also striking. We now come to the crux of the problem and I will quote Andrez Lobaczewski here:
When I came to the West, I met people with leftist [liberal] attitudes who unquestioningly believed that communist countries existed in more or less the form expounded by American political doctrines. These persons were almost certain that psychology and psychiatry must enjoy freedom in those countries referred to as communist...
When I contradicted them, they refused to believe me and kept asking why, “why isn’t it like that”? What can politics have to do with psychiatry? ...
The situation in these scientific areas, of social and curative activities, and of the people occupied in these matters, can only be comprehended once we have perceived the true nature of pathocracy...
Let us thus imagine something which is only possible in theory, namely, that a country under pathocratic rule is inadvertently allowed to freely develop these sciences, enabling a normal influx of scientific literature and contacts with scientists in other countries. Psychology, psychopathology, and psychiatry would flourish abundantly and produce outstanding representatives. What would it result in?
This accumulation of proper knowledge would, within a short time, enable undertaking investigations... Missing elements and insufficiently investigated questions would be complemented and deepened by means of the appropriate detailed research. The diagnosis of the state of affairs would then be elaborated within the first dozen or so years of the formation of pathocracy, especially if the latter is imposed. The basis of the deductive rationale would be significantly wider than anything the author can present here, and would be illustrated by means of a rich body of analytical and statistical material.
Once transmitted to world opinion, such a diagnosis would quickly become incorporated into it, forcing naive political and propaganda doctrines out of societal consciousness. It would reach nations who are the objects of the pathocratic empire’s expansionist intentions. This would render the usefulness of any ideology as a pathocratic Trojan horse doubtful at best.
In spite of differences among them, countries with normal human systems would be united by characteristic solidarity in the defense of an already understood danger, similar to the solidarity linking normal people living under pathocratic rule.
This consciousness, popularized in the countries affected by this phenomenon, would simultaneously reinforce psychological resistance on the part of normal human societies and furnish them with new measures of self defense. Can any pathocratic empire risk permitting such a possibility?
In times when the above-mentioned disciplines are developing swiftly in many countries, the problem of preventing such a psychiatric threat becomes a matter of “to be or not to be” for pathocracy. Any possibility of such a situation’s emerging must thus be staved off prophylactically and skillfully, both within and without the empire. At the same time, the empire is able to find effective preventive measures thanks to its consciousness of being different as well as that specific psychological knowledge of psychopaths with which we are already familiar, partially reinforced by academic knowledge.
Both inside and outside the boundaries of countries affected by the above-mentioned phenomenon, a purposeful and conscious system of control, terror, and diversion is thus set to work. Any scientific papers publishing under such governments or imported from abroad must be monitored to ascertain that they do not contain data which could be harmful to the pathocracy.
Specialists with superior talent become the objects of blackmail and malicious control. This of course causes the results to become inferior with reference to these areas of science.
The entire operation must of course be managed in such a way as to avoid attracting the attention of public opinion in countries with normal human structures. The effects of such a “bad break” could be too far-reaching. This explains why people caught doing investigative work in this area are destroyed without a sound and suspicious persons are forced abroad to become the objects of appropriately organized harassment campaigns there.
Battles are thus being fought on secret fronts which may be reminiscent of the Second World War. The soldiers and leaders fighting in various theaters were not aware that their fate depended on the outcome of that other war, waged by scientists and other soldiers, whose goal was preventing the Germans from producing the atom bomb. The Allies won this battle, and the United States became the first to possess this lethal weapon.
For the present, [1980s] however, the West keeps losing scientific and political battles on this new secret front. Lone fighters are looked upon as odd, denied assistance, or forced to work hard for their bread. Meanwhile, the ideological Trojan horse keeps invading new countries.
An examination of the methodology of such battles, both on the internal and the external fronts, points to that specific pathocratic self-knowledge so difficult to comprehend [by normal people].
In order to be able to control people and those relatively non-popularized areas of science, one must know or be able to sense what is going on and which fragments of psychopathology are most dangerous. The examiner of this methodology thus also becomes aware of the boundaries and imperfections of this self-knowledge and practice, i.e. the other side’s weaknesses, errors, and gaffes, and may manage to take advantage of them.
In nations with pathocratic systems, supervision over scientific and cultural organizations is assigned to a special department of especially trusted people, a “Nameless Office” composed almost entirely of relatively intelligent persons who betray characteristic psychopathic traits. These people must be capable of completing their academic studies, albeit sometimes by forcing examiners to issue generous evaluations. Their talents are usually inferior to those of average students, especially regarding psychological science. In spite of that, they are rewarded for their services by obtaining academic degrees and positions and are allowed to represent their country’s scientific community abroad.
As especially trusted individuals, they are allowed to not participate in local meetings of the party [in power], or to even avoid joining it entirely. [Or being publicly associated.] In case of need, they might then pass for non-party.
In spite of that, these scientific and cultural superintendents are well-known to the society of normal people...
We often meet with such people abroad, where various foundations and institutes give them scientific grants with the conviction that they are thereby assisting the development of proper knowledge... These benefactors do not realize that they are rendering a disservice to such science and to real scientists by allowing the supervisors to attain a certain semi-authentic authority, and by allowing them to become more familiar with whatever they shall later deem to be dangerous.
After all, those people shall later have the power to permit someone to take a doctorate, embark upon a scientific career, achieve academic tenure, and become promoted.
Very mediocre scientists themselves, they attempt to knock down more talented persons, governed both by self-interest and that typical jealousy which characterizes a pathocrat’s attitude toward normal people. They will be the ones monitoring scientific papers for their “proper ideology” and attempting to ensure that a good specialist will be denied the scientific literature he needs.
Controls are exceptionally malicious and treacherous in the above-mentioned psychological sciences in particular, for reasons now understandable to us. Written and unwritten lists are compiled for subjects that may not be taught, and corresponding directives are issued to appropriately distort other subjects. This list is so vast in the area of psychology that nothing remains of this science except a skeleton picked bare of anything that might be subtle or penetrating.
A psychiatrist’s required curriculum contains neither the minimal knowledge from the areas of general, developmental, and clinical psychology, nor the basic skills in psychotherapy. Thanks to such a state of affairs, the most mediocre or privileged of physicians become a psychiatrist after a course of study lasting only weeks. This opens the door to psychiatric careers to individuals who are by nature inclined to serving such an authority, and it has fateful repercussions upon the level of the treatment. It later permits psychiatry to be abused for purposes for which it should never be used.
Since they are undereducated, these psychologists then prove helpless in the face of many human problems, especially in cases where detailed knowledge is needed. Such knowledge must then be acquired on one’s own, a feat not everyone is able to manage.
Such behavior carries in its wake a good deal of damage and human injustice in areas of life which have nothing whatsoever to do with politics. Unfortunately, however, such behavior is necessary from the pathocrat’s point of view in order to prevent these dangerous sciences from jeopardizing the existence of a system they consider the best of all possible worlds.
Specialists in the areas of psychology and psychopathology would find an analysis of this system of prohibitions and recommendations to be highly interesting. This makes it possible to realize that this may be one of the roads via which we can reach the crux of the matter or the nature of this macrosocial phenomenon. The prohibitions engulf depth psychology, the analysis of the human instinctive substratum, together with analysis of man’s dreams.
What Lobaczewski has described is the US' infamous Counter Intelligence Program, even though he was referring more specifically to the Nazi and Soviet variations.
Now, let me give a specific example of how this lack of good scientific knowledge has created the environment in which such creatures as the Neocons and friends can come to power and do what they are doing. Yesterday, a member of the Signs Forum posted as follows:
I recently bought a copy of Maxim's magazine for an article it had on 911, which included the Pentagon Strike flash video. I didn't see this on SotT, but I could have missed it. If not, below is the article. Some friends saw me with the magazine and poked fun, not believing that I really 'bought it for an article'. For those not familiar with Maxim, it's better known for it's pictorials of women with few articles of clothes than for its articles covering the skinny.
I found a description of the Maxim audience in the below article:
The American Observer
Reading between the Lines
Traditional Men’s Magazines take cues from British competition.
By Eric Kay
New magazines make waves in the industry
This new breed of men’s magazines, known for covers featuring scantily-clothed women and light pieces on alcohol consumption, sex and pop culture, are referred to as laddies. Maxim, the most popular of the laddies came onto the scene in 1997 and drastically altered the landscape.
With a circulation of 12.8 million, more than double GQ’s and Esquire’s, Maxim has forced the traditional men’s magazines to make changes and incorporate certain successful laddie elements.
“The key moment was the arrival of Maxim because it was hugely successful with skimpily-attired women coupled with goofy stuff about beer and marked by having few serious pieces,” said Peter Carlson, magazine critic for the Washington Post. “So when that formula proved successful, it spawned a lot of imitators and got the attention of GQ, Esquire and Playboy.” [...]
The poster then included the Maxim article from which I will only extract a few excerpts. Visit the forum to read the entire post.
9/11 Conspiracy Theories - Stranger Than Fiction
106 WHAT REALLY BROUGHT DOWN THE TOWERS?
It’s four and a half years after 9/11, and there’s still much unknown about that day. We examine the theories, from remote-controlled planes to our own government’s intentionally letting it all go down, no matter how absurdly bat-s*** crazy they happen to be. ...
On September 11, 2001, the World Trade Center collapsed in an implosion of concrete, flying steel, and human bodies. In Washington, D.C., the Pentagon suffered a giant, blackened gash in a recently renovated section. Meanwhile, United Airline Flight 93 plummeted into a rural Pennsylvania field, killing everyone on board.
Just about everyone agrees on that much. Four years later, a growing and increasingly prominent group of Americans believes that a government conspiracy is the only explanation of "the New Pearl Harbor" that makes any sense. Armed with a spate of books, compelling videos, and a recent high profile ad campaign, the loose community that some call the 9/11 Truth Movement has moved from the shadowy basements of the Internet out into the open. Across the board, the movement operates on the conviction that the U.S. government is keeping the whole truth under wraps. And that it either planned or allowed 9/11 to happen as a pretext for invading Afghanistan and Iraq and rolling back civil liberties at home.
"It's becoming a cause," says Jimmy Walter, the millionaire who runs reopen911.org. Walter is blowing stacks of cash on cable TV spots and full-page ads in The New York Times, plus funding the free distribution of DVDs (more than 365,000 so far, he says), to demand new investigations into the attacks. "It's hard to say it feels good, but it actually does feel good to stand up and be a patriot."
While Walter may be the Truth Movement's most prominent promoter, it's not a one-man crusade: Just check out the six million hits on a google search for "9/11 conspiracy." Or a 2004 CNN.com poll in which 89 percent of respondents said they believe there's a U.S. government cover-up surrounding 9/11.
The surest sign of the conspiracy movement's growing momentum: opposition. Two major magazines, Popular Mechanics and Scientific American, recently devoted features to debunking various 9/11 conspiracy theories. In September 2005, a book by two British journalists, titled 9/11 Revealed, prompted the U.S. State department to post a detailed critique of the authors "absurd, sinister interpretations" on the agency Web site.
"That's the first time the government has ever taken notice of any alternative ideas," says David Ray Griffin, professor emeritus of philosophy at California's Claremont School of Theology, who dropped his respected and prolific scholarly work to write 9/11 conspiracy books (The New Pearl Harbor, The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions). "We all thought that was a pretty big step."
In fact, the government had refuted earlier 9/11 rumors. But the movement has an answer for everything. One might ask, for instance, wasn't it the threat of WMDs, not 9/11, that sold the American public on the need for war in Iraq?
"September 11 was very important to Iraq because it squelched domestic dissent," explain Hicks. "They waged the invasion of Iraq on the heels of the Afghanistan invasion, which conveyed the sense that we were unbeatable. You've got to remember the context." In other words, it all fits together - if you listen carefully to the way they tell it.
Notice the not-so-subtle patronizing attitude of this article that is in a magazine with a circulation of almost 13 million (mostly men.) The article then goes on to briefly describe the main "conspiracy theories" about 911, and following each, to suggest the psychological improbability of it.
THEORY #1 There were no suicidal Islamic highjackers. [...]
Fuel for the fire: Some say the four 9/11 planes' light passenger loads - the most crowded had 81 aboard while Flight 93 had just 37 - suggest someone deliberately capped ticketing for the four flights. As for the hijackers themselves, conspiracy theorists cite numerous media reports of alleged 9/11 jihadists (or at least Arab dudes with the same names) turning up alive after the attacks.
Believe it or not? To believe this (and many 9/11 conspiracy theories), you have to believe that the government is evil enough to cook up a head-spinningly complicated plot against its own people in its largest city. Once you've made that leap, remote-controlled decoy planes don't seem that far-fetched.
THEORY #2 Explosives - not planes - really brought down the World Trade Center towers. [...]
Fuel for the fire: The implosions were highly unusual, as the magazine Fire Engineering pointed out in 2002. Bringham Young University physics professor Steven Jones, who recently released a scientific paper questioning the cause of the Twin Towers’ collapse, notes that even FEMA concluded the official reasons for WTC7's collapse had “a low probability of occurrence.”
Believe it or not? In Popular Mechanics’ anti-conspiracy feature, engineers say steel doesn’t need to melt to lose it structural integrity. And for this theory to work, you have to believe that someone could booby-trap some of the world’s busiest buildings without anyone noticing.
THEORY #3 American Airlines Flight 77 never crashed into the Pentagon.
The Case: Officially terrorists piloted American Airlines Flight into America’s military headquarters. But if you watch “Pentagon Strike,” a hair-raising video widely circulated on the internet, you see a much different version of events.
Set to a throbbing backbeat of ominous techno, the video fires a barrage of questions and statements aimed at contradicting the accepted story. IN REALITY, A BOEING 757 WAS NEVER FOUND, it says, going on to claim that the debris at the Pentagon shows no evidence that such a massive plane hit the building. AIRPLANE CRASHES LEAVE WRECKAGE, screams one screen shot. Eyewitness quotes scroll over pictures of the buring building, suggesting a small commuter plane...or a missile...or a military jet...or explosives. Why the video asks, did the Feds hustle to clear debris away and seize surveillance film? (The video can be seen at pentagonstrike.co.uk.)
Fuel for the fire: Hani Hanjour, the alleged hijacker pilot, reportedly sucked so bad in lessons that he couldn’t safely fly a single-engine Cessna, much less pilot a 155-foot-long Boeing 757 into a 7,000-foot dive, turning 270 degrees into a ground-level target at 530 mph.
Believe it or not? Many eyewitnesses did report a full-size plane, and many in the Truth Movement refute this as the type of wild fantasy that discredits their more reasonable claims.
THEORY #4 OK, maybe Al Qaeda did it. But the government let it happen. [...]
Fuel for the fire: Beside Able Danger, skeptics point to major miscues. On August 6, 2001 President Bush was given a now-infamous intel brief titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.,” which cited potential hijacking plans. So how off guard, they ask, could the government really have been?”
Believe it or not? Obviously someone f***** up. Does this mean 9/11 was deliberately allowed to happed? No. But the fact that, for example, guys like Dick Cheney’s indicted ex-chief if staff Scooter Libby, teamed up to write a 2000 report for the Project for the New American Century think tank speculating that a ‘new Pearl Harbor” would be needed to “rebuild America’s defenses” gives the theory plenty to go on.
THEORY #5 Someone else did it, but there’s too much we don’t know.
The case: One of the most common threads of conspiracy holds that some other hostile force either helped Al Qeada with the attacks, failed to warn the U.S., or did the job itself. Suspicions about Pakistani intelligence, the Saudis, Hussein, and others are out there, but suggestions that Israel had a hand in the attacks - or at least knew about them - are most commonplace.
Between May and September 2001, for example, the Feds deported more than 100 young Israelis who earlier in the year had shown up at Drug Enforcement Agency offices, military bases, and agents homes, snooping around under the pretext that they were art students looking to make sales. (The shady kids carried portfolios of shoddy, mass-produces art.) The strange visits occurred around the country, including areas where 9/11 hijackers are thought to have lived. According to a Salon.com report, several of these possible spooks lived just down the block from Mohamed Atta. Did the know something was up?
“The most shocking smoking-gun thing we have is the way Israeli intelligence were tracking Atta and were ejected from the U.S. on August 21 for getting too close,” says Hicks. “It shows the levels of protection Atta had.”
Fuel for the fire: Then there’s Saudi Arabia, home to most of the hijackers. The U.S. allowed prominent Saudis to scurry home at a time when no commercial planes were flying, a move that still looks either strange or sinister, depending on your point fo view. Meanwhile, Griffen notes allegations that Pakistan - up to its neck in the funding of Afghan jihadist - may have been in contact with Atta.
Believe it or not? Many of these theories stretch the patience of the most credulous. But, dismissing an entire tree for one rotten apple may be rash. For those who simply can’t wrap their minds around such an epic deception, many are eager to frame things in a more pragmatic perspective.
“Losing a couple of buildings in New York is nothing compared to the global capital at stake, Hicks says. “It’s like Jack Nicholson and John Hudson in Chinatown. As Jake Gittes, Nicholson asks Hudson, the magnet who’s monopolizing L.A.’s water supply, why he’s doing it. ‘You’ve got cars, women, and houses, so why are you doing it? Is it greed or power?’ And Hudson has this great pause before he says, ‘The future, Mr. Gittes - it’s the future.”
Shane, our forum poster, then commented:
There were also some smaller 'mini-articles' within this article. Of interest, below 'Theory #3' was one with David Icke: "David vs. Goliath - Among other things, uber-conspiracy theorists David Icke blames 9/11 on our shape-shifting, reptilian overloards."
Isn't it interesting that right under the 'Pentagon strike section (where there is no mention of Signs-of-the-times), David Icke is indulged ...as a crackpot.
So if the Maxim reader does do any internet searching of the above and comes across SotT (and according to a 2001 Mediamark research study the average Maxim reader is more internet active than the average American and readers of other men's magazines) they are already likely perverted (discouraged?) with their notions of David Icke, osit. David Icke, You're Not Helping!
I also found it interesting that the 'theory three' section was substantially shorter than the rest, although in reading it, it seemed to me the most powerful; of course it was then discredited as 'wild fantasy'.
I still believe that the Pentagon event is the weakest point of the whole 911 operation. Notice that they only have "eyewitnesses," and it is common knowledge in our culture as to how easily eyewitnesses can be "created" or bought. But that's their WHOLE proof... and that says something. Problem is, there are more believable eyewitnesses who tell a different story.
I also think that if ALL pressure was brought to bear on this one event, on demanding the surveillance videos be released, that would do the deed. You can talk endlessly about explosives in the WTC, melting point of steel, and on and on. One expert against another. The same with all the other theories. But with the Pentagon, there are surveillance videos that exist and have never been released.
Of course, probably by now, they have been destroyed.
Sometimes I wonder why they didn't have a hollywood studio just create some videos and release them. I guess that is because there are too many independent experts who could take such a video apart if it was faked.
So yeah, the most dangerous part of the whole operation, the weakest point, has to be defended the only way they can defend it: debunking and ridicule. You might even think, based on the way the article is set up, that it is primarily to debunk the Pentagon Strike. And again we notice that the SOTT site is conspicuous by absence of mention. COINTELPRO in action.
Now, let's come back to the "answer" to "Conspiracy Theory # 1" (Geez, it sounds like a game show!) The debunking comment was: "To believe this (and many 9/11 conspiracy theories), you have to believe that the government is evil enough to cook up a head-spinningly complicated plot against its own people in its largest city. Once you've made that leap, remote-controlled decoy planes don't seem that far-fetched."
And that's the core of the problem. Normal human beings, having lived under a regime that has throttled science for over 50 years, particularly the psychological sciences, is incapable of understanding the pathological origins and nature of a Pathocracy. Having been under the control of the ideological vectoring of COINTELPRO and the Scientific Thought Police for over 50 years, a couple of generations of human beings on this planet have grown up completely without any idea or concept of psychological reality.
The problem is, our materialist scientific culture does not readily admit that evil actually exists, per se. Yes, “evil” plays a part in religious discourse, but even there it is given short shrift as an “error” or a “rebellion” that will be corrected at some point in the future, which is discussed in another theological division: eschatology, which is concerned with the final events in history of the world, the ultimate fate of humanity.
There are quite a number of modern psychologists who are actually beginning to move in the direction of what Dr. Lobaczewski said had already been done behind the Iron Curtain many years ago. I have a stack of their books on my desk. Some of them seem to be falling back into the religious perspective simply because they have no other scientific ground on which to stand. I think that is counterproductive. As George K. Simon, Jr., writes in his book “In Sheep’s Clothing”: (HIGHLY recommended)
…[W]e’ve been pre-programmed to believe that people only exhibit problem behaviors when they’re “troubled” inside or anxious about something. We’ve also been taught that people aggress only when they’re attacked in some way. So, even when our gut tells us that somebody is attacking us and for no good reason, we don’t readily accept the notion. We usually start to wonder what’s bothering the person so badly “underneath it all” that’s making them act in such a disturbing way. We may even wonder what we may have said or done that “threatened” them. We almost never think that they might be fighting simply to get something, have their way, or gain the upper hand. So, instead of seeing them as merely fighting, we view them as primarily hurting in some way.
Not only do we often have trouble recognizing the ways people aggress us, but we also have difficulty discerning the distinctly aggressive character of some personalities.
The legacy of Sigmund Freud’s work has a lot to do with this. Freud’s theories (and the theories of others who built upon his work) heavily influenced the psychology of personality for a long time. Elements of the classical theories of personality found their way into many disciplines other than psychology as well as into many of our social institutions and enterprises. The basic tenets of these theories and their hallmark construct, neurosis, have become fairly well etched in the public consciousness.
Psychodynamic theories of personality tend to view everyone, at least to some degree, as neurotic. Neurotic individuals are overly inhibited people who suffer unreasonable fear (anxiety), guilt and shame when it comes to securing their basic wants and needs. The malignant impact of overgeneralizing Freud’s observations about a small group of overly inhibited individuals into a broad set of assumptions about the causes of psychological ill-health in everyone cannot be overstated.[…]
Therapists whose training overly indoctrinated them in the theory of neurosis, may “frame” problems presented them incorrectly. They may, for example, assume that a person, who all their life has aggressively pursued independence and demonstrated little affinity for others, must necessarily be “compensating” for a “fear” of intimacy. In other words, they will view a hardened fighter as a terrified runner, thus misperceiving the core reality of the situation.[…]
We need a completely different theoretical framework if we are to truly understand, deal with, and treat the kinds of people who fight too much as opposed to those who cower or “run” too much.
Robert Hare talks quite a bit about psychopaths in the business world. He points out that, yes, there are many psychopaths who are also "anti-socials" but there seem to be far more of them that would never be classified as anti-social or "sociopathic."
In a recent paper, "Construct Validity of Psychopathy in a Community Sample: A Nomological Net Approach," Salekin, Trobst, Krioukova, Journal of Personality Disorders, 15(5), 425-441, 2001), the authors state:
"Psychopathy, as originally conceived by Cleckley (1941), is not limited to engagement in illegal activities, but rather encompasses such personality characteristics as manipulativeness, insincerity, egocentricity, and lack of guilt - characteristics clearly present in criminals but also in spouses, parents, bosses, attorneys, politicians, and CEOs, to name but a few. (Bursten, 1973; Stewart, 1991). Our own examination of the prevalence of psychopathy within a university population suggested that perhaps 5% or more of this sample might be deemed psychopathic, although the vast majority of those will be male (more than 1/10 males versus approximately 1/100 females).
"As such, psychopathy may be characterized ... as involving a tendency towards both dominance and coldness. Wiggins (1995) in summarizing numerous previous findings... indicates that such individuals are prone to anger and irritation and are willing to exploit others. They are arrogant, manipulative, cynical, exhibitionistic, sensation -seeking, Machiavellian, vindictive, and out for their own gain.
With respect to their patterns of social exchange (Foa & Foa, 1974), they attribute love and status to themselves, seeing themselves as highly worthy and important, but prescribe neither love nor status to others, seeing them as unworthy and insignificant. This characterization is clearly consistent with the essence of psychopathy as commonly described.
"The present investigation sought to answer some basic questions regarding the construct of psychopathy in non forensic settings... In so doing we have returned to Cleckley's (1941) original emphasis on psychopathy as a personality style not only among criminals, but also among successful individuals within the community.
"What is clear from our findings is that (a) psychopathy measures have converged on a prototype of psychopathy that involves a combination of dominant and cold interpersonal characteristics; (b) psychopathy does occur in the community and at what might be a higher than expected rate; and (c) psychopathy appears to have little overlap with personality disorders aside from Antisocial Personality Disorder. ...
"Clearly, where much more work is needed is in understanding what factors differentiate the abiding (although perhaps not moral-abiding) psychopath from the law-breaking psychopath; such research surely needs to make greater use of non forensic samples than has been customary in the past."
In short, if you want to learn about psychopathy, don't read about the criminal types. They are the failures of the taxon, the ones who ended up in jail or psychiatric hospitals.
Now, one last quote from another Forum Member, EsoQuest:
Lobaczewski's work is a foundation, and an anchor for understanding the human condition, written not as cold science but from the heart as a testament of evolutionary social necessity. It is not the theory of one person but the results of hard experience in vivo.
As such, it is a seed that needs to be planted in fertile ground so that it can branch in all manner of domains of social applicability that thirst for its wisdom, although they may not currently know it. Its clarity and coherence brings a real rational calm so that each of us can shake the cobwebs of fear and disinformation. It provides a rational (as opposed to rationalized) reference to start making sense of the chaos, and serves as an attractor for our creative potential.
The real power of this wisdom has not even begun to manifest. Because of Lobaczewski, the suffering of the Stalinist era will not have been in vain. Because of Lobaczewski, we have a concise map that finally grounds us into the reality confronting us, so we may be spared the dangers of being lost in blind alleys. ...
By seriously asking "how can I apply this in my neck of the woods?", creativity is challenged and solutions can begin to germinate for every pathocratic issue in every aspect of our lives. Humans are creative beings, and when creativity is suffocated, freedom is suffocated, and life itself is not far behind.
One thing the pathocrats have provided to otherwise complacent yet healthy individuals is motivation. We are being suffocated and we need to breath. In the past the road to freedom has been through violence, and for the most part this has been a false path. For once, we can chart the road to freedom through the unfathomable (yet often initially hidden) treasures of human creative potential.
Lobaczewski gives us a focus for this simply because it makes blatantly obvious crystal clear sense. This is not an ideology, and does not require leaps of faith. It's right there for the visionary and the pragmatist to creatively forge and temper for each case of social applicability. It is not a revelation in any high and mighty sense, and it is not a bible in any sense. It is simply the manifestation of pure INSIGHT, based on the hard experience of suffering. In this age of confusion, such objective insight is what we direly need. ...
One thing I believe we have to consider, however, is that psychopaths in all areas of society are seriously allergic to even the mention of such solutions. They can smell anti-pathocratic solutions a mile away. When Zbigniew Brzezinski got wind of Lobaczewski's work, he tried not only to stifle it, considering it dangerous, but apparently gave it to think tanks so they could find a way to undermine any potential ponerologic movements.
In my view, the bottom up propagation of ponerologic principles means that the top should be the last to know that these principles are being applied, unless one is sure that there are those in top positions who are anti-pathocratic. [T]here are too many programs in all areas of society that simply do not make rational sense without the ponerologic angle.
Simply put, pathocrats are not rational. They can surely fake it, and all deserve Oscar nominations for their performances, but the person behind the mask is not sane, and that insanity is contagious. I have seen it everywhere from universities and research laboratories to the military. The pathocratic pressure from those at the top drives those at the bottom crazy, because the message is ONLY THE INSANE WILL SURVIVE: YOU ARE EITHER WITH US OR AGAINST US!
And so again, we ask for your help. We are working steadily and surely to spread this information to the proper places and people where it can do the most good. I'm sure you can all realize why Cassiopaea and SOTT have been subjected to such vicious, unrelenting attacks for the past four and a half years. Even before we proceeded to study psychopathy, we aimed to study those areas of our reality, including religion and beliefs, that reveal the manipulative and controlling nature of the Pathocrats. For that reason, we were targeted, and each day, there is more and more evidence that this has been deliberate and systematic.
We have chosen "Big Dick" Cheney as the symbol of all that is wrong in the world today. (Bush is an ignorant puppet, Cheney is a true psychopath.) Each contribution will help us to symbolically and literally send Dick and his kind to the Moon.
I'm tired of reading the news about my world being a powder keg just waiting for someone to casually light the fuse. Four and a half years is enough for me. How about you? Give generously today.. Because the Future is Always Open...
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Editorial: Osama The Nihilist
Signs of the Times
The consensus among the corrupt lying politicos is that 'Islamic terrorists' are responsible for the upsurge in attacks on Shrines and religious leaders in Iraq. Sadly, it seems that someone forgot to inform Iraq's Shia and Sunni populations of this because they are continuing to protest the bombings and killings by burning American flags rather than protesting the 'Islamic terrorists'. The Guardian reports that the slogan that united Iraqis on Wednesday as they protested the Shrine bombing was: "Kalla, kalla Amrica, kalla kalla lill-irhab" - no to America, no to terrorism.
In reponse to this, and in a desperate attempt to not only pin the ongoing Shrine bombings and Imman killings in Iraq on al-Qaeda, but also to explain why the infamous Muslim terror group would want to see 26 million Iraqi Muslims at each others throats rather than at the throats of the American occupiers, U.K. Foreign Minister Jack Straw has informed us that the formerly fundamentalist Muslim group, 'al-Qaeda', is now more "nihilist" than anything else.
My question: Why do most people stare blankly back when such statements are made, when the correct response is uproarious laughter? Is it not traditionally the case that the ability of the average human being to realise that they are being fed a line of BS is indirectly proportional to the pungency of the BS? If so, then by this comment, Jack Straw has done the British public a great service in clearly revealing his utter lack of integrity, morality and honesty.
Both Messer Bush and Blair have built the entire case for their bogus yet vicious never-ending war on terror on the 'reality' of the threat from Islamic terrorists, specifically, the mythical 'al-Qaeda'. Yet, given that the war on terror was from the very beginning a war on the Middle East, there was always going to be a point when it was impossible for British, American and Israeli agents to continue to attack Muslims and blame Muslims for those attacks. While the Western populations have largely accepted increasingly unbelievable government lies over the past 5 or 6 years, there are limits to how far the deception can be pushed.
That time has now arrived it seems, and in order to continue to avail of the 'Muslim terrorist' straw man to take the rap for the additional bloodshed and carnage that is on the (Israeli) NeoCon agenda, the architects of the war on terror have decided Osama needs a makeover. "Nihilist Terrorism", has a nice ring to it, or what about "al-Nihila"? I reckon the average Joe will buy it - mainly because he won't know what it means. But not to worry, all will be explained, in fact, all has already been explained, as I wrote a few days ago, US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad has said that the Shrine bombing "shows that (Islamic) terrorists stop at nothing and care for nothing" - not even Islam it seems. Go figure.
Of course, the fact that up until now 'al-Nihila" have repeatedly made it clear that their goal is to further the cause of fundamentalist Islam, and that attacks on American interests are in retaliation for the decades of aggressive treatment of Arab Muslims by Israel and the U.S., should just be forgotten. You see, it is best that you, the lowly citizen, do not trouble yourself with the complexities of international affairs and what is going on behind the war on terror, you will simply become confused and confuddled, or worse, you might realise that almost every word that comes out of the mouths of your (un)elected representatives bears a striking similarity to that noxious stuff you thought only existed in small round patties in farmer's fields.
Imagine how annoyed you would be.
So it's best just to leave it all alone. If, however, you are of a rebellious nature and still hold to the quaint notion that you can and should think for yourself, and think you can do so without being locked up as an "al-Nihila" sympathiser, then you should continue to read news sites like Signs of the Times. There'll be lots more lessons in the finer points of government BS detection in the months to come. You can count on it.
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Comet Dust Has Hints of Organic Matter
By Irene Mona Klotz, Discovery News
Feb. 24, 2006-Specks of comet dust carried to Earth inside a NASA science probe show tantalizing hints of organic compounds, bolstering suspicions that comets delivered key ingredients for the development of life on Earth.
Analysis of the samples brought back last month aboard the Stardust capsule is in the very early stages, but lead scientist Donald Brownlee said this week that he is encouraged by what researchers have found so far.
"We're seeing a variety of things that we know absolutely come from a comet," Brownlee, an astronomer with the University of Washington, said at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Though analysis has just begun, the samples so far have revealed iron, sulfides, glassy materials and traces of olivine.
The samples are from Comet Wild-2, which flew just 149 miles (240 kilometers) past the Stardust spacecraft on Jan. 2, 2004.
During the encounter, the spacecraft extended a collection tray filled with 132 tiles of lightweight, heat-resistant gel that captured individual particles streaming off the comet's body.
As they bored into the gel, the particles created carrot-shaped trails, many of which were visible to the naked eye when scientists opened the canister upon its return to Earth a year later.
"When you have the samples in hand, it's a whole different universe," Brownlee said.
Early indications show Stardust collected at least 2,300 comet particles measuring 15 micrometers - one-third the diameter of a human hair - or larger, according to University of Chicago researchers who built one of the spacecraft science instruments.
Scientists are particularly keen to learn if any of the comet samples contain traces of matter from the original dust cloud that provided the raw materials for the creation of the solar system some 4.8 billion years ago.
Comets are believed to be relatively unchanged since their formation because they primarily dwell far from the sun's heat in a perpetual deep-freeze beyond Neptune's orbit.
After dropping off its return capsule for a parachute landing on Earth, the Stardust spacecraft was placed into a solar orbit while NASA weighs options for a second comet encounter. No more samples can be returned, but the probe has cameras and other instruments for close-up studies.
The first scientific results from the Stardust mission are expected to be released next month.
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NASA orbiter to arrive at Red Planet March 10
February 24, 2006, 1:08 PM PST
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is headed into a perilous phase after a seven-month journey from Earth, aiming to start looping around the Red Planet on March 10, space agency officials said on Friday.
If it manages to reach its planned orbit, a process that will take another seven months, the spacecraft could collect unprecedented data about Earth's next-door planetary neighbor, which could help scientists determine where to land the next Mars rovers and even to make preliminary plans for a human landing site.
"It's going to be difficult to get it into orbit," Doug McCuistion, who heads the NASA Mars Exploration Program, said at a briefing. "Mars is hard, Mars can be unpredictable, but we've got a good team here."
NASA has only a 65 percent success rate in getting space probes to orbit Mars, as opposed to a more than 80 percent success rate in managing to land spacecrafts on its surface, he said.
The tricky part is getting the orbiter to slow down enough to be captured by the planet's gravity.
"We're getting into the dangerous portion of the mission," said James Graf, the project's manager.
At just 15 million miles from Mars, the orbiter has cruised for nearly 300 million miles since its launch on August 12, 2005.
As it approaches the planet, controllers on Earth expect a signal from the spacecraft indicating a 27-minute engine burn meant to slow it down and let Martian gravity capture it.
At 21 minutes after the engine burn begins, the spacecraft will go behind Mars and be out of radio contact with Earth, and stay that way for another half hour, Graf said.
If this procedure--known as aerobraking--works, the spacecraft will be in an extremely elliptical orbit around Mars, about 200 miles at the closest point and about 35,000 miles at the farthest.
Over the next six months, the spacecraft will use aerobraking and the drag of the Martian atmosphere to reel itself in from an elongated 35-hour orbit to a nearly circular two-hour orbit. When that is accomplished, scientific operations can begin.
The orbiter's six scientific instruments are designed to collect more data than all previous Mars probes combined, including information on the planet's weather, color images and even radar to look about half a mile below the Martian surface.
Since NASA's exploration of Mars has consistently focused on the search for signs of water, the orbiter's instruments will be able to look for any subsurface clues to this as well, which could give future rovers a place to start looking. Water is seen as a requirement for Earth-type life.
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Israel planning 'apartheid' roads
Thursday 23 February 2006
Palestinians say the plan smacks of apartheid
Israel plans to pave new roads in the West Bank exclusively for Palestinians while Jewish settler vehicles keep to the existing network, a senior Israeli security source has said.
Palestinians condemned the idea as a form of apartheid and said the initiative appeared aimed at cementing Israel's hold on occupied land that they want for a state.
The Israeli source, who asked not to be named because the government has yet to finalise the road plan, said on Thursday there was no intention of formally limiting Palestinian movement.
"We want to ease access to various Palestinian communities," the source said. "There is no intention of bringing about a separation of Israeli and Palestinian traffic. Palestinians will continue to make use of the roads they use today."
The source said, however, that Israelis would be banned from the future Palestinians-only roads because "we do not want them to get into a situation where their lives would be at risk".
No details were immediately available of the extent of the proposed network or of when the plan might take effect.
"This is an apartheid system," said top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erikat. "We urge the international community to help us in order to cancel such policies and end Israeli occupation."
About 245,000 Jews live among 2.4 million Palestinians in the West Bank.
Israel, which quit the Gaza Strip last year in what it called a step to "disengage" from conflict with the Palestinians, says it will keep major West Bank settlement blocs under any accord.
Debate over any withdrawals from more isolated settlements is looming large ahead of next month's Israeli elections.
Using curfews and military checkpoints, Israel has often imposed ad hoc restrictions on Palestinians since fighting erupted in 2000. Palestinian and settler vehicles have different number plates, which eases the enforcement of Israeli bans.
In the Gaza Strip, settlers had at least one major road for their exclusive use, which circumvented a Palestinian highway.
Israel called the move a security measure.
The World Court has branded all Israel's settlements on occupied land illegal. Israel disputes this.
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Israel seals off refugee camp, kills five
Compiled by Daily Star staff
Friday, February 24, 2006
Israeli occupation troops killed five Palestinians, including a teenager, on Thursday during the biggest raid against the West Bank in months, stoking tensions as Hamas held talks to form a new government.
The violence coincides with a regional tour by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to rally Arab support to isolate Hamas.
Back in the West Bank, five Palestinians died amid heavy shooting in the Balata refugee camp after more than 30 Israeli Army jeeps and four bulldozers piled into the area adjoining the city of Nablus. They sealed off the refugee camp of 18,000 people.
Three of those killed were members of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. They had exchanged fire with Israeli troops while holed up in a house.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the operation and warned it would endanger a cease-fire that has been in effect for a year, according to the Palestinian WAFA news agency.
One of those killed Thursday was identified as Mohammad Shtawi, a top Al-Aqsa member.
"This is a war crime aimed at continuing the escalation and undermining Hamas efforts to form a government," said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. "We are committed to resistance and the occupation will pay the price for these crimes."
"We urge the international community to live up to its responsibilities and stop this massacre instead of asking our people to stop resisting."
Earlier, fighting in Balata began at midmorning when several teens began throwing stones at one of the jeeps that broke down on the outskirts of the camp. Soldiers opened fire, killing one teenager.
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Gaza Strip will be out of flour within 2 weeks due to Israeli closure
Gaza (Ma'an) - Due to Israeli closures and destruction of agricultural lands and production facilities, the Gaza Strip will be out of flour within 12 days.
The Undersecretary of the Agricultural Ministry reported that the major flour mill in the mid-Gaza Strip in Qarrara Village will be cleaned out in just less than two weeks unless the closure is lifted or the destruction is somehow reversed.
Nasser Saraj told Ma'an via telephone that the Ministry was unable to save the need quantities of flour when the Karni Crossing was reopened after 26 days of closure.
He placed the burden of responsibility on the Israelis for the current situatio
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Watching the Dissolution of Palestine
By JENNIFER LOEWENSTEIN
February 24, 2006
For those who haven't noticed, Israel opposes a two-state solution. It has been doing everything in its power to prevent a Palestinian state from emerging and will continue to do so as long as it can count on the complicity of its powerful friends and on abundant popular indifference. Under such circumstances, it is incumbent upon ourselves to ask why Hamas has therefore been ordered - by Israel and its same powerful friends --to accept "the two-state solution" especially when, unlike Israel, it has stated clearly and repeatedly that it would accept a Palestinian state on the lands occupied by Israel in the 1967 war, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Indeed, all of its key spokespeople have said this:Zahar, Haniye, Meshal, and Yassin and Rantisi before they were murdered.
Judea and Samaria which are, or were, the northern and southern West Bank, have been subdivided and parceled out over decades to hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers for their houses and orchards and gardens. They have been crisscrossed and circled with Jewish-only roads that bind the land, the houses and orchards and gardens, to Israel. They have been manned with guards and gunmen and tanks and blue and white Israeli flags that defend, protect and assure the settlers, their houses and orchards and gardens, that they are in fact Israelis belonging to a single Jewish state.
The settled lands with their settler families, their houses and gardens, shops and schools, clubs and cafes and pools, have been mapped and assigned, seized and secured from the Arabs in the shabby clothes in the rundown! villages who live outside of, or have been forced to leave, the protected colonial zones. The projected frontiers, the future borders, depend on the disappearance of these Arabs, which is anxiously anticipated and actively encouraged. Most of the eastern perimeter of the current state is a concrete wall erasing from view that Other Side, which is unmentionable in polite company. The eastern perimeter wall will soon be the western perimeter wall because the acting Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, has just announced that the rest of the unincorporated West Bank land will soon be annexed to Israel: The Jordan Valley, the West Bank's border with the state of Jordan, now to be Israel's eastern border with the state of Jordan, will also be secured by the wall and off-limits to "non-Israelis," meaning Palestinians, who will then be fully encircled in their stagnant reservations unable to access the outside world.
In the same breath as! he announces this latest unilateral declaration of confiscated lan d for a Jewish State, Olmert announces a sanctions regime against the Palestinians of the occupied territories for refusing to believe that this land transformation in which one society is strengthened and expanded and the other is dissolved into a thousand pieces is actually the two-state solution.
Israel allots to itself first use of the natural resources, especially water, from the territory it has appropriated or surrounded. An army of thieves and wreckers has turned the remainder-- the pot-holed roads, the untended groves, the homes, the schools, the mosques and churches, the hospitals, universities, shops and remaining civil institutions -- into a series of impassable mazes, a legal no-man's-land, where travel restrictions, permits, coded IDs, passes, random searches, incursions and arbitrary accusations reduce the inhabitants into suspicious beings without names, faces, addresses or rights; a collective villain to be de-educat! ed and de-nationalized and, one day perhaps, deported for the sake of the Israeli raison d'etre. It is becoming as difficult for travelers from abroad to visit the occupied territories as it is for the rightful inhabitants to move freely among them. It is therefore more difficult for outsiders to corroborate that the dangers they are warned against come directly from Israel, not the hapless people they have besieged. The daily threat to life and property is growing not abating.
For those who haven't noticed, there is no sign of this process coming to an end. Instead, in addition to the bizarre demand that Hamas accept the two-state solution that Israel has categorically rejected and each day renders even more geographically impossible, another two demands are added to it: Hamas must recognize Israel and it must renounce violence. In other words, it must recognize a state whose policies and whose leaders have worked tirelessly for decades to deny, undo, renounce, prevent and reject the existence both of Palestinians and of Palestine --not only in the present and future but also through erasing the past. Still, our media take it upon themselves to show the world a circus-mirror reality, grotesque in its distortions, in which a democratically elected government-without-a-state and its trampled, largely destitute people are made out to be holding hostage the hoodlums that are busy stomping them to death.
While they are being stomped, shot, beaten, demolished, assassinated, intimidated, robbed, despoiled, starved, uprooted, dispossessed, harassed, insulted and killed with bullets, missiles, armored bulldozers, tanks, helicopter gun-ships, cluster-bombs, fleshettes, fighter-bombers, semi-automatic submachine guns, sonic booms, tear gas, electrified fences, blockades, closures and walls, they must renounce violence so that the hoodlums won't get hurt. If they defend themselves they lose. If they complain, they are insincere; if they ask for something in return, they are untrustworthy; If they ask for a fair hearing, they are advancing an "agenda;" If they hit back randomly, they are an instrument of terro! r. So when the furies of the thousands of dead, tens of thousands of wounded and detained, and millions of bound and gagged rise up together in a whirlwind to protest, they will be pointed to as evidence of innate evil that must justifiably be contained, justifiably occupied, with justified indignation and bottomless financial aid.
Hamas' reward for coming to power just in time to provide all the aspiring Sharons the most perfect, served-up-on-a-silver-platter pretext for continuing their well-worn policies with a vengeance, has been for the Kadima party -- the party of the future-- to announce that it will put the Palestinians on a starvation diet for presuming to exercise their rights. Hamas' reward for verifying the smashing success of Israel's goal to destroy Fatah has been Israel's insistence that it abide by all the agreements, treaties and accords that Fatah, essentially the PA, signed but which Israel shredded page by p! age. With every new brick laid for the settlements, every new road pav ed to Ariel, Maale Adumim, Illit, Gush Etzion and beyond, with every permit denied for work, education, medical care and travel, every truck left waiting with rotting produce at Sufa and Karni, every tax and customs dollar stolen from a people interned on their own land, Israel parades its contempt for human decency and gets standing ovations in the US Congress and elsewhere.
When Osama Bin Laden opines that it is legitimate for al-Qaida to murder Americans because, as citizens in a democratic country, they are responsible for their government, "civilized" society erupts, appropriately, in indignation. When Dov Weisglass and his smug, sadistic associates advocate appalling varieties of collective punishment against Palestinians for having had the audacity to democratically replace the failed Fatah with Hamas, "civilized" society nods its head in sanctimonious approval.
For those who haven't noticed, Israel opposes a two-state solu! tion. It also opposes a one-state and a bi-national state, a federated secular state, and the zillion interim-state solutions that have been drawn up and debated and argued over the years. It opposes them because it opposes the presence of another people on land it has claimed as the exclusive patrimony of the Jews. This has to be the starting point for effective activism against the racist and hegemonic vision that Israel is implementing and the US guaranteeing, not faraway discussions on the most ideal solution. An effective opposition must not retreat into a slumbering or sidetracked lethal indifference.
Jennifer Loewenstein is a Visiting Research Fellow at Oxford University's Refugee Studies Centre. She has lived and worked in Gaza City, Beirut and Jerusalem and has traveled extensively throughout the Middle East, where she has worked as a free-lance journalist and a human rights activist. She can be reached at: email@example.com
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UN lobbies for Palestinian aid despite Israel
24 Feb 2006
By Adam Entous
The U.N. is urging donors to provide funds to keep the Palestinian Authority running after Israel starts withholding tax revenues next week, rebuffing the Jewish state's appeal for a suspension of aid, diplomats said on Friday.
The U.N. stand has put a spotlight on disagreements over Israeli and Western efforts to put pressure on a Hamas-led Palestinian government to renounce violence, recognise Israel and abide by interim peace deals with the Jewish state.
The U.N.'s special envoy to the Middle East, Alvaro de Soto, will brief the Security Council on Tuesday on his talks in the region, aides said. He has expressed concern in recent days that an aid cut-off could lead to the collapse of the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority.
"We are advocating that the (Palestinian Authority) institutions should not be starved of funds to the point where they collapse," said a diplomatic source who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
The U.N. is often at odds with Israel, which views the world body as pro-Palestinian.
Israel argues that a 2001 Security Council resolution obliging member states to cut off funds to "terrorist" groups applies to the Palestinian Authority starting on Feb. 18, when Hamas was sworn in as the majority bloc in the parliament.
De Soto countered that Israel's decision to withhold the tax money it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority ran counter to the position taken last month by the so-called Quartet of major peace mediators -- the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia.
DEBATE WITHIN QUARTET
In its Jan. 30 statement, the Quartet said aid should continue to flow to the caretaker government, at least until Hamas forms a new cabinet.
"When we've seen the new government, there will be a review" to decide whether to withhold aid, said a diplomatic source involved in the deliberations.
Hamas, which crushed President Mahmoud Abbas's long-dominant Fatah party in the Jan. 25 Palestinian election, is not expected to complete the formation of a new government until next month.
Diplomatic sources said there was a debate within the Quartet over giving Hamas time to outline its policies before taking any action on aid.
The United Nations has not asked donor-nations for specific dollar-amounts for the Palestinian Authority, but Palestinian officials say it needs about $150 million a month to pay workers' salaries and keep Palestinian ministries functioning.
De Soto said after meeting with Abbas earlier this week that the U.N. hoped aid flows would continue in order to head off "a fiscal crisis in the coming period."
The U.N. stepped up its push after Israel's decision to withhold the transfer of the approximately $50 million in tax revenues it collects each month.
Israel announced the decision after Washington, the Jewish state's biggest ally, asked the Palestinian Authority to return $50 million of its own aid to ensure it does not reach Hamas, whose charter calls for the destruction of the Jewish state.
During a visit to the region this week, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged Arab countries to deny aid to a Palestinian government led by Hamas if it refused to recognise Israel and meet other international demands.
Saudi Arabia and Egypt rejected her appeals, and Israel's arch-foe Iran said it would help fund the new government.
Quartet member Russia has also offered to provide emergency assistance to the Palestinians, and has invited Hamas leaders to Moscow for talks expected to take place as early as March 3.
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EU ponders bypassing Hamas on aid
By Craig S. Smith The New York Times
FEBRUARY 24, 2006
The European Union is considering direct payments to the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, as a way of supporting the moderate Palestinian leader while trying to maintain financial pressure on Hamas, the anti-Israel political party that swept to power in elections last month.
The idea was raised by the European foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, after a conference call this week with representatives of other members of the so- called quartet - the Union, the United States, Russia and the United Nations - that has been promoting peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians.
"We have to have a mechanism of financial support to President Abbas," Solana said. "We have to find a way to finance him and his structures because of his responsibilities as president of the Palestinian Authority and as the primary interlocutor with the international community."
If accepted by other quartet members, the payments would be a reversal in policy, which until now has focused on strengthening Palestinian government institutions in preparation for an eventual Palestinian state. The United States worked to wrest control of the Palestinian government's purse strings from the late Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, and pushed in 2003 for the installation of a Palestinian prime minister to decentralize power and weaken the presidency.
"The general approach of trying to build up Abu Mazen's authority and resources to counter the power of the Hamas-led government is something that has been out there since the elections," said Martin Indyk, director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. Abbas is commonly known as Abu Mazen.
Indyk said that Abbas and Fatah had been trying to do the same, pushing through legislative measures to retrieve some of the power that had been given away under quartet pressure.
"There is a certain irony in this because so much of the effort of the quartet had been spent on reducing the powers of the presidency and building up the powers of the prime minister and cabinet," Indyk said.
The prime minister's job was created for Abbas, who quit after only four months because Arafat refused to give up control of the security forces. Now, with the post soon to be held by the Hamas leader Ismail Haniya, Hamas is reminding Abbas of his own arguments for a powerful prime minister.
Undoing the changes and re-concentrating power in the hands of the president has other complications: Abbas accomplished little when Fatah was in power and his position has been weakened by the Hamas victory. Many Palestinians already regard the effort as a cynical effort to undermine their democratic choice. Nor is it clear that the United States would go along with a plan to fund Abbas directly.
"The devil is going to be in the details," Indyk said. "It's one thing to provide funding to Abu Mazen, but if he is just a conduit of money to Hamas-led ministries, it's not something the United States is going to cooperate with."
The EU began providing direct budgetary assistance to the Palestinian Authority in 2000 after Israel, trying to isolate Arafat, froze monthly transfers of tax and customs receipts collected on behalf of the Palestinians under an economic protocol signed in 1994. Europe's direct payments, which totaled €246 million, or $293 million, from 2000 to 2002, led to the establishment of a trust fund monitored by the World Bank. The fund is now used by most international donors to disburse funds to the fledgling Palestinian government, in return for its meeting certain benchmarks of improved fiscal governance.
One of the first of those benchmarks was the establishment of a single treasury account under the Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Finance to increase transparency and control over spending and to take money away from Arafat's personal control. Directing payments directly to Abbas, even through the World Bank as the EU is proposing, would undo those steps, undercutting the Palestinian Authority's finance ministry and weakening the institutional framework for an eventual Palestinian state.
But the quartet is scrambling to find a way of continuing financial support for the Palestinian Authority without providing direct assistance to a Hamas- led government. Israel's refusal to continue transferring about $50 million in monthly tax and customs receipts to the Palestinian Authority and Iran's vague offer of financial support for the Hamas-led government have only increased the urgency, European officials say.
While the EU and its partners have agreed to continue financial support until that government is formed in the coming weeks, all nonhumanitarian aid to the Palestinians is under review and could face cutbacks if Hamas refuses to renounce the use of violence and fails to amend its charter, which calls for the destruction of the state of Israel.
EU members provided about €500 million in aid to the Palestinians last year, about half of the total spent by international donors. More than half of the EU contribution came from the EU budget, including €70 million for direct payments to the Palestinian Authority's Finance Ministry to help cover civil service and security force salaries.
Comment: Time to see just how free the EU is from Israeli control. Don't expect much.
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Ex-Shin Beth chief: Israel May Assassinate Hamas Leader
Middle East Online
JERUSALEM - Palestinian prime minister designate Ismail Haniya would be a legitimate assassination target in the event of an attack by Hamas, a senior member of Israel's ruling party said in an interview Friday.
Avi Dichter, a former head of the Shin Beth internal security service, told the Yediot Aharonot daily that Haniya's installation as head of government should not grant him any kind of immunity.
"I see no situation in which Haniya enjoys immunity just because he is the prime minister," said Dichter who is line for a senior security portfolio as long as the Kadima party retains power in next month's Israeli elections.
"In my eyes he was and remains a terrorist, whatever he does ... If there is a terror attack and Israel decides to reply with a targeted assassination, Haniya will be a legitimate target, because Hamas cannot carry out an attack without the leaderships consent."
Haniya was asked by Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas earlier this week to form a new government after Hamas's landslide election victory on January 25.
Despite their embrace of democracy, Haniya and the rest of the Hamas leadership has so far refused to renounce the use of violence.
Hamas has carried out dozens of anti-Israeli suicide attacks in the course of a five-year Palestinian uprising, although none in the past 12 months.
Dichter was widely seen as the father of the policy of "targeted killings" and during his time in office two leaders of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Abdelaziz al-Rantissi, were killed in Israeli air strikes.
Comment: Israel? Assassinate a foreign (or domestic) head of state? Sure! Why break the habit of a lifetime?!
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London mayor suspended from office over Nazi gibe against Jewish reporter
18:06:49 EST Feb 24, 2006
LONDON (AP) - Mayor Ken Livingstone refused to apologize for comparing a Jewish reporter to a Nazi camp guard, and now he's facing four weeks off the job - suspended for bringing his office into disrepute.
The combative mayor said Friday's ruling by a disciplinary panel struck a blow against democracy, but critics wondered why he couldn't just say sorry.
"Had the mayor simply recognized the upset his comments had caused, this sorry episode could have been avoided," said the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which brought the case before the Adjudication Panel for England.
The Adjudication Panel ordered the two-term mayor suspended from his job for four weeks beginning March 1. Livingstone said he was considering an appeal, and blasted the ruling.
"This decision strikes at the heart of democracy," he said in a statement. "Elected politicians should only be able to be removed by the voters or for breaking the law."
David Laverick, chairman of the disciplinary panel, said Livingstone had failed to appreciate "that his conduct was unacceptable . . . and did damage to the reputation of his office."
"His representative is quite right in saying, as he did on Feb. 23, that matters should not have got as far as this but it is the mayor who must take responsibility for this," Laverick argued.
Deputy Mayor Nicky Gavron, whose mother came to Britain as a Jewish refugee in the 1930s, said the issue had been "blown out of all proportion."
"An elected mayor should only be removed by the law or by the electorate, not by an unelected body," Gavron said.
"This issue should never have come to the standards board in the first place - it was given a thorough airing at the time," Gavron said.
Livingstone had denied any intention of offending the Jewish community when, in a testy conversation a year ago, he asked Evening Standard reporter Oliver Finegold whether he had been a "German war criminal."
Finegold replied that, as a Jew, he was offended.
"Well you might be, but actually you are just like a concentration camp guard. You're just doing it (working for that paper) because you're paid to, aren't you?" Livingstone said.
He referred to Finegold's employer, Associated Newspapers, as "a load of scumbags" and "reactionary bigots who supported fascism."
Since Livingstone lost the case he must pay his own costs, estimated at the equivalent of about $160,000 Cdn. The panel made no recommendation whether his salary should be suspended.
A stubborn streak and a knack for provocation had served Livingstone well in his political career. Known as "Red Ken" because of his left-wing policies, he delighted in defying Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher when he was leader of the Greater London Council, which she abolished.
Though they belonged to the same party, Prime Minister Tony Blair loathed Livingstone and campaigned against him in the 2000 mayor's race. Livingstone won easily, and four years later he was embraced as Labour's official candidate.
Among his other roles in life, Livingstone once wrote restaurant reviews for the Evening Standard.
The paper's editor, Veronica Wadley, commented that "it is only right that the adjudication panel has now decided that Mr. Livingstone acted in a manner that was ill-fitting for the mayor of this great city."
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In Support of My Mayor
Ken Livingstone was suspended on full salary as London mayor for a month yesterday for likening a Jewish newspaper reporter to a Nazi concentration camp guard. Once again, some basic human elementary liberties are sacrificed in defence of Jewish dignity. And the question to be asked is why do we surrender our elementary rights so easily? Why did a UK governmental watchdog suspend the adorable Mayor of London just for hurting the feelings of a journalist, who happens to be a Jew?
Indeed the Mayor was absolutely correct when expressing his outrage, "This decision strikes at the heart of democracy. Elected politicians should only be able to be removed by the voters or for breaking the law," and went on to say, "Three members of a body that no-one has ever elected should not be allowed to overturn the votes of millions of Londoners." My dearest Mayor, you are probably right, those three individuals do not express the will of the people. British Democracy indeed suffered a massive slam. Yet, as you should have learned by now, Jewish interests and sensitivities are ex-judicial. Moreover, they stand far above any recognised democratic order.
Seemingly, the Mayor was pretty good in his job. Londoners love their mayor, they re-elected him for a second term and probably will do the same for a third. Not only that, the Mayor is absolutely great at his job, as well as a fabulous educator. At a time when PM Blair does his utmost to advance the so called 'cultural clash' into a state of a world war, it is Mayor Livingstone who spreads a message of peace and hope. A few months back, when London was hit by a devastating wave of terror, it was Livingstone who stood up spreading a message of reconciliation and love. Seemingly, it is Ken Livingstone, the one and only UK politician who has managed to internalise the real meaning of multi ethnicity and cultural pluralism. Being who he is, and saying what he says, the Mayor indeed made himself very many enemies within the rapidly darkening world of British politics.
Yet, the mayor enjoys the support of the people. I am totally convinced that Londoners will raise the necessary questions: Why exactly is our mayor suspended? Did he commit a crime? If he did, what exactly was the crime? Those Londoners who are still capable of critical ideological thinking may wonder why do we bend our so called democratic values for one idiotic rude journalist who happened to be a Jew.
While some of my intellectual allies would claim that the late undemocratic act in the heart of British democracy proves beyond doubt that 'Jewish power' is winning over, I am left doubtful. I am not convinced that Britain is run by Jews, at least not for the time being. However, I do believe that defending Jews and Jewish interests is something the British establishment imposes on itself.
I tend to believe that the pro Jewish acts we had witnessed yesterday in London, as well as last week in Austria, are not exactly a manifestation of some genuine pro Jewish feelings. In fact, it is the complete opposite. They are there to cover up some severe antagonism. The more ordinary Westerners disapprove of the Jewish state colonising Palestine, the more they feel contempt towards Zionism, the more they suspect the official Zionist historical narrative, the more they feel guilty about their scorn. To a certain extent, the more we hate inwardly, the more we support and empathise outwardly. Supporting Jewish interests is there to cover up a growing discomfort. This very pattern was rather apparent in Pre Nazi Germany. In case one insists on learning from the past, this is a clear historical lesson.
While British Jewish leaders complain about the emerging Anti Semitism within the kingdom, in general, I would suggest to them to be twice as concerned about their latest victory.
Comment: The use of the Judaism card by the pathocrats has been one of their most successful methods of turning the focus away from an invisible distinguishing characteristic is a very visible one.
Yes, given the role of Israel in the genocide of the Palesintian people, and the role of neo-conservatives in the US in supporting Israel, to the point of invading Iraq, there is every reason to denounce Zionism It is a cancer on the face of the Earth. But what of the pathocrats in other countries, of other religions, who sit by and allow the Palestinian holocaust to take place?
Yes, Zionism has succeeded is making the question of Jewish power a topic that can put one in jail, or, as in the case of Ken Livingston, suspension from one's job. It is outrageous that only one group benefit from this special status while Islam can be mocked in cartoons with impunity and voices are raised to hurl slurs at Muslims for reacting in anger. But they aren't reacint to the cartoons, they are reacting to the years of slander they have endured in the press, to the accusuations of responsibility for 9/11, when it is Israel that is the culprit.
However, it is important to keep in mind that Judaism is no more the opponent than is Christianity or Islam, and pathocrats are in power everywhere.
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European Union and Jewish officials
remain at odds over Hamas and Iran
By Dinah Spritzer
February 23, 2006
VIENNA, Feb. 23 (JTA) - The European Union is trying to reassure European Jewish officials that it will stand tough on Hamas and Iran, but so far it isn't having much luck.
Speaking this week to the leaders of 40 European Jewish communities federations at the general assembly of the European Jewish Congress, the European Union's foreign affairs commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, tried to strike a note of solidarity with the Jewish leaders, but the leaders weren't buying into the notion.
The disagreements reflect the tensions between the European Union and the continent's Jewish community over how to deal with the thorny issues of Iran's nuclear program and the rise of Hamas to the leadership of the Palestinian Authority.
They also come as cracks are emerging between the United States and its European allies over how to deal with Hamas' ascension.
Ferrero-Waldner prefaced her comments on Hamas to the delegates gathered in Vienna on Sunday with an emphasis on compromise: "Israel must do more to ensure the peaceful coexistence of two viable states, such as ending the new construction of settlements."
She urged Israel not to withhold tax revenues from the Palestinian Authority, as the Israeli government has said it would.
But she promised Sunday that before engaging the new Hamas government, the European Union would stick to the requirements laid out on Jan. 30 by the "Quartet" for Middle East peace, made up of the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States.
These requirements state that Hamas must renounce terrorism, recognize Israel and adhere to all previous agreements made under the rubric of the road map for Middle East peace.
"We hope we can continue to work with the Palestinian Authority to build up the infrastructure of democracy and work towards building a state," she said. The ball is in Hamas' court, she added, although she did not specify which moves the European Union wants Hamas to take.
Ferrero-Waldner never said the European Union would not "talk to" Hamas, only that the European body would not "work with" Hamas if it did not adhere to the Quartet principles.
This distinction has become crucial since Russian President Vladimir Putin invited Hamas leaders to Russia for talks. Ferrero-Waldner said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has promised the talks are in keeping with the Quartet's guidelines, but many Jewish leaders view any engagement with Hamas as a betrayal.
The prospect of E.U.-Hamas talks angered Pierre Besnainou, president of the European Jewish Congress, who grilled Ferrero-Waldner on the E.U.'s stance.
"I just saw a woman from the Hamas election list on Israeli television saying that she was proud that her son killed Jews. Now you say that you feel Russia holding talks is consistent with your policy. Do you mean the E.U. will have discussions with the Hamas government? Should we imagine you will have discussions with such terrorists?" he said.
Urging patience, Ferrero-Waldner responded that the European Union has been very clear about its requirements. But she added: "We have to see what happens with the new Hamas government. Israel has elections coming. Both sides have to be tough right now, but then after I hope there will be a positive direction."
In addressing the Iranian nuclear issue, Ferrero-Waldner, Austria's former foreign minister, said, "Tehran should have no illusions about the international community's resolve."
If Iran did not change its stance and continued its nuclear program, the matter will definitely be dealt with by the U.N. Security Council, she said. "Of course what happens at the Security Council is another matter entirely."
Russia and China, two members of the council, are known to be reluctant to pass any resolution criticizing Iran on its nuclear program.
During her speech, Ferrero-Waldner condemned Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent denial of the Holocaust, his statement that Israel should be wiped off the face of the earth and an Iranian newspaper's Holocaust cartoon contest, which she referred to as "a race to the bottom for religious intolerance."
Despite such assurances, Ariel Muzicant, president of the Austrian Jewish community, warned Ferrero-Waldner that Europe's 2.5 million Jews, as well as Israel, would not sit idly by if the European Union did not stand fast on Iran and Hamas.
"We expect the E.U. not to move one single inch. Until Hamas recognizes Israel and renounces violence, no talking. I have lots of relatives in Israel and if the E.U. betrays Israel, the Israelis will implement something extreme.
"I am telling you it is Europe this time, not the U.S., that is the key player," he said.
In a weekend meeting involving Besnainou, Muzicant and Austrian President Wolfgang Schussel, the latter told Muzicant that an "armed solution" was not possible in Iran.
Stephan Kramer, general-secretary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, summed up the emotional tenor of the Jewish community leaders when he nearly shouted at Ferrero-Waldner, "We will not accept an Iran with nuclear weapons, Israel will not accept this, all there has ever been from the E.U. on this is appeasement."
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Corpses in the Garden
By Charles Sullivan
Knowing what I know about the history of my country, it is often difficult for me to fathom how my fellow countrymen have shaped their views. I have come to believe that they have created a mythical America that is not a real place. The perceived necessity of substituting a fantasy world for the real world suggests there is something terribly wrong with the American psyche. If there are corpses buried in our gardens, surely they must gnaw at our conscience and produce pathological behavior, even if we did not put them there. Subconsciously, we know they are turning in their graves trying to be free. We fear that they will awaken and climb out of their graves, forcing their way into our conscience, and revealing our complicity in the crimes committed in our name.
Pretending that these corpses do not exist leads to a recklessness of language and perversion of truth that is both deplorable and manipulative. Denial of this magnitude requires deliberate and wanton ignorance that can only be based upon fear. It makes a mockery of our sacred institutions-the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Self respect demands that we know truth and that we always convey truth to the best of our ability. Living in denial does not serve our cause; it serves the interest of wealth and power-the plutocracy. A fabricated life of denial allows the atrocities to continue without anyone being held accountable.
Imagine what an enigma we are to those people in other parts of the world who have experienced first hand Pax Americana. Throughout the world our government is engaged in acts of terror that inflict misery and suffering upon untold millions of innocent people. These acts of terror easily dwarf the infamous events of 9-11 that occurred on our own soil. We are told that these amoral actions are necessary to protect American interests. The widely held assumption is that American interests are noble and high minded; that they have much to do with democracy and liberation; the florid language of presidents. In truth, however, American interests are construed to mean corporate interests. The corporate interest and the welfare of American citizens must never be confused-they are mutually exclusive.
To believe that corporate greed is a noble cause intimately related to human rights requires a leap of faith that is beyond fantastic. It requires wanton and willful ignorance-the creation of a fantasy world that can make a miserable existence at least minimally palatable. Burying our heads in the sand can never bring us closer to solving the problems exacerbated by denial, nor can it provide a means of attaining social justice or ecological health. Denial is the most dangerous and delusional form of ignorance.
Eventually we will have to exhume the corpses that refuse to stay buried in our gardens. Truth always finds the cracks in the walls of denial we have built in our minds. Little by little it oozes out and destroys our most cherished delusions about who we are. The fruit it bears are a poison to the soul. Truth is self-exhuming, self extracting.
The corpses of millions of American Indians lie restive in the dark recesses of the earth; a story told but as yet unheard. Among the living dead are political prisoners who were executed by the state, whose roll call includes the names of Joe Hill, Albert Parsons and Vincent St. John, and a litany of others. Like the corymbs of splendid Orchid buried deep in the nurturing soil, lie the tormented corpses of the strange fruit that hung from southern poplar trees, with bulging eyes and twisted mouths, the scent of magnolia clean and fresh; the sudden smell of burning flesh. Their angst-ridden souls still haunt the sultry summer nights of the Deep South, impatient in their quest for justice. Divested of their humanity, these nameless men, women and children were recorded in their master's ledgers as mere property, and accorded a dollar value on a par with inanimate objects such as plows and hammers.
America's enormous wealth was built upon the labor of millions of slaves at a human cost that is beyond calculation. Some of the most highly esteemed names in the country accumulated their fortunes in this damnable manner. Many of them still hold important seats of power in government to this day, and play key roles in shaping current domestic and foreign policy. The descendants of slave owners in Alabama and Mississippi may be driving the enslavement of people of Middle Eastern descent. Surely, this is no accident. It is the continuation of an abominable racist policy called Manifest Destiny carried forward.
These heinous events are but a small sampling of America's obscured history. As a people we must summon the courage of reconciliation with our past. A cultural reckoning is imperative if we are to comprehend what America really is, as well how and why we came to this place in the present. Burying the mutilated corpses and desecrating their unmarked graves under tons of asphalt and concrete, just as our ancestors abused them in life, assures that our national conscience will be haunted by the specters our ancestors created and unleashed upon the world. Asphalt and concrete will not keep them in their graves. They know how to rise and they will do it.
Only the full acknowledgment of these monstrous events can emancipate us from our past. Pretending they didn't happen will not make them go away. America was built upon an unbroken chain of events like these which continue to this day. The torture and abuse of prisoners in Abu Graiab are connected to the lynchings of the Deep South a century ago. The abuse will not stop until there is a reckoning followed by reparations. As a people we must take ownership of the things our ancestors did because they are a cleared path that leads to the crimes against humanity that are occurring today in our names. Understanding current events in the context of history allows us to see without obstruction what is happening and why it is happening. Seeing history in this manner may thus help us to avoid the pitfalls that have troubled us in the past.
Fortunately, while our history has been one of brutality and unspeakable cruelty, it is also a history of resistance-a history of movements and hope. It is the kind of history that has been deliberately suppressed by those who write history precisely because it inspires the kind of hope that motivates and moves people from the realm of rhetoric into the theater of action. Action occurs at the interface of convention and social change; and it is all that has ever changed the world.
Those who record written history do so from the perspective of the conquerors, rather than the vanquished. It terrifies them whenever the other side of the story is told because it intrudes upon their delusion. When this happens a truth is revealed that conflicts with everything we have been told about America-a truth the historians of conquest and empire desperately want to keep hidden. Their dilemma is that the truth will not stay buried. It constantly threatens to awake, to expose their omissions and lies.
Awakening of this kind poses a threat to the established order, even as it promises a new order based upon social justice rather than exploitation and gluttony. It is a truth that menaces the myths surrounding war and conquest by bringing the ugliness of their real motives to the light of day and public ridicule. Truth is all powerful and all revelatory. Those who do not have it on their side may prevail for a while longer; but in the long run they will succumb to reality. The counterfeit cannot long endure the scrutiny and judgment of truth.
Reality, truth, exists apart from the human imagination as well as within it. They are a spirit that is imprinted indelibly upon the bedrock of time, as if etched in stone. They are a story that not only must be told-they are a story that will be told. Burying them under volumes of myth and bravado will not make them lie still and quiet in their graves. They will awaken and tell their story whether we want to know them or not. No force on earth can make them lie still until their lessons have been learned.
Viewed in the context of history, current events lose their ability to deceive. We see them exactly as they are, vulnerable and naked, and indefensible as doctrines of a civilized culture; always in stark contrast to what we are told. Truth, and only truth, will set us free.
So let the corpses in our gardens rise. They are trying to tell us something that may make our survival possible.
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Cheney's vice-like grip
Friday February 24, 2006
Bush has granted his deputy the greatest expansion of powers in American history
After shooting Harry Whittington, Dick Cheney's immediate impulse was to control the intelligence. Rather than call the president directly, he ordered an aide to inform the White House chief of staff, Andrew Card, that there had been an accident - but not that Cheney was its cause. Then surrogates attacked the victim for not steering clear of Cheney when he was firing without looking. The vice-president tried to defuse the furore by giving an interview to friendly Fox News.
His most revealing answer came in response to a question about something other than the hunting accident. Cheney was asked about court papers filed by his former chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby, indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice in the inquiry into the leaking of the identity of the undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame. In the papers, Libby laid out a line of defence that he leaked classified material at the behest of "his superiors" (to wit, Cheney). Libby said he was authorised to disclose to members of the press classified sections of the prewar National Intelligence Estimate on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. Indeed, Cheney explained, he has the power to declassify intelligence. "There is an executive order to that effect," he said.
On March 25 2003 President Bush signed executive order 13292, a hitherto little-known document that grants the greatest expansion of the power of the vice-president in US history. It gives the vice-president the same ability to classify intelligence as the president. By controlling classification, the vice-president can control intelligence and, through that, foreign policy. Bush operates on the radical notion of the "unitary executive", that the presidency has inherent and limitless powers in his role as commander in chief, above the system of checks and balances. Never before has any president diminished and divided his power.
The unprecedented executive order bears the hallmarks of Cheney's former counsel and current chief of staff, David Addington, the most powerful aide within the White House. Addington has been the closest assistant to Cheney through three decades. Inside the executive branch, Addington acts as Cheney's vicar, inspiring fear and obedience. Few documents of concern to the vice-president, even executive orders, reach the president without passing through Addington's hands.
To advance their scenario for the Iraq war, Cheney and co either pressured or dismissed the intelligence community when it presented contrary analysis.
On domestic spying conducted without legal approval of the foreign-intelligence surveillance court, Addington and his minions crushed dissent from James Comey, deputy attorney general, and Jack Goldsmith, head of the justice department's office of legal counsel.
On torture policy, as reported by the New Yorker this week, Alberto Mora, recently retired as general counsel to the US navy, opposed Bush's abrogation of the Geneva conventions. Addington et al told him the policies were being ended, while pursuing them on a separate track.
The first US vice-president, John Adams, called his position "the most insignificant office ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived". When Cheney was defence secretary, he reprimanded Vice-President Dan Quayle for asserting power he did not possess by calling a meeting of the National Security Council when the elder President Bush was abroad.
Since the coup d'etat of executive order 13292, the vice-presidency has been transformed. Perhaps, for a blinding moment, Cheney imagined he might classify his shooting party as top secret.
· Sidney Blumenthal, a former senior adviser to President Clinton, is the author of The Clinton Wars
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Pentagon denies Wolfowitz approved Guantanamo interrogation tactics
Fri Feb 24, 8:23 PM ET
WASHINGTON - The Pentagon denied that former deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz approved interrogation techniques used on war-on-terror detainees as claimed in a recently released FBI email.
"To make any suggestion that Paul Wolfowitz was involved in approving individual interrogation plans is simply wrong," said Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman.
Reference was made to Wolfowitz in an exchange of email between FBI officials in May, 2004 over agents' concerns about aggressive interrogation tactics used by military interrogators on detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
In one email, an FBI official whose name was blacked out suggested talking to the bureau's Behavioral Assessment Unit about what he indicated were two specific examples of abuse.
In a reply the following day, a second unidentified FBI official cautioned that there was a distinction between "allegations of abuse and the use of techniques which fall outside of FBI/DOJ (Department of Justice) training and policy."
"As it relates to (redacted) and (redacted) the techniques employed against them in the interrogation process were, based on numerous inquiries I made, in addition to my personal review of the DoD interrogation plans, approved by the Deputy Secretary of Defense."
Wolfowitz, who now heads the World Bank, was deputy secretary of defense at the time.
"This story is old and fictional, created by anonymous people with no real knowledge of his role," said Kevin Kellems, a spokesman for Wolfowitz.
The reference to Wolfowitz in connection with Guantanamo interrogation techniques was believed to be a first, however.
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is known to have approved a set of aggressive interrogation techniques in December 2002.
They were rescinded in January 2003 after military lawyers raised concerns about them. A scaled down set of techniques whose use required special approval later replaced them.
Whitman said that as deputy secretary of defense, Wolfowitz was aware of the issue and would have taken part in high-level discussions about it, but did not approve interrogation techniques.
"The deputy secretary of defense is not in the business of approving interrogation plans," Whitman said.
"We have policies and procedures that outline or provide guidelines, or the secretary provides guidelines at the request of the JTF commander through the Southcom commander with respect to interrogation techniques," he said.
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Ricin Discovered in Texas Dormitory
February 25, 2006
AUSTIN - A substance discovered by a student in a University of Texas dormitory has tested positive for ricin, a potentially deadly poison, officials said.
The chunky powder was found at the Moore-Hill dormitory Thursday and reported to university police, officials said. Tests for ricin came back positive Friday. Officials don't know where it came from, said campus police spokeswoman Rhonda Weldon.
"We were very concerned as soon as we heard about the positive testing late this evening," Dr. Theresa Spalding of UT Health Services said Friday.
Ricin is extracted from castor beans and can be added to food or water, injected or sprayed as an aerosol. It can be in the form of a powder, mist, pellet, or it can be dissolved in water or weak acid.
Some students and staff were potentially exposed, according to a university statement, but have not shown any symptoms. Symptoms can include anything from difficulty breathing, fever, cough, nausea and sweating to severe vomiting and dehydration.
The dorm was sanitized and inspected, and students were cleared to return, the university said.
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Bush, Rats & a Sinking Ship
By Robert Parry
February 25, 2006Consortiumnews.com
In just this past week, conservative legend William F. Buckley Jr. and neoconservative icon Francis Fukuyama have joined the swelling ranks of Americans judging George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq a disaster.
"One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed," Buckley wrote at National Review Online on Feb. 24, adding that the challenge now facing Bush and his top advisers is how to cope with the reality of that failure.
"Within their own counsels, different plans have to be made," Buckley wrote after a week of bloody sectarian violence in Iraq. "And the kernel here is the acknowledgement of defeat."
Fukuyama, a leading neoconservative theorist, went further citing not just the disaster in Iraq but the catastrophe enveloping Bush's broader strategy of preemptive military American interventions, waged unilaterally when necessary.
"The so-called Bush Doctrine that set the framework for the administration's first term is now in shambles," Fukuyama wrote Feb. 19 in The New York Times Magazine.
"Successful preemption depends on the ability to predict the future accurately and on good intelligence, which was not forthcoming, while America's perceived unilateralism has isolated it as never before," Fukuyama wrote.
While those Americans who always opposed the Iraq War may see this unseemly scramble of Bush's former allies as a classic case of rats deserting a sinking ship, the loss of these two prominent thinkers of the Right mark a turning point in the political battle over the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
If Bush can't hold William F. Buckley Jr. – and if even the ranks of the neocons are starting to crack – Bush may soon be confronted with a hard choice of either acknowledging his errors or tightening his authoritarian control of the United States.
Bush's foundering Iraq policy also raises the stakes in the November elections. Prospects have brightened for those who want Bush held accountable for his reckless deeds and his violation of laws, both domestic and international.
This reversal of fortune is stunning when compared to Bush's seeming omnipotence in 2002, when he unveiled the Bush Doctrine, and even a year ago when leading U.S. pundits were hailing the President as a visionary leader.
Bush picked his belligerent course in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on New York and Washington. Though the world had rallied to America's side – offering both sympathy and cooperation in fighting terrorism – Bush chose to issue ultimatums.
Bush famously told other nations that they were either "with us, or you are with the terrorists." Vowing to
"rid the world of evil," he made clear he would brush aside any restrictions on his actions, including the United Nations Charter and the Geneva Conventions.
Europeans were soon protesting Bush's treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay and Muslims were voicing growing hatred for the United States. Though Bush's tough actions were popular with his base, they played poorly abroad.
"It annoys your allies in the war against terrorism, and it creates problems for our Muslim allies, too," one West European ambassador said in 2002. "It puts at stake the moral credibility of the war against terrorism." [See Consortiumnews.com's "Bush's Return to Unilateralism."]
Bush spelled out his broader strategy in a speech at West Point on June 1, 2002. He asserted a unilateral U.S. right to overthrow any government in the world that is deemed a threat to American security, a position so sweeping it lacked historical precedent.
"If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long," Bush said in describing what soon became known as the "Bush Doctrine."
Shortly after Bush's West Point speech, an article at Consortiumnews.com observed that "Bush's grim vision is of a modern 'crusade,' as he once put it, with American military forces striking preemptively at 'evil-doers' wherever they live, while U.S. citizens live under a redefined Constitution with rights that can be suspended selectively by one man.
"Beyond the enormous sacrifices of blood, money and freedom that this plan entails, there is another problem: the strategy offers no guarantee of greater security for Americans and runs the risk of deepening the pool of hatred against the United States.
"With his cavalier tough talk, Bush continues to show no sign that he grasps how treacherous his course is, nor how much more difficult it will be if the U.S. alienates large segments of the world's population." [See "Bush's Grim Vision"]
On March 19, 2003, Bush took another fateful step, ordering the invasion of Iraq despite being denied authority from the U.N. Security Council.
After ousting Saddam Hussein's regime three weeks later, Bush basked in popular acclaim from many Americans. He even donned a flight suit for a "Mission Accomplished" aircraft-carrier celebration on May 1, 2003.
During those heady days, Bush and his neoconservative advisers dreamed of remaking the entire Middle East with pro-U.S. leaders chosen through elections and Arab nations ending their hostility toward Israel.
But Bush's wishful thinking began to run into trouble. A fierce resistance emerged in Iraq, claiming the lives of hundreds – and then thousands – of U.S. soldiers who couldn't quell the violence. Instead of contributing to peace, the Iraqi elections deepened the country's sectarian divisions – empowering the Shiite majority while alienating the Sunni minority.
Surging anti-Americanism caused other Middle East elections to have the opposite results from what Bush's neoconservatives predicted. Instead of breeding moderation, elections in Pakistan, Egypt, Iran and the Palestinian Authority saw gains by Islamic extremists, including a surprise victory by the militant group Hamas in Palestine.
The United States also has seen its international reputation devastated by reports of abuse and torture in U.S.-run detention centers. Rather than the all-powerful nation that the neocons wanted to project, the United States revealed the limitations of its military might and the incompetence of its administrative follow-through.
This string of catastrophes has now led even prominent conservatives to conclude that Bush's "stay the course" strategy must be rethought. They see Iraq spiraling toward a civil war with 138,000 U.S. troops caught in the middle.
The latest defectors – Buckley and Fukuyama – threaten to pull away even members of Bush's political base. Buckley is the godfather of conservative punditry, while Fukuyama has been a bright light among neocon theorists.
Now, Bush must decide what to do – admit mistakes and heed the advice of critics – or circle the wagons even tighter and lash out at the growing majority of Americans who think the war in Iraq was a deadly mistake.
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Identity of Official to Be Kept From Libby
By TONI LOCY
Associated Press Writer
Feb 24 5:45 PM US/Eastern
WASHINGTON - Former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, charged with perjury in the CIA leak case, cannot be told the identity of another government official who is said to have told reporters about a CIA operative's identity, a federal judge ruled Friday.
At the same time, U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton said Libby could have copies of notes he took during an 11-month period in 2003 and 2004 while serving as chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney.
The judge also set the stage for a showdown in late April over the defense's plans to subpoena reporters and news organizations for notes and other documents in the leak of Valerie Plame's identity.
During a hearing Friday afternoon, Walton said Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald can keep secret the other government official's identity because that person has not been charged and has a right to privacy.
The judge deferred ruling on whether Libby can have access to highly classified President's Daily Briefs, summaries of intelligence on threats against the United States. The CIA will prepare a filing on how difficult it would be to find and collect the information.
Ted Wells, Libby's lead lawyer, said Libby did not take notes during the briefings - given by a CIA official six days a week, usually with Cheney - and needs the classified reports to refresh his memory about the national security matters he was dealing with at that time.
Libby, 55, was indicted last year, accused of lying about how he learned Plame's identity and when he subsequently told reporters. Libby's trial is set for January 2007.
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Germany admits its spies helped US in Iraq war
Fri Feb 24, 2006
By Louis Charbonneau
BERLIN (Reuters) - The German government released a report that said two German spies in Iraq provided the United States with intelligence but rejected allegations it aided the U.S. bombing campaign during the 2003 invasion.
In response to the report, two major opposition parties are demanding a parliamentary inquiry into German intelligence activities that could force current and former government and security officials to testify under oath.
The 90-page report is part of a larger text given to a parliamentary oversight committee that has been investigating reports that Germany's BND foreign intelligence agency helped the United States select sites to bomb during the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, despite official opposition to the war.
The report says former BND president August Hanning decided on March 17, 2003 -- three days before the U.S.-led invasion began -- that two BND agents would remain in Iraq despite the evacuation of the entire German diplomatic corps from Baghdad.
Given their precarious situation in Baghdad, the two agents depended on the invading U.S. authorities for their safety and ability to gather intelligence, the report said.
"In view of the possible need for evacuation or decontamination measures the (BND agents) would be dependent on the willingness of U.S. authorities to cooperate," it said.
The report acknowledges the BND agents provided the United States with intelligence during the U.S.-led invasion, but said this was mostly limited to reports about items such as "civilian protected or other humanitarian sites, such as Synagogues and Torah rolls and the possible locations of missing U.S. pilots."
The agents also provided U.S. agents with descriptions of "the character of military and police presence in the city."
COORDINATES FOR IRAQI MILITARY FORCES
The German agents provided U.S. officials with "descriptions in isolated cases of Iraqi military forces along with geographic coordinates". It said these were provided only after the agents were convinced the Americans already had the information.
Responding to media reports that the agents had given the United States coordinates that could be used for bombing, the report said the BND provided "no support for the strategic air offensive" in Iraq.
Opposition politicians have rejected the government's view that the report exonerates the BND and the administration of former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.
"We have unanimously decided that the open questions should be clarified by a parliamentary inquiry," Greens' parliamentary group leader Renate Kuenast told reporters.
The opposition Left Party is also pushing for a parliamentary inquiry, which the government strongly opposes as it could embarrass a number of current and former officials -- including Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who was Schroeder's chief aide and intelligence liaison.
If the Free Democrats decide next week to join the Greens and Left Party in demanding the inquiry, Chancellor Angela Merkel's government would have no choice but to accept it.
Comment: It sure is nice to know that there are some good guys out there.
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Venezuelan-Owned Citgo Faces Congressional Inquiry For Offering Discounted Oil to U.S. Poor
Friday, February 24th, 2006
Republican Congressmember Joe Barton of Texas has launched an investigation into one of the world's major oil companies - Citgo. The Venezuelan-owned company announced a discounted gas program for poor Americans last year. We speak with Democratic New York Congressman Jose Serrano, one of the few members of Congress promoting this effort. [includes rush transcript] We turn now to a story that Juan Gonzalez has been covering in the New York Daily News.
In Washington, Republican Congressman Joe Barton of Texas has launched an investigation into one of the world's major oil companies. But he is not investigating whether any of the oil giants are engaging in price gouging at a time when gasoline and heating oil casts are skyrocketing. Instead Barton has set his sights on the only oil company that actually dared to lower its prices last year - at least for the poorest Americans.
Last week Barton demanded the Venezuelan-owned company Citgo produce all records, minutes, logs, e-mails and even desk calendars related to the company's novel program of supplying discounted heating oil to low-income communities in the United States. The Citgo program, which began late last year in Massachusetts and the South Bronx, provides oil at discounts as high as 60% off market price. We hear an excerpt of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. He first announced the discounted gas program during an interview with Democracy Now! on September 16, 2005.
AMY GOODMAN: To discuss this, we'll be joined in a few minutes by New York Congress member Jose Serrano, but first we're going to turn to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. He first announced the discounted gas program during an interview on Democracy Now! when we went to the Venezuelan ambassador's home, the ambassador to the United Nations in New York, and interviewed the Venezuelan President.
PRESIDENT HUGO CHAVEZ: After many meetings with the U.S. citizens, we decided to propose a scheme for poor populations and low-income populations in the U.S. We've seen that poverty in the U.S. is growing everywhere. It's close to 11 percent poverty, according to some estimates. And instead of the figures, you have to go deeper into it, because if you see Katrina and you saw what's happened, 100,000 people were abandoned, and they are abandoned, and they're just surviving.
So here, we have Citgo, this oil company. We have the Citgo company here in the United States. This is a Venezuelan company, so let's have a look at the U.S. map, the distribution area of Citgo in the U.S. We are present in 14,000 gas stations in the U.S., and here we have different refineries, asphalt refineries, eight refineries that we have in the U.S., the plants for filling units, the third, refineries, terminals, and so on.
We want to use these infrastructures to help the poor populations. We have made some progress. We have given instructions to the President of Citgo, Felix Rodriguez. We want that up to ten percent we refine here. We supply every day to the U.S. 1.5 million barrels of oil, crude and product, and we refine here close to 800,000 barrels a day, refined here in the U.S., so we would like to take ten percent of what we refine, those products, and to offer these products in several modalities to the poor populations.
And the pilot project will be starting in Chicago. We are already operating in Chicago. Well, let's hope that there's not going to be any obstacle by the government opposed to this project being implemented, but we will be working in those poor populations. We have some allies.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez speaking to Democracy Now! last September, when Juan and I interviewed him. Now, joining us on the telephone is Democratic Congress member Jose Serrano of New York. Welcome to Democracy Now!, Congress member Serrano.
REP. JOSE SERRANO: Thank you for your invitation, and good morning to you both.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you explain what Joe Barton, the energy Congress member from Texas is doing? What is he calling for?
REP. JOSE SERRANO: I think they're being obscene. There's no other way to describe it. I mean, for years, we've begged Congress to look at the oil companies, and now I may have to put on my resume that with a program that helps the poor, we've been able to get Congress to finally look at a oil company, except that they're looking at the wrong one and for the wrong reasons. This is blatantly political to ask if the program is here to serve the poor or it's part of a larger political agenda, which was part of what the letter said. I think what's happening -- and it's obvious to me -- that the oil companies are embarrassed, and they are asking their friends in Congress, mostly Republicans.
And as you guys know, I try, when I'm on this show, to be as nonpolitical as possible, but there's no other way to put it. The Bush administration has a serious problem with President Hugo Chavez. They don't like the success he's having, both in his country and throughout Latin America. They don't like what's happening in terms of governments moving to the left. So they've made him the demon that they have to destroy, and now when he pulls off something that is helping people in my community in Boston, Chicago, in Maine and Vermont and other places, Rhode Island, it's spreading throughout the country, they're going to now start to investigate and harass them, and that's what it's all about.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, I called Congressman Joe Barton's office earlier this week to ask what prompted this, and the response of the Chief of Staff of the House Energy Committee was that Hugo Chavez was interfering in U.S. -- in the United States government oil policy, and that therefore they wanted to investigate whether there was actually some antitrust violations occurring. Your response?
REP. JOSE SERRANO: Well, I think the only thing he is interfering in in Citgo is in the usual rip-off of the poor and the working class by the oil companies in this country. As you know, their profits have been outrageous, and no one is looking at that. They were asked by members of the Senate to do something. They totally ignored it. Citgo was the only one that stepped up.
And I think this goes into some dangerous grounds here, because, for instance, when they ask for logs, phone conversations and so on, which they're asking voluntarily now -- and they may go and try to do it in an official subpoena way -- what are they saying, that they also want minutes of any meetings that I had with Citgo, that Joe Kennedy had with Citgo, that Bernie Sanders had with Citgo, and other members of Congress, Charlie Rangel, Gregory Meeks? Well, that goes into a dangerous area, because they're not investigating serious ethics violations in Congress, and here they're going to try find out what kind of conversations we had, but the conversations are public. They were basically a great program that we were all trying to get in our communities.
And I tell you, with all due respect to my colleagues -- I am not going to give out names -- but if I give you the list of about 60 members of Congress from all parts of the country who are asking me, "Can I set up a meeting with Citgo?" to see if they can get this kind of program in their district.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Now Congressman Joe Barton, of course, has a long record of defending oil industry interests, at least of the major oil companies, in Congress. He's also, as I noted in my column, in the last election cycle, received more money than anyone else in Congress, except Tom DeLay, from the oil industry and has received over $2 million in the 20 years he's been in Congress from the oil and electric utility industry. Your assessment of his role as Chair of the Energy Committee?
AMY GOODMAN: And we should say, by the way, we did invite Congressman Barton to be on the program, and he declined.
REP. JOSE SERRANO: Well, you know, I don't do too much analysis of where folks may get their campaign contributions, because in many cases, it doesn't sway in any way, but what is bad here is that it doesn't -- you don't have to really do too much analysis to realize that Katrina, that the oil crises this summer -- this winter -- that all the things that could be looked at, in terms of the oil companies in this country, are not being looked at.
And then, this whole gripe with President Chavez and following on the heels of Condoleezza Rice, once again, trying to undo what Chavez is doing in Latin America, by now suggesting that she's going to go -- and she said this publicly on behalf of the administration -- to different countries in Latin America to try to create a front against Hugo Chavez. Well, this is what just sticks out as a sore thumb. It's sickening. So I'd rather just continue to look at why -- how, not why, we know why -- but how can the Republicans get away with singling out one oil company and not looking at their profits, interestingly enough, not looking at how much they've been charging Americans, but looking at why they discounted their oil up to 60%, as you said, and why are they giving help to the poor? I mean, it's ridiculous.
And I think this time it may backfire because it's not just the South Bronx or eventually Harlem or East Harlem. It's the home-owner communities composed of working class and senior citizens, white folks throughout this country, who are benefiting from this program. And they're going to scratch their head and say, "I don't get it. Why are you going after these guys and not the other guys?"
Comment: It is obvious that the American government cares little for its citizens or their plight (as our next story shows). As a sidenote, we are of the opinion that Democracy now is a "liberal gatekeeper", conscious or not. Don't get too fixated on everything they say.
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Venezuela cuts US airline flights
Venezuela is cutting flights by US airlines as relations between the two countries continue to deteriorate.
From 1 March, flights by Delta and Continental Airlines will be cut by up to 70%, and American Airlines flights will also be affected, officials say.
They accuse the US - which imposed a similar ban on Venezuela 10 years ago - of failing to give Venezuelan carriers equal access to American soil.
Relations between the two countries have long been strained.
They have hit new lows in recent weeks after a tit-for-tat expulsion row over allegations of spying, and a fierce exchange of words between US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Continental Airlines has been running a daily service from Venezuela to Houston, and weekly flights to New York. Delta Airlines currently flies daily to Atlanta, and American Airlines to Puerto Rico and Miami.
Venezuela's National Aviation Institute said in a statement: "We have exhausted all avenues with the US aeronautical authority.
"We have been forced to reduce the frequency of flights of US airline companies from the US."
The institute accused the US aviation authorities of failing "to give Venezuelan airlines the rights they deserve under bilateral agreements".
The US Federal Aviation Administration restricted Venezuelan carriers into the US in 1996 ruling that their airline safety procedures needed to be tightened.
Venezuelan officials say their safety standards have improved since then.
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MI6 payouts over secret LSD tests
Friday, 24 February 2006, 08:48 GMT
Three UK ex-servicemen have been given compensation after they were given LSD without their consent in the 1950s.
The men volunteered to be "guinea pigs" at the government research base Porton Down after being told scientists wanted to find a cure for the common cold.
But they were given the hallucinogen in mind control tests, and some volunteers had terrifying hallucinations.
The Foreign Office said the secret intelligence body MI6 had made the settlements after legal advice.
The out-of-court settlements are thought to be under £10,000 for each of the men.
A spokesman for the Foreign Office, which oversees MI6, said: "The settlement offers were made to the government on behalf of the three claimants which, on legal advice, and in the particular circumstances of these cases, the government thinks it appropriate to accept."
The men had volunteered for experiments at the government's chemical warfare research base at Porton Down in Wiltshire in 1953 and 1954.
Following the settlement, Don Webb, who was a 19-year-old airman at the time, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I think they grudgingly acknowledged that they did something wrong.
"They stick to the old maxim: never apologise, never explain. But I think in this case they have decided to pay some money. I think that is as near to an apology or an explanation I'll get."
Both he and fellow serviceman Logan Marr, a former shepherd from the Scottish highlands, suffered hallucinations after they were asked to drink a clear liquid.
The third man did not wish to be named.
The research was carried out after British and American governments thought the Soviet Union had developed a "truth drug" which could compel spies and servicemen to yield up important secrets.
MI6 scientists decided to test LSD, the closest thing they thought they had to a truth drug, on volunteers to see how they reacted.
Alan Care, a lawyer who represented the three men, said: "As far as we are aware, these are the first settlements by the secret intelligence services for a personal injury action."
He added that a request that documents relating to the case be put into the public domain had been refused.
Some volunteers at the base did not find out they had been given LSD until 50 years later. Thousands of servicemen and women have volunteered in the testing of defences against chemical and biological attacks at the Wiltshire military base.
Research began in 1916 using a "volunteers programme", and up to 20,000 people took part in various trials in the 50 years up to 1989.
Last October, the government was found guilty of breaching the human rights of former soldier Thomas Roche, who claimed he developed health problems as a result of mustard gas and nerve agent tests in 1962 and 1963.
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UN moves to create stronger human rights body
Feb 23, 2006
NEW YORK - The United Nations moved Thursday to create a human rights body that would be more credible than its current commission, but less ambitious than that sought by UN chief Kofi Annan, diplomats said.
Swedish diplomat Jan Eliasson, the current president of the UN General Assembly, presented to the 191 member states a draft proposal for a 47-state Human Rights Council elected by secret ballot by an absolute majority. It would meet three times a year for a minimum of 10 weeks.
The new council would be based in Geneva and replace the UN's Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, heavily criticized for taking years to pursue abuse cases and allowing nations with less-than-stellar human rights records to sit in judgment.
Under the draft proposal, membership criteria would tighten and the council could suspend members whose human rights record were deemed unacceptable.
Annan called for the text's adoption "within the next few days."
"Obviously the proposal isn't everything I asked for in my report," the secretary general told reporters.
"But I think it is a credible basis to move ahead. There are enough new elements in it for us to be able to build on I don't think anyone can claim this is old wine in a new bottle."
But the United States expressed reservations.
"We don't think it meets the standards set by the secretary general," US ambassador John Bolton told reporters. He refused to say whether the US would back the plan, signalling that Washington might seek to reopen negotiations.
Annan, in what appeared to be an oblique reply to Bolton's comments, declared: "The member states have had enough time to discuss. The issues are known and now is the time for a decision."
The creation of a Human Rights Council, a key element in a sweeping reform under way at the world body, was approved in principle by world leaders at a summit at UN headquarters in New York last September.
But definition of its scope and operations has been the subject of fierce debate.
Eliasson, who oversaw the negotiations, said the text marks a compromise on all controversial points, such as the size of the future council, criteria for admission, and the frequency of its meetings.
The plan calls for nation candidates for a council seat to be elected by the General Assembly by an absolute majority, currently 97 votes.
Annan and Western countries had wanted election by a two-thirds majority. But a number of Third World countries, members of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77, pushed for a majority of the ballots cast on the day of a vote.
The proposal also claims a right for universal review, which would mean that all countries, including the most powerful such as the US and China, could be called to defend their human rights record.
The number of council members - 47 against 53 of the current commission - was also a compromise. The majority of members wanted the number to remain at 53, while Western nations sought a more restricted body of some 38 members.
And the number of meetings - 10 weeks minimum with the possibility of an emergency session - is more than the six weeks of meetings held by the current commission.
Annan and Western nations had sought a permanent body.
France "will study the text very closely," said French ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sablière.
"My first reaction is that it's not an ideal text, but that it is a real progress compared to the Human Rights Commission. This body will be more active, more reactive, and more compelling for its members."
Non-governmental organizations urged swift adoption of the proposal, despite some shortcomings.
Human Rights Watch said that although the text "falls short of the vision" that Annan presented in his 2005 reform report, "governments should swiftly approve" the draft resolution.
"The UN's ability to protect human rights - and its credibility - will depend on governments' willingness to make the council a strong and effective body," the New York-based group said.
Amnesty International called for its adoption "without delay".
"Governments must now show the political will to make the Council an effective human rights body," said Yvonne Terlingen, Amnesty International's UN representative.
"This is an historic opportunity that governments must not squander for selfish political interests."
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Iranian advisor: We'll strike Dimona in response to U.S. attack
By Yossi Melman
If the United States launches an attack on Iran, the Islamic republic will retaliate with a military strike on Israel's main nuclear facility.
Dr. Abasi, an advisor to Iran's Revolutionary Guard, said Tehran would respond to an American attack with strikes on the Dimona nuclear reactor and other strategic Israeli sites such as the port city of Haifa and the Zakhariya area.
Haifa is also home to a large concentration of chemical factories and oil refineries.
Zakhariya, located in the Jerusalem hills is - according to foreign reports - home to Israel's Jericho missile base. Both Israeli and international media have published commercial satellite images of the Zakhariya and Dimona sites.
Abasi, a senior lecturer at Tehran University, was quoted in the Roz internet news site, identified with reform circles in Iran.
Iranian affairs experts believe Abasi's statements are part of propaganda battle being wages by all sides - including Israel and Iran - in the lead up to next months United Nations Security Council debate on Iran's nuclear program.
At this stage, the possibility that sanctions will be leveled at Iran are extremely low.
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Take Iranian president's threat `very seriously'
BY IKE SEAMANS
METULLA, Israel -- The first time I visited this Upper Galilee agricultural village hard by the Lebanese border, I almost died.
In April 1974, a TV camera crew and I were ensconced in a guesthouse here. Suddenly, Katyusha rockets exploded everywhere, fired by PLO gunners a half-mile away in Lebanon. We spent the night in a bomb shelter.
I returned last month and discovered that danger persists to this day. Metulla has the only Olympic hockey rink in Israel and was slated to host a world championship tournament next month. Last week, the International Hockey Federation cancelled it for fear of violence from across the border.
Nowadays, attacks are perpetrated primarily by Hezbollah, the Iran-created terrorist force, a virtual state-within-a-state that rules southern Lebanon. One base is so near, I can see battle flags flapping in the shivery winter breeze. Hezbollah soldiers in armored vehicles routinely approach the electrified separation fence, yelling at Israeli farmers, ''We will reclaim Arab land'' and ``Death to Jews.''
The Damascus-based Popular Front For The Liberation Of Palestine and al Qaeda also operate in what was once Israel's southern Lebanon security zone. In 2000, troops were pulled out -- a huge tactical blunder -- which led to the creation of a terrorist enclave. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al Qaeda's top gun in Iraq, claims Osama bin Laden himself ordered the Dec. 27 rocket barrage that hit Kiryat Shmona, a few miles from here.
Hezbollah's disciplined army boasts an abundant arsenal bankrolled by Iran and Syria: mortars; rocket launchers; recoilless rifles; explosives; artillery; anti-tank, anti-aircraft and medium range missiles. It also reputedly finances and equips 50 militant cells in the West Bank and Gaza. 'Hezbollah is the `A' team, a very formidable force,'' a senior Israel Defense Forces analyst tells me. ``Compared to it, Hamas is kid stuff.''
However, since it now rules the Palestinian Authority, Hamas is in a prime position to replicate the Hezbollah model with enthusiastic assistance from munificent Syrian and Iranian paymasters. This would complete a menacing Islamist pincer maneuver. ''Israel faces converging threats,'' warns Dore Gold, Israel's former U.N. ambassador. ``Hamas; Hezbollah; al Qaeda in Lebanon, Jordan, Gaza and Sinai; and the Iranian nuclear program. Israel must make certain they don't connect.''
Every expert, politician and military honcho I've spoken with unequivocally declares that Iran, the notorious proponent of worldwide terrorism, is the worst-case scenario. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's vow to wipe Israel off the map is taken very seriously. ''At first, we thought he was a clown,'' observes a senior intelligence source. ``But he keeps saying it, so we're listening.''
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the recent Herzliya international security conference that Iran's nuclear aspirations are Israel's ''sole existential threat,'' strongly implying that this tiny nation will unhesitatingly retaliate. However, don't expect an assault similar to Israel's 1981 air strike that destroyed Iraq's Osirak nuclear plant near Baghdad. An influential diplomat flatly declares, ''That isn't in our timetable.'' This isn't just Israel against Iran. It also concerns the United States, Europe, Russia, the Gulf States and many others. To deal with impending peril, the Jewish state needs collaborators. Big time.
While all this global intrigue may enthrall theoreticians, the 1,100 Metulla residents have more-pressing, personal issues. They crave a milieu free of fear where too-close-for-comfort enemies incessantly harass them. Just a stone's throw from Hezbollah encampments, I had dinner at apple grower Lior Weinberg's spacious home, replete with bomb shelter, gas masks and chemical weapons detectors. Born and raised here, he reflects, ``I've gone through this hellish existence my entire life. I want a better future for my two sons.''
Comment from Jeff Blankfort: A zionist writer, embedded with NBC, spreads zionist propaganda. When was the last time you saw it mentioned that Hizbollah did not exist until Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 and emerged as a liberation movement in response? Or a reference to Israel's invasion of Lebanon and that the Israelis killed an estimated 20,000 Lebanese and Palestinian civilians. Control of the media does have its advantages.
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Iran Offers IAEA Secret Atomic Info
By GEORGE JAHN Associated Press Writer
The Associated Press
NASSFELD, Austria - Iran has offered the International Atomic Energy Agency information on a secret uranium processing project that U.S. intelligence has linked to high explosives and warhead design, diplomats said Thursday.
The diplomats told The Associated Press that a team of IAEA experts was heading to Tehran on the weekend to follow up on the offer to discuss the "Green Salt Project."
The diplomats, who are based in Vienna and are familiar with the work of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, demanded anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the IAEA's probe of Tehran's nuclear program.
Public mention of the "Green Salt Project" first surfaced in an IAEA report drawn up earlier this month for a meeting of the agency's 35-nation board of governors that subsequently reported Tehran to the U.N. Security Council over concerns it could be hiding a nuclear weapons program.
Iran has denied wanting atomic weapons and a more than three-year IAEA probe has failed to produce evidence to the contrary. But the agency has come up with a series of findings, including experiments with plutonium and long-secret efforts to develop a uranium enrichment program _ an activity that can produce both nuclear fuel or the fissile core for warheads.
The report voiced concern that under the "Green Salt Project," conversion of uranium _ a precursor of enrichment _ was linked to suspected tests of "high explosives and the design of a missile re-entry vehicle, all of which could have a military nuclear dimension."
Diplomats familiar with the report said the IAEA was basing its concerns on several pages of U.S. intelligence that was recently declassified and shared with agency officials so that they could confront the Iranians with it. Among the links, they said, was the participation of several officials on conversion, high explosives and warhead design work.
Uranium conversion is the chemical process that changes raw uranium into the gas fed into centrifuges and spun repeatedly to separate out fissile isotopes. Low enriched uranium can be used to make energy _ which Iran insists is its only goal. But highly enriched uranium is used to make nuclear weapons. Iran already has converted tons of uranium but using a method that agency officials believe differ from the "Green Salt" program.
Iran's refusal to scrap domestic enrichment aggravated concerns about its nuclear intentions and contributed to the IAEA board's Feb. 4 decision to report it to the Security Council. The council _ which could impose sanctions _ is taking no action pending the results of negotiations between Iran and Russia on moving Tehran's enrichment program to Russia and the outcome of the next board meeting starting in Vienna March 6.
Comment: Note the most important part of this report:
"Diplomats familiar with the report said the IAEA was basing its concerns on several pages of U.S. intelligence that was recently declassified and shared with agency officials so that they could confront the Iranians with it."
So the IAEA, at least to some extent, is basing its assessment of Irans nuclear enrichment programs on U.S. "intelligence". Does this suggest to anyone else that that IAEA is far from "independent" but is rather just a propaganda tool of the U.S. and Israel in their collective war on the Middle East?
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George Bush Accuses Iran of Financing Terror Groups
24 February 2006
FOCUS News Agency
Washington. US President George Bush accused Iran of financing terror groups, AFP reported. According to Bush, Iran is "the main sponsor of terrorism". He warned that the USA would not allow Tehran to produce nuclear weapons.
"The Iranian authorities, which finance terrorist activities, can't have the most dangerous weapons", the US President stated.
Comment: Sure George, and who told you that Iran has nukes? Was your all-new, revamped, obsequious CIA? Did they present some creative intepretations of intelligence? Or are you just lying again?
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Poll: Americans see Iran as enemy no. 1
WASHINGTON - Iran has replaced Iraq as the country Americans consider to be their greatest enemy, according to a Gallup Poll. Canada and Great Britain were ranked as America's best friends.
The percentage of Americans with a positive view of France and Germany has moved up sharply since 2003, the poll said, when the two allies challenged President Bush's Iraq policy.
Thirty-one percent of Americans gave the nod to Iran as the worst enemy in polling of 1,002 adults between Feb. 6-9.
This represented an increase from 14 percent last year, and appeared to reflect growing American concern over the potential for the Islamic republic to acquire nuclear weapons.
Twenty-two percent listed Iraq as the worst enemy, the same total as a year ago.
Although Iraq has an American-backed government, anti-Americanism in the country is widespread, demonstrated in attacks by insurgents against U.S. troops.
Behind Iran and Iraq was North Korea, with 15 percent saying it was this country's greatest enemy. North Korea is considered by many to be a danger because of its threats to use the nuclear weapons it claims to possess.
The margin of sampling error for the telephone poll was plus or minus 3 percentage points.
The Gallup poll also measured whether people viewed other countries favorably or unfavorably.
Almost nine in 10 viewed Canada as "very favorable" or "mostly favorable," with Great Britain getting about the same rating.
Almost eight in 10 felt that way about Japan and Germany, almost seven in 10 felt that way about Israel, Taiwan, the Philippines, India and Mexico
France has rebounded nicely with a 54 percent favorable rating compared with only 34 percent having a favorable view just before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, which France strongly opposed. Forty percent of Americans now have an unfavorable view of France.
Like France, Germany is held in higher esteem nowadays than it was in 2003 when it joined Paris in the anti-war camp.
Seventy-nine percent of the poll respondents saw Germany in a favorable light, with only 15 percent unfavorable. Only half viewed Germany favorably in 2003.
Comment: After the very public humiliation of the Bush government (if that is even possible for these people) over the way in which they clearly fabricated evidence about Iraq's WMDs, we do not think for one moment that anywhere near a majority of Americans are going to believe anything their government says about Iran, or any other country for that matter. Of course, that does not mean that the Bush government will not just go ahead and ignore the will of the American people. After all, when did they ever pay any heed to what the public thinks. They think what they are told to think, or so THEY think.
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Exit without a strategy
Friday February 24, 2006
The popular response to Iraq's latest atrocities has been to blame the occupation, not rival sects
The shattered golden dome of Samarra is yet another milestone in George Bush's "long war" - in which a civil war in Iraq shows every sign of being a devastating feature. But what sort of civil war? I am convinced it is not the type of war that politicians in Washington and London, and much of the western media, have been anticipating.
The past few days' events have strengthened this conviction. It has not been Sunni religious symbols that hundreds of thousands of angry marchers protesting at the bombing of the shrine have targeted, but US flags. The slogan that united them on Wednesday was: "Kalla, kalla Amrica, kalla kalla lill-irhab" - no to America, no to terrorism. The Shia clerics most listened to by young militants swiftly blamed the occupation for the bombing. They included Moqtada al-Sadr; Nasrallah, leader of Hizbullah in Lebanon; Ayatollah Khalisi, leader of the Iraqi National Foundation Congress; and Grand Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran's spiritual leader. Along with Grand Ayatollah Sistani, they also declared it a grave "sin" to attack Sunnis - as did all the Sunni clerics about attacks on Shias. Sadr was reported by the BBC as calling for revenge on Sunnis - in fact, he said "no Sunni would do this" and called for revenge on the occupation.
None of the mostly spontaneous protest marches were directed at Sunni mosques. Near the bombed shrine itself, local Sunnis joined the city's minority Shias to denounce the occupation and accuse it of sharing responsibility for the outrage. In Kut, a march led by Sadr's Mahdi army burned US and Israeli flags. In Baghdad's Sadr City, the anti-occupation march was massive.
There was a string of armed attacks on Sunni mosques in the wake of the bombing but none of them was carried out by the protesters. Reports suggest that they were the work of masked gunmen. Since then there has been an escalation of well-organised murders, some sectarian, some targeting mixed groups, such as yesterday's killing of 47 workers near Baquba.
But as live coverage of Wednesday's demonstrations on Iraqi and Arab satellite TV stations clearly showed, the popular mood has been anti-occupation rather than sectarian. Iraq is awash with rumours about the collusion of the occupation forces and their Iraqi clients with sectarian attacks and death squads: the US is widely seen as fostering sectarian division to prevent the emergence of a united national resistance. Evidence of their involvement in Wednesday's anti-Sunni reprisals was picked up in the Times, which reported that after an armed attack on the al-Quds Sunni mosque in Baghdad the gunmen climbed back into six cars and were ushered from the scene by cheering soldiers of the US-controlled Iraqi National Guard.
Two years ago I argued in these pages that the US aim of installing a client pro-US regime in Baghdad risked plunging the country into civil war - but not a war of Arabs against Kurds or Sunnis against Shias, rather a war between a US-backed minority (of all sects and nationalities) against the majority of the Iraqi people. That is where Iraq is heading.
Crucial political turning points are going unnoticed, though not by the US ambassador in Baghdad, Zalmay Khalilzad, who organised the pro-US opposition before the invasion and devised the sectarian formulas put into practice thereafter.
In the run-up to the December elections, Sadr's forces won decisive battles in Baghdad and the south against Sciri, the Shia faction more inclined to work with the US. The defeat of the Sciri forces gave Sadr's Mahdi army a powerful voice in the coalition that won the election, and helped nominate Ibrahim Jaafari as prime minister against the US-backed Sciri man, Adil Abdulmahdi. Khalilzad is adamant that Sadr's supporters should not be able to exercise such influence. This is the cause of the political crisis engulfing the Green Zone regime.
For nearly two years, we have been inundated with US and British "exit strategies". So, why do you need a strategy to pack up, end the occupation and let the Iraqi people decide their own future? The "threat of civil war" of course. But that is to ignore the war unfolding in Iraq thanks to the continued occupation.
None of these exit strategies will work for the simple reason that they are based on an unrealisable ambition: to have the Iraqi cake and eat it. All the Bush and Blair strategies are based on maintaining a pro-US regime in Baghdad. Freed from this hated occupation, proud and independent Iraqis will never elect a collection of US- and British-backed proteges.
Sami Ramadani was a political exile from Saddam's regime and is a senior lecturer at London Metropolitan University
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Ten imams murdered in Iraq as sectarian killings intensify
By Patrick Cockburn in Baghdad
24 February 2006
Gunmen at a makeshift checkpoint south of Baghdad murdered 47 people who had been demonstrating against the destruction of the Shia shrine at Samarra, bringing Iraq close to a sectarian bloodbath.
The victims were Shia and Sunni returning from a demonstration in the town of Kenaan, when they were dragged from their cars and killed. Their bodies were left in a ditch by the side of the road. The scale and intensity of the violence increasingly resembles Lebanon at the start of its bloody civil war 30 years ago.
The number of dead in the vicious circle of violence provoked by the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra was rising by the hour yesterday. More than 130 people are known to have been killed in tit-for-tat killings by Shia and Sunni, but the true figure is certainly much higher. The militant Sunni Clerical Association of Muslim Scholars said 168 Sunni mosques had been attacked, 10 imams had been killed and 15 abducted.
Among those to die in the crescendo of violence were a correspondent of al-Arabiya television and two members of her crew who were taken away by gunmen when they were interviewing people in Samarra.
Overnight, 12 prisoners were taken out of a jail in Basra and 11 of them killed. In all, 25 people are known to have died in the mainly Shia city. In Baquba, north of Baghdad, a bomb targeting an army patrol killed 16 people, including eight soldiers and eight civilians.
A particularly worrying factor in the present wave of violence is that frequently the sectarian killers either disguise themselves as army or police officers or really are soldiers or policemen. This means that both Shia and Sunni will be forced to rely on their own powerful militias for security. This marks a new stage in the disintegration of the Iraqi government.
The government is seeking to restore order by extending the curfew in Baghdad, where at least 53 people have been killed, and in Salahudin, north of Baghdad. It has closed the road outside the Abu Hanifa, the most important Sunni mosque in Baghdad.
The Sunni Muslim Clerics Association sounded unapologetic about the attack in Samarra, saying it pointed "the finger of blame at certain Shia religious authorities for calling for demonstrations". This will anger the Shia, who say the Sunni have never accepted that there are three Shia Arabs for every one Sunni Arab and that, post-Saddam, it is the Shia who will rule.
The carefully planned abduction and execution of 47 people yesterday is a poor omen for the future. The gunmen, who are probably Salafi insurgents - Sunni fundamentalists who see the Shia as heretics who deserve to die - had set up a checkpoint to catch demonstrators going home. The bodies, mostly of young men, were found near the village of Nahrawan, where there was already a history of hostility between Shia and Sunni. Also ominous is the fact that sectarian killings are taking place all over the country, though figures are only known for those in the main cities.
It is a measure of the degree of violence that seven American soldiers were killed by bombs on Wednesday in the separate struggle between the resistance and the US occupation. Although the presence of 130,000 American troops is justified by saying that they are preventing a civil war, it is not clear what they can do to prevent it happening.
Two days of bloodshed
WEDNESDAY 22 FEBRUARY
Dawn attack destroys the Golden Mosque in Samarra, one of the holiest sites in Shia Islam. No one is injured but violent protests soon break out.
* More than 50 Sunni mosques attacked in Baghdad alone.
* In Basra, protesters set fire to Sunni shrine containing the remains of one of Mohamed's companions. Sunni cleric is shot dead in the afternoon.
* 11pm: Eleven prisoners taken from a jail in Basra by unidentified gunmen and shot in the head.
THURSDAY 23 FEBRUARY
9am: Bodies of three al-Arabiya journalists sent to cover the Samarra bombing found dumped.
* 10am: 47 people dragged from their cars and shot while returning from a protest against the Samarra bombing north of Baghdad.
* Iraqi President Jalal Talabani summons political leaders to a meeting but the biggest Sunni faction, the Iraqi Accordance Front, refuses to attend.
* Numerous bodies, many with their hands tied, found in east Baghdad and Basra. Most victims are Sunnis.
* As night falls, more than 130 people are believed to have been killed.
The reaction worldwide
"They invade the shrine and bomb there because they oppose God and justice. These passive activities are the acts of a group of defeated Zionists and occupiers."
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iranian President
"This bombing is intended to create civil strife... [it was] an evil act. I appreciate very much the leaders from all aspects of Iraqi society that have stood up and urged for there to be calm. The destruction of a holy site is a political act intending to create strife."
President George Bush
"There is not yet information about what caused this terrorist outrage, but [Abu Musab] al-Zarqawi and al-Qaida have been linked as it has the hallmarks of their nihilism."
Jack Straw, Foreign Secretary
"I tell the Americans, the Zionists and the criminals who committed the crime in Samarra that all your aims will fail. I tell them that this nation will not be torn apart... It will not fall for the tricks of the occupiers."
Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, Lebanon's Hizbollah chief
"We want a clear condemnation from the government which didn't do enough to curb those angry mobs. There was even co-operation with the government in attacking the Sunni mosques."
Salman al-Jumaili, Sunni politician in Iraq
Comment: Again notice that the 47 people returning from a demonstration about the Shrine bombing (and probably against the American occupation) that were killed were BOTH Sunni and Shia. So who is killing these people? Can you say: "U.S. and Israeli-sponsored assassination squads"?
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Curfew extended to stem revenge attacks
February 24, 2006
BAGHDAD -- Iraqi authorities announced another daytime curfew Saturday for Baghdad and its neighboring provinces, just as mortars struck near a shrine sacred to both Sunni and Shiite Muslims.
The curfew bars vehicles, not pedestrians, and will last until 4 p.m. in the capital, Babil, Diyala and Salaheddin, home of the al-Askariya "Golden Mosque" that was bombed Wednesday.
The rest of the nation will observe an overnight curfew ending at 6 a.m., emergency police said.
The attack on the Golden Mosque, considered one of the holiest of Shiite sites, has triggered Shiite reprisals across Iraq, including the killings of Sunnis, attacks on their mosques and institutions, and mass protests. At least 132 people have been killed; 87 bodies have been found in Baghdad alone.
Friday night, two mortars struck near the tomb of Salman al-Farris, a shrine sacred to both Sunnis and Shiites, southeast of the capital, emergency police in Baghdad said.
Comment: So someone is now attacking Shrines that are holy to both Sunni AND Shia. So who is it? We can rule out "Islamic terrorists" since their stated goal is to unite all Muslims against the West. So who could it be? Who might want to provoke civil war in Iraq and possibly see it divided up into three or more separate states? Who would stand to benefit from such an outcome?
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Attacks Surge in Iraq Despite Curfew
By ALEXANDRA ZAVIS
February 25, 2006
BAGHDAD, Iraq - A car bomb exploded in a Shiite holy city and 13 members of one Shiite family were gunned down northeast of the capital Saturday in a surge of attacks that killed at least 30 people despite heightened security aimed at curbing sectarian violence following the bombing of a revered Shiite shrine.
At least one more Sunni mosque was attacked in Baghdad on Saturday after two rockets were fired at a Shiite mosque in Tuz Khormato, north of the capital, the previous night. Shooting also broke out near the home of a prominent Sunni cleric as the funeral procession for an Al-Arabiya TV correspondent slain in sectarian violence was passing by. Police believed the procession was the target.
The violence occurred despite an extraordinary daytime curfew in Baghdad and three surrounding provinces. Stretched security forces could not be everywhere to contain attacks that have killed more than 150 people since Wednesday's shrine bombing and pushed Iraq to the brink of civil war.
Political and religious leaders were anxious to contain the violence unleashed by extremists on both sides, which have frozen efforts to form a new government that Washington considers essential if it is to reduce U.S. troop levels this year.
The main Sunni Arab political bloc said Saturday it "will not hesitate to reconsider" its decision to pull out of coalition talks if Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a Shiite, follows through on promises to ease the crisis.
In a statement Friday, al-Jaafari pledged to rebuild the Shiite shrine that was wrecked in Samarra as well as Sunni mosques damaged in reprisal attacks. He also launched an investigation to establish responsibility for the Samarra bombing "and what followed."
In its statement, the Sunni front said the prime minister's statement included "positive signs."
"Although we appreciate the stance of the government, it is important that such decisions be put into force despite the deterioration of the security situation," the Sunni statement said.
U.S. officials remain hopeful the Sunnis will return to the discussions, but the crisis may delay forming the government, which had been expected by mid-May.
In Karbala, a city 50 miles south of Baghdad not covered by the daytime curfew, a car bomb killed at least five people and injured more than 30, police and hospital officials said.
A suspect arrested after the blast told police the intended targets were the city's holy shrines of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, and his half brother Imam Abbas, Karbala Gov. Aqeel al-Khazali told The Associated Press.
But the suspect could not penetrate the network of checkpoints set up before this month's massive Ashoura religious festival, according to the governor.
The assailant instead parked the vehicle on a street in the north of the city, drawing the attention of local residents. When police arrived to investigate, the car was detonated by remote control, al-Khazali said. The suspect was captured with the detonator still on him, he said.
In Buhriz, a Sunni-insurgent stronghold covered by the curfew, gunmen burst into a Shiite house and killed 13 people, provincial police said. The victims - three generations of one family - were all men, police said.
Followers of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said his militiamen were ready to defend Diyala province - an ominous sign of the possible Shiite reaction to come. Many Shiites fear Iraq's official security forces are incapable of protecting them and instead look to private militias for security.
The shooting around the home of Harith al-Dhari, head of the Association of Muslim Scholars, broke out as the funeral procession for Al-Arabiya journalist Atwar Bahjat was passing by. She was killed Wednesday along with two colleagues while covering the bombing of the Askariya mosque in Samarra.
When the mourners were returning later from the cemetery, a car bomb ripped through an Iraqi military patrol that was escorting the mourners. At least two soldiers and one police commando were killed in the mayhem, police and army officials said. Six people, including civilians, were injured.
Two rockets exploded in the British Embassy compound in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone late Friday, causing minor injuries to two British workers, the U.S. military reported.
Police have found dozens of bodies - many of them cuffed and shot - in Baghdad and other areas since Wednesday's shrine bombing
The prime minister announced additional security measures Friday, including a ban on vehicles entering or leaving Baghdad, more patrols in tense neighborhoods, and a ban on carrying unauthorized weapons.
The government also extended the daytime curfew for a second day in Baghdad and the flashpoint provinces of Babil, Diyala and Salaheddin, where the shrine bombing took place. And the U.S. military said it would carry out additional security patrols for another 48 hours.
The curfew prevented many from reaching mosques Friday, but people were allowed to walk to neighborhood services, many of which were guarded by Iraqi police and soldiers. Preachers at several leading mosques urged their followers to maintain calm for the sake of the nation, and a number of demonstrations called for Shiite-Sunni unity.
Comment: Civil war in Iraq? Nah! Those Iraqis are obviously enjoying the new freedom and democracy brought to them by the Bush gang and the Coalition of the Billing.
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Obedient Slaves Have Nothing to Fear
By Kurt Nimmo
It has nothing to do with the Bill of Rights or the right to be left alone in peace, unmolested and free from harassment, but rather it has to do with suspicion, with guilt before innocence, with mistrust and intrusion, and the roving eye of Big Brother.
"If you're not doing anything wrong, what do you have to worry about," Chicago Alderman Ray Suarez told USA Today when asked about a plan by Mayor Richard Daley to install surveillance cameras in "corner taverns and swanky nightclubs" in addition to those already "aimed at government buildings, train platforms and intersections."
Suarez, like far too many Americans, does not understand that the government has no right to tell people what to do except in areas specifically authorized in the Constitution, as spelled out by the Ninth and Tenth Amendments.
"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people," and "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people," in other words the government has no right to put a camera on a pole in my neighborhood, a bad idea "paid for in part by federal homeland security funds."
On July 4, 1776, John Hancock, Sam and John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and a handful of others signed something entitled the Declaration of Independence, stating "that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of [life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness], it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."
Of course, in 2006, if you were actually to attempt to abolish the government, you would be considered a terrorist and, at best, arrested and incarcerated, and at worst barbequed like the babies of Waco. Most Americans, entirely ignorant of the Constitution and what it declares the government can or cannot do, don't have a problem with surveillance cameras and microphones in their neighborhoods because if they're "not doing anything wrong" there is nothing to "worry about."
Get used to surveillance gadgets mounted above every intersection or inside every store. Soon enough, surveillance cameras will be "on downtown streets and in apartment complexes, shopping malls and even private homes to fight crime during a shortage of police officers," as presaged by Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt.
The eventual idea-divorced from crime or security-is as Orwell envisioned it some sixty years ago:
"There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live-did live, from habit that became instinct-in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized."
Our government is less concerned with terrorism, which it creates after all, than constructing a global Panopticon, a high-tech prison where every sound and motion is not only heard and observed but recorded, a terrible and fearsome place where all memory of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, Thomas Jefferson, and all the others who signed the Declaration of Independence are relegated to Orwell's memory hole.
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TIA "Disruptive Technology" Subverting Bill of Rights
Saturday February 25th 2006
Recall Total Information Awareness, changed to Terrorist Information Awareness (TIA) after a self-conscious PR revamp (including the dumping of its obvious Masonic-Illuminati logo), and criticism of its Iran-Contra convicted criminal overlord, John Poindexter. TIA weathered blistering scrutiny after its purpose was revealed-it was a massive program in the making designed to snoop the American people, who are of course the real enemy of criminal government. On January 16, 2003, Senator Russ Feingold introduced legislation to put an end to TIA. In February of 2003, so we were told, Congress passed legislation closing down the Information Awareness Office, run out of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and supposedly halted all TIA activity, a highly unusual effort considering the fact Congress rarely messes with specific internal Department of Defense projects.
Congress did this because TIA was an obvious and serious threat to the constitutional rights of the American people. However, these days, the Straussian neocon controlled Pentagon and the White House do not take orders from the American people and TIA is alive and well, as revealed by Shane Harris of the National Journal.
"A controversial counter-terrorism program, which lawmakers halted more than two years ago amid outcries from privacy advocates, was stopped in name only and has quietly continued within the intelligence agency now fending off charges that it has violated the privacy of U.S. citizens," Harris writes. "Two of the most important components of the TIA program were moved to the Advanced Research and Development Activity, housed at NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Md., documents and sources confirm. One piece was the Information Awareness Prototype System, the core architecture that tied together numerous information extraction, analysis, and dissemination tools developed under TIA. The prototype system included privacy-protection technologies that may have been discontinued or scaled back following the move to ARDA." In other words, it appears TIA was merged with the NSA's current snoop effort under the control of the perfidious Straussian neocons.
Sen. Ron Wyden, instrumental, along with Feingold, in closing down the original TIA, grilled Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte and FBI Director Robert Mueller earlier this month. Wyden asked if it was "correct that when [TIA] was closed, that several… projects were moved to various intelligence agencies…. I and others on this panel led the effort to close [TIA]; we want to know if Mr. Poindexter's programs are going on somewhere else." Negroponte and Mueller claimed ignorance, although Negroponte's deputy, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, until recently director of the NSA and unaware that the Fourth Amendment requires probable cause, said, "I'd like to answer in closed session." In short, Hayden admitted that TIA was alive, well, and kicking the Bill of Rights in the drawers.
The NSA is now at the center of a political firestorm over President Bush's program to eavesdrop on the phone calls and e-mails of people in the United States who the agency believes are connected to terrorists abroad. While the documents on the TIA programs don't show that their tools are used in the domestic eavesdropping, and knowledgeable sources wouldn't discuss the matter, the TIA programs were designed specifically to develop the kind of "early-warning system" that the president said the NSA is running.
In other words, we would be foolish to believe the TIA "tools" are not being used to snoop the American people.
"ARDA now is undergoing some changes of its own," Harris continues. "The outfit is being taken out of the NSA, placed under the control of Negroponte's office, and given a new name. It will be called the 'Disruptive Technology Office,' a reference to a term of art describing any new invention that suddenly, and often dramatically, replaces established procedures. Officials with the intelligence director's office did not respond to multiple requests for comment on this story."
Disruptive technology, indeed-disruptive of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Obviously, the NSA is too hot for this "early-warning system," a system we are told is designed to snoop "al-Qaeda" phone calls and instant messages (sent from caves), and it will now be moved into its own digs and continue to operate.
Echelon, Carnivore, Magic Lantern, etc., these are all "systems" designed to render our former constitutional republic into a sprawling Panopticon, or surveillance prison. "A government engaging in escalating criminal actions and becoming more and more secretive should not be watching and tracking us as if we're all criminals," write Paul Joseph Watson and Alex Jones. "This is systematic. They built the electrically wired cage around us and then they turned it on. The state is doing all this for the moment when they take your pension funds, private property, and guns because you won't be able to resist. Big Brother will be two steps ahead at all times and there will be nowhere to hide," as Winston Smith, the protagonist in George Orwell's nightmarish dystopian novel, 1984, ultimately had nowhere to hide.
One thing is for certain-the Straussian neocons will continue to erect the Panopticon mass surveillance state, regardless what a few isolated members of Congress do or no matter how many lawsuits and FOIA requests are issued by a gaggle of so-called "civil libertarians" (they should call themselves Bill of Rights libertarians).
Bush, the front man for the Straussian neocons, is now for all practical purposes a dictator, a status that makes his "job easier," as he told us before he was appointed to the presidency by Supreme Court fiat. Bush will now take his place in a long line of dictatores, from Lucius Sulla and Julius Caesar to Benito Mussolini and Adolph Hitler. Mussolini and Hitler, however, never dreamed of the sort of awesome control and surveillance mechanisms at the disposal of the Straussian neocons, who like Mussolini and Hitler also have dreams of conquest and never-ending war and nihilistic destruction.
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A Global Infrastructure for Mass Surveillance
By Nolan K. Anderson
Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear. --Harry S. Truman
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largess of the public treasury. From that time on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the results that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's great civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependency; from dependency back again to bondage. --Sir Alex Fraser Tytler (1742-1813) Scottish jurist and historian
"Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition . . ." Does this ring a bell? How about the name Joe Wilson - does that name sound a bell? What about Valerie Plame - any bells yet? General Shenseki?
Where do Americans find themselves in Sir Alex Tytler's cycle? The United States can boast a 230-year history so our actions and the time factor would bring us well into the "apathy-dependency" stage. If this is true, the return to the "bondage" stage is not far off - as witnessed by world events - especially those of the last 5 years. However, the "apathy" stage of our self-destruction cycle seems to be in "fast forward". One would have to search American history with an extremely fine-toothed comb to find a comparable period where apathy played such a major role in the individual's life and that of his government. Even if one were to successfully separate normal political corruption from apathy, he would still have a hard time finding a comparable era in our history where the theoretical "opposition party" in the Congress apparently watches the Executive Branch with "eyes wide open" and still refuses to acknowledge or act to restrict even the most blatant abuses of power by the Executive. Congress not only refuses to acknowledge malfeasance in the actions of the Executive, but also seems determined to abet whatever excesses the Executive wants to heap upon the country.
One could argue forever about whether poor education breeds apathy or apathy breeds poor education. The same can be said of complacency and apathy. However, the "chicken and the egg" arguments are not pertinent to the discussion at this point.
These points become a preface to a topic which is now crowding other subjects "off the radar screen" in all forms of mass media. American's attention is now being focused on the White House wire tapping of citizens without regard for the law. The topic becomes a bonanza for blaring headlines and sniping between the two political parties. However, the real threat to Americans lies buried under layers of apathy and total ignorance of the extent of our government's progress toward TOTAL surveillance of its citizens within the United States and through cooperation and coercion of other governments, the surveillance of Americans and foreigners on a global scale. This surveillance is not being designed to monitor only citizen movement on a global scale, but is also being designed to lay open to the various governments ALL personal and private matters of finance, health, political affiliation, and religious preferences, electronic communication and on, and on, and on.
The following information is not something torn from the pages of Franz Kafka or Orson Well's 1984. The information presented here is taken from an April 2005 report made by The International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance (ICAMS) (Pdf). (Refer to References and Notes below).
The programs described below were designed before 9/11; since 9/11 these programs have been put on steroids. The world in which these programs are being constructed is one in which "individuals are presumed guilty, detained and not told the charges against them, denied the right to face their accusers, denied the right to know the evidence against them and the criteria by which they are being judged and given no legal recourse and no one to advocate for them".  Please note, this does not refer to the present definition of terrorist or enemy combatant. These programs apply to AMERICAN CITIZENS as well as the citizens of the global network of countries being brought together to form an unparalleled net of surveillance, arrest, detention, torture and indefinite detention - either with or without formal charges - and finally death. (This could have served as an agenda for The New World Order).
For one who sits idly in front of the television and watches the nightly news- reader tell about another Guantanamo prisoner (terrorist) being held for an indefinite period without any of our democratic safeguards, the "news" doesn't even register on the listener's Richter Scale. Little does the American know that the prisoner's plight being presented may be merely a prelude to his own plight under the plans presently being secretly refined and expanded by the global community under coercion and intimidation by the United States.
To bring these programs into focus and allow the reader to glimpse a portion of their scope and the progress being made in their implementation, signposts of program characteristics will be shown as well as the myths being created to conceal the progress of this global cancer. (The following may bring more meaning to the fact that the KBR arm of Halliburton has recently been awarded a contract to build a 385 million dollar detention center to set up temporary detention, processing and deportation facilities in case of a sudden influx of immigrants!!).
First Signpost: The Registration of Populations. 
1. Mass Detentions of Muslim Immigrants and Registration through NSEERS.
2. US-VISIT and the E.U. Visa Information System a) Biometric visas. b) Linkage of biometric information to a global web of databases. c) U.S. acquisition of domestic and foreign databases.
Second Signpost: The Creation of a Global Registration System. 
Third Signpost: The Creation of an Infrastructure for the Global Surveillance of Movements. 
1. U.S. demands for sharing passenger name records (PNR).
2. Surveillance expansion to other transportation systems.
Fourth Signpost: The Creation of an Infrastructure for the Global Surveillance of Electronic Communications and Financial Transactions.
1. Mandatory data detention.
2. Expansion of ECHELON.
In 1948, the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand created a program under which they trawled the world's telephone communications to spy on each others' countries and to share information on each others' citizens that could not be obtained by their own officials under domestic laws. Since the early 1980s, this program has been called ECHELON, and has been expanded to intercept e-mails, faxes, telexes, electronic transactions and international telephone calls carried via satellites.
3. Mandatory information-gathering and reporting for financial transactions.
Fifth Signpost: The Convergence of National and International Databases.
The extent of the characteristics of this signpost is very extensive and a complete listing is past the scope of this paper. However, in countries known for their oppressive regimes, the extent to which an integration of functions and information sharing with the US has been occurring is probably the greatest. Countries like Georgia, Indonesia, Egypt, Malaysia and Uzbekistan are sharing information suspects, and in some cases intelligence and military operations, with the US.
Sixth Signpost: Data Mining.
The use of computer models to assess masses of data for selected criteria. The masses of data being scanning make human interface and interpretation impossible. This amounts to having one's actions and motives interpreted by a computer.
Seventh Signpost: The Loss of Sovereignty Checks and Balances.
When all the signposts or initiatives described above are viewed together, what emerges are the "contours of a vast, increasingly integrated multinational registration and surveillance system, with information floating more or less freely between subsystems.
As this system emerges, the police, security, intelligence and military operations of many nations are becoming deeply integrated with US operations. National governments are giving up sovereignty and throwing aside national checks and balances in favor of an integrated security system that is largely being designed and controlled by the US.
Eighth Signpost: The Corporate Security Complex.
For the government security/intelligence community, the "war on error" offers an unprecedented opportunity to increase its investigative surveillance powers by tapping into the possibilities offered by new information technologies.
Ninth Signpost: The Expropriation of the Democratic Principles.
Governments have been able to make these changes in democracy in democratic countries by declaring a state of crisis. But, the "war on terror" is a war without end, so the state of crisis is permanent, not temporary. As a result, democratic societies are in grave danger of being turned, over time, into surveillance societies -- or worse, into police states.
Tenth Signpost: A loss of Moral Compass - Rendition, Torture, Death.
It is now clear that the U.S. and other countries participating in the global surveillance project are engaging in torture, inhumane treatment, and indefinite detention . . . in their own facilities, as well as sending suspects to third countries where they face torture, inhumane treatment, and indefinite detention. The worst that individuals have to fear from the global system of mass surveillance is something far darker than "mere" loss of privacy, civil liberties, freedom of movement, or loss of democratic patrimonies. (They face indefinite detention in a global gulag).
At this point the reader may be convinced he is reading something from a science fiction book. But this is not science fiction. This is what is being planned and constructed in real time - our time. Of these 10 signposts, the one most identifiable in today's mass media coverage is Rendition and Torture. Even the most hardened cynic would be forced to admit there is at least a coincidental association between the Rendition and Torture being discussed in the media and that presented here as a glaring warning signpost to all Americans of a global trend being sponsored by the United States. For those who say that "all is well" and we merely need to trust our government, please take the time to read these ten signposts again - slowly and carefully. After a second reading, take the time to read and absorb the following myths about your safety as an American.
Myth No. 1: We are merely being asked to sacrifice some of our privacy and conveniences for greater security.
Myth No. 2: These initiatives facilitate travel.
Myth No. 3: If one has nothing to hide, one has nothing to worry about.
Myth No. 4: The technology being used is objective and reliable.
Myth No. 5: Terrorist watch lists are a reliable product of international cooperation and consensus.
Myth No. 6: If one is mistakenly caught up in the global surveillance net, one's government can protect one.
Myth No. 7: Governments want to implement these systems to protect their citizens from terrorists.
Myth No. 8: Western democracies are defending democracy and human rights around the world.
Myth No. 9: These initiatives make us safer.
Myth No. 10: Guaranteeing security is the paramount responsibility of governments.
Myth No. 11: At least, these initiatives are better than doing nothing.
For any American to have read this far and not have at least a twinge of unease about the direction and intentions of his government, is impossible. If any American has even the remotest contact with or interest in the true condition of today's world, there has to a twinge of unease by this point. If any one of these 11 myths is in any degree false, then any global citizen should be extremely worried and any American should be terrified because Americans have more to lose than the citizens of any other country in the world.
The International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance (ICAMS) was founded by the American Civil Liberties Union, Focus on the Global South, the Friends' Committee on National Legislation, the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group and Statewatch.
ICAMS was launched on April 20 2005 in London, Manila, Ottawa and Washington.
Full credit for the information in this article is given to the April 2005 ICAMS report. References from ICAMS April 2005 Report:
 Page 39.  Page 5  Page 8  Page 12  Page 14  Page 18  Page 33  Page 35  Page 38  Page 39
The myths quoted are taken from the same report.
Nolan K. Anderson is a retired engineer and a veteran of Korea who was once a "conservative" until he found there was nothing left to conserve and as a veteran hates to see a tour in Korea go to waste. (He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org ).
Copyright Nolan K. Anderson
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Time to Disband Homeland Security and Renew Democracy
by Stephen Crockett
February 25, 2006
In the aftermath of 9-11, American politics and government went slightly insane. America turned its collective back on 200 plus years of successful democratic government and turned toward its dark side. The national security state began to be seen as needed and desirable. This insane model of government always puts the State over the Individual and becomes both corrupt and dictatorial. Examples in history are numerous.
The United States of America began as a reaction to corrupt, dictatorial rule from the English monarchy. In modern times, the world has seen "national security" states arise in Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, the Soviet Union, Pinochet Chile, and Franco Spain. Other examples can be found all over the globe. Dictatorial powers were seized by corrupt political figures with ardent followers blinded by ideology following "national security" crises in every example. After 9-11, we started speeding down that slippery slope. It is not too late for us as a nation to come to a screeching halt and return to our American political traditions should we make that choice as a nation.
Current events are forcing us to examine our course based on results instead of ideology. We have seen a great American city almost destroyed because we put national disaster relief under the control of incompetents at the Homeland Security Department. New Orleans started opening the eyes of American citizens everywhere.
Our government is ignoring federal law whenever it so desires in the name of national security. We have government run secret prisons. We lock people away without filing criminal charges and never set trial dates. We conduct torture and ignore the documented facts about that torture. We launch aggressive wars based on false information and propaganda aimed at our citizens along with the rest of the world.
We trample individual rights and civil liberties won at great expense for millions of American soldiers over generations in the name of "national security." We conduct government in secret to hide corruption at the highest levels claiming security concerns. We spy on political dissenters who are seeking to return our nation to traditional American political values. We use Homeland Security and the American military to spy on average American citizens doing their civic duty.
The Bush Republicans controlling our government encourage the abuse of public office to advance strictly partisan political goals. They are trying falsely to redefine American patriotism as blindly following the most extreme of Republican Right policies and ideology.
They are assaulting the Bill of Rights and attacking the Constitutional principles of our nation. Our Constitutional system of checks and balances between competing branches of government, which was designed to prevent dictatorial government and guarantee individual liberty, has almost been overthrown under Bush Republican rule. Separation of Church and State has been severely undermined by deliberate policy thereby threatening both with the corruption. Government has no business interfering in the religious aspects of our lives.
Homeland Security can act as a cover for all kinds of corruption and political abuse. Secrecy in government has always fostered corruption and abuse. Traditionally, America divided our intelligence and law enforcement agencies up into many different competing units. The competition held each unit act more aggressively and efficiently. The different units helped prevent abuses by other units using our traditional checks and balances system. The system worked very well as long as it was overseen by a competent chief executive in the White House, effectively monitored by Congress and followed federal court guidelines.
9-11 did not demonstrate a failure of our system based on design. It instead demonstrated that the individuals involved failed the nation. The White House dropped the ball on national security in the months immediately before 9-11. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfield and Ashcroft were largely responsible along with their aides and other individuals in various federal agencies. They were not coordinating the activities of the various federal agencies involved in law enforcement or intelligence effectively.
The hysteria and fear fostered and used by Bush, Cheney and the rest of the Bush Republicans was used to cover their failures and to achieve unchecked political power. Bush and Cheney should have been impeached for incompetence for allowing the 9-11 attacks to happen!
We now have a Homeland Security Department interfering with normal domestic political activity and threatening our democratic form of government. We need to return to our previous separation of the various units system concerning the law enforcement and intelligence agencies. We will get better unbiased intelligence information and more efficient law enforcement without as much politicization.
Homeland Security officials were somehow involved in the permitting unsupervised voting counting in Ohio during the 2004 Presidential election. The media was blocked from observing the vote count in at least one County as a result of interference from Homeland Security according to numerous media reports.
In Idaho, Homeland Security was used to harass and intimidate a federal employee over an anti-War bumper sticker on his personal automobile - Red State, Meet Police State. Homeland Security seems to be engaged in forcing American citizens to support the unpopular, unjust and unwise Iraq War policy of the Bush-Cheney Administration.
The national security state has really gotten totally out of control in Alaska, as evidenced in this recent example by Brad Friedman at Brad Blog.
"A bizarre story concerning Alaska's 2004 Election has taken yet another even more bizarre turn this week, The BRAD BLOG has learned.
A long-standing public records request for the release of Election 2004 database files created by Diebold's voting system had been long delayed after several odd twists and turns, including the revelation of a contract with the state claiming the information to be a "company secret."
But while it finally appeared as though the state had agreed to release the information (after reserving the right to "manipulate the data" in consultation with Diebold before releasing it), the state's top Security Official has now -- at the last minute -- stepped in to deny the request. The grounds for the denial: the release of the information poses a "security risk" to the state of Alaska.
We couldn't make this stuff up...
Full Story, including the Letters from Election & Security Officials and Much More:
It is now clear that we need to Turn out back on the national security state model and return to the kind of wise, traditional American government founded by the leaders of the American Revolution and strengthened by generations of American heroes.
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Huge March Planned for Eve of Katrina Evictions
by David Swanson
February 25, 2006
A march had been planned for February 28, the eve of the scheduled March 1 evictions of Hurricane Katrina victims. FEMA moved the evictions to March 15, so activists have moved the march to March 14. A press conference on Capitol Hill will be followed by a march through Washington, D.C., past FEMA, past the Department of Homeland Security, and to the White House, where a permit has been obtained to rally in Lafayette Square Park until midnight. If Bush does not meet the marchers' demands, however, many plan not to leave.
The demands are for a serious housing plan for those already evicted and those still in hotels, and an end to evictions. Another way of putting it is that the marchers will be demanding that the federal government cease violating the law by working to exclude people from a city on the basis of race and class.
Last night Reverend Lennox Yearwood, whom many saw on television being tossed out of a Congressional hearing for questioning Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, and who has received death threats for his activism, convened an organizing meeting and formed committees to put together as large a march as possible.
Yearwood recounted for those present the history of FEMA's broken promises and shifting deadlines, the December 1 deadline, the December 14 deadline, etc., up through the latest moved deadline. But Yearwood also spoke of the suicides of those with nowhere left to go, the 80 percent increase in alcohol sales in effected neighborhoods, the absolute hopelessness of people whom this country has abandoned. "We're not asking for another moved deadline," Yearwood said, "but for a moratorium on evictions and anything that looks like an eviction until they have a plan for housing."
Joel Segal, Vice Chair of the advisory board of Progressive Democrats of America, spoke as well. "FEMA is telling the media they have a housing plan," he said. "FEMA is lying." There are 13,000 trailers sitting in Arkansas waiting to go to New Orleans, he said. There are 12,000 people evicted with no where to go. If they get a trailer, Segal said, it has no electricity.
The Gulf Coast Renewal Campaign released this statement:
Yesterday FEMA announced a two-week extension for all hotel/motel residents in Louisiana and Mississippi, which enables them to remain in their rooms until March 15, 2006. Once again, we witness the impact that a coalition of conscience and a unified commitment to action for Katrina survivors can have on the otherwise unfettered execution of the Bush administrations authority. For this reason, we are postponing
our press conference, March and vigil until March 14, 2006.
However, the Gulf Coast Renewal Campaign is not demanding that FEMA move deadlines, but that FEMA move Katrina survivors into viable and affordable transitional and long-term housing. We demand that FEMA move the displaced into trailers so that they can work to rebuild their own homes. We protest the psychological cruelty of this agency in constantly holding the peril of homelessness over the heads of our brothers and sisters. We object to FEMA holding survivors in limbo, perpetually uncertain about what should be guaranteed for these victims of government neglect and ineptitude. Sending people long distances from their communities, to live in temporary shelters or trailers where they cannot keep their jobs is unacceptable. Offering limited rental assistance to a selective group, which cannot pay for real apartments in a city where price gouging has sent rents sky high, is unacceptable.
We are postponing our rally in Lafayette Park and press conference accordingly until March 14, but we are not postponing our call for justice: NO EVICTIONS UNTIL REAL TRANSITIONAL & PERMANENT HOUSING IS AVAILABLE FOR ALL TO RETURN HOME! TRAILERS IN NEW ORLEANS NOW! PASS H.R. 4197!
Over the next two weeks, we will continue to build our campaign on the ground and in Congress to pass "The Hurricane Reclamation, Recovery, Reconstruction and Relief" Act for comprehensive assistance to enable all Katrina survivors to return and rebuild their communities.
Please join us on March 14 for this historic press conference, March and vigil in front of the house where George Bush serenely sleeps while thousands face the prospect of their families having no shelter.
Press Conference: 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
(Press Conference: Rayburn House Office Building - Room #2237)
Mardi Gras Style March for Justice: 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
(March will start from Capitol South Metro Stop at 2:00 p.m. to the White House)
Rally & Protest at the White House: 3:00 p.m. - 11:59 p.m.
(Rally & Protest at the White House - Lafayette Park)
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John Pilger refuses to fly the flag
Monday 27th February 2006
Americans wrapped themselves in their flag, but not we Australians. This was never part of Australian life, writes John Pilger
The other day, one of my favourite cinemas closed down. The boards went up on the art-deco Valhalla in Sydney, one of the world's best at putting out powerful, political documentaries. The lack of fuss might have seemed surprising in a city whose iconic Opera House is said to embody modern Australia's pride in the arts. On the contrary, the closure reflected a more general shutting down.
The Valhalla was certainly an anomaly in an Australia so entrapped by the cult of "marketing" that an executive of the Sydney Morning Herald can declare "the answer" is "not smart and clever people" but "people who can execute your strategy". On 9 February, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris proclaimed Australia the least regulated and most privately owned economy in the western world. This is a country owned and run by businessmen.
The most vivid example is the press. Rupert Murdoch controls almost 70 per cent of principal newspaper circulation. With the exception of the multi-ethnic Special Broadcasting Service and the radio network of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the rest of the media reflect Murdochism and a market ideology imported wholesale from the United States. The remarkable culture wars of the neoconservative prime minister, John Howard, exemplify this.
Howard believes that "business and sport" are society's prime movers. The country's once-respected scientific research laboratories, the CSIRO, have been instructed to take on business sponsors. Almost alone among nations, Australia last year abstained rather than vote for a modest United Nations proposal that members should defend "diversity" in their own cultures - against rapacious great power. When Australia's leading playwright, David Williamson, likened Howard's privatised "aspirational" Australia to a cruise ship sailing to the "sobering destiny" of an environmental disaster, his speech was "called for" by the prime minister's office and a vicious campaign was orchestrated in the Murdoch press.
With no political opposition to speak of, Howard's conquests
have been in cultural life, with historiography thrown in. Siding with an unchanging clique of far-right commentators, he has effectively stifled debate about Australia's bloody colonial past while deriding the "black armband theory of history": that is, the truth of a genocidal racism that continues to devastate the Aboriginal people. His patriotic, or "put out more flags", campaign is pure George W Bush. Schools have been ordered to erect flagpoles, and on "Australia Day", 26 January, which "celebrates" the "settlement" of another people's country, flags are distributed and often displayed with gormless aggression.
This was never part of Australian life; Americans wrapped themselves in their flag, but not we Australians. We saw it as a respectful reminder of those who had gone to fight and die in Australia's mostly catastrophic imperial wars, who "did their best". The Howard regime has changed all this. The little leader wears a plastic flag in his lapel, just like Bush, and puts his hand on his heart, just like Bush, and reinforces a race-based society, just like Bush. While the neglect of New Orleans is Bush's symbol, the contempt shown the first Australians is Howard's.
On "Australia Day", I made my way through the flags to Redfern, an Aboriginal area in the inner city, and celebrated what black Australians call Survival Day. Their first "Day of Mourning and Protest" was held in 1938 on the 150th anniversary of the white invasion. Over a thousand Aboriginal men and women attended that first civil rights gathering, after having been refused use of Sydney Town Hall. A long and painful campaign for freedom and justice had begun, and endures, like an invisible presence.
In Redfern Park on Survival Day, the flags were black, red and gold: colours of indigenous skin, the earth and the sun. The only report I could find of Redfern the next day was of a minor fight, which was no doubt fed to the papers by the police. Should the word "Aboriginal" enter the public arena it must be associated, where possible, with "no-hopers".
In Howard's Australia, the ultimate "no-hoper" is a sick, terrified, deeply troubled and abused young man called David Hicks. Hicks was a drifter, which was once an Australian type known as a "swagman" and a "larrikin" and lauded by our bush poets and balladeers. In the 1990s, Hicks became a Muslim and drifted through Kosovo, then on to Afghanistan, where he was kidnapped by the Americans and sent to their concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay. Not a shred of evidence exists that Hicks fought for al-Qaeda, or is a terrorist. He is a drifter. Yet he is to face one of Bush's "military commissions", for which torture is used to extract confessions, and there is no right to cross-examine witnesses, no presumption of innocence and no standard of proof "beyond a reasonable doubt". Even three of the hand-picked US military prosecutors have withdrawn, arguing that the commission is rigged to secure convictions. Many of Australia's leading jurists agree.
The Howard government has said, in so many words, that David Hicks can rot. He is a no-hoper, un-American, unaspirational. Put out more flags.
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To combat hunger, more in US turn to soup kitchens
By Alexandra Marks
New York - As the economy has steadily grown over the past four years, so too has the number of Americans going hungry.
America's Second Harvest, the nation's largest charitable food distribution network, is now providing help to more than 25 million people, an 8 percent increase over 2001, the last time the organization did a major survey of its more than 200 food banks in all 50 states.
That increase in the number of people who are hungry or "food insecure" - Washington bureaucratese for "not sure where their next meal will come from" - is reflected in data collected by the US Department of Agriculture as well. In 2005, it found more than 38 million Americans lived in "hungry or food insecure" households, an increase of 5 million since 2000.
"Even though individuals may have a job, they still are having a hard time making ends meet," says Maura Daly, a spokeswoman for Second Harvest, which is based in Chicago. "We find many people have to make choices between food and other basic necessities like paying for utilities and heat."
More than 35 percent of the people who are served by Second Harvest come from homes with at least one working adult, according to the study, which was conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, a social-policy research firm based in Princeton, N.J. And many of those hungry are children, almost 9 million, or 31 percent. Another 3 million of the hungry are senior citizens, about 11 percent.
"Food banks are like the canary in the mine shafts. They see trends in underreported populations long before they show up in other statistics," says Doug O'Brien, vice president for public policy and research at Second Harvest. "People access emergency food systems because something in their household economy has gone wrong."
In other words, their incomes are not keeping up with their cost of living. And the food budget, studies have shown, is the most flexible. It can be cut with a visit to a soup kitchen, while the mortgage, rent, gas, or electric bills are less fungible.
"The fact that so many working people still have to go to a soup kitchen or a food bank to make ends meet shows there's something structurally wrong with the economy," says Mr. O'Brien. "If you work, you should be able to provide enough for your family. That's part of the social contract we have with our citizens."
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France on red alert for deadly bird flu strain
Feb 24, 2006
PARIS - France was on high alert Friday for the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu after confirming the broad H5 type had been found on a turkey farm in the east of the country, Europe's biggest poultry producer.
If more tests confirm the H5N1 sub-type, which can be lethal to humans, it would be the first such outbreak on a farm in the European Union.
Meanwhile, five new suspected cases of bird flu have been identified in wild swans in eastern France, local authorities said Friday.
The swans were also found in the central-eastern Ain department, where France's two confirmed cases of H5N1 bird flu were found, both in wild ducks.
Agriculture Minister Dominique Bussereau told France 2 television that the "highly pathogenic H5 virus" had been confirmed at an indoor farm containing 11,000 turkeys in the Ain department.
He said only "complete" test results - being carried out at a government laboratory in Brittany and expected later Friday - would tell whether the birds had the H5N1 strain.
"What concerns us is that the farm is within the security perimeter that we set up for the first duck" carrying the H5N1 virus, a wild bird discovered 10 days ago in the village of Joyeux, Bussereau said.
At least 400 turkeys were found dead on Thursday and the rest of the farm's 11,000 birds were slaughtered during the day.
Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said the government would decide what further steps to take once the results were known.
"On the basis of this analysis we may decide to adapt and reinforce our measures," Villepin told reporters in the southeastern city of Lyon, after attending an exercise aimed at testing the health authorities' response to an outbreak of H5N1 in humans.
France has so far confirmed two cases of H5N1 bird flu, both in wild ducks found in the same department.
Officials sounded the alarm at the turkey farm near Joyeux on Thursday after an unusually high mortality was observed, with more than 400 birds found dead of illness. All surviving birds were slaughtered by the end of the day.
A three-kilometre protection zone has been set up around the farm, with roadblocks closing off all routes and in and out of the sector.
The Poultry Industry Federation (FIA) said in a statement Friday that the turkeys, although reared in a closed environment, may have been contaminated by dried duck excretions on the straw used as their bedding.
France has been braced for a battle to protect its six-billion-euro poultry industry, which employs some 65,000 people, from the H5N1 virus.
The Ain department in particular is an important poultry producer, famous for its top-of-the-range Bresse chickens.
Last week the French government ordered poultry farmers across the country to move birds indoors, but the industry says that sales have already fallen by 30 percent due to consumer jitters, costing 130 million euros in lost revenues.
Villepin on Thursday announced an extra EUR 52 million in aid for farmers, including two million for a public information campaign to reassure consumers about eating poultry.
"We appreciate the gesture even if it is not enough, since the poultry sector is losing 40 million euros per month," said the head of the FIA, Alain Melot. "But the government has realised the scale of the crisis."
Eight EU countries have so far confirmed cases of the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain: Hungary, Slovenia, Austria, Greece, Italy, France, Germany and Slovakia.
H5N1 appeared on Wednesday in European poultry for the first time in two chickens in Austria, but the birds were in an animal refuge and not in a farm.
In Germany, a feared outbreak on a poultry farm this week turned out not to be the deadly virus.
The spread of the disease is worrying scientists and governments because of fears the virus could mutate into a form that is easily transmissible between humans, sparking a pandemic that could kill millions.
So far the H5N1 virus has killed 92 people since 2003, mostly in Southeast Asia, China and Turkey, after they were in close contact with infected birds.
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Bird flu found in central Europe worst strain: German specialists
www.chinaview.cn 2006-02-26 00:08:13
BERLIN, Feb. 25 (Xinhuanet) -- The bird flu found in the center ofEurope is the most virulent strain, German specialists said Saturday, fearing that the virus could have entered Europe last year.
On Friday, it was announced that a dead duck found on Feb. 15 on Lake Constance in the Austrian and Swiss Alps had been infectedwith the deadliest strain, known as H5N1/Asia.
Earlier this month, dead wild birds were found in northern Germany with the same illness.
Scientists believe that the virus must have entered Germany last year rather than arrived with migratory birds this month, as the country is still in mid-winter and the dead duck was a type that lives on the shore of Lake Constance all year round.
According to a spokeswoman at the Riems institute, H5N1 exists in several strains. A less pathogenic strain of H5N1 was found in 2004 in wild ducks in France and last year in ducks in northern Italy, she said.
The deadliest strain claimed at least 90 human lives since it was first found in 2003.
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Ottawa, Quebec rattled by magnitude 4.5 earthquake
25 Feb 2006 04:08:45 GMT
TORONTO, Feb 24 (Reuters) - An earthquake measuring 4.5 magnitude rattled Ottawa and western Quebec on Friday night, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, but there were no reports of injuries or damage.
The earthquake struck about 8:39 p.m. (0139 GMT) in the Ontario-Quebec border region, about 30 miles (45 km) northeast of the Canadian capital. A quake of that magnitude can cause moderate damage.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the tremors were also felt in northern New York state and Canadian media reports said it had also been felt in the Montreal area.
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February 25, 2006
Magnitude 5.0 - TAIWAN REGION - 2006 February 24 01:55:50 UTC
Magnitude 6.0 - FIJI REGION - 2006 February 24 14:15:45 UTC
Magnitude 4.2 - OFF THE COAST OF OREGON - 2006 February 24 16:16:14 UTC
Magnitude 5.2 - MARIANA ISLANDS REGION - 2006 February 25 14:49:43 UTC
Magnitude 4.5 - ONTARIO-QUEBEC BORDER REGION, CANADA - 2006 February 25 01:39:22 UTC
Magnitude 4.4 - MONA PASSAGE - 2006 February 25 06:43:34 UTC
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Building collapse in Bangladesh kills 18, injures 45
Saturday February 25, 10:08 PM
A five-storey building undergoing renovations collapsed in the Bangladeshi capital, killing at least 18 people and injuring 45, the army said.
Soldiers, police, fire officials and hundreds of volunteers rushed to the scene to pull out victims trapped under the caved-in Phoenix Building in the city's congested industrial area.
"So far 18 people are dead and 45 are injured," army general Nizam Ahmed, who was supervising the rescue effort, told AFP Saturday.
Ahmed said the 20,000-square-foot (1,800-square-metre) building crumbled because of "structural failure" and the floors caved in one after another in fast sequence.
Rescuers were using bulldozers and cutters to break through and reach those trapped by heavy slabs of concrete which were being shifted by cranes.
The building housed street-level shops and small offices while labourers were working to turn several upper floors into a private hospital.
A garment factory moved out of the building recently after its owners decided to turn the building into a hospital, police chief Kamrul Islam said.
Many construction workers were inside the building at the time of the collapse but he had no idea exact how many, he said.
"I was working on the third floor when I suddenly heard a loud noise and the floor starting to collapse beneath me in a storm of dust," said construction labourer Bhopal Hawlader.
Hawlader, who suffered chest injuries and was speaking from his hospital bed, told AFP there were scores of construction workers inside the building at the time of the collapse.
Sohel Sarder, a tile mason rescued from the debris by firefighters, said around 200 people were working on the building's renovation and most were trapped inside after the collapse.
Concrete fell onto the footpath and shanties built adjacent to the building, injuring several people.
Joynal Abedin, 22, a cigarette vendor pulled unhurt from the debris by troops after five hours, said one part of the building fell on the shanty where he lived with his cousin.
"There was a huge noise and a dust storm. Soon enough everything became dark. I thought I was in a grave," Abedin said.
"I cried for help and Allah listened to my call," he said, but added he feared his cousin was still trapped in the debris.
Some rescuers were frantically tugging at the wreckage with bare hands as relatives of the missing looked on anxiously.
"We can hear noises of cries for help," firefighter Nazrul Islam told AFP.
Dr Nilima Ferdousi at Dhaka Medical College where casualties were being taken said at least 30 of the injured "are in very serious condition" with most having fractures and some limbs that were nearly severed.
The building caved in at about 10 am (0400 GMT) Saturday morning as work was in full swing. Although Saturday is a holiday in Bangladesh, many businesses keep operating throughout the weekend.
"I was out fetching tea for my shop owner. As I was coming back I saw the building caving in," said Shahidul Islam, a tea boy at the building.
"The first two floors of the building were swallowed by the ground," he said. "Some people who were working in the front portion of the building managed to escape."
The Phoenix Building collapse was the second disaster to strike the impoverished South Asian nation in two days.
Late Thursday, 52 people were killed and over 100 injured after fire swept through a textile factory in the southeastern port city of Chittagong.
Officials said the blaze in which workers were unable to flee because factory bosses had locked the doors to prevent theft was the worst industrial fire tragedy in Bangladesh's history.
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Police: Man Angry About Slamming Door Killed Neighbor
February 24, 2006
BELLEVIEW, Fla. -- It's an unusual motive for murder. Investigators in Belleview said slamming the door drove a man to kill his next-door neighbor in Marion County.
Investigators believe Betty Shepperd was murdered over something that sounds extremely trivial. They said 45-year-old Vito Loiacono was irritated that Shepperd was slamming the door at night and waking him up.
The two allegedly argued earlier in the day and then Shepperd's friend said she got a strange phone call from someone else in the complex.
"[The person] said, 'The reason I'm calling you is I saw Vito coming out of Betty's apartment.' I said, 'That can't be,'" said Shepperd's friend, Maria Folks.
Folks went to Shepperd's apartment and found her in the bathroom, where she had been stabbed to death.
"I found the door ajar. I started yelling, 'Betty! Betty!'"
Other neighbors told police they saw Loiacono carrying a plastic bag behind the building. Investigators found the bag with a knife and bloody clothes inside and arrested him.
Now one of Shepperd's closest friends is stunned by her death and what apparently led to it.
"She didn't do nothing to that man," Folks said. "She got along with everybody."
Loiacono is in the Marion County jail charged with first-degree murder.
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Psycho Path Voted Wackiest Street Name
Fri Feb 24, 7:06 PM ET
LOS ANGELES - Farfrompoopen Road, the only road to Constipation Ridge, lost to Divorce Court and Psycho Path, which placed No. 1 in an online poll of the nation's wildest, weirdest and wackiest street names.
Mitsubishi Motors sponsored the poll on the Web site http://www.TheCarConnection.com and more than 2,500 voters cast their ballots during a week of voting that ended this month. Winners were announced Friday.
"Our readers really stepped up with some insane street names," said Web site publisher Paul Eisenstein. "Our panel had a difficult time narrowing several hundred down to the 10 our readers voted on.
"But we learned a lot about the byways of this country, not to mention the collective sense of humor of city planners everywhere."
In first place was Psycho Path in Traverse City, Mich., followed by Heather Highlands, Pa.'s, Divorce Court in second and Tennessee's Farfrompoopen Road in third. Eisenstein said all the roads were verified, although some are private and hard to find.
The complete top 10 list included:
10. Tater Peeler Road in Lebanon, Texas
9. The intersection of Count and Basie in Richmond, Va.
8. Shades of Death Road in Warren County, N.J.
7. Unexpected Road in Buena, N.J.
6. Bucket of Blood Street in Holbrook, Ariz.
5. The intersection of Clinton and Fidelity in Houston
4. The intersection of Lonesome and Hardup in Albany, Ga.
3. Farfrompoopen Road in Tennessee (the only road up to Constipation Ridge)
2. Divorce Court in Heather Highlands, Pa.
1. Psycho Path in Traverse City, Mich.
Comment: Coincidence? We think not.
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The Unreal Death of Journalism
By Norman Solomon
Death is always in the news. From local car crashes to catastrophes in faraway places, deadly events are grist for the media mill. The coverage is ongoing -- and almost always superficial.
It may be unfair to blame journalists for failing to meet standards that commonly elude artists. For centuries, on the subject of death, countless poets have strived to put the ineffable into words. It's only easy when done badly.
Yet it's hard to think of any other topic that is covered so frequently and abysmally in news outlets. The reporting on death is apt to be so flat that it might be mistaken for ball scores or a weather report.
Pallid coverage of the dying is especially routine in U.S. news media when a war is underway and the deaths are caused by the U.S. government.
When a news report breaks through cliches to evoke realities of carnage, the result can be memorable. Here's a passage from an April 1999 story by Robert Fisk, reporting for the London-based daily Independent about a U.S.-led NATO bombing raid on a target in Yugoslavia:
"Deep inside the tangle of cement and plastic and iron, in what had once been the make-up room next to the broadcasting studio of Serb Television, was all that was left of a young woman, burnt alive when NATO's missile exploded in the radio control room. Within six hours, the [British] Secretary of State for International Development, Clare Short, declared the place a 'legitimate target.' It wasn't an argument worth debating with the wounded -- one of them a young technician who could only be extracted from the hundreds of tons of concrete in which he was encased by amputating both his legs. ... By dusk last night, 10 crushed bodies -- two of them women -- had been tugged from beneath the concrete, another man had died in hospital and 15 other technicians and secretaries still lay buried."
Compare that account to the easy enthusiasm for NATO's air war from New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who wrote a day earlier: "It should be lights out in Belgrade: Every power grid, water pipe, bridge, road and war-related factory has to be targeted." Or consider the contrast between Fisk's grisly account and the media jargon that the Times brought to bear on its front page that same week: "NATO began its second month of bombing against Yugoslavia today with new strikes against military targets that disrupted civilian electrical and water supplies..."
Such contrasts -- between facile journalese and human experiences of death -- are also part of the standard media terrain much closer to home.
Days ago, the state of California was all set to kill Michael A. Morales in a San Quentin death chamber. But news reports told of delays after two anesthesiologists refused to participate in the lethal injection.
Public acceptance of killing thrives on abstractions. And, in turn, those abstractions (like the phrase I just used, "lethal injection") are largely facilitated by news media.
The reporting about the death penalty is usually light years from what really goes on. We're accustomed to those kinds of gaps. By the time we become adults, we've seen thousands of televised narratives -- from entertainment shows to newscasts -- that purport to depict death but actually do nothing of the sort. It's not hard to watch because so much about death is hidden from media viewers.
For those who champion death-dealing policies as solutions, whether administered by the "Department of Defense" or the "Department of Corrections," euphemisms are vital. Fog prevents acuity about what can't stand the light of day.
"Government officials don't want the American public to view the death penalty as a lethal, destructive, violent act that isn't really necessary," says Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama. "Therefore we sanitize and obscure the act of killing a person, who is no longer a threat to anyone, with protocols and procedures that are aimed at comforting the public. The problem is that intentionally killing another human being is always painful and shocking. As medical doctors, correctional staff and anyone who gets close to capital punishment quickly discover, there is no comfortable way to kill a human being who doesn't have to die."
But there are plenty of comfortable ways for news media to report on the killing of human beings.
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New York Times, with same facts, changes Iraq conflict from 'civil war' to having 'endangered future'
February 24, 2006
The New York Times declared on its website early Friday in a headline that the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, had warned to U.S. was on the "precipice of full-scale civil war." Their headline? "U.S. Envoy in Baghdad Says Iraq Is on Brink of Civil War."
Within an hour and without explanation, the Times yanked the headline in favor of "U.S. Envoy Says Sectarian Violence Threatens Iraq's Future."
Originally, their lead paragraph had read: "The American ambassador to Iraq said Friday that the country was on the precipice of full-scale civil war, and that Iraqi leaders would have to come together and compromise if they wanted to save their homeland."
An hour later: "The American ambassador to Iraq said Friday that sectarian violence this week had endangered the future of Iraq, and that Iraqi leaders would have to come together and compromise if they wanted to save their homeland."
Catherine Mathis, the New York Times Company's Vice President for Corporate Communications, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Later in the morning, the Times changed the story again to reflect the relative calm that cloaked Baghdad in the day after a rash of bombings: "As Violence Ebbs, U.S. Envoy Warns of Danger to Iraq's Future."
They still, however, offered no accounting for how Iraq went from the "precipice of civil war" to "endangered" based on the same remarks by a U.S. ambassador.
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Report: Kennewick Man Deliberately Buried
By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID
AP Science Writer
Fri Feb 24, 6:59 PM ET
WASHINGTON - Kennewick Man was laid to rest alongside a river more than 9,000 years ago, buried by other people, a leading forensic scientist said Thursday.
The skeleton, one of the oldest and most complete ever found in North America, has been under close analysis since courts sided with researchers in a legal battle with Indian tribes in the Northwest who wanted the remains found near the Columbia River reburied without study.
Douglas Owsley, an anthropologist at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, discussed his findings in remarks prepared for delivery Thursday evening at a meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences in Seattle.
"We know very little about this time period," Owsley said in a telephone interview. "This is a rare opportunity to try and reconstruct the life story of this man. ... This is his opportunity to tell us what life was like during that time."
Researchers have disagreed over whether Kennewick Man was buried by other people or swept up in a flood and encased in sediment.
Owsley concluded the man was deliberately buried, between two and three feet deep, his body placed in the grave, head slightly higher than feet, hands placed at his sides.
The location was riverside, with the body parallel to the river and head pointing upstream.
Using an industrial CT scanner, Owsley was able to study the skeleton in fine sections and also get a better look at a spear or dart point imbedded in Kennewick Man's hip.
The point has previously been described as a Cascade point, typical of the region, but Owsley said that is not the case. Cascade points tend to have two pointed ends and are sometimes serrated, he said, while the point in Kennewick Man has a pointed end and a stem.
The spear or dart entered the man from the front, moving downward at a 77-degree angle, Owsley said. Previous analysis had indicated it might have hit from the back, he noted.
The point was not the cause of death, he said, saying, "This is a healed injury."
"There was no clear indication in the skeleton of cause of death," Owsley said. Kennewick Man had undergone "a lot of injuries, this guy was tough as nails."
There are three types of fractures in the bones, Owsley said, ones the man suffered in his lifetime and which had healed; fractures that occurred after burial from aging of the bones and the ground settling, and breaks that occurred when the skeleton was unearthed.
A team of 20 forensic scientists has been studying the skeleton, he said, and have concluded that the skull doesn't match those of Indian tribes living in the area.
"We know very little about this time period. Who the people were that were the earliest people that came to America," Owsley said. "We are finding out they were coming thousands of years earlier than we had thought," arriving not just over the Bering Strait but by boats and other means.
"This is a very rare discovery. You could count on your fingers the number of relatively complete skeletons from this time period," Owsley said.
Following discovery of the bones in 1996, the Umatilla, Yakama, Nez Perce and Colville tribes urged that the skeleton be reburied without scientific study. They argued that the bones were covered under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
Scientists sued for a chance to study the remains and a federal court ruled there was no link between the skeleton and the tribes.
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No rock-hard evidence on cave's history
By Patrick Lally/ Daily News Staff
Thursday, February 23, 2006 - Updated: 12:44 AM EST
UPTON -- The mysterious Upton Cave, a man-made granite chamber, is one of hundreds of such structures scattered across New England, according to an area historian.
The caves -- ranging from Putnam County in New York's Hudson River Valley to southern Maine -- bear many similarities to "beehive" chambers built in Ireland by ancient Celtic tribes, said Barbara Toomey, the Massachusetts coordinator for the New England Antiquities Research Association.
"They go back to the age of Stonehenge," she said of the Irish chambers. "There's always the possibility that someone who emigrated from Europe built it (the Upton Cave) in that style."
Toomey said it is "entirely reasonable" the cave, a 10-foot by 10 1/2-foot chamber built into a hillside off Elm Street, is several thousands of years old. One theory reflects evidence suggesting ancient people crossed the Atlantic during the Ice Age, when waters were frozen over, she said. Artifacts found along the East Coast appear to have originated in Europe, further supporting this claim.
The Upton Historical Commission is negotiating with the cave's owner, Gerald Cuccione, to purchase the cave, hoping to use it for educational purposes and to further study its history.
Access to the cave has been restricted since Cuccione purchased the 7 1/2 acres on 18 Elm St. in a September 2004 public auction. But the Rhode Island-based owner has said he is willing to sell the land to the town and has set an asking price of $550,000.
Many theories regarding the cave's history have been proposed in recent years: Historical Commission Chairwoman Barbara Burke is "sure" Yankee farmers used the cave for storage. It also may have been a sacred site for Native Americans.
These theories, as well as the one Toomey suggests, are all supported on the New England Antiquities Association's Web site. "There is enough variety among the chambers to support any one or all of these views," the site reads.
Of the Upton Cave, Toomey said she "believes it's a very ancient chamber but one could not say its exact age," she said.
Burke has said the cave is somewhere between 300 and 3,000 years old. Toomey said the estimate, while broad-ranging, is as accurate as they can get with the information on hand.
Toomey, who has studied the cave, said the chamber's position below the water table indicates it may have been around long enough to shift in the ground: if it was built as a shelter or for storage, it would not have been situated below the water line, allowing for water to seep in.
Without any artifacts found in the area to test, Toomey is not sure the cave's age could ever be verified. "You'd have to take it apart to test it," she said.
Burke, who is fascinated with the cave's mysterious past, said Toomey's hypothesis is certainly a possibility.
"My opinion is we don't know for sure who built it and that's why we want to obtain ownership," she said.
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Ark's Quantum Quirks
February 25, 2006
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