- Signs of the Times for Sat, 04 Mar 2006 -

Editorial: America the Pitiful

Charles Sullivan
Calling our form of government a democratic republic does not make it so. We are what we do. By now it should be abundantly clear that most Americans are incapable of recognizing real democracy—because they have never been subjected to one. Perhaps no culture on earth is more materialistic or delusional than ours.

Compared to much of the world, America’s behavior is tragically pathological. We react to planetary warming by driving metal gas guzzling monstrosities, rather than enacting conservation measures. Americans have the habit of doing the opposite of what we should. Our so called leaders think our sensibilities are too delicate to expose us to truth—so reality is omitted from our diet as if it were a plague. Rather than receiving nourishing truth, we are given the opiates of propaganda that affirm and reinforce our odd self destructive behavior. We are held captive by the lies that are deftly woven from the threads of capitalism, and persuaded to act against our own interest, as well as the public good.

Propaganda is like a powerful and paralyzing drug that induces the most bizarre social behavior. In the mind it acts like an opiate that provokes psychotic episodes of self harming conduct. We are a nation addicted to oil and violence; a people grateful for our chains of ignorance and servitude to the gods of consumerism and unrestrained capitalism—the very gods that are our undoing.

The drip bags of propaganda are permanently attached to our veins to assure that we never awaken from our news-induced coma. Mind control is more subtle than the open use of coercive force in shaping human behaviors. No one is more effectively enslaved than those who think they are free. Witness the glee with which so many naïve and witless conservatives cheer on the neocon cabal in the mistaken belief that their policies do them good.

The paradigms of our time, which drive our behaviors, have been deftly marketed to us without our knowledge—subliminal advertising’s finest frenzy. So effective are these media campaigns that few of us even bother to question their authenticity. The result is a virtually comatose culture of consumption and waste that is incapable of defending itself from the predation of wealth and power. Propaganda marginalizes and renders us useless as citizens, by affecting our ability for self examining critical thought. We can no longer add two plus two and get four.

In this land of uncommon grace that is blessed with fabulous wealth, mantras are repeated over and over, without regard to validity, until they become ingrained in the public conscience and assume the authority of truth. They become our cultural paradigms, the bedrock of society, whose moral authority is rarely revisited.

Centuries of self deception have led us unerringly to the present moment. Everything that contradicts our version of reality is expunged from the public record. Americans do not like to confront unpleasant realities. Let us not hear about the abuse of captives of war. Rather than take action to correct the gross injustices we routinely heap upon the world, as demanded by conscience, we simply deny their existence. We turn our backs on any reality that assaults our conscience and suppress the evidence. We go on as if there were no consequences. Cause and effect is not something we wish to ponder, so we sweep it under the carpet.

In a world where other cultures respect human rights and cherish some notion of justice, America’s sociopathic behavior is seen as the belligerent obscenity that it is. Our actions on the world stage are justified by fallacy and drip with a hubris that has no basis in truth.

There can be no justice without truth; no peace without justice. If we truly reap what we sow, we are in for some hard times in the years ahead. When our government behaves irresponsibly and with violence toward the world, it is incumbent upon the people to restrain it, to remake that government in the image of the people, rather than the elite. But this is only possible with an aroused and wakeful electorate. Revolution requires an informed and militant citizenry. Awakening is the first step in the long and difficult journey to self liberation. The people will not rise until they awake. If they are to awaken, we must get them off the opiates that make them comatose. We must get them off the commercial news.

Progressives and conservatives alike recognize that we have an obscene and belligerent presidency that is buoyed by a frightened and timorous congress. They see that the institutions of government are not servants of the people—they are the servants of their corporate pay masters. Depravity and concentrated wealth hold sway in the halls of government. The White House is a brothel teeming with corporate lobbyists, whose fornications are conducted beyond the pale of public view. Congress is as awash in corporate money as maggots on a corpse. The Bush cabal has to go.

However, we must also recognize that the cancer extends well beyond Bush. We must recognize that the system itself is the malignancy. Effective and conscientious citizenship demands more from us than paying taxes and exercising our right to vote. It demands that we act for the common good with conscience and tenacity of purpose. Let us finish the revolution that was begun here in the 1700s.

Real democracy cannot be served by paying homage to freedom through garish displays of trinkets—flags and plastic yellow ribbons. These symbols are shallow, superfluous, and disingenuous. Anyone can administer them. To do so requires neither courage nor effort—real patriotism requires an abundance of both. Unlike real patriotism, the symbols of patriotism do not require thought or understanding—they are a conditioned response to the choreographed propaganda that oozes from our televisions and radios, the words that drip from the nation’s daily newspapers. Real patriots do not encourage the champions of Manifest Destiny in their grim work of conquest and empire—they actively oppose them and resist. Those who uphold the Constitution and the Bill of Rights when the government does not are the real patriots. They are America’s dissenters and protestors. They do not require flags and ribbons to demonstrate their patriotism. Their every gesture, their very lives, is an expression of the patriotism that might have made America a different place than it is now—if only there were more of them.


Charles Sullivan is a furniture maker, photographer, and free lance writer residing in the eastern panhandle of West Virgina. He welcomes your comments at earthdog@highstream.net

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Yellowstone Volcano Grows as Geysers Reawaken

By Bjorn Carey
LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 01 March 2006

Forces brewing deep beneath Yellowstone National Park could be making one of the largest volcanoes on Earth even bigger, a new study reveals.

In the past decade, part of the volcano has risen nearly five inches, most likely due to a backup of flowing molten rock miles below the planet\'s crust.

While the rise may not be noticeable to the casual hiker, the activity may have cracked the crust in the park\'s famous Norris Geyser Basin (NGB), leading to the formation of new fumaroles-holes that vent smoke and gas-and the reawakening of some of the area\'s geysers, including Steamboat, the largest geyser in the world.

Yellowstone last erupted about 640,000 years ago, spewing 240 cubic miles of material. Despite the newly discovered activity, researchers don\'t expect it to erupt any time soon. Eventually, however, it could explode again as a super-volcano that would destroy life for hundreds of miles around and coat the entire country in ash.
Up and down

Radar observations from the European Space Agency\'s ERS-2 satellite reveal that the jellybean-shaped Yellowstone caldera-a giant depression caused by past volcanic explosions-began to rise in 1995.

Although the caldera floor started to sink in late 1997, part of the north rim, called the north rim uplift anomaly (NUA) continued rising until 2003.

Molten rock called magma rises from the Earth\'s core under Sour Creek dome, a major feature in the eastern section of the caldera. When the magma reaches the mantle layer, six to 12 miles below the surface, it spreads like a pancake before branching off into several tunnels.

Magma flow is controlled by natural valves-one at Sour Creek dome that lets magma enter the system, and others that allow it to flow out. The outflow valve below the north rim uplift anomaly, however, can only pass so much magma at once.

\"Magma\'s always coming up in Sour Creek dome and going through the system,\" USGS research geophysicist Charles Wicks told LiveScience. \"But maybe there are pulses when more comes up. That may be what causes the surface to rise.\"

The research is detailed in the March 2 issue of the journal Nature.

The pulses might be more than the outflow valve can handle-like trying to squeeze all the toothpaste out of the tube at once. As the molten material pushes out on the surrounding rock, the ground around the valve expands and cracks.

This could explain why the uplift anomaly has risen and the Norris Geyser Basin has become more active, Wicks said. Another explanation is that nearby geothermic changes and seismic activity altered the shape of the valve, perhaps narrowing it. However, previous studies have indicated that no such alterations have occurred, and that changes in flow rate more likely cause these deformations.

Big changes

The five-inch increase at the uplift anomaly probably wasn\'t noticed by many tourists, but the changes in the Norris Geyser Basin were easily spotted by some. After a nine year period of inactivity, Steamboat Geyser erupted in May, 2000, and has erupted five times since. Reaching more than 300 feet in the air, Steamboat produces the highest plumes of any geyser in the world.

Since 1989, Pork Chop geyser was active only as a hot spring, but in the summer of 2003 it reawakened as a geyser. Also that summer, several footpaths near the Norris Geyser Basin were closed because of near-boiling ground temperatures.

And a 250-foot line of new fumaroles, holes venting hot smoke and gases, formed near Nymph Lake to the north of the uplift anomaly.

\"But when the [uplift anomaly] quit inflating in 2002 and 2003, the thermal unrest died off too,\" Wicks said. \"So we think there\'s pretty good evidence for tying these events together.\"

Despite these changes, Wicks doesn\'t believe that Yellowstone is ready to erupt.

\"This is probably an ongoing feature in Yellowstone. We\'ve only been able to study it like this for 10 years, so we\'re still not sure what\'s normal and what\'s not,\" Wicks said. \"But there\'s no evidence yet to suspect an eruption.\"

Also, the magma pancake serves as a thermal buffer that helps stabilize the volcanic system against potentially dangerous sudden changes in temperature.

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Rock \'n Roll! Earthquake Swarm in the Virgin Islands

3 Mar 06

3.6 2006/03/03 14:36:36 19.113 -63.991 5.0 55 km ( 34 mi) NE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands

4.4 2006/03/03 13:09:31 19.060 -63.681 39.3 77 km ( 48 mi) ENE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands

3.8 2006/03/03 10:07:34 19.160 -63.900 15.5 65 km ( 40 mi) NE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands

3.8 2006/03/03 09:53:32 19.257 -63.597 21.7 96 km ( 60 mi) NE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands

2006/03/03 03:39:31 19.122 -63.931 8.3 60 km ( 37 mi) NE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands

3.8 2006/03/02 23:51:35 19.147 -63.803 5.0 71 km ( 44 mi) NE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands

3.7 2006/03/02 23:45:36 19.139 -63.791 15.1 72 km ( 45 mi) NE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands

5.3 2006/03/02 23:35:44 19.358 -63.787 24.8 89 km ( 56 mi) NE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands

3.3 2006/03/02 08:25:53 19.427 -68.082 43.7 111 km ( 69 mi) NE of Higüey, Dominican Republic

3.4 2006/03/01 12:38:24 18.855 -68.701 58.2 26 km ( 16 mi) N of Higüey, Dominican Republic

3.2 2006/03/01 06:44:57 18.084 -67.878 101.2 72 km ( 45 mi) WSW of Stella, PR

3.2 2006/03/01 01:35:28 18.135 -64.249 5.0 30 km ( 19 mi) SSW of West End, British Virgin Islands
Comment: Back on February 10, a 5.2 earthquake struck in the Gulf of Mexico about 160 miles South of New Orleans.

According to Elaine Meinel Supkis:

This is where it is geologically pretty stable. It is also right next to the huge salt domes where much of the oil and gas is being extracted. A retired geologist, Mr. Jack M. Reed, theorized there has to be a hidden tectonic plate segment in this spot and it is not only geologically active but is responsible for triggering the New Madrid Quakes.

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Flashback! 5.2 Earthquake Dead Center In Gulf Of Mexico - Precursor to a New Madrid Big One?

By Elaine Meinel Supkis

A mid-sized earthquake shook the Gulf of Mexico today. This is where it is geologically pretty stable. It is also right next to the huge salt domes where much of the oil and gas is being extracted. A retired geologist, Mr. Jack M. Reed, theorized there has to be a hidden tectonic plate segment in this spot and it is not only geologically active but is responsible for triggering the New Madrid Quakes.

I found this after writing my article! It is just too cool. This geologist predicted correctly! From the American Association of Petroleum Geologists:
The New Madrid seismic zone in Missouri has long intrigued scientists because, according to conventional geologic theory, large earthquakes clustered in a tectonically quiet region are difficult to understand.

But at least one AAPG member is challenging the crowd.

New Orleans independent geologist Jack M. Reed believes the origin of the earthquakes lies beneath the Gulf of Mexico.

That\'s not all.

Reed, a retired Texaco geologist-geophysicist who has been studying the region\'s geology for over 40 years, says the accepted theory of a quiet geologic evolution of the Gulf of Mexico Basin is fundamentally flawed and needs to be revised.

According to him, the Gulf was and is tectonically active -- and it is the likely origin for not only the New Madrid seismic activity, but also for the Middleton Place-Summerville seismic zone near Charleston, S.C.

I grew up around geologists working with my dad on siting observatories. One puzzle they all liked to chew over at leisure is the riddle of the New Madrid Fault. It made no sense.

Today\'s earthquake, no small one, was an eye-opener which is why, the minute I saw it in today\'s data, I jumped on it.
From the good geologist:
\"This northeast trending earthquake zone appears to connect with the northeast trending Monroe Uplift, the LaSalle Arch and, possibly, to an active seismic zone located in and around Sabine Lake on the Texas-Louisiana border,\" he said.

This complex of doming and seismic centers is similar to another Cretaceous age triple juncture located in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico Basin. Doming of the DeSoto Canyon High during the Jurassic to Cretaceous created this triple juncture, which includes the Cretaceous Shelf Edge, the Suwannee Strait and the West Florida Escarpment.

If the New Madrid seismic zone is indeed part of a triple juncture, he continued, there should be an expression of this limb trending along a line in a northeast direction.

So Reed conducted a study using data from the U.S. Geological Survey\'s National Earthquake Information Center and the USGS map \"Earthquakes in the Conterminous United States.\" He only studied earthquakes measuring at least magnitude 5, and found that while most of the earthquake centers are random with no alignment, there is a well-defined earthquake trend extending northeastward from the New Madrid seismic zone across the United States to Canada, where it joins with the St. Lawrence River seismic zone.

Within the boundaries of this earthquake alignment there are:

Sixty-one seismic points that have a magnitude of 5 and greater.

Several large earthquakes dating to the early 1800s, all measuring over magnitude 8, all occurring within a couple of months of each other, all centered in a northeast trending line.

The two 5+ earthquakes that occurred earlier this year in northern New York state and southern Indiana.

\"There is definitely some form of movement occurring along this trend,\" Reed said, \"and it appears to be active today.\"

Well, it really was active today! I bet he is happy as a lark, seeing more evidence his personal theory is correct. I hope this gets good coverage for it is a major geological \"find\"! Indeed. Congratulations, Mr. Reed! Take a bow.

Click here for raw data. Click here for the earthquake world map. I have noticed over the last year or so, many earthquakes like to happen at 10.0 km. Whether under water or on land. It is like the earth\'s crust has this blanket on top that operates independent of the lower layers. Some of our nastiest quakes occur at this depth, the earth\'s blanket being shaken and tugged like Mother Nature is straightening out the bed.

The geology where this happened is interesting because it isn\'t all that prone to earthquakes. Just last week, I noted there was a much gentler earthquake right in New Orleans just when tornadoes were hitting that poor city! The New Madrid Fault has been shaking a bit, lately. As if it were trembling, waiting for something.

The continental shelf falls rapidly where today\'s quake happened and maybe the entire Mississippi valley is ready for some serious alterations. The Mid-Atlantic ridge had a 4.6 mag earthquake right next to Iceland which is the volcanic island erupting out of the northern end of the Mid-Atlantic ridge. It, too, was at the interesting depth of 10.0km. Santiago, Chile, had a 4.2 quake at pretty much the same time. I noted this morning that the earth was very quiet for the previous 24 hrs and said to myself, \"There are going to be some interesting shakes today,\" for these quakes are tending to swarm across great distances, like the earth is shuddering still from the side effects of the big blow out last winter.

The geological stability of this part of the Gulf is very important for us since we have deep drilling going on there and if the earth shifts, the various layers shift at different rates so a pipe going straight down can get displaces and cease working as a well.OCSBBS:

There have been significant new discoveries (such as Great White, Trident, Chinook, St. Malo, and Cascade) in the ultra-deep waters of Walker Ridge and Alaminos Canyon. These discoveries open up a whole new geologic play with exciting potential.

Industry has made great technological achievements in recent years. Examples include polyester mooring, composite risers, cell spars, and 15,000-psi subsea trees.

There was a 51 percent increase in the number of producing deepwater projects over the past 2 years.

Deepwater production has risen more than 100,000 barrels of oil per day (BOPD) and over 400 million cubic feet per day (MMCFPD) each year since 1997. (Production volumes were only available through 2002 at the time of writing due to the production data lag.)

Subsea gas production has increased 90 percent since December 2000.

Since the start of 2000, new deepwater drilling has added over 4.5 billion barrels of oil equivalent (BOE).

We aren\'t awash in gas or oil, much of this deep water drilling simply replaces well heads that are beginning to fail.

From Priweb.org:

Just onshore, in south eastern Texas and southern Louisiana, the flowage of salt domes has been the predominant mechanism for creating traps for oil. Salt of Jurassic age occurs here. When it is put under immense pressure by overlying rocks, this salt, which is less dense than the rocks surrounding it, will begin to flow upward. As it does so, it displaces, folds, and faults the rocks around it. In this way, traps can be created.

The Louann Salt is more than 200 million years old, and is located at great depths along the Gulf of Mexico\'s shoreline. In some places, however, this salt has moved due to the enormous pressure being put on it from the rocks above.

This all takes us back to the beginning, namely, the great Permian age when living things began to rapidly evolve and creatures crawled out of the teeming seas and plants colonized the earth and the atmosphere filled with oxygen and it all came crashing down, as we talked about, this week.

The great salt flats covered over all the rich plant and animal life, the hot seas evaporated in the various shallow seas, tons of salt built up over millions of years as the planet slowly readjusted and life forms began to slowly recolonize the previously dead regions. All that stuff is what we are pumping out today and you might say, the ghosts of these once living creatures are now looming over us all.

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State of emergency declared for Windward Oahu - Almost 23 inches of rain in 72 hours!

March 3, 2006
Honolulu Star Bulletin

Over the 72-hour period ending at 5 a.m. today, Punaluu saw 22.84 inches of rain. Kahuku was not far behind at 12.26.
The city declared a state of emergency today for Windward Oahu because of severe flooding from heavy rain over the past three days.

Gov. Linda Lingle issued an emergency proclamation covering the period from Feb. 20, through today to help residents and businesses recover from flooding and mudslides.

The National Weather Service forecast improving weather as the storm system socking Oahu and Kauai with heavy rain the past three days is moving slowly to the west.

"Tradewinds are, in fact, trying to return," said lead forecaster Tim Craig. 'It's a slow process and once they become more established, later today or tonight, we should be entirely out of the woods."

Oahu was under a flash-flood warning this morning with rains continuing to soak the Koolau Mountains and Windward Coast, from Punaluu to Waimanalo.

Oahu, Kauai and Niihau were also under a flash-flood watch, in effect through this afternoon.

Heavy rain overnight forced the closure of Kamehameha Highway in Waikane and Punaluu. The highway was reopened at about 8:20 a.m.

Police also closed the Kailua-bound lanes of the Pali Highway at about 4:20 a.m. because of a waterfall that was dumping debris and rocks onto the highway outside the second tunnel.

Kapaa Quarry Road was also closed because of flooding.

Craig said there are "subtle hints" that the storm has peaked and "we're on the improving side."

Typical tradewind weather is predicted tomorrow with partly cloudy skies, possible showers over windward and mauka sections and 10 to 15 mph winds.

While the storm is passing, however, the returning sun could lead to what is called "afternoon convection" because the atmosphere is still moist, Craig said.

If the sun pokes through the clouds for any length of time, it will heat the land, which will heat the air above it and the air "will rise like a hot air balloon, " he said.

"It will cool and all that moisture will become clouds and heavy showers again. It's just a lot of moisture in the air."

Torrential rain from Waiahole to Kahuku flooded roadways and homes, closed schools and caused at least two landslides yesterday.

The storm stranded many Windward Oahu residents for hours in their cars and spurred others to wage a battle against Mother Nature to clean out storm drains and save their property.

Last night, officials were closely watching a Kaaawa home that was in danger of crumbling into a stream and blocking a nearby bridge, potentially sending floodwaters onto roadways and into other homes.

State Transportation Department spokesman Scott Ishikawa said an embankment behind the home on Huamalani Street was significantly eroded by rising, fast-moving water.

Over the course of yesterday, firefighters responded to reports of minor flooding at more than 32 homes, fire spokesman Kenison Tejada said. During the heaviest rainfall, fire engines were called in from Waikele and downtown Honolulu to help.

Fire officials said they responded to three water evacuations after midnight.

Starting as early as 7 a.m. yesterday, flooding closed roadways up and down the Windward Coast, while two mudslides at Kualoa Point and Kaaawa also snarled traffic.

Also, two city buses that were stranded for hours at Swanzy Beach Park were able to start traveling on the cleared highway, Oahu Civil Defense said. The buses had about 25 passengers on board.

"Who left the water running? Turn it off," quipped Kaaawa resident Hilary Rillamas yesterday as rain tap-danced on her large umbrella. "This is the worst I've seen it."

During a break in the heaviest rain, Rillamas, friend Karen Joanou and their children sloshed through ankle-deep water along Kamehameha Highway in Kaaawa looking for backed-up waterways to clear. They were not alone.

After securing their own homes, several groups of residents worked together to clear streams and other waterways up and down Kaaawa in hopes of guarding against more flooding. At Kaaawa Elementary School, James Kahele joined a few neighbors to cut vegetation and rusted chain-link fencing blocking a drainage culvert.

"We're clearing the debris so the water can just flow," Kahele said.

After they had finished, the water swept through the drainage canal and toward the ocean.

The weather service said the rain, which started Wednesday on the Windward Coast, was associated with a low-pressure trough several hundred miles off Oahu coupled with southeasterly winds.

Over the 72-hour period ending at 5 a.m. today, Punaluu saw 22.84 inches of rain. Kahuku was not far behind at 12.26.

With rain in the forecast today, state Education Department officials decided to close five schools on Windward Oahu, said spokesman Gregg Knudsen. Four public schools were closed yesterday because of the rains, and officials reported minor flooding at several of the campuses, including Kahuku High and Intermediate.

At Kaaawa Elementary School, fields of high grass were nearly submerged.

Rain also closed the Polynesian Cultural Center and Malaekahana State Park, where a foot of water was reported in the parking lot.

"This is crazy," said Michele Pouvave, a Kaaawa resident whose downstairs laundry room was under a foot of water. "All my clothing is floating around down there."

While it was still pouring outside, Craig Long struggled to free an exercise mat that had lodged in a culvert fronting his Kaaawa home. The mat was clogging the drain that led to the ocean across the highway, causing water to rise around his elevated home.

"The mattress got stuck," Long said as he watched it float out to sea in water the color of chocolate milk. "It's now on its way to California."

On Kauai the rain caused some minor flooding, rockslides and a treated-sewage spill at a popular small-boat harbor near Waimea. Waste-water officials said they released the waste water at the Waimea plant into the ocean after flooding overloaded the system.

Also on Kauai's leeward side, flooding and a minor rockslide caused lane closures of the main thoroughfares through the Kalaheo-Eleele area early yesterday morning. The problem spots were cleared by daybreak yesterday, said Kauai Civil Defense administrator Gregg Morishige.

The rain spurred the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to stop issuing camping permits for Kauai state parks, along with Malaekahana State Recreation Area and Kahana Valley State Park on Oahu, until the bad weather subsides.

"We advise the public to avoid trails or streams during the stormy conditions," said DLNR Chairman Peter Young.

This morning, a police helicopter was expected to fly over Windward Oahu and the North Shore to find any trouble spots that might have developed overnight.

The city's declaration, issued by Managing Director Wayne Hashiro, allows it to apply for federal disaster relief assistance. Hashiro is acting mayor because Mayor Mufi Hannemann is out of state.

Rain runoff also caused sewage spills, including an estimated 150,000-gallon overflow at the Kaneohe Wastewater Pre-Treatment Facility. Much smaller spills were reported at the Kailua Wastewater Treatment Plant, the Waimanalo treatment plant, and a few manholes in Kaneohe and Kailua.

Rain also forced the closure of Ala Wai and Pali golf courses today.

Lingle's proclamation activates programs to provide personal and commercial loans to people whose homes and businesses were damaged by the rain, according to a Department of Defense news release.

It also activates the state's Major Disaster Fund to speed relief and authorizes use of National Guard troops to help civilian authorities, if necessary, with disaster relief and removal of debris.

Teams from the Hawaii Chapter of the American Red Cross will work with State Civil Defense and the Oahu Civl Defense Agency to assess the flooding and mudslide damage.

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La Nina weather phenomenon is coming

Agence France Presse
3 Mar 06

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said it saw unprecedented signs pointing to a looming La Nina, a phenomenon that originates off the western coast of South America but can disrupt weather patterns in many parts of the globe.

The buildup of this La Nina was so exceptionally swift and intense that it was impossible at the moment to infer what the impact would be, and how long the phenomenon would last, it warned.
In a press release, the Geneva-based agency said temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific had been between 0.5 and 1.0 C (0.9 and 1.8 F) below normal since the start of the 2006.

\"Combined with broader tropical Pacific ocean and atmosphere conditions, this is consistent with the early stages of a basin-wide La Nina event,\" it said.

\"(...) It is unprecedented in the historical record for a La Nina of substantial intensity or duration to develop so early in the year.\"

La Nina, which has the opposite effects to the more notorious El Nino, last occurred from mid-1998 to early 2001.

Under La Nina, the sea-surface temperature in the central and eastern tropical Pacific falls below normal.

This typically brings far dryer weather to the southwestern United States, Florida and western Latin America and above-average rainfall to Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

But there can also be a knock-on much further afield, with an increase to monsoon rainfall in South Asia, unusual coolness in tropical West Africa, Southeast Africa, Japan and the Korean peninsula.

La Nina usually lasts nine to 12 months, although \"some episodes may persist for as long as two years,\" the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says on its website.

The WMO sounded a note of caution.

The buildup of this La Nina was so exceptionally swift and intense that it was impossible at the moment to infer what the impact would be, and how long the phenomenon would last, it warned.

\"Most models and expert interpretations favour the event dissipating quite rapidly over the next three to six months,\" the UN\'s weather agency said.

\"Nonetheless, neither a continuation of La Nina beyond mid-year, nor the development of El Nino in the second half of 2006, can be ruled out as possible outcomes from the current prevailing situation.\"

El Nino, which last ran from 2002-3, occurs when warm water builds up in the western tropical Pacific and creeps eastwards, again causing huge disruption to classic patterns of rainfall and wind.

Both El Nino and La Nina are naturally occurring cycles, although there is much speculation among climate scientists that man-made global warming may make them more frequent and more vicious and that this trend may have already started.

El Nino means \"the little boy\" in Spanish. Its name is attributed to fishermen off the coast of South America who noted the appearance of warmer water, often around Christmas. La Nina means \"the little girl.\"

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Antarctica Losing Ice, Contrary to Expectations

By Robert Roy Britt
LiveScience Managing Editor
posted: 02 March 2006

Joining the growing list of places on this planet that are melting, Antarctica is losing some 36 cubic miles of ice every year, scientists said today.

For comparison, Los Angeles consumes roughly 1 cubic mile of fresh water a year.

The south polar region holds 90 percent of Earth's ice and 70 percent of the total fresh water on the planet, so any significant pace of melting there is important and could contribute to an already rising sea.

\"This is the first study to indicate the total mass balance of the Antarctic ice sheet is in significant decline,\" said Isabella Velicogna of the University of Colorado at Boulder.
The study is detailed today in the online version of the journal Science.

Other studies have documented rapid melting, unprecedented in modern times, in Greenland and around the North Pole. And rapid melting of individual glaciers has been noted in Antarctica.

For now, the newly measured melting might seem like a small quantity. The loss of ice in Antarctica amounts to about 0.4 millimeters of global sea rise annually, with a margin of error of 0.2 millimeters, the study concludes. There are about 25 millimeters in an inch.

However, computer models run in 2001 predicted Antarctica would gain ice during the 21st century due to increased precipitation in a warming climate. But the new study, based on satellite measurements between 2002 and 2005, shows the opposite.

Antarctica is twice as large as Australia. The ice sheet, which covers about 98 percent of the continent, has an average thickness of about 6,500 feet-more than a mile.

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Melting Ice Caps Could Spell Disaster for Coastal Cities

2 Mar 06

For the first time, scientists have confirmed Earth is melting at both ends, which could have disastrous effects for coastal cities and villages.
Antarctica has been called \"a slumbering giant\" by a climate scientist who predicts that if all the ice melted, sea levels would rise by 200 feet. Other scientists believe that such a thing won\'t happen, but new studies show that the slumbering giant has started to stir.

Melting at Both Ends Recent studies have confirmed that the North Pole and the South Pole have started melting.

Experts have long predicted that global warming would start to melt Greenland\'s two-mile-thick ice sheet, but they also thought the more massive ice sheet covering Antarctica would increase in the 21st century.

It seems they were wrong.

Two new studies find that despite the increasing snowfall that comes with global warming as a result of the increased moisture in the air, Antarctica\'s ice sheets are losing far more than the snow is adding.

According to the National Academy of Sciences, Earth\'s surface temperature has risen by about 1 degree Fahrenheit in the last century, with accelerated warming during the last two decades. Most of the warming over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities through the buildup of greenhouse gases -- primarily carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. Although the heat-trapping property of these gases is undisputed, uncertainties exist about exactly how Earth\'s climate responds to them.

\"The warming ocean comes underneath the ice shelves and melts them from the bottom, and warmer air from the top melts them from the top,\" said NASA glaciologist Jay Zwally. \"So they\'re thinning and eventually they get to a point where they go poof!\"

Zwally explains that the ice shelves, which the Antarctic ice cap pushes out into the ocean, are responding more than they expected to Earth\'s warming air and water. If the melting speeds up to a rapid runaway process called a \"collapse,\" coastal cities and villages could be in danger.

James Hansen, director of NASA\'s Earth Science Research, said that disaster could probably be avoided, but that it would require dramatically cutting emission outputs. If the proper actions aren\'t taken, Hansen said, the sea level could rise as much as 80 feet by the time today\'s children reach middle age.

\"We now must choose between a serious problem that we can probably handle and, if we don\'t act soon, unmitigated disaster down the road,\" Hansen said.

Scientists looking at ice cores can now read Earth\'s temperatures from past millennia and match them to sea levels from those eras.

\"Based on the history of the Earth, if we can keep the warming less than 2 degrees Fahrenheit, I think we can avoid disastrous ice sheet collapse,\" Hansen said.

Hansen and other scientists point out that a rise of at least 1 degree Fahrenheit -- and another few feet of sea level -- seem virtually certain to happen because of the carbon that mankind has already put in the atmosphere.

March 2, 2006

Copyright 2006 ABCNEWS.com

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Planet\'s Population Hit 6.5 Billion on February 25th, 2006

By Leonard David
LiveScience Senior Writer
posted: 24 February 2006

On Saturday, Feb. 25, at 7:16 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, the population here on this good Earth is projected to hit 6.5 billion people.

Along with this forecast, an analysis by the International Programs Center at the U.S. Census Bureau points to another factoid, Robert Bernstein of the Bureau\'s Public Information Center advised LiveScience. Mark this on your calendar: Some six years from now, on Oct. 18, 2012 at 4:36 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, the Earth will be home to 7 billion folks.
These are estimates, of course, but clear trends emerge from the data behind them.

Population profile

A report issued by the Bureau in March 2004 noted that world population hit the 6-billion mark in June 1999. \"This figure is over 3.5 times the size of the Earth\'s population at the beginning of the 20th century and roughly double its size in 1960,\" the study explained.

Even more striking is that the time required for the global population to grow from 5 billion to 6 billion-just a dozen years-was shorter than the interval between any of the previous billions.

On average, 4.4 people are born every second.

The population on Earth today is nearly four times the number in 1900 [graph]. Behind that phenomenal global increase is a vast gulf in birth and death rates among the world\'s countries. But according to population experts, this gulf is not a simple divide that perpetuates the status quo among the have and have-not nations.

Birth dearth

\"What is worrisome about this demographic divide is not the differences among nations\' population growth rates, but the disparities associated with these trends ... disparities in living standards, health, and economic prospects,\" explained Mary Kent, co-author along with Carl Haub, of a Population Reference Bureau report issued last month titled \"Global Demographic Divide.\"

Kent, editor of the Population Bulletin, and Haub, a senior demographer at the Population Reference Bureau, reported that news of declining population in Europe fueled concern about a global \"birth dearth,\" but there is continuing population growth in developing countries. The question, they asked, is which demographic trend is the world facing?

\"The reality is that both trends are occurring,\" Haub said. \"The dramatic fertility decline during the 20th century coincided with improved health, access to family planning, economic development, and urbanization.\"

Kent and Haub also reported that most countries will experience population growth through 2050, as the world adds a projected 3 billion more people to the total.

Remarkably, despite the many new developments over the past 50 years, one fact looks very much the same, explained Kent and Haub: Populations are growing most rapidly where such growth can be afforded the least-an observation that has changed little over time, they said.

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Huge Crater Found in Egypt

By Robert Roy Britt
Senior Science Writer
posted: 03 March 2006

Scientists have discovered a huge crater in the Saharan desert, the largest one ever found there.

The crater is about 19 miles (31 kilometers) wide, more than twice as big as the next largest Saharan crater known. It utterly dwarfs Meteor Crater in Arizona, which is about three-fourths of a mile (1.2 kilometers) in diameter.

In fact, the newfound crater, in Egypt, was likely carved by a space rock that was itself roughly 0.75 miles wide in an event that would have been quite a shock, destroying everything for hundreds of miles. For comparison, the Chicxulub crater left by a dinosaur-killing asteroid 65 million years ago is estimated to be 100 to 150 miles (160 to 240 kilometers) wide.
The crater was discovered in satellite images by Boston University researchers Farouk El-Baz and Eman Ghoneim.

El-Baz named the crater "Kebira," which means "large" in Arabic and also relates to its location on the northern tip of the Gilf Kebir region in southwestern Egypt.

"Kebira may have escaped recognition because it is so large-bigger than the area of 125 football fields, or the total expanse of the Cairo urban region from its airport in the northeast to the Pyramids of Giza in the southwest," El-Baz said today. "Also, the search for craters typically concentrates on small features, especially those that can be identified on the ground. The advantage of a view from space is that it allows us to see regional patterns and the big picture."

The crater has two rings, a common configuration. Over time, it has been eroded by wind and water to make it unrecognizable to the untrained eye.

"The courses of two ancient rivers run through it from the east and west," Ghoneim said.

The timing of the impact has not been determined.

The impact that carved Kebira might have created an extensive field of yellow-green silica fragments, known as desert glass and found on the surface between the giant dunes of the Great Sand Sea in southwestern Egypt, the researchers said.

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Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars - An Introduction Programming Manual

Operations Research Technical Manual

SOTT is not certain of the true provenance of this document but it is an interesting read. Says at the beginning:

\"It is patently impossible to discuss social engineering or the automation of a society, i.e., the engineering of social automation systems (silent weapons) on a national or worldwide scale without implying extensive objectives of social control and destruction of human life, i.e., slavery and genocide.

\"This manual is in itself an analog declaration of intent. Such a writing must be secured from public scrutiny. Otherwise, it might be recognized as a technically formal declaration of domestic war. Furthermore, whenever any person or group of persons in a position of great power and without full knowledge and consent of the public, uses such knowledge and methodologies for economic conquest - it must be understood that a state of domestic warfare exists between said person or group of persons and the public.

\"The solution of today\'s problems requires an approach which is ruthlessly candid, with no agonizing over religious, moral or cultural values.

You have qualified for this project because of your ability to look at human society with cold objectivity, and yet analyze and discuss your observations and conclusions with others of similar intellectual capacity without the loss of discretion or humility. Such virtues are exercised in your own best interest. Do not deviate from them. \"

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Hacks And Spooks - Close Encounters Of A Strange Kind - the links between journalists and the intelligence services

Richard Keeble
March 03, 2006

While it might be difficult to identify precisely the impact of the spooks (variously represented in the press as \"intelligence\", \"security\", \"Whitehall\" or \"Home Office\" sources) on mainstream politics and media, from the limited evidence it looks to be enormous.
As Roy Greenslade, media specialist at the Telegraph (formerly the Guardian), commented: \"Most tabloid newspapers - or even newspapers in general - are playthings of MI5.\" Bloch and Fitzgerald, in their examination of covert UK warfare, report the editor of \"one of Britain\'s most distinguished journals\" as believing that more than half its foreign correspondents were on the MI6 payroll. And in 1991, Richard Norton-Taylor revealed in the Guardian that 500 prominent Britons paid by the CIA and the now defunct Bank of Commerce and Credit International, included 90 journalists.

In their analysis of the contemporary secret state, Dorril and Ramsay gave the media a crucial role. The heart of the secret state they identified as the security services, the cabinet office and upper echelons of the Home and Commonwealth Offices, the armed forces and Ministry of Defence, the nuclear power industry and its satellite ministries together a network of senior civil servants. As \"satellites\" of the secret state, their list included \"agents of influence in the media, ranging from actual agents of the security services, conduits of official leaks, to senior journalists merely lusting after official praise and, perhaps, a knighthood at the end of their career\".

Phillip Knightley, author of a seminal history of the intelligence services, has even claimed that at least one intelligence agent is working on every Fleet Street newspaper.

A brief history

Going as far back as 1945, George Orwell no less became a war correspondent for the Observer -- probably as a cover for intelligence work. Significantly most of the men he met in Paris on his assignment, Freddie Ayer, Malcolm Muggeridge, Ernest Hemingway were either working for the intelligence services or had close links to them. Stephen Dorril, in his seminal history of MI6, reports that Orwell attended a meeting in Paris of resistance fighters on behalf of David Astor, his editor at the Observer and leader of the intelligence service\'s unit liasing with the French resistance.

The release of Public Record Office documents in 1995 about some of the operations of the MI6-financed propaganda unit, the Information Research Department of the Foreign Office, threw light on this secret body -- which even Orwell aided by sending them a list of \"crypto-communists\". Set up by the Labour government in 1948, it \"ran\" dozens of Fleet Street journalists and a vast array of news agencies across the globe until it was closed down by Foreign Secretary David Owen in 1977.

According to John Pilger in the anti-colonial struggles in Kenya, Malaya and Cyprus, IRD was so successful that the journalism served up as a record of those episodes was a cocktail of the distorted and false in which the real aims and often atrocious behaviour of the British intelligence agencies was hidden. And spy novelist John le Carré, who worked for MI6 between 1960 and 1964, has made the amazing statement that the British secret service then controlled large parts of the press - just as they may do today

In 1975, following Senate hearings on the CIA, the reports of the Senate\'s Church Committee and the House of Representatives\' Pike Committee highlighted the extent of agency recruitment of both British and US journalists. And sources revealed that half the foreign staff of a British daily were on the MI6 payroll. David Leigh, in The Wilson Plot, his seminal study of the way in which the secret service smeared through the mainstream media and destabilised the Government of Harold Wilson before his sudden resignation in 1976, quotes an MI5 officer: \"We have somebody in every office in Fleet Street\"

Leaker King

And the most famous whistleblower of all, Peter (Spycatcher) Wright, revealed that MI5 had agents in newspapers and publishing companies whose main role was to warn them of any forthcoming \"embarrassing publications\". Wright also disclosed that the Daily Mirror tycoon, Cecil King, \"was a longstanding agent of ours\" who \"made it clear he would publish anything MI5 might care to leak in his direction\". Selective details about Wilson and his secretary, Marcia Falkender, were leaked by the intelligence services to sympathetic Fleet Street journalists. Wright comments: \"No wonder Wilson was later to claim that he was the victim of a plot\" King was also closely involved in a scheme in 1968 to oust Prime Minister Harold Wilson and replace him with a coalition headed by Lord Mountbatten

Hugh Cudlipp, editorial director of the Mirror from 1952 to 1974, was also closely linked to intelligence, according to Chris Horrie, in his recently published history of the newspaper. David Walker, the Mirror\'s foreign correspondent in the 1950s, was named as an MI6 agent following a security scandal while another Mirror journalist, Stanley Bonnet, admitted working for MI5 in the 1980s investigating the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

Maxwell and Mossad

According to Stephen Dorril, intelligence gathering during the miners\' strike of 1984-85 was helped by the fact that during the 1970s MI5\'s F Branch had made a special effort to recruit industrial correspondents - with great success. In 1991, just before his mysterious death, Mirror proprietor Robert Maxwell was accused by the US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh of acting for Mossad, the Israeli secret service, though Dorril suggests his links with MI6 were equally as strong.

Following the resignation from the Guardian of Richard Gott, its literary editor in December 1994 in the wake of allegations that he was a paid agent of the KGB, the role of journalists as spies suddenly came under the media spotlight - and many of the leaks were fascinating. For instance, according to The Times editorial of 16 December 1994: \"Many British journalists benefited from CIA or MI6 largesse during the Cold War.\"

The intimate links between journalists and the secret services were highlighted in the autobiography of the eminent newscaster Sandy Gall. He reports without any qualms how, after returning from one of his reporting assignments to Afghanistan, he was asked to lunch by the head of MI6. \"It was very informal, the cook was off so we had cold meat and salad with plenty of wine. He wanted to hear what I had to say about the war in Afghanistan. I was flattered, of course, and anxious to pass on what I could in terms of first-hand knowledge.\"

And in January 2001, the renegade MI6 officer, Richard Tomlinson, claimed Dominic Lawson, the editor of the Sunday Telegraph and son of the former Tory chancellor, Nigel Lawson, provided journalistic cover for an MI6 officer on a mission to the Baltic to handle and debrief a young Russian diplomat who was spying for Britain. Lawson strongly denied the allegations.

Similarly in the reporting of Northern Ireland, there have been longstanding concerns over security service disinformation. Susan McKay, Northern editor of the Dublin-based Sunday Tribune, has criticised the reckless reporting of material from \"dodgy security services\". She told a conference in Belfast in January 2003 organised by the National Union of Journalists and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission: \"We need to be suspicious when people are so ready to provide information and that we are, in fact, not being used.\" (http://www.nuj.org.uk/inner.php?docid=635)

Growing power of secret state

Thus from this evidence alone it is clear there has been a long history of links between hacks and spooks in both the UK and US. But as the secret state grows in power, through massive resourcing, through a whole raft of legislation - such as the Official Secrets Act, the anti-terrorism legislation, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and so on - and as intelligence moves into the heart of Blair\'s ruling clique so these links are even more significant.

Since September 11 all of Fleet Street has been awash in warnings by anonymous intelligence sources of terrorist threats. According to former Labour minister Michael Meacher, much of this disinformation was spread via sympathetic journalists by the Rockingham cell within the MoD. A parallel exercise, through the office of Special Plans, was set up by Donald Rumsfeld in the US. Thus there have been constant attempts to scare people - and justify still greater powers for the national security apparatus.

Similarly the disinformation about Iraq\'s WMD was spread by dodgy intelligence sources via gullible journalists. Thus, to take just one example, Michael Evans, The Times defence correspondent, reported on 29 November 2002: \"Saddam Hussein has ordered hundred of his officials to conceal weapons of mass destruction components in their homes to evade the prying eyes of the United Nations inspectors.\" The source of these \"revelations\" was said to be \"intelligence picked up from within Iraq\". Early in 2004, as the battle for control of Iraq continued with mounting casualties on both sides, it was revealed that many of the lies about Saddam Hussein\'s supposed WMD had been fed to sympathetic journalists in the US, Britain and Australia by the exile group, the Iraqi National Congress.

Sexed up - and missed out

During the controversy that erupted following the end of the \"war\" and the death of the arms inspector Dr David Kelly (and the ensuing Hutton inquiry) the spotlight fell on BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan and the claim by one of his sources that the government (in collusion with the intelligence services) had \"sexed up\" a dossier justifying an attack on Iraq. The Hutton inquiry, its every twist and turn massively covered in the mainstream media, was the archetypal media spectacle that drew attention from the real issue: why did the Bush and Blair governments invade Iraq in the face of massive global opposition? But those facts will be forever secret. Significantly, too, the broader and more significant issue of mainstream journalists\' links with the intelligence services was ignored by the inquiry.

Significantly, on 26 May 2004, the New York Times carried a 1,200-word editorial admitting it had been duped in its coverage of WMD in the lead-up to the invasion by dubious Iraqi defectors, informants and exiles (though it failed to lay any blame on the US President: see Greenslade 2004). Chief among The Times\' dodgy informants was Ahmad Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress and Pentagon favourite before his Baghdad house was raided by US forces on 20 May.

Then, in the Observer of 30 May 2004, David Rose admitted he had been the victim of a \"calculated set-up\" devised to foster the propaganda case for war. \"In the 18 months before the invasion of March 2003, I dealt regularly with Chalabi and the INC and published stories based on interviews with men they said were defectors from Saddam\'s regime.\" And he concluded: \"The information fog is thicker than in any previous war, as I know now from bitter personal experience. To any journalist being offered apparently sensational disclosures, especially from an anonymous intelligence source, I offer two words of advice: caveat emptor.\"

Let\'s not forget no British newspaper has followed the example of the NYT and apologised for being so easily duped by the intelligence services in the run up to the illegal invasion of Iraq.

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CENTCOM Eyes Blogs to Shape Opinion - Admitting COINTELPRO?

Jason Sherman
March 03, 2006

In a bid to find new ways to influence public opinion about U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, a small media affairs team in Tampa has burrowed into the mushrooming cyber world of blogs and persuaded hundreds of Web sites -- which then link to thousands of other sites -- to post content prepared by military public affairs officials.

Since last July, the Florida-based U.S. Central Command\'s public affairs staff -- in an effort recently praised by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for its innovation -- has been initiating contact with editors of Web sites that cover operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, offering the same news releases and stories written by military officials that are made available to journalists affiliated with traditional media outlets.

In addition, this CENTCOM "electronic media engagement team" encourages these blogs to post a direct link -- along with the command\'s insignia -- back to CENTCOM\'s main Web site.

To date, more than 300 blogs have posted links to the command\'s public affairs page, which have directed millions of viewers to CENTCOM\'s site, command officials say. The blogs with direct links to CENTCOM\'s site are linked to another 9,300 blogs. This second band of Web sites then link to another 270,000 blogs, providing a potentially exponential reach.

"It\'s an incredible way to communicate with the public," said Lt. Col. Richard McNorton, a CENTCOM spokesman, who oversees a team of two young, enlisted staff members who work full time on the blogs.

It has generated new traffic to the CENTCOM Web site, he said, and paved a new path for pushing content to the public that bypasses traditional print and broadcast media outlets.

CENTCOM\'s Web site now gets more visitors through these linked blogs than it does from search engines like Google and Yahoo. Since the outreach effort began, online subscriptions to the command\'s weekly newsletter have tripled, and the command has observed that items it sends to bloggers ripple across the Internet, directly reaching thousands of viewers, McNorton said.

These results have attracted high-level attention.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, in a speech last month to the Council on Foreign Relations on the need for the government to improve its strategic communications capabilities, highlighted CENTCOM\'s project as an example of an innovative outreach effort.

McNorton, the CENTCOM spokesman, said the command has reached out to blogs edited by people who support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as to those who oppose it. To date, the vast majority of the blogs that regularly post CENTCOM content and provide a direct link are run by what he calls "supporters."

"They will pretty much post anything," he said. "The problem with that is the readers are already pro-military. It\'s almost like we\'re preaching to the choir."

Fewer than 10 blogs written by those who oppose U.S. operations, which CENTCOM calls "determined detractors," have established links, he said.

Along with these two categories, the public affairs team targets two other blog categories, McNorton said: Those run by pundits like Bill Bennett, who on occasion has posted CENTCOM content, and sites that are focused on current affairs.

Based on its experience with blogs, the command is laying plans to revamp its main Web site to provide more varied content that could be easily exported for use on blogs, he added. CENTCOM officials are looking to take advantage of new multimedia tools to provide video clips and podcasts -- individual sound files -- of speeches by senior command leaders like commander Gen. John Abizaid, he said.

All CENTCOM-generated content provided to blogs is in English. A real counter-propaganda campaign, McNorton said, would require engaging in other languages, particularly Arabic and Farsi.

"Right now our mission is to provide information to the public," he said. "This is just another method of engaging directly."

While military leaders may consider the blog outreach effort pioneering, McNorton noted that U.S. adversaries are demonstrating effective uses of this new medium.

"The enemy is so good at using Web sites and blogs to communicate and to recruit. They even have virtual Caliphates. We were so far behind the curve," he said.

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Flashback! Rumsfeld sez:today\'s weapons of war are e-mail, Blackberries, instant messaging, digital cameras and blogs

By Daniel Trotta
17 Feb 06

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The United States lags dangerously behind al Qaeda and other enemies in getting out information in the digital media age and must update its old-fashioned methods, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Friday.

Modernization is crucial to winning the hearts and minds of Muslims worldwide who are bombarded with negative images of the West, Rumsfeld told the Council on Foreign Relations.

The Pentagon chief said today\'s weapons of war included e-mail, Blackberries, instant messaging, digital cameras and Web logs, or blogs.
\"Our enemies have skillfully adapted to fighting wars in today\'s media age, but ... our country has not adapted,\" Rumsfeld said.

\"For the most part, the U.S. government still functions as a \'five and dime\' store in an eBay world,\" Rumsfeld said, referring to old-fashioned U.S. retail stores and the online auction house, respectively.

Rumsfeld said U.S. military public affairs officers must learn to anticipate news and respond faster, and good public affairs officers should be rewarded with promotions.

The military\'s information offices still operate mostly eight hours a day, five or six days a week while the challenges they faces occur 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Rumsfeld called that a \"dangerous deficiency.\"

Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy of the opposition Democratic Party immediately criticized Rumsfeld as missing the point.

\"Clearly, we need to improve our public diplomacy and information age communication in the Muslim world,\" Kennedy said in a statement. \"But nothing has done more to encourage increased Al Qaeda recruitment and made America less safe than the war in Iraq and the incompetent way it\'s been managed. Our greatest failure is our policy.\"

Rumsfeld lamented that vast media attention about U.S. abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq outweighed that given to the discovery of \"Saddam Hussein\'s mass graves.\"

On the emergence of satellite television and other media not under Arab state control, he said, \"While al Qaeda and extremist movements have utilized this forum for many years ... we in the government have barely even begun to compete in reaching their audiences.\"

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The Secret Cause of Flame Wars

By Stephen Leahy
Wired Magazine
Feb, 13, 2006

\"Don\'t work too hard,\" wrote a colleague in an e-mail today. Was she sincere or sarcastic? I think I know (sarcastic), but I\'m probably wrong.

According to recent research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, I\'ve only a 50-50 chance of ascertaining the tone of any e-mail message. The study also shows that people think they\'ve correctly interpreted the tone of e-mails they receive 90 percent of the time.
\"That\'s how flame wars get started,\" says psychologist Nicholas Epley of the University of Chicago, who conducted the research with Justin Kruger of New York University. \"People in our study were convinced they\'ve accurately understood the tone of an e-mail message when in fact their odds are no better than chance,\" says Epley.

The researchers took 30 pairs of undergraduate students and gave each one a list of 20 statements about topics like campus food or the weather. Assuming either a serious or sarcastic tone, one member of each pair e-mailed the statements to his or her partner. The partners then guessed the intended tone and indicated how confident they were in their answers.

Those who sent the messages predicted that nearly 80 percent of the time their partners would correctly interpret the tone. In fact the recipients got it right just over 50 percent of the time.

\"People often think the tone or emotion in their messages is obvious because they \'hear\' the tone they intend in their head as they write,\" Epley explains.

At the same time, those reading messages unconsciously interpret them based on their current mood, stereotypes and expectations. Despite this, the research subjects thought they accurately interpreted the messages nine out of 10 times.

The reason for this is egocentrism, or the difficulty some people have detaching themselves from their own perspective, says Epley. In other words, people aren\'t that good at imagining how a message might be understood from another person\'s perspective.

\"E-mail is very easy to misinterpret, which not only triggers flame wars but lots of litigation,\" says Nancy Flynn, executive director of the e-Policy Institute and author of guidebooks E-Mail Rules and Instant Messaging Rules. Many companies battle workplace lawsuits triggered by employee e-mail, according to Flynn.

People write absolutely, incredibly stupid things in company e-mails,\" said Flynn.

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U.S. Intel and MOSSAD - uh make that Al Qaeda - Plotting \'Big Bang\'

2 Mar 06

U.S. officials tell CBS News that intelligence has picked up reports that al Qaeda in Iraq is planning what one source calls the \"Big Bang,\" a spectacular terrorist attack in Iraq against either a single high-profile target or multiple targets simultaneously.

Last week\'s mosque bombing in city of Samarra that brought Iraq to the brink of civil war was the work of terrorists, some U.S. officials have theorized. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi seems to be betting that another big bang would push the country over the brink, reports CBS News correspondent David Martin. The bomb in one of the holiest sites for Shiite Muslims set off violence all across the country that left hundreds dead.
The Iraqi government has banned all private vehicles in Baghdad during daylight hours Friday, the Muslim prayer day, just as it did last week. That kept car bombs, what the military cars vehicle-born improvised explosive devices, off the streets.

But Zarqawi just waited until the ban was lifted.

\"The day the vehicle ban was lifted, all these VBIEDS that he had staged he deployed in Iraq and detonated over the last three days,\" said Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, a U.S. military spokesman.

This week, the ban takes effect when the overnight curfew ends at 6 a.m. Friday and will last until 4 p.m. Friday, according to a statement issued by the prime minister\'s office. Police and army were instructed to seal off the capital and seize any private vehicles that defy the ban.

Pentagon officials are also worried that a terrorist spectacular will undermine administration claims about progress in Iraq and therefore weaken public support for the war here at home, Martin reports.

On Thursday, a bomb ripped through a vegetable market in a Shiite section of Baghdad and a leading Sunni politician escaped an attack on his convoy as at least 36 people were killed in unrelenting violence pushing Iraq toward civil war.

However, on Friday, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq downplayed talk that the nation is headed toward civil war. General George Casey said \"it appears that the crisis has passed\" after days of bloodshed following the bombing of a sacred mosque.

But Casey told reporters at the Pentagon from Baghdad that a major new attack could threaten stability once again.

The general said military officials believe violence since the Shiite shrine bombing February 22nd has left about 350 civilians dead. He said Iraqi forces responded fairly well to the violence, but that there were still cases of militia members being allowed to pass through checkpoints.

As sectarian killing surged last week, the U.S. 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division was put on alert in neighboring Kuwait for a possible move into Iraq, the military said. But no orders were given for such a move.

The violence has complicated talks to form a broad-based government, which U.S. officials consider essential to cut support for insurgents among the Sunni-Arab minority so coalition forces can start drawing down later this year.

©MMVI, CBS Broadcasting Inc.

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O\'Reilly threatens caller

by Evan Derkacz
March 3, 2006.

Keith Olbermann\'s unapologetic digs at disingenuous and media personalities is really beginning to wind Bill O\'Reilly up. After Olbermann named him the Worst Person in the World for the second night in a row, O\'Reilly began a petition to replace Olbermann.

Olbermann responded and the duel is on...

Mike Stark decided to add a bit of gas to the fire by calling O\'Reilly and mentioning Olbermann\'s name...

O\'Reilly promptly cut him off and proceeded to tell him that \"we have your phone number by the way\" and that he should expect a visit to his door from the local authorities so that \"you will be held accountable. Believe it.\"

According to Stark: \"It didn't get broadcast - Bill dumped it. This sound comes from the Bill O'Reilly premium membership I just paid for. (I vomited in my mouth as I hit the \'Finalize Order\' button). Listen to it [HERE].

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3 Mar 06

Former CNN anchor Aaron Brown has suggested that television viewers are responsible for the deterioration of broadcast news as much as the TV networks themselves.

\"In the perfect democracy that I believe TV news is, it\'s not enough to say you want serious news, you have to watch it,\" he told an audience in Medford, OR this week.

As reported by the Medford Mail Tribune, Brown, speaking to a First Amendment forum, noted that while CNN was spending a fortune covering the 2004 tsunami, Fox News was channeling its resources into the missing teenager Natalee Holloway. The contest, he noted, was won hands down by Fox. The result, he suggested, was not lost on his former employer, CNN.

\"The news in this country is a business,\" he said. \"You might not like to think of it that way, but it is.\" He suggested that television, instead of being diverted by scores of late-breaking trivial stories, ought to focus on the 6-10 \"really important stories\" that occur each day.

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Experts Call for Release of 9/11 Evidence

March 1, 2006

Duluth, MN -- A society of experts and scholars has now joined with Judicial Watch in calling for release of videos that are being held by the Department of Defense, which are essential to understanding events at the Pentagon that transpired on September 11, 2001. Scholars for 9/11 Truth, which is dedicated to exposing falsehoods and establishing truths about the events of 9/11, has gone beyond Judicial Watch by calling for the release of other films and evidence that, its officers maintain, are essential to understanding 9/11.
\"It is outrageous that the government is withholding this vital information\", said James H. Fetzer, founder and co-chair of the society. \"This concerns one of the monstrous events of our time and deserves to be in the public domain.\" The group, whose members include such prominent figures as David Ray Griffin, Morgan Reynolds, John McMurtry, Wayne Madsen, Robert Bowman, Webster Tarpley, and Andreas von Buelow, has been speaking out against what its own research suggests has been complicity by elements of the administration in the crime.

They are calling for immediate release of the full Pentagon surveillance tape as well as video tapes seized by FBI agents minutes after the Pentagon hit; a complete inventory of the plane wreckage and debris from Flights 11, 77, 93, 175 or any other aircraft that crashed or was destroyed on September 11, 2001, including, but not limited to their location (whether warehoused or otherwise), catalog of photographs and videotapes taken of any items from the planes, and results of all tests and examinations conducted concerning any of these items.

Judicial Watch has filed a lawsuit demanding that DoD release its film footage. In addition, the scholars call for the release of a complete inventory of any steel, other metal, or other materials from the World Trade Center, including, but not limited to the location (whether warehouses or otherwise) of all such items, catalog of photographs and videotapes of any items from the scene, and results of all tests and examinations conducted concerning any of those items.

Judy Wood, a professor of mechanical engineering at Clemson University and a full member of the society of scholars, has emphasized the importance of this material for those studying the collapse of the Twin Towers and World Trade Center 7. \"This material has the potential to resolve crucial questions about the forces that were responsible for the buildings\' fall, including the possible use of incendiaries and explosives\", she observed. \"It is of great importance that we have access to it.\"

They also call for release of 6,899 photographs and 6,977 segments of video footage held by NIST; tape recordings of interviews by air traffic controllers, at least some of which were deliberately destroyed while in the possession of representatives of the government; a complete accounting of \"terror drills\" that were being conducted that morning, which may have been used to mask the attack; the cockpit voice recorders and other \"black boxes\", three of four of which are reported to have survived the Twin Towers\' collapse; and other related evidence.

According to Professor Fetzer, the SEC possesses knowledge of \"put options\" on American and United Airlines, which are suggestive of advanced knowledge that the attacks would take place; Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta gave very important testimony to The 9/11 Commission, which it chose not to include in its report; and the Secret Service conducted itself in a manner suggesting that it knew there was no serious threat to the President, even following the attacks in New York, while the Commander-in-Chief ignored the unfolding drama.

\"We are inclined to believe that these events were orchestrated by the Bush administration in order to instill fear in the American people,\" Fetzer said. \"The use of violence and threats of violence to manipulate a populace based on fear,\" he observed, \"is the definition of terrorism. The release of this vital evidence will help to confirm or to dispel our concerns about what happened on 9/11.\" Added Wood, \"The American people are entitled to know the truth about their own history. If the government has nothing to hide, it should have no objections to releasing all this evidence for experts and scholars to study.\"

Fetzer also noted today\'s Zogby International Poll, which shows that 90% of American troops in Iraq believe that they are fighting to avenge Saddam Hussein\'s role in 9/11. \"This would be funny if it weren\'t so sad\", Fetzer said. \"The administration falsely linked Iraq to 9/11 even though it knew better\", he remarked. \"Even the Osama Bin Laden \'confession tape\' appears to have been faked. We want to know the identity of those who perpetrated these despicable acts.\"

Scholars for 9/11 Truth maintains its own public web site at www.st911.org. Documentary support for its request is available at www.st911.org/petition/.

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FBI WHISTLEBLOWER SIBEL EDMONDS IS READY TO TALK! - \'Gag Ordered\' Former Translator Seeks to Tell Congress and the American People What She Knows

The BradBlog
3 Mar 06

Online Petition Launched Calling on Congress to Hold Joint Public Hearings by the Senate and House Judiciary Committees to Finally Allow the Truth of Her Allegations to be Told...

She\'s fought her case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. It was the very same day that the façade cracked on the front of the building and a chunk of marble -- just above an allegorical statue representing \"Order\" and just below the words \"Equal Justice\" -- came crashing to the ground. The highest court in the land refused to hear her case.
Along the way, the Dept. of Justice has done everything in their power (and then some) to keep her quiet. They invoked the rarely used \"State Secrets Privilege\" to shut her up -- going so far as to use it, without explanation, to remove her and her own attorneys from the courtroom when arguing their case against her.

In at least two unclassified Senate briefings, FBI officials confirmed the validity of her reports, but the information from those briefings was then retroactively classified by the DoJ -- which served to gag the Congress from further investigation on the matter. The DoJ even retroactively classified a 60 Minutes profile on her -- after it had already aired!

All of that, even after the DoJ\'s own Inspector General\'s report found Sibel Edmonds\' allegations to be \"credible\" and \"serious\" and \"warrant[ing] a thorough and careful review by the FBI.\" The unclassified version of that report was only released by the DoJ after prodding from Congressional members and the 9/11 Commission.

Ranking Senate Judiciary Committee Members Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Pat Leahy (D-VT) both publicly support her case and would like to allow the Congress and the American public to hear more.

Want to know what it is that she knows? What it is that she feels we the people ought to know about? And what it is that has led her to form the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition to support other patriots like herself who are trying to expose crimes and corruption from within our own government? We do. And we hope you do too.

Therefore, The BRAD BLOG is pleased to support a new petition calling on Congress to hold a joint Senate and House Judiciary Committee investigation, with open hearings into all of these matters.

Government of the people, by the people, and for the people. You all remember that, right? Let\'s make this happen. Please sign her petition right now.

And please spread the word to other blogs and bloggers (and perhaps even the MSM may want to get in on the act -- it is their country too, after all), and ask them to do the same. This one\'s important.

We\'ve reported over the last few months about various aspects of Edmonds\' case. However, for those unfamiliar with the larger pictures of Edmonds\' allegations and what she would like to testify about before the Congress and the American people -- all based on what she heard and saw first-hand while working as an FBI translator just after 9/11 -- please see the following bullet point summary of just a few of her explosive whistleblowing allegations...

9/11 Related:

# Information omitted and covered-up regarding documented and confirmed case of a long-term FBI Informant & Asset who provided the FBI with specific information and warnings in April & June 2001 regarding 9/11 terrorist attacks.

# Information omitted & covered up regarding documented information in the procession of the FBI in July 2001 regarding blue prints and building composite information of Sky Scrapers being sent to certain groups in the Middle East by certain Middle-Eastern suspects in the State of Nevada.

# Information omitted & covered up regarding arrangements made between the State Department and certain countries to deport certain Middle-Eastern and Central Asian detainees from jails in New Jersey & New York off the record and without having them interrogated in November 2001. (Documents related to these suspects were forged at the FBI).

# Information omitted & covered up regarding nuclear related information illegally obtained by certain foreign entities and US persons (government officials) from several US labs being sold to a certain Middle-Eastern group in the United States in 1998-2000. The operation involved individuals with Diplomatic cover, foreign Ph.D. students, and US employees.

# Information omitted & covered up regarding money laundering & narcotics operations, some of which involved entities from the Middle East and the Balkans, in several US cities.

# Information omitted & covered up regarding certain Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI)-related activities linked to the 9/11 attacks between August & October 2001.

# Certain terrorist related Counterintelligence/FISA information & investigations were prevented from being transferred to counterterrorism & criminal division by the Department of State and the Pentagon; \"preserving sensitive diplomatic relations\" and \"protecting certain US foreign business relations (mainly involving weapons procurement)\" were cited as reasons.

# Intentional mistranslation & blocking of foreign language intelligence of FBI counterterrorism and counterintelligence investigations.

Penetration of FBI, Department of State and Department of Defense:

# Melek Can Dickerson: FBI; formerly employed by the American Turkish Council (ATC) and American Turkish Association (ATA).

# Major Douglas Dickerson: Air Force, DIA; formerly worked with the American Turkish Council (ATC), had on going relationship with International Advisors Inc (IAI) principles who worked as lobbying arms for certain foreign nations and foreign non-state entities (some of whom were engaged in illegal activities in the United States and against US interests and national Security.)

# Cases reported by John M. Cole, Veteran FBI Counterintelligence Operations Manager, to the DOJ-IG & Congress involving Hadiya Roberts (ISI-Pakistan), and several other individuals.

# Documented cases under FBI counterintelligence surveillance between 1997 and 2002, involving US government officials from the Department of State, DOD, and certain elected officials who were recipients of regular payments made by state and non-state foreign entities, some involved in criminal operations against US interests & national security. These cases were prevented from being transferred to actionable criminal and/or counterterrorism divisions/investigations.

# A reported case of penetration of FBI New York Field Office by an Iranian rouge agent.

Corruption & illegal activities involving US persons:

# Illegal payments to several elected officials in Congress; on going (1997-2002).

# Joint illegal activities between certain foreign agents (state & non-state) and US lobbying firms, government officials (Pentagon and the Department of State) and several elected officials. These activities include obtaining and passing highly classified and sensitive DOD documents & bribery and/or coercion of US individuals.

# Nuclear black market related activities carried out by certain foreign groups/lobbying firms/businesses/individuals & US persons (former & current US government employees and officials).

FBI: incompetence:
(Refer to DOJ-IG report confirming all & more)

# Hiring unqualified translators based on nepotism & cronyism, some of these translators did not even pass elementary English proficiency tests; some were granted Top Secret Clearance despite their highly questionable background.

# Language specialists charging the United States government for hours not worked and/or services not rendered (Fraudulent invoices, etc.)

# ...much more; please refer to the DOJ-IG Report

Convinced yet that we need to hear from her? Please fill out this petition.

Ask a few friends to do the same. Let\'s take our country back.

Comment: Don\'t hold your breath people. With Alito on the court, there\'s not a chance of a snowball in Hell of overturning that gag order. Sibel\'s just gonna have to spill the beans illegally and take the consequences of a Fascist government determined to stifle her.

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Hamas says recognition of Israel not on agenda

4 Mar 06

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Palestinian election winner Hamas will not recognize Israel despite pressure from Russia to do so during talks in Moscow, a senior leader of the Islamic militant group said on Saturday.

Moussa Abu Marzouk, Hamas\'s deputy political leader, told Reuters in an interview that recognizing Israel would negate all Palestinian rights and therefore was out of the question.

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A SENIOR member of Israel\'s Kadima Party suggests assassination of Palestinian Authority prime minister

3 Mar 06

Avi Dichter, a former Shin Bet chief tipped as the next defence minister if Kadima wins the March 28 elections in Israel, said that Ismail Haniyeh should not consider himself \"immune\" once he takes over the Palestinian Authority government.

\"In my eyes, he remains a man of terror, no matter what post he serves in,\" Dichter told the newspaper Yediot Aharonot. \"If there is a terror attack to which Israel decides to respond with a preventive measure, then Haniyeh would be a legitimate target because Hamas cannot carry out a terror attack without Haniyeh\'s authorisation.\"

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Ismail Haniyeh: From Refugee Camp to Prime Minister\'s Office

by Mohammed Omer
reporting from Gaza City, Occupied Palestine

\"Politics,\" said Shakespeare in The Tempest, \"makes strange bedfellows,\" and few alliances are stranger or more unexpected than those within the present Palestinian government. Last month\'s elections saw the ruling Fateh Party solidly defeated by the Hamas \"change and reform\" slate, leaving Palestinian President Abbas of Fateh heading a Hamas-dominated Parliament.

Having long branded the Hamas movement as terrorists, Israel and the West are issuing almost predictable threats about refusing to work with a Hamas-led Palestinian Authority. But stranger still, however, is the situation within occupied Palestine where former political prisoners and pariahs now occupy the halls of power with the same men who not so long ago were their jailers.

When Hamas\'s armed wing was mounting military resistance, the Fatah security services, in an effort to appease Israel, frequently arrested and tortured some of the same men who will now lead the Palestinian Legislative Council.
The new Hamas Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh, is little known in the West, but has earned huge respect among the people of his native Gaza. While the Fateh leadership rarely moves through Gaza without an armed escort, Haniyeh and other Hamas leaders routinely walk alone through all of Gaza\'s towns and refugee camps. \"Hamas is not corrupt,\" said Gaza City university student Amal Faud, 23. \"I have full confidence in Ismail Haniyeh and the other Hamas leaders.\"

While the Western press has focused on Hamas\'s Islamist roots and expressed concern they will impose a Taliban-style regime on Palestine, such sentiments are rare among the citizens of Gaza. Al Surani, a secular lawyer from Gaza City, explained that Ismail Haniyeh \"listens more than he speaks. He understands the peoples\' concerns, and when he does speak, he is tactful and coherent.\"

Haniyeh\'s political opponents might take issue with the new Prime Minister\'s tact. At last Friday\'s prayers in his neighborhood mosque, Haniyeh announced he was refusing the customary salary of US$4000 a month offered him by the Palestinian Authority. No, he said, he would take only US$1500 a month, the amount he actually needed to support his family. He pointed out that his party had won the election on their pledge to reform the Palestinian Authority where, for instance, a certain PA bureaucrat earned US$200,000 annually. A PA spokesman, Al Taeeb Abdelraheem, immediately issued a press release saying, \"Such statements by the new Prime Minister are not appropriate to his office.\"

Haniyeh, however, seems determined to show Fatah-and the world-a new standard of appropriate behavior. Born in 1963 to a refugee family originally from Al Jouar village, he grew up in Beach Camp, one of the poorest refugee camps in Gaza City. Like the other camp children, he studied in UNRWA schools , then went on to graduate from Islamic University in Gaza City in the Arabic Language department.

As an undergraduate, he became active in the Islamic Block, the student wing of the Muslim Brotherhood that would later become Hamas. During his student days, 1983-86, he was often at odds with the Fatah-led student groups.

After completing his master\'s degree, he joined the university faculty, and later became an administrator at Islamic University. He preferred to keep a low profile politically, but was nonetheless jailed four times, and was finally exiled with 400 other Hamas and Islamic Jihad members in December, 1992.

He returned to Gaza and his university post in 1994, and was marked as a terrorist by the Israeli Army. In fact, he worked closely with Hamas\'s spiritual leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, serving as the wheelchair-bound cleric\'s office manager and confidential aide. As the second Intifada continued, the Israelis stepped up their program of extra-judicial assassinations, targeting public Hamas figures like Dr. Rantisi and the Sheikh. Haniyeh assumed a public role in the Hamas movement only after the murder of Sheikh Yassin on 21 March, 2004 when the Israelis bombed the elderly man\'s car as he returned from morning prayers.

In the next two years, Haniyeh became a forceful public speaker, a superb listener-and now, Palestine\'s Prime Minister. \"But Ismail Haniyeh hasn\'t changed,\" insists Abu Fadi Al Hasani, a 50-year-old neighbor in the Beach Camp. \"He still prays every day in the mosque where we all pray. He respects all the people. Anyone-a child, an elderly person-can talk with him and he will listen.\"

Indeed, Haniyeh and his family of 13 children have never moved from their home in Beach Camp. \"I know,\" said Al Hasani, \"he was offered a much bigger, better house outside the camp. And I know he said, \'I\'m not going to leave my people, my neighborhood, for something that doesn\'t belong to me!\'\"

Despite his blunt style, Haniyeh has a history of opening dialogue with the Fateh factions. His self-deprecating humor also sets him apart from many Palestinian politicians. Back in December, 2003, Sheikh Yassin, Haniyeh, and other Hamas members narrowly escaped an Israeli assassination attempt when the Israeli Air Forced bombed a house where they had been meeting.

At a Hamas rally soon after, he explained that when he heard the Israeli helicopters approaching, he ran clumsily down a metal staircase, put his leg through an opening and was momentarily stuck. When they\'d all gotten safely away and he told the Sheikh of his mishap, the elderly, crippled imam told him, \"Oh, you should have called me! I would have rescued you!\"

Although the new Prime Minister has just assumed his office, President Abbas, Israel, and the international community have barraged the new Hamas leadership with a list of conditions-they will recognize and deal with a Hamas-led government only if the new leaders recognize Israel, honor existing agreements made with Israel by the PLO, and renounce violence.

Asked his opinion of these conditions, Haniyeh\'s response has been consistent and clear: \" We are surprised that such conditions are imposed on us. Why don\'t they direct such conditions and questions to Israel? Has Israel respected their agreements? Israel has bypassed practically all agreements. We say: Let Israel recognize the legitimate rights of the Palestinians first and then we will have a position regarding this. Which Israel should we recognize? The Israel of 1917; the Israel of 1936; the Israel of 1948; the Israel of 1956; or the Israel of 1967? Which borders and which Israel? Israel has to recognize first the Palestinian state and its borders. At least then we will know what we are talking about.\"

Asked in a phone interview if his government would honor the existing Oslo Accords, Haniyeh replied,
\"The Oslo agreements said that a Palestinian state would be established by 1999. Where is this Palestinian state? Has Oslo given the right to Israel to reoccupy the West Bank, to build the wall and expand the settlements, and to Judaize Jerusalem and make it totally Jewish? Has Israel been given the right to disrupt the work on the port and airport in Gaza? Has Oslo given them the right to besiege Gaza and to stop all tax refunds to the Palestinian Authority?\"

Of course, there are more questions than answers-questions Israel and the international community do not seem eager to address. Haniyeh won his office on his unblemished reputation and a promise of reform and transparency, but he faces heavy internal and external challenges. Externally, Israel, the US and the EU are threatening an economic siege on Palestine, cutting off development programs and humanitarian aid.

Internally, the challenges are almost as severe, as some of his Fatah opponents, whatever their public rhetoric, hope a spectacular Hamas failure will bring a call for new elections and their return to power If Haniyeh, however, can chart an honest, pragmatic course of partnership with the international community, working toward a peaceful solution that preserves Palestinian rights, it will very likely quell much of the political in-fighting.

But one of the most pressing and immediate problems is Israel\'s ongoing military attacks on Gaza and the West Bank. Indeed, Prime Minister Haniyeh faces an ongoing threat he cannot readily neutralize, namely that from the Israeli helicopters and F16s. Israel has announced it will continue its program of extra-judicial assassinations and just a few days ago, Avi Dichter, former head of the Israeli Shin Bet security service, announced the Palestinian Prime Minister is still subject to arrest. So Ismail Haniyeh, democratically elected Parliamentarian, and Palestine\'s new prime minister, is threatened by Israeli bombs as much as the humblest citizen.

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Russia says Hamas prepared to extend ceasefire - Ball in Israel\'s Court

3 Mar 06

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Palestinian election winner Hamas told Russia on Friday it was prepared to continue to abide by a ceasefire agreed last year if Israel does not use force, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

\"Hamas confirmed its readiness not to leave the agreement on the ceasefire adopted in March 2005 on the understanding that Israel will also refrain from violent actions,\" the ministry said in a statement after Russian officials held talks with Hamas leaders in Moscow.

A Hamas leader in Moscow, Ezzat El-Resheq, said the Islamic militant group would look positively on an extension of the ceasefire, but only if Israel \"ended its aggression, assassinations and arrests and freed Palestinian prisoners\".

\"The ball is now in Israel\'s court,\" he told Reuters.

Israel says it takes military action to prevent attacks by Palestinian militants.

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Chechen rebels blast Hamas over Russia visit

By Oliver Bullough
3 Mar 06

MOSCOW - Chechnya\'s rebels slammed Hamas on Friday, saying leaders of the Palestinian group had given their blessing to the \"murder of the Chechen people\" by meeting top Russian officials.

The Islamist militant group, which swept to victory in Palestinian elections in January, visited Moscow in a bid to win support from a major foreign power since it is shunned as a terrorist group by Israel and Washington.

Chechen separatist leaders said the group had sold out its principles, and showed itself as hungry for power as corrupt officials who governed the Palestinians before.
\"We regret this decision of Hamas. In observing convention, the leaders of Hamas will squeeze the hand of the killers of 250,000 Muslims of Chechnya, among which are 42,000 Chechen children,\" said Movladi Udugov on Web site www.kavkazcenter.com.

Russian troops have fought for 11 years to crush Chechnya\'s separatists. Although fighting has waned, soldiers and police still die daily in clashes with rebels.

Udugov, who heads the rebels\' information service, was using a casualty figure for the 11-year Chechen war several times higher than most estimates, although observers agree that savagery on both sides has killed thousands of civilians.

\"Their chosen path could once again push the Islamic movement into a political dead end and ideological degeneration. In the end, Hamas risks becoming another Yasser Arafat,\" Udugov said, referring to the former Palestinian leader whose administration was widely criticised as corrupt.

Russia has said it will press Hamas to accept the \"road map\" which seeks to achieve Israeli-Palestinian coexistence and says Hamas must recognise the Israel and renounce violence.

Udugov, who represents the wing of the Chechen rebels that has conducted the worst attacks on civilians of the war, said Hamas was naive to think that the friendship of President Vladimir Putin could give the movement recognition.

\"It is naive to expect that Putin\'s Russia can be some kind of political partner for the Palestinian people. It is not the communist party that now sits in the Kremlin, but people who have committed appalling crimes,\" he said.

Akhmed Zakayev, who lives in London and represents the separatists\' less radical wing, said the visit showed that Hamas did not care about the cause of fellow Muslims in Chechnya.

\"People justifying the murder of the Chechen people could in no way be seen as friends or comrades of the Chechens,\" he said in comments on another rebel Web site (www.chechenpress.info).

\"What benefit could the Chechen leaders gain from contacts with a movement that with all its strength tries to establish contacts with the Chechens\' deadliest enemies.\"

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Let Israel Choose... Two States or One?

3 Mar 06

The coming weeks offer an unparalleled opportunity to leapfrog over the long comatose \"peace process\" and actually achieve peace in the Holy Land.

All that is needed is some clear, constructive and original thinking on the part of the new Palestinian leadership. Demonized though it may be in the West, Hamas won the recent Palestinian elections not simply because it was perceived as clean but also because it was perceived, justifiably, as competent and coherent. It is capable of such thinking.

As its first order of business after forming the new Palestinian government, Hamas should publicly announce its support for the Arab League\'s Beirut Declaration of March 2002, by which all Arab states (including Palestine) offered Israel permanent peace and normal diplomatic and economic relations in return for Israel\'s compliance with international law by returning to its internationally recognized, pre-1967 borders. (Not incidentally, such an announcement would destroy the \"destruction of Israel\" excuse for current Israeli and Western plans to overturn the results of Palestine\'s democratic elections and to bring the Palestinian people to their knees through economic privation.)
Israel has been able to ignore this generous offer, whose continuing validity the Arab League has periodically reaffirmed, because it has always been offered as a carrot unaccompanied by any consequential alternative which a significant number of Israelis might view as a stick. In this context, the new Palestinian leadership should simultaneously declare (preferably with the concurrence of President Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah) that, if Israel does not publicly agree to proceed toward a two-state solution in accordance with the Beirut Declaration by a reasonable date (say, three months hence), the Palestinian people will consider that Israel has definitively rejected a two-state solution in favor of a one-state solution and, accordingly, will thereafter seek their liberation and self-determination through citizenship in a single democratic state in all of pre-1948 Palestine, free of all forms of discrimination and with equal rights for all who live there.

The new Palestinian leadership should make clear that, after 39 years of foreign military occupation, the Palestinian people can no longer tolerate the cynical series of never-ending \"peace plans\" (including the current \"roadmap\") designed by others simply to postpone the necessary and obvious choices and to string out forever a perpetual \"peace process\" while further entrenching the occupation with new \"facts on the ground\".

It should make clear that the Palestinian people demand, without further delay, a solution that will permit both Palestinians and Israelis to live decent, dignified and secure lives, that they could accept either a two-state solution in accordance with international law or a one-state solution in accordance with fundamental democratic principles and that they are willing to let the Israeli people choose whichever of those two alternatives Israelis prefer and to accept Israel\'s choice.

It should appeal to the international community, and particularly to Israel\'s traditional friends, to encourage Israel to choose peace -- on the basis of whichever of these two alternatives (the only alternatives for peace which exist or will ever exist) Israelis prefer.

Finally, it should appeal to all Palestinian factions, with the full force of the legitimacy it has earned, to suspend all acts of violent resistance to the occupation throughout the period allotted for Israel\'s choice and to make that suspension permanent if Israel chooses positively.

Importantly, this \"Palestinian peace plan\" should be launched promptly, prior to Israel\'s March 28 general election. Israeli law does not contemplate referendums, but general elections can serve that purpose. One or more competing parties, if given adequate time to react, might offer Israeli voters a positive choice. If all the major Israeli parties were to reject both a decent two-state solution and a democratic one-state solution, the world could draw the appropriate conclusions and Western public opinion could shift in ways which, over a longer term, would themselves prove a force for peace with some measure of justice.

The former Palestinian leadership was a passive and reactive one. It simply responded to whatever initiatives others, who rarely had the best interests of the Palestinian people at heart, chose to declare, for a time, the \"only game in town\". It never dared to try to seize the initiative, to set the agenda and to make Israel and the world react to a positive Palestinian idea.

The Palestinian people have voted for change. A rare moment of opportunity is at hand. It can and must be seized.

John V. Whitbeck, an international lawyer, is author of \"The World According to Whitbeck\". He can be reached at: jvwhitbeck@awalnet.net.sa

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Break Down That Wall

Outlook India

Every time when I am in Bil\'in and other places in occupied Palestine, I can\'t help thinking what a paradise this country would be if there were peace, peace based on justice and mutual respect.
A final score of 1:1 may not be the most impressive, but for the youngsters of Bil\'in it was a glorious achievement. For them, it was not the result that was important, nor even the match itself (against a team from the nearby town of Betunya). What was important was where it took place: on an improvised football field that was hastily leveled on the land that was stolen from the village by the Separation Wall.

The match was a part of a unique event. In the poor, little village, with its 1500 inhabitants, which few had ever heard of before the start of its heroic battle against the Wall, an \"International Conference on the Joint, Non-violent struggle Against the Wall\" took place. In the framework of this event, which lasted for two days, a range of activities was organized: reports and debates about the struggle, the award of honor shields to the families of the nine people who lost their lives in the fight against the Wall, the planting of olive saplings on the stolen land, the inauguration of the football field and the match itself.

I had the honor of being invited to deliver one of the opening speeches, before an audience of 300 people - inhabitants of Bil\'in, members of the Palestinian parliament, representatives of the struggle in several areas along the Wall, Israeli peace activists and delegates from European solidarity groups. This is what I said:

Dear Friends,

Every time I come to Bil\'in, I am excited and happy.

This village, this little village, has become a symbol in Palestine, in Israel, indeed throughout the world. Your fight reflects the struggle of the entire Palestinian people.

Three traits distinguish the struggle of Bil\'in, three characteristics that complement each other and together make Bil\'in as extraordinary as it is:

First, the tenacity, persistence and courage of the Palestinian people..

Second, the partnership with the Israeli peace camp.

Third, the support of solidarity movements all over the world.

To these one can add another characteristic that marks Bil\'in as a shining example: the complete non-violence of the fight.

A few days ago, the Dalai Lama visited this country. He met important people and celebrities and had his picture taken with them. I would have advised him to come to Bil\'in and learn a lesson in non-violence.

When we try to analyze the struggle, we have always to come back to the essence of the matter: In this country, there live two peoples, two nations, and the aim of our endeavors is to create peace, peace based on justice.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict does not resemble any other struggle in the world. It is not a repeat of the South African ordeal, nor a second edition of the Algerian War of Liberation. This is a unique conflict, brought about by unique circumstances.

A famous historian described it this way: A person lives on an upper floor of a building in which a fire has broken out. To save his life, he jumps out of a window and lands on top of a passer-by, who is grievously hurt. Between the two, a mortal enmity ensues.

Who is in the right? The person who jumped out of the window to save his life? Or the second person, who was hurt and ruined without having done anything wrong?

The Zionist movement was born because Europe was becoming a hell for the Jews - fifty years before the Holocaust, the terrible Holocaust that killed millions of Jews, and in the wake of which the State of Israel was founded. The first Zionists believed that the country was empty. Their main slogan was: \"A country without people for a people without a country.\" When the Zionists discovered that there was a population already living in this country, they tried to push it out.

This effort continues until this very day - and so does the tenacious struggle of the Palestinian people for its existence and its land.

That is the reality of the conflict - two peoples living in the same country and fighting each other. The struggle of Bil\'in against the Wall that is stealing its land is a part of this historic conflict.

Thirty two years ago, right after the Yom Kippur War, the Ramadan War, Yasser Arafat drew the conclusion that there is no military solution to this conflict. He resolved to seek a political settlement.

A small group of Israeli peace activists decided to join this initiative. We set up the Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace. Arafat instructed his emissaries to contact us - first Sa\'id Hamami, then Issam Sartawy, two senior Fatah leaders. Both were later murdered by the enemies of peace and the enemies of Arafat. May their memory live with us.

In 1982, in the middle of the Lebanon War, I crossed the lines and met with Arafat in beleaguered Beirut. In the middle of the battle, in the middle of the bombardments, Arafat talked about peace between our two peoples.

Arafat was already laying down a strategy based on three principles: to persist in the struggle of the Palestinian people, to hold out the hand to the Israeli peace camp and to call for international solidarity. These are also the three principles of Bil\'in today.

You may ask - indeed, you must ask: What has the Israeli peace movement achieved?

On the face of it - nothing. On the contrary, since the Oslo agreement, the situation of the Palestinians has worsened from year to year. The economic misery is deepening even further. Every day, people are being killed. The construction of the monster Wall is continuing. The racist settlements are spreading rapidly. Just now we learned that the Jordan Valley - a third of the West Bank - is being cut off from the Palestinian territory and practically annexed to Israel. The victory of Hamas in the Palestinian elections is a result of these actions.

All this is happening in plain view. But below the surface a contrary process is at work.

Fifty years ago, only a handful of people in Israel and around the world recognized the existence of the Palestinian people. Even 32 years ago, Golda Meir could declare that \"there is no such thing as a Palestinian people\". Nowadays there is no normal person in Israel and the world who denies the existence of the Palestinian people and its right to a state of its own. That is a victory for the tenacious Palestinian struggle, but also for the Israeli peace movement.

Twenty years ago, when we called for negotiations with the Palestinian Liberation Organization, we were a small band. We were told that Arafat was a murderer, that the PLO was a terrorist organization, that the Palestinian Charter called for the destruction of Israel - exactly the same phrases which are now being used about Hamas. But a few years later, the State of Israel recognized the PLO, negotiated with it and signed an agreement with it. That was a victory for the tenacious Palestinian struggle, but also a victory for the Israeli peace movement.

Dear Friends, it is very easy to despair. Every one of us has moments of depression. But I am convinced that peace will win, justice will win.

A few weeks ago I was in Berlin. In the shops there, pieces of the Berlin Wall are on sale. I paid 2.50 Euros for one of them. The day will come when here, in Bil\'in, in the free State of Palestine, one will be able to buy pieces of the Wall that we are fighting against today.

Every time when I am in Bil\'in and other places in occupied Palestine, I can\'t help thinking what a paradise this country would be if there were peace, peace based on justice and mutual respect.

This peace will come. And when it comes, the last wish of Yasser Arafat, whose picture hangs here, will be fulfilled: his remains will be interred in Jerusalem.

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Israeli Military exports to China back on track

By Ora Coren
2 Mar 06

The Defense Ministry began reissuing export permits for China a few months ago, Defense Minister Director-General Yaakov (Kobi) Toren told reporters yesterday.

Toren said the permits, which were issued in coordination with the United States, allow Israeli companies to negotiate with Chinese companies over the sale of Israeli military products. He added that the Defense Ministry had halted military exports to China following a crisis in Israeli relations with the U.S. over Israel Aircraft Industries\' selling its Phalcon early-warning system to China.

\"We renewed the issues of permits to Israeli companies wishing to do business in China,\" Toren said. \"The companies come to us and we use our judgment, with or without consulting with the United States,\" he continued.
\"We are talking about two independent countries that respect each other\'s interests,\" Toren explained. \"Even if \'Uncle Sam\' tries to sell something to a neighbor with whom we do not have an agreement, there is a dialogue on the issue.\"

Toren confirmed that the ministry wanted to create a department to coordinate security-related exports with the defense and trade and industry ministries. He said the idea is for the department to be under the director-general of the Defense Ministry, and emphasized that it would not supercede existing mechanisms for approving security exports, the main one of which is SIBAT, the Foreign Defense Assistance and Defense Export Organization.

Toren denied any American pressure to create the new body.

\"The Americans asked to verify, because of their technology, that there is closer supervision of security exports. We offered to set up a special department within the Defense Ministry to monitor export permits.\"

According to the Defense Ministry, in 2005 contracts were signed in 2005 for the export of more than $3 billion between Israeli and foreign companies. Toren said that to encourage exports the ministry plans to open new offices abroad, including in Japan.

Toren opposes the idea of creating a single Israel company that would unite all of the military companies currently operating in the country. \"Privatization isn\'t the be-all and end-all,\" he said. \"I don\'t go to the extreme of a single company of four or five billion dollars. It would be small next to international giants like Lockheed Martin. I think it\'s realistic to think about three companies. After the rehabilitation or privatization of Israel Military Industries is completed, I see three leading companies in Israel: Elbit Systems, IAI and Rafael, with the smaller companies as well.

The Defense Ministry would prefer to have IAI sold to Elbit, with the exception of the missile division, which would be sold to Rafael.

\"Elbit isn\'t the only option,\" Toren admitted, \"but I don\'t want to scatter infrastructures and encourage competition abroad. For example, Elta makes radar systems, they have no Israeli competition and they compete nicely abroad. Tomorrow someone can come and say he\'s buying IAI and wants to make radar systems. Would that be good? No, it would be bad. But the Finance Ministry insisted on competition and on making purchases according to negotiations and estimated value. And there\'s another technique, that of creating joint corporations between government and private companies. It\'s semi-privatization, and it works pretty well.\"

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Have Depleted Uranium, Will Travel

By W. Leon Smith
The Lone Star Iconoclast
(George W. Bush\'s Hometown Newspaper)

When The Iconoclast learned of a study conducted by Chris Busby and Saoirse Morgan that suggests that depleted uranium radiation had traveled from Iraq to Great Britain during "shock and awe," we knew it was time to more fully explore the implications.

We decided to "lay it all on the table," as best we could by interviewing noted scientists and people in the know about radiation, those who have become medical casualties, those who have gone through the military system, and those who possess an upper tier knowledge of radiation in general.

This is clear: the day that depleted uranium was introduced into the arsenal of doom was quite literally the day the earth stood still, with scientists worldwide uniting to voice concern that genocide had found a home on our planet. At the other extreme, militarists hailed the nuclear substance as their newest advantage in maximizing destruction. It became a trump card with the ability to destroy the masses, even those yet unborn.
On the battlefield, DU has been hailed as the best, and what country does not want its soldiers to be given the best of tools in a time of war? Yet the bloody afterglow of radiation and its dire consequences for civilization have caused others to describe DU as "death unlimited."

We were told by the U.S. military in Iraq that there is no longer a need for depleted uranium munitions there and that, indeed, the current deployment is not using DU. However, this past week it was announced that the Army has placed a $38 million order for new DU munitions, extending the original contract for fiscal year 2006 up to $77 million.

DU is a controversial subject.

The Iconoclast attempted to get some answers.

We were pleased that some individuals were forthcoming when we attempted to interview them and we were disappointed at others who broke promises to call us back after they learned the subject matter was depleted uranium.

Although the quantity of text in this report tends to weigh heavier for individuals opposed to the use of depleted uranium, the Iconoclast spent considerable time attempting to obtain Q&A viewpoints that might be on the other side of the argument. It was in this venue that promised phone calls were not returned and our reporters got multiple run-arounds in reaching the "top brass."

Nevertheless, The Iconoclast has produced this special feature which provides our readers a chance to listen in on some of the conversations and draw their own conclusions.

Among those interviewed, in the order they appear in this feature, were:

• Chris Busby, author of the study: "Did the use of Uranium weapons in Gulf War 2 result in contamination of Europe?"

• Leuren Moret, geological scientist and international radiation expert.

• Dr. Ernest J. Sternglass, Emeritus Professor of Radiological Physics in the Department of Radiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

• Dr. Rosalie Bertell, PhD, GNSH, President of the International Institute of Concern for Public Health (IICPH), and Editor in Chief of International Perspectives in Public Health.

• Major Doug Rokke, Ph.D. (retired), former director of the U.S. Army Depleted Uranium Project, Vietnam and Gulf War Veteran.

• Major Denise Nichols (retired), Gulf War Veteran and retired U.S. Air Force Reserve Major,Vice Chairman of the National Vietnam Veteran and Gulf War Veterans Coalition.

• Ann Ham, Public Affairs, U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine.

• Captain William Roberts, Multi-National Forces Iraq Spokesman.

• Tim Hix, Vietnam Veteran exposed to Agent Orange, dying of cancer.

• Karl Schwarz, presidential candidate, author, technology company founder whose son served in Iraq.

We lead off with the news story about the study.

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Ex-Official: Iraq Abuses Growing Worse

Associated Press

Human rights abuses in Iraq are as bad now as they were under Saddam Hussein, as lawlessness and sectarian violence sweep the country, the former U.N. human rights chief in Iraq said Thursday.
John Pace, who last month left his post as director of the human rights office at the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq, said the level of extra-judicial executions and torture is soaring, and morgue workers are being threatened by both government-backed militia and insurgents not to properly investigate deaths.

\"Under Saddam, if you agreed to forgo your basic right to freedom of expression and thought, you were physically more or less OK,\" Pace said in an interview with The Associated Press. \"But now, no. Here, you have a primitive, chaotic situation where anybody can do anything they want to anyone.\"

Pace, who was born in Malta but now resides in Australia, said that while the scale of atrocity under Saddam was \"daunting,\" now nobody is safe from abuse.

\"It is certainly as bad,\" he said. \"It extends over a much wider section of the population than it did under Saddam.\"

Pace, currently a visiting fellow at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, spoke as sectarian tensions in Iraq push the country to the brink of civil war.

There has been a surge in religious violence in Iraq since the Feb. 22 bombing of a Shiite shrine in the mainly Sunni city of Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, and a spate of reprisal attacks against Sunnis.

The situation has been made worse by extremist Shiite militia operating within the ranks of the Interior Ministry, said Pace, who singled out the Badr Brigade, which makes up a large chunk of the Iraqi security services and military.

He said militia and insurgents are responsible for threatening morgue staff in Baghdad not to perform autopsies on bodies of apparent victims of torture and killings.

\"They are told it is not necessary, and not in their interests,\" he said, adding that both militia and insurgents were \"trying to minimize any chances\" that their activities could be investigated and prosecuted.

Pace, who spent much of his two years in the post in Iraq, said he visited the morgue in Baghdad once a week when he was in the city and regarded it as a \"barometer\" of the level of violence in the country. He declined to provide more specific details about the threats, citing fears for the safety of morgue workers.

He said that around three-quarters of the several hundred bodies brought to the morgue each month were categorized with \"gunshot wound\" as the cause of death - a phrase Pace says is a euphemism. \"Nearly all were executed and tortured,\" he added.

Iraq\'s interior minister, Bayan Jabr, is a member of Iraq\'s biggest Shiite party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, or SCIRI, which ran the Badr Brigade. Badr claims it is no longer an armed militia.

But former Badr commanders hold key posts in Interior Ministry commando units, which are regarded by Sunnis as nothing more than death squads. In November, the U.S. Army raided an Interior Ministry bunker in Baghdad and found 158 tortured and starved Sunni prisoners.

\"They have caused havoc,\" said Pace, referring to the Badr Brigade. \"They do basically as they please. They arrest people, they torture people, they execute people, they detain people, they negotiate ransom and they do that with impunity.\"

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press.

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Terrorist growth overtakes U.S. efforts

By Sharon Behn
Washington Times
3 Mar 06

Thirty new terrorist organizations have emerged since the September 11, 2001, attacks, outpacing U.S. efforts to crush the threat, said Brig. Gen. Robert L. Caslen, the Pentagon\'s deputy director for the war on terrorism.

\"We are not killing them faster than they are being created,\" Gen. Caslen told a gathering at the Woodrow Wilson Center yesterday, warning that the war could take decades to resolve.
Gen. Caslen said that two years ago the Department of Defense had not settled on a clear definition of the nature of the war. Moreover, because each government department had its own perspective, \"we all had different strategies,\" he said.

The Defense Department now has defined the nature of the war, he said. The enemy, he said, is \"a transnational movement of extremist organizations, networks and individuals that use violence and terrorism as a means to promote their end.\" It is not a global insurgency, the general said.

\"We do not go as far as to say it is a global insurgency, because it lacks a centralized command and control,\" he said.

Groups such as al Qaeda, though, are constantly trying to increase their capabilities, and in some cases are outstripping the United States, Gen. Caslen said.

\"We in the Pentagon are behind our adversaries in the use of communications -- either to recruit or train,\" he said. Compared with historical jihads, or enduring Muslim wars, this one \"is accelerated because of its capability in communications.\"

The Pentagon official said Muslim thought ranges from secular and mainstream to extremist and intolerant.

The takfir (infidel) view of the world that falls under the Salafist teachings of the Sunni sect -- such as al Qaeda in Iraq -- is an example of the extremist view that condones violence to accomplish ideological ends, he said.

The general said the extremists\' goal is to remove U.S. troops from Iraq and establish a radical state under Shariah, or Islamic law, remove what they consider the apostate governments of Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Egypt, and destroy Israel.

But the enemy has vulnerabilities.

\"The ideology is not popular among most, even Muslims,\" he said. \"We need to undermine support by amplifying the moderate forces and undermining the enemy\'s repressive and corrupt behavior.\"

Gen. Caslen said the government and military are working to integrate their strategies and plans, and that a national strategic presidential directive and homeland security presidential directive are being drafted to face the terrorist threat.

Leading the war on terrorism is Special Operations Command based in Tampa, Fla. The command is writing a military global campaign strategy with a specific plan to deal with each terrorist organization.

Gen. Caslen said a governmentwide plan to assign tasks and responsibilities to all U.S. government departments and the military also is being created.

Comment: These people are ignorant of history. Anyone familiar with the facts knows that there will never be an end to \"terrorists\" under Pathocratic regimes until literally everyone is dead. Won\'t be any fun for them to have all that power, but no one to have power over...

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Innocent Clerk Beaten to death in Basra by British Troops

By Finian Cunningham
3 Mar 06

Baha Moussa was working as a night-shift receptionist at the Ibn al Haithan Hotel in Basra when British troops raided the premises. The 23-year-old was arrested along with other members of the hotel staff, and taken to a nearby British military base for questioning. Four days later his father identified Baha's corpse in a morgue. He had been beaten to a pulp.
\"When they took the cover off his body I could see his nose was badly broken,\" said Daoud Moussa, a senior Iraqi police officer. \"The skin of his wrists had been torn off. The skin on his forehead was torn away. On the left side of his chest there were clear blue bruises. On his legs I saw bruising from kicking.\"

Almost three years later, three soldiers belonging to the Queen's Lancashire Regiment are awaiting trial in Britain over Baha's death, one of them charged with manslaughter, the other two with \"inhumane treatment.\"

Why there isn't a straightforward murder trial is a telling question about British sincerity to fully prosecute soldiers accused of torture and other war crimes. What's even more telling is that this week there was a small report in the British media that the commander of the troops charged over Baha's killing is to be promoted. Despite also facing trial for negligence, Colonel Mendonca has been selected to attend a top military college aimed at \"grooming the next generation of generals,\" according to The London Times.

The signal that this sends out cannot be understated. It signals that the British authorities are not serious about dealing with allegations of war crimes. As the lawyer acting for Baha Moussa's family said, the British government is perpetuating a \"history of impunity.\"

Amnesty International says there is a clear \"pattern\" of killings, torture and ill treatment by British soldiers of detainees in Iraq. Yet only a handful ever result in prosecutions.

Not one British soldier has been convicted of murder or the lesser charge of manslaughter since hostilities officially ended in Iraq, in May 2003. In one high-profile trial which collapsed last November, seven members of the Parachute Regiment were cleared of murdering 18-year-old Nadhem Abdullah whom they had apprehended in a village in south Iraq. The judge dismissed the case on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to convict any individual soldier, even though traces of the victim's blood were found on a rifle butt.

One is tempted to conclude that a small sample of cases are cynically taken to trial to give the impression that British authorities are addressing allegations of war crimes but, in effect, do nothing about it. This has the added appeal for the government and army brass of creating the impression that only a tiny element within the forces are involved in misconduct.

As for torture and ill treatment of detainees, again there is something of a cynical game being played by the British (and US) authorities. Firstly, it should be noted that over a two-year period it is conservatively estimated that 30-40,000 individuals were detained in US/UK prisons in Iraq since the official end of \"the war.\" Given that the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq was in itself illegal, according to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the subsequent use of massive, prolonged detention without trial should surely also constitute a serious breach of international law, if not a war crime.

Out of the countless reports and images of gross mistreatment at Abu Ghraib, Camp Breadbasket, Camp Bucca and other \"black sites,\" again only a relative handful result in disciplinary action. From press reports, it is estimated that only four British troops have been court-martialled while in the US two soldiers have been given prison sentences, and some 20 others have been discharged or disciplined.

Given the scale of the abuses, the relatively few prosecutions enable the authorities in Britain and the US to peddle the notion that the violations are being perpetrated by \"a few bad apples.\" Again, this disingenuous response sends out the signal of impunity to members of these forces.

The latest apology for misconduct among British troops came this week from Defence Secretary John Reid, who said that the public and media should be \"a little slower to condemn and a lot quicker to understand.\" He was speaking after video evidence emerged of British troops viciously beating unarmed Iraqi teenagers.

Mr Reid said: \"One observer with one videophone standing in a vast and hugely complex theatre of operations can convey an oversimplified and sometimes misleading picture.\" He said the good reputation of the vast majority of British troops was tarnished by the \"offences of a few.\"

A spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Blair added: \"It should not become the only thing that people think our troops are up to in Iraq. Our troops are helping Iraqis to achieve democracy.\"

It is notable that this self-congratulatory delusion or deception about the real behaviour of British forces is shared by senior British politicians across all the parties. The benign self-image is also reflected in all the major news media.

On the latest scandal of troops thrashing youths, the BBC quickly reminded viewers that the army is performing \"an essentially peacekeeping role.\" The Times described the incident as \"a shot in the foot.\" Even the liberal-left Guardian lamented \"rogue breaches,\" while The Independent said it was \"a propaganda gift to our enemies.\"

This uniform assumption that killings, torture or misconduct are somehow aberrations in the noble cause of British troops in Iraq is an indication of how deep-seated the culture of impunity is in British society. This is what historian Mark Curtis means when he described Britain as \"a single-ideology totalitarian state.\"

In his book Web of Deceit, Curtis points out that torture of civilian populations is a deliberate policy of control by British colonialism and imperialism, whether under the direction of Labour or Conservative governments.

An official British investigation in 1971 observed that the British army had engaged in the torture of detainees, using methods including \"wall-standing, hooding, noise, bread and water diet and deprivation of sleep.\"

These techniques in torture, the investigation admitted, were \"important\" to counterinsurgency operations in Palestine, Malaya, Kenya, Cyprus, British Cameroons, Brunei, British Guiana (now Guyana), Aden, Borneo/Malaysia, the Persian Gulf and in Northern Ireland.

This puts what is really happening in Iraq into a more comprehensible historical perspective, a perspective of unrelenting British violence and crimes against humanity. I think it's a perspective that would be more readily recognised by Baha Moussa's family and thousands of other families in Iraq, rather than Mr Blair's assurances about helping to \"achieve democracy.\"

The writer is a newspaper journalist in Dublin - Email: fpcunningham@yahoo.ie

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Palestinian teen killed in raid

3 Mar 06

Israeli troops have shot and killed a Palestinian teenager and wounded a second person during an early morning raid in the West Bank city of Nablus.

Amer Basyuni, 15, was shot in the neck while standing on the roof of his home when soldiers opened fire during the raid on the Ein Beit Elma camp in Nablus on Friday, witnesses said.

They say he had gone up on the roof to see what was going on.

A second Palestinian, 18, was wounded by Israeli gunfire.

An Israeli army spokesman told AFP that \"our soldiers were conducting an arrest operation in Nablus. They saw an armed man on a roof, opened fire against him and identified a hit\".

The source said troops shot a second person who threw an object, believed to have been a bomb, at the soldiers during the raid.

Residents said Basyuni was not armed.

Death toll

Basyuni\'s death brings to 4971 the number of people killed since the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising in 2000.

Over three-quarters of the victims have been Palestinian.

Israeli troops arrested three Palestinians, including two suspected members of the Islamic Jihad and al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades factions, in the northern West Bank town of Tulkarem, security sources said.

A fourth Palestinian was lightly wounded during the raid.

Elsewhere, an army spokesman said four people had been arrested in southern Israel after being suspected of infiltrating the Egyptian border.

Israel began a series of raids against Palestinian fighters in the northern West Bank after Hamas group won the 25 January Palestinian parliament elections.

Israel has also worked to internationally isolate Hamas in an effort to force the group to renounce violence and recognise Israel\'s right to exist.

Several countries have ignored the Israeli efforts and invited Hamas leaders for visits even though the group has refused to change its ideology.

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Lethal 'flying gunships' returning to Iraq - Armed airplanes used in Vietnam War secretly moved to Iraqi base

Associated Press
March 3, 2006

AN AIR BASE IN IRAQ - The U.S. Air Force has begun moving heavily armed AC-130 airplanes - the lethal "flying gunships" of the Vietnam War - to a base in Iraq as commanders search for new tools to counter the Iraqi resistance, The Associated Press has learned.

An AP reporter saw the first of the turboprop-driven aircraft after it landed at the airfield this week. Four are expected.

The Iraq-based special forces command controlling the AC-130s, the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force, said it would have no comment on the deployment. But the plan's general outline was confirmed by other Air Force officers, speaking anonymously because of the sensitivity of the subject.
Military officials warned that disclosing the location of the aircraft's new base would violate security provisions of rules governing media access to U.S. installations.

The four-engine gunships, whose home base is Hurlburt Field in Florida, have operated over Iraq before, flying from airfields elsewhere in the region. In November 2004, air-to-ground fire from AC-130s supported the U.S. attack that took the western city of Fallujah from insurgents.

Basing the planes inside Iraq will cut hours off their transit time to reach suspected targets.

Planes heavily armed
The left-side ports of the AC-130s, 98-foot-long planes that can slowly circle over a target for long periods, bristle with a potent arsenal - 40 mm cannon that can fire 120 rounds per minute, and big 105 mm cannon, normally a field artillery weapon. The plane's latest version, the AC-130U, known as "Spooky," also carries Gatling gun-type 20 mm cannon.

The gunships were designed primarily for battlefield use to place saturated fire on massed troops. In Vietnam, for example, they were deployed against North Vietnamese supply convoys along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, where the Air Force claimed to have destroyed 10,000 trucks over several years.

The use of AC-130s in places like Fallujah, urban settings where insurgents may be among crowded populations of noncombatants, has been criticized by human rights groups.

The slow-moving AC-130s also offer an intelligence gathering advantage in the Iraq fight: sophisticated long-range video, infrared and radar sensors.

American commanders are marshaling all available tools to detect the Iraqi insurgents' stealthy operations, especially at night, when they plant roadside bombs targeting American road patrols and convoys.

The Air Force's senior tactical commander in Iraq said the AC-130 can be both a high-intensity and low-intensity weapon.

"It's got tons of guns, and it's got all kinds of stuff on it that can be applied to the problems you have," Brig. Gen. Frank Gorenc, who refused to discuss the current AC-130 deployment, said in an AP interview.

That "stuff" includes "the ability to take these high-tech pods and to use them to find guys planting (bombs) and to find other nefarious activity," he said.

The Predator drone - the MQ-1 unmanned aerial vehicle - has been a reconnaissance workhorse in Iraq, but Air Force officers say they don't have enough to meet demand for missions. The fiscal 2007 Defense Department budget proposed last month by the Bush administration envisions spending $1.6 billion on additional reconnaissance drones.
© 2006 The Associated Press.

Comment: Obviously, the situation in Iraq is much worse than the administration is letting on. But then, again, one wonders if that was not intended? After all, these flying warships don\'t deploy precision weapons, they destroy everything and everybody. If there are no Iraqis left when they are done, then obviously the U.S. and Israel can just move in and take over. Of course, it is also possible that this is just a preparation for war against Iran also.

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The Human Right to a Nuclear Free World - A Plea from a Nobel Peace Prize Winner


I believe one of the most hopeful trends in the world today is the interconnectedness of the Human Family. Technology has made us interconnected, and trade and the movement of people have made us interdependent. Even in the last 10 years, the world has changed, and the next 20 years will bring changes that none of us can imagine. But we human beings can shape the world to a great extent. I am very hopeful for the future because I believe we are often capable of good choices, we are resilient even in the face of great disasters, and we are creative. The massive people\'s movement around the world should give us all hope. But governments must start listening and acting on what their people are saying, and particularly on such burning issues as nuclear weapons and war.

On nuclear weapons, I believe people of the world have chosen abolishment, but the governments are ignoring the wishes of their people. So, we have entered the second nuclear arms race, led by current US Administration and being followed by many other countries. If our governments don\'t, at this point in our history, take seriously their international obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to start decommissioning all nuclear weapons, there will be a serious proliferation within the next few years and we will truly be unable to abolish nuclear weapons. We will pass a frightful legacy to our children and grandchildren, a legacy of nuclear weapons and nuclear debt that will endanger them and their world. It is not only the next generation we will burden, but the cost of nuclear weapons in the past and today has robbed the materially poor of their rightful inheritance to be nurtured with basic rights of food, education and health care.

Governments are elected to take care of their citizens. But governments have not only a responsibility to nurture their own people; they have a responsibility to all of humanity. I believe this can best be done by all governments if, before taking serious policy decisions, they ask themselves, \"Does this policy uphold domestic and international laws, and how will it benefit our nation\'s people and humanity as a whole?\"

This question is particularly relevant to the current American Administration. The whole world is now being affected by American foreign policies and American culture. All around the world, American television is beamed into billions of homes, Americanizing many people\'s way of life. This recognition places enormous responsibility upon American government, media, corporations and people, to ask if what you are exporting is good for the world, or damaging it. What kind of ethical and moral values and example are you sending out to the world\'s people, particularly an impressionable and vulnerable younger generation? Is offering the example of increasing nuclearism, ongoing wars, and the ignoring of international treaties and laws really going to make the world a safer place for us all? Yes, terrorism is a threat and we all want human security, but meeting terror with terror is not an answer. I believe that such approaches to date have made the world a more dangerous place both for Americans and many people throughout the world, and especially our Arab brothers and sisters.

After the horror of the Second World War, the world community recognized the need for legislation to protect citizens. Since then many international laws have entered into force. In the past, America played an important role in setting up many laws that would protect human rights. In l945, America gave full support for the United Nations. It supported the drafting of a Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which affirmed the dignity of every human being. This Declaration has affected the policies of the United States and other countries all over the earth for more than half a century. The preamble to the UDHR states: \"Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in cooperation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms\" and it upholds \"the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief, and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people.\"

Under the UDHR, every citizen on the planet has a right to be free from fear of nuclear weapons, and every citizen on the planet has a right to be free from poverty, which condemns so many to lack of health care, education, shelter and the very basic necessities that enable human beings to lead full and dignified lives.

I believe we all have a human right to a nuclear free world and, in proclaiming that right, we affirm that we have chosen to live together, as the human family and friends, and not to die together as fools in a nuclear holocaust.

Mairead Corrigan Maguire received the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize and the 1991 Nuclear Age Peace Foundation Distinguished Peace Leadership Award.

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Bush Flummoxes Kafka, Orwell

3 Mar 06

Even Kafka and Orwell, masters at dissecting the cruel absurdities of totalitarian state power, might be at a loss for words in the face of George W. Bush's latest legal and rhetorical formulations on torture.

Bush, of course, insists that the United States does not torture despite extensive evidence that detainees in the Iraq War and the War on Terror have been subjected to simulated drowning by "water-boarding," beatings to death, suffocations, coffin-like confinements, painful stress positions, naked exposure to heat and cold, anal rape, sleep deprivation, dog bites, and psychological ploys involving sexual and religious humiliation.
But Bush says none of this amounts to torture, even as his protection of abusive practices now ventures beyond word games into mind-bending legal rationalizations.

Bush's lawyers went into federal court in Washington on March 2 and argued that a new law that specifically prohibits cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees – known as the McCain Amendment after its sponsor, Sen. John McCain – can't be enforced at Guantanamo Bay because another clause of the law grants these prisoners only limited access to U.S. courts.

In other words, the Bush administration is contending that the McCain Amendment might make it illegal to abuse the Guantanamo prisoners, but that the inmates have no legal recourse to enforce the law by going to court and getting an order for the abuses to end.

With the courts removed from the picture, the administration's legal reasoning holds that only Bush can act. He, after all, asserts that he is the nation's "unitary executive," meaning that he and he alone decides what U.S. laws to enforce.

But, in this case, Bush also is the ultimate authority behind the criminal behavior. Bush and his top advisers, such as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, were the ones who ordered "the gloves off" in the treatment of prisoners seized in both the worldwide War on Terror and the resistance to the U.S. military occupation of Iraq.

In December, Bush specifically asserted this "unitary" power over enforcing the McCain Amendment by attaching a "signing statement" that reserved for Bush the right to ignore the law if he so wished.

"The Executive Branch shall construe [the ban] in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President . . . as Commander in Chief," the signing statement read.

So, Congress went through the trouble of enacting a new law barring cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of inmates – to go along with earlier laws prohibiting torture – only to confront a variety of administration arguments that make all the laws meaningless.

Forced Feedings

While Bush's intent to circumvent the McCain Amendment has been apparent since December, administration lawyers made it official in arguing that a U.S. District Court judge must dismiss a complaint by Guantanamo inmate Mohammed Bawazir, whose lawyers complained that the Yemeni national was subjected to "systematic torture."

Bawazir's lawyers cited an "extremely painful" new tactic of brutally force-feeding their client and other inmates on hunger strikes. The procedure involved strapping Bawazir into a special chair, forcing a larger-than-normal feeding tube through his nose to his stomach, and then leaving him in the restraints for almost two hours while he soiled himself.

"These allegations … describe disgusting treatment that, if proven, is treatment that is cruel, profoundly disturbing and violative of" both U.S. and international laws banning torture, said U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler. [Washington Post, March 3, 2006]

But Bush's lawyers argued that the federal courts had no jurisdiction over the treatment of the Guantanamo inmates because a section of the December law – an amendment sponsored by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Carl Levin, D-Mich. – limited Guantanamo appeals only to judgments by military commissions about the inmates' status as "enemy combatants."

If that argument prevails, Bush will have wrapped the Guantanamo prisoners in a legal strait-jacket, preventing them from proving their illegal mistreatment in court or getting a judge to order that the criminal behavior be stopped.

In effect, Bush is calling on the Executive Branch, the Congress and the Judiciary to collude in a charade that lets the U.S. government publicly condemn torture and other mistreatment of detainees, but then permits this criminal behavior to continue unabated while barring the victims any legal recourse to justice.

Bush's legal arguments turn the Rule of Law inside out, essentially making all branches of the U.S. government complicit in a criminal conspiracy that is perpetuated even as anti-torture laws are held up as shining examples of the American commitment to humanitarian principles.

It's a case that would leave Kafka and Orwell either scratching their heads or contemplating how to incorporate these twisted legal absurdities into a new book.

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It\'s also available at Amazon.com, as is his 1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & \'Project Truth.\'

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\'War on terror\' trials could allow evidence obtained through torture

Agence France Presse
3 Mar 06

US military officers, breaking with domestic and international legal precedent, said that \"war on terror\" military tribunals at the Guantanamo naval base could allow evidence obtained through torture.

The US military officer presiding over the trial of an alleged aide to Osama bin Laden said he was not ready to rule out such evidence.
The officer, who wields power similar to a judge, was asked by the defense lawyer representing Ali Hamza Ahmad al-Bahlul, a Yemeni accused of plotting terror attacks for bin Laden\'s Al-Qaeda network, if he was ready to exclude all evidence secured through torture.

After a long pause, Colonel Peter Brownback declined to commit to a blanket ban on evidence obtained as a result of torture.

\"What you and I mean by torture could be different,\" Brownback told defense lawyer Major Tom Fleener.

He said \"a red-hot needle in the eye\" constitutes torture but was not ready to commit to a prohibition in advance of the trial. \"My personal belief is that torture is not good,\" he added.

But he said it would depend on the circumstances and how the prosecution presented the evidence.

Bahlul\'s lawyer, who has the right to question the tribunal chief to verify his client will receive impartial treatment, said he asked the question because he alleged his client had been tortured while in detention.

\"I believe Mr al-Bahlul was tortured,\" Fleener said.

He added that \"it\'s going to be an issue\" in the trial.

Brownback did say that how evidence was obtained would be a factor in whether to admit such evidence and how to evaluate it.

After the hearing, US officers confirmed that the rules written for the newly created military tribunals, or commissions, left the question open. The rules also allow for hearsay evidence and other exceptions to standard US and international legal norms.

Asked about evidence secured through coercion, a spokeswoman for the military tribunals said the issue would be addressed by the officers presiding over each trial.

\"I can\'t speculate on what a presiding officer is going to do in any situation,\" Major Jane Boomer told a news conference.

Defense lawyers, human rights groups and European governments have accused the United States of abusing and torturing detainees held at the \"war on terror\" prison at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba.

Brownback\'s comments are sure to reinforce concerns about how the US government treats and prosecutes detainees held as part of the \"war on terror.\"

The US military has denied systematic torture has been employed and insisted that any isolated abuses have been punished.

Of some 500 detainees held at Guantanamo for more than four years, Bahlul is one of 10 detainees formally charged by US military tribunals.

Addressing the tribunal in a courteous, articulate manner, Bahlul said earlier he could not receive a fair trial if he was represented by a US citizen.

Bahlul said the impact of the September 11 attacks, which he said had left a \"deep psychological scar,\" meant that no US lawyer would be able to argue effectively on his behalf.

It would be \"impossible for the counsel to push aside his feelings as an American,\" said Bahlul, speaking through an interpreter.

He renewed his request to be allowed to represent himself, though tribunal rules require that he accept a US lawyer, and asked for an attorney from his native country.

He sought to clarify earlier comments that he was a member of Al-Qaeda, saying that he did not have anything to do with the attacks of September 11, 2001.

\"I had no connection to the events of September 11,\" he said.

Prosecutors allege he served as a propaganda specialist and bodyguard for bin Laden in Afghanistan before he was captured in 2001 and transferred to the controversial US-run detention camp at the Guantanamo Bay US Naval Base in Cuba.

The presiding officer rejected Bahlul\'s request, saying he could have a foreign citizen as a legal adviser but that the tribunal rules barred him from representing himself.

After several hours, Bahlul chose not to return to the hearing following a recess.

The presiding officer said he would not order Bahlul to be forcibly taken to the tribunal if he refused to attend the hearing when it resumed on Thursday.

Fleener, the defense lawyer assigned to Bahlul, said it was \"absurd\" that Bahlul could not argue his own case. He cited US domestic and military law as well as the Nuremberg war crimes trials, which he said allowed for self-representation or for citizens of the same nationality to serve as defense lawyers.

Copyright © 2006 Agence France Presse.

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FEMA tickets Hurricane Victim who lost everythign for TEE shirt criticizing Administration

By Laura Parker
3 Mar 06

Ridiculing the Federal Emergency Management Agency is high art in the Gulf Coast areas where Hurricane Katrina hit last year.

Many parade floats in New Orleans\' Mardi Gras were decorated in themes that skewered the relief agency.

George Barisich, president of the United Commercial Fisherman\'s Association, has been selling anti-FEMA T-shirts since last fall, a reflection of his frustration with the federal government\'s response to the storm that left him homeless and unemployed.

But on Feb. 1, when he handed a shirt to a fellow Katrina victim as he was picking up canned goods at a charity\'s relief tent, Barisich found himself in trouble with the government.

He was cited by a group of Homeland Security officials for selling a T-shirt on federal property - in this case, near a FEMA center in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart in Chalmette, La.

Barisich, 49, says he didn\'t sell the shirt, which said: \"Flooded by Katrina! Forgotten by FEMA! What\'s Next, Mr. Bush?\" He says he gave it away.
The government is sticking to its guns. \"If we ignored this violation, you could have potentially 20 to 30 people standing out in front of the (FEMA) center, obstructing things,\" says Dean Boyd, a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokesman. \"We\'ve got a duty and a job under the law.\"

Boyd says the message on Barisich\'s shirt isn\'t the issue. Barisich says he intends to fight the $75 ticket in court.

Word of Barisich\'s plight is circulating around battered St. Bernard Parish, where 22,000 of the 26,000 homes were destroyed by flooding. Larry Ingargiola, the local emergency operations chief, calls it \"totally ridiculous.\"

\"I\'ve tried to work with them,\" he says of the federal government. \"But some of the rules they\'ve got down here are unbelievable. For God\'s sake, everybody knows George. They\'re pushing the buttons a little bit too far.\"

Barisich says he was ticketed after six DHS officers gathered at his truck. Boyd says he can\'t confirm the number. Barisich says he was told he would be arrested if he did not take the ticket. \"I said, \'Do you really want to arrest me? Am I the only one here who thinks this is asinine? You\'re harassing a person who just lost everything.\' \"

Barisich\'s extended family lost 14 of its 17 houses in St. Bernard. Three of his fishing boats vanished. Two other boats survived but can\'t get to sea because they\'re in a canal filled with debris and silt. And he doesn\'t have enough cash to rebuild his oyster beds.

He says he\'ll fight the ticket because \"if you do something wrong, you pay for it. If you didn\'t, you don\'t ever say you did.\"

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Pentagon Releases Names of Gitmo Inmates

Associated Press
3 Mar 06

After four years of secrecy, the Pentagon handed over documents Friday that contain the names of detainees held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay. The release resulted from a victory by The Associated Press in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

The Bush administration had hidden the identities, home countries and other information about the men, who were accused of having links to the Taliban or al-Qaida. But a federal judge rejected administration arguments that releasing the identities would violate the detainees\' privacy and could endanger them and their families.

The names were scattered throughout more than 5,000 pages of transcripts of hearings at Guantanamo Bay released Friday, but no complete list was given and it was unclear how many names the documents contained. In most of the transcripts, the person speaking is identified only as \"detainee.\" Names appear only when court officials or detainees refer to people by name.
In some cases, even having the name did not clarify the identity. In one document, the tribunal president asks a detainee if his name is Jumma Jan. The detainee responds that no, his name instead is Zain Ul Abedin.

The men were mostly captured during the 2001 U.S.-led war that drove the Taliban from power in Afghanistan and sent Osama bin Laden deeper into hiding, and the newly released documents shed light on some of the detainees\' explanations.

In one unedited transcript, Zahir Shah, an Afghan accused of belonging to an Islamic militant group and of having a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and other weapons in his house, admits having rifles. He says they were for protection _ he had a running feud with a cousin _ and insists he did not fight U.S. troops.

The only time he shot anything, he says, was when he hunted with a BB gun.

\"What are we going to do with RPGs?\" he asks, adding: \"The only thing I did in Afghanistan was farming. ... We grew wheat, corn, vegetables and watermelons.\"

In another document, a detainee identified as Abdul Haim Bukhary denies he is member of al-Qaida but acknowledges he traveled from his native Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan to fight U.S. forces, and says he met Osama bin Laden about 15 years ago while fighting in Russia. He praises his captors for running a good prison.

\"Prisoners here are in paradise,\" he says. \"American people are very good. Really. They give us three meals. Fruit juice and everything!\" Still, he says, he wants to return to his family.

It was not clear whether Shah and Bukhary are still being held.

The documents do not name all current and former Guantanamo Bay detainees. And even when detainees are named, the documents do not make clear whether they have since been released.

The documents do contain the names of some known former prisoners, like Moazzam Begg and Feroz Ali Abbasi, both British citizens. A handwritten note shows Abbasi pleading for prisoner-of-war status.

Most of the Guantanamo Bay hearings were held to determine whether the detainees were \"enemy combatants.\" That classification, Bush administration lawyers say, deprives the detainees of Geneva Convention prisoner-of-war protections and allows them to be held indefinitely without charges.

Documents released last year _ also because of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the AP _ included transcripts of 317 hearings, but had the detainees\' names and nationalities blacked out. The current documents are the same ones _ this time, uncensored.

A U.S. military spokesman in Guantanamo Bay said the Pentagon was uneasy about handing over the transcripts.

\"Personal information on detainees was withheld solely to protect detainee privacy and for their own security,\" said Lt. Cmdr. Chito Peppler. He said the Defense Department remains concerned that the disclosure \"could result in retribution or harm to the detainees or their families.\"

Buz Eisenberg, a lawyer for a detainee, said he hopes the uncensored documents can help clear his client. \"We have been trying to litigate a case without ever knowing what the allegations were that the government claimed justified his continued detention,\" Eisenberg said. \"Thanks to the AP\'s successful lawsuit, we\'re looking forward to receiving that evidence so that we can properly prepare our client\'s substantive case in court.\"

Eisenberg did not want to name his client because he had not asked the man for permission.

The documents should shed light on the scope of an insurgency still battling U.S. troops in Afghanistan, in part by detailing how Muslims from many countries wound up fighting alongside the Taliban there.

Abdul Gappher, an ethnic Uighur, says he traveled from China to Afghanistan, passing through Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan, in June 2001 to \"get some training to fight back against the Chinese government.\" But he denied doing anything against the United States. He was captured in Pakistan, and said Pakistani police officers \"sold us to the U.S. government.\"

U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff of New York ruled in favor of the AP last week, a major development in a protracted legal battle. In the ongoing litigation, the AP has also asked the Pentagon to release a complete list of all detainees ever held at the prison on a U.S. Navy base in eastern Cuba.

\"This is extremely important information,\" said Curt Goering, senior deputy executive director of Amnesty International USA. \"We\'ve been asking ever since the camp opened for a list of everyone there as one of the most basic first steps for any detaining authority.\"

Human rights monitors say keeping identities of prisoners secret can lead to abuses and deprive their families of information about their fate.

About 490 prisoners are being held at Guantanamo Bay, but only 10 of them have been charged with a crime.

\"You can\'t just draw a veil of secrecy when you are locking people up,\" said Jamie Fellner, director of the U.S. program for Human Rights Watch. \"You have to do at least the minimum, which is to acknowledge who you are holding.\"

Some of the testimony seemed bound to embarrass the military.

Abbasi complains that on two occasions, military police officers had sex in front of him, while others tried to feed him \"a hot plate of pork,\" food banned by the Islamic faith. Some, he said, misled him into praying north toward the United States rather than toward Mecca as Muslims are required to do.

Like the other detainees, Abbasi wasn\'t allowed to see classified evidence against him. He repeatedly cited international law in arguing that he was unfairly classified as an enemy combatant. An Air Force colonel whose identity remains blacked out would have none of it.

\"Mr. Abbasi, your conduct is unacceptable and this is your absolute final warning. I do not care about international law. I do not want to hear the words international law again. We are not concerned about international law,\" the colonel says. Then he has Abbasi removed from the courtroom.

Last year, Rakoff ordered the government to ask each detainee whether he or she wanted personal identifying information to be turned over to the AP as part of the lawsuit. Of 317 detainees who received the form, 63 said yes, 17 said no, 35 returned the form without answering and 202 declined to return the form.

The judge said none of the detainees, not even the 17 who said they did not want their identities exposed, had a reasonable expectation of privacy during the tribunals.

A Pentagon lawyer delivered the documents _ 60 files on a CD-ROM _ about 20 minutes after the deadline at the close of business Friday. But within minutes, an officer returned and took back the CD-ROM, which contained letters from relatives of some of the prisoners that were not intended for release. A new version was provided over an hour later.

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South Dakota\'s All Out Ban on Abortion - The Charge to Overturn Roe Has Begun

1 Mar 06

South Dakota legislators are taking aim at women\'s right to choose abortion--and they\'ll be satisfied with nothing less than total destruction.

In the most sweeping anti-abortion measure in 10 years, the state\'s Senate and House voted last week for legislation that will ban virtually all abortions. Under the bill--which states that \"life begins at the time of conception\"--a doctor would face a minimum of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine for performing an abortion, unless it\'s necessary to save the woman\'s life.
One of the bill\'s sponsors, Democratic state Sen. Julie Bartling, said the time is right for a total ban on abortion. \"In my opinion, it is the time for this South Dakota legislature to deal with this issue and protect the rights and lives of unborn children,\" Bartling told reporters.

Senators voted down a proposed amendment that would have made an exception to protect the pregnant woman\'s health. A proposed exception in cases of rape--raised by a Republican--lost in a 21-14 vote.

Legislators also rejected a proposal that would have taken the ban to South Dakota voters and put the measure on the November ballot. And they voted down a proposal that would have kept state tax dollars from being used to defend the bill--which will almost certainly be challenged in court and could take years to settle. Anti-choice forces in South Dakota hardly need the money, since an anonymous donor has reportedly offered a $1 million donation to defend the new law in court.

South Dakota\'s anti-choice governor, Republican Michael Rounds, has 15 days to sign the bill into law--and is likely to do so. Two years ago, Rounds issued a technical veto of a similar bill, but only because a court challenge to the legislation would have wiped out all the state\'s restrictions on abortion until the case was settled.

\"I\'ve indicated I\'m pro-life, and I do believe abortion is wrong and that we should do everything we can to save lives,\" Rounds said. \"If this bill accomplishes that, then I am inclined to sign the bill into law.\"

\"Long term, I think this [current Supreme Court] is probably more amenable to restricting the impact of Roe v. Wade on a case-by-case basis and an exception-by-exception basis,\'\' Rounds said. \"But in the meantime, this may satisfy a lot of individuals out there who would like to see if there is one slim chance the court may entertain three years from now a direct assault on Roe v. Wade.\" \"I can tell you first-hand we\'ve had people stopping in our office trying to drop off checks to promote the defense of this legislation already,\" Rounds added.

The South Dakota bill represents a new line of attack for anti-choice forces. Since abortion was legalized in 1973 with the Supreme Court\'s ruling in Roe v. Wade, the religious right has sought to chip away at women\'s access to abortion, while avoiding a head-on challenge to Roe.
Now, with the Bush administration\'s success in packing the Supreme Court with anti-choice conservatives Samuel Alito and John Roberts, some right-wing forces are pushing for a full frontal attack. \"It is a calculated risk, to be sure, but I believe it is a fight worth fighting,\" said Republican state Sen. Brock Greenfield, who is also director of the South Dakota Right to Life.

The right\'s previous piecemeal strategy has already greatly limited a woman\'s right to choose in South Dakota. Last year, the state passed five laws restricting abortion. One requires a doctor to tell women that an abortion would end the life of a \"whole, separate, unique human being.\"

South Dakota is one of three states--along with Mississippi and North Dakota--that has just one abortion provider. The doctors, who are rotated and flown into South Dakota from Minnesota, perform abortions only one day a week.

If South Dakota succeeds in its all-out assault on abortion rights, other states will probably follow suit. Ohio, Indiana, Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky lawmakers are already looking at similar bans.

Nevertheless, some anti-abortion forces are afraid of the backlash such an all-encompassing attack will provoke.

Unfortunately, it\'s hard to imagine the organizations that claim to defend abortion rights, like NARAL Pro-Choice America, being able to wage the kind of fight it will take to beat back this assault.

\"When you see them have a ban that does not include exceptions for rape or incest or the health of the mother, you understand that elections do matter,\" concluded Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. \"We will be very active in \'06 and in \'08 in electing candidates that represent the views of most Americans.\"

Keenan is wrong if she thinks NARAL\'s long-held strategy of electing Democrats is going to work. After all, in the South Dakota senate, five Democrats voted for the abortion ban, one more than voted against it. In the process of showering their so-called political allies with support, liberal women\'s organizations have done nothing while access to abortion has been chipped away.

More attacks on abortion rights are guaranteed in the coming months. Last week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the Bush administration\'s appeal of a decision invalidating the so-called \"Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003,\" a law that would ban pregnancies terminated as early as 12 or 13 weeks, and that doesn\'t include exceptions for the woman\'s health.

The religious right\'s success in restricting women\'s access to abortion--from mandatory waiting periods to parental consent legislation--has built their confidence to take on Roe. An activist movement to defend abortion rights has to organize where it can\'t be ignored--in the streets.

Elizabeth Schulte writes for the Socialist Worker.

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Transparent Hatchet Jobs - The Attacks on Beyond Chutzpah


The Winter 2006 issue of Middle East Journal ran a scathing review by Professor Marc Saperstein of my book Beyond Chutzpah: On the misuse of anti-Semitism and the abuse of history. Saperstein alleged that my book was a "prolonged diatribe," replete with "outrageous ad hominem attacks" and written in the "rhetorical style of the arrogant academic pit bull."
Before directly addressing these criticisms, it merits setting the broader context of Saperstein\'s review. Readers of MEJ are undoubtedly aware that my publisher, University of California Press, was subject to an unprecedented and highly public campaign by Professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard University, reaching up to Governor Schwarzenegger\'s office, to block publication of my book. UCPress was accordingly at great pains to ensure that my book met the most stringent scholarly (and legal) standards. Numerous editors, libel lawyers and leading scholars in the field from Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States were called upon to render judgment. Having concluded after this extraordinary peer review process that Beyond Chutzpah did indeed make a significant scholarly contribution, and notwithstanding brutal external threats and pressures, UCPress courageously went ahead and published it. The Middle East Studies Association (MESA) subsequently commended UCPress for its principled stand.

Saperstein has now weighed in on Dershowitz\'s side, expressing puzzlement that UCPress should have committed such an egregious blunder. This judgment in a prestigious academic journal constitutes a grave indictment not only of my own reputation but also that of a respected publisher, distinguished scholars and the main professional organization in the field. Careful and sober scrutiny of the evidence Saperstein adduces is clearly warranted. Should it prove that Saperstein\'s claims lack merit, it would seem that the responsible gesture of the journal\'s editors would be to retract their imprimatur from the review.

The central thesis of Beyond Chutzpah is that on crucial dimensions of the Israel-Palestine conflict little (if any) controversy remains among serious scholars and that what passes as controversy in public life is in reality a contrived discourse to deflect criticism of Israeli policy. Paradoxically Saperstein\'s review, although intended to refute my thesis, lends further weight to it:

(1) To demonstrate that I have misrepresented the conflict\'s history, Saperstein cites as his one and only example my claim that Israel "ethnically cleansed Palestine in 1948." Not only is this not true, according to Saperstein, but "the fact is the only ethnic cleansing that occurred in 1948 in Palestine was by Arabs of Jews from the West Bank and Gaza" (his emphasis). In my book I cite the research of Ieading Israeli scholars Baruch Kimmerling, Benny Morris and Ilan Pappe. (Each has used the descriptive "ethnic cleansing" in his respective writings on the topic.) An unimpeachably mainstream figure like Shabtai Teveth, who is Ben-Gurion\'s official biographer, acknowledged long ago that once the Arab armies attacked on 15 May "one may properly speak of expulsion by Israel" of the Palestinians ("Charging Israel With Original Sin," Commentary, September 1989). Indeed one might even cite former Israeli foreign minister and respected historian Shlomo Ben-Ami, who documents in his study Scars of War, Wounds of Peace (Oxford: 2006) that Palestinians were expelled in accordance with the Zionist "philosophy of transfer," which framed Ben-Gurion\'s "strategic-ideological" vision and "provided a legitimate environment for commanders in the field actively to encourage the eviction of the local population."

Against this wealth of research by leading Israeli scholars across the political spectrum, Saperstein cites not a single academic authority but rather the avowal of an Israeli novelist (Amos Oz). It is, or should be, cause for wonder that such a lone reference passes muster in a serious academic journal as scholarly rebuttal, and that the remarkable claim that no Palestinians--none--were expelled in 1948 passed editorial scrutiny. Will the editors now approve quotation of Leon Uris as a scholarly source? Saperstein can perhaps be excused since his area of expertise is ancient Jewish texts (he\'s apparently never written professionally on the Israel-Palestine conflict). But how did the explosion of scholarship on the birth of the Palestinian refugee question confuting the novelist\'s statement escape the notice of MEJ\'s editors? Saperstein\'s only other evidence that Palestinians weren\'t ethnically cleansed is that of the 900,000 Palestinians living in the areas Israel conquered 150,000 managed to remain in situ at war\'s end. Yet, apart from Holocaust deniers who would argue that Jews weren\'t subject to a genocide because of the 7,000,000 Jews living in the areas conquered by the Nazis 1,000,000 managed to survive at war\'s end? (For charity\'s sake I ignore Saperstein\'s argument that Israel couldn\'t have expelled Palestinians from the areas of Palestine it conquered in 1948 because they continued to live in areas of Palestine that Israel didn\'t conquer.)

(2) To demonstrate that I have grossly misrepresented Israel\'s human rights record in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Saperstein takes me to task for relying on mainstream human rights organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and--what\'s yet more sinister in his view--Israeli human rights organizations like B\'Tselem (Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories), which he derides as "useful rhetorically." He further impugns the documentation I cite from these organizations as "facts" (his scare quotes) and waxes indignant that I didn\'t cast doubt on their judgments.

In researching Beyond Chutzpah I perused thousands of pages of mainstream human rights reports. One surprising conclusion I reached was how uncontroversial Israel\'s human rights record was. Although each of these human rights organizations has a fiercely independent research, legal and field staff, I came across only one instance over a 15-year period where two human rights organizations differed on a (tiny) point of fact. I then compared the uniform findings of these organizations with the claims of Professor Alan Dershowitz in his book The Case for Israel. More often than not Dershowitz either cites no source whatsoever or, as I document, fabricates a source out of whole cloth.

Consider torture and ill-treatment of Palestinian detainees. In Beyond Chutzpah I cite the annual findings of Amnesty International over a ten-year period that "Palestinians were systematically tortured or ill-treated during interrogation"; the findings of a major Human Rights Watch report that "the number of Palestinians tortured or severely ill-treated while under interrogation during the [first] intfiada is in the tens of thousands"; and the findings of B\'Tselem that "[S]ome eight-five percent of persons interrogated by the GSS were interrogated by methods constituting torture." Against these findings I juxtapose Professor Dershowitz\'s unsourced counterclaim that Israel only "sometimes" employed what he calls a "modified form of non-lethal torture." Saperstein wonders why I regard the evidence and findings of human rights reports as valid. The obvious answer would seem to be that if all mainstream human rights organizations reach identical conclusions and no contrary evidence exists, there\'s no rational reason to infer that their reports are false--unless one accepts the faith-based counterclaim that Amnesty, HRW and B\'Tselem are part of a vast (anti-Semitic) conspiracy to malign Israel. Saperstein appears to belong to the latter school since he characterizes my evidence, culled overwhelmingly from mainstream human rights reports, as "every anti-Israel argument in the arsenal of its opponents." He wonders why I didn\'t engage in a "critical weighing of evidence on different sides of a controversial issue." Again, the obvious answer would seem to be that Dershowitz doesn\'t supply any evidence to weigh, and there\'s no controversy among mainstream human rights organizations to adjudicate. On a related matter Saperstein is appalled that I should treat as "self-evidently true" the allegation of all mainstream human rights organizations that Israel committed war crimes during its 2002 invasion of Jenin. Should I have doubted this uniform conclusion because a notorious apologist for Israel asserted without any evidence that it wasn\'t so?

The remainder of Saperstein\'s indictment can be more easily dispatched. He deplores that I treat with "scorn and sarcasm" the claims of New Anti-Semitism authors that "Western-based international human rights organizations," "Jewish feminists," Associated Press, Reuters, Time, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, BBC, NPR, CNN and ABC are all anti-Semitic; that the creation of Israel was a plot by European governments to concentrate all Jews in Palestine in order to exterminate them; that it\'s only a matter of time before "a loudspeaker goes off and a voice says, \'All Jews gather in Times Square.\'" Among scholars who base their findings on evidence and conclusions on reason the obvious retort would seem to be, Why shouldn\'t these ravings be treated with "scorn and sarcasm"? Saperstein wonders why I don\'t consider anti-Semitism in the Arab world. Yet, although surely a significant phenomenon it\'s also surely not new, while the burden of my first chapters was to analyze the so-called New Anti-Semitism that allegedly now permeates the Western world. Incidentally, Saperstein\'s recommendation of MEMRI as an objective source on the Arab world is of a piece with his recommendation of an Israeli novelist for the truth on the 1948 war.

Objecting to my comparison between the Nazi destruction of Lidice and Dershowitz\'s notorious policy prescription for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Saperstein states that the Nazis killed adult male inhabitants whereas Dershowitz merely advocated the destruction of "empty houses in a particular village." In my book I juxtaposed Dershowitz\'s deploring that "Hitler destroyed the entire Czech village of Lidice" with his own advocacy of the destruction of entire Palestinian villages. To dispute this comparison Saperstein introduces an element not mentioned by Dershowitz, that beyond destroying the village the Nazis also killed adult males at Lidice. However, is it even true that Dershowitz\'s proposal bears merely on "empty houses in a particular village"? Although you wouldn\'t know it from Saperstein\'s disingenuous gloss, here\'s what Dershowitz actually advocated: "[D]estruction of a small village which has been used as a base for terrorist operations. The residents would be given 24 hours to leave, and then troops will come in and bulldoze all of the buildings. The response will be automatic. The order will have been given in advance of the terrorist attacks and there will be no discretion." Dershowitz couldn\'t be clearer on the fate of residents who don\'t abandon their homes: "the response will be automaticthere will be no discretion." Saperstein also expresses perplexity that UCPress should have allowed me to document Dershowitz\'s plagiarism from a notorious hoax. It\'s unclear why a serious allegation of professional malfeasance shouldn\'t be reported especially since Saperstein doesn\'t dispute a single word of the 25 pages of evidence I assembled.

The "bottom-line" for Saperstein is that my book is the work of an "arrogant academic pit bull." Beyond Chutzpah is the product of twenty years of sustained reflection and what all reviewers (including Saperstein) agree was prodigious research. Saperstein consented to review the book although he\'s never written a single word on the main subject area. But I am the arrogant academic. Saperstein dismisses the accumulated research of Israeli historians by citing a statement of an Israeli novelist. But I am the arrogant academic. Saperstein mocks the cumulative findings of all mainstream human rights organizations as "facts" (his scare quotes). But I am the arrogant academic. In order to discredit my work Saperstein blots out existing scholarship, cites only preposterous sources, impugns the integrity of all human rights organizations and disingenuously quotes Dershowitz. But I am the pit bull. Saperstein accuses me of "getting carried away in his rhetoric" and of resorting to "outrageous ad hominems" and then labels me an "arrogant academic pit bull." On a related note, MEJ\'s stated policy prohibits the use of "intemperate or abusive language" in its pages, which must mean that the editors don\'t consider the phrase "arrogant academic pit bull" intemperate or abusive.

Saperstein wonders why University of California Press published my book. The obvious answer would seem to be that it both passed an unprecedentedly rigorous peer review process and met the press\'s rigorous publication standards. In a sane intellectual culture the only questions would be: Why did MEJ commission a review from Saperstein, and why did he agree to do it? His only qualification for reviewing my book would seem to be that for many years he sat on the Board of Directors of Harvard Hillel and was a colleague of Dershowitz. Readers of MEJ would have been better served if the editors had exercised minimum professional responsibility rather than let their pages be used for a transparent--not to mention slightly ridiculous--hatchet job.

Norman Finkelstein\'s most recent book is Beyond Chutzpah: On the misuse of anti-Semitism and the abuse of history (University of California Press). His web site is www.NormanFinkelstein.com.

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Former Congressman Cunningham Gets Eight + years

Associated Press
3 Mar 06

SAN DIEGO - Former Rep. Randy \"Duke\" Cunningham, who collected $2.4 million in homes, yachts, antique furnishings and other bribes on a scale unparalleled in the history of Congress, was sentenced Friday to eight years and four months in prison, the longest term meted out to a congressman in decades.

Cunningham, who resigned from Congress in disgrace last year, was spared the 10-year maximum by U.S. District Judge Larry Burns but was immediately taken into custody. He also was ordered to pay $1.8 million in restitution for back taxes and forfeit $1.85 million in valuables he received.
Cunningham accepted money and gifts including a Rolls-Royce and $40,000 Persian rugs from defense contractors and others in exchange for steering government contracts their way and other favors.

Federal prosecutors sought the maximum and his attorneys asked for mercy, but Cunningham, choking up as he addressed the judge, focused on accepting blame. \"Your honor I have ripped my life to shreds due to my actions, my actions that I did to myself,\" he said.

\"I made a very wrong turn. I rationalized decisions I knew were wrong. I did that, sir,\" Cunningham said.

Much thinner than when he pleaded guilty in November - he said he has gone from 265 pounds to 175 pounds since June - Cunningham had asked to see his 91-year-old mother one last time before going to prison, but was denied.

The judge, while crediting Cunningham for his military service and for taking responsibility, questioned why he felt compelled to betray his constituents and his colleagues for luxuries.

\"You weren\'t wet. You weren\'t cold. You weren\'t hungry and yet you did these things,\" Burns said. \"I think what you\'ve done is you\'ve undermined the opportunity that honest politicians have to do a good job.\"

The scale of his wrongdoing surpasses anything in the history of Congress, according to official Senate and House historians. \"In the sheer dollar amount, it\'s unprecedented,\" Deputy House Historian Fred W. Beuttler said Friday.

The longest term meted out to congressmen in the past four decades had been eight years, handed to former Rep. James Traficant, D-Ohio, in 2002 for taking payoffs, and to former Rep. Mario Biaggi, D-N.Y., in 1988 for extorting nearly $2 million from a defense contractor.

Prosecutor Phil Halpern told the judge that while Cunningham was living the good life \"he was squandering precious tax dollars for, among other things, systems the military didn\'t ask for, didn\'t need and frequently didn\'t use.\"

Cunningham\'s attorney Lee Blalack asked for six years for the former Navy \"Top Gun\" flight instructor and Vietnam War flying ace.

Cunningham, 64 and a congressman for 15 years, rubbed away tears while Blalack addressed the court. He appeared to be crying quietly when Blalack referred to his wartime service.

Blalack said that given Cunningham\'s age and history of prostate cancer, \"there is a significant likelihood\" he would not survive a 10-year sentence, and that he already has suffered greatly.

\"This man has been humiliated beyond belief by his own hand. He is estranged from those he loves most and cares most about,\" Blalack said. \"All his worldly possessions are gone. He will carry a crushing tax debt until the day he dies. He will go to jail until he\'s 70 years old.\"

Prosecutor Jason A. Forge said Cunningham should not get a break for committing crimes late in life, and doubted his apparent remorse, pointing out that after the allegations emerged he spent months falsely denying them.

\"The fact of the matter is Mr. Cunningham went down kicking and screaming,\" Forge said.

The sentence reverberated in Washington, D.C.

\"It is my hope that Congressman Cunningham will spend his incarceration thinking long and hard about how he broke the trust of the voters that elected him and those on Capitol Hill who served with him,\" House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said in a statement.

Cunningham pleaded guilty Nov. 28 to tax evasion and a conspiracy involving four others. It is among a series of GOP scandals: Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff\'s guilty pleas in a corruption investigation; a campaign-finance indictment that forced Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas to step down as majority leader; a stock sale by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist that is under investigation; and the indictment of Vice President Dick Cheney\'s chief of staff in the CIA leak case.

The case against Cunningham began when authorities started investigating his sale of his Del Mar house to defense contractor Mitchell Wade for $1,675,000, a price inflated by $700,000.

Wade admitted giving Cunningham more than $1 million in gifts, including a yacht, cash, cars, antiques and meals. He pleaded guilty last month to conspiring with Cunningham, among four corruption charges that carry a maximum prison term of 20 years.

Wade\'s company, MZM Inc., which does classified intelligence work for the military, donated to Cunningham\'s campaigns and received more than $150 million in Defense Department contracts beginning in 2002.

Three other co-conspirators were included in Cunningham\'s plea agreement but no charges have been announced.

The judge recommended that Cunningham serve his sentence at a federal prison in Taft, Calif. Time off for good behavior could cut his sentence to about seven years.

A special election to fill Cunningham\'s seat is set for April 11. The district is heavily Republican but Democrats hope to capture it; their candidate Francine Busby is to deliver the party\'s weekly radio address on Saturday.

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President Maker Katherine Harris Caught Up in Cunningham Bribery Scandal

Associated Press
3 Mar 06

TAMPA, Fla. - U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris said Thursday she did not knowingly do anything wrong in her associations with a defense contractor who prosecutors say illegally funneled thousands of dollars to her campaign in 2004.

Questions about the donations have arisen as Harris, the former Florida secretary of state who oversaw the 2000 presidential election recount, tries to unseat U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.

The donations were described in a plea agreement last Friday, when Mitchell Wade, the former president of MZM Inc., pleaded guilty to bribing U.S. Rep. Randy \"Duke\" Cunningham in exchange for assistance in getting $150 million in Defense Department contracts for his company.
He also admitted making illegal campaign contributions in the names of MZM employees and their spouses to Harris and Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va. Prosecutors said Harris got $32,000 from employees who were reimbursed by Wade. Harris said she recently donated the money to charity, and didn\'t know the donations would be reimbursed.

In the plea agreement, Wade acknowledged dining with Harris at a Washington restaurant in 2005 to discuss a possible fundraiser for her and obtaining funding for a Navy counterintelligence program involving his company. She requested the funding, but Wade didn\'t get it.

\"I requested a $10 million appropriation for the U.S Naval Criminal Investigative Services project because I thought it would bring new jobs to Sarasota,\" said Harris, R-Fla. \"I never requested funding for this project in exchange for any contributions, but rather to bring more high-skill, high-wage jobs to the region.\"

Wade has been cooperating with federal prosecutors in Washington and San Diego since last summer and is required to continue to do so as part of his plea agreement with the government. He faces up to 20 years in prison. Prosecutors said they are continuing to investigate and won\'t say if Harris is a subject.

Harris said her office has not been contacted about the investigation.

\"I think these revelations should matter to voters because I think ethics should count for something in a public servant,\" said Dan McLaughlin, spokesman for Nelson.

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Trickle Down Republican Corruption; Poll Results show right wing corruption exists at all levels

by Rob Kall

It\'s clear that, at the top, the Republican Party, led by George Bush, Dick Cheney, Bill Frist, Denny Hastert, and until recently, Tom DeLay, has been thoroughly corrupt.

It\'s clear that the rank and file Republican members of congress have been rubberstamping the crooked, unconstitutional, anti-democratic moves of their leaders, deferring ethics rules, attempting to pass laws that make the Bush team\'s lawbreaking legal.
In the OpEdNews.com /Zogby People\'s poll of 850 Pennsylvania voters, we found that Republicans were far more likely to expect corruption. We asked, \"Who is more corrupt, if at all, Republicans or Democrats?\" 48% of respondents said Republicans and 9% said Democrats. 41% said both equally. Women said 60% Republicans and 4% Democrats. But it gets most interesting when you compare Republicans and democrats, looking at the crosstabs.

83% of Democrats said Republicans were corrupt, compared to 6% of Republicans saying that Republicans are corrupt Only 21% of Republicans said Democrats are corrupt and only one percent of Democrats said Democrats are corrupt. Most interesting, 71% of Republicans said that both parties are equally corrupt, whereas only 14% of Democrats say both parties are equally corrupt.

If you add up the percentage of Republicans who say that Republicans are corrupt and both parties are corrupt you get a total of 77% of Republicans saying that Republicans are corrupt, compared to 15% of Democrats saying Democrats are corrupt. What does this mean? Republicans assume their representatives are corrupt because they think everyone is corrupt. That\'s the mindset of a culture of corruption. They see they world as corrupt and they accept it. Let\'s take a closer look.

There\'s the Republican base. Our OpEdNews.com / Zogby People\'s poll asked, Do you agree or disagree that Churches, Synagogues and Mosques, or other places of worship would l ose their tax exempt status if they openly and actively support politicians or political parties?\" Seventy percent of voters support this. The one demographic group that disapproved was the \"very conservatives\" Less than 1% of Democrats identify themselves as very conservative. 22% of Born agains identify themselves as very conservative. After \"very conservatives, the next demographic group that opposed revoking tax exempt status was the Born agains. I think they oppose this because they\'ve been doing it-- violating the law against churches getting actively into politics. The majority of Americans-- 70% oppose this. These people are extremists who believe they have the right to break the law. It\'s trickle down corruption, trickle down law breaking, trickle down absence of integrity. These self-righteous, sanctimonious extremists are breaking the law. Their churches should be taxed. Their leaders should be charged with violating the law, and laws should be made tougher to prevent these abuses. Meanwhile, people on the left should organize \"church-watches\" which monitor, especially right before elections, activities and services in right wing churches.

Then there\'s the corruption that surrounds the voting and election process. Democrats in the house and senate have entered bills that would make the voting process safer and more reliable. Republicans have failed to respond. At local levels, Republicans seem to have done all they can to keep the voting, vote counting, voter registration and voter access as untrustworthy, unfair and inaccessible for Democrats as possible. This is treacherous-- an attack on Democracy that should be punishable, in its worse forms, as a capital offense. Sorry, for most reasons, I oppose the death penalty, but when the most basic, core element of democracy-- the vote-- is \"murdered\" there is only one punishment that fits the crime-- the same one applied to traitors.

Then there\'s the Republican position on cleaning up the money in politics-- in elections and in congress. The right wingers want to keep the money in. In our OpEdNews.com/Zogby People\'s Poll, we found that 66% of voters, want to take the money factor out of elections by providing a fixed amount of money to qualified candidates, and 65% of voters support a law that would require network and local TV stations to provide free ad time to qualified candidates. But just over 50% of Republicans oppose taking the money out, and while more Republicans support a law requiring free advertising for qualified candidates, that percentage doesn\'t reach 50%. The Republicans want to keep the influence buying, the ability of corporations and wealthy people to influence elections, at the price of a purer democratic process.

I\'ve been saying that part of the process of taking back America is waking people up.

I\'ve been saying that the only people left supporting Bush are either corrupt, greedy rich parasites who are tax avoiders and fools.

But I need to modify that. These people are all tolerating an unbelievable level of corruption. These people MUST have impaired integrity and impaired character.

There is hope for those right wingers who are finally waking up and seeing how bad the Republicans have been. Those Republicans who HAVE awakened MUST go to their legislators and tell them it is time to impeach both Bush and Cheney. One factor that may make a major difference in this year\'s elections is the response from moderates. Forty eight percent of them say republicans are corrupt, compared to one percent saying Democrats are. Frankly, there are enough DLC Republicrats so I think they are estimating too low. But the writing is on the wall. Unless Republicans take major steps to change the situation, they will be in deep doo doo this fall.

It is time for the people on the right to either wake up and face the corruption they\'ve allowed or accept that they are co-conspirators guilty of helping the crimes and corruption to continue.

Rob Kall is editor of OpEdNews.com, President of Futurehealth, Inc, and organizer of several conferences, including StoryCon, the Summit Meeting on the Art, Science and Application of Story and The Winter Brain Meeting on neurofeedback, biofeedback, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology.

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\'Trial\' of Bush prompts meeting - Parsippany school officials to discuss classroom project

3 Mar 06

PARSIPPANY -- Top school officials will huddle privately this morning to discuss a classroom war crimes \"trial\"of President Bush at Parsippany High School that suddenly is drawing national attention.

The school board\'s president, Robert Perlett, said the 8:30 a.m. meeting was called by mutual agreement on Thursday as the uproar surrounding the mock tribunal escalated on the Internet and talk radio.
Perlett said no decision had been made to halt the trial, which is to enter a fourth day today after classes were canceled Thursday due to the snowstorm.

\"There is no curtailment of what is going on at the school, at present,\"Perlett said.

Perlett said that the high school\'s principal, Anthony Sciaino, would attend the meeting. Sciaino, who did not return a phone call Thursday, said on Wednesday evening that he approved the senior advanced placement government class project in advance.

Interim Superintendent James Dwyer, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Kathleen Sleezer and board Vice President Alan Gordon will also attend, Perlett said.

Teacher not invited

Joseph Kyle, whose class is trying Bush for alleged \"crimes against civilian populations\"and \"inhumane treatment of prisoners,\" was not invited, Perlett said.

\"It\'s going to be very interesting. We might as well wait and see if a shoe drops or not,\" said teachers union President John Capsouras.

Capsouras spoke to Kyle by telephone on Thursday evening about the controversy stemming from the trial, in which students are playing the roles of prosecutors, defense lawyers and witnesses and a five-teacher \"international court of justice\"is sitting in judgment.

\"Joe is fine. He\'s a good man, and he\'s fine,\" Capsouras said of Kyle, who is the union\'s vice president and chief negotiator.

Capsouras said Kyle, an eight-year teacher at the high school, was in good spirits despite some crank calls. He said that Kyle, in terms of his job, should be in the clear unless \"somebody decides they didn\'t give him permission\" for the project.

Student outlook

Catherine Galdun, one of four student prosecutors, said she would be upset if the trial -- which Kyle, on Wednesday, likened to a hearing -- is halted.

\"I would say that we\'re doing this in a fair and balanced way,\" said Galdun, 18.

\"We\'re looking at both sides of it. If they don\'t believe that\'s right to do in a classroom -- to debate both sides of an issue -- I don\'t agree with that,\" Galdun said.

A chorus of criticism ensued after a Daily Record story about the project was linked to the Drudge Report on the Internet and discussed on various news programs on Thursday, with e-mails from across the nation calling Kyle a disgrace, a traitor and worse.

\"If my child came home from school and told me this was going on, I would have someone\'s head. This is akin to treason,\" wrote Karen LaBauve of Roswell, N.M., in an e-mail to the Daily Record.

A smaller number praised Kyle.

\"So-called conservatives don\'t have a clue as to what they\'ve bred or are breeding. We need more teachers like Joseph Kyle,\" wrote Belita R. T. Franklin of Jacksonville, Fla.

Jamie Barberio, defeated in the Republican primary for mayor last year, joined former county Sheriff John Fox of Parsippany and Freeholder Jack Schrier of Mendham Township in slamming the project.

\"We\'re presuming that President Bush is an indictable war criminal, when he\'s not,\" Barberio said. \"How about teaching that he\'s not a war criminal.\"

A phone call to the White House press office was not returned Thursday.

Dwyer, Sciaino and Kyle did not return phone calls.

Learning process

Another student prosecutor, Stephanie Foltzer, said that after Kyle proposed holding the trial in January, the class was fully in agreement about proceeding.

Foltzer said that extensive research went into the project. At trial, she questioned two of nine prosecution \"witnesses\"-- students standing in for Sen. John McCain and Hachemi Abdullah, an Iraqi man who allegedly lost several family members in a U.S. bombing raid.

\"I can understand the controversy, but I think people are taking this a little bit too far,\" Foltzer said.

Township Council Vice President James Vigilante, a U.S. Air Force reservist, saw a little bit of both sides.

\"I\'m a Bush fan. I don\'t necessarily, myself, agree with the lesson plan, but on the flip side, I wouldn\'t condemn the teacher,\" said Vigilante, a Republican.

\"I would hope he\'s not censored by the school board. For me, it\'s the right of free speech,\" Vigilante said.

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'Frauds-R-Us' - The Bush Family Saga

By William Bowles

\"You can fool some of the people all of the time, and those are the ones you have to focus on\" – GW Bush

\"You have to look at the entire Bush Family in this context -- as if the family ran a corporation called 'Frauds-R-Us,'

George Jr.'s specialty was insurance and security fraud.

Jeb's specialty was oil and gas fraud.

Neil's specialty was real estate fraud.

Prescott's specialty was banking fraud.

And George Sr.'s specialty? All of the above.\" -- Lt. Cmdr. Al Martin, US Navy,(Ret)

\"While opportunism isn't new in U.S. politics, never did so many in one family extract so many dollars from taxpayers as when George Bush senior was president a decade ago\" -- David E. Scheim, author of Contract on America.

\"What you've got with Bush [George senior] is absolutely the largest number of siblings and children involved in what looks like a never-ending hustle.\" -- Republican pundit Kevin Philips

\"Texas businessmen [are] not crooks, \"they just have an over-developed sense of the extenuating circumstance.\"\" -- Molly Ivins

A very enlightening read.

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Party Hacks

By Chris Floyd
Moscow Times
2 Mar 06

Two weeks ago, an obscure, unelected, Republican-appointed official in California decided the future of the world. That future -- at least for the next several years -- will be an accelerating nightmare of war, corruption, repression, atrocity and terror. That\'s because the loyal apparatchik has, with the stroke of a pen, guaranteed the perpetuation of the Bush faction in power in 2008 and beyond.
One of the few certainties in modern U.S. politics is that no Democrat can win the presidency without carrying California. Thanks to the Electoral College system set up by the Founding Oligarchs to keep the low-born rabble from voting directly for president, the big haul of California\'s electoral votes is crucial for Democrats to offset the multitude of small, sparsely populated states that reliably vote Republican. Bagging California doesn\'t guarantee Democratic victory, but without it, the cliffhanger electoral counts in the goosed elections of 2000 and 2004 wouldn\'t even have been close.

Thus, the sudden, hugger-mugger decision by California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson to override the objections of his own experts and certify the eminently hackable voting machines of the politically partisan firm, Diebold, for use throughout the state means, quite simply, that the fix is in for 2008. It doesn\'t matter who the Democrats run -- Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, George Clooney or Jesus H. Christ in an Uncle Sam suit. It won\'t make a bit of difference. California is lost, the presidency is lost and the Bushists are in -- already. It\'s over.

After Diebold\'s machines failed miserably in a battery of tests last year, McPherson vowed to put their certification on hold until his own hand-picked panel of experts had fine-combed the system to a fare-thee-well, blogger Brad Friedman reports. The panel delivered their conclusions last month -- and the results were staggering, far beyond the worst fears of the most hard-core \"conspiracy theorist.\" The panel found that Diebold\'s machines were riddled with curious built-in glitches that effectively \"ceded complete control of the system\" to hackers who could \"change vote totals, modify reports, change the names of candidates and change the races being voted on.\"

What\'s more, \"hackers wouldn\'t need to know passwords or cryptographic keys, or have access to any other part of the system to do their dirty work,\" the Los Angeles Times notes. \"Voters, candidates and election monitors wouldn\'t necessarily know they\'d been rooked.\" A more perfect vehicle for fixing an election can hardly be imagined. And it would require nothing more than a handful of high-tech zealots, not a vast conspiracy.

Naturally, after such a blistering condemnation, McPherson did what any official charged with guaranteeing the integrity and credibility of his state\'s elections would do: He approved the slipshod system by the dark of the moon, on a Friday before a holiday weekend, without any public hearings -- indeed, without waiting for the results of a pending federal review of Diebold\'s mole-infested code. Now, the Diebold contraptions, whose chronic \"breakdowns\" have featured in numerous contested elections and last-second \"miracle\" victories by Republican candidates across the country in recent years, will control California\'s pot of electoral gold.

A good example of how this control works can be found in Alaska. There, the state Democratic Party has long been seeking an audit of some of the 2004 Diebold-counted returns, which produced a series of strange anomalies -- including awarding President George W. Bush an extra 100,000 votes that turned out to be phantoms. First, state officials blocked the request because that information, the vote count of a public election, was a \"company secret\" that belonged exclusively to Diebold, Friedman reports. Then they decided that the returns could be examined -- but only on the condition that Diebold and the Republican officials be allowed to \"manipulate the data\" before it was released. In the end, even this tainted transparency was too much for the Bushist ballot crunchers; late last month, Alaska officials suddenly declared that examining the returns would pose a dire but unspecified \"security risk\" to the state.

America\'s votes are increasingly controlled by a small number of interrelated corporations: Diebold, ES&S and Sequoia, all of which have close political and financial ties to the Bush faction -- and to other dark forces as well. Diebold and ES&S were both bankrolled by tycoon Howard Ahmanson, who was also a major funder of the Christian \"Reconstructionist\" movement, which openly advocates a totalitarian theocracy in America, including the death penalty for homosexuals, slavery for debtors, stoning for sinners and stripping nonbelievers of citizenship. As journalist Max Blumenthal reports, these extremists have been welcomed as a key part of the Bushist base of politicized evangelicals, whose cadres have been quietly filling government posts for the past five years. Meanwhile, Sequoia -- whose machines racked up 100,000 \"mistakes\" in just one Florida county in 2004, according to a recent audit -- is owned by a business partner of the Carlyle Group, the investment firm whose insider deals and war profiteering have earned millions for the Bush family.

Thus, the 2008 election will be conducted largely on wide-open machines programmed by avowed partisans and paymasters of a ruthless gang that has already committed demonstrable vote fraud on a massive scale in engineering narrow \"victories\" in 2000 and 2004. So it doesn\'t matter who runs, who votes or how unpopular the Bush faction becomes through the murderous ruin of its radical agenda. The \"consent of the governed\" will be drowned in the blood money that has bought the nation\'s electoral process. Annotations

Integrity of E-Balloting System Still in Doubt
Los Angeles Times, Feb. 23, 2006

Watchdog Group Questions 2004 Florida Vote
Associated Press, Feb. 23, 2006

Vanishing Act: Disappearing the Republic at the Push of a Button
Empire Burlesque, Sept. 19, 2003

Bush Poll Ratings at All-Time Low
CBS News, Feb. 28, 2006

Audit Shows Electronic Voting in Disarray
Bradblog.com, Feb. 23, 2006

Alaska Now Refuses Release of 2004 Election Data Citing Security Concerns
Bradblog.com, Feb. 24, 2006

Loot the Vote
Empire Burlesque, Jan. 19, 2006

Is the GOP "Shock-the-Vote" Brigade Planning to Heist California?
Huffington Post, Feb. 21, 2006

A State Senator Says Diebold Re-Certification in Violation of State Law
Bradblog.com, Feb. 23, 2006

Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election and Why They'll Steal the Next One Too
Mark Crispin Miller, Basic Books, October 2005

The Brutal Christ of the Armageddonites
Antiwar.com, Feb. 24, 2006

Pin Heads: The New Bush Push for Theocracy
Empire Burlesque, March 12, 2004

The "Pro-Family" Movement and Killing Gays
Max Blumenthal, Feb. 14, 2006

Body Blow: Bush's Worldwide War Against Women
Empire Burlesque, Oct. 3, 2003

Millions Are Dying Because of American Policies
Los Angeles Times, June 12, 2005

Cry Havoc: Bush's Own Personal Janjaweed
Empire Burlesque, Aug. 27, 2004

US Wants to Build Network of Friendly Militias to Fight Terrorism
AFP, August 15, 2004

Pentagon Plan for Global Anti-Terror Army
Sydney Morning Herald, Aug. 11, 2004

Into the Dark: The Pentagon Plan to Foment Terrorism
Empire Burlesque, Nov. 1, 2002

Darkness Visible: The Pentagon Plan to Foment Terrorism is Now in Operation
Empire Burlesque, Jan. 25, 2005

Slavery Under God's Laws
The Institute for Christian Economics,

Stoning: Integral to Commandment Against Murder
The Institute for Christian Economics,

World Conquest: The Obligation of Christian Politics
The Changing of the Guard, Dominion Press,

An Anthology of Reconstructist Thought
Christian Reconstructionism, November 2002

Judicial Warfare: Christian Reconstructionism and its Blueprint for Dominion
Crown Rights Press, 2003

E-Voting: How it Can Put the Wrong Candidate in Office
Common Dreams, Sept. 3, 2003

The Theft of Your Vote is Just a Chip Away
Thom Hartmann, July 31, 2003

Now Your Vote is the Property of a Private Corporation
Thom Hartmann, March 11, 2003

From Superpower to Tin-Horn Dictatorship
Lew Rockwell.com, Feb. 28, 2006

Copyright © 2006 The Moscow Times.

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Presidential Katrina briefing reveals levee sabotage

March 02, 2006

The Presidential Katrina briefing video leaked to Associated Press and now making the rounds hides the truth about what happened to New Orleans\' levees in plain sight. The National Weather Center\'s Max Mayfield tell George W. Bush and Michael Brown in the video \"I don\'t think anyone can tell you with any certainty right now that the levees will be topped, but that is a certain concern \"

So Bush was right when he said \"I don\'t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.\" The fear was always that a large storm surge could possibly go over the top of the levees on Lake Ponchartrain and fill the city up with water. No one (outside the black-ops community) expected that in the midst of a storm surge three feet beneath the levee tops, virtually every canal wall inside the city would crumble -- \"breached\" by obvious use of explosives.
This briefing video was almost certainly leaked to AP by former FEMA Director Brown. Brown is making the case that he was not a wholly incompetent boob, but rather a semi-competent boob stripped of all real authority and hung out to dry by Michael Chertoff.

But who was Chertoff\'s superior? Not Bush, who was incurious and reading off a script during this briefing. Maybe it was the guy ordering oil pipeline repairs in the middle of the night following the storm -- Dick \"Fudd\" Cheney.

Brown\'s remark that the Louisiana Superdome roof may not hold up could seem to be prescient -- a slick leak by the Brown team. Until you realize that Brown was talking about the Superdome roof in a Category 5 storm -- not the Category 2 winds that the Superdome and the canal wall levees actually did receive.

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Katrina: Why aren't we talking about Criminal Negligence?

By Mike Wwhitney
3 Mar 06

\"I have kind a sinking feeling in my gut right now... You know, from this tape it looks like everybody was fully aware.\" New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin

It is clear now that Michael Chertoff and George Bush can be directly implicated in the deaths of the 1,300 Americans who died in Hurricane Katrina. The newly released video from the Associated Press proves beyond a reasonable doubt that they were adequately warned of the gravity of the approaching storm and the risks it posed to people of New Orleans. The only question now is whether the charges should be criminal negligence or manslaughter. We leave that to the attorneys.
As the video shows both Bush and his Homeland Security chief were told by federal disaster officials in unambiguous language "that the storm could breach levees and overwhelm rescuers".

What could be clearer than that?

Bush's comments three days later that, "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees", was obviously meant to mislead the public and redirect the blame away from himself.

For some unknown reason, Bush and his lieutenants ignored the warnings of the Hurricane experts and stubbornly refused to take timely action that would have saved lives. Even when Chertoff was notified that the levees had been breached, he failed to respond until hours later.


After all, as one official noted, "It was not only predictable; it was predicted."

Indeed, it was. But Bush and company obviously had different plans in mind.

What those plans were; no one knows, but that doesn't minimize the scale of the disaster or keep us from assigning blame. The video proves that both Bush and Chertoff are guilty of dereliction of duty and, very possibly, manslaughter.

The question now is one of "intentionality", not "culpability".

The media has played a crucial role in blocking attempts for an independent investigation and for absolving Bush of guilt. From the beginning, they singed-out ex-FEMA-chief Michael Brown as the scapegoat for the obvious failures of the administration. We know now that "Brownie" was perhaps the only high-ranking official who acted responsibly and tried to protect the public from harm. Brown repeatedly warned of the potential dangers of Katrina but no one paid attention. On the video he is heard saying, "My gut tells me…that this is a bad one and a big one…To put it mildly, this is the big one".

Brown cautioned that the Superdome was 12 ft below sea-level and could be swamped if the levees broke. He later alerted Homeland Security that, "They're not taking patients out of the hospitals, taking prisoners out of the prisons, and they're leaving hotels open in downtown New Orleans. So, I'm very concerned about that."…"I'm concerned about the medical and mortuary resources and their ability to respond to a catastrophe within a catastrophe."

He also added later, "I want to jam up supply-lines. I want to cut the bureaucratic red-tape. I want it, balls-to-the-wall, in doing everything we could."

Brown was obviously doing the best he could under the circumstances.

Unfortunately, his efforts were rewarded by a "swift-boat" media-campaign that portrayed him as a clownish-bungler who botched the relief-effort from start to finish. The media deftly shifted the blame from the White House (where it belonged) to a bit-player in the government bureaucracy who was only trying to save lives. The AP video shows where the guilt really lies.

There's no evidence that anyone else in the administration was particularly worried by the tragedy or the loss of life. Three days passed before troops were deployed to the region and the relief-effort was hampered at every turn by federal agents.

As more and more incriminating evidence has surfaced, the recalcitrant media has stuck to its narrative of a "blundering bureaucracy" unable to deal with a massive natural disaster like Katrina. All of the 2,200 articles which first appeared about the storm invoked the very same phraseology. According to the MSM, Katrina showed a "failure of imagination" or, Homeland Security was "slow to react" or, Chertoff was in "a fog of war" or, (Bush's much repeated) \"I don\'t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees\".

These carefully-worded phrases have built a protective wall around Bush and Chertoff; shielding them from direct involvement in the deaths of 1,300 Americans and 2,300 missing.

We may not know what Bush or Chertoff had in mind when they refused to carry out their duties, but we do know that it was not the result of a "bungling bureaucracy". That's just baloney.

The "buck-passing" media is trying to deflect blame and hoodwink the public, but the charges remain the same; criminal negligence or manslaughter.

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Chertoff Has \'Few Days Left,\' Sources Say - or maybe not?

By: John Gizzi
Posted 03/03/06
04:22 PM

In the aftermath of the public revelation of the presidential \"teleconference\" and mounting criticism of the performance of Michael Chertoff, Administration sources told HUMAN EVENTS today that the secretary of Homeland Security has \"only a few days left\" in the Bush Cabinet.

As one source acquainted with the former federal prosecutor and U.S. appellate judge said under promise of anonymity, \"They will give [Chertoff] a little time so it won\'t hurt his reputation too much, but he\'s probably got only a few days left.\"
For weeks, Chertoff has been under fire from Capitol Hill and the media for his performance during the disaster last year. In addition, more criticism has been fueled by his clash with former FEMA Director Michael Brown in the so-called post-Katrina \"blame game.\" (See HUMAN EVENTS\' exclusive report, \"Brown: White House Made Me Scapegoat,\" in which he says, \"They've got to keep me out there as a scapegoat. If they get rid of Chertoff, they have no new scapegoat. Then it goes to the White House.\")

Last month, however, when I asked White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan if the President had confidence in the embattled Chertoff, he replied without hesitation \"Absolutely.\" Even Sen. Hillary Clinton (D.-N.Y.), a very public critic of the Administration\'s handling of Katrina, stopped short of calling on Chertoff to leave.

But with the release of the teleconference two days ago and resultant media discussion of the President's apparent silence as Brown informs him of pending disaster (\"Is Brown Owed An Apology?\" was the theme of a debate on Fox News last night), criticism of Chertoff and calls for his resignation have been enhanced.

Now, at least one source close to him says the end of his tenure as the nation's second secretary of Homeland Security is near.

UPDATE -- 8:08 p.m.: A senior administration official is refuting my source's comments that Chertoff's days are numbered.

"The President offered strong words of support for Secretary Chertoff on Tuesday in an interview with Elizabeth Vargas. Secretary Chertoff is serving in one of the most difficult positions in government and he is doing an excellent job."

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Midwest Oil fined for selling gas too cheaply - The state imposed a $140,000 penalty for what it called \"willful, continuing, and egregious\" violations of the price law.

Tom Ford
Star Tribune
February 24, 2006

The Minnesota Commerce Department on Thursday announced plans to fine a gas station chain $140,000 for repeatedly selling gas below the state\'s legal minimum price.
The fine against Midwest Oil of Minnesota is twice as large as any imposed on a company since 2001, when the state established a formula based on wholesale prices, fees and taxes to determine a daily floor for gas prices.

The price law was intended to prevent large oil companies from driving smaller competitors out of business, but some critics argue it fails to protect consumers.

According to the Commerce Department, the Midwest-owned stations in Anoka, Oakdale and Albert Lea sold gas below the minimum price on 293 days in 2005.

Kevin Murphy, deputy commissioner of the department, called the violations \"willful, continuing, and egregious and warrant a substantial penalty.\"

The company has 30 days to contest the fine by requesting a hearing.

In previous cases, companies were fined anywhere from $500 to $70,000 for selling gas too cheaply.

And in those cases, the companies and the department generally had agreed on the amount of the penalty.

Midwest had not cooperated with the department on a penalty, and was accused by the department of using several delaying tactics before the matter could be resolved.

Midwest officials couldn\'t be reached for comment Thursday.

Midwest is a subsidiary of the Wisconsin-based Science and Technology Institute, led by Dr. R.C. Samanta Roy.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty and several Minnesota legislators have urged a repeal of the state\'s minimum price rules.

Critics have argued that it ends up costing most customers an extra dollar or more to fill up, without adding to tax revenues.

Defenders of the law say it\'s critical to protect small and medium-sized stations.

They note that unlike large chains, those stations often can\'t cushion below-cost gasoline with sales of other merchandise.

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When $8.18 Trillion Isn\'t Enough - America is Bankrupt

American Progress
3 Mar 06

Yesterday, Treasury officials told Senate aides that without an increase in the nation\'s $8.18 trillion debt limit, the government \"would default on obligations for the first time in history sometime during the week of March 20.\" The Senate will have to take up the issue soon since \"federal default is considered unimaginable because it would rattle bond markets, force interest rates higher and shake the economy.\"

The debt limit increase to around $9 trillion would be the fourth increase in five years. \"I don\'t think the leadership wants to have any debate on this, and I think the reason is pretty clear,\" Finance Committee ranking member Max Baucus (D-MT) told CongressDaily. \"It\'s embarrassing.\" To avoid an extended debate, the leadership is set to vote on the issue as close to the March 17 recess as possible.
Yesterday, Treasury officials told Senate aides that without an increase in the nation\'s $8.18 trillion debt limit, the government "would default on obligations for the first time in history sometime during the week of March 20." The Senate will have to take up the issue soon since "federal default is considered unimaginable because it would rattle bond markets, force interest rates higher and shake the economy." The debt limit increase to around $9 trillion would be the fourth increase in five years. "I don\'t think the leadership wants to have any debate on this, and I think the reason is pretty clear," Finance Committee ranking member Max Baucus (D-MT) told CongressDaily. "It\'s embarrassing." To avoid an extended debate, the leadership is set to vote on the issue as close to the March 17 recess as possible. Finance Committee chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has admitted he wants the debt limit increased "with the least debate" possible. "I would like to see a bill on any Thursday night just prior to a recess," he said. The New York Times warned the Senate bill may "be put to a voice vote, so that no individual would have to go on record as approving the measure. The American people deserve better."

DO AS WE SAY, NOT AS WE DO: "The American dream begins with saving money and that should begin on the very first day of work," Vice President Cheney said yesterday. "Yet a lot of American families live paycheck to paycheck...and this underscores one of our fundamental obligations in Washington: to be good stewards of the taxpayer\'s dollar." But as Bloomberg columnist John M. Berry said, "The reality is that taxes and spending are badly out of whack, and hardly anyone - certainly neither President George W. Bush nor Vice President Richard Cheney - wants to admit it." Cheney, after all, once claimed, "Deficits don\'t matter." The $5.6 trillion projected ten year surplus, accumulated as part of what American Progress Senior Fellow Gene Sperling describes as "the rainy day savings of the 1990s," is gone. "The outlook for the federal budget over the next decade continues to be bright," the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) wrote in January 2001. "Such large surpluses would be sufficient by 2006 to pay off all debt held by the public that will be available for redemption." The current national debt stands at $8,269,768,312,946.41.

IRRESPONSIBLE ON TAXES: The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities pegged the cost of permanently extending the Bush tax cuts and the Alternative Minimum Tax at $3.3 trillion over ten years. This figure includes $486 billion in interest payments for servicing the debt. (By comparison, Bush\'s 2007 defense spending request is $439 billion.) To put this into perspective: over the next ten years $917 billion of these tax cuts will go to just the wealthiest 1 percent of families (those earning more than $400,000 in today\'s dollars). Rather than face up to the fiscal challenges facing the country, the administration continues to urge Congress "to make the Bush tax cuts permanent." Even a "budget hawk" like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is caught up in the tax-cutting frenzy. Last month, McCain voted in favor of extending tax cuts on dividends and capital gains. Yet in May 2001, when the fiscal picture was rosier, McCain voted "no" because he was "very concerned about the deficit." (Bush still claims: "You cut taxes and the tax revenues increase.") "I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us at the expense of middle-class Americans who need tax relief," McCain said at the time. (More on why the tax cuts fail to spur economic growth.)

WHEN IS AN EMERGENCY NOT AN EMERGENCY: The Bush administration continues to bypass standard congressional budget procedures with its reliance on "emergency" spending bills. "In theory, emergency spending bills are for one-time, unforeseeable calamities," the New York Times reported. "In practice, Mr. Bush has financed the entire war in Iraq, as well as the war in Afghanistan" by labeling the ongoing conflicts as emergencies. "Emergency spending on natural disasters has shot up as well" because Congress does not set aside a "rainy day fund" to cover disaster spending. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Judd Gregg (R-NH) has called these tactics "irresponsible" and "unrealistic." Gregg told CongressDaily, "Essentially what [members of the administration are] saying is, \'Everything else in the government is going to be subject to severe limitations in spending, but the area that we\'re interested in is going to have no budget process at all, it\'s simply going to be done outside the budget process through emergencies.\'" Added Gregg, "I don\'t think they have any credibility on budgets."

FOREIGN DEBT: "Foreign entities own a little more than 53 percent of the U.S. federal debt in publicly traded world markets," ABC News reported last month. In contrast, only "1 percent of all active corporations that filed taxes in 2002" are foreign-owned. While there is nothing inherently wrong with foreigners buying our debt (foreign central banks have kept interest rates low), a "disorderly situation would occur if foreign money dried up suddenly when the United States still needed it. Then the adjustment in American savings might happen involuntarily. Interest rates would rise sharply, and the dollar could fall abruptly. This could induce a sharp economic contraction, even stagflation." If we continue to live at the mercy of the main financiers of our debt - whether it\'s Japan, China, the United Kingdom, or "Caribbean Banking Centers" -- we could find ourselves on "on increasingly thin ice."

THE HUMAN COSTS OF BUDGET DEFICITS: The President\'s budget shows what happens when the right wing pushes budget cuts under the guise of "deficit reduction." On the revenue side, the budget proposals would extend tax cuts for the wealthy at a cost of $1.7 trillion. On spending, the budget proposes $36 billion in Medicare cuts, $276 million in cuts to the Centers for Disease Control, a 3.8 percent cut to the Department of Education, and nearly $600 million in cuts to science and technology programs. Read the Center for American Progress analysis of the Bush budget here.

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When You Can\'t Obscure the News, Buy It - How the Economic News is Spun

2 Mar 06

Readers ask me to reconcile the jobs and debt data that I report to them with the positive economic outlook and good news that comes to them from regular news sources. Some readers are being snide, but most are sincere.

I am pleased to provide the explanation. First, let me give my reassurances that the numbers I report to you come straight from official US government statistics. I do not massage the numbers or rework them in any way. I cannot assure you that the numbers are perfectly reported to, and collected by, the government, but they are the only numbers we have.
Here is how to reconcile my reports with the good news you get from the mainstream media:

(1) When the US Department of Labor, for example, releases the monthly payroll jobs data, the press release will put the best spin on the data. The focus is on the aggregate number of new jobs created the previous month, for example, 150,000 new jobs. That sounds good. News reporters report the press release. They do not look into the data to see what kinds of jobs have been created and what kinds are being lost. They do not look back in time and provide a net job creation number over a longer period of time.

This is why the American public is unaware that higher paid jobs in export and import-competitive industries are being phased out along with engineering and other professional \"knowledge jobs\" and replaced with lower paid jobs in domestic services. The replacement of higher paid jobs with lower paid jobs is one reason for the decline in median household income over the past five years. It is not a large decline, but it is a decline. How can it be possible for the economy to be doing well when median household income is not growing and when economic growth is based on increased consumer indebtedness?

Many economists mistake offshore outsourcing with free trade based on comparative advantage. As a result of this mistake, ideology speaks instead of economic analysis. For example, Matthew J. Slaughter, an economics professor at Dartmouth, commits a huge error when he writes: \"for every one job that US multinationals created abroad in their foreign affiliates they created nearly two US jobs in their parent operations.\" If Slaughter had consulted the BLS payroll jobs data, he would have realized that his claim could not possibly be true. Slaughter did not come to his conclusion by examining aggregate job creation. Instead, he measured the growth of US multinational employment and failed to take into account the two reasons for an increase in multinational employment: (1) multinationals acquired many existing smaller firms, thus raising multinational employment but not overall employment, and (2) many firms established foreign operations for the first time and thereby became multinationals, thus adding their existing employment to Slaughter\'s number for multinational employment.

ABC News\' John Stossel, a libertarian hero, recently made a similar error. In debunking Lou Dobbs\' concern with US jobs lost to offshore outsourcing, Stossel invokes the California-based company, Collabnet. He quotes the CEO\'s claim that outsourcing saves his company money and lets him hire more Americans. Turning to Collabnet\'s web page, it is very interesting to see the employment opportunities that the company posts for the US and for India.

In India, Collabnet has openings for 8 engineers, a sales engineer, a technical writer, and a tele-marketing representative. In the US, Collabnet has openings for one engineer, a receptionist/office assistant, and positions in marketing, sales, services, and operations. Collabnet is a perfect example of what Lou Dobbs and I report: the engineering and design jobs move abroad, and Americans are employed to sell and market the foreign made products.

(2) Wall Street economists are salesmen. The companies that employ them want to sell stocks and bonds. They don\'t want bad news. A bear market is not good for business. Similarly, business associations have the agenda of their members. Offshore outsourcing reduces their labor costs and boosts their profits and performance-based bonuses. Therefore, it is natural that their association reports put a positive spin on outsourcing. The same organizations benefit from work visas that allow them to bring foreign workers in as indentured servants to replace their more fractious and higher paid American employees. Thus, the myth of a US shortage of engineers and scientists. This myth is used to wheedle more subsidies in the form of more H-1B visas out of Congress.

(3) Official US government reports are written to obfuscate serious problems for which the government has no solution. For example, \"The Economic Report of the President,\" written by the Council of Economic Advisers, blames the huge US trade deficit on the low rate of domestic savings. The report claims that if only Americans would save more of their incomes, they would not spend so much on imports, and the $726 billion trade gap would close.

This analysis is nonsensical on its face. Offshore outsourcing has turned US production into imports. Americans are now dependent on offshore production for their clothes, manufactured goods and advanced technology products. There are simply no longer domestic suppliers of many of the products on which Americans depend.

Moreover, many Americans are struggling to make ends meet, having lost their jobs to offshore outsourcing. They are living on credit cards and struggling to make minimum payments. Median household real incomes are falling as higher paid jobs are outsourced while Americans are relegated to lower paying jobs in domestic services.

They haven\'t a dollar to save. As Charles McMillion points out, the February 28 report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that all GDP growth in the fourth quarter of 2005 was due to the accumulation of unsold inventory and that consumers continued to outspend their incomes.

Matthew Spiegleman, a Confeence Board economist, claims that manufacturing jobs are only slightly higher paid than domestic service jobs. He reaches this conclusion by comparing only hourly pay and by leaving out the longer manufacturing work week and the associated benefits, such as health care and pensions.

Stossel simply does not know enough economics to be aware that he is being used. The bought-and-paid-for-economists are simply earning their living and their grants by serving the interests of corporate outsourcers.

(4) Policy reports from think tanks reflect what the donors want to hear. Truth can be \"negative\" and taken as a reflection on the favored administration in power. Consider, for example, the conservative, Bruce Bartlett, who was recently fired by the National Center for Policy Analysis for writing a truthful book about George Bush\'s economic policies. Donors to NCPA saw Bartlett\'s truthful book as an attack on George Bush, their hero, and withheld $165,000 in donations. There were not enough Bartlett supporters to step in and fill the gap, so he was fired in order to save donations.

When I held the William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, I saw internal memos describing the grants CSIS could receive from the George H.W. Bush administration in exchange for removing me from the Simon chair.

In America \"truth\" has long been for sale. We see it in expert witness testimony, in the corrupt reports from forensic labs that send innocent people to prison, and even in policy disputes among scientists themselves. In scholarship, ideas that are too challenging to prevailing opinion have a rough row to hoe and often cannot get a hearing.

Even the president of Harvard University, Larry Summers, an academic economist of some note and a former Secretary of the Treasury, was forced to resign because he offered a politically incorrect hypothesis about the relative scarcity of women in science.

The few reporters and columnists who are brave or naive enough to speak out are constrained by editors who are constrained by owners and advertisers. For example, it is impermissible to examine the gaping holes in the 9/11 Commission Report. Publications and editors are intimidated by the charge of \"conspiracy theory,\" just as criticism of Israel is muted for fear of being labeled \"anti-semitic.\"

All of these reasons and others make truth a scarce commodity.
Censorship exists everywhere and is especially heavy in the US mainstream media.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at: paulcraigroberts@yahoo.com

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San Francisco Resolution to Impeach Bush-Cheney Passes 7-3

by Ken Werner
Mar. 03‚ 2006

On Tuesday, February 28, 2006, the City and County of San Francisco became the first large municipality to call for the impeachment of George Bush and Dick Cheney, by a 7-3 vote.

Supervisors Sean Elsbernd, Michela Alioto-Pier, and Sophie Maxwell cast the dissenting votes (Sup. Jake McGoldrick was absent for the vote). Sup. Chris Daly commenced his introduction of Agenda Item 27 with \"I initially thought this ... would be a noncontroversial piece of legislation. Perhaps it still is, maybe not-a-unanimous-vote piece of legislation. But if you remember when we took our oath of office we swore to uphold the Constitution.\"
Sup. Daly again called attention to the strongest argument for impeachment, Bush lying to the American people about the reason for preemptively attacking Iraq based on forged documents regarding Saddam Hussein\'s \"alleged\" intent to purchase yellowcake from Niger: \"Bush knowingly included false and misleading evidence in his January 2003 State of the Union Address stating Iraq was seeking to purchase uranium from Niger to build nuclear weapons.\" Sup. Daly also pointed to the Bush administration\'s failure to respond to the imminent disaster posed by Hurricane Katrina and asked the other supervisors to imagine if something like that happened in San Francisco where \"primarily African-American people, some of whom were sick, elderly, disabled [were] left there basically for five days to die.\"

As he stated last week, Sup. Daly also returned to the argument regarding the treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo: \"If you look at the scandals of the sanctioned torture at the Abu Ghraib prison facility and at Guantanamo Bay, [it is a] clear violation of the Geneva Convention in terms of treatment of prisoners.\"

In his presentation on February 21, Daly outlined the financial and human cost to The City and did so again this past Tuesday, but he also detailed what the current financial cost to the country has been:

\"What could we have done with $240-billion in the last few years? The United States of America could have fully funded global anti-hunger efforts for nine years and ended global hunger! We could have made sure every child is given immunizations for almost 80 years, hired over 4-million school teachers for a year, provided over 11-million students with four-year scholarships to public universities, fully funded world aid programs for the next 23 years!\"

And Daly also pointed to the ongoing cost of the Iraq invasion by noting that Joseph E. Stiglitz, Columbia University economist and 2001 winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, has stated that the eventual cost of the illegal war could top $2-trillion.

Again referring to Bush\'s 2003 State of the Union Address, Daly pointed out that \"This is a war that this country entered into under false pretenses, a case made by the President of the United States of America. He lied to the American people.\"

Regarding the motivation for passing the resolution, Daly pointed to other local efforts and noted that in the 2006 full Board meetings to date he and his colleagues have passed 7 resolutions that were focused on state or national issues such as \"justice or equity for Filipino World War II veterans,\" supporting or opposing infrastructure bonds, and \"weighing in on a Congressional bill on immigration.\" Daly discussed the geographic distance of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Barbara Boxer, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein and aptly noted that when the Board of Supervisors passes such resolutions, \"These types of resolutions are helpful [to state and federal officials] to take the temperature of the constituency.\" He also recalled 2004\'s Prop N that passed with 63% regarding the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.

Sup. Daly then pleaded with his colleagues to pass the resolution so that we could move forward with the impeachment of George Bush and Dick \"Scattershot\" Cheney.

Sup. Elsbernd then spoke and requested that the paragraph regarding the Democratic Party taking back the House of Representatives be stricken, and Sup. Daly cooperated, but Elsbernd was acting in bad faith and voted NO anyway.

Board President Aaron Peskin then recognized Sup. Michela Alioto-Pier who droned \"I don\'t think that we need to be calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney.\"

Sup. Sophie Maxwell did not offer any comment with her NO vote during the meeting but she returned my phone call Thursday morning and offered the following. Speaking from anger and frustration regarding social injustices in our \"liberal\" City, she felt it was too easy to call for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney while African-Americans in San Francisco are being shot with illegal assault weapons and while children are achieving low grade-point averages in schools as a direct result of being forced to live in combat zones.

Several times Sup. Maxwell described the living conditions as third-world in nature in not only Bayview/Hunters Point but in the SROs where families are subjected to inhumane conditions. Speaking as an indictment of not only her colleagues but of herself, as well, and probably Newsom because of his lack of action, Sup. Maxwell declared \"WE need to be impeached.\" The supervisor\'s NO vote was apparently meant as a protest given out of anger and frustration she was feeling during the meeting.

When asked if she would change her vote should Newsom veto Sup. Daly\'s resolution, Sup. Maxwell didn\'t think that situation would occur but when pressed she stated that \"the situation would be different\" and she would deliberate accordingly.


Let\'s start with the San Francisco Chronicle\'s rendition of this story. Was the Chronicle\'s placement, considering the historic nature of this resolution, at the top of the front page? No. It made the front page, but Edward Epstein\'s and Charlie Goodyear\'s \"S.F. supervisors ask lawmakers to impeach Bush\" was relegated to the bottom right with a headline of about 18 point. It might as well have been buried in the business section.

While the reporters queried Mayor Gavin Newsom, the mayor treated the historic resolution like a right-wing talk radio host and the Chronicle quoted him as saying Sup. Daly\'s resolution didn\'t make it on the list of important things to sign.

Newsom didn\'t indicate whether or not he would exercise yet another devastating veto.

What\'s truly disturbing here is that Sups. Elsbernd and Alioto-Pier treat this resolution -- and the heart-felt intent behind it -- in a Republican-style careless, reckless, and wanton disregard for HUMAN RIGHTS. Is it a conspiracy to act as obstructionists to disrupt and, indeed, subvert the progressive principles of the honorable Chris Daly? Or is it that Elsbernd and Alioto-Pier just don\'t care about human rights violations against predominantly people of color? Whatever their motives is almost irrelevant. But what IS relevant is that by their actions Elsbernd and Alioto-Pier have not just shunned progressive principles; by their actions or lack thereof they have essentially condoned the torture of fellow humans; they have condoned the Bush administration\'s illegal and preemptive attack on Iraq which has caused the deaths of more than 35,000 men, women, and children; and they have exhibited a perversion of morality that says profits over people.

My telephone conversation with Sup. Maxwell yesterday not only energized me, but I wish she had spoken during the hearing about her anger and frustration regarding local social injustices. Her colleagues, particularly the conservatives sitting in the chamber, should take her passion as a warning sign that Sup. Maxwell has retapped her revolutionary spirit. Her no vote should be taken as an act of protest.

Speaking of the nightmarish possibility of a mayoral veto, the 7-3 vote is not veto-proof, and Newsom has up to 10 days to make his decision. If Newsom vetoes the resolution, it will be his most pronounced swing to the right. If he decides NOT to act, it also exhibits Newsom\'s swing to the right but he can argue (unconvincingly to me) that the resolution didn\'t need his signature and his failure to sign means he intended the resolution to pass.

But the resolution passes with Newsom\'s signature, and in this case my feelings and thoughts about Newsom are irrelevant. What\'s important is the passage of Chris Daly\'s resolution, and the first stage of this ongoing national story will come to rest. The next stage of the story will commence to bring justice and peace to Casey Sheehan and the tens of thousands of American and Iraqi men, women, and children who are the victims of who I consider to be the biggest mass murderers of the 21st Century. And our City becomes the first major metropolis to call for the impeachment of George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney for their crimes against humanity.

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Newsday: The bungling Bush presidency is falling apart

James Klurfeld
March 3, 2006

An old acquaintance in Washington - a former member of Republican administrations whose foreign policy views are decidedly hard-line - recently had this to say to a friend about the Bush administration: This might be the most inept administration in American history.

Considering some of the bozos who have served in the White House - James Buchanan and Warren Harding are two names that come to mind - that is a breathtaking statement. Considering the stakes involved with the United States, the most powerful nation in the world, it is also frightening.
But it should come as no surprise that President George W. Bush has fallen to an approval rating of 34 percent in a recent national poll. Just look at the events in this winter of his discontent:

Iraq appears to be on the cusp of a civil war even as U.S. soldiers continue to be killed each week.

A just-released tape shows Bush was warned before Hurricane Katrina that New Orleans\' levees could be breached and the city devastated. The president, as we all remember, said he was taken by surprise.

Members of his own party have turned against him on the issues of whether a company owned by the United Arab Emirates should control six major ports in the United States.

As more and more information leaks out about the unauthorized and very likely illegal eavesdropping by the National Security Administration, there is more talk - only whispered at the moment - that there ought to be an impeachment inquiry into Bush\'s behavior.

While I\'ve not been a big fan of most of Bush\'s policies, I have occasionally marveled at his decisiveness and willingness to take bold stances. Bush has proved to be a much stronger leader than I ever could have anticipated, especially given the lack of any electoral mandate from the American people.

But I fear we are now seeing the other side of the coin with Bush. His lack of historical perspective, his crusading religiousness, his Texas-style shoot- first- ask- questions- later approach to complex problems - that is, all the shortcomings that were obvious from the beginning of his presidency - seem to be catching up with him now. It\'s one thing to be a decisive leader. It is quite another to be consistently making the wrong decisions.

The tape of him being briefed on Katrina by Federal Emergency Management Agency officials is particularly damning. It\'s a glimpse of the man without his eloquent speechwriter, Michael Gerson, putting words into his mouth. Bush doesn\'t ask a single question about the government\'s level of preparedness even while being told how concerned officials are. He manages only the most cliched assurance that the government is prepared to do whatever will be necessary. Not only was that not true, but when the finger-pointing started, Bush said he was surprised by the storm\'s impact.

In short, Bush was not only unprepared; he seemed to be detached from what was happening and then, worst of all, lied about it.
That 34 percent approval rating was registered before the Katrina tape came out.

The White House said not to make too much of the tape because it doesn\'t reflect the totality of the president\'s effort on the storm. Fair enough. But over the past six months Bush has failed to react to the devastation in New Orleans except for one stage-managed speech from the French Quarter.

This is a presidency coming unraveled before our eyes. It is not a pretty sight, and it is not good for the country. What a difference a year makes. After his re-election, Bush said that he would use his political capital.

Soon he won\'t have any left. Then what?

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March 03, 2006

George Bush isn\'t the only world leader whose popularity is in the toilet. According to an Angus Reid Global Scan report, the American President\'s 34 percent rating is actually better than that of his British counterpart.

They cite an Ipsos-MORI poll that shows only 28 percent of the respondents considered Prime Minister Tony Blair\'s performance satisfactory. This represents a drop of nine points since the last poll in November.

The story notes that Blair has announced he will be retiring at the end of his third term, but it cites Labour Party leader Dennis Healey as advising him to step down sooner, and allow his expected successor Gordon Brown to assume the position. \"I think Tony's showing he is losing his grip, and the sooner Gordon takes over the better,\" Healey reportedly said. The next election must be held on or before Jun. 3, 2010, and the prime minister may dissolve Parliament and call an early ballot at his discretion.

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UPDATE: Peanut kiss did not kill Quebec teen: coroner

CTV.ca News Staff
3 Mar 06

A Quebec teen with a severe peanut allergy did not die from kissing her boyfriend following his snack of peanut butter, a coroner has confirmed.

Michel Miron says the sudden death of fifteen-year-old Christina Desforges in November 2005 was not caused by a peanut butter sandwich.

The tragedy made headlines around the world.

Miron would not reveal the official cause of the teenager\'s death because he said he hadn\'t yet submitted his final report and is still waiting on some test results.
But Miron said he wanted to speak out before the case was mentioned in a forthcoming initiative by the Canadian Association of Food Allergies.

\"The Canadian Association of Food Allergies intended to use the Desforges case to launch an education campaign,\" he told Saguenay\'s Le Quotidien newspaper.

\"I had to tell them the cause of death was different than first believed.\"

Miron also said the teen, who lived in Saguenay, Que., did not receive a shot of adrenalin immediately after being kissed by her boyfriend.

Earlier reports suggested the shot hadn\'t penetrated her skin.

Miron said scientific journals had contacted him questioning the use of the adrenalin shot and how it was injected.

He said the teen did not use her syringe to give herself a shot of adrenalin because she didn\'t have an allergic reaction to peanut butter.

Saguenay is about 250 kilometres north of Quebec City.

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Marital Spats Raise Risk of Heart Attack

By Robert Roy Britt
LiveScience Managing Editor
posted: 03 March 2006

Fighting with the one you love can leave you broken-hearted, a feeling that now appears to be more than just figurative.

Marital spats and dominating behavior are related to hardening of the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart. Clogged arteries raise the risk of a heart attack.

A study in December found wounds heal more slowly in people who fight with their spouses.
In the new study, researchers did CT scans of 150 healthy married couples, mostly in their 60s. Then they had the couple discuss a topic for six minutes, during which time some of them argued or made disparaging remarks.

Hardening of the arteries is more likely in women when they and their husbands express hostility during marital disagreements, the scientists conclude. And it is more common in men when either they or their wives act in a controlling manner.

\"A low-quality relationship is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease,\" said professor Tim Smith of the University of Utah. Smith planned to present the findings today at the annual meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society.

In the tests, some of the discussions were calm. Others were \"quite hostile,\" Smith and his colleagues report. One shortcoming of the study is that it assumes the behaviors reflected long-term patterns. On the other hand, spats in front of scientists might well have been \"a muted version of what goes on at home,\" Smith speculated.

Particularly high levels of calcification were found in women \"who behaved in a hostile and unfriendly way and who were interacting with husbands who were also hostile and unfriendly.\"

\"In couples where there was not a struggle for control-where it wasn\'t a contest-those men had much lower levels of atherosclerosis,\" Smith said.

Other factors are likely greater contributors to heart disease, however. Smoking, lack of exercise and bad diet top the list, Smith said.

\"But somewhere on the list would be, \'Pay attention to your relationships,\'\" he said.

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Flashback! Good-Hearted Women Fail to Deal with Bad Hearts

By Robin Lloyd
Special to LiveScience
posted: 26 December 2005

The legend of the hard-hearted woman has gone to our heads, and that's probably bad for everyone's health. Women with heart disease discount the severity of their problem compared to men with the exact same cardiac symptoms and conditions, new research shows.

Among surveys given to 490 patients treated for a heart attack or severe chest pain at the University of Michigan between 1999 and 2002, 348 men and 142 women ranked the seriousness of their disease the same.

But in fact, the women had much worse disease, took more medicines and suffered more serious symptoms and limitations on their daily lives. These results, published in a recent issue of the American Journal of Medicine, were no surprise to study co-author Kim Eagle, clinical director of the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center.

\"My female patients with heart disease are often more concerned about their spouses, children, and grandchildren, than they are about their own health,\" Eagle told LiveScience.
Vigilance needed

Women should be vigilant in seeking cardiac care, no matter the inconvenience, she said, and no matter if they feel a stronger desire to care for others than for themselves.

\"It's hard to care for others if your own heart has been compromised,\" she said. It comes down to a problem of perception in which women somehow fail to see how severe their cardiac disease is. And that can lead to them failing to seek medical attention, treatment or rehabilitation.

Other research has shown that women treated for a heart attack tend to resume housework sooner than men with the same condition after they return home.

\"Women must come to grips with the heart truth,\" Eagle said. \"Heart disease kills way more women than any other disease.\"

By the numbers

Heart disease kills six times as many women each year as breast cancer, and 8 million American women currently are living with heart disease, according to the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease.

Recovery comes hard for women too-they are almost twice as likely as men to die after bypass surgery. Women tend to get less treatment for heart disease and comprise only a quarter of the participants in heart-related research studies.

And while 25 percent of men will die within a year of a first heart attack, that figure rises to 38 percent among women. Eagle's co-author Steven Erickson, of the University of Michigan's College of Pharmacy, said there is a message for men in all this when it comes to women's efforts to eat better, exercise daily and remember to take their medication after a coronary event. \"Women need the support of significant others,\" he said.

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Study: Lifting Weights Slims Down Belly

By Jamie Stengle
Associated Press
posted: 03 March 2006

DALLAS (AP) -- By just lifting weights twice a week for an hour, women can battle the buildup of tummy fat that often takes hold with aging, a new study suggests. And they didn\'t even diet.

The study focused on intra-abdominal fat, the deep fat that wraps itself around organs and is the most unhealthy because it\'s linked with heart disease.
"One of the most common complaints in women, especially as we continue to age, especially as we go through menopause, the No. 1 complaint is abdominal growth,\'\' said Dr. Tracy Stevens, a cardiologist who directs the women\'s heart center at St. Luke\'s Hospital in Kansas City.

"It\'s the apple-shaped person I\'m most worried about,\'\' said Stevens, who was not involved in the study. "The more central the fat, the more it\'s laid down in the arteries.\'\'

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and is being presented Friday at an American Heart Association conference in Phoenix.

In it, 164 overweight and obese Minnesota women ages 24 to 44 were divided evenly into two groups. One group participated in a two-year weight-training program and the other was simply given a brochure recommending exercise of 30 minutes to an hour most days of the week. Both groups were told not to change their diets in a way that might lead to weight changes.

Women who did the weight-training for two years had only a 7 percent increase in intra-abdominal fat, compared to a 21 percent increase in the group given exercise advice.

The strength-training group also decreased body fat percentage by almost 4 percent, while the group just given advice remained the same.

"I think we need to provide people with multiple possibilities, multiple roads to the same end. If this is what you\'re willing to do, I\'ll tell you what you can get out of it,\'\' said the lead author of the study, Kathryn Schmitz, an epidemiologist at the school of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Researchers reported only marginal effects from the training on total fat mass and the fat you can pinch under the skin.

Using both free weights and machines, the women in the strength-training group worked out for about an hour and were encouraged to gradually increase the weights they lifted.

"This is not a program you could do in your home, unless you can afford to have a full gym in your basement,\'\' Schmitz said.

The women, who completed 70 percent of the advised exercise throughout the study, were in supervised strengthening classes for 16 weeks.

Schmitz said the focus was on chest, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps, lower back, buttocks and thighs. She noted that adding muscle mass can help overweight women move faster so they burn more calories.

Dr. Rita F. Redberg, a cardiologist at the University of California San Francisco, pointed out that since muscle burns more calories than fat, increasing muscle mass means losing more calories.

"Certainly, any kind of exercise is better than not doing anything,\'\' Redberg said. But for "maximal benefit, cardio with weight training will get a lot more bang for your buck.\'\'

"I think exercise is the fountain of youth,\'\' she said. "If it was a pill, everyone would be taking it.\'\'

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Ouch! Why Women Feel More Pain

By LiveScience Staff
24 October 2005

Women feel more pain than men, studies have shown. New research reveals one reason why.

Women have more nerve receptors, which causes them to feel pain more intensely than men, according to a report in the October issue of the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

On average, women have 34 nerve fibers per square centimeter of facial skin. Men average just 17.
\"This study has serious implications about how we treat women after surgery as well as women who experience chronic pain,\" said Bradon Wilhelmi, a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and author of the study. \"Because women have more nerve receptors, they may experience pain more powerfully than men, requiring different surgical techniques, treatments or medicine dosages to help manage their pain and make them feel comfortable.\"

Earlier this year, separate research found that women report more pain throughout their lifetimes, in more areas of their bodies and for longer durations.

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Why We Have Sex: It\'s Cleansing

By Ker Than
LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 01 March 2006

Scientists have long wondered why organisms bother with sexual reproduction. It makes a whole lot more sense to just have a bunch of females that can clone themselves, which is how asexual reproduction works.

Turns out sex might have evolved as a way to concentrate lots of harmful mutations into individual organisms so they could be easily weeded out by natural selection, a new computer model suggests.
The classic explanation for the onset of whoopee, about 1 billion years ago, is that it provides a way for organisms to swap and shuffle genes and to create offspring with new gene combinations that might survive if the environment suddenly changes.

But some scientists think this isn\'t enough of a justification to outweigh the many costs of getting together to make little ones. Just ask any single person-sexual organisms have to spend valuable time and resources finding and attracting mates.

If all organisms were like starfishes and cacti, which just drop pieces of themselves when they want to multiply, reproduction would be a whole lot simpler. There would be no need for elaborate peacock feathers or bird songs; stags wouldn\'t need antlers; elephant bulls wouldn\'t have to produce stinky cologne and guys probably wouldn\'t spend so much money on dates.

Natural cleansing

The new work could help test a hypothesis first proposed nearly 20 years ago, stating that sex evolved as a way to purge harmful mutations from a population. According to this view, the random shuffling of genes through sex will sometimes have the effect of concentrating many harmful mutations into single individuals.

These individuals will be less healthy than their peers, and therefore more likely to be weeded out by natural selection, the thinking goes.

This hypothesis, called the \"mutational deterministic hypothesis,\" is controversial though, because it assumes that single mutations by themselves are only slightly harmful, while a combination of many mutations together is much more damaging. Scientists call this phenomenon \"negative epistasis.\"

If negative epistasis were true, it would provide a powerful explanation for why sex has managed to persist for so long despite its numerous costs. But the phenomenon has yet to be widely demonstrated in nature and scientists have yet to figure out how such a thing evolved in the first place.

A new computer model by Ricardo Azevedo of the University of Houston and colleagues provides a possible answer to this last question. According to their model, detailed in the March 2 issue of the journal Nature, negative epistasis is a natural byproduct of sex itself.

Digital critters

The researchers created digital organisms that reproduced through sex in the same manner as real organisms. And like a regular organism, the virtual one developed a natural buffer to resist change by mutations. This ability, called \"genetic robustness,\" is thought to be one of the main benefits of sex.

By shuffling genes, sex allows a population to spread its mutations across many individuals within a group. The mutations become diluted and can be effectively dealt with by an individual\'s genetic repair system.

But the researchers found that the protection only works when the digital organisms were facing a few mutations at a time. When assaulted by many at once, their repair systems became overwhelmed and the organisms died. Azevedo think this happens in real life, too.

\"Most organisms are never forced to adapt to being resistant to many mutations at once,\" he told LiveScience. \"They\'re adapting to being resistant to one or maybe two mutations, but not to ten at the same time.\"

The researchers think that the combination of genetic robustness through sex and the limited ability of organisms to deal with mutations leads to the natural development of negative epistasis.

\"Most mutations are actually harmful, so anything that helps populations get rid of their harmful mutations is going to be important,\" Azevedo said. \"The more interesting side of evolution is all the beneficial mutations that leads to complex structures, but the dirty work of evolution is to get rid of bad mutations, and that\'s where sex seems to play a role.\"

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Mom\'s Genetics Could Produce Gay Sons

By Ker Than
LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 24 February 2006

The arrangement of a mother\'s genes could affect the sexual orientation of her son, according to a new study.

The finding, detailed in the February issue of the journal Human Genetics, adds fuel to the decade-long debate about whether so-called \"gay genes\" might exist.

The researchers examined a phenomenon called \"X chromosome inactivation\" in 97 mothers of gay sons and 103 mothers whose sons were not gay.
X and Y

Chromosomes are large thread-like molecules that contain an organism\'s genetic instructions. Humans have 23 chromosome pairs. The X chromosome is one of two sex chromosomes in mammals; the other is the Y chromosome. Females have two X chromosomes and no Y\'s, while males have one X and one Y.

Even though women have two X chromosomes, only one is functional because the other is inactivated through a process called \"methylation.\"

\"It gets wrapped up in a ball and is not used with the exception of a few genes,\" explained study leader Sven Bocklandt of the University of California, Los Angeles.

If one of the females\' X chromosomes is not turned off, then there is too much genetic material, which can lead to a harmful overabundance of proteins. Down syndrome, for example, results from the presence of an extra copy of chromosome 21.

Big difference

Normally, X chromosome inactivation occurs at random: half of the cells in a woman\'s body will have one X chromosome inactivated, while the other half inactivates the other chromosome.

However, when the researchers in the current study examined cells from the 42 mothers who had at least two gay sons, they found that about a quarter of the women in this group showed something different.

\"Every single cell that we looked at in these women inactivated the same X chromosome,\" Bocklandt told LiveScience. \"That\'s highly unusual.\"

In contrast, only 4 percent of mothers with no gay sons and 13 percent of those with just one gay son showed this type of extreme skewing.

Bocklandt thinks this suggest that a mother\'s X chromosomes partly influences whether her son is gay or not.

\"We think that there are one or more genes on the X chromosome that have an effect on the sexual orientation of the sons of these mothers, as well as an effect on the cells we were looking at,\" Bocklandt said.

Other chromosomes implicated

Bocklandt was also involved in an earlier study that looked at the entire human genome of men who had two or more gay brothers. The researchers found identical stretches of DNA on three chromosomes-7, 8 and 10-that were shared by about 60 percent of the gay brothers in the study.

That study also found mothers to have an unusually large role in their son\'s sexual orientation: the region on chromosome 10 correlated with homosexuality only if it was inherited from the mother.

The results from these two studies suggest that there are multiple genetic factors involved in determining a person\'s sexual orientation and that it might vary depending on the person.

\"We think that there are going to be some gay men who are X chromosome gay men and some who are chromosome 7 gay men or chromosome 10 gay men or some combination,\" Bocklandt said in a telephone interview.

Most researchers now think that there is no single gay gene that controls whether a person is homosexual or not. Rather, it\'s the influence of multiple genes, combined with environmental influences, which ultimately determine whether a person is gay.

A touchy subject

Research into the genetics of sexual orientation is controversial. Religious leaders who believe that sexual orientation is a choice argue that such research is an attempt to legitimize homosexuality; others worry that a detailed knowledge of the genetics underlying homosexuality will open the door to genetic engineering that prevents it.

But Bocklandt doesn\'t think these concerns should prevent scientists from asking the basic question of whether homosexuality has an underlying genetic component to it or not.

\"I have no doubt that at some point we\'ll be able to manipulate all sorts of aspects of our personality and physical appearance,\" Bocklandt said. \"I think if there\'s ever a time when we can make these changes for sexual orientation, then we will also be able to do it for intelligence or musical skills or certain physical characteristics-but whether or not these things are allowed to happen is something that society as a whole has to decide. It\'s not a scientific question.\"

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Blasphemy Dept: Blair: \'God will be my judge on Iraq\'

By Andy McSmith
04 March 2006

Tony Blair has proclaimed that God will judge whether he was right to send British troops to Iraq, echoing statements from his ally George Bush.

Contradicting warnings from advisers not to mix politics and religion, the Prime Minister said that his interest in politics sprang from his Christianity and its \"values and philosophy\" had guided him in public life.
Explaining how he managed to live with the decision to go to war in Iraq, Mr Blair replied: \"If you have faith about these things then you realise that judgement is made by other people. If you believe in God,it\'s made by God as well.\" His remarks, made in an interview to be shown on ITV\'s Parkinson show tonight, invite comparison with President Bush, a born-again Christian, who has made a virtue of bringing religion into politics. But they also carry the risk of inflaming opinion in the Arab world, where the term \"crusader\" is commonly used to condemn Christian leaders who meddle in the Middle East.

It is also exactly the sort of comment he has been repeatedly urged not to make for domestic purposes, because of the risk that a sceptical British public will react badly to politicians who appear to be \"preaching\". Mr Blair was instructed by his former director of communications, Alastair Campbell: \"We don\'t do God.\"

As well as invoking God as the final judge of the Iraq war, Mr Blair also explained how his religious and political beliefs came to him simultaneously. \"There were people at university who got me into politics. I kind of got into religion, politics, at the same time, in a way. And until the age of about 20 I really wasn\'t very interested in politics at all,\" he told Michael Parkinson. \"That\'s how I got interested in it.\"

He refused to accept a description of himself as a \"Christian socialist\" - but only because the phrase contained the \"s\" word. \"It\'s a long time since anyone used the word socialist about me,\" he said.

He agreed that his politics could be described as Christian \"in terms of the values and the philosophy\". He also confirmed that religion illuminates his politics. \"If you have a religious belief, it does - but it\'s probably best not to take it too far,\" he said.

Roger Bacon, who has been trying unsuccessfully to meet Tony Blair since his son, Major Matthew Bacon, 34, was killed in Iraq, said last night: \"This would explain why he won\'t see the parents. How can he speak to us when God told him to send the troops out to Iraq so our sons could be killed?\"

And Rose Gentle, whose son Gordon was killed in Basra in 2004, said she was \"quite disgusted\" at the comments made by the Prime Minister. The Military Families Against the War campaigner said: \"How can he say he is a Christian? A Christian would never put people out there to be killed.

\"A good Christian wouldn\'t be for this war. I\'m actually quite disgusted by the comments. It\'s a joke.\"

During his eight-year premiership, the only decisions that have caused Mr Blair sleepless nights have been those that involved taking the UK to war, he said. But he added: \"The only way you can take a decision like that is to try to do the right thing, according to your conscience. And, for the rest of it, you leave it to the judgement that history will make.\"

Mr Blair refused to say whether he had prayed for guidance on whether to send British troops into Iraq - which has cost the lives of 103 British troops, 2,300 US soldiers, and up to 30,000 Iraqis, with many thousands maimed or injured, in a conflict which has claimed more lives since the fall of Baghdad than the war itself.

There have been persistent reports that Mr Blair joined the President in prayer for God\'s guidance at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, in 2002, at the summit at which many people believe a secret decision was reached to invade Iraq.

The claim was made in a book by the Christian author Stephen Mansfield, who said he had heard it from White House officials. It was later backed up by a writer on Time magazine, David Aikman.

Mr Bush once told Palestinian leaders: \"God would tell me, \'George, go end the tyranny in Iraq\' and I did.\"

Mr Blair\'s Cabinet includes several deeply committed Christians, such as Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, who is a Roman Catholic, and the Chief Whip, Hilary Armstrong - but they rarely break the injunction not to mix religion and politics publicly.

Comment: From Adventures With Cassiopaea:

Many Psychopaths \"make their living\" by using charm, deceit, and manipulation to gain the confidence of their victims. Many of them can be found in white collar professions where they are aided in their evil by the fact that most people expect certain classes of people to be trustworthy because of their social or professional credentials. Lawyers, doctors, teachers, politicians, psychiatrists and psychologists, generally do not have to earn our trust because they have it by virtue of their positions. But the fact is: psychopaths are found in such lofty spheres also!

At the same time, psychopaths are good imposters. They have absolutely no hesitation about forging and brazenly using impressive credentials to adopt professional roles that bring prestige and power. They pick professions in which the requisite skills are easy to fake, the jargon is easy to learn, and the credentials are unlikely to be thoroughly checked. Psychopaths find it extremely easy to pose as financial consultants, ministers, psychological counselors and psychologists. And that\'s a scary thought.

Psychopaths make their way by conning people into doing things for them; obtaining money for them, prestige, power, or even standing up for them when others try to expose them. But that is their claim to fame. That\'s what they do. And they do it very well. What\'s more, the job is very easy because most people are gullible with an unshakable belief in the inherent goodness of man.

Manipulation is the key to the psychopath\'s conquests. Initially, the psychopath will feign false emotions to create empathy, and many of them study the tricks that can be employed by the empathy technique. Psychopaths are often able to incite pity from people because they seem like \"lost souls\" as Guggenbuhl-Craig writes. So the pity factor is one reason why victims often fall for these \"poor\" people.

Hare cites a famous case where a psychopath was \"Man of the Year\" and president of the Chamber of Commerce in his small town. (Remember that John Wayne Gacy was running for Jaycee President at the very time of his first murder conviction!) The man in question had claimed to have a Ph.D. from Berkeley. He ran for a position on the school board which he then planned to parlay into a position on the county commission which paid more.

At some point, a local reporter suddenly had the idea to check up on the guy - to see if his credentials were real. What the reporter found out was that the only thing that was true about this up and coming politician\'s \"faked bio\" was the place and date of birth. Everything else was fictitious. Not only was the man a complete impostor, he had a long history of antisocial behavior, fraud, impersonation, and imprisonment. His only contact with a university was a series of extension courses by mail that he took while in Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary. What is even more amazing is the fact that before he was a con-man, he was a \"con-boy.\" For two decades he had dodged his way across America one step ahead of those he had hoodwinked. Along the way he had married three women and had four children, and he didn\'t even know what had happened to them. And now, he was on a roll! But darn that pesky reporter!

When he was exposed, he was completely unconcerned. \"These trusting people will stand behind me. A good liar is a good judge of people,\" he said. Amazingly, he was right. Far from being outraged at the fact that they had all been completely deceived and lied to from top to bottom, the local community he had conned so completely to accrue benefits and honors to himself that he had not earned, rushed to his support!

I kid you not! And it wasn\'t just \"token support.\" The local Republican party chairman wrote about him: \"I assess his genuineness, integrity, and devotion to duty to rank right alongside of President Abraham Lincoln.\" As Hare dryly notes, this dimwit was easily swayed by words, and was blind to deeds.

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Marzel to beauty queen: Don\'t marry a goy and \'divorce the Jewish people\'

Efrat Weiss
2 Mar 06

United Jewish Front leader begs local beauty queen Linor Aberjil not to marry her boyfriend, non-Jewish NBA player Sarunas Jasikevicius, and \'divorce the Jewish people\'
Chairman of the United Jewish Front party, Baruch Marzel, called on Israeli model and former Miss Universe Linor Aberjil Thursday to turn down a marriage proposal from her boyfriend, non-Jewish Lithuanian NBA player Sarunas Jasikevicius.

Aberjil, and Jasikevicius, who plays for the Indiana Pacers, have announced on Sunday they are getting married.

Jasikevicius, who basketball fans in Israel refer to in the nickname Sharas, became a local celebrity during his two years as a player for the country\'s leading basketball team Maccabi Tel Aviv.

He and Aberjil began dating in the last year, just before Sharas moved to the United States to play for the Pacers.

While the recent marriage proposal stirred excitement in Israel, some are apparently opposed to the notion of the not purely-Jewish covenant.

\"I was pained to hear you intend to marry basketball player Jasikevicius,\" Marzel wrote in a letter to Aberjil. \"I have nothing against Sharas, and he may well be a wonderful, charming man, but as long as he has not converted, you must not make such a move.\"

Marzel wrote Aberjil that if she weds Jasikevicius she would be divorcing the people of Israel as well as her family.

In the letter, Marzel begged Aberjil to think of her grandparents, Jewish tradition and the Israeli Torah. \"The greatest danger to our people is assimilation! I urge you in the last minute not to make this move,\" he wrote.

According to Marzel, his experience as a person who for years has dealt with Jewish women who married \"goyim\" taught him children of mix-marriage couples encounter identity problems.

\"I advise you to think, ask around and consult other people,\" Marzel wrote.

Marzel concluded his letter with a sincere offer to lend the beauty queen any help she may need:

\"If you wish to be informed of the dangers associated with marrying gentiles, I am leaving you my cell phone number. Please call me any time and I shall help you.\"

Comment: SOTT is speechless. Anything we might say would lead to accusations of anti-Semitism when we see exactly the reverse here...

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Falwell Asserts Jews Can\'t Go To Heaven

Associated Press
2 Mar 06

LYNCHBURG, Va. -- The Rev. Jerry Falwell is denying an Israeli newspaper report that he believes Jews can get to heaven without becoming Christians.

Wednesday\'s Jerusalem Post said that two Texas clerics, the Rev. John Hagee and Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg, had convinced Falwell that Jews have their own separate covenant and don\'t have to go through Jesus or the cross to get to heaven.

But Falwell says, \"Anybody who knows me knows that I believe that Christ is the way, the truth, the life, the only way to heaven.\"

After hearing about the article, Falwell said he contacted Hagee and Scheinberg, who he says signed affidavits denying that they made the statements reported in the Jerusalem Post.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.

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Madonna eyes Israel house to await Messiah

Agence France Presse
3 Mar 06

US pop diva Madonna wants to buy a house in the Israeli town of Rosh Pina, where the ancient Jewish Kabbalah tradition expects the Messiah to appear at the end of the world.

Yediot Aharonot said the owner of a 100-year-old, ramshackle five-bedroom villa overlooking the Sea of the Galilee had been recently contacted several times by representatives of the superstar with a view to selling his property.
According to the same source, Madonna wants to renovate the building into a centre of study of mystical Jewish texts pored over by Kabbalah followers.

The self-proclaimed Material Girl, a keen aficionado of the ancient Jewish mystical tradition, last visited Israel in September 2004.

She turned to Kabbalah in 1997 through the Los Angeles-based Kabbalah Centre which proclaims to offer a path to spiritual enlightenment through an eclectic mix of Orthodox Jewish tradition, visualisation and positive thinking.

Two years ago, she took the Hebrew name Esther and reportedly observes the Jewish sabbath, although she has not converted to Judaism.

One of her recent dance tracks is called \"Isaac\", the name of famous Kabbalah Rabbi Isaac Louria who lived and worked in the now northern Israeli town of Safed during the 16th century.

Comment: Well, so much for assuming that Madonna might have a brain...

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Expert Doubts Gospel Of Judas

By Richard N. Ostling
Associated Press
posted: 03 March 2006

NEW YORK (AP) -- An expert on ancient Egyptian texts is predicting that the "Gospel of Judas\'\' -- a manuscript from early Christian times that\'s nearing release amid widespread interest from scholars -- will be a dud in terms of learning anything new about Judas.

James M. Robinson, America\'s leading expert on such ancient religious texts from Egypt, predicts in a new book that the text won\'t offer any insights into the disciple who betrayed Jesus. His reason: While it\'s old, it\'s not old enough.

"Does it go back to Judas? No,\'\' Robinson told The Associated Press on Thursday.
The text, in Egypt\'s Coptic language, dates from the third or fourth century and is a copy of an earlier document. The National Geographic Society, along with other groups, has been studying the "Judas\'\' text.

The society said Thursday it will release its report on the document "within the next few weeks\'\' but didn\'t specify whether that would come via a book, magazine article or telecast.

Robinson has not seen the text that National Geographic is working on, but assumes it is the same work assailed by Bishop Irenaeus of Lyons around A.D. 180.

Irenaeus said the writings came from a "Cainite\'\' Gnostic sect that jousted against orthodox Christianity. He also accused the Cainites of lauding the biblical murderer Cain, the Sodomites and Judas, whom they regarded as the keeper of secret mysteries.

National Geographic\'s collaborators on the translation and interpretation of the text include its current owner -- Mario Roberti\'s Maecenas Foundation for Ancient Art in Basel, Switzerland -- and the Waitt Institute for Historical Discovery in La Jolla, California. Rodolphe Kasser, formerly of the University of Geneva, is the editor.

Robinson writes that the journey of the text to Switzerland was "replete with smugglers, black-market antiquities dealers, religious scholars, backstabbing partners and greedy entrepreneurs.\'\' In the process, Robinson fears, the fragile text may have been mishandled and parts of it lost forever.

Robinson is an emeritus professor at Claremont (California) Graduate University, chief editor of religious documents found in 1945 at Nag Hammadi, Egypt, and an international leader among scholars of Coptic manuscripts.

He says the text is valuable to scholars of the second century but dismissed the notion that it\'ll reveal unknown biblical secrets. He speculated the timing of the release is aimed at capitalizing on interest in the film version of "The Da Vinci Code\'\' -- a fictional tale that centers on a Christian conspiracy to cover up a marriage between Jesus and Mary Magdalene.

"There are a lot of second-, third- and fourth-century gospels attributed to various apostles,\'\' Robinson said. "We don\'t really assume they give us any first century information.\'\'

A National Geographic response said "it\'s ironic\'\' for Robinson to raise such questions since for years "he tried unsuccessfully to acquire this codex himself, and is publishing his own book in April, despite having no direct access to the materials.\'\'

National Geographic said it practiced "due diligence\'\' with scholars "to save the manuscript before it turns to dust and is lost forever\'\' and that everyone involved is committed to returning the materials to Egypt.

In "The Secrets of Judas,\'\' a HarperSanFrancisco book on sale April 1, Robinson will describe secretive maneuvers in the United States, Switzerland, Greece and elsewhere over two decades to sell the "Judas\'\' manuscript.

He writes that he was approached about purchasing a group of manuscripts in 1983 and arranged for colleague Stephen Emmel, now at the University of Muenster, Germany, to meet in Geneva with go-betweens for the owner.

Emmel got a glimpse of the text but didn\'t know it was the "Gospel of Judas\'\' till years later. He was told the original asking price was $10 million (euro8.39 million) but it could be obtained for $3 million (euro2.52 million), an impossibly high figure for the interested Americans.

From there, Robinson traces a twisted sales trail through years and continents to this year\'s impending release.

Emmel is now a member of the National Geographic team along with other former students of Robinson, who hopes his colleagues will be providing solid information about the text\'s history and location.

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Exposing the Da Vinci Hoax

By Joe Nickell
from the Skeptical Inquirer
posted: 24 May 2005

The record bestseller, Dan Brown's 2004 The Da Vinci Code, has renewed interest in the quest for the Holy Grail, restyling the medieval legend for a public that often gorges itself on a diet of pseudoscience, pseudo-history, and fantasy.

Unfortunately, the book is largely based on obscure, forged documents that have now deceived millions.
The adventure tale begins with Paris police summoning Robert Langdon, an Indiana Jones type, to the Louvre to view the corpse of curator Jacques Saunier. Saunier has been murdered in bizarre circumstances. Soon Langdon and beautiful cryptanalyst Sophie Neveau lead readers on a page-turning treasure hunt across France and England, propelled by a series of puzzles and clues. Along the way, the pair search for a hidden \"truth\" that challenges mainstream Christianity. Brown drew heavily on the 1982 bestseller, Holy Blood, Holy Grail, written by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln (1996), with Lincoln as the conceptual author.

Brown's novel is predicated on a conspiracy theory involving Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Supposedly the old French word sangreal is explained not as san greal (\"holy grail\") but as sang real (\"royal blood\"). Although that concept was not current before the late Middle Ages, Holy Blood, Holy Grail argues that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, with whom he had a child, and even that he may have survived the Crucifixion. Jesus' child, so the \"non-fiction\" book claims, thus began a bloodline that led to the Merovingian dynasty, a succession of kings who ruled what is today France from 481 to 751.

Evidence of the holy bloodline was supposedly found in a trove of parchment documents, discovered by Bérenger Saunière, the priest of Rennes-le-Château in the Pyrenees. The secret had been kept by a shadowy society known as the Priory of Sion which harked back to the era of the Knights Templar and claimed among its past \"Grand Masters\" Leonardo da Vinci, Isaac Newton, and Victor Hugo.

Brown seizes on Leonardo-borrowing from \"The Secret Code of Leonardo Da Vinci,\" chapter one of another work of pseudo-history titled \"The Templar Revelation.\" This was co-authored by \"researchers\" Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince, whose previous foray into nonsense was their claim that Leonardo had created the Shroud of Turin-even though that forgery appeared nearly a century before the great artist and inventive genius was born!

Among the \"revelations\" of Picknett and Prince, adopted by Dan Brown in The Da Vinci Code, is the claim that Leonardo's fresco, Last Supper, contains hidden symbolism relating to the sang real secret. They claim, for instance, that St. John in the picture (seated at the right of Jesus) is actually a woman-Mary Magdalene!-and that the shape made by \"Mary\" and Jesus is \"a giant, spreadeagled 'M,'\" supposedly confirming the interpretation. By repeating this silliness, Brown provokes critics to note that his characterizations reveal ignorance about his subject.

Alas, the whole basis of The Da Vinci Code-the \"discovered\" parchments of Rennes-le-Château, relating to the alleged Priory of Sion-were part of a hoax perpetrated by a man named Pierre Plantard. Plantard commissioned a friend to create fake parchments which he then used to concoct the bogus priory story in 1956. (See Carl E. Olson and Sandra Miesel, The Da Vinci Hoax, 2004.)

Of course, Dan Brown-with the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail and The Templar Revelation-was also duped by the Priory of Sion hoax, which he in turn foisted onto his readers. But he is apparently unrepentant, and his apologists point out that The Da Vinci Code is, after all, fiction, although at the beginning of the novel, Brown claimed it was based on fact. Meanwhile, despite the devastatingly negative evidence, The Da Vinci Code mania continues. Perhaps Brown should go on his own quest-for the truth.

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US ports deal review to widen probes: NY Times

4 Mar 06

NEW YORK - The deeper review promised by the Bush administration of a Dubai company\'s plan to take over some terminal operations at U.S. ports will include inspections at the ports, employee background checks and an examination of the United Arab Emirates\' terrorism-fighting efforts, The New York Times reported on Saturday.
Citing senior officials including Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security Stewart Baker, the Times said that the details of the review reflect what the officials described as a commitment to broadening the initial review that gave the go-ahead to the acquisition. That review\'s conclusions have been questioned by local politicians and members of Congress.

\"This is a full review without preconceptions,\" Baker told the Times. \"We are going to give this transaction a very robust examination,\" the newspaper quoted him as saying.

Baker and other senior administration officials told the Times the new inquiry would differ fundamentally from the first one. For example, whereas in the first review federal agencies were asked whether they knew of troubling information about the company, investigators will be sent out to seek information this time around.

The 45-day inquiry will yield a report to be submitted to President George W. Bush, who will have to approve the transfer or reject it, the Times said, again citing officials. The initial 30-day inquiry was conducted by a lower-level group headed by Deputy Treasury Secretary Robert Kimmitt.

Even before the second review starts Coast Guard inspectors have visited the terminals currently run by the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company, the subsidiary of Britain\'s P&O that is selling its terminal business to DP World, the Times said. In the coming days the Coast Guard plans to inspect DP World operations in the United Arab Emirates, home of Dubai, specifically to determine whether anti-terrorism security rules are being enforced in ports there, it added.

A senior administration official who spoke only on condition of anonymity said it might be a matter of days, and possibly more than a week, before the 45-day review started. \"We are assessing this entirely anew,\" the newspaper quoted the official as saying.

Among other issues, Baker said the UAE responses to terrorism threats would certainly be part of the new inquiry, the Times said.

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Flashback! Dubai funds Neil Bush\'s company

By Jerome R. Corsi
27 Feb 06

Investors from the United Arab Emirates helped fund the $23 million Neil Bush raised for Ignite!, the learning systems company that holds lucrative No Child Left Behind Act contracts in Florida and Texas. The \"Cow\" is an Ignite! portable computer designed to work in a classroom, providing interactive instruction aimed at improving students\' scores on standardized tests. If you loved Billy Carter and \"Billy Beer,\" you\'re certain to love Neil Bush and the \"Ignite! Cow.\"
Neil Bush\'s frequent travels to Dubai are documented by Datamatix, a Dubai-based information technology company that has featured Neil Bush as a speaker. The Datamatix website features several prominent photographs of Neil Bush addressing a Dubai conference, identifying Neil Bush as \"the brother of U.S. President George Bush.\"

Dubai\'s Datamatix appears to be bipartisan, as the company\'s website also shows Dubai appearances of various Democratic Party luminaries including Al Gore (with and without a beard), Sandy Berger – the National Security Adviser under President Clinton who achieved fame by stuffing classified documents in his socks – and Howard Dean, the current Democratic National Committee chairman. The site also shows photographs of Tipper Gore and John Sununu receiving \"Token of Appreciation\" awards in Dubai from Datamatix. Anti-Bush Internet websites have been touting the Neil Bush connection with Dubai for months, although the story has been largely shut out of the mainstream media. (See Debbie Schlussel\'s Feb. 23, 2006, column, \"Something\'s Rotten in Dubai.\")

Many times over, Neil Bush has won the distinction of being the \"black sheep\" of the Bush family. In 1988, Neil Bush was a director of the failed Silverado Savings and Loan, which collapsed in a scandal that ultimately cost taxpayers an estimated $1 billion. For his role in the savings and loan debacle, Neil Bush was personally fined and permanently banned from any further activities in banking. In a messy divorce ending a 23-year marriage with Sharon Bush, the mother of his children, Neil Bush gave a deposition in which he admitted multiple sex romps with Oriental prostitutes during his many \"business trips\" to Asia.

Reports also document Neil Bush traveling around the ex-Soviet Union to raise money for Ignite! with the notorious Boris Berezovsky, a Russian wheeler-dealer who has sought asylum in London to avoid Russian authorities who want to prosecute him for fraud. Bush has also turned up in the Philippines and Taiwan at the side of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the head of the controversial Unification Church. State Department and White House spokespersons often disavow any comment when pressed to respond to reports of Neil Bush\'s business activities. In a separate business venture involving semiconductors, Neil Bush took investment money from Jiang Mianheng, the son of former Chinese President Jiang Zemin.

Neil Bush is hardly the first to trade on the name of his president brother. We all remember Donald Nixon, who took a $200,000 never-repaid loan from Howard Hughes to establish a failed chain of hamburger joints, known as \"Nixonburgers.\" Then, there was Billy Carter who took $200,000 from Muammar Gadhafi to lobby Jimmy Carter to release embargoed C-130 airplanes to Libya. Also, Roger Clinton, who spent a year in prison for dealing cocaine, surfaced in \"Pardongate\" by arguing as Clinton left the White House to get pardons for a rogue\'s gallery of his clients, including Rosario Gambino, a jailed New Jersey restaurant owner with ties to organized crime.

As investigative reporters start digging to \"follow the money\" in what is becoming known as the \"Dubai Debacle,\" Neil Bush is certain to find center stage once again in what well could be also dubbed the coming \"Neil-gate\" controversy.

Jerome R. Corsi received a Ph.D. from Harvard University in political science in 1972 and has written many books and articles, including co-authoring with John O\'Neill the No. 1 New York Times best-seller, \"Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry.\" Dr. Corsi\'s most recent books include \"Black Gold Stranglehold: The Myth of Scarcity and the Politics of Oil,\" which he co-authored with WND columnist Craig. R. Smith, and \"Atomic Iran: How the Terrorist Regime Bought the Bomb and American Politicians.\"

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Is Carlyle Group at heart of Dubai Ports World deal?

By Jerome R. Corsi
3 Mar 06

What does Dubai Ports World have in common with CSX, Treasury Secretary John Snow, and the Bush Family? The Carlyle Group is the answer currently gaining ground on the Internet.

What once seemed the propaganda ramblings of none other than \"Fahrenheit 911\'s\" Michael Moore may end up becoming the subject of the Senate\'s upcoming investigation into what Washington insiders are beginning to call the \"Dubai Debacle.\" As reported in the Guardian as early as 2001, Bush \'41 and \'43 have been connected to the Carlyle Group in various ways resulting in substantial compensation to the Bush family from Carlyle Group investments.
Widely discussed is that CSX – the rail and ocean carrier container company – was sold to DP World in 2004 after Treasury Secretary John Snow was no longer CSX\'s chief executive officer. What has received far less attention is the transaction announced in December 2002, in which the Carlyle Group acquired a majority stake in CSX for $300 million.

John Snow was sworn-in as secretary of Treasury on Feb. 7, 2003. Then we see that David Sanborn, the U.S. Merchant Maritime Academy graduate who President Bush just nominated to be maritime administrator under Transportation Secretary Mineta was an executive with CSX before he served as DP World\'s director of Operations for Europe and Latin America.

Then we find that Dubai International Capital, a private equity investment capital firm that is a wholly owned subsidiary of Dubai Holdings commonly participates in co-investments with the Carlyle Group. Dubai Holdings, like DP World, ends up being owned by the United Arab Emirates government, with ultimate ties to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the successor currently at the head of Dubai\'s royal family.

Even Republican senators are scratching their heads wondering why President Bush has dug in his heals with determination that the DP Worlds deal will go through, even if the first presidential veto of the Bush administration needs to be invoked.

Yet, is the Bush administration really willing to vet before Congress a full \"follow the money\" investigation that leads ultimately to examination of the Carlyle Group\'s many co-mingled investments with Dubai investment entities that are nothing more than business-front entities for the UAE government? Does the Bush administration really want to go down this trail?

From the sound of recent polls, the American public may demand a full examination. To the average American, the deal still looks like the Bush administration is willing to turn over the operations in 22 U.S. ports stretching from Maine to Florida, and across the Gulf to Texas to a foreign government with proven past ties to terrorists.

Already the conservative wing of the Republican Party is beginning to wonder who George Bush really is. Maybe President Bush is really a \"globalist\" who truly does value \"new world order\" international interests over U.S. national security. This perspective is going to add new worry to those of us concerned that the Bush administration has left our southern border with Mexico wide open to illegal immigrants, criminal gangs drugs, and terrorists.

What really is behind the \"guest worker\" proposal? Could it be that President Bush – despite all his talk about a War on Terrorism to protect America – always had in mind a definition of \"America\" that stretched from the Arctic Circle to the tip of Argentina? If so, maybe President Bush should have campaigned on that agenda when running for president in 2004. If he had done so, we very much doubt President Bush could possibly have carried Ohio.

Jerome R. Corsi received a Ph.D. from Harvard University in political science in 1972 and has written many books and articles, including co-authoring with John O\'Neill the No. 1 New York Times best-seller, \"Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry.\" Dr. Corsi\'s most recent books include \"Black Gold Stranglehold: The Myth of Scarcity and the Politics of Oil,\" which he co-authored with WND columnist Craig. R. Smith, and \"Atomic Iran: How the Terrorist Regime Bought the Bomb and American Politicians.\"

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The Israeli, Dubai, Chertoff connection -- its just the tip of the Russian-Israeli mafia and \"Al Qaeda\" iceberg

Wayne Madsen
March 3, 2006

Michael Brown, the former head of FEMA, deserves credit for blowing the whistle on the \"agenda\" of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

For years, a handful of prosecutors, FBI agents, and investigative journalists have stressed the connections between Russian-Israeli mafia tycoons, weapons and diamond smugglers, and terrorist networks associated with \"Al Qaeda\" and affiliated organizations. Yet, it is the much-maligned Brown, a one-time GOP operative and \"golden boy,\" who has taken the initiative to call for Chertoff\'s firing and a complete overhaul of the Homeland Security Department.

Even in these strange times, this is an amazing turn of events and begs the question of what Brown knows about Chertoff and his connections to Dubai and covering up terrorist investigations.
Brown is in the unique position of being aware of Dubai\'s major role in horse racing (and possibly money laundering) and being briefed on various maritime and other terrorist threats as head of FEMA. Which means that Brown may have enough information to be very dangerous to the Bush crime family.

Chertoff is a long-time GOP political hack and neo-con operative. He was the Special Counsel for the Senate \"Whitewater\" Committee from 1994 to 1996, a costly effort to create a political scandal for President Clinton and Hillary Clinton where there was no scandal. Hillary Clinton, to her credit, cast the lone vote against Chertoff\'s confirmation as a federal judge in 2003. There is one thing that Hillary Clinton and Michael Brown agree on -- they both despise Chertoff. And with good reason.

Chertoff was the head of the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division of the Justice Department in the lead up to and aftermath of the 911 attacks. It was Chertoff who ordered the FBI not to pursue Mossad cells discovered to be operating alongside the hijacker cells in northern New Jersey.

With FBI and other field law enforcement reports on suspicious Israeli office \"mover\" activity in the New York-New Jersey area in the months prior to 911, Chertoff failed to order an investigation of why Zim-American Israeli Shipping Company suddenly terminated its lease of offices on the 16th and 17th floors of the North Tower of the World Trade Center, forfeiting a $50,000 deposit a week prior to 911 and moving its operations to Norfolk.

Zim\'s parent company, Zim Israel Navigation Co, is half owned by the Israeli government. Norfolk\'s port operations are due to come under Dubai Ports World ownership if the buy-out deal is approved.

Therefore, it is no surprise that Zim\'s chairman wrote to Senator Clinton offering high praise for Dubai Ports World and revealed that Zim and Dubai Ports are \"strong business partners.\" Zim\'s chairman also revealed that Zim\'s ships use Dubai ports but under different flags other than Israeli.

Chertoff also failed to investigate the presence on the 33rd floor of the North Tower of the Trade Center of the Yemen Import Company, an office that, like Zim Shipping, had been cleared of all its personnel in the weeks prior to 911, leaving only an answering machine and fax in place.

As Assistant US Attorney, Chertoff also declined to prosecute Dr. Magdy Elamir, an Egyptian-born neurologist in Jersey City who was implicated in an FBI/ATF arms trafficking investigation code named Operation Diamondback. It turned out that Elamir was a Chertoff\'s client in a fraud case brought against Elamir\'s HMO by the state of New Jersey. NBC\'s Dateline, on August 2, 2002, referred to a 1998 foreign intelligence report obtained by the network, \"The report alleges that an H.M.O. owned by Dr. Elamir in New Jersey was \'funded by ben [sic] Laden\' and that in turn Dr. Elamir was skimming money from the H.M.O. to fund \'terrorist activities.\'\" New Jersey investigators discovered that $15 million in funds from Elamir\'s HMO were unaccounted for and Dateline determined that some of the funds were transferred to off-shore bank accounts. Chertoff represented Elamir at the time the money was shifted to the off-shore bank accounts.

The weapons smugglers targeted by Diamondback also included those who were smuggling nuclear components to the A Q Khan network. It was this network that was a prime focus of Valerie Plame Wilson and her Brewster Jennings and Associates covert CIA operatives. On January 14, 2005, Dateline\'s Chris Hansen interviewed ATF agent Dick Stoltz, the supervisor of Diamondback:

"In the summer of 1999, a group of illegal weapons dealers were meeting at a warehouse in Florida, their conversations recorded by federal investigators. One of the men, from Pakistan, was seeking technology for nuclear weapons. Who did he say he was working for?

Dick Stoltz: "Dr. Abdul Khan."

Chris Hansen: "A.Q. Khan."

Dick Stoltz: "A.Q. Khan."

Former federal undercover agent Dick Stoltz was posing as a black market arms dealer.

Hansen: "Did you realize what you had at the time?"

Stoltz: "No. We didn\'t."

But now he does -- because A.Q. Khan is considered, by some, to be the most dangerous man in the world. Why? Because Dr. Khan has peddled nuclear weapons technology to some of the countries the United States considers most dangerous, and some accepted his offers."

"Undercover federal agent Dick Stoltz says there\'s evidence Khan\'s operatives were at work here in the U.S., like a man who asked if Stoltz could supply heavy water, an ingredient used to make plutonium for nuclear bombs. Stoltz: "He said that Dr. Khan was handling the negotiations behind the scene, as far as -- the heavy water."

Chertoff, in a major conflict-of-interest, abused his authority to cover up the involvement of his client in the Diamondback probe.

Now you are really doing a \"heckuva job Brownie!\" What does Brown know about Dubai and horse betting/laundering and Chertoff\'s covering for Dubai from his days as International Arabian Horse Association Commissioner?

Other than the Homeland Security Secretary\'s complete incompetence during Hurricane Katrina, why would someone like Michael Brown have special animosity towards Chertoff? Perhaps Brown\'s past job as Commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association (IAHA) had something to do with his sudden call for Chertoff\'s firing in the wake of the Homeland Security chief\'s approval of the Dubai Ports World deal to take over operations at 21 U.S. ports. Close Bush family friend, the Emir of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, is an avid horse racing fan and owner (as was the Emir\'s late father). Dubai is the venue for an annual thoroughbred racing event where millions of dollars change hands in betting. Horse betting in Dubai is believed by law enforcement officials to be a major conduit for money laundering in the region -- something that must have been known to Brown as the oversight authority for the IAHA. In what could be the most dramatic outcome of the Bush criminal scandal, Brown\'s experience with the IAHA may prove embarrassing to Chertoff and the Bush criminal cartel as Dubai comes under sharper focus.

Dubai is also an important diamond center. And that brings us into Osama bin Laden\'s connections to the Israeli diamond trade. The following was sent to WMR by a journalist source who was in Peshawar, Pakistan in the weeks following U.S. intervention in Afghanistan. The information comes from a Taliban member who escaped into Pakistan:

\"Osama left Afghanistan in a party of 26 people,mostly his family members, on November 4 [2001]. He left from the \"south.\" [possibly southern Iran].

\"This may surprise you, but you must understand the nature of business. A business partnership is based on years of trust, and it is totally separate from political or national loyalties.\"

\"Osama, when he realized that he was trapped between the Northern Front and the US forces, called on an old business partner, who flew in his jetliner, and ferried Osama to Africa.\"

\"Osama was a rich man, a millionaire, but spend a lot on the Afghan war and reconstruction. While he was in Africa in exile, the Israelis approached him to take over the diamond business from the Lebanese in West Africa. (background: Muslims provide the strong arm for the raw diamond trade in West Africa, and it required a respected and tough Muslim like Osama to wrestle the trade away from the Shi\'ites from southern Lebanon. The Israelis could not stand the thought of their Antwerp diamond industry financing suicide bombers in south Lebanon).\"

\"With the diamond trade under his control, Osama became a billionaire (repeat), a billionaire . . . The diamonds were sent to the Russian mafiyah, who then sold to Antwerp.\"

(Antwerp, btw, was where the shoe bomber and countless other \"terrorists\" were financed and where AQ [Khan] money was being wired to New York via Hassidim diamond merchants.)

For building materials and equipment, Bin Laden\'s construction family routinely dealt with Jewish businessmen through Yemen. Since Saudis could have no direct dealings, the Bin Ladens used Yemenis, who lived alongside Jews in their Yemeni homeland. This is how Osama\'s father became so big.

\"Inside Afghanistan, the Taliban were not anti-Jewish because the Pashtun tribe are one of the \"lost tribes of Israel\". Our customs and names are identical to those of the Jews. So there was no problem in fighting the Soviet occupation and then Shiite enemy, and Osama led this fight.\"

In fact, this communique from Peshawar is born out by the story of Ambuy Gem Corporation president Yehuda Abraham, who was arrested at his New York \"Diamond District\" office in 2003 for his involvement in a Russian shoulder mounted missile launcher smuggling ring involving a British national with ties to the Viktor Bout smuggling ring, Hemant Lakhani, and a Malaysian national believed to have ties to Jemaah Islamiya, the Al Qaeda affiliate in southeast Asia. Bout\'s smuggling network was partly based in Dubai. Abraham, a Bukharan Jewish native of Afghanistan who spoke Pashto and Urdu. An well-placed Israeli source told WMR that Afghan-born Jews are so rare, Abraham would \"have most certainly been used as an agent by Mossad.\"

But Abraham, like Zim Shipping, had special dispensation under the Arab boycott of Israel. A U.S.-Israeli dual national, Abraham maintained a diamond store in the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. His primary clientele: the Saudi royal family. It was also discovered that Abraham was operating a \"hawalah\" -- an Islamic money transfer network -- from his diamond business. It was that hawalah that was used to transfer money from the weapons sales out of the United States. Moreover, Osama bin Laden\'s diamond courier who fenced West African diamonds into the Hassidim-run Hatton Garden, London diamond district went by the very non-Muslim-sounding name of \"Cyril Jacob.\" A former Mossad chief told this editor in 2002 that if one wanted to find the source for most of Al Qaeda\'s funding, you didn\'t need to look any further than West Africa\'s diamond trade and \"the six biggest U.S. banks in New York.\"

In addition, Osama Bin Laden is reported to own a fleet of merchant ships, something that makes the Dubai Ports World deal and Chertoff\'s endorsement of it even more suspect. Some of these ships reportedly are registered to China White Lines and involve Sicilian mafia business fronts.

August 1993 Rashid bin Maktoum, the then-Crown Prince of Dubai opened a jewelry equipment manufacturers trade show in the emirate-- the show highlighted the equipment needed for stone cutting and other jewelry-making processes. Soon, Dubai rivaled Antwerp and Tel Aviv as a major diamond processing center -- a business in which Bin Laden is now heavily invested.

Dubai Ports World and Zim Shipping, Michael Chertoff and Osama financiers and A Q Khan smugglers, New York and London Hassidim diamond dealers and Al Qaeda and affiliated terrorist organizations are connecting more dots.

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Would Iranian Nukes Only Kill Jews?

by Jack Wheeler
Jewish Journal
3 Mar 06

Will Iran's nukes only kill Jews?

That's the question Palestinians should be asking themselves. Because the answer is no.

There is no way to make a nuclear bomb that just kills Jews. There is no way to "wipe Israel off the map," as Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has sworn to do in a nuclear armageddon, without wiping out the Palestinians, as well.
A nuclear fireball detonated over Jerusalem would kill a substantial fraction of the city's half-million Jews - and the city's quarter-million Palestinians. But not only lives would be destroyed. Next to the Kaaba in Mecca, the most sacred site to Sunni Muslims in the world is the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, which comprise the Haram esh-Sharif, the noble sanctuary on top of Temple Mount.

A nuke would turn the noble sanctuary into radioactive dust. This is what Iran's terrorist leaders are threatening to do. So all you Palestinians, all you Sunni Muslims out there, wherever you are, get the picture: Wiping Israel off the map means wiping your sacred noble sanctuary off the map, as well. It's an inescapable package deal.

The Palestinians have more to fear from a nuclear attack on Israel than the Jews. Iran might be able to build a handful of firecracker fission (atom bomb) nukes in the 10- to 20-kiloton range. Set any of these off in an above-ground airburst to maximize lethality, and the heat fries everyone within a mile radius. The neutrons travel not much more and gamma rays much less, killing folks with radiation poisoning within a radius of less than 2 miles.

In other words, the radiation effects are very localized. Anyone 5 miles away would just get a sunburn. The greatest danger more than a few miles away is flying glass from blown-out windows caused by the shock wave. (Avoiding the flying glass was the purpose of duck-and-cover practice of diving under school desks back in the '50s.)

Any effective nuking of Israel would thus have to score multiple detonations in Israel's population centers. There is no way to do this in a country the size of New Jersey without devastating the Palestinian population at least as much as the Israeli.

In any nuclear attack on Israel, Iran would have to make a choice: Use its handful of bombs to hit the population centers or hit the Zechariah nuclear missile base southeast of Tel Aviv. Iran cannot do both.

It will take multiple direct hits to incapacitate Zechariah, collapsing the underground tunnels for the TELs (transporter erector launchers). These launch the Jericho-2 missile with a range of 2,000 miles carrying a nuke far more lethal than an Iranian firecracker.

Israel has at least 200, and possibly as many as 400, nuclear warheads, many of which are fusion (hydrogen bombs) in the range of 150 kilotons, many times more destructive than whatever the Iranians come up with. The Jericho-2 can easily reach Tehran or any other location in Iran. A nuclear strike by Iran upon Israel could precipitate the nuclear retaliatory annihilation of Iran.

The mullahs need to realize the name of Zechariah was chosen with a purpose for Israel's missile base. It is Hebrew for: "God remembers with a vengeance."

It is Sunni Muslims who need to be terrified of a nuclear Iran. And indeed, Ahmadinejad's wipe-off-the-map bluster may be misdirection, for he must know that Israel and the Jews would survive his attack, and he and his country would not survive theirs. It is then more likely that Ahmadinejad intends to be an 800-pound Shiite nuclear gorilla, pushing around the Sunnis of the Middle East.

Sunni Saudi Arabia - hated by Iran's mullacracy - would be defenseless. So would Sunni Jordan - hated by the mullahs. So would Dubai and the emirates. So would Kuwait. Iran is going to aim its nukes at them. They either become colonial subjects of Iran - or (get ready for this) make a deal with Israel and be placed under the protection of an Israeli nuclear umbrella.

They could try this with another nuclear neighbor, and a Sunni Muslim one at that: Pakistan. But Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is devoted to protection from India, and it is limited (around 25 or so low-kiloton fission warheads). An Israeli umbrella may prove an irresistible option.

"We can protect you from Iran," should be Israel's message to Sunni Arabs from Ramallah to Riyadh. "The only price for our protection is peace between us."

Jack Wheeler is the editor of To The Point at www.tothepointnews.com.

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IDF Boasts: Arrow can block \'any Iranian missile\'

Jerusalem Post (questionable rag)
2 Mar 06

Israel\'s Arrow 2 anti-ballistic missile system is capable of intercepting and destroying any Iranian missiles, even were they to carry nuclear warheads, a high-ranking IDF officer told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

While Iran is Israel\'s most serious strategic and existential threat, the country, he said confidently, was sufficiently protected by the Arrow, which plays a major role in maintaining Israel\'s protective envelope.

\"We will shoot all of [Iran\'s missiles] down,\" he told the Post. \"The Arrow knows how to intercept the Shihab missile.\"

Just last year that wasn\'t the case.
Appearing before the Knesset\'s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Brig.-Gen. Ilan Bitton - head of Israel\'s Air Defense Forces - said that, while the Arrow was highly effective against the Scud missiles that make up most of Syria\'s arsenal, it \"needed improvement\" to face the challenges posed by Iran\'s Shihab-3.

Improvements were recently made to the Arrow, the officer said, explaining the new confidence, and it was now able to detect even a missile carrying a split warhead and armed with decoys meant to fool the anti-missile system.

Asked about the danger of the Arrow taking out a non-conventional or nuclear missile over Israel, the officer said that the incoming missile would be destroyed at such a high altitude that it would disperse and destroy its payload without causing any casualties.

\"There is constant pressure to always stay a step ahead of our adversaries,\" the officer said. \"They developed decoys on their missiles and we developed ways to detect the decoys and to be able to accurately strike the incoming threat.\"

The Arrow 2 was last tested in December and succeeded in intercepting an incoming rocket simulating an Iranian Shihab at an altitude higher than ever before tested in the previous 13 Arrow launches. While the Arrow was Israel\'s first line of defense against an Iranian-launched missile, air force Patriot batteries - known for their action during the first Gulf War - also followed incoming missiles and served as the country\'s back-up interception system.

Israel has at least two operational Arrow batteries, with reportedly hundreds of missiles for each battery. One is stationed at Palmahim to protect Tel Aviv and the other is at Ein Shemer near Hadera in the north.

The Iranian threat, the officer said, was not only felt by Israel but also prompted European countries that fall within the Shihab\'s long range to begin development of or negotiations to purchase anti-missile defense systems similar to the Arrow. Turkey was recently mentioned in the media as interested in purchasing the Arrow missile defense system in an effort to improve its aerial defense in light of Iran\'s procurement of the deadly Shihab.

\"Europe has noticed the threat and is becoming a bigger player in the development of active [missile] defense systems,\" the officer said. \"They are busy developing, researching and waking up.\"

Israel, the officer said, was constantly improving its capabilities in the face of the growing threats from its Arab neighbors. \"The threats from the other side have become deadlier,\" the officer said. \"But we have also been in the process of development and updating so we can always be a step ahead of them.\"

The Arrow project began over 12 years ago to address the threat posed by relatively crude Scud missiles, like the ones Iraq fired into Israel during the Gulf War. But as the project developed, the defense establishment was determined not to focus on past wars but to look ahead to future threats, including faster rockets launched from farther away, possibly with multiple warheads. Nearly $2.5 billion has already been invested in the missile defense system, with two-thirds of the funding coming from the US Missile Defense Agency.

But while Israel was protected from the Shihab by the Arrow, cities were left vulnerable and unprotected from Katyusha rockets - several thousand of which are in the hands of Hizbullah in Southern Lebanon - and Palestinian-developed Kassam rockets. While the technology to intercept and destroy these low-tech rockets was in existence, the officer claimed that the funding to develop systems to do so was not. The Arrow is irrelevant as regards missiles with a range of less than 60-70 km.

\"There are constant efforts to develop a system,\" the officer said. \"There will be a solution one day, since the technology exists and the problem is the financing.\"

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Use Diplomacy on Iran Case, Say Americans

Angus Reid Global Scan
March 3, 2006

Many adults in the United States think military action against Iran is unwarranted at this point, according to a poll by the New York Times and CBS News. 55 per cent of respondents believe Iran is a threat that can be contained with diplomacy now, and 19 per cent say the country is not a menace to the U.S.
After being branded as part of an \"axis of evil\" by U.S. president George W. Bush in January 2002, Iran has contended that its nuclear program aims to produce energy, not weapons. Only 20 per cent of respondents believe Iran is a threat to the U.S. that requires military action now.

In November 2004, the Iranian government announced a voluntary suspension of its uranium enrichment program following international pressure. In August 2005, Iran resumed uranium conversion activities at the Isfahan facility. In January, Iran removed the international seals from the Natanz site.

In his Jan. 31 State of the Union address, Bush said Iran \"is defying the world with its nuclear ambitions, and the nations of the world must not permit the Iranian regime to gain nuclear weapons. America will continue to rally the world to confront these threats.\"

On Mar. 1, Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki said a report prepared by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) could not prove that Iran is attempting to produce nuclear weapons, adding, \"Iran (...) is exercising its right to possess nuclear technology with peaceful intentions. We are opposed to nuclear weapons.\"

The IAEA has said that the \"lack of cooperation on the part of Iranian authorities\" does not allow the body to effectively conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear activities taking place inside the country.

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The Monolith Crumbles: Reality and Revisionism in Iran

Chris Floyd
Empire Burlesque
02 March 2006

It is a well-known fact – except among the American media, the American government, and about 98.7 percent of the American people – that Iran is not a monolithic state where sheep-like masses bray with a single voice in chorus with their demented leaders, but is, on the contrary, a complex society where many conflicting opinions on matters political, religious, social, historical, etc., contend with each other in open debate.

True, it does have a government dominated by repressive clerics, who exercise the kind of veto power over secular law that George W. Bush\'s vaunted \"base\" dreams of seeing established in the United States; but Iran is far more open than, say, Saudi Arabia or China, just to name two countries where the Bush Family and friends have long engorged their bellies through insider connections with the ruling cliques.
Therefore it must have come as a great shock to the system for Americans this week to hear Iran\'s former president, Mohammad Khatami, rail against the ignorant Holocaust revisionism mouthed by his successor, the hardline flibbertigibbet Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. (Excerpts after the jump below.) Or rather, it would have come as a shock to the American system to hear Khatami\'s words – if Americans had actually been told about them.

But it serves no interests among America\'s own ruling cliques to dilute the current line of the day: that Iran is a hellhole of unremitting evil, a new Nazi Germany led by a new Hitler. So Khatami\'s remarks, reported widely elsewhere in the world, were not allowed to disturb the lie-drugged slumber of the American consciousness.

No one knows what dark dreams stir in Ahmadinejad\'s noggin, of course; he seems from most accounts to be an unpleasant character, as rabid fundamentalists usually are, proud of his willful ignorance, which he mistakes for steadfast integrity. (The type is not unknown among world leaders today.) However, in coming to grips with the Iran \"crisis\" that is being forced upon us, there are two salient facts to keep in mind.

First of all, Ahmadinejad\'s malevolent blather does not represent the entirety of the Iranian people – or even the entirety of the Iranian government, as even a cursory examination of current Tehran politics shows – any more than George W. Bush and his rapacious gang of cronies and cranks represents the entirety of the American people. (Although at the moment, Bush has far greater control over the American government than Ahmadinejad has in Iran.)

Second, and perhaps most importantly, it is highly unlikely that Ahmadinejad would have ever been elected president if Bush and his crony-cranks had not relentlessly and ruthlessly undercut every attempt by the moderate government of Khatami to forge a new relationship between Iran and the United States. The greatest opportunity came after September 11, of course, when Iran sought to help the US break al Qaeda, a common enemy that threatened both nations. But Bush and his circle, as we now know, were not interested in breaking al Qaeda or fighting terrorism; they were interested in \"establishing a military footprint\" in Iraq, as part of a wide-ranging plan to \"project dominance\" over the energy resources of the Middle East and Central Asia, while fomenting \"creative destruction\" throughout the region, in the belief that when the resultant rivers of blood had at last subsided, there would be a series of obedient client regimes installed in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere – including, in the dreams of some of the crankiest cronies, new, even more obedient American satraps in Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Therefore, there could be no accommodation with moderate elements in Iran; on the contrary, the existence of a moderate faction within the Iranian power structure could only be a hindrance to the Bushists\' avowed goals. How could you maintain the profitable, fear-fomenting image of a dastardly nation – a member of the \"axis of evil,\" no less – bent on the destruction of \"the American way of life,\" if its leaders are trying reach an accommodation with you, if they speak of moderation, of a \"dialogue among civilizations\"? Khatami – already hemmed in by the hardline mullahs, unable to deliver all of his promised domestic reforms – was also left with nothing to show for his moderate foreign policy. Instead, Bush confirmed the mullah\'s criticism of Khatami: \"You reach out to the infidels, and what do you get? They spit in your face, they try to destroy us.\"

(There is a remarkable parallel here to the curious dynamic between Bush and Osama bin Laden, whereby almost every action undertaken by Bush tends to confirm bin Laden\'s vision of the world: \"You see? I told you America was a Crusader Nation bent on attacking Islam – and now Bush has invaded Iraq and all its holy sites for no reason whatsoever. You see? I told you America regards Muslims as nothing more than dogs and beasts – now see how they treat our brothers in their secret prisons!\" And so on and depressingly on. Even Bush himself has acknowledged this odd symbiosis, when, just this week, he admitted that bin Laden\'s (or \"bin Laden\'s\") sudden appearance in the closing days of the 2004 presidential election tipped the race in his favor. As Eric Alterman and others have noted, bin Laden is more than savvy enough to know that such an intervention would have precisely that effect: bolstering Bush. Both men need each other to stoke the fear and hatred they feed upon.)

Just as the September 11 attacks were openly regarded by the Bushists as an \"opportunity\" for implementing their long-planned militarist agenda – \"Through my tears, I see opportunity,\" Bush declared just days after the strike – so too the election of Ahmadinejad was a god-send for the gang: a hard-line goon straight out of central casting, waving the red flag of Holocaust-denial before the world. Now some serious warmongering and fear-fomenting could be done! For who would defend such a moral cretin? Through him, you could defame and dehumanize an entire nation: the necessary prerequisite for any mass blood-letting you have in mind.

But one doesn\'t have to defend Ahmadinejad – or Khatami, for that matter – in order to oppose the instigation of a foolish and murderous military action against Iran. It is self-evident that such an action would kill thousands of innocent people and set in motion a chain of monstrous consequences beyond anyone\'s control – including the certainty of more terrorism and more hatred for America, the great likelihood of global economic ruin, and the very real possibility of actually launching the world war between the West and Islam that the Bushists like to pretend is already taking place.

Yet that appears to be where we are heading. Although some say that the Bushists are now too weak politically and perhaps militarily to strike at Iran – an argument that is more of a projected wish than a reality, I fear – no one should ever underestimate the foolishness, recklessness, avarice, greed and callousness of the Bush Faction. The disaster in Iraq stands as indisputable proof of their own moral cretinism and incompetent folly.

So it would be nice if the American people could be given a more variegated view of Iran, as represented in the comments below from Khatami and some of the Iranian press. But where\'s the \"opportunity\" for war profits, war powers and world dominance in that?

Excerpts from Agence France Presse:

Iran\'s former reformist President Mohammad Khatami has described the Holocaust as a \"historical reality\" - a stinging attack on his controversial and revisionist successor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. \"We should speak out if even a single Jew is killed. Don\'t forget that one of the crimes of Hitler, Nazism and German national socialism was the massacre of innocent people, among them many Jews,\" the cleric said in comments carried in the Iranian press Wednesday.

The Holocaust, he asserted, should be recognized \"even if this historical reality has been misused and there is enormous pressure on the Palestinian people.\" Ahmadinejad has caused international outrage by insisting the Holocaust was a myth used to justify the creation of Israel.

Khatami served as Iran\'s president from 1997 to 2005, and attempted to open up Iran to the West and initiate a \"dialogue among civilizations\" - in stark contrast to the ultra-conservative agenda of Ahmadinejad. The former president, who has shied away from the political limelight since leaving office, also asserted Muslims were not out to persecute Jews.

\"The persecution of Jews, just like Nazism, is a Western phenomenon. In the east, we have always lived side by side with them. And we follow a religion that states that the death of an innocent person is the death of all of humanity,\" Khatami said…

Ahmadinejad also came under attack from the prominent and centrist Shargh newspaper, which complained that \"the Holocaust has, as wished for by the president, become a topic of our foreign policy. The Jewish question was never a problem for Iran or Islam, and is a Christian-European problem,\" the paper argued. \"Don\'t we have enough with the nuclear question, human rights, free elections and political in-fighting, so do we need to add another problem to that?\" it said, saying Iran would be better off \"thinking of the creation of a Palestinian state rather than the destruction of Israel.\"

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Surprise! Jupiter Has A New Red Spot

By Tony Phillips
posted: 03 March 2006
01:33 pm ET

Backyard astronomers, grab your telescopes. Jupiter is growing a new red spot.

The official name of the new storm is \"Oval BA,\" but \"Red Jr.\" might be better. It\'s about half the size of the famous Great Red Spot and almost exactly the same color.

Oval BA first appeared in the year 2000 when three smaller spots collided and merged. Using Hubble and other telescopes, astronomers watched with great interest. A similar merger that happened centuries ago may have created the original Great Red Spot, a storm twice as wide as our planet and at least 300 years old.
Oval BA has been changing colors in recent months. It was white in November 2005, slowly turned brown in December and then red a few weeks ago.

Why red?

Curiously, no one knows precisely why the Great Red Spot itself is red. A favorite idea is that the storm dredges material from deep beneath Jupiter\'s cloudtops and lifts it to high altitudes where solar ultraviolet radiation--via some unknown chemical reaction-produces the familiar brick color.

\"The Great Red Spot is the most powerful storm on Jupiter, indeed, in the whole solar system,\" said Glenn Orton, an astronomer at JPL who specializes in studies of storms on Jupiter and other giant planets.

"The top of the storm rises 8 km above surrounding clouds. It takes a powerful storm to lift material so high," Orton said.

Oval BA may have strengthened enough to do the same. Like the Great Red Spot, Red Jr. may be lifting material above the clouds where solar ultraviolet rays turn \"chromophores\" (color-changing compounds) red. If so, the deepening red is a sign that the storm is intensifying.

\"Some of Jupiter\'s white ovals have appeared slightly reddish before, for example in late 1999, but not often and not for long,\" says John Rogers, author of the book \"Jupiter: The Giant Planet,\" which recounts telescopic observations of Jupiter over the last 100 years.

\"It will indeed be interesting to see if Oval BA becomes permanently red,\" Rogers said.

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Flashback! Dark Spot on Jupiter Bigger than Famed Great Red Spot

By Tony Phillips
13 March 2003

For more than a century astronomers thought that the Great Red Spot was the biggest thing on Jupiter. Not anymore. Images from NASA\'s Cassini spacecraft have revealed something at least as large.

The Great Dark Spot.

\"I was totally blown away when I saw it--a dark cloud twice as big as Earth swirling around Jupiter\'s north pole,\" says Bob West, a planetary scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
West has been chasing this cloud for some time. He first saw it -- \"just a glimpse,\" says West -- in an ultraviolet (UV) picture of Jupiter taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 1997. But it only appeared in one image out of many spanning a period of years. \"I didn\'t know what to make of it,\" he recalls.

Now he knows. \"The Cassini spacecraft was en route to Saturn in 2000 when it passed by Jupiter and had a good view of the planet\'s north pole,\" says West. \"At first there was nothing unusual--just ordinary polar clouds. Then the Dark Spot emerged.\" For weeks Cassini\'s UV-sensitive cameras watched as the cloud grew into an oval the size of the Great Red Spot itself. It swirled, darkened and changed shape until, as Cassini was departing, it began to fade again. (See the entire movie.)

\"The Dark Spot is ephemeral,\" says West. That\'s probably why Hubble saw it only once. And if Cassini had arrived a month or two later, it might not have seen the Dark Spot at all. Instead, Cassini\'s cameras monitored the cloud for 11 straight weeks, and those data have allowed West to draw some conclusions:

\"The Great Dark Spot and the Great Red Spot are entirely different,\" he says. The Great Red Spot is deep. \"It\'s a high-pressure storm system rooted in Jupiter\'s troposphere far below the cloudtops. The Great Dark Spot is apparently shallow and confined to Jupiter\'s high stratosphere.\"

West believes the Dark Spot is a curious side-effect of auroras on Jupiter.

\"Jupiter has Northern Lights just as Earth does, although on Jupiter they are hundreds to thousands of times more powerful,\" says West. Auroras happen when electrons and ions rain down on the polar atmosphere and cause the air to glow where they hit. Here on Earth, auroras are usually sparked by solar wind gusts.

The solar wind can also trigger auroras on Jupiter, but it\'s not necessary: On Jupiter, the planet itself energizes Northern Lights. \"Jupiter\'s magnetic field is a huge reservoir of charged particles,\" explains West. \"These particles are accelerated poleward by the 11-hour rotation of Jupiter and its magnetic field. Thus, auroras on Jupiter are almost always active.\"

\"High-energy electrons that hit Jupiter\'s atmosphere not only cause auroras, but also break apart methane (CH4), which is more abundant on Jupiter than it is on Earth,\" says West. \"Fragments of methane molecules combine with ambient hydrogen to form acetylene C2H2. That\'s the basic building block. Acetylene combines with other carbon- and hydrogen-containing molecules to build even more complex molecules, which eventually condense into dark droplets.\"

If West is right, the Great Dark Spot is a haze of hydrocarbon-rich droplets floating in the uppermost layers of Jupiter\'s stratosphere. Such a haze would be prominent in UV images because hydrocarbon droplets are strong absorbers of UV radiation. Indeed, the Great Dark Spot is invisible to the human eye. \"It can only be seen in UV light.\"

His idea fits the facts, but West remains puzzled: \"There was no strong auroral display when the Great Dark Spot intensified in late 2000. What caused it to appear when Cassini was flying by? We don\'t know. This shows us that Jupiter\'s stratosphere is a more interesting place than we once thought.\"

Furthermore, it can teach us something about our own planet.

West explains: \"This dark spot is trapped by a polar vortex--a jet stream that encircles Jupiter\'s north pole.\" Fast-moving winds in the vortex act like an atmospheric wall, keeping the Dark Spot corralled at high latitudes. Similar vortices encircle Earth\'s polar regions. Our planet\'s Arctic vortex is disrupted somewhat by northern land masses, but the Antarctic vortex is better organized. It plays a key role in confining the ozone hole--much as Jupiter\'s polar vortex confines the Great Dark Spot.

\"Monitoring the Dark Spot could help us understand how planetary vortices work.\" For such studies, two planets are clearly better than one.

Meanwhile, West would be delighted just to see the Dark Spot again. \"It\'s elusive,\" he says. But he\'s ready to be blown away ... any time.

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Flashback! Mystery Spot on Jupiter Baffles Astronomers

By Robert Roy Britt
Senior Science Writer
23 October 2003

Astronomers have spotted a strange, obvious and inexplicable black spot near the equator of Jupiter. A picture of the object was circling this planet electronically this week as researchers scratched their heads about what they\'d found.
A second image, taken on another day by a different photographer, contains a similar looking spot. As of early Thursday, the second image had deepened the mystery. Some astronomers were at first puzzled over whether the two photos show the same thing or not. As it turns out, they do not.

Researchers said the second image reveals a transit of one of Jupiter\'s moons across the face of the planet. In the end, the two pictures represent an interesting coincidence.

What follows is a story of raw discovery, a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on in the Internet Age when astronomers find something unexpected.

Stormy spot

Jupiter\'s complex atmosphere is known to generate ephemeral spots, whirls and cloud formations of various sorts. Many are colorful; often they are bright, sometimes they are dark. This one is particularly dark and larger than many seen in the past.

The first picture of the black spot to circulate among astronomers worldwide was taken Oct. 19 by astrophotographer Olivier Meeckers. The image gained wider attention Wednesday as it was mentioned in astronomy newsletters. It had experts captivated.

Meeckers, a member of Groupe Astronomie de Spa in Belgium, told SPACE.com he does not know what created the spot.

Jean-Luc Dighaye, who founded a European amateur astronomy group called the EurAstro Association, discussed the odd spot with Gino Farroni of the French Astronomical Society and Emmanuel Jehin, a staff astronomer at the European Southern Observatory.

\"The black spot, accompanied by at least one plume, can be seen not far away from the Great Red Spot,\" Dighaye said. Jupiter\'s Great Red Spot is a colossal cloud structure, much like an oversized hurricane, that has been raging for at least three centuries.

The new spot is an obvious dark circular object below and to the right of the Great Red Spot in Meeckers\' images (he took two at separate times on the same day).

Not a shadow

In an e-mail interview with SPACE.com, Dighaye said the dynamics of Jupiter\'s atmosphere, with convection and radiation generating strong winds and changing cloud structures, is not well understood.

\"Spots of various shades depending on the chemical composition of the gases involved in the process are observed from time to time,\" Dighaye said. \"Plumes indicate gas exchanges with the adjacent atmospheric streams which are always fast in the equatorial zones.\"

These streams -- which generate Jupiter\'s characteristic stripes -- move at different speeds.

It is not known if the spot is purely an atmospheric phenomenon or if it might have been generated by some foreign object, though the latter possibility is doubted. In 1994, impacts of the fragments of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 created huge black scars in the Jovian atmosphere.

\"This time, however, astronomers did not report the presence of any potential nearby impactor,\" Dighaye said.

Jupiter shines by reflected sunlight. Shadows from the four largest Jovian moons can also create spots on the planet\'s cloudtops. But the astronomers checked the schedules of the moons\' passages and, in three independent investigations, ruled them out as the cause of the spot in Meeckers\' image.

Mystery deepens

Then a second image emerged, taken by Eric Ng of Hong Kong on Oct. 22. It shows a dark spot on Jupiter in roughly the same location as the strange spot seen by Meeckers.

Ng told SPACE.com the spot in his photo is the moon Ganymede, which shows up very dark compared to Jupiter\'s bright clouds. Dighaye at first considered the situation very unlikely, as the moon\'s location would be coincidentally superimposed on Meeckers\' strange spot.

\"That\'s incredible!\" Dighaye said of the possibility. But there was more information that apparently hadn\'t been taken into account.

Other astronomers, drawn into the discussion, agreed the spot in Ng\'s image is Ganymede -- not the moon\'s shadow, but actually the moon itself -- perhaps coincidentally positioned over the strange spot imaged by Meeckers. That account came from an e-mail discussion among members of the U.S.-based Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers (ALPO).

However, it soon became clear there was another explanation altogether.

Because Jupiter\'s cloud bands move at different rates, Meeckers\' spot had rotated to a new location, and apparently morphed into a less noticeable shape and shade, by the time Ng took his picture three days later, according to Geoff Gaherty of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Gaherty was alerted to the apparent similarity between the images when he read the initial version of this story.

Ng, re-interviewed, agreed with Gaherty\'s explanation.

That still leaves the original strange spot, the one found by Meeckers, unexplained. Another well seasoned Jupiter observer weighed in late Thursday, suggesting that dark spots in the Jovian clouds are not as rare as some astronomers think. Nonetheless, scientists know little about what causes the spots.

See for yourself

Meanwhile, observers are working with a narrow window of time each day to learn more about the unexplained spot. Jupiter rises in the East at around 3:30 a.m. local time and is high in the sky at daybreak. But since it rotates, the hemisphere with the new and perhaps fading spot is not always facing Earth.

\"It would be exciting to follow the evolution of this new black spot -- probably still visible in modest astronomical instruments -- from many locations of various longitudes on Earth, so that some observers are always favorably positioned when the Jovian hemisphere of interest comes into sight,\" Dighaye said.

Jupiter is visible to the naked eye. It appears as a very bright star in the predawn eastern sky. In fact it is brighter than all stars and cannot be mistaken.

Binoculars or small telescopes can reveal up to four points of light near the giant planet. These are the Galilean moons. A modest telescope -- about 4-inches -- will reveal the major cloud bands of Jupiter. In general, larger amateur telescopes are needed to show smaller features like the newfound, unexplained black spot.

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Spinning a web for India - Underneath fuzzy talk of shared values, President Bush\'s real concern is to hobble a potential rival

By Randeep Ramesh
The Guardian
3 Mar 06

A world away from its self-declared international war on terror, Washington has spied greater and more potent threats on the horizon. India\'s nuclear programme - built in isolation, from scratch, after American-imposed sanctions in the 70s - is such a threat.

Not only has a poverty-stricken country, without outside help, built a nuclear industry, but its scientific establishment has also mastered the technically difficult reprocessing cycle and achieved a series of unique breakthroughs in nuclear technology. India might one day be \"free\" to assemble as large an atomic arsenal as possible and, even more problematic for Washington, end up with a monopoly on an energy source of the future.
By comparison America has not built a nuclear reactor for three decades, since the Three Mile Island scare of the late 1970s. Conscious of being dependent on oil in a time of rising prices, George Bush decided to reactivate the country\'s nuclear programme and capture the benefits of the labour of others. It is this that informs American thinking on how to deal with incipient risks to its global dominance, not some fuzzy talk of a special relationship with India built on a sense of shared values.

Yet US propaganda continues. Condoleezza Rice neatly encapsulated the Bush policy as a \"balance of power that favours freedom\", which also appeals to Indians\' view of their country as a moral force in the world. Casting India as a friend and Iran as a foe can also be conveniently justified on such terms. However, American bullying of smaller states undermines this moral consensus around democracy and freedom. India\'s size, geography and economic clout mean it is less susceptible to the kind of tactics used to intimidate Tehran.

But India\'s energy policy has already come under serious pressure from America; the last petroleum minister had ambitious plans to build an Asian grid of oil and gas pipelines stretching from Ukraine to Japan. This plan, to be kickstarted by a pipeline from Iran to India via Pakistan, ran counter to Washington\'s interests. Last month the minister lost the oil portfolio.

America is determined to ensure that the rise of India, and its larger neighbour China, will not mean the decline of the US. Washington may be prepared to concede that there might be bigger economies in the world, but aims to remain pre-eminent in industrial power.

To do so Washington is willing to restrict access to capital markets and technology, promoting its national interest under the guise of a moral foreign policy. The blocking of a Chinese oil company\'s bid for a US rival last year is just one example of this new policy, and Indian potential could be restrained by similar means. As Bush\'s own nuclear negotiating team has made clear in testimony to Congress, the administration wants to \"lock in\" India to a deal before moving to tie down and restrain the country\'s nuclear potential in non-proliferation discussions.

The dressing up of hard-nosed realism as high-minded altruism lies at the heart of Bush\'s nuclear diplomacy in the subcontinent. How history unfolds is often decided long in advance. Leadership matters, but if an opponent has been weakened by policy, intrigue and opportunism, victory becomes easier.

Unlike the cold war, where America shut out its rivals from the world market and refused to trade with them, its policy in the coming decades is to entangle rising powers in a web of rules designed to favour itself. As India may find to its cost, getting into a hot embrace with Washington is easy; getting out may be much harder.

Randeep Ramesh is the Guardian\'s south Asia correspondent - r.ramesh@guardian.co.uk

© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006

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Thousands of Pakistanis Protest Bush Visit

Associated Press
3 Mar 06

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Small groups of anti-U.S. demonstrators took to the streets in some Pakistani cities Friday, chanting \"Death to America!\" and burning U.S. flags to protest a visit by President Bush to meet with one of his key allies in the war on terror.
Security was extremely tight in the capital, Islamabad, where anti-aircraft guns were set up on the hills and buildings near the air base where Bush\'s jet landed, said a senior intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the secretive nature of his job.

Protests also were held in several cities in neighboring India as Bush wrapped up a visit there. Those demonstrations also were smaller than expected, but one blew up into a deadly fight between Muslims and Hindus in the city of Lucknow.

The violence erupted when dozens of armed Muslims tried to force Hindu shop owners to shut their stores to protest Bush\'s visit, police said. The two sides argued, exchanged punches and then began shooting, killing at least three people and injuring 18, police said.

Although the U.S. and Pakistani governments have become close partners in fighting terrorism since the Sept. 11 attacks, many people in this conservative Muslim country have a deep distrust of Washington and view it to be an enemy of Islam.

Several hardline Islamic and student groups urged supporters to protest Friday, but the rallies were relatively small and controlled. Many of the demonstrators also gathered to condemn the Prophet Muhammad cartoons printed in Western media, mostly in Europe.

A few hours before Bush arrived, hundreds of police used batons to disperse about 1,000 protesters, mostly students, in the city of Rawalpindi, a few miles from where his plane landed. Some chanted \"Killer go back\" and \"Death to America\" during the half-hour protest.

In the southern city of Karachi, about 1,000 people tried to march to the U.S. consulate, where a suicide bomber killed an American diplomat and his driver Thursday. Police used tear gas and clubs to stop the crowd, which threw stones, burned U.S. flags and chanted \"Pakistani nation wants head of Bush!\"

About 300 college students protested in Islamabad. They burned an effigy of Bush and carried signs that said \"Go back, go back big Satan Bush.\"

\"We are protesting against the coming of Bush because we hate him. He is the killer of so many innocent people, so many innocent Muslims,\" protester Javed Rahman said.

Hundreds of army commandos and paramilitary police were detailed to patrol the capital until Bush\'s departure late Saturday.

\"We have made foolproof arrangements for the safe stay of President Bush and we do not think there will be any problem,\" said Brig. Javed Iqbal Cheema.

The senior intelligence official who discussed security arrangements on condition of anonymity said a three-tier security cordon was in place.

Security forces posted on the hills overlooking Islamabad were equipped with night vision goggles, and U.S. Marines and Pakistani security experts planned to use high-technology equipment to jam any remotely detonated explosives, he said. Pedestrians and vehicles were being barred from roads used by Bush and President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, he added.

Comment: SOTT notices that the story says \"small groups of demonstrators\" but the story is accompanied by a photo that shows probably THOUSANDS of demonstrators... what\'s up with that?

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Three Killed at Indian Anti-Bush Protests

Associated Press Writer
3 Mar 06

HYDERABAD, India - Anger at President Bush swept through parts of India on Friday as protesters burned his effigy and carried posters of Osama bin Laden. Three people were killed in clashes, and 18 were injured.
While most Indians look favorably upon the United States, and though the protests have not been as large as expected, anti-Bush demonstrations have been held in various Indian cities by communists and Muslim groups during his visit.

Violence erupted in the city of Lucknow when dozens of armed Muslims tried to force Hindu shop owners to shut their stores to protest Bush\'s visit, said Senior Superintendent of Police Ashutosh Pandey. The two sides argued, exchanged blows, and finally shot at each other, killing a Muslim teenager, Pandey said.

Television stations showed shrieking people carrying the injured on fruit carts through narrow streets choked with protesters.

In the southern city of Hyderabad, demonstrators burned an effigy of Bush around the time that he arrived there.

Chanting \"Bush hands off India\" and \"Bush go home,\" several hundred communist and Muslim demonstrators marched through the city, and shops in the Muslim-dominated Charminar neighborhood were closed in protest. Some 40 percent of the city\'s 7 million people are Muslim.

Later, some worshippers at a Charminar mosque threw rocks at police after Friday prayers. Officers surrounded the mosque with barbed wire and called on protesters to disperse peacefully. Two protesters and two policemen were slightly wounded, police said.

Also Friday, police in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian- controlled Kashmir, a predominantly Muslim Himalayan region, clashed with worshippers protesting the visit. About a dozen people were wounded, police said.

There was heavy security all over Hyderabad, one of India\'s burgeoning high-tech centers, as Bush arrived in the city for a few hours on the second stop of his visit to India. He then flew back to New Delhi, the capital.

Communist parties and Muslim groups are upset with the growing ties between the two countries and the American presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Still, India topped a global survey on positive attitudes to the U.S. last year carried out by the U.S.-based Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, with 71 percent of Indians reporting a favorable perception of America.

While there have been numerous protests this week across India against Bush\'s three-day visit, with the crowds at some totaling tens of thousands of people, the numbers fell far short of the millions that organizers had threatened to bring to the streets ahead of the visit.

In Hyderabad, protesters waving red and black banners marched three kilometers (two miles) to a rally where they burned an effigy of Bush and conducted a mock funeral. Some carried posters of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

\"We are protesting against George Bush because he is a warmonger. We are demanding the evacuation of American troops from Iraq,\" said B.V. Raghavulu, a senior leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

In Srinagar some 5,000 worshippers chanted anti-American slogans and burned effigies of Bush as they emerged from Friday prayers. The worshippers pelted police with stones and bricks.

Police used tear gas to disperse them and the street fighting left about a dozen protesters and policemen injured, said police officer Ali Mohammad.

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