- Signs of the Times for Wed, 29 Mar 2006 -

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Editorial: Abovetopsecret.com, Project Serpo Psy-ops, and the Pentagon's Flying Fish

Laura Knight-Jadczyk
27 Mar 06

For the last few years, this website, has sought, in all honesty, to present the daily news as truthfully as possible. Signs of the Times is one of the very few news and information portals on the web that remains uncorrupted in any way and is staffed by a small group of people who are dedicated to one thing - bringing the Truth to the general public. We are able to do this because we rely solely on support from our readers and our own hard work: book sales. You may not necessarily agree with our take on events but I would hope that you agree that alternative media is now essential to the preservation of our basic freedoms. As I wrote in my editorial for the Signs of the Times Podcast on February 19, 2006:

Knowledge is power. Those who control information can control the masses; it's that simple.

As we researched the subject of the media, we came across The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. As everyone knows, this is a vicious anti-Semitic hoax. We agree. We do not for a minute think that this represents Judaism or ordinary Jewish people.

What was shocking for us was our realization that the Protocols is being implemented almost line by line by many of the members of the Bush Administration and the various government 'think-tanks' that formulate their policy. In other words, the Protocols is not a hoax because it is nonsense, but rather it is only a hoax because it was attributed to Jews.

Here, we present the text of Protocol 12 from which several excerpts were read on the podcast and which we jokingly referred to as "The Gospel According to Karl Rove."

Read it and understand that this is, indeed, the number one issue that America must deal with before they can do a single other thing.

PROTOCOL No. 12 Control of the Press

1. The word "freedom," which can be interpreted in various ways, is defined by us as follows -

2. Freedom is the right to do that which the law allows. This interpretation of the word will at the proper time be of service to us, because all freedom will thus be in our hands, since the laws will abolish or create only that which is desirable for us according to the aforesaid program.

3. We shall deal with the press in the following way: what is the part played by the press to-day? It serves to excite and inflame those passions which are needed for our purpose or else it serves selfish ends of parties. It is often vapid, unjust, mendacious, and the majority of the public have not the slightest idea what ends the press really serves. We shall saddle and bridle it with a tight curb: we shall do the same also with all productions of the printing press, for where would be the sense of getting rid of the attacks of the press if we remain targets for pamphlets and books? The produce of publicity, which nowadays is a source of heavy expense owing to the necessity of censoring it, will be turned by us into a very lucrative source of income to our State: we shall lay on it a special stamp tax and require deposits of caution-money before permitting the establishment of any organ of the press or of printing offices; these will then have to guarantee our government against any kind of attack on the part of the press.

For any attempt to attack us, if such still be possible, we shall inflict fines without mercy. Such measures as stamp tax, deposit of caution-money and fines secured by these deposits, will bring in a huge income to the government. It is true that party organs might not spare money for the sake of publicity, but these we shall shut up at the second attack upon us. No one shall with impunity lay a finger on the aureole of our government infallibility. The pretext for stopping any publication will be the alleged plea that it is agitating the public mind without occasion or justification. I BEG YOU TO NOTE THAT AMONG THOSE MAKING ATTACKS UPON US WILL ALSO BE ORGANS ESTABLISHED BY US, BUT THEY WILL ATTACK EXCLUSIVELY POINTS THAT WE HAVE PRE-DETERMINED TO ALTER. WE CONTROL THE PRESS

4. NOT A SINGLE ANNOUNCEMENT WILL REACH THE PUBLIC WITHOUT OUR CONTROL. Even now this is already being attained by us inasmuch as all news items are received by a few agencies, in whose offices they are focused from all parts of the world. These agencies will then be already entirely ours and will give publicity only to what we dictate to them.

5. If already now we have contrived to possess ourselves of the minds of the GOY communities to such an extent the they all come near looking upon the events of the world through the colored glasses of those spectacles we are setting astride their noses; if already now there is not a single State where there exist for us any barriers to admittance into what GOY stupidity calls State secrets: what will our positions be then, when we shall be acknowledged supreme lords of the world in the person of our king of all the world ....

6. Let us turn again to the FUTURE OF THE PRINTING PRESS. Every one desirous of being a publisher, librarian, or printer, will be obliged to provide himself with the diploma instituted therefore, which, in case of any fault, will be immediately impounded. With such measures THE INSTRUMENT OF THOUGHT WILL BECOME AN EDUCATIVE MEANS ON THE HANDS OF OUR GOVERNMENT, WHICH WILL NO LONGER ALLOW THE MASS OF THE NATION TO BE LED ASTRAY IN BY-WAYS AND FANTASIES ABOUT THE BLESSINGS OF PROGRESS. Is there any one of us who does not know that these phantom blessings are the direct roads to foolish imaginings which give birth to anarchical relations of men among themselves and towards authority, because progress, or rather the idea of progress, has introduced the conception of every kind of emancipation, but has failed to establish its limits .... All the so-called liberals are anarchists, if not in fact, at any rate in thought. Every one of them in hunting after phantoms of freedom, and falling exclusively into license, that is, into the anarchy of protest for the sake of protest....

7. We turn to the periodical press. We shall impose on it, as on all printed matter, stamp taxes per sheet and deposits of caution-money, and books of less than 30 sheets will pay double. We shall reckon them as pamphlets in order, on the one hand, to reduce the number of magazines, which are the worst form of printed poison, and, on the other, in order that this measure may force writers into such lengthy productions that they will be little read, especially as they will be costly. At the same time what we shall publish ourselves to influence mental development in the direction laid down for our profit will be cheap and will be read voraciously. The tax will bring vapid literary ambitions within bounds and the liability to penalties will make literary men dependent upon us. And if there should be any found who are desirous of writing against us, they will not find any person eager to print their productions. Before accepting any production for publication in print, the publisher or printer will have to apply to the authorities for permission to do so. Thus we shall know beforehand of all tricks preparing against us and shall nullify them by getting ahead with explanations on the subject treated of.

8. Literature and journalism are two of the most important educative forces, and therefore our government will become proprietor of the majority of the journals. This will neutralize the injurious influence of the privately-owned press and will put us in possession of a tremendous influence upon the public mind .... If we give permits for ten journals, we shall ourselves found thirty, and so on in the same proportion. This, however, must in no wise be suspected by the public. For which reason all journals published by us will be of the most opposite, in appearance, tendencies and opinions, thereby creating confidence in us and bringing over to us quite unsuspicious opponents, who will thus fall into our trap and be rendered harmless.

9. In the front rank will stand organs of an official character. They will always stand guard over our interests, and therefore their influence will be comparatively insignificant.

10. In the second rank will be the semi-official organs, whose part it will be to attack the tepid and indifferent.

11. In the third rank we shall set up our own, to all appearance, opposition, which, in at least one of its organs, will present what looks like the very antipodes to us. Our real opponents at heart will accept this simulated opposition as their own and will show us their cards.

12. All our newspapers will be of all possible complexions -- aristocratic, republican, revolutionary, even anarchical - for so long, of course, as the constitution exists .... Like the Indian idol "Vishnu" they will have a hundred hands, and every one of them will have a finger on any one of the public opinions as required. When a pulse quickens these hands will lead opinion in the direction of our aims, for an excited patient loses all power of judgment and easily yields to suggestion. Those fools who will think they are repeating the opinion of a newspaper of their own camp will be repeating our opinion or any opinion that seems desirable for us. In the vain belief that they are following the organ of their party they will, in fact, follow the flag which we hang out for them.

13. In order to direct our newspaper militia in this sense we must take special and minute care in organizing this matter. Under the title of central department of the press we shall institute literary gatherings at which our agents will without attracting attention issue the orders and watchwords of the day. By discussing and controverting, but always superficially, without touching the essence of the matter, our organs will carry on a sham fight fusillade with the official newspapers solely for the purpose of giving occasion for us to express ourselves more fully than could well be done from the outset in official announcements, whenever, of course, that is to our advantage.


15. Methods of organization like these, imperceptible to the public eye but absolutely sure, are the best calculated to succeed in bringing the attention and the confidence of the public to the side of our government. Thanks to such methods we shall be in a position as from time to time may be required, to excite or to tranquillize the public mind on political questions, to persuade or to confuse, printing now truth, now lies, facts or their contradictions, according as they may be well or ill received, always very cautiously feeling our ground before stepping upon it ....

WE SHALL HAVE A SURE TRIUMPH OVER OUR OPPONENTS SINCE THEY WILL NOT HAVE AT THEIR DISPOSITION ORGANS OF THE PRESS IN WHICH THEY CAN GIVE FULL AND FINAL EXPRESSION TO THEIR VIEWS owing to the aforesaid methods of dealing with the press. We shall not even need to refute them except very superficially.

16. Trial shots like these, fired by us in the third rank of our press, in case of need, will be energetically refuted by us in our semi-official organs.

17. Even nowadays, already, to take only the French press, there are forms which reveal masonic solidarity in acting on the watchword: all organs of the press are bound together by professional secrecy; like the augurs of old, not one of their numbers will give away the secret of his sources of information unless it be resolved to make announcement of them. Not one journalist will venture to betray this secret, for not one of them is ever admitted to practice literature unless his whole past has some disgraceful sore or other .... These sores would be immediately revealed. So long as they remain the secret of a few the prestige of the journalist attacks the majority of the country - the mob follow after him with enthusiasm.

18. Our calculations are especially extended to the provinces. It is indispensable for us to inflame there those hopes and impulses with which we could at any moment fall upon the capital, and we shall represent to the capitals that these expressions are the independent hopes and impulses of the provinces. Naturally, the source of them will be always one and the same - ours.

WHAT WE NEED IS THAT, UNTIL SUCH TIME AS WE ARE IN THE PLENITUDE POWER, THE CAPITALS SHOULD FIND THEMSELVES STIFLED BY THE PROVINCIAL OPINION OF THE NATIONS, I.E., OF A MAJORITY ARRANGED BY OUR AGENTUR. What we need is that at the psychological moment the capitals should not be in a position to discuss an accomplished fact for the simple reason, if for no other, that it has been accepted by the public opinion of a majority in the provinces.


The position of freedom of expression particularly when it is expressing Truth, is now very serious as the world is slipping steadily into a manufactured chaos - manufactured as described above...

Our website - Signs of the Times - represents one of many alternative sites but we seem to be doing something that most of the others aren't doing as we have now been attacked by some "serious heavies" in the form of the world's biggest, meanest, law firm that just happens to be based in Virginia - and we all know who else comes from Virginia - this is no coincidence.

As many of the readers of Signs of the Times are aware, this attack was launched via a gang we have suspected to be agents of Pentagon psy-ops - abovetopsecret.com and friends - on the night of the 22nd. We became aware that there was a problem only after many of our readers had sent emails asking why Signs of the Times was inaccessible.

Since we experience regular DOS attacks, but have learned to deal with them quickly and efficiently (with the help of the server techs), we first thought that this might be the problem. It was only after writing to the server people that we became aware that the problem was something "other" than just simple DOS attacks. The server techs told us that they had discontinued our service because of having received a notice of "copyright infringement." Well, heck, we get that all the time but the server techs have NEVER been intimidated before; so what was up with this? we wondered. Since the server people know what our site is about and this has NEVER been an issue before, just what was going on here? (To get an idea of some of the nonsense that goes on behind the scenes, have a look HERE).

That was the first clue that tactics were being used that had never been used before.

We got on the phone to the server techs and basically explained to them that heck, if someone is accusing us of copyright infringment, we need to know who it is and what they are claiming is copyright violation so we can take care of it. It was then that the techs forwarded to us the letter from the attorney claiming to represent abovetopsecret.com

(CENSORED! This section of the post can only be read on my blog or more attacks will be directed at our server tech)

As soon as we received the information from our server, and determining from their fear of Mr. Jaeschke that something other than a letter was behind this, we removed the "offending articles" from the server and placed them elsewhere. Since there was no copyright violation (as we had been assured by our own legal counsel), but the fear that was evident in the attitude of the server techs suggested that something more was going on with this issue, we made this decision to place the articles elsewhere. And then, in order to explain the disruption and notify our readers of what was going on, we posted Jaeschke's letter on the Signs of the Times Forum.

Since we were still sitting at our computers (it was the middle of the night here in France) working on changing links and putting in redirects, we were immediately aware when, a few minutes later, the site was taken down again. So, we were back on the phone to the server people who told us that Mr. Jaeschke had called them and demanded that his contact details be removed. (At least that is what they told us; what Jaeschke actually said to them, we have no way of knowing.) We explained that we couldn't do that if the site was not working, so they re-activated it.

I was IN THE PROCESS of doing it, trying to upload the changes, when the site disappeared again!

Yup, three times in less than an hour!

We were back on the phone asking "what's wrong THIS time???" It seems that Jaeschke was screaming that he was getting death threats already because we had posted his info and what he REALLY wanted was that his entire letter be removed, not just the contact details.

The server techs were REALLY scared! We patiently explained that Wayne is just a cointelpro agent and internet psy-ops game player using his position as an attorney to intimidate them. So, after they got calmed down a bit, the site went back up and they stayed on the phone until I gave them the signal that the letters had been removed from all three threads.

I actually felt sorry for those poor fellas! And that kind of terror is what psychopaths count on and that is why it is so important to study psychopathy, to know them fully and well so that you are not susceptible to their maneuvers and manipulations! In this day and time, a course about psychopaths ought to be required for anybody in a position to be intimidated or coerced by such blatant strong-mouth manipulation.

Possibly utilizing the "special psychological knowledge" of the psychopath that Andrew Lobaczewski describes in his work on Ponerology, good ole Wayne did such a number on those poor tech guys that they folded instantly. Seeing how Mr. Jaeschke managed to intimidate the heck out of the tech's really makes you wonder just what kinds of things he said to them on the phone? Geez! Didn't Hannibal Lecter convince a guy to swallow his own tongue? But I digress...

Nevertheless, at this point, the fog began to clear! What Mr. Jaeschke was really concerned about was the public association of his name or the name of his firm with abovetopsecret.com. That's why I wrote in the previous post that it became clear that this was supposed to be a "stealth" attack. We were never supposed to SEE the letter from abovetopsecret.com's attorney, Wayne C. Jaeschke, Jr. of Morrison & Foerster LLP in McLean VA . Nobody was ever supposed to see it. It was sent to our host server, not to us.

CENSORED! Read it on the Blog!

Well, I had certainly read it and, as far as I was concerned, as the subject of the message, I was "authorized to receive for the addressee". And since I was "authorized" to receive, I was certainly entitled to "use, copy and disclose" to everyone the message and the information contained in the message.

Wayne, if you don't agree, sue me, please!!! And also explain to me why we have never received an official letter in the mail - as is standard operating procedure - regarding this matter? Is it because you don't want any hard evidence floating around about your close association with abovetopsecret.com?

As I said, Wayne's pathetic screaming and crying that he was getting death threats within 5 minutes of his publicly available contact details appearing on the internet is what clued us into the fact that it was his exposure as an associate of abovetopsecret.com that was at issue. Why? Because every single one of the contact details that Wayne claims were exposing him to mortal danger just happen to be published on the Morrison and Foerster website which also tells us this:

The International Law Firm for Israeli Companies

Morrison & Foerster combines extensive experience representing Israeli companies in cross-border business transactions and litigation with the high- tech focus of its Silicon Valley practice.

We offer our Israeli clients comprehensive, global legal services that only an international law firm with over one thousand lawyers in nineteen offices around the world can provide in intellectual property, litigation, public offerings, technology transactions, M&A, corporate finance and all other areas of law they face as international players.

Gee, I wonder if they represent Israeli Moving Companies such as the ones that employed the Five Dancing Israelis on September 11, 2001, Urban Moving Company? But I digress...

Getting back to Wayne: is what is said about the Northern Virginia office where Wayne is one of a whole gaggle of associates:

1650 Tysons Boulevard, Suite 300 McLean, Virginia 22102 Phone: (703) 760-7700 Fax: (703) 760-7777

Key Facts about Morrison & Foerster's Northern Virginia Office

Managing Partner: Brian Busey

If you click " List of Attorneys in our Northern Virginia office" you can then select Wayne's name:

Wayne C. Jaeschke Associate Primary Office: Northern Virginia Email: wjaeschke@mofo.com Phone: (703) 760-7756 Fax: (703) 760-7777

These are the same phone numbers and the same email that were on the above email to our server techs. What's more, you can even have a look at Wayne's mug... Have a quick peek...

Whiny looking guy, isn't he? Geez, reminds me of a story on Signs of the Times about How to spot a baby conservative - Whiny children, claims a new study, tend to grow up rigid and traditional.

Remember the whiny, insecure kid in nursery school, the one who always thought everyone was out to get him, and was always running to the teacher with complaints? Chances are he grew up to be a conservative.

... The confident, resilient, self-reliant kids mostly grew up to be liberals.

The study from the Journal of Research Into Personality isn't going to make the UC Berkeley professor who published it any friends on the right. Similar conclusions a few years ago from another academic saw him excoriated on right-wing blogs, and even led to a Congressional investigation into his research funding. [...]

Shades of the Protocols!

The whiny kids tended to grow up conservative, and turned into rigid young adults who hewed closely to traditional gender roles and were uncomfortable with ambiguity.

The confident kids turned out liberal and were still hanging loose, turning into bright, non-conforming adults with wide interests. The girls were still outgoing, but the young men tended to turn a little introspective. [...]

He reasons that insecure kids look for the reassurance provided by tradition and authority, and find it in conservative politics. The more confident kids are eager to explore alternatives to the way things are, and find liberal politics more congenial.

In a society that values self-confidence and out-goingness, it's a mostly flattering picture for liberals. It also runs contrary to the American stereotype of wimpy liberals and strong conservatives.

Of course, if you're studying the psychology of politics, you shouldn't be surprised to get a political reaction. Similar work by John T. Jost of Stanford and colleagues in 2003 drew a political backlash.

The researchers reviewed 44 years worth of studies into the psychology of conservatism, and concluded that people who are dogmatic, fearful, intolerant of ambiguity and uncertainty, and who crave order and structure are more likely to gravitate to conservatism. Critics branded it the "conservatives are crazy" study and accused the authors of a political bias. [...]

More action according to the Protocols?

Whether anyone's feelings are hurt or not, the work suggests that personality and emotions play a bigger role in our political leanings than we think. All of us, liberal or conservative, feel as though we've reached our political opinions by carefully weighing the evidence and exercising our best judgment. But it could be that all of that careful reasoning is just after-the-fact self-justification. What if personality forms our political outlook, with reason coming along behind, rationalizing after the fact?

It could be that whom we vote for has less to do with our judgments about tax policy or free trade or health care, and more with the personalities we've been stuck with since we were kids.

Regarding the above conclusions, taken in context with the Protocols of the Pathocrats, we have to consider psychopathy and other pathological conditions and how psychopaths can influence those with mental deficits at the social, national, and even global level. It could be said that being whiny and insecure may very well be evidence of congenital mental deficits that tend to make an individual more susceptible to Ponerological dynamics.

Speaking of Ponerology, How many of you are aware that Signs of the Times is never officially censored, but that the censorship imposed on us is covert and comprehensive. We have received many emails from readers about this issue and just the other day a reader who is an EXECUTIVE in a big multinational company branch in the UK sent me the following screen shot that he recently started getting on his computer when he tries to access Signs of the Times:

Black Listed

Now, as I said, this is an executive who generally logs onto Signs to dowload the news for reading later at home. He is not using his work computer to "waste time" or diddle around. Generally, executives are allowed to access whatever they like on their work computers. More than that, Signs of the Times is not a "Newsgroup" or "Bulletin Board," it is an Alternative News Source. I understand that we are also totally black-listed in China.

But back to Wayne's tantrum about his contact details being revealed. Fact is, the law firm actually publishes Directions to their location along with a handy little map. Gee, isn't that right down the road from the CIA? As one of the posters to our forum points out:

"MoFo is a heavyweight law firm. Sort of like the Mercedes-Benz of law firms. These aren't ambulance chasers. Their meat and potatos are IP law and other big corporation stuff. Intel retains them, among others. They don't usually bother with harassment suits, but as long as your coin is good (and plenty), they'll do whatever you want. Whoever is behind this has a lot of coins to throw around."

Another poster responded:

Having said that, there are two Wayne Jaeschke's at MoFo (is that name symbolic?), most likely father and son, of which our Wayne is the son. It seems that while MoFo might be the 'Mercedes Benz' of law firms, Wayne junior isn't up to much other than intimidating customer support at server companies and trying to find new ways to build bigger and better speakers, probably so he can listen to a recording of his own voice telling himself what a big, powerful lawyer he is.

Whether or not MoFo actually represents abovetopsecret.com, for our purposes, the most significant thing about Wayne Jaeschke's letter to our server people (that we were never supposed to see) was that it confirmed the close association of Jaeschke with the abovetopsecret.com "Three Amigos". This brings us to something else most interesting, the whole so-called Project SERPO hoax that abovetopsecret.com - with the gleeful assistance of attorney Wayne Jaeschke - has been running on the internet since last fall. There is a discussion about that on our forum also, which includes many fun facts and findings, and on that discussion page you can see a very interesting image about half way down which I am including here for the reader's convenience..

This is an image of an email that Bill Ryan of Project SERPO sent to me claiming that it had been sent to him by "friends" who were on the list of recipients. When I initially published it on the forum, I blacked out the name of the sender because I wasn't at all sure that a respectable attorney with a reputable law firm would actually be doing what this email suggests he is doing: creating a hoax to propagate on the internet via abovetopsecret.com. But now Jaeschke's involvement with ATS is on the record (even if he did not intend it), I am publishing the image without the name of the sender blacked out:

In short, this high-end corporate attorney is VERY thick in the whole Abovetopsecret gang activity. (Funny, QFG only ever had ONE attorney member and he only lasted about a week. He couldn't stand being in a group that demands the truth, I guess.)

You can see that this email comes from Wayne at "speakerbuilder.net. This is Wayne's "hobby site" where he likes to be called "The Rev". Hmmm... that's pretty suggestive of some strange mental quirks, not the least of which might be fundamentalist conservatism. If you click "email the Rev" you will get this publicly available email address. so if he starts yelling that his contact details are being revealed, he's full of it.

From this email we surmise that Wayne and the abovetopsecret.com Three Amigos and possibly others are communicating about their Hoaxing Activities re: Project SERPO. Apparently the set-up was to create a food fight about Serpo between Ryan and abovetopsecret.com in hopes that I would run to the defense of Ryan and get stuck in the Serpo Tar Baby. The above referenced "Friday the 13th" message was supposed to be the big expose that Serpo was a hoax. Had QFG been defending Serpo, we would have had significant egg on our face. As you can see from the email exchange posted on our forum, we suspected this from the beginning. We haven't been researching UFO and related matters this long to not recognize COINTELPRO when we see it.

One of the things that clued us in was that Bill Ryan removed the list of recipients before sending the email image to me, and my suspicions were raised even higher because he chose to send me an image rather than forwarding the email itself with the headers intact. My guess is that he was on the list of recipients as well.

In short, it tells us that the whole Serpo story is a creation, a game, put together by this bunch of sick turkeys.

Notice also Victor's (Martinez) comment: "If and when the official program goes into effect with legitimate, mainstream news media sources. " That definitely suggests that Victor is convinced that he is in contact with a gov intell guy - or that someone is - and that this whole program is sanctioned by the US psy-ops gang. Victor's question: "were ALL of the postings fake" tells us that he is not completely on the inside.

I'd bet dollars to donuts that Wayne is the author of ALL of the Serpo hoax material with maybe a little help from William Irvine and Mark Allin and Allin's Halliburton employee wife, "Val Hall". In short, abovetopsecret.com is just a nest of vipers, hoaxers and probably a central node for internet COINTELPRO funded by the Pentagon and backed by Dick "Shoot First, Ask Questions Later" Cheney.

Meanwhile, a reader of Signs of the Times has sent me a link to another blog, State of the Nation, which carried the following comments the day after our little "event."

Anatomy of a COINTELPRO shakedown II

The image above is the cover of the book Agents of Repression by Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall. It is great for getting some history of COINTELPRO but to see how COINTELPRO is used today, which the authors admit would require a whole other book, you may want to read the accounts of Laura Knight Jadczyk. It's not just used against minority or counter cultural political groups. Why would power hungry psychopaths limit it to such groups anyway? It was afterall successful, and now they have both big and small fish to fry. Ms Jadczyk is now one of the many fishes in their sight.

A while back, based on her work, I detailed how COINTELPRO agents work. The chief activities of such agents is to limit anyone with a following that shows the true state of the nation and the world. As Agents of Repression and Ms Jadczyk's blog will show you, they spread disinformation, infiltrate legitimate groups, harass and sic their big guns on workers for truth.

This woman must have angered someone in both high and low places because they got some really big guns to shut down her website yesterday. These were lawyers from McLean, Virginia acting on behalf of a group whose activities were detailed on the anatomy of a cointelpro shakedown.

Ms. Jadczyk has documented her experiences and findings beyond what I wrote a while back. The following links lays it all out.


More Updates

Further updates

Inside Scoop

The spider and the fly

The plausable lie

The magus and the swamps of Eugnosia

By the last link, she had decided to lay off the ATS business and I thought they had gotten to her. I thought they scared her into not revealing what she was learning about Above Top Secret (ATS). I still followed her various writings because ATS isn't the world. They're just one of many on our planet who knowingly or unknowingly become agents of repression. I was happy however, see that they did not manage to scare her off and her website is back up. They are certainly trying hard to neutralize her.

It is a real lesson on the ways in which COINTELPRO has our nation in the state that it is in now.

Well, you can say that again!

One of the more interesting responses that we have received to our forum posting of the information that ATS was behind the website shutdown is the following forum posting regarding the Project Serpo :

My first impression upon reading the ATS "attack" emails sent to Bill Ryan reflected my opinion of ATS itself: a business. Just as Ms. Knight Jadczyk touched on, they are all about marketing. I see a website littered with advertisements; I see a website trying to sell me something.

So I thought to myself Mr. Ryan here had a good idea but his execution (ie writing and such, as rs cited about story building) was poor. As a business, perhaps ATS saw serpo.org as a good opportunity for money if the Skeptic Overlord took over the marketing and consumer manipulation to match how they make their $$$ over at ATS. From an Occam's standpoint, it might just be simple, if not dirty and bullying, business. Capitalism and all that nonsense.

Except for Mr. Ryan's attitude and activity towards Ms. Knight Jadczyk. Once told that she thought his serpo stuff was all hokey, followed by her inability to provide any assistance, a man with his concern for what he purported (his credibility and website) would have moved on to someone else he thought could help him out if he really thought he was in a pickle. But his continued communication with her shows his concern and attention toward her, not his own business, perhaps shedding light of a different agenda all together.

For ATS and Serpo to all be in cahoots, months and months worth at that, all just to set a trap that in itself isn't definite (ie one would need to go for the cheese to get caught in the trap) seems quite elaborate. Elaborate actions dictate a very serious motive, ie Ms. K must have really pissed off someone, or that it really isn't so elaborate. There is the offchance that ATS and co. are all crazy and they like spending months and months building a card castle just so no one would go inside it.

But simplicity usually lays a heavy hand on human motive, even in the intelligence field. Cointelpro or what have you, people are people first, and people's actions and choices have been observed long enough to get a good idea of using one thing to get a type of reaction. This is why those hollywood blockbusters bust so much block. So the question is, what would have happened if Ms. K decided to go along with the whole hullaballoo so diligently put forth by these conniving con-men?

Editorials notwithstanding, any one of the possibilities here is just that, a possibility. The most weight can be given to one if we can get an idea of which way they are blowing the wind. Discredit to a nice author with a newfound penchant for genealogy? Or this website, and its mentally delicious Pentagon presentation? Judging from how they act on their own boards, ATS would hardly be above stating "Admin of this board is attatched to Loony Bin Mcgee and his Alien Silliness!" followed up with Hoots n Hollers from their camp followers. But all this activity just to try and paint a bad picture of a "competitor" board? That's a whole lot of effort involved here just to gain more webtraffic. Then again, I am constantly amazed at the lengths capitalists go to to get more bang in their buck.

But if this is political that would easily explain away the effort used here. Perhaps the business end of it is just a kicker, a nice bonus. The real intent to Lie and smudge away at someone else's tasty truths, especially if those truths reveal a not so nice view of ones' self (or history, such as shooting our own five sided buildings). Information is puported to be the most valuable commodity. Perhaps that is the showdown here: two cookies vying for the public's mouth; one a tasty truth, the other a tasty something but accompanied by a nightstick. Perplexing quandary at best. Yummy in my tummy or a safety net?

What is becoming increasingly clear from this Stealth Attack, and other signals, is that Signs of the Times is probably the most dangerous site on the internet from the perspective of the Powers That Be. For them to take the risk of exposure as they did (and did they get exposed!) only convinces us that the issues raised in the Flying Fish article and the Pentagon Flash are of such importance that they will pull out all stops to defame, harass, stalk, and intimidate us with the ultimate goal of destruction. They want to see SOTT disappear from the Web, that is certainly clear and it is now becoming even clearer just WHO is behind it.

Now, we are no strangers to COINTELPRO. We have been targeted since I started investigating UFOs in 1993 and talking about it back in 1995. It started out being MUFON and UFO true believer types. Then, it was the New Age types. Then, of course, the standard religious types... though they aren't as bad as the UFO/New Age types. At first, it all seemed to be just random: jealousies, people whose beliefs were being threatened, and so on. And certainly, to a great extent that can be true all by itself. But later on, after I began writing the Wave Series, exposing so much of the New Age Sewage, it got more serious and "dedicated." We have our own full-time agent of defamation who doesn't even have a real job - he seems to have absolutely unlimited time to devote to destroying us, our peace of mind, our reputations, our work, our lives, the lives of our children, our friends, our groups, etc. - Vincent Bridges, associated with Jay Weidner, associated with Jeff Rense, with Ray Flowers, with Drunvalo Melchizedek, funded to the tune of several million by Jirka Rysavy, Czech millionaire who many claim is just a CIA front man with has his fingers in a LOT of New Age pies. At present, their favorite tactic is to post endless defamatory lies on "cointelpro friendly" forums, or to sign on to legitimate forums under various internet "handles" - or anonymously - and whenever a positive reference is made to our work to jump in and rant "cult, cult" or make some of the most bizarre accusations I've ever heard of. My personal favorites are that my husband is funded by George Soros and I plagiarized my autobiography! (Yeah, go figure.)

So, it seems that we were targeted quite early on, but for the past few years, it has taken a more serious turn, obviously because of our 911 research including the "Pentagon Strike." Vinnie and gang are no longer sufficient because people are starting to recognize that when gangs rant "cult," they are identifying themselves as lower level COINTELPRO throwaways. Now they brought in some bigger boys waving their manufactured "creative commons" flags the way Bush waves his "I'm eavesdropping because I can" flag. Remember from the Protocols:

Freedom is the right to do that which the law allows. This interpretation of the word will at the proper time be of service to us, because all freedom will thus be in our hands, since the laws will abolish or create only that which is desirable for us according to the aforesaid program.

It'll be interesting to see what the next maneuver is!

The subject of the 911 strike on the Pentagon was subjected to intense cointelpro activity - as described in the Protocols above - from the very beginning so that now, even the so-called 911 truth seekers will nod their heads sagely and say "Yeah, it's just a set-up to make the whole 911 truth movement look silly."

I beg to differ.

I admit that I thought exactly the same thing in the beginning when our readers began to write to me and ask me about Theirry Meyssan's book. In fact, I even wrote comments to that effect and urged everyone to NOT touch this one with a mile long pole.

But even though I had made that initial assessment, based on what seemed logical to me, I still put our researchers on it because I WAS curious. And as the info kept coming in, it looked more and more like the Pentagon was, indeed, the "smoking gun" of 911 - even moreso than the collapse of WTC building 7.

I wrote my article "Comments on the Pentagon Strike" based on what info we had collected and as time went by and more data came in, we have added to it.

The Pentagon Flash Video was based, in part, on this article. What really shocked us was the way the video "took off" on its own. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that it has been viewed by at LEAST 500 million people. Yeah, half a BILLION (and that was six months ago when we assembled the data for a count). It took down about five dedicated servers that were hosting it. It also triggered some VERY interesting reactions. But what I want to point out here is that the extraordinary popularity of this video says one thing: people know subconsciously that it is TRUE, that there was no Flight 77 at the Pentagon. Now notice carefully that I do not say that there was no PLANE, because there certainly was. It was just not Flight 77 nor anything like a Boeing 757.

This short little video did what no other work on 911 "Truth" had done up to that point: it triggered a whole lot of active "damage control" as we will see in a few moments.

What I noticed about the reactions to the Pentagon Strike that we have received via email is that they are overwhelmingly positive. Sensible people who can see through Bush and the Neocons have no problem seeing that there was no Flight 77 at the Pentagon. The negative reactions are also interesting; they fall into two categories: 1) honest, sincere people who have been influenced by the cointelpro/psy-ops who then, without even being aware, become de facto cointelpro agents; 2) the REAL cointelpro/psy-ops agents.

To give an example of what I think is the former type: not too long ago, Jeff Wells, on his Rigorous Intuition blog made the astonishing remark that:

"I've posted a number of times on the blog about the mistake of constructing 9/11 "truth" upon the sand of physical evidence. The "no plane" hypothesis (more than a hypothesis for many; more like an unforgiving creed) is one of the most egregious missteps. One I believe encouraged, if not led, by COINTELPRO."

First of all notice that, like a robot, he is repeating "no plane," as though that is what is being said. It is not. What is being said is that it was NOT a Boeing 757. But this is the first clue that Jeff Wells is mechanically repeating something that has impressed itself on his mind in some way.

The second thing to note is this astonishing phrase: The "sand of physical evidence" ??? !!!!

Now, let me say right up front here that being accused of being cointelpro ourselves is truly bizarre, but not unexpected; after all, that's what cointelpro does: muddy the waters, create foodfights, and generally make it impossible for people to get together and actually make a difference.

The very fact that Jeff Wells can say that (and I think he's a sincere guy) just proves my point about psy-ops and how it affects the mind. It demands of us the question: how someone can be so mentally divided that, on the one hand, they can question why the majority of Americans cannot see through Bush and the Neocons as an evil Fascist system, and on the other hand, turn around and do just what those people who support Bush are doing: believe that "witness testimony" is more reliable than physical evidence! Isn't that something of a contradiction? That's the same kind of general hystericization that has taken over the minds of Americans and makes it almost impossible to show them facts about Bush and Gang and to get them to see the reality. That's the same kind of mindset that allows Americans to sit by complacently while Bush and the Neocons wage pre-emptive war, torture, divest Americans of their rights, engage in illegal spying, vote fraud, destroy the economy of America, and the whole host of criminal activities going on in this country. And if anybody thinks that this gang of criminal psychopaths can't run psy-ops to produce "innocent" witnesses to say anything they want them to say, or to even buy witnesses, think again! And if you still think you can vote the bastards out of office, you had better wake up before it is too late.

So, when somebody says: "the mistake of constructing 9/11 "truth" upon the sand of physical evidence" what he is really saying is that he MUST acknowledge that the physical evidence (or lack thereof) is compelling, but still - because COINTELPRO has been run so effectively on the 911 truth movement - OR because most of the 911 Truth Movement IS COINTELPRO - he just has to go with the "witnesses." And many people will do that because the alternative is far too horrible to contemplate.

And that is the big problem with the whole 911 truth movement. COINTELPRO that produces such muddled thinking as is evidenced in Jeff Wells, a guy I used to read faithfully and really admired. In the case of Jeff Wells and most of the 911 researchers, I am reminded of the Protocols above, where it says:

When a pulse quickens these hands will lead opinion in the direction of our aims, for an excited patient loses all power of judgment and easily yields to suggestion. Those fools who will think they are repeating the opinion of a newspaper of their own camp will be repeating our opinion or any opinion that seems desirable for us. In the vain belief that they are following the organ of their party they will, in fact, follow the flag which we hang out for them.

That is exactly what is being done with the 911 movement.

Turning now to Joe's Flying Fish article that abovetopsecret.com and Wayne Jaeschke and their bosses in the Pentagon are so desirous of making disappear from the internet, Joe Quinn wrote the following::

We notice that very few items of so-called "conspiracy theory" have rattled the "Bushes" quite like our Pentagon Strike Flash did. The Pentagon Strike video came out on August 23rd 2004. Probably nobody really noticed it at that point, but it hit a chord of response in the hearts of millions of people around the world. They began to madly download and forward it to their friends and relatives. Latest stats on how many people have viewed it to date are 500 million!

Apparently it even landed in the email box of the Editor of the Washington Post, which is why Carol Morello sent us an email asking for an interview. Or so she said. My suspicion was that the Post was instructed to do "damage control", albeit oh, so gently!

Now, look at this mini-timeline:

August 23rd 2004: Pentagon Strike Video which propagates wildly for a month.

September 11, 2004: CatHerder post to Above Top Secret forum.

September 21st 2004: First contact by Carol Morello of the Washington Post

October 7th 2004: Washington Post article

It was an interesting feeling to know that if they hadn't seen the Pentagon Strike before, certainly George and Dick, Karl and the gang were watching it after the Washington Post wrote an article about it.

October 19th 2004: George Bush visits New Port Richey - a previously unscheduled "whistle-stop" on his campaign trail. NPR is very small, not likely to be a major target of any presidential candidate, but it just happens to be Laura Knight-Jadczyk's hometown. It was our initial reaction that Dubya's visit to Laura's little home town - certainly of no importance on the campaign trail - was deliberately done to send a message to her. Fact is, her daughter's ex-boyfriend wrote to tell her that he had been among those selected to shake the hand of George W. himself! Now, how's that for a coincidence?

As to exactly what Carol Morello of the Washington Post wrote to Laura, here is the pertinent passage which is actually quite revealing:

A couple of editors here saw the video/film, and I was asked to find out what I could about it. As you can imagine, we continue to have an intense interest on the attack on the Pentagon and the people who were affected.

I've just begun reporting, so it would be premature to tell you what "perspective" my story would have.

My initial impressions are that the questions and theories expressed in the video got a spurt of attention in early 2002, after the publication of a best selling book in France, then the furor died down for a while, and now they have re-emerged with the extraordinarily wide dissemination of this video on the Internet.

The 911 Commission report appears to have done little to dampen the controversy. I hoped to speak to you about how and why you posted it on your web site, what kind of response you've received and what you think about it. […]

Notice that she attributes the resurgence of interest in the "Pentagate" problem to the Pentagon Strike video. Can we say "damage control"?

And if there is damage control, then that means there is damage.

Up to this point in time, the only acknowledgement the administration ever gave to such issues was to refer vaguely and dismissively to "conspiracy theories". Now, suddenly, it seems that dealing with the "conspiracy theories" in a direct manner was seen to be imperative. "9/11: Debunking the Myths" came out in Popular Mechanics Magazine in March of 2005, just five months after the Washington Post article. That's pretty fast work.

Under the tutelage of Editor in Chief Jim "Oh look, a tank!" Meigs, Popular Mechanics assembled a team of researchers, including "professional fact checkers" (impressive eh?) to debunk the 16 most common claims made by conspiracy theorists about 9/11. Unsurprisingly, the PM editors claim that, in the end:

"we were able to debunk each of these assertions with hard evidence and a healthy dose of common sense. We learned that a few theories are based on something as innocent as a reporting error on that chaotic day. Others are the byproducts of cynical imaginations that aim to inject suspicion and animosity into public debate."

In fact, a careful analysis of the article shows that at most, just three of the sixteen claims could have been the result of "reporting error", forcing us to assume that, in the razor-like, emotionally unclouded cerebrum of Jim Meigs, at least 13 of the conspiracy claims about 9/11 are the result of "cynical imaginations aiming to inject suspicion and animosity into public debate".

The sad fact is that, while Popular Mechanics claims to be interested in understanding what really happened that day, their rebuttal of sixteen of the most common claims by so-called "conspiracy theorists" about 9/11 isn't worth the $3.57 of server space that it has so far cost them to publish it.

If there is one glaring hole in the arguments put forward by 9/11 conspiracy "debunkers", it is the fact that such people have never come up with a reasonable argument to explain why, in the wake of 9/11, so many obviously intelligent citizens became gripped by the uncontrollable urge to continually waste their time recklessly and fecklessly "injecting suspicion and animosity into public debate" for no apparent reason. It really is a mystery. Maybe they're trying to take over the world or something.

On the other hand, it doesn't take a degree in psychology to understand the primary motivations of the conspiracy debunkers. You see, the very last thing that many Americans (and others) want to believe is that their government would attack its own people. For 9/11 "debunkers", logic and intellect have no part to play in investigating the question of what really happened on 9/11. It's pure emotion all the way. [...]

Most people think that "conspiracy theories" are made up by "conspiracy theorists", but the term "conspiracy theory" is most often used by those people who have most to gain from the ridicule of the allegations that are directed at them. The tactic has been used to such great effect over the years that certain high crimes committed by government have become the touchstone by which all other "conspiracies" are measured.

Take the folks at Popular Mechanics. In dealing with 9/11 they simply couldn't resist referencing that other most despicable crime committed by a US government - but of course, to them it's just another "theory":

"Don't get me wrong: Healthy skepticism is a good thing. Nobody should take everything they hear--from the government, the media or anybody else--at face value. But in a culture shaped by Oliver Stone movies and "X-Files" episodes, it is apparently getting harder for simple, hard facts to hold their own against elaborate, shadowy theorizing."

Did you catch it? The reference to Oliver Stone can mean only one thing: Jim's "fact checkers" contacted the CIA, and they told him straight up that some bullets really can do magic things.

So far, we have been generous to the people at Popular Mechanics. We have assumed that they are simply well-intentioned but misguided souls. However, it appears that there is a more sinister, and dare we say it, "conspiratorial" side to Popular Mechanics' "innocent" debunking of 9/11 conspiracy theories. You see, it turns out that one of the main contributors to the article is one Benjamin Chertoff, a cousin of the new Dept. of Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff.

American Free Press' Christopher Bollyn, who dug up the information, also claims that Ben Chertoff's mother was a Mossad agent. While there is, as of yet, no evidence of any working relationship between the two, it is certainly noteworthy that the cousin of the current Homeland Security Chief, (who, in his previous incarnation as head of the Justice Department's criminal division was instrumental in the release of obvious Israeli spies before and after 9/11), happens to be behind a high-profile attempt to debunk 9/11 conspiracy theories. [...]

According to another 9/11 researcher:

"The editors of Scientific American followed in the footsteps of Popular Mechanics in exploiting a trusted brand in order to protect the perpetrators of the mass murder of 9/11/01. The column by Michael Shermer in the June, 2005 issue of Scientific American, titled Fahrenheit 2777, is an attempt to deceive the magazine's readers into dismissing the overwhelming evidence that 9/11 was an inside job without ever looking at that evidence. More specifically, Shermer attempts to inoculate readers against looking at the decidedly scientific refutation of the official story… […]

According to another 9/11 researcher:

"The editors of Scientific American followed in the footsteps of Popular Mechanics in exploiting a trusted brand in order to protect the perpetrators of the mass murder of 9/11/01. The column by Michael Shermer in the June, 2005 issue of Scientific American, titled Fahrenheit 2777, is an attempt to deceive the magazine's readers into dismissing the overwhelming evidence that 9/11 was an inside job without ever looking at that evidence. More specifically, Shermer attempts to inoculate readers against looking at the decidedly scientific refutation of the official story… […]

Shermer's column exhibits many of the same propaganda techniques as the ambitious feature article in the March issue of Popular Mechanics by Benjamin Chertoff, for which Shermer professes admiration:

'The single best debunking of this conspiratorial codswallop is in the March issue of Popular Mechanics, which provides an exhaustive point-by-point analysis of the most prevalent claims.'

Comparing the two attack pieces is instructive. Both pieces mention a similar range of issues, with Shermer adding Jewish conspiracy rumors and UFOlogists to the mix...

This last is undoubtedly a direct reference to Signs of The Times, while avoiding giving a direct link to our website out of fear that the reader might be influenced.

Shermer uses an array of deceptive methods to persuade the reader that challenges to the official story of the 9/11 attack are worthy only of ridicule and should not be scrutinized. His primary technique is to use hoaxes and unscientific ideas to "bracket" the valid ideas that he seeks to shield the reader from.

That Shermer went to such great lengths to thoroughly misrepresent the painstaking, scientific, evidence-based work of many researchers is a testament to the success of the Pentagon Strike Video! It really stepped on a sore toe. And that tells us something important, the same thing Carol Morello of the Washington Post wrote:

"…the questions and theories expressed in the video got a spurt of attention in early 2002, after the publication of a best selling book in France, then the furor died down for a while, and now they have re-emerged with the extraordinarily wide dissemination of this video on the Internet."

We notice that never, in any of the two major "debunking" articles that followed fast on the heels of the Pentagon Strike video, was the video ever even mentioned by name, nor was our website mentioned. Other books, other researchers, other web sites were mentioned, but the deliberate avoidance of Signs of The Times - the origin of the Pentagon Strike, was conspicuous. We notice the same trend in the Above Top Secret forum.

Again we point out: debunkers are sent in only when damage control is needed. And damage control is only needed when it is thought that there might be damage. That means that the Pentagon Strike is understood clearly, in the minds of the perpetrators, to be the weak link in their chain of lies.

Debunkers are sent in not to give answers to the outstanding questions, but to push the emotional buttons of the public, to reassure people who really want "a reason to believe" that their government is not lying to them. [...]

As Laura Knight-Jadczyk notes in her book 9/11:The Ultimate Truth, the attack on the Pentagon is the Achilles Heel of the entire 9/11 coverup, and for one very good reason: while we all saw repeated footage of Flight 11 and Flight 175 crash into the WTC towers, and we all saw the wreckage of Flight 93 and have hundreds of eyewitness testimonies that a commercial airliner did indeed crash in Pennsylvania, there is no reliable evidence that a Boeing 757 hit the Pentagon on September 11th 2001. No one has seen any footage that shows Flight 77 hitting the Pentagon, and the tapes that actually exist that could easily and immediately prove what did hit that day, have been confiscated by the FBI and the U.S. government studiously refuses to release them.

The US government claims that a Boeing 757 impacted the Pentagon on 9/11, many people dispute this, yet the same American government refuses to release video tapes that would put the matter to rest and show once and for all what hit the Pentagon. Use your head and ask yourself, "why?"

There is one very obvious answer.

In other words, you can push arguments about the WTC building's collapse from now 'til doomsday and get nowhere... Even if you prove that it collapsed due to explosives, you can't ever prove that those planes that flew into the WTC buildings were not big passenger jets with alleged Arab hijackers onboard. Even if you forced the government to admit that, yes, there were explosives that brought down the building, it can so easily be attributed to "terrorists" in a big "discovery" of bait and switch. That's why they don't really worry too much about the WTC attacks. That's why all manner of conspiracy theories about the WTC are tolerated with disdainful amusement.

But notice that there is NO real amusement about the Pentagon Strike. Oh, sure, they work really hard to poke fun at it, but the fact is, the Pentagon Strike video - and our work on that subject - is the one and only thing that has baited the Beast from his lair and it was for THAT reason that special "agents" like The Washington Post, Popular Mechanics, Scientific American, abovetopsecret.com and Wayne Jaeschke have been employed to stop it! To STAMP it out! To get RID of it! At ALL costs! Heck, that's probably what was on Dick Cheney's mind when he shot his buddy... he was having a waking dream and thought he was pointing the gun at the SOTT team!

The fact is, there is NO defense against the facts on the ground at the Pentagon except the word of a small group of "special" witnesses against another group of witnesses who say that it was NOT Flight 77. Think about it. As I happens, Dave McGowan, a pretty clever guy, has addressed these issues thoroughly. He writes:

A popular hobby of late among some 9-11 researchers seems to involve disparaging the efforts of, and questioning the motives of, those researchers who refuse to ignore the fact that the available evidence is entirely inconsistent with the crash of a jetliner at the Pentagon. These individuals generally refer to certain other Pentagon investigators as "no-plane" theorists. For the purposes of this article, I have adopted a name for them as well: Tattoo theorists. This appellation is, of course, an homage to the "Fantasy Island" character best known for the tag line, "Ze plane! Ze plane!"

Two of the most aggressive of the Tattoo theorists, by the way, are Jim Hoffman and Brian Salter, both of whom were on the other side of the fence, so to speak, until fairly recently. If you have ever known someone who quit smoking and thereafter embarked on a mission to browbeat and berate every other smoker on the planet, then you have a pretty good idea of how the Tattoo theorists operate.

On February 24, Brian Salter (questionsquestions.net) posted a histrionic denunciation of Pentagon "no-plane" theorists that included the bizarre claim that any efforts to "keep the unnecessary no-plane speculation alive just helps to smear 9-11 Truth activists as hateful maniacs. Maybe that's the idea."

Well, I guess the jig is up. Mr. Salter, it seems, has figured out our diabolical plot. All along, the real goal has been to cast 9-11 researchers as - dare I say it? - hateful maniacs. In fact, the 'talking points' that I receive from my secret CIA backers routinely contain such notations as: "Operation Hateful Maniacs is, as you know, proceeding on schedule; prepare to shift into the next phase of the program, Operation Deranged Psychopaths."

Of course, it could also be that those of us who continue to focus on the glaring inconsistencies in the official story of what happened at the Pentagon are actually pursuing the truth, which is what a "Truth activist" is supposed to do, rather than peddling entirely speculative drivel about a mythical 'plane bomb,' which is what the Tattoo theorists choose to do.

The primary strong-arm tactic of the Tattoo theorists is to cast "no-plane" theorists as part of a Cointelpro-type operation aimed at undermining the 9-11 skeptics' case. The "no-plane" theories, it is claimed, are "straw man" arguments, propped up specifically so that they can be easily brushed aside by "debunkers," thus discrediting the 9-11 movement in its entirety by attacking at points of greatest vulnerability.

In his blog, Salter claims "media debunkers have shown maximum enthusiasm for portraying [Pentagon no-plane theories] as the heart and soul of 9/11 skepticism and making it the centerpiece of practically every hit piece." (http://questionsquestions.net/blog/) Hoffman has written that "the prominence of the no-757-crash theory will damage the cause, particularly as it reaches a wider audience less inclined to research the issue ... The mainstream press is casting the no-757-crash theory as a loony construct of conspiracy theorists, and representative of all 9/11 skepticism." (http://911research.wtc7.net/essays/pentagontrap.html) Mark Robinowitz has joined the chorus by claiming "'No Planes' has been the most effective means to discredit issues of complicity inside the Beltway." (http://www.oilempire.us/pentagon.html)

Obviously then, everyone is in agreement (as if they were all reading the same 'talking points') that we must immediately drop all support for the "no-plane" theories, because if we don't, we will continue to furnish the enemy with useful ammunition with which to attack and discredit us. Sounds like a good plan -- except for the fact that it is based on a false premise.

The reality is that there have been almost no mainstream media 'debunkings' of the 9-11 skeptics' case, and there is a very good reason for that: the cumulative case that has been painstakingly compiled is (despite the spirited efforts of people like the Tattoo theorists) a formidable one that major media outlets, along with most so-called 'alternative' media outlets, have wisely chosen not to confront.

By far the most ambitious, high-profile media 'debunking' of the claims made by 9-11 skeptics has been the hit piece that graced the cover of the March 2005 edition of Popular Mechanics magazine (http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/defense/1227842.html). Since it is known that this article was co-written by Benjamin Chertoff, reportedly a cousin of our very own Director of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, then it is probably safe to assume that a primary objective was to knock down all the 'straw men' arguments that had been carefully planted and nurtured by government operatives. That is, after all, how this game is played, as the Tattoo theorists readily acknowledge.

We should, therefore, expect to find that the Popular Mechanics article focuses considerable attention on the Pentagon "no-plane" theories, and on the Pentagon attack in general. But what we find instead is quite the opposite; instead of emphasizing questions about the Pentagon, the issue is downplayed and given very little attention -- which isn't really surprising given that the attack on the Pentagon has always been, from day one, relegated to the status of a relatively insignificant footnote.

The PM article presents what it says are the top sixteen claims made by 9-11 skeptics, coupled with what are supposed to be 'debunkings' of each of those claims. The claims are grouped into four categories, which are presented in the following order: "The Planes" (the ones that hit the towers); "The World Trade Center" (the collapse of the towers); "The Pentagon"; and "Flight 93." Five of the sixteen claims examined concern the collapse of the WTC towers, four concern Flights 11 and 175, four concern Flight 93, and just three concern the Pentagon attack. In terms of word count, the article runs (minus the introduction) about 5,200 words, and it breaks down roughly as follows: collapse of towers - 2,050 words; WTC planes - 1250 words; Flight 93 - 1150 words; and the Pentagon - a paltry 750 words.

So if we are to use the focus of mainstream media attacks to gauge the points of greatest vulnerability in the 9-11 skeptics' case, then, in terms of both word count and number of claims examined, the collapse of the Twin Towers would be, by far, the weakest leak in the chain (which is kind of ironic, when you think about it, considering that most, if not all of the Tattoo theorists actively promote the theory that the towers were brought down with explosives). As for Pentagon "no-plane" theories, they are, according to the given criteria, the point of least vulnerability. [...]

Claims concerning the Pentagon attack don't make an appearance on the Popular Mechanics list until well into the second half of the article. And once they do appear, they are given very little print space. The three claims 'debunked' in the PM piece barely scratch the surface of the cumulative case that has been built to challenge the official version of the Pentagon attack. And the 'debunking' of even these cherry-picked 'claims' is pathetically inept. The undeniable lack of aircraft debris from the alleged crash, for example, is brushed aside with nothing more than this ludicrous emotional appeal from an alleged blast expert and witness to the aftermath of the attack: "I saw the marks of the plane wing on the face of the building. I picked up parts of the plane with the airline markings on them. I held in my hand the tail section of the plane, and I found the black box ... I held parts of uniforms from crew members in my hands, including body parts. Okay?"

You would think that if the Pentagon attack theories were the 'straw men' that the Tattoo theorists claim, then the 'debunkers' would be better prepared to knock those straw men down, and they would devote more print space to doing so. Instead, we find the Pentagon attack being downplayed in a major media attack on the 9-11 skeptics movement -- at the very same time, curiously enough, that a number of 9-11 skeptics have begun aggressively demanding that all "unnecessary speculation" about the Pentagon attack be dropped, and at the very same time that a new purported Pentagon skeptics' site suddenly appeared, professionally designed and complete with new interviews and photos (from insider sources), numerous omissions, copious amounts of spin and disinformation, a new DVD for sale, and, of course, enthusiastic backing from the Tattoo theorists and other 9-11 skeptics.

I have to say, quite frankly, that all of this just seems too well choreographed for my tastes. And, I have to also say that the Tattoo theorists' recent efforts to bury the Pentagon "no-plane speculation" seem rather desperate and overreaching.

I suggest that all of you read Dave's newsletter linked above with the Protocols of the Pathocrats held firmly in mind. As another poster in the Signs of the Times forum wrote:

Eye-witness testimony is notoriously pliable, and when already primed by FOUR airliners being hijacked, two have been flown into the World Trade Centre Buildings, and then something hits the Pentagon, it has to be one of the four airliners. It's in the programming, the priming, the following demonstrates this theory...

From 'Forensic & Criminal Psychology' Dennis Howitt:

"Few would doubt that human memory is fallible. An intriguing demonstration of this was a study of memory concerning the crash of an EL AL Boeing 747 jet onto a residential area of Amsterdam (Crombag et al., 1996). The crash had only been verbally reported on news bulletins as NO FILM OR VIDEO OF THE PLANE CRASH EXISTS [emphasis mine] Apart from eyewitnesses, no one could have seen the events. Nevertheless, participants in the research were misled into thinking that they may have seen such images on television by asking them about their recollections of the news coverage. Substantial numbers of participants in the study readily provided visual details of the crash as if they had seen it on film.[...]

"The key finding of the research is the failure of participants to recognise the falsity of their claims. That is to say, they did not realise that they were manufacturing memories."...]

This is not to say that eyewitnesses are not at all reliable, they are, but the essential point in the above is that with the right 'cueing' (programming) a vast number of people can be led to manufacture memories. Very sad isn't it, and it is easy to see the comparison here with how most people were led to believe it was a hijacked passenger airliner that hit the pentagon.

The truth is: NOBODY saw Flight 77 fly into the Pentagon. It didn't happen.

And so it is: Joe Quinn's rebuttal of the Pentagon Strike rebuttal, created and propagated by abovetopsecret.com, is just too dangerous to be allowed to continue to be "out there."

Even if it is completely legal to write a critical analysis as Joe Quinn did - utilizing the original article for the critique (how else can you write an analysis?) - covert intimidation and coercion from a fancy law firm in Virginia has been initiated to force the removal of this article from the internet after the pathetic efforts of the abovetopsecret.com "Three Amigos" didn't do the job. This was never supposed to be made public, it was designed to quietly and covertly "kill the messenger."

Discerning those whose intent is to deceive from those who are already deceived, but sincere, is very difficult but it can be done if people will begin to educate themselves and deal with the FACTS. Really and truly grokking COINTELPRO and the damage it does, and learning how to combat it, is a MUST if anything positive is ever to happen on this god-forsaken planet.

At this point, you can pretty well discern the COINTELPRO alternative sites from the sincere ones by who publishes this Exposure of abovetopsecret.com and who doesn't. Right about now, it IS that simple.

Now those of you that have read this far, let me mention that we removed our fundraiser, our fun little "Send Dick Cheney to the Moon" thing because, after a month, we raised less that 20% of our target - that is, double digits in thousands, not triple digits. Meanwhile, we know that the moveon.org people who haven't yet awakened to that fact that all their efforts and all their money is just going down the drain in the face of criminal fascists were able to raise several million dollars. That is another reason for COINTELPRO, to deprive the legitimate and UNCORRUPTED researchers of funds desperately needed to place the truth before the masses of people in a way that can compete with the Fox News type brainwashing.

Do you see moveon.org getting attacked? Do you see their website being taken down? In fact, please try to think of any other website that has been so thoroughly subjected to defamation, repeated DOS attacks, personal harassment, stalking, and now outright assault and intimidation from people with obvious connections to the Bush Neocons.

You can't. There isn't another website that can demonstrate with hard evidence, documentation, the level of attack that SOTT has been subjected to for the past five years.

What is really disheartening is that it is crap like this that makes it difficult for legitimate groups to operate. We've been tarred with the "cult" and "fleecing the faithful" brush by COINTELPRO agent Vincent Bridges from the very beginning. And they use examples of real cults and real frauds to create knee-jerk reactions in people.

Fact is, we have to have funds to continue to operate. QFG supports an ever-expanding network of researchers; pays enormous internet fees; and even donates to other non-affiliated alternative researchers to keep them up and running. QFG supports scientific research, and in 2004 and 2005, we were able to give significant support to scientific programs at the university level.

The PTB would like nothing better than to have everyone on the planet think that QFG is nothing but a cult that fleeces its "minions" for nefarious purposes.

You can visit the Quantum Future Group site HERE to get a better idea of what we are all about. ( Note that it is still under construction.) Our financial reports are being prepared by an independent auditor and will soon be posted publicly. We hope that this will go some way towards putting the kibosh on the COINTELPRO defamation campaign, but we aren't holding our breath.

The fact is, we account for every penney that is brought in either by donations or booksales. Here I want to make a special note of the fact that all the income from booksales - the results of our hard work - go right back into QFG and nobody gets a salary or collects "royalties." Considering what we manage to do, the old saying holds true: Never have so few done so much for so many with so little to work with!

Think about it.

And think about how much you might want us to continue to be available to you for news, analysis, commentary, and just the TRUTH.

When we are gone, who will take our place?

From the 'Protocols of the Pathocrats':

[T]o sow discord in all parties, to dislocate all collective forces which are still unwilling to submit to us, and to discourage any kind of personal initiative which might in any degree hinder our affair. THERE IS NOTHING MORE DANGEROUS THAN PERSONAL INITIATIVE: if it has genius behind it, such initiative can do more than can be done by millions of people among whom we have sown discord.

It is now imperative that we have funding in order to sustain - and even increase - our web presence. If you believe in the right of people to research and publish their work and their opinions I would ask you to please donate to the site today and to encourage your friends as far and wide as possible to do so as well - we need funding and we need it regularly. If you see your way clear to making a monthly donation that would help us a great deal.

Many people are afraid to be associated with those that have the courage to speak out against the creeping fascism that is enveloping the planet - we understand this but would also mention that there comes a time when we each of us have to make our stand - the editors of the website have taken theirs and do so every day. You may not agree with all they say but I would be most grateful if you would show your agreement and support their right to have their opinions and publish them freely without harassment and intimidation from the CIA.

This may all sound very dramatic but the situation is serious and your support will go a very long way to helping one light of truth in this world that is growing darker every day to keep shining.

If you want us to be able to continue to research and bring to you the best and most accurate and objective information available, you must show some personal initiative and stand behind us now, please. Give as generously as you can because we see a long and expensive fight ahead. If we don't get the funds to be able to fight this battle, then we will know that not enough people want what we are offering: just the Truth. If you want us to be here for you tomorrow and after tomorrow, give today! Please! And Thank all of you who have already given!

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Editorial: Stunning Zacarias Moussaoui into Submission?

Kurt Nimmo
Another Day in the Empire
Tuesday March 28th 2006, 9:28 am

NBC news reporter Pete Williams speculates that the feds have rigged a defiant Zacarias Moussaoui with a stun belt, an "electro-shock" device, apparently part of a growing "shock technology" arsenal used by torturers in South Africa, China, and Lebanon. "Amnesty International is extremely concerned about the introduction by the prison authorities in the United States of America of a remote controlled electro-shock stun belt for use on prisoners in chain gangs, judicial hearings and transportation," the human rights organization declared in 1996. "Officers can use it to psychologically threaten a prisoner, and it appears designed to humiliate and degrade a prisoner… Data from other electro-shock weapons indicate that the high pulse 50,000 volt shocks lasting eight seconds at a time could result in longer term physical and mental injuries."

Is it possible Moussaoui is now admitting he was involved in a plot to crash an airliner into the White House with the shoe bomber mental case Richard Reid in a Pavlovian response to 50,000 volts of electricity? If the feds are using electro-shock against the alleged wanna-be "al-Qaeda" operative, is it possible they are also drugging him? Aicha el-Wafi, Moussaoui's mother, believes her son "must have been drugged" when she saw him in court, according to Yahoo News. "That is not Zachary," she declared.

It should be remembered that Moussaoui previously denied any involvement in the nine eleven attacks and his sudden if not electrifying (pun intended) eleventh hour conversion during the penalty phase of his trial is highly suspicious. Moreover, according to nine eleven "mastermind" Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (supposedly in custody), Moussaoui was to take part in a second wave of attacks and was not part of the September 11, 2001, attack. Of course, this contradiction is not worth consideration, either by the jury or the corporate news media. It appears the patsy Zacarias Moussaoui is indeed a dead man walking-with a little help from a 50,000 volt shock belt.


As an example of Moussaoui's precarious mental state, Daniel McGrory, billed as a Times Online "al-Qaeda expert," cites several examples of his unusual behavior. "Asked why he signed a guilty plea as 'the twentieth hijacker', Moussaoui smirked and said: 'Because everybody used to refer to me as the 20th hijacker and it was a bit of fun,'" McGrory writes. "Prosecutors have no interest in demolishing Moussaoui's extraordinary confession as the self- proclaimed al-Qaeda terrorist seems to have done their job for them. It does not appear to matter to them that Moussaoui's testimony contradicts their own evidence."

It appears Moussaoui made things up as he went along. "Defense lawyers argue he has repeatedly changed his story about his supposed role in a deliberate attempt to confuse US authorities…. First he claimed he was to be used in a plot to free a blind Egyptian cleric, Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, jailed in the US in 1996 for an earlier attempt to blow up the World Trade Centre. Moussaoui told how he was to pilot a plane carrying the freed sheikh to Afghanistan…. Then he changed his mind and said that he was to take part in a second wave of aerial attacks in the US. He did not give a date, but claimed he was to crash his aircraft into the White House."

Moreover, Moussaoui's claim he plotted with the demented shoe bomber Richard Reid is at odds with the facts. "The question to be asked about his latest confession is, why would he implicate Richard Reid, his friend from their days at Finsbury Park mosque? Both men were at training camps in Afghanistan at the same time but, as evidence has shown, Reid, and another young Briton, Saajid Badat, were being groomed for an entirely different role…. Investigators know that Reid's path never crossed that of the 9/11 cell. Before he was ordered to carry a bomb onto a plane, Reid had other uses for al-Qaeda. Using his British passport, he was sent on reconnaissance missions across Europe and the Middle East at the time the 9/11 hijackers were finalizing their plans…. There is no mention of anything remotely connected to 9/11."

Moussaoui is a textbook example of a patsy. "The patsies ultimately have three vital functions," explains Webster Griffin Tarpley. "The first is that they have to be noticed. They must attract lots and lots of attention. They may issue raving statements on videotape, or doubles can be used to issue these statements for them if they are not up to it. They need to get in to fights with passersby, as Mohammed Atta is said to have done concerning a parking space at the airport in Maine early in the morning on September 11."

"Those who remember Moussaoui from his loudmouth displays at London mosques, and who trained with him in Afghanistan, describe him as a man who enjoyed exaggerating his own importance," McGrory continues. "He claimed to be a particular favorite of Osama bin Laden, which none of the al-Qaeda captives verify…. He liked the idea that London had provided al-Qaeda with a small army of would-be suicide bombers, and that he would be the first to die. He continually boasted about wanting to be a martyr for al-Qaeda…. After his testimony yesterday he may yet get his wish."

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Terrorism Schmerrorism

Earth forum hears dire warnings of environmental collapse

Tue Mar 28, 1:26 PM ET

NEW YORK - The cataclysmic consequences of unsustainable development pose a challenge to the world that will make the war on terror seem like an unnecessary distraction, a global environmental conference heard.

In a keynote speech opening the fourth biennial State of the Planet conference at New York's Columbia University, Jeffrey Sachs, director of the UN Millennium Project, said ignorance, misplaced priorities and indifference were keeping the world firmly on a path to disaster.

"Everything we think is at the core of our geopolitics -- the war on terror, Islamic fundamentalism -- have almost nothing to do with the real challenges we face on this planet," Sachs said.

"They are a distraction and a misunderstanding," he added.
Addressing the two-day forum's main topic -- the feasibility of sustainable development for billions of people worldwide -- Sachs painted a grim picture of systemic environmental collapse, coupled with war, famine and pandemic disease.

The astonishing pace of economic growth in Asia and the increasing demands of development in the industrialized world will in a matter of decades, Sachs argued, impose a burden far beyond that which the world is already woefully failing to carry.

"It is the central challenge we face on the planet," he said. "Every single major ecological system we have is already under profound stress."

While highlighting climate change, deforestation, oceanic degradation and population growth, Sachs, who is also director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, warned against viewing the problems associated with unsustainable development as esoteric issue for scientists.

"Politics is central," he said, condemning what he called the "scientifically antagonistic" policies of the current US administration under President George W. Bush.

"We're fighting all the wrong wars in this country," Sachs said, adding that what the White House really needed was a subscription to Scientific American magazine.

"Our political leaders do not have the training to understand these issues," he said, citing the crisis in Sudan's western region of Darfur which Sachs argued was primarily the result of water shortages that had prompted conflict.

"We view these crises first as political crises when we should view them as ecological crises," he said.

"And they will abound. They will get worse."

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Blair talks of climate change revolution

Vicky Collins
The Herald
March 29, 2006

A technological revolution is needed if the world is to tackle climate change, Tony Blair said yesterday.

During a visit to New Zealand, the prime minister said hi-tech innovations in the private sector were vital in tackling the problems of security of energy supply and rising greenhouse gases.

He also told a climate change conference in Wellington that Britain wanted to exceed its commitments under the international Kyoto agreement on climate change.
Mr Blair's suggestion that Britain was still hoping to lead the way on efforts to tackle global warming came despite the publication of a government report saying that Labour's own target for cutting carbon emissions may not be met.

The much-delayed climate change review, published by the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs yesterday, predicted that carbon emissions would be reduced to only 15% or 18% of 1990 levels, instead of the 20% promised. High economic growth and the rise in global energy prices were blamed.

However, Britain is still on course to meet the Kyoto target of cutting carbon emissions by 12.5% by 2012.

Margaret Beckett, the environment secretary, said the 20% target was still possible. "We believe we can reach the 20% target with support from all sections of the economy and society."

Environmental groups acc-used the government of caving in to short-term pressures.

Duncan McLaren, chief executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: "This pathetic strategy will not deliver the government's promise to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20% by 2010 and will further undermine the prime minister's reputation on this issue."

A technological revolution is needed if the world is to tackle climate change, Tony Blair said yesterday.

During a visit to New Zealand, the prime minister said hi-tech innovations in the private sector were vital in tackling the problems of security of energy supply and rising greenhouse gases.

He also told a climate change conference in Wellington that Britain wanted to exceed its commitments under the international Kyoto agreement on climate change.

Mr Blair's suggestion that Britain was still hoping to lead the way on efforts to tackle global warming came despite the publication of a government report saying that Labour's own target for cutting carbon emissions may not be met.

The much-delayed climate change review, published by the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs yesterday, predicted that carbon emissions would be reduced to only 15% or 18% of 1990 levels, instead of the 20% promised. High economic growth and the rise in global energy prices were blamed.

However, Britain is still on course to meet the Kyoto target of cutting carbon emissions by 12.5% by 2012.

Margaret Beckett, the environment secretary, said the 20% target was still possible. "We believe we can reach the 20% target with support from all sections of the economy and society."

Environmental groups acc-used the government of caving in to short-term pressures.

Duncan McLaren, chief executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: "This pathetic strategy will not deliver the government's promise to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20% by 2010 and will further undermine the prime minister's reputation on this issue."

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Category 5 cyclone threatens Western Australia coast

Tue Mar 28, 9:28 PM ET

CANBERRA - A powerful cyclone with winds up to 300 kph (190 mph) menaced northern parts of Western Australia on Wednesday, less than two weeks after a storm devastated homes and crops on the other side of the country.

Some oil and gas operations and key iron ore ports closed ahead of the arrival of Cyclone Glenda in an area known as "cyclone alley" because it is regularly swept by storms at this time of year.
The storm, ranked in the most powerful grade for cyclones, category five, was about 335 km (210 miles) north of the town of Port Hedland and moving south along the coast, the Tropical Cyclone Warning Center said.

"Tomorrow's really the day where things could happen," said forecaster Adam Conroy from the center in Perth, the capital of Western Australia.

The remote Pilbara region under threat is home to around 10,000 people and includes Woodside Petroleum's A$14 billion ($10 billion) North West Shelf liquefied natural gas (LNG) project at Karratha, about 700 km (440 miles) north of Perth.

"Residents of the central and west Pilbara coast are warned of the risk of very destructive winds with gusts exceeding 250 km per hour during Thursday as this very dangerous cyclone nears the coast," the Bureau of Meteorology said on its Web site (www.bom.gov.au).

Australia's northeastern coast was devastated last week by another category five storm, Cyclone Larry. It blew roofs off houses, uprooted trees and decimated sugar and banana crops, causing damage worth up to A$1.5 billion ($1 billion).

Woodside said on Wednesday that it had suspended production at its 100,000-barrel-per-day Cossack oilfield in the Indian Ocean on Tuesday as the sixth cyclone of the season approached.

Oil and gas producer Santos Ltd. shut its 40,000-barrel-per-day (bpd) Mutineer-Exeter oil field on Monday and BHP Billiton's 10,600 bpd Griffin oil field has been closed since Saturday, after it was threatened by a smaller storm.

Mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto both have operations in the Pilbara, which is home to large deposits of iron ore.

Rio said its port operations at Dampier and Cape Lambert had shut and ships had gone out to sea, while BHP said it was loading its last ship and port operations at Port Hedland would close shortly.

Rio said on Tuesday bad weather meant the company would fall 5 million tonnes short of its first-quarter iron ore output target. It still expected 2006 output to rise 14 percent on last year's 158 million tonnes.

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New Orleans to be emptied for next storm: officials

By Ned Randolph
Tue Mar 28, 6:53 PM ET

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana - Everyone in New Orleans must evacuate the low-lying city the next time a hurricane threatens and no shelters will be offered for those who stay, officials said on Tuesday.

Hoping to avoid a repeat of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina when thousands struggled to survive after ignoring evacuation orders, they said planes, trains and buses would be used to move people out and the Superdome football stadium would not be open for refuge.
"Today the population stands around 200,000 to 225,000 people in New Orleans," said Orleans Parish Homeland Security Advisor Terry Ebbert. "Our goal is to ensure that we create an environment where it makes more sense to leave than to stay,"

"We want all 225,000 people to get out of the city," he said. Before Katrina, New Orleans had nearly half a million residents, but many who fled the storm have not returned.

Ebbert spoke at a news conference after state and local officials met with Federal Emergency Management Agency acting director David Paulison to discuss plans for the next hurricane season, which starts June 1.

Officials plan to have only small shelters available for police and rescue workers and will not open the Superdome, the site of mass misery when stranded Katrina victims crowded into the dank and damaged stadium and waited days for rescue.

Ebbert said evacuations could come early and often this year because the levee system protecting New Orleans was weakened by Katrina and there are thousands of people now living in FEMA-provided travel trailers.

Residents will be ordered out not just for hurricanes, but for tropical storms, too, he said.

Paulison estimated that by June 1, 100,000 families along the U.S. Gulf Coast will be in trailers, which are vulnerable in high winds.

He said FEMA, which has been heavily criticized for its response to Katrina, would do whatever state and local officials cannot do to prepare for hurricanes.

"The locals and state are putting together the process of identifying what they can and cannot do. We're looking at where we can fit in to help," he said.

Comment: Evacuating New Orleans will depend upon the cooperation of FEMA and Bush administration, and we all saw just how "cooperative" they were last time around. Then again, if Barbara Bush has anything to say about it, there's no way her son will allow any more of "those people" into her state.

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Two dead in German tornado, power cut

Tue Mar 28, 4:01 AM ET

HAMBURG, Germany - Two people were killed and 80,000 homes suffered power cuts when a tornado struck the northern German city of Hamburg.

The cyclone flipped three construction cranes late Monday, two of which were occupied, killing two workers and injuring two others.
The storm ripped off roofs in the southern district of Harburg and overturned several cars.

Some 300,000 people in Hamburg spent the night without power and at least one hospital had to resort to using its generators. Rail and metro service was also interrupted for a few hours.

A spokesman for the power company Vattenfall said "an unfortunate chain of several events" was responsible for the outage.

The tornado ripped the tin roof off a boatyard, sending it flying 50 meters (150 feet) through the air and leading two power cables to short circuit.

Electricity was restored Tuesday morning.

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Yellowstone's sister volcano shares similar history

Source: scenta
Date Published: March 29, 2006
Date Last Modified: March 29, 2006

The explosive formation of Argentina's Vilama Calera volcano seemed to have matched Yellowstone's historic continent-blanketing blast millions of years ago.
Vilama Calera may be another unappreciated 'supervolcano' (like Yellowstone) hidden in a mega-volcano nursery, dubbed the Eduardo Avaroa Caldera Complex in the tri-section of Argentine, Bolivia and Chile.

Geologist Miguel M. Soler of the National University of Jujuy in San Salvador de Jujuy, Argentina, said: "Vilama Caldera formed during a single event that emitted approximately 2000 cubic kilometres (almost 500 cubic miles) of pyroclastic material."

Ash volume and pyroclastic material, called ignimbrites, produced by the 8.4 million-year-old eruption, and the size of the associated caldera, put it among the world's largest known eruptions.

"In contrast, for example, Yellowstone produced its important volumes of ignimbrites and lavas in three cataclysmic events." Soler says.

"Eruptions at 2.0, 1.3, and 0.6 million years ago ejected huge volumes of rhyolite magma, and each formed a caldera and extensive layers of thick pyroclastic flow deposits," he adds.

Scientists believe that the Vilama Caldera could have been created when a ten by 24 mile layer collapsed on a chamber of molten rock or magma with explosive results, causing vast amounts of ignimbrites out in many directions.

The huge layer, or roof, collapse is what all large calderas have in common and what separates them from smaller 'single vent' volcanic eruptions like Mount St. Helens or Mount Pinatubo.

"But that's where the similarities with Yellowstone end," says Soler.

Magma under Yellowstone is thought to be created by the melting of ancient crust under North America where Vilama's magma could have been created by a more complex melting of the crust caused by the South American Plate colliding and overriding the Nazca Plate to the west.

"Much remains unknown about Vilama Caldera," says Soler, "Largely because it is a terribly difficult caldera to study."

"Among the other calderas in the region that need to be studied in detail and which in all cases are also certainly 'supervolcanoes' are Cerro Guacha, Coruto, Pastos Grandes, and Capina," Soler adds.

Soler will present his work on Vilama supervolcano on Monday, 3 April at the Backbone of Americas – Patagonia to Alaska meeting co-convened by the Geological Society of America and the Asociación Geológica Argentina, with collaboration of the Sociedad Geológica de Chile.

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Bird flu hits third Indian state

Wednesday, 29 March 2006, 04:36 GMT

Authorities in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh will slaughter 7,000 chickens after identifying a case of the deadly H5N1 bird flu strain.

A senior official said that one sample of tests on poultry in the state's Ichapur area had tested positive.
Ichapur is close to western Maharashtra state's Jalgaon district, where India's first bird flu outbreak was reported from last month.

There have still been no reported cases of the virus in humans in India.

Veterinary commissioner of Madhya Pradesh Rajesh Rajora told the BBC that the slaughtering of the birds will begin on Wednesday.

Hundreds of thousands of birds were destroyed in Maharashtra after India's first bird flu outbreak last month.

The state has identified over 10 cases of the deadly H5N1 bird flu strain so far - all in Jalgaon district. The latest cases were reported on Tuesday after tests on old samples.

The virus later spread to some poultry farms in the neighbouring Gujarat state.

There have still been no reported cases of the virus in humans in India - 95 samples collected from people with flu-like symptoms last month tested negative for bird flu.


The detection of bird flu in India last month led to sharp falls in the sale of poultry and poultry products.

India's parliament, military, railways and major airlines temporarily stopped serving chicken and eggs, despite government reassurances that they were safe to eat if cooked properly.

The virus does not at present pose a large-scale threat to humans, as it cannot pass easily from one person to another.

However since 2004 about 100 people have died of the H5N1 strain - most of then in South-East Asia.

Experts fear the virus could mutate to gain this ability, and in its new form trigger a flu pandemic, potentially putting millions of human lives at risk.

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Canadas New Government Starting From Scratch On Kyoto Protocol

Mar 29, 2006

Ottawa - Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Tuesday Canada has not progressed at all on its Kyoto Protocol commitments to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and had instead moved "backwards".

"I know the environment minister has been working on this file, has been developing plans, but to be quite blunt about it, I think we're pretty well starting from scratch," Harper told reporters outside the House of Commons.
"Under the (previous) government, we were going backwards. We were going away from the Kyoto targets," said the Conservative prime minister, whose election in January ended 12 years of Liberal Party rule.

"I don't think the previous government left us with a lot that we can really build on."

Earlier, Canada was flagged in a UN report on global warming as high on a list of countries that ratified the accord to most likely run into difficulty implementing its commitments.

In 2003, Canada had increased its emissions by 24.2 percent from the base 1990 level, far from its 2012 target of a six percent reduction, according to the report published in November 2005.

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Ark's Quantum Quirks

Signs of the Times
March 29, 2006


Elephants prepare for Ice Age

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The Titanic

Credit investors ponder GM-sized hole in universe

By David Wigan
Tue Mar 28, 9:03 AM ET

LONDON - Like the elephant in the living room, the decline of General Motors is a problem that investors don't want to think about but can't ignore.

The world's largest automaker, whose debt is close to the gross domestic product (GDP) of Belgium, lost more than $10 billion last year and is facing a bankruptcy that would reap devastation in the financial markets.

GM's share price has halved in the past year, while its $100 billion of bonds have been cut to junk, confronting investors with the prospect of never getting their money back. Others in the highly-leveraged derivatives market face incalculable losses should a bankruptcy occur.
"A GM default would be absolutely huge," said Jonathan Loredo, of credit manager Cairn Capital. "It would be the biggest thing to hit the market in terms of losses and operational stress."

There is no understating the scale of GM's problems. It is losing market share in the United States, has $300 billion of long-term debt, provides health benefits to 1.1 million people (at the rate of about $1,500 per car produced), is threatened with a strike by its largest supplier, which is bankrupt, and is being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Few who invest do not have some level of exposure -- GM stock and debt is held by the biggest investment banks and smallest retail buyers.

GM, or its financing arm GMAC, is present in around 65 percent of synthetic collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), according to Standard & Poor's, and underlies an estimated $1 trillion of default swaps.

The company's impact is evidenced by the CDX credit default swap indices. The U.S.-based CDX4 equity tranche, containing GM, trades at 36 points up front; the same tranche in series 5, without GM, costs 27.5 points. One firm out of 125 accounts for almost a third of the premium.

All that for a company with a market capitalization of $12.8 billion.

Still, investors struggle to judge whether the automaker, which sells 21 percent of cars in the United States, will ultimately perish.

"A bankruptcy filing is unlikely this year," said Christophe Boulanger, auto analyst at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein. "Unless Delphi goes on strike -- in which case they would stop production and it would all be over."

Parts supplier Delphi, which filed the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. automotive history in October, is negotiating with the
United Auto Workers union and GM over wage and benefit issues, with a strike threatened if there is no settlement.


Should a strike be called, GM could be bankrupt by June, Boulanger said. After that any scenario might play out, but the status of GMAC will be crucial.

GMAC has traded at a premium to its parent in the credit markets on hopes a controlling stake will be sold, ring-fencing the company and possibly returning it to investment grade. Yet, despite GM's best efforts, no buyer has emerged.

Further complicating the outlook, if GMAC is not sold, and GM does go bankrupt, it is uncertain GMAC would be consolidated in the filing.

For bond investors, a GM bankruptcy would be hard, but a GMAC bankruptcy would be disastrous. GMAC is home to three quarters of the group's bonds, and is found in a large proportion of outstanding synthetic CDOs.

"The high degree of portfolio overlap between synthetic CDO transactions sets this asset class apart," said Standard & Poor's analyst Andrew South. "A rating action on GM could have a widespread effect on many CDOs."

The complex market in CDO squared, or CDOs of CDOs, also faces significant risk following a GM downgrade, one London-based hedge fund manager said.

"To be blunt -- it would be carnage," he said.

Part of that carnage would be in the back offices of financial institutions, which will have literally millions of transactions to unwind, and banks are already under regulator pressure over backlogs in credit derivatives.

Of course, the best possible outcome may also be the most likely. That is, GM will survive.

Having spent around $15 billion renewing its product offering, it is certain the company will do everything in its power to avoid bankruptcy, Boulanger said.

There are positive signs on negotiations with unions, a cap on salaried retirees' health care at 2006 levels, and 30,000 job cuts planned.

Further, the precedents are good. In 1980, Chrysler stepped back from the brink, while Nissan Motor performed a similar feat 20 years later.

Ultimately it is probably investors who are best placed to judge GM's prognosis, and the cost of one-year default protection on GM is currently higher than five-year protection.

In other words, if the elephant is still in the room in 18 months, you can probably ignore it.

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Fed raises interest rates for 15th time

By Tim Ahmann
Tue Mar 28, 2006 3:33 PM ET

WASHINGTON - In their first meeting under new chief Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve officials lifted a key U.S. interest rate on Tuesday a 15th straight time and said further moves may be needed to keep inflation at bay.
As widely expected, the U.S. central bank's rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee voted unanimously to raise the benchmark federal funds rate target a quarter percentage point to 4.75 percent, the highest level since April 2001.

In a statement announcing its action, the Fed repeated further rate rises may be needed, suggesting it was comfortable with financial market expectations for rates climbing to 5 percent in coming months.

"Economic growth has rebounded strongly in the current quarter but appears likely to moderate to a more sustainable pace," the Fed said in a statement explaining the outcome of the two-day meeting that started on Monday.

It added that higher energy and commodity prices so far appeared to be having only a modest impact on core prices and inflation expectations were still contained.

"Still, possible increases in resource utilization, in combination with the elevated prices of energy and other commodities, have the potential to add to inflation pressures," the Fed said, repeating wording from its January 31 statement.

The dollar rose in the wake of the decision while bond and stock prices fell on the prospect of more rate rises ahead.

The U.S. economy appears to have bounced back smartly after growing at a sluggish 1.6 percent annual rate in the final three months of 2005. Some forecasters think first-quarter growth in U.S. gross domestic product could top a rapid 5 percent pace.

Fed officials, however, expect the pace of economic growth to moderate as the year progresses, helping to keep the risk of higher inflation under wraps.

Still, with the unemployment rate at a historically low 4.8 percent and the amount of unused industrial capacity dwindling, the central bank is not ready to drop its inflation offensive.

"The committee judges that some further policy firming may be needed to keep the risks to the attainment of both sustainable economic growth and price stability roughly in balance," the central bank said, using identical language to the statement issued after its last meeting.

U.S. crude oil futures surged above $65 a barrel on Tuesday, a reminder of the lofty energy prices that have been weighing on the economy. While gasoline costs fell in February, they have marched higher this month.

Fed officials have said core inflation, which strips out volatile food and energy prices, is already running near the upper edge of their informal comfort zone.

The central bank's favorite gauge of core inflation rose 1.8 percent in the 12 months through January. Many officials have said they want to keep it under 2 percent.

Some economists think the U.S. central bank will push interest rates up just once more, perhaps at its next meeting on May 10, before calling a halt to the credit-tightening campaign it kicked off in June 2004.

Others think the economy will continue to exhibit enough vigor to spur more action from the Fed.

It is up to Bernanke, who took over from Alan Greenspan on February 1, to try to foster a consensus among Fed officials over the delicate question of exactly when rate hikes should end.

In the latest sign of the economy's strength, issued as Fed policy-makers met, the private Conference Board said its index of consumer sentiment jumped to 107.2 in March, its highest in almost four years, from 102.7 last month.

Fed officials are closely eyeing the U.S housing sector, which is showing signs of cooling after a long boom. The government said on Friday new home sales tumbled 10.5 percent in February, the biggest drop in nearly nine years.

Many economists expect consumer spending to moderate as homeowners, who have been tapping their home equity to make purchases, find their home values rising more slowly.

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US living on borrowed time - and money

By Julian Delasantellis
Asia Times

n 1987, Yale historian Paul Kennedy published The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, in which he argued that "military overstretch" - where conquering nations engaged in more foreign military adventures than their economic resources could support - led to the eventual decline and fall of empires.

So far, the US attempt at dominion that commenced in 2001 has not been threatened in this manner because, in essence, the nation has been able to borrow the costs simultaneously to maintain both its new empire and its avaricious middle-class consumerist lifestyle.

But the times, they are a-changing. Buried deep in the arcanum of some recently released economic statistics are indications that the world is tiring of its role as America's charge card.
So far the United States has easily financed its endeavors in Iraq, as well as undiminished levels of domestic social-welfare spending, not by the traditional solution of raising taxes (in fact, taxes have been cut numerous times since 2001, an occurrence unheard of during previous wars) but by running huge budget deficits, such as fiscal year 2006's projected shortfall of US$423 billion.

Accompanying the federal budget deficit is the huge US trade deficit, burgeoning out of control as more and more of previously domestically produced consumption items are outsourced to foreign, mostly Chinese, manufacture. The stimulative US budget fiscal position assures that Americans will have all the money needed to buy them.

Standard economic theory since the adoption of floating foreign exchange rates in 1973 states that big trade deficits auto-correct by having the currency of the profligate nation depreciate. Thus if Brazil is buying more from, say, South Korea than South Korea is buying from Brazil, there will be more South Koreans with Brazilian reals (earned from the exports to Brazilians ) than there will be Brazilians with won.

In most cases, this would lead to selling of the currency of the deficit country, since there will be a surplus of the deficit country's currency in these foreigners' hands. The selling will drive down the value of the deficit currency; that will eventually make consumption of the shiny foreign goodies too expensive, and eventually the trade deficit will equalize.

This has traditionally not happened with foreigners holding US dollars. The United States dollar is what is called a "reserve currency", ie, foreigners are willing to hold dollars even though they can't easily use them as the domestic currency in their home markets. Without the selling that would accompany all the exporters to the United States trading their dollars for their home currencies, the US dollar stays higher than the economic fundamentals would theorize it should, and the great American global shopping spree can continue.

The ledger of how much more capital the US sucks in to finance its consumption as compared with how much it sends out to invest is called the current account deficit. The money that foreign exporters hold in US dollars and then invest in US government or private bonds, stocks or short-term bills is entered in the minus column on the current account. As the US domestic savings rate is so pitifully low, the United States must import a huge amount of foreign capital just to finance that huge federal government budget deficit.

From an even then huge $531 billion in 2003, the current-account deficit has been rising in recent years by more than 20% a year, last year's was $805 billion, and the projection for 2006 is more than $975 billion - that's almost 7% of gross domestic product. In other words, America's spending addiction, from DVD players to destroyers, means that the nation consumes 7% more than it produces.

But until very recently, financing this hunger wasn't all that much of a problem.

The most important US government economic statistical report that you've never heard of is called the Treasury International Capital (TIC) report. The current-account data report how much the US needs to finance its lifestyle; the monthly TIC data report what it actually gets.

Thus in 2003, the current-account deficit meant that the US needed to entice $531 billion from the rest of the world. TIC data reported that what it actually got was $747 billion. For 2004, the need was $666 billion; it actually got $915 billion. For 2005, the need was $801 billion; $1.025 trillion was actually received. Many economic commentators believe that as this excess foreign capital started sloshing around and through the US banking and financial system, it kept US interest rates low and thus fired the tremendous rallies in real-estate and stock-equity prices that have occurred in the past few years.

But nothing good lasts forever. From reaching a high of $117.2 billion in August 2005, the TIC reports are showing a steady decline in foreign inflows, down to $74 billion in December, and $78 billion for January, the last month for which data are available. The nasty thing about this is that with a projected $975 billion current-account deficit for this year, the US is no longer getting what it needs from the world to maintain its lifestyle. The foreign-capital food supply is dwindling just as the hunger increases.

True, the actual shortfall is not yet very large, right now less than $5 billion a month. But I see the salient fact here as not being the current-account deficit minus TIC-inflow shortfall right now, but the rather significant 35% absolute reduction in inflows since last summer. As the US political system shows absolutely no indication of being either desirous or even able to deal with its fiscal profligacy (the recent congressional farce surrounding the increase in the debt ceiling being an example), the current-account deficit will only rise; unless US households are willing to increase their savings rates massively (very unlikely, since I haven't seen any "going out of business" signs on Best Buy or Circuit City lately) or the declining-TIC-inflow trend reverses, there's trouble ahead for the latest US experiment in cut-rate conquest.

There are many ways this trouble could manifest itself. Since much of this foreign-capital inflow finds its way into long-term US Treasury securities, it's hardly surprising that, with the recent shortfall in TIC inflows, Treasury interest rates are rising to their highest levels in two years. If demand is falling, then the market is marking down prices, and the basic rule of bond markets is that yields move in inverse directions to prices. Rising mortgage rates will put the US real-estate boom in real jeopardy, and it has been US homeowners pulling spendable cash out of the inflated values of their homes that has generated much of the consumption component of recent US growth.

It is also possible that this could lead to a sharp selloff in the US dollar, as has been happening in the dollar-euro market since November. If foreigners with export earnings from the US do not put it back into US assets, they will not just keep it stuffed in their mattresses; they will look around for interest-bearing instruments denominated in euros, sterling, yen, or a dozen other currencies.

This will cause these currencies to appreciate in value, and the dollar to fall. If you've ever looked at the back page of The Economist magazine you'll have seen the huge foreign-exchange reserves being built by countries that have recently been the winners in the global trading game. As of December, the International Monetary Fund lists Japan's reserves at $847 billion, China's at $819 billion, Taiwan's at $253 billion, South Korea's at $210 billion, Russia's at $194 billion, and India's at $137 billion. These reserves, held overwhelmingly as US dollars, are the potential gasoline just waiting for the match to set alight a huge global economic conflagration.

If somebody starts selling his dollar reserves, even if it's only a portion of his dollar portfolio, other countries could be forced into panic selling of their huge dollar reserves. The foreign-exchange markets are the biggest and most liquid in the world, but whether they would be able to absorb the amount of selling that could emerge from portfolio adjustments this large is a very open question.

More likely there would be a sharp overshoot in the dollar-selling, leading to a perhaps 20-30% decline in dollar values within a very short time. For the US, this would mean a sharp rise in the prices of everything it imports, especially crude oil. That would mean inflation, with the Federal Reserve raising interest rates to contain it, or maybe the economy would bypass the intermediate inflationary phase and head straight into deep recession or depression.

Comment: And the Fed just raised interest rates again...

Either way, the great run of US prosperity would be over. Worldwide, along with the global contractionary effects of US economic growth suddenly stopping or going into reverse, the effect of an almost instantaneous 20% haircut in the value of the world's financial reserves would be no picnic, either.

On the first day of class, business teachers like me love to introduce our sleepy students to the concept of TANSTAAFL - there ain't no such thing as a free lunch. The United States may soon be introduced to the concept of TANSTAAFE - there ain't no such thing as a free empire. Specifically, will the nation still think it's so important to control the sands of Samarra, or the streets of Fallujah, or, for that matter, those of Baghdad if, like the signs say in US doctors' offices, "payment is expected at the time of service"?

Julian Delasantellis is a management consultant, private investor and professor of international business in the US states of Washington.

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Pillaging the Treasury and the Constitution: Bush is No Conservative


President Bush passes himself off as a conservative Republican and a born-again Christian. These are disguises behind which Bush hides. Would a Christian invade another country on false pretenses, kill tens of thousands of innocent civilians, and show no remorse or inclination to cease the aggression?

Long-time Republican policy-wonk Bruce Bartlett recently published a book, Impostor, in which he proves that President Bush is no economic conservative, having broken all records in spending taxpayers' money and running up public debt.
Were Bush merely another big spender, his presidency wouldn't differ from other pork barrel administrations, but Bush's radicalism goes far beyond spending. Bush supports outsourcing American jobs, and he has taken an irreverent approach to the U.S. Constitution.

Bush bears no resemblance to a political conservative. A political conservative does not confuse government with country. Patriotism means loyalty to country. Bush, however, demands allegiance to his government: "You are with us or against us!" Critics of the Bush administration are branded "unpatriotic" and even "treasonous."

Loyalty to country means allegiance to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the separation of powers. It does not mean blind support for a president, an administration, or a political party.

The separation of powers and civil liberties that were bequeathed to us by the Founding Fathers are the protectors of our liberty. Bush, who swore on the Bible that he would defend and uphold the Constitution, has made it clear that he will not let the Constitution get in the way of expanding the powers of his office.

Bush has over-ridden a number of protections in the Bill of Rights. The right to assemble and to demonstrate has been infringed. The Secret Service now routinely removes protesters from the scene of Bush political events. Many unthinking Americans go along with this authoritarianism because they don't agree with the protesters, but once the right is lost, everyone loses it.

Bush has ignored habeas corpus and claims the unconstitutional power to arrest and detain people indefinitely without a warrant and without presenting charges to a judge. This is the most dangerous abuse of all, because whoever is in office can use this power against political opponents. Many unthinking Americans are not concerned, because they think this power will be used only against terrorists. However, as the Bush administration has admitted, many of its detainees are not terrorists. Most are innocent people kidnapped by tribal leaders and sold to the U.S. for the bounties paid for "terrorists."

Bush has refused to obey statutory law, specifically the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Bush claims that as commander-in-chief he has the right to ignore the law and to spy on Americans without a warrant. Many unthinking Americans are unconcerned, saying that as they are doing nothing wrong they have nothing to fear. This attitude misses the point in a large way. If a president can establish himself above one law, he can establish himself above all laws. There is no line drawn through the law that divides the laws between the ones the president must obey and the ones he need not obey.

FISA does not interfere with government spying for national security purposes. Secrecy is protected, because the court of federal judges that issues the warrants is secret. Moreover the law allows the government to spy first and then come to the court for a warrant. The purpose of the warrant is to be sure that the government is spying for legitimate purposes and not abusing the power to spy on political opponents for nefarious purposes.

When presidents sign a bill passed by Congress that they think might be interpreted in ways that could impinge on the powers of their office, they add a "signing statement" to protect traditional presidential powers. Under Bush this practice has exploded. Bush has used signing statements considerably in excess of all previous presidents combined. Moreover, Bush uses the statements not to protect president powers, but to nullify acts of Congress, such as Republican Senator John McCain's law against torture. Bush is using signing statements to turn the presidency into a dictatorship in which the executive is not accountable to laws passed by Congress. The next step is simply to announce that the executive is not accountable to elections either.

Bush's government is the first in our history in which there are no dissenting voices and no debate. Uniformity of opinion is more characteristic of a dictatorial government than a conservative one.
Bush's government is all of one mind, because all important positions are held by neoconservatives.

Neoconservative is a deceptive term. It means "new conservatives," but there is nothing conservative about neocons. Neoconservatives believe in imposing their agenda on other countries--the antithesis of American conservatism.

In short, real conservatives believe in conserving the Constitution, government accountability, and civil liberties, and avoiding foreign entanglements. Judging by its behavior and its statements, the Bush administration stands completely outside the conservative tradition.

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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New Orleans to Sell Flooded Buses on EBay

Associated Press Writer
Mar 28 9:38 PM US/Eastern

NEW ORLEANS - Starved for cash, the New Orleans school district is taking a long shot and hoping to sell its flooded, unsalvageable school buses on eBay.

Some submerged to their roofs in the black flood waters, the yellow school buses were widely photographed in the days after Hurricane Katrina and have become an icon of the city's devastated school system.
School officials acknowledge the sale of the buses on the Internet auction site may puzzle some people used to more traditional school fundraisers like bake sales.

"There's no shame in it. Not one bit," said school board president Phyllis Landrieu. "This is a new mechanism for selling things. I think it's very upbeat what we're doing."

Only 23 of 117 Orleans Parish public schools have reopened. They face a $111 million shortfall _ about a quarter of the district's $430 million annual operating budget. The district also has $264 million in outstanding debt, carried over from before Hurricane Katrina.

A total of 85 schools flooded, and wind damaged many more. It took three months for the first public school to reopen. Now, the schools that are holding classes have around 9,500 students, about 15 percent of the 60,000 enrolled before the storm.

The school district plans to put one bus up for sale on eBay this week. If it succeeds, more of the 259 ruined buses will be offered.

"It's an example of how bad the situation is that we would have to come up with this idea," said Richard White, schools spokesman.

The district plans to contract out its student transportation.

Comment: "It's an example of how bad the situation is that we would have to come up with this idea." Apparently so. It seems the federal government is still leaving New Orleans out in the cold.

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Senators push for $3.8 bln in farm disaster aid

Tue Mar 28, 3:43 PM ET

WASHINGTON - Farm-state senators made a new push on Wednesday for Congress to pass $3.8 billion in disaster aid to U.S. farmers and ranchers impacted by hurricane, drought and flood losses last year.
Sponsors Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan, North Dakota Democrats, said they would try to attach the legislation to a spending bill expected to go to a floor vote soon. The House already has passed its version of the bill.

"My hope is those who blocked (aid) on the House side will change their minds," said Dorgan, referring to a refusal by House Republican leaders to allow the aid last year despite Senate passage.

Conrad said the package would compensate producers for weather-related crop and livestock losses as well as the impact of a steep rise in fuel and fertilizer prices.

Some 22 farm groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union, support the legislation. Seventy percent of U.S. counties were declared disaster areas last year. Besides hurricane damage in Florida and Gulf Coast states, spring floods hit farmland in the northern Great Plains and drought blistered crops from the southern Plains to the eastern Corn Belt.

"Weather-related disaster losses combined with declining commodity prices and skyrocketing energy costs are putting farmers in a financial bind," said NFU President Tom Buis.

Two dozen senators -- seven Republicans and 14 Democrats -- sponsored the bill.

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Arab Stock Market Tumbles; But Who Knows It?

By Carl Bloice, Left Margin
March 28, 2006

Think people in the Emirates don't stage street demonstrations? Think again. On March 8, hundreds of protestors gathered in front of the Kuwait City stock exchange. They weren't anti-globalization protesters, but stockholders who had seen their net worth plummet over the preceding month, culminating the previous day when the market fell 400 points.

It didn't get any better. On March 14, the Kuwaiti investor-demonstrators hit the streets again, this time marching on the parliament demanding the government take action to stop the slide. The market had just registered its largest one-day loss and closed at a six-month low.

Still it didn't stop. Two weeks later, on March 26, after analysts had begun expressing a positive outlook, the Kuwaiti exchange cascaded again, shedding 239.8 points.

According to press reports, the Kuwait protesters accused the big money traders on the exchange of manipulating the market for various financial and political motives. A member of parliament, Abdulwahid Al-Awadi said, "someone is playing with the stock market in an attempt to monopolize it." However it soon became clear that the crisis was not limited to the Emirate of Kuwait. That same day, in the United Arab Emirates, the market plunged to its lowest level in 11 months and observers began referring to the fall as "Black Tuesday." The stock markets fell 11.7 percent in Dubai and 4.74 percent in Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi stock market accounts for half of the value of all Arab exchanges, with a capitalization of around $650 billion. Over a two week period, the capital value of the Saudi market slid by more than 30 percent. By March 16, the Financial Times was reporting that the main Saudi index was "down 21 percent from its all-time high, but Dubai, where the collapse began earlier, was 51 percent off." On March 26, in defiance of optimistic forecasts, the Saudi stock market fell 626.65 points. Of the 79 listed companies, 72 saw their price drop. "A lot of wealth is disappearing overnight," Shahid Hameed, head of asset management at Manama-Bahrain-based Securities & Investment Co, told Bloomberg news.

How strange it is that in an area of the world that has been officially named a strategic priority for the United States since the 1970s, an economic meltdown is underway and shows no signs of slowing any time soon and yet people in our country are almost totally unaware it is happening.

Why the stock markets across the region are being shattered is not clear; international observers and analysts on the scene admit it remains somewhat a mystery. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that the panic behind the rout is interrelated with the political and military situation in the Middle East and Gulf region, the U.S. conflict with Iran and the continuing costly and destabilizing war in Iraq. It cannot bode well for the political or economic security of the international community.

The total combined value of the stock exchanges in the Gulf countries fell March 14 to just under one trillion dollars, down some $159 billion from their in 2005 value and more than $250 billion below their all-time high.

"'Collapse,' 'Domino effect,' 'Bleeding' screamed headlines in Arab newspapers," reported the Financial Times, as Arab investors tried to come to terms with the region-wide collapse in stock market prices.

"It is pure panic and its snowballing effect on investor sentiment which are triggering the fall. We cannot any more call it a correction as it is a crash," Dhaheer Quraish, general manager of Essham Securities, told the Dubai-based Khaleej Times.

Evidently there were no street demos in the Saudi capital, but Saudi politicians demanded state action to stop the market decline.

There were, however, hospital visits. "High-Living Saudis Panic as Stock Market Collapses," reported the London Daily Telegraph (March 17), observing that Saudi "rich kids have been selling their cars and even rushing to the doctor after a whirlwind stock market crash saw huge profits perish. Heart-attacks, stress, hospitalization, and panic selling are all reported results of the Saudi collapse, which has seen tens of billions of dollars in losses in a fortnight."

"Many speculators have disappeared after big losses of the past 10 days and some have been transferred to hospitals, though their families claim they are out of the country," reported Beirut's Daily Star on March 11 -- three days before "Black Tuesday."

"Stock markets in Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Kuwait and other Arab countries plunged in unison this week as investors hit the exits simultaneously. US investors are barely aware that these markets even exist let alone bothered by this panic," observed the online finance commentator Capuchinomics.com.

Now, while I know next to nothing about the intricacies of stock exchanges, I couldn't help but be intrigued as to why the major mass media in the U.S. have either not noticed that the Middle East stock markets are crashing or don't think it worth reporting.

Although financiers in various Arab countries argued that their respective governments should refrain from taking measures to shore up the markets as the crisis deepened, the governments announced various measures to do just that.

Over the period since Black Tuesday, most exchanges in the region have been on a roller coaster, more often than not ending the day going down as governments announced various measures to stabilize them. Although Saudi politicians had demanded that the government act to prevent a full-scale market crash, the Saudi officials at first said the government would not intervene to stop the slide. Later, the Saudi government moved to allow foreign residents to trade directly in the market (they were previously restricted to investing in mutual funds) while it began considering a proposal to split shares in order to pull its market out of the doldrums. Authorities in Dubai, meanwhile, put forward a plan to divide listed firms between active and non- active, depending on the number of daily trades, and separate the weaker firms from the main index.

On March 14 Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the world's eighth-richest man, announced he was putting $2.7 billion of his own money into Saudi Arabian stocks. The prince (worth $23.7 billion), according to Bloomberg, would buy 10 billion Saudi riyals worth of stock over the next few weeks. His spokesperson Heba Fatani said, "The prince is a patriot."

The public stance of most business observers in the Arab countries is that the exchanges were afflicted by a bubble and that the market declines are merely a "correction." Most attribute it to speculative trading on the part of small investors who have taken up trading vigorously over recent years. Over the past three years the Saudi exchange has ballooned 620 percent. The total value of stocks in Tunisia, the UAE, Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Morocco more than doubled last year.

However, other factors for the fall are being cited, including growing unease over the political situation related to the war in Iraq and the torpedoing of the U.S. port management deal involving Dubai Ports World. The expectation is that the correction will continue, having, in the words of the Financial Times, "a few more months to run."

It is obvious that the situation in the world, and particularly the region, has contributed to the stock market crisis and that it will have considerable consequences for the future of the countries involved and the international economy. This makes the major U.S. media's obliviousness to the situation ever more curious.

Henry T. Azzam, chief executive officer at Jordinvest and MobileCom, Jordan, writing in the Daily Star of Lebanon, said his colleagues expect the markets' downward trend to continue and then "eventually revert back to a positive slope in late 2006 as broad economic indicators remain robust." However, he wrote, "The economic impact of the current correction should not be underestimated. Many small investors will be forced to exit the market with losses incurred. Those who stay will experience the reverse of the 'wealth effect.' People will feel that their wealth has shrunk and this will discourage them from spending. The impact of this on economic growth is difficult to assess, but it would definitely reduce consumption and weaken in the process overall economic activities."

But who knows what the future holds?

Financial Times analyst Philip Coggan has suggested that how the stock market crisis will play out is very much connected to future political and military developments in the region. "If the recent volatility in markets is to turn into a rout, a catalyst will be needed," he wrote March 17. "It could be US/Iran where discussions are increasingly heated. The global economy has lived with oil at $70 a barrel: could it live with $80 or $100?"


Carl Bloice is a writer based in San Francisco.

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U.S. demands set back Russia's WTO bid - Putin

Wed Mar 29, 2006 06:12 AM ET

MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin vented his frustration on Wednesday at the slow progress of Russia's talks to join the World Trade Organization, saying new demands put by the United States had set the process back.
"We have received a list of questions from our American colleagues requiring additional agreement which we considered settled long ago," Putin told a Kremlin meeting with Russian business leaders.

Putin added that the U.S. move "artificially pushes back the course of negotiating process."

Russia is the largest economy outside the 149-member WTO and its negotiators hope to wrap up entry talks -- under way for 13 years -- during its inaugural presidency this year of the Group of Eight powerful nations.

Moscow has struck bilateral deals with all of the WTO's existing members except for the United States, Australia and Colombia.

Talks with Washington have snagged on U.S. calls for Russia to open up its financial services sector and stamp out video and software piracy.

Discussions last week in Geneva made little headway on a comprehensive entry deal, a final hurdle which requires the backing of all of the WTO's existing members before Russia can join the trade club.

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Veteran: War based on greed

By Diane Wagner
Rome News-Tribune Staff Writer

Delta Force founder finds Bush deaf to Iraq criticism

Harsh criticism of the Bush administration's policy in Iraq is nothing new, but this critic has the counter-terrorism credentials and military connections to bolster his assertions.

Eric Haney, a retired command sergeant major and founding member of the elite Delta Force commando unit, charged Monday that the president's policy is based on cultural arrogance and corporate greed rather than sound military strategy.

"I understand the people who are doing this and where they're coming from," the veteran said. "Delusional ideology is a big factor, and there's a huge amount of venal corporate activity. Halliburton and other companies are making so much money that they don't want to see it changed."
National Security Council spokesman Fred Jones disputed Haney's contentions on the war.

"I think the president has made increasingly clear why we are in Iraq and the value he places on the military," Jones said Monday. "He has said decisions on troop levels will be made by commanders on the ground."

A 1970 graduate of Pepperell High School, Haney is now executive producer and technical adviser for the new CBS hit drama "The Unit," based on his 2002 memoir titled "Inside Delta Force."

His comments follow a round of speeches by President Bush last week, marking the third anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Bush called Iraq "the central front in the war on terror" in an appearance at the City Club of Cleveland in Ohio and said the security of the United States is directly linked to the liberty of the Iraqi people.

"By standing with them in their hour of need, we're going to help the Iraqis build a strong democracy that will be an inspiration throughout the Middle East," Bush said. "A democracy that will be a partner in the global war on terror."

But Haney said Bush "may well have started the third world war" by his focus on Iraq instead of on Saudi Arabia's role in funding and encouraging the centuries-old culture clash between Sunnis and Shiites in the Middle East.

"Saudi Arabia is the root source of Islamic extremism and terrorism," he said. "But this administration keeps the public blinded to the fact because it makes so much money from the monarchy."

Haney said his concerns are military, not political, and he is surprised more "dyed-in-the-wool" Republicans are not speaking out.

"I don't care if it was the pope in charge; wrongdoing does not recognize partisanship," he said. "I had the same problem with (former President) Clinton and the Democrats - you should clean up your own mess."

The few experienced soldiers who have challenged the Bush strategy - such as U.S. Army joint chief Gen. Eric Shinseki - have been marginalized and forced out, Haney said.

Shinseki retired in August 2003, after testifying before Congress that postwar Iraq would need an occupying force of hundreds of thousands of troops.

"At every turn, in the upper levels of our administration, they refused to listen to what they did not want to hear," Haney said.

He said Shinseki's fate served as a warning to other career soldiers considering public contradictions of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

"Rumsfeld said the generals are getting all the troops they ask for, but they've gotten the word not to ask," he said. "If you don't play ball, you don't get that other star or that book deal or the chance to sit on corporate boards when you retire."

Still, Haney said he is hearing of a few commanders ready to buck the pressure and reject the blame for failed Iraq policies. Despite what supporters claim, he said, criticizing Bush's decisions is not unpatriotic.

"The henchmen of Hitler said it. The henchmen of Pol Pot said it. Every low-life tyrant has said it, but it is the duty of every American citizen to stand up and say it when something is wrong," he said. "This administration has wrapped itself in the troops. They've learned from Vietnam to say, 'If you don't support me, you don't support the troops,' but they're hiding behind those kids."

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Spying, Lying, and Preachifying

Fairfax Co. Takes Part in Unusual Wastewater Experiment

Mar 27th - 9:20am

FAIRFAX, Va. - Fairfax County is taking part in an unusual White House drug study.

Wastewater from communities throughout the Potomac River Basin is being tested for the urinary byproducts of cocaine.

"Apparently, they're able to ascertain how many people may be using illicit drugs, in this case cocaine, with such studies," Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerry Connolly tells WTOP.
Earlier this month, county workers collected five days worth of water samples at the pollution control plant in Lorton. The samples were sent to a lab in Rockville, Md., to be analyzed for the traces of the main urinary byproduct of cocaine.

"It does not indicate that we have an unusual drug problem in Fairfax County," Connolly says. "I'll be interested, obviously, in the results. It's kind of an unusual study and an unusual request. Obviously, we're prepared to cooperate with any endeavor to try to make sure the use of illicit drugs is discouraged in our community."

White House officials believe the wastewater testing will lead to a more accurate index of how many people use drugs than traditional survey research.

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Judges Back Bill Examining Domestic Spying

Associated Press
Tue Mar 28, 10:55 PM ET

WASHINGTON - Five federal judges gave a boost Tuesday to legislation that would bring court scrutiny to the Bush administration's domestic spying program.

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing chaired by Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., the judges reacted favorably to his proposal that would require the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to conduct regular reviews of the four-year-old program.
The existence of the warrantless surveillance by the National Security Agency was revealed by The New York Times three months ago.

The judges stressed that they were not offering their views on the NSA operation, which they said they knew nothing about.

But they said the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has operated capably for 28 years and is fully able to protect civil liberties and give the administration all the speed and flexibility it needs to execute the war on terror.

The administration contends the president has inherent war powers under the Constitution to order eavesdropping without warrants.

"I am very wary of inherent authority" claimed by presidents, testified U.S. Magistrate Judge Allan Kornblum. "It sounds very much like King George."

Before word of the warrantless surveillance leaked publicly, the Bush administration revealed it to just eight members of Congress and to the presiding judge on the surveillance court.

The hearing Tuesday focused on Specter's bill. A rival approach, drafted by Senate Judiciary Committee member Mike DeWine of Ohio and three other Republicans, would allow the government to conduct warrantless surveillance for up to 45 days before seeking court or congressional approval.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., expressed interest in handling legislation on the NSA effort. But the Senate Parliamentarian gave Specter jurisdiction over his bill and DeWine's.

Senate Judiciary Committee member Russ Feingold, D-Wis., has urged censure of the president for authorizing the warrantless surveillance.

Under it, the NSA can monitor international calls - when one party is inside the United States - without first getting court approval. The NSA has been conducting the surveillance when calls and e-mails are thought to involve al-Qaida.

The others testifying before Specter's panel were U.S. District Judges Harold Baker of Urbana, Ill.; Stanley Brotman of Camden, N.J.; John Keenan of the southern district of New York City; and William Stafford of Pensacola, Fla.

The careers of all five judges have been steeped in the work of the secret surveillance court.

In an interview about the program with The Associated Press last week, Specter said administration officials want to do "just as they please, for as long as they can get away with it. I think what is going on now without congressional intervention or judicial intervention is just plain wrong."

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The Conservative Hand of Hollywood

By Justin Clark, Nerve.com. Posted March 29, 2006.

The Christian leader of megaplex Regal Cinemas is trying to shape what audiences see -- and don't see -- at the movies.
Consider the following scenario: It's Saturday, and you feel like going to the movies. You see the latest installment of The Chronicles of Narnia advertised in your local Examiner newspaper, part of a chain whose name has been trademarked in more than seventy cities. You decide to go to your local theater -- a Regal, Edwards, or United Artists. You sit through twenty minutes of advertising, followed by the film itself, which has been delivered from studio to theater by a fiber-optic line.

The underlying theme? Every stage of your moviegoing experience -- from production to promotion to distribution to exhibition -- was controlled by one man: sixty-six-year-old religious conservative Philip Anschutz.

Named Fortune's "greediest executive" in 1999, the Denver resident is a generous supporter of anti-gay-rights legislation, intelligent design, the Bush administration and efforts to sanitize television. With a net worth of $5 billion, he is Forbes ' thirty-fourth richest American, two spots above Revlon's Ronald Perelman. Anschutz heads a vast media empire whose assets include the Examiner chain, twenty percent of the country's movie screens, and a sizeable stake in Qwest Communications, the scandal-ridden telecom giant he formerly directed. (Anschutz was accused of helping falsely inflate Qwest profit reports, then making millions by selling his own shares in the company -- a claim he ultimately settled by paying millions to charity.)

Anschutz's stake in Hollywood has been growing since 2000, when he began buying the bankrupt Regal, Edwards and United Artists chains and founded two film studios, Walden Media and Bristol Bay. In many areas of the country, the Regal Cinemas chain is the only option for seeing first-run films. Carole Handler, a prominent Los Angeles anti-trust attorney, says this gives Anschutz considerable leverage in his latest domain of conquest. "Anschutz is the person who went and bought the theaters out of bankruptcy," she says. "Don't think that passed unnoticed by the studios."

Anschutz has gained considerable power in negotiating licensing agreements with the film studios, contracts which impact everything from where a movie is played, to how long it runs, how it's marketed, which upcoming releases are given trailer time, and how revenue is split between the studio and the theater. It is a kind of power, says Handler, that harkens back to the early days of cinema, when studios, distributors, exhibitors and even movie star magazines were concentrated into the same relatively few hands.

There's a twist, though: Anschutz's politics. A heavy contributor to the Republican Party for decades, Anschutz helped fund Amendment 2, a ballot initiative to overturn a state law protecting gay rights, and helped stop another initiative promoting medical marijuana. More recently, he helped fund the Discovery Institute, a conservative Christian think tank that mounted a public relations campaign and financed "research" into intelligent design. He has also supported the Media Research Council, the group that generated nearly all the indecency complaints with the FCC in 2003.

Ironically, it was Hollywood that saved Anschutz. As a friend of his told Fortune, Anschutz "has a latent interest in doing something significant in American Christianity. He is working deliberately and diligently on it."

Anschutz did not respond to my request for an interview, and he has given only a handful over the past few decades. This is not for lack of an opinion or a story to tell. A devout Presbyterian who grew up in Kansas, Anschutz is married with two daughters and a son. He inherited his father's land investment and oil exploration business, but didn't grow up wealthy; in fact, he gave up his plans to attend law school because the family business was failing.

Ironically, it was Hollywood that saved Anschutz. After discovering a major oil well in Wyoming, the well caught fire. Anschutz sought to hire Red Adair, the legendary oil well firefighter to put it out, but wasn't able to pay Adair's fee. Anschutz realized he could pay Adair -- and make $100,000 on top of that -- by selling the rights to the footage to Hollywood.

Having faced tough times before, Anschutz is probably not overly concerned about the fact that theater attendance was down six percent this year, even in an industry with thin profit margins. Earlier this month Regal reported a forty-three percent increase in fourth quarter profits, a windfall partly credited to another Anschutz venture, the holiday blockbuster and Christian allegory The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Narnia has grossed close to $300 million, a far cry from the first film Anschutz produced, 2002's Joshua. A depiction of the Second Coming, Joshua pulled in less than $1.5 million for its studio, Epiphany Films, a specialty label of Anschutz's proselytic-sounding Crusader Entertainment. While websites are usually maintained even for box office flops -- 2003's Gigli, for instance -- Joshua's site has been taken down, and its URL redirects visitors to the studio's new name, Bristol Bay.

To some, redirection might be an appropriate metaphor for Anschutz's entire enterprise, which they fear is all about bringing God and conservatism to Hollywood under a more secular and apolitical guise. Or, as Joshua co-producer Bob Beltz told Christianity Today in 2002, "We wanted something that we thought would have more of a mainstream impact, that would expose unchurched people to the person of Christ in a way that they might walk out of the theater saying, 'Is it possible that Jesus could really be that wonderful?'"

Some have speculated that Narnia might be what Anschutz's friend meant by the "significant" contribution the media mogul wants to make: using his wealth to buy a place for evangelicals in Hollywood. The film's distributor, Disney, initially wasn't interested in Narnia. Gradually, Disney began to realize the Christian allegory's potential appeal among evangelicals, who demonstrated their box-office clout with The Passion of the Christ.

Anschutz isn't just blurring religious and secular lines with his film, but taking advantage of a softened divide between production and exhibition. In the early days of Hollywood, film studios dominated the exhibition business, obligating independent theater owners to accept bad films in exchange for the right to play good ones. In 1948, the federal government issued the Paramount Consent Decree, forcing the major studios to divest their theater holdings. Recent theater mergers, such as the consolidation of AMC and Loews (the number two and number three chains, respectively) must pass antitrust scrutiny. AMC/Loews, whose merger closed in January, was forced to sell off theaters in key markets such as Boston and San Francisco last year to avoid creating a monopoly.

"In the 1970s and 1980s, exhibition overbuilt [too many expensive theaters] in shopping centers. The centers declined in value while the rents did not," says Handler. "Then in the 1990s most of the exhibition houses sought bankruptcy. Many emerged from bankruptcy under aegis not of common ownership but of common investment."

Instead of buying United Artists, Edwards, and Regal Cinema outright, Anschutz avoided antitrust concerns by acquiring their debt, Handler explains. Regal already has a distribution monopoly in many areas of the country, and Anschutz's power extends beyond Regal to joint ventures he has formed with his competitors. His partner, Oaktree Capital Management, is financing Sundance's new art-house chain. Instead of selling off pieces of Regal Cinemas' overbuilt empire, Anschutz launched The 2wenty, twenty minutes of pre-show advertising that launched with a free ad for the military, Enduring Freedom: The Opening Chapter. In 2004, Anschutz merged his pre-show advertising business with AMC's and Cinemark's. The result was National Cinemedia, a company that now runs its ads on more than half of the nation's screens, and whose president is a former co-chairman of Regal Entertainment Group.

Some viewers have sued the theater chains that run the ads, alleging that delaying the start of movie trailers until twenty minutes past the posted show time constitutes false advertising. But the ads aren't going away. Cinema advertising is an increasingly lucrative source of revenue, with sales up forty-eight percent in 2004. The theaters that haven't succumbed to the trend Anschutz started are having trouble surviving, says Jason Thompson, director of Captive Motion Picture Audience of America, an organization that protests theater advertising.

Where advertising and programming were once left to theater managers, Anschutz now has centralized control of every Regal Theater through its proprietary Digital Content Network. Anschutz has also bought up television ad time and billboards for his "For a Better Life" campaign, which emphasizes values such as "faith" and "integrity," sometimes promoting them with Disney characters such as Kermit the Frog and Shrek. While the campaign is not explicitly religious, it does offer unsolicited moral advice to movie patrons at Regal's 6,000 screens. The ads were produced by Bonneville Communications, a Salt Lake City agency that produces ads for the Mormon Church.

In 2005, PG-rated films outperformed R-rated films in the theater for the first time in two decades. Conservatives have touted weak theater attendance as proof that the heartland isn't interested in Hollywood's licentiousness and liberal politics. The Dove Foundation, non-profit advocates of "wholesome family entertainment", published a study showing that G-rated movies are eleven times more profitable than R-rated flicks. Indeed: as a co-producer and financial backer of Oscar contender Ray, Anschutz reportedly insisted on altering the details of subject Ray Charles' life, downplaying his drug use and womanizing to obtain a PG-13 rating.

Although Hollywood didn't heed the Dove Foundation's advice in 2005 -- the key Oscar nominations were all low-grossing films that are very political -- studios have begun looking into releasing PG versions of their R-rated fare, an innovation made possible by the advent of digital cinema. The double release would allow theaters to play the cleaner version during more lucrative screening times earlier in the day, and the director's cut later on.

What's good for the theater lobby isn't necessarily good for those of us who don't want our entertainment censored. Yet there is no shortage of screenwriters willing to lend Hollywood's product a cleaner sensibility. In December, the Atlantic Monthly reported on Christian screenwriting school Act One, whose faculty includes producers and writers from mainstream shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and That '70s Show. In 2004, conservatives launched the Liberty Film Festival; last October the festival included a panel discussion titled, "Was Communism a Threat to Hollywood?"

Perhaps the more pressing question: is Hollywood ready to compensate exhibitors by eschewing edgy politics for movies with a built-in audience? A sequel -- or, more accurately, prequel -- to The Passion of the Christ is rumored. New Line Cinema is producing The Nativity, a film based on the life of Mary and Joseph, directed by Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen, Lords of Dogtown). The End of the Spear tells the story of five missionaries whose families forgive the South American tribe that killed them.

Fears of a boycott of one of the year's most eagerly anticipated releases, The Da Vinci Code, has Sony Pictures mounting a public relations campaign among evangelicals and Catholics. Madea's Family Reunion, which recently opened at the top of the box office, is a comedy about an African-American Christian fundamentalist family, whose evangelical producer Tyler Perry has, according to the L.A. Times, helped sell studio heads on the African-American Christian film market. Besides working on the Narnia franchise, Anschutz's Walden Media is releasing Amazing Grace, a biopic of the Christian revivalist Wilbur Wilberforce.

Anschutz may well see himself as someone like Wilberforce, the wealthy merchant's son whose embrace of evangelical Christianity led him to fight to abolish the British slave trade. Wilberforce, however, was open about his intentions. Anschutz may better resemble another openly conservative Presbyterian, one who acquired his own vertically integrated empire of newspapers, film studios, and television stations years before anyone realized he would turn those media outlets into his personal political mouthpiece. That man was Rupert Murdoch.

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Pardoning the Pentagon

By Molly Ivins, AlterNet. Posted March 28, 2006.

The Pentagon has investigated its own habit of paying people to lie -- and, lo and behold, it found itself not guilty.
The Pentagon has once again investigated itself! And -- have a seat, get the smelling salts, hold all hats -- the Pentagon has once again concluded the Pentagon did absolutely nothing wrong and will continue to do so.

In this particularly fascinating case, the Pentagon investigated its own habit of paying people to make up lies about how well the war in Iraq is going, and then paying other people to put those lies in the Iraqi media, thus fooling the Iraqis into thinking everything in their country is tickety-boo. Well, if we can't fool them, whom can we fool?

The case revolves around a contract worth several million dollars given by the U.S. military command in Baghdad to the Lincoln Group, a public relations outfit started by two young entrepreneurs, one British, one American, in 2003 in Iraq. Articles were written by American military personnel from the American point of view about the war -- to wit, it's going well. Lincoln Group in turn paid Iraqi journalists, some "on retainer," to print the articles without revealing the source.

Amusingly enough, through other programs, the U.S. government is also spending money trying to teach Iraqis about the importance of a free press in a democracy. According to the Pentagon's investigation of itself, none of the Lincoln Group's actions violate military policies because the Pentagon is just trying to counter the vast amount of anti-American propaganda carried in Middle Eastern papers.

While I think this is the best Pentagon-investigating-itself case of the week, I have to admit it's like the Oscars -- these investigations are so hard to compare to comedy and tragedy, documentary and animated shorts. Also featured this week is the case of the Abu Ghraib dog handler, a 24-year-old sergeant who was convicted for tormenting detainees. The dog was not convicted, on the theory that it was just acting on orders.

Despite the huge international outcry over torture, so far the heavy-hitters in the plot receiving real red, white and blue justice are Lynndie England, a 5-foot-tall, 23-year-old woman with learning disabilities and other non-commissioned officers. They were clearly the mastermind behind the entire international stink fest, from Gitmo to Afghanistan. England was put in prison for three years. Her baby boy will be walking and talking by the time Ms. England finishes doing her time, but no one in the upper ranks is responsible for anything that's happened.

In the unfortunate case of the Black Room reported in The New York Times, we taxpayers seem to have been charged with the cost of refurbishing one of Saddam Hussein's military bases into "a top secret detention center." One former torture chamber is now an "interrogation cell" used by Special Operations forces. "In the windowless, jet-black garage-sized room, some soldiers beat prisoners with rifle butts, yelled and spit in their faces and, in a nearby area, used detainees for target practice in a game of jailer paintball." I say, this time, let's indict the dogs.

Of course, there is always the same depressing coda to new accounts of torture and mistreatment of prisoners by American troops -- no useful information was acquired.

With all these horrifying details surfacing ("No Blood, No Foul" was the slogan at the Special Operations forces' Camp Nama), you may wonder why I return to the case of the chipper newspaper articles. I find them deeply symbolic, certainly paradigmatic and possibly even plangent, a word that's hard to work into a newspaper column. Quite some time after we had invaded Iraq, our government informed us we had done so in order to bring democracy to their nation. Originally, we were told we had to invade their country because there were tons of weapons of mass destruction therein, but they turned out not to be there. So, through a process of masterly media manipulation, we went from Saddam's nuclear program to democracy. It seems to me this is how George W. Bush and Co. govern, period. It's a Karl Rove thing. When reality is unsatisfactory, just manipulate the media.

You can't deny that the process has excellent results. It wins elections, for one thing. It confuses our critics and turns debate away from what we might loosely call "the truth" and into pointless fistfights about whether Iraq has descended, is descending or might descend into civil war.

"How dare you call it a civil war -- you're just lending comfort to our enemies."

"Looks like a civil war to me."

"Does not -- where's Lee, where's Grant?"

"Does so!"

This is not helpful dialogue -- remember the fight over whether there was an "insurgency" in Iraq or the Mission was still Accomplished, it was just "remnant Baathists and foreign terrorists?" That was a mirror of the arguments we had at home over whether President Bush could be described as a "friend" of Ken Lay's or whether he is "close" to Tom DeLay or "knows" Jack Abramoff. Likewise, entire policy discussions would get subsumed by furious debate over whether Bush's proposals meant "privatization" of Social Security or were merely "personal accounts."

Grabbing reality by the throat and forcing it into a form you find more pleasing than reality itself is not only a great election strategy, it works for a lot of people on a lot of levels in life -- denial is a good game while it lasts.

But as we can all attest, if you ignore reality, sooner or later it will bite you in the ass. I suspect the "tough- minded" (they pride themselves on being tough-minded) members of the Bush administration think they are not ignoring reality, but just persuading other people to ignore it long enough to allow them to change it. This is not an original thought. Many of the great thumb-suckers of D.C. have come to the same conclusion and pondered deeply on the "fatal hubris" of this administration. Fatal jackasses are what we have.

Faced with the unappetizing reality of Iraq, Bush and Rove are relying on that grand old reliable strategy -- attack the media. It doesn't play as well as it used to. Everyone who wants an alternative reality is already watching Fox News. The rest of the country is worried.

Let me hasten to admit that I have no solution -- I have tried to be constructive over the course of this war, but I'm flat out of ideas. I haven't an earthly clue whether it would be better if we up and left or if we sat and stayed. What I am sure of is that none of us will figure that out until we stop pretending, until we take a long, cold hard look at the reality on the ground. Then someone needs to level with us about what it will cost to stay, in lives and dollars and, God help us, goodwill.

In a Washington Monthly book review, I found a suggestion that we copy Cold War tactics on terrorism and practice "containment" rather than this War of Good vs. Evil, Battlestar Galactica bull. But that requires someone who will level with the people. And the more this administration plays games with definitions of democracy and weasel wording about torture, the less they can be believed about anything. Like the boy who cried wolf, someday they're going to tell the truth, and no one will believe them.

Meantime, let us all enjoy the game of Pentagon-investigates-itself. Just remember, sooner or later, we'll have to indict the dogs.

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Bolton Presses for New Method of Calculating Dues at the U.N.

Published: March 29, 2006

John R. Bolton, the American ambassador, will outline a proposal for fundamental changes in calculating United Nations dues on Wednesday that he said would address Congressional concerns that "the United States doesn't get value for money."
The plan, which Mr. Bolton is to present before the House International Relations Committee, has circulated privately and infuriated China and Russia, whose dues would rise, while the obligations of the United States, Japan and major European countries would decline.

"Obviously, when any country's contribution goes up, that is not going to be popular," Mr. Bolton said in an interview on Tuesday.

"But the real question is, will the U.N. step out of an antiquated system that it is using now and use something that in the best judgment of most contemporary economists in the international field is a better method," he said.

That method, known by economists as purchasing power parity, or P.P.P., would determine a nation's ability to pay under a system that measures comparative standards of living, rather than using the existing method of basing contributions on gross national products.

"The real issue in calculating the scale of assessments is how you evaluate the strength, the size of economies that are in very different circumstances, with currencies which are often not directly convertible, and that have official exchange rates which are not reflective of the actual size and strength of the economy," Mr. Bolton said.

Mark Groombridge, an economic counselor at the United States mission, said he ran into fierce opposition from China, Russia, India and some developing countries when he discussed the proposal before the General Assembly's budget committee on Monday. "It is fair to say that the U.S. was subject to intense questioning and scrutiny on the matter," he said.

Mr. Bolton said the opponents argued that the collection of data was incomplete and imperfect, but he said that the same was true of the current system.

According to International Monetary Fund figures, the P.P.P. calculation would result in China's gross domestic product rising from its current position of 7th in the world to 2nd, and Russia's from 16th to 10th. India would go from 12th to 4th.

Japan has suggested its own reform plan, which has also drawn opposition from Beijing and Moscow because it would call for a minimum rate of 3 to 5 percent of the United Nations budget for the five permanent members of the Security Council.

The United States, which pays 22 percent, would be unaffected. So would Britain at 6.1 percent and France at 6 percent. But China's current rate is 2.1 and Russia's is 1.1 percent.

Japan, which is the second highest contributor at 19.5 percent, has seen its ambitions to become a permanent member thwarted this year, at least in part because of opposition by China.

New calculations of assessments are made every three years, and the current one is to be decided this summer by a panel of experts and sent to the General Assembly for adoption.

Mr. Bolton said the United States was prepared to "cushion" the effect on countries whose dues would rise the most by phasing them in over a three-to-five-year period. "That certainly eases the burden," he said. "We're prepared to take mitigating factors into account."

The United States estimates that its portion of the $1.9 billion budget would decline from 22 percent to 21.5 percent under its plan, a change that Mr. Bolton argued was so slight that it undermined claims that the American plan was devised to benefit Washington.

"That's why nobody can say we have an ulterior motive with respect to the United States in this," he said. "We think we have a reform that is consistent with the idea of advancing the ideals of all member governments. Member governments should really be assessed in accordance with their real world economic capacity."

He added: "The point about purchasing power parity is that it's not an effort to put the U.S. in a better position or to put somebody else in a worse position. It's an effort to say, 'How do we really capture the strength of economies in the real world, how do we find a better way to reflect that reality in setting the U.N. assessment rate?' "

Comment: This proposal is another of Bolton's steps to destroy the UN. He and his partners in Washington don't want to be bound by international law. They are the Mafia don, and they don't have to answer to anyone. Power? They'll just invade someone else and let everyone know who's boss.

They would love to get other countries to pay for the UN because they have no use for it. The propaganda against the UN in the US is so thick that many Americans think it is the UN, and not their own country, that is the greatest danger facing the world. When they think of One World Government, or the New World Order, they believe it will be the UN that will be the instrument of such a system, not realising that their own country has been imposing such a system for decades.

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Blast from the past

Tuesday, March 28, 2006
David Neiwert

I was reading all about Alex Baldwin's run-in with Sean Hannity last night when I got one of those little shots of deja vu all over again:

On Sunday evening, at the suggestion of a friend of mine who works inside the NY radio broadcast community, I guest-hosted Brian Whitman's talk show on WABC radio, which was, ultimately, hijacked by talk-show host Sean Hannity, who called in and demanded to be heard. He was accompanied by another ABC Talk Radio host, Mark Levin, someone I had never heard of before that evening.

After some back and forth between myself and Hannity, most of it predictable, Levin made a comment connected to my divorce proceedings. I turned to Whitman, who knew that I was due to depart the show no later than 8:30 PM New York time anyway, and told him I had to go. I thought that Levin, whoever he may be and whatever code he does or does not operate by, had crossed a line and I was under no obligation to continue in that vein.

Alex Baldwin may not remember Mark Levin, but I sure do.

Levin was one of the Republican right's chief talking heads during the Clinton impeachment, especially on MSNBC, where I was working at the time. One of my jobs at the Web site entailed downloading video from our cable shows and putting them up on the site. Levin was on. A lot.

Levin is George Costanza with an endless vicious streak. He's the embodiment of shrillness. He scowls, he sneers, he yells, he bugs his eyes out, his face turns red, he interrupts incessantly, and he makes the nastiest comments imaginable. Most of all, he exudes a simmering but deep-seated hatefulness. If he were a dog, he'd be an ugly poodle-chihuahua mix in a perpetual roid rage. It's hard to imagine anyone more repellent.

And as someone who was tracking what was said on TV and comparing it to the published facts, it was also clear that he was a congenital liar. He had no compunction whatsoever about repeating any kind of falsehood on the air if it would hurt Clinton and advance the cause of impeachment. This included, of course, a lot of nasty personal insinuations about the Clintons' private lives.

Nowadays, as SourceWatch explains, he's the head of Rush Limbaugh's "legal division" (whatever that is). But he also has a history: He was former Attorney General Edwin Meese's chief of staff, and was Meese's attorney during the Iran-Contra investigation.

He was also closely attached with Ted Olson during the 1990s. And as Meese's chief of staff, he also was directly involved in the machinations that got Olson and Edward Schmults off the legal hook regarding their misleading and likely perjurious testimony before Congress.

Nowadays, he even has a fan Web site. And of course, now that a Republican holds the presidency, he finds the opposition to President Bush "far more shrill" than he can remember. I spent a week chortling to myself about that one.

And more recently, he's been busy leading the right-wing attack on the judiciary, even publishing a book with a title (Men in Black Robes) that echoed similar titles from the extreme-right Posse Comitatus folks. Obviously, Sandra Day O'Connor is not one of his fans.

Baldwin got a taste for how viscerally nasty guys like Levin, and so many of these right-wing figures -- including Hannity -- really are. And I bet if he hung around Bill O'Reilly long enough, he'd start to see that side of him as well.

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'War' on Christians Is Alleged

By Alan Cooperman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 29, 2006; Page A12

The "War on Christmas" has morphed into a "War on Christians."

Last December, some evangelical Christian groups declared that the religious celebration of Christmas -- and even the phrase "Merry Christmas" -- was under attack by the forces of secularism.
This week, radio commentator Rick Scarborough convened a two-day conference in Washington on the "War on Christians and the Values Voters in 2006." The opening session was devoted to "reports from the frontlines" on "persecution" of Christians in the United States and Canada, including an artist whose paintings were barred from a municipal art show in Deltona, Fla., because they contained religious themes.

"It doesn't rise to the level of persecution that we would see in China or North Korea," said Tristan Emmanuel, a Canadian activist. "But let's not pretend that it's okay."

Among the conference's speakers were former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) and Sens. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) as well as conservative Christian leaders Phyllis Schlafly, Rod Parsley, Gary Bauer, Janet Parshall and Alan Keyes.

To many of the 400 evangelicals packed into a small ballroom at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, it was a hard but necessary look at moral relativism, hedonism and Christophobia, or fear of Christ, to pick just a few terms offered by various speakers referring to the enemy.

To some outsiders, it illuminated the paranoia of the Christian right.

"Certainly religious persecution existed in our history, but to claim that these examples amount to religious persecution disrespects the experiences of people who have been jailed and died because of their faith," said K. Hollyn Hollman, general counsel of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.

"This is a skirmish over religious pluralism, and the inclination to see it as a war against Christianity strikes me as a spoiled-brat response by Christians who have always enjoyed the privileges of a majority position," said the Rev. Robert M. Franklin, a minister in the Church of God in Christ and professor of social ethics at Emory University.

White evangelicals make up about one-quarter of the U.S. population, and 85 percent of Americans identify themselves as Christians. But three-quarters of evangelicals believe they are a minority under siege and nearly half believe they are looked down upon by most of their fellow citizens, according to a 2004 poll.

In a luncheon speech yesterday, DeLay took issue with the "chattering classes" who think there is no war on Christians.

"We are after all a society that abides abortion on demand, that has killed millions of innocent children, that degrades the institution of marriage and often treats Christianity like some second-rate superstition. Seen from this perspective, of course there is a war on Christianity," he said.

Much of the conference revolved around the difficulty of Christian parenting in a culture of sexual permissiveness. Don Feder, founder of a group called Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation, urged the crowd not to blame "the liberal, self-hating Jews in Hollywood."

"Remember, the people in this audience are more Jewish than people like Barbra Streisand, because you embrace Jewish values, she doesn't," he said.

Another Jewish speaker, Michael Horowitz, told the conference that the "Christian decency of this country" saved him from becoming "a bar of soap" in Nazi Germany.

"You guys have become the Jews of the 21st century," said Horowitz, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, just before a false alarm interrupted his speech. Several attendees called the fire alarm suspicious, though a hotel spokesman said it resulted from a mechanical problem in a distant location.

In the session on recent cases of persecution, Navy Lt. Gordon James Klingenschmitt brought the crowd to its feet by introducing himself as a military chaplain "who prays in the name of Jesus."

Klingenschmitt said he was punished by a commander for offering sectarian prayers at a memorial service for a fallen sailor, and he compared himself to Abdur Rahman, an Afghan man who until this week faced possible execution for converting from Islam to Christianity.

"What do these two Christians have in common?" Klingenschmitt asked, showing slides first of himself, then of Rahman. "Perhaps we are persecuted. Perhaps we are no different than most Christians throughout history."

Lloyd Marcus, a painter, said he entered three paintings in a Black History Month art show at the City Hall of Deltona last month. But because the canvases showed a man wearing an "I love Jesus" cap and a minister holding a Bible, city officials deemed them inappropriate until the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal group, threatened a lawsuit, he said.

The Rev. Tom Crouse, pastor of a Congregational Church in Holland, Mass., said that after hearing about a gay beauty pageant in California, he decided to hold a "Mr. Heterosexual Contest" in Worcester, Mass., on Feb. 18.

"It was just an event to proclaim the truth that God created us all heterosexual," he said. But to his surprise, he said, he received anonymous death threats, local officials condemned the contest, and "even Bible-believing churches were not on board. They said it wasn't loving."

Comment: If only there were a war on Christianity in the US! If only there were a war against all three of the monotheistic religions and the control structures they represent.

Unfortunately, the opposite is the case. Fundamentalists are warring against anyone that doesn't toe the religious line.

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Afghan convert 'must not escape'

Wednesday, 29 March 2006, 10:52 GMT 11:52 UK

Afghanistan's parliament has said a Christian who has just escaped a possible death sentence for converting from Islam must not leave the country.
Italy is considering offering asylum to Abdul Rahman. The suggestion has outraged politicians in Afghanistan.

The 41-year-old was released from jail on Monday after the charges against him were suddenly dropped.

Mr Rahman is reportedly being held at a secret location for fear of more protests in demanding his execution.

The Parliamentary Speaker Yunus Qanooni said "his leaving Afghanistan must be prohibited," the AFP news agency reports.

There has been an international outcry at the prospect of Mr Rahman being executed for his religious beliefs but Afghan legislators said the decision to release him from trial for apostasy was "contrary to the laws in place in Afghanistan".

Comment: As we have said before, the three monotheistic religions neeed to go. They form a system of control that is leading this planet to its destruction. They feed off of each other to create false conflicts by turning off people's ability to think clearly, unimpeded by emotional belief systems.

And, remember, this is going on in the country the US has been occupying since 2001.

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Fighting Back

Truth Seeping Through Media After Ten Months

By David Swanson
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Tuesday 28 March 2006

It's March 27th, my son's due date, but it looks like he may be late being born. Maybe he's heard what it's like out here. I may have had C-Span a little loud during Bush's last press conference.

Wesley has spent the past nine months preparing to enter the world. I've spent the past ten months trying to get the US media to admit that Bush blatantly lied to them and they in turn to us.
It's funny how things tend to all develop at once.

Ten months ago, we started a coalition at AfterDowningStreet.org and organized people to demand coverage of the Downing Street Memos. Thousands of people had some hope of a breakthrough and worked hard to make it happen. We had some success. USA Today printed a list of excuses for being slow to start coverage. The Washington Post put it on the front page after editorializing that it would ignore the matter. The television news shows picked up coverage mid-story, pretending they'd been there all along. But, a few weeks later, interest dried up. And some outlets, notably the New York Times, never gave - and still haven't given - the Downing Street Memos significant play.

In the ensuing months we've seen a lot of new evidence, smoking gun after smoking gun. Those paying attention are all smoking-gunned out and want to move on to impeaching the owners of the arsenal. But those not paying close attention, not using the internet, not reading the international press, have never heard of many of the new pieces of evidence, which are listed on the left side of AfterDowningStreet.org. It's become harder and harder to motivate those in the know to bombard the media with demands to inform those who need to be informed.

The single most stunning piece of evidence that's passed unnoticed is the memo that two months ago we labeled the White House Memo. Philippe Sands discussed this memo in a new edition of his book Lawless World, and the Guardian and the BBC reported on it. In fact, at the beginning of February, it was a huge story in media outside the United States. Many of the articles that were published are collected here.

We set up this page to generate citizen demands for coverage in the US.

The Associated Press covered the White House Memo right away, but few papers printed the AP stories. The Christian Science Monitor did a story. USA Today wrote a dismissive blog entry. And Keith Olbermann mentioned the new evidence on MSNBC. But that was it. Then on February 11, the LA Times printed an article, using Sands's book as the source. But nobody else followed.

Until today. Today this story came out in a big way. And when it rains it pours. Within days of the LA Times mentioning permanent military bases in Iraq, Bush admitting he intends never to pull out of Iraq, and the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post covering the growing movement for impeachment, the New York Times has chosen at long last to acknowledge the White House Memo, and to acknowledge that Bush was intent on finding a way to go to war, that he was not - as he claimed at the time and still claims - trying to avoid war.

Now the networks are phoning around, asking how they can see the memo, hoping to assure their owners that they won't get Dan Rathered if they run with this story. Olbermann is back on the job, with Andrea Mitchell even bringing up the Downing Street Memo on the air tonight. Chris Matthews interviewed Philippe Sands this evening.

The media has a long, long way to go, still. A single day's attention could mean nothing if it's not sustained. The Times article avoids obvious conclusions, obscures actions with the passive voice, and fails to tie in pieces of evidence other than this single memo. Bush and Blair continue to claim that each piece of evidence is taken out of context. And they're right: each one should be put in the context of all the others we now have. And if there are more to be leaked, Karl Rove should know how to do the leaking.

TV producers are not making the connections. They're struggling just to learn the basics. One of them today asked me whether this new memo was the Downing Street Memo from July 2002, and if so why it was reportedly from January 2003.

And no one in the media is making the appropriate connection between today's New York Times story on war lies and Saturday's Washington Post story on impeachment.

Still, there is something about this week that feels better than the average one for bringing a child into the world. I have hope that others will have hope, and that this will let them press hard for action.

And there is something about bringing a child into the world that makes me want to push harder for a full measure of truth, and not be satisfied with the thrill of seeing bits of truth squeeze through.

Someone said: He not busy being born, is busy dying. That certainly goes for democracies.

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Euphemistically Speaking

By Sean Gonsalves, AlterNet. Posted March 28, 2006.

During times of war, keeping track of the administration's euphemisms is a big part of understanding the political reality.
The word for this week is euphemism. Eu- is a Greek term for ''well'' or ''sounding good,'' and pheme translates: ''speech.'' Good-sounding speech.

But if you think about when both ordinary and official euphemisms are used (by all of us), it's easy to see how they function. We use euphemisms to conceal our anxieties, fears or shame; to clothe the naked, God's-honest-truth about death, sex, religion, politics, business and, of course, intimate bodily functions. "I'm going to use the john/bathroom," for example. Instead of saying…well, you know.

Looking at it from a linguistic angle, euphemisms are actually little windows into our minds and hearts; peep holes into our culture. They are neither inherently good or bad. But, depending on who is euphemizing -- and/or what is being euphemized -- they can be either delicate and delightful or dangerous and deceiving.

On the delicate-and-delightful side, you've got euphemisms like sanitation engineer for trash man; associate or representative instead of employee, or politician in the place of bs artist (okay, the last one I just made up). These kind of euphemisms are relatively harmless and, in some cases, an expression of politeness.

When it comes to the dangerous-and-deceiving end of the spectrum -- and all manner of euphemisms in between -- the free-minded would do well to have a euphemism dictionary in their mental toolbox. I recommend Hugh Rawson's Dictionary of Euphemisms and Other Doubletalk.

Euphemisms get into dangerous-and-deceiving territory when they are used consciously, especially when used consciously by institutions. Rawson reminds us that while conscious euphemisms can make communication easier under difficult circumstances, they can ''also lead to double-thinking."

''They form a kind of code. The euphemism stands for something else, and everyone pretends that the 'something else' doesn't exist,'' he writes. ''As commendable as some of these goals may be it is this characteristic of euphemisms -- their ability to soften the world's hard edges -- that also makes them attractive to people and institutions who have something to hide, who don't want to say what they are thinking, and who wish to lie about what they are doing.''

In other words, when euphemisms are used not so much to avoid offense as to throw up a smoke-screen, then we've crossed into the realm of dishonest euphemisms, Rawson observes.

During peacetime the study of euphemisms can be a rewarding intellectual exercise. During times of war, when truth is the first casualty, keeping track of euphemisms is an indispensable part of understanding the current political reality.

I keep Rawson's book by my side for Bush administration press conferences. Air support? What's that? ''The official military term for what everyone else calls bombing.'' Col. David H. E. Opfer made that clear to news reporters at a press conference discussing the Vietnam War in 1973. ''You always write it's bombing, bombing, bombing. It's not bombing. It's air support,'' he told the press pool, who perennially just don't get it.

Listening to pundits and ''experts'' talk about Iran's nuclear build-up, you'd think that mere possession of nuclear (and/or bio-chemical) weapons is evidence of maniacal evil -- until you remember that our peace-loving country has the largest stockpiles of WMD on earth and we're the only country to have dropped a nuclear bomb on civilians. With our continued expansion and development of nuclear weaponry (i.e. ''bunker busters''), the chances grow each day that we'll have another ''broken arrow." A broken arrow, according to Rawson's dictionary, is ''a serious accident involving a nuclear weapon.''

If I had a dollar for every time I heard a war apologist use the words freedom and democracy, I could single-handedly avert the social security ''crisis'' and pay a handsome pension to retiring baby-boomers. If you think this is just expectorating in the wind, then you have a range-forward contract to stop reading. Or you may just be suffering from extended nutritional deprivation, as Reagan's 1984 Food Task Force defined hunger.

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Time to Talk War Crimes

By Robert Parry
March 28, 2006

In a world where might did not make right, George W. Bush, Tony Blair and their key enablers would be in shackles before a war crimes tribunal at the Hague, rather than sitting in the White House, 10 Downing Street or some other comfortable environs in Washington and London.
The latest evidence of their war crimes was revealed in secret British minutes of an Oval Office meeting on Jan. 31, 2003, when Bush, Blair and their top aides chillingly discussed their determination to invade Iraq, though still hoping to provoke the Iraqis into some violent act that would serve as political cover.

Bush, who has publicly told Americans that it was Saddam Hussein who "chose war" by refusing to disarm, was, in reality, set on invading Iraq regardless of Hussein's cooperation with United Nations weapons inspectors, according to the five-page memo described in detail by the New York Times. [March 27, 2006]

At the same Oval Office meeting, Bush cavalierly dismissed concerns that the U.S. conquest might not go as smoothly as he expected.

The President predicted that it was "unlikely there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups," according to the British minutes written by David Manning, then Blair's chief foreign policy adviser.

But Bush's judgment would prove tragically wrong, as more than 2,300 U.S. troops have died along with tens of thousands of Iraqis – possibly more than 100,000 – in three years of invasion, occupation and now sectarian violence.

Conniving Bush

The memo also reveals Bush as conniving to deceive the American people and the world community. At the meeting, Bush floated ideas for how to rally U.N. support for the invasion by engineering a provocation that would portray Hussein as the aggressor.

Bush suggested painting a U.S. plane up in U.N. colors and flying it over Iraq with the goal of drawing Iraqi fire, the minutes said.

"The U.S. was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in U.N. colours," the memo said about Bush's scheme. "If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach."

Regardless of whether any casus belli could be provoked, Bush already had "penciled in" March 10, 2003, as the start of the U.S. bombing of Iraq, according to the memo. "Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning," Manning wrote.

At the Oval Office meeting, Bush also discussed possibly assassinating Hussein, according to the memo. (Bush, it should be noted, assured the American people that he would restore "honor and decency" to the Oval Office where Bill Clinton had sexual dalliances with Monica Lewinsky.)

According to the British memo, Bush and Blair acknowledged that no weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq, nor were they likely to be found in the coming weeks, but that wouldn't get in the way of the U.S.-led invasion.

Blair, however, stressed the need for a second resolution from the U.N. Security Council that would authorize the use of force. Bush agreed to try but felt he had the authority to attack Iraq whether the U.N. approved or not.

"The U.S. would put its full weight behind efforts to get another resolution and would twist arms and even threaten," the memo said about Bush's plans. "But he had to say that if we ultimately failed, military action would follow anyway."

Averted Eyes

Parts of the Jan. 31, 2003, meeting memo were disclosed earlier this year by British attorney Philippe Sands, author of the book, Lawless World. But Sands's disclosure received scant attention in the United States, where the major news media also has downplayed other revelations of Bush's duplicity about the Iraq War.

In 2005, the U.S. press mostly averted its eyes when a British newspaper disclosed the so-called "Downing Street Memo," which recounted the chief of British intelligence telling Blair in July 2002 that Bush was set on invading Iraq and that "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

The major U.S. media also has failed to challenge Bush when he has claimed falsely that Hussein brought the war on himself by barring U.N. inspectors from his country.

"We gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in," Bush said when he began revising the pre-war history in July 2003, four months after invading Iraq. "And, therefore, after a reasonable request, we decided to remove him from power."

Bush has repeated that lie in varying forms dozens of times since, including at a televised news conference on March 21, 2006. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Those Lies, Again."]

Nuremberg Precedent

Beyond more proof that Bush has lied consistently about Iraq, the Jan. 31, 2003, memo represents striking evidence that Bush, Blair and their top assistants violated the Nuremberg Principles and the U.N. Charter by launching an aggressive war against Iraq.

While many Americans think of the Nuremberg trials after World War II as just holding Nazi leaders accountable for genocide, a major charge against Adolf Hitler's henchmen was the crime of aggressive war. Later, that principle was embodied in the United Nations Charter, forbidding armed aggression by one state against another.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, who represented the United States at the Nuremberg Tribunal, made clear that the intent was to establish a precedent against aggressive war.

"Our position is that whatever grievances a nation may have, however objectionable it finds the status quo, aggressive warfare is an illegal means for settling those grievances or for altering those conditions," Jackson said, adding that the same rules would apply to the victors in World War II.

"Let me make clear that while this law is first applied against German aggressors, the law includes, and if it is to serve a useful purpose, it must condemn aggression by any other nations, including those which sit here now in judgment," Jackson said.

"We are able to do away with domestic tyranny and violence and aggression by those in power against the rights of their own people only when we make all men answerable to the law. This trial represents mankind's desperate effort to apply the discipline of the law to statesmen who have used their powers of state to attack the foundations of the world's peace and to commit aggression against the rights of their neighbors."

The British memos, combined with public statements by Bush and his senior aides, represent a prima-facie case that Bush, Blair and others violated the Nuremberg Principles and the U.N. Charter, to which the United States was a founding signatory.

While Bush has insisted that his invasion of Iraq was "preemptive" – defined as an act of self-defense to thwart an impending attack – his argument is not only laughable in the case of Iraq, but has been contradicted by his own advisers, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Rice's Cultural Engineering

In a March 26 interview on NBC's "Meet the Press," Rice offered a different rationale for invading Iraq. She agreed that Hussein was not implicated in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks nor did she assert that he was conspiring with al-Qaeda on another assault.

Instead, Rice justified invading Iraq and ousting Hussein because he was part of the "old Middle East," which she said had engendered hatreds that led indirectly to 9/11.

"If you really believe that the only thing that happened on 9/11 was people flew airplanes into buildings, I think you have a very narrow view of what we faced on 9/11," Rice said. "We faced the outcome of an ideology of hatred throughout the Middle East that had to be dealt with. Saddam Hussein was a part of that old Middle East. The new Iraq will be a part of the new Middle East, and we will all be safer."

Rice's argument – that Bush has the right to invade any country that he feels is part of a culture that might show hostility toward the United States – represents the most expansive justification to date for launching the Iraq War.

It goes well beyond waging "preemptive" or even "predictive" war. Rice is asserting a U.S. right to inflict death and destruction on Muslim countries as part of a social-engineering experiment to eradicate their perceived cultural and political tendencies toward hatred.

Despite the extraordinary implications of Rice's declaration, her comment passed almost unnoticed by the U.S. news media, which gave much more attention to her demurring on the possibility of becoming the next National Football League commissioner.

Yet Rice's new war rationale, combined with the British memo on Bush's determination to invade Iraq regardless of the facts, should be more than enough evidence to put Bush, Rice, Blair and other U.S. and British officials before a war crimes tribunal.

But that would only happen if Justice Jackson were right about the universal application of the principle against aggressive wars – and if all nations and leaders actually lived by the same rules.

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History is Now

by Missy Comley Beattie
March 28, 2006

George Bush again has said he'll be "judged by history." How convenient. This means that he isn't judging himself. In other words, he's sleeping great. There's no self examination. No making amends. But what exactly does it mean when someone who makes decisions of epic proportion leaves the onus of verdict to history? What is history and when does it begin? Is it there ready to evaluate soon after a decision is made, acted on, almost immediately after the results of that choice are known? Or does history wait to wield its hammer after a president is out of office? Richard Nixon received the blow before his presidency was supposed to expire. Certainly, George W. Bush should face a world jury for crimes that would have the signers of our Constitution spinning in their graves. How long do we have to wait for history to determine the failure of this man?
Here's another Bush statement: "I'll use all resources at my disposal to protect the American people." Does anyone believe this when we've seen the Katrina fiasco? But there's soooo much more evidence than a natural disaster to tell us we're unprepared. Our borders have just been penetrated. Yes, it was just a little test to see if government agents could bring dirty bombs into the country. They could and did. We've seen example after example of just how exposed we are under the presidency of George. But he keeps telling us that his job is to secure our safety. We hear his words. Then, we see the lesions. The Dubai deal revealed the vulnerability of our ports. It seems each week we hear of another breach. And all George has to do is walk out, stand behind a podium in the Rose Garden or at some staged event, and say that his most important job is to keep us safe. It's the laying on of hands, the ritual of Bush baptism and the masses are subdued into complacency.

Sometimes, history must critique a president with his first betrayal. That means history is already tardy in delivering justice to George Bush. History should begin its prudence with the first act. So many people gave Bush and A for his bullhorn moment at Ground Zero. But, tell me, what leader wouldn't have done what he did? He captured and capitalized on a moment. History gave him a perfect score that week. America applauded. And he was intoxicated by the affirmation. He vowed to catch Osama. But he didn't. Later, he said he just doesn't think about bin Laden very much. Success in Afghanistan is an illusion. Progress in Iraq is propaganda.

Sadly, almost every single thing Bush has done has been dead wrong. Dead wrong for more than 2300 American troops. Dead wrong for more than 200 other coalition soldiers and dead wrong for countless Iraqis. Dead wrong for the families of the dead, wronged.

And all the mistakes and miscalculations present a definition of history easily understood. When a president is dead wrong about so much, history has to intervene and render a verdict which calls for more than the acceptance of Andrew Card's resignation. This is simply more card shuffling by George. More playing games. More playing his card tricks-the pick a card, any card. It's time for a real shakeup - something seismic - a shift that measures on the Richter Scale actions befitting the fault lines created by his administration.

Missy Beattie lives in New York City. She's written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq, she's a member of Gold Star Families for Peace. She completed a novel last year, but since the death of her nephew, Marine Lance Cpl. Chase J. Comley, in Iraq on August 6,'05, she has been writing political articles.

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The Mad Hatters

by John H. St.John
March 28, 2006

In July I will be 85 if I live that long and never in my life have I felt more like Lewis Caroll's Alice as she stepped into the mirror and entered Wonderland. It is not just that the corporations stole an election and gave us a mental defective for a president. It is a population that, pro or con, accepts the absurd idea that we are at war in Iraq. Even the bloody battles in Korea against Chinese and North Korean tanks was called a "police action". The bloody attack shown to the world on television and proudly called "Shock and Awe" was done without any declaration of war. The present illegal occupation of Iraq is called a war and the moronic president is assuming all of the powers, and more, of a wartime president while Congress refuses his challenge to the Constitution. There have been other illegal incursions and undeclared wars, Vietnam for example; but at least they were fighting a well organized military organization.
Another example of Wonderland's juggling of semantics is calling Iraqis who are resisting the occupation and punishing collaborators "insurgents". When Boston and Philadelphia was occupied by British Redcoats and France was occupied by the Nazis we did not call those heroes who fought in the underground insurgents; we called them patriots. Everyone from the war lovers to the peaceniks preface their remarks with "Our brave troops" completely disregarding the reality that they are fighting civilians with AK-47s and no body armor with helicopter gunships and fighter planes. These are highly paid mercenaries promised college educations who do not have to dig slit trenches or do KP. When they come back in coffins or wheelchairs and with post traumatic stress syndrome even they are betrayed by this government run by our sociopath mad hatter president.

On the other side of the looking glass the country of the slithy sloves is nine trillion dollars in debt. Over half of our tax money goes to the military industrial complex and we have twelve aircraft carrier groups roaming the oceans when there is no possible adversary. Our kindly Jimmy Carter, (peace nobelist) has proudly helped launch another nuclear submarine called, what else?, The Jimmy Carter. The war on terror desperately needs these weapons because if they happen to run across a terrorist they have to nuke him or her. Like the westerner sentenced by Roy Bean to be hung: "This will sure be a lesson to me judge."

When I was a teen-ager my father sarcastically said that "everyone else is crazy except you". That was seventy years ago and I am even more convinced that is the case. After WWII I saw a psychiatrist for what is now called post traumatic stress syndrome. I quit him with the words: I don't want to be adjusted to live in a world that is obviously crazier than I am. You do not have to look far to confirm my opinion. The headlines in this mornings paper should convince anyone.

FBI terror boss never read Moussaoui memo, Patent case poses broader question for Supreme Court, Abu Ghraib dog handler guilty of tormenting, Documents reveal Hussein tried in '90s to show WMDs gone, Bush says presence in Iraq will outlast his presidency, Conservatives get a turn at federal grants under Bush, False negatives seen in widely used genetic test for breast cancer risk, bottled water slaking thirst of world's poor, court overturns conviction in stolen rock art case. Chemical plants may decide own security, Iraqi official, paid by CIA raised questions on weapons program, the only reason I get the newspaper is for the New York Times crossword puzzle. I am suffering from information overload - all of it wacko.


WWII veteran,cofounder of The American Veterans Committee. Editor of the dairy page for the California Farm Reporter. Organizer for Harry Bridges longshoremen. President Eagle Lodge number one, AFL Papermakers Union. Member of Impeach Bush.

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How French Protesters May Get Their Way

Tuesday, Mar. 28, 2006

The outcome of the high-stakes conflict will be decided in the courts

It's rare that any politician actually wants to see their landmark pieces of legislation overturned by courts, but that is the unique, unenviable position French prime minister Dominique de Villepin now finds himself in. Pressure on de Villepin to ditch a controversial labor law grew dramatically Tuesday, when nation-wide protests produced an unexpectedly high turnout of nearly three million demonstrators. In Paris alone, more than a million transport workers, civil servants, and an array of public sector employees heeded union calls to stay away from work and join demonstrating high school and college students.

But ironically, the outcome in this high-drama showdown - and perhaps the survival of the de Villepin government - will be decided neither in the streets, nor in the corridors of power. Instead, the disputed law's fate will soon be determined when an independent commission issues its ruling on whether the law is even constitutional.
The 12 justices on France's Constitutional Council are set to deliver their judgment late this week on the legality of de Villepin's controversial law-which seeks to reduce chronic youth unemployment levels of over 20% by allowing businesses to fire workers aged 26 and under after less than two years on the job without having to dole out hefty severance pay. Detractors argue that the law ignores French constitutional guarantees of equal rights and treatment for all citizens - a general principle some claim would be violated if labor protection other workers enjoy were denied to younger employees.

If the court does actually throw the law out, it would provide de Villepin a convenient way to defuse the crisis without backing down. Once passed by parliament, laws can only be derailed if ruled unconstitutional, reversed by new legislation or if they are blocked by a president citing a rarely-used executive privilege. The latter two options would mark political capitulation, for both de Villepin and his backer President Jacques Chirac, and "seriously undermine his leadership authority with the public only one year before the presidential election," says Stèphane Rozés, deputy director of the CSA polling agency.

In the wake of the enormous protests across France today, Chirac cancelled planned trips out of Paris at the end of the week, when the key ruling is expected. If the courts rule in favor of the law - which for all intents and purposes would be against de Villepin - Chirac's protege could soon see his planned trip to the Presidential palace permanently cancelled.

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Big pensions strike hits UK schools, travel

By Kate Holton
Tue Mar 28, 11:51 AM ET

LONDON - Up to 1.5 million local government workers went on strike across Britain on Tuesday, closing thousands of schools and disrupting travel in a growing row over pensions.

Eleven labor unions combined to stage the 24-hour protest which they said would be the biggest strike since 1926.

They intend to make it the first in a series of demonstrations against a plan to force some public sector employees to work longer, or face a reduced pension if they retire at 60.
The British action coincided with a huge labor protest in France over a new job law. French airports were expected to be affected but the Eurostar line from London to Paris was running.

In Liverpool, commuters faced disruption as the Mersey river tunnels shut and ferries stopped running. All buses and trains were canceled in Northern Ireland and in London 70 percent of schools failed to open.

The Tower of London was also closed and the river Thames anti-flood barrier reduced to emergency staffing levels. One airport, the regional Leeds Bradford, suffered minimal delays.

At issue is the government's decision to scrap the so-called 85-year rule, which states that members of the Local Government Pension Scheme can retire at 60 on a full pension if their age and years of service add up to 85 or more.

The unions argue that other, better paid, public sector workers are still allowed to retire at 60 and that the law targets those in lower paid, more menial jobs.

The change is due to come into effect in October this year.


Britain's state and private pensions system is creaking from the rising cost of an aging workforce. On one measure, the country is facing a 57 billion pound ($100 billion) shortfall in retirement savings which is around five percent of GDP.

Many industrialised nations, including the United States, Germany and Japan, have similar problems. As people live longer, birth rates fall and populations age, fewer people are working to support an increasing number of pensioners.

A commission created in 2004 to look at the problem has proposed raising the age at which people take a state pension from 65 now to at least 67 by 2050.

Employees in the Local Government scheme include home care workers, charity workers, refuse collectors and people who work in call centres, environmental services and housing associations.

Brian Strutton, national secretary of the GMB union, said his workers just wanted to see fairness in the system.

"Why should thousands of low paid, long serving dinner ladies and classroom assistants lose a quarter of their pension for retiring at 60 when the better paid teachers they work alongside can retire on an unreduced pension," he said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for Unison, the country's biggest union, said they had seen solid support across the country.

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The Horrible Effects of Drugs

'Lighten up' and trust your Chancellor, Clinton tells UK

By Andy McSmith and Colin Brown
The Independent
29 March 2006

Gordon Brown's ambition to be the next Prime Minister has been boosted by Bill Clinton, who praised his handling of the British economy after both men crossed a union picket line to attend a conference at the Guildhall in London.

The former US President told his British audience to "lighten up" because, whatever their criticisms of Labour, the UK is better governed than America. He even joked about the Blair-Brown rivalry, saying both men deserve equal respect.
He told yesterday's conference, organised by the John Smith Foundation, set up in memory of the ex-Labour leader: "Progressive politics is about avoiding false choices. You don't have to choose between the environment and the economy.

"You don't have to choose between success at work and success at home; you don't have to choose between business and workers. It's all about avoiding false choices. That's why I'm a friend of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown."

But his remarks coincided with a new phase in the brittle relationship between Mr Brown and Mr Blair, which has been thrown in to its latest crisis by the Prime Minister's remarks in Australia, where he said it might have been a mistake to say that he would leave office before the next election.

The Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, will come under pressure today to secure a date for a changeover in Downing Street. He will meet senior backbench MPs, who will echo the remarks made by Jon Trickett at the Labour MPs' weekly meeting that the Government is being weakened by confusion over Mr Blair's departure date.

"It was the first crack in the wall of silence on this issue," said one officer of Labour's backbenches. "The feeling is that Tony cannot go on until 2008. We are paralysed while Tony remains in charge."

In his speech at the Guildhall, Mr Clinton praised Mr Brown for what he called "your wondrous leadership of the economy and the Treasury, and your continued effort to find responses to the challenges of globalisation at home and abroad."

He added: "I've seen people say Labour is getting a bit long in the tooth. But if you live where I live and you look across the Atlantic, it does not look that way. You should see yourselves as others do.

"And ... I see a strong economy, fiscal responsibility, investment and low unemployment where the reverse is true in my country. I see you committed to fight global warming, in stark contrast to the policies in the US. So you should lighten up: you're doing really well. And if you went across the Atlantic and saw what was happening there, you'd think you were doing pretty well."

His comments were seen by Mr Brown's supporters as evidence that the Chancellor is as much an international figure as Mr Blair. Alarm bells rang in the Brown camp over the weekend when Mr Blair seemed to be implying that he was going back on his promise to stand down before the next election.

Blair allies, such as the former Cabinet ministers Alan Milburn and Stephen Byers, have started challenging Mr Brown on issues that they say he will have to confront, either as Chancellor or Prime Minister, such as tax rates for the very low paid.

Mr Milburn hinted that Mr Brown should cut the 10p tax rate introduced by Labour in 1999, "so that we can spring more people from the poverty trap."

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White House Watch: Sacking Rumsfeld is among the options for fresh thinking

By Kenneth T. Walsh
US News and World Report
Posted 3/27/06

There's a shift in some of the behind-the-scenes griping over recent missteps in the administration, especially over the war in Iraq. Some senior Republicans are beginning to think that firing people on the White House staff won't make much difference in improving management and outreach and may actually make matters worse by creating turmoil in the West Wing at a very sensitive time.

Another factor working against dismissals is that White House insiders don't want to deprive President Bush of valued confidants, whose loyalty and company he prizes.

What makes more sense, they say, is to have Bush force Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld out of his job. That would encourage the Pentagon brass to reconsider the current policies in Iraq and elsewhere and might encourage fresh thinking.

Republicans point out that Condoleezza Rice's taking over the State Department has led to new thinking and energy there. This has apparently encouraged Bush to heed the recommendations of his secretary of state more than he accepted the thinking of Colin Powell, Rice's predecessor, who tangled often with Vice President Cheney and Rumsfeld.
Comment: Um, the occupation of Iraq didn't occur because the Pentagon alone was pushing for it. It happened because Bush decided to invade, come hell or high water. Real change needs to start at the very top.

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Democrats Pledge to 'Eliminate' Osama

Associated Press
Tue Mar 28, 10:56 PM ET

WASHINGTON - Congressional Democrats promise to "eliminate"
Osama bin Laden and ensure a "responsible redeployment of U.S. forces" from Iraq in 2006 in an election-year national security policy statement.

In the position paper to be announced Wednesday, Democrats say they will double the number of special forces and add more spies, which they suggest will increase the chances of finding al-Qaida's elusive leader. They do not set a deadline for when all of the 132,000 American troops now in Iraq should be withdrawn.
"We're uniting behind a national security agenda that is tough and smart and will provide the real security
George Bush has promised but failed to deliver," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said in remarks prepared for delivery Wednesday.

His counterpart in the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (news, bio, voting record), D-Calif., said the Democrats are offering a new direction - "one that is strong and smart, which understands the challenges America faces in a post 9/11 world, and one that demonstrates that Democrats are the party of real national security."

The latest in a series of party policy statements for 2006, the Democrats' national security platform comes seven months before voters decide who will control the House and Senate and as Democrats seek to cut into the public perception that the Republicans are stronger on national security.

Bush's job approval ratings are in the mid- to high-30s, and Democrats consistently have about a 10-point lead over Republicans when people are asked who they want to see in control of Congress.

With the public skeptical of the Iraq war and Republicans and Democrats alike questioning Bush's war policies, Democrats aim to force Republicans to distance themselves from Bush on Iraq and national security or rubber-stamp what Democrats contend is a failed policy.

"The Democrats are going to take back the security issue," said Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Republicans have vowed not to let that happen. They characterized the Democrats' platform as tough election-year talk that isn't backed up by the party's record.

"This is more of the same from the party that opposes this president's effort to keep our country safe," said Tracey Schmitt, a
Republican National Committee spokeswoman. "The bottom line is while this president campaigns against the terrorists, Democrats remain focused on campaigning against this president."

Overall, the Democratic position paper attempts to make the case that the Bush administration's "inadequate planning and incompetent policies have failed to make Americas as safe as we should be."

It covers party policy positions on homeland security, the war on terror, the military, Iraq and energy security, but it contains many of the same proposals Democrats have offered over the past year.

The platform also lacks specific details of how Democrats plan to capture bin Laden, the al-Qaida mastermind who has evaded U.S. forces in the more than four years since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

For months, House and Senate Democrats have tried to craft a comprehensive position on national security, but they have splintered, primarily over Iraq.

Republicans have sought to use that division to their own political advantage, claiming that Democrats simply attack the president and his fellow Republicans without presenting proposals of their own.

Comment: The Democratic party's new slogan: "Vote Democrat - We're just as bad as the Republicans"

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Moussaoui Offered to Implicate Himself

By Jerry Markon and Timothy Dwyer
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, March 29, 2006; A01

Zacarias Moussaoui wanted to be a witness for the prosecution -- and against himself.
On the eve of his death penalty trial last month, Moussaoui met with prosecutors and offered to testify for them in exchange for better jail conditions before he was put to death, jurors were told late yesterday. The al-Qaeda operative withdrew the offer when he realized he had the right to testify on his own behalf and when prosecutors insisted that he also tell them about other terrorist plots.

"Have you ever heard of a defendant in a capital case offering to testify against himself?" defense attorney Edward B. MacMahon Jr. asked an FBI agent who took the stand after the news was revealed to the jury.

"No, not in my experience," said agent James M. Fitzgerald.

It was the latest bizarre turn in a trial that is expected to go to the jury today. Before defense attorneys rested their case that Moussaoui is not eligible for the death penalty, jurors heard testimony that one of Moussaoui's terrorist bosses thought he was "not right in the head" -- and that several disputed Moussaoui's testimony that he was supposed to crash a hijacked airplane into the White House on Sept. 11, 2001.

In an effort to save Moussaoui's life, his attorneys ended their case by trying to discredit their client. They told jurors that Moussaoui had said the opposite when he pleaded guilty last year to conspiring with al-Qaeda, insisting then that he was "not 9/11 material."

Prosecutors responded by coming to the defense of Moussaoui, whom they have been trying to execute over his role in the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history. They introduced evidence of the meeting Moussaoui requested four days before jury selection began in the trial.

Moussaoui, whose attorneys have vehemently objected to allowing him to take the stand, said he would testify for prosecutors about his plan to fly a fifth hijacked plane into the White House. In exchange for incriminating himself, he did not ask that his life be spared.

"He wanted better jail time between the time he was given a death sentence and the time he was executed," Fitzgerald told jurors. He said the meeting, described as civil, ended when prosecutors told Moussaoui he had an "absolute" constitutional right to testify.

It was unclear how jurors, some of whom were taking notes as they left the courtroom, would view the development. Prosecutors hope it reinforces that Moussaoui was telling the truth when he testified about his role because he would have told prosecutors the same thing. Moussaoui's defense appeared to be trying to signal to jurors that Moussaoui is untrustworthy and cannot be believed.

Moussaoui testified Monday that he was supposed to hijack a fifth plane Sept. 11 and attack the White House with a crew that included Richard Reid, the "shoe bomber." He also admitted to a key part of the government's case: that he had lied to the FBI when arrested in August 2001 to allow the Sept. 11 plot to go forward.

Even the judge indicated that Moussaoui's testimony may resonate with the jury. U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema, who threw out the death penalty in the case in 2003 before being overruled, declined a defense motion yesterday to toss it again.

"This case changed dramatically with Mr. Moussaoui's testimony," Brinkema said out of the presence of jurors.

Defense attorneys spent much of yesterday trying to overcome the damage Moussaoui had done to his case with his testimony. Even if Moussaoui was telling the truth about his role, his admissions did not address a fundamental part of the government's case -- that Sept. 11 could have been thwarted if Moussaoui had told the truth. Defense lawyers tried to hammer that point home -- that the government had plenty of warnings but could not stop it -- to the jury yesterday before resting their case.

Closing arguments are scheduled for this afternoon. If jurors find Moussaoui eligible for death, a second phase of the trial will determine whether he will be executed. Moussaoui, 37, pleaded guilty last year and is the only person convicted in the United States on charges stemming from Sept. 11.

In trying to overcome the image of Moussaoui calmly telling jurors Monday how he wants every American to die and rejoiced about the Sept. 11 attacks, defense attorneys returned to one of their core arguments. They introduced more evidence showing that the government could not stop the attacks, despite all the warnings, because of a pre-Sept. 11 mind-set. The defense argues that Moussaoui's information about the plot would not have helped.

Moussaoui's defense read into the record portions of the July 2001 "Phoenix memo," written by an FBI agent in Arizona, warning of suspicious individuals taking flight training in the United States, as the Sept. 11 hijackers did. The memo was not shared with the CIA or aviation and immigration authorities, and it generated little interest among top FBI officials.

The defense also showed the jury videotaped portions of then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice's testimony before the independent commission that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks. At one point, Rice was asked by a commissioner whether Moussaoui's information could have helped stop the attacks, as prosecutors have argued at the trial.

"I do not believe it is a good analysis to go back and presume that somehow we would have gotten lucky by going back and shaking the trees," Rice said. Prosecutors have argued that if Moussaoui had told the FBI about al-Qaeda's plans, the FBI would have scrambled and alerted federal aviation officials, who would have boosted security at the nation's airports.

The captured al-Qaeda members whose testimony was read to the jury did not speak highly of Moussaoui. Nurjaman Riduan Isamuddin, who is known as Hambali and was the chief strategist for a South Asian terror group with ties to al-Qaeda, said he worked with Moussaoui in Malaysia in 2000 and believed he was "very troubled, not right in the head."

Hambali, who was captured in 2003, told interrogators that Moussaoui "managed to annoy everyone he came in contact with." That drew a smile from Moussaoui, who otherwise did not visibly react to the testimony.

Mustafa al-Hawsawi, the financial and travel planner for Osama bin Laden's organization, said he saw Moussaoui at al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan but never helped him with flight arrangements to the United States -- as he did for the other hijackers who brought down the World Trade Center, damaged the Pentagon and crashed a plane into a field in Pennsylvania.

The statements, which were read to the jury by defense attorneys, climaxed a court battle that delayed the case for more than two years. Brinkema granted Moussaoui's lawyers access to a number of al-Qaeda detainees they said could help his defense. The government refused to produce them, for national security reasons, and a federal appeals court eventually said the detainees would not testify.

Instead, the court said, the statements they gave to interrogators would be read to the jury.

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Straw: Iran Will Not Be Another Iraq

by Hannah K. Strange
UPI U.K. Correspondent
Mar 29, 2006

London - Military action against Iran is neither appropriate nor conceivable, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw insisted Tuesday. Speaking in London as he launched a Foreign Office white paper outlining Britain's international strategy for the coming decade, Straw moved to allay fears that the current stand-off would lead to "another Iraq."
Despite the failure of the United Nations Security Council to reach any agreement on how to deal with Iran's nuclear programs at last week's meeting, the foreign secretary maintained that there was a "growing international consensus in the face of Iran's intransigence."

Straw acknowledged that it would be "hard-going" to secure the backing of all Security Council members for a resolution against Iran. However, he hoped it would be possible to agree "the next step" when the five permanent members -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China -- and Germany met in Berlin Thursday, he said.

Countries had "different interests" in Iran, he continued, alluding to Russia's $1 billion contract to build Iran's first atomic reactor at Bushehr and China's heavy reliance on Iranian oil exports for its energy supplies.

Both countries have so far rejected punitive action against the Islamic Republic, fearing that sanctions, economic or otherwise, could harm such interests.

Straw said there were also "anxieties, which we have to acknowledge, as to whether the strategy which the European Three are following with the backing of the United States is going to lead to the possibility of "another Iraq."

"So that's why it takes time."

But, he insisted: "As to the possibility of this being 'another Iraq,' it won't.

"I don't regard military action as appropriate or indeed conceivable."

However, there appears to be a split within the British government over the efficacy of retaining the threat of military force.

Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Feb. 7 he could not rule out the possibility of taking military action against Iran over its nuclear programs.

During questioning by a committee of senior parliamentarians, Blair said that while military action was "not on the agenda," he could "never say never."

Senior Foreign Office officials also appear keen to preserve the military option. A government memo reported by the Times of London last week suggested that Britain was pressing for a U.N. resolution that would pave the way for sanctions or possible force against Iran should it fail to halt its nuclear program.

The letter detailed a strategy to persuade Russia and China to back a Chapter VII resolution that would require the United Nations to act should Tehran refuse to comply.

Despite the insistence of the foreign secretary just three days earlier that military action was "inconceivable," the letter, written by Foreign Office Political Director John Sawyers on March 16, recommended "more serious measures."

"(The Iranians) will need to know that more serious measures are likely," Sawyers wrote to his U.S., German and French counterparts. "This means putting the Iran dossier on to a Chapter VII basis."

He suggested making a suspension of all uranium enrichment by Tehran "a mandatory requirement of the Security Council, in a resolution we would aim to adopt, I say, early May."

Sawyers, who served as Britain's envoy to Iraq following the 2003 invasion, recommended a dual strategy in order to persuade Russia and China to sign up to the resolution.

"We are not going to bring the Russians and Chinese to accept significant sanctions over the coming months, certainly not without further efforts to bring the Iranians around," he wrote.

"In parallel with agreeing a new proposal, we will also want to bind Russia and China into agreeing to further measures that will be taken by the Security Council should the Iranians fail to engage positively."

In light of such reports, Moscow and Beijing will be wary that British assurances that military action is not on the agenda are simply aimed at persuading them to sign up to a strongly-worded resolution.

The United States has been unwilling to rule out the possibility of using force against Iran. While President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have insisted that they favor the diplomatic route to convince Iran to halt its nuclear programs, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton has made clear he regards force as a serious option.

The following day, Bolton reportedly told a committee of British parliamentarians that Iran's nuclear program could be brought to a halt with carefully-targeted military strikes. "We can hit different points along the line," the envoy said, according to committee members present. "You only have to take out one part of their nuclear operation to take the whole thing down."

Tehran has threatened to retaliate should the United States choose to follow a military path against it.

He insisted Iran was being open about its nuclear activities but suggested that could change should it be threatened with military force. "Any threat or potential threat will create a very complicated situation," said Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Sam Gardiner, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel and military strategy expert, told the same conference that Washington did not believe the Security Council would agree on a way forward, and was likely to make a "serious decision" on the military option before the November elections.

Any operation would take less than five days and probably involve Stealth bombers, he said, before adding that his analysis had led him to conclude it would not be successful.

Whether Britain would support such an operation is as yet unclear, where there is little enthusiasm for another military intervention in the Middle East and, following the Iraq debacle, a serious lack of trust in British and U.S. intelligence.

For now, the government appears to be performing a diplomatic balancing act, attempting to dispel fears of a rush to war while simultaneously preparing for it.

Comment: Yeah, yeah... And Saddam had WMD's and Gulf War II wouldn't become another Vietnam...

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Berlusconi Warns Against Multiculturalism

Associated Press
Tue Mar 28, 10:04 AM ET

ROME - Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said he does not want Italy to become a multiethnic, multicultural country, drawing plaudits from a right-wing ally and criticism from center-left opponents.

Berlusconi, a conservative, faces a stiff challenge in next month's national election, with opinion polls putting him behind his opponent, former premier Romano Prodi.
The poor economy, a main worry for voters in this election, has fed concerns about immigration by right-wing parties in Berlusconi's coalition, although the kind of work usually done by immigrants is shunned by many Italians. Surveys show that some Italians also perceive immigrants as being linked to crime.

"We don't want Italy to become a multiethnic, multicultural country. We are proud of our traditions," Berlusconi said Monday on state-run radio.

Berlusconi's government has put in place a tough immigration policy, including legislation cracking down on illegal immigration. The 2002 law allows only immigrants with job contracts to obtain residency permit.

"We want to open (our borders) to foreigners who flee countries where their lives or liberties are at risk," said Berlusconi, adding those who come to Italy to work also are welcome. "We don't want to welcome all those who come here to bring about damage and danger to Italian citizens."

Thousands of illegal immigrants come to Italy every year, mostly crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa on rickety boats. The latest group of more than 200 landed Monday on Lampedusa, a tiny island off Sicily.

Most immigrants, if they elude police, move on to other European countries.

The Northern League, a right-wing anti-immigrant party, welcomed Berlusconi's remarks.

"Here's the Berlusconi we want," said Roberto Calderoli, a Northern League leader who was forced to quit as reforms minister last month after he wore a T-shirt on state TV decorated with caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. "Our values, our identity, our history, our traditions" must be defended against immigration, the Italian news agency ANSA quoted him as saying.

Paolo Cento of the opposition Greens party criticized Berlusconi, saying "the multiethnic society is a reality and an asset that must be handled," ANSA said.

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In Other News

More Human Remains Found Near WTC Site

Associated Press
March 28, 2006

NEW YORK - Construction workers cleaning toxic waste from a vacant skyscraper near the World Trade Center site have found more bone fragments and human remains, officials said Tuesday.

The city medical examiner's office plans to extract DNA from the latest remains to be recovered from the former Deutsche Bank building and try to match it against a database of the 2,749 people killed at the trade center on Sept. 11, 2001, said Ellen Borakove, spokeswoman for the city medical examiner's office.
Fire Department crews had inspected the building in the months following the attacks, but construction workers clearing gravel off the rooftop found 10 bone fragments there last fall.

The new remains were found in recent weeks by crews doing a more thorough cleaning before construction workers begin dismantling the building in June, said John Gallagher, spokesman for the Lower Manhattan Development Corp.

Some victims' family members said forensic experts should search the 41-story building again.

"I'm not trying to malign the construction workers, but this is not what they're trained to do," said Diane Horning, whose son was killed at the trade center and has filed suit to remove trade center debris from a landfill where victims' remains were found.

More than 40 percent of the victims at the trade center have not been identified. The medical examiner's office is storing more than 9,000 unidentified remains and hope that more sophisticated DNA technology can allow for identifications in the future.

Borakove said that two human remains were found Jan. 27 on the 38th floor of the building. She could not say what the remains were or how big they were. Last Friday, workers found two bone fragments on the roof, she said.

"They are definitely human," Borakove said.

The Deutsche Bank building has been vacant since the terrorist attacks, when part of the south tower tore a gash in the building. Deconstruction of the building, which is contaminated with asbestos, lead and trade center dust, began in September.

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Biscuits, Anyone?

By William Fisher
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Tuesday 28 March 2006

"Press Office," chirped the Defense Department voice on the phone.

"Yes, good morning. My name is Bill Fisher. I write for TruthOut. I have a couple of questions about the Biscuit Program. Would you be able to help me?"

"What are Biscuits?" said a confused voice.

"They are military shorthand for Behavioral Science Consultation Teams," said I.
"Let me connect you with the person who knows about that program," said the helpful voice.


Then came an answering machine. "This is Jane Doe (I am not using her real name because I might get her in trouble). Please leave your name and phone number and the nature of your question, and I'll call you back," said the disembodied voice mail message.

I did, adding that I wanted to file a story today. Then I waited. And waited. And waited some more. From midday Friday until 7 p.m. Monday.

Altogether, I called three times, each time being referred either to a different person (who was away from his/her desk), or to another automated voice mailbox, where I left the same message.

The questions I never got to ask anyone at the DOD were:

"I'd like to know whether BISCUIT units are working at Abu Ghraib and Bagram and other US-controlled detention centers as well as at Guantánamo," and "Some folks who are in the medical and other health-provider fields have been critical of the BISCUITS at Guantánamo Bay, saying they have been using doctors and nurses and psychologists to help the interrogators get information out of the detainees, and advising about how best to keep people alive who are on hunger strike there."

Now, if my name happened to be Bob Woodward or Jane Mayer or Sy Hirsch or Walter Pincus or Jim Risen, I suppose I could have called a "high level official close to the Bush administration," who might speak "on condition of anonymity."

But I wanted to discover whether a plain vanilla working-stiff journalist - and taxpayer - could actually get some information on a sensitive subject from a famously secretive government.

I guess I got my answer. The silence was deafening.

Now, just in case you've been living on Pluto for the past year or so, BISCUITS - Behavioral Science Consultation Teams - consist of military psychiatrists, psychologists, behavioral scientists, and other health care professionals. Their role, it has been charged by former Guantánamo interrogators, is to advise the military on ways of increasing psychological duress on detainees, sometimes using their medical records to find ways of exploiting their fears and phobias, to make them more cooperative and willing to provide information.

In one example, published in the New York Times, "interrogators were told that a detainee's medical files showed he had a severe phobia of the dark and suggested ways in which that could be manipulated to induce him to cooperate."

The DOD has said that there is very limited access to prisoners' medical records. But many members of the health care community remain skeptical.

An article in the New England Journal of Medicine said interviews with doctors who helped devise and supervise the interrogation regimen at Guantánamo showed that the BISCUIT program was explicitly designed to increase fear and distress among detainees as a means of obtaining intelligence.

And between July 2003 and March 2004, a doctor was allegedly "pressured by OGA personnel into filling out death certificates on Iraqi detainees" though the doctor was not given the opportunity to examine the bodies. The causes of death given for two detainees were later found to be inaccurate. The term "OGA" (Other Government Agencies) is generally used to refer to the CIA.

After April 2003, when Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld tightened rules on detainee treatment, one interrogator said detainees' medical records had to be obtained through BISCUIT team doctors, but that the doctors always obliged. The former interrogator said the BISCUIT team doctors usually observed interrogations from behind a one-way mirror, but sometimes were also in the room with the detainee and interrogator.

The BISCUIT teams were also central, the former interrogators told the New York Times, in devising strategies like "Operation Sandman," in which a detainee's sleep patterns were systematically interrupted several times a night.

Then there is the issue of the "autonomy" of a doctor's patients. That refers to a patient's fundamental right to decide which medical interventions he will permit. That well-established canon of medical ethics requires that a detainee who is on a hunger strike has the "autonomy" to remain on a hunger strike if that's what he wants. If one is a health care provider, the patient is a patient whether or not he's a prisoner. Which means that medical personnel are barred from forcing a prisoner to stay alive, or advising others about how to reach that objective.

So, to return to my unanswered questions to the DOD: Have the BISCUITs changed at all as a result of criticism from civilian medical and other health care authorities? And are they being used elsewhere?

As to the "elsewhere" question, what we know is that Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the former commander at Guantánamo, recommended the use of BSCT teams at Abu Ghraib when he was sent there to "GITMO-ize" it in August and September of 2003. According to the testimony of those who were at Abu Ghraib, psychologists were indeed involved in the interrogations and abuse of detainees.

Gen. Miller recently invoked his right against self-incrimination in a case of two soldiers accused of using dogs to intimidate detainees at Abu Ghraib. This invocation was the first sign by Miller that he might have information that would implicate him in the abuses in Iraq. Numerous reports indicate that Miller instituted the use of dogs to intimidate prisoners at Abu Ghraib after first using the technique at Guantánamo Bay. A military investigation recommended that Gen. Miller, who is soon to retire, be reprimanded, but a higher-ranking officer denied the request.

And a senior human rights attorney told me on condition of anonymity, "I would suspect since the BSCTs continue to be used as part of the intelligence apparatus at Gitmo" and because have been judged favorably by the military establishment "they are likely in place at the very least at strategic interrogation facilities in Iraq and in Afghanistan."

As to changes in the way the BISCUITs operate, the DOD finally issued revised guidelines last June, after various health care professional organizations and prominent medical authorities ignited a firestorm of criticism. Both the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association have made clear that it is unethical for members of their profession - whether in the military or not - to participate in interrogations or to provide information to interrogators about ways to "break" a detainee.

Dr. William Winkenwerder Jr., Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, acknowledged that the new guidelines came about as the result of a review of procedures begun after allegations of medical personnel assisting in abusing prisoners surfaced. "What got the ball rolling was an awareness from all the information coming out of Abu Ghraib and the various allegations," he said.

Some of the most passionate of these allegations have come from Brigadier General Stephen N. Xenakis, MD, who retired from the US Army in 1998 after serving in many high-level positions, including Commanding General of the Southeast Regional Army Medical Command. He has reportedly played a major role in driving the DOD to re-examine its medical practices.

Last month he said: "Medical officers enjoy special privileges and status and are expected to abide by and stand up for their professional principles at all times and in all situations. This operation - the War on Terror - is no different.... It is important to remember that the burden of leadership is to ensure that high moral and ethical practices are maintained in even the most demanding situations."

But, speaking about prisoner deaths while in US custody, Gen. Xenakis charged, "To date, we have no indication that either the Army Medical Department or the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs has conducted a thorough investigation of the medical care provided to detainees and the circumstances surrounding the known deaths."

The new guidelines, said Dr. Winkenwerder, consolidate "principles and procedures for US military medical personnel when working with detainees under control of US armed forces."

The guidelines specify that military medical personnel must observe medical ethics, make medically appropriate decisions, and report inhumane treatment. Military health care professionals must "be guided by professional judgment and standards similar to those that would be applied to members of the US armed forces, including duty to protect the physical and mental health of the detainee" and "will not participate in any activity that is not consistent with applicable law."

But in a briefing for reporters, Winkenwerder declined to say whether the guidelines would prohibit some of the activities described by former interrogators and others. He said the medical personnel "were not driving the interrogations" but were there as "consultants."

Winkenwerder added that "only a very, very small number of reports of observation of possible abuse" have been recorded. Pentagon officials have previously said that the practices at Guantánamo did not violate ethics guidelines.

The Pentagon invited representatives of a number of health-related professional associations, including the American Medical Association, to pay a one-day visit to Guantánamo Bay. But they were not allowed to interview any detainees.

One of those attending, Prof. Nancy Sherman, who teaches philosophy at Georgetown University and has written extensively about ethics in the military, said that the DOD had worked hard to present a positive, upbeat image of what occurred at Guantánamo. "I think what was being sought was some sort of confirmation that their practices were ethically sound" and that some of the news accounts were wrong, she said.

Professor Sherman added that the distinction between using psychiatrists and psychologists as consultants rather than as providers of medical care was a tenuous one that invited ethical problems.

Winkenwerder said the new procedures separate individuals who are providing care from health professionals who work in other capacities in detention operations. Medical personnel who are in a provider-patient relationship with detainees - those who actually provide treatment - "shall not and will not undertake detainee-related activities for purposes other than to provide health care," he said.

"Such health care personnel shall not actively solicit information from detainees for purposes other than health care purposes," he explained.

The guidelines say medical professionals in other roles in detention operations should not provide actual care for detainees. Such individuals might include behavioral-science specialists, such as FBI profilers; forensic psychiatrists, who are often appointed by a court to evaluate the mental competency or sanity of an individual; prison psychologists, who evaluate the potential danger of somebody to society; or public-health experts, who evaluate potential for disease outbreaks.

Which still leaves us with nagging questions: Aren't forensic psychiatrists physicians? Aren't they, as well as behavioral science specialists and prison psychologists, governed by the ethical rules of their professions?

Medical doctors take an oath to "do no harm." While psychologists and behavioral science specialists may not have to take such an oath, they are nonetheless committed to doing good, not harm.

And what part of "do no harm" don't they understand? It doesn't require an oath to act ethically. And there is nothing ethical about advising interrogators about how to "break" detainees.

William Fisher has managed economic development programs in the Middle East and in many other parts of the world for the US State Department and USAID for the past thirty years. He began his work life as a journalist for newspapers and for The Associated Press in Florida. Go to The World According to Bill Fisher for more.

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Battle at Afghan Military Base Kills 14

Associated Press
March 29, 2006

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - Militants attacked a coalition forces base in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday, sparking a battle that killed two foreign soldiers and at least 12 rebels, the U.S. military said. At least one of the soldiers was American.

Four foreign troops and an Afghan soldier were wounded in the battle in Helmand province, the military said in a statement. The region is a hotbed of insurgency and center of the booming drugs trade in Afghanistan.
The attack followed separate roadside bombings in the region Tuesday that killed six Afghan soldiers and four private security workers. Suspected Taliban militants with explosives strapped to their bodies also blew themselves up in the southern city of Kandahar, but no other casualties were reported in that blast, a provincial official said.

In Wednesday's incident, the troops called in aircraft to attack the militants and together with the forces inside the base "are believed to have killed at least a dozen enemy insurgents," the statement said. But it added the military was still conducting a full assessment of the battle.

Brig. Gen. Anthony J. Tata said the troops "defeated a significant enemy element."

The wounded soldiers were rushed for treatment to a base in Kandahar. The names of the deceased were withheld pending notification of next of kin.

The military statement did not say whether the attack was believed linked to the drugs trade. Helmand is Afghanistan's main opium poppy growing region and there have been fears of widespread violence since an aggressive poppy eradication campaign started in recent weeks.

Helmand's rugged mountains are also popular hiding places for Taliban rebels, many of whom are believed to slip back and forth across the province's largely unguarded border with Pakistan.

One of Tuesday's roadside bombings struck an army vehicle on a road in Helmand province northwest of Kandahar, killing six Afghan soldiers, said Gen. Rehmatullah Raufi, a top Afghan army official in the province. He blamed the Taliban for the attack, but offered no evidence.

"We know that it is the work of Taliban terrorists, and our forces are trying to trace and capture them," he told The Associated Press.

Hours earlier, a roadside bomb exploded as a Namibian and three Afghans working for Houston-based U.S. Protection and Investigations were driving in a convoy on the main road linking Kandahar city with Herat, the main city in western Afghanistan. The company provides security for a construction company in the area.

Bill Dupre, the firm's deputy managing director in Kabul, said the victims' vehicle caught the "full brunt" of the remote-controlled bomb blast, killing the four instantly. Several other vehicles in the convoy returned to their camp safely, he said.

Nimroz Gov. Ghulam Dusthaqir Azad blamed the Taliban for that assault as well.

The suspected militants blew themselves up after they were confronted by police Tuesday morning on a main street in Kandahar, provincial Gov. Asadullah Khalid said.

Khalid said he thought the two bombers were militants, adding that authorities had received intelligence that suicide attackers were planning to enter the city, a former Taliban stronghold.

Afghanistan, particularly the country's volatile south, has seen a wave of suicide attacks in recent months, an apparent shift in tactics by militant supporters of the hardline militia that was ousted by U.S.-led airstrikes in late 2001.

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Taliban say Afghan offensive is on, 22 dead

Wed Mar 29, 1:37 AM ET

KABUL - Insurgents in Afghanistan attacked a military base on Wednesday and an American, a Canadian and at least 12 militants were killed as a Taliban spokesman said a spring offensive had begun.

The Taliban said their fighters attacked the foreign forces in the southern province of Helmand.
In another incident, a roadside bomb killed six Afghan soldiers on Tuesday in Helmand's Sangin district, and two policemen were killed in a raid on their post in Kandahar town, also in the volatile south, security officials said.

The U.S. military said one of its soldiers was killed in the attack by a "significant" insurgent force on a forward operating base. A Canadian military spokeswoman said one Canadian was killed and three wounded, though not seriously.

"Coalition forces employed a variety of combined arms to include close air support and are believed to have killed at least a dozen enemy insurgents," the U.S. military said in a statement. One Afghan soldier was wounded, it said.

Twelve U.S. troops have been killed in fighting this year. Nearly 60 Americans were killed in Afghan fighting last year, the worst for U.S. forces since they invaded in 2001 to oust the Taliban.

The Taliban vowed more violence saying their spring offensive had begun. "The weather is warming and Taliban attacks on coalition and Afghan forces have begun," Taliban spokesman Mullah Mohammad Hanif said by telephone from an undisclosed location.

Fighting usually picks up in the Afghan spring when snow blocking mountain passes melts.

Despite the rising level of violence, the United States is hoping to trim its force of more than 18,000 troops in Afghanistan by several thousand, while NATO partners, including Britain, Canada and the Netherlands are sending about 6,000 more.

British troops are based in Helmand but a spokesman for the force said he had no information about Wednesday's fighting.

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Pakistan Bets On Barbar Cruise Missile

by Martin Sieff
UPI Senior News Analyst
Mar 29, 2006

Washington - Pakistan is developing its Barbar cruise missile into a cheap, reliable, strategic nuclear delivery vehicle, StrategyPage.com reported Saturday. StrategyPage.com noted that Islamabad has successfully conducted a second test of the Barbur cruise missile.
The 1.5 ton, 22 foot long missile has a range of 300 miles and appears capable of carrying a 500-pound warhead and the Pakistanis are already working on a nuclear weapon that would fit in it, the Web site said.

The Barbur uses GPS guidance, and the Pakistanis say it has stealth features, StrategyPage.com said.

Cruise missiles are low tech compared to ballistic missiles and GPS makes it easy to equip the missile with a highly accurate, and inexpensive, guidance system. Since the missiles fly low, they are hard to spot with radar.

Stealthiness makes the missile even more difficult for radar to pick up and it can be added by using the right materials, and shape, for the missile, the Web site said.

Cruise missiles are also a lot cheaper than ballistic missiles, costing about one fifth as much as a ballistic missile with the same range and payload, it said.

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Peru's Humala on top in another presidential poll

Tue Mar 28, 6:17 PM ET

LIMA, Peru - Nationalist candidate Ollanta Humala, campaigning to increase state control over the economy, is leading polls ahead of Peru's presidential election on April 9, a Datum survey showed on Tuesday.
Datum reported that 31 percent of voters polled said they plan to vote for Humala, up 5 percentage points from mid-March, while support for center-right lawyer Lourdes Flores slipped 1 point to 26 percent.

In third place is former center-left President Alan Garcia, whose backing among voters rose 2 points to reach 21 percent.

Humala is a retired army commander who is most popular among Peru's poor and has the backing of leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

International investors believe the economy would be best tended by Flores, who would be Peru's first woman president if elected.

None of the candidates is seen winning the 50 percent of votes plus one needed to triumph in the election's first round.

In second-round voting, the Datum poll showed Flores with 48 percent of votes and Humala with 41 percent.

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The Neocon Shuffle

Card's Departure Seen as a Sign President Hears Words of Critics

By Jim VandeHei
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 29, 2006; Page A01

A few weeks ago, President Bush's spokesman dismissed talk of an impending staff change as "inside Washington babble."

White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr.'s resignation yesterday suggests that Bush was listening.
Through one full term and the first year of the second, a signature of this administration was the indifference -- even contempt -- it showed for the capital's political and media culture, and for the endless flow of commentary and unsolicited advice that its inhabitants deliver daily to all presidents.

Bush, his advisers say, has by no means changed his view of what he derisively calls the "chattering class." But the Card move is only the latest sign that -- with his presidency under the stress of low public approval ratings, an unpopular war and a stalled legislative agenda -- Bush is more often deferring to the expectations of Washington conventional wisdom.

On Iraq, he has not shifted policy but has modified his message in response to legislators and GOP operatives who said he needed to more directly address the arguments of opponents instead of simply disparaging them as defeatists. On his domestic agenda -- after last year proved that doubters of both parties on Capitol Hill were right when they said his planned overhaul of Social Security was far too ambitious -- Bush has returned this year with a series of small proposals such as incentives for alternative energy sources.

At the same time, the president who set out five years ago to circumvent what he considered the "filter" of Washington's mainstream media, has started having off-the-record, get-to-know-you-better chats with White House reporters.

"When you run into brick walls, you need to figure out ways around it," said a high-ranking administration official, who acknowledged that a White House that once prided itself on tuning out the views of op-ed pages and cable talk shows is now more likely to tune in. "Part of what you are seeing is some adjustment to the political realities."

These accommodations are of the sort that many presidents have made before, and Bush's steps should not be overstated. He has not summoned a respected Capitol Hill figure to join his staff, as Ronald Reagan did when he tapped Howard Baker as his chief of staff after the Iran-contra scandal in 1987. He did not invite a well-known figure from the other party into his fold, as Bill Clinton did when he recruited commentator David Gergen to help right a stumbling presidency in 1993.

What's more, Bush's team well knows that making nods to inside-Washington expectations can affect its political fortunes only at the margins. As Bush himself said at a news conference last week, his "political capital" is nearly all invested in Iraq, and that war is almost certainly what will determine his political success or failure in the balance of his presidency.

Still, longtime Bush observers are struck by the stylistic changes on display.

"The first term was about discipline, driven by a big event -- Sept. 11 -- that shaped the era, and maybe it saved them for a while," said Ed Rogers, a Republican with close ties to the White House. "It allowed them to do things that were inconsistent with the currents and ways of Washington. Now absent a big event that has upset the political order and laws of political physics, they are back playing by the rules that govern this universe."

Ari Fleischer, Bush's spokesman in the first term, said the president is simply conforming to a new political reality. "Tough times force you to adjust," he said. "When times are tough and poll numbers are down . . . the president is more open to change for whatever good comes with that change."

Fleischer said there is no doubt that the Card resignation was at least partly the result of Republican calls for a staff shake-up. "There was a drumbeat out there that the president's staff could not miss and Bush could not miss," he said. Publicly, White House officials said it was Card who decided to resign, but a top aide said Bush gradually came to the conclusion that it was the right thing to do.

The president-vs.-Washington battle is not a new phenomenon. Washington has long had its own unique culture governed by a set of unspoken but generally understood political and social mores. By custom, presidents are expected to reach out to the social and political elite. The people in that elite almost always have the same advice: Listen to the top pundits, do more to reach across the partisan aisle, embrace foreign travel, shake up the staff when polls go in the tank. Most recent presidents, to some extent, came to town intent on playing by their own set of rules, and most end up striking some sort of truce.

"There are certain lessons you learn," said Leon E. Panetta, who became Clinton's second chief of staff in 1994 after an unseasoned White House staff made many errors in the first year. Presidents such as Bush and Clinton, who came from outside Washington, "kinda look down on Washington," Panetta added, but ultimately realize that "if you do not learn how to work in the Washington setting, it will basically eat you up."

Bush brings some personal history to the subject. After watching the travails of his father's presidency, he came to town with an attitude that bad decisions are often made when presidents pay too much attention to party insiders who wring their hands or don't dare to take chances, longtime aides said. He considered many in Washington too quick to turn on friends and their core principles during troubled times, and too scared to "shape history."

Bush's strategy often worked, according to John D. Podesta, a former Clinton chief of staff. But even some Republicans said it was less the result of Bush's strategy than the Sept. 11 attacks, which spurred twin emotions of fear and patriotism among voters and in Congress that allowed Bush to set the agenda and strike a defiant stance. One person close to Bush said this created a false sense of power and success at the highest reaches of the White House.

Bush's fatal mistake, Podesta said, was going too far in the direction of avoiding, if not alienating, important people in Washington. "You have to tip your hat enough to the chattering class so they don't spend every day thinking about how to flay you," Podesta said.

The Card resignation by itself does not signal a radical shift for this White House. But aides said more changes will come and that Bush is strongly considering adding one or two well-known Republicans to help soothe relations with Congress.

Comment: Yeah, right!

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Why the White House Shakeup Really Isn't

Tuesday, Mar. 28, 2006

The replacement of chief of staff Andrew Card with Josh Bolten is the comfort food of staff changes

After making a four-minute statement in the Rose Garden this morning, President Bush wended his way through the Cabinet members arrayed behind him as a television correspondent bellowed, with various others joining in: "Mr. President, did you feel pressure to make staff changes?" The President was grinning noticeably as he ducked back into the Oval Office, as if to say: Let 'em holler! The replacement of Bush's first chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., with budget director Joshua B. Bolten may foster a badly needed sense of renewal and produce headlines about a shakeup. But this is the comfort food of staff changes - the replacement of a longtime family loyalist with someone who has been one of this President's insiders since the Austin days.
Card, known around the West Wing as "Secretary Card" for his service as Transportation Secretary to President George H.W. Bush, served for nearly triple the average tenure of a White House chief of staff. He is spoken of worshipfully by his underlings, and is one of the few White House officials that other aides will tell you they love. But in the lobbyist/strategist/pollster coterie, he was getting the bulk of the blame for the White House's recent self-inflicted wounds.

"No one wants to leave a White House, particularly this White House - it's hard leaving the family," said one of the few people privy to what really happened. "Andy was just wise enough to push the President to say, 'This is a good time to change.'" A wily veteran of Massachusetts politics, Card has been predicting his own departure since Nov. 1, 2001, when he told a Boston audience, "The half-life for a chief of staff is two years... There are very few people who had the experience I am having that survived very long, and that is appropriate. There is no security. I will not vest in the pension system at the White House."

Bush says he and Card had been talking about the transition for three weeks, but the 8:30 a.m. announcement was a surprise to almost everyone in Washington. "On most days," Bush said with Card, 58, at his right hand and Bolten, 51, at his left, "Andy is the first one to arrive in the West Wing and among the last to leave. And during those long days over many years I've come to know Andy as more than my Chief of Staff. He is leaving the White House, but he will always be my friend. Laura and I have known Andy and his wife, Kathi, for more than 20 years, and our close friendship will continue."

The change, effective on April 15, followed a waterfall of leaks from advisers close to the White House that Bush was finally considering changes at the top after resisting them ever since struggling with the Hurricane Katrina aftermath in September. The outcome showed the strength of Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, who along with Vice President Cheney is the last standing of the Oval Office inner circle.

Anticipating coverage of whether Card was forced out, the Republican National Committee said, in talking points distributed this morning to frequent talk show guests who are supportive of the administration, "He was not fired." The talking point, provided to TIME by a recipient, went on: "Does the President think that Andy Card is to blame for the difficulties he has faced this year, especially the poor response during Katrina, Harriet Miers, and the recent Dubai parts fiasco?" In short, the answer was no. "Andy Card has been a terrific Chief of Staff, and he has led the White House team through many very difficult challenges for more than five and a half years," the document says. "He did it with great skill and decency, and he will leave with the President's and the country's gratitude. "

Bolten, who brings a sly and dry humor to a back-breaking job (and start counting the number of times you read he's a Harley-riding bachelor), is a former Goldman Sachs investment banker who was policy director of Bush's 2000 campaign and was his first deputy chief of staff for policy. So he is steeped in the current system. As a further sign of stability amidst change, White House insiders predicted that Bolten's successor will be his deputy, Joel Kaplan - a veteran of both the Marine Corps and Bolten's policy shops in Austin and the West Wing. Officials said Bolten will look at the White House from top to bottom and may make changes of his own, but a radical realignment would shock people quite close to Bush.

Speaking to the Federalist Society in 2003, Card described how Bush starts each weekday when he's in town. "The President shows up in the Oval Office between quarter of seven and seven o'clock in the morning, and I'm there to greet him," Card said. "One of the greatest privileges that anyone can have in any democracy is to say, 'Good morning, Mr. President.'" He told other audiences that someone had to be sure the President got a haircut regularly, and that someone was him. Bolten may delegate the haircut scheduling. But the President can be confident that his agenda and the White House will continue being steered by a like-minded confidant who was present at the creation.

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Not Quite What We Had in Mind

Published: March 29, 2006
Editorial NYT

For months now, people have been urging President Bush to shake up his inner circle and bring in fresh air. Perhaps in response, the White House chief of staff, Andrew Card Jr., resigned yesterday. Mr. Bush opened the window - and in climbed his budget director, Joshua Bolten, who used to be Mr. Card's deputy.
If this is what passes for a shake-up in this administration, the next two and a half years are going to be grim indeed. This is a meaningless change, and it simply sends the message that Mr. Bush lacks the gumption to trade in anyone in the comforting, friendly cast of characters who have kept him cocooned since his first inauguration.

It's hard to figure out what unmet need this change is supposed to fill. There's been a lot of talk about how exhausted the original Bush team is. But Mr. Bolten ought to be as pooped as everybody else. It takes just as much energy to put together an out-of-whack, fiscally ruinous budget as it does to mess up an invasion or ignore a cataclysmic hurricane.

Mr. Bolten has been giving the president advice for years, and the result has been a deficit estimated at $371 billion. Perhaps he'll come up with a better approach in his new job. We've heard that under Mr. Card's watch, aides wound up showing Mr. Bush videos of TV news coverage of Hurricane Katrina to convince their boss that it really was a problem. Maybe Mr. Bolten can start the next budget discussion with some audiovisual aids - like an abacus.

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US says Nigeria must answer on missing Taylor

By Tabassum Zakaria
Tue Mar 28, 3:54 PM ET

WASHINGTON - Nigeria faces "consequences" for the disappearance of exiled former Liberian leader Charles Taylor if he is not handed over to stand trial on war crimes charges, the United States said on Tuesday.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan would not say whether
President George W. Bush would still meet with Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo as scheduled on Wednesday.

"Right now we are looking for answers from the Nigerian government about the whereabouts of Charles Taylor," McClellan said.
Nigeria, which has been pressed by Washington to end Taylor's asylum there, said during the weekend that Liberia was free to take the former warlord into custody.

But on Tuesday, just as Obasanjo was scheduled to leave Abuja for Washington, Nigerian officials said Taylor had disappeared from his residence in the southeastern part of the country on Monday night.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said it was Nigeria's responsibility to hand over Taylor for prosecution, warning of "consequences" if it did not happen.

"We consider it a very serious matter, senator, if he has indeed escaped, very serious," Rice told Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Leahy pushed Rice to cancel Obasanjo's meeting with Bush, a request Rice did not address.

Rice stressed Obasanjo had promised to closely monitor Taylor and turn him over once a new Liberian government was in place.

"If we are no longer on course for that then we will have to examine why this happened and have consequences accordingly," said Rice, without specifying what the consequences would be.

Taylor had lived in Nigeria since 2003 when he stepped down as president and after Obasanjo helped broker a peace deal to end Liberia's 14-year civil war that spilled over into nearby countries. Taylor is wanted on war crimes charges by a special U.N.-backed court in Sierra Leone.

"It is the responsibility of the Nigerian government to see that he is conveyed to the special court for Sierra Leone," McClellan said. "We expect the government of Nigeria to fulfill this commitment."

Sen. Barack Obama, an Illinois Democrat, said Bush should cancel his Obasanjo meeting to send a message that "the United States stands unequivocally for bringing Charles Taylor to justice."

"The inability of the government of Nigeria to provide adequate security around the residence of Charles Taylor, one of the world's worst war criminals, is inexcusable," Obama said.

Republican Rep. Ed Royce of California, a member of the House of Representatives International Relations Committee, said countries should not consider giving Taylor sanctuary.

"Such action will be met with stiff opposition in the U.S. Congress -- including serious sanctions," he said.

Rep. Chris Smith, the New Jersey Republican who chairs a House subcommittee on Africa, said the United States "must review our relationship with Nigeria in light of Taylor's escape and should immediately authorize a substantial financial bounty" to help ensure his capture.

Taylor is accused in Sierra Leone of supporting rebels notorious for hacking off the limbs of civilians, in exchange for diamonds to finance the Liberian conflict.

The two conflicts claimed an estimated 300,000 lives and spawned a generation of child soldiers.

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Why Do Some Dictators Escape Justice?

Associated Press
Tue Mar 28, 11:31 AM ET

JAKARTA, Indonesia - The spotlight of international justice has shone on Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic to hold them accountable for alleged war crimes.

But many are asking: What about Suharto in Indonesia, Gen.
Augusto Pinochet in Chile and Charles Taylor of Liberia?

Indonesia's ailing dictator for 32 years is widely believed responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people yet he lives freely in a wealthy residential district of Jakarta.
"The problem for any post-Suharto government is that it is difficult to bring him to trial ... because he is still backed and supported by the military, which itself participated in the killings of tens of thousands of people," said Munarman, head of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation. Like Suharto, he goes by one name.

Critics say the case of Suharto and others like him highlight an inconsistency that lends credibility to charges that the trials in The Hague, Netherlands, and Iraq are "victors' justice."

In Baghdad, Saddam's tumultuous trial is continuing in fits and starts, while the effort to bring Milosevic to justice halted this month when he died in custody at the International War Crimes Tribunal.

But Suharto, 85, is among former leaders in the world who have managed to evade or delay an accounting for their alleged misdeeds.

They include Mengistu Haile Mariam, who directed the "Red Terror" of the 1970s in Ethiopia but who now lives in exile in Zimbabwe, and Chile's former dictator Augusto Pinochet, whose security forces killed more than 3,000 political opponents from 1973 to 1990, according to official reports.

There have been repeated attempts to try Pinochet, most of which failed after his attorneys argued he was too ill to stand trial. He is now free on bail after being charged in a tax-evasion case.

African leaders have been reluctant to see the continent's former presidents or dictators brought to justice, apparently fearful they would be the next accused of human rights abuses or other crimes.

Liberia's new government had been urging Nigeria to extradite Taylor, a former president accused of causing tens of thousands of deaths during his nation's civil war and of supporting rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone.

Nigeria agreed last week to hand Taylor over to the U.N. tribunal sitting in Sierra Leone. But the government Tuesday reported Taylor missing from his southern haven.

Taylor, who escaped from a Boston jail in 1985 to launch Liberia's war, has been able to tap the West African nation's treasury even from exile, according to U.N. investigators.

The U.N. Security Council had expressed concern Taylor was using "misappropriated funds" to undermine his homeland's stability in the run-up to recent elections.

In Cambodia, meanwhile, no Khmer Rouge figure has stood trial for the death of an estimated 1.7 million people in 1975-79. Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot died in the jungle in 1998, and about a dozen top Khmer Rouge aides were to face a U.N.-assisted tribunal.

The lack of formal charges against such leaders weakens the deterrence of war crimes tribunals, said Harold Crouch, an expert on Indonesia at the Australian National University.

"Obviously the deterrent value would be much greater if they indicted all these people," Crouch said.

The number of Iraqis who perished during Saddam's rule is usually put at about 300,000, with no precise statistics available. Milosevic's wars in former Yugoslavia are said to have claimed at least 200,000 lives, although some place the figure lower.

Suharto was an unknown two-star general in 1965 when he put down a still-unexplained military mutiny that he attributed to leftist officers. Suharto seized power and launched a purge in which an estimated half-million people - mostly communists, socialists, trade unionists and other leftists - were executed, according to the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission, a non-governmental organization.

The leaders of Indonesia's fledgling democracy set out to try Suharto for corruption, gave up, and have never sought to bring him to justice.

Several dozen officers have been tried on charges of killing hundreds of civilians in East Timor and elsewhere during Suharto's time, but all were freed.

"If you can't convict a captain, how can you convict his president?" Crouch said.

Comment: Ask Bush.

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US troops defend raid, say Iraqis faked "massacre"

By Alastair Macdonald
Mon Mar 27, 6:00 PM ET

BAGHDAD - U.S. commanders in Iraq on Monday accused powerful Shi'ite groups of moving the corpses of gunmen killed in battle to encourage accusations that U.S.-led troops massacred unarmed worshippers in a mosque.

"After the fact, someone went in and made the scene look different from what it was. There's been huge misinformation," Lieutenant General Peter Chiarelli, the second-ranking U.S. commander in Iraq, said.
He rejected the accusations of a massacre that prompted the Shi'ite-led government to demand U.S. forces cede control of security but declined to spell out which group he believed moved the bodies.

Government-run television has shown footage of bodies lying without weapons in what Shi'ite ministers say is a mosque compound run by radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. The security minister accused Iraqi and U.S. troops of killing 37 unarmed men.

Giving the first U.S. military briefing on Sunday's events in Baghdad, Chiarelli said the raid by about 50 Iraqi special forces troops backed by some 25 U.S. "advisers" had been the fruit of long intelligence work. But he said he did not know the religious affiliation of 16 "insurgents" who were killed.

An Iraqi was freed who had been taken hostage that day and threatened with death if he did not pay a $20,000 ransom, he said. Three fighters were wounded and 18 other people detained.

Chiarelli insisted the compound was not a mosque but an office complex. Neighbors and aides to Sadr call it a mosque and say it was once offices for Saddam Hussein's Baath party.

"There was gunfire from every room," he said.

Major General J.D. Thurman, whose division controls Baghdad, said: "If it was a mosque, why are they using it as a place to hold hostages?" He added that weapons, including 34 assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades were also found.


Chiarelli stood by the U.S. account, disputed by Sadr aides and other Shi'ite leaders but which is broadly in line with police reports and some local witnesses who spoke of a fierce gun battle around the site.

He said an Iraqi special forces unit with about 25 U.S. advisers, trainers, medical and bomb disposal crew in support arrived to raid the site at nightfall and were immediately fired on from a number of buildings around the compound.

The troops "cleared the compound," he said, killing or capturing those inside. "It was Iraqi forces who did the fighting," he stressed. Thurman said U.S. helicopters were in the air at the time but only in support of another mission.

All the dead were killed by Iraqi fire, Chiarelli said.

Chiarelli identified the hostage as a dental technician and said: "He was shown a picture of his daughter and told if he didn't pay $20,000 he was going to be dead the next day."

Asked about the apparent surprise, not to say disapproval, of the operation in the ruling Shi'ite Alliance bloc, Chiarelli said: "It was coordinated through military channels. Not every operation we run is coordinated with every politician in Iraq."

Though he declined to be drawn on the possible involvement of Sadr's Mehdi Army militia, whose political leaders have led condemnation of the raid, Chiarelli said: "I think the backlash has been caused by the folks who set the scene up."

Both generals praised the unidentified Iraqi unit involved for its record of discipline and minimizing the use of force. Chiarelli said: "They don't go in guns blazing."

Comment: The timing of this story is most curious given the recent reports (and photos) of Iraqi children murdered in their home by US forces.

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Soldiers flee to Canada to avoid Iraq duty

By Duncan Campbell
The Guardian

Hundreds of deserters from the US armed forces have crossed into Canada and are now seeking political refugee status there, arguing that violations of the rules of war in Iraq by the US entitle them to asylum.

A decision on a test case involving two US servicemen is due shortly and is being watched with interest by fellow servicemen on both sides of the border. At least 20 others have already applied for asylum and there are an estimated 400 in Canada out of more than 9,000 who have deserted since the conflict started in 2003.
Ryan Johnson, 22, from near Fresno in California, was due to be deployed with his unit to Iraq in January last year but crossed the Canadian border in June and is seeking asylum. "I had spoken to many soldiers who had been in Iraq and who told me about innocent civilians being killed and about bombing civilian neighbourhoods," he told the Guardian.
"It's been really great since I've been here. Generally, people have been really hospitable and understanding, although there have been a few who have been for the war." He is now unable to return to the US. "I don't have a problem with that. I'm in Canada and that's that."

Mr Johnson said it was unclear exactly how many US soldiers were in Canada but he thought 400 was a "realistic figure". He had been on speaking tours across the country as part of a war resisters' movement and had come across other servicemen living underground.

Jeffry House, a Toronto lawyer who represents many of the men, said that an increasing number were seeking asylum. "There are a fair number without status and a fair number on student visas," he said, and under UN guidelines on refugee status they were entitled to seek asylum.

The first test cases involve Jeremy Hinzman, 26, who deserted from the 82 Airborne Division and Brandon Hughey from the 1st Cavalry Division. A decision on their applications is due within the next few weeks. If they are turned down the case will be taken to the federal appeal court and the Canadian supreme court, according to Mr House, a process that would last into next year at least.

All deserters, past and present, are placed on an FBI wanted list. Earlier this month, Allen Abney, 56, who deserted from the US marines 38 years ago during the Vietnam war, was arrested as he crossed into the US, a journey he had taken many times before without problem. He was held in a military jail in California for a few days, then discharged.

"They have resuscitated long-dormant warrants," said Mr House. "I know 15 people personally who have crossed 10 or more times without problems and then all of a sudden they are arresting people. It seems like it would be connected to Iraq."

Lee Zaslofsky, 61, the coordinator of the War Resisters' Support Campaign in Toronto, said that he was impressed by the young men who were seeking asylum. "Some have been to Iraq and others have heard what goes on there," he said. "Mainly, what they discuss is being asked to do things they consider repugnant. Most are quite patriotic ... Many say they feel tricked by the military."

During the Vietnam war between 50,000 and 60,000 Americans crossed the border to avoid serving.

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Tapdancing Over Iraq

Tuesday, Mar. 28, 2006

Connecticut Congressman Chris Shays has been a strong backer of Bush on the war. Will that support spell doom for him, and other moderate Republicans, in November?

When House Republican Chris Shays showed up last week to a meeting of the Y's Men, a group of more than 400 senior men who meet weekly in Westport, Conn., he was warmly welcomed. The man introducing Shays, who has represented this Southern Connecticut district in Congress since 1987, presented the congressman with a jacket from the group and said "We love ya, Chris." But when he stepped to the podium, Shays didn't exude the confidence of a beloved incumbent. Instead, he sounded like a man who isn't sure the goodwill he's earned over the last nearly two decades can ensure his reelection to Congress this fall.

In a passionate but defensive 20-minute speech, Shays delivered, all at once, an apology for and a justification of his strong support for the war in Iraq, which, as in so many other parts of the country, is now very unpopular in Connecticut.
"President Bush didn't lie. He was wrong, I was wrong about Saddam having weapons of mass destruction," he said, while noting that a long list of other countries thought Iraq had WMD. And he was critical of some of Bush's decisions: "We made a huge mistake when we disbanded their army, their police force, their border control." But on the plus side: "In Iraq, you've had three elections that would have put to shame any election we have had in the U.S." in terms of participation, Shays added.

Shays didn't just support the war; he's been to Iraq 11 times since the U.S. invasion and frequently raves about the burgeoning democracy there. But those trips could come back to haunt Shays this fall. His Democratic challenger, Dianne Farrell, who surprised political observers by losing by only 4 points to Shays in 2004, has made Shays' support of President Bush's war the centerpiece of her campaign. Her campaign may well prove to be a referendum on her party's prospects for taking back control of the House. If they want to have any shot at it, Dems will have to win back moderate Republican seats in Democratic-leaning areas like the Northeast - where the war may be their most effective weapon.

Farrell, who was the chief executive of Westport, one of the largest towns in the district, will be a tough opponent for Shays. She's well known in the area from her previous run, is an effective fundraiser and has a warm, engaging campaign style. She also has the natural advantage that the district leans Democratic these days; John Kerry defeated President Bush there by six points in 2004, and polls have shown 66% of people in Connecticut disapprove of President Bush's performance. "The issues are more mature" than two years ago, Farrell says. And Shays "has been carrying President Bush's water on [the war] for three years."

Last week, although the election is still seven months away, both sides were fiercely trying to define the real Chris Shays. At a Farrell fundraiser, veteran Democratic political strategist Paul Begala called Shays "President Bush's rubber stamp," and Farrell's staff put out a memo detailing how often Shays supports Bush initiatives in Congress. Shays staff quickly responded with data showing that the Congressman's voting record is one of the most moderate in Congress.

And that is the irony about Shays' current struggle. In Washington, the 60-year-old is actually known for being the rare Republican who has no problem differing with GOP leadership or the President. He helped push John McCain's campaign finance proposal through the House in 2002, annoying GOP leaders. Last year, he was one of the first Republicans to call for Tom DeLay's resignation and one of the few who opposed intervening in the Terri Schiavo case. Back home, though, Shays has taken flak for backing the GOP leadership on some key votes, particularly a provision signed last December that cut funding for Medicaid.

An ally and friend of McCain's, Shays prides himself on that same kind of straight talk that the Arizona Senator employs, which can be both helpful and dangerous. So in his meeting with the senior citizens last week, Shays demanded they ask him tough questions, and they obliged with a barrage on Iraq. Asked if he had confidence in Donald Rumsfeld, Shays said he had "little to no confidence "in the Defense Secretary. He was asked why Bush stood in front of a huge banner that read "Plan for Victory" for a speech last week. "I would never speak at a podium with the word 'victory' because we don't know if it will be a success," Shays said. "To say 'Mission Accomplished' or 'Victory' - it remains to be seen."

But it is a delicate balancing act for Shays. Even as he did his best to distance himself from the Bush Administration, the Connecticut congressman made some comments that also tied him closely to the Iraq effort. He repeatedly compared the Iraqis' struggles to create a democracy to America's more than two centuries ago, particularly annoying the seniors when he said the U.S. might not exist today if the French hadn't helped in the American Revolution. Practically quoting Bush, he said that "people have an inherent desire to be free" and it was "arrogant" to believe Islamic nations couldn't create stable democracies. And asked about troop withdrawals, he said Bush shouldn't bring home troops early to help "me or somebody like me win an election."

Strangely enough, the campaign may come down to which pro-war politician Shays can align himself with in the eyes of the voters. While Farrell likens Shays to Bush, Shays says his Iraq views are more similar to those of Joseph Lieberman, Connecticut's pro-war but beloved Democratic Senator. The fact that Bush and Lieberman's views are on the Iraq War are almost indistinguishable may be beside the point. Like any moderate politician, Shays' best campaign strategy may be to act more like his opponents than his allies.

Comment: Of course, none of the politicians will say that Bush lied. If they do, they will have to admit that they lied, as well - and that's not a move that would be conducive to getting re-elected. Furthermore, with all the spying the Bush administration has done, you can bet they have all kinds of dirt on everyone.

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War Of Ideas About Justice Not Democracy

by Pamela Hess
UPI Pentagon Correspondent
Mar 29, 2006

Washington - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has declared the United States is losing the "war of ideas" against radical Islam, and the findings of a leading terrorism expert suggest why.

Marc Sageman, a French forensic psychiatrist, published the groundbreaking book "Understanding Terror Networks" in 2004 based on his biographical analysis of 172 known terrorists, including the men who carried out the September 11 attacks on the United States.

Sageman has expanded that study to more than 400 known terrorists, analyzing information available in trial transcripts, press accounts and academic journals. What he continues to find turns the stereotypical notion about terrorists -- that they are young, lonely, naïve, idealists corrupted by al Qaida recruiters and religious schooling -- on its head.

"It's very much a war of ideas," Sageman said.

But the winning ideas are not necessarily the ones the Bush administration is pushing.
"Preaching democracy around the world is ineffectual," he said.

What would address the problem of terrorism at its roots, according to Sageman, is advocating justice.

"What you have to do is stick to core American values , justice and fairness, and distance ourselves from local regimes -- that's much of the grievances of young people. As long as we support those regimes, we are seen as a 'far enemy' supporting the 'near enemy,'" Sageman said.

Among those regimes are those the United States government considers allies or at least partners: Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Tunisia, and Jordan.

"We always think it is all about us. It's never been about us," Sageman said. "And we actually make mistakes and support local corrupt regimes so that people kind of think, 'oh well the reason we are exploited and in this condition is because the United States is propping up'" the hated regime.

"You've got no job, the legal system is stacked against you," Sageman continued. "It's a little like the Jim Crow laws of the South. A white man could never be convicted in the (American) south even when they killed black people. It's kind of the same thing in the Middle East.

"That's where our policy comes in. If our policy is blind support of local regimes no matter how corrupt, how despotic, the local people would blame us," he said.

The perception that the United States is helping to prop up those regimes allows groups like al Qaida and other fundamentalist Islam agitators to turn the would-be terrorists' attention from the near enemy -- the society in which they live, where they have grievances -- to focus on the "far enemy," the United States.

Understanding who joins terrorist organizations and why they end up sacrificing their own lives or killing for their cause is the first step in stemming the tide of new terrorists.

"You have to try to deflect new people from wanting to join the movement," Sageman told UPI.

By and large the 400 terrorists he collected data on are middle class people, the majority married with children. The majority had schooling beyond high school, and most of them were trained in a technical or natural science field. The average age of joining is 25.

Comment: We can see where this is all heading...

They were not raised to be religious and the vast majority - more than 300 of the 400 biographies analyzed -- never attended madrassa, the religious schools that Rumsfeld himself fingered in a leaked memo to his top lieutenants n October 2003.

"Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?" he wrote.

Neither were they recruited to terrorism by al-Qaida masters. Al-Qaida does not recruit in the way most people understand the word. Most terrorist cell members mutually recruit each other. They are friends first, begin talking about their plight, and together decide to become terrorists supporting a fundamentalist view of Islam. Al-Qaida historically only accepts 15 to 25 percent of those who volunteer.

Their plight is the problem. Despite their educational qualifications and socieo-economic backgrounds, the societies in which they live -- Western Europe and the Middle East -- are largely closed to them. Their upward mobility is limited by discrimination or class distinction, and they sour on the societies in which they live.

Most importantly, Sageman says, the solution is not necessarily a matter of democracy. Many of the societies in which these terrorists come from are nominally democratic. Instead, it is a matter of justice: of having economic opportunity, of being accepted as a full member of society rather than being regarded as an outsider, of being respected.

Those very conditions were what led to the violent protests last year in Paris. They were fueled by a generation of young French people who's parents or grandparents were immigrants. While they were born and grew up in France, they were still deemed outsiders -- not employable, not French, said Sagemen.

Ironically, the fresh riots in Paris are being carried out by French young people, angry that employment rules are being changed in ways that could help address the grievances of the first rioters by increasing employment generally but that alter the traditional French job security.

When the United States preaches democracy, it does so blind to the fact that democracy does not automatically translate to justice, Sageman said.

Comment: The real problem is that the US may be preaching democracy, but that is clearly NOT what it has brought to the likes of Afghanistan or Iraq.

Sageman believes U.S. attempts to win the war of ideas are fatally undermined by both the war in Iraq and the prison in Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.

"Guantanamo Bay adds fuel to the grievances of young Muslims worldwide. That's one of the things that convinces them that it's not local conditions but a global fight. That tends to put the focus on us," he said.

"It doesn't matter what you say when you have 160,000 troops killing Muslims in Iraq," he said. "Especially when all the media outlets present that every night. People are not that stupid."

Sageman believes with a change in American policies and a focus on justice -- on freedom, on economic development, on fairness -- could shift the tide. The American mission should be to shift the focus of people away from the far enemy -- the United States -- and back where the grievances are, and where they can be addressed: to the local level.

"The damage is done, but thank God people have poor memories," he said.

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Americans' call for removal of Iraqi PM threatens rift with Shias

By Patrick Cockburn in Arbil
The Independent
29 March 2006

President George W Bush has made it clear that he does not want Ibrahim al-Jaafari to remain prime minister of Iraq in a move likely to increase hostility between the US and the Shia community.

Mr Bush has written to the Shi'ite leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the head of the Shi'ite Alliance asking him to nominate somebody else for the post. " The Americans are very firm about this," said a senior official. " They don't want Jaafari at any price."
Friction between the Americans and the Shia, who make up 60 per cent of Iraq's 27 million population, escalated sharply after at least 16 Shi'ites were killed in the al-Mustafa mosque by Iraqi and American Special Forces on Sunday night. Many Shia believe that the US was shocked by, and is not ready to accept, the success of the Shia Alliance in the election on 15 December.

The prolonged negotiations on forming a new national unity government has served to underline the fissures dividing Shia, Sunni and Kurds. The Alliance has called for security to be handed over to the Iraqi government in the wake of the al-Mustafa incident.

The government led by Mr Jaafari for over a year is a Shi'ite-Kurdish coalition, but the Kurds accuse Mr Jaafari of failing to honour agreements on the return of Kurds to Kirkuk and other places from which they were expelled by Saddam Hussein.

Dr Mahmoud Othman, one of the Kurdish negotiators engaged in trying to form the new government, told The Independent yesterday: "Jaafari has been in power one year and he has failed. He's not fit for the job and we should try somebody else." He criticised Mr Jaafari for acting as if he only represented one party and not the whole country. Since he became prime minister last year the Ministry of the Interior has been accused of running anti-Sunni death squads.

Unless he chooses to step down Mr Jaafari may not be finished since he is still the chosen Shia candidate and other Shia leaders may not want to break ranks. The unity of the Shia Alliance is also supported by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and the Hawza (the religious hierarchy) as well as by the Iranians.

The prolonged and rancorous negotiations on the make up of the new Iraqi government gives a false impression that it will be a powerful body. In reality central government authority is now very limited in much of Baghdad, Basra and Mosul, the three largest cities in the country.

There is almost a complete breakdown in law and order. Often criminals wear police uniforms. Three groups of gunmen disguised as police yesterday kidnapped 24 Iraqis working in a currency exchange and two electronic stores. Kidnapping has been rife since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003 but the kidnap gangs are operating ever more brazenly kidnapping many people at the same time. Earlier this month gunmen dressed as police commandos seized 50 men from a security company.

The objective of the kidnappers is money. Many business and professional people have fled the country. One senior political figure said this week: " A kidnap gang seized my nephew. There was nothing he could do to resist because they boxed in his car with seven cars filled with gunmen. They asked for $200,000 but settled for $20,000."

It is often not clear if criminals are disguised as police or are real policemen engaged in criminal activities. Even a large number of bodyguards may not be sufficient protection. A wealthy banker from Basra and his son were kidnapped in Baghdad by men dressed as police who cordoned off the street where they lived and killed seven of their bodyguards.

Iraqi society is dissolving because of the breakdown of law and order. Sami Mudhafar, Higher Education and Scientific Research Minister, said recently that he wanted to lay to rest exaggerated accounts of the number of university professors murdered in the last three years. He said the true figure was only 89 professors killed over three years, Mr Mudhafar's other piece of comforting news was that there was no murder campaign directed against the Iraqi intelligentsia and they were simply being killed because they lived in Iraq. In addition to the professors 311 teachers have been killed in the last four months. He added that the government was too weak to defend anybody: "I myself was target of an assassination attempt recently and the government has failed to obtain any lead on the party behind it."

Many students no longer go to universities that are riven by struggles between parties. "The students and their professors are in a very bad psychological situation," Abdulamir Hayder of Baghdad University was quoted as saying. "The only aim is how to flee to a foreign country to escape assassination or threats."

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The New iRan - from the creators of iRaq

Security Council 'very close' to accord on Iran statement: diplomats

Wed Mar 29, 2:00 AM ET

UNITED NATIONS - Key Security Council members said they were "very close" to agreeing a watered-down statement urging
Iran to come clean on its nuclear program and presented a new draft to other members.

After a series of informal discussions involving the five permanent, veto-wielding members of the Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- participants reported considerable progress and voiced hope that a new draft could be adopted by the full 15-member body Wednesday.
"I think that we are very close and we will inform the president of the Security Council and offer him consultations tomorrow," France's UN envoy Jean-Marc de la Sabliere said.

"We have reached agreement on the bulk of the text and there was movement on all sides," US ambassador John Bolton said. "We are very close. It's a very satisfactory text. We have been incredibly flexible."

Britain and France, the co-sponsors of the statement, circulated the new draft late Tuesday three weeks after
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) head Mohamed ElBaradei sent its assessment report on the Iranian nuclear program to the Security Council.

The non-binding statement requires unanimous approval by the 15 council members.

The council's five permanent members were to hold another round of consultations on the text Wednesday morning prior to a meeting of the full body, diplomats said.

The latest text, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, calls upon Iran to meet IAEA demands and "underlines the particular importance of re-establishing full and sustained suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development, to be verified by the IAEA."

It stressed that "such suspension and full, verified Iranian compliance" with IAEA demands "would contribute to a diplomatic, negotiated solution that guarantees Iran's nuclear program is for exclusively peaceful purposes."

In a concession to Russia and China, it "requests in 30 days a report from the Director General of the IAEA on the process of Iranian compliance with the steps required by the IAEA Board, to the IAEA Board of Governors and in parallel to the Security Council, and agrees to keep this issue under review."

The original draft had said ElBaradei should present its report in 14 days.

The new text also merely stated that the Council "recalls its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security."

This was seen as another bid to mollify Russia and China, which have opposed language in the proposed statement that would even hint at punitive measures against Iran, an ally and key trading partner.

A diplomat, who asked not to be named, said Moscow would be prepared to accept the text if it dropped any reference to a threat to international peace and security which under the UN charter's Chapter 7 could lead to sanctions.

The flurry of diplomatic activity comes as foreign ministers of the five permanent Security Council members plus Germany prepared to meet Thursday in Berlin to try to map out a long-term strategy on how to deal with Iran's refusal to halt uranium enrichment, which could be used to make bombs.

"Our hope still would be to reach agreement tomorrow so the ministers in Berlin can focus on the future and the next steps (in the showdown with Tehran)," Bolton said.

Russia's UN envoy Andrei Denisov also expressed guarded optimism, saying: "We are closer and closer".

But he cautioned: "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed."

"We are making some progress," said China's UN envoy Wang Guangya, who stressed that differences between the Western powers on one side and Russia and China on the other had been narrowed in the latest consultations.

The United States and its allies believe Iran's civilian nuclear program hides an effort to develop weapons. Tehran says its research is peaceful.

Germany, France and Britain, the so-called EU-3, have pursued three years of inconclusive negotiations to coax Tehran off its nuclear program in exchange for economic incentives.

The Security Council has been trying for nearly three weeks to clinch a deal on the US-backed Franco-British statement.

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New U.N. Draft on Iran Softens Condemnation

Published: March 29, 2006

European and American diplomats circulated a new draft statement to the Security Council on Tuesday evening that weakens language condemning Iran's nuclear program but still calls on Tehran to abandon uranium enrichment activities, which the West believes are intended to make weapons.
The new draft, written by Britain and France and supported by the United States, eliminates or softens elements in earlier drafts that had raised objections from China and Russia.

The three Western nations hope the new version can be adopted Wednesday, a day before the foreign ministers of the five permanent Council members and Germany meet in Berlin to discuss strategy on Iran.

"We feel a sense of urgency," said John R. Bolton, the American ambassador, pointing out that it has been three weeks since Iran's case was delivered to the Council by the International Atomic Energy Agency, United Nations nuclear watchdog based in Vienna.

Negotiations to reach consensus on the relatively mild Security Council action of a nonbinding presidential statement have faltered over Chinese and Russian objections to language that they argue lays the groundwork for taking tougher action like sanctions, which they both oppose.

One of the changes in the text is a watering down of a phrase calling Iran's actions a possible "threat to international peace and security," a term that Beijing and Moscow said established a pretext for sanctions.

The new version simply notes the Council's "primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security."

The revised text also drops any mention of specific charges and demands against Iran, and instead refers to resolutions of the nuclear agency that incorporate them.

In another modification, it now requests a report back from the director of the nuclear agency on Iran's compliance with the Security Council statement in 30 days instead of the 14 days in the original text.

China had suggested a time frame of four to six weeks, and Russia had spoken of more than two months.

Mr. Bolton acknowledged that the wording disagreements might be difficult for most people to understand. "But they are important points about the role of the Security Council and the I.A.E.A., and it's important to get it right because we want to send a clear message to Iran," he said.

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Meet the New Boss...

Israel victor vows to press ahead

Wednesday, 29 March 2006, 10:13 GMT

Acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has declared victory in the election, vowing to push ahead with plans to define Israel's final borders.

His Kadima party, founded barely four months ago by now coma-stricken Ariel Sharon, won but by less than predicted.

It looks set to take 28 of the 120 seats in parliament. Likud, winner of the last election, was beaten into fifth place with just 11 seats.

Palestinians urged Mr Olmert not to set Israel's borders unilaterally.
The Kadima leader told his party he was prepared to hold peace talks with the Palestinians but would act alone if he had to, to establish permanent borders for Israel by 2010.

But with his margin of victory much less decisive than the party had hoped, he could have trouble forming and maintaining a stable coalition, say correspondents.

Kadima is expected to enter into coalition talks with second-placed Labour and other smaller parties.

Israel's President Moshe Katsav said he would start talking to party leaders next week. A Kadima official told the Haaretz newspaper he expected a coalition to emerge after the Passover holiday, in about three weeks' time.

Standing in front of a massive picture of Ariel Sharon, Mr Olmert paid tribute to his stricken predecessor before laying out his plans for his four-year term in office.

"In the coming period we will move to set the final borders of the state of Israel, a Jewish state with a Jewish majority," Mr Olmert told Kadima members in what was effectively his victory speech.

"We will try to achieve this in an agreement with the Palestinians. This is our hope and prayer."

He told the Palestinian leadership: "We are ready to compromise, to give up parts of the beloved Land of Israel... and evacuate, under great pain, Jews living there, in order to create the conditions that will enable you to fulfil your dream and live alongside us."

But he said it was time for the Palestinians to "relate to the existence of the state of Israel, to accept only part of their dream, to stop terror, to accept democracy and accept compromise and peace with us".

Palestinian protests

The BBC's Jeremy Bowen in Jerusalem says Mr Olmert's task will not be easy.

He will face stiff opposition from Israel's settler movement, will have to convince the US to back his plan, and will not be able to ignore a Hamas-led Palestinian government, our correspondent says.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said the "result was expected", but that Mr Olmert should return to the internationally-backed roadmap peace plan and "abandon his unilateral plans to fix the borders".

The new Palestinian cabinet, led by Islamic militant group Hamas, will be sworn in on Wednesday afternoon. It may not be long after that that the Palestinians' relationship with Israel sinks to new lows, says the BBC's Alan Johnston in Gaza.

Voter turnout in the Israeli election was 62.3%, a record low.

With 99% of ballots counted, Kadima has won 21.8% or 28 seats, with the centre-left Labour party coming second with 20 seats, a 15.1% share.

Under Israel's complex proportional representation, the exact number of seats may change as the final votes are redistributed.

Likud blow

The right-wing former ruling party, Likud, is trailing with just 11 seats - behind the ultra-Orthodox Shas, with 13, and the far-right Yisrael Beitenu party, which proposes forcibly transferring Arab populations inside Israel to Palestinian territory, with 12.

Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu admitted they had "suffered a tough blow" but vowed to rebuild the party.

Since the creation of Israel in 1948, the country has been governed either by the Labour or Likud parties, so a Kadima victory is historic.

Kadima, which means "forward" in Hebrew, was founded by Mr Sharon last year after he left Likud amid bitter rows over his withdrawal of settlers and troops from the Gaza Strip.

Mr Sharon suffered a stroke and fell into a coma in January.

Israel occupied Gaza and the West Bank, including east Jerusalem in the 1967 war. Its settlements are illegal under international law, although Israel rejects that.

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Israeli shares slide after poll

Wednesday, 29 March 2006, 08:37 GMT 09:37 UK

Israeli shares have fallen after acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert claimed victory in the general election.
Mr Olmert's centrist-party Kadima won 28 of the 120 seats in the Israeli parliament after Tuesday's poll.

Analysts said they thought Kadima would win a more conclusive victory and it was unclear who would get the finance portfolio in the new government.

In morning trading on Wednesday, the Tel Aviv 25 Index of leading shares was down 1.7% at 822.77.

The Israeli shekel, meanwhile, fell 0.5% against the US dollar.

Coalition uncertainty Kadima emerged as the largest single party in Tuesday's poll, ahead of main opponents Labour and Likud, and will head a coalition government.

Mr Olmert says he is willing to hold peace talks with the Palestinians, an approach investors feel will bring greater economic stability to Israel.

However, analysts expressed concerns that Mr Olmert may have to make major spending commitments to lure potential partners into a governing coalition.

The market fall also reflected concerns that potential coalition partners - which could include left-leaning Labour and the ultra-orthodox party Shas - could have clashing social and economic attitudes.

"The issue here is economic. That is going to be the problem," said Richard Gussow, an analyst at Israeli stockbrokers Excellence Nessuah.

"Right now there is a lot of uncertainty, particularly in relation to the finance ministry."

Israel's economy performed strongly under the leadership of Ariel Sharon, Mr Olmert's predecessor, who formed Kadima last year.

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The Israel Lobby?

by Noam Chomsky ; March 28, 2006

I've received many requests to comment on the article by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt (henceforth M-W), published in the London Review of Books, which has been circulating extensively on the internet and has elicited a storm of controversy. A few thoughts on the matter follow.

It was, as noted, published in the London Review of Books, which is far more open to discussion on these issues than US journals -- a matter of relevance (to which I'll return) to the alleged influence of what M-W call "the Lobby." An article in the Jewish journal Forward quotes M as saying that the article was commissioned by a US journal, but rejected, and that "the pro-Israel lobby is so powerful that he and co-author Stephen Walt would never have been able to place their report in a American-based scientific publication." But despite the fact that it appeared in England, the M-W article aroused the anticipated hysterical reaction from the usual supporters of state violence here, from the Wall St Journal to Alan Dershowitz, sometimes in ways that would instantly expose the authors to ridicule if they were not lining up (as usual) with power.

M-W deserve credit for taking a position that is sure to elicit tantrums and fanatical lies and denunciations, but it's worth noting that there is nothing unusual about that. Take any topic that has risen to the level of Holy Writ among "the herd of independent minds" (to borrow Harold Rosenberg's famous description of intellectuals): for example, anything having to do with the Balkan wars, which played a huge role in the extraordinary campaigns of self-adulation that disfigured intellectual discourse towards the end of the millennium, going well beyond even historical precedents, which are ugly enough. Naturally, it is of extraordinary importance to the herd to protect that self-image, much of it based on deceit and fabrication. Therefore, any attempt even to bring up plain (undisputed, surely relevant) facts is either ignored (M-W can't be ignored), or sets off most impressive tantrums, slanders, fabrications and deceit, and the other standard reactions. Very easy to demonstrate, and by no means limited to these cases. Those without experience in critical analysis of conventional doctrine can be very seriously misled by the particular case of the Middle East(ME).

But recognizing that M-W took a courageous stand, which merits praise, we still have to ask how convincing their thesis is. Not very, in my opinion. I've reviewed elsewhere what the record (historical and documentary) seems to me to show about the main sources of US ME policy, in books and articles for the past 40 years, and can't try to repeat here. M-W make as good a case as one can, I suppose, for the power of the Lobby, but I don't think it provides any reason to modify what has always seemed to me a more plausible interpretation. Notice incidentally that what is at stake is a rather subtle matter: weighing the impact of several factors which (all agree) interact in determining state policy: in particular, (A) strategic-economic interests of concentrations of domestic power in the tight state-corporate linkage, and (B) the Lobby.

The M-W thesis is that (B) overwhelmingly predominates. To evaluate the thesis, we have to distinguish between two quite different matters, which they tend to conflate: (1) the alleged failures of US ME policy; (2) the role of The Lobby in bringing about these consequences. Insofar as the stands of the Lobby conform to (A), the two factors are very difficult to disentagle. And there is plenty of conformity.

Let's look at (1), and ask the obvious question: for whom has policy been a failure for the past 60 years? The energy corporations? Hardly. They have made "profits beyond the dreams of avarice" (quoting John Blair, who directed the most important government inquiries into the industry, in the '70s), and still do, and the ME is their leading cash cow. Has it been a failure for US grand strategy based on control of what the State Department described 60 years ago as the "stupendous source of strategic power" of ME oil and the immense wealth from this unparalleled "material prize"? Hardly. The US has substantially maintained control -- and the significant reverses, such as the overthrow of the Shah, were not the result of the initiatives of the Lobby. And as noted, the energy corporations prospered. Furthermore, those extraordinary successes had to overcome plenty of barriers: primarily, as elsewhere in the world, what internal documents call "radical nationalism," meaning independent nationalism. As elsewhere in the world, it's been convenient to phrase these concerns in terms of "defense against the USSR," but the pretext usually collapses quickly on inquiry, in the ME as elsewhere. And in fact the claim was conceded to be false, officially, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, when Bush's National Security Strategy (1990) called for maintaining the forces aimed at the ME, where the serious "threats to our interests... could not be laid at the Kremlin's door" -- now lost as a pretext for pursuing about the same policies as before. And the same was true pretty much throughout the world.

That at once raises another question about the M-W thesis. What were "the Lobbies" that led to pursuing very similar policies throughout the world? Consider the year 1958, a very critical year in world affairs. In 1958, the Eisenhower administration identified the three leading challenges to the US as the ME, North Africa, and Indonesia -- all oil producers, all Islamic. North Africa was taken care of by Algerian (formal) independence. Indonesia and the were taken care of by Suharto's murderous slaughter (1965) and Israel's destruction of Arab secular nationalism (Nasser, 1967). In the ME, that established the close US-Israeli alliance and confirmed the judgment of US intelligence in 1958 that a "logical corollary" of opposition to "radical nationalism" (meaning, secular independent nationalism) is "support for Israel" as the one reliable US base in the region (along with Turkey, which entered into close relations with Israel in the same year). Suharto's coup aroused virtual euphoria, and he remained "our kind of guy" (as the Clinton administration called him) until he could no longer keep control in 1998, through a hideous record that compares well with Saddam Hussein -- who was also "our kind of guy" until he disobeyed orders in 1990. What was the Indonesia Lobby? The Saddam Lobby? And the question generalizes around the world. Unless these questions are faced, the issue (1) cannot be seriously addressed.

When we do investigate (1), we find that US policies in the ME are quite similar to those pursued elsewhere in the world, and have been a remarkable success, in the face of many difficulties: 60 years is a long time for planning success. It's true that Bush II has weakened the US position, not only in the ME, but that's an entirely separate matter.

That leads to (2). As noted, the US-Israeli alliance was firmed up precisely when Israel performed a huge service to the US-Saudis-Energy corporations by smashing secular Arab nationalism, which threatened to divert resources to domestic needs. That's also when the Lobby takes off (apart from the Christian evangelical component, by far the most numerous and arguably the most influential part, but that's mostly the 90s). And it's also when the intellectual-political class began their love affair with Israel, previously of little interest to them. They are a very influential part of the Lobby because of their role in media, scholarship, etc. From that point on it's hard to distinguish "national interest" (in the usual perverse sense of the phrase) from the effects of the Lobby. I've run through the record of Israeli services to the US, to the present, elsewhere, and won't review it again here.

M-W focus on AIPAC and the evangelicals, but they recognize that the Lobby includes most of the political-intellectual class -- at which point the thesis loses much of its content. They also have a highly selective use of evidence (and much of the evidence is assertion). Take, as one example, arms sales to China, which they bring up as undercutting US interests. But they fail to mention that when the US objected, Israel was compelled to back down: under Clinton in 2000, and again in 2005, in this case with the Washington neocon regime going out of its way to humiliate Israel. Without a peep from The Lobby, in either case, though it was a serious blow to Israel. There's a lot more like that. Take the worst crime in Israel's history, its invasion of Lebanon in 1982 with the goal of destroying the secular nationalist PLO and ending its embarrassing calls for political settlement, and imposing a client Maronite regime. The Reagan administration strongly supported the invasion through its worst atrocities, but a few months later (August), when the atrocities were becoming so severe that even NYT Beirut correspondent Thomas Friedman was complaining about them, and they were beginning to harm the US "national interest," Reagan ordered Israel to call off the invasion, then entered to complete the removal of the PLO from Lebanon, an outcome very welcome to both Israel and the US (and consistent with general US opposition to independent nationalism). The outcome was not entirely what the US-Israel wanted, but the relevant observation here is that the Reaganites supported the aggression and atrocities when that stand was conducive to the "national interest," and terminated them when it no longer was (then entering to finish the main job). That's pretty normal.

Another problem that M-W do not address is the role of the energy corporations. They are hardly marginal in US political life -- transparently in the Bush administration, but in fact always. How can they be so impotent in the face of the Lobby? As ME scholar Stephen Zunes has rightly pointed out, "there are far more powerful interests that have a stake in what happens in the Persian Gulf region than does AIPAC [or the Lobby generally], such as the oil companies, the arms industry and other special interests whose lobbying influence and campaign contributions far surpass that of the much-vaunted Zionist lobby and its allied donors to congressional races."

Do the energy corporations fail to understand their interests, or are they part of the Lobby too? By now, what's the distinction between (1) and (2), apart from the margins?

Also to be explained, again, is why US ME policy is so similar to its policies elsewhere -- to which, incidentally, Israel has made important contributions, e.g., in helping the executive branch to evade congressional barriers to carrying out massive terror in Central America, to evade embargoes against South Africa and Rhodesia, and much else. All of which again makes it even more difficult to separate (2) from (1) -- the latter, pretty much uniform, in essentials, throughout the world.

I won't run through the other arguments, but I don't feel that they have much force, on examination.

The thesis M-W propose does however have plenty of appeal. The reason, I think, is that it leaves the US government untouched on its high pinnacle of nobility, "Wilsonian idealism," etc., merely in the grip of an all-powerful force that it cannot escape. It's rather like attributing the crimes of the past 60 years to "exaggerated Cold War illusions," etc. Convenient, but not too convincing. In either case.

Comment: Jeff Blankfort writes in response to this piece by Chomsky:

"there are far more powerful interests that have a stake in what happens in the Persian Gulf region than does AIPAC [or the Lobby generally], such as the oil companies, the arms industry and other special interests whose lobbying influence and campaign contributions far surpass that of the much-vaunted Zionist lobby and its allied donors to congressional races."

This claim can not be substantiated simply because it isn't true. In 2002, for example, Haim Saban, the Israel-American who funds the Saban Center at the Brooking Institute and is a big contributor to AIPAC, gave $12.3 million to the Democratic Party, almost as much as the $14 plus million the arms manufacturing PACs gave to both parties. In 2001, Mother Jones listed on its web site, the 400 leading contributors to the 2000 national elections. Seven of the first 10 were Jewish, as were 12 of the top 20 and 125 of the top 250. I didn't go any further. Were all these Jews supporters of Israel? To some degree it is quite likely, but, as a number of observers over the years have said, in the eyes of Congress, there is only one key issue for American Jews and that is Israel. Now, if "ME Scholar Stephen Zunes," who Chomsky quotes, or Chomsky himself, has evidence that contradicts this, let them present it. I have sent copies of this email to both of them.

The rest of his comments on the Mearsheimer-Walt essay are the standard boilerplate that Chomsky has repeated in a half a dozen or more books over the years as one can tell from the age of his references. The passage of time doesn't make them any more valid. If people wish to find out more about Chomsky's position on this issue from a critical standpoint they can read an article I wrote a year ago entitled, Damage Control: Noam Chomsky and the Israel-Palestine Conflict by clicking on http://www.leftcurve.org/LC29WebPages/Chomsky.html

Chomsky has not commented, at least publicly, on that article even though he received many requests to do so while acknowledging that this was the reason he elected to respond to the Mearsheimer-Walt essay.

Jeff B

Chomsky serves as an important gatekeeper on the left in the US. He is well respected by many for his lifelong work against US imperialism. And he has done much work that is seminal in analysing the workings of the system.

Unfortunately, five years after 9/11, Chomsky still ignores the accumulation of evidence that points to Israeli and US involvement, and what question is more important in understanding the true character of US and Israeli relations, not to mention the deep problems confronting the entire world, than the question of 9/11? Without a proper take on that question, how can one even begin to analyse and understand what else is taking place on the planet today?

It isn't possible. If you don't grok Israeli involvement in 9/11, you're dead in the water. The question of the Jewish lobby is, of course, closely connected to the question of 9/11. And Chomsky comes down on the wrong side of the issue both times.

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Ah, Technology

When computers do the news, hoaxes slip in

By Randy Dotinga | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

When a New Jersey teenager decided to create a fictional story about being hired by one of the Internet's largest companies, he knew just where to spread the news - with the unwitting help of the company itself.

Earlier this month, Thomas Vendetta submitted his fake press release about being hired by Google to Google News, a popular site that automatically trolls 4,500 sources for their latest posts. Sure enough, the release appeared on the world's most popular website for news.
The incident, while unusual, illustrates the hazards of Google's automated approach to picking news stories. And it throws an odd spotlight on an entire industry that has sprouted up to ensure that their clients' press releases pop up next to stories from major newspapers when users of Google or Yahoo go trolling for news.

Are these "aggregators" providing the news - or are they diluting it with the fakery, hucksterism, and puffery that affects the rest of the Internet?

Google News says it constantly reviews its sources of news, and it dumped the service that allowed Vendetta's posting. And Yahoo News points out that its staffers make sure the stories labeled as "news" on its homepage come from respected sources.

Still, "It's the wild, wild West, and anything can happen," says Greg Jarboe, president of SEO-PR, one of several publicity firms that helps companies get higher placement on Internet search engines. "I've got to believe that at some point and time, the sheriff's got to get hired."

In Vendetta's case, he immediately regretted his actions after his hoax was uncovered - "I AM SORRY," he declared in an online message - and the press release was taken down. But the countless other people who try to use Google News and its rival sites to their advantage - including other hoaxsters, publicists, political activists - are not so apologetic.

The lack of human involvement is a big part of why publicists and hoaxsters love Google News. Computer algorithms, not people, choose which news stories, blog entries, and press releases appear first when someone types in a term like "iPod" or "Dick Cheney."

Until recently, press releases - which turn 100 this year - depended entirely on editors and reporters to gain traction. If the press didn't pay attention, the releases, like the proverbial falling tree in the forest, didn't make a sound.

The Internet has changed that, bringing press releases to the public. Anyone with the proper fee - or, in some cases, no money at all - can use publicity services to post releases that will be listed on Google News. Plenty of people are taking advantage of this opportunity: On a recent afternoon, a Google News search for the word "technology" pulled up 162,000 items, 34,400 of which were identified as press releases.

"The fundamental shift is that the media is no longer intermediating between the reader and the news source," Mr. Jarboe says.

There's plenty at stake: Jarboe reported that one of his clients, Southwest Airlines, made $2.5 million in ticket sales with the help of press releases posted on the Internet about special offers.

And why not? Yahoo News, which allows access to both press releases and news stories, averaged more than 25 million visitors a month in 2005, according to comScore, making it the most popular news site on the Internet; Google News clocked in with nearly 8 million.

When users launch searches, the sites point them to not just news stories and press releases but also partisan political sites and other alternative sources of news.

Indeed, a study by Eric Ulken in 2004, then a graduate student at the University of Southern California, found that searches for the full names of presidential candidates on Google News that year pulled up stories from nontraditional sources 40 percent of the time.

But while press releases and satire are labeled as such, Google News doesn't give users information about the difference between the missions of, say, a respected newspaper and a website devoted to political diatribes.

Publicists and activists aren't the only people interested in using news aggregator sites to their advantage. Earlier this month, another fake press release made its way onto Google News, this one falsely saying comic actor Will Ferrell had died in a hang-glider accident.

"In the old days, to perpetrate a hoax and get it in front of the eyes of the millions of people, you had to be in the media some way or have access to a reporter. Nowadays, literally anybody can do it," says Alex Boese, author of "Hippo Eats Dwarf: A Field Guide to Hoaxes and other BS."

Google News and its rival sites offer pranksters a forum that seems legitimate, adding credibility to fake stories, Mr. Boese says.

Indeed, Internet users worldwide started buzzing in 2003 when a story appeared on Yahoo News about the arrest of a time traveler on charges of insider trading. The story was from a tabloid newspaper called the Weekly World News that is infamous for its casual relationship with truth.

Ultimately, anyone who uses the news aggregation sites should consider the advice of Thomas Vendetta, the New Jersey teenager who wasn't actually hired by Google: "You're free to believe what you want, but be careful what you do believe."

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UAV Market To Reach 17Bn In Five Years

Mar 29, 2006

Palo Alto CA - The US unmanned aerial systems (UAS) market has had considerable momentum due to recent operational successes and increasing mission roles. In addition, UAS market penetration in all four military services and the commercial sectors in surveillance and weaponized capabilities are driving growth.

"On the operational side, UA systems have received praise and support across several services and ranks," remarks Senior Industry Analyst Kathy Ellwood. "Testimonies have been documented from many levels regarding the benefits of UA systems in theaters. In fact, those accolades are usually followed by the desire for the delivery of more systems."
In the military sectors, UA systems have been able to enter regions of the battlespace that would otherwise have endangered a warfighter. These systems gather intelligence data at rates much faster and more detailed than previous means. Additionally, UA systems have been able to loiter over positions for longer periods of time than that of manned assets.

They have provided a variety of operational support from ISR functions to Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) detection. Enhanced sensor payloads and weapons systems have demonstrated that and additional capabilities can be run through these vehicles.

Although it is unlikely that cost will affect procurement in the near-term, advancements in payload technologies is expected to increase costs. However, due to current operational requirements, cost will have little impact on procurement across the services. Cost will have more of an effect on those federal, state and local agencies with smaller budgets, but still desire to procure UA systems for surveillance needs.

The U.S. unmanned aerial systems market is dominated by two manufacturers with many smaller firms providing tactical and small UAVs. Northrop Grumman and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. continue to provide the bulk of the UAS market space with the High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) Global Hawk and the Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) Predator family.

With the reduced production time needed for smaller UAVs, the ability to field these systems faster brings increased capabilities to both the warfighters and domestic agencies. With the smaller, more tactical systems, the market becomes less about increasing capabilities per vehicle as it does about fielding as many platforms as possible.

Cost overruns are certainly not a unique element in defense markets. Nevertheless, the red flags associated with that are certainly not favorable. The flexibility and speed to which the additional sensor packages, radar systems and weapons can be integrated is leaving the UAS market vulnerable. All those additions driven mainly by the end-users tend to drive up the costs.

In addition to staying within budget, the industry must strive to achieve the best quality service and support to the end-user. These two items are especially important considering the competitive landscape in this industry, as it is becoming increasingly saturated while operational requirements may reduce the need for these capabilities in five to ten years.

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Ballistic Missile Numbers Fall Worldwide

Mar 29, 2006

Washington DC - The number of ballistic missiles in service has dropped drastically since the end of the Cold War in the late 1980s, StrategyPage.com reported Monday. Since then, the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs, in service has been reduced by half from about 4,000 to about 2,000.
Intermediate range ballistic missiles, or IRBMs, with a range of 1,800 miles to 3,000 miles, have declined over 95 percent, the report said. There are only 20 such systems in service with China and India today, it said.

The number of MRBMs, or medium range ballistic missiles, with a range of 600 miles to 1,800 miles in use, have declined about a quarter. MRBMs have been the favorite with North Korea, China and Iran because they are adequate for attacking neighbors. Today there are some 400 MRBMs in service, StrategyPage.com said.

However, SRBMs, or short range ballistic missiles, with a range of under 600 miles, may not have declined in number, the report said. It's uncertain how many are still in use because there are still so many Cold War era SCUD missiles around.

"Many of these missiles are rotting away in North Korean, Iranian and various other Middle Eastern warehouses. There are a lot of them sitting around in Russia, but not in usable form. Several nations are designing and building new SRBMs (especially North Korea, Iran, China)," StrategyPage.com said.

"There are at least several thousand ... SRBMs out there. The best of them are not SCUDs, but more modern designs from China. There's a lot of work going on developing new missiles," it said. Last year, there were nearly a hundred test launches, most of them "for smaller missiles."

Comment: Phew! There are only 2,000 ICBMs left. We feel a lot safer now...

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Science Fun

Cool Nanotechnology

Mar 29, 2006

Leeds, UK - Huge reductions in heating bills, safer surgery and the next generation of miniaturised computers are among the potential benefits of new nanotechnology developed at Leeds.

By suspending nanoparticles in water or other liquids, Professor Richard Williams and Dr Yulong Ding have created 'nanofluids' which can transfer heat up to 400% faster than other liquids. In a central heating system, nanofluids could increase efficiency without the need to use a more powerful pump, so saving energy and providing major environmental benefits.
The University of Leeds now has one of the largest teams in the world and the only group in the UK working on these 'nanofluids'.

The fluids could open the door to the next generation of computers, by overcoming one of the main limitations on developing smaller microchips: rapid heat dissipation.

During critical surgery, nanofluids could be used to cool the brain so it requires less oxygen and thereby enhance the patient's chance of survival and reduce the risk of brain damage. They could also be used to produce a higher temperature around tumours to kill cancerous cells without affecting nearby healthy cells.

Dr Ding said: "With the strong research team here at Leeds we have considerable expertise in developing nanofluids and already have a number of prototypes under investigation. We are looking to characterise these fluids so we fully understand their heat conductive properties under static and dynamic conditions in both large and micro channels."

The researchers are talking to industrial partners about moving towards large-scale production.

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World Prepares for Total Solar Eclipse

Associated Press Writer
March 28, 2006

ACCRA, Ghana -- Tourists and scientists were gathering at spots around the world for the first total eclipse in years, a solar show that will sweep northeast from Brazil to Mongolia and blot out the sun across swathes of the world's poorest lands.

The last such eclipse in November 2003 was most visible from Antarctica, said Alex Young, a NASA scientist involved in solar research.

Wednesday's eclipse will block the sun in highly populated areas, including West Africa. NASA said it won't be visible from the United States.
In Togo, authorities imported hundreds of thousands of pairs of special glasses that consumers cleared rapidly from shelves in the capital, Lome. Villagers in the interior will not have access to the eyewear and officials called on them to stay home.

"Please, do not go out and keep your children indoors on solar eclipse day," Togo's minister for health said in a message broadcast on state television.

Day will turn to night in the eclipse's route and a corona - the usually invisible extended atmosphere of the sun - will glow around the edges of the moon as it comes between the earth and the sun.

"Imagine if your hair was to stand up from static electricity, that's kind of what the corona looks like all around the sun," NASA's Young said. But the corona's light can burn eyes.

In Ghana, where the effect will be particularly visible, people were spending about $1 for "solar shades" - paper-rimmed glasses with dark plastic lenses that resemble eyewear used for viewing three-dimensional movies.

NASA said Turkey will be the best spot to view the eclipse, and tens of thousands of tourists were expected along the Turkish Mediterranean coast. Astronomers from NASA and Britain's Royal Institute of Astronomy were also going to an ancient Roman amphitheater in Turkey to view the phenomenon.

The moon is expected to first begin blocking out the sun in the morning in Brazil before the eclipse migrates to Africa, then on to Turkey and up into Mongolia, where it will fade out with the sunset.

Superstition will follow around the world, as it has for generations.

One Indian paper advised pregnant women not to go outside during the eclipse to avoid having a blind baby or one with a cleft lip. Food cooked before the eclipse should be thrown out afterward because it will be impure and those who are holding a knife or ax during the eclipse will cut themselves, the Hindustan Times added.

Total eclipses are rare because they require the tilted orbits of the sun, moon and earth to line up exactly so that the moon obscures the sun completely. The next total eclipse will occur in 2008.

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