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Editorial: Ponerology: The Science of Evil Now Available!
Preface to the book Political Ponerology: The Science of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes by Laura Knight-Jadczyk
Political Ponerology may be the most important book you will ever read; in fact, it WILL be. No matter who you are, what your status in life, what your age or sex or nationality or ethnic background, you will, at some point in your life, feel the touch or relentless grip of the cold hand of Evil. Bad things happen to good people, that's a fact.
WHAT is evil? Historically, the question of evil has been a theological one. Generations of theological apologists have written entire libraries of books in an attempt to certify the existence of a Good God that created an imperfect world. Saint Augustine distinguished between two forms of evil: "moral evil", the evil humans do, by choice, knowing that they are doing wrong; and "natural evil", the bad things that just happen - the storm, the flood, volcanic eruptions, fatal disease.
And then, there is what Andrew Lobaczewski calls Macrosocial Evil: large scale evil that overtakes whole societies and nations, and has done so again and again since time immemorial. The history of mankind, when considered objectively, is a terrible thing.
Death and destruction come to all, both rich and poor, free and slave, young and old, good and evil, with an arbitrariness and insouciance that, when contemplated even momentarily, can destroy a normal person's ability to function.
Over and over again, man has seen his fields and cattle laid waste by drought and disease, his loved ones tormented and decimated by illness or human cruelty, his life's work reduced to nothing in an instant by events over which he has no control at all.
The study of history through its various disciplines offers a view of mankind that is almost insupportable. The rapacious movements of hungry tribes, invading and conquering and destroying in the darkness of prehistory; the barbarian invaders of the civilized world during medieval times, the bloodbaths of the crusades of Catholic Europe against the infidels of the Middle East and then the "infidels" who were their own brothers: the stalking noonday terror of the Inquisition where martyrs quenched the flames with their blood. Then, there is the raging holocaust of modern genocide; wars, famine, and pestilence striding across the globe in hundred league boots; and never more frightening than today.
All of these things produce an intolerable sense of indefensibility against what Mircea Eliade calls the Terror of History.
There are those who will say that NOW this is all past; mankind has entered a new phase; science and technology have brought us to the brink of ending all this suffering. Many people believe that man is evolving; society is evolving; and that we now have control over the arbitrary evil of our environment; or at least we will have it after George Bush and his Neocons have about 25 years to fight the Endless War against Terror. Anything that does not support this idea is reinterpreted or ignored.
Science has given us many wonderful gifts: the space program, laser, television, penicillin, sulfa-drugs, and a host of other useful developments which should make our lives more tolerable and fruitful. However, we can easily see that this is not the case. It it could be said that never before has man been so precariously poised on the brink of such total destruction.
On a personal level, our lives are steadily deteriorating. The air we breathe and the water we drink is polluted almost beyond endurance. Our foods are loaded with substances which contribute very little to nourishment, and may, in fact, be injurious to our health. Stress and tension have become an accepted part of life and can be shown to have killed more people than the cigarettes that some people still smoke to relieve it. We swallow endless quantities of pills to wake up, go to sleep, get the job done, calm our nerves and make us feel good. The inhabitants of the earth spend more money on recreational drugs than they spend on housing, clothing, food, education or any other product or service.
At the social level, hatred, envy, greed and strife multiply exponentially. Crime increases nine times faster than the population. Combined with wars, insurrections, and political purges, multiplied millions of people across the globe are without adequate food or shelter due to political actions.
And then, of course, drought, famine, plague and natural disasters still take an annual toll in lives and suffering. This, too, seems to be increasing.
When man contemplates history, AS IT IS, he is forced to realize that he is in the iron grip of an existence that seems to have no real care or concern for his pain and suffering. Over and over again, the same sufferings fall upon mankind multiplied millions upon millions of times over millennia. The totality of human suffering is a dreadful thing. I could write until the end of the world using oceans of ink and forests of paper, and never fully convey this Terror. The beast of arbitrary calamity has always been with us. For as long as human hearts have pumped hot blood through their too-fragile bodies and glowed with the inexpressible sweetness of life and yearning for all that is good and right and loving, the sneering, stalking, drooling and scheming beast of unconscious evil has licked its lips in anticipation of its next feast of terror and suffering. Since the beginning of time, this mystery of the estate of man, this Curse of Cain has existed. And, since the Ancient of Days, the cry has been: My punishment is greater than I can bear!
It is conjectured that, in ancient times, when man perceived this intolerable and incomprehensible condition in which he found his existence, that he created cosmogonies to justify all the cruelties, aberrations, and tragedies of history. It is true that, man, as a rule and in general, is powerless against cosmic and geological catastrophes, and it has long been said that the average man can't really do anything about military onslaughts, social injustice, personal and familial misfortunes, and a host of assaults against his existence too numerous to list.
This is about to change. Political Ponerology by Andrzej Lobaczewski is going to give you answers to many of the questions about Evil in our world. This book is not just about macrosocial evil, it is also about everyday evil because, in a very real sense, the two are inseparable. The long term accumulation of everyday evil always and inevitably leads to Grand Systemic Evil that destroys more innocent people than any other phenomenon on this planet.
Political Ponerology is also a survival guide. As I said above, this book will be the most important book you will ever read. Unless, of course, you are a psychopath.
"What does psychopathy have to do with personal or social evil?" you may ask.
Absolutely everything. Whether you know it or not, each and every day your life is touched by the effects of psychopathy on our world. You are about to learn that even if there isn't much we can do about geological and cosmological catastrophe, there is a lot we can do about social and macrosocial evil, and the very first thing to do is to learn about it. In the case of psychopathy and its effects on our world, what you don't know definitely can and will hurt you.
Nowadays the word "psychopath" generally evokes images of the barely restrained - yet surprisingly urbane - mad-dog serial killer, Dr. Hannibal Lecter of "Silence of the Lambs" fame. I will admit that this was the image that came to my mind whenever I heard the word; almost, that is. The big difference was that I never thought of a psychopath as possibly being so cultured or so capable of passing as "normal." But I was wrong, and I was to learn this lesson quite painfully by direct experience. The exact details are chronicled elsewhere; what is important is that this experience was probably one of the most painful and instructive episodes of my life and it enabled me to overcome a block in my awareness of the world around me and those who inhabit it.
Regarding blocks to awareness, I need to state for the record that I have spent 30 years studying psychology, history, culture, religion, myth and the so-called paranormal . I also have worked for many years with hypnotherapy - which gave me a very good mechanical knowledge of how the mind/brain of the human being operates at very deep levels. But even so, I was still operating with certain beliefs firmly in place that were shattered by my research into psychopathy. I realized that there was a certain set of ideas that I held about human beings that were sacrosanct - and false. I even wrote about this once in the following way:
...my work has shown me that the vast majority of people want to do good, to experience good things, think good thoughts, and make decisions with good results. And they try with all their might to do so! With the majority of people having this internal desire, why the Hell isn't it happening?
I was naïve, I admit. There were many things I did not know that I have learned since I penned those words. But even at that time I was aware of how our own minds can be used to deceive us.
Now, what beliefs did I hold that made me a victim of a psychopath? The first and most obvious one is that I truly believed that deep inside, all people are basically "good" and that they "want to do good, to experience good things, think good thoughts, and make decisions with good results. And they try with all their might to do so..."
As it happens, this is not true as I - and everyone involved in our research group - learned to our sorrow, as they say. But we also learned to our edification. In order to come to some understanding of exactly what kind of human being could do the things that were done to me (and others close to me), and why they might be motivated - even driven - to behave this way, we began to research the psychology literature for clues because we needed to understand for our own peace of mind.
If there is a psychological theory that can explain vicious and harmful behavior, it helps very much for the victim of such acts to have this information so that they do not have to spend all their time feeling hurt or angry. And certainly, if there is a psychological theory that helps a person to find what kind of words or deeds can bridge the chasm between people, to heal misunderstandings, that is also a worthy goal. It was from such a perspective that we began our extensive work on the subjects of narcissism which then led to the study of psychopathy.
Of course, we didn't start out with such any such "diagnosis" or label for what we were witnessing. We started out with observations and searched the literature for clues, for profiles, for anything that would help us to understand the inner world of a human being - actually a group of human beings - who seemed to be utterly depraved and unlike anything we had ever encountered before. We found that this kind of human is all too common and that, according to some of the latest research, they cause more damage in human society than any other single so-called "mental illness." Martha Stout, who has worked extensively with victims of psychopaths, writes:
Imagine - if you can - not having a conscience, none at all, no feelings of guilt or remorse no matter what you do, no limiting sense of concern for the well-being of strangers, friends, or even family members. Imagine no struggles with shame, not a single one in your whole life, no matter what kind of selfish, lazy, harmful, or immoral action you had taken.
And pretend that the concept of responsibility is unknown to you, except as a burden others seem to accept without question, like gullible fools.
Now add to this strange fantasy the ability to conceal from other people that your psychological makeup is radically different from theirs. Since everyone simply assumes that conscience is universal among human beings, hiding the fact that you are conscience-free is nearly effortless.
You are not held back from any of your desires by guilt or shame, and you are never confronted by others for your cold-bloodedness. The ice water in your veins is so bizarre, so completely outside of their personal experience, that they seldom even guess at your condition.
In other words, you are completely free of internal restraints, and your unhampered liberty to do just as you please, with no pangs of conscience, is conveniently invisible to the world.
You can do anything at all, and still your strange advantage over the majority of people, who are kept in line by their consciences will most likely remain undiscovered.
How will you live your life?
What will you do with your huge and secret advantage, and with the corresponding handicap of other people (conscience)?
The answer will depend largely on just what your desires happen to be, because people are not all the same. Even the profoundly unscrupulous are not all the same. Some people - whether they have a conscience or not - favor the ease of inertia, while others are filled with dreams and wild ambitions. Some human beings are brilliant and talented, some are dull-witted, and most, conscience or not, are somewhere in between. There are violent people and nonviolent ones, individuals who are motivated by blood lust and those who have no such appetites. [...]
Provided you are not forcibly stopped, you can do anything at all.
If you are born at the right time, with some access to family fortune, and you have a special talent for whipping up other people's hatred and sense of deprivation, you can arrange to kill large numbers of unsuspecting people. With enough money, you can accomplish this from far away, and you can sit back safely and watch in satisfaction. [...]
Crazy and frightening - and real, in about 4 percent of the population....
The prevalence rate for anorexic eating disorders is estimated a 3.43 percent, deemed to be nearly epidemic, and yet this figure is a fraction lower than the rate for antisocial personality. The high-profile disorders classed as schizophrenia occur in only about 1 percent of [the population] - a mere quarter of the rate of antisocial personality - and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that the rate of colon cancer in the United States, considered "alarmingly high," is about 40 per 100,000 - one hundred times lower than the rate of antisocial personality.
The high incidence of sociopathy in human society has a profound effect on the rest of us who must live on this planet, too, even those of us who have not been clinically traumatized. The individuals who constitute this 4 percent drain our relationships, our bank accounts, our accomplishments, our self-esteem, our very peace on earth.
Yet surprisingly, many people know nothing about this disorder, or if they do, they think only in terms of violent psychopathy - murderers, serial killers, mass murderers - people who have conspicuously broken the law many times over, and who, if caught, will be imprisoned, maybe even put to death by our legal system.
We are not commonly aware of, nor do we usually identify, the larger number of nonviolent sociopaths among us, people who often are not blatant lawbreakers, and against whom our formal legal system provides little defense.
Most of us would not imagine any correspondence between conceiving an ethnic genocide and, say, guiltlessly lying to one's boss about a coworker. But the psychological correspondence is not only there; it is chilling. Simple and profound, the link is the absence of the inner mechanism that beats up on us, emotionally speaking, when we make a choice we view as immoral, unethical, neglectful, or selfish.
Most of us feel mildly guilty if we eat the last piece of cake in the kitchen, let alone what we would feel if we intentionally and methodically set about to hurt another person.
Those who have no conscience at all are a group unto themselves, whether they be homicidal tyrants or merely ruthless social snipers.
The presence or absence of conscience is a deep human division, arguably more significant than intelligence, race, or even gender.
What differentiates a sociopath who lives off the labors of others from one who occasionally robs convenience stores, or from one who is a contemporary robber baron - or what makes the difference betwen an ordinary bully and a sociopathic murderer - is nothing more than social status, drive, intellect, blood lust, or simple opportunity.
What distinguishes all of these people from the rest of us is an utterly empty hole in the psyche, where there should be the most evolved of all humanizing functions.
We did not have the advantage of Dr. Stout's book at the beginning of our research project. We did, of course, have Robert Hare and Hervey Cleckley and Guggenbuhl-Craig and others. But they were only approaching the subject of the possibly large numbers of psychopaths that live among us who never get caught breaking laws, who don't murder - or if they do, they don't get caught - and who still do untold damage to the lives of family, acquaintances, and strangers.
Most mental health experts, for a very long time, have operated on the premise that psychopaths come from impoverished backgrounds and have experienced abuse of one sort or another in childhood, so it is easy to spot them, or at least, they certainly don't move in society except as interlopers. This idea seems to be coming under some serious revision lately. As Lobaczewski points out in this book, there is some confusion between Psychopathy and Antisocial Personality Disorder and Sociopathy. As Robert Hare points out, yes, there are many psychopaths who are also "anti-socials" but there seem to be far more of them that would never be classified as anti-social or sociopathic! In other words, they can be doctors, lawyers, judges, policemen, congressmen, presidents of corporations that rob from the poor to give to the rich, and even presidents.
In a recent paper, it is suggested that psychopathy may exist in ordinary society in even greater numbers than anyone has thus far considered:
"Psychopathy, as originally conceived by Cleckley (1941), is not limited to engagement in illegal activities, but rather encompasses such personality characteristics as manipulativeness, insincerity, egocentricity, and lack of guilt - characteristics clearly present in criminals but also in spouses, parents, bosses, attorneys, politicians, and CEOs, to name but a few. (Bursten, 1973; Stewart, 1991). Our own examination of the prevalence of psychopathy within a university population suggested that perhaps 5% or more of this sample might be deemed psychopathic, although the vast majority of those will be male (more than 1/10 males versus approximately 1?100 females).
"As such, psychopathy may be characterized ... as involving a tendency towards both dominance and coldness. Wiggins (1995) in summarizing numerous previous findings... indicates that such individuals are prone to anger and irritation and are willing to exploit others. They are arrogant, manipulative, cynical, exhibitionistic, sensation -seeking, Machiavellian, vindictive, and out for their own gain. With respect to their patterns of social exchange (Foa & Foa, 1974), they attribute love and status to themselves, seeing themselves as highly worthy and important, but prescribe neither love nor status to others, seeing them as unworthy and insignificant. This characterization is clearly consistent with the essence of psychopathy as commonly described.
"The present investigation sought to answer some basic questions regarding the construct of psychopathy in non forensic settings... In so doing we have returned to Cleckley's (1941) original emphasis on psychopathy as a personality style not only among criminals, but also among successful individuals within the community.
"What is clear from our findings is that (a) psychopathy measures have converged on a prototype of psychopathy that involves a combination of dominant and cold interpersonal characteristics; (b) psychopathy does occur in the community and at what might be a higher than expected rate; and (c) psychopathy appears to have little overlap with personality disorders aside from Antisocial Personality Disorder. ...
"Clearly, where much more work is needed is in understanding what factors differentiate the abiding (although perhaps not moral-abiding) psychopath from the law-breaking psychopath; such research surely needs to make greater use of non forensic samples than has been customary in the past."
Lobaczewski discusses the fact that there are different types of psychopaths. One type, in particular, is the most deadly of all: the Essential Psychopath. He doesn't give us a "checklist" but rather discusses what is inside the psychopath. His description meshes very well with items in the paper quoted above.
Martha Stout also discusses the fact that psychopaths, like anyone else, are born with different basic likes and dislikes and desires which is why some of them are doctors and presidents and others are petty thieves or rapists.
"Likeable," "Charming," "Intelligent," "Alert," "Impressive," "Confidence-inspiring," and "A great success with the ladies". This is how Hervey Cleckley described most of his subjects in "The Mask of Sanity." It seems that, in spite of the fact that their actions prove them to be "irresponsible," "self-destructive," psychopaths seem to have in abundance the very traits most desired by normal persons. The smooth self-assurance acts as an almost supernatural magnet to normal people who have to read self-help books or go to counseling to be able to interact with others in an untroubled way. The psychopath, on the contrary, never has any neuroses, no self-doubts, never experiences angst, and is what "normal" people seek to be. What's more, even if they aren't that attractive, they are "babe magnets."
Cleckley's seminal hypothesis is that the psychopath suffers from profound and incurable affective deficit. If he really feels anything at all, they are emotions of only the shallowest kind. He is able to do whatever he wants, based on whatever whim strikes him because consequences that would fill the ordinary man with shame, self-loathing, and embarrassment simply do not affect the psychopath at all. What to others would be a horror or a disaster is to him merely a fleeting inconvenience.
Cleckley posits that psychopathy is quite common in the community at large. His cases include examples of psychopaths who generally function normally in the community as businessmen, doctors, and even psychiatrists. Nowadays, some of the more astute researchers see criminal psychopathy - often referred to as anti-social personality disorder - as an extreme of a particular personality type. I think it is more helpful to characterize criminal psychopaths as "unsuccessful psychopaths."
One researcher, Alan Harrington goes so far as to say that the psychopath is the new man being produced by the evolutionary pressures of modern life.
Certainly, there have always been shysters and crooks, but past concern was focused on ferreting out incompetents rather than psychopaths. Unfortunately, all that has changed. We now need to fear the super-sophisticated modern crook who does know what he is doing ... and does it so well that no one else knows. Yes, psychopaths love the business world.
"Uninvolved with others, he coolly saw into their fears and desires, and maneuvered them as he wished. Such a man might not, after all, be doomed to a life of scrapes and escapades ending ignominiously in the jailhouse. Instead of murdering others, he might become a corporate raider and murder companies, firing people instead of killing them, and chopping up their functions rather than their bodies."
[T]he consequences to the average citizen from business crimes are staggering. As criminologist Georgette Bennett says, "They account for nearly 30% of case filings in U.S. District Courts - more than any other category of crime. The combined burglary, mugging and other property losses induced by the country's street punks come to about $4 billion a year. However, the seemingly upstanding citizens in our corporate board rooms and the humble clerks in our retail stores bilk us out of between $40 and $200 billion a year."
Concern here is that the costume for the new masked sanity of a psychopath is just as likely to be a three-piece suit as a ski mask and a gun. As Harrington says, "We also have the psychopath in respectable circles, no longer assumed to be a loser." He quotes William Krasner as saying, "They - psychopath and part psychopath - do well in the more unscrupulous types of sales work, because they take such delight in 'putting it over on them', getting away with it - and have so little conscience about defrauding their customers." Our society is fast becoming more materialistic, and success at any cost is the credo of many businessmen. The typical psychopath thrives in this kind of environment and is seen as a business "hero."
The study of "ambulatory" psychopaths - what we call "The Garden Variety Psychopath" - has, however, hardly begun. Very little is known about subcriminal psychopathy. Some researchers have begun to seriously consider the idea that it is important to study psychopathy not as a pathological category but as a general personality trait in the community at large. In other words, psychopathy is being recognized as a more or less a different type of human.
Hervey Cleckly actually comes very close to suggesting that psychopaths are human in every respect - but that they lack a soul. This lack of "soul quality" makes them very efficient "machines." They can write scholarly works, imitate the words of emotion, but over time, it becomes clear that their words do not match their actions. They are the type of person who can claim that they are devastated by grief who then attend a party "to forget." The problem is: they really DO forget.
Being very efficient machines, like a computer, they are able to execute very complex routines designed to elicit from others support for what they want. In this way, many psychopaths are able to reach very high positions in life. It is only over time that their associates become aware of the fact that their climb up the ladder of success is predicated on violating the rights of others. "Even when they are indifferent to the rights of their associates, they are often able to inspire feelings of trust and confidence."
The psychopath recognizes no flaw in his psyche, no need for change.
Andrew Lobaczewski addresses the problem of the psychopath and their extremely significant contribution to our macrosocial evils, their ability to act as the éminence grise behind the very structure of our society. It is very important to keep in mind that this influence comes from a relatively small segment of humanity. The other 90 some percent of human beings are not psychopaths.
But that 90 percent of normal people know that something is wrong! They just can't quite identify it; can't quite put their finger on it; and because they can't, they tend to think that there is nothing they can do about it, or maybe it is just God punishing people.
What is actually the case is that when that 90 some percent of human beings fall into a certain state, as Lobaczewski will describe, the psychopaths, like a virulent pathogen in a body, strike at the weaknesses and the entire society is plunged into conditions that always and inevitably lead to horror and tragedy on a very large scale.
The movie, "The Matrix," touched a deep chord in society because it exemplified this mechanistic trap in which so many people find their lives enmeshed, and from which they are unable to extricate themselves because they believe that everyone around them who "looks human" is, in fact, just like them - emotionally, spiritually, and otherwise.
To give an example of how psychopaths can directly affect society at large: the "legal argument" as explicated by Robert Canup in his work on the "Socially Adept Psychopath." The legal argument seems to be at the foundation of our society. We believe that the legal argument is an advanced system of justice. This is a very cunning trick that has been foisted on normal people by psychopaths in order to have an advantage over them. Just think about it for a moment: the legal argument amounts to little more than the one who is the slickest at using the structure for convincing a group of people of something, is the one who is believed. Because this "legal argument" system has been slowly installed as part of our culture, when it invades our personal lives, we normally do not recognize it immediately. But here's how it works.
Human beings have been accustomed to assume that other human beings are - at the very least - trying to "do right" and "be good" and fair and honest. And so, very often, we do not take the time to use due diligence in order to determine if a person who has entered our life is, in fact, a "good person." When a conflict ensues, we automatically fall into the legal argument assumption that in any conflict, one side is partly right one way, and the other is partly right the other, and that we can form opinions about which side is mostly right or wrong. Because of our exposure to the "legal argument" norms, when any dispute arises, we automatically think that the truth will lie somewhere between two extremes. In this case, application of a little mathematical logic to the problem of the legal argument might be helpful.
Let us assume that in a dispute, one side is innocent, honest, and tells the truth. It is obvious that lying does an innocent person no good; what lie can he tell? If he is innocent, the only lie he can tell is to falsely confess "I did it." But lying is nothing but good for the liar. He can declare that "I didn't do it," and accuse another of doing it, all the while the innocent person he has accused is saying "I didn't do it," and is actually telling the truth.
The truth - when twisted by good liars, can always make an innocent person look bad - especially if the innocent person is honest and admits his mistakes.
The basic assumption that the truth lies between the testimony of the two sides always shifts the advantage to the lying side and away from the side telling the truth. Under most circumstances, this shift put together with the fact that the truth is going to also be twisted in such a way as to bring detriment to the innocent person, results in the advantage always resting in the hands of liars - psychopaths. Even the simple act of giving testimony under oath is a useless farce. If a person is a liar, swearing an oath means nothing to that person. However, swearing an oath acts strongly on a serious, truthful witness. Again, the advantage is placed on the side of the liar.
It has often been noted that psychopaths have a distinct advantage over human beings with conscience and feelings because the psychopath does not have conscience and feelings. What seems to be so is that conscience and feelings are related to the abstract concepts of "future" and "others." It is "spatio-temporal." We can feel fear, sympathy, empathy, sadness, and so on because we can IMAGINE in an abstract way, the future based on our own experiences in the past, or even just "concepts of experiences" in myriad variations. We can "see ourselves" in them even though they are "out there" and this evokes feelings in us. We can't do something hurtful because we can imagine it being done to us and how it would feel. In other words, we can not only identify with others spatially - so to say - but also temporally - in time.
The psychopath does not seem to have this capacity.
They are unable to "imagine" in the sense of being able to really connect to images in a direct "self connecting to another self" sort of way.
Oh, indeed, they can imitate feelings, but the only real feelings they seem to have - the thing that drives them and causes them to act out different dramas for the effect - is a sort of "predatorial hunger" for what they want. That is to say, they "feel" need/want as love, and not having their needs/wants met is described by them as "not being loved". What is more, this "need/want" perspective posits that only the "hunger" of the psychopath is valid, and anything and everything "out there," outside of the psychopath, is not real except insofar as it has the capability of being assimilated to the psychopath as a sort of "food." "Can it be used or can it provide something?" is the only issue about which the psychopath seems to be concerned. All else - all activity - is subsumed to this drive.
In short, the psychopath is a predator. If we think about the interactions of predators with their prey in the animal kingdom, we can come to some idea of what is behind the "mask of sanity" of the psychopath. Just as an animal predator will adopt all kinds of stealthy functions in order to stalk their prey, cut them out of the herd, get close to them and reduce their resistance, so does the psychopath construct all kinds of elaborate camouflage composed of words and appearances - lies and manipulations - in order to "assimilate" their prey.
This leads us to an important question: what does the psychopath REALLY get from their victims? It's easy to see what they are after when they lie and manipulate for money or material goods or power. But in many instances, such as love relationships or faked friendships, it is not so easy to see what the psychopath is after. Without wandering too far afield into spiritual speculations - a problem Cleckley also faced - we can only say that it seems to be that the psychopath ENJOYS making others suffer. Just as normal humans enjoy seeing other people happy, or doing things that make other people smile, the psychopath enjoys the exact opposite.
Anyone who has ever observed a cat playing with a mouse before killing and eating it has probably explained to themselves that the cat is just "entertained" by the antics of the mouse and is unable to conceive of the terror and pain being experienced by the mouse, and the cat, therefore, is innocent of any evil intent. The mouse dies, the cat is fed, and that is nature. Psychopaths don't generally eat their victims.
Yes, in extreme cases of psychopathy, the entire cat and mouse dynamic is carried out. Cannibalism has a long history wherein it was assumed that certain powers of the victim could be assimilated by eating some particular part of them. But in ordinary life, psychopaths don't normally go all the way, so to say. This causes us to look at the cat and mouse scenario again with different eyes. Now we ask: is it too simplistic to think that the innocent cat is merely entertained by the mouse running about and frantically trying to escape? Is there something more to this dynamic than meets the eye? Is there something more than being "entertained" by the antics of the mouse trying to flee? After all, in terms of evolution, why would such behavior be hard-wired into the cat? Is the mouse tastier because of the chemicals of fear that flood his little body? Is a mouse frozen with terror more of a "gourmet" meal?
This suggests that we ought to revisit our ideas about psychopaths with a slightly different perspective. One thing we do know is this: many people who experience interactions with psychopaths and narcissists report feeling "drained" and confused and often subsequently experience deteriorating health. Does this mean that part of the dynamic, part of the explanation for why psychopaths will pursue "love relationships" and "friendships" that ostensibly can result in no observable material gain, is because there is an actual energy consumption?
We do not know the answer to this question. We observe, we theorize, we speculate and hypothesize. But in the end, only the individual victim can determine what they have lost in the dynamic - and it is often far more than material goods. In a certain sense, it seems that psychopaths are soul eaters or "Psychophagic."
In the past several years, there are many more psychologists and psychiatrists and other mental health workers beginning to look at these issues in new ways in response to the questions about the state of our world and the possibility that there is some essential difference between such individuals as George W. Bush and many so-called Neocons, and the rest of us.
Dr. Stout's book has one of the longest explanations as to why none of her examples resemble any actual persons that I have ever read. And then, in a very early chapter, she describes a "composite" case where the subject spent his childhood blowing up frogs with fire-crackers. It is widely known that George W. Bush did this, so one naturally wonders...
In any event, even without Dr. Stout's work, at the time we were studying the matter, we realized that what we were learning was very important to everyone because as the data was assembled, we saw that the clues, the profiles, revealed that the issues we were facing were faced by everyone at one time or another, to one extent or another. We also began to realize that the profiles that emerged also describe rather accurately many individuals who seek positions of power in fields of authority, most particularly politics and commerce. That's really not so surprising an idea, but it honestly hadn't occurred to us until we saw the patterns and recognized them in the behaviors of numerous historical figures, and lately including George W. Bush and members of his administration.
Current day statistics tell us that there are more psychologically sick people than healthy ones. If you take a sampling of individuals in any given field, you are likely to find that a significant number of them display pathological symptoms to one extent or another. Politics is no exception, and by its very nature, would tend to attract more of the pathological "dominator types" than other fields. That is only logical, and we began to realize that it was not only logical, it was horrifyingly accurate; horrifying because pathology among people in power can have disastrous effects on all of the people under the control of such pathological individuals. And so, we decided to write about this subject and publish it on the Internet.
As the material went up, letters from our readers began to come in thanking us for putting a name to what was happening to them in their personal lives as well as helping them to understand what was happening in a world that seems to have gone completely mad. We began to think that it was an epidemic and in a certain sense, we were right. If an individual with a highly contagious illness works in a job that puts them in contact with the public, an epidemic is the result. In the same way, if an individual in a position of political power is a psychopath, he or she can create an epidemic of psychopathology in people who are not, essentially, psychopathic. Our ideas along this line were soon to receive confirmation from an unexpected source: Andrew Lobaczewski, the author of the book you are about to read. I received an email as follows:
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen.
I promptly wrote a reply saying yes, I would very much like to read his book. A couple of weeks later the manuscript arrived in the mail.
I have got your Special Research Project on psychopathy by my computer. You are doing a most important and valuable work for the future of nations.[...]
I am a very aged clinical psychologist. Forty years ago I took part in a secret investigation of the real nature and psychopathology of the macro-social phenomenon called "Communism". The other researchers were the scientists of the previous generation who are now passed away.
The profound study of the nature psychopathy, which played the essential and inspirational part in this macro-social psychopathologic phenomenon, and distinguishing it from other mental anomalies, appeared to be the necessary preparation for understanding the entire nature of the phenomenon.
The large part of the work, you are doing now, was done in those times. ...
I am able to provide you with a most valuable scientific document, useful for your purposes. It is my book "POLITICAL PONEROLOGY - A science on the nature of evil adjusted for political purposes". You may also find copy of this book in the Library of Congress and in some university and public libraries in the USA.
Be so kind and contact me so that I may mail a copy to you.
Very truly yours!
Andrew M. £obaczewski
As I read, I realized that what I was holding in my hand was essentially a chronicle of a descent into hell, transformation, and triumphant return to the world with knowledge of that hell that was priceless for the rest of us, particularly in this day and time when it seems evident that a similar hell is enveloping the planet. The risks that were taken by the group of scientists that did the research on which this book is based are beyond the comprehension of most of us.
Many of them were young, just starting in their careers when the Nazis began to stride in their hundred league jackboots across Europe. These researchers lived through that, and then when the Nazis were driven out and replaced by the Communists under the heel of Stalin, they faced years of oppression the likes of which those of us today who are choosing to take a stand against the Bush Reich cannot even imagine. But, based on the syndrome that describes the onset of the disease, it seems that the United States, in particular, and perhaps the entire world, will soon enter into "bad times" of such horror and despair that the Holocaust of World War II will seem like just a practice run.
And so, since they were there, and they lived through it and brought back information to the rest of us, it may well save our lives to have a map to guide us in the falling darkness.
- Order your copy now! -
For more on Political Ponerology, don't miss our podcast entitled The 6% Solution!!
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Editorial: Beware of the Fox
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
I think it is important to point out the many concrete examples which conclusively
prove the Israel Lobby thesis. The thesis is so obvious that this should
hardly be necessary, but for the loud whining from the apologists for the Lobby
and their Chomskeyite American-Empire-explains-everything fellow travelers.
something to think about from Ira Glunts,
a former IDF volunteer (Glunts' writing starts with "In an
op-ed column..." ; it is also reprinted here;
it was originally posted here,
but for the life of me I can't get the link to display properly; more
my emphasis in red):
"In their recent best-selling book, Boomerang: The Failure of Leadership
In the Second Intifada, presently only available in Hebrew, Raviv Drucker
and Ofer Shelah, two respected Israeli journalists, described a meeting between
the then Secretary of State Colin Powell, who the lobby considered to be
the 'weak link' in the chain of more Israel-friendly Bush Administration
officials, and Abraham Foxman, head of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai
Brith, who is a prominent member of what in Israel is called the Jewish lobby.
The following selection indicates in a dramatic way that Gergen's view
of the influence of the Israel lobby may not be shared by all ex-government
In his [Powell's] own State Department there was a keen awareness
of the strength of the Jewish lobbyists. Secretaries of State did not usually
meet with lobbyists, but both Jewish officials and Jews that did not officially
represent specific groups from Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League to
Ronald Lauder, could meet with Powell on short notice.... At the State
Department, Foxman had an aura of omnipotence. He was held responsible for
the appointment of Indyk as Undersecretary of State under Clinton, and was
thought to have played a role in the appointments of Secretaries of State
Christopher and Albright. Powell related to Foxman almost as if he were someone
to whom he must capitulate. Once Foxman told one of his deputies that Powell
was the weak link. When the Secretary of State heard this he began to worry.
He knew that in Washington a confrontation with the Jewish lobby would make
his life difficult. Once he arranged a meeting with Foxman, but the busy
Foxman postponed the meeting three times. When they eventually met, the head
of the Anti-Defamation League apologized to the Secretary of State [for the
postponements]. 'You call, we come,' replied Powell, paraphrasing
a well known advertisement for a freight company. That statement had much
more meaning than just a humorous polite reply.
Drucker, Raviv and Shelah, Ofer, Boomerang..., Keter, 2005, pps. 132-133.
Translation and text emphasized or enclosed in brackets, mine."
So Colin Powell, American Secretary of State, former Chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff, multi-decorated American general, cowers in fear
before Abe Foxman, a guy so powerful he can get away with postponing a meeting
with Powell three times? And you want to try to tell me that the
Lobby has no power? Are you on crack?
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Editorial: War Crimes: A Question of Conscience
April 14, 2006
Yesterday's UK Daily Mail informs us that RAF doctor Malcolm Kendall-Smith has been sentenced to eight months in jail after being found guilty by a court martial of failing to comply with "lawful orders" after refusing to serve in the Iraq war.
Kendall-Smith is said to have told a pre-trial hearing last month that he refused to go to Iraq because he believed the war was illegal and he did not want to be complicit with an act of aggression contrary to international law. He reportedly said that he had "evidence that the Americans were on a par with Nazi Germany with its actions in the Persian Gulf. I have documents in my possession which support my assertions. This is on the basis that on-going acts of aggression in Iraq and systematically applied war crimes provide a moral equivalent between the US and Nazi Germany."
Kendall-Smith is absolutely correct. There is ample evidence – growing in volume and quality every day – that the U.S. and its lap-dog, Great Britain, went to war on trumped up charges, lies and with illegal intentions. There is, for example, the "Downing Street Memo," and the more recent evidence that George Bush not only knowingly used "cooked" intelligence, but that he also deliberately attempted to destroy the lives of those individuals who sought to expose this hoax.
So the fundament of the Iraq invasion was based on lies and deception created for the express purpose of initiating an illegal, aggressive war of conquest. This is important because the prosecutor, David Perry, states the UK government's position as being that the orders were lawful and Kendall-Smith had a duty to obey them as a commissioned officer. Perry then makes the most astounding claim that "the question of the invasion of Iraq was irrelevant because it occurred prior to the charges"! Further, in complete disregard of the facts of the invasion mentioned above, now well known to many – including ordinary citizens - that at the time of the charges, the presence of coalition forces in Iraq was "unquestionably legal" because "they were there at the request of the country's democratically-elected government".
Now, how can there be a "democratically elected government" in a country that has been illegally invaded and its legitimate government overthrown, and every man, woman and child in said country under duress and fear for life and limb by said invaders who enforce this so-called "democratic election" to take place?
This sounds a lot like the "democratically elected" government that was imposed on Poland by Stalin.
Getting back to Kendall-Smith: in court Judge Advocate Jack Bayliss said "Obedience of orders is at the heart of any disciplined force. Disobedience of orders means it is not a disciplined force, it is a disorganised rabble. Those who wear the Queen's uniform cannot pick and choose which orders they obey and those who do so must face the consequences." He then added that the sentence would send a message to other members of the armed forces of the importance of obeying orders.
When sentencing Kendall-Smith, Judge Advocate Bayliss told him: "You have, in this court's view, sought to make a martyr of yourself. You have shown a degree of arrogance that is amazing." The news reports tell us that Judge Advocate Bayliss further said that Kendall-Smith may have acted out of his moral viewpoint but his interpretation of the presence of British forces in Iraq as illegal was incorrect.
A spokesman for the Royal Air Force Prosecuting Authority said: "It is right that Ft Lt Malcolm Kendall Smith was prosecuted for disobeying legal orders. British troops are operating in Iraq under a United Nations mandate and at the invitation of the Iraqi government. The Judge Advocate ruled that the court would not accept his defence that the war was illegal and a panel of his peers have convicted him on that basis."
More than anything, in these remarks, this court has proven its moral heritage descends from Nazi Germany.
Make note of that, Jack Bayliss and David Perry.
From Mar. 5,1947 to Dec. 4, 1947, nine members of the Reich Ministry of Justice and seven members of the People's and Special Courts, were by the Nuremberg Tribunal with using their power as prosecutors and judges to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The Nuremberg trials were conducted under what is referred to as "Control Council Law No. 10, or "CC Law 10".
The Allied Control Council is composed of the authorized representatives of the four Powers: the United States, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union. The preamble to Control Council Law No. 10 in part, is as follows
"In order to give effect to the terms of the Moscow Declaration of 30 October 1943 and the London Agreement of 8 August 1945, and the Charter issued pursuant thereto and in order establish a uniform legal basis in Germany for the prosecution of war criminals and other similar offenders, the Control Council enacts as follows" etc, etc.
Article II of C.C. Law 10 defines acts, each of which "is recognized as a crime," namely, (a) crimes against peace, (b) war crimes, (c) crimes against humanity, (d) membership in criminal organizations.
The Justice Trial is one of the most interesting of the Nuremberg trials. This trial raised the issue of what responsibility judges might have for enforcing grossly unjust - but arguably binding - laws. The trial was the inspiration for the movie Judgment at Nuremberg, though the movie presented a somewhat fictionalized view of the trial.
Ingo Muller's book, "Hitler's Justice: The Courts of the Third Reich", provides analysis of the evidence suggesting that most German judges were ultraconservative nationalists who were sympathetic to Nazi goals. In other words, the "Nazification" of German law occurred with the willful cooperation of judges. Judge Advocate Jack Bayliss might want to sit up and take notice.
An important point to note, as I will discuss further on, is that many judges appointed before the Nazi rise to power had views that were quite compatible with the Nazi party because of the economic and social circles that judges were drawn from.
In the Justice trial at Nuremberg, American prosecutors argued that there was a pattern of judicial and prosecutorial support for Nazi programs that consisted of gross violations of human rights. In order to convict, it was only necessary t that the defendant consciously furthered these human rights abuses; that is, that they had been notified, at some point, that there were those who considered the acts such abuses.
For example, jurist Franz Schlegelberger served in the Ministry of Justice from 1931-1942. For the last period of his service, Schlegelberger was Director of the Ministry of Justice. He wrote legal books and was honored as a great jurist. Schlegelberger's defense was that he was bound to follow the orders of Hitler, the "Supreme Judge" of Germany, but that he did so reluctantly. Schlegelberger argued that he did not join the Nazis until 1938, and then only because he was ordered to do so by Hitler. Schlegelberger argued that he had "sympathy for the Jews" and that he "resisted" certain legal measures against them. He also argued that he continued to serve as long as he did in order to prevent the appointment of a less sympathetic judge.
Sounds perfectly heartbreaking, eh? Like being stuck between a rock and a hard place?
His arguments may have saved him from death, but they didn't mitigate his responsibility. In its decision, the Justice trial tribunal pointed out that the decision of a man of his stature to remain in office lent credibilty to the Nazi regime. More than that, Schegelberger did sign his name to orders that, in the tribunal's judgment, constituted crimes.
Another example is that of Oswald Rothaug, pronounced by the Nuremberg Tribunal to be a "sadistic and evil man." Rothaug enthusiastically supported the Nazi human rights abuses. He was very creative in his construction and interpretation of those laws that could be construed to "to take advantage of the war effort." In one case, Rothaug sent an innocent Jew to his death by arguing that death was the appropriate punishment for exploiting the air-raid black-outs to pursue a romance with a young German girl.
Jack Bayliss and David Perry, are you taking notes?
It has been said by expert analysts that most German judges over-identified with the Nazi regime. They came to see themselves as fighters on the internal battlefront, with the responsibility to punish "the enemy within," people such as Malcolm Kendall-Smith. The defendants in the Justice Trial claimed protection under the principle nullum crimen sine lege. This maxim states that there can be no crime committed, and no punishment meted out, without a violation of penal law as it existed at the time of the act. This basic legal principle has been incorporated into international criminal law for just such situations as the trial of Malcolm Kendall-Smith.
What this is going to ultimately mean for Jack Bayliss and David Perry is that, even if they are arguing that British troops are in Iraq at the "invitation" of the "democratically elected government," once it has been established by an international court that the invasion was illegal, which then means that the so-called "democratically elected government is also illegal, then there will be no limitation upon the power or right of an International Tribunal to punish acts which can properly be held to have been violations of international law when committed.
In short, Jack Bayliss and David Perry have both overtly supported the Nazification of Great Britain in exactly the same way that Oswald Rothaug did because, the ex post facto rule cannot apply in the international field as it does under constitutional mandate in the domestic field.
As a principle of justice and fair play, in War Crimes tribunals, the rule in question will undoubtedly be given full effect. Applied in the field of international law, the principle requires only proof before conviction that the accused knew or should have known that in matters of international concern he was guilty of participation in a nationally organized system of injustice and persecution shocking to the moral sense of mankind, and that he knew or should have known that he would be subject to punishment if caught.
The fact is, no person who knowingly commits the acts made punishable by C.C. Law 10 can assert that he did not know that he would be brought to account for his acts because notice of intent to punish is being repeatedly given by the only means available in international affairs, namely, the solemn warning of the people.
This is what Malcolm Kendall-Smith has done: as a man of conscience, he has officially notified the British Court System - and the World - that, one day, in the not-too-distant future, the people of this Earth will take back control of their lives; they will reject utterly the rule of conscienceless Pathocrats, and there will be Justice for humanity.
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Editorial: Government-Assured Deception
Signs of the Times
For all those I see teetering on the brink of falling for the foul-smelling propaganda about Iran and its "nuclear threat" to the world:
From the New York Times:
"Western nuclear analysts said Tehran lacked the skills, materials and equipment to make good on its immediate nuclear ambitions. They said nothing had changed to alter current estimates of when Iran might be able to make a single nuclear weapon, assuming that is its ultimate goal. The United States government has estimated that Iran could develop a nuclear weapon in 5 to 10 years, and some analysts have said it could come as late as 2020."
So, taking an average, we can say that Iran has 10 years to go before it could make ONE Nuke. Now what would it do with that Nuke, if it were even to decide to make it? Threaten the entire world?
Just to put this in perspective, the following table shows the nuclear-equipped countries and the number of nukes they possess:
You may have heard of the alleged nuclear safeguard of "mutually assured destruction." It is the theory that no nuclear-equipped country will ever use nuclear weapons against another nuclear-equipped country because of the obvious threat of retaliation and therefore the "mutual" destruction of both countries. That's all well and good, but what, you may ask, is to stop a nuclear-equipped country from nuking a non-nuclear-equipped country?
There are many reasons why certain countries have nukes and others do not. One factor would seem to be the resources and relative wealth of a country, which in turn seems to be a function of the size of the population of a country. This is evidenced by the fact that, of the 8 nuclear-equipped nations, 5 appear in the top 8 most populous countries in the world. France and Britain holding positions 20 and 21 respectively.
The theory then is that any country that does not possess nukes is, by definition, not much a threat to anyone, or, at least not much of a threat to the nuclear-equipped countries. In the case that such a country was nevertheless deemed to be in need of a good invading by a nuclear-equipped country, there would probably be no requirement to use nukes. See Iraq and Afghanistan for two recent examples of this.
There is one exception to this rule however - Israel - and this exception reveals one of the other factors that can lead to a country acquiring nuclear capability. Different from its mainly Jewish population, Israel the state is, as a noted French politician opined, "a shitty little country" totaling a mere 5 million people. Despite this, Israel possesses more nukes that India and Pakistan combined, two countries which together have close to 1 billion 250 million people, or about 250 times the population of Israel. I know, sounds kinda crazy, but we are talking about a very particular type of human being here, the type that actively pursues ever more exquisite ways to wipe out all of life on earth, so sanity is not a factor. Basically, Israel was 'nucularily' equipped by the USA to act as an American policeman of the Middle East and its precious oil resources, a task at which it has excelled, in no small part due to its nuclear muscle.
Anyway, getting back my point...which was...ah yes, "mutually assured destruction". So say Iran gets to make its one nuke in 10 years time. What would it do? Threaten the entire planet? Hardly. The best it could do would be to threaten one country. Who would it threaten? Israel? France? Britain? Pakistan? India? Possibly. If Iran lobbed its one nuke at Israel for example, Israel would probably respond with 100 or 200 nukes, or as many as were needed to turn Iran into a 1,648 million square kilometer glass parking lot for U.S. military Humvees. Basically then, if some future Iranian leader were to get his one nuke in 10 years time, and tried to threaten anyone with it, the only real threat posed would be to himself and the Iranian people.
But none of this is the point of my musing here. The real point that I want to make is to impress on you all to forget such critical thinking and analysis and just focus on the words of the leaker in chief President Bush and his cohorts when they say:
"Run for you lives!! It's Iran with its plan to build ONE NUKE in 10 years!!! Flee, flee in terror you fools!!!"
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Editorial: Have a Nice Apocalypse
Free download of Jean-Pierre Petit's comic book Have a Nice Apocalypse, a simple discussion of the hows and whys of the arms race.
For more comics by Jean-Pierre in many languages, consult the downloads page at the site Savoir sans frontières.
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Life In Occupied America
U.S. "Moral Equivalent of the Third Reich"
AN RAF doctor facing a court-martial for refusing a posting to Iraq said yesterday he believed the United States to be the moral equivalent of Nazi Germany.
Flight Lieutenant Dr Malcolm Kendall-Smith could face an unlimited jail sentence for disobeying an order to go to Iraq last year, and four orders to prepare for his deployment. The case is the first of its kind in Britain over the war in Iraq.
Kendall-Smith made his remarks amid a series of bitter exchanges with David Perry, prosecuting, at a hearing in Aldershot, Hampshire.
"As early as 2004 I regarded the United States to be on par with Nazi Germany as regards its activities in the Gulf," Kendall-Smith told the court.
Mr Perry, asking Kendall-Smith for clarification, said: "Are you saying the US is the moral equivalent of the Third Reich?"
Kendall-Smith replied: "That's correct."
He then continued: "I have documents in my possession which support my assertions.
"This is on the basis that ongoing acts of aggression in Iraq, and systematically applied war crimes, provide a moral equivalent between the US and Nazi Germany."
The medic had told his wing commander he would not go to Basra, after carrying out extensive research and deciding the allied invasion was "unlawful".
He had been decorated for two previous tours in the Gulf, but failed to return in July last year and was suspended from his post as unit medical officer at RAF Kinloss in Moray. [...]
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Did Bush Pull a Fast One on Fitzgerald? How the White House Keeps Getting Away with Murder
By EVELYN J. PRINGLE
10 April 06
With the latest revelations in the CIA leak case, the question on the minds of most Americans, is whether Bush and Cheney were the masterminds in an organized plot to destroy Joe Wilson by revealing his wife's name and status as a undercover agent of the CIA.
Hands down, yes they were. And a brilliant scheme it was; especially when one considers that the combined IQ of Bush and Cheney is probably not equal to that of a goat...
A concerted effort to destroy a critics is not a jailable offense. But it would seem that because they knew Valerie Plame was an under-cover operative, and knew the information was classified, that such a disclosure would be in legal terms "willful." In other words, a disclosure of information on purpose, even though they knew it was classified.
Although that may be true, being Bush and Cheney knew they were the culprits at the center of the investigation, they came up with a plan to hog-tie Prosecutor Fitzgerald and sabotage his investigation right from the start.
While it may appear that Bush stepped in to take the fall for Libby, don't believe it for one minute. Bush would never, never take a fall for anyone, probably not even his own mother. Or I should say for sure not his own mother, because he obviously has a lot of unresolved issues with her.
Bush stepped in because he was forced to by Libby's court filings. He knew this day would come but he also knew he was untouchable.
When Libby leaked the name of a CIA operative he released classified information, which would be a crime, if he acted on his own authority, as most of us believed. But now we find out that he was not acting on his own authority, he was acting under instructions from Cheney and Bush and thus, as it turns out, he did nothing illegal.
That is, until he lied, presumably to save the butts of Cheney and Bush. If Libby would have simply went before the grand jury and told the truth, the saga would have ended then and there and the public would have known the truth before the last Presidential election.
In covering for Bush, Libby's lies can be credited for giving Bush a second term. But a lot of good it did him. So long as Bush sticks to the story that unbeknownst to anyone, besides himself, Cheney and Libby, he had "declassified" certain information and told Cheney to instruct Libby to release it, Bush and Cheney walk, but Libby does not.
Fitzgerald knew this was going to happen and this is why it always seemed as if he was talking in circles when discussing Libby's indictment and why he continued to say over and over that Libby was not being charged with leaking the name of a CIA agent, and that furthermore, he did he plan to charge Libby with that crime.
Fitzgerald knows full well that the White House pulled a fast one on him.
He knew it shortly after his investigation got underway. But Libby is still going down, in part, probably because Fitzgerald is ticked off over being had. And in turn, this is why Libby is so ticked off, and why he is now trying to bring Bush and Cheney into the mix.
The "fast one" that got Bush and Cheney off the hook does not apply to him and its disclosure in court filings won't help one bit in defending against the charges he's facing.
Libby needs to accept the fact that he has officially been "hung out to dry."
Apparently, Bush can declassify any information he has a mind to at a minutes notice. Talk about not-so-subtle blackmail. This probably explains why other CIA employees have stayed in lockstep with the line that they did not feel pressured by the administration to hype or distort intelligence in the run up to war.
In fact, it probably explains a lot more about why this White House keeps getting away with murder.
Evelyn Pringle can be reached at: email@example.com
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Path to Deportation Can Start With a Traffic Stop
By PAUL VITELLO
The New York Times
April 14, 2006
While lawmakers in Washington debate whether to forgive illegal immigrants their trespasses, a small but increasing number of local and state law enforcement officials are taking it upon themselves to pursue deportation cases against people who are here illegally.
In more than a dozen jurisdictions, officials have invoked a little-used 1996 federal law to seek special federal training in immigration enforcement for their officers.
In other places, the local authorities are flagging some illegal immigrants who are caught up in the criminal justice system, sometimes for minor offenses, and are alerting immigration officials to their illegal status so that they can be deported.
In Costa Mesa, Calif., for example, in Orange County, the City Council last year shut down a day laborer job center that had operated for 17 years, and this year authorized its Police Department to begin training officers to pursue illegal immigrants - a job previously left to federal agents.
In Suffolk County, on Long Island, where a similar police training proposal was met with angry protests in 2004, county officials have quietly put a system in place that uses sheriff's deputies to flag illegal immigrants in the county jail population.
In Putnam County, N.Y., about 50 miles north of Manhattan, eight illegal immigrants who were playing soccer in a school ball field were arrested on Jan. 9 for trespassing and held for the immigration authorities.
As an example of the uneven results that sometimes occur in such cross-hatches of local and federal law enforcement, the seven immigrants who were able to make bail before those agents arrived went free. The one who could not make bail in time, a 33-year-old roofer and father of five, has been in federal detention in Pennsylvania ever since.
"I took an oath to protect the people of this county, and that means enforcing the laws of the land," said Donald B. Smith, the Putnam County sheriff. "We have a situation in our country where our borders are not being adequately protected, and that leaves law enforcement people like us in a very difficult situation."
Other local law enforcement officials expressed similar frustration at the apparent inability of the federal government to stem the rise in illegal immigration. It is a frustration they say has been growing in the last few years, and is now reaching a point of crisis.
During that time, a number of coinciding trends may have added to the sense that there has been a breach in the covenant between the local and federal authorities, according to interviews with immigration officials, police and advocates. These trends include a housing boom that attracted growing numbers of illegal workers, especially to distant suburbs and exurbs, where federal resources are especially thin; an apparent stagnation in the size of the federal immigration police force, which has remained at about 2,000 for several years; and increasing local opposition to illegal immigration, again, especially in the suburbs.
George A. Terezakis, a Long Island immigration lawyer, said that in his practice, he had seen a trend. "The heat is definitely getting turned up. Not just on criminals, but against people I would consider charged with relatively minor offenses: Having an invalid driver's license, a fake Social Security card. A person with a job and a family can end up sitting in jail for months, and then being deported."
Federal statistics do not measure the number of immigration arrests and deportations that occur because of local intervention. Officials with the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency said the roughly 160,000 illegal immigrants deported last year represented a 10 percent increase over the year before - and a national record - but they could not say how many had been referred by the local authorities.
Until fairly recently, it was viewed as inappropriate, even unconstitutional, for the local or state authorities to be involved in the enforcement of federal law. In Los Angeles, the police still operate under an internal rule that says "undocumented alien status is not a matter for police enforcement." Similar policies apply in San Francisco and New York City.
But that may be changing, partly because the local authorities have decided to play a more active role and partly because of an unabashed call from the federal government seeking help from states and localities.
"The untold story of immigration law is that there are just not enough federal immigration officers to enforce the immigration laws we have," said Kris W. Kobach, a law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City who as a counsel in the Justice Department worked on several cooperative agreements with state and local law enforcement agencies.
"The only way our programs can work is with help from local law enforcement, and we're expecting to see that happening more and more," he said.
To make that happen, law enforcement officials have increasingly been looking to a federal statute, the 1996 Immigration and Nationality Act. It allows the local and state authorities to reach agreements with the federal immigration and customs agency to train their officers - in a four-week crash course - to be virtual immigration agents, able to conduct citizenship investigations and begin deportation proceedings against illegal immigrants.
The law went nearly untried in its first five years on the books. Then Florida had 60 state agents and highway officers trained in 2002, and Alabama did the same for about 40 state troopers in 2003. In the next two years, the Arizona corrections department and the Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties in California each had a few dozen officers trained.
Indicating a new sense of urgency, though, 11 additional state and county jurisdictions have applied to enter the program in the past year alone, according to a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Michael W. Gilhooly. He would not specify which they were, but public officials in Missouri, Tennessee, Arizona and about a dozen additional counties in California, Texas and North Carolina have publicly expressed interest in the program.
Local officials involved in these initiatives say they are mainly targeting hardened criminals in the immigrant population - people like gang members and sexual predators who have been the recent target of sweeps by federal immigration agents.
But many of those affected by the new home-grown vigilance are immigrants arrested for minor traffic violations, or charged with unlicensed driving, possession of forged green cards and other offenses that are virtually synonymous with the undocumented life, say immigrant advocates and lawyers.
In Springfield, Mo., for example, a furor erupted recently when a star player on the high school soccer team, Tobias Zuniga, was arrested and jailed after a routine traffic stop because he admitted to the officer that he was an illegal immigrant. Officers at the Christian County Jail notified immigration agents, and Mr. Zuniga, an 18-year-old senior, was held for a weekend before being released on bail.
"He was stopped for having excessively tinted windows," Tom Parker, the father of a friend and classmate of Mr. Zuniga, said in a telephone interview. "And he spent three nights in jail with drug dealers." Mr. Zuniga faces deportation hearings this month.
Federal immigration officials, however, maintain that the vast majority of illegal immigrants detained and deported are people convicted or charged with serious crimes. There are simply not enough immigration agents to respond every time a suspected illegal immigrant is arrested for driving with an invalid license, said Marc Raimondi, a spokesman for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
Daniel W. Beck, the sheriff of Allen County, Ohio, 100 miles northwest of Columbus, said calling immigration agents is no guarantee of action.
"When people drive without licenses, when they are in this country illegally, it's really a right and wrong issue. I will arrest them," Mr. Beck said. "Unfortunately, by the time a federal agent gets here, they are sometimes already bailed out of jail."
But Marianne Yang, director of the Immigrant Defense Project of the New York State Defenders Association, a lawyers' group, said a recurring problem for immigrants, legal and illegal, is the high bail set for them if they are arrested, no matter how minor the crime.
"What we see in the increasing collaboration between local authorities and I.C.E. is situations where a person would normally be released in his own recognizance, and instead is held on high bail," she said of the agreements with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
The arrests of the men playing soccer in Putnam County in January might illustrate that phenomenon. Sheriff's deputies went there in response to a complaint about safety by the administrator of the elementary school, which was in session as the men played.
Mr. Smith, the Putnam sheriff, said deputies arrested the men that day only after they refused the school administrator's request for them to leave. They were charged with criminal trespass, a class B misdemeanor, and a Brewster village judge set bail at $1,000 for seven of the eight. Bail for the eighth man, Juan Jimeniz, a roofer, was set at $3,000 because he was not able to provide his home address.
Mr. Smith said federal immigration agents were called to the jail because deputies suspected the men were illegal immigrants and "because we are trying to uphold the law for the citizens of this county."
When they arrived, seven of the men had made bail and Mr. Jimeniz, who was not able to pay his bail, was taken by the immigration agents to a federal detention wing of the Pike County Jail in Hawley, Pa., where he has remained since, fighting deportation.
"He has no criminal record," said Vanessa Merton, director of the Immigration Justice Clinic of the Pace University Law School, which represents Mr. Jimeniz. "He is a roofer. He is supporting five children."
"There is no way you could describe his detention as anything but haphazard, random and completely arbitrary," she said.
Mr. Kobach, the former Justice Department official, said "unevenness has been endemic to the nature of immigration enforcement in recent years."
But efforts by local and state authorities to pursue illegal immigrants, he said, are at least in part, "an effort to deal with that unevenness."
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America's Secret Police?
By Mark Hosenball
April 13, 2006
Intelligence experts warn that a proposal to merge two Pentagon intelligence units could create an ominous new agency.
A threatened turf grab by a controversial Pentagon intelligence unit is causing concern among both privacy experts and some of the Defense Department's own personnel.
An informal panel of senior Pentagon officials has been holding a series of unannounced private meetings during the past several weeks about how to proceed with a possible merger between the Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), a post-9/11 Pentagon creation that has been accused of domestic spying, and the Defense Security Service (DSS), a well-established older agency responsible for inspecting the security arrangements of defense contractors. DSS also maintains millions of confidential files containing the results of background investigations on defense contractors' employees.
The merger was initially suggested by a government commission set up to recommend military base closures last year. The commission said that the Pentagon could achieve some savings by relocating both CIFA, now housed in a building near Washington's Reagan National Airport and DSS, headquartered in nearby Alexandria, Va. The panel suggested moving the two agencies to the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Va., where FBI training and laboratory facilities are also based.
The Base Realignment and Closure Commission also suggested that the Pentagon could "disestablish" CIFA and DSS and "consolidate their components into the Department of Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency."
Pentagon officials began discussions about merging the two after the commission issued its recommendations. An initial round of meetings about the merger, however, failed to come up with a plan. In the meantime, CIFA, a mysterious and secretive unit created in 2002 and charged with making Defense counterintelligence efforts more effective, became the subject of two public controversies.
The first erupted late in 2005 when documents surfaced indicating that CIFA (whose mission, according to its own officials, is supposed to be limited to analysis of counterintelligence data produced by other agencies) was discovered to have put together a database that included reports on anti-administration demonstrators, including peace activists protesting alleged "war profiteering." (NEWSWEEK's Michael Isikoff reported on this in depth earlier this year in this story.) CIFA and Pentagon officials subsequently assured Congress in writing that CIFA's activities would be more carefully focused in the future on genuine potential terror threats to defense facilities and personnel and that data collected on legitimate peaceful protestors would be destroyed.
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Another controversy over CIFA took hold during the corruption scandal surrounding former San Diego congressman Randall (Duke) Cunningham, who before he resigned in disgrace earlier this year, had been a member of both the House Intelligence Committee and the Armed Services Committee. Federal prosecutors alleged Cunningham used his congressional influence to direct CIFA to grant defense contracts to a company called MZM. Earlier this year, Cunningham and MZM's former president, Mitchell Wade, both pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges. (The CIFA contracting probe has been covered in depth by investigative blogs Warandpiece.com and TPMMuckraker.com, as well as The Washington Post.) Pentagon spokesman Cmdr. Gregory Hicks said the CIFA contracting issue was the focus of a continuing "review by appropriate organizations within the Department [of Defense] and it would be premature to discuss any possible outcomes of that review."
As stories about the CIFA scandals circulated earlier this year, talk about merging the controversial unit with the less controversial DSS appeared to stall. But in the past few weeks, Pentagon officials said, such discussions have regained momentum, with an informal committee led by Robert Rogalski, a deputy to Stephen Cambone, the under secretary of Defense for intelligence, meeting regularly to discuss the agencies' consolidation.
But both Pentagon insiders and administration critics remain queasy about the merger idea. Some veteran officials recall that DSS itself became the subject of unwelcome public attention during the Clinton administration when political appointees in the Pentagon press office got hold of the DSS security file on Linda Tripp, the disgruntled bureaucrat who blew the whistle on President Clinton's relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. The file contained reports about an embarrassing incident from Tripp's past that were leaked to the media. The Pentagon Inspector General investigated, and security procedures surrounding the security files supposedly were improved.
Both Pentagon insiders and privacy experts fear that if CIFA merges with, or, in effect, takes over DSS, there would be a weakening of the safeguards that are supposed to regulate the release of the estimated 4.5 million security files on defense-contractor employees currently controlled by DSS. Those files are stored in a disused mine in western Pennsylvania.
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A House subcommittee voted to kill the Internet; House panel OKs measure favored by phone companies
Chronicle Staff Writer
April 6, 2006
A House subcommittee handed phone companies a victory Wednesday by voting 27-4 to advance a bill that would make it easier for them to deliver television service over the Internet and clearing the way for all Internet carriers to charge more for speedier delivery.
The lopsided vote was a defeat for Internet and technology firms like Google and Microsoft, which had hoped to amend the bill to enforce a principle called network neutrality and preserve the status quo under which all Internet traffic is treated equally.
Earlier in the day, the subcommittee voted 23-8 to reject an amendment by Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., that would have inserted specific language designed to enforce network neutrality and prevent the feared creation of fast and slow lanes on the Internet.
Markey said his amendment was necessary to protect the "Internet as an engine of innovation" and ensure that new services had an equal chance to sprout.
Instead, the committee adopted compromise provisions, accepted by the bill's chief sponsor, Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, authorizing the Federal Communications Commission to investigate violations of network neutrality and levy fines of up to $500,000 on a case-by-case basis.
Supporters painted defeat of Markey's net neutrality amendment in bleak terms.
"Members from both sides of the aisle endorsed a plan which will permit cable and phone companies to construct 'pay as you surf, pay as you post' toll booths for the Internet," said Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy in Washington.
But Sonia Arrison, director of technology studies for the Pacific Research Institute in San Francisco, dismissed concerns that the proposed bill would lead to a two-tiered Internet.
"There's plenty of competition,'' Arrison said. "The market will take care of it."
Largely overlooked in a debate dominated by net neutrality are provisions in the proposed legislation that would allow broadband providers, notably big phone companies, to obtain a national license to deliver television service, and exempt them from having to negotiate with cities for licenses.
According to the proposed legislation, once a broadband carrier started delivering TV in a given area, local cable companies -- which must get municipal licenses -- would be eligible for a national license in that area.
Wednesday's subcommittee vote on the bill, the Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Act of 2006, sends it on to the House Energy and Commerce Committee. That committee is chaired by Barton. Action is expected the week of April 24.
E-mail Tom Abate at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Now Powell tells us
Robert Scheer, Creators Syndicate
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
THE President played the scoundrel - even the best of his minions went along with the lies - and when a former ambassador dared to tell the truth, the White House initiated what Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald calls "a plan to discredit, punish or seek revenge against Mr. Wilson." That is the important story line.
If not for the whistle-blower, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, President Bush's falsehoods about the Iraq nuclear threat likely would never have been exposed.
On Monday, former Secretary of State Colin Powell told me that he and his department's top experts never believed that Iraq posed an imminent nuclear threat, but that the president followed the misleading advice of Vice President Dick Cheney and the CIA in making the claim. Now he tells us.
The harsh truth is that this president cherry-picked the intelligence data in making his case for invading Iraq and deliberately kept the public in the dark as to the countervailing analysis at the highest level of the intelligence community. While the president and his top Cabinet officials were fear-mongering with stark images of a "mushroom cloud" over American cities, the leading experts on nuclear weaponry at the Department of Energy (the agency in charge of the U.S. nuclear-weapons program) and the State Department thought the claim of a near-term Iraqi nuclear threat was absurd.
"The activities we have detected do not, however, add up to a compelling case that Iraq is currently pursuing what INR would consider to be an integrated and comprehensive approach to acquire nuclear weapons," said a dissenting analysis from an assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research (INR) in the now infamous 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, which was cobbled together for the White House before the war. "Iraq may be doing so but INR considers the available evidence inadequate to support such a judgment."
The specter of the Iraqi nuclear threat was primarily based on an already-discredited claim that Iraq had purchased aluminum tubes for the purpose of making nuclear weapons. In fact, at the time, the INR wrote in the National Intelligence Estimate that it "accepts the judgment of technical experts at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) who have concluded that the tubes Iraq seeks to acquire are poorly suited for use in gas centrifuges to be used for uranium enrichment and finds unpersuasive the arguments advanced by others to make the case that they are intended for that purpose."
The other major evidence President Bush gave Americans for a revitalized Iraq nuclear program, of course, was his 2003 State of the Union claim -- later found to be based on forged documents -- that a deal had been made to obtain uranium from Niger. This deal was exposed within the administration as bogus before the president's speech in January by Ambassador Wilson, who traveled to Niger for the CIA. Wilson only went public with his criticisms in an op-ed piece in the New York Times a half year later in response to what he charged were the administration's continued distortion of the evidence. In excerpts later made available to the public, it is clear that the Niger claim doesn't even appear as a key finding in the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, while the INR dissent in that document dismisses it curtly: "[T]he claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are, in INR's assessment highly dubious."
I queried Powell at a reception following a talk he gave in Los Angeles on Monday. Pointing out that the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate showed that his State Department had gotten it right on the nonexistent Iraq nuclear threat, I asked why did the president ignore that wisdom in his stated case for the invasion?
"The CIA was pushing the aluminum tube argument heavily and Cheney went with that instead of what our guys wrote," Powell said. And the Niger reference in Bush's State of the Union speech? "That was a big mistake," he said. "It should never have been in the speech. I didn't need Wilson to tell me that there wasn't a Niger connection. He didn't tell us anything we didn't already know. I never believed it."
When I pressed further as to why the president played up the Iraq nuclear threat, Powell said it wasn't the president: "That was all Cheney." A convenient response for a Bush family loyalist, perhaps, but it begs the question of how the president came to be a captive of his vice president's fantasies.
More important: Why was this doubt, on the part of the secretary of state and others, about the salient facts justifying the invasion of Iraq kept from the public until we heard the truth from whistle-blower Wilson, whose credibility the president then sought to destroy?
In matters of national security, when a president leaks, he lies.
By selectively releasing classified information to suit his political purposes, as President Bush did in this case, he is denying that there was a valid basis for keeping the intelligence findings secret in the first place. "We ought to get to the bottom of it, so it can be evaluated by the American people," said Sen. Arlen Specter, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. I couldn't have put it any better.
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Scalia says he's proud he didn't recuse himself in Cheney case
HARTFORD, Conn. -- Conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had some advice Wednesday for those who questioned his impartiality after he refused to recuse himself from a case involving his hunting buddy, Vice President Dick Cheney.
"For Pete's sake, if you can't trust your Supreme Court justice more than that, get a life," Scalia said.
Scalia, addressing an audience at the University of Connecticut's law school on Wednesday, said recusing himself from the 2004 case _ which focused on an energy task force that Cheney led _ would only have given fuel to newspaper editorial writers and other detractors who have said he is too close to the vice president.
"I think the proudest thing I have done on the bench is not allowed myself to be chased off that case," Scalia said.
The case in question involved Cheney's request to keep private the details of closed-door White House strategy sessions that produced the administration's energy policy.
The administration fought a lawsuit brought by watchdog and environmental groups that contended that industry executives, including former Enron chairman Ken Lay, helped shape that policy. The Supreme Court upheld the administration position on a 7-2 vote.
Scalia refused to recuse himself from the case, rejecting arguments by critics who questioned his impartiality because of a hunting vacation that he took with Cheney while the case was pending.
Scalia told the audience Wednesday that he would have stepped aside had the case involved Cheney personally, but that he viewed it differently because the vice president was named in his official capacity as head of the group.
Scalia, 70, was appointed in 1982 by President Ronald Reagan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Reagan nominated him four years later to the U.S. Supreme Court, filling the opening that occurred when William Rehnquist became chief justice.
Scalia takes a very literal approach to the Constitution, telling the audience Wednesday that he strongly disputes the idea that the wording selected by the Constitution's framers should be viewed in light of society's evolving morals and political leanings.
"You can't take the position that these words are expandable in one direction and not expandable in the other," he said. "They obviously meant to set some standards to control future generations."
He also said because of the Supreme Court's time constraints and heavy workload, justices often have to pass on the chance to review many potentially valid cases.
"I can't tell you how many cases I look at and say, 'Boy, they really messed that up,' " he said, then added a motion that pantomimed tossing something aside.
Several UConn law students who attended the speech said afterward that they were surprised by Scalia's candor, though none were surprised that he hewed to his well-documented conservative stances.
"He's definitely a very smart guy, very bright," said third-year law student Kay Williams of Rockville, Ind. "I think from his speech today, it seemed that while he has certain views, he's not looking to impose them on everyone else."
That opinion was not shared by protesters who set up tables and passed out pamphlets on the lawn near the building where Scalia spoke.
At a same-sex kissing booth near the lecture hall, students said they believe some of Scalia's opinions amount to attacks on gays, women and other minorities.
"His visit opened a lot of conversation on this campus," said third-year law student Colby Smith, who was wearing an "I Kiss Boys" T-shirt. "We want to make sure people understand what the concerns are with him, and why his views are particularly offensive."
Copyright 2006 Associated Press.
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Cindy Sheehan Wants To Spend Easter With President Bush At Crawford - Bush At Last Minute Cancels Trip Home
By Greg Szymanski
14 Apr 2006
Cindy Sheehan is in Crawford again, heading up a peace rally at the doorstep of President Bush's Texas White House.
Former Deputy Ambassador Mary Ann Wright is at her side, calling for an end to the Iraqi War and demanding a new investigation about what really happened on Sept. 11.
And Geoffrey Millard, a member of Iraqi Veterans against the War, is calling all Americans to attention, saying he swore to uphold the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, including the ones now residing within the White House.
However, there will be one distinct missing person from the Crawford peace showdown this Easter weekend. And that one missing person, who hates hearing the word 'peace' more than anybody in the world, is President Bush, who at the last minute canceled his weekend holiday trip to Crawford, choosing to paint his Easter eggs 'blood red' with other less peaceful-minded folk.
"Even though we heard President Bush decided to cancel his trip, the message will get to him loud and clear that a majority of Americans want the killing to stop in this illegal war," said Sheehan Thursday on Greg Szymanski's radio show, The Investigative Journal.
The California mother, who lost her son Casey in Iraq, has become a national figure of prominence for her steadfast opposition to war, her name becoming a household word and her cause of ending the war now supported by a majority of Americans.
"The issue isn't me and the terrible way I've been treated," added Sheehan, referring to her four arrests in the last year, including being tossed out of the Capitol Building during President Bush's state of the Union address and being manhandled by police recently as she and others staged a peaceful protest in front of the United Nations building in New York.
"The real issue is how badly the people of the United States are being treated and how they are being misled and lied to President Bush, who refuses to listen to the people, refuses to end the war and refuses to tell the truth about why we went to Iraq in the first place.
"There are no weapons of mass destruction and there continues to be no reason to be losing countless lives in this needless war. I urge everyone to join us this weekend in Crawford as we fight to save the heart and soul of America."
With that last statement, the outspoken war critic who formed a nationwide group called Goldstar Families for Peace, echoed the theme for the Easter weekend rally, as he "March to Save the Heart and Soul of America, began April 1 outside of Dallas to protest Exxon/Mobil headquarters and is ending in Crawford this weekend after marchers walked 125 miles across Texas to let Bush know "his lies won't be tolerated any longer."
Sheehan, Ambassador Wright and Millard, the Iraqi War veteran, are joining thousands of others in Crawford to unite under a common theme to end the illegal war while, at the same time, demanding accountability from a criminal government running roughshod over the American people in every way imaginable, including a crackdown on civil liberties, financial chaos, a disappearing labor market and gas prices going through the roof.
Regarding the loss of civil liberties, deputy Ambassador Wright told The Investigative Journal radio listening audience, besides the flawed Iraqi war policies, this was one of the major reasons she resigned her post "with a heavy heart" after 30 years of loyal diplomatic service in some of the most dangerous regions in the world.
In a sharply worded resignation letter given to then Secretary of State Colin Powell, she wrote:
"Further, I cannot support the Administration's unnecessary curtailment of civil rights following September 11. The investigation of those suspected of ties with terrorist organizations is critical but the legal system of America for 200 years has been based on standards that provide protections for persons during the investigation period. Solitary confinement without access to legal counsel cuts the heart out of the legal foundation on which our country stands.
"Additionally, I believe the Administration's secrecy in the judicial process has created an atmosphere of fear to speak out against the gutting of the protections on which America was built and the protections we encourage other countries to provide to their citizens.
"I have served my country for almost thirty years in the some of the most isolated and dangerous parts of the world. I want to continue to serve America. However, I do not believe in the policies of this Administration and cannot defend or implement them. It is with heavy heart that I must end my service to America and therefore resign due to the Administration's policies."
Since Wright left her State Department post, she has been an active war critic who has taken to the streets in protest, being arrested twice, including one of the 12 people arrested last August in Crawford for refusing to leave a roadside ditch near the President's ranch.
On Thursday afternoon, marchers converged on the Crawford courthouse to protest the illegality of the August arrest of Wright and others, saying their constitutional rights to assemble were violated by an indiscriminate enforcement of local ordinance unduly silencing freedom of speech.
The rally continues through the weekend with speakers scheduled, including the famous whistle blower and activist, Daniel Ellsberg, who arrived in Crawford Thursday to protest the illegal Iraqi War.
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George Bush: Mastermind???
10 April 06
In today's New York Times, a senior Bush administration official "confirmed" that the president ordered the declassification of prewar intel "to rebut critics" but "left open several questions, including when Mr. Bush acted and whether he did so on the advice of Mr. Cheney. Still unclear is the nature of the communication between Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney."
Please. The "nature of the communication" may not be confirmed but is it really unclear?
In his filing last week, Patrick Fitzgerald stated: "The evidence will show that the July 6, 2003 Op-Ed by Mr. Wilson was viewed in the Office of the Vice President as a direct attack on the credibility of the vice president (and the president)..." Note who gets relegated to parentheses-land.
Given this, choose the more plausible scenario:
That Cheney goes to (the president) and says: "Look, we gotta kneecap Wilson before this manipulated intelligence crap gets out of hand. I wanna have Scooter meet with Miller and slip her some cherry-picked and puffed-up classified info from the NIE. I know I've got the constitutional chops to declassify the stuff myself but why don't you sign off too, just to be on the safe side."
Or that (the president), a man who wouldn't testify in front of the 9/11 Commission without Cheney by his side, suddenly woke up one morning and thought to himself: "I can't allow these irresponsible, unfounded, wild, and flat-out false accusations to go unanswered. I need to selectively declassify the paragraphs at the bottom of page 24 of the 2002 NIE so we can perpetuate the myth that Iraq was 'vigorously trying to procure' uranium from Africa. Then I'll tell Cheney to tell Libby to tell Judy that this was a 'key judgment' of the assessment, even though the 'key judgments' actually don't mention uranium at all. Later, I'll launch an all-out attack on leaks and leaking -- just to throw them off the scent. And, if years later this mess ever comes out, I can always have my press secretary say -- 10 times -- that my decision was 'in the public interest.' Let me get Cheney on the phone and give him his marching orders."
Picture an updated version of that classic SNL sketch where Phil Hartman portrayed Ronald Reagan as a doddering doofus in public who, behind the scenes, turns into a take-charge, on-top-of-every-detail Commander-in-Chief.
Here it's Bush as uber-president -- his hand firmly on the wheel.
As implausible as that scenario sounds, the thought of Bush as our decisive Leaker-in-Chief makes me feel a whole lot better than the reality of Cheney once again calling the shots.
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Yahweh's Chosen Ones
US blocks UN criticism of Israel's 'excessive use of force'
Fri Apr 14, 12:54 AM ET
UNITED NATIONS - The United States blocked as unfairly critical a Security Council statement that would have urged
Israel to refrain from "excessive use of force" against the Palestinians.
The text, under negotiations for the past three days by the 15-member council, came in response to intensive Israeli bombardments of the Gaza Strip over the past few days aimed at putting an end to rocket firing by Palestinian militant groups.
Fifteen Palestinians were killed in Israeli air and artillery strikes over the weekend.
The draft text would have called on Israel "to refrain from excessive use of force" and on the Palestinian Authority to "take a clear public stance against violence."
"The draft text that was negotiated was not fair and balanced and consistent with our long-standing policy. We are not prepared to support a text that distorts the reality in the region," US Ambassador John Bolton told reporters after council consultations on the issue. "We did reject it."
"A lot of changes were made but the balance of the text was still not adequate in our view. We think it was disproportionately critical of Israel and unfairly so and needlessly so," he added.
Palestinian UN representative Ryad Mansour, who had pushed for council action, said the council's 14 other members had shown "a tremendous amount of understanding and flexibility."
"But unfortunately one member (the United States) is shielding and protecting Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people in Gaza and other parts of the occupied territory," he added
Mansour said that at the initiative of the nonaligned movement, the Arab UN group, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and others, the Security Council would hold an open session on the Middle East Monday.
"We will see representatives who will speak on behalf of maybe more than 150 countries to express their outrage at Israeli aggression and attacks and request upholding of international law," he added.
Bolton said he did not think that Monday's meeting would be "productive."
"I don't think the Security Council is an exercise in group therapy," he noted.
Comment: Obviously, the Bush administration values Israeli lives far than Palestinian lives. Is asking either side to refrain from excessive force such a bad thing??
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US to deploy RPG-busting 'force field' - Classified Israeli tech bound for Iraq
By Lester Haines
12th April 2006
The US is to field test an innovative Israeli set-up designed to act as a "force field" around armoured vehicles, protecting them from rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and anti-tank missiles, according to a Fox News report.
The system, dubbed "Trophy", uses radar to track incoming threats and then destroys them when they're in range by attacking the warheads with an "invisible force", according to Fox. Quite how it does this is, unsurprisingly, classified, but Defense Update understands Trophy is "designed to form a 'beam' of fragments, which will intercept any incoming HEAT threat, including RPG rockets at a range of 10 metres to 30 meters from the protected platform".
The countermeasure is, then, actually physical - a fact confirmed by Defense Update, which explains the system has "an automatic reload mechanism to handle multiple attacks", although that's about as specific as it gets.
The sceptical among you should note that Trophy has allegedly completed "hundreds of live tests with the Israel Defense Forces and demonstrated effective neutralisation of anti-tank rockets and guided missiles, high safety levels, insignificant residual penetration, and minimal collateral damage".
Trophy is claimed to be effective against several simultaneous threats from different directions, whether the protected vehicle is stationary or moving, and in all weathers. According to Fox, Trophy will soon get a chance to strut its stuff in Iraq.
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Gloom stalks Gaza as crisis worsens
By Nidal al-Mughrabi
April 14, 2006
GAZA - At the main market in Gaza City, some sellers doze on their vegetable stands. Others call out their prices, but only half-heartedly.
There are few buyers as cuts in foreign aid and Israeli tax transfers to the new Hamas-led Palestinian government bite deeper, especially in the impoverished Gaza Strip.
Having swept the Islamic militant group into power in parliamentary elections in January, partly in the hope that living conditions would improve, some Palestinians are asking if it was worth it.
"People ask about prices and then leave. Only a few are buying," said fruit seller Munir al-Rifi.
"Nobody has received his salary and employees are in debt. If this situation continues, chaos will spread."
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh earlier this month said the new administration, which took office on March 29, was broke. Officials have said they do not know when March salaries for 140,000 government staff will be paid.
The finance minister on Thursday warned of economic collapse within months.
On top of that, internal violence has worsened. Israeli aircraft and artillery have been pounding sites in northern Gaza to stop militants from firing rockets into the Jewish state.
But what hurts many Gazans most is their empty pockets.
Taxis cruising Gaza's streets are empty. Shops and restaurants say business is down.
Supermarket owner Anwar Abu Al-Kass said his revenue had shrunk by half, with government workers buying only basic food and cigarettes -- which they could not pay for in hard cash on the spot anyway.
"I have no idea how long this will go on for but I am too embarrassed to refuse them credit," Abu Al-Kass said.
"If salaries are not paid there will a big crisis and the government could collapse."
Gaza economist Omar Shaban said things would get worse.
"Chaos will be the natural result," he told Reuters.
Senior Hamas leaders say they are doing everything they can. On Friday, Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar travels to Middle Eastern countries to try to drum up aid.
The United States and the European Union have cut off funding to the Palestinian Authority, although Washington has promised more humanitarian aid.
Israel and the United States have called on other nations to boycott Hamas until it disarms and recognizes the Jewish state. Hamas, whose charter commits it to destroying Israel, has refused.
Defiance by Hamas does not change economic reality for Gaza's 1.4 million people. Unemployment hovers at nearly 50 percent and Palestinians live on an average $2 a day.
Ordinary Palestinians had mixed reactions when asked if Hamas should bow to international demands to reform and recognize Israel.
"I support the government negotiating with Israel to get us out of this crisis. We have always depended on Israel in terms of work and goods," said vegetable seller Omran Al-Rahel.
House painter Abu Ahmad laid blame with Hamas's predecessors. "The bad situation resulted from the previous corrupt government," he said.
Few expect Hamas to move aside.
"This government has only one choice and that is to succeed. Whoever bets the government will collapse is a loser," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.
The situation could "explode" unless international pressure eased, he added.
For government worker Hamdi Rajab, compromise was about what to buy at the vegetable stand. He chose the cheapest items.
"We even have to make concessions over what we eat," the father of five said.
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Israel threatens to send troops back into Gaza
April 14, 2006
JERUSALEM - Israel has stepped up threats to send ground troops back into the Gaza Strip despite its historic pullout from the territory last year, should Palestinian militant rocket attacks continue.
In interviews with Israeli newspapers published one day after a small force entered the territory for the first time since September's pullout, two senior army officers said ground operations could be launched in the future.
However both Deputy Chief of Staff Moshe Kaplinski and Major General Yitzhak Harel said they had no illusions that such incursions would stop Palestinian militants from firing rockets into the Jewish state.
In the past week, 18 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli air strikes and tank shelling designed to halt repeated salvoes of makeshift missiles fired by hardline factions such as Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades.
The violence has been the worst since the new Palestinian government led by Hamas, which has refused to renounce violence or recognise Israel, was sworn in last month.
"I do not rule out ground operations if requested by the southern command of Israel. If the time comes, we will launch them," Kaplinski was quoted as saying by the top-selling Yediot Aharonot newspaper.
He admitted, however, that frequent incursions into autonomous Palestinian areas in Gaza before Israel withdrew soldiers and settlers last summer, failed to stop rocket attacks.
He did not deny that the army had extended a unilaterally imposed interdiction zone in the northern Gaza Strip, expanding the area subjected to repeated bombardment to barely 100 metres (yards) from the nearest homes.
Aid organisations and human rights groups, Israeli as well as Palestinian, have accused the military of bombarding civilian targets in the Gaza Strip.
Two of the 18 Palestinians killed since last Friday were young children. Fifteen of them were deemed to be militants.
Kaplinski said Israeli military pressure on the Palestinians was "beginning to bear fruit" but said "more should be done to stop rocket attacks".
In an interview published in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, Harel said Israel could be on the verge of a large-scale ground operation in Gaza unless the rocket attacks cease.
"We will continue escalating our actions... and it is possible that eventually we will launch a ground operation in Gaza," he was quoted as saying.
"We may even be on the verge of a large-scale ground operation in Gaza Strip and the West Bank," he said, albeit recognising that rocket attacks continued when Israeli troops occupied the territory in the past.
Since Israel left Gaza, its military activities have been limited to air strikes, naval bombardment and cross-border artillery firing.
The army again pounded the territory Friday after two rockets were fired into Israel the previous day causing no damage or casualties, a spokesman said.
The newspaper interviews came after Israeli troops entered the Gaza Strip Thursday for the first time since last summer's pullout.
An Israeli military source said a small force entered a short distance through the Kissufim border gates in a "pinpointed" operation to search for explosives left by two militants who were killed late Wednesday.
The two Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades militants had apparently been trying to infiltrate Israel and carry out an attack over the Jewish Passover holiday.
A UN Security Council statement that would have urged Israel to refrain from "excessive use of force" against the Palestinians was blocked by the United States late Thursday, on the grounds that the text was "not fair and balanced".
Under negotiation for the past three days by the 15-member council, the text had sought to respond to Israel's recent intensive bombardment of Gaza.
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US spy threatens to squeal if Israel handler joins cabinet
April 14, 2006
JERUSALEM - A former US Defence Department official jailed for spying for Israel, is threatening to shop secrets about his handler should he become a government minister, a newspaper reported.
In a letter written through his Israeli lawyer to Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Jonathan Pollard complained about his longtime handler Rafi Eitan refusing to hand over an important document requested by US officials.
As long as he keeps the document, Pollard charged that he would remain in jail in the United States, where he is serving a life sentence, according to a copy of the letter seen by the mass-selling Yediot Aharonot newspaper.
Eitan, a former agent of Israel's Mossad overseas intelligence agency, in the 1980s headed the anti-terrorist branch of the service that handled Pollard.
Pollard, an American Jew and former analyst for the navy, gave thousands of secret documents about US spy activities in the Arab world to Israel between May 1984 and his arrest in November 1985.
Just before his arrest, Pollard had tried to seek refuge at the Israeli embassy in Washington.
Today, the 79-year-old Eitan leads the Pensioners' Party which won seven seats in Israel's March 28 parliamentary election and is set to become a partner in Olmert's incoming coalition government.
Pollard has also threatened to appeal to Israel's Supreme Court to prevent Eitan from being nominated a minister under Olmert, calling such an appointment an "infamy and disgrace" for the Jewish state, according to the leaked letter.
Eitan still faces an outstanding Federal Bureau of Investigation arrest warrant for his role as Pollard's handler, making him potentially the first member of an Israeli government sought by US justice.
Last July, a US appeals court refused to reduce the life sentence against Pollard, whose conviction and imprisonment sparked a crisis in relations between Washington and its key Middle East ally.
Successive Israeli governments have asked for Pollard to be freed. He was granted Israeli nationality while in prison in 1998.
US security services say his release would be an intelligence threat.
"Eitan still faces an outstanding Federal Bureau of Investigation arrest warrant for his role as Pollard's handler, making him potentially the first member of an Israeli government sought by US justice." Don't worry - FBI warrant or not, the Neocon gang will ensure that Eitan can get on with his life in peace.
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The Lobby and the Bulldozer: Mearsheimer, Walt and Corrie
by Norman Solomon
Weeks after a British magazine published a long article by two American professors titled "The Israel Lobby," the outrage continued to howl through mainstream U.S. media.
A Los Angeles Times op-ed article by Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow Max Boot helped to set a common tone. He condemned a working paper by professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt that was excerpted last month in the London Review of Books.
The working paper, Boot proclaimed, is "nutty." And he strongly implied that the two professors -- Mearsheimer at the University of Chicago and Walt at Harvard -- are anti-Semitic.
Many who went on the media attack did more than imply. On April 3, for instance, the same day that the Philadelphia Inquirer reprinted Boot's piece from the L.A. Times, a notably similar op-ed appeared in the Boston Herald under the headline "Anti-Semitic Paranoia at Harvard."
And so it goes in the national media echo chamber. When a Johns Hopkins University professor weighed in last week on the op-ed page of the Washington Post, the headline was blunt: "Yes, It's Anti-Semitic." The piece flatly called the Mearsheimer-Walt essay "kooky academic work" -- and "anti-Semitic."
But nothing in the essay is anti-Semitic.
Some of the analysis from Mearsheimer and Walt is arguable. A number of major factors affect Uncle Sam's Middle East policies in addition to pro-Israel pressures. But no one can credibly deny that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee is one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington, where politicians know that they can criticize Israel only at their political peril.
Overall, the Mearsheimer-Walt essay makes many solid points about destructive aspects of U.S. support for the Israeli government. Their assessments deserve serious consideration.
For several decades, to the present moment, Israel's treatment of Palestinian people has amounted to methodical and despicable violations of human rights. Yet criticism of those policies from anyone (including American Jews such as myself) routinely results in accusations of anti-Jewish bigotry.
The U.S. media reaction to the essay by professors Mearsheimer and Walt provides just another bit of evidence that they were absolutely correct when they wrote: "Anyone who criticizes Israel's actions or argues that pro-Israel groups have significant influence over U.S. Middle Eastern policy -- an influence AIPAC celebrates -- stands a good chance of being labeled an anti-Semite. Indeed, anyone who merely claims that there is an Israel Lobby runs the risk of being charged with anti-Semitism, even though the Israeli media refer to America's 'Jewish Lobby.' In other words, the Lobby first boasts of its influence and then attacks anyone who calls attention to it. It's a very effective tactic: anti-Semitism is something no one wants to be accused of."
Sadly, few media outlets in the United States are willing to confront this "very effective tactic." Yet it must be challenged. As the London-based Financial Times editorialized on the first day of this month: "Moral blackmail -- the fear that any criticism of Israeli policy and U.S. support for it will lead to charges of anti-Semitism -- is a powerful disincentive to publish dissenting views. It is also leading to the silencing of policy debate on American university campuses, partly as the result of targeted campaigns against the dissenters."
The Financial Times editorial noted: "Reflexes that ordinarily spring automatically to the defense of open debate and free enquiry shut down -- at least among much of America's political elite -- once the subject turns to Israel, and above all the pro-Israel lobby's role in shaping U.S. foreign policy."
The U.S. government's policies toward Israel should be considered on their merits. As it happens, that's one of the many valid points made by Mearsheimer and Walt in their much-vilified essay: "Open debate will expose the limits of the strategic and moral case for one-sided U.S. support and could move the U.S. to a position more consistent with its own national interest, with the interests of the other states in the region, and with Israel's long-term interests as well."
But without open debate, no significant change in those policies can happen. That inertia -- stultifying the blood of the body politic by constricting the flow of information and ideas -- is antithetical to the kind of democratic discourse that we deserve.
Few other American academics have been willing to expose themselves to the kind of professional risks that John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt took by releasing their provocative paper. And few other American activists have been willing to expose themselves to the kind of risks that Rachel Corrie took when she sat between a Palestinian home and a Caterpillar bulldozer in Gaza three years ago.
The bulldozer, driven by an Israeli army soldier on assignment to demolish the home, rolled over Corrie, who was 23 years old. She had taken a nonviolent position for human rights; she lost her life as a result. But she was rarely praised in the same U.S. media outlets that had gone into raptures over the image of a solitary unarmed man standing in front of Chinese tanks at the time of the Tiananmen Square massacre.
In sharp contrast to the high-tech killers who run the Israeli military apparatus and the low-tech killers who engage in suicide bombings, Rachel Corrie put her beliefs into practice with militant nonviolence instead of carnage. She exemplified the best of the human spirit in action; she was killed with an American-brand bulldozer in the service of a U.S.-backed government.
As her parents, Cindy and Craig Corrie, said in a statement on her birthday a few weeks after she died: "Rachel wanted to bring attention to the plight of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Territories, a people she felt were largely invisible to most Americans."
In the United States, the nonstop pro-Israel media siege aims to keep them scarcely visible.
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Two steps forward for efforts
to correct bias in Mideast studies
By Ron Kampeas
April 11, 2006
WASHINGTON, April 11 (JTA) - The effort by an alliance of Jewish groups to hold government-funded Middle East studies departments accountable took two strides forward in recent weeks, one legislative and one moral.
Congress came a step closer to a mechanism that would monitor how Middle East Studies departments spend federal money, and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, an advisory body, found that anti-Israeli activism could engender a hostile atmosphere for Jews on campus.
On March 30, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a higher education reform bill that for the first time would establish an independent advisory board to make recommendations "that will reflect diverse perspectives and a wide range of views on world regions, foreign language, international affairs, and international business."
At issue is "Title VI," the section of the Education Act passed in the 1950s that established federal funding for universities. The intent was to nurture international studies and create a cadre of Americans who would guide the United States through the thicket of foreign relations.
Longstanding complaints from the Jewish community that many college faculties nurture hostility to Israel instead of scholarship were reinforced after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. A number of academics argued that anti-Israel monomania in Middle East departments helped blind the U.S. policy establishment to the emerging Islamist threat.
Those arguments have resonated in a Washington obsessed with pre-Sept. 11 intelligence failures.
"The events and aftermath of September 11, 2001, have underscored the need for the nation to strengthen and enhance American knowledge of international relations, world regions, and foreign languages," says the House bill passed last month.
The bill also grants the education secretary some discretion in examining whether Middle East Studies departments are producing well-rounded graduates for the U.S. diplomatic, intelligence and defense corps, as envisioned by the Title VI framers.
A JTA investigative series last year found that several of the Middle East Studies centers with anti-Israel and anti-Western agendas have extended their biases even beyond the college campus, delving into public education and developing curricula for middle- and high-school students.
The House bill requires the secretary to take into account when allocating funds "the degree to which activities of centers, programs, and fellowships at institutions of higher education address national interests, generate and disseminate information, and foster debate on international issues from diverse perspectives."
A Senate bill passed last year grants the secretary the same discretion, but the Senate balked at the seven-person advisory body that was included in the House bill. Some senators feared the board invoked unsavory memories of the House Unamerican Activities Committee, the controversial government committee that investigated suspected Communists during the McCarthy era.
However, both the House and Senate bills guarantee that "nothing in this title shall be construed to authorize the International Advisory Board to mandate, direct, or control an institution of higher education's specific instructional content, curriculum, or program of instruction or instructor."
That language has gone some way to assuaging fears in Congress and universities that the advisory board would be coercive.
The House bill was brought to the Senate floor last week; it remains to be seen whether the advisory board will survive efforts to resolve the two competing bills. The American Jewish Congress, which led lobbying for the advisory board, blitzed Congress members in the days before its passage.
Another battlefront for Jewish groups seeking reforms on campus has been the Civil Rights Commission.
The commission is stacked with members sympathetic to the views of the administration in power. It has no enforcement power, but its recommendations are taken seriously by the Education Department's Office of Civil Rights.
Meeting last Monday, the commission voted to:
- Recommend that the Civil Rights Office use Civil Rights Act enforcements, which include funding cuts at universities where Jewish students face a hostile environment;
- Call on university leaders to denounce anti-Semitism;
- Call on universities to "maintain academic standards" and "respect intellectual diversity" in language reminiscent of the House and Senate bills;
- Recommend that the Civil Rights Office inform Jewish students of their rights; and
- Call on Congress to collect data on anti-Semitic and other hate crimes on campuses.
The commission endorsed the recommendations by a 5-1 vote, with one commissioner absent. The commissioner who voted against, Gerald Reynolds, who is the chairman, was unable to shake his concern that a blanket recommendation against anti-Semitism could inhibit Christian proselytizing, a practice he did not endorse but which he believed had constitutional protection.
Perhaps as significant as the recommendations were the commission's findings, which discerned anti-Semitism in "anti-Zionist and anti-Israel propaganda."
That recognition was crucial for the San Francisco-based Institute for Jewish and Community Research, one of the groups that had petitioned the civil rights commission.
"Going to college should involve learning, not getting threatened or being called a Nazi," the institute's founder, Gary Tobin, said in a statement, referring to propaganda comparing Israel to Hitler's Germany.
Susan Tuchman, director of the Zionist Organization of America's Center for Law and Justice, which also petitioned the commission, welcomed the call for university administrators to unequivocally condemn anti-Semitism.
"Many universities have remained silent. That connotes acceptance," she said.
Other petitioners included the AJCongress, the Anti-Defamation League, Hillel and the American Jewish Committee.
Comment: But there isn't any Jewish lobby....
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Call for counter-terror minister
Friday, 14 April 2006
The UK needs a minister dedicated to tackling terrorism, the Commons home affairs select committee chairman said.
No-one in government is in day-to-day charge of bringing together counter terrorism, ex-home office minister John Denham told the BBC.
Initiatives like the Muslim Taskforce, set up after the London bombs, can lose political momentum, he said.
He wants the minister to be involved in discussion and practical work to fight extremist ideas at a community level.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Actually nobody in government is day-to-day in charge of bringing together all the elements of counter terrorism, particularly fighting extremist violent ideas at community level.
"And I think if you had a single minister who brought all of those elements together at a senior point in government you perhaps avoid this problem of things being started and not seen through."
He particularly cited the Muslim Taskforce as an initiative where the momentum may have been lost in what he believes is crucial in the fight against extremist ideas.
Set up to advise the government about the causes of extremism, in the wake of the London Tube bombings last July, the taskforce proposed several ideas, including a Mosques and Imams National Advisory Body (MINAB).
But taskforce members are now critical of the way the MINAB is being set up, and one of them, the British Muslim Forum, has started its own process of consultation with its members and affiliated mosques.
Comment: The Chairman then continued: "Yes indeed, you see, there is a huge threat of terrorism. Now I know some of you have actually used your minds and realised that all these 'terrorist attacks' are false flag operations designed to let people like me pass draconian laws to enslave you, but just forget about all that. What we really need, for our own protection, is a government like the one in that movie... what's it called? V for Vendetta, I think."
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British computer hacker 'could be sent to Guantanamo', court told
Wed Apr 12, 2:18 PM ET
LONDON - A British man who allegedly crippled US defence systems in the "biggest military computer hack of all time" could be sent to Guantanamo Bay if he is extradited, his lawyer argued.
Edmund Lawson told Bow Street Magistrates Court in central London that Washington wanted "administrative revenge" on his client, Gary McKinnon, because he had exposed embarrassing weaknesses in its IT security.
McKinnon, who was described by his lawyer as a "40-year-old computer nerd", is wanted in the United States for allegedly infiltrating systems at the Pentagon, Army, Navy and space agency NASA from his bedroom in north London.
He is alleged to have caused 700,000 dollars (400,000 pounds, 578,000 euros) worth of damage to defence systems and rendered computers inoperable at a naval weapon station at a critical time following the September 11 attacks on the United States.
Lawson argued that US President George W. Bush was unlikely to be bound by an "unsigned and anonymous" diplomatic note the lawyer had received from the US Embassy in London guaranteeing McKinnon would not be treated as an "enemy combatant".
As such, McKinnon -- who was inspired by the 1983 film "WarGames" -- was still vulnerable to a "Military Order Number One", the legal mechanism by which the US president can order a suspect's detention indefinitely, he said.
That risk meant it would be a breach of his human rights to extradite him, he added, noting that even if he was not sent to the US military camp for security suspects at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, he was still likely to face a stiffer jail sentence.
Proceedings began last year when lawyers for the US government called McKinnon's alleged activities "the biggest military computer hack of all time".
Referring to the diplomatic note Wednesday, lawyer Mark Summers said there was no precedent for Washington reneging on its pledge and urged the matter to be taken on "faith".
Judgment was reserved until May 10.
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Prisoner of conscience: RAF doctor who refused Iraq service is jailed
By Kim Sengupta
14 April 2006
"As early as 2004 I regarded the United States to be on par with Nazi Germany as regards its activities in the Gulf,"
Doctor. RAF officer. And now war criminal. Flt Lt Malcolm Kendall-Smith was yesterday jailed for refusing to serve in Iraq
An RAF doctor who refused to serve in Iraq because he believed the war to be illegal was jailed for eight months yesterday.
The conviction and imprisonment of Flight Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith, the first member of the armed forces to be charged with disobeying orders to deploy in Iraq, has provoked widespread condemnation. Anti-war groups declared that a man who had shown great moral courage and acted according to his conscience was being pilloried for his beliefs.
MPs said that the high-profile case illustrated the "legal quagmire" created by Tony Blair's decision to follow George Bush and take part in the conflict.
Kendall-Smith's lawyers said they had received more than 500 messages of support, many of them from serving and former members of the forces.
Bitter accusations and recriminations dominated the trial, which took place at Aldershot barracks. At an earlier hearing, Assistant Judge Advocate Jack Bayliss had ruled the doctor could not use the defence that in refusing military orders he had acted according to his conscience. The judge maintained that the US and British forces were now in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government.
Judge Advocate Bayliss also refused to allow the defence to call as witnesses, among others, Ben Griffin, a member of the SAS who resigned from the Army because he believed the Iraq war was illegal and who refused to serve alongside US forces because of the excesses they committed. Also barred was an Iraqi doctor who had flown to Britain to describe his experience of what has happened to the country following the invasion.
During the hearing Kendall-Smith repeatedly expressed his view that an order for him to deploy to Basra was illegal. He also described the actions of the Americans in Iraq as being akin to the Nazis.
It took the military jury of five RAF officers just one hour and 28 minutes to find Kendall-Smith guilty on all five charges of disobeying orders.
Judge Advocate Bayliss accused Kendall-Smith, a former university tutor of moral philosophy, of "amazing arrogance" and seeking to be a "martyr". The sentence was intended to make an example of him and serve as a warning to others in the forces.
"Obedience of orders is at the heart of any disciplined force. Refusal to obey orders means the force is not a disciplined force but a rabble. Those who wear the Queen's uniform cannot pick and choose which orders they will obey. Those who seek to do so must face the serious consequences," he said.
"We have considered carefully whether it would be sufficient to dismiss you from the Royal Air Force and fine you as well. We do not think that we could possibly be justified in taking such a lenient course. It would send a message to all those who wear the Queen's uniform that it does not matter if they refuse to carry out the policy of Her Majesty's government."
A spokeswoman for the Royal Air Force Prosecuting Authority said: "It is right that Flt Lt Kendall-Smith was prosecuted for disobeying legal orders. British troops are operating in Iraq under a United Nations mandate and at the invitation of the Iraqi government."
As well as the sentence, which will be served in a civilian prison, Kendall-Smith was ordered to pay £20,000 towards his defence costs which were covered by legal aid. The court heard that he had personal savings of £20,000. His solicitor, Justin Hughston-Roberts said the intention was to appeal against both conviction and sentence.
Nick Harvey, the Liberal Democrat spokesman on defence, said "Hostility to the war is not just confined to the public at large, many members of the armed forces share their concern and have genuine moral objections to serving in Iraq.
"This case illustrates the legal quagmire that has developed over the Government's decision to go to war. The Government has repeatedly had to hunt around to find legal justification for this war."
The former Labour MP Tam Dalyell said: "Any servicemen has obligations, but a doctrine was laid down at Nuremberg [trials of Nazis for war crimes] that when orders seem to be a crime against humanity, it was not a sufficient excuse to say simply: 'They were orders and I was doing what I was told.'"
Kate Hudson, chairwoman of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said: "Many people believe the war in Iraq was an illegal war and therefore we would consider he was quite within his rights and it was indeed commendable he believed it was right to stand up to what he considered to be an illegal instruction to engage in an illegal war. We have full sympathy for him and he has our full support. We consider it to be a commendable and moral act."
Lindsey German, convener for the Stop the War Coalition, said: "The majority of public opinion agree this war was not based on international law."
Why he sacrificed his career and his liberty
"I have been convicted and sentenced, a very distressing experience. But I still believe I was right to make the stand that I did and refuse to follow orders to deploy to Iraq - orders I believe were illegal. I am resigned to what may happen to me in the next few months. I shall remain resilient and true to my beliefs which, I believe, are shared by so many others."
"Iraq was the only reason I could not follow the order to deploy. As a commissioned officer, I am required to consider every order given to me. Further, I am required to consider the legality of such an order not only as to its effect on domestic but also international law. I was subjected, as was the entire population, to propaganda depicting force against Iraq to be lawful. I have studied in very great depth the various commentaries and briefing notes, including one prepared by the Attorney General, and in particular the main note to the PM dated 7 March 2003. I have satisfied myself that the actions of the armed forces with the deployment of troops were an illegal act - as indeed was the conflict. To comply with an order that I believe unlawful places me in breach of domestic and international law, something I am not prepared to do."
"The invasion and occupation of Iraq is a campaign of imperial military conquest and falls into the category of criminal acts. I would have had criminal responsibility vicariously if I had gone to Iraq. I still have two great loves in life - medicine and the RAF. To take the decision that I did caused great sadness, but I had no other choice."
'Criminals' in Blair's Britain
She became the first person to be convicted under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA) 2005 last December. She had been arrested with Milan Rai at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, for reading out the names of British soldiers killed in Iraq. She was given a conditional discharge by Bow Street magistrates and ordered to pay £100 costs.
Mr Haw, 56, has held a protest against Britain's involvement in Iraq in Parliament Square since 2001, sleeping in the square. He was the intended target of SOCPA, which states that anyone demonstrating in a half-mile zone in central London must have police permission, but he won a legal battle to continue because his protest began before the law was introduced. The Government has taken the matter to the Court of Appeal.
On Wednesday, Mr Rai was fined £350 and ordered to pay £150 in costs for his unauthorised demonstration at the Cenotaph, where he read out the names of UK soldiers killed in Iraq. He pleaded guilty to breaching SOCPA.
The 72-year-old former RAF pilotfrom Purton, near Swindon, was found guilty of withholding 10 per cent of his income tax in protest at the Iraq war. He had sent a note to the Inland Revenue explaining that he would give the money to charity. But in February magistrates at Chippenham, Wiltshire, dismissed his protest. Bailiffs will take property to cover the £1,215.45 Mr Barker is said to owe.
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French see winners left and right in job row
April 14, 2006
PARIS - Most French believe conservative presidential hopeful Nicolas Sarkozy and his potential Socialist rival Segolene Royal have been strengthened by the dispute over a hated youth jobs law, according to a poll on Friday.
Nearly 90 percent considered President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin to have been weakened by the two-month stand-off which prompted a humiliating government climbdown on Monday, the survey by pollster TNS-Sofres found.
Seventy-one percent of those interviewed said their view of Royal, a regional Socialist leader who confirmed this week that she would probably bid to be France's first female president in 2007, had been boosted by the dispute.
Some 55 percent agreed that Sarkozy, the interior minister who long urged Villepin to back down and seek a compromise with protesting students, had also been strengthened.
The poll of 1,000 people conducted on April 11-12 confirmed other survey findings that Chirac and his close ally Villepin have been severely undermined by their handling of sometimes violent protests which drew millions onto the streets.
That could weigh on the French right as a whole, with the survey noting that 59 percent of its voters were disappointed or angry at the government's capitulation. On the left, 81 percent of voters expressed either relief or satisfaction.
Chirac agreed on Monday to scrap the First Job Contract (CPE), aimed at creating jobs by making it easier to hire and fire the under-26s but which critics argued would only create more job insecurity.
Royal, an elegant and photogenic 52-year-old, played no role in the CPE row. She has graced magazine front covers in the past week as she pursued calls for a strengthening of family values, law and order and social justice.
A poll by the Ipsos institute held at the weekend showed that Royal would pip Sarkozy by 51 percent to 49 percent if the presidential poll were held right now.
Villepin nurtured hopes of running for president but many analysts see those hopes all but destroyed by the CPE protests, which has sent his popularity ratings spinning to record lows.
France's ruling conservatives used their parliamentary majority on Thursday to rush through a bill killing off the CPE contract and replacing it with less controversial financial incentives for employers to take on young workers.
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U.K. Terror law in disarray after judge's ruling
Ministers may now "hesitate" before using anti-terrorist powers against suspected extremists after a court ruling against control orders, a security watchdog said last night.
Lord Carlile, the government's independent assessor of terrorism laws, gave his view after a High Court judge in London ruled that ministers' powers to put accused terrorists under house arrest contravene human rights laws.
The Home Office has vowed to appeal against the ruling on control orders, which would tear a hole in the government's anti-terrorism legislation if upheld by a higher court.
The case concerns the orders currently imposed by ministers on a dozen men, British nationals and foreign citizens, whom the security services assess to pose a threat to the UK.
The orders are subject to limited judicial oversight and impose strict curbs on recipients, confining them to their homes, denying them access to phones or computers and obliging them to contact the authorities several times a day.
One of the 12, a Briton identified only as MB, challenged the law giving ministers the power to impose the orders.
The court heard yesterday that MI5, the Security Service, believes that MB is linked to international terrorists. Reports have suggested he was detained more than once at British airports trying to travel to Iraq to join insurgent forces there. His lawyer insists he was on his way to Syria for a peaceful holiday.
Mr Justice Sullivan yesterday ruled that the Home Office had not given MB a proper right to a legal challenge against his control order.
The limited judicial oversight the government allows is only a "thin veneer of legality", the judge said, ruling that the control orders system breaches the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights, which is enshrined in Britain's Human Rights Act.
Mudassar Arani, the lawyer for MB, said the ruling was a "slap across the face" for the government and challenged ministers to give her client an open trial, where any evidence against him would be heard in public.
Human rights groups, including Liberty and Amnesty International, also hailed the court ruling and insisted that MB and the other "controlees" must be tried in public. But the Home Office last night vowed to challenge Mr Justice Sullivan's ruling and insisted that as the evidence against the "controlees" comes from the intelligence services, they cannot have open trials.
"The government believes that control orders are the best way of addressing the continuing threat posed by suspected terrorists who cannot currently be prosecuted or, in respect of foreign nationals, removed from the UK," a Home Office spokesman said.
While yesterday's judgment does not mean that any of the existing control orders will be lifted, Lord Carlile last night said that the dispute over the law giving ministers control powers could have an effect on the use of those powers in future.
"A badly-worded law could have unintended consequences - the government may have to hesitate before making [control] orders," Lord Carlile told BBC Radio Four. If the government's appeal fails, Lord Carlile said, ministers will have to amend the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
Since that act was passed, the government has been defeated in the Commons on a separate move to allow police to detain terrorist suspects without charge for up to 90 days.
In that political environment, opposition parties warn, any attempt to amend the control orders legislation could be difficult.
"If this judicial judgment cannot be overturned, we will find that, yet again, the government's incompetence has put the liberty and safety of our citizens at risk," said David Davis, the Conservative home affairs spokesman.
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RAF's Microwaves Frying Cars' Computers
22 Feb 06
Motorists in north Norfolk have recently experienced an unusual spate of breakdowns, their cars suffering a variety of strange electrical and electronic problems, reports The Guardian.
Cars travelling on the coast road from Mundesley to Cromer have stalled, their electronic instrument panels blanked out, their speedometers gone crazy and their clocks stopped. Local garages have reported calls from nearly 100 motorists in the past few days, with problems in a variety of cars. One woman found that the fuseboard of her Nissan Almera had been 'fried', causing the meltdown of her entire digital display.
The Ministry of Defence, though it has not admitted liability, is currently investigating claims that the cars, all modern vehicles with electronic immobilisers and on-board computers, have been affected by microwave radiation from the radar station at RAF Trimingham. Local residents, who say that the radar station has also interfered with their TV signals, have lodged an official complaint.
An MoD spokeswoman told The Guardian: 'We have received a number of complaints recently about problems with people's cars when they drive past the radar and we are investigating.'
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Mass Graves Of Children Found Near Montreal; Another Duplessis Orphan Tells Of Being Tortured As A Child In CIA Experimentation Programs
By Greg Szymanski
13 April 06
Another Duplessis Orphan has come forward with horror stories, including electro shock therapy, straight jacket sessions and mind altering drugs injections after being subjected to illegal government experimentation programs as a young child.
Pierre Sampson, 60, of Vancouver, Canada endured the torturous treatment for six long years until at the age of 14 when he finally escaped.
But thousands of other Duplessis Orphans weren't as lucky, as investigators recently uncovered a mass grave outside of Montreal where the bones of hundreds of children are buried in a mass grave.
Called the "pigsty" since the grave site is located next to a hog farm, Rod Vienneau, whose wife was also a child victim, said a push is now underway to exhume the bodies with strong resistance from governments on both side of the border, both denying any involvement in the face of compelling evidence to the contrary.
"I have been researching this atrocity for more than 10 years since my wife went public about being abused as one of the orphans," said Rod Vienneau this week on Greg Szymanski's radio show, The Investigative Journal, regarding the Duplessis Orphans, who may number more than 50,000 and named after former Prime Minister Maurice Duplessis, a key figure in the child experimentation cover-up.
"We have documentation proving the link among with the CIA, the United States government and the Canadian government, all of them willing accomplices to the illegal experimentation of children.
"Thousands of children have died, thousands of others have endured great suffering and there remains about 3,000 surviving victims we know about who are still seeking justice. What's even more astonishing is that the illegal experimentation is still taking place while we speak."
Sampson, who went public for the first time in the United States on The Investigative Journal, is one of tens of thousands of children who were reduced to experimental guinea pigs by unscrupulous doctors, some known Nazi war criminals in a CIA program starting in the 1950's.
Recently, a Canadian high court in 2004 awarded damages to adult mind control victims in a related case, pinning the CIA with responsibility as well as their unscrupulous doctors, including Dr. Ewin Cameron.
For a further look at Dr. Cameron's nefarious activities, a book called The Most Dangerous Game traces the history of top-secret CIA mind control operation MK-ULTRA: from the covert importation of NAZI scientists at the end of WWII, to the illegal brainwashing experiments conducted on the patients of psychiatric researcher, Dr Cameron.
The same type of testing Dr Cameron and others performed on adults is now being traced to innocent children, as advocates for the Duplessis Orphans contend their evil knows no age limits.
Regarding Sampson's personal story, he said at the age of six he was transferred from a Catholic orphanage to a mental institution even though he was both mentally and physically sound as church and civil authorities overnight changed his paperwork, indicating he was mentally ill.
"After researching what happened," said Sampson, who also appeared this week on The Investigative Journal. "The Church made a deal with the government to turn over perfectly healthy children in return for money, giving the doctors the ability to experiment at will since we were all considered insane.
"To this day my records haven't been changed. Although I have never been mentally ill, my records still haven't been changed."
The link Sampson makes between the infiltrated Catholic Church and corrupted civil authorities is disturbing, indicating a consolidation of corruption not only in government but extending all the way to Rome and beyond.
According to Vienneau and Sampson, this inhumane treatment was accomplished with the full authority, cooperation and funding of the American and Canadian governments together with corrupted elements of the Catholic Church, one of the government's main suppliers of children used like experimental guinea pigs.
"I hope one day we can get justice and remove this evil element of people from the continent," said Vienneau. "How can we live in a society and trust a government who is killing our own children? These people will never admit to what they done and the only thing we can do is gather enough support among good people to have these corrupted leaders removed."
Vienneau also outlined what his main motives are in seeking justice for his wife, Sampson and the many other children abused by the illegal experimentation programs.
"Criminal acts: Horrific criminal acts were done to thousands of innocent children here on Canadian soil ranging from murders, tortures; disappearance of children; lobotomy's and experimental drugs and falsely labeling thousands of innocent young children from 1935 to 1975 and nobody has yet been held accountable for these free criminal acts done to the Duplessis orphans.
"Thousands of orphans were falsely labeled mentally ill, and today, this label still hangs heavy on the orphans shoulders, This label has not yet been erased, this alone is a criminal act.
"The Quebec government, the College of Physicians of Quebec; the Roman Catholic church of Quebec; the Quebec Public Trustee;(Guardianship) and the federal government of Canada and America have not yet acknowledged the harm done to thousands of young children here in Quebec.
"Constitutional Rights : The Quebec government took away the Duplessis orphans rights to defend themselves in a court of law since 1995, all though four members of parliament stated that the orphans could take a lawyer at any time for their case, but it has been 11 years now that many orphans have been trying to get a lawyer for their case but to no avail.
"Lawyer Daniel Lighter, told me flatly that the Duplessis orphans case is locked shut tight since over fifteen years. The Duplessis orphans have no Constitutional rights, it all boils down to a huge cover up."
Editor's Note: It's beyond the realm of human comprehension how newspaper owners in the mainstream lack the decency to mount an investigation for the memory of all the dead children and the many others who have suffered at the hands of corrupted politicians and church leaders.
By ignoring this story for more than five decades, major newspaper owners in the United States should be branded as co-conspirators along with the corrupted church leaders and politicians, who all march to the altar in lockstep every Sunday with the blood of the Duplessis Orphans dripping from their dirty hands.
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Russia no 'junior partner' for US: Gorbachev
April 14, 2006
MOSCOW - Mikhail Gorbachev, the ex-Soviet leader credited with a crucial role in ending the Cold War, has lamented rising tension in US-Russian relations but made clear Moscow would not be consigned by Washington to the role of "junior partner" on the world stage.
In an article published in the government daily Rossyskaya Gazeta, Gorbachev said there had of late been "several worrying trends in relations between the United States and Russia" on topics ranging from Middle East security to Russian democracy and influence in former Soviet republics.
Prominent politicians in both countries -- he singled out US Senator John McCain out in particular -- spoke of the US-Russian bilateral relationship more frequently in terms that smacked of Cold War-style rhetoric and that undermined huge gains made in the past two decades.
"I can say with full responsibility that the policy of dialogue and cooperation taken by the Russian and US presidents is supported by the political and social circles of our countries," Gorbachev wrote.
"But recently the worry has arisen: Will this policy continue?"
Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, said "euphoria" that swept Russia in the 1990s about the prospect of close relations with the United States had been replaced by disillusionment after Washington "applauded" radical reformers whose policies plunged Russia into crisis.
"At the same time, the United States reserved the role for itself in the international arena as prosecutor, judge and policeman. This could not but have been rejected, and not only by Russia."
Experience in relations between Moscow and Washington dating back to the 1980s and continuing through the administration of former US President Bill Clinton had helped build trust and Russia was interested in cooperation with the United States in a variety of areas.
"But this must be on the basis of equals. Russia will not accept the role of junior partner that it has been tapped for" by Washington, he said.
Gorbachev rejected US critics who accuse President
Vladimir Putin of rolling democracy back in Russia.
"Russia is only starting down the road of democratic reform, but it will not stray from this road. President Putin does not want this and he will not establish an authoritarian regime in Russia," he wrote.
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Moussaoui Details His Hatred of America
By MATTHEW BARAKAT
April 14, 2006
ALEXANDRIA , Va. - Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui insists he does not want to be executed, but for the second time he took the stand at his death-penalty trial and spouted off in a way that could eliminate any chance for mercy.
Moussaoui mocked the tearful testimony of 9/11 victims and their families and wished for similar attacks every day until America falls. He gave a detailed explanation of his hatred for America, flipping through a Quran on the witness stand trying to find justification for his views.
Moussaoui's testimony Thursday at his death-penalty trial came as defense lawyers sought to show Moussaoui was crazy and prosecutors sought to show he was simply evil.
Both sides made their point at various times, but the most visceral testimony came as Moussaoui again reveled in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, just one day after the jury concluded a week of gut-wrenching testimony from 9/11 families and victims.
Moussaoui called an Army officer who crawled on his belly to safety beneath searing smoke "pathetic" and ridiculed a Navy officer who wept as she described the loss of two colleagues.
"I think it was disgusting for a military person" to cry, Moussaoui said of the testimony of Navy Lt. Nancy McKeown. "She is military, she should expect people at war with her to want to kill her."
Asked if he was happy to hear her sobbing, he said, "Make my day."
Prosecutor Rob Spencer asked Moussaoui: "So you would be happy to see 9/11 again?"
"Every day until we get you," the 37-year-old Frenchman responded with enthusiasm.
At other times, Moussaoui espoused beliefs that simply seemed bizarre. He insisted that President Bush would free him from prison some time before his term ends in 2009, perhaps as part of a prisoner exchange. He said it was revealed to him in a dream, just like his plan to fly a plane into the White House.
Spencer tried several times to get Moussaoui to say he didn't really think it would happen, but Moussaoui was resolute.
"I haven't doubted it for one single second," Moussaoui said.
Moussaoui said he didn't think his previous testimony on March 27, in which he said publicly for the first time that he was to have piloted a fifth plane on 9/11, would hurt him with the jury. That testimony put Moussaoui at the center of the 9/11 plot in a way that prosecutors hadn't even hoped to prove at the trial's outset.
Moussaoui said Allah will protect him as long as he tells the truth, no matter what the jury thinks of him.
Pressed by defense lawyer Gerald Zerkin if he thought he was helping his case, Moussaoui responded: "I was putting my trust in God, so from an Islamic point of view, yes," acknowledging that non-Muslims might view his testimony as harmful.
He denied that he is secretly sabotaging his case as a means to achieve martyrdom through execution. "I want to fight," he said.
He said that if he were in charge of his own defense he might have played up the notion that he could have been used as part of a prisoner exchange for captured American troops.
Moussaoui has taken the stand twice now in his own defense, both times against the advice of his court-appointed lawyers.
Defense lawyers say their client is lying about his role in Sept. 11. They point to four years of denials by Moussaoui of involvement in the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people, and a lack of supporting evidence for his new claim. They suggest he either seeks martyrdom or an inflated role in history.
During his 2 1/2 hours on the stand, Moussaoui offered a lengthy explanation of why he hates Americans. Islam requires Muslims to be the world's superpower, he said as he paged through the Quran.
"We have an obligation to be the superpower. You have to be subdued," Moussaoui said. "America is a superpower and you want to eradicate Islam."
He also criticized U.S. support for Israel, which he called "the Jewish state of Palestine." "Every child who has been killed in Palestine has been killed because of you," he said. Israel is "just a missing star in the American flag," he added.
Moussaoui's second act didn't quite captivate the jury in the same way as his first appearance. Jurors did not feel compelled to keep their eyes on him through the duration of his testimony, as they did last month.
The trial resumes Monday. U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema told jurors they will likely begin deliberations early next week.
Moussaoui has already pleaded guilty and a jury has already found him eligible for the death penalty. The jury must now decide whether he should be put to death or be sentenced to life in prison.
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Flashback: Moussaoui's mother claims he was drugged
March 7, 2006
ALEXANDRIA, Virginia - The mother of Zacarias Moussaoui saw him in court Tuesday for the first time in years and claimed that he had been drugged.
Aicha el-Wafi traveled from France to attend her son's death penalty hearing, where prosecutors are arguing that Moussaoui, a confessed Al-Qaeda conspirator, should be put to death for his role in the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.
"That is not Zacary," said Aicha el-Wafi, 59, speaking in French during a break in her son's sentencing trial on Tuesday. "He is too calm. He doesn't even budge."
"It's another Zac," continued his mother, visibly upset. "I believe, in this moment, he has been drugged, in order for him to be calm and not disturb anybody."
The French-born Moussaoui, who has confessed his role as an Al-Qaeda conspirator, faces death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Aicha el-Wafi has not seen her youngest son since July 2002.
On Tuesday Moussaoui entered the courtroom and glanced at the public, ignoring his mother. He never looked towards her during the proceedings.
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Flashback: 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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Flashback: Moussaoui's mom lashes out at US, al-Qaeda
PARIS, April 6, 2006 (AFP)
The mother of Zacarias Moussaoui, facing a possible death sentence for the September 11 attacks in the United States, lashed out at both the US government and the al-Qaeda terror network for putting her son's life at stake.
"It is the American government which is responsible for the good and the bad in the world, and they (the Americans) have found the ideal person to blame," said Aicha el-Wafi in a telephone interview with the Paris bureau of AFP.
"My son is going to be condemned to death for things he did not do and he is going to die because he is an Arab," she said.
Moussaoui, a French national of Moroccan origin, has confessed to being an al-Qaeda conspirator, but he has maintained he was due to fly a jetliner into the White House in follow-up attacks and not in the September 11 strikes.
For his mother, Osama bin Laden's terror network is also at fault for abandoning Moussaoui in the wake of the 2001 attacks.
"I would like to know what has happened to all those al-Qaeda chiefs, they must out there somewhere, laughing, while my son is going to die."
She says he is "fed up with this circus, and he is paying for the Islamists and the Americans. He is not responsible for the September 11 attacks."
On Monday, the jury at a court in Alexandria, Virginia, ruled that Moussaoui was eligible for the death penalty. They are now being asked to weigh mitigating or aggravating factors before deciding whether to impose capital punishment.
Until last month in the suburban Washington courtroom, el-Wafi had not seen her youngest son since July 2002.
When asked about her son's sometimes aggressive behavior - even suicidal - and outbursts during court appearances, she said he "wanted to end his life."
"My son told me (on the telephone)'I know that they want my head so I give it to them'," she said.
Her 37-year-old son has his reasons for being aggressive.
"Each time that he asked to see parts of his dossier, the Americans told him that it was a 'state secret'. It is easy to say that but it is a state lie."
She still does not know if she will return to the United States to attend the death penalty phase of his trial.
"I know that the worst is going to happen," she said, convinced that her son will face execution.
Moussaoui who suffers from arthritis wears "an electric belt around his waist" and has swelled up. "They say he is drugged," el-Wafi said.
Moussaoui, a self-proclaimed "slave of Allah," had a rough childhood in southwestern France before hearing the call to jihad for the first time at mosques in London, where he studied international business.
He was arrested in August 2001, weeks before the world's deadliest terror attack, which killed nearly 3,000 people.
But prosecutors contend he knew in advance of the strike and did not mention it to FBI investigators, so he is as guilty as the September 11 hijackers who steered airliners into landmark buildings in New York and Washington.
His court-appointed lawyers, trying to save him from death by lethal injection, have described him as a bit of a buffoon, quoting one terror suspect who branded Moussaoui "cuckoo in the head", claiming he was kicked off the team by "real terrorists" who found him a "headache".
According to his mother, Moussasaoui has been locked up in a "two meters by three" cell where "he doesn't know if it is day or night," his mother said.
He does not have a television or radio, and the only way he gets news is "from his guards who pass him messages" about what "is happening outside" the prison, she said.
"I would like to see him and speak to him calmly, like a mother to a son, away from journalists, from everyone," she said.
The mother also had harsh words for the French authorities who "have done nothing to help my son" and who, once "he is condemned to death," will only then rise up "to say they are against capital punishment."
"My son is an Islamist, I do not deny that, but is that a reason to kill him?" she asked.
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Buying the Lie of 9/11
Physicist says heat substance felled WTC
By Suzanne Dean
For the Deseret Morning News
10 April 06
EPHRAIM - A Brigham Young University physicist said he now believes an incendiary substance called thermite, bolstered by sulfur, was used to generate exceptionally hot fires at the World Trade Center on 9/11, causing the structural steel to fail and the buildings to collapse.
"It looks like thermite with sulfur added, which really is a very clever idea," Steven Jones, professor of physics at BYU, told a meeting of the Utah Academy of Science, Arts and Letters at Snow College Friday.
The government requires standard explosives to contain tag elements enabling them to be traced back to their manufacturers. But no tags are required in aluminum and iron oxide, the materials used to make thermite, he said. Nor, he said, are tags required in sulfur.
Jones is co-chairman, with James H. Fetzer, a distinguished professor of philosophy at the University of Minnesota of Scholars for 9/11 Truth, a group of college faculty members who believe conspirators other than pilots of the planes were directly involved in bringing down New York's Trade Towers.
The group, which Jones said has 200 members, maintains a Web site at www.st911.org. A 40-page paper by Jones, along with other peer-reviewed and non-reviewed academic papers, are posted on the site.
Last year, Jones presented various arguments for his theory that explosives or incendiary devices were planted in the Trade Towers, and in WTC 7, a smaller building in the Trade Center complex, and that those materials, not planes crashing into the buildings, caused the buildings to collapse.
At that time, he mentioned thermite as the possible explosive or incendiary agent. But Friday, he said he is increasingly convinced that thermite and sulfur were the root causes of the 9/11 disaster.
He told college professors and graduate students from throughout Utah gathered for the academy meeting that while almost no fire, even one ignited by jet fuel, can cause structural steel to fail, the combination of thermite and sulfur "slices through steel like a hot knife through butter."
He ticked off several pieces of evidence for his thermite fire theory:
First, he said, video showed a yellow, molten substance splashing off the side of the south Trade Tower about 50 minutes after an airplane hit it and a few minutes before it collapsed. Government investigators ruled out the possibility of melting steel being the source of the material because of the unlikelihood of steel melting. The investigators said the molten material must have been aluminum from the plane.
But, said Jones, molten aluminum is silvery. It never turns yellow. The substance observed in the videos "just isn't aluminum," he said. But, he said, thermite can cause steel to melt and become yellowish.
Second, he cited video pictures showing white ash rising from the south tower near the dripping, liquefied metal. When thermite burns, Jones said, it releases aluminum-oxide ash. The presence of both yellow-white molten iron and aluminum oxide ash "are signature characteristics of a thermite reaction," he said.
Another item of evidence, Jones said, is the fact that sulfur traces were found in structural steel recovered from the Trade Towers. Jones quoted the New York Times as saying sulfidization in the recovered steel was "perhaps the deepest mystery uncovered in the (official) investigation." But, he said, sulfidization fits the theory that sulfur was combined with thermite to make the thermite burn even hotter than it ordinarily would.
Jones said a piece of building wreckage had a gray substance on the outside that at one point had obviously been a dripping molten metal or liquid. He said that after thermite turns steel or iron into a molten form, and the metal hardens, it is gray.
He added that pools of molten metal were found beneath both trade towers and the 47-story WTC 7. That fact, he said, was never discussed in official investigation reports.
And even though WTC 7 was not connected to the Trade Towers - in fact, there was another building between it and the towers -and even though it was never hit by a plane, it collapsed. That suggests, he said, that it came down because a thermite fire caused its structural steel to fail.
Jones said his studies are confined to physical causes of the collapses, and he doesn't like to speculate about who might have entered the buildings and placed thermite and sulfur. But he said 10 to 20 people "in the know," plus other people who didn't know what they were doing but did what they were told, could have placed incendiary packages over several weeks.
© 2006 Deseret News Publishing Company
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More tales of horror in 9/11 trial
By GREG GORDON
Apr 12, 2006
Thirteen more Sept. 11 victims and family members strode to the witness stand Tuesday as jurors endured a third day of graphic evidence of the horrors and haunting impact of the nation's worst terror attack.
While the material was supposedly toned down in response to defense lawyers' complaints, it included videos of American Airlines Flight 77 hitting the building at 530 miles per hour and photos of charred bodies _ one on a stretcher and another sitting upright in an office _ of some of the 64 airline passengers and crew and 125 Pentagon workers who died that day.
Army Lt. Col. John Thurman said that when he was blown back from his desk, he first thought terrorists had planted bombs in the Pentagon _ not smashed it with a Boeing 757 jetliner.
Thurman, now 39, and two colleagues lay in the darkness on Sept. 11, 2001, their heads on the carpet to avoid choking smoke and the searing heat from a "curtain of fire" nearby, he told a riveted federal jury Tuesday.
He credited his harrowing escape to a wave of anger that swept over him just as he was succumbing to the smoke _ anger that terrorists would kill him and that his parents would lose their eldest child on the same day their first grandchild was to be born. His colleagues weren't so lucky.
Thurman, other Pentagon employees and a Navy officer's widow shared their stories and their grief, some for the first time publicly, as federal prosecutors neared completion of their case for the execution of confessed al Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui.
On Wednesday, prosecutors plan to air for the first time publicly the cockpit voice recording of passengers of United Airlines Flight 93 who rushed to take back that plane before it crashed in a Pennsylvania field.
Thirteen more Sept. 11 victims and family members strode to the witness stand Tuesday as jurors endured a third day of graphic evidence of the horrors and haunting impact of the nation's worst terror attack.
While the material was supposedly toned down in response to defense lawyers' complaints, it included videos of American Airlines Flight 77 hitting the building at 530 miles per hour and photos of charred bodies _ one on a stretcher and another sitting upright in an office _ of some of the 64 airline passengers and crew and 125 Pentagon workers who died that day.
Moussaoui, who was found eligible for the death penalty last week, seemed unfazed. He smiled as an FBI agent summarized the damage to the military's headquarters, and during a recess shouted: "Burn all Pentagon next time!"
Prosecutors also played air traffic control tapes in which a pilot of United Flight 93 shouted "Mayday! Mayday! Get out of here!" moments before his apparent stabbing death as hijackers seized the cockpit.
Moussaoui's court-appointed lawyers, who will begin their last push to spare his life on Thursday, asked U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema to subpoena testimony from attempted shoe-bomber Richard Reid, who is in a federal prison in Colorado. Brinkema issued a sealed writ for a witness not identified publicly. Defense lawyers are seeking to show that Moussaoui lied in testifying that, before his Aug. 16, 2001 arrest in the Twin Cities, he was training to pilot a fifth plane on Sept. 11 with Reid in his crew.
As witnesses told of the Pentagon strike, Alice Fisher, chief of the Justice Department's Criminal Division, sat teary-eyed in the front row.
Pentagon police officer Jose Rojas Jr., 43, described rushing to his boss' office upon learning that morning that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. Then a jet hit the other tower.
"All of us just said together . . . 'We're next,' " Rojas said.
Moments later, he said, the building shook and he looked out at "a mushroom cloud of fire." Rojas said he ran around the perimeter of the building and heard "moaning, groaning, screaming" through blown-out windows. He shouted to people to come "to the sound of my voice," he said, and a man approached. But when Rojas grabbed his hands, his skin was so burned it came off.
"I had to dig my fingernails into his flesh," Rojas said. "He screamed. I carried him as far as I could."
Rojas said he rescued nine people, eight of whom survived.
Thurman, a major who was working on Pentagon promotion policies on Sept. 11, said the initial blast may have temporarily deafened him, because he could not hear two colleagues _ Lt. Col. Karen Wagner and William Ruth _ as they crawled to him in the dark.
Ruth soon stopped talking, and Wagner did so later, he said. As he nearly drifted off to sleep, he said, he suddenly "got very angry that this was the method that I was going to die . . . that terrorism was going to take my life." He said he mustered his strength, pushed some file cabinets and opened a door into a smoke-free hallway. A senior Pentagon official tried to go back inside to search for Wagner and Ruth, but the heat was too intense, he said.
Thurman said he knew 26 of the dead and now feels "guilt about getting the lucky break."
Navy Lt. Nancy McKeown, a 42-year-old meteorologist, similarly groped her way to a hallway where she was carried to safety. Sobbing, she said she later escorted the body of one of her two dead aides, Petty Officer Tom Earhart, home to Kentucky for his funeral, ensuring that "his buttons were buttoned and his medals were straight."
Shari Tolbert, 37, of California, was also in tears as she described life without her husband, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Vincent Tolbert, of Lemoore, Calif.
"I get to raise three kids alone. I get to never have a 50th anniversary. I get to go to church alone. I get to go to bed alone. That's what I get."
Comment: If you are even remotely inclined to be taken in by this story of alleged videos of a 757 impacting the Pentagon, stop and spend some time HERE and HERE instead.
Notice also that this story appears on Capitol Hill Blue. Doug Thompson, the editor of Capitol Hill Blue, recently wrote that he went to the Pentagon on 9/11 and took photographs of the attack. He claimed:
"I was at the Pentagon the day the plane hit. I interviewed witnesses, saw the damage and smelled the burning aviation fuel. I watched the videotape from the Pentagon's heliport landing pad that showed the plane hitting the building."
When Douglas Herman questioned Thompson, pointing out that only top government insiders - FBI, Pentagon, NSA - had access to the heliport videotapes (which have never been shown publicly), asking him HOW exactly he saw them, Thompson never responded.
As Herman sez: One has to wonder how an average, dissident citizen like Thompson is allowed to see top-secret videotapes never shown to American citizens.
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Autopsy Links Policeman Death to Sept. 11 Clean-up
By AMY WESTFELDT
NEW YORK (AP) -- The death of a 34-year-old police detective who developed respiratory disease after working at ground zero is "directly related" to Sept. 11, 2001, a New Jersey coroner said in the first known ruling positively linking a death to cleanup work at the World Trade Center site.
James Zadroga's family and union released his autopsy results Tuesday, saying they were proof of the first death of a city police officer related to recovery work after the terrorist attacks.
"It is felt with a reasonable degree of medical certainty that the cause of death in this case was directly related to the 9/11 incident," wrote Gerard Breton, a pathologist at the Ocean County (N.J.) medical examiner's office in the Feb. 28 autopsy.
Zadroga died on Jan. 6 of respiratory failure and had inflammation in his lung tissue due to "a history of exposure to toxic fumes and dust," Breton wrote.
The detective spent 470 hours after the attacks sifting through the twin towers' smoldering ruins, wearing a paper mask for protection. His breathing became labored within weeks, he developed a cough and he had to use an oxygen tank to breathe. He retired on disability in November 2004.
The coroner found material "consistent with dust" in Zadroga's lungs and damage to his liver and said his heart and spleen were enlarged.
Zadroga's parents and 4-year-old daughter appeared at a news conference with half a dozen other detectives who said they have suffered from cancer, strokes, lung disease and other ailments because of post-Sept. 11 work at the trade center site.
A class action lawsuit and families of ground zero workers have alleged more than two dozen deaths are related to exposure to trade center dust, which doctors believe contained a number of toxic chemicals including asbestos and more than 1 million tons of tower debris.
"They all knew it was detrimental to their health," said Joseph Zadroga, James Zadroga's father. "They all knew that, yet they stayed there."
Doctors running health screening programs, including a city registry following tens of thousands of people, say it will take decades to truly assess the health effects of working at the trade center site.
"The World Trade Center Health Registry will help us draw meaningful conclusions about the long-term health effects of the WTC disaster," the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said in an e-mailed statement. "While the registry is not designed to track individual diagnoses, staff continue to evaluate the health of the nearly 71,000 residents, children, rescue and recovery workers and volunteers enrolled."
© 2006 The Associated Press.
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Flight 93 cockpit recording is a hoax (update)
Dr Sahib Mustaqim Bleher
I will stick my neck out and declare it a hoax: Jurors in the al-Moussaoui trial were shown alleged cockpit voice recordings of the final stages of the hijacking of United Airlines flight 93. It was played to the court accompanied by a video showing gruesome pictures of charred bodies, so it was intended to stir emotions rather than to provide hard evidence. The defence team's objections to the type of evidence were over-ruled.
It took the authorities a long time to come up with evidence from the flight recorders which they had earlier stated were not recoverable. It seems to me they still did a rather sloppy job when replacing the real recordings with this dramatic production. Here is why:
First of all, Cockpit voice recordings and recordings of air traffic communications are separated, yet in this case they appear together. I only have the transcript to go by since the actual recordings have not been released. I cannot establish from the transcript at what volume certain parts of it appear. It is possible that the crew instead of using headsets would have switched air traffic communications onto the cabin loud speakers so that they would also be audible in the cockpit. It does, however, not explain why we can hear communications from air traffic control and another plane on the frequency, but we cannot hear the communications by flight 93 crew to air traffic control, although those should have been a lot more audible.
According to the transcript air traffic control received a communication that there was a bomb on board, but we do not hear the pilots stating so. Air traffic control ask another plane on the frequency whether this is what they heard and they confirm. This means that the pilots must have stated so on the frequency. Air traffic control could not have gauged this information from the transponder code selected by the pilots as this would not be accessible to the crew of the third plane nor would it be specific. There is a transponder code for hijacking, but not for a bomb on board. Air traffic control could not have taken this information from what the hijackers said either, since to transmit a message to air traffic control the pilot has to press a push-to-talk button and the noise cancelling microphone will not pick up anything from the background.
However, let's assume, unlikely as this is, that they did pick up what the hijackers said according to the transcript, namely: "Ladies and Gentlemen. Here the captain, please sit down keep remaining seating. We have a bomb on board. So sit." Here the script writers for the audio/video presentation made their biggest blunder. According to the script those remarks were made in Arabic. Air traffic could have got them translated, although not instantaneously, and they would have had to figure out what language they were dealing with first, but there is no chance that the crew of Executive Jet 956, the third plane on the frequency, could have understood those remarks.
The script writers made sure that there is plenty of Arabic in the recording to firmly establish the origin of the hijackers. They also add plenty of Bismillahs and Allahu akbars to show that these are Muslim fanatics. With the above quoted remark they have, however, gone over the top by making the translation sound foreign as well. Either they had a very incompetent translator or they weren't sure whether they should script this remark in Arabic or English - "keep remaining seating" sure does not sound like a good translation.
There is a problem with this opening sentence being in Arabic. From the content one would assume that it is addressed to the plane's passengers as it starts with "Ladies and Gentlemen." From the context it is said in the cabin upon first encounter with the captain. You can't talk from the flight deck to the passengers except over the intercom system, so it is unclear who the addressees of these sentences are meant to be. But neither crew nor passengers would have understood Arabic. If the remarks were made in conversation to fellow hijackers then they would hardly begin with "Ladies and Gentlemen" nor would they bother to inform them that they had a bomb on board.
Later in the tape we are treated with some more drama which would suit a Hollywood movie but not the real world of flying. It seems the hijackers discovered that there was a fight in the cabin. To control the situation one of them suggests to cut off the oxygen. What a folly! Breathing at high altitude in modern aircraft is achieved through cabin pressurisation not through the supply of oxygen. You can depressurise the aircraft, of course, but this would be gradual not sudden. And if you did it would affect both the passengers and the crew, so the hijackers would then need oxygen to cope with the thin depressurised air on the flight deck.
But we are made to believe that the hijackers were stupid. They tried to take control of the plane but didn't really know how to fly it. One of them is heard to instruct the other with short commands like "pull it down", "up, down, up, down", "down, push, push, push, push", "hey, give it to me". In the end, I suppose this explains why the flight crashed just like it happens on Microsoft flight simulator when you mess about with a 757. To emphasise the loss of control they suddenly all repeatedly say "Allahu akbar", but not the Shahadah.
Nice try, I say, but there is no doubt in my mind that, once more, we are being taken for a ride.
There is an unofficial transcript of Flight 93 available which was released by AirDisasters.com, not by the government. In that transcript the remarks about the bomb are made in English by the hijackers and a little later made again by the captain. A careful comparison of both texts reveals numerous discrepancies to the wording and the sequence of what is being said. There is no way both can be correct, ergo somebody is making things up. If Moussaoui's defence team don't tear this evidence to shreds, then they are working for the prosecution.
-- Dr Sahib Mustaqim Bleher is a German living in England, a Muslim and a pilot - in today's oppressive neo-fascist climate this means walking a tight rope. And it requires speaking out. He has done so through articles, pamphlets and books, many of which are available via his web site FlyingImam.com which you can visit by clicking on the link below:
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Life in the USA
Mumps from Britain sweeping through U.S. Midwest
4/13/2006 11:23:00 AM
ATLANTA -- A mysterious outbreak of mumps in nine Midwestern U.S. states has local, state and federal health officials struggling to contain it.
Iowa leads the outbreak, with 515 cases reported, compared with its annual average of five cases, The Washington Post reported Thursday. At least 100 cases have been reported in Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri and Illinois.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has sent investigators to help control and investigate the outbreak.
The CDC announced it is working to track down 222 airline passengers who sat near two people from Iowa who developed the mumps after traveling on nine flights from March 26 to April 2.
Officials speculate the epidemic might have been sparked by someone from Britain, which has been experiencing a large mumps outbreak for several years. Last summer, a smaller outbreak at a summer camp in New York was started by an unvaccinated British counselor.
The virus in the Iowa outbreak is the same strain as the one in Britain, but officials have not identified which was the first Iowa case.
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Omaha Schools Split Along Race Lines
By SCOTT BAUER
Associated Press Writer
Apr 13 10:44 PM US/Eastern
LINCOLN, Neb. - In a move decried by some as state-sponsored segregation, the Legislature voted Thursday to divide the Omaha school system into three districts _ one mostly black, one predominantly white and one largely Hispanic.
Supporters said the plan would give minorities control over their own school board and ensure that their children are not shortchanged in favor of white youngsters.
Republican Gov. Dave Heineman signed the measure into law.
Omaha Sen. Pat Bourne decried the bill, saying, "We will go down in history as one of the first states in 20 years to set race relations back."
"History will not, and should not, judge us kindly," said Sen. Gwen Howard of Omaha.
Attorney General Jon Bruning sent a letter to one of the measure's opponents saying that the bill could be in violation of the Constitution's equal-protection clause and that lawsuits almost certainly will be filed.
But its backers said that at the very least, its passage will force policymakers to negotiate seriously about the future of schools in the Omaha area.
The breakup would not occur until July 2008, leaving time for lawmakers to come up with another idea.
"There is no intent to create segregation," said Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers, the Legislature's only black senator and a longtime critic of the school system.
He argued that the district is already segregated, because it no longer buses students for integration and instead requires them to attend their neighborhood school.
Chambers said the schools attended largely by minorities lack the resources and quality teachers provided others in the district. He said the black students he represents in north Omaha would receive a better education if they had more control over their district.
Coming from Chambers, the argument was especially persuasive to the rest of the Legislature, which voted three times this week in favor of the bill before it won final passage on the last day of the session.
Omaha Public Schools Superintendent John Mackiel said the law is unconstitutional and will not stand.
"There simply has never been an anti-city school victory anywhere in this nation," Mackiel said. "This law will be no exception."
The 45,000-student Omaha school system is 46 percent white, 31 percent black, 20 percent Hispanic, and 3 percent Asian or American Indian.
Boundaries for the newly created districts would be drawn using current high school attendance areas. That would result in four possible scenarios; in every scenario, two districts would end up with a majority of students who are racial minorities.
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6-Year-Old Girl Dies in Tenn. Bear Attack
April 14, 2006
BENTON, Tenn. - A bear attacked a family at a camp site in the Cherokee National Forest on Thursday, killing a 6-year-old girl and injuring her 2-year-old brother and mother, authorities said.
The attack took place near a pool of water on Chilhowee Mountain, said Dan Hicks, spokesman for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
Witnesses described the bear picking up the boy in its mouth while the mother and other visitors tried to fend it off with sticks and rocks, Hicks said. The mother was injured before the bear was chased away.
The girl ran away during that attack, but was found dead a short time later with the bear nearby. A park ranger fired at least one shot at the bear before it bolted off.
The woman and her son were flown by helicopter to Erlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga, where both were being treated for wounds consistent with a bear attack, Hicks said.
Hospital officials did not immediately return calls for comment, but Hicks said the boy was listed in critical condition. The victims' names were not released.
Forest Service employees, TWRA game agents and several hunters were searching for the bear in an area spanning several thousand acres.
The 640,000-acre park runs along the southeastern Tennessee border with North Carolina, southwest of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
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Fla. Island Residents Besieged by Iguanas
By BRIAN SKOLOFF
April 14, 2006
BOCA GRANDE, Fla. - Death and taxes may be life's only certainties, but for folks in this upscale island town, add iguanas. And another tax.
During the last three decades, the resort community on Florida's Gulf Coast has been overrun by the black, spiny-tailed, nonnative lizards that demolish gardens, nest in attics and weaken beach dunes with burrows.
Last month, Lee County commissioners agreed to create a special tax for Boca Grande to cover costs of studying the infestation on the barrier island of Gasparilla, where scientists estimate there are up to 12,000 iguanas on the loose, more than 10 for every year-round resident.
The frustration here has led to frenzy. Bonnie McGee keeps a pellet gun by her door ready to take on the slithering enemy.
"They eat your flowers and their feces is everywhere," she said, adding that she's killed dozens. "Some people toss them in the canal and the hermit crabs feed on them."
Aaron Diaz, owner of Boca Grande's Barnichol hardware store, said he has sold 75 traps in the past three weeks alone.
"For some people, they've really taken over, climbing into attics, into vents and even into their toilets," he said.
County Commissioner Bob Janes doesn't know how much eradication will cost, so he's not sure how much the tax will be. He said the issue has finally come to a head.
"In 1988, there was talk of a program but people at that time thought they were kind of cute," Janes said. "They're no longer cute little guys. They're very pesky."
Kevin Enge, an exotic species expert with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said he believes the iguana was introduced to Boca Grande in the 1970s by a boat captain who brought a few from Mexico for his kids but released them when they grew too large. Their population exploded because each female iguana can lay up to 75 eggs a year.
The reptiles are found in a few other places in Florida, but nowhere in the numbers seen on Gasparilla Island, home to television renovator Bob Vila and a vacation spot for the Bush clan.
"There's no way you'll get rid of them all. Once they're established to that extent, it's a lost cause," Enge said.
The county hired Florida Gulf Coast University biologist Jerry Jackson to study the problem. He is worried the lizards aren't just a nuisance, but are destroying native habitat, spreading other invasive species through their droppings and endangering the town in the event of a hurricane.
"The majority of their burrows are in the dunes along the beaches," Jackson said. "We're threatening the human population on Gasparilla Island to the extent that the dunes are in danger of just disappearing with a storm surge."
The iguanas feed on the eggs of gopher tortoises, a species of "special concern" that the state says will likely to be bumped up to threatened in a few months as their population declines.
The lizards also carry salmonella.
"The disease organism alone could be a problem for native species, even for humans," Jackson said. "It's a zoo out there. It's an ecosystem gone crazy."
Even the local weekly paper, the Boca Beacon, gets flooded with letters about iguanas.
"Iguanas are not human. They do not deserve humane treatment," resident Richard Zellner wrote. "As far as I am concerned, they can be burned, shot and mutilated."
Some have made catching iguanas into a family outing. Boston resident Michael Mavilia, 49, who owns a house on the island, spent a recent day with his family casting a fishing rod with a tiny green rubber worm toward the foundations of beach homes.
"This is a nice one," Mavilia said, pulling a writhing, two-foot iguana from a cage in his car trunk. "You should have seen us wrestling him in. It was like catching the big one."
Comment: Well, if the Bush clan has a home there, can you really blame the lizards for wanting to hang out with their own kind?
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Pa. Man Kills Girlfriend Over Sandwiches
April 14, 2006
UNIONTOWN, Pa. - A man threw a microwave at his girlfriend, then fatally beat her after she refused to heat up sandwiches, police said.
Walter S. Fordyce, 58, of Uniontown, remained jailed without bond Thursday on a charge of criminal homicide. It wasn't clear if he had an attorney.
Fordyce told police he began arguing with his live-in girlfriend, Mary McCann, 58, early Thursday.
After throwing her to the floor, Fordyce threw a microwave oven onto McCann's chest after she refused to heat up sandwiches for him, he told police. Fordyce also said he stomped on McCann's chest repeatedly then banged her head on the floor until she lost consciousness - but that he also said he didn't mean to kill her, police said.
"It was an accident. I didn't do it on purpose," police quoted Fordyce as saying.
Fordyce ran to a neighbor's house for help, but couldn't find anyone there to call 911, police said. After returning home and checking McCann for a pulse - and finding none - he went downstairs and drank a beer before going to another neighbor's home and asking them to call 911, police said.
Autopsy results were not immediately available.
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Egypt reports fourth bird flu death
Thu Apr 13, 4:19 PM ET
CAIRO - An 18-year-old Egyptian girl died of the H5N1 strain of bird flu, the fourth fatal case in the country, a health official announced.
"It was an 18-year-old woman from the Menufiya governorate. She was already in bad heath when she arrived to hospital," said Nasser Kamel, a spokesman for the Supreme National Committee to Combat Bird Flu.
Egypt announced on Tuesday that the teenager from the northern governorate of Menufiya had been taken to hospital four days earlier. She was the 12th Egyptian infected by the pathogenic virus.
The woman is said to have contracted the disease after handling infected poultry.
Egypt, the most populous country in the Arab world, is on a major route for migratory birds and is the hardest-hit non-Asian country since the bird flu epidemic broke out in 2003.
The H5N1 strain of bird flu, its most aggressive form, has killed more than 100 people worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
It was first detected in birds in Egypt in February. The first human case was reported on March 18.
Of the 12 Egyptians infected over the past weeks, four have died, five have recovered and three are receiving treatment, health officials said.
According to health officials, although no human-to-human transmission has yet been reported in Egypt, the risk of contamination from infected birds remains as high because public awareness is low.
In a bid to thwart the virus, Egypt has slapped a ban on domestic poultry farms and more than 10 million birds are believed to have been slaughtered.
The world famous Cairo Zoo has also been shut down since February because birds there had tested positive for the deadly flu.
While the compliance of larger farms with anti-bird flu measures can be more easily controlled, some Egyptians in mainly rural areas have been reluctant to give up their domestic rearings.
An Egyptian worker in Jordan was also identified on March 31 as having been infected by the deadly virus, the Hashemite kingdom's first human case. He was treated for the illness and pronounced cured on Monday.
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Tornadoes Rip Through Eastern Iowa; 1 Dead
By TODD DVORAK and JOE NUGENT
Fri Apr 14, 1:56 AM ET
IOWA CITY, Iowa - Severe storms ripped through eastern Iowa on Thursday night, spawning tornadoes that crushed homes and cars and killed one person.
The National Weather Service said the fatality occurred in Muscatine County, where a tornado toppled the victim's mobile home in Nichols. The victim's name was not released.
Twisters, high wind and hail toppled trees and cut off power to thousands across the region. No other injuries were immediately reported.
Residents sifted through debris downtown and in several neighborhoods. "We're in disaster mode," an Iowa City dispatcher said.
At the University of Iowa, which the National Weather Service said was hit by one tornado, students were assessing the damage, including downed trees.
Andrew Loffswold fled his apartment when he heard the howling winds of an oncoming twister grow louder. When he returned, his second-story apartment was in shambles, its roof torn off and its contents turned upside down.
"I'm just trying to salvage anything I can," said Loffswold, a 19-year-old student from Sioux City.
Nine other nearby apartments suffered major damage.
University spokesman Steve Parrott said classes have been canceled for Friday while crews repair the campus and clear debris.
Downtown, severe winds blew cars around, and a roof collapsed at a pedestrian mall, police said.
MidAmerican Energy said about 7,000 homes and businesses in eastern Iowa were without power Friday morning. Crews were working through the night to restore it.
The weather service reported tornadoes in Tama, Linn, Muscatine and Johnson counties, with much of the damage occurring in Iowa City.
Officials were keeping an eye out for more tornadoes in east-central Iowa on Thursday night, Donavon said.
The storms swept through northern Illinois, knocking down trees and power lines and prompting tornado warnings.
At least one tornado was spotted on the ground in Mercer County, the weather service said. Winds of 80 mph were reported in Warren County, where the roofs of two homes were heavily damaged, authorities said. There were no reports of injuries.
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Greens Happy As EU Tightens GMO Testing
by Fabrice Randoux
Apr 13, 2006
Brussels - In a move hailed by environmentalists, the European Commission agreed Wednesday to tighten rules on testing genetically-modified foodstuffs before they can go on EU shelves.
But militants against biotech foods, who claim they threaten both human health and the environment, said that the European Union's food safety agency must be even more strict in policing food coming into the continent.
"The European Commission has taken a positive step by seeking to improve GMO risk assessment in the EU," said Eric Gall of Greenpeace after the move on genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) by the EU's executive arm in Brussels.
"But it must make sure that the European Food Safety Authority is immediately subject to mandatory guidelines on how to evaluate the risks of GMOs," adding that GMO authorisation should be suspended pending this change.
The Brussels announcement came after EU environment ministers last month criticized the Italy-based European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for delivering systematically positive assessments of GMO applications.
The EFSA greenlight frequently clashed with the views of national food safety agencies in EU member states, where public skepticism about what critics call Frankestein foods varies widely.
At the EU commission's request, EFSA will from now on have to detail publicly the exact reasons "for rejecting scientific objections from national authorities."
The agency, set up in 2002 in the Italian city of Parma, will also have to carry out more extensive tests on potential long-terms risks of GMOs and their impact on biodiversity, key aspects demanded by environmentalists.
The EU commission trumpeted its move as a way improving public trust on the issue of GMOs, which is hugely divisive in Europe.
"We want to increase the confidence of (EU) member states and of public opinion in the GMO authorization process," said Philip Tod, spokesman for EU environment commissioner Markos Kyprianou.
Despite the lifting of a de facto European moratorium on GMOs in 2004, no GMO variety has been authorized to be grown in the 25-nation bloc.
But three varieties -- one potato and two types of maize -- have been approved by EFSA, and are now awaiting a green light from EU experts in Brussels.
The EU commission said its move made no fundamental difference to EU legislation on biotech foods, but was simply a "practical improvement" in how the bloc deals with the issue.
The United States, Canada and Argentina, three of the biggest exporters of GMOs, hauled the EU before the World Trade Organization over its pre-2004 moratorium, and a ruling handed down in February went in their favour.
But the commission did not propose changing the widely-criticized way decisions on GMOs are made in Brussels.
For the moment, once EFSA has given its assessment, the commission makes a proposal to experts from EU member states, then to ministers if no agreement is reached.
But since the end of the moratorium the 25 governments have never achieved the required qualified majority required to agree or reject an application, leaving it up to the EU commission to make the final decision.
Austria, which is fiercely anti-GMO and which holds the EU presidency until June, has called for decisions to be made by simple majority, making it easier to block applications. But there is little chance of this change being agreed.
Comment: Did you catch how those opposed to GM foodstuffs were labeled "militants"? Interesting choice of words, eh? Nevermind that despite the fact that no one has conducted a thorough, long-term study of the health effects of the consumption of GM foods, such "frankenfoods" have spread like wildfire across the globe.
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Wild Tornado Season: Expect More
By LiveScience Staff
Tornadoes can occur almost anywhere in the world, but the United States is the country with the highest frequency of tornadoes.
Each year there are about 1,200 tornadoes in the United States, causing about 65 fatalities and 1,500 injuries nationwide.
As of Friday, April 7 there had been 445 so far this year.
This is the fastest start for the first three months of the year since 1999, and it is in sharp contrast to last year when only 96 tornadoes had formed by April 3. Yet last year ended with exactly 1,200 twisters, according to NOAA. June was the busiest month in 2005.
According to NOAA, "Previous years with a busy start have produced high numbers of tornadoes throughout the year." Abnormally warm temperatures and dry conditions during winter kept water temperatures warm in the Gulf of Mexico, the scientists say.
"Once a spring pattern developed in early March bringing weather systems eastward into the central United States, it combined with warm, moist air moving north from the Gulf, and created all the right ingredients for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes," Dan McCarthy, warning coordination meteorologist with the NOAA Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. "If the pattern holds, the season could continue to be busy."
When and how they strike
In the United States, May has historically had the most tornadoes: 176 on average between 1950 and 1999. But April is the deadliest month: an average of 26 tornado-related deaths over the same time period.
The worst outbreak in history occurred on April 11, 1965.
Twisters often start to become a minor menace in March, depending on climate conditions and where you live.
Tornadoes form where warm moist air is trapped underneath a layer of cold, dry air. This instability is upset when the warm bottom layer gets pushed up - either by heating near the ground, or by an influx of cold air.
As the moist air rises - sometimes 50,000 feet into the air - it cools, forming clouds and thunderstorms. If the conditions are right, the rapidly rising air will spin around a central funnel - at speeds sometimes exceeding 250 mph. A tornado technically is born when this funnel cloud touches down on the ground.
Although tornadoes are more frequent in the afternoon, they can happen anytime, even at night.
Twisters strike predominantly along Tornado Alley - a flat stretch of land from west Texas to North Dakota. The region is ideal for tornadoes, as dry polar air from Canada meets warm moist tropical air from the Gulf of Mexico.
Texas gets hit the most, with an average of about 110 tornadoes a year. But every state in the union has recorded at least one tornado in its past [Map]. In fact, Florida has the most tornadoes per area, but they are typically weaker.
In 2005, scientists explained fresh twists on when and where tornadoes can strike, including in Michigan on an October night.
In southern states like Arkansas and Missouri, the peak of tornado season is March through May, while in the northern states, like Iowa and Illinois, more tornadoes occur in the late spring and summer.
In the early 1970s, T. Theodore Fujita developed a damage scale for high-wind events including tornadoes. The F-scale, which goes from F0 to F5, is the only widely used tornado rating method. Although wind speeds are given for different F-scale ratings, these are only estimates, as it is very hard to get reliable measurements near a twister.
Violent tornadoes - F4 and above - are less than one percent of all tornadoes, but account for 70 percent of tornado-related deaths. Some of these twisters can last more than an hour and travel hundreds of miles.
Almost 90 percent of tornadoes are weak - F0 or F1 - lasting usually less than 10 minutes and causing less than five percent of tornado-related deaths. The scale will be revised in 2007.
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Ice crashes through college gym - No one is injured by the 2-foot chunk and no one knows yet where it came from.
By DARRELL R. SANTSCHI
April 13, 2006
A 2-foot-long chunk of ice that looked like compacted snow but whistled like an artillery shell crashed through the roof of the Drayson Center at Loma Linda University on Thursday morning.
No one was injured when the ice hit sometime between 8:55 and 9:15 a.m. The ice broke into pieces in the lattice work above the floor of the unoccupied Opsahl Gymnasium.
Maintenance workers retrieved a chunk about twice the size of a man's head, double-bagged it and stuck it in a freezer to save for Federal Aviation Administration officials.
Rolland Crawford, Loma Linda Fire Department division chief, said firefighters are not certain of the origin of the opaque white ice. University spokeswoman Julie Smith said a building repairman saw an airplane flying overhead at the time.
FAA spokesman Mike Fergus said investigators will review radar records to identify planes in the area at the time of impact. That will take at least a week, Fergus said. But the color of the ice may mean authorities will never determine where it came from, he said.
Blue ice comes from an aircraft's galley or lavatory. The source of ice of other colors can be mysterious, he said. Sometimes rime forms on the fuselage and breaks off, but that ice tends to be only 2 or 3 inches thick.
He said there have been cases in which ice fell and there were no aircraft in the vicinity. That could be naturally forming gigantic hail, Fergus said. He said the FAA follows up in such cases, but it gets a lower priority than investigations involving injuries or deaths.
Crawford said a ladder truck and three firefighters initially were dispatched to the campus. A supervisor followed and finally, both Crawford and Fire Chief Mike Norris.
"Chief Norris and I said, 'We've got to see this.' "
Crawford said the ice penetrated the sheet metal roof of the Drayson Center, went through a coating of tar paper and plywood underneath, then through a layer of insulation and the ceiling of the gymnasium. Pieces of ice lodged in the metal latticework just below the ceiling but apparently did not reach the gym floor.
"There were people outside the building who heard it," he said. "They said it sounded like an artillery shell going through the air. It was a whistling, whooshing sound."
Smith said no one was in the gym at the time.
A similar incident occurred in Fontana in August 2005, when a chunk crashed through the roof of a home in the 14000 block of Westward Drive.
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Dozen hurt in Delhi mosque blasts
Friday, April 14, 2006
NEW DELHI, India -- At least a dozen people have been injured in two explosions near New Delhi's main mosque, according to officials.
The city's police commissioner, Dr. K.K. Paul, told CNN that the 12 people wounded in Friday's blasts were expected to survive.
He disputed earlier reports that two people had died.
The imam of the mosque told CNN's Indian affiliate network, CNN-IBN, that the first blast went off inside the mosque's complex just after prayers at around 5:20 p.m. (1050 GMT).
Syed Ahmed Bukhari said the second detonated about 10 minutes later.
There were no immediate reports on the cause of the blasts.
Police cordoned off the area and bomb squads checked for explosive devices.
Both blasts happened near the entrance to the mosque's courtyard, where worshippers wash their feet before they gather inside for prayers. The courtyard of Jama Masjid can hold as many as 25,000 people.
"People were walking around and suddenly, boom, there was a bomb," Mohammed Salaudi, who was inside the mosque when the first of the explosions took place, told The Associated Press.
After the explosions, a crowd gathered outside the mosque complex, shouting slogans.
Speaking to a crowd that gathered in the mosque complex, Bukhari said the blasts were a deliberate terrorist attack intended to drive a wedge between India's Hindus and Muslims. He appealed to the crowd to remain calm.
Jama Masjid, which is one of the country's largest and best known mosques, did not suffer significant damage in the blasts.
The mosque was built in the mid-17th century by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. Its courtyard can hold as many as 25,000 people.
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Precursor to a Weird Summer? What's up with the birds in North Dakota?
13 April 06
In the last two weeks, birders have seen, and in some cases, photographed, eight different species of birds not seen in the states for years or decades or, as it turns out, ever.
These include sightings of a mountain plover (not seen in North Dakota since the 1930s), a Eurasian wigeon, two great black-backed gulls, an anhinga, a mountain chickadee, a gray jay, a red-shouldered hawk and an eastern meadowlark.
Eight accidentals in two weeks is remarkable. "Typically, maybe one or two a month over a year. To see eight in two weeks is pretty unusual," Corey Ellingson, president of the Bismarck-Mandan Bird Club and the reporter for the North Dakota Birding Society, said to the local media.
The anhinga may be the most unique sighting. "The fact that it's here is pretty incredible. It would be the first state record, if it's passed by the records committee," Ellingson said. There was one other report from eastern North Dakota in the 1990s, but "there weren't enough details to pass it," he added.
To read the entire Bismarck Tribune article, find it here.
In a year that has already had extraordinarily warm weather, is this upswing in unusual bird sightings giving us a clue that there might be more or more interesting cryptid sightings throughout the Northern Hemisphere? Certainly in the past, unusual sightings of snowy owls lower south in their range, cranes out of their usual flyways, and other sightings of accidentals have sometimes been documented before or during cryptid encounters.
Watch those northern woods and skies, as the trees bud and the spring peepers begin to sing.
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Rumsfeld praised by Bush, won't step down
Fri Apr 14, 12:52 AM ET
WASHINGTON - President George W. Bush expressed confidence in embattled US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld despite five retired generals calling for his resignation, blaming his arrogant leadership for critical mistakes in Iraq.
Rumsfeld has not discussed the controversy with the White House and was not considering resigning, said Eric Ruff, a spokesman for the secretary.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Bush believes Rumsfeld "is doing a very fine job during a challenging period in our nation's history.
"We are a nation at war and we are a nation that is going through a military transformation. Those are issues that tend to generate debate and disagreement and we recognize that," he said.
Retired major general Charles Swannack, a former commander of the 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq, and retired major general John Riggs, also a former division commander, were the latest to call for Rumsfeld to go.
"I feel he's micromanaged the generals that are leading our forces there to achieve the strategic objective," Swannack told CNN. "I really believe that we need a new secretary of defense."
Riggs told The Washington Post "everyone pretty much thinks Rumsfeld and the bunch around him should be cleared out."
Analysts say the five retired generals are giving voice to the pent up resentment of active duty leaders, many of whom perceive Rumsfeld as arrogant and dismissive of military advice.
"My sincere view is that the commitment of our forces to this fight was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions -- or bury the results," marine lieutenant general Gregory Newbold, operations director of the Joint Staff during the Afghanistan war and during early planning for Iraq, wrote in Time magazine.
Another retired general, who also served in Iraq, however, weighed in to say Rumsfeld was an effective defense secretary, although one who could be tough to deal with.
"Dealing with Secretary Rumsfeld is like dealing with a CEO," said retired marine lieutenant general Michael DeLong, who was deputy commander of the Central Command as the US military prepared to invade Iraq in March 2003.
"When you walk into him you've got to be prepared. You've got to know what you're talking about. If you don't, you're summarily dismissed. That's the way it is," DeLong told CNN.
Ruff said Rumsfeld was focused on his work, not on the controversy. "This has not been a distraction to him," he told reporters.
"The secretary's view is people have a right to express their own opinion," he said. "I'm not aware that we're doing anything different. We're coming to work and we're getting a lot of things done."
Rumsfeld, who has had prickly relations with the military and Congress almost from the start of his first term in 2001, has survived prior calls for his resignation.
He offered Bush his resignation after the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal in 2004, but the president turned it down.
Top Democrats, including Senator John Kerry, Democratic contender at the last presidential election, have joined recent calls for a change of
And the latest military challenge comes from retired generals with direct experience of the Iraq war.
They also include retired major general John Batiste, who led the 1st Infantry Division in Iraq; retired major general Paul Eaton, who led initial efforts to train Iraqi security forces; and retired general Anthony Zinni, a longtime critic of the Iraq war and former head of Central Command.
Newbold, recalling the silence of senior military officials during the Vietnam War, has urged active duty officers to speak up.
But DeLong again said the US system works.
"I mean we have civilian control of the military," DeLong said. "It's a good thing. And secretary Rumsfeld takes it literally. And that's a good thing. That's his style."
The calls by the retired generals represent a difficult political challenge for the administration in the middle of a war and also a blow to civil-military relations, analysts said.
Richard Kohn, a military historian at the University of North Carolina, said the problem runs deeper than just the disaffection of a few retired generals.
"It is serious, very serious in the growing civil-military tension of this administration, which has been considerable from the very beginning," he said
Kohn said the confrontation threatens to poison relations between the military and civilian leaders, influencing not only their choice of whom to promote but also the candor of their interactions.
"Where it's going to go I do not know, but I think it ought to stop," he said.
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More US generals turn on Rumsfeld
Guardian Staff and agencies
Friday April 14, 2006
Two more retired US generals called overnight on Donald Rumsfeld to resign as US defence secretary, adding to a deepening rift within the Pentagon.
Six generals - two of whom commanded troops in Iraq - have now called on Mr Rumsfeld to stand down over his leadership of the war.
Retired Major General Charles Swannack, who led the 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq, said Mr Rumsfeld, 73, had "micromanaged the generals who are leading our forces".
He told CNN: "I really believe that we need a new secretary of defence because Secretary Rumsfeld carries way too much baggage with him."
Retired Major General John Riggs told National Public Radio that Mr Rumsfeld had helped create an atmosphere of "arrogance" among the Pentagon's civilian leadership. "They only need the military advice when it satisfies their agenda. I think that's a mistake, and that's why I think he should resign," he said.
Earlier this week retired Major General John Batiste, who led the 1st Infantry Division in Iraq from 2004 until last year, said Mr Rumsfeld's authoritarian leadership style had made life more difficult for professional soldiers.
"We need leadership up there that respects the military as they expect the military to respect them. And the leadership needs to understand teamwork," he told CNN on Wednesday.
His comments were especially startling because he served as an aide to Paul Wolfowitz, the former deputy defence secretary and an architect of the Iraq war.
The other retired officers are Major General Paul Eaton, who trained Iraqi troops up to 2004, Lieutenant General Gregory Newbold and retired Marine general Anthony Zinni, a former head of US Central Command and in charge of all American troops in the Middle East from 1997 to 2000.
Of the six, only Gen Zinni is a longstanding critic of the war. Lt Gen Newbold, a director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2000 to 2002, wrote in Time magazine this week that "we are living with [...] the consequences of successive policy failures". The fallout between parts of the US military and Mr Rumsfeld began in early 2003 in the run-up to the Iraq war, when General Eric Shinseki, who at the time was the army chief of staff, was sidelined after he told a congressional hearing that several hundred thousand US troops would be needed bring peace to Iraq - rather than the smaller force Mr Rumsfeld planned to send. Mr Rumsfeld has offered to resign at least twice but George Bush has always turned him down. The White House was last night firm in its support for the defence secretary. White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters "the president believes Secretary Rumsfeld is doing a very fine job during a challenging period".
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General joins attack on Rumsfeld over Iraq war - Fourth retired officer calls on defence chief to resign
Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington
Friday April 14, 2006
The Pentagon yesterday faced a deepening rift between its civilian and military leadership over the war on Iraq after a fourth retired general called for the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, to stand down.
In the latest in a torrent of criticism centred on the Pentagon chief, Major General John Batiste, who led a division in Iraq, said Mr Rumsfeld's authoritarian leadership style had made it more difficult for professional soldiers. "We need leadership up there that respects the military as they expect the military to respect them. And that leadership needs to understand teamwork," he told CNN on Wednesday.
Gen Batiste's comments were especially startling because he is so closely associated with the civilian leadership, having served as an aide to one of the architects of the war, the former deputy Pentagon chief Paul Wolfowitz.
The ferocity of the attacks and calls for serving officers to go public with their dissent was starting to cause concern among military analysts yesterday. "If this opens up so we have more and more officers speaking up and blaming Rumsfeld and blaming senior civilians, then it is possibly heading towards a fairly dangerous civilian-military crisis," said Andrew Bacevich, a military historian at Boston University.
Earlier this week Lieutenant General Gregory Newbold, the former director of operations for the joint chiefs of staff, published a scathing critique of the planning for the war in an essay for Time magazine. Gen Newbold said he regretted not objecting more forcefully to the invasion of Iraq while he was still in uniform.
He went on to call on those still in service to speak up. "I offer a challenge to those still in uniform: a leader's responsibility is to give voice to those who can't -or don't have the opportunity to - speak."
Last month Major General Paul Eaton, who oversaw the training of Iraqi troops until 2004, also went public with his criticism of the civilian leadership, writing in the New York Times that: "Rumsfeld has put the Pentagon at the mercy of his ego, his Cold Warrior's view of the world and his unrealistic confidence in technology to replace manpower."
Retired Marine general Anthony Zinni, the former head of US Central Command and a long-standing critic of the war, has also been criticising Mr Rumsfeld while on tour to promote his new book.
The attacks on Mr Rumsfeld come at a time of increasing debate within the military on the obligation of professional soldiers to voice their criticism of policy, and a revival of an influential military history, Dereliction of Duty, which criticised the joint chiefs of staff during the Vietnam war. But the professional military's resentment of Mr Rumsfeld dates to the run-up to the Iraq war when the army chief of staff, General Eric Shinseki, was sidelined.
"It's a bursting of the dam in some ways of the frustration and anger, not only with the policies but with the way that Mr Rumsfeld has interacted with people, the disrespect he has shown to the military," said Richard Kohn, a military historian at the University of North Carolina.
Although most analysts believe that only a small number of retired military officers would go public with their misgivings, growing public doubts about Iraq are encouraging others to speak out.
"You have a group now that is looking back and saying: 'Wow. I should have said something earlier.' I think as time goes on it is natural that more and more generals after agonising over what they have seen over the last three years might voice their concerns," said Robert Work, a retired Marine colonel and an analyst at the Centre for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
But some in the military are anxious to avoid blame for the Iraq war. "The senior civilian leadership is going to do everything it possibly can to avoid having responsibility for the war fixed on them, and the senior military leadership is equally determined to have them left holding the bag," Mr Bacevich said.
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Iraqi women much worse off under occupation
Iraqi women were treated far better during the Saddam Hussein era, and their rights were much more respected, local rights NGOs concluded after an extensive survey in Iraq.
"We interviewed women in the country and met with local NGOs dealing with gender issues to develop this survey, which asked questions about the quality of women's life and respect for their rights," said Senar Muhammad, president of Baghdad-based NGO Woman Freedom Organization, a sister organization of MADRE, an international women's rights group. "The results show that women are less respected now than they were under the previous regime, while their freedom has been curtailed."
According to the survey, women's basic rights under Saddam's regime were respected and guaranteed in the constitution, with women often occupying top government posts. But now, although women's rights are still enshrined in the national constitution, they complain that they lost almost all of their rights. "Before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, women were free to go to schools, universities and work, and to perform other duties," Senar said. "Now, due to security reasons and repression by the government, they're being forced to stay in their homes."
The new Iraqi constitution, which was written under the U.S. government's supervision, is based on the Islamic Sharia law, which, according to Senar, has been misinterpreted by some elements within the government. This resulted in the frequent denial of women's right, especially in matters related to divorce, she said.
Women make up about 60 percent of the total Iraqi population. Despite a 25 percent representative presence in parliament, they are seldom entrusted with senior government positions, while their contribution to political debate is rarely taken seriously. Women's rights group also say that many members of the new government have a conservative view regarding the role of women. "When we tell the government we need more representation in parliament, they respond by telling us that, if well-qualified women appear one day, they won't be turned down," said Senar. "Then they laugh at us."
Government officials deny the charges, claiming that women's political views are respected and that they are better represented in the new government than under Saddam regime. "They occupy important positions in our ministries, positions which Saddam never gave them. But they have to understand that some posts, such as the presidential one, are difficult for women because of security problems, said government spokesperson Laith Kubba.
But many female activists disagree, saying that the presence of a few women in some decision-making positions shouldn't mislead people. "The U.S. administration has handpicked a few women and imposed them on people in the so-called parliament," said Houzan Mahmoud from the Organization of Women's Freedom. "These women are very unknown to Iraqi women. Most of them belong to the reactionary, right-wing parties in power and they follow their agenda, which is discriminatory against women."
Houzan also noted that the position of women vary within Iraq. "In the Kurdish part, the situation of women is slightly better because Iraqi Kurdistan was not part of the U.S. military attacks in 2003. However, the attitude toward women is not progressive there." But the south is directly under daily military occupation, she said. "Also, the so-called parliament is divided on the bases of religious sects and ethnic backgrounds," she Houzan added.
The NGOs survey also found out that women's unemployment and poverty levels have increased dramatically since the U.S.-led invasion. "Female unemployment is now twice as high as that for males, while female poverty has also increased," said Iman Saeed, spokesperson for another women's NGO that helped conduct the survey. "In addition, the number of widows - already high as a result of the Iran-Iraq war [in the 1980s] - has increased since the U.S. invasion, making the situation worse."
The authors of the survey urged the United States and international organizations to pressure the Iraqi government to give some top government positions to women. "The current leaders don't think of us as potential presidents or vice-presidents, arguing that women can't hold such important posts," said Shams Yehia, a professor at Baghdad University who helped conduct the survey. "We appeal to all bodies to force the Iraqi government to give us our rights back."
The NGOs are also calling for the deployment of a UN-led peacekeeping force in Iraq and an immediate end to the U.S. occupation. As the crisis in the war-torn country intensifies, female activists say women and their families are in urgent need for security, functional government and the provision of basic services within a human rights framework.
Over the three years of occupation, the situation is getting more dangerous and bleak with the presence of the occupation forces, and "the more violence and terrorism is in function in Iraq, the more women will fall victims of such climate," said Houzan. "The rape, abduction, abuse in prisons by prison guards, and killing of women is widespread... The lack of security and proper protection for women is a major issue and no one, neither the occupying forces nor the local police of the puppet regime, is doing anything about it."
Women would first like to see "an end to the military occupation which has created chaos and destruction of Iraqi society and also resulted in the daily mass killing of ordinary Iraqis," Houzan said. Women particularly would "want to see security restored so at least they can go out freely without being attacked, kidnapped, or having acid thrown on their face.... In addition, women want equality, freedom, and their rights to be recognized in the constitution, and above all to be treated as equal human beings."
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Mounting sectarian unrest claims more Iraqi lives
By Kamal Taha - BAGHDAD
At least 38 Iraqis killed in attacks over past 24 hours as sectarian attacks intensify across Iraq.
At least 38 Iraqis have been killed in attacks over the past 24 hours, security officials said Friday, as politicians pressed four-month-old coalition talks amid mounting sectarian unrest.
Three Iraqis, including a police major from the northern oil centre of Kirkuk, were killed in drive-by shootings Friday.
In the main southern city of Basra, two Iraqis were killed and four British soldiers wounded when suicide bomber blew up a vehicle as a four-vehicle convoy passed, British officials said.
Police said 11 employees of a construction company were also kidnapped in the city and murdered Thursday.
Six policemen were also killed and more than 20 went missing when a large group of policemen transporting police vehicles was ambushed by gunmen near Baghdad Thursday, a security official said.
Late Thursday, a car bomb attack killed 15 people in a Baghdad Shiite neighbourhood - the fourth such bombing against either shrines or residential areas of the majority community in the past eight days.
The attacks, believed to be the work of Sunni hardliners loyal to the Al-Qaeda network, come at a time when Iraq is gripped by a power vacuum. [...]
Comment: Ae we, and many other, including members of the Iraqi government, have repeatedly said; the alleged "sectarian" attacks are being carried out by those would benefit most from civil war in Iraq: The British, American and Israeli governments.
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The Art of War for the anti-war movement
by Scott Ritter
March 31, 2006.
It's high time to recognize that we as a nation are engaged in a life-or-death struggle of competing ideologies with those who promote war as an American value and virtue.
In the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq by a US-led coalition, and for three years since, I have spent many hours speaking to numerous anti-war forums across the country and around the world. I have always been struck by the sincerity of the vast majority of those who call themselves anti-war, and impressed by their willingness to give so much of themselves in the service of such a noble cause.
Whether participating in demonstrations, organizing a vigil, conducting town-hall meetings, or writing letters to their elected officials and the media, the participants in the anti-war movement have exhibited an energy and integrity that would make anyone proud. For myself, I have been vociferous in my defense of the actions of the majority of the anti-war movement, noting that the expression of their views is not only consistent with their rights afforded by the Constitution of the United States, but also that their engagement in the process of citizenship is a stellar example of the ideals and values set forth in that document, and as such representative of the highest form of patriotism in keeping with service to a document that begins, "We the People."
Lately I have noticed a growing despondency among many of those who call themselves the anti-war movement. With the United States now entering its fourth year of illegal war in and illegitimate occupation of Iraq, and the pro-war movement moving inexorably towards yet another disastrous conflict with Iran, there is an increasing awareness that the cause of the anti-war movement, no matter how noble and worthy, is in fact a losing cause as currently executed. Despite all of the well-meaning and patriotic work of the millions of activists and citizens who comprise the anti-war movement, America still remains very much a nation not only engaged in waging and planning wars of aggression, but has also become a nation which increasingly identifies itself through its military and the wars it fights. This is a sad manifestation of the fact that the American people seem to be addicted to war and violence, rather than the ideals of human rights, individual liberty, and freedom and justice for all that should define our nation.
In short, the anti-war movement has come face to face with the reality that in the ongoing war of ideologies that is being waged in America today, their cause is not just losing, but is in fact on the verge of complete collapse. Many in the anti-war movement would take exception to such a characterization of the situation, given the fact that there seems to be a growing change in the mood among Americans against the ongoing war in Iraq. But one only has to scratch at the surface of this public discontent to realize how shallow and superficial it is. Americans aren't against the war in Iraq because it is wrong; they are against it because we are losing.
Take the example of Congressman Jack Murtha. A vocal supporter of President Bush's decision to invade Iraq, last fall Mr. Murtha went public with his dramatic change of position, suddenly rejecting the war as un-winnable, and demanding the immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. While laudable, I have serious problems with Jack Murtha's thought process here. At what point did the American invasion of Iraq become a bad war? When we suffered 2,000 dead? After two years of fruitless struggle? Once we spent $100 billion?
While vocalizing his current opposition against the Iraq War, Congressman Murtha and others who voted for the war but now question its merits have never retracted their original pro-war stance. Nor have they criticized their role in abrogating the Constitutional processes for bringing our country into conflict when they voted for a war before the President had publicly committed to going to war (we now know the President had committed to the invasion of Iraq by the summer of 2002, and that all his representations to the American people and Congress about 'war as a matter of last resort' and 'seeking a diplomatic solution' were bold face lies). The Iraq War was wrong the moment we started bombing Iraq. Getting rid of Saddam Hussein is no excuse, and does not pardon America's collective sin of brooking and tolerating an illegal war of aggression.
The reality is, had our military prevailed in this struggle, the American people for the most part would not even blink at the moral and legal arguments against this war. This underlying reality is reflected in the fact that despite our ongoing disaster in Iraq, America is propelled down a course of action that leads us toward conflict with Iran. President Bush recently re-affirmed his embrace of the principles of pre-emptive war when he signed off on the 2006 version of the National Security Strategy of the United States, which highlights Iran as a threat worthy of confrontation. This event has gone virtually unmentioned by the American mainstream media, un-remarked by a Congress that remains complicit in the war-mongering policies of the Bush administration, and un-noticed by the majority of Americans. America is pre-programmed for war, and unless the anti-war movement dramatically changes the manner in which it conducts its struggle, America will become a nation of war, for war, and defined by war, and as such a nation that will ultimately be consumed by war.
It is high time for the anti-war movement to take a collective look in the mirror, and be honest about what they see. A poorly organized, chaotic, and indeed often anarchic conglomeration of egos, pet projects and idealism that barely constitutes a "movement," let alone a winning cause. I have yet to observe an anti-war demonstration that has a focus on anti-war. It often seemed that every left-wing cause took advantage of the event to promote its own particular agenda, so that "No War in Iraq" shared the stage with the environment, ecology, animal rights, pro-choice, and numerous other causes which not only diluted the anti-war message which was supposed to be sent, but also guaranteed that the demonstration itself would be seen as something hijacked by the left, inclusive of only progressive ideologues, and exclusive of the vast majority of moderate (and even conservative) Americans who might have wanted to share the stage with their fellow Americans from the left when it comes to opposing war with Iraq (or even Iran), but do not want to be associated with any other theme.
The anti-war movement, first and foremost, needs to develop a laser-like focus on being nothing more or less than anti-war.
The anti-war movement lacks any notion of strategic thinking, operational planning, or sense of sound tactics. So much energy is wasted because of this failure to centrally plan and organize. As a result, when the anti-war movement does get it right (and on occasion it does), the success is frittered away by a failure to have planned effective follow-up efforts, failure to have implemented any supporting operations, an inability to recognize opportunities as they emerge and a lack of resources to exploit such opportunities if in fact they were recognized to begin with. In short, the anti-war movement is little more than a walk-on squad of high school football players drawing plays in the sand, taking on the National Football League Super Bowl Champions.
In order to even have a chance of prevailing with the American people, the anti-war movement is going to need much more than just good ideals and values. It needs to start thinking like a warrior would, in full recognition that we as a nation are engaged in a life-or-death struggle of competing ideologies with those who promote war as an American value and virtue.
The anti-war movement needs to study the philosophies of those who have mastered the art of conflict, from Caesar to Napoleon, from Sun Tzu to Clausewitz. It needs to study the "enemy" learning to understand the pro-war movement as well as it understands itself. It needs to comprehend the art of campaigning, of waging battles only when necessary, and having the ability to wage a struggle on several fronts simultaneously, synchronizing each struggle so that a synergy is created which maximizes whatever energy is being expended. The anti-war movement needs to understand the pro-war movement's center of gravity, and design measures to defeat this. It needs to grasp the pro-war movement's decision-making cycle, then undertake a comprehensive course of action that learns to pre-empt this cycle, getting 'inside' the pro-war system of making decisions, and thereby forcing the pro-war movement to react to the anti-war agenda, instead of vice versa.
There is an old adage in the military that "intelligence drives operations." The anti-war movement needs to develop a centralized intelligence operation, not a spy organization, but rather a think-tank that produces sound analysis based upon fact that can be used to empower those who are waging the struggle against war. Far too often the anti-war movement dilutes its effectiveness by either being unable to produce facts during a debate, or when it does, producing facts that are inaccurate, incomplete, or both. The mainstream media treats the anti-war movement as a joke because many times that is exactly what the anti-war movement, through its lack of preparation and grasp of the facts, allows itself to become.
The anti-war movement lacks organization. There is no central leadership, or mechanism to effectively muster and control resources. The anti-war movement takes pride in its "democratic" composition, but in fact it operates as little more than controlled chaos, creating ample opportunity for the pro-war movement to effectively execute a "divide and conquer" strategy to minimize and nullify whatever good the anti-war movement achieves through its efforts. The anti-war movement would do well to take a page from the fire service and implement a version of the Incident Command System (ICS) that firefighters use when fighting complex fires involving the integration of several departments, organizations and jurisdictions. The anti-war movement needs to develop its own "ICS for the anti-war" that is universally applied throughout the movement, so that an anti-war effort in Seattle, Washington operates the same as an anti-war effort in New York City, and as such can be coordinated and controlled by an overall command staff operating from Denver, Colorado.
Complex problems, such as faced by the anti-war movement, require complex solutions, which in turn dictate a flexible control mechanism that can coordinate and synchronize every effort to achieve the desired result at a time and place of the anti-war movement's choosing, and then be prepared to follow up on successes as they occur and sustain the movement over an extended period of time. It is not enough to win a battle against the pro-war movement; the anti-war movement needs to win the war of ideologies. As such it must not only prepare to win a particular fight, but to exploit that victory, massing its forces against any developed weakness, and drive the pro-movement into the ground and off the American political map once and for all.
I have indicated my willingness to apply my training and experience as a warrior in a manner which helps teach the principles of the art of war to those who call themselves part of the anti-war movement. There seems to be not only a need for this sort of training, but also a desire among the myriad of individuals and groups who comprise the anti-war movement for an overall coordinated strategic direction, operational planning, and tactical execution of agreed upon mission objectives. One can be certain that the pro-war movement is conducting itself in full accordance with these very same organizational principles and methodologies. And let there be no doubt: the pro-war movement in America is prevailing. In order to gain the upper hand politically, and actually position itself to stop not only those wars already being fought (Iraq), but also prevent those being planned (Iran), the anti-war movement will need to re-examine in totality the way it does business. I for one am ready to assist. However, in writing this essay, I am constantly reminded of the old saying, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink." One can only hope that the anti-war movement is thirsty.
Comment: What Scott Ritter - and most people - do not realize is that it is not a war of ideologies - those are just tools - but rather a war between different types of humans!
All of this is fully explained in clinical detail in "Political Ponerology: The Science of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes."
"The first manuscript of this book went into the fire five minutes before the arrival of the secret police in Communist Poland. The second copy, reassembled painfully by scientists working under impossible conditions of repression, was sent via a courier to the Vatican. Its receipt was never acknowledged, no word was ever heard from the courier - the manuscript and all the valuable data was lost. The third copy was produced after one of the scientists working on the project escaped to America in the 1980s. Zbigniew Brzezinski suppressed it.
"Political Ponerology: The scientific study of Evil adjusted for Political Purposes was forged in the crucible of the very subject it studies. Scientists living under an oppressive regime decide to study it clinically, to study the founders and supporters of an evil regime to determine what common factor is at play in the rise and propagation of man's inhumanity to man.
"Shocking in its clinically spare descriptions of the true nature of evil, poignant in the more literary passages where the author reveals the suffering experienced by the researchers who were contaminated or destroyed by the disease they were studying, this is a book that should be required reading by every citizen of every country that claims a moral or humanistic foundation. For it is a certainty that morality and humanism cannot long withstand the predations of Evil. Knowledge of its nature, how it creates its networks and spreads, how insidious is its guileful approach, is the only antidote."
You can get this book from RedPillPress:
Probably the most important book you will ever read.
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GE reports record first-quarter results
Apr 13 7:23 AM US/Eastern
General Electric announced record first-quarter earnings of four billion dollars, up 14 percent from the figure for the first quarter of 2005.
It amounted to 0.39 dollars per share, up 18 percent from last year, the company said.
Revenues from continuing operations were also a record 37.8 billion dollars, up 10 percent from last year's first quarter.
Cash flow from GE's operating activities was a record 6.7 billion dollars.
"We had a strong performance in the quarter highlighted by double-digit growth in earnings, revenues and cash flow," said GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt.
"Driven by demand for our industrial equipment, momentum in healthcare and continued performance in our financial services businesses, we achieved nine percent organic revenue growth."
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US counts cost of Treasury yields amid exodus of Asian investors
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
Yields on 10-year US Treasuries have risen above 5pc for the first time since 2002 on heavy selling by big institutions, sending tremors through the US mortgage and corporate credit markets.
The US 10-year bond is the key instrument used to price borrowing in the American economy, with ripple effects through the global system.
Yields have risen sharply by 0.6 percentage points so far this year, reaching 5.036pc in New York last night.
The powerful upward draft has lifted German, French and other eurozone bonds in step, driving up the cost of borrowing on the capital markets.
Analysts said the spike in yields is chiefly caused by an exodus of Asian investors, who hold a huge chunk of the US national debt.
"We've started seeing a lot of money being repatriated into the Japanese equities market," said Matthew Smith, a manager at Smith Affiliated Capital. Japanese holdings of foreign bonds has fallen by $70bn so far this year, according to data from Japan's finance ministry.
Strong US retail sales in March and growing fears that high energy and commodity costs will soon start feeding into core inflation has also weighed on the bond markets.
Michael Taylor, senior economist at Lombard Street Research, said this year's sudden rise in 10-year yields risked tipping the US economy into a downturn.
"This could be the catalyst for a sharp correction in property prices and wean consumers off their credit binge," he said.
The cost of the average 30-year mortgage in the US has risen from 5.5pc last summer to 6.43pc this week. The housing boom is now the mainstay of the US economy. Last year Americans withdrew the equivalent of 6pc of GDP in home equity from their houses, spending most of it on daily bills, holidays and consumption.
Long-term yields remained near historic lows during 2005 despite a string of rate increases by the US Federal Reserve. The muted response of the bond markets dulled the impact of Fed tightening, prompting ex-chairman Alan Greenspan to talk of a "conundrum". "The conundrum just died," said Paul McCulley, an economist at the world's biggest bond trading company Pimco.
Joachim Fels, an economist at Morgan Stanley, said the conundrum had been caused by the easy money policies in Japan and Europe, creating a flood of global liquidity that continued to overrun the US credit markets long after the Fed began raising rates.
He said synchronised tightening across the world was now leading to bond sell-offs everywhere, with "nasty implications" for risky assets. "I think it is time to hunker down," he said. The bank is predicting a 7.9pc fall in European stock markets over the next six months.
JP Morgan Chase is forecasting a 13pc fall in Amer-ica's S&P 500 stock index, and 12pc fall in the FTSE 100. "Our big concern is the combination of rising bond yields, sustained high energy prices and weakness in US housing," said Abhijit Chakrabortti, the global equity chief.
Analysts said the surge in bond yields may have been accelerated by panic selling of Treasuries by hedge funds and US investment banks.
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Interest Rates Set to Rise as Treasury Note Tops 5%
By VIKAS BAJAJ
The New York Times
April 13, 2006
The era of cheap money may finally be nearing its end.
Investors pushed up the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note to its highest point in nearly four years today, signaling that some consumers will soon be paying more interest on credit cards and home mortgages.
The change will have the biggest impact on people who took out home loans with low introductory interest rates but adjust to higher rates in later years.
The price of the 10-year Treasury note fell half a point. Its yield, which moves in the opposite direction as the price, rose to 5.05 percent late this afternoon, from 4.98 percent late Wednesday. The yield on the 10-year note was at 4.59 percent as recently as March 1, and today's yield is the highest since June 7, 2002.
The 10-year Treasury note serves as a critical benchmark for the interest rates on all kinds of debt from the mortgage on homes to the yield on corporate bonds.
"It's more of a reason to believe that things are going to slow down," Joshua Shapiro, chief United States economist at MFR Inc., said referring to the housing market.
Already mortgage delinquencies have started climbing higher, though they remain near historic lows. In the fourth quarter of last year, 4.7 percent of all home mortgages were delinquent, up from 4.44 percent in the third quarter, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association of America. A delinquent loan is one on which monthly payments are past due for 60 days or more.
The average national 30-year fixed mortgage interest rate was 6.43 percent last week, up from 6.21 percent at the start of the year and 5.71 percent at the start of 2005. The introductory interest rate on a five-year adjustable-rate mortgage was up to 6.11 percent, from 5.78 percent in January and 5.3 percent a year ago.
For much of the last year, analysts and policy makers have been confounded by the United States' relative low long-term interest rates, given the Federal Reserve's campaign to push up interest rates by increasing its benchmark short-term rate, now at 4.75 percent. The Fed has signaled that it intends to raise its federal funds rate on overnight bank loans at least once more, to 5 percent, at its meeting next month.
Many experts believe longer-term interest rates in the United States have been kept low by the purchase of federal government debt by foreign governments and investors, particularly from Asia.
There are some early indications that foreign buying is easing. In the first week of April, for instance, the Japanese government spent slightly more than one-tenth as much on foreign bond purchases as it did on its average purchases for the comparable period from 2003 to 2005, said Wan-Chong Kung, a senior portfolio manager at First American Funds, a mutual fund company in Minneapolis.
"We have seen some moderation in buying from Asia and I think we will continue to see that," Ms. Kung said, noting that recent interest rate increases by central banks in Europe and Japan was conditioning investors to higher borrowing costs across the world.
But one analyst noted that at least a part of the increase in Treasury yields during the last couple of weeks may prove to be a temporary phenomenon. The yield on Treasury notes have consistently risen in the weeks before the April 15 tax deadline, presumably because Americans are selling notes and bonds to pay off their tax bill, according to an analysis of 40 years of data by Carl D. Steen, a market analyst at MFR Inc., a research firm based in New York.
"There is clearly propensity over the past 40 years for Treasuries to sell off throughout the month of April," Mr. Steen said.
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Oil Prices Rise Above $69 Per Barrel
By MADLEN READ
AP Business Writer
Thu Apr 13, 4:53 PM ET
NEW YORK - Oil prices rose above $69 a barrel on Thursday ahead of the long weekend, as worries about possible supply disruptions overshadowed the news that U.S. crude inventories are at their highest level in eight years.
Gasoline prices also rose, extending gains that have begun to trickle down to U.S. consumers, who are now paying on average $2.717 for a gallon of gasoline, according to AAA's daily fuel gauge report Thursday. That is up more than 45 cents from a year ago.
"We're just in this terrific bull run right now, and the worries just steepen," said John Kilduff, analyst at Fimat USA. He added that as long as political tensions continue in Nigeria and Iran, crude futures next week are apt to break their previous trading record of $70.85 a barrel, reached Aug. 30 after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf coast.
Light, sweet crude for May delivery rose 70 cents to settle at $69.32 a barrel Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The Nymex is closed Friday for the Good Friday holiday.
Nymex crude futures are nearly $2 higher than their settlement price last Friday.
On London's ICE Futures exchange, Brent crude for June rose 71 cents to settle at $70.57 a barrel.
May gasoline futures rose 1.68 cent to settle at $2.1079 a gallon, after rising as high as $2.1119 - a level not reached since early September. May heating oil rose nearly a cent to settle at $1.9831 a gallon.
Tom Bentz, analyst at BNP Paribas Commodity Futures in New York, said the crude oil market "could be in for at least some kind of correction."
But he added "we're still in a bullish uptrend" due to underlying support from various supply concerns - the disruption of Nigerian crude supplies by rebels, the possibility of Iranian oil exports being halted due to political tension and domestic refineries having trouble turning enough crude into gasoline to meet consumers' needs.
In Nigeria, the world's 12th-largest oil producer, more than half a million barrels of crude a day are being blocked due to militant violence, and rebels have said they will target more supplies.
In Iran, the world's fourth-largest oil producer, no oil exports have been disrupted, but some market participants are worried they might be, depending on the U.N. Security Council's response to the Iran's defiance of council resolutions concerning the country's nuclear program.
Futhermore, as the summer approaches, not only are refineries still undergoing seasonal maintenance and recovering from last fall's hurricanes, they are also struggling with the prospect of tight ethanol supplies.
Ethanol is increasingly being blended with gasoline as refiners phase out their use of additive MTBE, which contaminates drinking water. The refiners have said they will stop using MTBE on May 5, when the federal requirement for a clean-air oxygenate is lifted as part of an energy law enacted last summer.
Inventories of crude oil rose in the past week to their highest level since early 1998, the U.S. Energy Department reported Wednesday. It was the third straight weekly build in crude stocks.
Petroleum products shrank, as refineries were operating at only 85.6 percent. Gasoline stocks fell 3.9 million barrels last week to 207.9 million barrels, and distillates - which include diesel and heating oil - fell 4.6 million barrels to 117.4 million barrels.
Meanwhile Thursday, natural gas rose about 18 cents to $6.990 per 1,000 cubic feet, after the U.S. Department of Energy reported that natural gas inventories grew by 19 billion cubic feet in the week ending April 7 to 1.7 trillion cubic feet - a bit less than most analysts had expected.
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Gold edges up on oil, Iran
By Chikafumi Hodo
Fri Apr 14, 3:05 AM ET
TOKYO - Gold prices edged higher on Friday, supported by concerns over high oil prices and U.S.-Iran tensions, but lacked the momentum to extend gains with key markets closed for the Good Friday holiday.
The firmness in Tokyo Commodity Exchange gold futures underpinned dollar-based spot precious metals prices following falls in New York the previous day.
At 0633 GMT, spot gold was trading at $599.00/599.80 an ounce, up from $596.10/596.90 in New York on Thursday. It had climbed to a 25-year high of $604 on Tuesday.
"The trend remains bullish as funds are still keen to put their money into commodities that are performing well, and extremely strong silver and copper are giving support to gold," said Shuji Sugata, an assistant manager at Mitsubishi Corp. Futures and Securities.
Traders may test gold prices above $600, but the market lacks energy as many key centres are closed for Easter holidays. New York metals futures markets will be closed on Friday and reopen on Monday, while London precious metals markets will be closed on both Friday and Monday.
"For now the market is careful about taking new longs above $600," Sugata said. "Investors want to see gold stay above $600 for a while before building up new buy positions."
At this week's peak, gold was up more than 16 percent from the start of the year and more than 41 percent higher than 12 months ago. Prices have doubled in the last four years.
Since rising to $600 on Wednesday, gold has shied away from that level due to strong profit-taking.
But investors and investment funds are still reluctant to sell heavily due to concerns over high oil prices and Iran's nuclear aspirations.
Iran has said it would not back away from sensitive nuclear development work after announcing earlier this week it had enriched uranium to a level used in nuclear power stations. The United States believes Iran wants to build a nuclear bomb.
Oil rose in New York trade to near last year's record above $70 a barrel on tension in the Middle East. Gold is often considered a hedge against inflation.
"As long as geopolitical concerns are there, gold will be supported," Sugata said.
Technically, bullion will find support around its seven-day moving average (MA) of $595 and its 14-day MA of $588.
In Japan, benchmark most-distant February TOCOM gold ended at 2,319 yen per gram, up 26 yen or 1.13 percent from Thursday.
Other precious metals were confined to tight range trading due to the holidays.
Silver rose to $12.90/12.95 an ounce from $12.77/12.80 late in New York.
Platinum was little changed at $1,080/1,090 an ounce, compared with $1,075/1,080 in New York. Palladium was unchanged at $344/349 an ounce from late New York.
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Holland Sweetener Company to exit from aspartame business
Holland Sweetener Company VoF (HSC) has today announced its decision to withdraw from the aspartame business, including Twinsweet. HSC is a 50/50 joint venture between Royal DSM N.V. (the Netherlands) and Tosoh Corporation (Japan). The company will terminate its activities at the end of 2006 and as a consequence will discontinue the production of aspartame in the fourth quarter of 2006.
The global aspartame markets are facing structural oversupply, which has caused worldwide strong price erosion over the last 5 years. This has resulted in a persistently unprofitable business position for HSC. No significant improvements are expected in the near or foreseeable future. The decision to withdraw from this business is in line with DSM's Vision 2010 - Building on Strengths strategy, in which profitable innovative growth and value creation are key objectives.
The termination of HSC's business operations will affect around 100 jobs on the site in Geleen (the Netherlands). DSM expects to be able to re-assign the majority of these people to other positions. The social plan of DSM Limburg is applicable.
DSM does not expect the decision to have a material impact on its overall corporate financial performance in 2006. In Q1 2006 DSM will - in relation to this decision- record an exceptional item of approximately EUR 10 million net.
DSM is active worldwide in nutritional and pharma ingredients, performance materials and industrial chemicals. The company creates innovative products and services that help improve the quality of life. DSM's products are used in a wide range of end markets and applications such as human and animal nutrition and health, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, automotive and transport, coatings, housing and electrics & electronics (E&E). DSM's strategy, named Vision 2010 - Building on Strengths, focuses on accelerating profitable and innovative growth of the company's specialties portfolio. Market-driven growth, innovation and increased presence in emerging economies are key drivers of this strategy. The group has annual sales of over EUR 8 billion and employs some 22,000 people worldwide. DSM ranks among the global leaders in many of its fields. The company is headquartered in the Netherlands, with locations in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. More information about DSM can be found at www.dsm.com.
About Holland Sweetener Company
Holland Sweetener Company (HSC) is a 50/50 joint venture between DSM (the Netherlands) and Tosoh (Japan) established in 1985. A unique aspartame process was developed using technology from both parents. In 1988, the first aspartame production unit was started up in the Netherlands, with subsequent expansions making HSC the largest aspartame producer in Europe. HSC supplies customers all over the world from its plant in the Netherlands via a global network of sales offices, agents and distributors.
Twinsweet™ was discovered in 1995 as part of a research program to develop aspartame-based new sweetener concepts for the food and nutraceutical industries. HSC has filed several patents on the Twinsweet™ product, the production process and the use of the product. More information about HSC can be found at www.hollandsweetener.com.
Comment: Gee, you don't suppose that all these excuses cover up the fact that these guys suddenly became aware of their potential liability after the Ramazzini Study in Italy showed aspartame to be a multipotential carcinogen, peer reviewed by 7 world experts; not to mention the studies by the original manufacturer, Searle, which also showed cancer?
Betty Martini, Founder Mission Possible International, (www.wnho.net) tells us:
For years FDA and the manufacturers have tried to prevent independent studies, and Gregory Gordon who did the original UPI Investigation once wrote an article on this.
http://www.dorway.com/upipaper.txt and http://www.dorway.com/upipart2.html
And the studies keep coming.
One in Greece shows neurological problems and memory loss. Bottom line Alzheimers.
Another in Liverpool shows aspartame interaction:
Actually aspartame interacts with all drugs and vaccines:
Dr. Ralph Walton's research showed 92% of all independent peer reviewed studies show the problems aspartame causes:
Now the FDA is obligated to recall aspartame and invoke the Delaney Amendment which says if a product produces cancer in animals it cannot be put in food. Their own FDA toxicologist, Dr. Adrian Gross told Congress this should have been done in the beginning.
Aspartame should never have been approved, and how Don Rumsfeld got it approved when the FDA said no is told by James Turner, Atty, in the aspartame documentary, Sweet Misery: A Poisoned World, www.amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. Here is the clip:
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Our Strange World
'Skeleton woman' dead in front of TV for years
A woman's skeleton was discovered in her flat three years after she is believed to have died, it emerged today.
Joyce Vincent was surrounded by Christmas presents and the television and heating in her bedsit were still on.
The 40-year-old's body was so decomposed that the only way to identify her was to compare dental records with a holiday photograph.
Police believe she probably died of natural causes in early 2003, and was only found in January this year when housing association officials broke into the bedsit in Wood Green, North East London.
They were hoping to recover the thousands of pounds of rent arrears that had piled up since her death.
Details of the case emerged during an inquest at Hornsey Coroner's Court, which was attended by relatives including Ms Vincent's sisters.
A spokesman for the coroner said today that Ms Vincent had apparently been a placed in the women's refuge accommodation as a victim of domestic violence.
When representatives from the Metropolitan Housing Trust arrived at the flat on Jan 25 they drilled the door open and discovered stacks of unopened post.
Some mail was marked February 2003, and medication and food had February 2003 expiry dates, the spokesman said.
Ms Vincent was found lying on her back on the floor of the living room, which also doubled as a bedroom.
Dr Simon Poole, a pathologist, told the inquest he had been unable to establish the cause of death because the remains were "largely skeletal", but police do not regard the circumstances as suspicious.
The coroner recorded an open verdict.
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He Wrote the Book on American Religions - J. Gordon Melton is known for his encyclopedias of spiritual beliefs. He's also been known to sink his teeth into the study of vampires.
By Louis Sahagun
Times Staff Writer
April 12, 2006
SANTA BARBARA - It's often said of academics, but for J. Gordon Melton it's true: He really does have an encyclopedic mind.
After all, Melton is the author of the Encyclopedia of American Religions, the Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology and the Encyclopedia of Religious Phenomena.
Then, for fun, there's "The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead."
"It's my little niche," Melton said.
Actually, it's a big niche.
Erudite and eternally curious, Melton, 64, is one of the nation's foremost authorities on religion (and vampires too, but more on that later). The research specialist with the department of religious studies at UC Santa Barbara has written 30 books and co-written or edited 17 more, all of which are expansive and eclectic, and weave a colorful and diverse history of the currents of spiritual worship and tensions around the world.
Sauntering through the aisles of his collection of 40,000 volumes, now housed at UC Santa Barbara, he tried to explain his need to classify religions, the myriad ways people recognize a higher power.
"In 1900 there were 330 different religious groups," he said. "Now, there are over 2,000, and I find every one of them incredibly interesting."
Melton speaks sparingly about his personal life, but his rigorously documented books reflect a mind never at rest.
Ask him about, say, the West African evangelical missionary leader Panya Baba, or the satanic imagery in gothic rocker Marilyn Manson's songs, or how Christadelphian revivalists depart from the Protestant mainstream, and he talks a blue streak.
On the Elim Pentecostal Church, Melton enthused: "It's a group that grew out of an independent Pentecostal Bible school in New York. Basically, it started out by training leaders and organizers who went on to pioneer churches from scratch."
His encyclopedias brim with thousands of entries written in a clean, crisp and deceptively simple style. Their prices underline the stature they command as essential reference works in universities, seminary libraries and theological schools.
His 1,250-page, 7-pound Encyclopedia of American Religions sells new for $320.
Browsing through Melton's works leads a reader from one unexpected fact to another:
- With nearly 2 million members, the anti-Catholic Iglesia ni Cristo is one of the largest and most controversial churches in the Philippines. It was founded by Felix Manalo Isugan (1886-1963), who is venerated as the angel from the seventh chapter of the Book of Revelations.
- In 1989, the Indian government issued a commemorative stamp for a scholar and pioneer Pentecostalist named Sarasvati Mary Ramabai.
- Established in London's East End in the late 1800s, the Salvation Army now includes more than 25,600 commissioned officers serving in 190 countries.
"Melton does very good work," said S. Scott Bartchy, director of the Center for the Study of Religion at UCLA. "My sense in reading him is that he has a lot of insight and information, and doesn't belong to anybody. He's independent."
It's not surprising that Melton has been an arbiter in matters of dispute concerning religious groups large and small, mainstream and fringe, old and new, for nearly four decades.
He also has been asked to stand with religions gone bad when they needed a scholar of both God and sin on their side.
In 1995 he joined a controversial delegation of American lawyers and religious leaders that traveled to Tokyo at the expense of some members of Aum Shinrikyo after that group was accused of a sarin nerve gas attack on a subway that killed 12 people.
"I was one of the few American scholars who knew anything about the group," Melton recalled. "So they asked if I could investigate them to prove they had nothing to do with the attack."
Five days later, however, "We concluded that there was a high likelihood that the groups' leaders had done what they were accused of," he said.
Melton's fascination with vampires has landed him on the witness stand.
In 2003, when Sony Pictures was sued for copyright infringement in connection with a movie about a war between vampires and werewolves, the company called Melton.
The plaintiffs asserted that the inter-creature relationships depicted in "Underworld" were their original ideas. Sony countered that movies had long paired vampirism with lycanthropy.
"Most people can't come up with several examples of vampire and werewolf relationships off the tops of their heads," Sony attorney Steve Mick said. "Melton can."
Savoring the memory with a smile, Melton recalled: "The case was settled after I pointed out that the characters in question had been part of American popular culture since the 1950s."
These days, Melton said, he's "on the road about 100 days a year, giving speeches, organizing research projects, meeting with scholars and lawyers. I also do a little lobbying for the 1st Amendment."
His steadfast defense of the right of new religions to express themselves has made him a target of leaders of the anti-cult movement, who regard him as an apologist for extremists.
Melton, however, likes to point out that nearly every religious group in America has, at one time or another, been accused of being cult-like.
Assembling his massive troves of information also has changed his perceptions about the roles and influences of religious movements in society.
"I've come to believe that coercion in matters of religion is self-defeating," said Melton, who is also a Methodist minister. "If you leave people alone, the great majority will find their way to the center of one of the 15 or 16 great religious traditions."
"And the ones on the fringe will not be nearly as violent," he added. "Religious violence usually, but not always, comes from repressing religion."
But why encyclopedias?
Born and raised in Birmingham, Ala., Melton was still in high school when he picked up an unassuming book called "The Small Sects in America."
"I read it in one sitting," he recalled. Then he gave up collecting baseball cards and started gathering data on American religious groups, from mainline traditions to UFO cults and Dracula myths, with plans to rewrite the sects book.
"I spent a decade doing the research for the project, and two years writing it," he said. "It was published in 1979 as the Encyclopedia of American Religions and was an overnight success."
Rodney Stark, professor of social sciences at Baylor University in Texas, still talks about the day he ran across an ad extolling Melton's massive work.
"I turned to my wife and joked, 'If half of what this ad says is true, this would be a marvelous book,' " he recalled. "Then I bought it, and it floored me. I could not believe what he had achieved."
The book described nearly every denomination and the people who made them tick: Protestant groups from Anglican to Pentecostal, Catholicism, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, neo-pagan groups and atheist associations, along with bibliographical references and mailing addresses.
"I quickly arranged to review it for a journal and then contacted Gordon, expecting to meet a frail guy of 80 who'd spent his entire life putting it together," Stark said. "Instead, he turned out to be this young Methodist preacher who'd done the whole thing in his attic."
Melton hasn't changed much since then, except for his white goatee. He still spends most days at a computer terminal beside a pot of coffee and a record player issuing strains of his favorite bluegrass and sentimental Southern gospel tunes.
Later this year, Melton, who witnessed the 1960s civil rights struggles in his hometown, expects to complete his current obsession, a history of African American Methodists.
"There are 4 million African American Methodists in the United States, yet this is virgin territory for a historian," he said. "That's because the whites didn't want to remember the blacks, and the whites were writing the history."
Sometime next year, Melton plans to edit an especially daunting project, even by his standards: a biographical work on the 2,500 most important religious figures of all time.
"It's time for such a book because what we know about these people continues to change," he said. "For example, until just a few years ago, in America, Muhammad wasn't considered a very important guy."
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Unlocking the mystery of Ware Triangle - Auto Remote keys at it again...
13 April 06
A BIZARRE Bermuda Triangle-style hole has opened up in Ware.
Thankfully, this one doesn't cause aircraft to disappear off the radar, but it does infuriate motorists.
Those venturing to the bottom of Page Hill have discovered the remote keys to unlock their cars fail to work there.
Puckeridge resident Terry Fletcher is baffled.
"It's like a sort of Bermuda Triangle or maybe aliens have indeed landed - we've had a few UFO sightings in Hertford!
"My wife's been parking there once a week for ages. She goes to visit friends where she worked at GlaxoSmithKline, but today (Thursday, 13 April) her remote key just wouldn't work," he said.
Initial thoughts that the battery on the bleeper had gone proved unfounded when the Fletchers called out a breakdown truck.
"His wouldn't work either," said Terry. "And another person also had the same thing. It's all very strange."
A Mercury reporter went to investigate the strange phenomenon. Sure enough, when he pressed the remote key to his ageing BMW, it failed to elicit a satisfying 'bleep, bleep'. Now the gadget is kaput.
A spokeswoman for the RAC Foundation said: "I've heard of a similar thing happening near the US Air Force base in Yorkshire, which has an extremely powerful radar, but you have to be really close for it to happen. Do you have an air force base in Ware?"
Tamsin Johnston, from RAC Rescue, said: "RAC is aware of a number of loca tions including military bases, hospital car parks and docksides where this phenomenon occurs.
"If a motorist experiences this problem they should open the car manually using the key. Once inside the car, close the door and retry, deactivating the security system by operating the key fob, as the car's bodywork provides a shield to the radio signals.
"If this doesn't work, the car will need to be towed out of the range of the signal to rectify the situation. The interference may only be temporary, so it's worth waiting 10 minutes or so and trying again."
A spokesman for breakdown firm Lantern Recovery, of South Mimms, said: "It can happen near a radio transmitter or a pylon. It's all to do with radio waves. I don't want to scare anyone - there are no health worries."
We discovered that in 1993 a European frequency of 433.92 MHz was allocated for radio car keys by the European Radio Committee. The same frequency was already legally allocated to other users, including the Ministry of Defence.
So it seems that Ware has a hidden air force base, a secret MoD installation or a new hospital that the NHS forgot to mention.
Either that or UFOs have landed in the secluded wood at the bottom of Page Hill.
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April 10, 2006
It's not often one sees an article about UFO's in the mainstream print press or on television these days; when one does, it's usually filled with terms like "believers, pseudo-science, fringe, paranormal, cult, hoax," etc. On television the reporting of UFO events is generally done in a light comical manner, complete with the "winks, nods and guffaws included."
That said, it's no surprise how ignorant the American public "of today" is on the subject of UFO's. Moreover, when attempts are made by independent sources, via television, the bulk of these productions come complete with organ music, smoke machines and are narrated by an eerie character with a British accent.
Occasionally when a reporter from the mainstream press does gather the courage to broach the subject of UFO's, more often then not we see an individual who approaches the subject from the aforementioned education received by his fellow colleagues; that's not to say there haven't been some reporters/newsmen etc., who have done some good publicized research; but those individuals, and instances are few and far in-between!
The "all to common" term, or phrase used by the mainstream reporters, is "UFO believers." Most Americans are familiar with the term, "UFO", and most incorrectly associate the term with extraterrestrial spacecraft and or beings. The term, "UFO" was borne by the Air Force back in 1952, specifically Capt. Edward J. Ruppelt, Chief of the Air Force's Project Blue Book-the government's "public investigating agency" of the UFO phenomenon. In the verbatim it is an acronym for, "Unidentified Flying Objects"; the "key word" being "UNIDENTIFIED."
To associate the verb, "believer" with a "factual thing" i.e., "UFO," is an oxymoron. Say to yourself, "I believe in the Empire State Building," or use the term "The Mount Rushmore believers"-just doesn't make sense does it? Yet the layman who is ignorant of the subject of UFO's, or who's only knowledge on the subject is from the comedic side of the mainstream press might assume there is a debate about the existence of such things, particularly if the individual has never seen one-henceforth we breed more ignorance!
The public as a whole, I'm sure would be quite surprised to learn that the media in the early years of UFOlogy (late '40's and early '50's) did not turn a "blind eye" to this phenomenon-quite the opposite in fact! "Flying Saucer" stories (the term created by a reporter from Oregon in response to Kenneth Arnold's report of his sighting of 9 UFOs in June of '47, describing their flight characteristics) permeated the press-it was headline news in most states across the country. The press was eager to learn and report what these "strange objects" were, flying in our skies.
Ironically it was the press that provoked the "powers-that-be" to become very aggressive in a public anti-UFO campaign. Initially, when the "newly" independent branch of the military, i.e., the Air Force, established "Project Sign," aka, "Project Saucer" (one of the predecessor's to "Blue Book") who's function was "to collect, collate, evaluate and distribute to interested government agencies and contractors all information concerning sightings and phenomena in the atmosphere which can be construed to be of concern to the national security"; there seemed to be a genuine desire to get to the bottom of the UFO phenomenon; however, the evidence towards the end of 1948 was leading to an apparent extraterrestrial explanation, which didn't sit well with the higher-ups, namely "Air Force Chief of Staff General Hoyt S. Vandenburg."
In the beginning of 1949 "Project Sign" was no more, and "Project Grudge" was in its stead. "Grudge" like it's name took to a dim view of UFO reports, and indicated the Air Forces "public shift" in policy to "explain away" reports as natural phenomenon, e.g., planets, meteors or stars; more drastic explanations would include: hallucinations, reflections, birds and even "particles that float in the fluid of the eye that cast shadows on the retina."
When the Air Force couldn't explain away the evidence they in turn would ridicule the witnesses. UFO observers were called hoaxers, fearsome freaks, or people just trying to get media attention.
Capt. Edward Ruppelt in his book, "The Report On Unidentified Flying Objects" referred to the beginning of the "Project Grudge era" as the "Dark Ages," or "as a period of "intellectual stagnation.'" What he didn't realize is that "stagnation" would evolve and continue for decades.
In the beginning of the Air Force's "debunking policy" it used big names like Vandenburg, and LeMay to substantiate and solidify the "natural explanation" of UFO reports; but it didn't stop internally; the Air Weather Service was asked to verify "balloon flights" that must have been confused with UFO's. In regards to astronomical answers, Dr. J. Allen Hynek, head of Ohio State University's Astronomy Department sorted out reports that could be associated with stars, planets, etc.
Although the public and the media didn't swallow the Air Force's policy shift at once, it did sow the seed of doubt. Magazines like "True and Life" from 1949 through 1952 published some ground-shaking revelations on UFOs based on Air Force reports and files; however that rich source of "official unbiased information" was soon to dry up.
By 1952 the Air Force was in "full debunking mode," and that summer would offer a grandiose example of how far the Air Force would go to explain away the Flying Saucer (UFO) Phenomenon.
Common folk (those "mildly" knowledgeable about UFOs) have often said, "If they are from another planet, why don't they just land on the Whitehouse lawn?" Ironically, in July of 1952 they came very close to doing just that!
The headline of the Washington Post's Final Edition of July 28th, 1952 declared, "'Saucer' Out Ran Jet, Pilot Reveals." The article went on to reveal a "secret military investigation" of what were described as "glowing aerial objects" that were appearing on radar screens in the Washington area for the second consecutive week. Pilots sent up by the ADC (Air Defense Command) reported that they were unable to overtake the UFOs that were near Andrews Air Force Base.
The Air Force's official response was that they were investigating the incidents and that it was classified as "secret." They further stated, "we have no evidence they are "flying saucers"; conversely we have no evidence they are not "flying saucers." We don't know what they are."
To be clear, the UFOs were not just "blips on a screen" they were simultaneously witnessed from the ground as well as from the air (radar/visual sightings) by the pilots pursuing them in addition to civilian airline pilots.
In an interview with "The Alexandria Gazette," James Ritchy, an "air traffic controller and radar specialist" for The Washington Air Traffic Control Center said, "These objects were about 30 miles from the airport when we first made contact with them. We spotted 12 objects, and judged that they were moving in a southeasterly direction at a speed of about 40 mph . . .. The Air Force sent some jet planes up to investigate, and we would help 'vector' the pilots toward the objects . . ..
When we 'vector' a plane onto an object, we are in radar contact with both the object and the plane, and also in radio contact with the pilot of the plane. We keep telling the pilot how to turn to approach the object until he makes a sighting. The first jet pilot to go out Saturday night reported that he sighted a steady white light that appeared to be about 10 miles distant. When we tried to draw closer, it just disappeared . . ..
A commercial pilot got much closer to one of the objects, and reported to us that he sighted a yellow light that appeared to turn red and then yellow again. He reported to us that the object appeared to be about two miles away and the flying parallel with him.
Radar confirmed that he was between two and three miles from the object.
A third pilot sighted two bluish lights and later five more white lights. Our radar continued to show unidentified objects through the night, until 6 a.m. the next morning, but the pilots did not get closer to them."
The pursuit planes used were F-94s with a top speed of 600 mph. The targets (UFOs) were tracked at speeds as slow as 90 mph and faster then that of their pursuers. (Substantially faster, as when planes approached in some instances, the UFOs would simply disappear from radar-presumably retreating faster then it took the "radar antenna" to make a full sweep).
As one might imagine, since this was an ongoing phenomenon (for two weeks) and it was taking place near the nation's capitol, it created quite a hubbub! With telegrams, phone calls and letters by the thousands pouring into the Pentagon, as well as pressure from the constituents of local Congressman, and topping it off with a lot of noise from the media; the powers-that-be needed to do something, and quickly! That something ended up initiating "the largest press conference held since the end of the Second World War."
On July 29th at 4:00 pm in the conference room at the Pentagon, Major General John A. Samford, Director of Intelligence of the Air Force proceeded to engage in the one of the largest cover-ups ever perpetrated on the American public! With him in this machination was Major General Roger M. Ramey, Director of Operations, a veteran in confabulating UFO events (a la Roswell), Colonel Donald L. Bower, Technical Analysis Division, ATIC (Air Technical Intelligence Center), Captain Roy L. James, Electronic Branch, ATIC, Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, Aerial Phenomena Branch, (head of Project Blue Book and future author of "The Report On Unidentified Flying Objects) ATIC, and Mr. Burgoyne L. Griffing, Electronics Branch, ATIC.
On the other side of the table were the media's elite, top correspondents from all the major newspapers and national magazines were in attendance; heavy hitters from radio and the new medium, "TV" were also there; in the midst of that crowd was one "Major Donald E. Keyhoe," who had penned, "The Flying Saucers Are Real" and was a considerable thorn in the Air Force's side.
Samford's opening statement recapped the Air Force's investigation of the UFO phenomenon since 1947; he mentioned the Air Force's concern of possible air born menaces to the United States, talked about Project Saucer (Project Sign) and it's current "more improved" organization. He noted the mass amount of reports that have been analyzed, and quickly put them to rest as some easily explainable phenomenon, e.g., our own aircraft, weather aberrations, hoaxes etc.
His oratory was mild mannered and done in an academic fashion; Keyhoe later commented that the "tension in the crowd was eased" by his simple explanations of the UFOs. Samford didn't shy away from the "20%" of the reports that couldn't be "identified," either, and gave the impression that with more data those could be laid to rest as well.
In concluding he made a point that the Air Force's role was to ensure that UFO sightings didn't pose a threat to the United States; he said there was no pattern to indicate there was one.
At this point the rest of the conference would proceed as a Q & A session with the reporters. As would be expected, the reporters began a barrage of some very poignant questions, but Samford held his ground, and calmly gave rational explanations for the previous weeks UFO sightings and consequent "radar tracks."
When asked about "solid returns" Samford talked about "birds and temperature inversions"; when asked about multiple radar units tracking the same objects, "simultaneously" he mentioned the same phenomenon can pass from scope to scope, and indicated that the timing can be off. (I.e., it wasn't simultaneous). When asked about the "expertise" of the radar operators he politely indicated that even the "best can be fooled."
As you can see, no matter the question Samford and or one of his panel had a very "logical explanation" for the recent UFO phenomenon; even when he left room for further investigation he firmly stated, "there is nothing in them that is associated with materials or vehicles or missiles that are directed against the United States."
The conference lasted an hour and twenty minutes, at it's finale the members of the media had a mixed response, some thought that Samford and his group were on the level, others didn't buy it for a moment, but by and large they would "accept the more feasible explanations" and that is what would "go to print."
The following day the "New York Times" published an article entitled, "Air Force Debunks 'Saucers' As Just 'Natural Phenomena.'" The "Herald Tribune" published the same article, and the "Post" headlined an article, "Saucer Blips Over Capitol Laid To Heat." The "AP" ran with "those stories" and premise was spread across the country.
Some might wonder how the press could be so naïve . . . but those were different times, and we were much more trustful of the powers-that-be. Still, after taking in Samford's explanations, it must have given people pause if they had to board an airplane, since their very lives depend upon the air traffic controllers who apparently couldn't tell a plane, or another solid object from a flock of birds and or heat inversions.
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Getting Iran in their Sites
War Whore Rice says U.N. must adopt tough Iran resolution
By Sue Pleming
Thu Apr 13, 6:17 PM ET
WASHINGTON - U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Thursday the United Nations must consider strong action against Iran, such as a resolution that could lead to sanctions or lay the groundwork for force.
Asked what options the U.N. Security Council should consider, Rice said it should look at chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter to force Iran to comply with international obligations over its nuclear plans.
"I am certain we will look at measures that can be taken to ensure that Iran knows that they really have no choice but to comply," Rice told reporters.
Chapter 7 makes a resolution mandatory under international law for all U.N. members. It can lead to sanctions and eventually the use of force if it specifically calls for them or threatens "all necessary measures."
A Chapter 7 resolution passed against Iraq has been seen as giving the United States a legal argument for the bombing and then invasion of that country. Russia, in particular, fears that the United States might interpret a Chapter 7 resolution in the same way against Iran.
Russia and China, key players on the Iran issue with veto rights in the Security Council, strongly oppose sanctions or the use of military force against Tehran. All other council members, including close ally Britain, oppose military action.
The United States, believing Iran is intent on making an atomic bomb, has said that while all options are on the table, it is pursuing the diplomatic course and rejects reports that it is stepping up plans for a military strike.
Rice, who has called for "strong steps" against Iran, said Tehran had done nothing to show it planned to adhere to calls by the international community to abandon its nuclear plans and the world must respond.
"We are going to have to have a response and it can't be another presidential statement," said Rice, referring to a statement issued by the Security Council last month against Iran.
The Security Council has told Iran to halt all sensitive atomic activities and on March 29 it asked the IAEA, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, to report on its compliance in 30 days.
Iran's declaration this week that it enriched its first batch of uranium is unlikely to spur the divided Security Council to take any substantive action sooner than May on the question, council diplomats said on Wednesday.
"When the Security Council reconvenes there will have to be some consequence for that action and that defiance. We will look at a whole range of options available to the Security Council," Rice said.
Speaking at the same news conference, Canada's Foreign Minister Peter MacKay said his government supported sanctions against Iran if Tehran did not cooperate soon.
"There will be a progressive response and progressive consequences. I don't believe we want to take any drastic steps that will destabilize a very volatile situation," said MacKay.
Political directors from the six major powers handling the Iran issue are set to meet in Moscow next Tuesday on the sidelines of a planning meeting for a summit of the G8.
Comment: Now the Bush gang is talking about using force to deal with Iran again. Gosh, we had no idea that was coming! It seems that as with Iraq, the rest of the world is poised to do absolutely nothing to stop them.
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If You Liked the Iraq War, You'll Love the Iran War
14 April 06
If you liked gas at three dollars a gallon, you'll love it at five dollars or more. If you liked fighting 26 million people in Iraq, you'll love fighting 68 million in Iran. If you liked turning Sunni Muslims against us, you'll love turning Sunni and Shiite Muslims against us. If you liked war in the Persian Gulf, you'll love war all over the Middle East.
If you thought things were bad now, wait till Iran retaliates against our air strikes by bombing Israel. When Israel strikes back, the whole Middle East will have to get sucked into the war. And then the fun really starts.
Do any of you have any confidence that George W. Bush knows what he's doing when he contemplates starting a war with Iran? Do any of you believe he has carefully thought out all the possibilities and has a plan for every contingency?
I don't care how Republican you are, that is an inconceivable thought. No one could believe that's true. The man who lost New Orleans and accidentally started a civil war in Iraq is going to have a sound strategy for Iran?
Besides which, there is a very real reason why they actively don't plan for these wars. They don't want word of the worst case scenarios (or even realistic scenarios) leaking out and providing a disincentive to go to war. They think if they can convince people it will be easy, everyone will go along.
If there is a discussion of realistic contingencies, it will be harder to drive people into war. That is why they so fastidiously avoided making plans for "post-war" Iraq (I love that term, did anyone let the Iraqis know we're in the "post-war" stage?). If people realized how hard it would be to occupy Iraq and build that nation from scratch, do you think they would have been as eager to go in the first place?
The Rumsfeld strategy is to start a war with no planning and then complain that you have the war you have, not the one you wish you had. It's ironic because they do no planning specifically because they want the war they wish to have.
Why do you think every retired general is screaming at the top of their lungs to fire Rumsfeld? The generals have seen the mess we made in Iraq up close and it isn't pretty. They realize these guys in the administration have no idea what they're doing.
Right now, they're just getting a volunteer army and tens of thousands of Iraqis killed, but if we have to fight the whole Middle East, it's all of us who are going to be dying for their arrogant, foolhardy mistakes.
By the way, is there anything more vile than a Republican telling you that the kids who signed up for our volunteer army knew what they were getting into, so they have no compunction about sending them into war? Yeah, I guess they had it coming.
Bush is a proven liar. Whether he's lying about biological weapons labs, leaks from his administration or warrantless spying, one thing is for sure, he cannot be trusted. He has no shame in continually and aggressively lying to the American people.
No one could have anticipated the breach of the levees? Please. Remember he said that after he sat through a long and extensive warning about how the levees might be breached. The man has no shame.
Would you trust George Bush to baby-sit your kids? How sure are you that he wouldn't fall asleep, or accidentally drop them on their head or forget to feed them? How sure are you that when he screwed something up he wouldn't lie to you about it afterward?
I wouldn't let him within a three state perimeter of my kids (and I don't even have any). And this is the guy we are going to trust to orchestrate a war against a much bigger, savvier, more organized enemy?
What I find really laughable is that in his own head, George Bush thinks he is chosen by God to lead America in perilous times, to bring freedom to the world and to "save" Iran.
He reminds me of a kid who is convinced he is Superman. He makes a cape out of napkins and jumps off the couch thinking he can fly. He crashes and cuts his head open. But little Georgy is so dense he doesn't get the memo. The next day, he's ready to jump again. He's sure it'll work this time.
Bush is the amalgamation of all the hideous and sad parts of the Republican Party. He is a Republican Frankenstein. He has the temperament of Barry Goldwater, the integrity of Richard Nixon, and the brains of Dan Quayle.
And we trust this guy with his finger on the button?
God help us all if he bombs Iran. And if you think he's not that stupid, you haven't been paying attention.
He says the idea of bombing Iran is "wild speculation." He also said we weren't wiretapping anybody without a court order. He says we're trying diplomacy first. That's exactly what he said about Iraq when we found out he was planning for the war all along. He says Iran is a gathering threat ...
Now, who do you trust more - George Bush or General Anthony Zinni? General Zinni is the former head of US Central Command. He said he saw no evidence of Iraqi WMD before the war. He thought we didn't have enough troops to get the job done right. And now he thinks going into Iran is an even worse idea. Is there a single American who really believes George Bush knows better than General Zinni?
George Bush is the kid who was born on third and thinks he kicked a field goal. The slow kid on the short bus wants to drive us into Iran. Do you really want to go for that ride?
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The Science Corner
Where there's smoke - there's a healthy society
By Simon Jeffery
14 April 06
Here is something that cigarettes can tell you about the political health of a nation.
For a while now, countries and sometimes cities have been introducing smoking bans in restaurants and bars. The arguments usually centre on the dangers of passive smoking, but since 1) a majority of people do not smoke and 2) smokers, even in New York and Spain, seem happy to comply, the bans get steadily more widespread.
Except, for now, in France. The land of the Gauloise has decided people can keep puffing away with their Pernod with the withdrawal of a government proposal for a total ban.
Intriguingly, it has a lot to do with tear gas - or to be precise the protests over the job contract that was supposed to make employers more open to hiring under-26s on the basis that they would also be easier to fire.
For the link, look at the front cover of this week's Economist. It greets readers with a curious sight - an early renaissance painting (that may be a Bosch) where horned and winged devils boil a cauldron of monks on an open fire. More smoke.
The headline reads "Another great week for Europe". Inside (subscription required), the newspaper goes on to explain why it meant this a touch ironically. A majority so slim for Romano Prodi in Italy that Communist coalition members will be able to derail economic reforms; plus the French government's backpedalling over the under-26s CPE job contract.
The Guardian's European editor, Nicholas Watt, wrote on this blog a few weeks ago that France was essentially ungovernable until the 2007 presidential election. The withdrawal of the CPE is certainly adding to the impression that the French government is becoming one giant lame duck.
For evidence of that, just look to the smoking ban. Rather than go into battle against smokers and tobacconists in the manner it took on students and unions over the CPE, the now weakened government has retreated. A Reuters report points out the decision on "delaying" the smoking ban came just two days after it backed down on the CPE.
Comment: Indeed, you can tell the political health of a country by the LACK of anti-smoking measures. It's really that simple.
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Few Clues to High IQs
By Christopher Wanjek
11 April 2006
Kids with high IQs have a distinct pattern of brain development, according to a 20-year study of more than 300 young minds published in the March 30 issue of the journal Nature.
And for the next big brain study, scientists will get these smart kids to figure out what this Nature study really means.
Like all brain and intelligence studies, this one is loaded with implications. If smart brains are biologically different from dumb brains, does that mean that genetics and therefore race determine intelligence?
Yes and no. That is, yes to the former to some degree (if you can define intelligence), and no to the latter. Regardless, dim-witted eugenicists will use the study to advance their cause of breeding super-intelligent humans.
The study, led by Dr. Philip Shaw of the National Institutes of Mental Health, found surprisingly that the brains of smarter kids developed more slowly than the brains of children with average to lower intelligence, based on standard IQ tests.
The scientists conducted a series of MRI scans of these children's prefrontal cortex every couple of years as they grew up. The prefrontal cortex is the seat of memory, language and abstract reasoning. For those with lower measured intelligence, the prefrontal cortex grew thicker with neuron-rich gray matter more quickly and reached a peak thickness at age 8. For the smartest kids, the cortex was thinner early on and didn't reach peak thickness until age 11.
Why the "smart" brains developed differently is an open question. This could have something to do with genes. But this could easily be from intellectual stimuli early in life that guided the brain's development.
At best the study shows that people deemed smart by virtue of a test that some argue is culturally and gender biased have brains that develop differently from people who don't do as well on that test. It's a good study, but that's all it really says about intelligence.
For myth-busters like myself, though, the study rules out the notion that smarter people have bigger brains. Brain sizes in the Nature report had nothing to do with IQ test performance.
Yet simple logic renders the "big brain equals big smarts" argument silly. Women have smaller brains than men, on average. And smaller people, particularly dwarfs, often have smaller brains. Unless you are prepared to defend the stance that women and short people are dumber, case closed.
There have been geniuses with tiny brains and idiots with huge ones. The average brain size is about three pounds, or 1,400 grams. The brain of the French writer Anatole France was only 2.24 pounds, well below average. Lord Byron's brain was nearly twice this amount, over four pounds.
Our heads are swelled if we think humans have the biggest brains.
Whales and elephants have bigger ones. We don't even top the list when comparing brain size and body mass. With our 1:44 ratio, yes, we beat out monkeys with a 1:70 ratio. But we don't come close to mice and rats, at around 1:20, and small birds, at 1:15. An obese human likely has the same brain-to-body ratio as a monkey without suffering from a lack of intelligence. But maybe rats really are smart. They can navigate the New York City subway system far better than I can.
Logic also rules out the genetic argument. Australia was once a penal colony. Today it has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. America was created from the forsaken, hapless classes from Europe and beyond. Today America is a technological leader.
Think of all the cultures that once ruled a good chunk of the known world. Mongolia, Babylonia, Egypt, Greece ... What happened to those genes that gave rise to such intellectual superiority?
Shaw and his colleagues from the National Institutes of Health and McGill University sidestepped the question of genetics in their Nature report. That was pretty smart. As for IQ, I did rather well on an Internet-based test while the two eggs I was boiling for lunch exploded after the water evaporated. What an idiot.
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Pope condemns geneticists 'who play at being God'
By Ruth Gledhill
The Sunday Times
April 14, 2006
THE Pope will deliver a blistering attack on the "satanic" mores of modern society today, warning against an "inane apologia of evil" that is in danger of destroying humanity.
In a series of Good Friday meditations that he will lead in Rome, the Pope will say that society is in the grip of a kind of "anti-Genesis" described as "a diabolical pride aimed at eliminating the family". He will pray for society to be cleansed of the "filth" that surrounds it and be restored to purity, freed from "decadent narcissism".
Particular condemnation is reserved for scientific advances in the field of genetic manipulation. Warning against the move to "modify the very grammar of life as planned and willed by God", the Pope will lead prayers against "insane, risky and dangerous" ventures in attempting "to take God's place without being God".
The Pope has not actually composed the prayers for the traditional Way of the Cross, but is certain to have given his blessing to the Good Friday meditations at the Colosseum.
Their author is Archbishop Angelo Comastri, Vicar General at Vatican City. The tone of the meditations is striking in its contrast to the contemporary fashion for feel-good religion.
While some will regard their emphasis on sin and the dark side of human nature as retrograde, others will welcome them as a sign of the strong and conservative leadership that Pope Benedict XVI was elected to provide. All Roman Catholic churches and many others, including Anglican churches in the Anglo-Catholic tradition, celebrate a liturgy around the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday.
The 14 stations begin with Jesus's condemnation to death, take Christians through meditations of the "Way of the Cross" and the Crucifixion and end with the laying of Jesus's body in the tomb. The Pope wrote the meditations himself for last year's Way of the Cross in Rome. But today's Catholic prayers, published in Italian this week and in English on the Zenit website yesterday, go further than most in their thorough denunciation of contemporary culture.
At the Third Station of the Cross, where Jesus falls for the first time, Archbishop Comastri has written: "Lord, we have lost our sense of sin. Today a slick campaign of propaganda is spreading an inane apologia of evil, a senseless cult of Satan, a mindless desire for transgression, a dishonest and frivolous freedom, exalting impulsiveness, immorality and selfishness as if they were new heights of sophistication."
At the Fourth Station, where Jesus is helped by Simon the Cyrene to carry the cross, Pope Benedict and his followers will pray: "Lord Jesus, our affluence is making us less human, our entertainment has become a drug, a source of alienation, and our society's incessant, tedious message is an invitation to die of selfishness."
One of the strongest meditations warns against the attack on the family. "Today we seem to be witnessing a kind of anti-Genesis, a counter-plan, a diabolical pride aimed at eliminating the family."
There is a moving meditation for the Eighth Station, where Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem, describing the "River of tears shed by mothers, mothers of the crucified, mothers of murderers, mothers of drug addicts, mothers of terrorists, mothers of rapists, mothers of psychopaths, but mothers all the same".
The Pope will also confront the question of evil in the world in a meditation that asks: "Where is Jesus in the agony of our own time, in the division of our world into belts of prosperity and belts of poverty . . . in one room they are concerned about obesity, in the other, they are begging for charity?"
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