- Signs of the Times for Fri, 08 Sep 2006 -

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Editorial: Remedial Reading: The Al Qaeda Connection

Henry See
Signs of the Times
8 September 2006

China's Xinhua news agency was carrying this story today:
Bin Laden meets with Sept. 11 hijackers before tragedy

www.chinaview.cn 2006-09-08 03:48:58

CAIRO, Sept. 7 (Xinhua) -- Qatar's al-Jazeera television showed a video Thursday, saying al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden had met with some of the Sept. 11 hijackers before that tragedy in 2001.

In the video, bin Laden is seen meeting with some of the Sept.11 hijackers, including his former lieutenant Mohammed Atef and Ramzi Binalshibh, another suspected planner of the Sept. 11 suicide hijackings.

Atef, also known as Abu Hafs al-Masri, was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan in 2001, while Binalshibh was captured in Pakistan four years ago.

Bin Laden, wearing a dark robe and white head gear walking outdoors in a mountainous area, smiled as he received several of the Sept. 11 hijackers, according to the video.

Meanwhile, al-Jazeera late Thursday also aired an audio tape showing new al-Qaida head in Iraq Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, which is said to be first released by him since he succeeded the slain militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi three months ago.

In the tape, al-Muhajir called for Muslims unity against the enemy, saying "place your hands in our hands ... our enemy has unified his ranks, now is the time to unite."
Do they think that we are stupid or something?

The story tells us that "bin Laden is seen meeting with some of the Sept.11 hijackers, including his former lieutenant Mohammed Atef and Ramzi Binalshibh, another suspected planner of the Sept. 11 suicide hijackings". The word "including", infinitive "to include", means "Comprise, embrace, (thing etc) as part of a whole" according to the Concise Oxford Dictionary. Therefore, the story is telling us that bin Laden met with some of the September 11 hijackers, and that Atef and Binalshibh form part of the whole of the hijackers, i.e., they were two of the alleged hijackers that brought down, according to the official story, the World Trade Centre towers, hit the Pentagon, and commandeered the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania.

Hopefully we can agree on this point, on what the article is attempting to make us believe.

Following logically from the "fact" that they were both among the hijackers and that according to the official story all the hijackers died on September 11 in an act of "suicide terrorism", Atef and Binalshibh, therefore, must have both died on September 11. Or to frame it as a syllogism:

1. All the hijackers died on September 11.

2. Atef and Binalshibh were hijackers.

3. Atef and Binalshibh died on September 11.

Then what could it possibly mean when the article says:
Atef, also known as Abu Hafs al-Masri, was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan in 2001, while Binalshibh was captured in Pakistan four years ago.
That they were not hijackers on September 11? That the story is a lie?

Well, then we turn to Al Jazeera's own report:
Al-Qaeda video takes credit for 9/11

Friday 08 September 2006,
10:27 Makka Time, 7:27 GMT

A new videotape aired on Aljazeera television has shown Osama bin Laden and senior al-Qaeda members meeting some of the men who carried out the September 11 attacks against the US in 2001.

The 90-minute video apparently shows bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda, taking part in the planning and preparation of the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.
So, in the opening paragraph, the lead-in, we are given an unequivocal statement that the video shows bin Laden meeting some of the hijackers. In the next paragraph, we learn that it isn't so certain: it is only "apparent". We learn just how "apparent" below.
The footage, first aired on Thursday, also shows Abu Hafsa al-Masri, al-Qaeda's then military leader, and Ramzi bin al-Shaiba, co-ordinator of the 9/11 attacks, meeting in al-Qaeda's training camps in Taliban controlled Afghanistan.

The tape also says that a previous unknown Arab Islamist, Abu al-Turab al-Urduni, supervised the training for the attacks.

The video said the preparation for the attacks included not only flight training but also lessons in street-fighting and how to forge official documents.

The video also showed two of the 19 Islamists who took part in the attacks, Saudi nationals Hamza al-Ramdi and Wael el-Shemari.

The men said that their actions were inspired by an urge to avenge the suffering of Muslims in Bosnia and Chechnya.

Ramzi bin al-Shaiba was captured by the US in 2002. He is now reportedly being held in Guantanamo Bay.

Aljazeera has aired only three minutes of the tape.

Afghanistan training camp

Parts of the tape show bin Laden - wearing a dark robe and white head gear - strolling through an Afghan training camp, greeting dozens of followers, some masked, some barefaced, many carrying automatic weapons.

Aljazeera said that among those he greeted in the footage were several of the 9/11 hijackers but their faces were not clear, and it was not immediately known which ones were shown.
Above we are told the video shows Hamza al-Ramdi and Wael el-Shemari. Here we learn that "their faces were not clear, and it was not immediately known which ones were shown".
In one scene, bin Laden addresses the camera, calling on Muslims to support the hijackers.

"I ask you to pray for them and to ask God to make them successful, aim their shots well, set their feet strong and strengthen their hearts," bin Laden said.

The comments were apparently filmed before the attacks but never before released.

The footage also shows scenes of training at the camp.
We remember the appearance of Osama in the days before the 2004 presidential elections giving his support to Bush. Yesterday, we carried an article on the upcoming US elections, Changing of the Guard. The analysis painted a potentially bleak picture for the Republicans in November because of growing disatisfaction with the way Bush has handled the war in Iraq -- ignoring for the moment that they succeeded in stealing the last two presidential elections through fraud. However, the article also noted that:
Republicans are pinning their hopes on the one bright spot in the polls for them that gives the president high marks for handling the war on terrorism.
Are we surprised, then, when Osama makes another convenient appearance just prior to the fifth anniversary of the neocon/Israeli attack on the US?

Of course, the mainstream media doesn't expect its readers to thoroughly read the articles. Many people scan the headlines and read the first paragraph or two of an article, and as we have seen, they will be left with the "knowledge" that Osama did in fact meet with the 9/11 "hijackers".
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Editorial: "Londonistan" Author Ignores History of US-British Created Islamic Extremism

Kurt Nimmo

Melanie Phillips, writing for the Daily Mail, complains that British publishers would not touch her book, Londonistan. It might have something to with the fact the title is little more than a pejorative sobriquet, or it may be that the book is filled with alarmist nonsense, although I believe it is probably the former.

In the book, according to Phillips' own account, Muslims are portrayed as extremists and British Muslims are especially threatening. "Not only had Britain been allowed to become the hub of Al Qaeda in Europe, but the political and security establishment was still refusing to acknowledge the full dimensions of the threat," writes Phillips. "Of course, not all Muslims fit this pattern. Hundreds of thousands of British Muslims have no truck with Islamic extremism or terrorism, and across the world Muslims are numbered among its principal victims.... Nevertheless, the dismaying fact is that a horrifying number in Britain do harbor extremist views."

Naturally, Phillips does not tell us-because she either does not know or because her intention is to demonize all Muslims in Europe-that the British government has organized, financed, and unleashed Islamic extremists not only in Britain, but the world at large.

But don't believe me, believe Michael Meacher, Oldham MP and former cabinet minister. "The former Environment Secretary claims that Britain's 'overseas' security organization, M16, set about recruiting UK Muslims directing them to support US efforts to overthrow communist governments in Afghanistan and Yugoslavia. He highlights a Delhi-based research foundation that estimates anything up to 200 UK Muslims could have undergone training in overseas terrorist camps under the protection of the Pakistani secret service, the ISI, who were backing the armed Islamic insurrection against the Afghan communist regime and its Soviet backers," the Asian News reported last September.

As we know, or should know, the CIA, with more than a little financial help from the corrupt Wahhabi monarchy in Saudi Arabia, poured more than $40 billion into Afghanistan to organize, train, and arm the Mujahideen, now popularly, if erroneously, known as "al-Qaeda." Pakistan's ISI micromanaged these terrorists. Additional funding came through opium production, a CIA specialty, up from 250 tons in 1982 to 2,000 tons in 1991(see the Cooperative Research timeline, citing mainstream news sources).

We also know Osama bin Laden worked closely with the CIA and the ISI through Maktab al-Khidamar, or MAK, set up specifically in Peshawar to funnel money to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan. "MAK [was] nurtured by Pakistan's state security services, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI, the CIA's primary conduit for conducting the covert war against Moscow's occupation," none other than MSNBC reported in 1998, before everything changed, including the corporate media telling the truth about the origins of Islamic terrorism. Bin Laden was close to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a rather scurrilous Wahhabi fanatic, and greatly strengthened the opium trade, according to Le Monde. According to the Financial Times, reporting a month before nine eleven, the ISI created "a special cell of agents who use profits from heroin production for covert actions... at the insistence of the CIA." The CIA, through its ISI proxy, confabbed with Osama bin Laden on a regular basis, according to ex-CIA sources cited by Gerald Posner.

In fact, "al-Qaeda" ran its operations off the vastly profitable opium trade. "One report estimates that bin Laden takes up to 10 percent of Afghanistan's drug trade by early 1999. This would give him a yearly income of up to $1 billion out of $6.5 to $10 billion in annual drug profits from within Afghanistan," according to the Financial Times. It is a wonderful deal for the CIA proxy ISI as well, as it makes a whopping $2.5 billion annually from the sale of illegal drugs, according to the United Nations Drug Control Program.

MI6, the CIA, and Pakistan's ISI devised a plan to have the Mujahideen attack Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, targeting military installations, factories, and storage depots, and likely no shortage of civilian targets as well. In order to make sure the Mujahideen became the sort of fanatical murderers to be put to use for years to come, the CIA provided "subversive literature and Korans to the ISI," according to the Washington Post, again years before everything changed and we were expected to believe Muslims hatched plans against the West all on their lonesome, strictly because they hate our way of life and hanker to convert us to Islam.

According to Australian journalist John Pilger, MI6, with the the helping hand of Britain's SAS, trained "future al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters in bomb-making and other black arts," and no shortage of these cut-throats, especially chosen for their psychopathic personality disorders, were "trained at a CIA camp in Virginia." "Eventually, around 35,000 Muslim radicals from 43 Islamic countries will fight with the Afghan mujahedeen," notes Cooperative Research, citing the Washington Post. "Tens of thousands more will study in the hundreds of new madrassas (Islamic schools) funded by the ISI and CIA in Pakistan."

"From 1992 to 1995, the Pentagon assisted with the movement of thousands of Mujahideen and other Islamic elements from Central Asia into Europe, to fight alongside Bosnian Muslims against the Serbs," writes Brendan O'Neill (How we trained al-Qa'eda). "The Bosnia venture appears to have been very important to the rise of Mujahideen forces, to the emergence of today's cross-border Islamic terrorists who think nothing of moving from state to state in the search of outlets for their jihadist mission." This Pentagon plan, tasked to NATO, was uncovered by the Dutch government as it went about investigating the Srebrenica massacre of July 1995. Professor Cees Wiebes of Amsterdam University revealed "details [of] the secret alliance between the Pentagon and radical Islamic groups from the Middle East, and their efforts to assist Bosnia's Muslims. By 1993, there was a vast amount of weapons-smuggling through Croatia to the Muslims, organized by 'clandestine agencies' of the USA, Turkey and Iran, in association with a range of Islamic groups that included Afghan Mujahideen and the pro-Iranian Hezbollah. Arms bought by Iran and Turkey with the financial backing of Saudi Arabia were airlifted from the Middle East to Bosnia-airlifts with which, Wiebes points out, the USA was 'very closely involved.'"

As well, British intelligence was very closely involved with "al-Qaeda." According to whistleblower David Shayler, "British intelligence paid large sums of money to an al-Qaeda cell in Libya in a doomed attempt to assassinate Colonel Gadaffi in 1996 and thwarted early attempts to bring Osama bin Laden to justice," the Guardian reported on November 10, 2002. French intelligence experts revealed that an Interpol arrest warrant for bin Laden was issued by Libya in March 1998, but this was ignored. "According to journalist Guillaume Dasquié and Jean-Charles Brisard, an adviser to French President Jacques Chirac, British and US intelligence agencies buried the fact that the arrest warrant had come from Libya and played down the threat. Five months after the warrant was issued, al-Qaeda killed more than 200 people in the truck bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania."

On March 25, 2004, the Times Online reported one "of al-Qaeda's most dangerous figures has been revealed as a double agent working for MI5, raising criticism from European governments, which repeatedly called for his arrest." Abu Qatada "has been variously described as a 'truly dangerous individual' and a 'key UK figure' in al-Qaeda related terror activity," the BBC explained on May 9, 2006. "In the mid-1990s Abu Qatada was said to have held meetings with an MI5 officer at which he suggested his willingness to co-operate to help prevent Islamic terrorism in the UK," and promised not to "bite the hand that fed him." If we are to believe the corporate media, Abu Qatada was a "double agent," working with MI5 while at the same time recruiting for "al-Qaeda." Of course, considering the above, we can assume this is a load of hogwash-Qatada is in fact an MI5 asset working in "Londonistan," as Melanie Phillip would have it.

Finally, we have the strange case of Haroon Aswat, pegged as the "mastermind" of the July 7, 2005, London bombings. "The July 29 edition of FOX News Channel's Day Side program revealed that the so called mastermind of the 7/7 London Bombings, Haroon Rashid Aswat, is a British Intelligence Asset," writes Steve Watson for Prison Planet. According to John Loftus, former Justice Department prosecutor, "back in the late 1990s, the leaders [of the al-Muhajiroun group, another intelligence contrivance] worked for British intelligence in Kosovo. Believe it or not, British intelligence actually hired some Al-Qaeda guys to help defend the Muslim rights in Albania and in Kosovo," a fact documented above. Aswat "was a British intelligence plant," according to Loftus. By now, it should come as no surprise Aswat was on one hand an intelligence asset, and on the other pegged as the London bombing mastermind (one look at Aswat, however, and it should be obvious he is incapable of masterminding anything short of his own shoe strings-but then, as Webster Tarpley tells us, these guys are uniformly mental deficients, nut jobs, basket cases, and thus ideal patsies).

Melanie Phillips would have us believe "al-Qaeda" appeared out of nowhere, a product of Islam itself, although she is in the habit-as a self-described progressive and a defender of liberal democracy-of issuing meaningless caveats that not all Muslims are violent, Western-hating fanatics, just a large number of them, an assertion at the very foundation of the neocon "clash of civilizations" ideology. If the United States and Britain have nothing to do with the Islamic Terror Network, created by the CIA and ISI and nurtured on illicit opium trade profits, and has nothing to do with the apparent protection of fire-breathing fanatics in "Londonistan" and elsewhere, she needs to explain why Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, supposedly the mastermind of nine eleven, was granted a visa to enter the US just six weeks before the terrorist attacks, or why five of the alleged hijackers trained at U.S. military bases, or why Lyman Faris, described as an "al-Qaeda man" and accused of planning to bring down the Brooklyn Bridge, was an FBI operative, a fact reported by the Telegraph.

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Editorial: 'Gaza is a jail. Nobody is allowed to leave. We are all starving now'

Patrick Cockburn in Gaza
08 September 2006
UK Indepdendent

Gaza is dying. The Israeli siege of the Palestinian enclave is so tight that its people are on the edge of starvation. Here on the shores of the Mediterranean a great tragedy is taking place that is being ignored because the world's attention has been diverted by wars in Lebanon and Iraq.

A whole society is being destroyed. There are 1.5 million Palestinians imprisoned in the most heavily populated area in the world. Israel has stopped all trade. It has even forbidden fishermen to go far from the shore so they wade into the surf to try vainly to catch fish with hand-thrown nets.

Many people are being killed by Israeli incursions that occur every day by land and air. A total of 262 people have been killed and 1,200 wounded, of whom 60 had arms or legs amputated, since 25 June, says Dr Juma al-Saqa, the director of the al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City which is fast running out of medicine. Of these, 64 were children and 26 women. This bloody conflict in Gaza has so far received only a fraction of the attention given by the international media to the war in Lebanon.

It was on 25 June that the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was taken captive and two other soldiers were killed by Palestinian militants who used a tunnel to get out of the Gaza Strip. In the aftermath of this, writes Gideon Levy in the daily Haaretz, the Israeli army "has been rampaging through Gaza - there's no other word to describe it - killing and demolishing, bombing and shelling, indiscriminately". Gaza has essentially been reoccupied since Israeli troops and tanks come and go at will. In the northern district of Shajhayeh they took over several houses last week and stayed five days. By the time they withdrew, 22 Palestinians had been killed, three houses were destroyed and groves of olive, citrus and almond trees had been bulldozed.

Fuad al-Tuba, the 61-year-old farmer who owned a farm here, said: "They even destroyed 22 of my bee-hives and killed four sheep." He pointed sadly to a field, its brown sandy earth churned up by tracks of bulldozers, where the stumps of trees and broken branches with wilting leaves lay in heaps. Near by a yellow car was standing on its nose in the middle of a heap of concrete blocks that had once been a small house.

His son Baher al-Tuba described how for five days Israeli soldiers confined him and his relatives to one room in his house where they survived by drinking water from a fish pond. "Snipers took up positions in the windows and shot at anybody who came near," he said. "They killed one of my neighbours called Fathi Abu Gumbuz who was 56 years old and just went out to get water."

Sometimes the Israeli army gives a warning before a house is destroyed. The sound that Palestinians most dread is an unknown voice on their cell phone saying they have half an hour to leave their home before it is hit by bombs or missiles. There is no appeal.

But it is not the Israeli incursions alone that are destroying Gaza and its people. In the understated prose of a World Bank report published last month, the West Bank and Gaza face "a year of unprecedented economic recession. Real incomes may contract by at least a third in 2006 and poverty to affect close to two thirds of the population." Poverty in this case means a per capita income of under $2 (£1.06) a day.

There are signs of desperation everywhere. Crime is increasing. People do anything to feed their families. Israeli troops entered the Gaza industrial zone to search for tunnels and kicked out the Palestinian police. When the Israelis withdrew they were replaced not by the police but by looters. On one day this week there were three donkey carts removing twisted scrap metal from the remains of factories that once employed thousands.

"It is the worst year for us since 1948 [when Palestinian refugees first poured into Gaza]," says Dr Maged Abu-Ramadan, a former ophthalmologist who is mayor of Gaza City. "Gaza is a jail. Neither people nor goods are allowed to leave it. People are already starving. They try to live on bread and falafel and a few tomatoes and cucumbers they grow themselves."

The few ways that Gazans had of making money have disappeared. Dr Abu-Ramadan says the Israelis "have destroyed 70 per cent of our orange groves in order to create security zones." Carnations and strawberries, two of Gaza's main exports, were thrown away or left to rot. An Israeli air strike destroyed the electric power station so 55 per cent of power was lost. Electricity supply is now becoming almost as intermittent as in Baghdad.

The Israeli assault over the past two months struck a society already hit by the withdrawal of EU subsidies after the election of Hamas as the Palestinian government in March. Israel is withholding taxes owed on goods entering Gaza. Under US pressure, Arab banks abroad will not transfer funds to the government.

Two thirds of people are unemployed and the remaining third who mostly work for the state are not being paid. Gaza is now by far the poorest region on the Mediterranean. Per capita annual income is $700, compared with $20,000 in Israel. Conditions are much worse than in Lebanon where Hizbollah liberally compensates war victims for loss of their houses. If Gaza did not have enough troubles this week there were protest strikes and marches by unpaid soldiers, police and security men. These were organised by Fatah, the movement of the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, which lost the election to Hamas in January. His supporters marched through the streets waving their Kalashnikovs in the air. "Abu Mazen you are brave," they shouted. "Save us from this disaster." Sour-looking Hamas gunmen kept a low profile during the demonstration but the two sides are not far from fighting it out in the streets.

The Israeli siege and the European boycott are a collective punishment of everybody in Gaza. The gunmen are unlikely to be deterred. In a bed in Shifa Hospital was a sturdy young man called Ala Hejairi with wounds to his neck, legs, chest and stomach. "I was laying an anti-tank mine last week in Shajhayeh when I was hit by fire from an Israeli drone," he said. "I will return to the resistance when I am better. Why should I worry? If I die I will die a martyr and go to paradise."

His father, Adel, said he was proud of what his son had done adding that three of his nephews were already martyrs. He supported the Hamas government: "Arab and Western countries want to destroy this government because it is the government of the resistance."

As the economy collapses there will be many more young men in Gaza willing to take Ala Hejairi's place. Untrained and ill-armed most will be killed. But the destruction of Gaza, now under way, will ensure that no peace is possible in the Middle East for generations to come.

The deadly toll

* After the kidnap of Cpl Gilad Shalit by Palestinians on 25 June, Israel launched a massive offensive and blockade of Gaza under the operation name Summer Rains.

* The Gaza Strip's 1.3 million inhabitants, 33 per cent of whom live in refugee camps, have been under attack for 74 days.

* More than 260 Palestinians, including 64 children and 26 women, have been killed since 25 June. One in five is a child. One Israeli soldier has been killed and 26 have been wounded.

* 1,200 Palestinians have been injured, including up to 60 amputations. A third of victims brought to hospital are children.

* Israeli warplanes have launched more than 250 raids on Gaza, hitting the two power stations and the foreign and Information ministries.

* At least 120 Palestinian structures including houses, workshops and greenhouses have been destroyed and 160 damaged by the Israelis.

* The UN has criticised Israel's bombing, which has caused an estimated $1.8bn in damage to the electricity grid and leaving more than a million people without regular access to drinking water.

* The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem says 76 Palestinians, including 19 children, were killed by Israeli forces in August alone. Evidence shows at least 53 per cent were not participating in hostilities.

* In the latest outbreak of violence, three Palestinians were killed yesterday when Israeli troops raided a West Bank town in search of a wanted militant. Two of those killed were unarmed, according to witnesses.
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Editorial: Projecting fascism

Dave Niewert
Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Donald Rumsfeld's Aug. 29 speech to the American Legion was a real watermark for the Bush administration, since it finally made official the government's embrace of the "war critics are treasonous appeasers" theme that has been circulating in the right-wing bloodstream for the past several years.

But it was also noteworthy because it became the launching pad for the administration's open embrace of the term "Islamofascism" as a way not only to describe the terrorist threat these officials use to justify every one of its monstrous policies, but to smear the good citizens whose consciences lead them to oppose those policies. As if on cue, the rest of the administration -- including Bush himself -- and their amen chorus in the pundit class began using it endlessly in media appearances, though they had actually been circulating it for some time.

The tactic, beyond its mere scurrilousness, reeks of desperation, and most of the public can smell it. And some of the left-wing response -- perhaps most notably Keith Olbermann's -- has been exactly what this kind of gutter tactic deserves.

"Islamofascism" is also, as I've pointed out a couple of times, a generally inappropriate term. This is especially so because fascism, as we have known it historically, only arises from a democratic state in a state of decay or crisis. Indeed, fascism, as I've explored in some depth, is a specific pathology constituted of a constellation of certain traits, only some of which are described by Islamic radicalism, and some of which are specifically repudiated by it. Perhaps they intend "Islamic totalitarianism," which would be accurate; but fascism is a very specific kind of totalitarianism, and what we see in the Islamic world today does not fit the description.

As the New York Times' Alexander Stille pointed out awhile back, regarding the contention by Bush apologists like Christopher Hitchen and Paul Berman that Al Qaeda's attacks of Sept. 11 are comparable to Hitler's threats against Czechoslovakia:
This interpretation does not sit well with most experts on Islam. "Fascism is nationalistic and Islamicism is hostile to nationalism," said Roxanne Euben, a professor of political science at Wellesley College. "Fundamentalism is a transnational movement that is appealing to believers of all nations and races across national boundaries. There is no idea of racial purity as in Nazism. Islamicists have very little idea of the state. It is a religious movement, while Fascism in Europe was a secular movement. So if it's not what we really think of as nationalism, and if it's not really like what we think of as Fascist, why use these terms?"

It's clear that the administration, in this regard, is simply embracing ideas that have been circulating on the right for awhile. But it also goes deeper than that.

The most astute observation regarding this I've seen comes from John Dean, commenting at Firedoglake on Sunday while discussing his excellent book, Conservatives Without Conscience. Someone asked Dean where the administration cooked up "Islamofascism" at "just about the same time you proved to the world that we are enduring proto- fascism?" He replied:
I suspect that they market tested it and found it worked. But a more sinister thought that has occurred to me is that by using the "F" word to describe the enemy they may be trying to immunize themselves. (But that is a thought only, and I have no evidence -- at this time -- that that is the case.)

Dean has hit on exactly what we've been observing about movement conservatives and their increasingly ugly tone in recent: it is part of a sometimes conscious strategy to project their own ambitions onto their opponents:
In other words, for a number of the right's leading rhetoricians, the projection appears to be perfectly conscious: it is a strategy, designed to marginalize their opposition and open the field to nearly any behavior it chooses.

And it is extraordinarily successful precisely because projection, as a trait, is so deeply woven into the right-wing psyche. Those who engage in it consciously set off waves of sympathetic response from their audiences because it hits their buttons in exactly the right spot.

The deep-seatedness of this trait can make it diffidcult, at times, to discern whether the behavior is conscious or not. But it also lends to a certain predictability: One of the best indicators of where the right is heading, I've noted previously, can be found in the very things of which it accuses the left.

So when it starts to accuse its opponents of coddling fascism, you can rest assured that the American right is embarking on precisely that path itself. And considering what we know about fascism historically, this shouldn't be a surprise.

After all, as George Seldes noted, it was Huey Long, "a very smart demagogue," who observed the following:
"Sure we'll have Fascism here, but it will come as an anti-Fascism movement."

This raises the possibility that, in America at least, fascism could arise not the classic European way, that is, through an outside party that gradually gathers strength, but rather, as I've previously suggested, through "the transformation of an existing party into a fascist entity from within -- not necessarily by design, but by a coalescence of political forces already latent in the landscape."
This possibility, actually, is raised by the fact that, as [Robert O.] Paxton describes in detail [in The Anatomy of Fascism], fascism is not so much an ideological "ism" but a constellation of traits that takes on a pathological life of its own. And these traits, as he details, are very much present, historically speaking, in American political life.

In fact, this very mechanism was raised by the one of the significant American fascist "intellectuals" who arose in the 1930s. His name was Lawrence Dennis, and in 1936 -- a year after Lewis' novel -- he wrote an ideological blueprint titled The Coming American Fascism.

Dennis predicted that, eventually, the combination of a dictatorial and bureaucratic government and big business would continue exploiting the working middle class until, in frustration, it would turn to fascism. What's especially noteworthy were the kind of conditions he foresaw for this to happen:

Nothing could be more logical or in the best political tradition than for a type of fascism to be ushered into this country by leaders who are now vigorously denouncing fascism and repudiating all that it is understood to stand for...

And, needless to add, these principles would mean the replacement of the existing organizational pattern of public administration by that of a highly centralized government which would exercise the powers of a truly national State, and which would be manned by a personnel responsible to a political party holding a mandate from the people. This party would be the fascist party of the United States-undoubtedly called, however, by another name...

Yet how infinitely better for the in-elite of the moment to have fascism come through one of the major parties of the moment than to have it fight its way to power as the program of the most embittered leaders of the out-elite. ...

This description has an ominous ring in an era in which the dominant party in power in America is frenziedly declaring war on "Islamofascism" while itself taking on many of the traits of fascism itself. It's unlikely that Dennis' thinking guided any of the intellectuals in today's mainstream conservative movement, though it is worth noting that his work is enjoying a renaissance in the paleo-conservative movement, particularly in such places as The Occidental Review, the far-right publication sponsored by William Regnery.

Rather than being guided consciously (and there certainly is no evidence whatsoever for an ideologically fascist conspiracy), this transformation is occurring almost spontaneously, as the forces that fascism comprises gradually come together under their own gravity.

Chief among the traits driving this phenomenon are A) the utter willingness of movement conservatives to believe whatever their leaders and leading pundits say, and B) the utter willingness of those leaders to say anything, including the notion that their fellow citizens are among "the enemy." They form a symbiosis in which propaganda in defense of the regime is an end unto itself, forming a kind of ideological bubble within which all True Believers may reside, resisting the tug of reality.

Of course, this was a significant component of Conservatives Without Conscience: identifying the right-wing authoritarian impulse within the conservative movement; further distinguishing between the authoritarian followers who fill their ranks, and the manipulative, somewhat sociopathic personalities who lead them; and examining the symbiosis of their complementary impulses.

Much of this analysis was built out of the work of Bob Altemeyer, the University of Manitoba psychologist who specializes in authoritarian personalities. At the FDL salon, Altemeyer added this to Dean's observation:
I just want to add my agreement to what John Dean and others have said about the administration's calling Islamic terrorists "fascists." The first thing I thought of when I read Rumsfeld's speech to the American Legion on August 29th, where the phrase was first used, was "John Dean's book has smacked these guys right in (a very vulnerable place)." It is an old technique in propaganda -- going back to the Big Lie in WWI -- that when you are completely and undeniably skewered, you just take everything that people have pointed out about you and say it's your enemies who are like this. You don't even bother to deny anything; you simply go on the offensive and holler as loudly as you can. Conservatives Without Conscience of course says the Bush administration is taking us down the road to fascism, so the administration sticks the fascism label on America's enemy to try to keep it from sticking on them, and make it seem they are our defense against fascism rather than its very carriers. In this case it is an absurd lie, because whatever you want to say about Islamic terrorists, they certainly are not fascists in any of the various ways the word has been distinctly used in history. But that won't matter at all to the choir of high RWAs for whom the administration made up the charge. If they hear later that someone says President Bush is a fascist-like leader, they'll think "Nonsense. The man's defending us against this."

The recognition of this likelihood is one of the reasons, I suspect, that movement conservatism's growing adoption of fascist traits is discussed so little on the left: we understand, from experience, that right-wing True Believers not only will never concede that it's occurring, they'll simply project any recognition of its truth right back onto the left. It is, almost certainly, a fruitless conversation to be having with folks on the right.

But it is almost certainly a conversation we need to be sharing among ourselves, because it's critical for coming to terms with what we're up against.
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The Week in Review

France rejects "war on terror"

September 7, 2006

PARIS - France issued an implicit criticism of U.S. foreign policy on Thursday, rejecting talk of a "war on terror."

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, speaking in parliament, expressed these views on global terrorism, while
President Jacques Chirac backed France's claims to the international front rank with a fresh defense of his country's nuclear arsenal.

Villepin noted Chirac's strong opposition to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and said the Arab state had now sunk into violence and was feeding new regional crises.

"Let us not forget that these crises play into the hands of all extremists," the prime minister said in a debate on the Middle East. "We can see this with terrorism, whether it tries to strike inside or outside our frontiers," he added.
"Against terrorism, what's needed is not a war. It is, as France has done for many years, a determined fight based on vigilance at all times and effective cooperation with our partners."

"But we will only end this curse if we also fight against injustice, violence and these crises," he said.

Villepin's remarks, which came a day after U.S. President
George Bush admitted that the CIA had interrogated dozens of terrorism suspects in secret foreign locations, did not explicitly mention the United States.

But his rejection of language employed by Bush, who often uses the expression "war on terror" underlined the longstanding differences between Paris and Washington.

In separate remarks, Chirac stressed that France was committed to maintaining a nuclear arsenal of its own.

"In an uncertain world, facing constantly evolving threats, nuclear dissuasion guarantees our vital interests," Chirac said on a visit to France's Atomic Energy Commission nuclear simulation facility at Bruyeres-le-Chatel near Paris.

He stressed that France was committed to funding continuing research and development into nuclear weapons technology.

"There can be no great ambition without adequate means, that's clear," he said. "The position of countries is never guaranteed. In the 21st century, only those which make science a genuine priority will stay ahead."

Both France and the United States have played down splits opened by the Iraq war, pointing especially to cooperation on attempts by the West to contain Iran's nuclear ambitions.

But differences in tone and style have often resurfaced, notably during the Lebanon crisis, where France initially offered to send just 400 peacekeepers to Lebanon despite vigorously backing calls for an international force.

Villepin's speech in parliament made much of France's leading role in securing a peace agreement in Lebanon backed by the United Nations, which he said had shown the virtues of "listening and dialogue."

"It is the duty of France and Europe to show that the clash of civilizations is not inevitable," he said. "No one retains this wisdom, inherited from our history, as we, French and Europeans, do," he said.

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Blair To Outline Exit Plan After Eigth Labour MP Quits in Protest

Thursday September 07, 2006

Tony Blair is expected to outline his exit timetable this afternoon, after an eighth Labour MP quit in protest at his refusal to say when he will stand down as PM.

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright, a Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Department of Health, resigned from his Government post, telling Mr Blair he "no longer believed that the party and the Government can renew itself in office without urgently renewing the leadership".

Earlier, sources within No 10 let it be known that Mr Blair will use a pre-planned photo opportunity with Education Secretary Alan Johnson on Thursday to make his intentions plain after 24 hours of turmoil at Westminster.

During the day another seven MPs quit, starting with junior defence minister Tom Watson.
He was followed by six Parliamentary Private Secretaries - Khalid Mahmood, Wayne David, Ian Lucas, Mark Tami, Chris Mole and David Wright.

They argued it was not "in the interest of either the party or the country" for Mr Blair to remain in office.

Mr Watson's resignation letter said: "I share the view of the overwhelming majority of the party and the country that the only way the party and the Government can renew itself in office is urgently to renew its leadership."

He was in a group of MPs who had earlier signed a confidential letter to Mr Blair urging him to name a date for his departure.

The PM retorted: "I had been intending to dismiss him but wanted to extend to him the courtesy of speaking to him first."

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt warned Labour MPs it was "madness" to demand conditions from the Prime Minister and said the party was in "real danger" of forgetting the lessons it learned during the 1980s.

The Sun had reported that Mr Blair will step down as Labour leader on May 31 and resign as PM on July 26.

Sky News political editor Adam Boulton said: "Senior MPs and many commentators are saying the party may not stand for this (timetable) and will expect Mr Blair to be out by Christmas."

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Bush acknowledges secret CIA prisons for terror suspects

Last Updated Wed, 06 Sep 2006 16:03:22 EDT
CBC News

U.S. President George W. Bush has acknowledged for the first time that suspects accused of terrorism have been detained abroad in secret CIA prisons.

The official admission on Wednesday confirmed rumours and media reports that have stirred controversy for months, both in the United States and in countries accused of hosting the facilities.
Bush defended the secret prisons, saying the detainees had provided vital information that prevented further attacks in the years after al-Qaeda militants killed about 3,000 people in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.

"The most important source of information on where the terrorists are hiding and what they are planning is the terrorists themselves," Bush said in a White House speech.

"It has been necessary to move these individuals to an environment where they can be held in secret, questioned by experts and, when appropriate, prosecuted for terrorist acts."

Suspects allegedly included al-Qaeda's No. 3

The president said the suspects, who have all been transferred to the U.S. naval prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, include:

* Khalid Sheik Mohammed, believed to be the No. 3 al-Qaeda leader before he was captured in Pakistan in 2003.
* Ramzi Binalshibh, accused of training to be one of the Sept. 11 militants who hijacked four planes.
* Abu Zubaydah, who was believed to be a link between al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and many of the group's cells before he was captured in Pakistan in March 2002.

Detainees had 'unparalleled knowledge'

Media reports began surfacing in November 2005 that said the U.S. spy agency had been running a covert prison system that has been run for nearly four years in at least eight countries, including several democracies in Eastern Europe as well as Thailand and Afghanistan. The secret detention system was said to have been conceived in the first months after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The reports ignited great controversy in many countries, with the European Union warning its members that such prisons would be viewed as violations of the European Convention on Human Rights and various EU treaties.

On Wednesday, Bush defended the covert system, saying the security of the United States depended on its ability to learn what suspected terrorists know.

He described the detainees as dangerous men with "unparalleled knowledge" of militant networks and plans for new attacks.

Bush said the Central Intelligence Agency employed "alternative" procedures to extract information from the suspects. The president insisted those techniques complied with U.S. laws, the constitution and international treaty obligations.

He refused to describe the methods of interrogation used by CIA agents, saying it would give terrorists a tool to learn how to resist such questioning.

Bush said the procedures were "tough and safe and lawful and necessary."

Prisons blocked 2nd Al-Qaeda attack: Bush

The president also alleged that without the secret prisons, al-Qaeda would have succeeded in launching another attack against the Americans.

Although he said he couldn't provide details, Bush said some of the alleged plots included attacks in the United States "probably using airplanes."

He said another plot involved attacks on buildings in his country.

The suspects also provided information on al-Qaeda's efforts to obtain biological weapons, he said.

Bush said he was acknowledging the program now because the CIA and military have finished questioning the suspects and are ready to prosecute them in military tribunals.

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Bush Aims to Kill War Crimes Act

Jeremy Brecher & Brendan Smith
The Nation
Tue Sep 5, 2006

The US War Crimes Act of 1996 makes it a felony to commit grave violations of the Geneva Conventions. The Washington Post recently reported that the Bush administration is quietly circulating draft legislation to eliminate crucial parts of the War Crimes Act. Observers on The Hill say the Administration plans to slip it through Congress this fall while there still is a guaranteed Republican majority--perhaps as part of the military appropriations bill, the proposals for Guantánamo tribunals or a new catch-all "anti-terrorism" package. Why are they doing it, and how can they be stopped?
American prohibitions on abuse of prisoners go back to the Lieber Code promulgated by Abraham Lincoln in 1863. The first international Geneva Convention dates from the following year.

After World War II, international law protecting prisoners of war and all noncombatants was codified in the Geneva Conventions. They were ratified by the US Senate and, under Article II of the Constitution, they thereby became the law of the land.

Wishing to rebuke the unpunished war crimes of dictators like Saddam Hussein, in 1996 a Republican-dominated Congress passed the War Crimes Act without a dissenting vote. It defined a "war crime" as any "grave breach" of the Geneva Conventions. It thereby advanced a global trend of mutual reinforcement between national and international law.

The War Crimes Act was little noticed until the disclosure of Alberto Gonzales's infamous 2002 "torture memo." Gonzales, then serving as presidential counsel, advised
President Bush to declare that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to people the United States captured in
Afghanistan. That, Gonzales wrote, "substantially reduced the threat of domestic criminal prosecution under the War Crimes Act."

Noting that the statute "prohibits the commission of a 'war crime' by or against a US person, including US officials," he warned that "it is difficult to predict the motives of prosecutors and independent counsels who may in the future decide to pursue unwarranted charges." The President's determination that the Geneva Conventions did not apply "would provide a solid defense to any future prosecution."

Unfortunately for top Bush officials, that "solid defense" was demolished this summer when the Supreme Court in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld ruled that the Geneva Conventions were indeed the law of the land.

The Court singled out Geneva's Common Article 3, which provides a minimum standard for the treatment of all noncombatants under all circumstances. They must be "treated humanely" and must not be subjected to "cruel treatment," "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment," or "the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples."

As David Cole of the Georgetown University Law Center pointed out in the August 10 issue of The New York Review of Books, the Supreme Court's decision in Hamdan v. Rusmfeld "suggests that President Bush has already committed a war crime, simply by establishing the [Guantánamo] military tribunals and subjecting detainees to them" because "the Court found that the tribunals violate Common Article 3--and under the War Crimes Act, any violation of Common Article 3 is a war crime." A similar argument would indicate that top US officials have also committed war crimes by justifying interrogation methods that, according to the testimony of US military lawyers, also violate Common Article 3.

Lo and behold, the legislation the Administration has circulated on Capitol Hill would decriminalize such acts retroactively. Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice, told the Associated Press on August 10, "I think what this bill can do is in effect immunize past crimes. That's why it's so dangerous." Human rights attorney Scott Horton told Democracy Now! on August 16 that one of the purposes of the proposed legislation is "to grant immunity or impunity to certain individuals. And these are mostly decision-makers within the government."

The Coming Debate

Bush officials have not acknowledged that one of their real motives for gutting the War Crimes Act is to protect themselves from being prosecuted for their own crimes. But so far they have apparently offered only one other reason for tampering with the law: The existing law, especially the Geneva language prohibiting "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment," is too vague to enforce. (Perhaps the Bush Administration should declare the US Constitution's ban on "cruel and unusual punishment" as too vague to enforce as well.)

Fidell noted in an August 9 Washington Post article that military law includes many terms like "dereliction of duty," "maltreatment" and "conduct unbecoming an officer" that may appear vague but that are nonetheless enforceable. The Army Field Manual bars cruel and degrading treatment. When Attorney General Gonzales recently testified at a
Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that "outrages upon personal dignity" was too ambiguous, Senator John McCain stated that top military lawyers see no problem in complying with Common Article 3.

The arguments for preserving the War Crimes Act and rejecting the Bush amendments, in contrast, are multiple and overwhelming:

1. Commitment to the Geneva Conventions protects US service people from future retaliation.

As former Secretary of State Colin Powell has argued, abandoning the Geneva Conventions would put US soldiers at greater risk, would "reverse over a century of US policy and practice in supporting the Geneva Conventions" and would "undermine the protections of the law of war for our troops, both in this specific conflict [Afghanistan] and in general."

2. The War Crimes Act will prohibit "torture-lite" in the future.

According to Scott Horton, the proposed legislation is "designed to provide an OK to certain techniques which fall just short of torture that are being used by the
CIA," including "waterboarding, longtime standing and hypothermia," techniques that have been "linked to severe injuries and fatalities."

3. The War Crimes Act will prohibit future
Abu Ghraib-type outrages.

The Bush Administration's legislation would remove the prohibition on "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment." Repealing the War Crimes Act, the Washington Post's R. Jeffrey Smith reported, is decriminalizing the forced nakedness, use of dog leashes and wearing of women's underwear that shocked the world at Abu Ghraib prison.

Derek P. Jinks an assistant law professor at the University of Texas, author of a forthcoming book on the Geneva Conventions, said in an August 9 Washington Post article that the "entire family of techniques" used to degrade, humiliate and coerce prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo "is not addressed in any way, shape or form" in the Bush Administration's proposal. Retired Army Lieut. Col. Geoffrey Corn, until recently chief of the war law branch of the Army's Office of the Judge Advocate General, said in the same article, "This removal of [any] reference to humiliating and degrading treatment will be perceived by experts and probably allies as 'rewriting'" the Geneva Conventions.

This "rewriting" could have very concrete ramifications in practice. The international tribunal prosecuting war crimes in the former Yugoslavia deemed acts like placing prisoners in "inappropriate conditions of confinement," forcing them to urinate or defecate in their clothes, and threatening them with "physical, mental, or sexual violence" to be humiliations, degrading treatment and outrages. The proposed changes to the War Crimes Act would indicate that it is not a crime for Americans to conduct such acts.

4. Gutting the War Crimes Act will promote the perception of the United States as an outlaw country.

As a letter signed by sixteen members of Congress recently said, such legislation "would harm the reputation of the United States as a leader promoting and protecting human rights." What would be more deserving of scorn than a country that lets potential war-crime defendants repeal the very law under which they might be prosecuted?

5. The Bush legislation unfairly exempts high government officials from the very war crimes charges they are leveling against lowly "grunts."

Since the start of the Iraq War there have been more than thirty prosecutions under the military law that prohibits war crimes, with many more pending. But they have all prosecuted low-level military personnel. Gutting the War Crimes Act would leave the military "bad apples" at the bottom subject to prosecution but would let the civilian "bad apples" at the top evade all responsibility.

As Horton points out, the Uniform Code of Military Justice already incorporates the Geneva Convention rules, but it does not apply "to Donald Rumsfeld or Stephen Cambone or to people in the White House." The point of the War Crimes Act is that it "spreads the application of the Geneva Conventions the next level up to civilians, and particularly to civilian policymakers." From the beginning, the "prosecutorial focus" of the War Crimes Act "was intended to provide deterrence at that level." Repealing it undermines the fundamental principle of equal justice under law.

6. Preserving the War Crimes Act is part of reasserting the rule of law in America.

The War Crimes Act has been a central focus of the Bush Administration's scorn for all Constitutional limits on the power of the President and the executive branch. It was the idea that the President could by fiat declare US and international law null and void that animated the Gonzales torture memo. It was this denial of constitutional limits that the Supreme Court resoundingly rebuked in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. A rebuff to the Bush Administration's attack on the War Crimes Act is a reassertion of those constitutional limits.

The War Crimes Act can be a bridge to a more just and peaceful world. The incorporation of the Geneva Conventions' prohibitions on war crimes into national law affirms America's commitment to international law. It embodies an implementation of the global heritage of the Nuremberg trials, the UN Charter and the Geneva Conventions. It embeds that tradition within our own national law.

In the wake of World War II, Justice Robert Jackson, chief American prosecutor at the Nuremberg Tribunal, observed that "the ultimate step in avoiding periodic wars, which are inevitable in a system of international lawlessness, is to make statesmen responsible to law." Making statesmen responsible to law is what the War Crimes Act is all about.

Defending the Law

The arguments for preserving the War Crimes Act are conclusive (except perhaps to those who might face criminal prosecution under them). Indeed, the Administration's decision to gut the War Crimes Act is a gift to those who want to see American statesmen held accountable to national and international law. It suggests that the Bush Administration itself recognizes the criminality of many of its actions. And it shows in the sharpest relief why the War Crimes Act is needed.

But, at least for the moment, Bush's Republican allies still control both houses of Congress; they are in a position to slip a repeal of the War Crimes Act into any piece of legislation they choose. Massachusetts Democrat Ed Markey, senior member of the House Committee for Homeland Security, told The Nation, "The Bush Administration and the GOP leadership in Congress is trying to quietly excuse and even codify cruel and inhuman treatment of prisoners in US custody, at secret CIA prisons abroad and even the abhorrent practice of extraordinary rendition [the outsourcing of torture and other cruel treatment to other countries]."

While the Administration has been lining up its ducks, the campaign to save the War Crimes Act has just begun. The advocacy group Just Foreign Policy has started an online campaign to save the War Crimes Act. "This is not an obscure point in the law. What's at stake here is whether, for example, the abuses of prisoners by sexual humiliation that shocked us at Abu Ghraib are clearly illegal under US law," national coordinator Robert Naiman observes. "If we found these actions outrageous, we are obligated to tell our members of Congress to protect the law that bans them."

Markey adds, "Every American citizen should call the White House and their members of Congress because these changes being made in the dead of night could be the green light for other countries that capture American troops to treat them cruelly or torture them."

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Israel Said to Fear War Crimes Charges

Associated Press
Monday, September 4, 2006

Three weeks after a cease-fire ended Israel's monthlong war against Hezbollah guerrillas, Israel is increasingly concerned that government officials and army officers traveling abroad could face war crimes charges, a Foreign Ministry official said Monday.

A special legal team is preparing to provide protection for officers and officials involved in the 34-day conflict in Lebanon, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter with the media.
More than 850 Lebanese were killed during the conflict, most of them civilians. The human rights group Amnesty International has accused Israel of war crimes, including indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on civilian targets.

Israel has said it acted legally and accused Hezbollah of hiding among civilians in Lebanon and deliberately targeting Israeli civilians in rocket attacks. The fighting left 159 Israelis dead, including 39 civilians hit by Hezbollah rockets in Israel's northern cities. The Amnesty report also criticized Hezbollah's attacks on civilians.

The Foreign Ministry official said the legal-defense team, which includes representatives from the Justice and Defense ministries, is maintained by the government to help officials facing the possibility of war crimes charges abroad. It was first assembled to deal with charges related to Israeli actions in the West Bank and Gaza.

He would not comment on a report in the Haaretz daily that the ministry has urged top officials against making inflammatory statements that might be used against them in legal proceedings.

Israeli Tourism Minister Yitzhak Herzog said he isn't concerned about prosecution of Israeli leaders, but he criticized some officials for excessively belligerent statements during the war that could expose them to legal action abroad.

"Today we have to understand that wars, political situations and military situations include many components, and that one of the components that have to be weighed is international law," Herzog told Army Radio.

Israeli fears of prosecution abroad are based on experience. A retired general arriving in London last year who had commanded Israeli forces in Gaza was tipped off by an Israeli diplomat that he was about to be arrested by British authorities over a 2002 air strike that killed a Hamas leader and 14 others, nine of them children. Doron Almog remained on the plane and returned to Israel.

In 2001, then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon faced a lawsuit in Belgium over his alleged role in a 1982 massacre in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut. Several former Israeli army chiefs of staff also have been targeted. None of the cases have succeeded.

Daniel Machover, a British attorney involved in attempts to prosecute Israeli officers including Almog, said he knew of "at least two" teams compiling evidence in Lebanon for use in future legal cases. He said it was "too early" to disclose more details.

Comment: Now why would Israeli politicians and military men fear war crimes prosecutions if they didn't committ war crimes?

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Palestinian children pay price of Israel's Summer Rain offensive

Rory McCarthy in Gaza City
Thursday September 7, 2006
The Guardian

Rights group says 197 civilians have been killed in military operation, including 48 minors

On a humid afternoon, an hour or two after lunch, Nadi al-Attar, 12, set off on a donkey-drawn cart with his grandmother Khariya and two of his young cousins to pick figs from a small orchard near their home in northern Gaza.

Ahmed, 17, one of the cousins, remembers the moment when the shell struck, but pauses as he tells his story to nervously rub the muscles at the top of his thighs. The shell that hit their cart that afternoon sliced off his left leg just above the knee and his right leg halfway up his calf. He still has an aching pain in his bandaged stumps.
They had stopped the cart and two of the boys jumped off. "They went to collect something, some metal bars, and then they came back to the cart," he said. The boys hoped to sell the strips of metal for scrap. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) later determined that the metal came from a launcher for a Qassam, one of the crude rockets launched by Palestinian militants from Gaza into Israel. Qassams had been fired from the area that morning, though the militants had since left.

"Then the shell struck. I saw my mother [Khariya] dead and Nadi killed. I saw them dead on the ground," Ahmed said. "I looked down and then I saw my legs were cut away."

Human rights field workers believe an artillery shell, fired from an Israeli military position not far away at the border with the Gaza Strip, hit the cart. Several were fired that day, July 24 - one day in a long and damaging Israeli military operation.

"I think it happened because of the metal we were collecting," Ahmed said. "But we were just going to the farm." He was taken to hospital with another cousin, Shadi, who was wounded in the stomach by shrapnel. Nadi and Khariya, 58, were killed instantly.

"We had lunch together," said Nadi's father, Habib, 36. "Then he went with his grandmother and never came back."

The deaths are not an isolated case. For the past two months, while the world's attention in the Middle East has been focused on the conflict in Lebanon, the Israeli military has led a wave of intense operations along the length of the Gaza Strip. It began after the capture of an Israeli soldier, Corporal Gilad Shalit, by Palestinian militants on June 25. The Israeli military said its operations were intended to free Cpl Shalit and to halt Qassam rocket fire. Early on the Israelis bombed Gaza's only power plant and they have kept Gaza's crossing points to Israel and Egypt closed for most of the time.

Since the start of the operation, codenamed Summer Rain, at least 240 Palestinians have been killed. One in five were children. According to the PCHR, which has investigated each case, 197 of the dead were civilians and the vast majority were killed in Gaza. Among them were 12 women and 48 children.

Yesterday an Israeli military spokesman said his forces did not target civilians. "Our actions are targeted only at terrorist organisations, terror activities and infrastructure," he said. "It can happen that innocent people are hit. But the responsibility does not lie with the Israeli army, but rather with the terror groups who are working within civilian populations without any regard to the danger they are causing."

More than two months into the Gaza operation Israel has still not secured the release of Cpl Shalit or stopped Qassam rocket fire.

"We believe that the whole offensive against the Gaza Strip is characterised by being an act of revenge and retaliation in which civilians are paying the price," said Hamdi Shaqqura, a founder member of the PCHR in Gaza City. "They have demonstrated total disregard for the rights of innocent Palestinian civilians. There has been an excessive use of force, a disproportionate use of force in civilian areas, and that explains the high toll of death."

Mr Shaqqura also condemned the Palestinian militants for launching the Qassams and for firing them from civilian areas. "This is illegal and we have called on them to stop," he said.

Many relatives of those killed by the Israelis in Gaza have been equally critical of the rocket attacks. "We get nothing out of it," said Muhammad al-Attar, 23, another of Nadi's cousins. "After they launch rockets we get killed and they destroy our farms."

A few hours after the donkey cart was hit a shell was fired into Beit Hanoun, another district of northern Gaza. It killed Khitam Tayeh, 11, who was on her way to the shops after school with her sister Nuha, 12. Nuha was hit by a piece of shrapnel in her left thigh, but survived. Khitam had a severe head injury and died in hospital.

"I carried her in from the ambulance and took her to the operating room in my arms," said her father, Muhammad 48. "Then she died. They couldn't do anything." He showed several framed photographs of his daughter, with long dark hair and wide brown eyes. Two bright stars had been superimposed in the background.

Mr Tayeh has collected a box of shrapnel from the scene, a couple of dozen sharp, rigid shards of metal, each three or four inches long, and talks of bringing a legal case against the Israeli military. Like many, a year ago he had hoped that life in Gaza would improve when Israeli settlers were withdrawn, in what seemed a ground-breaking move.

"People expected it would get better, but it's been the opposite," he said. "Don't tell me they withdrew. It's like they didn't leave. They are everywhere."

On the eastern side of Gaza, in Shujaiya, Hussam al-Sirsawi, 12, was with his friends standing on the street watching Israeli troops fighting against militants in the distance on August 27. He was badly injured by a piece of shrapnel and died three days later.

"You know how children are when they hear something happen. They want to go and see," said his uncle Nasser al-Sirsawi, 37. "I can't say why the Israelis killed him. These army people are full of hatred. Maybe these kids went to watch some resistance people and they were in the wrong place. To kill a child like this is not natural." On the wall opposite his cloth shop there is graffiti dedicated to his nephew. "Hussam," it says, "we swear to God you won." "Of course," said his uncle, "he's a martyr."

Two days later there was another incident in Shujaiya, when again a group of children were watching the fighting. Either a tank shell or a large chunk of shrapnel flew at them and hit Muhammad al-Ziq, 14, on the head. He died instantly. "I think sometimes they just want the Palestinians to pay," said his uncle, Ziad al-Ziq, 36. "He was with children wanting to see what was happening. There was no excuse for what happened."

All of the dead and most of the injured pass through the Shifa hospital in Gaza City. Staff photograph the bodies of the dead - they call the victims "martyrs" - and document their injuries. Juma'a al-Saqqa called up a picture on his computer screen of Muhammad al-Ziq, an appalling image of the boy lying on his side on a metal morgue table, the side of his head sliced away. In the past two months the hospital's doctors have dealt with 1,280 injured from the military operations, a third of whom were children. The doctors performed 60 amputations.

Dr Saqqa flicks through the photographic record, images of bodies charred beyond recognition, flesh no longer human in form. Many of the figures were young children, at least one in a shredded blue school uniform. "We have passed through the worst situation we have ever come across in our years of work," he said. "But this is our situation. What can we do? We raised our voices to the world, but nobody moves."

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Criticize Israel? You're an Anti-Semite! - How can we have a real discussion about Mideast peace if speaking honestly about Israel is out of bounds?

Rosa Brooks
LA Times
1 Sept o6

EVER WONDER what it's like to be a pariah?

Publish something sharply critical of Israeli government policies and you'll find out. If you're lucky, you'll merely discover that you've been uninvited to some dinner parties. If you're less lucky, you'll be the subject of an all-out attack by neoconservative pundits and accused of rabid anti-Semitism.
This, at least, is what happened to Ken Roth. Roth - whose father fled Nazi Germany - is executive director of Human Rights Watch, America's largest and most respected human rights organization. (Disclosure: I have worked in the past as a paid consultant for the group.) In July, after the Israeli offensive in Lebanon began, Human Rights Watch did the same thing it has done in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Bosnia, East Timor, Sierra Leone, Congo, Uganda and countless other conflict zones around the globe: It sent researchers to monitor the conflict and report on any abuses committed by either side.

It found plenty. On July 18, Human Rights Watch condemned Hezbollah rocket strikes on civilian areas within Israel, calling the strikes "serious violations of international humanitarian law and probable war crimes." So far, so good. You can't lose when you criticize a terrorist organization.

But Roth and Human Rights Watch didn't stop there. As the conflict's death toll spiraled - with most of the casualties Lebanese civilians - Human Rights Watch also criticized Israel for indiscriminate attacks on civilians. Roth noted that the Israeli military appeared to be "treating southern Lebanon as a free-fire zone," and he observed that the failure to take appropriate measures to distinguish between civilians and combatants constitutes a war crime.

The backlash was prompt. Roth and Human Rights Watch soon found themselves accused of unethical behavior, giving aid and comfort to terrorists and anti-Semitism. The conservative New York Sun attacked Roth (who is Jewish) for having a "clear pro-Hezbollah and anti-Israel bias" and accused him of engaging in "the de-legitimization of Judaism, the basis of much anti-Semitism." Neocon commentator David Horowitz called Roth a "reflexive Israel-basher ... who, in his zest to pillory Israel at every turn, is little more than an ally of the barbarians." The New Republic piled on, as did Alan Dershowitz, who claimed Human Rights Watch "cooks the books" to make Israel look bad. And writing in the Jewish Exponent, Jonathan Rosenblum accused Roth of resorting to a "slur about primitive Jewish bloodlust."

Anyone familiar with Human Rights Watch - or with Roth - knows this to be lunacy. Human Rights Watch is nonpartisan - it doesn't "take sides" in conflicts. And the notion that Roth is anti-Semitic verges on the insane.

But what's most troubling about the vitriol directed at Roth and his organization isn't that it's savage, unfounded and fantastical. What's most troubling is that it's typical. Typical, that is, of what anyone rash enough to criticize Israel can expect to encounter. In the United States today, it just isn't possible to have a civil debate about Israel, because any serious criticism of its policies is instantly countered with charges of anti-Semitism. Think Israel's tactics against Hezbollah were too heavy-handed, or that Israel hasn't always been wholly fair to the Palestinians, or that the United States should reconsider its unquestioning financial and military support for Israel? Shhh: Don't voice those sentiments unless you want to be called an anti-Semite - and probably a terrorist sympathizer to boot.

How did adopting a reflexively pro-Israel stance come to be a mandatory aspect of American Jewish identity? Skepticism - a willingness to ask tough questions, a refusal to embrace dogma - has always been central to the Jewish intellectual tradition. Ironically, this tradition remains alive in Israel, where respected public figures routinely criticize the government in far harsher terms than those used by Human Rights Watch.

In a climate in which good-faith criticism of Israel is automatically denounced as anti-Semitic, everyone loses. Israeli policies are a major source of discord in the Islamic world, and anger at Israel usually spills over into anger at the U.S., Israel's biggest backer.

With resentment of Israeli policies fueling terrorism and instability both in the Middle East and around the globe, it's past time for Americans to have a serious national debate about how to bring a just peace to the Middle East. But if criticism of Israel is out of bounds, that debate can't occur - and we'll all pay the price.

Back to Human Rights Watch's critics. Why waste time denouncing imaginary anti-Semitism when there's no shortage of the real thing? From politically motivated arrests of Jews in Iran to assaults on Jewish children in Ukraine, there's plenty of genuine anti-Semitism out there - and Human Rights Watch is usually taking the lead in condemning it. So if you're bothered by anti-Semitism - if you're bothered by ideologies that insist that some human lives have less value than others - you could do a whole lot worse than send a check to Human Rights Watch.


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Government Terror Alerts Aid Terrorist Goals, Study Finds

SF Chronicle

Intense media scrutiny and politicians' rhetoric heighten sense of fear, researchers say.

With the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks fast approaching, President Bush took to the podium Tuesday to speak to Americans about his administration's global war on terror.

Three things can be expected from Bush's speech, according to a new study by three Columbia University researchers: The media will repeat the president's remarks. Public fear of terrorism will increase. And the president's poll numbers will rise.

Those have been the effects of presidential pronouncements on terrorism since the Sept. 11 attacks, according to political scientists Brigitte Nacos, Yaeli Bloch-Elkon and Robert Shapiro, in a report prepared for this month's annual meeting of the American Political Science Association.

"These are interesting findings, and confirm what many of us had suspected," said Mark Juergensmeyer, director of Global and International Studies at UC Santa Barbara, who reviewed the research at the request of The Chronicle.

"This public panic benefits the terrorists whose work is made easier by an overactive government response that magnifies their efforts. In an odd way this puts the government and the terrorists in league with one another," he said. "The main loser, alas, is the terrified public."

The Columbia researchers looked at past scholarship on the subject and a new review of terror threats, official warnings and the coverage of both by the mass media since 2001, seeking to close what Nacos called a gap in research of how terrorists try to achieve their goals of fomenting fear, not only through attack but by threatening attack.

"The real new thing here is the mere threat, heavily mass mediated, achieves at least part of what actual terrorism achieves," Nacos said. "(Terrorists) want to intimidate, they want to spread fear and anxiety, and they want to take influence through the public on government officials."
Much of the Columbia team's research focused on the press -- especially the television media -- and how it reacted to threats of terrorism.

"Any actual threat message -- a tape by bin Laden or al-Zawahiri or an alert -- results in a great deal of messages in the media," Nacos said. "People comment on it, they analyze it ... the administration, experts in the field, including myself."

That approach magnifies the sense of threat by repetition, Nacos said. And while increases in terror alerts always made the top of the news on the three major networks, decreases tended to be buried and far less time was devoted to them -- 1 minute, 34 seconds on average for a national alert being lowered, compared with 5 minutes, 20 seconds when the alert was raised.

"The threat alone brings them a great deal of media coverage, and the public takes notice -- we've shown that the threat perception by the public increases," Nacos said.

Officials in government and law enforcement also can have an effect on the public's perception of terror risk when their statements are magnified by the media.

In February 2003, for example, the percentage of people saying they were very worried about a terror attack "soon" stood at 18 percent. One month later, after the alert had been raised and lowered, it stood at 34 percent.

The official with the greatest ability to shift opinion on terrorism, the researchers found, is Bush, whose statements in the media about terrorism correlated highly with increases in the public's perception of terrorism as a major national problem -- and with increases in his approval ratings.

At the beginning of July 2002, for example, approval of the president's handling of terrorism was around 79 percent. After television coverage of one statement by Bush and seven public statements by administration officials about the terrorist threat, the president's rating rose to 83 percent.

In June 2004, approval for the president's handling of terrorism had fallen to 50 percent. One month later, after an increase in television coverage of Bush's comments on terrorism, that number had risen to 57 percent.

It's not clear that Bush, whose ratings have slipped to about 40 percent in national polls, will receive a bounce from his most recent remarks on terrorism, Nacos said -- past research suggests that such a bounce is more likely to come to presidents flying high in the polls than presidents with numbers in the doldrums. But the past pattern is clear.

"To me this is the most novel and interesting of the findings," said Larry Beutler, director of the National Center on the Psychology of Terrorism in Palo Alto, who reviewed the Columbia team's research. "There are findings suggesting that the administration's use of the alert system increased inordinately before the election and each time it did, Bush's numbers went up about 5 percent."

The research is also a "damning indictment of the media's bloodlust," said Matthew T. Felling, media director for the Center for Media and Public Affairs in Washington, D.C., who also reviewed the Columbia research.

"When you have media organs viewing fear-mongering as a payday, senior politicians seeing fear-mongering as sound political strategy, and terrorists considering fear-mongering as a victory unto itself, where are citizens expected to find a voice of reason?"

The Columbia study does not conclude the White House intentionally used terror alerts to influence the president's popularity.

But it is unlikely the White House is ignorant of the effect, said Nacos, who added that former Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge has complained publicly that he was sometimes pushed to raise the threat level on the basis of flimsy intelligence.

"Our data only shows these connections exist, these correlations exist," she said. "If anything, it should alert political players to be very careful with this."

For starters, Nacos said, politicians could reconsider when and how they warn the public of terror threats, especially when that warning is vague, and stop responding to bin Laden tapes, as many have in the past. "They magnify the role of this guy," she said. "They help him to be a world figure."

The press, too, could be more reflective in its coverage of terror threats, Nacos said, avoiding the kind of continuous coverage without new details that typified, for example, the recent arrest in the JonBenet Ramsey case.

"I really think that all of these actors have to think of what they're doing," she said. "Nobody means to do this, but one has to think about what they're doing."

Comment: So who are the terrorists??

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Globalization is inflationary risks: Bank of France

Sept 4, 2006

PARIS - The Bank of France said Monday that globalization could aggravate inflationary pressures that would justify greater vigilance on monetary policies.

A bank study noted that while globalization had spurred disinflation over the past 15 years, the trend is now reversing itself.
It said the opening of formerly protected economies and their inter-dependence, as well as the emergence of low-cost producers such as China, had increased price and salary competition and had thereby helped to control inflation.

But the bank also found that "the disinflationary effects of globalization are weakening, even reversing themselves today".

It said producers of manufactured goods, such as China, were increasing their demand for energy resources and are driving up energy prices.

In addition, the inflationary impact of higher commodity prices trends to offset the disinflationary effect of lower industrial prices, the study determined.

The fact that globalization is today a less powerful constraint on inflation "helps explain why, in all the major areas of the world, monetary policies are oriented -- with varying degrees and timetables -- toward tightening," the bank said.

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Study says methane a new climate threat

AP Science Writer
September 6, 2006

WASHINGTON - Global warming gases trapped in the soil are bubbling out of the thawing permafrost in amounts far higher than previously thought and may trigger what researchers warn is a climate time bomb.

Methane - a greenhouse gas 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide - is being released from the permafrost at a rate five times faster than thought, according to a study being published Thursday in the journal Nature. The findings are based on new, more accurate measuring techniques.

"The effects can be huge," said lead author Katey Walter of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks said. "It's coming out a lot and there's a lot more to come out."
Scientists worry about a global warming vicious cycle that was not part of their already gloomy climate forecast: Warming already under way thaws permafrost, soil that has been continuously frozen for thousands of years. Thawed permafrost releases methane and carbon dioxide. Those gases reach the atmosphere and help trap heat on Earth in the greenhouse effect. The trapped heat thaws more permafrost and so on.

"The higher the temperature gets, the more permafrost we melt, the more tendency it is to become a more vicious cycle," said Chris Field, director of global ecology at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, who was not part of the study. "That's the thing that is scary about this whole thing. There are lots of mechanisms that tend to be self-perpetuating and relatively few that tend to shut it off."

Some scientists say this vicious cycle is already under way, but others disagree.

Most of the methane-releasing permafrost is in Siberia. Another study earlier this summer in the journal Science found that the amount of carbon trapped in this type of permafrost - called yedoma - is much more prevalent than originally thought and may be 100 times the amount of carbon released into the air each year by the burning of fossil fuels.

It won't all come out at once or even over several decades, but if temperatures increase, then the methane and carbon dioxide will escape the soil, scientists say.

The permafrost issue has caused a quiet buzz of concern among climate scientists and geologists. Specialists in Arctic climate are coming up with research plans to study the permafrost effect, which is not well understood or observed, said Robert Corell, chairman of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, a study group of 300 scientists.

"It's kind of like a slow-motion time bomb," said Ted Schuur, a professor of ecosystem ecology at the University of Florida and co-author of the study in Science.

Most of the yedoma is in little-studied areas of northern and eastern Siberia. What makes that permafrost special is that much of it lies under lakes; the carbon below gets released as methane. Carbon beneath dry permafrost is released as carbon dioxide.

Using special underwater bubble traps, Walter and her colleagues found giant hot spots of bubbling methane that were never measured before because they were hard to reach.

"I don't think it can be easily stopped; we'd really have to have major cooling for it to stop," Walter said.

Scientists aren't quite sure whether methane or carbon dioxide is worse. Methane is far more powerful in trapping heat, but only lasts about a decade before it dissipates into carbon dioxide and other chemicals. Carbon dioxide traps heat for about a century.

"The bottom line is it's better if it stays frozen in the ground," Schuur said. "But we're getting to the point where it's going more and more into the atmosphere."

Vladimir Romanovsky, geophysics professor at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, said he thinks the big methane or carbon dioxide release hasn't started yet, but it's coming. In Alaska and Canada - which have far less permafrost than Siberia - it's closer to happening, he said. Already, the Alaskan permafrost is reaching the thawing point in many areas.

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Israel - That Says It All

How Human Rights Watch lost its way in Lebanon

By Jonathan Cook in Nazareth

The measure of a human rights organisation is to be found not just in the strides it takes to seek justice for the oppressed and victimised but also in the compromises it makes to keep itself out of trouble. Because of the business that human rights defenders are in, they must be held to a standard higher than we demand of others.

Unfortunately, one of the best -- Human Rights Watch -- has failed that test during the war in Lebanon this summer.

To its credit, HRW has risked much opprobrium for taking Israel to task for systematically breaking international law during its assault on Lebanon. That has culminated in a predictable campaign of harassment by pro-Israel organisations in the US -- as well as by the usual suspects like Alan Dershowitz -- that have accused its researchers of libelling Israel and being anti-Semitic.
Such attacks reached an obscene pitch after HRW's executive director, Kenneth Roth, observed in publicity material accompanying a recent report that Israel appeared to have treated south Lebanon as a "free-fire zone" and that its strikes had failed to distinguish between civilians and Hizbullah fighters.

Roth, a Jew whose father fled Nazi Germany, was accused in typical hyperbolic fashion of engaging in "the de-legitimization of Judaism, the basis of much anti-Semitism" (New York Sun), being "an ally of the barbarians" and "reflexive Israel basher" (David Horowitz), and resorting to a "slur about primitive Jewish bloodlust" (Jonathan Rosenblum).

I do not underestimate the damage that such criticism risks doing to the reputations of HRW and Roth. But I also know that no concession to such intimidation can be justified, not if we are to search for the truth or hope to defend the principal victims of violations of international law, the civilian populations of poor and weak nations.

Name-calling, however distasteful, cannot justify HRW distorting its findings to placate the Israel lobby. But that seems to be just what is happening.

The most egregious example is to be found in a post-war interview between the New York Times and a senior HRW researcher, Peter Bouckaert, about a recent report, "Fatal strikes", in which the organisation provides evidence that Israel fired indiscriminately on Lebanese civilians during the fighting.

Rather than concentrating on HRW's findings of war crimes in Lebanon -- the focus of the research -- Bouckaert digresses: "I mean, it's perfectly clear that Hezbollah is directly targeting civilians, and that their aim is to kill Israeli civilians. We don't accuse the Israeli army of deliberately trying to kill civilians. Our accusation, clearly stated in the report, is that the Israeli army is not taking the necessary precautions to distinguish between civilian and military targets. So, there is a difference in intent between the two sides. At the same time, they are both violating the Geneva Convention."

After an observation like that -- stuffed in a brief space with so many double standrads -- HRW should not complain if one day it finds itself short of friends prepared to come to its aid when next the likes of Dershowitz batter it with the anti-Semitism canard. Those who indulge in slurs (against Arabs) can hardly call on our sympathy when they themselves are victims of the same kind of innuendo.

First, how does Bouckaert know that Israel's failure to distinguish between civilian and military targets was simply a technical failure, a failure to take precautions, and not intentional? Was he or another HRW researcher sitting in one of the military bunkers in northern Israel when army planners pressed the button to unleash the missiles from their spy drones? Was he sitting alongside the air force pilots as they circled over Lebanon dropping their US-made bombs or tens of thousands of "cluster munitions", tiny land mines that are now sprinkled over a vast area of south Lebanon? Did he have intimate conversations with the Israeli chiefs of staff about their war strategy?

Of course not. He has no more idea than you or I what Israel's military planners and its politicians decided was necessary to achieve their war goals. In fact, he does not even know what those goals were. So why make a statement suggesting he does?

Similarly, just as Bouckaert is apparently sure that he can divine Israel's intentions in the war, and that they were essentially benign, he is equally convinced that he knows Hizbullah's intentions, and that they were malign. Whatever the evidence suggests -- in a war in which Israel overwhelmingly killed Lebanese civilians and is still doing so, and in which Hizbullah overwhelmingly killed Israeli soldiers -- Bouckaert knows better. He admits that both violated the Geneva Conventions, a failure he makes sound little more than a technicality, but apparently only Hizbullah had evil designs.

How is it "perfectly clear" to Bouckaert that Hizbullah was "directly" targeting Israeli civilians? It is most certainly not clear from the casualty figures.

It is also not clear, as I tried to document during the war, from the geographical locations where Hizbullah's rockets struck. My ability to discuss those locations was limited because all journalists based in Israel are subject to the rules of the military censor. We cannot divulge information useful to the "enemy" about Israel's myriad military installations -- its army camps, military airfields, intelligence posts, arms stores and Rafael weapons factories.

What I did try to alert readers to was the fact that many, if not most, of those military sites are located next to or inside Israeli communities, including Arab towns and villages.

At least it is now possible, because some army positions were temporary, to reveal that many communities in the north had artillery batteries stationed next to them firing into Lebanon and that from Haifa Bay warships continually launched warheads at Lebanon. That information is now publicly available in Israel, and other examples are regularly coming to light.

I reported, for example, the other day that the Haaretz newspaper referred to legal documents to be presented in a compensation suit which show that the Arab village of Fassouta, close to the border with Lebanon, had an artiller battery stationed next to it throughout much of the war. A press release this week from a Nazareth-based welfare organisation, the Laborers' Voice, reveals that another battery was positioned by an Arab town, Majd al-Krum, during the war. Arab member of Knesset Abbas Zakour has also gone publicly on the record: "During a short visit to offer condolences to the families of victims killed in Hizbullah's rocket attacks, I saw Israeli tanks shelling Lebanon from the two towns of Arab Al-Aramisha and Tarshiha."

In other Arab communities, including Jish, Shaghour, and Kfar Manda, the Israeli army requisitioned areas to train their troops for the ground invasion of south Lebanon. According to the Human Rights Association, based in Nazareth, army officials justified their decision on the following grounds: "The landscape of Arab towns [in Israel] is similar to Arab towns in Lebanon."

Aside from the fact that this effective use of Israeli civilians as human shields by the army outdoes any "cowardly blending" (in the words of Jan Egeland of the United Nations) by Hizbullah in Lebanon, it also makes any attempt at second-guessing the targets of the Shiite militia's rockets futile. Unless Bouckaert was given a private audience with Hizbullah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, or drove around with a Katyusha rocket team, his talk is pure hot air.

It might be possible to dismiss Bouckaert's comments as the private opinion of one researcher (even if one of HRW's most senior) were it not for the fact that the organisation has stood by his statements in correspondence with me. I have been told that Bouckaert's assertions are justified because "we generally conclude that the use of weapons that can't be targeted / are not precise, eg. are indiscriminate, when fired into civilian areas, are in and of themselves evidence of targeting civilians."

In fact, I know from conversations with Israeli journalists that Hizbullah's rockets were not as inaccurate as HRW would like to assume. Several important military sites were hit by Hizbullah rockets, though none of those incidents were reported and apparently cannot be as long as the military censorship rules apply.

I have also seen the deep scarring and charred brush on a hillside in northern Israel where an important army bunker used by military planners is located -- evidence that Hizbullah knew exactly what was there and successfully aimed many of its rockets at the site.

Is it still possible to presume that Hizbullah is "directly" targeting civilians, as Bouckaert claims? HRW again: "We can conclude that they [Hizbullah] are targeting civilians and not just failing to discriminate sufficiently because the weapons themselves are not capable of being targeted with any real degree of precision, according to our arms division, so they know full well that the likelihood is that the weapons will not hit their target / will kill civilians."

What are we supposed to make of this argument from the world's foremost human rights organisation? HRW is accusing Hizbullah of committing graver war crimes than Israel, even though it killed far fewer civilians both numerically and proportionally, because its rockets are "less accurate". HRW is saying, in effect, that whatever Hizbullah's and Israel's respective intentions and whatever the respective outcomes of their attacks, Hizbullah must be treated as the greater pariah because its technology is inferior. Whether or not Hizbullah was aiming for military targets is irrelevant, says HRW, because its primitive rockets were likely to hit civilians -- as opposed to Israel, which struck at Lebanese civilians with precision weapons.

And all of this, of course, entirely ignores Israel's use of as many as 100,000 cluster bombs, leaving an indiscriminate legacy of bomblets across south Lebanon that will kill and maim for months, and possibly years, to come. Is that not "clear" proof that Israel was "deliberately" targeting Lebanese civilians?

HRW's logic appears to be arguing that Hizbullah had no right -- given its inadequate rocket technology -- to defend its country from Israel's massive bombardment of Lebanon's civilian population. In other words, it had no right of self-defence because its military arsenal was inferior. It should have sat out the weeks of aerial attacks, refusing to engage Israel until the Israeli army decided it was time to mount a ground invasion. Only at that point, HRW implies, did Hizbullah have the right to strike back.

Such an argument effectively legitimises the use of military might by the stronger party, thereby making a nonsense of international law and the human rights standards HRW is supposed to uphold.

This sophistry is fooling no one, least of all, of course, Israel's apologists. They will keep up their relentless defamation of an organisation like Human Rights Watch as long as Israel comes under its scrutiny. By trying to appease them, our human rights champions damage only themselves and those they should be seeking to protect.

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His book, Blood and Religion: The Unmasking of the Jewish and Democratic State, is published by Pluto Press. His website is

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The Campaign For The Cancellation Of The Israeli Exhibition

Susannah Tarbush

The 10th International Architecture Biennale in Venice - There is a growing international and Palestinian campaign for the organisers of the 10th International Architecture Biennale in Venice to cancel the exhibition in the Israeli pavilion. The Israeli exhibition is entitled "Life Saver: Typology of Commemoration in Israel."

Fifty countries are participating in the Biennale, which runs from September 10 to November 19 and is one of the most important events on the international architectural calendar. Egypt is the only Arab country taking part in the Biennale, whose title is "Cities, architecture and society".
The exhibits in the Israeli pavilion comprise plans, models and full architectural details of 15 memorials built between 1947 and 2006, some commemorating dead soldiers or intelligence officers, others the Holocaust. The Israeli Defence Ministry is at the top of the list of the organisations who gave "generous support" for the exhibition.

The international pressure group Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine (APJP) has sent a petition to the organisers of the Biennale saying it is "dismayed and concerned" that the Biennale agreed to host the Israeli contribution.

APJP requests the Biennale Committee to consider withdrawing the Israeli entry as being "provocative and counterproductive to the aims of the Biennale, and particularly distasteful in the context of the aftermath of an ugly and unnecessary war in neighbouring Lebanon, and a continuing one-side war in Gaza."

At the same time four Palestinian organisations have sent a joint letter to the organisers asking for the Israeli exhibition to be cancelled. The Palestinian organisations are the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI); the Palestinian Engineers Association - Jerusalem Center; the Society of Palestinian Architects; and RIWAQ - the Centre for Architectural Conservation.

The four Palestinian organisations say: "It is inconceivable how the Venice Biennale, an international celebration of art and architecture, of civilization and the progress of humanity, can provide a venue for such a blatant justification for and commemoration of genocide, war and bloodshed."

APJP says Israeli pavilion, funded by the Israeli government, "totally excludes the Palestinians who are the target and real victims of the seemingly unending series of wars being memorialised, and awards Israeli the sole position of victim and victor."

It notes "there are no memorials in Israel to the Nakba, the Palestinian tragedy of displacement and dispossession where the intention of transfer and exclusion led to the destruction and elimination of 580 Palestinian villages, towns and cities."

The 21 signatories of the APJP petition include Palestinian, Israeli and British/Jewish architects and also the eminent British architect Ted Cullinan, and the distinguished architectural critic and writer Charles Jencks.

Their APJP petition quotes Dan Daor who writes in the exhibition catalogue that the message of memorial structures is that "there are no heroes - all there is, is the eternity of Israel, all of the country is the front, and all of us are victims."

The letter from the four Palestinian organisations says the Israeli exhibition should be cancelled because it is supported by a state that continues against all international laws and UN resolutions to occupy the West Bank and Gaza, to deny the right of return for Palestinian refugees, and to wage a daily war against the Palestinian children, men and women their homes and livelihoods.

The letter says that the Israeli state is still engaged in a war with Lebanon, "that has resulted in the killing of over 1,000 Lebanese, the destruction of infrastructure, roads, buildings, bridges, electricity power plants, and thousands of homes, and the denial of the right of education of thousands of Lebanese children who cannot attend a new school year because their schools have been destroyed."

The Palestinian organisations note that the exhibition contains models of memorials commemorating both the victims of the Holocaust, and those killed in Israel's wars since 1948. "The history of the Holocaust and its Jewish victims is thus confused with that of Israel's colonial history and the death of soldiers killed while invading, occupying and annexing Arab lands."

Both the APJP petition, and the letter from the four Palestinian organisations, strongly condemn the role of Israeli architects. The Palestinian organisations say: "Israeli architects, engineers and planners are fully engaged in the planning and implementation of a system of oppression and control that began with the appropriation and confiscation of lands since 1948, and continues today in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the form of illegal settlements building, bypass roads and the construction of the Apartheid Wall."

The APJP says that the "eminent Israeli architects" represented in the exhibition "are being used as tools of Israeli propaganda, and consequently would be deemed to be complicit in the agenda of excluding the Palestinian narrative."

The APJP petition and the letter from the Palestinian organisations both quote the statement by the curator of the exhibition, Tula Amir, in her introduction to the exhibition. Amir writes: "The justification of Israel's wars legitimates the loss of life in the past and its possible loss in the future; the continuation of unconditional cooperation between the country's military and defense establishment and its individual citizens; and an unequivocal understanding that this struggle is the only means for Israel's survival."

The Palestinian organisations say that while this paragraph can be read as a critique of this type of architecture, "the fact that it is being displayed at this level little over a month after Israel has just gone through another of its cycles of destruction is a celebration of it. The attempt to dissect it and analyse it in an abstract manner from an architectural point of view is not convincing."

They add that "nowhere in the quotations from the curator is the exhibition presented as a way to examine Israel's past or to try to learn from all its bloody history. The entire exhibition accentuates Israel as "a victim state constantly under attack and in danger."

While the title of the Biennale is "Cities, architecture and society," the theme is Cities of the Future, with the aim, the organisers say, of "presenting a manifesto for the cities of the 21st century.

The Biennale has several sections. In the 300-metre long "Corderie dell'Arsenale" space, there are videos, photography, film and thee dimensional graphics presenting the urban experiences of 16 world cities in four continents, including Cairo, Istanbul, Barcelona, Caracas, Los Angeles and Mumbai.

In addition, each of the 50 participating countries has its own pavilion. The content of the Israeli pavilion is in marked contrast to the pavilions of other countries, which look forward to cities of the future.

To take just a few examples of how other countries exhibitions are approaching the theme of the exhibition, the exhibition in the US pavilion is entitled "After the Flood,: Building on Higher Ground", the UK exhibition explores the issues facing Britain's regional cities, the exhibition, the republic of Slovenia's pavilion has the title "Formula New Ljubljana", and the Romanian exhibition is entitled "Remix! Urban drama for nine cubes and many players."

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'Quiet transfer' of Palestinians in East Jerusalem nears completion

Elodie Guego
Forced Migration Review
Electronic Intifada
6 September 2006

Israel is close to implementing a long-term plan to transform the demographic structure of annexed East Jerusalem. Policies to revoke the residency permits of Palestinian Jerusalemites and to Judaise the city have been described as ethnic cleansing.

After victory in the 1967 Six Day war, Israel annexed East Jerusalem - that part of the city that had been under Jordanian rule since the end of the British Mandate in 1948 - together with an additional 64 square kilometres which had been part of the West Bank. Jerusalem thus became Israel's largest city and was declared to be its 'united and eternal capital'. The international community, led by the UN, has continuously denounced this act of unilateral annexation, arguing it is a violation of the fundamental principle in international law prohibiting the forcible acquisition of territory. The international community has consistently considered East Jerusalem to be an occupied territory, thus akin to the West Bank and Gaza.

Their support of the Palestinian claim to East Jerusalem was bolstered by the fact that at the time of occupation Palestinians constituted the majority of residents in this sector of the city. Israel has engaged in a demographic battle to secure Israeli sovereignty over the whole city. For almost four decades successive governments have implemented policies designed to transform the city's population structure and ensure the numeric superiority of Jews. Until the construction of the Wall in and around East Jerusalem, these objectives were pursued through a series of discriminatory regulations to reduce the Palestinian population by rendering their lives increasingly intolerable and encouraging the growth of Israeli settlements in Palestinian neighbourhoods. Today the approximately 230,000 Palestinian Jerusalemites represent around 30% of Jerusalem's total population.

Under the post-1967 plan designed by Israeli military commanders, heavily populated Palestinian areas were not included, but land belonging to several Palestinian villages was incorporated into Jerusalem

Under the post-1967 plan designed by Israeli military commanders, heavily populated Palestinian areas were not included, but land belonging to several Palestinian villages was incorporated into Jerusalem. Those who were left outside the new municipal boundaries, or who happened to be outside Jerusalem in 1967, remained residents of the West Bank and, as such, subject to military rule. The Israeli government conducted a census of the Palestinian population living within the city's new administrative boundaries and granted permanent residency status to the Palestinians residents of the annexed areas. They were entitled to become Israeli citizens provided they agreed to swear allegiance to the State of Israel. Mass refusal to recognise Israeli sovereignty over occupied Jerusalem meant that only 2.3% of Palestinian Jerusalemites became Israeli citizens. The others became permanent residents of Israel subject to Israeli law and jurisdiction, just as foreigners who voluntarily settle in Israel.

Jerusalem permanent residency status differs significantly from citizenship. Permanent residents of Israel are entitled to live and work in Israel without special permits, to receive social benefits from the National Insurance Institute and to vote in local elections. Permanent residency is not automatically granted to the holders' children or spouses, however, and permanent residents, unlike Israeli citizens, do not enjoy the right to return to Israel at any time.

Between 1967 and 1994 Israel confiscated 24.8 square kilometres of land in East Jerusalem, 80% of it belonging to Palestinians. Land expropriation is continuing. Today a mere 7% of the area of East Jerusalem remains available to Palestinians. Confiscated land has mostly been used for the construction of Jewish settlements and settlers' bypass roads, in violation of international humanitarian law prohibiting an occupying power from transferring part of its own population into territory it has occupied. The Jerusalem Municipality has expediently used zoning restrictions to establish 'green areas', supposedly set aside for environmental and recreational purposes, but actually deployed as a tactic to remove the land from Palestinian use and create a reserve for Jewish housing.

The Town Planing Scheme (TPS), another key instrument of 'quiet transfer', restricts building permits in already built-up areas, the only areas available for Palestinian use. TPS has been used to restrict the development of Palestinian neighbourhoods. Palestinians are only permitted to build one- or two-storey buildings while adjacent Israeli housing units may have up to eight floors. Palestinians must go through a complex and time-consuming administrative process to obtain a building permit. These cost around $25,000 - a considerable obstacle as Palestinian incomes are significantly below those of Israelis. Palestinians obtain a disproportionately small percentage of the building permits issued every year by the Jerusalem Municipality. Only 7.5% of the homes legally built during the period 1990-1997 belong to Palestinians.

Centre of life

In 1995 the Israeli Interior Ministry introduced a new regulation requiring Palestinian residents to prove they had continuously lived and worked in Jerusalem during the preceding seven years. The standard of proof demanded is so rigorous that even persons who have never left Jerusalem have difficulties in meeting it. Palestinians who fail to prove that their 'centre of life' is Jerusalem risk having their residency status revoked and their requests for family reunification and child registration rejected. The number of Jerusalem residency ID cards confiscated after promulgation of the 'centre of life' policy rose by over 600%. Suburbs on Jerusalem's outskirts, to which many East Jerusalemites had moved as a result of earlier discriminatory policies, were declared to be outside Jerusalem, thus removing the residency rights of over 50,000 people. In order to defend their claims to residency and the social rights which go with it, some 20,000 Palestinians returned to live within Jerusalem's municipal boundaries.

Israel's 'centre of life' policy seriously affects Palestinians' entitlement to health and social benefits, to family reunification, child registration and membership of the Israeli national insurance scheme. The 'centre of life' is verified for each annual renewal of spouses' residence permits. Thousands of Palestinian children born in Jerusalem of parents who do not both hold a Jerusalem ID have been denied registration and are unable to exercise their basic rights, including their right to education. While the 'centre of life' policy had been officially discontinued, the outbreak of the Al Aqsa intifada in September 2000 led to its reactivation. Since May 2002, Israel has refused to accept applications for family unification and refused to register the children of permanent residents who were born in the OPT.

The Wall consolidates the objectives of the 'centre of life' policy. It not only isolates East Jerusalem from the West Bank and effectively incorporates it to Israel but also divides Palestinian neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem

The Wall consolidates the objectives of the 'centre of life' policy. It not only isolates East Jerusalem from the West Bank and effectively incorporates it to Israel but also divides Palestinian neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem. The Wall is being erected to the west of neighbourhoods previously part of the municipality of Jerusalem (the Shu'afat refugee camp and West Anata with a population of 55,000), most of whose inhabitants hold Jerusalem IDs. It also separates from Jerusalem neighbourhoods which are entirely dependent on the city for their survival and the approximately 50,000 Palestinian permanent residents forced to relocate due to the discriminatory tax regime and the building permits' restrictions imposed by Israeli authorities.

Palestinians holding Israeli permanent residency permits who now find themselves on the West Bank side of the Wall, particularly those living outside Jerusalem's boundaries, are set to lose their residency status under the 'centre of life' policy. The Wall makes many unable to reach their places of work and basic services inside Jerusalem which they must do to retain Israeli residency status. Family members who do not hold permanent residency cards will now be unable to circumvent Israeli regulations on residency and their spouses holding an Israeli ID will have to choose between living on a different side of the Wall or losing their jobs and residency rights in Jerusalem. According to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human rights in the OPT, "Israel hopes to further reduce the Palestinian population of East Jerusalem by compelling spouses to move to the West Bank side of the wall."

The housing crisis and the level of overcrowding of Palestinian neighbourhoods are such that Palestinians have been forced outside the city's municipal boundaries or compelled to build homes in violation of Israeli laws. By building illegally they expose themselves to high fines and the threat of house demolition. In recent years, the number of houses demolished for lack of building permits has grown significantly According to the Israeli human rights organisation, B'tselem, between 1999 and 2003 in East Jerusalem 229 houses and other structures were demolished while in 2004 and 2005 alone 198 houses were demolished, displacing 594 people. This acceleration coincides with new land expropriations and plans for the development of new Jewish settlements in the heart of Palestinian neighbourhoods such as in Ras-al-amud or the Mount of Olives.

The construction of the Wall along and inside Jerusalem's municipal borders will definitively prevent the return of Palestinians expelled from Jerusalem by land confiscations, house demolitions or pressure from extremist settlers' groups. They will lose their rights to permanent residency in Jerusalem under the 'centre of life' policy and will no longer be able to enter the city without special permits. The properties that they have abandoned in Jerusalem risk being seized under Israeli's Absentee Property Law.

This eight-metre high Wall has given Israel a pretext to achieve long-established goals under the guise of security. Jerusalem is at the heart of all the antagonisms in the Middle East. International silence and failure to speak out against Israeli's transfer strategy is likely to have irreversible consequences and destroy regional prospects for peace. The transfer of Palestinians will soon be an undisputed reality but should not remain 'quiet'.

Elodie Guego, a lawyer specialised in human rights law, worked as a volunteer in the OPT in 2005 and is currently Assistant Country Analyst at the Norwegian Refugee Council's Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, Geneva. This article was originally published in the August 2006 edition of Forced Migration Review, which poses, Palestinian displacement: A case apart?, and is reprinted with permission. Forced Migration Review, published in English, Arabic, Spanish and French, provides a practice-oriented forum for debate on issues facing refugees and internally displaced people in order to improve policy and practice and to involve refugees and IDPs in programme design and implementation.

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British politicians collaborate to make anti-Semitism a major news story

BBC News

Urgent action to tackle a rise in anti-Semitism in the UK is being called for by a cross-party group of MPs.

The panel of 14 MPs said the "disturbing" rise had been exacerbated by the situation in the Middle East.

They concluded that a minority of Islamist extremists in the UK had incited hatred against Jews.

The panel's report has been welcomed by Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, who said the Jewish community would "fight prejudice in whatever form it takes".
Panel chair Denis McShane said the most worrying discovery was that anti-Semitism was entering the "mainstream".

"Anti-Jewish sentiment is appearing in the everyday conversations of people who consider themselves neither racist nor prejudiced.

"This behaviour is driven by ignorance and complacency and allowing it to continue unchecked is not just a problem for the Jewish community but society as a whole," Mr McShane said.

Key recommendations in the panel's 60-page report include improved recording of anti-Semitic incidents by the police, better education about anti-Semitism in schools, a crackdown on anti-Jewish activity on university campuses and action to prevent the spread of anti-Semitic material online.

The All Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Anti-Semitism was set up in 2005 to investigate the nature and extent of contemporary anti-Semitism.

It was established against a background of steadily rising anti-Semitic attacks which reached a peak of more than 530 incidents on members of the UK's 300,000 strong Jewish community in 2004.

Since then the number of incidents have fallen but remain at high levels, according to figures from the Jewish-led Community Security Trust.


In addition to more than 100 written submissions from organisations and individuals, the panel of MPs heard oral evidence in four sessions in February and March.

Among those who gave evidence were the then Home Secretary Charles Clarke, the Attorney General Lord Goldsmith, chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, race watchdog chief Trevor Phillips and the former head of the Muslim Council of Britain Sir Iqbal Sacranie.

They called for the adoption of a clearer definition of anti-Semitism by the government and law enforcement agencies which reflected its "complex and multi-faceted" nature.

"Anti-Semitism is not one dimensional. It is perpetrated in different ways by different groups within society and for this reason it is hard to identify," the report stated.

The MPs said it was "inexcusable" that there was not a requirement for all police forces to record anti-Semitic incidents given that such a duty existed for racist crimes.

And they called for an investigation by the Crown Prosecution Service into the low number of charges being brought for anti-Semitic abuse saying fewer than one in ten incidents resulted in a prosecution.

The report also called for more research on the correlation between the conflict in the Middle East and attacks on Jews in the UK saying a greater understanding was necessary to tackle the problem.

Insider Comment: "British politicians from different political parties has called for "urgent action" to stop "anti-Semitism".

A group of 14 MPs known as the "All Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Anti-Semitism" has announced that "Islamist extremists in the UK had incited hatred against Jews" and the story has been reported by the mass media in news headlines throughout the UK. Fortunately, "the number of incidents have fallen" since 2004 "according to figures from the Jewish-led Community". But the "All Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Anti-Semitism" has published a 60 page report about a "disturbing rise" in anti-Semitism.

The "urgent" measures demanded by the report include special programmes to educate the police and school-children about Jewish concerns and sensitivities, and new powers for the authorities to control what is said and written about Jewish people on the Internet and in Universities.

There are still far fewer incidents of racism against Jews compared to other groups, especially Arabs and Muslims who are currently experiencing more racism and prejudice than ever before. At present there is no "All Party Parliamentary Inquiry" or any other special group of MPs set-up to stop racism against other groups.

Arabs are also a "Semitic" race (descendents of Shem), but the term "anti-Semitic" has been used so extensively and repeatedly to exclusively describe racism against Jews that the meaning of "Semitic" in this context has effectively changed in common parlance, although the dictionary definition has not yet been updated."

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'Gaza is a jail. Nobody is allowed to leave. We are all starving now'

Uk Indepdendent

Gaza is dying. The Israeli siege of the Palestinian enclave is so tight that its people are on the edge of starvation. Here on the shores of the Mediterranean a great tragedy is taking place that is being ignored because the world's attention has been diverted by wars in Lebanon and Iraq.

A whole society is being destroyed. There are 1.5 million Palestinians imprisoned in the most heavily populated area in the world. Israel has stopped all trade. It has even forbidden fishermen to go far from the shore so they wade into the surf to try vainly to catch fish with hand-thrown nets.

Many people are being killed by Israeli incursions that occur every day by land and air. A total of 262 people have been killed and 1,200 wounded, of whom 60 had arms or legs amputated, since 25 June, says Dr Juma al-Saqa, the director of the al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City which is fast running out of medicine. Of these, 64 were children and 26 women. This bloody conflict in Gaza has so far received only a fraction of the attention given by the international media to the war in Lebanon.

It was on 25 June that the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was taken captive and two other soldiers were killed by Palestinian militants who used a tunnel to get out of the Gaza Strip. In the aftermath of this, writes Gideon Levy in the daily Haaretz, the Israeli army "has been rampaging through Gaza - there's no other word to describe it - killing and demolishing, bombing and shelling, indiscriminately". Gaza has essentially been reoccupied since Israeli troops and tanks come and go at will. In the northern district of Shajhayeh they took over several houses last week and stayed five days. By the time they withdrew, 22 Palestinians had been killed, three houses were destroyed and groves of olive, citrus and almond trees had been bulldozed.
Fuad al-Tuba, the 61-year-old farmer who owned a farm here, said: "They even destroyed 22 of my bee-hives and killed four sheep." He pointed sadly to a field, its brown sandy earth churned up by tracks of bulldozers, where the stumps of trees and broken branches with wilting leaves lay in heaps. Near by a yellow car was standing on its nose in the middle of a heap of concrete blocks that had once been a small house.

His son Baher al-Tuba described how for five days Israeli soldiers confined him and his relatives to one room in his house where they survived by drinking water from a fish pond. "Snipers took up positions in the windows and shot at anybody who came near," he said. "They killed one of my neighbours called Fathi Abu Gumbuz who was 56 years old and just went out to get water."

Sometimes the Israeli army gives a warning before a house is destroyed. The sound that Palestinians most dread is an unknown voice on their cell phone saying they have half an hour to leave their home before it is hit by bombs or missiles. There is no appeal.

But it is not the Israeli incursions alone that are destroying Gaza and its people. In the understated prose of a World Bank report published last month, the West Bank and Gaza face "a year of unprecedented economic recession. Real incomes may contract by at least a third in 2006 and poverty to affect close to two thirds of the population." Poverty in this case means a per capita income of under $2 (£1.06) a day.

There are signs of desperation everywhere. Crime is increasing. People do anything to feed their families. Israeli troops entered the Gaza industrial zone to search for tunnels and kicked out the Palestinian police. When the Israelis withdrew they were replaced not by the police but by looters. On one day this week there were three donkey carts removing twisted scrap metal from the remains of factories that once employed thousands.

"It is the worst year for us since 1948 [when Palestinian refugees first poured into Gaza]," says Dr Maged Abu-Ramadan, a former ophthalmologist who is mayor of Gaza City. "Gaza is a jail. Neither people nor goods are allowed to leave it. People are already starving. They try to live on bread and falafel and a few tomatoes and cucumbers they grow themselves."

The few ways that Gazans had of making money have disappeared. Dr Abu-Ramadan says the Israelis "have destroyed 70 per cent of our orange groves in order to create security zones." Carnations and strawberries, two of Gaza's main exports, were thrown away or left to rot. An Israeli air strike destroyed the electric power station so 55 per cent of power was lost. Electricity supply is now becoming almost as intermittent as in Baghdad.

The Israeli assault over the past two months struck a society already hit by the withdrawal of EU subsidies after the election of Hamas as the Palestinian government in March. Israel is withholding taxes owed on goods entering Gaza. Under US pressure, Arab banks abroad will not transfer funds to the government.

Two thirds of people are unemployed and the remaining third who mostly work for the state are not being paid. Gaza is now by far the poorest region on the Mediterranean. Per capita annual income is $700, compared with $20,000 in Israel. Conditions are much worse than in Lebanon where Hizbollah liberally compensates war victims for loss of their houses. If Gaza did not have enough troubles this week there were protest strikes and marches by unpaid soldiers, police and security men. These were organised by Fatah, the movement of the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, which lost the election to Hamas in January. His supporters marched through the streets waving their Kalashnikovs in the air. "Abu Mazen you are brave," they shouted. "Save us from this disaster." Sour-looking Hamas gunmen kept a low profile during the demonstration but the two sides are not far from fighting it out in the streets.

The Israeli siege and the European boycott are a collective punishment of everybody in Gaza. The gunmen are unlikely to be deterred. In a bed in Shifa Hospital was a sturdy young man called Ala Hejairi with wounds to his neck, legs, chest and stomach. "I was laying an anti-tank mine last week in Shajhayeh when I was hit by fire from an Israeli drone," he said. "I will return to the resistance when I am better. Why should I worry? If I die I will die a martyr and go to paradise."

His father, Adel, said he was proud of what his son had done adding that three of his nephews were already martyrs. He supported the Hamas government: "Arab and Western countries want to destroy this government because it is the government of the resistance."

As the economy collapses there will be many more young men in Gaza willing to take Ala Hejairi's place. Untrained and ill-armed most will be killed. But the destruction of Gaza, now under way, will ensure that no peace is possible in the Middle East for generations to come.

The deadly toll

* After the kidnap of Cpl Gilad Shalit by Palestinians on 25 June, Israel launched a massive offensive and blockade of Gaza under the operation name Summer Rains.

* The Gaza Strip's 1.3 million inhabitants, 33 per cent of whom live in refugee camps, have been under attack for 74 days.

* More than 260 Palestinians, including 64 children and 26 women, have been killed since 25 June. One in five is a child. One Israeli soldier has been killed and 26 have been wounded.

* 1,200 Palestinians have been injured, including up to 60 amputations. A third of victims brought to hospital are children.

* Israeli warplanes have launched more than 250 raids on Gaza, hitting the two power stations and the foreign and Information ministries.

* At least 120 Palestinian structures including houses, workshops and greenhouses have been destroyed and 160 damaged by the Israelis.

* The UN has criticised Israel's bombing, which has caused an estimated $1.8bn in damage to the electricity grid and leaving more than a million people without regular access to drinking water.

* The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem says 76 Palestinians, including 19 children, were killed by Israeli forces in August alone. Evidence shows at least 53 per cent were not participating in hostilities.

* In the latest outbreak of violence, three Palestinians were killed yesterday when Israeli troops raided a West Bank town in search of a wanted militant. Two of those killed were unarmed, according to witnesses.

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Senate rejects bill which would limit IDF use of U.S.-made bombs

The Associated Press

The United States Senate on Wednesday rejected a move by Democrats to stop the Pentagon from using cluster bombs near civilian targets and to cut off sales unless purchasers abide by the same rules.

On a 70-30 vote, the Senate defeated an amendment to a Pentagon budget bill to block use of the deadly munitions near populated areas. The vote came after the State Department announced last month that it is investigating whether Israel misused American-made cluster bombs in civilian areas of Lebanon.

Unexploded cluster bombs - anti-personnel weapons that spray bomblets over a wide area - litter homes, gardens and highways in south Lebanon
after Israel's 34-day war with Hezbollah militants.
Democratic senators Dianne Feinstein and Patrick Leahy have long sought to keep cluster bombs from being used near concentrated areas of civilians. They say that as many as 40 percent of the munitions fail to detonate on impact - they can still can explode later - leaving innocent civilians and children vulnerable to injury or death long after hostilities have ceased.

Relief organizations and the United Nations Mine Action Coordination Center reported finding evidence that Israel used three types of U.S.-made cluster bombs during the war with Hezbollah militants. Israel also manufactures its own cluster munitions.

"For too long, innocent civilians, not enemy combatants, have suffered the majority of casualties from cluster munitions," Leahy said.

"The recent experience in Lebanon is only the latest example of the appalling human toll of injury and death. Strict rules of engagement are long overdue."

But Republican Senator Ted Stevens said that, "The rules of engagement properly belong with the Department of Defense and the commander in chief."

Stevens argued that the amendment would restrict "the ability of our military to use these munitions to protect our people."

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Israeli forces invade Khaza, ransack homes, destroy electricity and water infrastructure

IMEMC & Agencies
Thursday, 07 September 2006

Thursday morning, Israeli troops invaded the Khaza area, east of Khan Younis, and attacked homes belonging to Palestinian families. Eyewitnesses stated that troops, backed with tanks and bulldozers, stormed the area, then conducted a wide-scale search campaign and ransacked residents houses.

De'a Qadaih, a resident of the area, said that Israeli troops searched and ransacked his family's house for the second time since yesterday. He said they also attacked and hit his family members while searching the house; he added that troops came yesterday to his house and searched it, and took his father away without giving a reason.

Local sources also reported on Thursday that army bulldozers uprooted more than 80 olive trees and destroyed the water pipe line and electricity network in the Khaza area leaving more than 50 families with no water and electricity.

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Israeli officials: Recent demolition of 22 homes in Nablus was 'a mistake'"


On Saturday the 26th of August, Israeli military invaded the Jabal Shamali area of Nablus and destroyed 22 homes, according to an eyewitness report from the International Solidarity Movement. The next day, Israel's largest newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported that the home demolition was "a mistake," and that the Israeli military failed to arrest two to three Fatah activists that were the target of the operation.

At the end of the incursion, five individual houses and one three-storey block of flats were destroyed. One of the six buildings demolished was a community meeting hall, the others were homes belonging to the Saedi, G'name, Sa'eah and Lubaddeh families. Eight cars were also totally wrecked, five of which were dumped onto a neighboring house, causing structural damage in the form of broken base-beams in the roof and the bending of walls.
Additional houses were also damaged during the demolition. The home adjacent to the structure damaged by the demolished cars was severely burned, and three homes west of the apartment block were 80% destroyed and are now unlivable. In total, 22 homes and apartments were completely demolished, and an additional five homes were made unliveable.

About 100 people were made homeless by the Israeli military's actions and are now evacuated to friends' homes in surrounding neighborhoods, or forced to rent apartments around Nablus. With the help of friends and neighbors, they have removed the remains of their homes that were not completely bullet-ridden or shredded by bulldozers and are now planning on rebuilding the homes as they were.

The families have been given $15,000 collectively from the Palestinian government as aid for rebuilding their homes, and friends and neighbors collected an additional $17,000 for the same purpose. This is, however, far from enough money. The cost of rebuilding the Lubaddeh block of flats alone, as estimated by engineers, will amount to about $550,000.

The issue of home demolitions has been discussed at length by the Israeli High Court of Justice in many cases, including Janimat V. IDF Military Commander 1997. In the discussion of this case, published by the Israeli Supreme Court in "Judgments of the Israeli Supreme Court: Fighting Terrorism within the Law", the Justices argue, "home demolitions are allowed only in light of especially serious terrorist activities, such as involvement in suicide bombings aimed at civilians... The demolitions are subject to legal principals, such as the principle of proportionality. For example, the measure may only be used if it is possible to limit it to the terrorist's home, without demolishing adjacent dwellings. (60)" In addition, the President of the Court, A. Barak states, "[Demolitions are] implemented in stages and with care in order to prevent damage to the rest of the building. If damage is caused, it will be repaired. (62)" In the case of this incursion, the homes were demolished while searching for suspects, not "in light of especially serious terrorist activities." In addition, 22 homes were demolished in their attempt to arrest, clearly violating the "principal of proportionality." According to President Barak, the homes' of the residents will be repaired, though follow through on this is unlikely.

Nizar Lubbadeh, who gave himself up to be arrested in a desperate bid to stop the demolition of his and his family's home, was released shortly after questioning. One other man, Mohammad Ayad, was however arrested after the demolition and is still in jail.

According to the Nablus Municipality, 220 buildings have been destroyed in Nablus since the beginning of the current Intifada in September 2000. This number excludes the large number of homes destroyed in Israel's "Operation Defensive Shield" in 2002. Following this most recent incursion into Jabal Shamali, the number is now up to 242. This attack marks one of the largest houses to be destroyed. Other big demolitions include a 9-storey building in Rafidya Al-Makhfiyya 3 years ago, belonging to Jafar Maasri who was killed by lethal gas in the Old City, and the Al-Sudder family home in New Askar refugee camp about one and a half years ago.

Amer and Allam Lubbadeh, two brothers made homeless by the demolition, urge anyone who wishes to donate money to the rebuilding of their family home to contact the Palestinian Red Crescent in Nablus, by telephone at 09-2384151, or by fax at 09-2380215.

This report was prepared by the International Solidarity Movement, a grassroots group of Palestinians, internationals and Israelis working in solidarity with the Palestinian people. Their website is http://www.palsolidarity.org

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One woman taken prisoner from Asker refugee camp near Nablus

IMEMC & Agencies
Thursday, 07 September 2006

Sanaa' Qandeel, 24, from Asker refugee camp in Nablus was taken as prisoner by the Israeli army earlier on Thursday.

Troops and army vehicles stormed the camp, then searched and ransacked Qandeel's family house before taking their daughter to an unknown destination, eyewitnesses reported.

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Israeli forces kill four in raids - at least 3 are civilian

NZ Herald
Friday September 8, 2006

GAZA - Israeli forces killed four Palestinians, at least one of them a militant, during separate operations in the Gaza Strip and West Bank yesterday, witnesses said.

They said two Israeli air strikes around the Gaza town of Khan Younis killed two men, while another died in a separate incident nearby. In the occupied West Bank city of Jenin, witnesses said undercover Israeli commandos killed a member of the militant group Islamic Jihad when he tried to evade arrest.

Israel has been pressing an offensive in the Gaza Strip since the abduction of a soldier, Gilad Shalit, on June 25 by a group of militants, including members of the governing Islamic faction Hamas. During the offensive, at least 209 Palestinians have been killed, about half of them civilians.

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Lebanon awaits lifting of sea blockade

By Nadim Ladki
September 8, 2006

BEIRUT - Lebanon waited on Friday for the lifting of
Israel's eight-week maritime blockade as the United Nations scrambled to sort out a naval force to deploy off the Lebanese coast.

Israel ended an air embargo on Lebanon on Thursday but held back at the last minute from allowing free shipping movement, saying the naval blockade would be lifted only when ships of an international force were deployed.

An Israeli official said coordination was continuing with the United Nations but that there was no clear timeframe for lifting the naval blockade.
"We are not giving a timeframe. It's up to the United Nations," said Miri Eisin, spokeswoman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

A Lebanese official said he expected the siege to be lifted later in the day "after a trivial technical hitch is sorted out between Israel and the United Nations."

Israel imposed the blockade when it went to war with Hizbollah after guerrillas captured two of its soldiers in a cross-border raid on July 12. It bombed Beirut airport and coastal radars and barred most shipping from Lebanese ports.

Flights to and from Beirut resumed from Thursday evening and several international and Arab airlines announced resumption of normal services.

Lebanon has demanded a lifting of the blockade to enable it to speed reconstruction of bridges, homes, roads and factories devastated during the 34-day war.


"I hope very much organization of the naval forces of Italy, France and Greece, which have to continue the supervision of the Lebanese ports, will be brief and we can move out once they move into place," Olmert said on Thursday.

An Israeli official said the delay was because the United Nations was not ready to take over the task of coastal monitoring due to differences over who would be in charge.

Italian and French naval vessels had been expected to begin patrolling the coast until a German-led naval contingent can take over in line with a Lebanese request to the United Nations.

Many countries have criticized the blockade, which Israel said was aimed at stopping Hizbollah from re-arming, but which Lebanon saw as collective punishment.

Italy said it would soon deploy more troops to southern Lebanon that along with the dispatch of other European soldiers would comprise an "effective ground force," opening the way for all Israeli troops to leave.

"I think that in a week to 10 days it is possible to have an effective ground force. Spanish and French troops are deploying, it will be possible to withdraw Israeli troops," Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema said in Jerusalem.

Israeli media have said the pullout was likely to finish by the start of the Jewish New Year, which begins on September 22.

In another area touched upon by the U.N. resolution, Olmert said Israel would be willing to discuss the status of the disputed Shebaa Farms if Lebanon disarms Hizbollah, Israeli media reported.

The Shebaa Farms is a small patch of land claimed by Lebanon, but occupied by Israel since it captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war.

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Soldiers severely abuse young Palestinian and take a picture of themselves on his cell phone

Israeli Information Center For Human Rights

On 26 August 2006, soldiers detained Tha'ir Muhsen, 18, from a-Neqora, a village near Nablus , while he was on his way home after registering at a-Najah University , in Nablus .

The soldiers sat him down next to another Palestinian who had been detained. The other fellow told Muhsen that the soldiers had beaten him. When one of the soldiers threw a stick to another soldier present, the other detainee fled. The soldiers chased him but returned empty- handed. They then began to abuse Muhsen.

The maltreatment lasted for about two hours, during which time the soldiers beat him over his whole body with their hands, sticks, and stones, kicked him, pulled his hair, and threw him to the ground. Muhsen lost consciousness. When he regained consciousness, the abuse continued. Among other kinds of abuse, one of soldiers practiced karate kicks to Muhsen's head while the other soldier held Muhsen in place.

At some time during the events, one of the soldier's took Muhsen's cell phone and photographed two of the soldiers who beat Muhsen.

Photo of two of the soldiers suspected of the abuse, taken by a third soldier, using Tha'ir Muhsen's cell phone camera.

Photo of two of the soldiers suspected of the abuse, taken by a third soldier, using Tha'ir Muhsen's cell phone camera.

In his testimony to B'Tselem, Muhsen described how, toward the end of the abusive treatment, the soldiers made a circle on the ground and ordered him to crouch inside it.

"I tried to sit down, but I was really dizzy... I barely managed to sit down inside the circle, as he demanded. I felt as if I were rocking back and forth and was about to fall.... another soldier gave him a rifle, and he aimed it at me. He put the barrel of the rifle to my head a few times and cocked the trigger. He laughed and said, "I am going to come to your house tonight and arrest you." He spoke in Hebrew, and the soldier who took the cell phone translated and said to me, "Do everything that the officer says." He was referring to the soldier who beat me with the stick and aimed the rifle at me. Afterwards, the officer gave the rifle to the soldier who translated, moved back a few meters, ran toward me and kicked me in the head. He did this a few times, as if my head were a ball in a game. Then the officer grabbed my head and slammed it into the armored vehicle and went away."

Two days later, after he gained some strength, Tha'ir filed a complaint at the army liaison office and gave the soldiers there a copy of the photo that the soldiers took with his cell phone.

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Enduring Democracy

Prospect of Shiite self-rule spells break-up of Iraq

September 8, 2006

THE future of Iraq as a sovereign nation has been jeopardised with the introduction to parliament of a law that would enable the country to break up into semi-autonomous regions.

A self-ruling Shiite state would emerge in the south, based on the autonomous region that Kurds have established in the north.

The Shiite state would not only be able to levy taxes and govern itself but, Shiite politicians say, would have its own armed guards along its borders. Sunnis, most of who bitterly oppose the law, have warned it would mark the first step in the break-up of the country and could lead to the south becoming a satellite of Iran.
The introduction of the law was marked by a plea from the Speaker of parliament that delegates must compromise and find agreement on the prospect of federalism, otherwise the country risked not only collapsing but descending into anarchy.

"We have three to four months to reconcile with each other," said Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, a Sunni. "If the country does not survive this it will go under."

The law is almost certain to pass because federalism is supported by Shiite and Kurdish parties, who control two-thirds of the seats in parliament, although it could be amended.

The document was being considered on Wednesday by a committee of senior parliamentarians.

Hamid Mualla al-Saadi, a member of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a party with historic links to Iran and which drafted the proposal, said it would "define how the regions are formed". This would be done through either a vote in a governing council selected from the region's leaders or through a referendum, he said.

The principle of a federalised Iraq was one of the key principles accepted in the country's constitution, written last year. However, the sectarian violence that has engulfed the country since the bombing in February of the Golden Mosque in Samarra appears to have led to a marked radicalisation among Shiite political leaders of what their federal state would involve.

The head of the supreme council, Abdel Aziz Hakim, has recently advocated a nine-province "super region" in the Shiite south, where 60 per cent of the country's oil reserves are located. It would have its own armed forces drawn from militias operating in the region and have some control over oil exploration.

The Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki, took the first step to recovering control of Iraq's military yesterday, signing an accord with US officers at a ceremony in Baghdad, Agence France-Presse reported. He received operational control of the fledgling air force and navy, and one of the army's 10 divisions. At least 39 people died in attacks nationwide yesterday.

Comment: Just a few months after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, members of the US government "think tank" the 'Council on Foreign Relations' discussed this very goal:

"The only viable strategy, then, may be to correct (Iraq's) historical defect and move in stages toward a three-state solution: Kurds in the north, Sunnis in the center and Shiites in the south" -- Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations; from "Three-state Solution" NY Times 11-25-2003

Coincidence? We think not.

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Suicide bombing near U.S. embassy in Kabul kills 10

Last Updated Fri, 08 Sep 2006 05:50:10 EDT
CBC News

A suicide car bomb near the U.S. embassy in Kabul on Friday left at least 10 people dead, including two American soldiers, the American military said.

The blast, which hit a convoy of U.S. military vehicles, left 17 people wounded. Eight of the dead and 15 of the wounded were Afghan civilians, according to Interior Ministry spokesman Yousef Stanezai.
Two of the wounded were American soldiers, according to U.S. military spokeswoman Lt. Tamara Lawrence.

The explosion ripped one of the military vehicles into two burning pieces, scattered body parts over a wide area and shook windows in downtown Kabul. A plume of smoke was seen rising from the bomb site.

The explosion was about 45 metres from Kabul's Massoud Square, which borders the main gate of the U.S. embassy compound in the capital.

U.S. and British soldiers encircled the bombing site as investigators began to survey the scene, poking through the wreckage of the military vehicle.

The suicide attack came just days before the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States in which nearly 3,000 people were killed and which prompted the U.S. to invade Afghanistan and topple the Taliban regime that had supported al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden. Al-Qaeda was blamed for the attacks.

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Bomb kills two in Baghdad

Fri Sep 8, 2006

BAGHDAD - A policeman and a bystander were killed in Baghdad on Friday when a car bomb blasted the convoy of a local police chief, police and Interior Ministry sources said.

Three other policemen were wounded in the blast in the city center, but Colonel Ali Mohammed, commander for the Karrada district, survived unscathed, they added.

Police were targeted by five bombs around the city on Thursday.

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1,500 killed in Baghdad in August despite crackdown

by Dave Clark
September 8, 2006

BAGHDAD - More than 1,500 people were killed in Baghdad last month, down by only 14 percent from July, the health ministry said, despite US claims that a security operation had cut murders by half.

"The Baghdad morgue received 1,584 bodies of people killed in violent attacks," Hakim al-Zamily, director general at the ministry told AFP. The ministry reported 1,850 killings in the war-torn capital in July.

The health ministry figures fly in the face of Thursday's statement by the US-led forces chief spokesman Major General William Caldwell that August's "murder rate in Baghdad dropped 52 percent from the daily rate for July."
However, another coalition spokesman said on Friday that the US military figure for murders does not include those killed in Baghdad's daily suicide bombings and mortar attacks in crowded civilian areas.

"Murders are basically sectarian, when an individual is targeted in a sectarian related death such as an execution, but do not include such things as car bombs or mortar attacks," Lieutenant Colonel Barry Johnson told AFP.

This distinction, which had not been made clear earlier, could explain the discrepancy between the health ministry's figures and those of the coalition.

Almost every day, Iraqis trade salvos of mortar shells between Baghdad neighbourhoods and trigger car bombs and booby traps in civilian areas as part of a vicious sectarian turf war between rival Sunni and Shiite factions.

At the same time, political assassinations and sectarian reprisals are carried out by shadowy death squads, who snatch their victims from their homes or the street, torture them to death and dump their bodies by the roadside.

Three civilian bystanders were killed on Friday when insurgents set off a roadside bomb against the convoy of a senior police officer, a security official said. Their deaths will not be included in US murder figures.

Baghdad police also said that they found the bodies of six men who had been first tortured and then shot dead, in the kind of apparent sectarian killings which are included in the shrinking US tally.

On June 14, US and Iraqi forces launched "Operation Together Forward", a massive security operation in the capital, in a bid to quell the violence and restore the battered authority of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government.

Despite the push, the number of violent deaths in July was the highest since the US-led invasion of March 2003. In August, however, US officers began to report the operation was succeeding in bringing down the death toll.

Johnson would not comment on the Iraqi health ministry figures, nor provide the coalition's own estimate of total killings in Iraq in August, but he defended the success of Operation Together Forward.

"I think we're seeing progress. I think we go into neighbourhoods and we do see a definite decrease in the violence there and we see people coming back out into the streets trying to resume their lives," he said.

"We're seeing very real progress in the areas where we're conducting operations," he added.

Under the Together Forward banner, thousands of US and Iraqi troops have targeted flashpoint districts of the capital, cordoning off streets, conducting house to house weapons searches and launching construction projects.

US and Iraqi officers began to boast of a decrease in violence towards the end of August, but in the last few days of the month insurgents hit back with a dramatic wave of bombings and rocket attacks in densely-packed suburbs.

On at least one occasion a gang rented a flat, rigged it with explosives and demolished a whole apartment block, crushing entire families inside.

"Violence will continue throughout Iraq, possibly even spiking as insurgents and terrorists punch back against security operations in Baghdad, but the seeds are being sown for long-term success," Caldwell wrote on the coalition website.

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Spanish PM condemns U.S. over secret prisons policy

www.chinaview.cn 2006-09-08 11:55:40

MADRID, Sept. 7 (Xinhua) -- Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on Thursday criticized the United States for using secret prisons in its fight against terrorism.

"The fight against terrorism can only be done through democracy and respect for the law. It is not compatible with the existence of secret prisons," he told reporters after a meeting with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
For his part, Annan said: "I cannot believe that there can be a trade between the effective fight against terrorism and protection of civil liberties. If as individuals we are asked to give up our freedom, our liberties, our human rights, as protection against terrorism, do we in the end have protection?"

On Wednesday, U.S. President George W. Bush, acknowledged for the first time that America's Central Intelligence Agency had kept prisoners in secret prisons around the world and said the program would continue because it "has been, and remains, one of the most vital tools in our war against the terrorists."

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Guantanamo commander confirms arrival of 14 key terror suspects

www.chinaview.cn 2006-09-08 05:04:00

WASHINGTON, Sept. 7 (Xinhua) -- The commander of U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on Thursday confirmed arrival of 14 key terror suspects who had been previously held in secret CIA prisons around the world.

Rear Adm. Harry Harris told U.S. media that he personally signed for custody of the 14 when they arrived from an undisclosed location Monday and the suspects appeared to be in good health.
The confirmation came one day after U.S. President George W. Bush announced that he had ordered the 14 suspects, including 9/11 terror attack mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, transferred from secret CIA custody to Guantanamo.

It was also his first public acknowledgment of such secret prisons.

Harris said after arrival, the 14 received physical and dental checks before being sent to confinement.

"They are being provided the same dietary and cultural amenities that are afforded to all other detainees," he added.

Harris said the 14 suspects will be allowed "at the appropriate time" to meet with representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross, noting that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has notified Red Cross about the transfer.

However, the 14 will not be allowed access to lawyers until and unless they are charged with crimes, he said.

At present, there is a total of 455 detainees at Guantanamo, mostly terror suspects captured in Afghan war in 2001.

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U.S. hands over command of Iraqi forces to gov't

www.chinaview.cn 2006-09-07 21:56:11

BAGHDAD, Sept. 7 (Xinhua) -- U.S.-led coalition forces handed over command of Iraqi forces to the government on Thursday in Baghdad, which is seen by U.S. officials as a crucial step toward the withdrawal of coalition troops in Iraq.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki signed an agreement with U.S. commander in Iraq General George Casey in a ceremony to take command of Iraqi naval and air troops and the 8th Iraqi Army Division.

Nine other Iraqi army divisions will be transferred in the coming months in a timetable to be set by the prime minister, U.S. officials said.

In the ceremony, Casey hailed the agreement as "a milestone."

"From today forward, the Iraqi military responsibilities will be increasingly conceived and led by Iraqis," the U.S. general said.

Maliki has said that he expects Iraqi forces to take over security in most of the country's provinces by the end of the year.

However, Iraqi security forces still heavily depend on U.S. troops for logistical support to fight against insurgents and stem sectarian violence.

Analysts said that it was unclear how rapidly the Iraqi troops would be ready to provide security independently.

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August Death Total in Baghdad Morgue Triples

ABC News blog

We took an interesting phone call today from an official at the Baghdad morgue. We get these calls every day - a daily tally of the violence. But this one was particularly sobering.

It turns out the official toll of violent deaths in August was just revised upwards to 1535 from 550, tripling the total. Now, we're depressingly used to hearing about deaths here, so much so that the numbers can be numbing. But this means that a much-publicized drop-off in violence in August - heralded by both the Iraqi government and the US military as a sign that a new security effort in Baghdad was working -- apparently didn't exist.

Operation Together Forward, the main thrust of the new strategy, involves establishing pockets of security in select neighborhoods and then slowly adding more. These latest numbers add substance to fears Together Forward creates a whack-a-mole effect: that is, secure one area and the violence will pop up somewhere else. Violent deaths now appear roughly in line with the earlier trend: 1855 in July and 1595 in June. Officials at the Baghdad morgue have no good explanation for the dramatically revised number. We'll see what the U.S. military has to say.

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Flashback: Who's behind the active death squads running in Iraq?

Steven Harris

Over the past year and a half, a terrifying new development in Iraq has been the discovery of dozens of bodies dumped in rubbish heaps, rivers or abandoned buildings. In most cases, the victims had suffered torture and mutilation before being killed by a single shot to the head. A recent variation of this theme is simply severed heads. A typical news item which did not cause too many headlines around the world was typical on 6th June 2006 - 9 heads found wrapped in plastic bags and left in fruit boxes by the roadside.

These repulsive and revolting images are too much for any news channel to show and the facts of the killing are merely stated, without any analysis of who is behind these killings and why. Anyone with any familiarity with American tactics of counter-insurgency will not be remotely surprised or puzzled by the grisly news coming out of Iraq every day.

During the 1980's the U.S. trained, armed and directed 'death squads' throughout Central and South America. El Salvador, Guatemala, Chile, Nicaragua and Colombia were amongst the countries who suffered the most. The Latin American experience was also following on from the U.S. first known death squads; those in Vietnam. The Vietnamese death squads were given monthly targets by the CIA to kill. The CIA later admitted that the figure was 1,800 per month to be killed by their trained and directed death squads.

Guatemala was the one of the worst to suffer, with 200,000 dead and 40,000 missing till today. The suffering in Guatemala was so great and the U.S. link is so well documented that in 1999, the then President Clinton apologised for the U.S. role. The experience of the so-called "death squads" in Central America remains raw for many even now and helped to sully the image of the United States in the region till this day.

From the time of invasion of Iraq in March 2003 till June 2004, the phenomenon of death squads was unknown to Iraq and the U.S. soldiers were being killed and injured daily by the Iraqi resistance, something the Americans were unprepared for and had not expected. The U.S. response was to send John Negroponte, the former U.S. ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985 - during the worst of death squads operations there, to Baghdad as 'ambassador'.

Negroponte was notorious during his tenure in Honduras for not only failing to admit to existence of death squads there, he was almost universally believed to be directing death squads in both Honduras and Nicaragua.

His appointment as ambassador to Iraq by Bush in June 2004 until April 2005 marked the development and the formation of the now notorious Iraqi death squads. The fact that death squads were to be formed by the U.S. and let loose on the long suffering Iraqi population was so widely known and discussed that the US Newsweek magazine even ran an article speculating about the fact that the U.S. government was seriously considering the option of following the Latin American model of simply killing anyone remotely suspected of being against the U.S. interest.

A U.S. military source was quoted by the American media as saying, "The Sunni population is paying no price for the support it is giving the terrorists. ... From their point of view, it is cost-free. We have to change that equation."

The traumatized populations of Central America could have told the Iraqis of the death squad's methods. People would be kidnapped and tortured by soldiers who wore uniforms by day but used unmarked cars by night to kidnap and kill those hostile to the regime or their suspected sympathizers. Witnesses in Iraq almost always recount that the victims were abducted by people who "came in white police Toyota Land Cruisers, wore police commando uniforms, flak vests and helmets" and were armed with 9mm Glock pistols. Glock side arms are used by many U.S. law enforcement agencies and have been supplied to Iraqi security forces by the U.S. military.

In Iraq, western news services like the BBC and Reuters would only report that people were 'kidnapped by men wearing police uniforms'. Journalists who try and investigate and expose the U.S. direction are themselves then targeted. The killing of journalists seeking to document or expose allegations of state-organised murder has accompanied every dirty war against a civilian population. Since the U.S. occupation of Iraq began, dozens of reporters, cameramen and other media workers have been killed by American-led forces in suspicious circumstances that were never independently investigated.

A typical early example was on June 24 2005, when Yasser Salihee, an Iraqi special correspondent for the news agency Knight Ridder, was killed by a single bullet to the head as he approached a checkpoint that had been thrown up near his home in western Baghdad by U.S. and Iraqi troops. It is believed that the shot was fired by an American sniper.

According to eyewitnesses, no warning shots were fired. Over the past month, Salihee had been gathering evidence that U.S.-backed Iraqi forces have been carrying out extra-judicial killings of alleged members and supporters of the anti-occupation resistance. His investigation followed a feature in the New York Times magazine in May 2005, detailing how the U.S. military had modeled the Iraqi interior ministry police commandos, known as the Wolf Brigade, on the death squads unleashed in the 1980s to crush the left-wing insurgency in El Salvador.

The Wolf Brigade, the most notorious and best known death squad created, was funded and directed by the U.S. A majority of its officers and personnel served in Saddam Hussein's special forces and Republican Guard-veterans of killings, torture and repression. The unit has been used against the resistance in rebellious cities such as Mosul and Samarra, and, over the past year, has played a vital role in allowing U.S. forces a slight distance from having to go and do the killing themselves- although as the most well documented events of Haditha show, the U.S. forces are still massacring Iraqis of all ages themselves. The main U.S. advisor to the Wolf Brigade from the time of its formation until April 2005 was James Steele.

Steele's own biography, states that "he commanded the U.S. military group in El Salvador during the height of the guerilla war" and "was credited with training and equipping what was acknowledged to be the best counter-terrorist force in the region". In a 12-year campaign of murder and repression, the Salvadoran units, trained and advised by people like Steele, killed over 70,000 people.

The daily appearance of men's bodies in the main central Baghdad morgue had "been killed in a methodical fashion" according to the morgue director, Faqir Baqir. "Their hands had been tied or handcuffed behind their backs, their eyes were blindfolded and they appeared to have been tortured. In most cases, the dead men looked as if they'd been whipped with a cord, subjected to electric shocks or beaten with a blunt object and shot to death, often with single bullets to their heads."

In March this year, Mr Baqir was forced to leave Iraq for revealing that over 7,000 victims of the death squads had arrived in his morgue in Baghdad in the previous few months.

The death squads are particularly busy in the last few months with the rise in U.S. military casualties. In Mosul, for example, dozens of men were detained by the commandos in November 2005, as part of a U.S.-led operation to bring the city back under the occupation control. Over the following weeks, more than 150 tortured and executed bodies were found there. In Samarra, dozens of bodies appeared in nearby Lake Thartar in the wake of operations by police commandos in that city. From February till late April 2006, more than 100 bodies were recovered from the Tigris River south of Baghdad-one of the most rebellious areas of the country.

The Iraqi government initially claimed they were villagers who had been kidnapped by "insurgents" in the village of Maidan. This has since been discredited. The victims are from a range of towns and villages, including Kut in the north and Basra in the south. Police in the area told journalists that many of the dead had been "motorists passing through the area when stopped by masked men bearing Kalashnikov rifles at impromptu checkpoints".

Other killings have been discovered in Baquba and the Syrian border town of Qaim in the aftermath of counter-insurgency operations by U.S. forces and their death squads. The death squads have also been busy as in Latin America in the assassination of well over 200 university academics, most of whom were opponents of the U.S. occupation in Iraq. Dozens of bodies have been found over the past two months in Baghdad. The Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS)-the main public Sunni organisation opposed to the occupation-directly accused the Wolf Brigade of having "arrested Imams and the guardians of some mosques, tortured and killed them, and then got rid of their bodies in a garbage dump in Shaab district" of Baghdad.

George Bush has declared his administration was working with the Iraqi interior and defence ministries to "improve their capabilities to coordinate anti-terrorist operations" and "develop their command and control structures". The evidence points clearly that the U.S. is paying and equipping killers to terrorize, torture and murder Iraqis who are believed to have links to the popular resistance, which an unnamed U.S. analyst estimated for Newsweek had "as many as 400,000 auxiliaries and support personnel". The war in Iraq has already seriously undermined U.S. standing in the Middle East and around the world.

Images of U.S. soldiers sexually abusing Iraqi prisoners, putting bags over the heads of captives and shooting a wounded "insurgent" have blackened America's image everywhere and made cooperation with the United States increasingly difficult even in countries long considered American allies.

A dirty war conducted by the U.S which pits against one ethnic group will make civil war more likely, which was always a medium-term U.S. goal as it allows it to follow the classic imperial tactic of 'divide and rule'. The very existence of the Wolf Brigade and other death squads underscores the criminality of the U.S. occupation and the utter fraud of the Bush administration claims of bringing "liberation" and "democracy" to Iraq.

Amongst the current U.S. officials who played key roles in Central America, Elliott Abrams, who oversaw Central American policies at the State Department and who is now a Middle East adviser on Bush's National Security Council staff, and Vice President Dick Cheney, who was a powerful defender of the Central American policies whilst a member of the House of Representatives.

And what about the man sent by Bush to set up the death squads, Negroponte? He is now Director of National Intelligence - a body set in 2004 as the senior most body to oversee all the different U.S. intelligence agencies; including the CIA.

Negroponte's deputy, General Hayden, has just been appointed to head the CIA. No-one in Iraq should expect any accountability or justice for Negroponte, the CIA or their death squads any time soon. As for Iraq, traumatized by wars and sanctions, death squads are merely the latest horrific trauma to be inflicted on them by the U.S.

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U.S. force in Iraq now 145,000, highest since December

Associated Press
September 07, 2006

The number of U.S. troops in Iraq rose to 145,000 this week, the highest since December and 15,000 more than a month ago.
Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. Todd Vician said Thursday the increase is temporary, and that it owes to a routine rotation of forces - that is, a bump in numbers. Such a shift lasts for a matter of weeks, he said, as replacement troops arrive and overlap with troops ending their tours and preparing to leave.

The number stood at about 130,000 in the final days of July, when Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld temporarily extended the tours of some 3,500 Americans in effort to stem escalating sectarian violence in the capital city of Baghdad.

Vician said there are no indications that officials are planning more extensions.

Amid declining American public support for the war and growing calls from Congress for a phase troop withdrawal, Rumsfeld and Army Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, have repeatedly said that reduction in troops there depends on training Iraqi forces to take control of their country's security as well as political progress toward a stable, functioning government.

Officials earlier had hoped to reduce forces to around 100,000 by the end of this year.

Vician said the troop level was last around 145,000 last December, when extra security was deployed for the Iraqi elections.

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Music Preview: Crosy, Stills, Nash & Young are on the road with songs of protest

By Scott Mervis
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Thursday, September 07, 2006

By Graham Nash's estimation, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young is losing about 1 percent to 2 percent of its audience each night on the Songs of Freedom '06 Tour.

These aren't people who are due back at the retirement home or getting text mail from the baby sitter. They're folks who apparently come to see the legendary hippie quartet on the basis of nice songs like "Teach Your Children" and "Our House," perhaps unaware of the more scathing protest songs like "Ohio" and "Military Madness."

This time around, Neil Young has raised the stakes even further. His latest solo record, the hastily recorded "Living With War," is a broadside against the Bush administration with the remarkably unsubtle sing-along "Let's Impeach the President."
The song is being played on tour to a photo montage of dead soldiers, flag-draped caskets and images of President George W. Bush. Reviews of the tour indicate a smattering of boos, early exits and the occasional shout of "Support the troops!"

Nash, 64, acknowledges some backlash from the fans, saying "mainly in Atlanta -- it's to be expected, it's the South."

With regard to the booing, there is a degree of ambiguity. "They started booing only when the image of George Bush came on the video screen behind us," Nash says. "There's a certain case to be made they were booing the image of George Bush. They weren't booing at the beginning of the song. We know this is America and not everybody has to agree with us."

From the beginning, there was an air of free-spirited defiance to CSN that was as noticeable as the harmonies. The trio's self-titled debut in 1969 was largely built around love songs like "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" and "Guinnevere," but it also included the harmonious anti-war song "Wooden Ships" and "Long Time Gone," an impassioned song of frustration that David Crosby wrote on the night of Robert Kennedy's assassination that has him pleading "speak out against the madness."

Looking for some extra punch, Crosby, Nash and Stephen Stills recruited Young for the second album, "Deja Vu," in 1970, but his biggest contribution would come just after that release. Upon Crosby's urging, Young wrote "Ohio" in response to the National Guard shootings at Kent State in May of 1970, and the foursome had the single ready for the airwaves a week later.

It was the last song they would work on together until 1988, when they reunited for the coolly received second album, "American Dream," followed by 2000's "Looking Forward."

All along, Young has remained a mercurial figure in the political arena. In the '80s, he surprised everyone by throwing his support behind Reagan, hardly a popular figure among his rock peers. Then, in 1989, he turned around and attacked Bush Sr. with "Rockin' in the Free World," throwing the president's slogans back at him: "We got a thousand points of light, for the homeless man/We got a kinder, gentler machine-gun head."

Shortly after 9/11, Young banged out "Let's Roll," a song honoring the brave souls aboard Flight 93 that some perceived as being a battle cry a la Toby Keith.

Young didn't leave any gray area on "Living With War," which has him singing, "Let's impeach the president for lying/And misleading our country into war/Abusing all the power that we gave him/And shipping all our money out the door."

The 60-year-old Young told the Los Angeles Times that he didn't think he would have to be the one to step forward. "I was waiting for someone to come along, some young singer 18 to 22 years old, to write these songs and stand up," said Young, who must not have heard Anti-Flag or NOFX. "I waited a long time. Then, I decided that maybe the generation that has to do this is still the '60s generation. We're still here."

And that goes for CSN as well. Nash acknowledged in a previous interview that Young, who has had the most successful solo career by far, can pretty much pick up the phone and get the other three out onto the road. This time, it was all centered around Young's new record, which is played almost in its entirety during the three-plus hour set.

"We always wanted to go out and play and we always wanted to have a focus, something to say, not sing a bunch of hits," Nash says. "So we were talking about it and then Neil, within two weeks of starting a creative process and handing in a tape to the record company, wrote this great record, 'Living With War.' He played for it for me, David and Stephen, and we wanted to sing those songs with him and help him communicate what he wanted to do."

Although it's not a Crazy Horse production, "Living With War" has the sludgy feel of Young's famed garage band. Why was he thinking CSN?

"I think he's smart enough to realize," Nash says, "that the power of the four of us speaking with one voice is louder than one of us."

When he heard it, Nash says, "I loved Neil's record. It's pure Neil Young. Very poignant. Very melodic. I can't get the songs out of my head myself."

The quartet decided that the show would be built around its more politically charged material. There are several departures at the beginning of the second set, like "Helplessly Hoping" and "Our House," but the bulk of it deals with war and peace.

"A lot of people are saying, 'Aren't you just preaching to the choir?' And it's possible we are preaching to the choir. But what we want is the choir to get off their [behind] and do something. It's one thing to know what's going on and another to do something about it.

"If they're not getting it from the music, they can get it from the tables of information. We have 20 tables of information of things the public can do, everything from political -- call your senators, call your congressmen, here's all the numbers, la la la -- to environmental concerns, to Vietnam Vets Against Iraq."

CSNY is carrying out this campaign against the current administration in an atmosphere that's very different than the one in the late '60s. In recent years, we've seen the Dixie Chicks banished by the country sector for speaking out against the president. Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, rapper Kanye West and even Bruce Springsteen come under fire for jumping into the political arena.

In the days after 9/11, there were reports that Clear Channel was cleansing its playlists of anything that smacked of being anti-patriotic, and, although Green Day eventually slipped through with "American Idiot," the airwaves these days aren't brimming with protest music.

Nash regrets that protest songs are not delivered to the people like they were when the hippies were speaking out against Nixon and Vietnam.

"What's happened is the world's media is owned by a handful of people and they're all right-wing and they're very conservative and they don't want protest music on their radio stations and their television stations and their billboards. It's out there. Look at Pink, look at the Dixie Chicks. It's out there and it's not being played and it's deliberately not being played. They don't want to wake up the sheep. We're out here with large bells and gongs trying to wake up the sheep. The most patriotic thing you can do is criticize the government when you don't believe it's acting correctly. It's what this country is built on."

During the conversation, he bristles at the term "political" to describe the music.

"It all depends on what you call political. When you shoot four students down at Kent State, was that political or was that human? When you bind and chain and gag a man like they did with Bobby Seale in the Chicago Seven trial, was that political or was that human? When I'm screaming about 'military madness is killing my country,' is it political or human? We're not a political band, man, we're [expletive] human beings. It's all our life. It's all which way are we pointing today, what's making us laugh, what's making us cry."

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Misunderstanding Nature

An Ice-Free Arctic... Happening Before Our Eyes

ABC News
Sept. 6, 2006

Now You Can Watch, Too, at a New 'Blow-by-Blow' Site

Summer at the North Pole may be gorgeous, but the news from there is devastating again this year.

"The land of the polar bear" - where in fact there is no land, only frozen sea surface - is melting.

America's "summer air conditioner" - the vast fields of sea ice that constantly rotate around the North Pole and feed cooling winds that sweep down to the lower 48 - is continuing to shrink back this summer.

It is the effect of global warming occurring far faster than scientists predicted just a few years ago.
The refreezing of sea ice during the long, dark polar night of winter is also reportedly declining sharply.

Scientists believe this is all due not only to higher average temperatures of the air but also to the water, contributing to an Arctic that could be ice-free in summer far sooner than predicted only a year ago.

"It's continuing the pattern of extreme sea-ice loss," Mark Serreze of the National Snow and Ice Data Center said to ABC News. "What we're seeing in 2006 is way below the average ice extent over the 20 years ending in 2000."

There are still three weeks to go before the Arctic's "summer sea ice minimum," and already experts at the data center can see the bad news - and you can, too, at "Figure 2" when you click here.

That light-blue line snaking down and hugging the dotted line? It's bad news.

It shows the 2006 summer melt back of sea ice virtually as great as that in the summer of 2005 - which all means major changes under way for life, natural and human - in the Arctic, the United States and worldwide.

The public is getting smarter and smarter about the importance of sea-ice loss, Serreze says.

The arcane craft he and his colleagues practice in the academic quiet of their labs and computer rooms is no longer quite so lonely.

All sorts of people now call up wanting to know what's up with Arctic melt back.

"That's why we created this new blow-by-blow site," Serreze said. "People can watch along with us" as each warming Arctic month shatters ever more sea ice - and often records as well.

Bad News Bears

It's also more bad news for the world's polar bears, as confirmed in a new article in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Arctic.

Claire Parkinson, a NASA ice expert and author, told ABC News about new satellite data that show "the date at which the sea ice breaks up each summer, forcing polar bears back onto land, has been coming seven [days] or eight days earlier each decade" in Canadian Arctic regions she studies.

Polar bears - Latin name Ursus maritimus or "Sea Bear" - get virtually all their food, principally seals, on the sea ice.

The scientists say global warming means that summer melt backs are now dumping polar bears on land three weeks earlier each summer than in the mid-'70s, which means more hungry bears on land and more trouble for humans.

The Holy Grail - 'What We Really Need to Know'

"But sea-ice volume is what we really need to know," Serreze said.

"It's the Holy Grail" for sea-ice experts, he says, adding that the news here is probably worse than any we've heard about sea-ice extent.

News from NASA that Arctic summer sea ice melted back 30 percent in the last 30 years - and could well be gone completely by about the year 2070 - made headlines in the summer of 2005.

But those findings measured only the loss of surface area, not the thickness - thus the volume - of the ice.

Satellites are close to being able to measure ice thickness accurately, Serreze said.

New techniques are closing in on how to measure the amount of ice "freeboard" floating above the surface, which with a little fancy math can tell scientists the volume of the ice.

The world's first nuclear submarine, the USS Nautilus, made the first submarine sonar measurements of Arctic sea-ice thickness in 1958.

"In the early '60s, they found thicknesses in the North Pole region of about 3½ meters [about 11 feet], and then in the late '80s and early '90s it was down to about 2½ meters [7 feet or 8 feet,]" Serreze said to ABC News.

"They needed that info back then for two reasons. First, to know where they could surface in an emergency. Second, to know where they could surface if there was a 'boomer' and they needed to fire off some missiles."

A third reason now adds great value to those ice-thickness measurements from Cold War submarines - the accelerating advance of global warming.

Both U.S. and former Soviet Union ice-thickness measurements have been declassified and are available to the world's ice experts.

Serreze says that a number of his colleagues are now working on Arctic summer sea-ice thickness, and that their findings so far show massive volume loss over the last 30 years.

Serreze cites work by Wieslaw Maslowski of the U.S. Navy Post Graduate School in Monterey, Calif., that strongly suggests it's not only Earth's warming atmosphere that is melting the Arctic ice from above.

"Wieslaw is saying it's also the warming sea currents melting the sea ice from below. He's been arguing that 2070 is way too far out in the future - way too conservative. I suspect he may be right," Serreze said.

Both these reporters walking out on the Arctic sea ice last summer in the company of scientists and Coast Guard officers of the Ice Breaker USCG Healy, were, as Arctic first timers, naturally worried about walking on thin ice a mile and a half above the sea floor.

"How thick? Is it safe?" we asked several times, stepping from small landing craft onto the beautiful white and blue undulating planes of ice reaching to the horizon.

We always got answers something like: "It's still OK - it's about four feet thick. It used to be eight feet thick, but now it's about four in most places."

Coasties and scientists are watching that thickness ever more closely now as they step off their landing boats, racing to gather what knowledge they can of this largely unknown and breathtakingly beautiful environment that is now melting away fast.

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Captain Kirk reveals he won't go boldly into space

Daily Mail
6th September 2006

As Captain Kirk he vowed to boldly go where no man had gone before, but away from the TV screen actor William Shatner is a little less adventurous - reportedly turning down a real-life space flight because he was too scared.

The Star Trek legend was offered a ticket by Richard Branson onboard Virgin Galactic's first passenger flight in 2008. But Shatner, fearing he would be ill in space or the starship would crash, ironically revealed he's terrified of space travel.

The 75-year-old actor said: "I'm interested in man's march into the unknown but to vomit in space is not my idea of a good time. Neither is a fiery crash with the vomit hovering over me."
Onboard the Starship Enterprise, sci-fi fans saw Shatner freely 'explore the final frontier, seeking out new life and strange new worlds' in 79 episodes of the 40-year-old TV series.

However, apart from the Virgin craft being called Enterprise in tribute to the intrepid show, the similarities end there for Shatner as he insists getting him into space will cost Vigin boss Branston a lot more than just a free £114,000 ticket.

He added: "I do want to go up but I need guarantees I'll definitely come back."

But other celebrities like Alien's Sigourney Weaver are a little more enthusiastic about space travel. She has already booked her place on the two-and-a-half hour flight.

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Scientists reveal why Earth's auroras shine

www.chinaview.cn 2006-09-08 11:03:14

BEIJING, Sept. 8 (Xinhua) -- Chinese space scientists, working with American and European colleagues, have revealed the origin of the brilliant auroras - often referred to as "northern lights" or "southern lights" - seen at night.

Cao Jinbin, a researcher with the Center for Space and Applied Research under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who was closely involved in the research, said that people previously believed auroras were caused by solar winds.

Using data collected from four satellites, scientists were able to overturn this view.

"We have found that auroras caused by solar winds are very weak and can scarcely be seen with the naked eye. The splendid and colorful auroras we see are actually caused by magnetic substorms," Cao said.
By studying the data collected by the Cluster satellites of European Space Agency (ESA), scientists found that high-speed flows of electrified gas, known as bursty bulk flows (BBFs), are generated by magnetic substorms.

Auroras are caused mostly by energetic BBFs spiraling down Earth's magnetic field lines and colliding with atmospheric atoms at about 100 kilometers altitude.

"When magnetic substorms occur, BBFs strike our atmosphere, making auroras shine," Cao explained.

BBFs contain electrons and other charged particles such as protons coming from the magnetotail, a region of space on the night-side of Earth where the sun's particle winds push Earth's magnetic field into a long tail, said the scientist.

At the tail's center is a denser region known as the plasmasheet. Violent changes of the plasmasheet are known as magnetic substorms. They last up to a couple of hours and somehow hurl electrons and protons earthward, Cao said.

Scientists were able to discover how the process works by using the four Cluster spacecraft, nicknamed Rumba, Samba, Salsa and Tango, launched in 2000.

The four spacecraft, all carrying identical instruments, flew through Earth's magnetosphere, or the region where the planet's magnetic field is dominant.

Cao became one of several Chinese co-researchers of the ESA's Cluster mission in 1996. His paper about magnetic substorms has been published in the authoritative science magazine, Journal of Geophysical Research.

Another key finding is that the average duration of a BBF is longer than previously thought, said Cao.

"The multiple spacecraft data offered by Cluster revealed more about Earth's magnetic environment than data collected by a single spacecraft," Cao said.

Apart from creating beautiful light shows, substorms also excite Earth's ionosphere, disturbing the reception of GPS signals and communications between Earth and orbiting satellites, said the scientist.

Clarifying the origin of Earth's aurora phenomena will help human beings understand weather in space, which is a key factor in ensuring the safety of space probe missions and astronauts, said Pu Zuyin, a professor at the School of Earth and Space Sciences at Beijing University.

According to Cao, the research team's next task is to build an aurora monitoring system, capable of forecasting and analyzing aurora movements.

The colorful auroras regularly light the higher latitudes in the northern and southern hemisphere. In China, people can see it only in the city of Mohe in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province.

But the history of aurora observation in China can be dated back more than 2,000 years.

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Study: Vegetable patients capable of understanding, responding

www.chinaview.cn 2006-09-08 13:54:59

BEIJING, Sept. 8 (Xinhuanet) -- A 23-year-old woman who sustained a severe brain injury in a car accident in July 2005 and left in a vegetative state, is capable of understanding and responding to certain commands, according to the journal Science on Friday.

The woman lying unresponsive in her hospital bed could understand people talking to her and was able to imagine playing tennis or walking around her home, recorded by a brain scanner, in response to a request from the researchers.

It is the first time scientists have found a way to show preserved conscious awareness in a patient diagnosed as vegetative. If the findings are confirmed, this could force a reassessment of attitudes to patients in a vegetative state who have been thought to be unaware of their surroundings.

The researchers said in Science: "Her decision to co-operate... represents a clear act of intention which confirmed beyond any doubt that she was consciously aware of herself and her surroundings."

The discovery has astounded neuroscientists who believe it could have dramatic implications for life and death decisions over other patients diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state (PVS).

Last year, an intense legal battle over the life of Terri Schiavo, a woman diagnosed as PVS, was brought to an end when US courts upheld the decision to remove her feeding tube in March. She died 13 days later in a Florida care home.

"This is extremely important. It's the difference between life and death. From cases in the UK and the U.S., we know that end-of-life decisions are of course extremely important and this will definitely change the way we deal with these patients. When you have signs of consciousness, you cannot decide to stop hydration and nutrition," said Steven Laureys, a neurologist at the University of Liege and co-author of the study.

But Paul Matthews, professor of neurology at the University of Oxford, challenged the claims: "When patients are in a vegetative state they can react to stimuli but not in a truly meaningful way. Contrary to the claim of the authors, the observations do not establish either that the patient made a 'decision to co-operate' or that she had self-awareness. Response to stimuli does not provide evidence of a decision to respond."

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Giant machine set to probe secrets of the universe


Deep underground on the Franco-Swiss border someone will throw a switch next year to start one of the most ambitious experiments in history, probing the secrets of the universe and possibly finding new dimensions.

The Large Hadron Collider -- a 27-kilometer long circular particle accelerator -- at the CERN experimental facility near Geneva will smash protons into each other at unimaginable speeds trying to replicate in miniature the events of the Big Bang.

"These beams will have the kinetic energy of an aircraft carrier slammed into the size of a zero on a 20 pence piece," Brian Cox of Manchester University told the annual meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.

"We are going to make mini Big Bangs. There has never been such a jump in particle physics. It will go into an area that we don't really understand," he added.

The fundamental goal of the massive machine is to answer the basic but crucial question of how matter was created at the birth of the universe.
"We don't know what 95 percent of the universe is made of -- which is a bit embarrassing for a subject that claims to be fundamental," Cox said. "There is Dark Matter. It is all over the place but we have no idea what it is."


"There is also something called Dark Energy, and that is an even bigger question. It makes up about 70 percent of the energy in the universe but again we have absolutely no idea what it is.

"It is an incredibly exciting machine. It will be turned on next year and run for at least a decade and probably 20 years and the first results -- if the machine behaves itself -- should start coming out within a year," he added.

If the theories are correct, the machine will create tiny Black Holes that evaporate and possibly even find particles that offer evidence that the three dimensions known to mankind are just a fraction of those that actually exist.

"That would be an even bigger headline than the Black Holes. It could be that there is a whole new universe a millimeter away from our heads but at right-angles to the three dimensions that are here," Cox said.

"That would be a real paradigm shift -- our relegation to a little sheet in a multi-dimensional universe. That kind of thing is really profound and will capture the imagination that perhaps the origin of mass won't, although it should.

"For the first time in many decades we have built a machine that exceeds our powers of prediction. New processes are bound to be discovered," he added. "We are truly journeying into unknown territory."

Cox dismissed worries that by adventuring into the unknown and creating tiny Black Holes, the machine could even threaten to destroy the planet.

"The probability is at the level of 10 to the minus 40," he said.

Comment by Ark: Notice this: "We are going to make mini Big Bangs. There has never been such a jump in particle physics. It will go into an area that we don't really understand"!!! Does that make you feel nice and safe? It sounds like these scientists are saying that they understand other areas, which do not need that much money. But that is not the case. They do not even understand quantum theory - as Feynman has once noticed! Notice also the evident contradiction between: a) "We are going to make mini Big Bangs. There has never been such a jump in particle physics. It will go into an area that we don't really understand," and b) Cox dismissed worries that by adventuring into the unknown and creating tiny Black Holes, the machine could even threaten to destroy the planet. "The probability is at the level of 10 to the minus 40," he said. Now if this is an area they "do not really understand", how can they assess probabilities about whether or not they will destroy the planet other than by simply GUESSING???

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Feel Safe Yet?

Poll: Many Americans Feel Less Safe

CBS News
Sept. 6, 2006

NEW YORK - By a four-to-one margin (48 percent to 12 percent), Americans think the war in Iraq has made the threat of terrorism against the United States worse rather than better.

Fifty-four percent of Americans say they generally feel safe, but 46 percent say they feel somewhat uneasy or in danger.

Compared with five years ago, 39 percent of Americans say they feel less safe now, compared with only 14 percent who say they feel safer. Forty-six percent say they feel the same.

More also say the threat of terrorism has grown since 9/11 than said so a year ago. Forty-one percent say the threat has increased since the attacks, an 11 percent jump from last year. Just 14 percent say the threat has decreased, while 43 percent say the threat has not changed.
How safe do you feel compared to five years ago?

More Safe

Less Safe


Also, by a four-to-one margin (48 percent to 12 percent), Americans think the war in Iraq has made the threat of terrorism against the United States worse rather than better.

Five years after 9/11, most Americans say life has returned to the way it was before the attacks, at least in part. However, some behavior has changed: One in four Americans say they are less likely to fly now, and one in five are less likely to attend large events with thousands of people.

Has life in America returned to what it was before the 9/11 attacks?

Mostly Returned

Somewhat Returned

Has Not Returned

Nearly one in four people say they still feel nervous and edgy. Women are more likely than men to say their behavior has been affected.

Both the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan are viewed as having created breeding grounds for terrorists. Fifty-four percent say the wars have created more terrorists, while just 15 percent say they've eliminated terrorists.

There's also increased pessimism about the overall war on terrorism, with 21 percent - the highest number ever - saying the terrorists are winning. Thirty-six percent say the United States is winning and 38 percent say neither side is winning.

Fewer than half of Americans are confident the United States will capture Osama bin Laden, the man believed responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

Still, a majority of Americans, 55 percent, say they approve of how President Bush is handling the war on terror - his highest rating in more than a year, but a sharp decrease from December 2001, when 90 percent approved.

About half of those polled say Bush administration policies have made America safer, but one in four say they've made the United States less safe. A similar number say they've had no effect.

One explanation for that skepticism may be that nearly half of Americans don't think terrorism is a problem a president can do much about.

Americans are split on how prepared the United States is to deal with another terrorist attack: 49 percent think the country is prepared, 43 percent think it is not. Americans are especially worried about a potential biological or chemical attack - 73 percent say the United States is not prepared for that.

The number of Americans who say another attack on the United States is likely has dropped to 59 percent, down from a high of 78 percent in the weeks after 9/11. People in the Northeast, where the attacks on the World Trade Center occurred, are the most concerned that their area will be targeted, while those in the Midwest are the least concerned.

Nearly six in 10 say the government has not done all it could to make the country safe from future attacks.

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Democrats urge ABC to withdraw 9/11 movie

By Richard Cowan and Thomas Ferraro
Sep 7, 2006

WASHINGTON - Amid an election-year debate over who can best defend America, U.S. congressional Democrats urged ABC on Thursday to cancel a TV miniseries about the September 11 attacks that is critical of former Democratic President Bill Clinton and his top aides.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada denounced the five-hour television movie, set to air in two parts on Sunday and Monday nights, as "a work of fiction."

Reid and other leading Senate Democrats wrote to Robert Iger, president and CEO of ABC's corporate parent, the Walt Disney Co., urging him to "cancel this factually inaccurate and deeply misguided program."
Chronicling events leading to the September 11 attacks, the movie suggests the Clinton administration was too distracted by the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal to deal properly with the gathering threat posed by Islamic militants.

The furor comes as Democrats and Republicans jockey for political position in advance of the November 7 congressional elections over who can best secure the United States from another attack.

Democrats have chided Republicans for failing to implement security recommendations by the 9/11 commission, and Republicans have portrayed Democrats as soft on terrorism.

In recent days, former members of the Clinton administration also lodged complaints with Iger, urging ABC and Disney to fix or eliminate what they called errors and fabrications.

ABC issued a statement saying the production, "The Path to 9/11," was still being edited and that criticism of the film's specifics were thus "premature and irresponsible."


Executive Producer Marc Platt acknowledged that "there is dramatic license taken" in the docudrama to "render the program effective and accessible for viewers."

"But we do try within the boundaries of what is fair and reasonable to communicate the essence of what occurred (and) the intentions of those individuals involved," he told Reuters in a telephone interview from London. "We have no intention or desire to be political, to intentionally distort."

Platt also said one scene singled out for criticism by Democrats -- depicting CIA operatives and Afghan fighters coming close to capturing Osama bin Laden in the 1990s, only for then-national security advisor Samuel Berger to refuse authorization of the mission -- was a "conflation of events."

Berger said in a letter to Iger earlier this week that "no such episode ever occurred, nor did anything like it."

The September 11 attacks occurred about eight months after Clinton turned over the presidency in January 2001 to Republican George W. Bush.

For several years, Democrats have complained the Bush administration failed to capture or kill bin Laden when he reportedly was cornered in Afghanistan's Tora Bora region in late 2001. They also argue the war in Iraq later took away resources for tracking down bin Laden.

ABC said its movie was not a documentary but a dramatization drawn from the official 9/11 commission report, personal interviews and other materials.

"As such, for dramatic and narrative purposes, the film contains fictionalized scenes, composite and representative characters and dialogue and time compression," ABC said.

Former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean, a Republican who chaired the 9/11 commission and served as a consultant for the ABC miniseries, defended the production as politically balanced.

"People in both parties didn't particularly like the commission report, and I think people in both parties aren't going to love this one," he said.

The cast of the film includes Harvey Keitel as an FBI agent and expert on Islamic militants, Donnie Wahlberg as a covert CIA operative, Amy Madigan as a high-ranking CIA analyst, Patricia Heaton as a U.S. diplomat and Stephen Root as White House counter-terrorism advisor Richard Clarke.

"The Path to 9/11" is not the first historical TV drama to draw a partisan outcry. CBS canceled a miniseries about Ronald and Nancy Reagan after Republicans complained that it unfairly and inaccurately portrayed the former president. "The Reagans" ended up airing on sibling cable channel Showtime.

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New poll says most Canadians blame U.S. for 9/11 attacks

Thu Sep 7, 2006

A majority of Canadians believe U.S. foreign policy was one of the root causes that led to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, and Quebecers are quicker to criticize the U.S. administration for its international actions than other Canadians, a recent poll suggests.

Those conclusions are found in a newly released poll conducted by Léger Marketing for the Association for Canadian Studies.

The poll suggests that 77 per cent of Quebecers polled primarily blame American foreign policy for the Sept. 11 attacks. The results suggest 57 per cent in Ontario hold a similar view.
When participants were given the option of choosing more than one cause for the attacks, two-thirds blamed Islamic fundamentalists and their anti-Western views, while a third pointed the finger at Israel and its position in the Middle East.

Canadian opinions have hardened against the United States and its role on the world stage, said Jack Jedwab, executive director of the Association for Canadian Studies. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have contributed to a change of heart among people, he said.

But Canadians are divided on whether their government should pay more attention to issues fuelling extremist organizations in the Middle East, he said.

"There are a lot of people who think we should be listening closely [to extremist groups] and that there is an opportunity to dialogue with these sort of groups," said Jedwab Wednesday. "So it is showing a real ideological divide on some of these issues."

There's a growing need since the Sept. 11 attacks for balanced public education about terrorism, added Jedwab. "There is a tendency to see in these movements something more romantic than actually exists. That's something we need to keep debating in the country."

Léger Marketing interviewed 1,508 Canadian adults from Aug. 22 to Aug. 27. The poll results are considered accurate within 2.5 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

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False Flag Operations: Declassified Military Documents Show How US Government Planned Terrorist Attacks Against its Own Citizens

Yahoo News
September 7th, 2006

New York, NY - As reported by ABC News, stunning military documents codenamed "Operation Northwoods" were declassified in recent years and show how in 1962, the top US military leaders planned an operation to create terror attacks against its own cities and kill US citizens. See: http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=92662&page=1

The documents state that through the fabrication of false evidence, the US would blame Cuba and gain public support for an unpopular war against Castro. They included developing a fake Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, the use of airplanes, and much more.

For further details, the now declassified military documents are available at the National Security Archive of the George Washington University: http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/news/20010430/

In his newly published book "Towers of Deception - The Media Cover-Up of 9/11," Barrie Zwicker, writes about Operation Northwoods and many other such operations that the military and intelligence community refer to as "false flag operations." http://www.newsociety.com/bookid/3932
Zwicker is a lifelong journalist who was a media critic for 35 years and who often appeared on Canadian national TV and radio.

His book explains that these covert operations are designed to appear as if they are being carried out by other entities, such as other countries or terrorist groups, to help demonize them and justify wars for geopolitical reasons and for financial gains.

The term "false flag" is derived from the naval warfare concept of flying false colors; that is, flying the flag of a country other than one's own.

The ABC News article dated May 1, 2001 explains that Operation Northwoods was approved and signed by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Eisenhower appointee Army General Lyman L. Lemnitzer, and was presented to Kennedy's Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara on March 13, 1962.

A year earlier, President Eisenhower, apparently aware of such dangers, had warned the nation during his January 17, 1961 farewell address:

"In the counsels of Government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the Military Industrial Complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together." http://www.eisenhower.archives.gov/farewell.htm

General Lemnitzer, the Eisenhower appointee and highest ranking officer of the US military in 1962, recommended that Operation Northwoods be run by the military. It was signed and approved by all of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the panel comprising the highest-ranking members of each major branch of the Armed Forces.

As per the ABC News article, the only reason why Operation Northwoods did not materialize in 1962 was because it was apparently turned down by President John F. Kennedy.

By law, the President of the United States is the commander in chief. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Army, the Marine Corps, the Navy, the Air Force and the Coast Guard, are all under his command.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff website explains that based on the Goldwater-Nichols DOD Reorganization Act of 1986, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is today the principal military adviser to the President but doesn't exercise military command over any combatant forces. http://www.jcs.mil/#

The ABC News article quotes author of "Body of Secrets - Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency," James Bamford, a former Washington Investigative Producer for ABC's World News Tonight. He says that if such war plans against American cities were put into operation, it would have amounted to treason.

Article III, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution states: "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them..." http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constitution.articleiii.html

Bamford goes on to say that around that time, "the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee published its own report on right-wing extremism in the military, warning a 'considerable danger' in the 'education and propaganda activities of military personnel' had been uncovered. The committee even called for an examination of any ties between Lemnitzer and right-wing groups. But Congress didn't get wind of Northwoods..."

Media critic Zwicker says that today, Congress and journalists have access to the declassified documents of Operation Northwoods and that the media must indeed reflect on Eisenhower's warning of vigilance and be willing to learn and investigate more, publish more and broadcast more information about false flag operations to help prevent such acts of treason from being committed in the future.

In his controversial book critical of both the 9/11 "official story" and the media coverage of the events, Zwicker goes through the history of false flag operations dating back to the 1600s, and among many examples, cites the February 27th,1933 fire of the German Parliament (Reichstag fire) three days prior to Germany's federal election.

Historians later documented that the fire had been authorized by right-wing Nazis where Hitler used the event to declare a state of emergency and pressured the German President, Hindenburg, to sign a decree abolishing most of the human rights provisions of the Constitution.

Recently, on August 29th 2006, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld recounted what he called "the lessons of history," including the failed efforts to appease the right-wing Adolf Hitler regime of the 1930s.

"I recount this history because once again we face the same kind of challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism," said Rumsfeld.

As a senior media critic, Zwicker strongly recommends that all media people indeed follow Rumsfeld's suggestions in learning the lessons of Nazi history. He points to researching Hitler's rise to power and how he created a fascist state where there was suppression of the opposition through secrecy, terror, torture and censorship, all justified under nationalism and patriotism.

He also believes that journalists should research and publish more about how Hitler's Nazis manipulated the German population into wars, using psychological manipulation and behavior modification by inducing trauma and fear in others, a process of trauma-based mind control referred to in the now declassified
CIA files of "MK ULTRA." To order declassified MK ULTRA documents from the CIA, go to: http://www.wanttoknow.info/mindcontrol10pg#ciadocs

Zwicker believes that the media must investigate and report on whether these fear-based psychological manipulation techniques have been or are being put into application by US leaders in our post 9/11 world, as they appear to be. 9/11 caused much trauma and fear.

Concerned with the direction that the US has headed since 9/11, Dr. Robert M. Bowman, referring to the Bush / Cheney administration during a radio interview, said: "I think there's been nothing closer to fascism than what we've seen lately from this government." http://www.govinfo.bnet-newmedia.co.uk/opinions_Articles.php?IDVal=50

Bowman is a retired United States Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, a recipient of the Eisenhower Medal, a former head of the US "Star Wars" space weapons program during the Reagan administration and one of America's foremost experts on National Security.

He commented about the Patriot Act as having, "Done more to destroy the rights of Americans than all of our enemies combined."

Bowman is part of a group of notable experts called the "Scholars For 9/11 Truth" made up of professors, engineers, former intelligence and military personnel, journalists, attorneys and many other professionals who say that the 9/11 attacks raise a red flag because they have many elements of false flag operations, such as a "stand-down" of the military defense on that day, one that must be questioned.

The group, made up of several dozen scholars, believes that the media must no longer ignore the fact that a growing number of them are calling for truly independent investigations into 9/11, including investigations to look into the evidence that points towards a possible false flag operation.

For more information about the evidence that the group claims raise serious new questions, readers can visit their website: http://www.scholarsfor911truth.org/

The group's call for a truly independent 9/11 investigation appears to resonate with a growing number of mainstream Americans.

A May 2006 Zogby poll of 1,200 adults nationwide found that 45% of those surveyed said that Congress or an International Tribunal should re-investigate the attacks, including whether any US government officials consciously allowed or helped facilitate their success.

Part of the popularity of this growing awareness may be due in part to the millions of people who have viewed one of the most watched online videos of all time, called "Loose Change," which addresses false flag operations and raises serious new questions about the official government 9/11 story. See: http://www.loosechange911.com/

The Zogby poll also showed that more than 42 percent believe that the government and the 9/11 Commission concealed or refused to investigate critical evidence that contradicts their official explanation of the September 11th attacks.

To view a detailed copy of the Zogby poll report, visit: http://www.911truth.org/images/911TruthZogbyPollFinalReport.htm

The mainstream American public has not been alone in their frustration from lack of answers about the official 9/11 story. Addressing the White House commissioned 9/11 investigation, a September 1st, 2006 Associated Press article states that:

"The Sept. 11 commission's chairmen, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, said in their recently published book that the commission found it mind-boggling that authorities claimed that their air defenses had reacted quickly. In the book, 'Without Precedent,' Kean and Hamilton said the panel was so frustrated with repeated misstatements by the
Pentagon and FAA about their response to the 2001 terror attacks that it considered an investigation into possible deception."

On August 9th, 2006, referring to their book and to this issue, CNN's Lou Dobbs as saying: "But the fact that they were (would) continue and perpetuate the lie, suggests that we need a full investigation of what is going on and what is demonstrably an incompetent and at worst deceitful federal government." http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0608/09/ldt.01.html

The historic reality of the deception of false flag operations is confirmed by former Justice Department prosecutor, John Loftus, who once held some of the highest security clearances in the world with special access to
NATO Cosmic, CIA codeword, and Top Secret Nuclear files.

Loftus has been sought after for his terrorism expertise by Fox News, MSNBC, ABC, and many other media across the USA. In a radio interview, when asked about "Operation Northwoods," he said "Sure, yeah, yeah. But you know it, there were thousands of those plans." http://www.debatingforum.com/viewtopic.php?p=19356&sid=06afa63958692e6723c5d72393292cb7

In his book, Zwicker elaborates that false flag operations are the least-recognized, highest impact category of human deceit. He says: "False flag op is the indispensable, most dependable device rulers use to mobilize their populations, especially behind wars the rulers want."

According to a radio interview on Vancouver's Coop radio, Zwicker believes that it is not impossible that such future events have already been planned in order to move the US towards Martial Law. http://exopolitics.blogs.com/exopolitics_radio/

The media critic has concluded that not unlike Germany in the 1930s, a relatively small right-wing extremist group of rulers want more and more power, and will gradually further eliminate civil liberties by manipulating people's minds using more Orwellian language.

He says that if the media doesn't start paying more attention, there will be increased oppression of opposition that will likely move America, and perhaps other Western countries, towards a gradual further elimination of civil liberties. He calls this the path towards a new fascism, one controlled by a small group of ruling elites who perpetuate war after war, such as a never-ending "war on terror," to maintain their power and control.

Dr. Steven Greer has met and spoken to many intelligence, military, government and corporate whistleblowers who explain that to sustain and expand their existence in their current form, the military, industrial, intelligence, laboratory complex need a constant influx of new enemies.

Greer was told that conflicts would evolve "from Cold War, to Rogue Nations, to Global Terrorism, to the ultimate trump card: A hoaxed threat from space." http://www.disclosureproject.org/cosmicdeception.htm

On a brighter note, Zwicker believes that our current path of enmification, the art and consequence of enemy-making, can be reversed if, for example, the media investigates terrorist attacks to find out if they are false flag operations, expose deception, and keep the ruling elites and their circles accountable, not unlike how the Washington Post covered Watergate in the early 1970s.

The Washington Post did a story about Fred Burks in December 2004. He is a whistleblower and former senior State Department language interpreter to top-level politicians such as President
Bill Clinton and
President George W. Bush. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A49449-2004Dec8.html

Based on his website that exposes cover-ups, Burks believes that we first need to speak candidly about what's happening in the world at present and move beyond secrecy and fear. He concludes that the more informed we are, the more difficult it will be to perpetuate the deception of any future false flag operations.

Burks supports choices that lead to a more spiritual and purpose-centered life of "Compassion In Action," as referred to by
President Bush on December 12, 2002. http://www.lightstreamers.com/Dannion_PresidentBush.htm

He also believes that when we walk our talk, we can inspire others to lead in a way that creates a brighter future for all.

To read Burks' view on what is happening and what we can do about it, see: http://www.wanttoknow.info/brighterfuture

Burks' philosophy resonates with Zwicker's message about how, by working together in exposing the deception of false flag operations, the media and people from all levels of society can help prevent them, reduce the manufacturing of fear and hate, and improve the human condition. For more information about Zwicker's book, visit: http://www.newsociety.com/bookid/3932

Zwicker will be speaking at the Great Hall at Cooper Union in New York City on September 10th, 2006, a conference where he will be joined with Dr. Robert Bowman and other researchers who are encouraging the media to further learn about false flag operations. For more info: http://www.ny911truth.org/events/5th_anniversary.htm

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Larry "Lucky Larry" Silverstein

Four Winds

You've got to be lucky to make $4 Billion killing on a 6-month investment of $124 Million

Larry Silverstein is the New York property tycoon who purchased the entire WTC complex just 6 months prior to the 9/11 attacks. That was the first time in its 33-year history the complex had EVER changed ownership.

Mr. Silverstein's first order of business as the new owner was to change the company responsible for the security of the complex. The new security company he hired was Securacom (now Stratasec). George W. Bush's brother, Marvin Bush, was on its board of directors, and Marvin's cousin, Wirt Walker III, was its CEO. According to public records, not only did Securacom provide electronic security for the World Trade Center, it also covered Dulles International Airport and United Airlines - two key players in the 9/11 attacks.
The company was backed by an investment firm, the Kuwait-American Corp., also linked for many years to the Bush family. KuwAm has been linked to the Bush family financially since the Gulf War. One of its principals and a member of the Kuwaiti royal family, Mishal Yousef Saud al Sabah, served on the board of Stratesec.

Now, consider: The members of a small cabal owned the WTC complex, controlled its electronic security, and also controlled the security not only for one of the airlines whose aircraft were hijacked on 9/11, but the airport from which they originated.

Another little "coincidence" -- Mr. Silversten, who made a down-payment of $124 million on this $3.2 billion complex, promptly insured it for $7 Billion. Not only that, he covered the complex against "terrorist attacks".

Following the attacks, Silverstein filed TWO insurance claims for the maximum amount of the policy ($7B), based on the two -- in Silverstein's view -- separate attacks. The insurance company, Swiss Re, paid Mr. Silverstein $4.6 Billion - a princely return on a relatively paltry investment of $124 million.

There's more. You see, the World Trade Towers were not the real estate plum we are led to believe. From an economic standpoint, the trade center -- subsidized since its inception by the NY Port Authority -- has never functioned, nor was it intended to function, unprotected in the rough-and-tumble real estate marketplace. How could Silverstein Group have been ignorant of this?

The towers required some $200 million in renovations and improvements, most of which related to removal and replacement of building materials declared to be health hazards in the years since the towers were built. It was well-known by the city of New York that the WTC was an asbestos bombshell. For years, the Port Authority treated the building like an aging dinosaur, attempting on several occasions to get permits to demolish the building for liability reasons, but being turned down due the known asbestos problem. Further, it was well-known the only reason the building was still standing until 9/11 was because it was too costly to disassemble the twin towers floor by floor since the Port Authority was prohibited legally from demolishing the buildings.

The projected cost to disassemble the towers: $15 Billion. Just the scaffolding for the operation was estimated at $2.4 Billion!

In other words, the Twin Towers were condemned structures. How convenient that an unexpected "terrorist" attack demolished the buildings completely.

WTC Building 7 was a part of the WTC complex, and covered under the same insurance policy. This 47-storey steel-framed structure, which was NOT struck by an aircraft, mysteriously collapsed 8 hours later that same day into its own footprint at freefall speed - exactly in the manner of the Twin Towers.

How could this have happened? Mr. Silverstein gave the world the answer when he slipped up during a PBS television interview a year later, on 9/11/2002:

"I remember getting a call from the...er...fire department commander, telling me that they were not sure they were gonna be able to contain the fire, and I said, 'We've had such terrible loss of life, maybe the smartest thing to do is pull it.' And they made that decision to pull and we watched the building collapse."

As anyone who knows anything about construction can tell you, "Pull" is common industry jargon for a controlled demolition.

One thing is for sure, the decision to 'pull' WTC 7 would have delighted many people. Especially because it has been reported that thousands of sensitive files relating to some of the biggest financial scams in history - including Enron and WorldCom -- were stored in the offices of some of the building's tenants:

US Secret Service
NAIC Securities
Salomon Smith Barney
American Express Bank International
Standard Chartered Bank
Provident Financial Management
ITT Hartford Insurance Group
Federal Home Loan Bank

The Securities and Exchange Commission has not quantified the number of active cases in which substantial files were destroyed by the collapse of WTC 7. Reuters news service and the Los Angeles Times published reports estimating them at 3,000 to 4,000. They include the agency's major inquiry into the manner in which investment banks divvied up hot shares of initial public offerings during the high-tech boom. ..."Ongoing investigations at the New York SEC will be dramatically affected because so much of their work is paper-intensive," said Max Berger of New York's Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann. "This is a disaster for these cases."

Citigroup says some information that the committee is seeking [about WorldCom] was destroyed in the Sept. 11 terror attack on the World Trade Center. Salomon had offices in 7 World Trade Center. The bank says that back-up tapes of corporate emails from September 1998 through December 2000 were stored at the building and destroyed in the attack.

Inside WTC 7 was the US Secret Service's largest field office with more than 200 employees. "All the evidence that we stored at 7 World Trade, in all our cases, went down with the building," according to US Secret Service Special Agent David Curran.

What a neat, complete, and fortuitous turn of events was 9/11.

Incidentally, it's worth noting that one of Lucky Larry's closest friends - a person with whom it's said he speaks almost daily by phone - is none other than former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

More on that cozy little relationship later...

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September 11, Afghanistan and "the survival of civilization"

By Gabriele Zamparini

On 20 September 2001 US President Bush addressing the Congress stated: "The United States respects the people of Afghanistan -- after all, we are currently its largest source of humanitarian aid...".

On 7 October 2001 addressing the country Bush said: "At the same time, the oppressed people of Afghanistan will know the generosity of America and our allies. As we strike military targets, we'll also drop food, medicine and supplies to the starving and suffering men and women and children of Afghanistan. The United States of America is a friend to the Afghan people..." .

Five years later the results of this respectful and generous friendship have been published by the Senlis Council, an international policy think tank with offices in Kabul, London, Paris and Brussels. "Afghanistan Five Years Later: The Return of the Taliban" reads:
After five years of intensive international involvement in Afghanistan, the country remains ravaged by severe poverty and the spreading starvation of the rural and urban poor. Despite promises from the US-led international community guaranteeing to provide the resources and assistance necessary for its reconstruction and development needs, Afghanistan's people are starving to death. Afghanistan continues to rank at the bottom of most poverty indicators, and the situation of women and children is particularly grave. One in four children born in Afghanistan cannot expect to live beyond the age of five and certain provinces of the country lay claim to the worst maternal mortality rates ever recorded in the world. Yet, the local and international development community's abilities to respond to Afghanistan's many poverty-related challenges have been undermined by the United States' and United Kingdom's misguided focus on counter-narcotics eradication policies. As such, these two self-appointed lead nations on terrorism and counter-narcotics are jointly responsible for southern Afghanistan's current hunger crisis.

The report continues:
Afghans' anger at seeing no representatives from international organisations has only served in endearing the Taliban to the local people. The Taliban are often seen as doing their bit to help the Afghans, despite having much less money than the international community, while international troops are perceived as being in the country for their own purposes. Even those who do not want to turn to the Taliban are forced to do so in order to survive and support their families. After five years of no positive change, the overriding opinion is that this a war - originally supposed to "help" the poor people of Afghanistan - which only serves in making the rich richer, including all "foreigners". With children dying, people starving and family livelihoods being destroyed, there is an urgent need for a complete rethink on the part of the international community if Afghans are no longer to live in extreme poverty.
On another section, the devastating report reads:
The ousting of the Taliban regime five years ago was widely believed to mark a new era for Afghanistan. Plagued by decades of violence and poverty, the arrival of the international community heralded a bright future for Afghanistan, confirmed by speeches assuring that the Afghan people would forever be freed from insecurity and oppression. The United States claimed the removal of the Taliban as a humanitarian duty, and promised to deliver enduring freedom to the Afghan people. (...)
Total military spending vs. total development spending in Afghanistan 2002-2006
As this chart illustrates, despite the extreme poverty in Afghanistan, the majority of spending by the international community is on military rather than development and poverty relief projects.
With civilians being killed on a regular basis, Afghans are angry that the majority of international aid has been spent on the military purposes rather than poverty relief. Many believe that the military missions are misguided, having lost faith in the ability of the "foreigners" to bring stability to the country. A perceived lack of respect from international military troops has fuelled Afghans' resentment towards the international community. International troops' apparent unwillingness to study Afghan culture and co-operate with locals, has caused mass hatred of the "foreigners". Some believe that the ongoing fighting in Iraq and recent clashes in Lebanon are proof that the West is attempting to re-colonise the Muslim world. Many Afghans are now looking to the Taliban for leadership, declaring that they will "die fighting the foreigners".
Back in May 2003, the BBC reported:
A small sample of Afghan civilians have shown "astonishing" levels of uranium in their urine, an independent scientist says. (...) The scientist is Dr Asaf Durakovic, of the Uranium Medical Research Center (UMRC), based in Canada. Dr Durakovic, a former US army adviser who is now a professor of medicine, said in 2000 he had found "significant" DU levels in two-thirds of the 17 Gulf veterans he had tested. In May 2002, he sent a team to Afghanistan to interview and examine civilians there. The UMRC says: "Independent monitoring of the weapon types and delivery systems indicate that radioactive, toxic uranium alloys and hard-target uranium warheads were being used by the coalition forces. (...) Without exception, every person donating urine specimens tested positive for uranium internal contamination. The results were astounding: the donors presented concentrations of toxic and radioactive uranium isotopes between 100 and 400 times greater than in the Gulf veterans tested in 1999. If UMRC's Nangarhar findings are corroborated in other communities across Afghanistan, the country faces a severe public health disaster... Every subsequent generation is at risk."
The BBC report continues:
A second UMRC visit to Afghanistan in September 2002 found "a potentially much broader area and larger population of contamination". It collected 25 more urine samples, which bore out the findings from the earlier group. Dr Durakovic said he was "stunned" by the results he had found, which are to be published shortly in several scientific journals. He told BBC News Online: "In Afghanistan there were no oil fires, no pesticides, nobody had been vaccinated - all explanations suggested for the Gulf veterans' condition. But people had exactly the same symptoms. I'm certainly not saying Afghanistan was a vast experiment with new uranium weapons. But use your common sense."
It would be ungenerous though to thank only George W. Bush and his gang of psychopathic mass murderers for this exquisite example of Western friendship. As Bush reminded the Congress on that 20 September 2001, "America has no truer friend than Great Britain. Once again, we are joined together in a great cause. The British Prime Minister has crossed an ocean to show his unity of purpose with America, and tonight we welcome Tony Blair."

The winners of the Cold War took their responsibilities. The NATO, an organization started in 1949 "to promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic area", extended its nobility and generosity behind its geographical borders. In its "first mission outside the Euro-Atlantic area", NATO took command and co-ordination of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan in August 2003.

The role of ISAF in Afghanistan "is to assist the Government of Afghanistan and the International Community in maintaining security within its area of operation. ISAF supports the Government of Afghanistan in expanding its authority to the rest of the country, and in providing a safe and secure environment conducive to free and fair elections, the spread of the rule of law, and the reconstruction of the country."

A perfect example of much altruism was reported a few days ago. "NATO and Afghan forces killed more than 200 suspected Taliban guerrillas with air strikes and artillery fire in a major offensive in a volatile province in southern Afghanistan, the alliance said Sunday"

As in every real success, the friendship with Afghanistan could have never given its fruits without those journalists, writers, intellectuals, pundits, show business heroes, think tanks' analysts, scholars, experts, showgirls and clowns who have so bravely marched singing "United We Stand".

A particular thanks must also go to the many famous Hollywood stars who have traveled the world to "Support Our Troops".

More recently almost hundred of these modern maîtres à penser took out a full page advertisement in the Los Angeles Times to write:
"We the undersigned are pained and devastated by the civilian casualties in Israel and Lebanon caused by terrorist actions initiated by terrorist organisations such as Hezbollah and Hamas."
The script goes on:
"If we do not succeed in stopping terrorism around the world, chaos will rule and innocent people will continue to die. We need to support democratic societies and stop terrorism at all costs."
The "pained and devastated" list of brave hearts included the actors Nicole Kidman, Michael Douglas, Dennis Hopper, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Danny De Vito, Don Johnson, James Woods, Kelly Preston, Millie Perkins, Patricia Heaton, James Woods, Gary Sinise and William Hurt; the directors Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, Michael Mann, Dick Donner and Sam Raimi; the chairman and majority owner of Paramount Pictures, Sumner Redstone; media moguls Rupert Murdoch, Sumner Redstone and Haim Saban; and tennis star Serena Williams.

The Jewish News Weekly of Northern California reported:
"The project was initiated by Ehud Danoch, Israel's consul general in Los Angeles, who has made the entertainment industry a special concern. Danoch and his early partners on the project assumed that the ad would carry no more than 50 or 60 signatures. But the names kept coming in, until the organizers had to close the list at 84 names. Israeli Danny Dimbort, co-chairman of the Nu Image production company, contacted 28 people. Most signed on, he said, though "some were scared to do so." His company also paid for the full-page ad in the national and international news section of the L.A. Times - at a cost of $117,132, according to the paper's advertising department. Gottlieb, president of Samuel Goldwyn Films, said he received only positive feedback, with friends telling him they were moved by the ad. Some even chided him for not inviting them to sign the statement."
Presenting his new movie, World Trade Center, at the beginning of August in New York, director Oliver Stone said, "Many Americans, perhaps the majority, were really angry and wanted revenge... In fact, I did, too. I'm not a pacifist. I'd like to be one. I'd love to be in the best of all worlds. But we're dealing with reality here. I felt very angry, but I think the enemy was 5,000, 6,000 al-Qaeda. And I would go again to fight them. I wouldn't hesitate. And I'd send my son to fight them. That was the war, in Afghanistan. We didn't complete that war."

A few days ago in Venice for the Mostra Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica, better known internationally as the Venice Film Festival, the director of Platoon was quoted by the Italian press saying, "L'America si è sentita oltraggiata, giustamente arrabbiata. Anche se io, personalmente, reputo sbagliato l'intervento in Iraq. Ma giusto quello in Afghanistan" [America felt outraged, rightly angry. Even though I personally consider wrong the military intervention in Iraq. But just the war in Afghanistan].

This bizarre position [the war in Iraq was wrong but the Afghanistan one was just] is even too common in the West, even within the anti-war movement and what is left of the left. The power of Hollywood, one might say.

After five years the truth about what happened on September 11, 2001 is still unknown. The US government has lied and deceived its own people and the world. But the official narrative has been used by Washington and London to wage war against innocent countries, to mass murder hundreds of thousands of innocent people, to reopen concentration camps, to kidnap and torture, and to curtail freedom and civil liberties at home. Tel Aviv has used the September 11 events to step up ethnic cleansing and genocide against the Palestinian People so to carry out the Zionist dream of the Greater Israel.

We need to remember that whatever happened that day of five years ago, Afghanistan had nothing to do with it. Waging a war against that country because of the attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon was like waging a war against Denmark. Whoever is responsible for the September 11, 2001 events [and we don't know it yet!] the reason for the aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq must be found somewhere else.

Looking back at the comments made just after the attacks in New York and Washington, those made by former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before the Government Reform Committee of the House of Representatives in Washington on September 20, 2001 have now the power of a prophecy. "What is at stake today is nothing less than the survival of our civilization." Netanyahu made a call for a total war against the Arab and Muslim world. [Rupert Murdoch's New York Post published a shorter version of Netanyahu's statement the following day.]

Of course he named the Palestinian territories. And thanks to Israel, the situation in the Palestinian territories is today worse than ever, with genocide taking place in Gaza in these very hours. He named Afghanistan, and Afghanistan was invaded and occupied. He named Iraq, and Iraq was invaded and occupied. He named Lebanon, and Lebanon was bombed and destroyed. On that list Netanyahu names a few other countries too, among them Syria and Iran. Those countries have not been bombed yet. But it's just a matter of time and "Benjamin Netanyahu, the head of the hard-line Likud Party who just five months ago was soundly defeated in elections, has now emerged as the most popular Israeli politician" according to a poll by the Dahaf Institute, published at the end of August in the Yediot Ahronot daily. "If elections were held now, Netanyahu's right-wing Likud would emerge as the strongest party... Right-wing and religious parties would form the largest bloc in parliament... When given a choice between Netanyahu and Olmert as prime minister, 45 percent chose Netanyahu and 24 percent supported Olmert. Netanyahu's renewed popularity comes after a year on the political fringe, following his opposition to Israel's unilateral pullout from the Gaza Strip last summer."

"Today we are all Americans", said Netanyahu five years ago. The West was quick to repeat this slogan, which had nothing to do with the solidarity with the victims of the September 11 attacks but a call for a total war that should have been fought by the US in Israel's interest. Is that what's been happening?

It's obvious that the control of the energy resources by our capitalist dictatorship is an important element to understand what's been happening in the last five years, but it cannot be the only reason to explain the geo-political complexity. Far from being a conspiracy theory, the Jewish-Zionist-Israeli lobby is a fact of life. Its power could be seen once again in all its deadly strength just a few weeks ago, when the whole world was condemned to be a powerless spectator in front of the destruction inflicted against Lebanon. This lobby exercises its power in many different countries and through many different ways and it's understandable that the lobby itself tries to suppress open discussion, dissent and freedom of speech through charges of anti-Semitism every time someone tries to question its role in today's world. More difficult instead it's to understand the reasons of the Jewish-Zionist-Israeli lobby's deniers among those who try to fight imperialism, in this historical moment that sees imperialism and Zionism allied against humanity.

Why don't we shout "Today we are all Afghans, Iraqis, Lebanese and Palestinians?"

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Bush's Poodle

Bush's Poodle

Jihad el-Khazen

In the latest opinion poll in Britain, 73% said that the Blair government's policies increased the threat of terror to Britain, while 62% said that British policy must break up with the US in order to decrease the threat of terror. Blair's mistakes are too dangerous to be depicted in caricature. They were fatal, or they killed many of us. The US-British (Blair) policy is like a recruitment center for terrorists.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair wants to resign within a year. I want him to resign today. Had he resigned yesterday, it would have been better.

There are many reasons for the revolt against Blair from within and without the Labor Party. The atrocious Israeli war on Lebanon, however, was the straw that broke the camel's back. It broke his political career in Britain.

As an Arab, I am not the only one who holds this view. The 'New York Times' and the 'Washington Post', both US newspapers, have the same opinion. The US was fully responsible for involving Britain in the war on Iraq, and then in the rejection of an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon in spite of the exaggerated Israeli response. All these incidents made Blair's closest aides revolt against him, including government ministers and under-secretaries who are all Labor MPs.

The opinion of the US press about Blair's forthcoming end is far lenient than mine. However, mine remains more lenient than the opinion of some British people about their premier who, attaching himself to a US imperialist policy that wants to subjugate the whole world, not only the Middle East, destroyed his political legacy.

Renowned British writer John Pilger wrote an article entitled 'The Real Threat We Face in Britain Is Blair', in which he mocked allegations of 'terrorist cells' and the threat to civil aviation. He accused Blair of being afraid of illusory terrorism. He blames him for about 100,000 civilian deaths in Iraq. He charged Blair with knowing about Israel's plan to attack Lebanon in advance and agreed on plans to strike Iran.

Pilger reminded his readers that "in 2001, the Israeli press disclosed that he had secretly given the 'green light' to Sharon's bloody invasion of the West Bank". The result of this policy against Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq was the spread of anger among British Muslims.

We are not the only party who are angry, though. In the latest opinion poll in Britain, 73% said that the Blair government's policies increased the threat of terror to Britain, while 62% said that British policy must break up with the US in order to decrease the threat of terror. Scores of former ministers, politicians, writers and artists signed an open message to Blair warning him of the dangers and mistakes of his policies.

I personally cannot understand Blair's relationship with US President George Bush. While nobody denies that Blair is intelligent, there is consensus that Bush is stupid to the extent that a right wing television show discussed his stupidity. Still, the intelligent Prime Minister backed a stupid policy that increased the threat of terror worldwide, while he claimed he was fighting it, and spread hatred of Britain as well as the US. Tony Blair was supposed to have some ethics, but he supported all the Israeli crimes against the Palestinians and the Lebanese, merely because they were supported by the neo-conservative US administration. I almost believed once that Blair hated Arabs and Muslims deep in his heart and that he supported US policy simply because it was against them. However, I cannot find evidence to support this opinion, because I find no logical reason for Blair's slavish subordination to Bush. It has reached an extent that Blair's nickname is 'Bush's poodle'.

Sarcasm, not opposition, is the worst thing a politician can face. A few days ago, I saw a caricature of Blair in which he says "I am not Bush's Poodle, but Rupert Murdoch's Poodle" in reference to the Australian-turned-American media tycoon, who owns "The Times' and 'Fox News' in addition to several hundred other media organizations worldwide. Blair had given Bush a woolen pullover as a gift. I saw a British cartoon in which Blair opens a gift box from Bush to find a dog leash!

Still with cartoons; there was a funny one of Blair holding on to the door of his official headquarters with his hands and feet because he does not want to leave it. This could be a reference to his clinging to office despite increased opposition. It seems that the British Prime Minister has Arab origins!

Blair's mistakes are too dangerous to be depicted in caricature. They were fatal, or they killed many of us. John Kampfner wrote a cover story in the 'New Statesman' entitled 'Blood on His Hands'. In this article, Kampfiner says Blair did not stop the Israeli attack on Lebanon, of which he had prior knowledge, because he did not want to. This makes him an accomplice to the Israeli crime. This has also "stripped (the UK) of influence across vast stretches of the world" and exposed the British people to danger. Last week, 19 British nationals were killed in many areas, from Iraq to Afghanistan. Even in Jordan a British tourist was killed. My questions are: Why are British nationals killed in Iraq and elsewhere? How did subordination to the Bush administration affect Britain in general and Blair in particular?

The only result was that Arabs and Muslims linked the two States together, which makes it easier for terrorists. The US-British (Blair) policy is like a recruitment center for terrorists. While I condemn and refuse any excuse for terrorism in general, I also condemn the policy of British Prime Minister Tony Blair and confess that I am happy because he is humiliated. He once deceived me, making me think of him as a politician of rare caliber who is humane and ethical. I discovered after his nine years in office that he is far worse than others because he is a skillful deceiver.

I leave the final word on Blair to former US President Jimmy Carter, who said in an interview with a British newspaper last week that he was "surprised and extremely disappointed" by Blair's lack of leadership and his subordination to George Bush."

"I think that more than any other person in the world, the Prime Minister could have had a moderating influence on Washington - and he has not," he added.

And because he has not, he is now paying the price!

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Tony Blair to step down within 1 year

Last Updated Thu, 07 Sep 2006 12:20:25 EDT
CBC News

Admitting weeks of internal party criticism have been "somewhat difficult," British Prime Minister Tony Blair confirmed Thursday he will leave office within the next 12 months.
Blair, who delivered the news during a visit to a north London school, said an annual Labour Party conference later this month would be his last as party leader.

He didn't give an exact date for his departure, saying that is his decision to make.

"I'm not going to set a precise date now. I don't think that's right. I will do that at a future date. I'll do it in the interests of the country and, depending on the circumstances, of the time," said Blair.

"I think the precise timetable has to be left up to me and in the proper way."

Pressure had been mounting on Blair all week to announce when he would step down. Several Labour MPs resigned their government posts Wednesday after insisting on his resignation, and news reports said Blair and Treasury chief Gordon Brown, who is likely to be the next prime minister, had arguments in Blair's office about a handover date.

Blair's popularity in opinion polls has plummeted due to government scandals over mismanagement, and controversy over British military participation in Iraq and the increasingly violent Afghanistan.

Fearing a loss at the polls in the next election in 2009, many in the party have been calling for fresh leadership.

'Difficult week': PM

Blair began Thursday's statement with an apology to the British public, saying the past week of internal strife was not the Labour party's finest hour.

The prime minister said he would have preferred to make the decision about when to leave office his own way, but said it was "pretty obvious" he wouldn't have a chance to do that.

Blair sharply rebuked colleagues who brought the party's internal split into the public eye.

"It's important for the Labour Party to understand that it's the public that comes first and it's the public that matters," he said.

"We can't treat the public as irrelevant bystanders."

Blair said the government must return its focus to important events going on in the world and at home.

"It's been a somewhat difficult week but I think it's time now to move on and I think we will," he said.

The school visit had been previously scheduled, and Blair spent about 15 minutes speaking with students before making his statement to a lone television camera, away from the throngs of reporters gathered outside.

Brown supports PM's decision

Brown, who spoke to reporters Thursday during a visit to Glasgow, said he would support whatever decision Blair made.

"This cannot be about private arrangements, but what is in the best interest of the party and most important of all, what is in the best interest of the country," said Brown.

There are reports Blair could officially resign during Labour's conference in spring 2007, clearing the way for a leadership race that could last up to 12 weeks.

Labour officials hope to have a new leader in place well before the party's fall conference in 2007.

After leading the Labour Party to its third straight election win last year, Blair said he would not seek a fourth term.

He had also promised to give his successor time to settle into office before the next election.

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Leadership row rages on despite Blair pledge to quit

by Michael Thurston
September 8, 2006

LONDON - British Prime Minister Tony Blair was hoping for a return to calm after vowing to quit within a year to calm a crisis threatening his government, but fierce infighting over his succession raged on.

Blair's statement on Thursday, forced out of him after days of high drama in Westminster, was attacked by critics as not enough to calm protests within his ruling Labour Party and the trade unions who support it.

"The current mess in Westminster is the tip of the iceberg," said Derek Simpson, head of Amicus, a key force in the Trades Union Congress (TUC), whose annual conference Blair will visit for the last time in Brighton next week.

"Unless something changes, Labour will lose the next election," he added.
At the same time Chancellor Gordon Brown, tipped to succeed Blair and accused by some of mounting a "coup" against his long-term ally turned bitter foe, meanwhile also came under renewed attack.

The continuing mood of poison in the corridors of power was reflected by comments by former minister Charles Clarke, who slammed Brown in an interview with the London Evening Standard.

"His behaviour has been absolutely stupid ... a lot of people are very upset and cross about the way he's behaved," he said.

The issue of when Blair will go has dogged him for nearly two years. In 2004 he said he would not stand for a fourth consecutive term of office but said he pledged to serve a full third term in office -- taking him through to 2008.

On Thursday Blair refused to set an exact date for his departure in his closely-watched statement, but said he will not be in office for Labour's annual party conference, or the next TUC conference, in September 2007.

But pressure remains on him to go earlier -- in particular because the Brownites want to take power well ahead of the summer break, to give them time to assert their authority before the annual political recess.

Newspaper reports Friday said the two men have reached an understanding where Blair will resign in May, triggering a six-week leadership election that will see his successor replace him by mid-June.

A poll published in The Daily Telegraph on Friday showed a majority of the British public think Blair should resign from office this year.

Some 65 percent of the general public, including 52 percent of Labour supporters, also think he should leave by early next year, the survey showed.

This week's fast-moving developments -- for some recalling the way prime minister Margaret Thatcher was brought down by her Conservative Party in 1990 -- were triggered by a newspaper report saying Blair planned to quit next July.

The days of political chaos were dubbed Labour's "moment of madness" by a long-term close ally of Blair, Peter Mandelson, the European Union trade chief.

"I hope that it will now move on and that the plotting and the shenanigans will be put behind them once and for all. They have got to concentrate on the needs of the country, not themselves," said Mandelson.

For most commentators Blair's statement was a victory for Brown, even if he did not get everything he wanted.

But many warned that the chancellor may have suffered from the image of having blood on his hands after the Downing Street coup.

"Gordon Brown has got to be extremely careful that when he becomes prime minister, this doesn't just appear to be something that he manoeuvred for his own personal gain," former chancellor Norman Lamont told the BBC.

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Palestinian elite tells British PM Blair not to visit territories

Last update - 13:53 07/09/2006
By Reuters

RAMALLAH - Hundreds of Palestinians including politicians and intellectuals on Thursday called on British Prime Minister Tony Blair not to visit Palestinian areas, accusing him of excessive support for Israel.

Blair will meet Palestinian officials in Ramallah on Sunday during a visit to the region, an aide to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said. Blair is expected to also hold talks in Israel and Lebanon, though there has been no confirmation from his office.

"He is coming here in order to wash his hands, that are dripping with Lebanese blood, with Palestinian water," the group of Palestinians wrote in an ad placed in the al-Ayyam newspaper.

"We, the signatories... notables, intellectuals and political figures declare that Tony Blair is persona non-grata in our country."

The British prime minister came under fire at home during Israel's 34-day war with Hezbollah for lining up with the United States in refusing to back Lebanon's demands for an immediate truce.

The notice said Palestinian leaders should cancel Blair's trip. It was signed by members of smaller parties, university professors, activists from non-governmental organizations and hundreds of ordinary Palestinians.

The signatories did not include any politicians from Abbas' Fatah group or the governing militant Hamas movement.

Blair is expected to make a push for renewed peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians during his visit. Peace negotiations collapsed in 2000 amid violence.

Asked to comment on the notice, a spokesman for the British consulate in Jerusalem said:

"The Prime Minister has announced that he will visit the Middle East soon and that his visit will deal with the fundamental issues surrounding both Lebanon and the Palestinians. There is anger and mistrust on all sides."

Blair's Downing Street office has said the prime minister planned to visit the Middle East shortly, but has declined to give further details.

His visit could be overshadowed by political woes at home, with Blair under increasing pressure to set out a timetable for his departure as prime minister after nine years in power.

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They Love You, Really

New government rule may allow medical experiments on humans without their consent

News Target

In 1996, a regulation (21CFR50.24) was approved that contained a loophole allowing experimental testing of a blood substitute product -- HemAssist -- on emergency trauma patients without their knowledge or consent, but the experiment was terminated when more HemAssist patients died than patients under standard care.

Ten years later, after the development of HemAssist has been abandoned, a similar experiment using blood substitute Polyheme was being conducted in 27 cities across the United States from July 7 to July 31, with a blue wrist band provided by manufacturer Northfield Laboratories Inc. being the only way to "opt out." Outrage at these trials has pushed the federal government to reconsider the loophole.
The FDA -- lambasted by the medical community for allowing the Polyheme trials to occur despite the reservations expressed by experts -- has stated it will take "a close look" at how the blood substitute is being used, and release a draft of guidelines on non-consent trials that will "broaden the discussion of community consultation and public disclosure" and "clarify terminology used in regulations that have been difficult to interpret."

The FDA has scheduled a public hearing on the matter at the University of Maryland Shady Grove Center on Oct. 11.

"It is appropriate that we review the regulation and get the perspectives of those who participated in such studies to make sure that emergency research is being carried out in a scientifically sound and ethical manner," said Dr. Janet Woodcock, FDA deputy commissioner for operations.

"Under no circumstances should human beings be turned into guinea pigs for medical experiments without their clear consent," countered Mike Adams, a health freedom advocate and critic of the medical industry's practice of using adults and children for medical experiments. "This practice harkens back to the days of Nazi Germany where, not coincidentally, companies like Bayer routinely engaged in mass medical experimentation on prisoners," he said. "This is a fundamental human rights issue, and both the FDA and Big Pharma have consistently shown little regard for human rights, especially when such rights get in the way of corporate profits."

"The false justification that 'this is for the patients' own good' is exactly the same twisted logic once fronted by the Nazis to justify their own inhumane medical experiments," Adams added.

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Ethnic Cleansing in New Orleans

By Charles Sullivan

It was a year ago that hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast region of the USA, and left a path of death and destruction in her wake. Well over a thousand human beings lost their lives in the floods that followed the tempest. Who can say how many people lost hope in the aftermath of that terrific storm?

Had Katrina hit an area of the country crowded with golf courses and country clubs the result would have been different. People with wealth and property matter in America; those without do not. America is a land where sharp divisions of class play an important role in deciding one's fate. People are not treated equally here; although few will openly admit it in print. We are not supposed to bring up class warfare and other embarrassing traits stemming from capitalism. After all, we call ourselves a democracy, don't we?
America's imperial leader, George Bush-the murdering thief who stole two elections, was playing golf in Arizona on that fateful day a year ago. The cadaverous vice president was fly wishing in Wyoming. Condoleezza Rice was shopping for shoes in New York-a single pair of which cost more than a typical welfare family's entire monthly budget.

A year later the commercial media is dutifully revisiting the story, as if to sell the public on the notion that they-a defacto extension of the government-actually care about America's poor; they do not. America remains a racist nation that was built upon slave labor, and the exploitation of immigrant workers. Racism can be found anywhere but, thankfully, it does not exist everywhere. Not all Americans are racists. However, racism flourishes in the White House, and every branch of government is poisoned by the malignancy of bigotry.

The truth is that wealthy white Plutocrats are in control of the government, and they don't give a damn about anyone they cannot exploit; and that is the observation of a white man.
Because of my race I know that I enjoy advantages and privileges that black men and women do not. I neither ask for nor expect preferential treatment, but I know that I am accorded them on the basis of my skin color. It should not be like this.

A great war-the civil war, was fought in the 1860s to settle the race question in America for once and for all.

History tells us that the south lost the civil war; however, the evidence suggests otherwise. The battle for equality is without end. In the good old days of Jim Crow and segregation, and before that-Negro slavery, the southern economy was built entirely upon slave labor. In those days rich white men ruled the country and lived in mansions, while their slaves lived in broken down shacks; and they still do. No longer is racism as overt as it was in the days of chattel slavery, but it is continues to flourish and multiply.

Racial bigots continue to control the government-especially in the south, while forging both domestic and foreign policies. The people running the government value wealth and property, and disdain those who have neither. Witness what happened to New Orleans's poor in the aftermath of Katrina.

Hurricane Katrina provided the federal government an opportunity it has long sought-to radically alter the demographics of New Orleans. Thousands of poor black families-those who did not drown, were forced from their homes and will never be allowed to return. Throughout the Gulf Coast Region the homes of the poor were razed by bulldozers and earth moving machines in order to make way for the developers. It is out with the black, in with the white; in with the rich and out with the poor.

Homes affordable to low income families will be replaced by lavish gated communities for the wealthy, shopping malls and resorts. We do not ordinarily hear about this on the network news, nor do we read about it in the daily newspapers or magazines.

In effect, New Orleans was ethnically cleansed by the government; the same government that abandoned the poor and went on vacation when Katrina made landfall. New Orleans's mostly black low income population was scattered across the nation and left to fend for themselves, like seeds from a dandelion dispersed by the wind. They were treated like criminals and punished for being black and poor. But what does one expect from a government that evokes imminent domain to demolish low income housing across the country, and turns it over to developers for private gain? When has privatized wealth ever served the public good?

It is becoming more apparent that only those with high incomes and property have inalienable rights. Everyone else is subject to eviction and refugee status at a moment's notice. Money matters, people do not.

Those who know their history will recognize the familiar patterns of Plutocracy at work. That is how the government has always treated the poor, just as it has always exploited the working class and sent them to die in wars not of their making.
How could any but the ignorant and foolish dare call this democracy?

Katrina was a category three storm when she came ashore late last August. Thousands of poor people lost their lives; millions more lost their remaining faith in their own government. The truth is that the poor have no representation in government. That same government wastes $1.9 billion of our tax dollars every week in an illegal war and occupation in the Middle East; and there are more to come. Can there be any doubt where its priorities are?

George Bush, ever vigilant to exploit a good photo op, recently boasted that he has visited the Gulf Coast region eleven times since Katrina struck. Bush so loathes the working poor that he thinks they cannot tell the difference between a photo op and genuine concern backed by thoughtful action. The world saw Bush's cavalier disregard for America's poor on August 29, 2005; and they have seen it every day since. A few rounds of golf in Arizona meant more to him than the lives of all of those suffering people.

But the poor are not Bush's people; they contributed nothing to his presidential campaign or to the Republican Party. Neither are they the demographic who cast their votes for him on election day. The people of New Orleans know who Bush represents. We see with clear eyes that poor people are disposable, while the rich are indispensable.

By contrast, when Hurricane Ivan, a category five storm struck Cuba-not a single human life was lost-not one! And Cuba is a nation, thanks to U.S. economic sanctions, that has only a fraction of America's resources.

The commercial media, of course, will allow Bush his photo opportunities; they will do a few feel good human interest stories about rebuilding New Orleans for a day or two, leaving the impression that the people are being taken care of; but they will not tell you the story that most needs to be told. They never do.

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War on Iran

Election 2006 & World War III

By Robert Parry

As Americans go to the polls in two months, they should have one thought fixed in their minds: they will be voting on whether to commit the nation to fighting World War III against large segments of the world's one billion Muslims. Beyond the cost in blood and treasure, this war will mean the end of the United States as a democratic Republic.
Those are the stakes that were made clear by George W. Bush in an alarmist speech to an association of U.S. military officers on Sept. 5. He declared that the United States must battle not only likely or even possible threats from terrorists, but the most fantastical dreams of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda about a mystical global "caliphate."

Adopting some of the most extreme rhetoric favored by his neoconservative advisers, Bush also broadened the "war on terror" beyond al-Qaeda-inspired terrorists and the Sunni-dominated Iraqi insurgency to include the Shiite-run Hezbollah movement in Lebanon and the Shiite government of Iran.

"As we continue to fight al-Qaeda and these Sunni extremists inspired by their radical ideology, we also face the threat posed by Shia extremists, who are learning from al-Qaeda, increasing their assertiveness and stepping up their threats," Bush said.

"This Shia strain of Islamic radicalism is just as dangerous, and just as hostile to America, and just as determined to establish its brand of hegemony across the broader Middle East," Bush continued. "And the Shia extremists have achieved something that al-Qaeda has so far failed to do: In 1979, they took control of a major power, the nation of Iran, subjugating its proud people to a regime of tyranny, and using that nation's resources to fund the spread of terror and pursue their radical agenda."

Bush also cited his determination to defeat Hezbollah, a Shiite movement in Lebanon that is now a prominent part of the elected Lebanese government and broadly popular because its militia battled the Israeli army when it invaded Lebanon in July.

Bush referred to Hezbollah's leader as "the terrorist Nasrallah," suggesting the United States has joined Israel in its determination to kill Sheikh Sayyad Hassan Nasrallah who was rated the most respected leader in the Middle East by an August 2006 poll in Egypt, which is considered one of Washington's staunchest regional allies.

Ranked second in that Egyptian poll was Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, another target of the Bush administration. By contrast, Egypt's pro-American president Hosni Mubarak wasn't even in the top 10, coming in 11th. Polls across the Middle East also have shown almost universal disapproval of the Bush administration and its policies.

So, Bush has set the United States on course to battle not only the stateless terrorists of al-Qaeda and the stubborn insurgents in Iraq but Islamic political leaders who have widespread support among the Muslim masses. How the United States would win such a war or even assemble the vast numbers of soldiers needed is hard to comprehend.

'World War III'

Bush's virtual declaration of war on the Islamic world ranks as possibly the most ambitious military plan in American history - and without doubt the most reckless. This so-called "long war," which Bush's followers hail as "World War III," would mean fighting large portions of a religious movement that has the allegiance of about one-sixth of the planet's population.

Muslims are concentrated in nations from northern Africa to East Asia, but also include large numbers in Europe and North America.

Nevertheless, in his address to the military officers, Bush talked bravely about how confident he is that the United States will win this war. "America will not bow down to tyrants," he declared to applause.

Bush's experience over the past five years, however, suggests that his strategy would require a full-scale transformation of the United States into a warrior nation, committed to a virtual endless struggle against any and all Islamic extremists who harbor thoughts of power, no matter how fanciful those imaginings might be.

A key point in Bush's argument is that al-Qaeda has expressed a dream of creating a "caliphate" reaching from Spain to Indonesia. Bush described the steps to this empire as starting with "numerous, decentralized operating bases across the world, from which they can plan new attacks, and advance their vision of a unified, totalitarian Islamic state that can confront and eventually destroy the free world."

But the reality is that prior to Bush's presidency, al-Qaeda was a marginal movement in the Islamic world, driven out of countries across northern Africa, hounded by secular governments in the Middle East, and expelled even from the Sudan.

In summer 2001, as Bush brushed aside CIA warnings about bin Laden's plans to strike inside the United States, al-Qaeda leaders were holed up in caves in Afghanistan, literally chased to the ends of the earth.

Then, after the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington - and the U.S. counterattack in Afghanistan - bin Laden fled to the mountains of Tora Bora where he apologized to his followers for leading them to what looked like defeat both militarily and politically, since the vast majority of Muslims had joined the rest of the world in condemning the 9/11 attacks.

At that crucial moment, the Saudi terrorist leader set off on horseback along with a small band of supporters and was surprised to find that Bush hadn't ordered in U.S. troops to cut off al-Qaeda's escape routes. Bush already was shifting his focus to Iraq, which was governed by a secular dictator who had persecuted Islamic extremists like bin Laden. [See, for instance, Ron Suskind's account in The One Percent Doctrine.]

Military Blunder

The failure to trap or kill bin Laden at Tora Bora might rank as one of modern history's worst military blunders. But in his Sept. 5 speech, Bush instead cited other historical failures - what he called missed opportunities to eliminate Lenin and Hitler when they were living in obscurity and writing about their improbable dreams of power.

"In the early 1900s, an exiled lawyer in Europe published a pamphlet called 'What Is To Be Done?' - in which he laid out his plans to launch a communist revolution in Russia," Bush said. "The world did not heed Lenin's words, and paid a terrible price. ...

"In the 1920s, a failed Austrian painter published a book in which he explained his intention to build an Aryan super-state in Germany and take revenge on Europe and eradicate the Jews. The world ignored Hitler's words, and paid a terrible price."

But the problem with Bush's history lesson is that wiping out some future Lenin or Hitler would require killing or imprisoning anyone who wrote about political change in a way that rulers considered objectionable or threatening at that time. While "predictive assassination" might eliminate a Lenin or a Hitler, it also might kill a Mandela or a Jefferson.

What Bush appears to be advocating is the end of free speech and free thought, or at least the regulation and punishment of speech and thought that he disdains. Bush is extending his concept of "preemptive war" - launching attacks against countries that might present a future threat to the United States - to "preemptive thought control," eliminating political opponents who might pose some future threat.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits the U.S. government from criminalizing speech. But Bush is indicating that he and his political followers believe that, amid the "war on terror," it is justifiable to do just that.

Al-Qaeda Plot

In another chilling passage in his speech, Bush laid out a scenario for labeling criticism of him in the U.S. news media as part of al-Qaeda's terrorist strategy. Bush claimed that bin Laden wrote to Taliban leader Mullah Omar about launching "a media campaign ... to create a wedge between the American people and their government."

Bush said this media campaign would send the American people messages, including "that their government [will] bring them more losses, in finances and casualties." Bush continued that bin Laden's media plan "aims at creating pressure from the American people on the American government to stop their campaign against Afghanistan."

Bush cited this supposed al-Qaeda manipulation of the U.S. media as one of the reasons that "bin Laden and his allies are absolutely convinced they can succeed in forcing America to retreat and causing our economic collapse. They believe our nation is weak and decadent, and lacking in patience and resolve. And they're wrong."

As Bush defines domestic criticism of his war's costs "in finances and casualties" as part of a terrorist scheme, it's not hard to imagine how Bush's devoted followers will react. Any expression of concern that Bush is charting a course toward mad destruction will be attacked as somehow acting in concert with terrorists.

Though Bush has said that his goal in waging his vague and seemingly endless "war on terror" is to defend freedom, the reality behind Bush's grim vision is the emergence of an American totalitarianism where objectionable thought will be repressed and dissent will be equated with treason.

The President has now made clear that he wants the Nov. 7 congressional elections to be a referendum on whether Americans will follow him into this dark future.

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

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Iran banking on split among world powers, letter warns

Last Updated Thu, 07 Sep 2006 15:04:44 EDT
CBC News

Iran is deliberately giving vague responses in its nuclear negotiations with six world powers in hopes that a split in the international community will weaken opposition to its nuclear program, a confidential document warns.

The document, labelled "In Confidence," was sent to dozens of European capitals last week.

"The Iranian goal obviously is to split the international community," said the document, drawn up by Britain, France and Germany, and made available to the Associated Press ahead of a key meeting in Berlin.
Diplomats from the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, Germany and China were to meet later Thursday to discuss the next steps toward Iran after it defied an Aug. 31 UN deadline to end uranium enrichment.

Washington, which believes Tehran is trying to build a nuclear bomb, favours imposing economic or political sanctions against Tehran, a move China and Russia don't support.

A number of European Union officials have also indicated they favour diplomatic efforts instead of sanctions.

Iran maintains its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, such as developing new energy sources.

The 1½-page document sent to European capitals last week outlines Iran's response to an offer of economic and political incentives offered by the six countries in exchange for ending uranium enrichment.

While Tehran's response to the incentives package has been kept confidential, Washington has described it as inadequate.

The document says Iran's reply "is along the lines of previous Iranian statements in that typically it neither accepts nor rejects outright" the offer. The letter describes the response as "verbose and complicated, and ambiguous in many places."

It adds that the Security Council must consider "further steps" against Iran, but doesn't specifically mention sanctions.

The Security Council will likely wait for the result of talks on Saturday between EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani before discussing sanctions, said diplomats.

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U.S. says progress made in talks on Iran sanctions

The Associated Press
Published: September 7, 2006

The United States expects Security Council agreement on U.N. sanctions against Iran within weeks unless Tehran does a last-minute turn and agrees to freeze uranium enrichment, a senior State Department official said Friday.

Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns additionally dismissed suggestions of cracks in the six-power coalition pushing Tehran to give up enrichment, in comments a day after those countries ended confidential discussions on Iran in the German capital.
Burns said further talks were needed on how harshly to penalize Tehran for its refusal to freeze uranium enrichment, as demanded by the Security Council, but a lot of progress was made at those discussions.

Outlining the U.S. view of the timetable on Iran in the coming weeks, Burns said the six nations would consult further by phone on Monday and hoped to present a unified approach on sanctions to their foreign ministers by the time the U.N. General Assembly opens Tuesday.

"It's fair to say we have ... a lot more work to do," he told guests at an event staged by The American Academy in Berlin. "But I believe we will be successful in passing the sanctions resolution shortly" in the Security Council.

"The American view is that following these discussions on Monday and perhaps some others early next week, we should move this to the Security Council and draft a resolution" on sanctions, he said.

Thursday's meeting in Berlin came amid broad moves by key European nations to enlist world support in pressuring Iran to give up uranium enrichment.

In a confidential document obtained by The Associated Press that was sent to dozens of capitals last week, Britain, France and Germany warned that Tehran's stalling tactics on whether it is ready to meet six-nation terms for new nuclear talks is an attempt "to split the international community."

But there were indications that France, a key U.S. ally in pushing for firm U.N. action, might be wavering.

While Iran has expressed a desire for negotiations, France, like the other permanent Security Council member nations and Germany - who are offering Iran a package of rewards - have insisted that Tehran first suspend enrichment activities before talks begin.

But French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy on Thursday appeared to suggest that demand was negotiable, telling reporters: "The question is to know at what moment this suspension takes place compared to negotiations."

Burns, on Friday, reiterated that the demand for suspension before talks stands among all six countries.

"I have not heard from any government from this group that we should change the basic offer, that hasn't changed," he said.

Still, a diplomat familiar with the U.S. stance said Burns was worried about the French statement, which would weaken what has been a unified approach among Western nations in the six-power group and on the Security Council for a need to move to sanctions if Iran remains defiant. He demanded anonymity for sharing confidential information with the AP.

Publicly, though, Burns remained upbeat on the unity of the six - the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.

"The Iranians are in a very tough position," he said Friday. "At first they thought, let's divide the United States from the EU-3 and that didn't succeed. The Iranians are obviously trying to divide Russia and China from the rest of us, and that hasn't succeeded."

He spoke on the eve of a crucial meeting between senior EU envoy Javier Solana and Ali Larijani, the chief Iranian nuclear negotiator. An Iranian official told AP the talks were set for Vienna, with Larijani scheduled to arrive Friday evening.

The talks are considered a final attempt to see if there is common ground to start negotiations between Iran and the six powers.

As the Americans and their allies worked at the Berlin meeting to overcome Russian and Chinese opposition to sanctions, the European document appealed to other countries for support.

The paper labeled "In Confidence" summarizes Iran's response to a six-power offer to Iran dangling the prospect of technical, economic and political rewards if it agrees to suspend enrichment before talks begin and consider a long-term moratorium on the technology, which can be used to make nuclear arms.

"The Iranian goal obviously is to split the international community," says the document, drawn up by Britain, France and Germany. While not specifically threatening U.N. sanctions, it says the Security Council will have to consider "further steps" if Tehran continues to defy the council by refusing to stop enrichment.

The six powers have also warned of punishments, including U.N. sanctions, if Tehran does not halt enrichment - something Iran refused to do by an Aug. 31 deadline set by the U.N. Security Council.

Iran's Aug. 22 response to the six-power offer has been kept confidential. But the United States and its allies have described it as unsatisfactory, primarily because of Tehran's refusal to consider freezing enrichment.

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Oily Money

China Will Be 'More Proactive' on Yuan, Minister Says

By Rob Delaney and Gemma Daley
Sept. 8 (Bloomberg)

China, under pressure to let the yuan strengthen, will be "more proactive and progressive'' in letting the market set the currency's value, Finance Minister Jin Renqing said.

"We have given the market a more important role in deciding the exchange-rate level and the market is playing a more important role already,'' Jin said at the end of a two-day meeting of 21 Asia-Pacific finance ministers in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi.
The yuan this week reached its highest against the dollar since China ended its peg to the U.S. currency in July 2005, after the central bank on Aug. 9 said it would use exchange-rate policy to help cool export-led economic growth. U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who attended the meeting, said a more flexible yuan would help cut global trade imbalances.

"We could actually see a faster appreciation of the yuan over the next few months'' as China seeks to slow the economy, said Hans Goetti, managing director in Singapore at Citigroup Private Bank, which oversees about $1.5 billion in Asia. "At the end of the day, China will decide, based on their domestic agenda, how fast they will move.''

He said Jin's statement didn't suggest a change in policy because it emphasized a gradual strengthening.

China will "approach the reform in a more proactive and progressive way,'' Jin told reporters. Currency changes won't take place "with one push,'' he said.

U.S. Trade Deficit

Last year, the U.S. trade deficit reached a record $716.7 billion, or 5.8 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. China's 2005 trade surplus reached a record $102 billion, helping fuel an economy that grew 11.3 percent in the second quarter.

Paulson, under pressure to push China to let the yuan appreciate, was on his first visit to Asia since he took office two months ago.

The former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. chief executive officer has a reputation as a China specialist, based on his 70 or so visits there before President George W. Bush chose him to succeed John Snow.

The world needs "currency flexibility in east Asia and China,'' Paulson told students today at a university in Hanoi.

The yuan has gained 2 percent against the dollar since the People's Bank of China ended the currency's peg to the dollar on July 21, 2005. The currency was little changed at 7.9485 against the dollar as of 5 p.m. in Shanghai, according to data Bloomberg compiled. It reached 7.9334 on Sept. 5.

Mirow, Juncker

Jean-Claude Juncker, the Prime Minister of Luxembourg and chairman of a committee of euro-region finance ministers, said in April that "more could be done'' with Chinese "monetary decisions,'' though he said "we don't want to lecture publicly our Chinese and Asian friends.'' German Deputy Finance Minister Thomas Mirow told reporters yesterday the yuan will be discussed at next week's G-7 meeting.

China's surplus with the European Union, its largest trading partner, surged to 106 billion euros ($131 billion) last year, according to Eurostat. Chinese data puts the 2005 deficit lower, at $70 billion.

Officials including Tang Xu, a research director at the People's Bank of China, have said the country needs a stronger currency to stall inflation. The yuan is a denomination of the renminbi, China's currency.

"I welcome the move by the Chinese authorities to ensure further flexibility in the renminbi,'' Australian Treasurer Peter Costello told reporters in Hanoi. "As China further develops, there will be a capacity to sequence reforms and introduce further flexibility.''

Restraints, Reserves

Restraints on the yuan are making it more difficult for China's central bank to control the money supply and the surge in bank lending, which is fuelling an investment boom the government is trying to cool.

A record trade surplus, rising foreign investment and inflows of capital betting on a yuan appreciation have flooded the Chinese financial system with cash. The World Bank says failure to cool expansion and lending might lead to a slump in the world's largest consumer of copper, cement and steel.

China's foreign-exchange reserves doubled in the past two years, reaching $941 billion at the end of June, more than the value of Russia's economy in 2005.

China's holdings, which overtook Japan's as the world's largest in February, could top $1 trillion this year, according to economists at Standard Chartered Bank.

Jin reiterated the government's policy of "gradual'' yuan reform, saying his country's economy is too small for any changes to the currency's value to balance global currency flows.

"China only occupies less than 5 percent of global GDP,'' he said. "I don't think the China exchange rate can play such a great role in the imbalances of the global economy.''

China's government has said it must avoid rapid fluctuations in the yuan's value because domestic financial institutions don't have enough hedging experience and too many exporters, operating on thin profit margins, would be put out of business.

"China will do it at its own pace, the way it suits them, and nobody else's,'' said Citigroup's Goetti.

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Oil slides to new five-month low

By Ikuko Kao
September 8, 2006

TOKYO - Oil extended a week of losses to strike a new five-month low under $67 on Friday after U.S. distillate supplies rose sharply and BP said it might be able to restore its Alaskan oilfield sooner than expected.
U.S. light crude for October delivery was down 53 cents at $66.79 a barrel by 0521 GMT after hitting a low of $66.75 a barrel, briefly surpassed Thursday's trough. Prices were falling for a fifth day to stand at their lowest since April 7.

London Brent crude fell 49 cents to $66.04.

Energy giant BP Plc said its Prudhoe Bay oilfield in Alaska, partially shut since August due to pipeline corrosion, could return to full capacity above 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) by end-October -- several months earlier than many estimates -- if regulators approved its plan to bypass a corroded pipeline.

The field, which supplies 8 percent of U.S. oil, is running at about 220,000 bpd. It was not immediately clear when the U.S. government would make a decision on the matter.

BP's decision to shut down North America's biggest field sent oil prices soaring above $77 a month ago, but prices have since slumped as a thus-far mild Atlantic hurricane season and healthy global oil inventory levels soothe supply concerns.

The BP comment came after U.S. government data showed domestic oil stocks were building up more quickly than analysts expected in the first week of the shoulder season between peak summer and winter oil demand.

"Traders are comfortable selling oil for the first time in a while," Tobin Gorey, a commodity strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, said in a research note.

"The U.S. inventory report last night points to comfortable supply conditions for now."


Distillate stocks, including winter heating oil, rose 3.1 million barrels to 139.9 million barrels in the week of September 1, much more than expected and the highest level since January 2002, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said.

Commercial crude stocks fell by a larger-than-expected 2.2 million barrels last week, but supplies remain about 6 percent higher than a year earlier and OPEC boosted production last month to its highest level this year, a Reuters survey found.

Gasoline stocks rose by 700,000 barrels to 206.9 million barrels, against analysts' forecasts for a decline. S]

Oil prices have fallen almost 8 percent over the past two weeks and stand about $12 below record-highs above $78, with the breach of a key technical level potentially deepening losses.

On Thursday, U.S. crude settled below the 200-day moving average -- a major technical trigger for speculators -- for the first time since mid-March. It continued to trade below the average -- effective at $67.48 a barrel -- on Friday.

"That's done little except slow the rally over the past few years but there's always a first time," Gorey said.

Oil has breached the 200-day average several times since 2003, but has not remained below it for more than two weeks.

Analysts say prices have also shed much of the premium attached to concerns over Iran's nuclear row with the West as there is growing doubt over sanctions against the world's fourth-largest oil exporter.

Six world powers said after a meeting on Thursday there was growing opposition to U.S. calls for sanctions against Iran, although Tehran has failed to meet a U.N. Security Council demand that it suspend nuclear enrichment.

OPEC is expected to keep pumping at full capacity for the rest of 2006 despite ample supplies in key consumer nations. The group will meet to review its output policy on Monday in Vienna.

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Armitage says he was source in CIA leak

Associated Press
Fri Sep 8, 2006

Summary: The former No. 2 State Department official said Thursday he inadvertently disclosed the identity of CIA employee Valerie Plame in conversations with two reporters in 2003.

Confirming that he was the source of a leak that triggered a federal investigation, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said he never intended to reveal Plame's identity. He apologized for his conversations with syndicated columnist Robert Novak and Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward. [...]

Armitage's admission suggested that the leak did not originate at the White House as retribution for Wilson's comments about the Iraq war. Wilson, a former ambassador, discounted reports that then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had tried to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger to make a nuclear weapon - claims that wound up in President Bush's 2003 State of the Union address.
WASHINGTON - The former No. 2 State Department official said Thursday he inadvertently disclosed the identity of CIA employee Valerie Plame in conversations with two reporters in 2003.

Confirming that he was the source of a leak that triggered a federal investigation, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said he never intended to reveal Plame's identity. He apologized for his conversations with syndicated columnist Robert Novak and Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward.

For almost three years, an investigation led by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has tried to determine whether Bush administration officials intentionally revealed Plame's identity as covert operative as a way to punish her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, for criticizing the Bush administration's march to war with

"I made a terrible mistake, not maliciously, but I made a terrible mistake," Armitage said in a telephone interview from his home Thursday night.

He said he did not realize Plame's job was covert.

Armitage's admission suggested that the leak did not originate at the White House as retribution for Wilson's comments about the Iraq war. Wilson, a former ambassador, discounted reports that then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had tried to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger to make a nuclear weapon - claims that wound up in President Bush's 2003 State of the Union address.

Armitage said he was not a part of a conspiracy to reveal Plame's identity and did not know whether one existed.

He described his June 2003 conversation with Woodward as an afterthought at the end of a lengthy interview.

"He said, 'Hey, what's the deal with Wilson?' and I said, 'I think his wife works out there,'" Armitage recalled.

He described a more direct conversation with Novak, who was the first to report on the issue: "He said to me, 'Why did the CIA send Ambassador Wilson to Niger?' I said, as I remember, 'I don't know, but his wife works out there.'"

Armitage, whose admission was first reported by CBS News Thursday, said he cooperated fully with Fitzgerald's investigation. He was never a target of the investigation and did not hire a lawyer. He agreed to speak to reporters after Fitzgerald released him from a promise of confidentiality.

Armitage said he considered coming forward late last month when a flurry of news reports identified him as the leak. But he said he did not want to be accused of trying to get the story out during the summer's slow news cycle.

"I did what I did," Armitage said. "I embarrassed my president, my secretary, my department, my family and I embarrassed the Wilsons. And for that I'm very sorry."

I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, a former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, is the only administration official charged in the CIA leak case. He faces trial in January on charges he lied to authorities about conversations he had with reporters about Plame.

Armitage said he assumed Plame's job was not a secret because it was included in a State Department memo.

Comment: So, for three years, it was a big secret. Then suspicions arise about Armitage, but he didn't want to say anything during the slow summer news cycle. Instead, he comes out today, just after the Bush administration's new talk of "Islamic fascism" and right in the middle of the increasingly heated "campaigning" for the upcoming elections.

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Senate panel scrubs vote on Bolton as U.N. envoy

By Vicki Allen
Thu Sep 7, 2006

WASHINGTON - A U.S. Senate committee scrubbed its planned vote on Thursday on whether to keep John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations, as a key Republican remained undecided on the nomination by President George W. Bush.

Rhode Island Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee, who is locked in a tough re-election bid, wanted more answers from Bolton on the Middle East and other issues before voting, Chafee's spokesman said.

Chafee, the only Republican who has not publicly committed to supporting Bolton, faces a Republican primary election on Tuesday.
Committee Chairman Richard Lugar said the committee will meet on Bolton again, but did not say when.

"I'm not going to make any comments on time. It's going to require a lot of consultation with members on both sides of the aisle," the Indiana Republican said.

Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, a fierce opponent of Bolton, said, "I think the nomination is in deep trouble again, as it should be."

Given Democratic opposition to Bolton's nomination, all Republicans on the committee would have to back him in order to send his name to the Senate with a full endorsement.

Chafee voiced reservations on Bolton last year, but ended up sticking with committee Republicans.

He planned to send Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice a letter seeking more information from Bolton on some issues, Chafee's spokesman said. "The senator raised questions at the hearing with Mr. Bolton and has not received satisfactory answers," spokesman Stephen Hourahan said.

Chafee is a moderate Republican in a Democratic state, and he faces primary challenge next week from a conservative opponent.

Bolton is championed by foreign-policy conservatives, but Democrats contend Bolton bullied intelligence analysts to conform to his hawkish views in his last job as top U.S. arms control negotiator.

Bolton's opponents also say his harsh criticisms of the United Nations make him unsuitable for the job.

After Senate Democrats blocked a floor vote on Bolton's nomination last year, Bush bypassed the Senate and appointed him during a congressional recess. But that appointment expires in January and the White House wants him confirmed for the rest of Bush's term which ends in January 2009.

Lugar said the Senate has adequate time to act on Bolton this year. While Congress will break in early October for the November congressional elections, a lame-duck session after the election is all but certain.

Dodd said he intended to try to block a full Senate vote on Bolton if the nomination does come out of the committee.

"I'm stunned that we're even considering this," Dodd said, noting that a number of retired U.S. diplomats and sitting ambassadors at the United Nations have voiced opposition.

Ohio Republican Sen. George Voinovich -- who bucked the White House last year and was key in derailing Bolton's confirmation -- reversed his position in July, which Republicans had hoped would clear the way to confirm him.

Voinovich said Bolton has "demonstrated his ability, especially in recent months, to work with others and follow the president's lead by working multilaterally."

He said he could not "imagine a worse message to send to those opposing democracy than to replace the person our president has entrusted to lead our nation at the United Nations."

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Book says CIA tried to provoke Saddam to war

Julian Borger in Washington
Thursday September 7, 2006
The Guardian

More than a year before the invasion of Iraq the CIA devised a plan, codenamed Anabasis, to use Iraqi exile fighters to seize an air base and declare a revolt against Saddam Hussein in the hope that his response would create a pretext for war, according to a book published tomorrow.

The plan was ultimately rejected by General Tommy Franks, who led the invasion in March 2003, but the CIA-backed fighters carried out sabotage operations and assassinations of Ba'athist officials in the run-up to the war, the book, called Hubris, reports.

Hubris, by investigative journalists Michael Isikoff and David Corn, adds more weight to a body of evidence that the White House was determined to go to war from early 2002. Planning on Anabasis, which cost $400m (£210m), started at the end of 2001 and was approved by President Bush in February 2002. CIA agents entered Iraq to recruit volunteers two months later. Talking to his spokesman, Ari Fleischer, in May 2002, President Bush made clear his intentions towards Saddam when he said: "I'm going to kick his sorry motherfucking ass all over the Mid East," according to another press aide, Adam Levine, who witnessed the conversation.

The covert CIA preparations for war have been previously reported, but this is the first time details of the plan have been made public. According to the book, the CIA flew 80 former Iraqi soldiers into the US in the summer of 2002, and trained them at an energy department nuclear test site, 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

They rehearsed seizing an Iraqi airbase at Nukhaib, near the Saudi border, and broadcasting a call to Iraqi units to join a revolt against Saddam. The CIA expected Saddam to strike back and violate the no-fly zone, creating a pretext for US-British military intervention. "The idea was to create an incident in which Saddam lashes out," John Maguire, a CIA agent who ran the operation told the authors, adding that if the plan worked "you'd have a premise for war: we've been invited in".

The CIA-trained fighters were flown to Jordan in January 2003 to wait for a green light which never came.

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US renews hunt for Osama bin Laden

08 September 2006 09:48

The US Senate has voted to re-instate an intelligence unit that is dedicated to tracking down al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

In July, the CIA said the unit had been disbanded because al-Qaeda cells now operated independently from the organisation's leadership.

The decision to re-instate the unit was made as the Senate passed a $469 billion Pentagon funding bill amid bitter exchanges between Republicans and Democrats.
The bill allocates $63 billion in emergency money for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. It is thought the figure could climb to $70 billion after negotiators from both houses of Congress finalise the legislation.

The cost of the two wars is now approaching $500 billion.

The Senate also voted to add $700 million to combat opium production in Afghanistan, where a resurgence of the Taliban has been accompanied with increased cultivation of poppies.

The development came yesterday as the Arabic language station al-Jazeera broadcast previously unseen video footage from 2001, allegedly showing Osama bin Laden meeting some of those involved in the 11 September attacks.

With the five year anniversary of the attacks on Monday, US President George W Bush has claimed the US is engaged in an ideological struggle with militant groups such as al-Qaeda.

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Bomb's Away!

Youth gang rape reported in Milwaukee

Associated Press
September 8, 2006

MILWAUKEE - It began with a crush, police said, and turned into one of the most shocking crimes in Milwaukee's long, violent summer: an 11-year-old girl was sexually assaulted by as many as 20 boys while a 16-year-old girl she was romantically interested in watched and coached her.

The 16-year-old and a 15-year-old boy have been charged in juvenile court in the alleged attack, which authorities said took place Monday in a house on the city's north side. The teenage girl's 40-year-old uncle might also be charged, authorities said.
The youth's names were not released because of their ages.

Investigators are still attempting to identify and locate the boys who were in the house.

"We're dealing with a lot of nicknames, so we're trying to track down these people," said prosecutor Matthew Torbenson.

The 11-year-old girl told police she was interested in the teenage girl, who looked and dressed like a boy, authorities said in court records. She and two friends went to the teen's house, where the child performed oral sex on three teenage boys, the court records said.

The teenage girl's 40-year-old uncle admitted he also had sex with the 11-year-old and told police that his niece was coaching the child, the records said.

The 11-year-old told police she then went to the basement, where there were about 15 males and "began to choose who she wanted to perform oral sex on," the records said.

The teenage girl told police that the 11-year-old had told her she wanted to perform oral sex on the boys in the house, according to court records. The 16-year-old denied encouraging her.

The teenage girl and the 15-year-old boy were charged with being a party to sexual assault. Torbenson said he will probably seek to have them tried as adults.

The reported attack punctuated Milwaukee's felonious summer, which started with a Memorial Day weekend in which 28 people were shot. Though homicide numbers are lower than 2005, assaults are up by 22 percent and robberies by 36 percent, Police Chief Nan Hegerty told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Several mob attacks have taken place in Milwaukee's inner city in recent years. In 2002, more than a dozen people, mostly boys, chased a man through the streets and beat him to death with shovel handles, rakes and tree limbs.

A mentally ill man died after being beaten and robbed by a group in 2004. Four days after that attack, a 14-year-old boy was kicked, punched and hit on the head with a piece of lumber after he exchanged words with a girl. He was in a coma for two weeks. Also that summer, four brothers were beaten by a group armed with bats, bottles, sticks and socks stuffed with canned food.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett described the latest alleged crimes as disgusting and deeply troubling.

"When you have people working in concert and no one in the group is showing conscience, that's a real problem," he said.

"It almost leaves me speechless," said Barbara Nuell-Moore, director of the neighborhood-improvement group Project Respect. "It is just senseless acts of violence. It is inhumane. It is embarrassing to the city of Milwaukee and its people. ... There should be outrage."

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Dozens hurt in explosion in Indian town

September 8, 2006

MUMBAI - Dozens of people were wounded in an explosion outside a mosque in the western Indian state of Maharashtra on Friday, police said.

"We have heard of a blast outside a mosque in Malegaon (town). There are reports of injuries but we have no news of any deaths yet," P.S. Pasricha, Maharashtra's police chief, told Reuters.

He said thousands had gathered at the mosque for Friday prayers in the town which is 260 km (160 miles) northeast of Mumbai, India's financial hub.
Police said they were not sure if the blast was caused by a bomb or by a cooking gas cylinder exploding accidentally.

The blast came days after Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that intelligence agencies had warned of more terrorist attacks across the country, possibly on economic, and religious targets as well as on nuclear installations.

India has been on a heightened security alert after a series of bombs on commuter trains in Mumbai killed 186 people in July. The attack was blamed on Islamist militant groups with links across the border in Pakistan.

Malegaon has been hit by religious violence in the past. In May, police recovered a cache of explosives and automatic rifles from the region based on information they said was provided by arrested Islamist militants.

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Twelve dead in Russia mine

By Oleg Shchedrov
September 8, 2006

MOSCOW - Rescuers on Friday found the bodies of 12 miners who were trapped underground by a fire at a gold mine in Eastern Siberia and searched for 21 missing, the mine owner said.

The fire was sparked on Thursday by welding work deep in the central shaft of the Darasun mining complex, owned by London-listed Highland Gold, in Russia's remote Chita region on the Chinese border.
Russia's environmental watchdog Rosprirodnadzor said it would investigate the company's activities, including mines in other regions. Highland Gold shares fell 4.5 percent on Thursday, but recovered 0.57 percent early on Friday.

Highland Gold Mining said the bodies of 12 miners had been recovered, though Russia's Emergencies Ministry earlier put the figure at 11.

"The main thing today and now is to save the people and finish off this rescue operation," said Dmitry Yakushkin, the company's communications director.

A spokesman for Russia's Emergencies Ministry said the fire has been localized but still not put out.

"There is still hope of finding survivors," he said.

Many of the rescuers, who are trying to reach the trapped miners through side tunnels, suffered smoke inhalation. Some were taken to hospital.


Interfax news agency quoted officials as saying that high temperatures and poisonous gases also complicated the search.

Russian media said the miners had portable breathing devices, which should allow them to hold out for several hours, and air pumped into the shaft improved the chances of survival.

Sixty-four miners were below ground when the fire broke out. Some managed to escape through a tunnel. The fire broke out at a depth of between 85 and 135 meters (255 to 405 feet).

Russia's gold mines have a generally better safety record than the more hazardous coal mining industry plagued by fatal accidents since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Rosprirodnadzor head Oleg Mitvol said on Thursday technical violations have been found not only on the Darasun mining complex, but in all other Highland Gold Mining Assets in Russia.

He said checks had been made, violations found, instructions given but "the bulk of them have never been implemented."

In response, Yakushkin said there would be an investigation "but we're not entering into any polemic discussion now."

The Darasun mine is the smaller of Highland Gold's two operational gold mines in Russia. The complex, in the foothills of Chita, produced 11,761 ounces of gold in the first half of this year, around 13 percent of the company's total production.

Highland Gold has forecast total gold output this year of 180,000 to 185,000 ounces. The company is one-fifth owned by Canada's Barrick Gold, the world's largest gold miner.

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Five killed in Pakistan bomb blast

Friday September 8, 2006

At least five people were killed and more than a dozen wounded when a powerful bomb exploded in southwestern Pakistan's restive province of Baluchistan, police said.

The bomb went off in front of a hospital in Rakhni town of Barkhan district southeast of the provincial capital Quetta, police said.
"The blast killed three people on the spot and two others died in hospital," local police officer Enayatullah Khan told AFP.

He said some 16 people were wounded and that four were in critical condition.

Officials said it was a homemade bomb, fitted with a timer.

District police chief Arif Akram said the bomb was placed in a dustbin at a bus stand near the hospital.

"It exploded soon after a bus arrived and some passengers disembarked," Akram told AFP by telephone.

He said an investigation was under way.

The impoverished province of Baluchistan has been tense since the killing of tribal leader Nawab Akbar Bugti last month.

Bugti, who had led tribal rebels in a violent campaign for autonomy and a greater share of revenue from Baluchistan's natural resources, died in a cave hideout in an army operation on August 26.

The death of the veteran Baluch nationalist sparked violence that left 10 people dead in bomb blasts, attacks and clashes with police.

Baluchistan, which borders Iran and Afghanistan, has seen nearly two years of attacks on pipelines, railway tracks and government installations.

Hundreds of people have died since the unrest erupted in late 2004.

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Target Islam

US and Europe are united in rejection of 'war on terror'

By Stephen Castle in Brussels
The Independent
07 September 2006

George Bush's beleaguered foreign policy has been dealt a serious blow as a poll showed that Americans and Europeans reject the US President's pursuit of the "war on terror".

For the first time in its five-year existence, the Transatlantic Trends opinion poll found that more Americans opposed President Bush's handling of international affairs - 58 per cent - than approved of it - 40 per cent.

The survey, conducted by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, provides a devastating commentary on the failure of President Bush and Tony Blair to convince the public of the merits of the "war on terror".

President Bush's approach has been shown to be increasingly unpopular, despite the fact that citizens on both continents share a growing fear of terrorism. European opposition to US foreign policy has risen over the past five years from 56 per cent to 77 per cent.
Since 2002 the proportion of Europeans who view US leadership in world affairs as desirable has reversed, dropping from 64 per cent positive then, to 37 per cent in yesterday's survey. Among European countries polled, which included France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and the UK, the greatest decline was in Germany - although Europeans distinguish between their views of President Bush and their attitude towards the US.

Craig Kennedy, the president of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, said: "It's clear from our survey that Americans and Europeans continue to feel strongly about issues that most fundamentally affect our security. And with a majority of Americans for the first time joining Europeans in disapproving of President Bush's handling of international affairs, the US cannot afford to go it alone on global challenges."

The slump in confidence in the White House comes despite the fact that those polled are alarmed by the threat of terrorism. According to the poll, 66 per cent of Europeans regard it as "extremely important" (up from 58 per cent), as do 79 per cent of Americans, up from 72 per cent.

While President Bush's war on terror is failing to convince Americans and Europeans, his policy in the Middle East is having a negative impact in Turkey, the one predominantly Muslim country covered by the poll.

The report saidTurkey had cooled towards the US and Europe but warmed towards Iran. On a 100-point "thermometer" scale, Turkish "warmth" toward the US declined from 28 degrees in 2004 to 20 in 2006.

With the mood souring over talks on Ankara's ambitions to join the EU, Turkish sentiment towards Europe has also dropped from 52 degrees to 45. Over the same period, Turkish warmth toward Iran rose from 34 degrees to 43.

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France expels controversial imam for terrorist ties

PARIS, Sept 7, 2006 (AFP)

A controversial imam with a conviction for supporting terrorism was deported by France to Algeria Thursday, the interior ministry said.

Chelali Benchellali, 61, a former preacher at a mosque in the suburbs of Lyon, was put on board a flight to Algiers from Orly airport in Paris.
Benchellali was given a six-month jail term in June for his role in an underground network that was found guilty of plotting to bomb targets in Paris.

He was not imprisoned as he had already served the time in pre-trial detention.

Two of Benchellali's sons, Menad and Hafed, were also given jail terms in the June trial.

A third son, Mourad, was one of six French nationals imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay and returned by the US to France. At their trial in July the prosecutor asked for a one-year jail term for Mourad.

A verdict in that trial is due later this month.

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Nato's chief commander appeals for more aid for Afghanistan fight

Declan Walsh in Islamabad
Friday September 8, 2006
The Guardian

Nato's top commander appealed yesterday for helicopters, planes and hundreds of extra troops to reinforce the alliance's Afghan force against the Taliban. Returning from a visit to Afghanistan, General James Jones admitted he had been taken aback by the ferocity of violence in the south of the country.

"We are a little bit surprised at the level of intensity, and that the opposition in some areas are not relying on traditional hit-and-run tactics," he said in Belgium. He is taking his demand for "modest reinforcements" to a meeting of Nato generals today and tomorrow.
The Taliban have killed 21 Nato soldiers and wounded 80 so far this year in fighting that has surpassed Nato's worst forecasts. Three British soldiers were killed and 12 injured in the latest clashes. The figure does not include 21 dead from non-battle incidents, such as last week's Nimrod crash.

Gen Jones said that his request was not a "desperate move" but simply to give additional insurance to "make sure we can carry the moment".

Joining the appeal, Nato's civilian leader, the secretary general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, made a sideways swipe at countries that have shied from the southern insurgency. "Those allies who perhaps are doing less in Afghanistan should think: shouldn't we do more?" he said. His comments were clearly directed at countries such as Germany, which has 2,700 troops in relatively safe northern Afghanistan. Spain also has tight restrictions, known as caveats, on where and how its troops are used. Gen Jones is to plead for the abolition of the caveats at the Nato meeting.

There is alarm in countries suffering the heaviest losses. In Canada the NDP party recently suggested that the country's military should abandon Afghanistan and enter peace talks with the Taliban.

The sense of panic was heightened by a recent UN announcement that opium cultivation has risen by a staggering 60% this year, underlining the failure to stamp out the drugs trade and associated corruption. Britain leads the international anti-narcotics effort. Nato stressed that its soldiers would not get involved in poppy eradication. "It's not as simple as saying 'let's burn the poppy fields,'" said Mr De Hoop Scheffer.

The Taliban resurgence has increased pressure on Pakistan. President Pervez Musharraf visited Kabul yesterday on a fence-mending mission after months of hostile exchanges with his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai. The two issued a joint statement pledging to fight cross-border infiltration and "Talibanisation".

Behind the bad news, however, Nato is scoring significant military victories over the Taliban. It claims to have killed more than 250 fighters in Kandahar since the start of Operation Medusa last Saturday. The Taliban dispute the figure.

Gen Jones predicted that his forces would soon turn the corner. "In the relatively near future, certainly before the winter, we will see this decisive moment in the region turn in favour of the troops that represent the government," he said.

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