- Signs of the Times for Wed, 13 Sep 2006 -

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Editorial: Kurt Sonnenfeld - FEMA's WhistleBlower?

Joe Quinn
Signs of the Times

Kurt Sonnenfeld (right) at 'Ground Zero'
As a contract employee for FEMA's Colorado regional branch, 35 year old Kurt Sonnenfeld was dispatched to videotape and photograph the rescue and recovery effort at ground zero in the weeks after the 9/11 attacks. There was no restriction on what Sonnenfeld could film and no documents were signed by him that passed ownership of the footage to FEMA. According to the TVtechnology website, Sonnenfeld was FEMA’s Denver-based Region 8 Public Affairs Officer and he worked the site as one of only four FEMA photographers along with FEMA's Denver-based Region 8 Deputy Public Affairs officer Jim Chestnutt.

Sonnenfeld's accomplishments include:

At about 1.40 am on the morning of January 1st 2002, police officers answered a possible suicide call from the Sonnenfeld's home in LoDo Colorado. The police were forced to break a window to enter the house because, according to Sonnenfeld, he couldn't open the door because he didn't have the keys. "I even helped them in by moving furniture" Sonnenfeld stated.

Police found Nancy Sonnenfeld on a chaise lounge in the bedroom with a gunshot wound to her head. Friends and family attested to a failing marriage and Kurt Sonnenfeld's drug habit (heroin) as the cause, and police claimed that they knew that Nancy Sonnenfeld planned to leave her husband because she had found him using heroin and sleeping with other women during a trip to Thailand in November 2001. "It's hard to believe," said Nancy's Sonnenfeld's father, Bill Campbell. "We don't hate Kurt. He was a wonderful guy and they had a wonderful marriage for 10 years. I know he loved our Nancy. We knew they were beginning to have problems, but we absolutely don't know what happened that night." Nancy Sonnenfeld's mother however said she never believed that her daughter killed herself: "I'm glad I've had the time to get over all of this because now I can face it," Eleanor Campbell said. "We loved Kurt. But he was not the same Kurt we used to know. In any case, for some as yet unknown reason, Denver police were disinclined to believe that they were dealing with a case of suicide and took Sonnenfeld into custody where he remained for several months awaiting trial.

On June 14th 2002, one day before the trial date, Deputy District Attorney Michelle Ann Amico dismissed first-degree murder charges against Sonnenfeld apparently on the basis of a suicide note written by Nancy Sonnenfeld which police had not taken into evidence. Public defender Carrie Thompson stated: "Our investigators found a letter written in Nancy's own hand consistent with a suicide letter, although it was very cryptic," The letter said, "What is more beautiful than love and death?" with the word "love" scratched out. "Kurt, please get help." The letter was found behind a framed photograph of Kurt Sonnenfeld. Nancy Sonnenfeld's sister, Amy Leek, said the family knew this was coming but would have no comment on the news. Nancy's Sonnenfeld's father, Bill Campbell. stated: "It's hard to believe, we don't hate Kurt. He was a wonderful guy and they had a wonderful marriage for 10 years. I know he loved our Nancy. We knew they were beginning to have problems, but we absolutely don't know what happened that night."

According to Sonnenfeld, police abused him during his stay in prison. "Police beat me and at the precinct one of them suffocated me and another forced me to inhale something I think may have been pepper. I was kept in solitary confinement with no water and no windows. The toilet was a hole in the middle of the floor. It had to be flushed from outside. They flushed it often for fun, as that flooded the room." Sonnenfeld also claimed that police hid and tampered with evidence, ignored the suicide note and dismissed his request for a polygraph test. "Police started lying to hide my injuries suffered during three beatings in jail. They said my wife was shot in the back of the head or in her chest. There is clear evidence that she shot herself behind the temple. Paraffin tests showed residue of gunpowder in her hand and none on mine and the gun had her fingerprints and not mine" stated Sonnenfeld. He accused one named Denver detective of seeking to destroy his reputation and feeding the press false information, adding that the detective had contradicted assertions that he made during an earlier court hearing.

After his release in 2002, Sonnenfeld filed a law suit against the police for $20 million for false arrest, false imprisonment, deprivation of civil rights, and brutality. On arriving home from prison Sonnenfeld claims that his computer was missing and he began to be harassed in various ways; light bulbs at his home would be found unscrewed, locks unlocked, and he would be followed and photographed despite taking refuge at friends' homes in other cities and states.

During the period after his release in June 2002, Sonnenfeld claims that federal authorities asked a co-worker (at ground zero) about the tapes he had made of the wreckage of the WTC site and that the co-worker stated that he believed that Sonnenfeld had handed them over to the authorities in New York. In reality, Sonnenfeld claims that he had stored them in a make-up box in a closet.

In February 2003, Sonnenfeld traveled to the Argentine coastal city of San Bernardo staying in the apartment of the uncle of a friend, where he met his current wife Paula who he married three months later in April 2003. Since then Sonnenfeld has claimed that the harassment continued in Argentina claiming in a October 2005 article in the Buenos Aires Herald that he and his wife are followed and photographed To support these assertions, Sonnenfeld provided pictures showing a man allegedly taking pictures of him in Puerto Madero. He also provided a picture of a message sent to his cell phone that read, “Watch what you are doing.” and signed “any,” which his wife Paula takes for “anybody.”

After moving to Argentina, Sonnenfeld had the make-up box containing video evidence from ground zero shipped to him along with other possessions. At the end of July 2004, he and his wife went to the American embassy in Buenos Aires to enquire about a visa for his wife to travel to the US. Sonnenfeld and his wife claim that Paula was treated "cruelly" by embassy staff. Since moving to Argentina, Sonnenfeld has worked as a TV producer and participated as an actor in a Burger King TV advertisement that was aired in the US. Sonnenfeld claims that he offered Twin Towers footage to several local Argentine TV programs for the third anniversary of the attack, but nothing that he had not shown to other media before.

In September 2004, US prosecutors filed new charges against Sonnenfeld over his first wife's death stating that new information had come to light based mainly on the testimony of two men who had shared the same cell as Sonnenfeld in 2002. According to reports, one month after Sonnenfeld was released, former cell-mate Robert Dryer said that Sonnenfeld had told him how he shot his wife behind the ear and put her finger on the gun’s trigger as he pulled it himself. Another former inmate, Damian Whitehead, said he and Sonnenfeld met after they were released from jail. According to him, Sonnenfeld said he killed his wife and that he couldn’t bear to have her leave him. Sonnenfeld told the Buenos Aires Herald: "In August 2004, I delivered some demo to a TV producer. A week later, on August 31, Interpol arrested me. I find that extremely coincidental. A month before, I had gone to the embassy.

Sonnenfeld spent seven months in Villa Devoto prison in Buenos Aires pending a US extradition request after the refiling of charges of first-degree murder by the US government that he dismisses as groundless. He shows a copy of a US Embassy extradition request dated August 13, 2004, that reads, “The ensuing investigation has established that Mr Sonnenfeld killed her.” But Sonnenfeld argues, “That is prejudging and reviving the same lies that had been already dismissed. The Argentine judge dealing with the extradition request, Daniel Rafecas, finally rejected it on the grounds that Sonnenfeld has sought asylum in Argentina and that the US government has not provided sufficient guarantees that Sonnenfeld will not face the death penalty if extradited. In response, the US government appealed the ruling and the decision now rests in the hands of the Argentine Supreme Court. Sonnenfeld has appealed to various humanitarian organisations including the Human Rights Commission of the Argentine parliament where, on Tuesday 12th September 2006, discussions began on whether or not to provide Sonnenfeld with political asylum. Part of the discussions will include proposals to deal with limiting the scope of the actions on Argentine soil of agents of the intelligence agencies of other nations, a point which was raised as a result of Sonnenfeld's testimony about his harassment since arriving in Argentina.

In an interview with Argentine daily newspaper el Pais on September 10th 2006, Sonnenfeld, now 41, stated that the fact that he continued to be harassed even after he moved to Argentina led him to begin to understand that the core of the problem was the tapes he had made at ground zero: "At that point I realised that they were after something else: the tapes of ground zero in my possession."

"In faltering Spanish and with the help of his wife Paula, Kurt answers each question with abundant documentation. He produces papers, signed by the Deputy District Attorney, which show that he was finally cleared as the author of his first wife's murder. He offers copies of American newspaper articles in which the Denver police are denounced for having dismissed evidence that his wife committed "suicide", and the police photos of his bruised face, evidence, he says, of police brutality. Sonnenfeld also makes reference to the testimony of the two prisoners who, in exchange for a reduction in their sentences, swore to the same police that I accused of torture, that I had confessed to the murder of my wife" The testimonies reopened the case and dismissed my suit against the Denver police. Sonnenfeld displays documents to show that he never attempted to hide his identity and even presented himself to the US embassy in an effort to return to the US with his new wife, an act which, two weeks later, led to his arrest and the serving of an extradition warrant.

- What exactly was he able to document at the WTC site?

I was the only person, with camera in hand, with total and absolute access to any area of Ground Zero and the WTC. Any other cameras that were within that area would have been confiscated and the the person carrying them arrested.

- But what exactly are in these images of yours that could contradict the official US government version of events on 9/11?

What I saw at certain moments and in certain places...is very frightening, I don't know who to put it in words, what I saw leads me to the terrible conclusion that there was foreknowledge of what was going to happen. The precautions that were taken to save certain things that the authorities there considered irreplaceable or invaluable. For example, certain things were missing that could only have been removed with a truck, yet after the first plane hit one of the towers, everything in manhattan collapsed and no one could have gotten near the towers to do that.

- What things were removed?

Several offices of the US intelligence agencies were located in the WTC, including the second most important CIA building in the country. From some of these locations certain documentation that was irreplaceable was removed. I don't want to give too many details because our future, our lives, depend on this. The information of which I speak is already distributed in several places."

On February 23rd 2006, Sonnenfeld displayed a selection of his photographs from Ground Zero at the La Bohéme Salón gallery in Buenos Aires. The Buenos Aires Herald reported:

A fireman works amid the debris of Ground Zero just hours after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack that razed the Twin Towers in New York, as pictured by US citizen Kurt Sonnenfeld, who claims to be the only videographer given full access by the US government to record rescue works. An exhibit of 28 Ground Zero pictures taken by Sonnenfeld and never shown before opened yesterday for about a month. The United States has requested that Argentina extradite Sonnenfeld on charges that in 2002 he killed his first wife and the case is in the hands of Argentina’s Supreme Court of Justice. Sonnenfeld, 43, claims that she took her own life. He was detained for several months in Denver, Colorado, and one day before a trial was due to start a judge dismissed the charges and he was released in June 2002.

He publicly accused US police of torturing and persecuting him. In February 2003, he came for a month’s holiday in Argentina, where he married an Argentine citizen Paula. The pictures he is now exhibiting came to Buenos Aires in a make-up box, hidden in his furniture. Asked by the Herald in an interview last October whether he thought that the alleged persecution was linked to his work as a videographer, he simply said, “The US authorities are trying to extradite me under false pretenses.”

Case closed? What seems obvious is the fact that, if Sonnenfeld really does have evidence to prove a government conspiracy on 9/11, he knew about it within a few weeks of the attacks themselves. It is also reasonable to suggest that he is (or was on 9/11) an employee of one of the intelligence agencies involved in the perpetration of the attacks since it is unlikely that the one of the only photographers allowed into Ground Zero to document the evidence would have been just an average Joe. The questions that remain then concern the reality of all that has happened since. That Sonnenfeld was in his house on the morning of January 1st 2002 when his first wife died from a gunshot wound seems beyond dispute. That within a year of his somewhat miraculous release from prison in 2002 he moved to Argentina, quickly remarried, and is now the subject of an extradition warrant by the US government is also clear, along with the fact that the Argentine government seems reluctant to hand him over.

If we are to believe his claims, we can assume that Sonnenfeld has not yet released all of the evidence in his possession of a government conspiracy on 9/11 and is perhaps waiting on the most opportune moment to do so. If he is guilty of murdering his wife and is using the "evidence of conspiracy" that he possesses to ensure his continuing liberty, then his evidence may never be released. If however he is innocent of the murder and is being harassed with a trumped up charge precisely because he has evidence of a 9/11 government conspiracy, then it would seem sensible for him to release the details at some point in the near future. Whatever the case, the saga of Kurt Sonnenfeld appears to be but one more detail in the sordid tale that has been the US government's continuing attempts to distort and cover up the massive and growing evidence that the 9/11 attacks were undeniably the work of elements of the US government itself.













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Editorial: A Pathocrat Speaks His Mind

Henry See
13 September 2006
Signs of the Times

It is our hypothesis, backed by the work of Andrew Lobaczewski and our own research, that the people in power on our planet have plans to kill off a large portion of the world's population. The psychopaths, those human-looking predators without conscience, have no love for the rest of humanity. It is a life and death struggle between them and us because they know that if the true nature of their existence as humanity's natural predator ever come to light, they would lose everything.

Every once in awhile, their real aims slip through the filters and appear in the media. It may be because the media itself has been subjected to the process of ponerization for so long that statements such as those below no longer register to the journalists and editors who manage the news as the vile, hateful words that they are.

In this case, CNN had the kindness to report on some honest, but no less frightening for that, words spoken by US Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne:
Air Force chief: Test weapons on testy U.S. mobs

POSTED: 7:56 p.m. EDT, September 12, 2006

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Nonlethal weapons such as high-power microwave devices should be used on American citizens in crowd-control situations before being used on the battlefield, the Air Force secretary said Tuesday.

The object is basically public relations. Domestic use would make it easier to avoid questions from others about possible safety considerations, said Secretary Michael Wynne.

"If we're not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens, then we should not be willing to use it in a wartime situation," said Wynne. "(Because) if I hit somebody with a nonlethal weapon and they claim that it injured them in a way that was not intended, I think that I would be vilified in the world press."

The Air Force has paid for research into nonlethal weapons, but he said the service is unlikely to spend more money on development until injury problems are reviewed by medical experts and resolved.

Nonlethal weapons generally can weaken people if they are hit with the beam. Some of the weapons can emit short, intense energy pulses that also can be effective in disabling some electronic devices.
The cold-blooded, ruthless, and arrogant nature of our rulers is beautifully captured in his words. Especially the phrase, "If we're not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens, then we should not be willing to use it in a wartime situation".

Following Wynne's logic, one might also conclude that the interrogation techniques practised in the secret, and not-so-secret, US detention centres around the globe are also worthy of use in the United States and on citizens of the United States. But did you have any doubts on that score? Remember, you are either "with us or against us", you either support the phoney "war on terror" or you support the "terrorists".

It isn't a joke.

Your lives, as well as the world your children will inherit, depend upon how you react to such brazen violence and hatred as shown in Wynne's comments, and as is demonstrated in the war on ordinary people waged against us every day.
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Editorial: Two Axioms of 9/11

Manuel Valenzuela
Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Axiom One: November Fears

With government and corporate media propaganda echoing the traumatic memories of five years ago, from sea to shining sea, enveloping the airwaves and print media of the nation with a clenched fist of wall to wall coverage, Americans have again been bombarded with the exploitation of the mass murder of 3,000 human beings, their death once more serving the political interests of the Bush cabal as well as the financial concerns of the corporate Leviathan. The War on the American People - that psychological operation against our minds and emotions that began with the demolition of the World Trade Center and has continued unabatedly for five consecutive years - has been reinvented and redeployed, its army of lackey journalists, talking heads, government institutions and authoritarian politicians eager to spread the language and images needed to resurrect emotions and feelings, spreading the filth designed to manipulate our fears and hatreds, conditioning us into accepting the dictates of the state and the corporation along with the reality of a world of perpetual war and perpetual terror.

Once more we are being reminded, at the expediency of those in power, and just in case we had begun to forget, that fear is bravery, war is peace, authoritarianism is freedom, dissent is treasonous and a police state is security. Only those truly responsible for perpetrating the events of 9/11, we are made to believe, those lurking behind the smoke, mirrors and purple curtains of the state, can save and defend us from dark-skinned bogeymen of Arab/Muslim lineage that hate us for our freedoms and way of life. Only the fascists in power, we are told, care about preserving and protecting our freedoms, rights, liberties and democracy even as it is they, and not the barbarians at the gates, that are eroding and destroying each with every new day that passes, taking away what the evil terrorist cannot accomplish. It is the dreaded terrorist - of course always Arab in ethnicity or Muslim in faith - we are told by the deciders and the fascists, that roams like a giant cloud of death, hovering above the lands of America, wanting nothing more than to kill us and our children. However, it is the state and its propaganda machine that does not relent in its campaign at frightening and terrorizing the American people, as if it, and not the enemy, is the real terrorist, scaring families, creating stresses and causing insecurity among the masses.

The new blitzkrieg of propaganda and of mental manipulation is an exercise in the further destabilization of already fragile minds and the conditioning of increased fear of those individuals who have begun to forget and heal from the wounds 9/11 inflicted upon the populace. Those in power have taken notice that their scare tactics upon the American people are not as effective as in years previous, and are therefore using the new wave of fear and terror mongering to impose the invisible hand of control - of both thought and action - upon an unsuspecting citizenry, in essence enforcing once again the clandestine iron chain that served to make subservient the minds of hundreds of millions of people in the years after 9/11 that enabled both for one-party dominance along with authoritarian rule, now prevalent in the upper echelons of governance. It is the use of fear and terror, after all, that has propelled the new American fascists to complete dominion over the state, with unfettered power over its institutions, its foundations and its citizenry. It is fear, therefore, that has become the fascist party strategy with terror, its mantra. The only thing they have to offer in the 2006 election year is fear itself.

It has therefore been decided, both by gatekeepers and the Establishment, that the events that left hundreds of millions of people deeply scarred and psychologically fragile must once again be refreshed for all to relive, their remembrance made to resurface from our inner minds so that an entire nation can again be shaped into order and obedience, its collective psyche once more manipulated and controlled by the events, images and sounds that even five years later, still resound with deep disturbance inside the psyche of the masses. It is the horrors of the WTC, more than anything else, that exposed the home of the brave as the culture of cowardice, a people once fearless now made to cower and shake in perpetual fear and insecurity at an enemy concocted, manufactured and marketed by the state and its corporate fear mongers.

Indeed, the toxicity of 9/11 has produced a collective trauma that has made the home of the brave the largest laboratory of Pavlovian dogs in the world, with its manipulated feelings and emotions becoming the bells and whistles we automatically and reflexively gravitate towards, our minds becoming the glands salivating with fear and terror at either the sound or image of anything resembling that terrible day. The blitzkrieg has been relentless and omnipresent, with a barrage of presidential speeches, ceremonies and bully-pulpit distortions and deceptions attacking the airwaves, with executive branch appearances, lies and manipulations allowed to fester in print and camera, with a corporate media once more granting free reign to the dissemination of falsity and blatant propaganda, its journalists acting like the presstitutes they are, once more showing that corporate media is comprised of nothing but political hacks, media shills and corporate lackeys, to the fictitious Hollywood produced movies and docu-dramas serving to propagate the deceptions and propaganda of the Bush cabal. The corporate world, using its vast arsenal of media tools, and in conjunction with the fascist party, will do whatever it can to assure itself of retaining in power the party already at the controls of governance.

Thus, in order to maintain authoritarian rule, along with one-party control, after the important mid-term elections coming up in November, Republicans, now nothing more than full-fledged fascists availing themselves free of the closet of charades and mirages, with the help of the corporate media, have begun to instill in our minds the previously successful fear-mongering campaign of terror, knowing that fear is the one ace in their pocket that has yet to betray them, knowing that it has been their platform based on fear that has kept them in power. Like a magic charm, the mere mention and methodical repetition of 9/11 and its memories has, without fail, served to hypnotize millions of fear stricken citizens to the dictates of authoritarian rule, creating a voting block of ignorant and cowardly creatures that elects to power a fascist party that promises protection and security from terror at the expense of civil rights and liberties.

The fascist party is thus hoping this past success will again work its magic, in an election that is as much a referendum on Iraq as anything else. It will be fear and terror propelled throughout the airwaves and the print media, with bogeymen lurking behind every corner, under every shadow, ready to murder and terrorize. For the next several months the Fear and Terror Show will hit the television, showcasing the latest terror threat that, thanks to the fascist party, was thwarted at the last second, helping to prove, yet again, that it is they alone who can protect and defend you from the evildoers. The Fear and Terror Show will have as hero our very own George W. Bush, decider extraordinaire, Commander in Chief of the Free World, conduit to the Almighty itself, stumping around the nation delivering the same old regurgitated speech, using fancy words and scaremongering tactics, telling us how much danger America is, and how he and his party are the only ones able to protect us. He will stumble and bumble his way through speech after speech, trying to prove to us why Iraq deserved to be invaded, occupied and its society pulverized, trying unsuccessfully, yet again, to correlate Iraq with the so-called war on terror, trying to validate the greatest strategic disaster in the history of the nation.

The desperation of the fascist party can be seen in the level of fear and propaganda it has begun to generate. Its leaders are fully aware that the nation has finally escaped from underneath the clouds of 9/11, most of it thanks to the disaster in Iraq, and that the population is highly dissatisfied with the direction the nation is headed in. The fascist leadership knows that its party is in trouble in November, which is why the barrage of fear mongering and terror tactics will be as relentless as it will be systematic. They have smelled and enjoyed one party rule, along with its many benefits, for six years, and addicted they have become to power, greed and control. The smear campaign against opponents will thus be twice as devastating, for fascists, like wild beasts, will fight tooth and nail when cornered. They, along with Bush and Cheney, know that if they were to lose the House of Representatives, perhaps even the Senate as well, to the anemic, lesser of two evils opposition party, the last two years of the Bush administration will involve a myriad number of investigations, scandals, revelations and calls for impeachment. For all intents and purposes, the Bush presidency will have ended, creating a lame duck executive having little power and much to answer for. If they were to lose the mid-term election, they could be mired in an endless seam of scandals that could implode the party from within. It is for these aforementioned reasons that the fascist party will use everything at its disposal to retain power, no matter the consequences, no matter the immorality. This is an extremely dangerous party in an extremely ominous time in American history.

Naturally, when the entire success of those in power relies on the use of fear as a political tool, or the use and marketing of ambiguous bogeymen as enemies becomes the paramount reason for their continued control, fear itself will be multiplied and expanded, its parameters greatly increased, as we are seeing today, to a degree where the people of the nation are again made to vote and elect the fascist party, against their own interests, based on fragile emotions, damaged psyches and by consequence, unthinking minds. Fear, in the years after 9/11, has, along with the manipulation of terror, become the ultimate manipulative tool, a political emerald for the most immoral and unscrupulous operatives today.

Its use, manipulation and repetition are guaranteed to deliver to the fascist party millions upon millions of votes come election time, regardless of what the other party attempts to do, for today in America there exists a corrosive cocktail of ignorance, cowardice, xenophobia, nationalism and blind loyalty to the state by large segments of the populace that would rather see their civil rights, liberties and freedoms expire than be forced to confront the fictional wickedness of the dreaded Arab bogeyman the state and its Department of Propaganda conjure up.

To millions of individuals, the party in power at the time 9/11 took place will for years be - because of psychological manipulation and human nature - the party of protection, defense, national security the one best suited to win the so-called war on terror, regardless of the fact that it has been the fascist party itself that has made their country, their world, their families and themselves less safe, not more, due to the debacle in Iraq, the biggest strategic disaster in American foreign policy history, and by its catastrophic Middle East policy, especially in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian problem, which only continues to endanger America and the world.

Since 9/11 the Democratic Party, now a center-right, corporate first, political organization, has had to fight an uphill battle against the cratered psychology of the masses. The fascist party has done a successful job of portraying the Democrats as weak on national security and defense of the homeland, marketing it as a party anemic and incapable of protecting the American people. Accordingly, the Democrats, for years with no real power in Washington to speak of, have gotten trampled left and right by the party in power, becoming a party unable to shed its tarnished image, an anorexic minority unable to penetrate the thick fortifications set up by the fascist party. It has tried unsuccessfully to reinvent itself, catering to the new right-of-center reality in America, a tectonic shift caused by the events of 9/11 that triggered the nation's political pulse to beat more conservatively. Since 9/11 the Democrats, at least the powerful, corporate elements, have remarketed themselves as war mongers, in favor of the occupation of Iraq, in agreement with the war on terror. They have pretended to inject themselves with fascist growth hormone in hopes of attracting some of the 59 million Americans who voted for Bush in 2004. In short, they have become what the Republican Party used to be before flirting with authoritarianism: conservative.

Fortunately for Democrats, and thanks to nobody but the Bush administration, come November they have an excellent shot at retaking one or both houses of Congress. For while it was 9/11, along with Diebold electronic voting machines, that stampeded the fascist party into unrivaled power, it would be Iraq, the Bush administration's arrogant mistake, a disaster unrivaled in history, that would offer oxygen to the drowning minority party.

Because it was not the party in power at the time of 9/11, lacking the visible reign and loudspeaker power of the presidential bully pulpit, along with being relegated being the minority party in both houses of Congress, the Democratic Party has had to scratch and claw out of the memory hole of obscurity, condemned to premature burial by the earthquake called 9/11. For it was 9/11, an enormous gift to the Bush administration, more than any creative genius by strategists of the fascist regime, that has been the primary catalyst that has stifled Democratic opposition for almost six years. Politically, 9/11 changed everything and it basically guaranteed Bush the 2004 mid term elections as well as the 2004 presidential elections. It was only through his incompetence and idiocy that the 2004 election, a virtual lock with any other incumbent at the helm during 9/11, was so close to begin with, and indeed had to be tampered and compromised in Ohio to guarantee victory.

Without the power of the executive, with negligent control of the government, without the favor of the corporate media, the Democrats have been impotent to alter the course of America or to affect governance. Only the passage of time and the healing of fragile psyches, along with the extraordinary and historical incompetence, corruption, and hubris of the fascist party in power have allowed it to survive above water for the last five years. Yet the Democratic Party's opportunity to regain control of the House of Representatives, and perhaps even of the Senate, this coming November can be summarized with one simple word: Iraq.

Without the debacle in Iraq, a war lost the moment it began, and without the unprecedented ignorance and incompetence of the Bush administration, the nation would still be under the hypnotizing grip of 9/11 and Bush's fear and terror orgy that has only served to divide America, squash dissent, scapegoat Arab Muslims and give rise to authoritarian beliefs among millions of Bush supporters. The disaster in Iraq has woken millions of otherwise obedient and acquiescent sheeple to the voluminous damage Bush and his minions have done to America. Yet it is not the fate of Iraq or of its people Americans lament and mourn, but rather the death of almost 3,000 soldiers and the maiming, both mentally and physically, of over 20,000 more. Had Iraq been a success, there would not be today the level of dissatisfaction against Bush and the fascist party we witness at present. It is spilled American blood, and the embarrassment of quagmire and disaster, and not the concern for innocent Iraqis, of which up to 250,000 might have already died, that is propelling such discord in the body politic. Nobody likes a loser, everyone likes a winner, and at present, the American people see nothing but failure and disaster in Iraq, thereby causing millions of voters to seek change at the ballot box.

If Iraq was not the complete failure that we see today, if its military occupation were not the colossal collapse many of us said it would inevitably become, and if its unflinching resistance had not trapped the world's "most powerful" military in an non-winnable and violent quagmire, the American war culture, full of millions of xenophobic, ignorant and fearful war mongers, many unable to decipher Iraq on a map, unable to coherently argue its reality away from Fox News fictions and fascist party talking points, a culture with a military industrial energy complex full of war profiteers and greed addicted elites, would today be thirsty for Iranian, Lebanese and Syrian blood, as rabid for more warfare as many are for pro football, with the fictional war on terror expanding into a cycle of violence threatening the world entire.

In essence, what Bush has created, full of hubris and messianic confidence, full of apathy for human life and suffering, has invariably led to his downfall, with an immoral, debased, criminal and illegal war based on lies, deceits and manipulations coming back to haunt him in a boomerang display of karmic justice. The war in Iraq has become, without a doubt, George W. Bush's overbearing nightmare, a weight on his shoulders eroding the fabric of his presidency, haunting him day and night, a personal disaster of his own making. With 9/11, where once he had the love and support of the world at his fingertips, where he once had the power to export positive energy to all corners of the globe, with an opportunity to change the course of humanity for the better, he instead altered the direction of human compassion and unity, creating worldwide hatred and animosity for his person and his country, importing fear and exporting brutal violence, choosing the path of greed and imperial hubris over that of togetherness and of humankind, in the end making his subjects less safe, not more and assuring America of perpetual threats arising from the myriad number of hate-filled, revenge-seeking groups seeking to make right the many wrongs inflicted by the decisions of the fascist party.

The presidency of George W. Bush, along with the power of the fascist party, have so become intertwined with the myths, fables, fictions and fears of 9/11 that without its perpetual dissemination, without the manipulation of its engendered fears and hatreds, without the ever-constant reminder to the people of the "official" narrative, the party risks, thanks to the passage of time and the healing of psyches, thanks to citizens waking from their propaganda-laced brainwashing and their hypnotized stupor, losing the high levels of electoral and political support it has enjoyed since 9/11. It is, therefore, of vital importance to the fascists in power that the sense be instilled into the population as if 9/11 just happened all over again, that its emotions and hatreds and fears and panic and hunger for vengeance be replicated, day in and day out, so that the citizenry be forced to confront their own feelings and memories, remembering exactly who was in power, who led a country in mourning, who declared a call for justice, who declared war, who has been in command of this "war on terror" from the very beginning.

With this in mind, it is easy to see the usefulness of never allowing the American populace the opportunity to relax or breathe in security and a sense of well-being. If tens of millions can be kept fearful and terrorized, perpetually afraid of their health and way of life, thinking that only by placing complete blind trust in the fascist party can they be protected from the dreaded Arab and Muslim "terrorists," then surely the party in power can retain firm one-party control of the state, finally having the opportunity to shred social programs, expand the military budget and unleash war upon the American middle class. If this formula of fear, terror, protection and security can be perfected and maintained, it becomes a possibility that the party in power can retain its power as well as its one-party control for years to come, with each new year amplifying its authoritarian rule and its evisceration of democracy.

The war on terror, more than anything else, is a war on the American people's minds, an experiment at controlling, through fear and terror, the thoughts and decisions of 300 million citizens. The events of 9/11 became a bottomless gold mine to the fascist party, an opportunity to establish permanent rule and dominion over the American political landscape. It is for this reason that the fascist party refuses to stop terrorizing and instilling fear into the minds of the American people. If they can fill millions with fear, concern and attention directed at an alien, unknown, dark-skinned bogeyman, an easy scapegoat from which to place blame at, rather than at its own decimation of the middle class and the erosion of civil rights and liberties, then their job will be made that much easier. If we place our concern and our minds at the Arab terrorist trying to kill us for our freedom and our way of life then we will be less aware as the fascist party fuses with the corporate Leviathan to further devastate our way of life.

For this reason the five year anniversary of 9/11 was made, yet again, a spectacle full of patriotism, nationalism and love of tribe, from flags handed out at pro football games to those hanging on school grounds, from hours of television devoted to never forgetting and always remembering to homework assignments devoted to 9/11, all activities designed both to stir the same feelings, emotions and psychology in the adult population they experienced five years ago to inculcating a new generation of children to the official narrative of events, thereby capturing innocent minds into the devastating fictions and fears of the so-called war on terror. Like a new Thanksgiving or Fourth of July, 9/11 has become, in the short span of five years, yet one more tool of systemic control, a day designed to politicize the death of 3,000 people, a day to validate the fascist-driven war on terror, a day to remind people exactly who was in power and who defended them from the evildoers. In the American narrative, 9/11 has become part of the national lore, a myth like many others before, propagated from coast to coast, from generation to generation, giving life to a vicious circle of violence that is now a self-fulfilling prophesy, becoming the perpetual reminder, as well as the impetus, for the decisive "ideological struggle of the 21st century."

It is rather interesting, in this day of fascist undertaking and authoritarian rule, that it is the fascist in power concocting fear mongering and emotion-laden terms such as "Islamofascist" and "Totalitarian Islamists" that, while successful in polls and focus groups, does not purport to explain the beliefs of the so-called enemy. Instead, in describing America's new enemy - one that is perfect to the fascist party because it is so alien to our culture, religion and way of life, so far removed from our shores and our knowledge of foreign peoples, so perfect because of our ignorance of the outside world and that of anything that does not conform to our materialist, consumerist and capitalist way of life - he is describing himself, his party, his followers along with their actions, imputing his beliefs and ideologies onto an enemy marketed so as to correspond to America's most dreaded fears and concerns.

This perfect enemy, remade one more time to see if Americans take the bait yet again, with its newly minted perfect focus group name, molded from the same soils and clay from which the fascist party takes a drink of water, is but a hollow invention of everything Americans fear, an amalgam of decades of fear-induced terms and ideologies conditioned into our being, combining all the greatest fears of all the enemies we have ever fought into one, absolute mammoth of a bogeyman, capable of destroying the world's most powerful nation, something even the much more powerful enemies of our past could not achieve.

Imputed onto this terrorist enemy, then, is encapsulated our deepest fears of the various enemies of the Second World War, of the Cold War, of Vietnam, of everything we have been conditioned to detest and hate, using words such as "totalitarian" and "fascist" and "tyranny" and "Hitler" and "Stalin" and "Lenin" that, while historically facetious, nonetheless connote feelings of deep fear, terror and revulsion. Yet in the aura of this illusory enemy we see not a dark-skinned Arab or Muslim, but the reflection of ourselves and our history, for inside our greatest fears also lie our most sinister realities, truths we cannot bear to see except implanted in the face of alien enemies not known or understood.

Axiom Two: Inevitable Triumph of Truth

Yet, as can be seen today, the attempt at controlling the populace through the use of fear, in the age of the Internet, is much easier said than done. With Cold War mentalities prevalent in the upper echelons of governance, their faded ideology filling the halls of power, it was easy to become convinced that the population could be controlled in much the same way as when the dreaded Soviet was enemy number one. During this time, however, information was sequestered and controlled by a minute number of gatekeepers, thereby keeping the masses in perpetual ignorance of reality, unaware of truth and condemned to have no choice but to believe whatever information the government decided to provide. The Cold War was an authoritarian's wet dream, for in their absolute control over information and knowledge the people were more willing to accept the dictates of power, their minds unable to entertain the thought of possessing non-governmental truth.

Today, however, the siphon of information has been blasted open by the power of the Internet. Entire legions of cyber patriots can in an instant hold accountable members of governance, their computer screens instantly popping up the latest news and information from all corners of the planet. What was once hidden from view, what once the gatekeepers kept from our curious eyes, today get spread like a virus from coast to coast, its dissemination opening minds and creating knowledge among entire tiers of the population. The Internet's infantry, an army of couch activists, detectives, writers, journalists and watchdogs, living in a communal undertaking of global significance, can today hold to account governments, corporations, individuals, the media and the institutions that were once protected by the invisible cloak of secrecy.

It is not farfetched to describe the Internet as the greatest invention of communication and knowledge ever created by man, after that of language and writing, surpassing the printing press, the telephone and the television. In its enormous success at informing the People, however, lies its ultimate threat to the Establishment, and the reason why the next decade will see an aggressive attempt at curtailing its power, at infecting its capacity to inform and teach, at controlling its content, at making it much more difficult for the People to access its wonderful communicative capabilities. If we are not ready to fight for its survival, those in power will make sure it is never allowed to interfere in their plans and goals again. They have seen the monumental effect the Internet has had in informing the People regarding Iraq and the lies and fictions of the government. They have seen its ability to join ideas and thoughts, its capacity to regurgitate knowledge and truth, its mechanisms for shedding light where once darkness reigned. They have seen, in its purest and most absolute form, democracy rise and thrive in the plethora of websites scattered throughout the Internet.

It was the Cold War mentality of the architects of the attacks of 9/11, with their inability to adapt to societal change or to the informational potential of the Internet, along with their inability to escape their Soviet era strategies, that has enabled millions of people from all regions of the world to see for themselves the events of that fateful day, over and over again, from dozens of angles. The Internet has been the catalyst for millions of people to become informed by the studies, research, findings and information of many others, for the first time in history bringing together millions of individuals in the pursuit of seeking the truth to one of the most heinous crimes of the modern era. This development the architects of 9/11 did not plan for or expect, as their Cold War era mentality, where control of information by the state and the Establishment was absolute, did not contemplate or envision such a reality. As a result, an entire community of truth seekers is free to assiduously pursue a challenge to the official conspiracy theory, searching for answers the state and the corporate media, through their institutions and channels, have not and will never provide.

Today millions of individuals do not need to depend on the blind trust placed on the honor of the state or the last word of the corporate media; these entities need not be taken for their word any longer; their lies are no longer sacrosanct, their propaganda can now be dissected and destroyed, their charades can now be questioned and explored. Government and corporate media can be discovered for what they are, their manipulations and deceptions outlined and exposed, their whitewashes and cover-ups shown for the falsity they are. The population of a nation can now, at the touch of the keyboard, finally question authority, seeking answers to questions not by asking the state or corporate media lackeys, but by using critical thinking, reason and logic. The emancipation and expansion of the human mind, away from the dictates of the state, the interests of the corporate Leviathan or the conditioned brainwashing of our youth are but three benefits of this wonder called the Internet.

So transparent are the lies cover-ups and whitewashes of the government regarding the events of 9/11, so pervasive is the corporate media's unwillingness to question the official conspiracy theory or investigate its many polemic events, and so obvious is the state's blatant involvement on 9/11 itself, that the 9/11 Truth Movement has, thanks to the Internet, grown by leaps and bounds over the last couple of years, regardless of those gatekeepers, be it from the right or left, whose job it is to maintain as reality the fictional account as told by the Bush administration and the Democratic party. The Internet has opened the 9/11 events to the full investigative powers of the other superpower, humankind itself, from all walks of life, from all corners of the globe, all united in pursuit of the truth in the wake of such an apparent criminal undertaking. The Truth Movement, whether LIHOP or MIHOP, has been brought together by community and technology, by the collection of news and information once hidden and suppressed now deciphered and seen, free to roam the vast expanse of the information superhighway. The Truth Movement, more than anything else, has connected the dots to an enormous mountain of evidence supporting the fact that 9/11 was an inside job, an act of state sponsored terror.

This movement for truth, smeared as "conspiracy nuts, theorists," and "wackos" by those whose beautiful minds are too perfect to contemplate thinking outside the box, by those who think their precious minds are too important to be bothered by such "ridiculous" opinion, by those whose ego will always be much greater than their intellect, is doing the job the media once did, searching for truth wherever it may lie, however uncomfortable it may seem, investigating, researching and studying the overwhelming evidence contradicting the official conspiracy theory. Whatever one chooses to believe regarding 9/11, the Internet has broken the seal off of the state and corporate monopoly on the dissemination of information, allowing the river of available information to flow freely through the consciousness of humankind. Today, millions of minds can see the evidence presented in front of their eyes, analyze the information, and draw a conclusion. More and more people, when confronted with all available 9/11 related research, are seeing 9/11 for what it really was, not what the state and its propaganda machines want the world to see. Millions are connecting the dots, finally seeing a picture that is altogether uncomfortable and frightening.

It is such levels of uncomfortable and frightening realities that will invariably lead millions of Americans to self-censor themselves, blinding themselves from seeing the light, refusing to believe in the possibility that their own government perpetrated the events of 9/11, in spite of mountains of evidence proving the contrary. It is the idea that those chosen to protect and defend the nation and its people could actually do both extreme harm that the majority of people cannot fathom. For our entire lives we have been nurtured to place complete trust in the mechanisms of the state; we have been brainwashed from birth to think the government is a benign and honorable entity, incapable of harming us or our fellow citizens. For years under the nation's educational systems we are ingrained with the fictions of noble Presidents performing noble deeds, of a Congress comprised of honorable representatives, of a government of, by and for the People. These fictions are rammed down our minds, for years embedded into our belief system by the invisible hands of the state, inevitably making us completely subservient to its activities and functions.

It is this pervasive yet methodical brainwashing, this nurtured conditioning upon the bosom of governance, that acts as the subconscious barricade halting our quest for answers, for questioning authority, for seeing the reality of what the state is capable of doing to its people in the interests of power and greed. Years of brainwashing serve to make us obedient and subservient to the dictates of the state and our leaders, it serves to make us place blind trust and loyalty in governance, in a belief that those chosen by the people have only altruistic motives behind their political masks. This mirage, a belief that like religion we are naturally and genetically inclined towards following, is the greatest obstacle for seeing truth, yet it also separates those with internal bravery from those fearful of reality, for, just as it is much easier to believe a heavenly afterlife exists after death than to perceive death as the end of life and the beginning of nothingness, it is easier to live the charade of the state's and our leaders' altruism than in the prevalent wickedness of its actions.

Unable to escape the belief that the state and its leaders can do not wrong, not willing to accept the malevolent intentions of state sponsored terror upon the populace, millions would rather seek the comfortable satisfaction of drinking the kool-aid than the uncomfortable suffocation experienced going down the rabbit hole. Millions, through no fault of their own, are unable to escape the haze of perpetual brainwashing, preferring the warmth of ignorance over the unsettling fright of reality. Confronted with the mountain of truth placed in front of their eyes, millions will nonetheless choose to conjure up outrageous theories and explanations trying to validate the events of 9/11 through the official government narrative, refusing, because of the uncomfortable and traumatic ramifications of alternate theories, to believe anything outside what has conveniently been concocted by both the state and its corporate media propaganda.

The events of 9/11, as horrific and traumatic as they were, remain to tens of millions, either by purposeful blindness or lack of knowledge in the events, the evil yet sole intentions of Arab extremists, without complicity from the American government. Unfortunately for many, they will never be able to jump the hurdle placed in their mind almost from birth, unable or unwilling to escape the matrix of state and corporate control over their lives. The truth is too unbearable to bear, its reality too unfathomable to comprehend, its ramifications becoming too bizarre and corrosive for the average American mind to swallow. Thus, many will simply chose to remain ignorant, suspecting the truth yet belittling the patriots risking ridicule or worse to expose the truth, preferring to live enslaved rather than living free, their minds remaining chained to the vacuum of their masters, surrounding themselves with the comfort of materialism and the escapism of propaganda and television, their decision made so as not to interfere or interrupt lives normal and adequate. Better to live a lie than be bothered or rattled by truth; better to smear truth seekers than to contemplate an earth shattering and disturbing shock to the system.

Yet millions of Americans who remain ignorant should not be smeared themselves, for every person arrives at separate times in their journey called life, finding truth in their own way, confronting reality as best they know how. All the Truth Movement can do is offer them a hand at seeing beyond their cages, pointing them in the direction of all available 9/11 research and investigations and allowing each individual to make up his or her mind. For unlike George W. Bush's democracy building project in the "new" Middle East, 9/11 truth and reality cannot be implemented at the insistence of a barrel of a gun, nor can it rush its devastating implications into the minds of those still unable or unwilling to confront a very difficult mindfuck. In time truth will find a way and when that day arrives, the cloudy skies will part, offering bright and radiant light where only dark surroundings once reigned, and the fertile valleys of awakening will overtake the barren deserts of despotism.

Such is the power and momentum of the 9/11 Truth Movement that a growing ideology is rising from the minds of fascists that seeks to squash and suppress the truth from ever rising. To the Establishment and those in power, the Truth Movement has become an enormous threat to the system, capable of uncovering the greatest hoax in the history of modern man, capable of unraveling carefully planned visions and goals. Already as much as 40 percent of Americans doubt the official conspiracy theory, with the numbers of enlightened citizens growing daily thanks to the plethora of evidence available online and in print. For truth cannot be hidden long or sequestered from the people; truth always finds a way out of the dungeons of falsities and fictions. For this reason truth seekers are being persecuted and intimidated, their voices silenced, their research questioned and invalidated, their momentum tried to be stopped. Truth seekers are smeared and ridiculed instead of being confronted with alternate research and facts, for it is easier to destroy truth by destroying and contaminating its voices than by confronting its reality. The corporate media, along with its journalist hacks, refuses to confront the questions regarding the events of 9/11, or investigate the myriad number of anomalies in existence, preferring to cover-up the possibility of truth, thinking that by ignoring the issue its truth will be made to disappear.

A war against the 9/11 Truth Movement is under way, both by the state and the corporate world, in an attempt at squelching the movement before it grows, before its momentum becomes an unstoppable tsunami capable of waking the American people from their decades-long doldrums. It is for this reason that the corporate media ignores a growing movement, pretending questions and answers do not exist, why gatekeepers try and alter opinion, why the state invests millions of dollars to contradict the research of scientists and tenured professors, why to even speak of alternate theories evokes the wrath of the Establishment. More and more, to question the narrative of the official conspiracy theory is seen as treasonous, as un-American, as anathema to the principles of the nation. To seek answers to the ambiguous events of 9/11, to deviate away from what the state says is truth is to become a pariah in the community, the university, work or in one's profession. A disturbing pattern is emerging, one all too familiar in totalitarian societies, that seeks to quiet any questioning and investigation of the real events of 9/11 and who was responsible, using the veil of intimidation and the questioning of patriotism to silence dissent.

If there is nothing to hide, why the smear campaign? If the truth is what the state says happened, why the stifling of dissent? If so confident in the official narrative, why the suppression of truth seekers and their work? Why are the valid questions asked by the Truth Movement answered only by smears, libel and slander? Why does there exist such friction and inertia by the Establishment against asking questions, researching and investigating 9/11 and its history? Cannot the "official truth" of the state stand up to the "outlandish" theories of the "lunatic fringe" so that alternate theories cannot exist and indeed must be dispelled? Indeed, it is the actions of the Establishment and its gatekeeper lackeys that betray the falsity of the official conspiracy theory and the extent to which they will stoop to curtail the truth from rising to be seen.

For what the gatekeepers and opinion makers of the so-called progressive left who would rather smear than try to comprehend fail to understand, what they cannot see in missing the forest for the trees, is that the events of 9/11 gave rise to a paradigm shift in American life, transforming its culture and its people in negative ways, creating authoritarian mentalities, imperial ambitions, fascist ideologies and an overall descent into the corruption of morals and of society itself. 9/11 was the catalyst for a colonial, indeed an imperial war against exclusively Arab and Muslim peoples, against those lands pregnant with the devil's excrement, resulting in a malevolence not seen since the 1930's, with preemptive wars; the use of depleted uranium that has and will kill in genocidal figures; the brutal occupation of Iraq and her people, many subjected to torture, rape, mass murder, illegal detention and dehumanization, along with the vicious cycle of violence that creates rather than diminishes terrorism, making of the war on terror a self-fulfilling prophesy. 9/11 has resulted in the complete disregard for international law, in a level of hubris never before seen, in a complete corruption of society, in the deep division of Americans, in the rise and prevalence of xenophobia, bigotry and racism among the populace, the erosion of rights and the evisceration of civil liberties, the destruction and debauchery of democracy, the rise of predatory capitalism, the emergence of an inevitable police state and the introduction of fascist ideology and its implementation of beliefs throughout the American landscape.

What these perfect little people cannot grasp, those of beautiful minds and god-like intellect, is that everything America and the world are being subjected to, whether it is the rising threat of global or regional warfare, the decimation of America's middle class, the coming collapse of the American economy, the rise of fascist ideology, the inhumane suffering in Palestine, the constant threat of war from America to those nations that do not kiss the ring of imperialism, the stolen elections in developing nations courtesy of America, a dictatorial presidency and the rise of the one-party state, has been born through the sinful events of 9/11.

Without 9/11 Bush is a one-term failure, a mere asterisk in history books, relegated to brushing weeds and avoiding horses in his little Hollywood production set in Texas. Without 9/11 the neocons at the helm of a hijacked America would be living back home in Israel, dreaming of ways to expand the power of the Israeli state. Without 9/11 imperial hegemony would be replaced by multilateral agreement; up to 250,000 Iraqis would still be alive, thousands more would live in peace and tranquility. The Middle East would be a much more peaceful and stable region, with the lives of almost 3,000 American soldiers saved, their energies not wasted in corporate wars for resources and hegemony. Without 9/11 the fascist party would not have become the rubber stamp Congress for a unitary executive approaching dictatorship, checks and balances would still be a reality and the growing police state would be checked at its infancy.

Without 9/11, America would still be the land of the free and the home of the brave, not the land of the meek and the home of the slave. Without 9/11 America would not today be the culture of cowardice, afraid and fearful of hyper-inflated and exaggerated enemies, a people terrorized by its own government into blindly handing liberties, rights and freedoms to authoritarian autocrats camouflaged as government servants. Without 9/11 the dangerous cocktail of jingoism, theology and ignorance would not merge forming one combustible citizenry ready at an authoritarian's wave to hate, despise and scapegoat dark-skinned minorities whose only crimes is being different in culture and ethnicity to the god-fearing, flag-draped, follower-psychology, supporters of the fascist party.

It is the search for 9/11 Truth, and the subsequent justice spawned from its prosecution, that can put an end to, or at the least slow down, the tyranny at home and the imperial hegemonic aspirations of the Bush Cabal. Lacking the legitimacy of 9/11, with no enemy to blame or wickedness to castigate, those in power cannot continue with their intentions and goals. Were the 9/11 Truth to emerge, perhaps the paradigm shift that occurred on 9/11 would correct itself, insomuch as we could never return to an old image of ourselves, creating a new America, a better America for all, free of the debasement and pollution and corruption and greed born from pathological capitalism, perhaps granting us the window of opportunity needed to self-correct a sinking ship. If 9/11 was indeed an inside job, like many suspect, perhaps the end result would be an enlightenment upon the populace causing a new beginning in the way America treats the world, and itself. Were the truth to emerge, an awakening of everything that has ever been done in our name could be born, an understanding of all that has ever been done to us could materialize, a comprehension of what is presently happening in our nation could surface.

The search for what really happened on 9/11, besides being an investigation into a crime of the most malfeasant and nefarious degree, is also a search for an America lost now lost for five years, hidden beneath the ashes of the Twin Towers on that fateful and horrific day. Every day more and more people from all walks of life, from all corners of the globe walk the giant path across the invisible bridge of truth, displacing long held brainwashing and conditioning, long held chains and shackles that prevented freedom to think and analyze. Upon the great canyon of bravery these millions have taken the blinders off their eyes, finally able to see the shadows hidden throughout society, the dark figures of the state and the corporate world for decades preventing our eyes from seeing a reality disfigured by smoke and distorted by mirrors. Today, more than ever, the smoke is clearing and the mirrors are breaking, a product of millions of individuals joined in unison, marching strong towards the gates of truth.

The universal search for truth and justice is all encompassing, an omnipotent force that is compelling the people of the world, the Second Superpower, you, me and everyone else, towards the inevitable push in uncovering and bringing to justice a mass murder that killed 3,000 of the world's citizens and altered, perhaps forever, the course of human events. In the quest for truth and justice the memories of the fallen, both in America and Iraq, compel us forward, granting us the energy and the strength needed to reach deep into realms never touched by humankind, forcing power to kneel before the weak, a mass of humanity demanding accountability from those few who think humanity is expendable, simple peons in the grand games nations play.

We seek truth because injustice and wickedness have been perpetrated against us and against those now deceased. We seek truth because to millions of people, the official story just does not add up. We seek truth and justice because to ignore the obvious would be to enslave ourselves to power, yet again, sacrificing the freedoms of our future for the comfort of our beautiful and precious minds. In truth we seek freedom, in freedom we seek a life free from the chains of bondage. In numbers we find strength, in strength we find people power. Our numbers will continue to expand, our power will continue to grow. The human quest for truth is never ending, it cannot be suppressed for long. The inevitability of our momentum and the exponential growth of our movement will make sure that sooner or later, the truth sets the world free.

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Editorial: Kill Arabs, Cry Anti-Semitism

Information Clearing House

A central thesis of my book Beyond Chutzpah is that whenever Israel faces a public relations debacle its apologists sound the alarm that a "new anti-Semitism" is upon us. So, predictably, just after Israel faced another image problem due to its murderous destruction of Lebanon, a British all-party parliamentary group led by notorious Israel-firster Denis MacShane MP (Labor) released yet another report alleging a resurgence of anti-Semitism (Report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry Into Antisemitism, September 2006). To judge by the witnesses (David Cesarani, Lord Janner, Oona King, Emanuele Ottolenghi, Melanie Phillips) and sources (MEMRI, Holocaust Education Trust) cited in the body of the report, much time and money could have been saved had it just been contracted out to the Israel Foreign Ministry. (The report's statement that "we received no evidence of the accusation of anti-Semitism being misused by mainstream British Jewish community organizations and leaders" perhaps speaks more to the selection of the witnesses than the reality.)

The single novelty of the report, which mostly rehashes fatuous allegations already disposed of in Beyond Chutzpah, is the new thresholds in idiocy it breaks. Consider the methodology deployed for demonstrating a new anti-Semitism. The report defines an anti-Semitic incident as any occasion "perceived" to be anti-Semitic by the "Jewish community." This is the school of thought according to which it's raining even in the absence of any precipitation because I feel it's raining. It is the dream philosophy of paranoids, especially rational paranoids, for whom alleged victimhood is politically serviceable. The report includes under the rubric of anti-Semitic incidents not just violent acts and incendiary speech but "conversations, discussions, or pronouncements made in public or private, which cross the line of acceptability," as well as "the mood and tone when Jews are discussed." The wonder is that it didn't also tabulate repressed anti-Semitic libidinal fantasies. In the category of inherently anti-Semitic pronouncements the report includes "drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis" (only comparisons of contemporary Arab policy to that of the Nazis are permissible) and "theories about Jewish or Zionist influence on American foreign policy" (even if Jewish and Zionist organizations boast about this influence).

Much of the evidence of pervasive British anti-Semitism requires real strains in credulity. * The lone item listed under the ominous subheading "The Blood Libel" is a Syrian television series "that would be possible for viewers in the UK to seeif they had suitable satellite receiving equipment." It also notes the unreferenced "case of a Jewish university lecturer who was subjected to an anti-Semitic tirade from a student in the middle of a lecture and subsequently asked to explain to the university authorities why he ha upset the student." Is it anti-Semitic to wonder whether this is a crock? And then the report cites the warning of the London Assembly Conservative Group that "there is a risk that in some political quarters 'views on international events can, almost subconsciously, lead to subtly different attitudes to, and levels of engagement with, different minority groups.'" The new anti-Semitism business must be going seriously awry when British conservatives start sounding like Lacan. Finally, it is anti-Semitic for student unions to advocate a boycott of Israeli goods because this "would restrict the availability of kosher food on campus." Maybe Israel can organize a "Berlin airlift" of gefilte fish.

Although claiming that, in the struggle against anti-Semitism, "none of those who gave evidence wished to see the right free speech eroded," and "only in extreme circumstances would we advocate legal intervention," the report recommends that university authorities "take an active interest in combating acts, speeches, literature and events that cause anxiety or alarm among their Jewish students," and it registers disquiet that "classic and modern anti-Semitic works are freely available for ordering on the Amazon.com website," and that "the United States in particular has been slow to take action" in closing down "anti-Semitic internet sites." It is at moments like this that even the least patriotic of souls can take pride in being an American.

* The police data on an increase in anti-Semitic incidents in itself proves little because, as the report concedes, the spike might be due to more incidents being reported and a coarsening of British life generally, as well as the "spillover" from the Israel-Palestine conflict. In addition, there is little evidence of "organized," "politically motivated" anti-Semitic attacks; there is no evidence that perpetrators of anti-Semitic attacks were disproportionately Muslim; and most of the suspects in the incidents were adolescents. For 2005 the report cites a couple incidents that were "potentially" life-threatening. It cites no comparative data for other minorities in Britain, although tacitly acknowledging that "the level of prejudice and discrimination by Jews in Britain remains lower," a considerable understatement . On a related note, it deplores that "less than one in ten [anti-Semitic] incidents reported to the police resulted in a suspect becoming an accused" , but cites no comparative data indicating whether this ratio is aberrant.

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


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Bush's Police State

Bush Ups Pressure for Anti-Terror Bills

Wednesday September 13, 2006 12:46 PM
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush is trying to break an election-season deadlock with congressional Republicans over bills that would give the White House broad authority to monitor, interrogate and prosecute terrorism suspects.

Senators and House leaders want to impose new restrictions on the administration, saying they won't give the president a blank check over the war on terror.
A parade of White House officials seeking support for legal tools against terrorists is expected to culminate Thursday with an appearance by Bush himself before House Republicans anxious to maintain their majority in the November elections.

Under firm pressure from the administration, Republicans were expected to advance separate versions of bills to give legal status to Bush's warrantless wiretapping program, but also impose some restrictions not embraced by the White House.

The House and Senate are to consider the bills during floor votes next week.

Sen. Arlen Specter, sponsor of one administration-backed bill, acknowledged that GOP lawmakers fighting for re-election may not embrace a measure bearing Bush's stamp of approval.

"It is popular to have bills that are not White House bills,'' Specter, R-Pa., told reporters recently.

He was speaking of Republican support for the House version, which is opposed by the White House because it imposes more restrictions on the program than Specter's.

Sponsored by Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., and endorsed by House GOP leaders, that measure would require the president to wait until an attack has occurred to initiate wiretapping without warrants, a provision administration officials say would hamper the White House's ability to prevent attacks.

Instead, the Bush administration has given Specter's version a highly conditional endorsement, as long as it is passed unchanged - not a sure thing given the amendments and substitutes that await it on the floor.

Specter's bill would submit the warrantless wiretapping program to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court for a one-time constitutional review and extend from the current three days to seven days the time allowed for emergency surveillance before a warrant application is submitted and approved by that court.

The proposals were two of several bills to alter or change portions of Bush's war on terror that inspired him this week to send several emissaries to Capitol Hill.

Vice President Dick Cheney and other top aides encountered stiff resistance from senators and House leaders. The standoffs raised questions about whether the president could unite Republicans on his anti-terror agenda before November's midterm elections.

Cheney and White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten appealed to Senate Republicans during their weekly policy lunch Tuesday to pass legislation that would let the president begin prosecuting terror suspects. The legislation also would limit the circumstances under which a government interrogator could be prosecuted for mistreating a detainee.

CIA Director Michael Hayden also met with lawmakers this week on detainee treatment.

On the effort to craft a new way to prosecute terror detainees, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said he supports the administration's efforts and could call for a vote on it - or a competing bill favored by some GOP senators - at any time.

The alternative bill was drafted by Republican Sens. John Warner, John McCain and Lindsey Graham, all members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. They say their measure would improve the credibility of a court system to prosecute detainees and prevent abusive treatment that would violate the Geneva Conventions.

Warner, chairman of the Armed Services panel, said Tuesday the group remained locked in negotiations with other Republicans.

Graham and others said the biggest sticking points left on the bill were on the circumstances under which an interrogator could be prosecuted for mistreating detainees.

The administration would forbid what critics call a bare bones list of violations, such as torture, murder and rape, under the 1996 War Crimes Act that potentially leaves open the door for harsher interrogation methods.

Warner, Graham and McCain are pushing more precise definitions, as well as a ban on coerced testimony, to ensure tough interrogations do not lead to abuse or violate the Geneva Conventions.

Comment: So, in other words, Bush is looking for "legal tools" to avoid the law.

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A Pathocrat Speaks: Test weapons on testy U.S. mobs

September 12, 2006

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Nonlethal weapons such as high-power microwave devices should be used on American citizens in crowd-control situations before being used on the battlefield, the Air Force secretary said Tuesday.

The object is basically public relations. Domestic use would make it easier to avoid questions from others about possible safety considerations, said Secretary Michael Wynne.

"If we're not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens, then we should not be willing to use it in a wartime situation," said Wynne. "(Because) if I hit somebody with a nonlethal weapon and they claim that it injured them in a way that was not intended, I think that I would be vilified in the world press."
The Air Force has paid for research into nonlethal weapons, but he said the service is unlikely to spend more money on development until injury problems are reviewed by medical experts and resolved.

Nonlethal weapons generally can weaken people if they are hit with the beam. Some of the weapons can emit short, intense energy pulses that also can be effective in disabling some electronic devices.

On another subject, Wynne said he expects to choose a new contractor for the next generation aerial refueling tankers by next summer. He said a draft request for bids will be put out next month, and there are two qualified bidders: the Boeing Co. and a team of Northrop Grumman Corp. and European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co., the majority owner of European jet maker Airbus SAS.

The contract is expected to be worth at least $20 billion (€15.75 billion).

Chicago, Illinois-based Boeing lost the tanker deal in 2004 amid revelations that it had hired a top Air Force acquisitions official who had given the company preferential treatment.

Wynne also said the Air Force, which is already chopping 40,000 active duty, civilian and reserves jobs, is now struggling to find new ways to slash about $1.8 billion (€1.4 billion) from its budget to cover costs from the latest round of base closings.

He said he can't cut more people, and it would not be wise to take funding from military programs that are needed to protect the country. But he said he also incurs resistance when he tries to save money on operations and maintenance by retiring aging aircraft.

"We're finding out that those are, unfortunately, prized possessions of some congressional districts," said Wynne, adding that the Air Force will have to "take some appetite suppressant pills." He said he has asked employees to look for efficiencies in their offices.

The base closings initially were expected to create savings by reducing Air Force infrastructure by 24 percent.

Comment: Don't you just love it when they come right out and say what's on their minds?

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Poll: Most Americans see another terror attack inevitable

www.chinaview.cn 2006-09-13 07:41:08

WASHINGTON, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- Fifty-seven percent of Americans believe that terrorists will "always find a way to launch attacks no matter what the U.S. government does," according to a latest CNN poll released on Tuesday.
The survey also found that the percentage of Americans who blamed the Bush administration for the 9/11 terror attacks had risen from a third to almost half over the past four years.

Asked about how much blame should be attributed to the Bush administration for the attacks, 45 percent said either a "great deal" or a "moderate amount," up from 32 percent in a June 2002 CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll.

But the poll showed that the Clinton administration did not get off lightly either, with 41 percent of respondents blaming his administration a "great deal" or a "moderate amount" for the attacks.

That is only slightly less than the 45 percent who blamed his administration in a poll carried out less than a week after the attacks.

The poll, carried out between Aug. 30 and Sept. 2, questioned around 1,004 American adults by telephone.

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CIA: Over 5,000 terrorists captured or killed since 9/11

www.chinaview.cn 2006-09-12 04:48:50

WASHINGTON, Sept. 11 (Xinhua) -- More than 5,000 terrorists have been captured or killed in the 5 years since 9/11 terror attacks, CIA Director Michael Hayden said Monday.
"Al Qaida's core operational leadership has been decimated, and their successors are in hiding or on the run, " Hayden said when he addressed CIA employees at the fifth anniversary of the catastrophic attacks which claimed nearly 3,000 lives.

While acknowledging 9/11 attacks have dealt an "unforgettable blow" to his agency, he said CIA's cooperation with foreign intelligence agencies has led to many successes in breaking up terrorists' cells and dismantling of al Qaida.

In such a way many large-scale terror plots have been foiled, although some schemes have succeeded beyond U.S. territories, said Hayden.

Shortly before his remarks, al Qaida's number two Zayman Al-Zawahiri released a video tape threatening new attacks.

Comment: The CIA claims they have killed or captured 5,000 "terrorists". How many of those have had any sort of due legal process? How many of these dead had anything to do with terrorism? How many of those in the US "detention", i.e., torture camps, have the remotest connection with "radical Islam"? How many were just in the wrong place at the wrong time or the victim of a personal vendetta?

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Overzealous staff fingerprinted Canadians: U.S. official

Last Updated: Tuesday, September 12, 2006 | 12:01 PM MT
CBC News

Canadians boarding a flight to Calgary last week should not have been fingerprinted and photographed at the Denver airport, says a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

A dozen Canadian passengers on a United Airlines flight were pulled to one side just before boarding the plane, says passenger Mike Dunford.
A security guard explained that because of heightened terrorist concerns, Canadians had to go through tougher security, Dunford said. The group's passports were scanned and they were fingerprinted and photographed.

"Now in the United States I'm obviously on file," said Dunford, who was catching a connecting flight in Denver after a visit to Palm Springs.

"I've been a guest in their country for more than 15 years so I'm a little shocked and disappointed."

Comment: Then he hasn't been paying very close attention...

Privacy officer can delete records

Anna Hinken, spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, says this is probably a case of an overzealous security or airline worker misinterpreting security regulations.

Homeland Security's US Visit program, which was expanded in August, screens people entering and leaving the country. Border guards can also take inkless fingerprints and digital photographs.

Hinken says the majority of Canadians have been prescreened before entering and don't have to be fingerprinted and photographed when they leave.

She says the passengers should contact the US Visit privacy officer.

"He'll ask them a few questions and confirm who they are and then he'll delete the information that was erroneously collected," she said.

Comment: And if you believe that....

Once you are in the system, you will stay in the system. Count on it.

Hinken says this has happened in the past, but they are isolated incidents.

It is, however, the second publicized complaint in as many months coming from Canadians related to an incident at the Denver airport.

A Muslim doctor from Winnipeg was escorted off a United Airlines flight in August, alleging it was because of his recitation of prayers.

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The Eagle Has Crash Landed

By A.K. Gupta
From the August 31, 2006 issue

After Sept. 11, there was a moment where one could imagine an intelligent response: Instead of bombs and belligerence, the United States could have used discussions and development to address the root causes of terrorism. But that was too much to expect of the American Empire.

To the Bush administration, the dead of Sept. 11 represented a unique opportunity to remake the world through war.

It took mere hours for Rumsfeld to direct his underlings to find intelligence that could serve as a casus belli against Iraq. It took nine days for Bush to impose a with-us-or-against-us mentality upon the world. And it took barely six weeks for the structures of a police state to come into being with the Patriot Act.

There was little doubt at the time that the eagle was soaring. Few opposed the power grab at home, the Taliban were scattered in a few weeks, and nations rushed to enlist in the "war on terror." It was no longer just cranky Marxists who talked of imperialism; liberals and conservatives alike hailed a reinvigorated Pax Americana.
Five years later, however, the Bush administration has dragged the world into three wars - Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon - that have diminished U.S. power dramatically. The U.S. military is being ground down by guerrilla warfare in Iraq, reviving fears of post- Vietnam impotence. With a civil war, of U.S. making, raging in Iraq, troop levels are on the rise and GIs are having to conquer Baghdad once more, leading to a surge in combat deaths in the last half of August. White House plans to draw down troops to influence the November elections have been dashed.

The cost in treasure is enormous, adding to huge budget deficits that burden the U.S. economy. Diplomatically, the Bush administration has lost credibility because of the weapons of mass destruction fable, constraining its attempts to attack Iran under similar pretexts. Russia, most visibly, has signaled that it will not back economic sanctions against Iran.

In Lebanon, the Bush administration hoped that Israel could bomb Hezbollah into submission and check an increasingly confident political Shi'ism. Instead, Sunni Arab regimes in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan were exposed as U.S. tools by lining up with their patron against Hezbollah. The American Empire's desperation for allies is so great that the paper of record describes Saudi Arabia's hand-chopping theocracy as a "moderate." U.S. leverage in the region is at a low. Israel is suffering an existential crisis from its historic defeat, and Iran, Syria and Shi'ite parties in Iraq have been strengthened. Most of all, the Arab world has found a new hero in Hezbollah and Hassan Nasrallah.

Yet this only hints at the global chaos that has been unleashed. Historians will define the post-Sept. 11 era as one of geopolitical instability, as the Atlantic Alliance fragmented and new power centers and regional blocs took shape. It's also marked by state-sponsored barbarism that has swept away any pretense of international law, the accelerating shift of power from West to East, wars fought and governments toppled for access to energy reserves, and the triumph of neoliberal economics.


Approaching the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11, what began as a war against political Islam has become a wider war of the haves against the have-nots. The war on terror has become a convenient excuse for Israel, India and Russia to justify their mayhem in the Middle East, Kashmir and Chechnya. All three play the victim, using the inevitable backlash from bloody occupations as justification for yet more repression.

There is a host of camp followers: Japan's nationalists, eager to exploit North Korea's missiles as an excuse to re-militarize; Egypt's nepotistic regime warring against its own people; Colombia's strongman Uribe waging a dirty war for the benefit of oil companies and narco-trafficking paramilitaries; thuggish, U.S.-aligned regimes from El Salvador to the Philippines. Even France, darling of left-leaning Europhiles, has joined in, threatening nuclear strikes against "terrorists."

Afghanistan was supposed to show the new U.S. approach, how it would rebuild the country to lift the yoke of extremism. But as in Iraq, blinded by a free-market ideology, the U.S. reconstruction effort has failed. What's left is an impotent government dependent on warlords, a resurgent Taliban that controls much of the country, and a populace bitter at unfulfilled promises of security and development.

However desperate the situation is in Afghanistan, with Western troops being bled by guerrilla warfare, Pakistan may be in worse shape. Ruled by a dictator, Pakistan has abandoned its populace. Corruption and military spending consume the budget, leaving almost nothing for health, education and social welfare. Gen. Pervez Musharraf is considered an ally, perhaps because he's allowed the country to be flooded by FBI agents, offers no protest when hundreds of its citizens are disappeared and has launched his own war in the border regions.

But that war, or wars rather, is going poorly. Northwest Pakistan is convulsed by a low-intensity conflict between U.S.-equipped Pakistani troops and militant Islamists, many of them backers of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Now, Musharaff has inflamed inhabitants of Baluchistan by killing a venerated leader. The conflict there mirrors many others the world over - a poor people who gain nothing from extensive oil and gas reserves that are developed for the benefit of ruling elites and global energy hogs. Add a nuclear arsenal into the mix and Pakistan is one of the world's most dangerous powder kegs.


Even as the U.S. Empire declines, neoliberalism still holds the center. The China-Wal-Mart model dominates the economy: rock-bottom wages, workers with no rights and monopoly capital clear-cutting everything in its path. China is the obvious beneficiary from the global chaos as manufacturing facilities and dollars flow its way. It's biding its time, however, knowing that it is decades behind the United States economically and militarily.

Not all is bleak. South America is breaking the Washington consensus on free trade that demands the global South prioritize loan payments over social welfare. Venezuela is the most visible opponent of U.S. elites and has dabbled somewhat successfully with grassroots development and regional trading alliances.

The war on terror has revealed an atrophied U.S. political system. With little opposition from the Democratic Party, the media, business elites or the public, the Bush administration has assumed unprecedented powers. The notion of the "unitary executive" - that all lawmaking power inheres in Bush - is a modern-day version of the divine right of kings. Whatever judicial or legislative restraint is put on the presidency has been summarily rejected in hundreds of instances so far.

After Sept. 11, some scholars pointed out that the American Empire was in decline. The choice, it was suggested, was between a controlled descent and a crash-and-burn landing. The Bush administration has chosen the later. Even as a wounded giant, the United States can wreak havoc for decades to come.

The most pressing issues of the coming decades are not ones of fighting terrorism, which is but a cover for authoritarian rule and transferring wealth to the rich, but the environment, global warming, sustainability and the redistribution of resources. The choice is between a Hobbesian world - "A war of all against all" - over precious resources or a global solidarity of fulfilling needs versus consumption. It's not very American, but it's the best option we have.

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The other September 11

By Pepe Escobar Sep 12, 2006

SANTIAGO, Chile - You don't need an Osama bin Laden to pull a September 11. Forget Boeings-turned-into-missiles crashing into twin towers. Switch for a moment to four military planes bombing a presidential palace - and replay a different September 11 movie starring Dick and Henry. "Dick", of course, is the late US president Richard Nixon. "Henry" was his national security adviser, Henry Kissinger. Foreign policy-wise, it's quite an enlightening plot.
Scene 1: Washington, the Oval Office, September 1970. Dr Salvador Allende, a man of culture, grand bourgeois and charismatic founder of the Socialist Party, has just won the presidential election in Chile fair and square, with 36.22% of the votes. Nixon and Kissinger receive Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director Richard Helms. Nixon tells Helms, according to Kissinger, that he wants "a major effort to see what could be done to prevent Allende's accession to power. If there were one chance in 10 of getting rid of Allende, we should try it."

Scene 2: Santiago, La Moneda Palace, September 11 of the year 1973, 8am. Allende, the democratically elected president of Chile, is worried about a general called Augusto Pinochet. Radio stations are mute. The navy has taken over Valparaiso - where the president was born. But he worries about his new army commander, chosen less than three weeks ago: "Poor Pinochet, he must have been arrested ..."

General Pinochet is far from arrested: he is conducting a coup. Troops march over Santiago. At 8.30am a solemn military declaration makes treason official. Tanks roll into the city center. At noon, four Stuka planes destroy Allende's private residence on Tomas Moro Street and bomb La Moneda Palace. The president chooses resistance, fighting the troops surrounding the palace and spurning offers of a plane for himself and his family to leave the country. When his capture is imminent, Allende presses his chin against the AK-47 that Cuban leader Fidel Castro gave him, and fires. At 2pm, the military junta takes power. Systematic arrests, torture and executions start almost immediately.

Between these two scenes is the story of a coup that unfolded in slow motion for virtually three years. The United States was still embroiled in Vietnam. Nixon's policy for the whole of Latin America was one word short of "war on terror": "to prevent another Cuba". Nixon simply could not tolerate "that bastard Allende" (in his own words). Chile had the largest copper reserves in the world. Allende was about to nationalize Chilean copper - thus sabotaging the monstrous US corporate profits of Anaconda Copper Mining Co and Kennecott Copper Co, which had been bleeding the country for decades.

The Chilean-destabilization strategy, presided over in detail by Kissinger, developed into a series of operations called Track 1 and Track 2. The CIA tried to stage a coup even before Allende's inauguration on November 1970, giving US$50,000 to a crypto-Nazi gang to kill chief of staff General Rene Schneider on October 22, and bribing generals and admirals. It didn't work.

Allende wanted to develop "a peaceful Chilean way towards socialism". He was elected by workers, peasants and the marginalized, urban lower classes. Educated urban youth celebrated the "socialism of red wine and empanadas" (stuffed pastry). But Washington would prevent any turn to the left by devastating the Chilean economy, deploying mass bribery, spying and blackmail.

Allende in fact was a moderate compared with Chilean popular movements further to the left that occupied factories, lands or just property (1,278 occupations in 1971 alone). Then strikes started to spread (3,200 in 1972). Industrialists sabotaged production. No one could explain how Chilean credit was suddenly cut off in international markets. Loans were suspended.

The CIA, apart from non-stop sabotage, financed strategic strikes - doctors, bank clerks, a very long truck drivers' strike. Conservative newspapers conducted a non-stop vicious disinformation campaign. There were coup rehearsals. And political chaos compounded economic chaos: the Christian Democrats - the centrists - ended up joining the right and the extreme right against Allende.

Nixon got exactly what he wanted. On September 11, US Navy ships monitored all Chilean military bases to warn the plotters about who might be supporting Allende. Pinochet took over and entered history as the definitive, sinister Latin American dictator from central casting.

Dictatorship in Chile coincided with the ascension of neo-liberalism (which in the 1990s would be remixed as "globalization"). Chileans with scholarships had been a fixture of the University of Chicago for years. The charter of neo-liberalism - and Pinochet's Holy Economic Grail - was written by two of them, Sergio de Castro and Arturo Fontaine. Afterward, it was classic division of labor: the armed forces killed while the "Chicago boys" applied neo-liberal economic policies. Military repression assured economic "freedom".

Some other dictators were in place before Pinochet, more were to follow. By the mid-1970s, six US-backed South American dictatorships - Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Uruguay and Paraguay - were united in deep secret under the infamous, transnational Operation Condor, a Latino war "of" terror eliminating everyone who was or might become a political adversary.

Condor had two key players: Pinochet in Chile (who kept Condor's centralized computers) and Alfredo Stroessner in Paraguay (he died this year in Brazil). The Pinochet regime kept a small lab for the fabrication of botulism soup and nerve gas - which were and remain certified weapons of mass destruction; the chemist responsible later escaped to Uruguay and was assassinated. Orlando Letelier, Chile's ambassador to Washington under Allende in 1970-72, was assassinated under Condor. Who cared? Military fascism was Washington's daily special, every single day.
Pinochet and Condor, in Chile, were responsible for as many victims as September 11: about 3,000, including 1,198 "disappeared". In Argentina, there were officially at least 10,000 dead: for human-rights organizations there were more than 30,000 dead and "disappeared". In Paraguay, there were at least 2,000 dead; in Bolivia at least 350 dead and "disappeared", in Brazil almost 300, in Uruguay almost 200. Families of the "disappeared" are convinced Kissinger knew about everything. He will take his secrets to the grave, as will model dictator Pinochet - who still refuses to die.

Behind the rebuilt La Moneda palace in central Santiago, facing the Ministry of Justice building, there is a statue of Allende. Underneath, the words: "I have faith in Chile and its destiny." These were his last words before he committed suicide, instead of becoming a hostage on South America's September 11.

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Accused Marine Won't Face Death Penalty

Wednesday September 13, 2006 12:01 PM
AP Special Correspondent

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (AP) - The government will not seek the death penalty for a Marine Corps corporal who is among eight troops charged with murder and other crimes in the shooting of a civilian Iraqi man, a military prosecutor told a hearing officer Tuesday.

Lance Cpl. Jerry E. Shumate Jr., 21, is accused in the killing of 52-year-old Hashim Ibrahim Awad last April in Hamdania, west of Baghdad. Shumate is suspected of firing his M-16 at Awad, then lying to investigators about what had happened, according to charging documents.

Military prosecutor Lt. Col. John Baker's recommendation against a possible death penalty for Shumate came at the conclusion of an Article 32 hearing, the equivalent of a preliminary hearing in civilian court, that was held as part of the process to decide whether Shumate will be held for a court-martial. The final decision rests with Lt. Gen. James Mattis.

An investigator who interviewed Shumate in Iraq testified that the interview was emotional, recounting how he burst into tears as he was questioned.

"He was fairly calm, but halfway through the interview he became emotional, then calm, then emotional again,'' said Kelly Garbo, a special agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. "He was crying."'

She said Shumate spoke to her voluntarily. No force or threats were used during the questioning, Garbo testified, and Shumate was allowed to take cigarette and water breaks.

"I told him other members of the squad had been honest and truthful and told us the real story of what happened that night, that there was a kidnap and there was a murder,'' Garbo testified.

He was shown a map that Lance Corp. Tyler Jackson, another defendant, had drawn during his interrogation. Garbo said the map was used to help Shumate show the officers where events had occurred.

Neither Garbo nor two other NCIS investigators who testified were asked to give details of Shumate's statements. Defense attorneys did not cross-examine any of the investigators.

Asked outside the hearing whether there was an agreement to keep the statements secret, lawyers on both sides refused to comment.

Shumate, a native of Matlock, Wash., is an infantryman who enlisted in February 2005. He was serving his first tour in Iraq. All the defendants were assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.

He is the third Marine to face an Article 32 hearing. During a previous hearing, Baker said prosecutors would not pursue a capital sentence against Pfc. John Jodka III, another defendant in the case. Hearings for the other accused troops are expected in coming weeks.

All the defendants are accused of entering Awad's house on April 26, kidnapping him and taking him to a roadside hole. There, prosecutors say, several troops shot him.

Defense attorneys have questioned the credibility of the Iraqis who reported the killing to U.S. authorities. But in a brief closing argument, Baker told hearing Officer Officer Col. Robert S. Chester that statements made in the case had been corroborated by DNA evidence and autopsy and ballistics reports.

"The statements taken together with the evidence satisfy probable cause of the offenses charged,'' Baker said.

Shumate's mother, father and adult sister sat directly behind him in the tiny, 15-seat courtroom. His father, Jerry Shumate Sr., wore a T-shirt emblazoned with the words, "My son, one of the few, the proud, a Marine.''

"We're devastated; we're just taking it day by day,'' Jerry Shumate Sr. said previously. "All we can do is trust in our counsel and trust in our government.''

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SKorea bulldozes site for new US military headquarters

Wednesday September 13, 2006

Thousands of riot police have formed human barricades around a South Korean farming village as workers began bulldozing a site for the new US military headquarters in the country.

A police helicopter hovered as five earthmovers, backed by 400 helmeted workers carrying plastic shields, rolled into four villages near an existing US camp near Pyeongtaek, 70 kilometers (45 miles) south of Seoul.

"Stop your illegal demolition work!" dozens of elderly residents chanted as about 15,000 riot police sealed off the village of about 130 houses.

Scuffles broke out when police dragged down about 20 anti-US activists who chained themselves to the rooftops of houses but there were no injuries.
Police said they would tear down 90 houses, while 40 still occupied by residents and protestors were excluded from demolition.

Camp Humphreys is scheduled to triple in size by 2008 and become the US military's chief installation in South Korea after the Yongsan garrison in central Seoul closes down.

In May, thousands of protesters clashed with riot police near Pyongtaek after South Korean soldiers set up a wire fence around the site, leaving 210 people injured.

Many local residents have abandoned their homes in return for financial compensation, but about 200 residents and activists remain in dozens of houses.

Tens of thousands of US troops have been stationed in South Korea since the end of the 1950-53 war. About 30,000 are currently deployed to help 650,000 South Korean troops face up to communist North Korea's 1.2 million-strong army.

The United States and South Korea have held talks on readjusting their military alliance amid calls from Seoul for control over its armed forces in wartime.

Washington plans to reduce its forces in South Korea to 25,000 by 2008 and is seeking flexibility to deploy them outside the country in times of need.

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War of Terror

EU to restrict liquids in hand luggage for air passengers

September 13, 2006

BRUSSELS - The European Commission is to restrict the amount of liquids allowed in hand luggage for air passengers, in a new security measure, Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot has revealed.

"Following the incidents of this summer we have sought to introduce a response proportional to the needs of security," Barrot told reporters in Brussels.

"We have decided to restrict the amount of liquid allowed in hand luggage," he added Wednesday, while ruling out a total ban.
British authorities announced last month that they had foiled an alleged plot to blow up US-bound airliners using liquid explosives smuggled aboard in drinks' or other containers

Maximum container sizes will be introduced under the new EU rules, allowing people to bring on board small shampoo and perfume bottles. Duty free airport purchases will be carried in sealed bags, Barrot added.

During a meeting last week on emergency measures after the alleged London plot, aviation security experts from the 25 EU member nations agreed on the need for a "common response" to the new threat of liquid explosives.

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Passenger Disrupts Cross-Country Flight

Sep 12, 2006

A passenger tried to open the exit door of a jet during a cross-country flight on Tuesday night, airline and federal officials said.

United Airlines Flight 890 from Los Angeles landed as scheduled at Washington Dulles International Airport at 8:35 p.m., said Amy Kudwa, Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman. No one was injured.

The passenger became unruly about 3 1/2 hours into the flight from Los Angeles and was subdued by other passengers and federal air marshals, said United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy.

"After the passenger was restrained, the pilot decided to land at Dulles," McCarthy said. "It wasn't an emergency landing."

Airport police and FBI agents met the flight and were interviewing the passenger, said FBI spokeswoman Debbie Wierman.

There were 138 passengers and six crew members on board, McCarthy said.

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Hundreds of guns seized in UK police raids

Bonnie Malkin and agencies
Wednesday September 13, 2006
Guardian Unlimited

Police today recovered a cache of hundreds of guns in three raids in Kent, arresting a 55-year-old man on suspicion of supplying firearms.

The raids were part of an intelligence-led operation to tackle the supply of guns to criminals in London, and officers said it was the biggest weapons haul of its kind.
Pump action shotguns and semi-automatic and automatic weapons were found in raids on properties in Dartford, with an arms smuggling ring that has links in the US believed to have brought them into the country.

Officers from the Metropolitan police's Operation Trident team - set up to target gun crime in London's black communities - carried out the raids.

A Metropolitan police statement said US police were undertaking simultaneous operations in New Jersey.

Around 30 officers executed search warrants at two residential properties and one business address in Dartford at 6am.

The guns were discovered at a semi-detached house that police allege was being used to sell firearms. A sports car parked outside had the registration number E6 GUN.

Sky news reported that the 55-year-old man, who was arrested and taken from the house at 10.25am, had earlier greeted officers at the door.

Detective Chief Superintendent Kevin Davis, of Operation Trident, said "hundreds and hundreds" of weapons were found.

"This is the biggest firearms haul we have ever had," he said. "Guns are mounted on every available wall space in the property, and live ammunition was found lying on the floor."

Mr Davis said it would take officers three days to log the weapons.

"This operation has resulted in hundreds of guns being taken out of circulation, and has potentially prevented a number of serious injuries, or even deaths, occurring on the streets of London," he added.

He said it was "impossible to overestimate the misery and fear these weapons could have brought if they had got into the hands of criminals".

Searches at all three properties were expected to continue throughout the day. The operation - codenamed Mokpo - was launched 18 months ago after a spate of shootings involving rival gangs in north London.

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Fallujah again in the line of US fire

By Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily
Sep 13, 2006
Asia Times

FALLUJAH, Iraq - After enduring two major assaults, Fallujah, a key city in the western province al-Anbar, is under threat from US forces again. This coincides with news of a classified US intelligence report that the Pentagon is taking "very seriously" - that US forces are losing control of Anbar.

The report, written by Colonel Pete Devlin, the chief of intelligence for the Marine Corps in Iraq, and cited in the US media, said a shortage of US and Iraqi troops in Anbar and the collapse of local governments had left a vacuum that had been exploited by al-Qaeda in Iraq. It painted a poor picture of security prospects in Anbar, which includes Fallujah and Ramadi, Sunni resistance strongholds. It said that the US had been defeated politically, if not militarily, in the province.
This confirms an article last week citing Iraqi police and residents (see US military 'loses control' of key Iraqi province, Asia Times Online, September 7 ).

In Fallujah, 50 kilometers west of Baghdad, residents are edgy. "They destroyed our city twice and they are threatening us a third time," said Ahmed Dhahy, 52. "They want us to do their job for them and turn in those who target them."

Dhahy, who lost 32 relatives when his father's house was bombed by a US aircraft during the April 2004 attack on Fallujah, said the US military had threatened it would destroy the city if resistance fighters were not handed over to them.

"Last week, the Americans used loudspeakers on the backs of their tanks and Humvees to threaten us," Dhahy said. Residents said the US forces warned of a "large military operation" if fighters were not handed over.

A US military spokesman in Baghdad said he had no reports of such action.

Fallujah was heavily bombed in April 2004 and again in November that year. The attacks destroyed 75% of the city's infrastructure and left more than 5,000 dead, according to local non-governmental groups.

But after the heavy assaults, resistance fighters have continued to launch attacks against US and official Iraqi forces in the city. Fallujah remains under tight security, with the US military using biometric identification, full body searches and bar-coded identification cards for residents to enter and leave their city.

"The Iraqi resistance has not stopped for a single day despite the huge US Army activities," a city police captain said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "The wise men of the city explained to US officials that it is impossible to stop the resistance by military operations, but it seems the Americans prefer to do it the hard way."

The police captain said anti-occupation fighters had increased their activities in the face of sectarian violence in which Shi'ite death squads have killed thousands of Sunnis in Baghdad. Many residents of Fallujah have relatives in the capital city.

Lack of reconstruction and the US military's failure to pay due compensation to victims' families have added to the unrest, the captain said. "There used to be resistance attacks against the US and Iraqi forces in Fallujah daily," said the captain. "But now they have increased to several per day. Many soldiers have been killed and their vehicles destroyed. So it is clear that the security measures they have taken in Fallujah have failed."

Several residents said all sorts of killings had been taking place over the past eight months. Religious leaders have been targeted regularly, with no group claiming responsibility. On Sunday, the former chief of traffic police, Brigadier Ahmed Diraa, was shot dead in his car. Residents in Fallujah said Diraa had quit his post a month earlier.

In the face of killings, and now threats of a new attack, residents remain defiant of the occupation forces. The hardships that people have endured seem to have strengthened rather than weakened them.

"There are so many arrests and killings, and collective punishments, such as random shootings, violent inspection raids, repeated curfews and deliberate cutting of water and electricity," said Mohammed al-Darraji, head of a human-rights group in Fallujah called the Iraqi Center for Human Rights Observation.

"What is going on in this city requires international intervention to protect civilians and to punish those who seriously damaged Fallujah society and committed serious crimes against humanity," Darraji said. His group has been monitoring breaches of the Geneva Conventions in the city since the April 2004 siege.

"There is a long list of collective punishments that have turned the city into a frightful detention camp," he said.

Another human-rights campaigner in Fallujah, who asked to be referred to as Khalid, said human-rights activists in Iraq felt betrayed by the United Nations. The UN had played ignorant "by leaving US troops to act alone in the city", said Khalid, who works with Raya Human Rights, a non-governmental organization in the city. "This was after the media exposed the enormity of the violence and human-rights violations during the last three years."

(Inter Press Service)

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Torture victims' bodies found in Baghdad

Wednesday September 13, 2006
Guardian Unlimited

Police have recovered the bodies of 65 men dumped on streets in Baghdad, it was reported today.

The discovery sparked fears that civil war in the Iraqi capital was escalating, with Sunni Arab and Shia Muslim death squads undeterred by a month-long security crackdown throughout the city.

Police said the victims had been tortured and shot before their bodies were left in mostly Sunni Arab neighbourhoods.
An Iraqi interior ministry official and Baghdad police sources told Reuters 60 of the bodies had been found over the past day. Fifteen were discovered close to the Shia militia stronghold of Sadr City.

"We've had worse days," the interior ministry official said. "Sometimes, we sent ... even 100 to the morgue."

Elsewhere in the city, violence continued, with Iraqi police suffering heavy losses.

A car bomb killed at least 19 people and wounded more than 62 when it exploded near the main headquarters of Baghdad's traffic police department, police said. At least two of the victims were traffic policemen.

In eastern Baghdad, a parked car bomb went off next to a police patrol. Eight people, including three policemen, were killed, with 17 wounded.

A policeman was killed when two mortar shells landed on the al-Rashad police station, in the south-east of the city, and two more died when two mortar rounds landed near their police station in the eastern neighbourhood of Mashtal.

The US military also announced the deaths of two of its soldiers, one in southern Baghdad and one in Anbar province.

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Blast kills 7 in Turkey's Kurdish region

POSTED: 10:53 p.m. EDT, September 12, 2006

(CNN) -- A bomb blast in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir has killed seven people and injured 17, two of them seriously, officials said.

Five of the seven killed were children, police said.

There has been no claim of responsibility for the blast, according to the press office of the city's governor.
Turkish authorities said blast was caused by a bomb made from powerful explosives and was set off by a cell phone timer, The Associated Press reports.

The explosion in the city of Diyarbakir happened around 9 p.m.(6 p.m. GMT) and an investigation had begun, according to a statement from the provincial governor's office.

A Kurdish news agency reported that the blast took place near an elementary school. Witnesses said the blast threw body parts over a wide area and left pools of blood from the killed and injured.

A hospital made an appeal for blood donations after the injured were brought in to be treated, Reuters reported.

Diyarbakir, a city of more than a half million people on the Tigris River, is Turkey's largest majority-Kurd city.

The region is also home to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged a 22-year war against Turkey in which more than 37,000 people have died, mainly Kurds. Turkey and the United States consider the PKK a terrorist group.

Kurdish rebels, who seek autonomy from the Turkish government, were blamed for a bombing that killed two people in the southeastern city of Catak on September 3.

The PKK claimed responsibility earlier this month for a series of bombings in Turkish tourist resorts and in Istanbul. Three people were killed in those attacks and dozens wounded.

Also on Tuesday, the Turkish military announced that authorities had defused a remote-controlled bomb planted by Kurdish guerrillas on a busy bridge near the southeastern city of Hatay, and a bomb believed placed by rebels exploded as a freight train carrying coal passed in the eastern province of Bingol, damaging three rail cars, according to the AP.

The United States and Turkey are taking measures to counter Kurdish militants who have training camps in northern Iraq and launch frequent raids into Turkey.

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Death toll in Turkey bombing rises to 10

Associated Press
September 13, 2006

ISTANBUL, Turkey - The death toll from a bomb explosion in a predominantly Kurdish city in southeastern Turkey rose to 10 Wednesday after three victims died of their wounds. Authorities said the bomb exploded while being carried, suggested that the explosive was intended for another target and had detonated accidentally.

It was the country's deadliest single bombing since an al-Qaida attack in 2003.
"The bomb was made by hand, placed in a thermos and went off as it was being transported," the local governor's office said.

Seven children were among the dead in Diyarbakir, the largest Kurdish-majority city in Turkey's southeast, the state-owned Anatolia news agency reported. Fourteen other people were wounded, the agency reported.

Autonomy-seeking rebels are known to be active in the predominantly Kurdish region, but attacks against civilians in the southeast are relatively unusual.

A Kurdish news agency reported that the blast took place near an elementary school.

The bombing came as the Kurdish rebels have stepped up their attacks.

The United States and Turkey are taking measures to counter Kurdish militants who have training camps in northern
Iraq and launch frequent raids into Turkey.

More than 37,000 people have been killed in fighting since rebels of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984.

Both the United States and Turkey consider the group to be a terrorist organization.

Dozens of soldiers and guerrillas have been killed in a surge of violence in southeastern Turkey in recent months, leading to a Turkish government crackdown in the region, the massing of Turkish tanks and artillery along the Iraqi border and threats to attack the main guerrilla bases in northern Iraq.

Another extremist Kurdish militant group, the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons, took responsibility for a rash of bombings last month elsewhere in the country, threatening to escalate the situation.

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NATO steps up pressure for more troops in Afghanistan

Last Updated Tue, 12 Sep 2006 13:34:04 EDT
CBC News

NATO's secretary general said Tuesday the alliance plans to put more pressure on members to contribute troops to its fighting force in southern Afghanistan, saying some countries are bearing more of the burden than others.

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said in an interview with BBC News in London that member countries need to provide troops to stand alongside Canadian, British and Dutch troops fighting the Taliban in southern Afghanistan.
"I have called and I am calling in front of your microphones for alliance solidarity because some nations are carrying more of the burden than others. And a 26-nation alliance should show the solidarity, so I'm working hard as we speak," he said.

Gen. James Jones, NATO supreme allied commander in Europe, issued a plea last week for more soldiers, helicopters and transport planes to aid the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. More troops would bring a decisive end to the battle against the Taliban and would likely mean fewer casualties, he said.

On Wednesday, NATO members will take part in a "force generation conference" at NATO headquarters in Mons, Belgium, to discuss the shortfalls in its Afghanistan mission.

ISAF, under a United Nations mandate, is an international force of some 20,000 troops from 37 countries that is trying to provide stability to Afghanistan. NATO took over the leadership of ISAF in August 2003.

Canada has more than 2,000 troops in Afghanistan, the majority stationed in Kandahar.

Scheffer said he does not expect any decisions about new contributions of troops to be made at the meeting, but he expects movement at two upcoming NATO meetings: one of NATO foreign ministers on Sept. 21, 2006, in New York City and another of NATO defence ministers on Sept. 28 to Sept. 30, 2006, in Portoroz, Slovenia.

"These are political decisions and it is up to the politicians in the capitals to do what they promised to do and my job is to make that happen," he said. The first plea for more troops from NATO's top general came a day before a meeting of chiefs of defence of NATO members in Warsaw, Poland, on Sept. 8 to Sept. 9, 2006.

More troops needed

Mark Laity, spokesperson for NATO in Kabul, told CBC News on Tuesday that NATO countries have acknowledged the need for more troops but have yet to produce those troops.

"I've seen some people say it is a crisis. What you're seeing down in the south is a challenge. But Canadians, Dutch, British - they are performing magnificently. In Operation Medusa, which is Canadian-led, we have had significant progress in the last few days. Operation Medusa is really going quite well," he said.

"If we don't the get the troops, we are going to carry on and finish the job. We have got enough to do an awful lot. If you have more, you do more. This extra pressure means things aren't progressing as fast as we would like them to progress."

The battle against the Taliban in southern Afghanistan, known as Operation Medusa, appears to be entering its final phase, according to commanders on the ground. The battle, a dangerous one, has led to the deaths of four Canadians in combat since it began more than a week ago.

Commanders said Canadian troops were continuing to advance on Tuesday as they tried to reclaim territory held by the Taliban in the volatile Panjwaii district in southern Afghanistan. For the third straight day, Canadians troops encountered no resistance as they rolled south.

Ambushes, rocket attacks and skirmishes last week marked the first phase of the battle.

In its first week, four Canadian soldiers and one U.S. soldier were killed and more than a dozen troops wounded. An airplane accident also resulted in the deaths of 14 British troops, and a mistaken bombing killed a Canadian soldier. The bodies of the British troops were flown to their home base on Tuesday.

Commanders said there will still be weeks of mop-up operations in the area even though the battle appears to be ending.

Laity said the Taliban have suffered significant casualties. "The Taliban knows there are enough forces to give them a really hard time," he said. "We are fighting with a purpose."

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Zionism in Action

The Coming Collapse of Zionism

Former CIA Analyst
September 12, 2006

Is it only observers outside the conventional mainstream who have noticed that by its murderous assault on Lebanon and simultaneously on Gaza, Israel finally exposed, for even the most deluded to see, the total bankruptcy of its very founding idea?

Can it be that the deluded are still deluded? Can it truly still be that Israel's bankruptcy is evident only to those who already knew it, those who already recognized Zionism as illegitimate for the racist principle that underlies it?
Can it be therefore that only the already converted can see coming the ultimate collapse of Zionism and, with it, of Israel itself as the exclusivist state of Jews?

Racism has always been the lifeblood of Israel. Zionism rests on the fundamental belief that Jews have superior national, human, and natural rights in the land, an inherently racist foundation that excludes any possibility of true democracy or equality of peoples. Israel's destructive rampage in Lebanon and Gaza is merely the natural next step in the evolution of such a founding ideology. Precisely because that ideology posits the exclusivity and superiority of one people's rights, it can accept no legal or moral restraints on its behavior and no territorial limits, for it needs an ever-expanding geography to accommodate those unlimited rights.

Zionism cannot abide encroachment or even the slightest challenge to its total domination over its own space -- not merely of the space within Israel's 1967 borders, but of the surrounding space as well, extending outward to geographical limits that Zionism has not yet seen fit to set for itself. Total domination means no physical threat and no demographic threat: Jews reign, Jews are totally secure, Jews always outnumber, Jews hold all military power, Jews control all natural resources, all neighbors are powerless and totally subservient. This was the message Israel tried to send with its attack on Lebanon: that neither Hizbullah nor anything in Lebanon that nurtures Hizbullah should continue to exist, for the sole reason that Hizbullah challenges Israel's supreme authority in the region and Israel cannot abide this effrontery. Zionism cannot coexist with any other ideology or ethnicity except in the preeminent position, for everyone and every ideology that is not Zionist is a potential threat.

In Lebanon, Israel attempted by its wildly reckless violence to destroy the nation, to make of it a killing zone where only Zionism would reign, where non-Jews would die or flee or prostrate themselves, as they had during the nearly quarter-century of Israel's last occupation, from 1978 to 2000. Observing the war in Beirut after the first week of bombing, describing the murder in an Israeli bombing raid of four Lebanese army logistics techs who had been mending power and water lines "to keep Beirut alive," British correspondent Robert Fisk wrote that it dawned on him that what Israel intended was that "Beirut is to die . . . . No one is to be allowed to keep Beirut alive." Israeli Chief of Staff Dan Halutz (the man who four years ago when he headed the Israeli Air Force said he felt no psychological discomfort after one of his F-16s had dropped a one-ton bomb on an apartment building in Gaza in the middle of the night, killing 14 civilians, mostly children) pledged at the start of the Lebanon assault to take Lebanon back 20 years; 20 years ago Lebanon was not alive, its southern third occupied by Israel, the remainder a decade into a hopelessly destructive civil war.

The cluster bombs are a certain sign of Israel's intent to remake Lebanon, at least southern Lebanon, into a region cleansed of its Arab population and unable to function except at Israel's mercy. Cluster bombs, of which Israel's U.S. provider is the world's leading manufacturer (and user, in places like Yugoslavia and Iraq), explode in mid-flight and scatter hundreds of small bombs over a several-acre area. Up to one-quarter of the bomblets fail to explode on impact and are left to be found by unsuspecting civilians returning to their homes. UN surveyors estimate that there are as many as 100,000 unexploded cluster bomblets strewn around in 400 bomb-strike sites in southern Lebanon. Scores of Lebanese children and adults have been killed and injured by this unexploded ordnance since the cease-fire last month.

Laying anti-personnel munitions in heavily populated civilian areas is not the surgical targeting of a military force in pursuit of military objectives; it is ethnic cleansing. Fully 90 percent of Israel's cluster-bomb strikes were conducted, according to UN humanitarian coordinator Jan Egelund, in the last 72 hours before the cease-fire took effect, when it was apparent that a UN cease-fire resolution was in the works. This can only have been a further effort, no doubt intended to be more or less a coup de grace, to depopulate the area. Added to the preceding month of bombing attacks that destroyed as much as 50 or in some cases 80 percent of the homes in many villages, that did vast damage to the nation's entire civilian infrastructure, that crippled a coastal power plant that continues to spill tons of oil and benzene-laden toxins along the Lebanese and part of the Syrian coastlines, and that killed over 1,000 civilians in residential apartment blocks, being transported in ambulances, and fleeing in cars flying white flags, Israel's war can only be interpreted as a massiv act of ethnic cleansing, to keep the region safe for Jewish dominion.

In fact, approximately 250,000 people, by UN estimate, are unable to return to their homes because either the homes have been leveled or unexploded cluster bomblets and other ordnance have not yet been cleared by demining teams. This was not a war against Hizbullah, except incidentally. It was not a war against terror, as Israel and its U.S. acolytes would have us believe (indeed, Hizbullah was not conducting terrorist acts, but had been engaged in a sporadic series of military exchanges with Israeli forces along the border, usually initiated by Israel). This was a war for Israeli breathing space, for the absolute certainty that Israel would dominate the neighborhood. It was a war against a population that was not totally subservient, that had the audacity to harbor a force like Hizbullah that does not bow to Israel's will. It was a war on people and their way of thinking, people who are not Jewish and who do not act to promote Zionism and Jewish hegemony.

Israel has been doing this to its neighbors in one form or another since its creation. Palestinians have obviously been Zionism's longest suffering victims, and its most persistent opponents. The Zionists thought they had rid themselves of their most immediate problem, the problem at the very core of Zionism, in 1948 when they forced the flight of nearly two-thirds of the Palestinian population that stood in the way of a establishing Israel as an exclusive Jewish-majority state. You can't have a Jewish state if most of your population is not Jewish. Nineteen years later, when Israel began to expand its borders with the capture of the West Bank and Gaza, those Palestinians who it thought had disappeared turned out to be still around after all, threatening the Zionists' Jewish hegemony.

In the nearly 40 years since then, Israeli policy has been largely directed -- with periodic time-outs for attacks on Lebanon -- toward making the Palestinians disappear for certain. The methods of ethnic cleansing are myriad: land theft, destruction of agricultural land and resources, economic strangulation, crippling restrictions on commerce, home demolition, residency permit revocation, outright deportation, arrest, assassination, family separation, movement restriction, destruction of census and land ownership records, theft of tax monies, starvation. Israel wants all of the land of Palestine, including all of the West Bank and Gaza, but it cannot have a majority Jewish state in all of this land as long as the Palestinians are there. Hence the slow strangulation. In Gaza, where almost a million and a half people are crammed into an area less than one-tenth the size of Rhode Island, Israel is doing on a continuing basis what it did in Lebanon in a month's time -- killing civilians, destroying civilian infrastructure, making the place uninhabitable. Palestinians in Gaza are being murdered at the rate of eight a day. Maimings come at a higher rate. Such is the value of non-Jewish life in the Zionist scheme of things.

Israeli scholar Ilan Pappe calls it a slow genocide (ElectronicIntifada, September 2, 2006). Since 1948, every Palestinian act of resistance to Israeli oppression has been a further excuse for Israel to implement an ethnic cleansing policy, a phenomenon so inevitable and accepted in Israel that Pappe says "the daily business of slaying Palestinians, mainly children, is now reported in the internal pages of the local press, quite often in microscopic fonts." His prediction is that continued killing at this level either will produce a mass eviction or, if the Palestinians remain steadfast and continue to resist, as is far more likely, will result in an increasing level of killing. Pappe recalls that the world absolved Israel of responsibility and any accountability for its 1948 act of ethnic cleansing, allowing Israel to turn this policy "into a legitimate tool for its national security agenda." If the world remains silent again in response to the current round of ethnic cleansing, the policy will only escalate, "even more drastically."

And here is the crux of the situation today. Will anyone notice this horror? Has Israel, as proposed at the beginning, truly exposed by its wild summer campaign of ethnic cleansing in Lebanon and Gaza the total bankruptcy of its very founding idea, the essential illegitimacy of the Zionist principle of Jewish exclusivity? Can even the most deluded see this, or will they continue to be deluded and the world continue to turn away, excusing atrocity because it is committed by Israel in the name of keeping the neighborhood safe for Jews?

Since Israel's crazed run through Lebanon began, numerous clear-eyed observers in the alternative and the European and Arab media have noted the new moral nudity of Israel, and of its U.S. backer, with an unusual degree of bluntness. Also on many tongues is a new awareness of growing Arab and Muslim resistance to the staggering viciousness of Israeli-U.S. actions. Palestinian-British scholar Karma Nabulsi, writing in the Guardian in early August, laments the "indiscriminate wrath of an enemy driven by an existential mania that cannot be assuaged, only stopped." American scholar Virginia Tilley (Counterpunch, August 5, 2006) observes that any kind of normal, peaceful existence is anathema to Israel, for it "must see and treat its neighbors as an existential threat in order to justify . . . its ethnic/racial character." Even before the Lebanon war, but after Gaza had begun to be starved, political economist Edward Herman (Z Magazine, March 2006)condemned Israel's "long-term ethnic cleansing and institutionalized racism" and the hypocritical way in which the West and the western media accept and underwrite these policies "in violation of all purported enlightenment values."

Racism underlies the Israeli-U.S. neocon axis that is currently running amok in the Middle East. The inherent racism of Zionism has found a natural ally in the racist imperial philosophy espoused by the neoconservatives of the Bush administration. The ultimate logic of the Israeli-U.S. global war, writes Israeli activist Michel Warschawski of the Alternative Information Center in Jerusalem (July 30, 2006) is the "full ethnicization" of all conflicts, "in which one is not fighting a policy, a government or specific targets, but a 'threat' identified with a community" -- or, in Israel's case, with all non-Jewish communities.

The basically racist notion of a clash of civilizations, being promoted both by the Bush administration and by Israel, provides the rationale for the assaults on Palestine and Lebanon. As Azmi Bishara, a leading Palestinian member of Israel's Knesset, has observed (al-Ahram, August 10-16, 2006), if the Israeli-U.S. argument that the world is divided into two distinct and incompatible cultures, us vs. them, is accurate, then the notion that "we" operate by a double standard loses all moral opprobrium, for it becomes the natural order of things. This has always been Israel's natural order of things: in Israel's world and that of its U.S. supporters, the idea that Jews and the Jewish culture are superior to and incompatible with surrounding peoples and cultures is the very basis of the state.

In the wake of Israel's failure in Lebanon, Arabs and Muslims have a sense, for the first time since Israel's implantation in the heart of the Arab Middle East almost 60 years ago, that Israel in its arrogance has badly overreached and that its power and its reach can be limited. The "ethnicization" of the global conflict that Michel Warschawski speaks of -- the arrogant colonial approach of old, now in a new high-tech guise backed by F-16s and nuclear weapons, that assumes Western and Israeli superiority and posits a kind of apocalyptic clash between the "civilized" West and a backward, enraged East -- has been seen for what it is because of Israel's mad assault on Lebanon. What it is is a crude racist assertion of power by a Zionist regime pursuing absolute, unchallenged regional hegemony and a neoconservative regime in the United States pursuing absolute, unchallenged global hegemony. As Palestinian commentator Rami Khouri observed in an interview with Charlie Rose a week into the Lebanon war, Hizbullah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine, having both grown out of earlier Israeli wars of hegemony, are the political response of populations "that have been degraded and occupied and bombed and killed and humiliated repeatedly by the Israelis, and often with the direct or indirect acquiescence, or, as we see now, the direct support of the United States."

Those oppressed populations are now fighting back. No matter how much Arab leaders in Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia may bow to the U.S. and Israel, the Arab people now recognize the fundamental weakness of Israel's race-based culture and polity and have a growing confidence that they can ultimately defeat it. The Palestinians in particular have been at this for 60 years, never disappearing despite Israel's best designs, never failing to remind Israel and the world of their existence. They will not succumb now, and the rest of the Arab world is taking heart from their endurance and Hizbullah's.

Something in the way Israel operates, and in the way the United States supports Israel's method of operating, must change. More and more commentators, inside the Arab world and outside, have begun to notice this, and a striking number are audacious enough to predict some sort of end to Zionism in the racist, exclusivist form in which it now exists and functions. This does not mean throwing the Jews into the sea. Israel will not be defeated militarily. But it can be defeated psychologically, which means putting limits on its hegemony, stopping its marauding advance through its neighborhood, ending Jewish racial/religious domination over other peoples.

Rami Khouri contends that the much greater public support throughout the Arab world for Hizbullah and Hamas is "a catastrophe" both for Israel and for the United States because it means resistance to their imperial designs. Khouri does not go further in his predictions, but others do, seeing at least in vague outline the vision of a future in which Israel no longer enjoys ultimate dominion. Gilad Atzmon, an ex-Israeli living in Britain, a jazz musician and thinker, sees Hizbullah's victory in Lebanon as signaling the defeat of what he calls global Zionism, by which he means the Israeli/U.S. neocon axis. It is the Lebanese, Palestinian, Iraqi, Afghani, and Iranian people, he says, who are "at the vanguard of the war for humanity and humanism," while Israel and the U.S. spread destruction and death, and more and more Europeans and Americans, recognizing this, are falling off the Zionist/neocon bandwagon. Atzmon talks about Israel as, ultimately, "an historic event" and a "dead entity."

Many others see similar visions. Commentators increasingly discuss the possibility of Israel, its myth of invincibility having been deflated, going through a South Africa-like epiphany, in which its leadership somehow recognizes the error of its racist ways and in a surge of humanitarian feeling renounces Zionism's inequities and agrees that Jews and Palestinians should live in equality in a unitary state. British MP George Galloway (Guardian, August 31, 2006) foresees the possibility of "an FW de Klerk moment" emerging in Israel and among its international backers when, as occurred in South Africa, a "critical mass of opposition" overwhelms the position of the previously invincible minority and the leadership is able to justify transferring power on the basis that doing so later under duress will be far less favorable. Short of such peaceful transition, along with a move to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Galloway ­ along with many others -- sees only "war, war and more war, until one day it is Tel Aviv which is on fire and the Israeli leaders' intransigence brings the whole state down on their heads."

This increasingly appears to be the shape of the future: either Israel and its neocon supporters in the United States can dismantle Zionism's most egregious aspects by agreeing to establish a unitary state in Palestine inhabited by the Palestinians and Jews whose land this is, or the world will face a conflagration of a scale not fully imaginable now.

Just as Hizbullah is an integral part of Lebanon, not to be destroyed by the bombing of bridges and power plants, the Palestinians before their expulsion in 1948 were Palestine and still are Palestine. By hitting the Palestinians where they lived, in the literal and the colloquial sense, Israel left them with only a goal and a vision. That vision is justice and redress in some form, whether redress means ultimately defeating Zionism and taking back Palestine, or reconciling with Israel on the condition that it act like a decent neighbor and not a conqueror, or finally joining with Israeli Jews to form a single state in which no people has superior rights . In Lebanon, Israel again seemed bent on imposing its will, its dominion, its culture and ethnicity on another Arab country. It never worked in Palestine, it has not worked in Lebanon, and it will not work anywhere in the Arab world.

We have reached a moral crossroads. In the "new Middle East" defined by Israel, Bush, and the neocons, only Israel and the U.S. may dominate, only they may be strong, only they may be secure. But in the just world that lies on the other side of that crossroads, this is unacceptable. Justice can ultimately prevail.

Kathleen Christison is a former CIA political analyst and has worked on Middle East issues for 30 years. She is the author of Perceptions of Palestine and The Wound of Dispossession.

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Israel's Lebanon war general quits

Wednesday 13 September 2006, 10:13 Makka Time, 7:13 GMT

The Israeli general who was in charge of the northern command during the month-long Lebanon war has resigned, the Israeli army said.

"The northern command Major-General Udi Adam requested this morning to resign his position in the near future," an army statement said on Wednesday.
"The chief of staff has accepted Adam's request and he will be replaced in accordance with IDF [Israel Defence Forces] procedures."

Local media reports said Adam tendered his resignation because of differences with army chief of staff Dan Halutz over the conduct of the 34-day offensive on Hezbollah, which ended under a UN-brokered ceasefire on August 14.

Some Israeli military affairs commentators had questioned whether Adam, a tank officer, had been the right choice to head the Northern Command and lead a campaign that relied largely on air power, artillery and infantry.

Adam had been widely expected to leave the army in the wake of a decision near the end of the 34-day war to appoint another general as "co-ordinator of operations in Lebanon" at the Northern Command.

'Great debt'

"The state of Israel definitely owes [Adam] a great debt," Amir Peretz, the defence minister, told Israel Radio. "No doubt we need to examine the meaning of the [move], why he decided to do it ... such an announcement by a general cannot be ignored."

On Adam's watch, Hezbollah seized two Israeli soldiers and killed eight other troops in a cross-border raid on July 12, an operation that triggered the fighting that ended in a ceasefire on August 14.

Hezbollah fired nearly 4,000 rockets into Israel, embarrassing the Middle East's most powerful army, and the soldiers are still being held.

Under public pressure, Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, on Monday appointed a retired judge to head an inquiry into the way the government and the military handled the war.

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The real special relationship

By Alain Gresh
Le Monde diplomatique

THE website of the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University published an 82-page paper in March, "The Israel Lobby and United States Foreign Policy". It was written by two political science specialists, John J Mearsheimer and Stephen M Walt (1).
There is nothing new about their thesis, which is that, for reasons of domestic policy, the US supports Israel to the detriment of its own interests and of those of many of its allies.

What is striking about the article is that it is the work of two highly respected academics who have previously had little involvement in polemics about the Middle East. They insist that what they are describing is not a "Jewish lobby", since it has the support of Christian fundamentalists and is opposed by many US Jews.

In damning detail they analyse how the pro-Israel lobby operates and applies pressure, particularly in the US Congress, to secure declarations and resolutions that sometimes defy belief.

Unsurprisingly, there have been attempts to prevent any discussion of the article by denouncing both it and its authors as antisemitic. Professor Alan M Dershowitz of Harvard Law School, an unconditional supporter of Israel, claimed that the authors had gleaned their arguments from neo-Nazi web sites. Christopher Hitchens, a formerly leftwing columnist who supported the Iraq war, described the paper as "slightly but unmistakably smelly" - the odour, of course, being anti-semitism.

Mearsheimer and Walt have also provoked debate in Israel. Daniel Levy, a former adviser to Ehud Barak, stated that they had demonstrated the impossibility of any serious discussion of Israeli policy in Washington (2).

In the US, some commentators welcomed the article. Michael Massing wrote in the New York Review of Books: "Despite its many flaws, their essay has performed a very useful service in forcing into the open a subject that has for too long remained taboo" (3).

Tony Judt wrote in the New York Times: "The damage that is done by America's fear of anti-semitism when discussing Israel is threefold. It is bad for Jews: antisemitism is real enough . . . but for just that reason it should not be confused with political criticisms of Israel or its American supporters. It is bad for Israel: by guaranteeing it unconditional support, Americans encourage Israel to act heedless of consequences . . . But above all, self-censorship is bad for the US itself" (4).

But given the US government's unreserved support for the invasion of Gaza and the attack on Lebanon, a free debate is unlikely in the immediate future.

At first sight it seems surprising that the article attracted criticism both from Noam Chomsky and from Joseph Massad, who is associate professor at Columbia University, New York, and a member of the editorial committee of the Journal of Palestine Studies. While recognising the authors' courage, they questioned whether US policy would be different if the lobby did not exist.

Massad, who has suffered at the lobby's hands on his university campus, points out: "The US is opposed in the Arab world as elsewhere because it has pursued and continues to pursue policies that are inimical to the interests of most people in these countries and are only beneficial to its own interests and to the minority regimes in the regions that serve those interests, including Israel" (5).

He claims the lobby's disappearance would affect the "details and intensity" of US policy in the Middle East, but not its substance.

Translated by Donald Hounam

(1) http://ksgnotes1.harvard.edu/Resear .... After the Atlantic Monthly had refused to publish it, an "edited and reworked version" of the paper appeared in the London Review of Books, 23 March 2006.

(2) Haaretz, Tel Aviv, 25 March 2006, reprinted by the International Herald Tribune, 4 April 2006. It was also quoted in a dossier published by the Journal of Palestine Studies, Spring 2006, Washington. A useful summary of the controversy appeared in Mother Jones, San Francisco, 18 May 2006.

(3) "The Storm over the Israel Lobby", New York Review of Books, 8 June 2006.

(4) "A Lobby, Not a Conspiracy", The New York Times, 19 April 2006.

(5) "Blaming the Israel Lobby", Counterpunch, Petrolia CA, 25-6 March 2006.

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Israel to release Hamas MPs on bail

Tuesday 12 September 2006, 20:34 Makka Time, 17:34 GMT

An Israeli military judge has ordered the release of 21 Hamas officials detained after a soldier was captured by Palestinian fighters in the Gaza Strip.

A lawyer for the detainees said they would be released in 48 hours on bail following an order by the Ofer military court on Tuesday.

Three Palestinian cabinet ministers, one of them a parliament member, and 18 other members of parliament would be freed, he said.
The Israeli army had no immediate comment on the terms of the release or why it was ordered, but said the release would be deferred until Thursday so prosecutors had an opportunity to appeal.

An army spokesman said: "Twenty-one Hamas officials are to be released, but this has been put on hold for 48 hours so the prosecution can file challenges."

He also said that a successful appeal would put the release on hold.

Israeli forces took at least 30 Hamas officials into custody after an Israeli soldier, Corporal Gilad Shalit, was seized in a raid on June 25.

Israel said the detainees were suspected of offences linked to Hamas's role in spearheading a six-year-old Palestinian uprising against the occupation. But Palestinians accused Israel of rounding up "bargaining chips" to force Shalit's release.

A senior aide to Ismail Haniya, a Hamas leader and the Palestinian prime minister, said the court's decision represented "significant progress" in securing Shalit's release.

Ahmed Youssef told Israel Radio: "The military court decision is part of a deal coming together to release Shalit, and in the coming days more will be known."

A lawyer representing the detainees, Osama al-Saadi, said the release was conditional on posting a collective bail of 25,000 shekels ($5,690).

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Israel, Lebanon "largely" realize cessation of hostilities: Annan

www.chinaview.cn 2006-09-13 13:00:16

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Tuesday that the relevant parties from Israel and Lebanon have largely complied with Resolution 1701 to halt hostilities.

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), however, had observed numerous minor incidents and violations in a buffer zone between the Litani River and the Blue Line, said Annan in the report on the implementation of Resolution 1701.
"Significant progress" had continued to be made as regards the gradual UNIFIL coordination of Israel's withdrawal and the Lebanese armed forces' deployment into the south, said Annan.

Regarding the disarmament of armed groups in Lebanon, Annan urged that the issue be solved through "a political process that will lead to the full restoration of the authority" of the Lebanese government which, as he expected, would define a time line for Hezbollah's full disarmament through dialogue.

On the captured Israeli soldiers and Lebanese held in Israeli prisons, the secretary-general said he had appointed an experienced mediator to address the issue and both sides had said they were "open to a discussion."

Concerning the disputed Shebaa Farms, Annan said he was studying a Lebanese proposal to put the territory under UN jurisdiction until the issue of Lebanese sovereignty over it, and the delineation of the Lebanese-Syrian border, were fully settled.

The UN chief also said he was pleased that Israel had fully lifted the aerial and maritime blockade imposed on Lebanon.

"I now look forward to the imminent deployment of the UN naval task force off the Lebanese coast to assist the Lebanese authorities in securing the maritime border," said Annan.

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When the person injured has no documents, the accident never happened

By Shahar Ilan
Wed., September 13, 2006

For Udda Eliada, a hit-and-run accident is one in which he is hit - and is also the one who runs away.

Four years ago, Eliada - a 36-year-old man who was raised by members of the Al-Azzama Bedouin tribe in the Negev after being orphaned in the Sinai as a child - suffered internal injuries when a car hit him as he was walking on the road near Mishmar Hanegev. Although the driver tried to convince him to go to the hospital, Eliada preferred to flee the scene. After all, he has no legal standing in Israel, or anywhere else in the world, which would pose a problem if he were stopped on the way to or from the hospital. And as for the hospital, he does not have the means to pay for treatment or the ability to get insurance coverage.

That is what happens when you do not exist from an administrative viewpoint: Even your car accident never took place.

"It's impossible to exercise the right to health if you have no [legal] standing," said Orly Alami, coordinator of a project run by Physicians for Human Rights in Israel to help unrecognized villages in the Negev.

Yet Eliada is one of hundreds of Negev Bedouin who have no legal standing, according to estimates by Physicians for Human Rights and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. Some of them are listed in the Gaza Strip's population registry, even if they have never lived there and have no Gaza documents.

When the father of a family has no standing, he is unable to find regular work and support his family. When the mother has no standing, her children also have no standing. And the problem is increasing: Over the next few years, hundreds more Bedouin will grow up in the Negev with no documentation, no rights, no hope and no future.

The primary reason for the problem is the 1959 expulsion of the Al-Azzama tribe. After Yair Peled, an Israel Defense Forces officer, was killed near tribal lands that year, Israel expelled part of the tribe to the Sinai and Jordan, and other members fled, fearing revenge attacks. The Bedouin who went to Sinai did not receive any legal standing from the Egyptians. In 1967, some of the tribe members were allowed to return to the Negev, but were still not granted legal standing. In the 1970s and 1980s, many of the men served as trackers in the IDF. ACRI has been fighting for the Al-Azzama tribe since the mid-1990s.

Other problems include a disorderly registration process in the early years of statehood and a lack of knowledge among the Bedouin about the existence of the census, said Bana Shagri-Badarna, an ACRI attorney who has been looking into cases of Bedouin without standing since 1999. In addition, she said, some Bedouin registered but received no identification documents, and some women did not register for "cultural reasons." Oftentimes, there are families in which some siblings have legal standing in the country and others do not, or in which the parents do not have legal standing but their children do.

"The state must fix the injustice that was done to them and integrate them into Israel's working life," said Shagri-Badarna. But for now at least, the Interior Ministry has agreed to resolve only a few cases.

The spokeswoman of the Interior Ministry's population registry, Sabin Hadad, said that "anyone who was present within the borders of the State of Israel when the population census was conducted, including members of the Bedouin sector in the south, was registered in the Israeli population registry. The assumption is that those without standing entered Israel over the years, without arranging their stay legally."

Population registry officials do not consider it their job to locate those without standing. In Hadad's words: "Every person is allowed to submit an application for [legal] status, which is examined in accordance with the circumstances and the law. This is also our position regarding members of the Al-Azzama tribe."

Meanwhile, Eliada, who moved to Israel from the Sinai in 1980, at age 10, does not know whether his parents had documents or national identity cards, or where such documents might be.

Two years ago, he married a woman from the Al-Azzama tribe who has Israeli citizenship, and they have two children. Eliada has appealed to the director of the social welfare bureau for the Bedouin sector, and in late 2004, his wife sent a letter to the interior minister asking for help - but has yet to receive any.

Hadad said that a letter is not an acceptable alternative to filing an official request. Such a request, she said, "would be examined in accordance with the law and procedures."

For now, Eliada, like many Bedouin without legal standing, avoids going on the roads, in an effort to avoid checkpoints and arrest - not to mention car accidents.

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PA source: EU will lift boycott for unity gov't

Last update - 13:37 13/09/2006
By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent

European states have signaled to the Hamas government that they intend to lift the economic embargo on the Palestinian Authority once a national unity government is established, according to Ahmed Yusef, political adviser to Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.
"The European states have promised to reconsider their stance regarding the boycott of the Palestinian government. Following the war in Lebanon there is greater understanding in Europe that they must present a more balanced stance regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict," Yusef said in an interview with Haaretz on Tuesday.

Palestinian Labor Minister Mohammed Barghouti said Tuesday in an interview with the East Jerusalem daily Al-Quds that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas received assurances from the European Union and Arab states that they would cooperate with a national unity government headed by Haniyeh.

"If they [the international community] do not cooperate with the new government, which will represent the entire Palestinian nation, the people will have to reconsider the existence of the Palestinian Authority," Barghouti said.

While speaking with Haaretz, Yusef touched on the three preconditions set by the Quartet - the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia - in return for recognition of the Hamas government: ending violence, recognizing Israel and accepting previous accords between Israel and the Palestinians.

The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday that it would not deal with the new Palestinian unity government unless it met the three conditions and so far, it seems that the Palestinians are not complying with the demands.

"We have not seen all the details (of the new government) and we are taking a look, a close look at it. To the extent that we understand this so far, it does not meet the standard," U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch told reporters.

Yusef says there is no mention of recognition for Israel in the unity government's political platform.

"Recognition and other political issues will be part of the negotiations Abbas will hold. We have granted him full legitimacy to negotiate on behalf of the entire Palestinian people. If he can achieve a diplomatic solution, his plan will be presented before the Palestinian institutions, such as the government and the parliament, and they will need to authorize his proposal. The Arab initiative and the previous UN resolutions will be part of the government's future political agenda."

The Arab initiative refers to a March 2002 proposal by Saudi Arabia whereby the Arab states would recognize Israel in return for a withdrawal to the 1967 lines.

"To date, Israel has not recognized the 1967 lines as its legal border," Yusef said. "When it does so, I will tell you whether we recognize Israel," he added.

Regarding previous agreements, Yusef said the unity government intends to recognize them, but stressed this meant the accords "that serve the interests of the Palestinian people."

On the question of relinquishing violence, Yusef said that if Israel ceases its military operations, the Palestinians would also agree to a cease-fire.

He explained that the national unity government would be set up so that the boycott would be lifted, contacts with the EU and Arab world would be renewed, and pressure on Israel to alter its policies would increase.

"We will put forth a broad political program that will result in greater European support for the Palestinians, and that will create more diplomatic pressure on Israel, in the hope that this will soon end Israeli occupation. A new diplomatic initiative is needed to bring about change and a solution through peaceful means. The initiative must include greater European, international and Arab involvement than the failed initiatives of the past."

"The new government is not a Hamas government but one of the entire Palestinian people. All the issues are open for discussion from out point of view, and Abbas can meet Israeli politicians from our point of view," Yusef said.

While expressing reservations over the likelihood of Haniyeh negotiating with Israel, Yusef said, "If the two prime ministers must meet, and the matter serves Palestinian interests, there is no Islamic prescription against this."

Yusef said Hamas can offer Israel a hudna, a long-term cease-fire, but not a peace agreement. "It is possible to reach an agreement for calm between the two sides for many years, and then the situation can be reconsidered," he said.

Responding to the press conference held on Tuesday by Noam Shalit, father of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, Yusef said the Palestinians hoped a deal would be concluded soon.

"I want to send a message to the father of the soldier Shalit: He is alive and well; the Palestinians, when we have a prisoner in our hands, we give him food and drink and do not torture him."

Yusef called on the Israeli government to release Palestinian prisoners before the Ramadan holiday, which begins on September 24.

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Donor bought Olmert's J'lem home in 1995 for 30% over value

Last update - 11:12 13/09/2006By Uri Blau, Haaretz Correspondent

A Haaretz investigation has found that the Olmert family sold a Jerusalem house in 1995 for at least 30 percent more than the amount paid for the same house in each of two subsequent sales, one of which took place six years ago and the second of which took place last year.

In addition, the person who represented Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's family in the sale of the house was Uri Messer, Olmert's attorney and good friend. A Haaretz Magazine investigation recently revealed that while serving as minister of industry and trade, Olmert dealt with the requests of clients of Messer's, helping them garner benefits worth millions. Despite the potential conflicts of interest, Olmert did not recuse himself from dealing with such requests.
The Prime Minister's Bureau said Olmert paid Messer a fee for handling the sale of the house, located on 54 Shiloh Street in the Nahlaot neighborhood. Neither Olmert nor Messer would disclose the size of the fee.

As reported this week on Channel 10, the house was registered under the name of Olmert's wife Aliza and sold in the mid-'90s to Jewish-American businessman Uri Harkham, and Harkham's three brothers. Harkham contributed $25,000 to United Jerusalem, the ticket Olmert headed in the 1993 Jerusalem mayoralty campaign, on the eve of the elections.

Before the Olmerts sold the house, they used it to showcase Aliza Olmert's artwork, after which the Olmerts' children moved in.

Harkham told Channel 10 that he has never contributed to individuals, only institutions, and has certainly never made any contributions to Olmert. The businessman said he sold the house because he was not happy with the way it had been treated and said the sale did not involve any corruption.

The Harkhams paid NIS 1.95 million at the time, the equivalent of about $660,000, or $5,000 per square meter for the 120-square-meter house, which has a large garden and a parking space.

The Olmert house appears to have gone for the highest price per meter paid for a residence in Nahlaot during the mid-'90s or since then according to an examination of many real estate deals in the neighborhood over the last decade or so.

Other properties were sold for about $1,500 per square meter, reaching as high as $3,000 per square meter in a few cases. It should be noted that the other sales were for apartments, not private homes, which are generally priced higher.

The Harkham brothers sold the house in 2000 to two foreign residents for about $430,000, a far lower sum than they had paid the Olmert family. About a year ago, the house was sold again, also to a foreign resident, for about $490,000 some 30 percent less than the amount the Olmert family received for it a decade earlier.

Kobi Bir, who until recently headed the Jerusalem appraisers association, said the real estate prices in Nahlaot are now the same as they were in the mid-'90s.

"There are a few facts here that are a bit surprising," he said. "The property, in the year of sale, was essentially a ruin. About 300 meters could have been built on the property. In the same period, the prices stood at $1,200-$1,500 for a meter of construction. That is, the expected worth of a property of this type should have been $450,000 to $500,000 maximum. If it was sold for $650,000, that means it was sold for $150,000 to $200,000 more than the price that Olmert should have expected in that time period."

Last week the Jerusalem Municipality approved a plan to demolish all but the facade of the house, and rebuild it.

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Playing Politics

Jeers Not Cheers For Blair

Tuesday September 12, 2006

Tony Blair faced a walk-out by activists when he began making his last ever speech to the annual Trades Union Congress.

As he entered the conference hall in Brighton members of the RMT rail union held up banners calling on him to resign.

To cheers and boos they then marched out of the hall led by general secretary Bob Crow.

Mr Crow said: "What is the point of listening to someone when you cannot believe a word they say?"
"In opposition, Blair promised a publicly-owned railway, an ethical foreign policy and full labour laws.

"He has delivered privatisation, illegal wars and the harshest anti-union legislation in western Europe."

As the delegates left Mr Blair said: "Thank you very much for that introduction - more or less."

He began his speech by paying respect to the British Armed Forces who had lost their lives in recent conflicts.

It brought cries of "shame" and "bring them home" from some delegates.

Mr Blair went on to praise migrant workers from Poland and other Eastern European countries.

He said they were good for the British economy and should not be feared.

He also spoke about the challenge of globalisation and Britain's role in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East.

At the end of his speech he was applauded for just 23 seconds.

Mr Blair's address came after a week of turmoil in the Labour Party over when he should leave Downing Street.

Under growing pressure he announced last week he would quit within a year - but refused to give a date.

Some rebel MPs want him to go now, while others say it should be next Spring before the May elections.

The man tipped to succeed him, Chancellor Gordon Brown, has condemned the protest by the RMT.

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Man accused of fraud blames Karl Rove

Associated Press
Tue Sep 12, 2006

NEW YORK - Attorneys for a man accused of fraud say he was charged at the behest of presidential adviser Karl Rove in retaliation for a flood of spam e-mails sent to a campaign Web site. A federal prosecutor says the claim is "absurd."

Assistant U.S. Attorney David M. Siegal urged U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain on Monday to reject arguments that Rove caused the criminal investigation that led to charges against Robert McAllister.

Siegal said lawyers for McAllister made the "patently absurd argument that the U.S. attorney's office in the Southern District is a shill for Karl Rove and has arrested and indicted their client in some sort of vindictive retaliation."
McAllister's lawyer Gerald L. Shargel said Monday he plans to try to call Rove as a witness, if the court allows it.

McAllister, of Jupiter, Fla., is accused of conspiracy to commit wire fraud while he was chief executive officer and president of Millennium National Events Inc., an events promotion company. He was arrested in August 2005.

The government says McAllister and Millennium tried to inflate the price of the company's stock by "spreading false and misleading information" about the company via unsolicited e-mails, or spam, to potential investors. McAllister could face up to five years in prison if convicted.

Shargel said McAllister's efforts to grow his company were "thwarted by the wrongful conduct of stock promoters," one of whom sent e-mails to a presidential Web site, georgewbush.com. That Web address currently connects automatically to the Republican National Committee, http://www.gop.com.

"Mr. Rove used his power and influence at the White House to seek quick punishment of Millennium, and therefore also Robert McAllister, for daring to spam the president's personal Web site," Shargel said.

The Daily News reported Sunday that e-mails, phone records and transcripts of phone conversations indicate Rove contacted McAllister and at least three stock promoters. The newspaper reported that White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Rove "vaguely remembered" the e-mail onslaught but could not recall whether he or any other White House worker contacted the Department of Justice.

Comment: "Vindictive retaliation"... Well, that sure sounds like Rove!

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Chafee wins as nine states vote

By John Whitesides
Reuters Political Correspondent
Wed Sep 13, 2006

WASHINGTON - Moderate Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee, a frequent foe of President George W. Bush's policies, beat a conservative primary challenger on Tuesday in a race crucial to Republican hopes of retaining Senate control in November's election.

Chafee's win over Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey in heavily Democratic Rhode Island was a relief for national Republicans, who overlooked Chafee's independent streak and rallied to his defense in the belief he had the best chance to win in November.
Chafee, who now faces Democratic nominee Sheldon Whitehouse, told cheering supporters in Providence the state's voters "said yes to thoughtfulness, yes to honesty and yes to independence."

The Rhode Island race topped the busiest primary day of the year, with nine states and the District of Columbia deciding party nominees for November races for Senate, House of Representatives and governor's offices.

Voters went to the polls in Arizona, Delaware, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C.

Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York rolled over token opposition to easily win the party's nomination for a second Senate term in what could be a tune-up for a potential 2008 White House bid.

The primaries set the stage for the November 7 battle for control of Congress, when Democrats will try to pick up the six Senate seats and 15 House seats that will give them majorities in each chamber.

Strategists looking for signs of an angry electorate found little in the result in Rhode Island, where Chafee avoided becoming the second incumbent U.S. senator to lose a primary in as many months.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a former Democratic vice presidential candidate, lost his party's August primary in Connecticut to an anti-war challenger.


Chafee, the only Republican to vote against the
Iraq war, had frustrated some Republicans by breaking with Bush on a range of issues from tax cuts to conservative
Samuel Alito's Supreme Court nomination.

Laffey said Chafee was a big spender who was out of touch with Rhode Island, and the two candidates and their supporters pummeled each other in a series of harsh television ads.

In Maryland, 18 Democrats battled for the right to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Paul Sarbanes. Rep. Ben Cardin opened a lead over former Rep. Kweisi Mfume, with the winner facing Republican nominee Lt. Gov. Michael Steele in November.

Returns were slowed by problems with voting machines in the populous Washington suburbs.

In Washington, D.C., council member Adrian Fenty won the Democratic nomination for mayor over council chairwoman Linda Cropp. The nomination is tantamount to election in the overwhelmingly Democratic city.

"In the next four years, the mayor of the District of Columbia is going to be everybody's mayor -- no matter where you live, no matter how much money you make, no matter what your background is," Fenty said.

Arizona featured crowded primaries for both parties in the race to replace retiring Republican Jim Kolbe in a district bordering Mexico.

The parties also picked candidates in competitive Senate races in Arizona and Minnesota, and in other key House races in Wisconsin, New York and Minnesota.

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Saddam trial judge accused of bias

Wednesday 13 September 2006, 13:16 Makka Time, 10:16 GMT

The chief prosecutor in Saddam Hussein's genocide trial has demanded the presiding judge step down, accusing him of bias towards the deposed leader and his co-defendants.
Munqidh Al Faraun, the chief prosecutor, argued on Wednesday that Abdullah al-Amiri, the trial judge, was too lenient with defendants who had threatened lawyers and witnesses.

"You allowed this court to become a political podium for the defendants," Munqidh told al-Amiri. "The chief prosecutor's office requests the judge step down from this case."

The request follows witness accounts by Kurds on Tuesday, who told of crimes committed by the deposed government of Saddam two decades ago.

Saddam and six other former aides face genocide and other charges over the Anfal campaign of 1987-88, in which prosecutors say 182,000 Kurds were slaughtered.

Al-Amiri dismissed the prosecutor's demand, saying: "The judge should co-ordinate and make peace so nobody takes advantage of his fairness ... . I have been working in the judicial system for the past 25 years."

Political statements

During the trial, Saddam has often threatened the prosecutor and argued against witnesses.

Munqidh Al Faraun alleged that al-Amiri was giving the former president time to make irrelevant "political" statements.

"For instance yesterday, instead of taking legal action [against Hussein], you asked his permission to talk," he said.

"The action of the court leans toward the defendants."

An unidentified Kurdish civil attorney also told the court that Saddam "hurt our feelings" in his recent statements at the trial.

"His statements are illegal and must be stopped," she said.

Four witnesses told the court on Tuesday of mass graves where the bodies of their relatives - who went missing in Operation Anfal - were found two decades later.

One witness recalled his effort to survive a chemical attack allegedly carried out by Saddam's forces against the Kurdish population.

Saddam traded accusations with the Kurdish witnesses.

Ethnic division

Earlier this week, Saddam accused the Kurdish witnesses of trying to sow ethnic division in Iraq by alleging chemical attacks and mass arrests in their villages during the 1980s Anfal campaign.

Several witnesses gave accounts of how Kurds were bombed, imprisoned and buried in mass graves by Saddam's forces during the Anfal attacks which coincided wih the last years of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.

If convicted of genocide and other crimes, Saddam and his co-defendants could face death by hanging.

Kurdish witness Akram Ali Hussein told the court on Tuesday how his uncle's daughter was imprisoned by Saddam's forces deep in the south of the country near the Saudi border.

"She was driven mad and died after she saw her brother's body eaten by dogs," he said.

Three other witnesses also gave graphic descriptions of attacks carried out by Saddam's forces.

By the end of the session on Tuesday, Saddam showed obvious annoyance over the accusations.

"I noticed today that there were too many insults," he said. "When we put a lion in a cage, any coward can bring a stick and hit him."

Saddam described how he negotiated an end to a Kurdish uprising in 1975, after stopping what he said was an Iranian interference in Iraq's affairs.

Unpleasant things

"This means that between the Iraqis - Arabs and Kurds - there were no problems," Saddam said.

However, "there were some tragedies and in the fight some unpleasant things happened", he admitted.

Kurdish witnesses described receiving official notification in 2004 that the identity cards of their relatives who had disappeared in the Anfal campaign had been found in a mass grave in the north.

"I wanted to go to the mass grave to see their bodies but they prevented me," said Omar Khidr Amin, a taxi driver who lost 19 relatives. Kurdish authorities "told me it was not a good place to go", he said.

"I want to know what kind of Quran Saddam Hussein holds in his lap and how it is different from the kind in our mosques that he burned down," he said, before the judge silenced him.

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Segolene loses her sang-froid at party rally

PARIS, Sept 11, 2006 (AFP)

The Socialist Party (PS) front-runner for the French presidency Ségolène Royal was forced onto the defensive Monday after she was accused of humiliating a young party worker during a weekend rally in Brittany.

In an encounter with the party's youth wing (MJS), Royal was asked by 23 year-old Nolwenn Yven for her views on schools reform and the 35 hour week, two issues on which the candidate has taken positions which are to the right of the party mainstream.
"That's it? You're sure there's nothing else? You promise you're not keeping something back. You don't want to ask me about the military as well? You're sure?" Royal retorted.

The candidate - who is seeking the PS nomination for the April presidential election in an internal vote in November - has also come under fire from some in her party for proposing military-style camps to deal with youth offenders.

When Nolwenn failed to answer and instead turned to her neighbour in the audience, Royal went on: "Come on, come on. You're not obliged to ask permission from the boy next to you. You're a woman. You can speak freely."

Interviewed by AFP, Nolwenn said afterwards that she felt "somewhat humiliated" by the experience.

"My question seemed legitimate, it was not aggressive. It was a question that as a party member I have been asking myself. I did not understand the violence of her response," she said.

Royal appeared to be under the impression that Nolwenn's question was planted by the MJS leadership, but this was denied by its president Razzye Hammadi. "MJS members are not all brainless teletubbies," he said.

Nolwenn said that on Sunday evening Royal left a message on her telephone, expressing the view that Nolwenn was "worth more than the question you were put up to asking".

"I do not know if I should take that as an apology," she said.

Valérie Pecresse, spokesman for the ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), said Royal had lost her nerve.

"(Likely right-wing candidate) Nicolas Sarkozy and the UMP are putting forward ideas. Ségolène Royal is running after them. I am thinking about law-and-order, schools reform, the 35 hour week. Clearly this is causing her a few problems in the party.

"This weekend she had a row with the young Socialists. She lost her nerve, she got angry. I regret it because I think candidates should accept debate and dialogue, especially in their own political families," Pecresse said.

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Dollars and Nonsense

Trade gap widens to record

By Doug Palmer
Tue Sep 12, 2006

WASHINGTON - The U.S. trade deficit widened sharply in July to a record $68 billion, as oil import prices, and demand for foreign goods and services rose to new highs, a government report showed on Tuesday.

The trade gap swelled 5 percent from June for the biggest month-to-month gain in nearly a year, surprising Wall Street analysts who had expected surging oil prices to only slightly widen the deficit in July.
The trade shortfall was expected to weigh on U.S. economic output in the third quarter. Imports replace products that could have been made in the United States, so a widening deficit is a drag on growth.

However, some economists saw a silver lining because oil prices have fallen about 20 percent since setting a record above $78 per barrel in July. U.S. light crude for October delivery was trading around $65 a barrel on Tuesday.

The huge trade deficit is "front page material but at the same time, the numbers kind of bode well for future growth. First, everyone knows how crude prices have come off and that's a big portion of the entire trade," said Tim Mazanec, senior currency strategist at Investors Bank and Trust in Boston.

The Commerce Department report showed U.S. exports dropped for the first time in four months, but were still the second highest on record. Civilian aircraft accounted for much of the export decline, Mazanec noted.

Democrats seized on the record trade gap as evidence that Bush administration trade policies have failed.

"We are on pace this year to have a trade deficit larger than $800 billion. And despite this record-setting number, we continue to negotiate trade agreements ... that leave us naked to competition that is neither free nor fair," said Rep. Xavier Becerra, a California Democrat.

Oil prices have fallen in the past week as tensions over
Iran's nuclear program have eased somewhat and the U.S. summer driving season has ended. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries also agreed on Monday to keep pumping at the high level of 28 million barrels per day, but left the door open to cut production later this year.

The United States imported a record $14 billion worth of oil and other products from OPEC in July. The total value of crude oil imports was a record $20.8 billion, even as the volume declined, the Commerce Department said.

The dollar slipped and then recovered in trading on Tuesday, as dealers shrugged off the trade data and focused on paring large bets against the greenback. U.S. stocks gained as falling oil prices helped ease some inflation concerns.

July imports of industrial goods and materials, capital goods and consumer goods also set records in July, reflecting continued strength in the U.S. economy. Imports from both China and the European Union set records during the month.

"If you look at the U.S. demand for foreign goods, you don't get the impression (U.S. economic) conditions are deteriorating sharply," said Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors.

U.S. exports of consumer goods and auto products set a record in July, although overall exports fell slightly.

U.S. chain store sales last week were up 3.8 percent from a year earlier according to two private surveys. Cooler weather and lower gasoline prices were seen helping spur sales, according the International Council of Shopping Centers and UBS Securities.

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Debt warning as rising numbers face threat to their homes

Phillip Inman
Wednesday September 13, 2006
The Guardian

Debt campaigners gave warning yesterday that a growing number of borrowers were unable to meet their mortgage repayments, with many of them first-time buyers who only recently climbed onto the property ladder.

Citizens Advice said about 770,000 people had missed one or more mortgage repayment in the past year. Nearly two million said they were concerned that their finances may not stretch to cover their monthly debts.
The charity urged lenders to take more care when sanctioning loans to young people, who were often encouraged to buy property when their finances remained unstable. A Citizens Advice study found that younger people were the most likely to fall behind on financial commitments, with 13% of those aged 21 to 24 missing a home loan payment.

Runaway property prices have made homes in many areas unaffordable for first-time buyers. Many stretch their finances to get a first foot on the ladder.

Last year the charity helped to deal with 1.25m debt problems and received 87,000 inquiries about actual or threatened homelessness, with a further 51,000 about mortgage and secured loan arrears.

David Harker, chief executive of Citizens Advice, is "very concerned" at the numbers involved. "Missing payments on mortgages or secured loans could lead to arrears and possibly repossession," he said. "There's a clear need for more information and advice about the consequences of taking on financial commitments, particularly for younger adults."

One example of the rapid slide towards financial insecurity is the tale of Keith Cotton, 54. He found himself in mortgage arrears after his business collapsed. Before he called in the official receiver, he had what many would regard an idyllic life - living in a large house in the Mendip hills in Somerset with his wife and six children.

He set up a new venture with a friend after a successful career selling computer software. Two years later, and £200,000 lighter, he was waiting in a queue at a citizens advice bureau, desperate for help to stop the Nationwide building society from repossessing his home.

"If the CAB hadn't negotiated with the Nationwide, I'd be in living in bed and breakfast now or in a council house somewhere," said Mr Cotton. "A mortgage is a huge responsibility when you have a family. Even now, my wife feels insecure because if something goes wrong, no matter how much you have paid into the system, there's no support from the government."

Mr Cotton secured another job, but was soon made redundant. He now has a suspended repossession order against his home and a payment plan until the mortgage is paid off when he is 65.

Citizens Advice said many people failed to understand secured lending. Lenders sell insurance to cover repayments, but campaigners say the policies are expensive, and accuse the lenders of profiteering. Like many home owners, Mr Cotton relied on social security, which covers mortgage payments only after several months.

Among those who bought secured personal loans, 11% of the 2,057 adults surveyed wrongly thought their homes would be safe if they missed repayments.

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Oil supplies could 'last 140 years'

Wednesday 13 September 2006, 13:52 Makka Time, 10:52 GMT

A Saudi oil executive has challenged the idea that supplies are running out, saying that just 18 per cent of the global supply of crude has been tapped.

Abdallah S Jumah, president and CEO of the state-owned Saudi Arabian Oil Company, better known as Aramco, said the world has potentially of 4.5 trillion barrels in reserves - enough to last 140 years at current levels of consumption.
"The world has only consumed about 18 per cent of its conventional potential," Jumah said, rejecting fears that supplies will run out in a few decades.

Experts have estimated that the Earth's recoverable oil resource is between three trillion and more than four trillion barrels. If consumption rises about two per cent a year from today's levels of about 85 million barrels a day, the low end of that range would only be enough to last until 2070.

Rex W Tillerson, the chairman of Exxon Mobil, has said that world demand for oil will increase by 50 per cent in the next decade.

Jumah said new technology and better recovery rates would make it possible to find enough new oil resources to add one trillion barrels to world reserves over the next 25 years.

Gulf of Mexico find

Drilling is now going on as deep as 10,000 feet below the Gulf of Mexico and between 7,000 and 8,000 feet elsewhere. Experts say a newly discovered petroleum pool beneath the Gulf of Mexico eventually could yield anywhere from three billion to 15 billion barrels.

Industry leaders have gathered in Austria this week for a conference sponsored by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Earlier this week, the 11-nation group agreed to maintain its current production target of 28 million barrels a day but made clear it would consider a cutting its output before the end of the year if oil prices continue to fall.

Crude prices have fallen to a five-month low, dropping by more than $12 a barrel since record highs in mid-July. Analysts say ample supplies and the easing of political tensions in Lebanon and Iran have driven prices lower.

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Oil deepens losses to below $64

By Timothy Gardner
September 12, 2006

NEW YORK - Oil extended losses for the seventh consecutive session on Tuesday, retreating to under $64 a barrel after Iran sounded a softer note on its atomic program and OPEC agreed to keep production steady for now.

U.S. light crude for October delivery settled $1.85 lower at $63.76 a barrel, the lowest level since March 22, and the longest losing streak in nearly three years. London Brent crude fell $1.56 to $62.99.
"There is potential that this could go a long way, since pure supply and demand would dictate a price in the low $50s. But the geopolitical element remains," said Mike Fitzpatrick, vice president at Fimat USA.

Oil has fallen 20 percent in two months, raising questions within the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries about whether to make its first formal output cut in 2-1/2 years.

Many analysts say the extent of the decline depends on OPEC deciding what price it is ready to defend.

"Fundamentally, there's more downside to go, probably to the point where OPEC decides to cut supply," said Mike Coleman, a partner with Singapore-based hedge fund Aisling Analytics.

Iran's oil minister said he wanted to see OPEC's basket of crudes holding above $60 a barrel, about $64 for U.S. crude, while other officials have in the past mooted a $50-$60 range.

OPEC, which has avoided naming a new target price, decided on Monday to maintain production limits at 28 million barrels per day (bpd), but said it could meet again before the end of the year to review the situation.

"It is the only good decision they could have taken because prices are still very high," International Energy Agency head Claude Mandil told Reuters.

Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi, OPEC's most influential voice, said oil demand would remain healthy next year, but OPEC's own economists now say there will be less need for crude from the producer group, which pumps a third of the world's oil.

Geopolitical risk in Iran, the world's fourth-largest oil exporter, appeared to be easing.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Monday held out the possibility of the United States joining talks with Iran if it temporarily suspends its nuclear program. An EU diplomat said Tehran might be willing to do so.

Iranian negotiator Ali Larijani offered a two-month freeze on uranium enrichment during weekend talks, the diplomat said. Rice's comments suggested Washington was looking for a way to begin negotiations as long as Tehran halted its work first.

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Polish 'slave' labourers feared murdered

John Hooper in Rome
Wednesday September 13, 2006
The Guardian

More than a hundred Poles, lured to Italy by the promise of work, have disappeared there, according to the website of the Polish police. It is feared some were murdered while working as virtual slave labourers in the tomato fields of Puglia.

In July, 25 people were seized in a joint operation by Italian and Polish police after an inquiry revealed that thousands of Poles had been hired to work on farms described by Italy's chief organised crime prosecutor as "out and out concentration camps". Polish police said workers were fed on little more than bread and water, forced to labour for up to 15 hours a day, paid virtually nothing and beaten by guards.
But the inquiry also reportedly uncovered evidence of murder. The Italian daily La Repubblica said police had listened in to a conversation in which a farm guard told his girlfriend that two of his charges had escaped. "I'll not allow them to behave like that," he was quoted as saying. "I've said that today I'll kill one or two as an example."

The paper said police in Puglia, the region in Italy's heel, were looking into the deaths of 15 people - 14 Poles and a Lithuanian - who could have been murder victims. Some were burnt to death. Others had been drowned or run over.

By yesterday, the Polish website carried the names - and, in most cases, the photographs - of 123 men and women who vanished over the past six years after saying they were going to Italy to work, usually as farm labourers or carers. The site also includes advice for those considering working in Italy. Among other things, they are advised to take with them enough cash for an escape.

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Thousands march in France against gas privatisation

PARIS, Sept 12, 2006 (AFP)

Thousands of gas and electricity workers took part in demonstrations across France Tuesday against a government bill currently being debated in parliament to privatise the state-owned Gaz de France (GDF).

Around 20 percent of workers at GDF stopped work for the day, alongside 16.5 percent of workers for the electricity provider EDF, management said.
Electricity and gas supplies to the home of government spokesman Jean-François Copé were cut off as part of the protest, unions said.

The government is proposing to reduce the state holding in GDF to 34 percent in order to facilitate the company's planned merger with the French energy group Suez.

However the measure is opposed by the left-wing opposition, which has tabled a record 130,000 amendments in a bid to stall the bill's passage through the National Assembly.

According to an opinion poll for Les Echos newspaper Tuesday, only 12 percent of the public support GDF's privatisation. Some 38 percent are totally opposed and 43 percent would be in favour if the state remained a majority share-holder.

The ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) has itself been divided over the proposed sell-off, and among the demonstrators in Paris Tuesday was UMP deputy Nicolas Dupont-Aignan.

Gas and electricity workers were also angered by UMP proposals published in a newspaper Tuesday to reform the pension system by ending the early retirement provisions available for EDF and GDF staff as well as some other state employees.

The proposals were set out by former minister François Fillon, an adviser to UMP presidential hopeful Nicolas Sarkozy.

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For Your Health

Study shows 'direct link' between air travel, flu spread

By Lauran Neergaard
September 12, 2006

Scientists have found what they call the first real evidence that restricting air travel can delay the spread of flu -- a finding that could influence government plans for battling the next influenza pandemic.
Air travel has long been suspected of playing a role in flu's gradual spread around the globe each year, but yesterday, Boston researchers said they finally have documented it: The drop in air travel after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks seemed to delay that winter's flu season by about two weeks.

"This is the first time that a study has been able to show a direct link between the numbers of people traveling and the rate of spread of a virus," said John Brownstein, an epidemiologist at Children's Hospital of Boston, who led the research.

Other scientists stress that the study doesn't prove that restricting air travel helps in the long run -- there was no drop in the number of deaths, just a delay. So if a pandemic were to strike, the question is whether a mere two-week delay would outweigh the economic chaos of severe travel restrictions.

"You wouldn't want to have people look at this and say, 'Ah, this is overwhelming evidence that if the pandemic occurs, we should shut down air travel,'" said Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health, the government's chief influenza specialist.

"What does it buy you? That's the real critical issue."

Added Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University, who advises the government on flu issues: "We're all sure that airlines play a role. ... Leaping from this sort of analysis to interdiction of air travel I think is provocative, and we have to be very careful about that."

It's not that a lot of people catch the flu from sneezy fellow passengers, although that's possible. Instead, Mr. Brownstein says, travelers who may start a trip before flu's symptoms kick in infect the people they're visiting -- or they catch the virus in one city and carry it back home.

People easily spread the flu through coughs, sneezes and germs on their hands. But scientists don't understand how a community outbreak ripples outward until each winter's flu strain spreads across countries. Plus, every few decades, a new and virulent flu strain causes a worldwide epidemic. Better understanding of those geographic patterns might help stem the next such pandemic.

Previous studies suggest that young children who bring the flu home to older relatives spark community outbreaks, which spread among U.S. cities and states when the sick go to work instead of recuperating at home.

The study appeared yesterday in the online science journal PLoS Medicine.

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Studies list more problems with pain-killing drugs

Tue Sep 12, 2006

CHICAGO - Two studies offer more evidence about the dangers of some painkillers, adding kidney problems to heart concerns already raised with the drug once sold as Vioxx, researchers said on Tuesday.

One report from Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School said an analysis of 114 studies involving more than 116,000 people showed that rofecoxib (the chemical name for Vioxx) "was associated with increased renal and (heart) arrhythmia risks."

Why the drug would cause kidney damage is unclear, it added.
Merck & Co Inc. withdrew Vioxx from the market in September 2004 after a three-year study showed it doubled the risk of heart attack and strokes in patients taking it for at least 18 months.

A second report from the University of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, said a look at 23 studies confirms findings of an increased risk of heart problems with Vioxx that could be found "during the first 30 days of treatment. This conclusion is consistent with a recent reanalysis ... which contradicts the original suggestion that the vascular risk was only seen after 18 months."

The studies were published in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) along with an editorial from David Graham, a physician who works for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration but whose comments were labeled as his own views and not those of the regulatory agency.

Merck is facing more than 11,500 product liability lawsuits from people claiming to have been harmed by Vioxx.

"What the studies are going to do is provide substantial support for the opinions being expressed by the plaintiffs' experts, and that will serve to increase their credibility and persuasiveness to juries," said Frank McClellan, professor at Temple University's Beasley School of Law.

"Those studies will also be used to cross-examine and impeach Merck's experts who testify that there is no link between the drug and the injuries," McClellan said. "The impact could be profound in the outcomes of the trials."

Merck said it still believes the data confirm the increased heart risk begins only after the medicine had been taken for 18 months.

Merck said in a statement the observations in the JAMA articles and opinions expressed in an accompanying editorial regarding potential increased risks with short-term Vioxx use "are not supported by the current weight of clinical data."

The Australian analysis also found that celecoxib -- sold as Celebrex by Pfizer Inc. -- was not associated with heart problems at a dose no greater than 200 milligrams a day.

It said that its review "raises serious questions about the safety of diclofenac, an older (analgesic) drug" which is sold more in Europe than the United States.

"In conclusion ... diclofenac seems to share this risk and, unlike celecoxib, it appears to be harmful at commonly used doses. We believe there are grounds for reviewing its regulatory status," the report added.

In his editorial, Graham said the studies demonstrate that Vioxx "increases the risk of acute myocardial infarction at low and high doses" and that "there is no initial 18-month period of immunity from risk."

He said Celebrex increases heart risk at doses higher than 200 milligrams per day and several other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) increase risk, including diclofenac, meloxicam, indomethacin and "probably" ibuprofen, while studies agree naproxen is "neutral" for heart attack risk.

Graham added that for most patients with arthritis or other conditions requiring chronic pain relief "naproxen appears to be the safest NSAID choice from a cardiovascular perspective." Naproxen is commonly sold as Aleve by Bayer Corp..

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Stanford won't let doctors accept gifts

AP Biotechnology Writer
Tue Sep 12, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO - Stanford University will bar physicians working at its two hospitals from accepting even the tiniest gifts from drug industry sales representatives to try to eliminate corporate influence from medical decisions, the school announced Tuesday.

The policy takes effect Oct. 1 and also bans accepting gifts from other companies such as medical device makers that do business with the hospitals. The policy also prohibits the doctors from accepting free drug samples and publishing articles in science journals that were ghost written by corporate authors. The industry's sales force also would be prohibited from areas where patients are seen and from dropping in without appointments, a common sales tactic.
Even coffee mugs, pens and other trinkets doled out by drug companies can't be accepted anymore.

Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania have announced similar policies and several other institutions are considering gift bans as they grapple with conflict of interest concerns and rising health care costs.

"In recent years we have witnessed an erosion of the public trust in the profession of medicine and even in the value of science," said Dr. Philip Pizzo, Stanford's medical school dean. "Part of that is related to the market forces that have increasingly converted medicine from a profession to a business, but a significant factor has also been the perception that physicians and scientists may be accepting gifts and gratuities from industry at the very time that the cost of drugs is skyrocketing."

In January, an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association said current relations with pharmaceutical representatives created conflicts of interest and urged academic medical centers to take the lead in adopting reforms. The article said the drug industry spends about $19 billion annually marketing to doctors.

"Gift giving creates a reciprocal obligation that is a powerful force, and pharmaceutical companies know this very well," said David Magnus, director of the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics who helped write the new policy. "So we're discouraging it from happening anywhere at the medical center."

The industry's trade group, the politically influential Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, blasted Stanford's new policy as draconian and argued that cutting down on doctors and sales representatives meetings would actually hamper health care.

"The sales representatives are typically very well trained and have quite a bit of information," said Scott Lassman, a lawyer for the trade group. "They are cutting doctors off from very useful information that they can use to help treat their patients."

Lassman said the trade group instituted its own gift policy in 2002 that prohibits lavish gift giving.

"Lavish, expensive meals, tickets to ball games and golf outings are really inappropriate," Lassman said. "But if I was concerned that my doctor was influenced by a pen or a slice of pizza, I would find another doctor."

Comment: Gosh, how could painkillers that cause disease and antidepressants that cause suicide make it to market? Now you know...

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Fatal disease hits garden birds

Staff and agencies
Wednesday September 13, 2006
Guardian Unlimited

Hundreds of garden birds are falling victim to a disease that is spreading across Britain, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) warned today.

Wildlife veterinary experts were alerted to the problem after householders reported a number of mystery deaths in their gardens.

Experts identified the cause as a protozoan parasite that causes the disease trichomoniasis, which leaves birds so lethargic that they find it difficult to fly. Death can occur within three weeks of infection.
House sparrows, chaffinches and goldfinches are affected, and there have been outbreaks of the disease in Scotland, Wales, south-western England and the Midlands. Vets said there was no link to avian flu, and the parasite posed no risk to human health.

It is thought that the sharing of feeders and baths leads to the spread of infection between the garden birds.

The RSPB has emphasised the importance of good hygiene, saying birdbaths and feeders should be regularly washed and moved around the garden to prevent infection.

Spokesman Andre Farrar said: "It is an unusually large outbreak. Trichomoniasis usually affects pigeons and doves, but this summer it seems to have affected finches and house sparrows.

"There is no human health risk but, as always when handling birds, people must take care. We are not sure what the reason is for the high number of deaths this year, but wildlife vets are investigating."

One factor may be the unusually hot weather in Britain this year, which may have helped diseases to spread, the spokesman said.

It is thought the cases of trichomoniasis are concentrated in the Midlands and the south-west of England, with a large number also reported in Wales. So far, relatively few cases have been found in the east of England.

Vets from the Garden Bird Health Initiative, a three-year project at the Institute of Zoology, are currently collating the number of deaths from across the country.

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Junk culture killing childhood, experts say

By Kate Kelland
Tue Sep 12, 2006

LONDON - Britain's children are being poisoned by a "junk culture" of processed food, computer games and over-competitive education, an influential group of children's authors and experts warned on Tuesday.

In an open letter to the Daily Telegraph, 110 teachers, psychologists and children's authors -- including the internationally acclaimed author Philip Pullman and Penelope Leach, a leading childcare expert -- called on the government to act now to prevent childhood being killed off altogether.

Forced "to act and dress like mini-adults," children are becoming increasingly depressed and experiencing escalating levels of behavioral and developmental problems, they said.
"Since children's brains are still developing, they cannot adjust as full-grown adults can, to the effects of ever more rapid technological and cultural change," the letter said.

"They need what developing human beings have always needed, including real food (as opposed to processed "junk"), real play (as opposed to sedentary, screen based entertainment), first hand experience of the world they live in and regular interaction with the real-life significant adults in their lives."

The letter was circulated by Sue Palmer, an ex-head teacher and author of a book entitled "Toxic Childhood," and Dr Richard House, a senior lecturer at the Research Center for Therapeutic Education at Roehampton University.

"Children's development is being drastically affected by the kind of world they are brought up in," Palmer told the Daily Telegraph. "It is shocking."

"A child's physical and psychological growth cannot be accelerated. It changes in biological time, not at electrical speed. Childhood is not a race."

The experts condemned Britain's increasingly "target-driven" education system and urged the government to recognize children's need for more time and space to develop, demanding an urgent public debate on child-rearing in the 21st century.

"Our society rightly takes great pains to protect children form physical harm, but sees to have lost sight of their emotional and social needs," they said.

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France finds banned GMO traces in US rice

BRUSSELS, Sept 12, 2006 (AFP)

France and Sweden have discovered traces of a banned genetically modified substance in imported US rice, in tests which must be confirmed by EU laboratories, a European Commission source said Tuesday.
"Two member states, France and Sweden, have found, by their own methods, positive samples of GMO, these remain to be verified by the Commission's testing methods," the official said.

In France, seven samples out of 20 tested were found to include the unauthorized strain (GMO LL601), he said, on condition of anonymity.

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Big Blue Marble

Pilot describes space object flashing in front of cockpit

UPDATED 4.15pm Wednesday September 13, 2006
By Belinda McCammon

A commercial airline pilot believes space debris flashed across southern skies in front of his cockpit as he flew over North Canterbury yesterday.

The pilot -- who did not want his airline or name published -- said an object similar to a meteor -- "but different" -- flashed in front of his cockpit over Hanmer about 3pm yesterday.
The pilot said he did not believe it was a meteor because it was spinning and had reminded him of the debris from the United States space shuttle Columbia when it had exploded.

The first officer also witnessed the object but the pilot doubted any passengers would have seen it because it passed directly in front of the plane.

"First time I have ever seen anything like that during the day," he said.

The object was gone within seconds and it was impossible to judge how far away from the plane it had been, or the length of the object.

"It just had a very bright light and a smoke trail."

The pilot told air traffic control what he saw.

He said they were over North Canterbury at the time, at about 20,000 feet, in descent.

He believed if the debris survived it would have landed in that region.

The pilot said he had also spoken to the National Radiation Laboratory in Christchurch, who had expressed concern to him about possible radiation from the object.

Scientists today determined that an object thought to be a fragment of a meteor -- handed to police last night by a property owner who found it in a paddock at Dunsandel, 40km south of Christchurch -- was not radioactive.

The object was analysed this morning by scientists .

Laboratory group manager Jim Turnbull said today there were initial concerns the 10cm long, 5cm wide rock-like object might have been nuclear fuel from a small generator in a satellite.

"We can discount that," he said.


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Gordon strengthens into hurricane

Tue Sep 12, 2006

MIAMI - Hurricane Gordon formed over the open Atlantic on Tuesday, and a new tropical depression formed off the coast of Africa, forecasters said.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Florence sped toward its demise into the cooler waters off Canada's maritime provinces after battering Bermuda, the National Hurricane Center said.

Gordon, with top sustained winds of 75 mph, was destined to remain over open waters and will not threaten land, forecasters said.
Its winds strengthened from 65 mph earlier in the day to become the third hurricane of the Atlantic season; hurricanes have sustained winds of at least 74 mph.

At 11 p.m. EDT, Gordon was centered about 565 miles north-northeast of the Leeward Islands and moving north near 9 mph, forecasters said.

"At this point it looks like it will recurve out into the Atlantic," said Jamie Rhome, a hurricane specialist. "However, people should be reminded that we are at the peak of hurricane season and they should be updated on hurricane supplies and have a hurricane plan."

The National Hurricane Center stopped issuing advisories about Florence, which was expected to pass just southeast of Newfoundland in the next day or so. The season's second hurricane blew out windows, peeled off roofs and knocked out power to thousands in Bermuda on Monday as it sideswiped the British island chain before heading out into the Atlantic.

The eighth tropical depression of the season had top sustained winds at 35 mph and could become a tropical storm Wednesday, forecasters said. Helene is the next name on the list; sustained winds in a tropical storm are at least 39 mph.

The depression was centered 215 miles south-southwest of the southernmost Cape Verde islands and moving west near 15 mph, according to the hurricane center.

The Atlantic hurricane season began June 1 and ends Nov. 30. The National Hurricane Center's latest forecast for the season expects between seven and nine hurricanes.

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Risk of bluefin tuna disappearing from Mediterranean: WWF

Tue Sep 12, 2006

BRUSSELS - Stocks of bluefin tuna are disappearing from the Mediterranean, the environmental group WWF warned.

"There is almost no more bluefin tuna to be fished in some of the oldest fishing grounds, especially in West Mediterranean," the group said in a statement in which it called on the
European Union to ban commercial fishing during the breeding season.

The problem is particularly acute around Spain's Balearic Islands, where catches of bluefin are down to only 15 percent of levels a decade ago, the group said.
In 1995 some 14,699 tonnes were caught there, mainly by French and Spanish fleets - while just 2,270 tonnes have been fished in the same waters this year.

Mediterranean bluefin tuna farms have also experienced substantial decline. From this year's catches of wild Mediterranean tuna, some 22,520 tonnes have been put in captivity and farmed, a 25 percent reduction on last year.

Six Spanish tuna ranches have already ceased operating altogether "because there were simply no more tuna".

The WWF prepared its findings for a European Parliament Fisheries Committee special hearing on the bluefin tuna crisis Tuesday.

Fishermen from the traditional tuna trappers' association in Spain, OPP51, joined the WWF in its call for immediate EU action.

"We fear for our jobs", said OPP51 Director General Marta Crespo Marquez. "The EU has still not reacted to repeated warnings from scientists and we are looking to our elected representatives to take their responsibilities seriously".

The findings support WWF's alarm call earlier this year that huge illegal activity is plundering the last remaining bluefin tuna and "provide even more indication that collapse of the species may soon follow," WWF warned.

The group urged the European Commission to support a strict recovery plan including the closure of industrial fishing during the spawning season, improved monitoring of fishing and farming activity, compulsory observers on board all tuna vessels and in tuna farms and the setting of a scientifically-based minimum catch size.

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World powers differing over Iran

by Michael Adler
Wed Sep 13, 2006

VIENNA - Divisions between world powers on how to crack down on Iran's atomic program were visible at a UN nuclear agency meeting as they failed to issue a joint statement.

The six nations which are trying to work out a nuclear deal with Iran "couldn't agree on a statement" at the
International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) 35-nation board of governors because "the United States was too tough," a Western diplomat told AFP.
The divisions came as the EU was set Wednesday to tell Tehran it has an international obligation to suspend uranium enrichment, the process that makes nuclear reactor fuel but also atom bomb material.

Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States have offered Iran talks on trade and other benefits if Tehran will first suspend enrichment.

The United States, which charges that Iran is hiding secret work to make nuclear weapons, is pushing for United Nations sanctions against Iran for failing to honor a UN resolution that set an August 31 deadline for Tehran to halt the strategic nuclear fuel work.

But top Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani offered over the weekend to consider a temporary halt in uranium enrichment, in talks with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana in Vienna that are set to continue later this week.

However the US State Department Tuesday denied the reports of an Iranian offer to temporarily suspend enrichment.

"To the best of my knowledge, there's been no Iranian proposal (and) there's been no change in the Iranian position, meaning they have not agreed to suspend uranium enrichment activities for any length of time," said Tom Casey, a State Department spokesman.

The Western diplomat told AFP that Russia and China want to see how the Larijani-Solana talks play out.

"This is what Iran wants with its tactics, to divide the international community," the diplomat said.

Russia, like China a key trading ally of Iran, warned Tuesday against rushing to punish Tehran.

Kremlin foreign policy aide Sergei Prikhodko said there was no hurry to decide.

"What is our aim: sanctions or a result? If we aim for the result, then let's be a little patient," he told journalists in Moscow.

But US ambassador to the IAEA Gregory Schulte told AFP the six world powers were united.

The six all "want to see a full and verified suspension and that means that we would expect all the enrichment activities to be suspended.

"And we would want to have the IAEA verify that the suspension is in fact taking place," Schulte said.

He said the six were very clear on this and that if Iran does not suspend, "the Security Council has already made it clear its intention to move forward with sanctions."

Meanwhile, the so-called EU-3 group of Britain, Germany and France, which have led negotiations with Iran since 2003, were also having trouble agreeing on a joint statement, with Britain backing the American hard line but Germany and France not fully agreeing, the diplomat said.

A second diplomat confirmed that there were "disagreements" among this group but said they were still working on a joint statement.

The EU-3 have issued joint statements at previous board meetings, while the six world powers have not.

And Finland, speaking for the 25 EU states, was to call Wednesday on Iran to suspend enrichment not as "a voluntary confidence-building measure, but an international obligation," according to a copy of a speech seen by AFP.

The speech makes clear that the Security Council intends to "adopt appropriate measures," meaning sanctions if Iran does not suspend enrichment.

IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei was present a report Wednesday to his board that documents how Iran failed to heed the UN deadline to suspend enrichment.

But the IAEA is not expected to take any action on Iran in order to leave room for the diplomatic initiatives which are unfolding.

"Right now, no one is going to do anything unexpected," an EU diplomat said about the work at the IAEA board.

"I guess everybody is going to give Solana a chance to find a way to get Iran to the negotiating table."

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Iran offers to talk if UN actions are halted

By John Ward Anderson
The Washington Post
Published September 13, 2006

PARIS -- Iran's confidential response three weeks ago to an international proposal over its nuclear program offered extensive negotiations to resolve the standoff, but only if proceedings against Iran in the UN Security Council are stopped.
In a detailed and sometimes rambling document given to foreign governments, Iran stopped short of rejecting demands to halt its nuclear enrichment program, saying the issue can be resolved in talks. The response, closely held for weeks, was published on a Web site Tuesday.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran does not intend to reject the whole issue unilaterally, and is ready to provide an opportunity for both sides to share their viewpoints on this issue and try to convince each other and reach a mutual understanding," the document says.

But ending enrichment should not be a prerequisite to negotiations, as demanded by the United States and other countries, the proposal suggests. And if Security Council deliberation aimed at imposing sanctions on Iran continue, the document warns, "the positions expressed in this response would be void and the Islamic Republic would choose a different course of action."

Iran was responding formally to a package of political and economic incentives offered to it in June by the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China.

The incentives included the possibility of direct talks with the United States for the first time since relations between the two countries were severed in 1979.

Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, and the European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, have been in preliminary talks in recent days over Iran's proposals.

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Iran offers security help to Iraqi premier

12 September 2006 Reuters

TEHERAN - Iran offered on Tuesday to help establish security and stability in Iraq after Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki held talks in Tehran on his first official visit to the Islamic Republic.
Maliki had been expected to tell fellow Shia Muslim leaders in Iran that Tehran should not interfere in Iraqi affairs, a message likely to please Washington which accuses Iran of backing militants fighting US troops in Iraq.

But Maliki and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave few details about their talks on Tuesday, except to say that the two neighbours which fought a bloody war in the 1980s had agreed to cooperate in political, economic and security fields.

"We will give our full assistance to the Iraqi government to establish security in (Iraq). Strengthening security in Iraq means strengthening security and stability in the region," Ahmadinejad told a joint news conference after their meeting.

Maliki, speaking through a Persian translator, said: "This visit will be useful for cooperation between Iran and Iraq, in all political, security and economic fields."

The two sides signed an agreement covering these areas.

Shortly before starting the two-day visit, Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told Reuters Maliki would deliver a blunt message that Iran should not interfere in Iraq although he stopped short of endorsing US charges of Iranian "meddling".

"We want to pass a message to the Iranian leaders that Iraq needs good relations with neighbouring countries, without interference in our internal affairs," Dabbagh said.

Maliki will meet Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the highest authority in Iran, and influential former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on Wednesday.

An Iraqi official said Maliki might also meet Ali Larijani, the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council.

While officially encouraging Iraq's new ties to Washington's adversary, there is unease in the United States at Iranian influence over the Shia leaders brought to power in elections that followed the US overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

Seeking neighbours' support

Since forming a national unity government four months ago, Maliki has vowed to curb militant Shia factions, some of whom also have links with movements in Iran, as part of efforts to avert civil war with Saddam's once-dominant Sunni minority.

In the latest violence, police and an Interior Ministry source said a car bomb targeting a passing US military convoy in western Baghdad killed six civilians and wounded more than a dozen.

Iraqi state-run television also said that gunmen attacked a Shia mosque overnight in a town near the ethnically volatile city of Baquba, killing seven.

Under Saddam's Sunni-dominated secular regime Iraq fought a bloody eight-year war with Iran in the 1980s.

Saddam, on trial for genocide along with six co-defendants, appeared in court in Baghdad on Tuesday, where a Kurdish man told the hearing that he found the remains of his mother and two sisters in a mass grave more than 200 km (124 miles) from their village, which he said was razed by Saddam's troops.

US and British officials say high-powered explosives used against their troops in the past year have been supplied through Iran, though not necessarily with government approval.

Some leaders in Tehran are also close to Shia Iraqi leaders like the young cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose Mehdi Army militia is seen as particularly hostile to the occupying forces.

"We understand that the violence in Iraq is being fed and financed by others. Some of them are countries, some are groups ... We'd like neighbouring countries to share in stopping such things coming to Iraq," Dabbagh had said.

Maliki's visit follows trips to Arab states run by Sunni Muslims who view with suspicion Iraq's Shia majority and its ties to non-Arab, Shia Iran.

Should Iraq's sectarian conflict descend into all-out civil war, some analysts say other regional powers would be drawn in, with Iran backing the Shias and the likes of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states providing help to the insurgent Sunni minority.

The rise of the Shia majority has brought to power in Iraq many leaders who spent long years in exile in Iran. Though Maliki was mostly based in Syria, many of those close to him in the Dawa party found refuge in Iran

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Today's SOTT Award

Theory that U.S. orchestrated Sept. 11 attacks 'not absurd': Venezuela

Sep 12 2:23 PM US/Eastern

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - President Hugo Chavez said Tuesday that it's at least plausible that the U.S. government was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks.

Chavez did not specifically accuse the U.S. government of having a hand in the Sept. 11 attacks, but rather suggested that theories of U.S. involvement bear examination.

The Venezuelan leader, an outspoken critic of U.S. President George W. Bush, was reacting to a television report investigating a theory that the Twin Towers were brought down with explosives after hijacked airplanes crashed into them in 2001.

"The hypothesis is not absurd . . . that those towers could have been dynamited," Chavez said in a speech to supporters. "A building never collapses like that, unless it's with an implosion."
"The hypothesis that is gaining strength . . . is that it was the same U.S. imperial power that planned and carried out this terrible terrorist attack or act against its own people and against citizens of all over the world," Chavez said.

"Why? To justify the aggressions that immediately were unleashed on Afghanistan, on Iraq."

Chavez has said the U.S. launched those wars to ensure its political and economic power.

The U.S. government says al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden masterminded the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

"A plane supposedly crashed into the Pentagon, but no one ever found a single remnant of that plane," Chavez said, citing a television program he had seen on Venezuela's state television.

Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro raised the same theories in an earlier speech Tuesday, and called for an independent investigation.

"It's really worrisome to think that all of that could have been a great conspiracy against humanity," Maduro said. "An independent international investigation must be carried out one day to discover the truth about the events of Sept. 11."

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