- Signs of the Times for Tue, 19 Sep 2006 -

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Editorial: Time and Mr. Ahmadinejad

Henry See
19 September 2006
Signs of the Times

Time magazine went to Cuba and met with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And while they were willing to print the man's words, they made sure that Time correspondent Scott Macleod put them in "context". In the case of Ahmadinejad, that means painting him as a crafty war-mongerer. Never-mind that Iran is fully within its rights as a signer of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to develop its nuclear industry. Never-mind that the United States of Pathocratic Corruption has singled Iran out, alone, as the target of its ire, while Brazil and India have proceeded apace with their own development.

It is the US and Israel who are making an issue of Iranian nuclear development, not because Iran is a threat to anyone if it is left alone, but solely because the US and Israel have decided to enforce a "regime change" in Iran, and 1) they need a pretext, even one that is as flimsy or even less so than Saddam's WMDs, and 2), were Iran in fact to develop nuclear weapons, the true war-mongerers, the US and Israel, would be the potential targets because of their less than innocent interest in toppling the government and installing their own puppet regime there. Were the rest of the world to agree with Bush's argument of "preventative defence", then Iran would have every right, according to Bush himself, to attack Israel, because Israel doesn't even attempt to conceal its desire to get rid of the current government there.

Therefore, in order to ridicule Ahmadinejad, nothing is too little to go unremarked. Notice this first comment, describing Ahmadinejad as he enters the room and sits for the interview:
"For a moment, he seems irked by the chair, perhaps because it makes him seem even smaller than his 5 ft. 4 in., but soon he's smiling, prodding, leaning forward to make his points."
Did you notice that: "perhaps because it makes him seem even smaller than his 5 ft. 4 in."? Do you really think that this is what is going on in Ahmadinejad's mind? Are we meant to associate Ahmadinejad with Napoleon, well known for his short stature? Are we meant to think that his "craziness", always implied, comes from his preoccupation with his small height?

Another comment fills the reader in on how to read his words:
"Ahmadinejad is a skilled, if slippery, debater. In his press conferences, he has shown himself to be a natural politician, gifted in the art of spin and misdirection."
You'd think he was describing his ownh president or vice president.

When I read the interview, as well as other interviews with the man, I find him to be quite reasonable. His arguments are logical, and he is willing to call out the interviewer on his own biases. Notice this response on the question of Israel:
TIME: You have been quoted as saying Israel should be wiped off the map. Was that merely rhetoric, or do you mean it?

AHMADINEJAD: People in the world are free to think the way they wish. We do not insist they should change their views. Our position toward the Palestinian question is clear: we say that a nation has been displaced from its own land. Palestinian people are killed in their own lands, by those who are not original inhabitants, and they have come from far areas of the world and have occupied those homes. Our suggestion is that the 5 million Palestinian refugees come back to their homes, and then the entire people on those lands hold a referendum and choose their own system of government. This is a democratic and popular way. Do you have any other suggestions?

TIME: Do you believe the Jewish people have a right to their own state?

AHMADINEJAD: We do not oppose it. In any country in which the people are ready to vote for the Jews to come to power, it is up to them. In our country, the Jews are living and they are represented in our Parliament. But Zionists are different from Jews.
This response and approach is extremely reasonable. The Zionists, through the complicity of their pathocratic brothers in Britain and the United States, stole Palestine from its rightful inhabitants. They erected the United Nations to give this theft the semblance of legality. The theft has continued since the founding of the Zionist entity in 1949. The Palestinians are being extinguished, drop by blood by drop of blood, and their land stolen acre by acre ever since. Ahmadinejad is proposing nothing more than allowing the people who live in Palestine to elect their own government, but that is too democratic a solution for a people who call themselves the "chosen people" of Yahweh and who refuse to live by the laws of the goyim.

Moreover, Ahmadinejad never said that Israel should be wiped away. That was a misquote, and under the conditions of the threat of war, it was undoubtedly an intentional misquote, that is, a lie. In the speech that was so misquoted, the Iranian president made essentially the same comment, that the people who wished to live there should decide for themselves.

Of course, suggesting that the state of Israel should be changed, that it should give way to a state of all of the people of Palestine, is "anti-Semitism".
"His incendiary statements--he has declared the Holocaust a 'myth,' has said Israel should be 'wiped away' and has called the Jewish state 'a stain of disgrace'--have made him the most polarizing head of state in the Muslim world."
As for his statement that Israel is "a stain of disgrace", what other conclusion can we come to when we look at its history? When we look at the continual murder of Palestinians, when we look even no further than the recent war against Lebanon, with the million cluster bombs dropped on civilian territories in the last days of the fighting, when Israel knew a cease-fire was only days away. What else is such an act if it is not a "stain of disgrace" for people of conscience. The conscious, methodical, and cold-blooded targeting of civilians, of woman and children, is that not unconscionable?

In the final part of the interview, that most objectionable of subjects was raised: the Holocaust. According to Time:
"He waved a hand dismissively when I couldn't grasp his logic in questioning the Holocaust. Asked to defend his claim that the Holocaust was a myth, he went on a rambling rant, claiming that those who try to do 'independent research' on the Holocaust have been imprisoned. 'About historical events,' he says, 'there are different views.'"
The following is the so-called "rambling rant" that was Ahmadinejad's response to the question:
TIME: Have you considered that Iranian Jews are hurt by your comments denying that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust?

AHMADINEJAD: As to the Holocaust, I just raised a few questions. And I didn't receive any answers to my questions. I said that during World War II, around 60 million were killed. All were human beings and had their own dignities. Why only 6 million? And if it had happened, then it is a historical event. Then why do they not allow independent research?

TIME: But massive research has been done.

AHMADINEJAD: They put in prison those who try to do research. About historical events everybody should be free to conduct research. Let's assume that it has taken place. Where did it take place? So what is the fault of the Palestinian people? These questions are quite clear. We are waiting for answers.
If this response strikes you as a "rambling rant", then you're probably very happy with the direction Mr. Bush is taking the world, or you should be.

Why is it only the relationship of the Jews to the Second World War that is off-limits? If a researcher tries to answer the question of "How many Poles were killed?" or "How many gypsies were killed?", he can publish as he pleases. Yet to question the official statistics is to invite imprisonment in some countries. Sixty million or more died during that global holocaust, and they had, as Ahmadinejad says, "their own dignities". But the dignity of tens of millions of non-Jews means nothing compared to one dead worshipper of Yahweh for those who eat of the poisoned apple of the "Chosen People".

Perhaps in his next interview, Ahmadinejad should point out the abundant documentation showing Zionist collaboration with the Nazis prior to and during the war. It served Zionist interests that "Jews" be persecuted, for such persecution was the only argument they had in favour of stealing Palestine from its rightful inhabitants. And while the Zionists collaborated with the Nazis, Zionist terrorists were being armed in Palestine by the British under the guise of fighting fascism, when in reality, the arms were being used to terrorize the Palestinians and prepare for the war of colonization and ethnic cleansing that would lead to the establishment of the Zionist entity.

Since the false flag operation of 9/11, the US and Israel have unleashed a crusade against Arabs and Muslims. Afghanistan has been sacked. Iraq is being sacked and dismembered. Other false flag operations have killed innocents in Madrid and London. And, of course, while the world's attention was focused elsewhere, the genocide of the Palestinians has continued unabated. Through their deeds, the leaders of the US, Britain, and Israel have proved that they see war as the only way to implement their policies, backed by torture, the illegal detention of whomever they deem necessary, and the breaking of the laws of whatever country they are operating in.

And yet Time portrays the Iranian president as the one leading the world to war:
"Though pictures of the Iranian President often show him flashing a peace sign, his actions could well be leading the world closer to war."
What actions are those? Those of refusing to be cowed by the imperial designs set in Washington and Tel Aviv?
TIME: Why won't you agree to suspend enrichment of uranium as a confidence-building measure?

AHMADINEJAD: Whose confidence should be built?

TIME: The world's?

AHMADINEJAD: The world? The world? Who is the world? The United States? The U.S. Administration is not the entire world. Europe does not account for one-twentieth of the entire world. When I studied the provisions of the NPT [Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty], nowhere did I see it written that in order to produce nuclear fuel, we need to win the support or the confidence of the United States and some European countries.

TIME: How far will Iran go in defying Western demands? Will you wait until you are attacked and your nuclear installations are destroyed?

AHMADINEJAD: Do you think the U.S. Administration would be so irrational?

TIME: You tell me.

AHMADINEJAD: I hope that is not the case. I said that we need logic. We do not need attacks.
Time spells it out: Iran must meet "Western demands", not those of the world. And when analysed, "Western demands" comes down to the demands of a very small group, the neocons in Washington, and the leaders of Israel.

The word "demands" is also interesting because it is in fact extortion. Iran is being told: "Stop your nuclear programme or we will wage war on your country". That sounds more like the local mafia don speaking than what would pass for statesmanship in a class on political science.

We live in a world where the "West" has become the "world", where "Zionism" has become the "West", where illegally attacking a sovereign state has become "preventative defence" and the kidnapping and torture of individuals has become "extraordinary rendition". The process of ponerization so well described by Andrew Lobaczewski in his book Political Ponerology is so entrenched that words have lost their original meaning. That Time can serve its readers such a loaded concoction under the label of objective reporting, and that it is taken down by its readers without a burp, illustrates the dire situation we face.

The distance between a Time report and objective reality is the distance we must cross if we are ever to live in a world free from lies.

Of course, we expect nothing different from Time magazine or anyone else in the mainstream media. We expect no different from the majority of what calls itself the "alternative media". We have all swum in this cesspool of lies our entire lies. We were raised to consider our assumptions as self-evident truths.

We are all infected with this evil.

The decision to align oneself with truth must be a conscious decision, and it demands a continual putting into question of everything one reads and hears. It demands a constant putting into question of one's own assumptions and beliefs. The sad fact is that it is work, a lot of work. It isn't easy, and it isn't comfortable. It is much easier to continue to be swept away by the many currents, mainstream or alternative, that prefer to go only so far, that prefer not to bring the ultimate struggle down to what is going on inside your own head, your own emotions, your own programming from your families and your schools.

The sacred cows of Time magazine are clear to see. Our own are much more difficult.
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Editorial: Ahmadinejad: Zionists different from Jews

Ynet News
19 September 2006

In an interview with Time Magazine, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proposed that the five million Palestinian refugees scattered around the world be allowed to return to historic Palestine to take part in a referendum, in which Jews would participate, to determine a system of government for both people.

"Our position toward the Palestinian question is clear: We say that a nation has been displaced from its own land.
Palestinian people are killed in their own lands, by those who are not original inhabitants, and they have come from far areas of the world and have occupied those homes.

"Our suggestion is that the 5 million Palestinian refugees come back to their homes, and then the entire people on those lands hold a referendum and choose their own system of government. This is a democratic and popular way. Do you have any other suggestions?," he told Time.

Asked if he believes the Jews have the right to a sovereign state, he said, "We do not oppose it. In any country in which the people are ready to vote for the Jews to come to power, it is up to them. In our country, the Jews are living and they are represented in our Parliament. But Zionists are different from Jews."

He explained his comments about the historical veracity of the Holocaust by saying: "As to the Holocaust, I just raised a few questions. And I didn't receive any answers to my questions. I said that during World War II, around 60 million were killed. All were human beings and had their own dignities. Why only six million? And if it had happened, then it is a historical event. Then why do they not allow independent research?"

He told Time that studies about the Holocaust cannot be reliable when those who try to prove it didn't happen are prosecuted.


"They put in prison those who try to do research. About historical events everybody should be free to conduct research. Let's assume that it has taken place. Where did it take place? So what is the fault of the Palestinian people? These questions are quite clear. We are waiting for answers," he told Time.

On Iran's nuclear program he said Tehran is opposed to nuclear weapons. "We are opposed to nuclear weapons. We think it has been developed just to kill human beings. It is not in the service of human beings. For that reason, last year in my address to the UN General Assembly, I suggested that a committee should be set up in order to disarm all the countries that possess nuclear weapons," he told Time.

Asked about his country reluctance to calm "the world's" concern over its nuclear ambitions, Ahmadinejad said: "The world? The world? Who is the world? The United States? The UN Administration is not the entire world. Europe does not account for one-twentieth of the entire world.

"When I studied the provisions of the NPT (Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty), nowhere did I see it written that in order to produce nuclear fuel, we need to win the support or the confidence of the United States and some European countries."

He said the United States will not "be so irrational" to launch preemptive strikes against Iran.

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Editorial: Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder - A Glimpse Into Israeli Collective Psychosis

by Gilad Atzmon

"It is hard to believe, but only 60 years after the Holocaust the Jewish people is once again in danger of being destroyed - at least in its own state, where 40 percent of the world's Jews are concentrated. Evidence of the severity of the danger can be found not only in the explicit threats by Iran's president, which are backed up by an arms program that would provide the means to carry them out. It can also be found in recent articles in the European press that discuss the possibility of Israel's 'disappearance' as a reasonable 'working assumption.' Additional evidence regarding the threat level exists in the fact that not only is Israel the only country in the world that is threatened with destruction, it is also the only state whose right to exist is the focus of international polls, with many respondents answering negatively. That is an honor that even Iran, North Korea and apartheid-era South Africa were never granted." (Yair Sheleg. Haaretz)

While many may find it heartening or amusing that even an Israeli right winger cannot see a ray of light at the end of the Zionist tunnel, it is rather disconcerting to read that Israelis are already seriously contemplating their next Shoah. I would argue here that it is exactly this form of deadly meditation that turns Israel, Israelis, global Zionists and Neocons into the gravest enemies of world peace.

Indeed, a growing number of people want to see an end to Israel, the 'Jew Only State'. Yet, no one around expresses any murderous or terminal plans against world Jewry or even against their Jewish State. No one in the political or the media spheres is calling for a homicidal act against the Jews or their Jewish State. Thus the well-established Judeocentric tendency to interpret almost any legitimate political and ideological criticism as a perpetration of an upcoming Judeocide should be comprehended as a severe form of paranoia verging on collective psychosis, which I define as Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder (Pre-TAD).

Within the condition of the Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder, the stress is the outcome of a phantasmic event, an imaginary episode set in the future; an event that has never taken place. Unlike the PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) in which stress comes as the direct reaction to an event that (may) have taken place in the past, within the state of Pre-TSD, the stress is the clearly the outcome of an imaginary potential event. Within the Pre-TSD, an illusion pre-empts reality and the condition in which the fantasy of terror is focussed is itself becoming grave reality. If it is taken to extremes, even an agenda of total war against the rest of the world is not an unthinkable reaction.

One may wonder at this stage whether Pre-TSD is just another name for paranoia. I would argue that the difference between the two is rather obvious. In the case of paranoia he who is subject to the disease makes us feel sorry for him. In the case of confrontation with a Pre-TSD case, we happen to feel sorry for ourselves.
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Editorial: Bush Demands Lebanese Commit Suicide

Kurt Nimmo

Hassan Nasrallah understands what will happen to the people of Lebanon if Hezbollah disarms. In 1982, when Israel invaded Lebanon, 20,000 Palestinians and Lebanese were slaughtered and 400,000 were made homeless. "The tonnages dropped on Beirut alone surpassed those of the atomic bomb which devastated Hiroshima. Schools and hospitals were particularly targeted," writes Ralph Schoenman, who experienced the carnage firsthand. "Virtually all rolling stock and heavy equipment from Lebanese factories were looted and taken to Israel... The citrus and olive production of Lebanon south of Beirut was destroyed. The Lebanese economy, whose exports had competed with Israel's, became moribund."

Chris Giannou, a Canadian surgeon working in Lebanon at the time of the Israeli invasion, testified before the U.S. Congress that he witnessed "the total devastation of residential areas and the blind, savage, indiscriminate destruction of refugee camps by simultaneous shelling and carpet bombing from aircraft, gunboats, tanks and artillery," leaving only "large blackened craters filled with rubble and debris, broken concrete slabs and twisted iron bars and corpses." A Norwegian doctor and social worker told the Guardian "the siege of Beirut seemed [like] gratuitous brutality.... The arsenal of weapons, unleashed in a way that has not been seen since the Vietnam War.... The use of cluster bombs and white phosphorus shells, a vicious weapon, was widespread.... All of West Beirut ... was living in wreckage and garbage and loss" (see John Rose, The Israeli invasion of Lebanon 1982).

If the residents of the Sabra and Shatila refugee camp had weapons in September of 1982, as Hezbollah now has weapons, no doubt over 2,000 Palestinians would not have fallen victim to the brutality of Major Saad Haddad of the Christian (Phalangist, i.e., fascist) South Lebanon Army, a militia armed, supplied, and uniformed by the Israelis. As Noam Chomsky writes in The Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel and the Palestinians (pages 364-S), "Chief of Staff Eitan and Generals Drori and Yaron met with the Phalangist command. Eitan congratulated them on having carried out good work, offered them a bulldozer with IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] markers removed and authorized them to remain in the camps for another 12 hours. The killing continued. At 5 a.m. Saturday morning the murderers began to leave the camps and, after 36 hours, the slaughter ended." According to the Kahan Commission, a whitewash commission empanelled to investigate the ethnic cleansing of refugee camps in Beirut, Defense Minister, Ariel Sharon, was found to be personally responsible for the massacre at Sabra and Shatila. Of course, such bloody details were of little concern to the Israeli people, as they elected him prime minister in March, 2001.

"We view Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, and I would hope that Hezbollah would prove that they're not, by laying down arms and not threatening peace," declared Bush last week, reports Agence France-Presse. "We are being asked to disarm so that Lebanon remains defenseless. Our force is protecting Lebanon," Nasrallah responded. "As long as Lebanon remains threatened, even if that lasts a million years, we will say to our children and to their descendants that their patriotic, human, moral and sacred religious duty is to defend their people and their fatherland." Nasrallah then threw the ball back in Bush's court by stating, "if you can convince me that there are other ways to protect Lebanon, I'm ready to listen." In other words, if Bush can contain Israeli aggression and guarantee the outlaw state will not invade again, he may entertain disarming. However, as Bigfoot will appear in a Broadway musical before Israel will stop killing Arabs in large numbers, Hezbollah will not disarm Hezbollah anytime soon.

Meanwhile, the demonization of Islam continues unabated. Last week Pope Benedict XVI cited a Byzantine emperor who characterized some of the teachings of Islam's Prophet Muhammad as "evil and inhuman," a comment interpreted by some Muslims as a call by the Catholic church for another Crusade. Naturally, "al-Qaeda," specifically the Mujahedeen Shura Council in Iraq, a Pentagon black op claiming to be an "umbrella organization" representing the Iraqi resistance, responded to the dotterel in the Vatican by declaring it would "break up the cross, spill the liquor and impose head tax, then the only thing acceptable is a conversion (to Islam) or (killed by) the sword," the sort of gibberish neocon newspaper columnists and radio and television talk show hosts and anchors consume with orgiastic delight.

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Editorial: Pope Benedict and Western Christendom's jihad: "Better the Sultan's turban than the Cardinal's hat"

Colin Buchanan
September 17, 2006

Apart from the sinister decision to launch an attack on Islam at this moment in history when the supreme question of war or peace hangs in the balance, there is a rather bizarre aspect to this whole affair viz the curious decision to quote a Byzantine emperor's views on Islam.

Byzantium had experienced first hand the brutality of the western crusaders who, goaded on by Catholic priests in 1203 had sacked the city in one of the greatest atrocities in history, magnified several-fold by the immense cultural and intellectual loss in what was one of the great centres of world civilization. This shocking act of delinquency way surpassed the sacking of Rome by the Goths or the, relatively humane, subsequent sacking of Byzantium by the Turks. Here is how it was recorded by one Byzantine historian:

"No one was without a share in the grief. In the alleys, in the streets, in the temples, complaints, weeping, lamentations, grief, the groaning of men, the shrieks of women, wounds, rape, captivity, the separation of those most closely united. Nobles wandered about ignominiously, those of venerable age in tears, the rich in poverty. Thus it was in the streets, on the corners, in the temple, in the dens, for no place remained unassailed or defended the suppliants. All places everywhere were filled full of all kinds of crime. Oh, immortal God, how great the afflictions of the men, how great the distress!"

The Byzantine historian Nicetas Koniates wrote: "even the Muslims are human and well-disposed, reported to[compared to] those people who carry the cross of Christ on the shoulders"

Manual II Paleologos ( the emperor who Benedict quoted) had reason to fear the Muslims since Byzantium was perpetually on the verge of falling to them, as indeed it did in 1453. But even in the midst of that final siege one of the city's last great statesmen was heard to say "Better the Sultan's turban than the cardinal's hat"

In fact the destruction or a least fatal weakening of the Byzantine Empire was the main outcome of the crusades whose nominal goal was the reconquest of the Holy Land. It was rather as if todays war against Islam was really an oblique attempt to undermine Europe and Russia in accordance with the perennial goals of British foreign policy as outlined by Mackinder i.e. that Europe and Eurasia should forever be divided. (That may very well be the case.Arguably, the turn towards Iraq only came when the campaign to destabilise Serbia and then Russia reached an impasse and even the submissive Yeltsin threatened to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia.) Certainly, with regard to the deep animosity between Western Christendom and the Orthodox world, history has repeated itself and under NATO's occupation of Kosovo we have seen again the destruction of beautiful Byzantine churches by Tony and Bill's favourite terrorists, the KLA.

Thank you, Your Holiness, for reminding us, unconsciously, of things you would rather keep forgotten, Western Christendom's jihad against its religious foes culminating in the destruction of the beautiful city of Byzantium, echoed nearly a thousand years later in the destruction of Kosovo's churches.
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Next Stop: Iran

Time Magazine: This is how US will attack Iran


It will take a few days, with thousands of sorties, satellite and laser-guided bombs will be aimed at targets - 1,500 already planned by Pentagon - and will try to infiltrate armed concrete, under which some of nuclear sites are hidden. Meanwhile, Washington launches diplomatic blitz in attempt to promote sanctions on Tehran

A senior source at the State Department declared over the weekend that Washington was interested in solving the crisis diplomatically, but admitted that his country had no clue what Iran was thinking.

According to the senior source, the government is convinced that Tehran has also failed to make a decision on the issue so far.

And while the US is exerting diplomatic pressure, the Pentagon is preparing for a possibility that US President George W. Bush will eventually instruct the army to attack Iran.

Time Magazine published details regarding a possible attack, based on talks with military sources.
According to the magazine, no one in Washington is talking about a ground invasion of Iran, as was carried out in Iraq or Afghanistan. According to the report, the American goal in case of an offensive will be to delay the Iranian nuclear plan, an operation which can be carried out from the air.

Goal: Delaying nuclear plan by 2 to 3 years

The attack, the Time says, will be limited to the nuclear facilities in Iran and will be aimed at 18 to 30 different facilities connected to the nuclear program. The sites are spread across the country, some of them exposed, some operating under the guise of regular plants, and others buried deep under the ground.

Sources in the Pentagon told the magazine that among the sites the Americans are familiar with are 1,500 targets for an attack. In other words, the military offensive requires activating nearly all types of planes in the army's possession: Warplanes and stealth vehicles, F-15 and F-16 aircrafts taking off from the land and an F-18 which takes off from an aircraft carrier.

Such an attack requires using satellite-guided weapons and laser-guided ammunition, as well as spy planes and unmanned aerial vehicles. Since many targets are hidden underground and are reinforced with armed concrete, they will have to be hit once and again in order to guarantee that they are destroyed, or at least severely damaged.

Submarines and American battleships will be able to launch cruise missiles, but the Time says that the warheads in this case are small and are not enough to cause damage to the concrete. Therefore, they will be used for other targets.

An American attack in Iran may take a few days, with hundreds and maybe thousands of sorties. According to the report, it will help in delaying the Iranian nuclear program by two to the three years.

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Military Orders Suggest Iran Attack


Two recent orders by the American military have led some observers to conclude that the U.S. is preparing for an attack on Iran.

One order was a "Prepare to Deploy" command sent to a submarine, an Aegis-class cruiser, two minesweepers and two mine hunters, telling the ships' commanders to be ready to move by Oct. 1.

The other was a request from the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) for a fresh look at long-standing U.S. plans to blockade two Iranian oil ports on the Persian Gulf.

The orders created a buzz within the military because there are few places in the world where minesweepers could be significant - chief among them, the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, where about 40 percent of the world's oil passes each day.
"Coupled with the CNO's request for a blockade review, a deployment of minesweepers to the west coast of Iran would seem to suggest that a much discussed - but until now largely theoretical - prospect has become real: that the U.S. may be preparing for war with Iran," according to a special report in Time magazine.

The U.S. military routinely makes plans for many different scenarios, and the vast majority of them will never be carried out.

"And yet from the State Department to the White House to the highest reaches of the military command, there is a growing sense that a showdown with Iran - over its suspected quest for nuclear weapons, its threats against Israel and its bid for dominance of the world's richest oil region - may be impossible to avoid," Time reports.

The magazine's reporters interviewed dozens of experts and government officials to find out what an attack on Iran would consist of - and what its repercussions might be.

First of all, most observers believe the attack would not involve ground forces and would instead be a massive air campaign against Iran's 18 to 30 nuclear-related facilities.

But many of the targets are hardened, and would have to be struck repeatedly to ensure that they were destroyed or severely damaged. Some sites are in populated areas, and civilian casualties would be a certainty, according to Time. And there would be no guarantee that the strikes would destroy all nuclear-related sites, because some sites could be undiscovered.

What's more, the attacks would spark retaliation from Iran that could include ordering a Hezbollah attack on Israel and stepping up the funneling of money and weapons to the Taliban in Afghanistan and insurgents in Iraq.

The likelihood that Iran would also seek to close the Strait of Hormuz is high, and a disruption of the oil supplies flowing through the strait could send oil prices skyrocketing. That in turn could spur a stepped-up military effort by the U.S. that could even include the "worst case" use of ground forces in an effort to topple the Iranian regime, retired Marine General Anthony Zinni told Time.

For that reason, Zinni believes an attack on Iran is a "dumb idea."

And that is why the U.S. has sought to emphasize a possible diplomatic solution, Time concludes. One Bush administration official told the magazine:

"Nobody is considering a military option at this point. We're trying to prevent a situation in which the President finds himself having to decide between a nuclear-armed Iran or going to war. The best hope of avoiding that dilemma is hard-nosed diplomacy, one that has serious consequences."

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In a replay of Iraq, a battle is brewing over intelligence on Iran

By Warren P. Strobel and John Walcott
McClatchy Newspapers
Posted on Fri, Sep. 15, 2006

WASHINGTON - In an echo of the intelligence wars that preceded the U.S. invasion of Iraq, a high-stakes struggle is brewing within the Bush administration and in Congress over Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program and involvement in terrorism.

U.S. intelligence and counterterrorism officials say Bush political appointees and hard-liners on Capitol Hill have tried recently to portray Iran's nuclear program as more advanced than it is and to exaggerate Tehran's role in Hezbollah's attack on Israel in mid-July.

The struggle's outcome could have profound implications for U.S. policy.
President Bush, who addresses the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, has said he prefers diplomacy to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, but he hasn't ruled out using military force.

Several former U.S. defense officials who maintain close ties to the Pentagon say they've been told that plans for airstrikes - if Bush deems them necessary - are being updated.

The leader of a Persian Gulf country who visited Washington recently came away without receiving assurances he sought that the military option was off the table, said a person with direct knowledge of the meetings.

"It seems like Iran is becoming the new Iraq," said one U.S. counterterrorism official.

This official and others spoke on condition of anonymity because the information involved is classified.

But one facet of the dispute broke into public view in recent days.

The International Atomic Energy Agency complained in an unusual letter made public on Thursday that a House intelligence committee report on Iran contains "erroneous, misleading and unsubstantiated information."

A top official of the IAEA, which conducts nuclear inspections in Iran and elsewhere, wrote that the report exaggerated advances Tehran has made in enriching uranium, which can be used to fuel nuclear arms if made pure enough. The official, Vilmos Cserveny, said the report also falsely claimed that IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei had removed an inspector from Iran for being too aggressive.

Cserveny's letter was addressed to intelligence committee chairman Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich.

Hoekstra spokesman Jamal Ware said that the reference to weapons-grade uranium in the report was in a photo caption, but that the report makes clear elsewhere that Iran has not yet achieved that capability.

Committee aides say the report was meant to provoke discussion about Iran and wasn't a call for exaggerated intelligence.

The dispute was a virtual rerun of the months before the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, when ElBaradei and his agency questioned claims that Saddam Hussein was aggressively seeking nuclear weapons. Some top U.S. officials sought to discredit ElBaradei, although the IAEA's assessment proved correct.

The IAEA's written protest, dated Tuesday, was echoed privately by U.S. intelligence analysts, who saw the House report as an attempt to discredit the CIA and other agencies on Iran.

The situations with Iran now and Iraq four years ago, when Bush and his aides were making the case for war, aren't completely parallel.

Even officials and foreign countries that were skeptical about Iraq agree that Iran is probably seeking a nuclear weapon. And there is widespread consensus that Tehran is the No. 1 state sponsor of terrorism in the world.

But there are sharp differences over Iran's capabilities and actions.

Some officials at the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the State Department said they're concerned that the offices of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney may be receiving a stream of questionable information that originates with Iranian exiles, including a discredited arms dealer, Manucher Ghorbanifar, who played a role in the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal.

Officials at all three agencies said they suspect that the dubious information may include claims that Iran directed Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group, to kidnap two Israeli soldiers in July; that Iran's nuclear program is moving faster than generally believed; and that the Iranian people are eager to join foreign efforts to overthrow their theocratic rulers.

The officials said there is no reliable intelligence to support any of those assertions and some that contradicts all three.

The officials said they fear a replay of the administration's mishandling of what turned out to be bogus information from Iraqi exiles in the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, documented earlier this month in a Senate intelligence committee report.

But they said this time, intelligence analysts and others are more forcefully challenging claims they believe to be false or questionable.

"There's no question that people are less afraid to speak up after what happened in Iraq," said one intelligence official. "There's less of an inclination to let Cheney and Rumsfeld run free."

It is, said a second U.S. intelligence official, "a little more difficult to try to put forward a one-sided view." Analysts "are not willing to be rolled over," he said.

On Hezbollah, officials say they have fought to tone down administration public statements and internal briefing papers about Iran's complicity in the attack on Israel, which sparked a month-long war.

"They're just basically saying all kinds of wacky stuff," said the first counter-terrorism official. "Now Iran is (said to be) responsible for everything Hezbollah does."

Iran is widely believed to be arming, funding and helping train Hezbollah as its proxy among Lebanon's Shiite Muslims. But a majority of analysts believe Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah maintains quite a bit of independence.

"No one says that Hezbollah is completely independent," said a U.S. intelligence official. But, "I'm not sure anyone thinks Iran ordered the kidnapping of the Israelis."

Adding to the unease, Rumsfeld's office earlier this year set up a new Iranian directorate, reported to be under the leadership of neoconservatives who played a role in planning the Iraq war.

Current and former officials said the Pentagon's Iranian directorate has been headed by Abram Shulsky. Shulsky also was the head of the now-defunct Office of Special Plans, whose role in allegedly manipulating Iraq intelligence is under investigation by the Pentagon's inspector general.

Some officials say they fear the office, whose existence was first reported by the Los Angeles Times, is being used to funnel intelligence from Ghorbanifar, the arms dealer, and an Iranian exile group known as the Mujahedeen Khalq.

A Pentagon spokeswoman didn't return two phone calls seeking comment about the office.

Bill Murray, a retired CIA station chief in Paris who met with a Ghorbanifar associate and found his claims about Iran to be bogus, called the office's establishment "a big bell ringer."

"That is outright manipulation of information to suggest a predetermined policy," Murray said.

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Bush, Iran president to face off at U.N


President Bush and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will face off at a distance over Middle East democracy and nuclear weapons when both address the United Nations on Tuesday.

Bush faces growing international skepticism over his policies for Iran and Iraq, with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan warning that Iraq was in grave danger of descending into civil war and French President Jacques Chirac arguing against a rush to impose sanctions on Iran.

U.S. officials said that, undeterred by setbacks in Iraq war and the Palestinian territories, Bush would stress his so-called "Freedom Agenda" of aggressively promoting democracy, calling the Middle East "the central battlefield."

"The president ... will lay out his positive vision for the Middle East, the bright, democratic future that we see for the Middle East in contra-distinction to some who have almost a backward-looking vision for that region," a senior administration official told reporters.

Annan pointedly countered that optimism last week when he said after touring the Middle East that most leaders in the region thought the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein had been a "disaster."

The indirect clash between Bush and the hard-line Iranian leader comes at a sensitive moment in a stand-off over Iran's nuclear ambitions, as the European Union tries to coax Tehran into suspending uranium enrichment to allow for negotiations.

The United States and Iran have no relations and Washington has said it will enter talks with Iran only if the Islamic Republic halts sensitive nuclear work which the West suspects is aimed at developing an atom bomb.


The Bush administration is calling for sanctions after Iran defied an August 31 U.N. deadline to halt enrichment, but European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said it would be wrong to push such a resolution when the EU was making "real progress" in talks with Tehran.

Solana told Spanish-speaking reporters he would meet with Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, in New York on the sidelines of this week's U.N. General Assembly session.

Asked in an interview with Time magazine why Iran would not suspend enrichment as a confidence-building measure, Ahmadinejad said: "Whose confidence should be built?"

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Report: Israel focuses on Iran's possible WMD threat

www.chinaview.cn 2006-09-19 16:48:53

JERUSALEM, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) -- Faced with an alleged unclear threat from Iran, Israeli military establishment has been concentrating on dealing with a possible confrontation with non-conventional weapons of mass destruction (WMD), Jerusalem Post reported Tuesday.

According to an exclusive report of the newspaper, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Home Front Command has shifted its focus since the Lebanon war ended and is now investing most of its efforts in confronting the threat of WMD.
A high-ranking IDF officer revealed to the Post that Israel's Home Front Command (HFC) is now developing new technological means to deal with chemical and biological threats, including mobile air-purification containers that can be brought to areas infected by chemical or biological weapons and purify the air.

HFC's focus was shifted partially because the defense establishment believed that following the war in Lebanon, Israel was facing a major threat from ballistic missiles.

During the war, there were some 4,000 missiles fired at northern Israel. It was estimated that missiles from Iran have a range of between 1,550 to 1,620 km and can carry a 500 to 650 kg warhead.

"As it was demonstrated during the war in Lebanon, the other side is investing all of its resources in missiles," a high-ranking IDF officer was quoted as saying on Monday.

"We therefore need to provide answers to deal with this threat offensively but also defensively, once the missiles are already launched," he added.

According to the IDF's assessment, facing a nuclear Iran, Israel will find itself in a "lose-lose situation."

"If Iran is attacked, long-range missiles will land in Israel," a senior defense official said. "If, on the other hand, nothing is done militarily, Israel will find itself under a constant nuclear threat from Iran."

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France Calls for Boosting of Ties with Iran

Fars News Agency

TEHRAN - Despite the United States' frequent calls on the EU to increase pressures on Iran and limit ties with the Islamic Republic, Paris has called for the enhancement of all-out relations with Tehran and this has been the underlying cause for the recent visit to France by President's senior advisor, Iranian government spokesman said.

"French officials submitted a message to us which both showed their profound enthusiasm for developing all-out ties with Iran and asked for the dispatch of a special envoy to Paris to discuss the two sides' wide potentials for further cooperation in all various areas," Gholam Hossein Elham told reporters during his weekly press briefing here on Monday.
"Thus, President Ahmadinejad dispatched his senior advisor Hashemi Samareh to France," he continued, saying that during his talks with various French officials, including President Jacque Chirac, Samareh has exchanged views about enhancement of cooperation through optimum utilization of the two states' potentials.

Elham further described Samareh's negotiations with the French officials as positive and useful, asserting that the talks have paved a proper and convenient ground for the development of ties.

Elsewhere, he referred to Iran's nuclear issue and mentioned, "What we have presented as our response to the EU's package of proposals included this very main point that the two sides can resolve the issue through reasonable negotiations and in compliance with the international rules and laws."

The Spokesman viewed Iran-West talks as positive, saying that Tehran perceives a desirable prospect for the present trend of negotiations as there resides no restriction in the way of talks.

Describing time-bound suspension as a misunderstanding, he stressed once more that nuclear talks must be free from prerequisite.

Elham rejected reports that Iran could agree to the short-term suspension of its enrichment activities for the resumption of nuclear talks with the west, reiterating that such a notion was a result of a "misunderstanding."

He said, "Iran has made no decision whatsoever to suspend enrichment," but meantime stressed that all issues pertinent to Iran's nuclear case "can be raised in the negotiations."

Asked about the possibility of a meeting between the Iranian and American Presidents during the upcoming UN General Assembly meeting at the United Nations headquarters in New York, the Government Spokesman reminded, "The issue at work is not negotiation or talks, rather there could be a debate between President Ahmadinejad and his American counterpart George W Bush, and when it comes to debating, where else could be a better place than the United Nations?"

In response to the recent insulting statements by Pope Benedict XVI against the religion of Islam, he reminded the rich and historical culture of Islam, and stressed that the remarks by the leader of the world's Catholic church result from ignorance and lack of comprehension and proper understanding of the Islamic culture.

Meantime, the official viewed Pope's remarks as worrisome, and reminded that international movement of Zionism, supported by the US, intends to undermine solidarity of religions through sowing seeds of discord among them.

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Chirac urges lifting UN sanctions threat on Iran

PARIS, Sept 18, 2006 (AFP)

French President Jacques Chirac on Monday urged more nuclear talks with Iran during which it would not be referred to the UN Security Council -- setting the scene for another possible clash with the United States, which is pushing for sanctions.

Chirac argued that more negotiations should take place with Iran, free of the threat of sanctions.
"During that negotiation, I propose that on the one hand the six refrain from referring the issue to the Security Council and that Iran renounce during the negotiation the enrichment of uranium," he told Europe 1 radio.

The six nations holding talks with Tehran are the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany.

It was the first time a European leader has clearly stated that the suspension of uranium enrichment was not a precondition for opening talks on the nuclear dossier.

Chirac indicated that the suspension should come during rather than before negotiations.

"We can find solutions via dialogue," said Chirac, who was later to head to New York for the UN's General Assembly due to start Tuesday.

There, he was to meet US President George W. Bush, who has been espousing a harder line against Iran, America's arch-enemy for the past three decades.

Both men were to address the assembly on Tuesday -- as was Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Bush last week warned US allies not to get too caught up in talking with Tehran, which Washington suspects is trying to build a nuclear arsenal under cover of an energy production programme.

"My concern is that, you know, they'll stall; they'll try to wait us out," Bush said. "So part of my objective in New York is to remind people that stalling shouldn't be allowed."

The United States would like to see the Security Council threaten sanctions on Iran, including economic measures and travel bans.

But veto-wielding members China, Russia -- and now France -- are openly balking.

Chirac, in an interview with CNN, said: "There is a lot more potential to dialogue and I would like us to go the end of that particular road before we decide to go any further in any other direction.

"I very much hope that dialogue will get us out of this crisis and I believe it will."

The French president also touched on the UN Security Council row over the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, which poisoned relations between Paris and Washington and cast Chirac and Bush more as ideological opponents than allies.

He told CNN he was convinced that his objections to the US push for war on Iraq -- Iran's neighbour -- had been validated.

"I adopted a stance on Iraq and I have to say that the way things panned out, it certainly didn't go against the stance I took. What I said has been borne out and I remain very pessimistic about Iraq and its future."

Although Chirac and Bush were to be in New York at the same time as the Iranian president, both have said they had no plans to meet him.

Ahmadinejad, for his part, said on the weekend during a Non-Aligned Movement summit in Cuba that the United States was the real nuclear threat in the world.

"What is the UN Security Council waiting for to react to those threats?" he asked, urging other countries to help "counter attempts to prevent Iran from developing its peaceful nuclear activity."

In Vienna, at the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency, UN nuclear chief Mohammed ElBaradei said he remained "hopeful" Iran and world powers would be able to hold negotiations over Tehran's atomic ambitions.

He noted, however, Iran's failure to meet an August 31 deadline imposed by the UN Security Council to suspend uranium enrichment activities.

That suspension had been a precondition to talks with six world powers on a package of trade and other benefits for Iran.

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On international stage, Chirac revives role as conciliator

PARIS, Sept 18, 2006 (AFP)

Ahead of what is almost certainly his last attendance at the UN General Assembly, French President Jacques Chirac on Monday issued a wide-ranging appeal for conciliation and dialogue in a world where "tensions and imbalances are sharpening."
In an interview on Europe 1 radio, the 73-year-old president made a major gesture towards Iran - urging that referral of Tehran's nuclear programme to the UN Security Council wait upon new negotiations and declaring himself sceptical about the use of sanctions.

In the wake of the row over Pope Benedict XVI's comments on Islam, Chirac urged the world to "avoid everything that increases tensions between peoples or religions".

While seeing the pope's remarks as "part of a dialogue about cultures and civilisations which I also advocate", he said: "We must avoid any confusion between Islam, which is of course a respected and respectable religion, and radical Islamism."

The president also urged the Sudanese government to accept UN troops to resolve the crisis in Darfur province, and said France would propose an international conference on Lebanon to help raise funds for the country's post-war reconstruction.

On US President George W. Bush, who he is to meet in New York Tuesday, Chirac said, "We have a relationship which is inevitably one of equals, which is certainly not one of submission" - and on the decision to oppose the 2003 war on Iraq he said: "When I look at the situation I do not think I made a mistake."

President Chirac appears to have been buoyed by the high profile given to France's role in international efforts to end the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah - as well as by opinion polls which show a sharp recovery in his domestic popularity over the summer.

In the latest survey published by a national newspaper Sunday the president enjoys the "good opinion" of 38 percent of the public - up 11 points from July.

"He has discovered a new sense of purpose. The French realise how much he is in control of international dossiers. Compared to Sarkozy and Royal, there's no contest," an unnamed Chirac adviser told le Parisien newspaper.

Chirac is widely expected to leave office next May after presidential elections in which the two front-runners are Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy of the ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) and the Socialist Ségolčne Royal.

While his record on domestic matters after nearly 12 years in office often fares badly in polls, on foreign affairs the president scores better - his favourite themes of a "multipolar" world and the need for dialogue between civilisations striking a clear chord with the public.

According to newspaper reports Monday, Chirac has expressed private anger at the overtly pro-American policies of his potential successor, Nicolas Sarkozy, who in a speech in Washington last week said that his friendship for the US had earned him criticism in France - "but I am proud of it. I lay claim to it."

Sarkozy also took clear aim at the way Chirac and the foreign minister Dominique de Villepin handled the run-up to the war in Iraq, saying: "I always prefer modest effectiveness to sterile grandiloquence. I want nothing of an arrogant France."

The left-wing Libération newspaper quoted Chirac as telling advisers that Sarkozy's speech had been "irresponsible" and "lamentable."

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Russia, China Bound to Support Sanctions Against Iran - U.S. Rice

Created: 19.09.2006 11:07 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 11:07 MSK

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice believes Russia and China are going to vote for sanctions against Iran in the end, she told the WDAY radio station in Washington. "I believe China and Russia are going to end up voting for sanctions or at least allowing sanctions to go forward," Rice said when asked to comment on the two states' position in regard of Iran's continuing uranium enrichment activities.
"We had a deal, and the deal was the following, and Iran understood that: If Iran was prepared to suspend its uranium enrichment and negotiate we were prepared to go down that road. And the United States prepared to go to the table for the first time in more than two decades. If Iran did not, then the Security Council would have to act."

The U.S. is pressing for sanctions against Iran after Tehran ignored an August 31 UN Security Council deadline for suspending uranium enrichment. Both Russia and its Security Council ally China oppose sanctions, although they did vote for a resolution that held the prospect of sanctions should Iran not comply by the deadline.

"And I just want to say that we are in the process right now of working with the European-Three but also with the Russians and the Chinese on a resolution which we intend to vote, to send a very strong message to Iran that it can't simply ignore the will of the international community," Secretary of State added.

"Now there are talks going on. We think that's a good thing. If the Iranians come out of those talks with Javier Solana, the European Foreign Policy Chief, and decide that they wish to suspend, then we're ready to negotiate."

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Ahmadinejad: no reason to accelerate nuclear negotiations

www.chinaview.cn 2006-09-19 10:37:01

CARACAS, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday refused to consider accelerating negotiations at the United Nations over his country's nuclear program.

As talks were still going on, "I see no reason to speed them up," said Ahmadinejad, during his two-day visit to Venezuela.
Arguing that every nation had the equal right to nuclear energy, he said that if it was "something good," then "everyone should have it," but if otherwise, "nobody should have it."

Iran was "willing to negotiate with any country," which was the nation's constant commitment, Ahmadinejad added.

During talks with the visiting Iranian leader, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez reaffirmed his support for Iran's nuclear program.

"We are on your side, we will defend the rights of the Iranian people," said Chavez.

Iran delivered its official report on Aug. 22, refusing to suspend uranium enrichment by Aug. 31, the deadline laid out in UN Security Council Resolution 1696.

It was Iran's response to an incentive package offered by the six major powers -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States -- aimed at defusing the international nuclear crisis.

The Iranian president, who arrived here on Sunday, was scheduled to fly to New York later on Monday to attend the UN General Assembly.

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A Date With a Dangerous Mind

09/18/06 "Time" - HAVANA

EXCLUSIVE: Face to face with Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the man whose swaggeris stirring fears of warwith the U.S.

TIME: You have been quoted as saying Israel should be wiped off the map. Was that merely rhetoric, or do you mean it?

AHMADINEJAD: People in the world are free to think the way they wish. We do not insist they should change their views. Our position toward the Palestinian question is clear: we say that a nation has been displaced from its own land. Palestinian people are killed in their own lands, by those who are not original inhabitants, and they have come from far areas of the world and have occupied those homes. Our suggestion is that the 5 million Palestinian refugees come back to their homes, and then the entire people on those lands hold a referendum and choose their own system of government. This is a democratic and popular way. Do you have any other suggestions?
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad isn't one for ceremony. We are waiting in a villa outside Havana when Ahmadinejad strides in without notice, taking even his aides by surprise. He is wearing blue-gray trousers, black loafers and the trademark tan jacket that even he calls his "Ahmadinejad jacket." He mutters something to himself as he settles into an aging leather chair with bad springs. For a moment, he seems irked by the chair, perhaps because it makes him seem even smaller than his 5 ft. 4 in., but soon he's smiling, prodding, leaning forward to make his points. "We are living our own lives," he says, when asked about his differences with the Bush Administration. He jabs the back of my hand for emphasis. "The U.S. government should not interfere in our affairs. They should live their own lives."

When he made his first trip to the U.S. last year for a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly, Ahmadinejad was still a curiosity--a diminutive, plainly dressed man who had come out of nowhere to win Iran's presidential election. But in New York City this week, he won't have trouble being recognized. His incendiary statements--he has declared the Holocaust a "myth," has said Israel should be "wiped away" and has called the Jewish state "a stain of disgrace"--have made him the most polarizing head of state in the Muslim world. Under Ahmadinejad, Iran has built up its influence in Lebanon and Iraq and made clear its intention to become the dominant power in the oil-rich Persian Gulf. He has also accelerated work on Iran's civilian nuclear program, which the U.S. believes is geared toward producing a nuclear bomb. Though pictures of the Iranian President often show him flashing a peace sign, his actions could well be leading the world closer to war.

For all his bluster, Ahmadinejad remains an enigma. His powers are limited by Iran's political structure, in which ultimate authority over matters of state rests with the country's Supreme Leader, Ayatullah Ali Khamenei. The regime has threatened to retaliate against American interests "in every part of the world" if the U.S. were ever to launch a military strike against Iran. But Ahmadinejad has also made rhetorical gestures of conciliation, sending an open letter to George W. Bush and inviting the U.S. President to a televised discussion about "the ways of solving the problems of the international community." (Bush ruled it out last week. "I'm not going to meet with him," he said at a White House news conference.)

Ahmadinejad is a skilled, if slippery, debater. In his press conferences, he has shown himself to be a natural politician, gifted in the art of spin and misdirection. Our meeting took place last Saturday in a villa on the outskirts of Havana, where he was attending the confab for leaders of nonaligned nations, a gathering that included other irritants to the West such as Venezuela's Hugo Chávez and Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe.

Over the course of the 45-minute interview, he was serious, smiling and cocky--evidence of a self-assurance that borders on arrogance. His brown eyes locked onto mine when he made a point about Iran's nuclear program. His rhetoric was measured, but he was adamant on the issues that have made him so controversial. He dismissed U.N. demands that Iran suspend its uranium-enrichment program but said, "We are opposed to the development of nuclear weapons. We think it is of no use and that it is against the interests of nations." He waved a hand dismissively when I couldn't grasp his logic in questioning the Holocaust. Asked to defend his claim that the Holocaust was a myth, he went on a rambling rant, claiming that those who try to do "independent research" on the Holocaust have been imprisoned. "About historical events," he says, "there are different views."

He was more generous and accommodating when it came to discussing the U.S., saying his May letter to Bush was a genuine effort to reach out. He spoke highly of Americans, based on his trip to New York. "My general impression is that the people of the United States are good people ... The people of the United States are also seeking peace, love, friendship and justice."

Whether such talk will be enough to save the two nations from a confrontation remains to be seen. Nor is it clear that Ahmadinejad's own job is secure. Impatience with his failure to fix Iran's economy is growing, and there is some speculation that the Old Guard may try to push him out. But until then, he seems likely to keep challenging the West, stirring things up. He aspires to unite Muslim opinion and make Iran the dominant player in the Middle East, restoring the country to its ancient imperial glory.

Ahmadinejad's handlers said our interview would last only 30 minutes, but he let it go on despite their protests. At last we were passed a note: "The time is over and Mr. President has an important meeting with the Cuban President. Goodbye." Ahmadinejad bolted from the room, swapped his jacket for a suit coat and climbed into a Mercedes. As the car pulled away, he sat in the back with an aide, smiled one more time and threw us a final wave.


On the eve of a visit to the U.S., Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks to TIME's Scott MacLeod about debating President Bush, pursuing nuclear energy and denying the Holocaust

TIME: What were your impressions of New York during your visit to the U.S. last year?

AHMADINEJAD: Unfortunately we didn't have any contact with the people of the United States. We were not in touch with the people. But my general impression is that the people of the United States are good people. Everywhere in the world, people are good.

TIME: Did you visit the site of the World Trade Center?

AHMADINEJAD: It was not necessary. It was widely covered in the media.

TIME: You recently invited President Bush to a televised debate. If he were sitting where I am sitting, what would you say, man to man?

AHMADINEJAD: The issues which are of interest to us are the international issues and how to manage them. I gave some recommendations to President Bush in my personal letter, and I hope that he will take note of them. I would ask him, Are rationalism, spirituality and humanitarianism and logic--are they bad things for human beings? Why more conflict? Why should we go for hostilities? Why should we develop weapons of mass destruction? Everybody can love one another.

TIME: Do you feel any connection with President Bush, since he is also a religious man, a strong Christian?

AHMADINEJAD: I've heard about that. But there are many things which take place and are inconsistent with the teachings of Jesus Christ in this world.

TIME: Why do your supporters chant "Death to America"?

AHMADINEJAD: When they chanted that slogan, it means they hate aggression, and they hate bullying tactics, and they hate violations of the rights of nations and discrimination. I recommended to President Bush that he can change his behavior, then everything will change.

TIME: How do you think the American people feel when they hear Iranians shouting "Death to America" and the President of Iran does not criticize this?

AHMADINEJAD: The nations do not have any problems. What is the role of the American people in what is happening in the world? The people of the United States are also seeking peace, love, friendship and justice.

TIME: But if Americans shouted "Death to Iran," Iranians would feel insulted.

AHMADINEJAD: If the government of Iran acted in such a way, then [the American people] have this right.

TIME: Are America and Iran fated to be in conflict?

AHMADINEJAD: No, this is not fate. And this can come to an end. I have said we can run the world through logic. We are living our own lives. The U.S. government should not interfere in our affairs. They should live their own lives. They should serve the interests of the U.S. people. They should not interfere in our affairs. Then there would be no problems with that.

TIME: Are you ready to open direct negotiations with the U.S.?

AHMADINEJAD: We have given them a letter, a lengthy letter. We say the U.S. Administration should change its behavior, and then everything will be solved. It was the U.S. which broke up relations with us. We didn't take that position. And then they should make up for it.

TIME: Does Iran have the right to nuclear weapons?

AHMADINEJAD: We are opposed to nuclear weapons. We think it has been developed just to kill human beings. It is not in the service of human beings. For that reason, last year in my address to the U.N. General Assembly, I suggested that a committee should be set up in order to disarm all the countries that possess nuclear weapons.

TIME: But you were attacked with weapons of mass destruction by Iraq. You say the U.S. threatens you, and you are surrounded by countries that have nuclear weapons.

AHMADINEJAD: Today nuclear weapons are a blunt instrument. We don't have any problems with Pakistan or India. Actually they are friends of Iran, and throughout history they have been friends. The Zionist regime is not capable of using nuclear weapons. Problems cannot be solved through bombs. Bombs are of little use today. We need logic.

TIME: Why won't you agree to suspend enrichment of uranium as a confidence-building measure?

AHMADINEJAD: Whose confidence should be built?

TIME: The world's?

AHMADINEJAD: The world? The world? Who is the world? The United States? The U.S. Administration is not the entire world. Europe does not account for one-twentieth of the entire world. When I studied the provisions of the NPT [Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty], nowhere did I see it written that in order to produce nuclear fuel, we need to win the support or the confidence of the United States and some European countries.

TIME: How far will Iran go in defying Western demands? Will you wait until you are attacked and your nuclear installations are destroyed?

AHMADINEJAD: Do you think the U.S. Administration would be so irrational?

TIME: You tell me.

AHMADINEJAD: I hope that is not the case. I said that we need logic. We do not need attacks.

TIME: Are you worried about an attack?


TIME: You have been quoted as saying Israel should be wiped off the map. Was that merely rhetoric, or do you mean it?

AHMADINEJAD: People in the world are free to think the way they wish. We do not insist they should change their views. Our position toward the Palestinian question is clear: we say that a nation has been displaced from its own land. Palestinian people are killed in their own lands, by those who are not original inhabitants, and they have come from far areas of the world and have occupied those homes. Our suggestion is that the 5 million Palestinian refugees come back to their homes, and then the entire people on those lands hold a referendum and choose their own system of government. This is a democratic and popular way. Do you have any other suggestions?

TIME: Do you believe the Jewish people have a right to their own state?

AHMADINEJAD: We do not oppose it. In any country in which the people are ready to vote for the Jews to come to power, it is up to them. In our country, the Jews are living and they are represented in our Parliament. But Zionists are different from Jews.

TIME: Have you considered that Iranian Jews are hurt by your comments denying that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust?

AHMADINEJAD: As to the Holocaust, I just raised a few questions. And I didn't receive any answers to my questions. I said that during World War II, around 60 million were killed. All were human beings and had their own dignities. Why only 6 million? And if it had happened, then it is a historical event. Then why do they not allow independent research?

TIME: But massive research has been done.

AHMADINEJAD: They put in prison those who try to do research. About historical events everybody should be free to conduct research. Let's assume that it has taken place. Where did it take place? So what is the fault of the Palestinian people? These questions are quite clear. We are waiting for answers.

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Zionism Nightmare

The Pope must die, says Muslim


A notorious Muslim extremist told a demonstration in London yesterday that the Pope should face execution.

Anjem Choudary said those who insulted Islam would be "subject to capital punishment".

His remarks came during a protest outside Westminster Cathedral on a day that worldwide anger among Muslim hardliners towards Pope Benedict XVI appeared to deepen.

The pontiff yesterday apologised for causing offence during a lecture last week. Quoting a medieval emperor, his words were taken to mean that he called the prophet Mohammed "evil and inhuman".

He insisted he was "deeply sorry" but his humbling words did not go far enough to silence all his critics or quell the violence and anger he has triggered.

A nun was shot dead in Somalia by Islamic gunmen and churches came under attack in Palestine.
Choudary's appeal for the death of Pope Benedict was the second time he has been linked with apparent incitement to murder within a year.

The 39-year-old lawyer organised demonstrations against the publication of cartoons of Mohammed in February in Denmark. Protesters carried placards declaring "Behead Those Who Insult Islam".

Yesterday he said: "The Muslims take their religion very seriously and non-Muslims must appreciate that and that must also understand that there may be serious consequences if you insult Islam and the prophet.

"Whoever insults the message of Mohammed is going to be subject to capital punishment."

He added: "I am here have a peaceful demonstration. But there may be people in Italy or other parts of the world who would carry that out.

"I think that warning needs to be understood by all people who want to insult Islam and want to insult the prophet of Islam."

As well as placards attacking the Pope such as "Pope go to Hell", his followers outside the country's principal Roman Catholic church also waved slogans aimed at offending the sentiments of Christians such as "Jesus is the slave of Allah".

A Scotland Yard spokesman said of his comments: "We have had no complaints about this. There were around 100 people at the demonstration. It passed off peacefully and there were no arrests."

Larger Islamic groups in Britain said they accepted the Pope's apology. Inayat Bunglawala of the Muslim Council of Britain said: "The Vatican has moved quickly to deal with the hurt and we accept that.

"It was something that should never have happened - words of that nature were always likely to cause dismay - and we believe some of the Pope's advisers may have been at fault over his speech."

Yesterday's sermon by the Pope was the first time a pontiff has publicly said sorry.

He said he regretted Muslim reaction to his speech and stressed that the quotation did not reflect his personal opinion. Anger and violence - including attacks on seven churches in the West Bank and Gaza - have characterised one of the biggest international crises involving the Vatican in decades.

The Pope appeared determined to move quickly to try to defuse the anger but the fury of many radicals was unabated last night and there were fears for his safety.

Iraqi jihadists issued a video of a scimitar slicing a cross in two, intercut with images of Benedict and the burning Twin Towers.

The website run in the name of the Mujahedeen Army, used by extremist groups who have claimed responsibility for attacks in Iraq, was addressed to "You dog of Rome" and threatened to "shake your thrones and break your crosses in your home".

In a reference to suicide bombing, it said: "We swear to God to send you people who adore death as much as you adore life."

The threat of violence against Catholics and Christians was emphasised by the murder of an Italian nun in Somalia. Sister Leonella, 66, was shot as she walked from the children's hospital where she worked to her house in Mogadishu, a city recently taken over by an Islamic government.

A Vatican spokesman said he feared her death was "the fruit of violence and irrationality arising from the current situation".

Father Frederico Lombardi said he hoped it was an isolated event. "We are worried about this wave of hatred and hope it doesn't have any grave consequences for the Church around the world," he said.

The murder suggested that extremists are determined to use the Pope's embarrassment as an excuse for violence.

In Turkey, state minister Mehmet Aydin said the Pope seemed to be saying he was sorry for the outrage but not necessarily for his remarks.

"You either have to say this, 'I'm sorry' in a proper way or not say it at all," he told reporters in Istanbul.

There were fierce denunciations of the pontiff from Iran. The English-language Tehran Times called his lecture in Bavaria last week "code words for a new crusade".

The powerful cleric Ahmad Khatami told theological students in the holy city of Qom: The "Pope should fall on his knees in front of a senior Muslim cleric and try to understand Islam."

But the Turkish government signalled it was content and that the Pope's visit to the country in November can go ahead.

In his sermon yesterday at the Papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo outside Rome, Benedict spoke amid strengthened security.

He said: "I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address at the University of Regensburg, which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims.

"These in fact were a quotation from a medieval text, which do not in any way express my personal thought. I hope this serves to appease hearts and to clarify the true meaning of my address."

No other Pope is thought to have made such an apology.

Comment: Well, this is one way to start a much bigger war between Muslims and Christians. The question is: who benefits??

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By Khalid Amayreh
Sunday, September 17, 2006

Yes, we both have our misunderstandings and misgivings and peculiar beliefs and convictions, both as individuals and as religious and cultural communities. However, it would be unforgivable if we allowed these differences to marginalize let alone neutralize the fundamental common grounds between our religions, commonly called the Abrahamic religions.
There is always a huge reservoir of quotes, positive and negative, about religions and religious symbols. A Muslim or non-Muslim could easily amass a preponderance of quotes and texts from the Old Testament, for example, to prove that the Bible advocates murder.

In truth, the Prophet of Islam, Muahmmed (Peace be on him), never ever really called for spreading religion with the sword. The Quran states in Surat (chapter) al-Nahl, v. 134, "Invite to the path of thy Lord with wisdom and good advice, and argue with them kindly, for Thy Lord is well aware of those who go astray and He is aware of those who follow true guidance."

Indeed, the very next verse states that "if thou should punish (aggressors) punish only in proportion to the aggression inflicted upon you, but if ye be patient, it will be better for the patient."

Let us take Indonesia , the largest Muslim country in terms of population size, as an example. Historically, it is well known that no Muslim armies had ever set foot on the huge archipelago. Yet all these millions chose to embrace the religion endeared to them by Arabian merchants and sailors who had exemplified to the natives the Islamic ideals of honesty, purity and faithfulness.

A few days ago, a Jewish lady, who had lost 8 relatives in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, appeared on Aljazeera TV, explaining why she decided to revert to Islam only a few months after the landmark tragedy. She simply said that "I found truth in Islam." The same can be said about the estimated 20,000 Americans who have embraced Islam after 9/11.

Besides, what modicum of objectivity and honesty can there be in the words of an emperor who had lost his throne and empire because of Islam.? What else would we expect from the mouth of that loser?

Furthermore, the Pope should have realized that he lives in a glass house. I want to remind him of the history of the Catholic Church upon the helm of which he now sits. It was the Church that burned scientists alive, it was the Church that invented the Indulgences and Simony systems, it was the Catholic world that invented the Inquisitions, the pogroms, and all other abominations associated with its dark practices against critics and opponents, including Christians who didn't extend fealty to Rome .

And the Crusades? And the Holocaust? Must we re-open these dark chapters again? Do we have to remind his holiness that in the past century alone, over a hundred million Christians were killed by other Christians in numerous wars, including two world wars? May we remind his holiness that he himself sixty years ago was a member of the Hitler Youth? And then how about the spread of Catholicism in South America ? Was it done through the example of platonic love and self-abnegation?"

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Israel cluster bomb use in Lebanon "outrageous": U.N.


Israel dropped at least 350,000 cluster bomblets on south Lebanon in its war with Hizbollah guerrillas, mostly when the conflict was all but over, leaving a deadly legacy for civilians, a U.N. official said on Tuesday.

"The outrageous fact is that nearly all of these munitions were fired in the last three to four days of the war," David Shearer, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator in Lebanon, told a news conference in Beirut.

"Outrageous because by that stage the conflict had been largely resolved in the form of (U.N. Security Council) Resolution 1701," he said.

The resolution adopted on August 11 halted 34 days of fighting three days later. A truce has largely held since then.

Israel denies using cluster bombs illegally.

Shearer said Israel had not explained why it fired so many cluster bombs across the south as the war drew to a close. Nor had it responded to a U.N. request for the map coordinates of the cluster bomb strikes to hasten clearance efforts.

U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland has called Israel "completely immoral" for using them in residential areas.

The United Nations has so far identified 516 cluster bomb strike locations and says 30 to 40 percent of the bomblets they scattered over the south failed to explode at the time.

Only about 17,000 bomblets have been defused so far and the United Nations says it could take up to 30 months to destroy most of the unexploded sub-munitions. The British-based Land mine Action group has said clearing the south could take a decade.

Shearer said cluster bombs had killed or wounded an average of three people a day since the war ended, with 15 killed, including a child, and 83 wounded, of whom 23 are children.

Clearance efforts have so far focused on villages, schools and playing areas, but will soon shift toward farmland, which provides 70 percent of household incomes in the south, he said.

Comment: Every one of them "made in the USA".

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Israeli Military Intelligence knew about Hezbollah kidnap plans


Military Intelligence had clear information about an impending kidnap attempt by Hezbollah shortly before the Lebanese group carried out its cross-border raid on July 12, according to an internal inquiry conducted by the Israel Defense Forces.

The information - which could, if properly handled, have prevented the kidnapping of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser - was not analyzed and passed on to the troops in time, the report indicated.

Comment: Please note that it was the IDF that crossed into Lebanon, rather than Hizb'allah crossing into Israel as reported by most mainstream sources.

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Deadly harvest: The Lebanese fields sown with cluster bombs

By Patrick Cockburn in Nabatiyeh
Published: 18 September 2006

The war in Lebanon has not ended. Every day, some of the million bomblets which were fired by Israeli artillery during the last three days of the conflict kill four people in southern Lebanon and wound many more.

The casualty figures will rise sharply in the next month as villagers begin the harvest, picking olives from trees whose leaves and branches hide bombs that explode at the smallest movement. Lebanon's farmers are caught in a deadly dilemma: to risk the harvest, or to leave the produce on which they depend to rot in the fields.
In a coma in a hospital bed in Nabatiyeh lies Hussein Ali Ahmad, a 70-year-old man from the village of Yohmor. He was pruning an orange tree outside his house last week when he dislodged a bomblet; it exploded, sending pieces of shrapnel into his brain, lungs and kidneys. "I know he can hear me because he squeezes my hand when I talk to him," said his daughter, Suwad, as she sat beside her father's bed in the hospital.

At least 83 people have been killed by cluster munitions since the ceasefire, according to independent monitors.

Some Israeli officers are protesting at the use of cluster bombs, each containing 644 small but lethal bomblets, against civilian targets in Lebanon. A commander in the MLRS (multiple launch rocket systems) unit told the Israeli daily Haaretz that the army had fired 1,800 cluster rockets, spraying 1.2 million bomblets over houses and fields. "In Lebanon, we covered entire villages with cluster bombs," he said. "What we did there was crazy and monstrous." What makes the cluster bombs so dangerous is that 30 per cent of the bomblets do not detonate on impact. They can lie for years - often difficult to see because of their small size, on roofs, in gardens, in trees, beside roads or in rubbish - waiting to explode when disturbed.

In Nabatiyeh, the modern 100-bed government hospital has received 19 victims of cluster bombs since the end of the war. As we arrived, a new patient, Ahmad Sabah, a laboratory technician at the hospital, was being rushed into the emergency room. A burly man of 45, he was unconscious on a stretcher. Earlier in the morning, he had gone up to the flat roof of his house to check the water tank. While there, he must have touched a pile of logs he was keeping for winter fires. Unknown to him, a bomblet had fallen into the woodpile a month earlier. The logs shielded him from the full force of the blast, but when we saw him, doctors were still trying to find out the extent of his injuries.

"For us, the war is still going on, though there was a cease-fire on 14 August," said Dr Hassan Wazni, the director of the hospital. "If the cluster bombs had all exploded at the time they landed, it would not be so bad, but they are still killing and maiming people."

The bomblets may be small, but they explode with devastating force. On the morning of the ceasefire, Hadi Hatab, an 11-year old boy, was brought dying to the hospital. "He must have been holding the bomb close to him," Dr Wazni said. "It took off his hands and legs and the lower part of his body."We went to Yohmor to find where Hussein Ali Ahmad had received his terrible wounds while pruning his orange tree. The village is at the end of a broken road, six miles south of Nabatiyeh, and is overlooked by the ruins of Beaufort Castle, a crusader fortress on a ridge above the deep valley along which the Litani river runs.

Israeli bombs and shells have turned about a third of the houses in Yohmor into concrete sandwiches, one floor falling on top of another under the impact of explosions. Some families camp in the ruins. Villagers said that they were most worried by the cluster bombs still infesting their gardens, roofs and fruit trees. In the village street, were the white vehicles of the Manchester-based Mines Advisory Group (MAG), whose teams are trying to clear the bomblets.

It is not an easy job. Whenever members of one of the MAG teams finds and removes a bomblet, they put a stick, painted red on top and then yellow, in the ground. There are so many of these sticks that it looks as if some sinister plant had taken root and is flourishing in the village.

"The cluster bombs all landed in the last days of the war," said Nuhar Hejazi, a surprisingly cheerful 65-year-old woman. "There were 35 on the roof of our house and 200 in our garden so we can't visit our olive trees." People in Yohmor depend on their olive trees and the harvest should begin now before the rains, but the trees are still full of bomblets. "My husband and I make 20 cans of oil a year which we need to sell," Mrs Hejazi says. "Now we don't know what to do." The sheer number of the bomblets makes it almost impossible to remove them all.

Frederic Gras, a de-mining expert formerly in the French navy, who is leading the MAG teams in Yohmor, says: "In the area north of the Litani river, you have three or four people being killed every day by cluster bombs. The Israeli army knows that 30 per cent of them do not explode at the time they are fired so they become anti-personnel mines."

Why did the Israeli army do it? The number of cluster bombs fired must have been greater than 1.2 million because, in addition to those fired in rockets, many more were fired in 155mm artillery shells. One Israeli gunner said he had been told to "flood" the area at which they were firing but was given no specific targets. M. Gras, who personally defuses 160 to 180 bomblets a day, says this is the first time he seen cluster bombs used against heavily populated villages.

An editorial in Haaretz said that the mass use of this weapon by the Israeli Defence Forces was a desperate last-minute attempt to stop Hizbollah's rocket fire into northern Israel. Whatever the reason for the bombardment, the villagers in south Lebanon will suffer death and injury from cluster bombs as they pick their olives and oranges for years to come.

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Palestinian officials allege torture

Christian Science Monitor

Three ministers claim Israel used a banned method of interrogation on them known as the shabah.

RAMALLAH, WEST BANK - A government minister in the Palestinian Authority, who was arrested and held by Israeli authorities for more than six weeks this summer, says that during his interrogation he was tied for hours in a painful position known as the shabah. The technique, which Israeli security officials had argued was an effective way to put pressure on a suspect, was banned by Israel's Supreme Court in 1999.
An East Jerusalem lawyer says that two other top-level officials in the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, who were arrested in the aftermath of the June 25 kidnapping by Hamas militants of an Israeli army corporal, have been subjected to the same treatment.

"For five, six, seven hours, they would take me and tie my hands behind my back like this, and with my feet up, in the shabah," says Minister of Labor Mohammed Barghouthi, recalling his interrogation in an interview in his office.

"To go from the minister's office to a shabah seat, it was quite a shock," says Barghouthi, who is not a Hamas member and says he was offered the ministry appointment primarily for his management experience: He founded a successful advertising firm and has been a school superintendent. "It caused a lot of pain in my neck and back, but the psychological pain is much worse."

The General Security Service (GSS), also known as the Shin Bet, responded by e-mail that "all the interrogations of the ISA (Israeli Security Agency) [including Barghouti's] are executed according to the laws of the Supreme Court of Israel."

In 1999, a nine-judge panel of the Supreme Court unanimously outlawed methods of physical force that were routinely used by Shin Bet. Techniques banned in the decision included holding and tying the prisoner in painful positions, violent shaking, sleep deprivation, covering the head with a sack, and playing loud music.

Senior officials in Israel's security establishment opposed the decision because, they said, it could weaken investigative powers by disallowing techniques that might be instrumental in getting suspects to confess. Exceptions may be made, the court decided, if someone is suspected of having information about an imminent terrorist attack.

"But none of these men is considered a ticking bomb," Eyal Hareuveni, spokesman for the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, says of the Palestinian cabinet members and members of parliament who were arrested. "The Supreme Court said that in cases of a 'ticking bomb,' investigators can use methods of interrogation that we interpret as torture. The number of complaints over the use of this decreased since 1999, but we still get dozens of complaints every year."

Jessica Montell, the executive director of Btselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, says the Supreme Court decision made a significant impact, but that it is clear the method is still used.

"Since 1999, the numbers of people subjected to physical force have gone way down, but there are enough cases to be worrying," she says. "Before 1999, it was just an assembly line of torture, some lighter, some more serious. Now the people who are being subjected to torture or to other physical abuse are people who have information that the GSS wants access to. It doesn't justify it, but it's much more focused."

It isn't clear what kind of information investigators expected to get from Barghouthi. "All the questions were about my role as a minister, how I became a minister," he says.

Barghouthi says he was never beaten, but on the day of his arrest he was shackled, blindfolded, and had his cellphone confiscated. He says that the incarceration included 35 days in a windowless, solitary cell in Jerusalem's Russian Compound. "Night and day, I never knew what time it was," he says. "I never saw my face. I never saw the sun. I had no change of clothes."

He says interrogators threatened to arrest his wife or his father if he didn't cooperate. By the time of his release, he says he had lost 26 pounds.

Barghouthi and Fadi Kawasmi, the lawyer, say two other officials were subjected to similar treatment in interrogation: Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Khaled Abu Arafe and Deputy Prime Minister Nasser ed-Din es-Shah. Mr. Kawasmi, who is Mr. Abu Arafe's attorney, says his client and Dr. Shah told him of the treatment during visits he made to them while incarcerated.

One of the arguments Kawasmi used to secure their release was that Israel had not acted until now as if being a member of Hamas's Change and Reform Party was illegal. Israel, he points out, allowed the Palestinian elections to take place in January and for the Hamas-affiliated candidates to run in East Jerusalem, which has officially been annexed to Israel.

"You let them participate," Kawasmi says. "You can't come and arrest them now and accuse them of being members of a parliament chosen by an election in which you allowed them to run."

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Cancer patients in the Gaza Strip unable to reach Israeli hospitals for treatment

Monday, 18 September 2006

A report issued by the Palestinian Ministry of Health revealed that Israeli authorities deliberately prevent the transport of cancer patients from the Gaza Strip to Israeli hospitals for treatment. The Palestinians must cross the Erez Checkpoint in the northern Gaza Strip's Beit Hanoun.

The Department of Ambulances and Emergency for Gaza Strip hospitals reported that "occupation authorities refused to allow access of cancer patients from the Gaza Strip into Israeli hospitals to receive the necessary treatment."

A 50% decline has been seen in cancer patients allowed to pass for chemotherapy and other treatments unavailable in the Gaza Strip due to closures.

The Ministry of Health reported, "Twenty percent of the cancer patients in the Gaza Strip, including women and children, were receiving daily treatment in Israeli hospitals but but now only half of them are able to reach these hospitals.

The Erez Crossing has been closed since 25 June when an Israeli soldier was captured while invading the southern Gaza Strip.

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Muslim group cites bias incidents

Mon Sep 18, 2006

WASHINGTON - Bias incidents against Muslims rose nearly one-third last year to a 12-year high, fueled by growing rhetoric against the group, a national Islamic civil rights group said Monday.

Civil rights complaints made by Muslims - which include harassment, violence and discrimination - increased 29.6 percent to 1,972, according to the study by the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Hate crimes rose 8.6 percent to 153.

The group's legal director Arsalan Iftikhar, blamed the jump on "anti-Muslim feeling and the resulting acts of bias is the growth in Islamophobic rhetoric that has flooded the Internet and talk radio" in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Nationwide, nine states and Washington, D.C., accounted for nearly 79 percent of all bias incidents reported to the group for 2005.

California was first at 19 percent, followed by Illinois (13 percent), New York (9 percent), Texas (8 percent), Virginia (7 percent), Florida (6 percent), Washington, D.C. (5 percent), and New Jersey, Maryland and Ohio (4 percent each).

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"The European people should stand with the Palestinians"

Interview with Dr. Musa Abu Marzook, Deputy Chairman of Hamas Political Office
Tuesday, 29 August 2006

Question: Currently, there are talks between Hamas and Fatah in order to build a common government. Do you believe that it will be possible to build this government and what is its aim?

Dr. Marzook: Yes, we believe in the common government and this was our policy right from the beginning. One of our aims before the last elections was to share responsbilities with Fatah, and in general to have a shared government between all Palestinian groups. We have a lot of problems and we have to carry responsibility for them together with the others. After Abu Mazen assigned Mr. Haniyeh to be Prime Minister and to establish a new government, we opened discussions with all of the groups to form the Palestinian government. They refused because there is a lot of pressure coming from the US and others not to join the Hamas government. After a few months, they expected the government of Hamas to fail. This was the main reason to refuse being in an aligned government. But the Palestinian people stood with Hamas and supported its government. Now we opened again discussions with Fatah and the others. I guess that now we will reach an agreement between Hamas and Fatah to establish an aligned government. But we said yesterday officially that Abu Mazen should ask the Israelis to release the Members of Parliament and other Hamas members who were kidnapped from the Westbank before we start to discuss about the government. We have opened discussions with the other groups, but at the same time we have to put pressure on the Israeli government to release the Palestinian members of Parliament and government who have been arrested.
Question: Do you believe that the government will be formed?

Dr. Marzook: I think the government will be formed, but currently there are some difficulties. Eight ministers and 21 Members of Parliament are in prison. Yesterday, the deputy prime minister was arrested. Still, I hope that we will soon be able to form the government.

Question: Some people say that the price to form the government is to accept Israel as a state. Is this true?

Dr. Marzook: No, there is a full agreement between Hamas and Fatah and in this agreement we did not talk about this issue. To recognize Israel is not a condition to form this government and it is not on our Agenda as Hamas.

Question: It is obvious that Hamas has won the elections because it is the only political force that openly stated that it would carry on with the Intifada. In which form the resistance struggle could be carried on?

Dr. Marzook: It is unusual to have a government under conditions of occupation. The government carries all the responsibilites while the occupation has the entire authority. The government can never work without the permission of the occupying force. At the same time, in this situation we have to have resistance. Without resistance, the occupation will last for a long time or forever. When we took over the government, we said that at the same time we will continue resistance. This is our project, our agenda. Under any circumstances, we will not lift the resistance struggle against the occuption.

Question: The Israeli aggression against Lebanon failed this time. It turned out to be a victory for the Lebanese resistance, especially Hisbollah. Does this influence your resistance struggle?

Dr. Marzook: It is a victory for our resistance, because the victory that was gained by Hisbollah is a victory for all the resistance struggles in the area. It is a victory for Hamas resistance, for Iraqi resistance, for anyone who is against aggression, against the occupation and in favor of freedom. After the victory of Hisbollah, nobody thinks that Israel is still a big country in the Middle East. The US can't say anymore that there is a new Middle East whose head would be Israel. After the victory of Hisbollah, who are a small party, Israel can't claim anymore to be a super-power in the Middle East.

Question: Many people in Europe accuse Hamas to be against Jews and to plan to kick them out of Palestine. What is your position on Jewish people living in the historic territory of Palestine?

Dr. Marzook: We are not against Jews. In Islam, if I refuse to believe in the Jews' prophets, I am not a Muslim. Muslims have to recognize all Jewish prophets, while on the other hand, the Jews do not recognize our prophet. Secondly, the Jews lived with us hundreds of years without any problems. They lived in Yemen, Morocco, Tunisia, Iraq, Egypt and Syria without any problems. There were no massacres. But if you look to Europe's history, the situation changes. They were many massacres. Many of the Jews who used to live in Arab countries, had come there fleeing the massacres in Europe. We as Muslims cannot harm any other people who believe in other religions. Christians and Jews lived with us without many problems, also in Palestine and Jerusalem. The problems started with the massive Jewish immigration to Palestine, when Jews started kicking Palestinians out of their country. That is the reason why we fight Israel. We haven't any problems with Jews, we do have problems with those people who pushed Palestinians out of our country. We are looking for justice. If Christians or even Muslims did they same thing, we would fight them as well because we are looking for justice.

Question: In Europe, many people fear Hamas and other parties of political Islam because they believe that the model of society Hamas wants to implement is that of an Islamic state. Could you briefly explain to us what kind of society you are aiming at?

Dr. Marzook: First of all, Hamas is now striving to remove the occupation and to establish a Palestinian state that is governed by the Palestinians. We are in the government right now and we are following the Palestinian constitution. Anyway, there is a lot of propaganda against the Islamic state. Sometimes out of ideological standpoints, sometimes because of misinformation or misunderstandings. I believe that the Islamic state means more justice, more freedom and more democracy than in any Arab state right now. Many people think that an Islamic state would be like Iran, but this is not exactly the model. In any case, we are striving for an independent country, governed by the Palestinian people and they have the right to choose any constitution they wish after the liberation.

Question: What is your message to the European people?

Dr. Marzook: They should look at the Palestinian dilemma. There is a common language between us, the language of justice and freedom. We have the right to establish our country, to establish an independent state and we are asking the European people to correct the historical mistake they committed when they helped the Israelis without looking at the Palestinan rights. The European people should stand right now with the Palestinian people.

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Dutch company involved in construction of the Separation Wall

The Electronic Intifada
18 September 2006

Screen Image: Netwerk

Research undertaken by United Civilians for Peace, a Dutch NGO-platform dedicated to promoting justice and peace in Palestine and Israel, has revealed that Dutch company Lima Holding BV, in Spijkenisse, is involved in the construction of the illegal Wall that Israel is building in the occupied West Bank.

Lima Holding, which operates in Israel under the Riwal brand name, provides mobile cranes for putting into place the up to 9-metres high concrete elements that make up the Wall. The exact scope and nature of the company's involvement in the construction of the Wall is yet to be determined.

Riwal is the main sponsor of soccer club FC Dordrecht.

The company's role in the construction of the Wall became known after a report by Dutch television's Netwerk, which showed one of Lima Holding's cranes building the Wall and carrying the Riwal logo. A Dutch journalist of RTV Rijnmond recognised the Riwal brand name as belonging to a company in Dordrecht, a city near Rotterdam. In Dordrecht, Riwal is the main sponsor of soccer club FC Dordrecht.

The journalist of RTV Rijnmond did an item about the issue, for which he approached the Dutch company. In a statement, the company admitted its involvement in the building of the Wall and argued that the related activities were accepted and executed purely as a "commercial order".

Following the item of RTV Rijnmond, Bert Koenders, foreign affairs spokesperson of the Dutch Labour party, asked Ben Bot, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, parliamentary questions. In one of his answers, Bot claimed that Lima Holding was in fact an Israeli company and that the Dutch Riwal company was not directly involved in the construction of the Wall. Remarkably, the Minister based this answer exclusively on information provided by the Dutch company.

Dick Schalekamp, Jaap Schalekamp en Doron Livnat, the owners of Riwal.

To clarify the ownership of the company participating in the construction of the Wall, United Civilians for Peace approached research firm Profundo. With little effort, Profundo proved that Lima Holding is 100 per cent owned by two Dutch holding companies: D.Schalekamp Beheer BV and MDN Holding BV. Dick Schalekamp owns D.Schalekamp Beheer, while Doron Livnat, an Israeli businessman living in the Netherlands, owns MDN Holding.

Moreover, Schalekamp and Livnat are two of the three owners of Schalekamp Beheer BV, the holding company that runs the Riwal Group's activities in countries such as the Netherlands, Denmark and France.

On 16 September, the research by United Civilians for Peace was made public through an article in Het Financieele Dagblad (the Dutch version of The Financial Times). Bert Koenders announced he would seek further clarification from the Dutch government.

Martin Siepermann is the lobby & campaign coordinator of United Civilians for Peace.

Related Links

  • United Civilians for Peace

  • Dutch television's Netwerk

  • Rivals of Riwal suspected of threats, theft, burning company's cranes, Guy Leshem, Ha'aretz

  • Profundo Research on Riwal (PDF)

  • Nederlands bedrijf bouwt aan muur in Israël, Financieele Dagblad (16 September 2006)

  • Parliamentary Questions (PDF) Bert Koenders (18 September 2006)

  • Riwal

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    One Nation, Under Bush

    Was 9/11 an inside job?

    Kim Bredesen
    Le Monde diplomatique (Norway)

    More and more people in the US are convinced that the American authorities are concealing their involvement in the 9/11 tragedy. Statements from witnesses, marked confidential for several years, now show that controlled demolition may have taken place. The US government had long anticipated such an incident - as the Republican document from 2000 Rebuilding America's defences indicates. The 9/11Truth organisation believes that the US probably orchestrated an incident of this type in order to justify the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the curtailing of civil liberties within the US through the introduction of the Patriot Act. It has now emerged that in 1962 the America's most senior military leader devised a plan for a premeditated attack on Americans, which would have involved shooting down a passenger plane, so that the blame could be cast on Cuba. So why should this be excluded today? Many also believe that Pakistani intelligence cooperated with the CIA and Al-Qaeda because it transferred significant sums of money to the hijacker Mohammed Atta in the days leading up to the 9/11. They even had Bin Laden under surveillance during the time of his treatment in a military hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan, in September 2001.
    Most of us would think it strange if the impact of a passenger plane wasn't sufficient to cause a skyscraper to collapse. So there were few who doubted what it was that hit the Twin Towers on the 11 September 2001 or the identities of the perpetrators. However, in the intervening years, several individuals and groups, both in North America and in Europe, began to doubt whether this necessarily constitutes accuracy. For them, a set of contradictory circumstances surrounding the attacks do not correspond with the explanations of the American authorities and the Congress-appointed 9/11 Commission.[1]

    A key reason for this doubt could be that there are witnesses of 9/11 who describe events that do not tally with events in the official story.[2] An example is provided by onlookers who heard and saw what they believed to be explosions around the Twin Towers before they were struck by the planes. Policemen thought it looked like "planned implosion".[3] Fireman Richard Banaciski reported that: "It seemed like on television when they blow up these buildings. It seemed like it was going all the way around like a belt, all these explosions." Assistant Fire Commissioner Stephen Gregory claimed: "I saw a flash flash flash [at] the lower level of the building. You know, like when they demolish a building."[4]

    Another controversial witness statement came from maintenance worker, William Rodriguez who was working in the North Tower on 9/11. In an interview with New York Magazine,[5] he claimed that he first heard a huge explosion when he was in one of the sub-basements of the skyscraper and witnessed the appearance of victims, the skin burnt off their arms by fires in the lift shaft. After the explosion in the sub-basement he heard another one from above. It was a Boeing 767. Williams was the last survivor to be rescued from the World Trade Center's Ground Zero. He was hailed as a hero and invited to visit George Bush and the White House. Later, when he attempted to publicise his story about the sub-basement explosion, it was rejected by the American authorities. He has now filed a lawsuit against these same authorities under the RICO Statute, a legal ruling originally designed to prosecute Mafia families.

    Besides witness statements describing a controlled demolition of the Twin Towers with explosives, critics of the Bush administration believe there are several sets of circumstances around 9/11 that give good reason to suspect the official story is incorrect. It is a fact that none of the four hijacked planes were intercepted by fighter planes. That this did not happen, combined with the fact that the majority of the air force was engaged in military exercises, has given weight to suspicion that the American air defence force gave the order to "stand down" so that the terrorist attacks could proceed unhindered. Another suspicious circumstance is that WTC 7 - also known as Building 7 - a 47-storey skyscraper, collapsed without having been hit by any of the planes. Conversely, the buildings that stood adjacent are still intact.

    When it comes to any forewarning of the attacks, claims that the National Security Agency (NSA) monitored fully translated conversations in the summer of 2001 - in real-time -between Mohammed Atta and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed have raised concern. In one of the conversations, Atta purportedly gave Mohammed the green light for the attacks; NSA therefore should have been forewarned.

    In relation to investigation that could have led to the apprehension of the hijackers, FBI agent Colleen Rowley claims that the FBI's directors intentionally obstructed her investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui - at the time he was attending flight school in Minneapolis. They did this despite having received warnings from French intelligence. Rowley believes that, had the FBI approved the investigation, they could have uncovered Moussaoui's plans as well as those of several other hijackers enrolled in flight schools.[6] That Pakistani intelligence (ISI) transferred significant sums of money to Mohammed Atta in the days leading up to 9/11 is, some believe, evidence of cooperation between the ISI, CIA, and Al-Qaida.[7]

    It may also seem suspicious that George Bush has maintained that American authorities have stepped down the hunt for Osama bin Laden, the main suspect behind September 11th. General Richard Myers also stated that the war in Afghanistan was not about finding bin Laden.[8] A former CIA agent, Gary Berntsen, has furthermore claimed that the Bush administration let bin Laden escape when he was cornered in a pocket of the Tora Bora mountains in Afghanistan in 2001.[9] It is also known that American intelligence were fully aware of bin Laden's whereabouts as early as July 2001 when he was treated for a kidney condition at an American hospital in Dubai, The United Arab Emirates.[10] A few months later, in September, he also received treatment in a military hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan, under the surveillance of Pakistani intelligence.[11]

    The existence of circumstances and witness accounts that contradict aspects of the official story has led some individuals and groups to search for alternative explanations for what happened on 9/11. A veritable jungle of theories about what really happened in the US five years ago has sprung up. The theories unfurl in several, interconnected directions. A comparison of different opinions is presented in the book The New Pearl Harbor - Disturbing Questions about the Bush-Administration and 9/11 (2004), by David Ray Griffin, Professor of Theology and the Claremont School of Theology in Claremont, California. A key premise he presents in the book is that the responsibility for the attacks of 9/11 can, to a large extent, be attributed to former members of the neo-conservative think tank Project for a New American Century (PNAC), who are now key players in the Bush administration. In the document "Rebuilding America's defences: strategies, forces and resources for a New American Century" (2000),[12] written by PNACs members, it is claimed that: "The process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, lacking a catastrophic and catalyzing event like a new Pearl Harbour".

    The title of Griffin's book refers to PNAC's statement the transformation of the American military necessitated "a new Pearl Harbour". Griffin looks at this quotation in the light of the legal principle of cui bono? and concludes that 9/11 was precisely the catalyst the Bush administration needed. For Griffin, it is therefore probable that the US orchestrated an incident of this type in order to justify the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the curtailment of civil liberties in the US through the introduction of the Patriot Act. That they have chosen to invade countries in the Middle East he regards as simply an extension of the cooperation the US already had with the power elite in Saudi Arabia, the Pakistani intelligence (ISI), the Taliban regime, and regimes in Central Asia. And for Griffin, the agenda in the Middle East and Central Asia is quite clear: it is about controlling both the production and transportation of oil via pipes and tankers. Griffin does not point to any specific figures responsible for arranging the 9/11 attacks. He states only that there are different opinions about this issue.

    For some, speculation about the identity of those responsible surrounds intelligence agencies such as the NSA, FBI, and CIA. Others believe it was the White House. A third group believe that is was individual figures like Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Jed Bush, George Tenet, and Donald Rumsfeld who were the real architects of the attacks. Alternatively, other possible combinations of perpetrators and organisations may have worked together. In his paper, "What is your 'HOP' level?"[13] Nicholas Levis categorises opinions on the attacks under four main headings:
    - The Official Story: That Osama bin Laden was responsible, that the planes were hijacked by nineteen Muslim fundamentalists and that the White House did not receive any warning.
    - Incompetence Theory: Accepts the official history but blames the White House, FBI, CIA, NSA and others for not following up the many warnings. This was the line taken, with a great deal of cover-up and spin, in the 9/11 Commission's report.
    - LIHOP ("Letting It Happen on Purpose"): There are a number of variations on this one. Is mainly about how factions within the American authorities and the private sector were aware of the hijackers' plans but did nothing to stop them, since 9/11 was in line with political objectives.
    - MIHOP ("Making It Happen on Purpose"): US authorities or private forces planned and carried out the attacks.

    For the sceptics, the common denominator is their belief that at least one of the elements of the official presentation of 9/11 is inaccurate. For those who subscribe to the radical MIHOP hypothesis, a key premise is that the Twin Towers - including Building 7 - collapsed as a result of controlled demolition with explosives: that it was an inside job. The technical/construction part of this claim has been directly refuted in a report of approximately 10 000 pages written by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), who claim that it was fuel from the passenger planes that disturbed the structure of the towers and that it was this that eventually caused them to collapse.[14] NIST is unable to offer a satisfactory explanation as to why the third building, WTC 7, collapsed without having been struck by a plane.[15] Steven E. Jones, professor of physics at Brigham Young University in Utah, rejects NIST's claims about the Twin Towers. He tells, for example, how eyewitnesses observed that steel from all three skyscrapers had melted (in some cases, the steel was found glowing three weeks after the attack) and was twisted in a way that can only have been caused by what he describes as pre-positioned "cutter charges". According to Jones, these charges consisted of thermate, HMX, or RDX, substances used in explosives used only in controlled demolitions. Another important point for Jones is that the fires in the buildings and the fuel from the passenger planes (the maximum temperature for airplane fuel is 1000 degrees Celsius) did not produce sufficient heat to melt the steel - which would require temperatures of between 1550-1990 degrees Celsius - within the one to one-and-a-half hours it took for the Twin Towers to collapse.[16] Jones's claims are supported by the data engineer Jim Hoffman. After video and photo analysis of the events, Hoffman concludes that all three buildings fell almost symmetrically, at close to freefall speed, and directly downwards onto their own foundations. According to Hoffman, the speed of the collapse, the pulverisation of the concrete to a "milky" powder, and the presence of horizontal dust clouds observed alongside WTC 7, are associated with the use of pre-positioned explosives in buildings.[17]

    Many no longer believe the official explanation, but are convinced that the Towers' collapse was an inside job - either that the authorities "let it happen" or "made it happen". Many who put their trust in other hypotheses have joined forces with the umbrella organisation 9/11Truth[18] - an ad hoc organisation formed to exist until the last unanswered question about 9/11 has been answered. 9/11Truth has brought together a cross-section of society; members with different political allegiances manage the same organisations and lobby groups. This cooperation is mainly concentrated on meetings, demonstrations, the production of documentary films, Internet forums, online publications, and conferences. In the UK, a local branch of 9/11Truth has been set up called JulySeventhTruth,[19] so-called because it seeks to piece together what happened during the terrorist attacks in London on the 7 July 2005.

    The media spokesman for NY9/11Truth, Les Jamieson, every Sunday helps to arrange demonstrations at Ground Zero or seminars in St. Mark's Church, made available by priest, Frank Morales. Jamieson talked to Le Monde diplomatique:

    LMd: Does 9/11 represent further justification for war?

    LJ: No. It has recently emerged that, here in the USA, the authorities planned a similarly staged operation, Operation Northwoods: A plan was devised in 1962 by the most senior-ranking military leader in the US. The plan was to arrange a terrorist attack inland, on the coast of Florida where Americans would be killed, a passenger plane shot down, a ship sunk -- and all the blame would be laid on the Cubans. So this is nothing new, it's been done before.

    LMd: How cynical can a government become?

    LJ: A lie precipitated the Vietnam War too - the events in the Tonkin Gulf. It was reported that Vietnamese torpedo boats had shot at American ships in the Tonkin Gulf. But these reports were fictitious. President Lyndon B. Johnson and foreign minister Robert McNamara exploited these reports to pass the Tonkin Gulf Resolution in Congress - which was really a declaration of war. 50 000 Americans ended up dead, hundreds of thousands tragically affected. The herbicide Agent Orange was used to poison farms and land use. This is what happens when governments and the power elite orchestrate wars. There really is a level of evil, a loathing of humanity. That's why Henry Kissinger said once about the war between Iraq and Iran: "I hope they kill each other," or: "Oil is much too important a commodity to be left in the hands of the Arabs."
    LMd: Is it similarly possible to suggest that there could have been a secret group connected to the government, a "state within a state", that planned and brought about September 11?

    LJ: Yes. One has to remember that there are private groups of agents, private armies that exist outside Congress' field of vision. They carry out covert operations deep inside the CIA, and have severed all contact with the American government, who for their part, have no knowledge about what is going on. This has been happening since the 1950s. When Dwight Eisenhower left his presidency he said that one should be vigilant over the overarching control of the military-industrial complex. To this day, we still have a shadow government, an invisible government and we believe this one works together with elements within the intelligence agencies MI5, MI6, and perhaps Mossad. MI5 and the CIA definitely work together in translating the agenda for the international power elite.

    LMd: Are you not afraid of being labelled a conspiracy theorist?

    LJ: The term "Conspiracy Theory" must also be understood as a strategy of the mass media and individuals within the power elite to sew seeds of doubt about this kind of information. The fact is that, on the contrary, there are a range of examples of real conspiracies by the authorities. For example, the Iran-Contras affair was a result of a huge conspiracy that enabled the sale of narcotics to buy weapons for the Contras. And we have the BCCI scandal in 1991 - a massive banking scandal. There's also the vote in Florida in 2000 and in Ohio in 2004. If one studies these things, mammoth conspiracies can be uncovered. What about all the lies that led to the invasion of Iraq? We were told that weapons of mass destruction definitely existed and that Saddam tried to buy "yellow cake" from Nigeria. It was all lies and deception. These kinds of events need a conspiracy! The American government's official version of what happened on 9/11 is a scandalous conspiracy theory; it's not to be believed! In our organisation we are detectives and investigators. We put together a theory and are actually extremely stringent in finding the best possible analysis.

    Jamieson is not the only one subscribing to such theories. The participation of many community groups and service personnel connected to 9/11Truth has generated a trail of research and articles. A group called "Scholars for 9/11Truth" describes itself as "...a non-partisan association of faculty, students, and scholars, in fields as diverse as history, science, military affairs, psychology, and philosophy, dedicated to exposing falsehoods and to revealing truths behind 9/11."[20] It was established by philosophy professor James H. Fetzer and professor of physics Steven E. Jones - the movement's foremost expert on the collapse of the Twin Towers. The latter's work will be published in September, a contribution to the anthology 9/11 & American Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out (eds. David Ray Griffin and Peter Dale Scott, 2006).

    Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed[21] wrote one of the first books published to question the official version of 9/11: The War on Freedom: How and Why America was Attacked, September 11th, 2001 (2002). It expresses profound criticism of American foreign policy, both leading up to and subsequent to 9/11. Paul Thompson, from Scholars for 9/11Truth, is the author of The Terror Timeline. A Comprehensive Chronicle of the Road to 9/11 and America's Response. This is a comprehensive collection of news articles about 9/11. Thompson works at the Centre for Cooperative Research. Another much-talked about member of Scholars for 9/11Truth is David Ray Griffin (see above). Griffin is also a dynamic force behind the organisation MUJCA-net - a discussion forum for Christians, Jews, Muslims and other believers who are sceptical of the official explanation for 9/11. The head of the organisation is the intellectual, doctor and imam Faiz Khan, who works at a Jewish hospital in New York. In the essay "The Paralysis of Discourse; The Incompetence of Academia, and The Need for an Accurate Diagnosis",[22] he argues that 9/11 precipitated a simplification of language and ideas about what it means to be Muslim and Arab - especially when Muslims the world over are to be held responsible for actions a small minority of terrorists have carried out. Khan believes the hijackers were most probably "fake" Muslims, i.e. that they were not Muslim in their beliefs in the way that American foreign policy is American. That the blame for the terrorist attacks is attributed to something as diffuse as a "military Islamic network", he believes, is tantamount to an abdication of responsibility by the US, since the latter worked in tandem with the ISI (Pakistani intelligence) and Saudi-Arabia to build those networks up.

    This article is made on the initiative of the Norwegian edition of Le Monde diplomatique only.

    Comment: The above article appeared in the Norwegian edition of Le Monde diplomatique in July 2006. When Réseau Voltaire asked permission from the French editors of Le Monde diplo to translate the article into French for their site, permission was refused.

    The translator of the article into French, Pétrus Lombard, wrote to the editors to ask why they did not publish the article. He got the following response from Maurice Lemoine, July 31(our translation from the French):

    "According to the contracts, the foreign editions of Le Monde Diplomatique translate artciles from the French edition, but they can insert between 15% and 20% of original articles, generally on their region of origin or of a cultural nature. In this case, the Norwegian edition went outside this framework without our consent.

    "The only question to pose is the following: Does this article, published without our support, have the qualities that we judge as essential: rigour, investigation, the verification of the facts?

    "We estimate no. It is therefore out of the question that Le Monde diplomatique give it credibility (lui serve de caution). Would you accept that this text, of disputable seriousness, be distributed under your name, thereby engaging you? Our positions on Israeli and American policies are sufficiently clear that we not feel the need to lose ourselves by outbidding out rivals."

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    Film Shows Youths Training to Fight for Jesus

    Sept. 17, 2006
    ABC News

    New Documentary Features Controversial Bible Camp, Evangelical Movement

    An in-your-face documentary out this weekend is raising eyebrows, raising hackles and raising questions about evangelizing to young people.

    Speaking in tongues, weeping for salvation, praying for an end to abortion and worshipping a picture of President Bush - these are some of the activities at Pastor Becky Fischer's Bible camp in North Dakota, "Kids on Fire," subject of the provocative new documentary, "Jesus Camp."

    "I want to see them as radically laying down their lives for the gospel as they are in Palestine, Pakistan and all those different places," Fisher said. "Because, excuse me, we have the truth."

    "A lot of people die for God," one camper said, "and they're not afraid."

    "We're kinda being trained to be warriors," said another, "only in a funner way."

    The film has caused a split among evangelicals. Some say it's designed to demonize. Others have embraced it, including Fischer, who's helping promote the film.

    "I never felt at any point that I was exploited," Fischer said.

    "I think there is a push right now in a lot of evangelical churches to definitely keep the teenagers and keep the children in the faith," said Heidi Ewing, co-director of "Jesus Camp." "And this is one version of that attempt."

    A Growing Movement

    This camp is, by many accounts, a small - and perhaps extreme - slice of what some say is a growing, intensifying evangelical youth movement.

    Over the past decade and a half, enrollment at Christian colleges is up 70 percent. Sales of Christian music are up 300 percent. Tens of thousands of youth pastors have been trained.

    Young people are targeted through Christian music festivals, skateboard competitions and rodeos.

    "This is an enormous youth movement," said Lauren Sandler, a secular, liberal feminist from New York City who spent months among the believers researching her new book, "Righteous."

    Sandler says the evangelical youth movement will have a negative impact on the country's future, because even the most moderate young evangelicals are inflexible on issues such as abortion and gay marriage.

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    One Million Ways To Die

    Wired News

    Sept. 11, 2001 was undoubtedly one of the darkest and deadliest days in United States history. Al-Qaida's attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center killed 2,976 people, and the country recoiled in horror as we witnessed the death of thousands of Americans when the towers fell.

    In the five years since that shattering day, the government has spent billions on anti-terrorism projects, instituted a color-coded alert system that has never been green, banned fingernail clippers and water bottles from airplanes, launched a pre-emptive war on false pretenses, and advised citizens to stock up on duct tape and plastic sheeting.

    But despite the never-ending litany of warnings and endless stories of half-baked plots foiled, how likely are you, statistically speaking, to die from a terrorist attack?

    Comparing official mortality data with the number of Americans who have been killed inside the United States by terrorism since the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma reveals that scores of threats are far more likely to kill an American than any terrorist -- at least, statistically speaking.

    In fact, your appendix is more likely to kill you than al-Qaida is.

    With that in mind, here's a handy ranking of the various dangers confronting America, based on the number of mortalities in each category throughout the 11-year period spanning 1995 through 2005 (extrapolated from best available data).

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    Bush arrives at UN with policy problems

    Associated Press
    September 18, 2006

    NEW YORK - President Bush faced disagreement Monday over how to confront Iran's nuclear ambitions and skepticism about his approach to Iraq and the Middle East as world leaders gathered for the U.N. General Assembly meeting.

    Still, Bush was upbeat, focusing on his push for democratic change and first lady Laura Bush's call for governments to embrace literacy programs to improve lives.

    "We don't believe freedom belongs only to the United States of America," Bush said at the White House Conference on Global Literacy hosted by his wife. "We believe that liberty is universal in its applications. We also believe strongly that as the world becomes more free, we'll see peace."

    Bush arrived in New York to attend the 61st session of the world body with policy problems at home and abroad that have narrowed his room to maneuver on the international stage.
    The U.S.-led war in Iraq is in its fourth year with no end to bloody sectarian violence in sight. International support is dwindling for imposing sanctions against Iran for defying U.N. demands that it halt certain nuclear work. The repressive Taliban regime toppled in Afghanistan is showing new signs of resilience. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues and Lebanon's government has, so far, proved too weak to rein in the Islamic militant group Hezbollah.

    At home, Bush's approval rating, while experiencing a recent uptick, stands at just 40 percent. Americans are growing weary of the war. The White House is in a showdown with Senate Republicans over the interrogation and trying of terror suspects. And elections that will determine which party controls Congress are seven weeks away.

    The president's so-called freedom agenda is the theme of his speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday. He will focus on democratic reforms in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East. He'll seek to quell skepticism about U.S. motives in the Middle East by working to avoid the impression that he wants to see a U.S.-style democracy imposed on any nation.

    In his speech, Bush is expected to say that while military and law enforcement actions are needed to curb terrorism, the ultimate weapons are freedom and opportunity. He is to note two type of states in the Middle East - those with an absence of freedom and weak ones with fragile democracies, such as Iraq and Lebanon.

    "I think the president sees this ... as a struggle between the forces of extremism and the forces of moderation in the Middle East," National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said, previewing Bush's speech. "And it's really a crucial time."

    The president also is expected to firmly denounce Iran and
    Syria, two nations that Bush says are working to thwart freedom in the region. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also planned to be at the United Nations, but Bush had no intention of talking with him.

    On Tuesday, Bush will meet with French President Jacques Chirac, who is part of the coalition of nations working with the U.S. to try to stop Iran from doing work that could lead to a nuclear weapon.

    Chirac, who is balking at the U.S. drive to sanction Iran for defying U.N. sanctions, proposed a compromise Monday to kickstart talks between Iran and the international community. Chirac suggested that the threat of U.N. sanctions be suspended if Tehran puts a freeze on its uranium enrichment work.

    "I am not pessimistic," Chirac said. "I think that Iran is a great nation, an old culture, an old civilization, and that we can find solutions through dialogue."

    On Tuesday, Bush also meets with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Annan has been critical of the U.S.-led war in Iraq; Bush, on the other hand, says Americans are frustrated that the international body has been slow to reform.

    Bush attended a reception Monday evening at the Manhattan home of Henry Kravis where he helped raise $1.4 million for the Republican National Committee. He spent the day with leaders from Malaysia, a democracy with a moderate Islamic government; El Salvador and Honduras, two Central American nations that have moved from military dictatorships to democracies; and the emerging African democracy of Tanzania.

    Bush, who in 2003 warned that the United Nations could fade into history as an "ineffective debating society," now finds the United States relying more on the United Nations to help resolve problem in Iran, Lebanon, North Korea, Sudan and other global hotspots. On Wednesday, the president will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also planned to be at the United Nations, but Bush had no intention of talking with him.
    Of course Bush isn't going to talk to him. Talking might bring peace, and that's the last thing the Bush administration wants.

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    An Open Letter to My Old Harvard Classmate, Tom Ridge

    Monday, September 18th, 2006
    Andrew Bard Schmookler
    See No Evil

    Although our casual contacts as students at Harvard in the 1960s never amounted to a friendship, Tom, they did give me a sense of your character.

    We came to Harvard when JFK was still president, the torch liberty had been passed ("the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God"), and the idealism of our generation was being expressed in the Peace Corps, in the civil rights movement, and at times at our dining room tables.

    It was over dinner conversation - since you and I, being not only members of the same class but also residents of Quincy House, ate our meals in the same dining rooms for four years-that I got my sense of you as an earnest young man, not posing a sophisticated cynic like some of our classmates, who took seriously the ideals of America.

    Did I see you correctly then, Tom?
    It is, in any event, with that image of you in mind that I write to you now. For I believe that you are in a unique position at this historical moment to help America come into better alignment with the ideals you and I both cherished back then.

    There's an issue on which I wish to ask you to speak out. It's the Bush administration's use of "the war on terror" for its own political advantage.

    As you doubtless know, suspicions about this "fear-mongering" have been around for some time, but they have lately been increasing in intensity.

    Just weeks ago, on his MSNBC program, Countdown, Keith Olbermann laid out a timeline that painted a suggestive and disturbing picture. Olbermann delineated a highly suspicious correlation between those times that the Bush administration faced political difficulties (and thus would have wanted to change the public's focus) and those times when a terror-related announcement was made that changed the headlines and usually lifted the administration's poll numbers.

    And then there was the recent, much-publicized bust of an alleged terrorist plot in Great Britain. Even as the American people were being re-awakened to fears of terrorists attacking our air travel, reports were widespread that the Bush administration had pressured the British to make the arrests precipitously, well before the British investigators themselves felt that the time was right.

    No plausible explanation has been offered as to why the Bush administration was so eager for the arrests to be made immediately despite the now-evident fact that there was no immediate threat of an attack and despite the danger that premature arrests might jeopardize a successful prosecution. This failure to offer some legitimate reason clearly suggests the possibility of an illegitimate reason, such as how the "terrorist plot" story could serve to overshadow the extraordinary defeat of Joe Lieberman by his own party of for being too supportive of the Bush administration and of its war in Iraq.

    Surely you'll agree, or at least the young Tom Ridge I thought I knew would have agreed: it would be hard to find words too harsh to describe the perfidy of leadership that deliberately played politics with such vital matters of national security. How terrible it would be for a president of the United States to evoke and cultivate fear in the American people-not to serve the people's needs but to serve his own at their expense.

    But while many Americans harbor such suspicions of this president and his administration fear-mongering about the "war on terror" to increase their own power, almost half of the country continues to be swayed whenever the Bush administration plays the terror card, hypnotized by the fear intentionally evoked by those declaring themselves to be the people's only possible protectors.

    If the trust of Bush supporters is being betrayed, their knowing of this betrayal would be a matter of urgent national importance. But people who still turn to the Bush administration for protection are not going to listen to Bush's critics. In this deeply polarized society, such critics have long since been dismissed by the president's supporters as "Bush-bashers."

    But they would listen to you.

    So I call upon you to come forward and tell the country what you witnessed during your tenure as this president's head of Homeland Security.

    Were the movements to higher states of alert announced by your Department ever politically motivated?

    One of your public statements since you left office certainly certain suggests you saw something amiss in that system of public warnings. "More often than not," you've been quoted as saying, "we were the least inclined to raise [the threat level]. Sometimes we disagreed with the intelligence assessment, sometimes we thought even if the intelligence was good, you don't necessarily put the country on alert. There were times when some people were really aggressive about raising it. And we said, 'For that?'"

    But your saying that you didn't see a good reason for the alert is not the same as your telling the country about a perceptible bad reason behind it. So, if you told us all you know, would the full truth confirm to the country that the Bush people used the raising of the threat level for their own political purposes?

    How about the threat system itself: was it legitimate? After all, as the American people discovered, there wasn't really anything that the ordinary citizen could do with the information that the threat had become greater, more immediate. In fact, we were told not to stop going about our ordinary business. And there really was no way that we could rally to protect the country better.

    Was the only point of that whole color-coded threat system just to provide the administration with a mechanism to increase the fear of the citizenry -a fear that, though useless for our national security, might prove politically useful for the Bush administration?

    You were there. There is an urgent need for America to hear what you witnessed.

    Even now, as the mid-term elections approach, the president's strategy of heightening our fear of terrorism, while claiming we need him to protect us, is on full display.

    President Bush is using this strategy to pressure Congress to legitimize his use of interrogation methods that are understood around the world to be torture, methods forbidden by the Geneva Conventions which as part of a ratified treaty are, according to our Constitution, the law of the land. This, despite the fact that the U.S. military has itself determined that statements elicited by such methods are unreliable.

    He is also using this strategy to pressure Congress to legitimize his conduct of warrantless surveillance, despite the finding by a federal judge (and the American Bar Association) that such a practice is unconstitutional. This, despite the fact that the administration has offered no plausible arguments as to why it could not both protect us and obey the law and the Constitution.

    "Trust us" has been this administration's continual response to accusations that it is violating the restraints the Constitution places on the executive branch, weakening the system of checks and balances that have protected the American people from tyranny for more than two hundred years.

    If you know that they do not deserve our trust, if you know that they have misused these threats for their own political purposes, the American people need for you to come forward and tell what you know.

    Of course we need to be protected against external enemies. But as our Founding Fathers understood, what we most need to be protected against is the rise of tyranny from within.

    I can imagine, Tom, that even if you do know something that the rest of the country should hear, you might feel inhibited from coming forward by a sense of loyalty-loyalty to your party and loyalty to the president who appointed you.

    But if this president has indeed done what many suspect, you can owe such a president no loyalty. If you know that this administration routinely puts their quest for power ahead of service to the nation, then it is your duty to put loyalty to America ahead of any other loyalty.

    As Colin Powell has just come forward to call attention -albeit too tactfully- to the truth that the administration is trying to obscure (that its position represents an assault on the Geneva Conventions against torture), even saying that "the world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism," so also should you help the American people to understand the destructive and dangerous things that are being done in the name of that "war."

    I can sympathize, Tom, if you're afraid of retaliation -from people who shamelessly use character assassination against whistle-blowers-for your telling a truth that hurts your party. But the possibility of such a political cost surely would be an acceptable risk to a man who was awarded a medal for "gallantry" in Vietnam.

    We have entered in our sixties now, you and I and the rest of the class of 1967. We've still got productive years left, but this is hardly a time -if ever there is one-to put ambitions ahead of one's principles and ideals. It's time to think of one's legacy.

    You have served your country in many ways in the past almost forty years. But I would wager that nothing you have done so far would serve your country better than coming forward now and speaking plainly to the American people about what you have witnessed about this administration's uses and abuses of this "war on terror."

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    FBI Raids Office Of Southfield Charity

    Mon Sep 18, 2006

    Michigan State Police and FBI agents raided the offices of a Southfield charity organization Monday.

    The investigators would not tell Local 4 what they were looking for at the Life for Relief and Development center, which is located at 10 Mile Road, near Evergreen in Southfield.

    The FBI said they were assisted by an anti-terrorism task force during Monday's investigation, however, it does not necessarily mean they are involved with terrorism. The raid is part of an ongoing criminal investigation.

    There was also a related search warrant at a location in Dearborn Monday.

    Life for Relief and Development is a non-profit charity organization established 14 years ago by Iraqi-American business people who wanted to respond to humanitarian and other issues that developed among the people of Iraq after the Gulf War in 1991.

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    Study finds U.S. bias against women in science

    By Maggie Fox
    Reuters Health and Science Correspondent
    Mon Sep 18, 2006

    WASHINGTON - Women are being filtered out of high-level science, math and engineering jobs in the United States, and there is no good reason for it, according to a National Academies report released on Monday.

    A committee of experts looked at all the possible excuses -- biological differences in ability, hormonal influences, childrearing demands, and even differences in ambition -- and found no good explanation for why women are being locked out.
    "Compared with men, women faculty members are generally paid less and promoted more slowly, receive fewer honors, and hold fewer leadership positions," the Academies said in a statement.

    "These discrepancies do not appear to be based on productivity, the significance of their work, or any other performance measures."

    Female minorities fare the worst, the study found. And the expert panel said the discrepancies are costing the country many talented leaders and researchers and recommended immediate and far-reaching changes to change the balance.

    "We found no significant biological differences between men and women in science, engineering and mathematics that could account for the lower representation of women in academic faculty and scientific leadership positions," said Donna Shalala, president of the University of Miami and head of the committee that wrote the report.

    The study was compiled by all the National Academies -- the
    National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine -- which advise Congress, the federal government, and various institutions.

    "It is not a lack of talent but an unintended bias ... that is locking women out," Shalala, a former secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, told a briefing.

    "Fundamental changes in the culture and opportunities at America's research universities are urgently needed."


    "A substantial body of evidence establishes that most people -- men and women -- hold implicit biases," the report reads.

    And it noted that the problem is not restricted to academia, or even to science.

    "The underrepresentation of women and minorities in science and engineering faculties stems from a number of issues that are firmly rooted in our society's traditions and culture," the report reads.

    Many arguments have been made to explain why women do not excel in math and science -- that they are not as good as men in mathematical ability, that female brain structures are different or that hormones affect performance.

    Lawrence Summers resigned as Harvard University president after he made widely disparaged remarks in 2005 suggesting that women were biologically less able in math and science, and that women chose to pay more attention to their families and thus failed to put in enough effort to succeed at work.

    The experts looked at many different studies on the issue.

    "The committee found no sound evidence to support these myths and often good evidence to the contrary," said Ana Mari Cauce, Executive Vice Provost at the University of Washington in Seattle.

    "In fact, female performance in high school mathematics now matches that of males. If biology were the basis of that, we've seen some major evolution in the past decades."

    Urgent change is needed, said Cauce, if the United States wants to compete internationally in science.

    "This is about more excellence. This is not about changing the bar or lowering the bar," Cauce said.

    Trustees, university presidents and provosts need to make it clear from the top down that recruiting and promoting women is a priority, the report said.

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    Fish is used to detect terror attacks

    Associated Press
    Mon Sep 18, 2006

    SAN FRANCISCO - A type of fish so common that practically every American kid who ever dropped a fishing line and a bobber into a pond has probably caught one is being enlisted in the fight against terrorism.

    San Francisco, New York, Washington and other big cities are using bluegills - also known as sunfish or bream - as a sort of canary in a coal mine to safeguard their drinking water.

    Small numbers of the fish are kept in tanks constantly replenished with water from the municipal supply, and sensors in each tank work around the clock to register changes in the breathing, heartbeat and swimming patterns of the bluegills that occur in the presence of toxins.
    "Nature's given us pretty much the most powerful and reliable early warning center out there," said Bill Lawler, co-founder of Intelligent Automation Corporation, a Southern California company that makes and sells the bluegill monitoring system. "There's no known manmade sensor that can do the same job as the bluegill."

    Since Sept. 11, the government has taken very seriously the threat of attacks on the U.S. water supply. Federal law requires nearly all community water systems to assess their vulnerability to terrorism.

    Big cities employ a range of safeguards against chemical and biological agents, constantly monitoring, testing and treating the water. But electronic protection systems can trace only the toxins they are programmed to detect, Lawler said.

    Bluegills - a hardy species about the size of a human hand - are considered more versatile. They are highly attuned to chemical disturbances in their environment, and when exposed to toxins, they experience the fish version of coughing, flexing their gills to expel unwanted particles.

    The computerized system in use in San Francisco and elsewhere is designed to detect even slight changes in the bluegills' vital signs and send an e-mail alert when something is wrong.

    San Francisco's bluegills went to work about a month ago, guarding the drinking water of more than 1 million people from substances such as cyanide, diesel fuel, mercury and pesticides. Eight bluegills swim in a tank deep in the basement of a water treatment plant south of the city.

    "It gave us the best of both worlds, which is basically all the benefits that come from nature and the best of high-tech," said Susan Leal, general manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

    New York City has been testing its system since 2002 and is seeking to expand it. The New York City Department of Environmental Protection reported at least one instance in which the system caught a toxin before it made it into the water supply: The fish noticed a diesel spill two hours earlier than any of the agency's other detection devices.

    They do have limitations. While the bluegills have successfully detected at least 30 toxic chemicals, they cannot reliably detect germs. And they are no use against other sorts of attacks - say, the bombing of a water main, or an attack by computer hackers on the systems that control the flow of water.

    Still, Lawler said more than a dozen other cities have ordered the anti-terror apparatus, called the Intelligent Aquatic BioMonitoring System, which was originally developed for the Army and starts at around $45,000.

    San Francisco plans to install two more bluegill tanks.

    "It provides us an added level of detection of the unknown," said Tony Winnicker, a spokesman for the city's Public Utilities Commission. "There's no computer that's as sophisticated as a living being."

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    Couple Accused of Kidnapping Daughter

    Associated Press
    Sep 18, 2006

    SALEM, N.H. - A Maine couple upset that their 19-year-old daughter was pregnant tied her up, loaded her in their car and began driving to New York to force her to get an abortion, police said.

    The daughter, Katelyn Kampf, escaped Friday at a shopping center and called police, who arrested her parents, Nicholas Kampf, 54, and Lola, 53, of North Yarmouth, Maine. They were jailed on a kidnapping charge and were being held on $100,000 bail each.
    The parents were scheduled to be arraigned in Salem District Court. A call to attorney Mark Sisti was not immediately returned.

    "Her parents chased her out into the yard, grabbed and tied her hands and feet together," Salem Police Officer Sean Marino wrote in a court affidavit. "Katelyn states that her father then carried her to their car and they headed toward New Hampshire."

    Investigators said rope, duct tape, scissors and a .22-caliber rifle were found in the Kampfs' Lexus and Nicholas Kampf had a loaded .22- caliber magazine clip in his pants pocket.

    The Kampfs were upset that their daughter was pregnant by a man who is now in jail, police said, and before leaving Maine on Friday they had an argument at the parents' home.

    "Katelyn stated to me that upon her parents finding out that she was pregnant, they told her she had no choice but to get an abortion," Marino wrote in his court affidavit.

    Katelyn Kampf escaped from her parents in Salem after persuading them to untie her so she could use a Kmart bathroom. After her father went into the men's room, she used a cell phone to call for help, then ran to a nearby Staples store, where police found "a hysterical female hiding in the back of the store," according to the affidavit.

    She got into Marino's cruiser while Sgt. Kristin Fili pulled over her parents.

    "They told us initially they did take her here against her will, but they denied tying her up initially," Fili said. "Obviously what happened was a crime. She was taken against her will."

    Authorities in Maine said the parents apparently thought that, in light of their daughter's stage of pregnancy and the different abortion laws in each state, the abortion should be performed in New York. Fili said she did not know how many weeks pregnant she was.

    Maine law prohibits abortions once a fetus is able to live outside the uterus unless the mother's life or health is at stake. The law does not specify when that is, but it generally is 20 to 27 weeks, said Dr. Dora Ann Mills, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. New York law prohibits abortions after the 24th week of pregnancy unless the woman's life is at stake.

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    Torture, Inc.

    US and Canadian "errors" led to man's torture - probe

    By David Ljunggren
    18 Sep 2006

    OTTAWA - Canadian police wrongly identified an Ottawa software engineer as an Islamic extremist, prompting U.S. agents to deport him to Syria, where he was tortured, an official inquiry concluded on Monday.

    Maher Arar, who holds Canadian and Syrian nationality, was arrested in New York in September 2002 and accused of being an al-Qaeda member. In fact, said the judge who led the probe, all the signs point to the fact Arar was innocent.

    Arar, 36, says he was repeatedly tortured in the year he spent in Damascus jails, and the inquiry agreed that he had been tortured. He was freed in 2003.
    Judge Dennis O'Connor, who was asked by the Canadian government in 2004 to examine what had happened, found the Royal Canadian Mounted Police had wrongly told U.S. authorities that Arar was an Islamic extremist.

    "The provision of this inaccurate information ... (was) totally unacceptable" and guaranteed the United States would treat Arar as a serious threat, O'Connor said.

    "I am able to say categorically that there is no evidence to indicate that Mr Arar has committed any offense or that his activities constitute a threat to the security of Canada."

    Civil rights advocates said the case of Arar and three other Canadians who ended up in Syrian jails raised suspicions that Canada might be outsourcing interrogation to nations where torture was commonplace.

    O'Connor said the case of the other three men was troubling and warranted further investigation. But he found no evidence that the Canadian government had played any direct role in the U.S. decision to deport Arar to Syria.

    Arar, calling on the government to hold accountable the officials he said were responsible for his ordeal, had tears in his eyes when asked by reporters for his reaction.

    "Today Justice O'Connor has cleared my name and restored my reputation," said Arar, who has launched a lawsuit against Ottawa seeking compensation.

    O'Connor's three-volume report castigated the Mounties for slipshod work in the wake of the 9/11 suicide attacks.

    It said the Mounties exaggerated Arar's importance and later asked U.S. customs agents to put Arar and his wife on a special watch list, calling them "Islamic extremist individuals suspected of being linked to the Al Qaeda terrorist movement".

    U.S. agencies declined to be questioned by O'Connor as to why they had deported Arar.

    "I do conclude it is very likely that they relied on information received from the RCMP in making the decision to remove Mr Arar to Syria," the judge wrote.

    Public Security Minister Stockwell Day, who has overall responsibility for the forces of law and order, said he was satisfied with the finding that Canadian officials had not played a direct role in the U.S. decision to deport Arar to Syria.

    "What happened to Mr Arar is very regrettable. We hope ... never to see this happen again," he told reporters.

    Arar first came to police attention in October 2001 when he was seen talking to another man already being investigated for possible al-Qaeda links.

    O'Connor found that police made a number of serious mistakes in the Arar case.

    The unit probing possible terror networks was poorly supervised and was comprised largely of financial fraud experts, who had little experience of national security cases.

    Police gave all the files from their probe to the United States without screening the data for inaccuracies or following internal rules that limited what they could hand over.

    "It was a breathtakingly incompetent investigation ... a disaster," said Marlys Edwardh, a lawyer for Arar.

    O'Connor criticized unnamed Canadian officials, whom he said had leaked confidential and sometimes inaccurate information about Arar both before and after his release in a bid to demonstrate he really was a threat to national security.

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    False RCMP information 'very likely' led to Arar deportation, inquiry concludes

    Last Updated Mon, 18 Sep 2006 18:33:05 EDT
    CBC News

    The U.S. decision to send Maher Arar to Syria was "very likely" based on inaccurate and misleading information from the RCMP, according to an inquiry report released Monday, but there is no evidence Canadian officials played a direct role in his detention or deportation.
    But Justice Dennis O'Connor, who led the public inquiry into the case, concluded that Canadian officials did leak information to damage Arar's reputation.

    O'Connor also concluded that Arar was an innocent victim and was not involved in al-Qaeda activities in any way, as U.S. officials had alleged.

    "I am able to say categorically that there is no evidence to indicate that Mr. Arar has committed any offence or that his activities constituted a threat to the security of Canada," wrote the judge.

    Arar, who then lived in Ottawa, was travelling back to Canada from a family vacation in Tunisia in September 2002 when he was pulled off a plane in New York. Within days, he was sent to Syria, where he says government officials detained him, systematically tortured him and kept him in jail for a year.

    RCMP gave U.S. distorted information

    The judge concluded that RCMP investigators without much experience wrongly gave their U.S. counterparts inaccurate, unfair and overstated evidence about the Syrian-Canadian engineer's alleged terrorist sympathies.

    "The RCMP provided American authorities with information about Mr. Arar that was inaccurate, portrayed him in an unfairly negative fashion and overstated his importance in the RCMP investigation," O'Connor said at a news conference on Monday.

    "It is very likely that, in making the decision to detain and remove Mr. Arar to Syria, the U.S. authorities relied on information about Mr. Arar provided by the RCMP," O'Connor concluded.

    O'Connor said the RCMP asked American authorities to look out for Arar and his wife Monia Mazigh in the U.S.

    The agency described the couple as "Islamic extremist individuals suspected of being linked to the al-Qaeda terrorist network," according to the report.

    "The RCMP had no basis for this description," O'Connor said.

    The judge also criticized the RCMP, which shared information with U.S. authorities, without screening it for relevancy, reliability or privacy concerns. And he accused RCMP officials of giving a sanitized summary of the Arar case to top government officials in order to cover up the RCMP mistake.

    The judge, who reviewed hundreds of documents about the case, supported Arar's claims that he was tortured during his imprisonment.

    But O'Connor said reports were prepared by government officials after Arar's release that had the "effect of downplaying the mistreatment or torture to which Mr. Arar had been subjected."

    He also slammed Canadian officials for leaking "confidential and sometimes inaccurate information about the case to the media for the purpose of damaging Mr. Arar's reputation or protecting their self-interests or government's interests."

    O'Connor came up with 23 recommendations, including one that states the government should assess Arar's claims for compensation.

    The public inquiry into the engineer's detention, deportation and alleged torture involved more than 120 days of testimony and cost $15 million by the time it concluded the main phase of its hearings in September 2005.

    "I wanted to repair my reputation," Arar said following the release of the report. "Today, Judge O'Connor has cleared my reputation.

    "I ask the prime minister to put these recommendations into effect without delay."

    PM promises government action

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the government does intend to act, but gave no indication of the specific moves it'll make.

    "Probably in the few weeks to come we'll be able to give you more details on that," he said.

    Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, who has responsibility for the RCMP, said he's just received the report and needs time to study it.

    A damage suit filed by Arar against the government was put on hold during the inquiry.

    Day indicated there's unlikely to be any quick movement on financial compensation.

    "Certain civil actions have already been commenced by Mr. Arar and really we have to let those lawyers discuss those," he said.

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    Flashback: Kidnapped and tortured Canadian's lawsuit against U.S. dismissed by Federal Court

    by Tim Harper
    Toronto Star
    Feb. 17, 2006

    WASHINGTON -- A U.S. federal court has dismissed a lawsuit against the Bush administration brought by Ottawa engineer Maher Arar, essentially giving Washington the green light to continue its practice of sending terrorist suspects to third countries where they could be tortured.

    Brooklyn District Court Judge David Trager cited the need for national security and secrecy in making his decision, but also raised the possibility of Canadian complicity in the decision to send Arar, now 35, to Syria in 2002, where he was tortured for almost a year.
    "The need for much secrecy can hardly be doubted," Trager wrote in an 88-page judgment. "One need not have much imagination to contemplate the negative effect on our relations with Canada if discovery were to proceed in this case and were it to turn out that certain high Canadian officials had, despite public denials, acquiesced in Arar's removal to Syria."

    Canadian officials have always denied complicity in the decision to send Arar to Syria after he was held in U.S. custody for 13 days, but Arar said yesterday Justice Dennis O'Connor, who is examining the role Canadian officials played in the affair, should make special note of the judge's comments.

    He also vowed he would never give up his quest to reverse the "evil" done against him.

    The Syrian-born Canadian engineer was detained as a suspected terrorist during a stopover in New York as he returned from a vacation in September 2002.

    After being held virtually incommunicado by U.S. officials, he was sent to Syria, where he said he was tortured and held in a tiny cell he likened to a "grave" for nearly a year. He was never charged before Syria returned him to Canada.

    O'Connor is expected to issue an interim report next month.

    The Arar suit was the first court test of the Bush administration policy of "extraordinary rendition," a practice often referred to as the outsourcing of torture.

    Arar's is just one of a number of well-documented cases in which suspects have been shipped to third countries with dubious human rights records where interrogation methods outlawed in the U.S. can be used.

    Trager acknowledged Arar's fears of torture in Syria were real and he cited the U.S. State Department's own report on human rights abuses there.

    He said such decisions were beyond the realm of his court.

    "A judge who declares on his or her own ... authority that the policy of extraordinary rendition is under all circumstances unconstitutional must acknowledge that such a ruling can have the most serious of consequences to our foreign relations or national security or both," Trager wrote.

    Arar said that is exactly what courts are for. "If the courts will not stop this evil act, who is going to stop this administration?

    "Where do we go? The United Nations? We -- me and others who have been subjected to this -- are normal citizens who have done no wrong.

    "They have destroyed my life. They have destroyed other lives. But the court system does not listen to us.

    "The court system is what distinguishes the West from the Third World. When a court will not act because of `national security,' there is no longer any difference between the West and the Third World."

    His lawyers vowed to continue the fight.

    "This ruling sets a frightening precedent," said Maria LaHood, one of a team of lawyers who took up Arar's case at the Center for Constitutional Rights, based in New York.

    "U.S. officials sent Maher Arar to Syria to be detained and interrogated through torture. To allow the Bush administration to continue to evade accountability and continue to hide behind the smokescreen of `national security' is to do grave and irreparable damage to the U.S. constitution and the guarantee of human rights that people in this country could once be proud of."

    Barbara Olshansky, the center's deputy legal director, said: "We will not accept this decision and are ... continuing our campaign to obtain the truth ... and demand accountability (from) the Bush administration."

    Arar's action named U.S. officials who held him and who ran key government departments.

    The claims in the lawsuit include violations of Arar's right not to be tortured under foreign law as guaranteed by the Torture Victim Protection Act.

    The U.S. government asserted the "state secrets" privilege, arguing the lawsuit must be dismissed because allowing it to proceed would necessarily involve the disclosure of sensitive information that would threaten national security or diplomatic relations if made public.

    A justice official said the ruling pleased the government.

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    Flashback: Lawyer says rendition 'part of a larger pattern'

    By Colin Brown and Jerome Taylor
    28 December 2005

    The lawyer of a man who claims he was taken to Syria by the CIA and tortured said yesterday there were examples of similar cases.

    His remarks sparked renewed demands for a full inquiry into "extraordinary rendition" in the UK.

    Lorne Waldman, the human rights lawyer representing Maher Arar, said it was "ridiculous" for the US Ambassador to London, Robert Tuttle, to deny any renditions by the US of terrorist suspects to Syria had taken place.

    Mr Tuttle denied there was evidence of a rendition to Syria but the US Embassy in London later issued a clarification admitting there were reports of one case involving Mr Arar.

    "The case of Mr Arar is too public for someone to claim they are not aware of it," Mr Waldman said on BBC radio. "To suggest, as the US ambassador did, that they were not aware of the case is ridiculous."

    The lawyer said other suspects had also been shipped for torture by the CIA to Syria. "This is part of a larger pattern. We know of other cases of other individuals who have been rendered," said Mr Waldman.
    "He [Maher Arar] landed in Jordan - and was driven overland by the Jordanians to Syria - in the same CIA plane that was used to render other people to Egypt and other countries where they were tortured. So this was part of a well-known, well-documented pattern."

    There was further embarrassment for the US when a former British ambassador to Damascus, Henry Hogger, appeared to confirm that Syria was being used by the CIA.

    "What was going on in Syria at the time was not unlike the way it has been described," Mr Hogger said. The US and Syria had worked together, particularly on counter-terrorism, despite public antagonism, he added.

    A spokesman for the Commons all-party group on rendition said: 'The momentum for a full inquiry is now becoming unstoppable. There are now inquiries in European countries, including Switzerland, Italy, Germany, and a public inquiry in Canada. Why should Britain be the odd one out?"

    Mr Arar's lawyer said he had been "brutally physically tortured" and had been held in a cell about the size of two coffins without light for months. Mr Waldman's claims appear to be backed by the case of a German citizen, Syrian-born Mohammed Haydar Zammar, who claims to have spent four years in a Syrian dungeon after he was abducted in Morocco and transported to Damascus, as part of the US "extraordinary rendition" programme.

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    Flashback: Playing with words to hide horror

    Salman Rushdie
    Jan. 10, 2006

    Beyond any shadow of a doubt, the ugliest phrase to enter the English language in 2005 was "extraordinary rendition."

    To those of us who love words, this phrase's brutalization of meaning is an infallible signal of its intent to deceive. "Extraordinary" is an ordinary enough adjective, but its sense is being stretched here to include more sinister meanings that your dictionary will not provide: "secret," "ruthless" and "extralegal."

    As for "rendition," the English language permits four meanings: a performance, a translation, a surrender — this meaning is now considered archaic — or an "act of rendering," which leads us to the verb "to render," among whose 17 possible meanings you will not find "to kidnap and covertly deliver an individual or individuals for interrogation to an undisclosed address in an unspecified country where torture is permitted."
    Language, too, has laws, and those laws tell us that this new American usage is improper — a crime against the word.

    Every so often the habitual Newspeak of politics throws up a term whose calculated blandness makes us shiver with fear — yes, and loathing.

    "Clean words can mask dirty deeds," New York Times columnist William Safire wrote in 1993, in response to the arrival of another such phrase, "ethnic cleansing."

    "Final solution" is a further, even more horrible locution of this Orwellian, double-plus-ungood type. "Mortality response," a euphemism for death by killing that I first heard during the Vietnam War, is another. This is not a pedigree of which any newborn usage should be proud.

    People use such phrases to avoid using others whose meaning would be problematically over-apparent. "Ethnic cleansing" and "final solution" were ways of avoiding the word "genocide," and to say "extraordinary rendition" is to reveal one's squeamishness about saying "the export of torture."

    However, as Cecily remarks in Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, "When I see a spade, I call it a spade," and what we have here is not simply a spade, it's a shovel — and it's shovelling a good deal of ordure.

    Now that Republican Senator John McCain has forced upon a reluctant White House his amendment putting the internationally accepted description of torture — "cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment" — into American law, in spite of Vice-President Dick Cheney's energetic attempts to defeat it, the growing belief that the Bush administration could be trying to get around the McCain amendment by the "rendition" of persons adjudged torture-worthy to less delicately inclined countries merits closer scrutiny.

    We are beginning to hear the names and stories of men seized and transported in this fashion: Maher Arar, a Syrian Canadian, was captured by the CIA on his way to the United States and taken via Jordan to Syria where, according to his lawyer, he was "brutally physically tortured."

    Khaled al-Masri, a German citizen of Kuwaiti-Lebanese origin, was kidnapped in Macedonia and taken for interrogation to Afghanistan, he says, where he was repeatedly beaten. Syrian-born Mohammed Haydar Zammar says he was grabbed in Morocco and then spent four years in a Syrian dungeon.

    Lawsuits are underway. The lawyers for the plaintiffs suggest their clients were only a few of the victims; that in Afghanistan, Egypt, Syria and perhaps elsewhere, the larger pattern of the extraordinary-rendition project is yet to be uncovered. Inquiries are underway in Canada, Germany, Italy and Switzerland.

    The CIA's own internal inquiry admits to "under 10" such cases, which, to many ears, sounds like another bit of double-talk. Tools are created to be used and it seems improbable, to say the least, that so politically risky and morally dubious a system would be set up and then barely employed.

    The U.S. authorities have been taking a characteristically robust line on this issue.

    On her recent European trip, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice more or less told European governments to back off the issue — which they duly, and tamely, did, claiming to have been satisfied by her assurances. Soon afterward, at the end of December, the German government ordered the closing of an Islamic centre near Munich after finding documents encouraging suicide attacks in Iraq.

    This is a club which, we are told, al-Masri often visited before being extraordinarily rendered to Afghanistan.

    "Aha!" we are encouraged to think. "Obvious bad guy! Render his sorry butt anywhere you like!"

    What's wrong with this kind of thinking is that, as Isabel Hilton of The Guardian wrote last July, "The delusion that officeholders know better than the law is an occupational hazard of the powerful and one to which those of an imperial cast of mind are especially prone ... When disappearance became state practice across Latin America in the '70s it aroused revulsion in democratic countries, where it is a fundamental tenet of legitimate government that no state actor may detain — or kill — another human being without having to answer to the law."

    In other words, the question isn't whether or not a given individual is "good" or "bad." The question is whether or not we are — whether or not our governments have dragged us into immorality by discarding due process of law, which is generally accorded to be second only to individual rights as the most important pillar of a free society.

    The White House, however, plainly believes that it has public opinion behind it in this and other contentious matters such as secret wiretapping.

    Cheney recently told reporters, "When the American people look at this, they will understand and appreciate what we're doing and why we're doing it."

    He may be right for the moment, though the controversy shows no signs of dying down. It remains to be seen how long the American people are prepared to go on accepting that the end justifies practically any means Cheney cares to employ.

    In the beginning is the word. Where one begins by corrupting language, worse corruptions swiftly follow. Sitting as the Supreme Court to rule on torture in December 2005, Britain's law lords spoke to the world in words that were simple and clear.

    "The torturer is abhorred not because the information he produces may be unreliable," Lord Rodger of Earlsferry said, "but because of the barbaric means he uses to extract it."

    "Torture is an unqualified evil," Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood added. "It can never be justified. Rather, it must always be punished."

    The dreadful probability is that the United States' outsourcing of torture will allow it to escape punishment. It will not allow it to escape moral obloquy.

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    The American Military's Cult Of Cruelty

    By Robert Fisk
    18 September, 2006
    The Independent

    In the week that George Bush took to fantasising that his blood-soaked "war on terror" would lead the 21st century into a "shining age of human liberty" I went through my mail bag to find a frightening letter addressed to me by an American veteran whose son is serving as a lieutenant colonel and medical doctor with US forces in Baghdad. Put simply, my American friend believes the change of military creed under the Bush administration--from that of "soldier" to that of "warrior"--is encouraging American troops to commit atrocities.
    From Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo to Bagram, to the battlefields of Iraq and to the "black" prisons of the CIA, humiliation and beatings, rape, anal rape and murder have now become so commonplace that each new outrage is creeping into the inside pages of our newspapers. My reporting notebooks are full of Afghan and Iraqi complaints of torture and beatings from August 2002, and then from 2003 to the present point. How, I keep asking myself, did this happen? Obviously, the trail leads to the top. But where did this cult of cruelty begin?

    So first, here's the official US Army "Soldier's Creed", originally drawn up to prevent anymore Vietnam atrocities:

    "I am an American soldier.

    I am a member of the United States Army--a protector of the greatest nation on earth. Because I am proud of the uniform I wear, I will always act in ways creditable to the military service and the nation that it is sworn to guard ...

    No matter what situation I am in, I will never do anything for pleasure, profit or personal safety, which will disgrace my uniform, my unit or my country.

    I will use every means I have, even beyond the line of duty, to restrain my Army comrades from actions, disgraceful to themselves and the uniform.

    I am proud of my country and it's flag.

    I will try to make the people of this nation proud of the service I represent for I am an American soldier."

    Now here's the new version of what is called the "Warrior Ethos":

    I am an American soldier.

    I am a warrior and a member of a team. I serve the people of the Unites States and live the Army values.

    I will always place the mission first.

    I will never accept defeat.

    I will never quit.

    I will never leave a fallen comrade.

    I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills. I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.

    I am an expert and I am a professional. I stand ready to deploy, engage and destroy the enemies of the United States of America in close combat. I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.

    I am an American soldier.

    Like most Europeans--and an awful lot of Americans--I was quite unaware of this ferocious "code" for US armed forces, although it's not hard to see how it fits in with Bush's rantings. I'm tempted to point this out in detail, but my American veteran did so with such eloquence in his letter to me that the response should come in his words: "The Warrior Creed," he wrote, "allows no end to any conflict accept total destruction of the 'enemy'. It allows no defeat ... and does not allow one ever to stop fighting (lending itself to the idea of the 'long war'). It says nothing about following orders, it says nothing about obeying laws or showing restraint. It says nothing about dishonourable actions ...".

    Each day now, I come across new examples of American military cruelty in Iraq and Afgha-nistan. Here, for example, is Army Specialist Tony Lagouranis, part of an American mobile interrogation team working with US marines, interviewed by Amy Goodman on the American Democracy Now! programme describing a 2004 operation in Babel, outside Baghdad: "Every time Force Recon went on a raid, they would bring back prisoners who were bruised, with broken bones, sometimes with burns. They were pretty brutal to these guys. And I would ask the prisoners what happened, how they received these wounds. And they would tell me that it was after their capture, while they were subdued, while they were handcuffed and they were being questioned by the Force Recon Marines ... One guy was forced to sit on an exhaust pipe of a Humvee ... he had a giant blister, third-degree burns on the back of his leg."

    Lagouranis, whose story is powerfully recalled in Goodman's new book, Static, reported this brutality to a Marine major and a colonel-lawyer from the US Judge Advocate General's Office. "But they just wouldn't listen, you know? They wanted numbers. They wanted numbers of terrorists apprehended ... so they could brief that to the general."

    The stories of barbarity grow by the week, sometimes by the day. In Canada, an American military deserter appealed for refugee status and a serving comrade gave evidence that when US forces saw babies lying in the road in Fallujah--outrageously, it appears, insurgents sometimes placed them there to force the Americans to halt and face ambush--they were under orders to drive over the children without stopping.

    Which is what happens when you always "place the mission first" whenyou are going to "destroy"--rather than defeat--your enemies. As my American vet put it: "the activities in American military prisons and the hundreds of reported incidents against civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere are not aberrations--they are part of what the US military, according to the ethos, is intended to be. Many other armies behave in a worse fashion than the US Army. But those armies don't claim to be the "good guys" ... I think we need... a military composed of soldiers, not warriors."

    Winston Churchill understood military honour. "In defeat, defiance," he advised Britons in the Second World War. "In victory, magnanimity." Not any more. According to George W Bush this week "the safety of America depends on the outcome of the battle in the streets of Baghdad" because we are only in the "early hours of this struggle between tyranny and freedom".

    I suppose, in the end, we are supposed to lead the 21st century into a shining age of human liberty in the dungeons of "black" prisons, under the fists of US Marines, on the exhaust pipes of Humvees. We are warriors, we are Samurai. We draw the sword. We will destroy. Which is exactly what Osama bin Laden said.

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    Money Matters

    Ending the Dollar's Tyranny

    By Mike Whitney
    09/18/06 "Information Clearing House"

    The U.S. dollar is the very heart of the empire. The military, the media and the political establishment are merely the tributaries which flow away from the center. Any plan to restore America's democratic values and end our foreign wars must focus on the dollars' dominant role in the global economy and its adverse affects on the people at home.
    Presently the dollar is underwritten by $8.3 trillion of debt. The US trade deficit is running at $800 billion per year which is 6.4% of GDP. The trade deficit is large enough to cover the yearly costs of the war in Iraq, the defense budget, and Bush's lavish tax cuts. In other words, America's war machine is lubricated with money borrowed from the developing world.

    Despite the enormity of America's debt, foreign nations still accept our fiat money in exchange for their resources and manufactured goods. That's because the American consumer market has been the main engine for global growth for more than 25 years. Only recently have other countries started to shy-away from the dollar, recognizing the tell-tale signs that the over-leveraged American consumer is nearing the end of his spending spree. As consumer spending gradually slows, recession will set in, and investors will shift capital to foreign markets. These developments will make it more difficult for the dollar to maintain its supremacy.

    Typically, foreign-owned US dollars are used to purchase American securities or US Treasuries. It takes roughly $2.5 billion per day of foreign net-inflows to cover the burgeoning deficit. These infusions help to keep interest rates low in the short term, but they come at a hefty price. America is placing its future in the hands of its creditors who now own more than $3 trillion of American assets and securities. We saw how explosive this situation can be in the case of the Dubai Port deal. Middle Eastern businessmen wanted to purchase American seaports with US dollars. The transaction set off a political firestorm even though the Dubai businessmen were operating entirely within the legal confines of current international trade law. As more of America's wealth is transferred to foreigners, we can expect similar situations will arise.

    The massive trade deficit serves the narrow interests of western elites and the Federal Reserve, but is destructive to the working class. It allows the shifting of wealth from one class to another via tax cuts, "no-bid" contracts, and other contrivances which escape public notice behind the smokescreen of low interest rates. It also allows the Fed to keep increasing the money supply (which has doubled in the last 7 years) to meet the requirements of expanding foreign trade.

    It's no wonder Washington politicians and banking giants plan to prolong this system as long as possible. Their power and personal wealth are only enhanced by the process. The exchange of paper scrip for valuable commodities, resources and manufactured goods is the best deal around. It is the equivalent of having a mint in one's own backyard. Last year's trade deficit with China alone (which was $200 billion) would have paid for 2 full years of the war in Iraq!

    War is considerably less painful when someone else is paying the bill.

    Although the current deficits are "unsustainable," (according to former Fed-chief Alan Greenspan) foreign countries continue to accept greenbacks in exchange for their goods; sucking hundreds of billions of dollars from the poorest countries on the planet to sustain the living standards of people in the world's biggest "debtor nation". The brisk pace of international trade keeps trillions of dollars in circulation preventing the hyper-inflation it would cause if the money was returned to America.

    As America's debt has continued to balloon, there are signs that nation's around the world are beginning to diversify their stockpiles of US dollars. If they reduce their holdings too quickly, the dollar could free-fall and precipitate a widespread sell-off.

    According to Arab News, nearly $4 trillion in US dollars is currently held in central banks around the world; nearly 70% of all their holdings. This is as close to a monopoly as it gets. If even a fraction of those greenbacks are traded for euros or some other currency, the effects on the American economy would be catastrophic.

    To a large extent, the supremacy of the dollar depends on the oil trade. Oil is the largest commodity in the world and its trade is almost exclusively denominated in dollars through the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) or London's International Petroleum Exchange (IPE). Foreign countries must maintain large stockpiles of US Dollars in order to meet their energy needs. It is estimated that approximately $2.6 trillion is circulating in the oil trade alone.

    This vice-like grip on the oil market is now being challenged by a number of countries including Russia, Venezuela and Iran. These three nations produce 25% of daily global output and pose a direct challenge to the dollar's continued dominance. This explains why these three have fallen out of grace with Washington. The US cannot maintain its superpower status unless it can control the lion's-share of world's oil and force the world to use its currency. By 2030 60% of the world's oil will come from the Middle East. The US will have to assert control over the resources of the entire Caspian Basin if it intends to keep the dollar as the de-facto international currency.

    Imperial rule requires a "coin of the realm". Even as the American consumer market loses steam; western elites are planning to preserve US dollar hegemony in order to continue their control of the global economic system. Their objectives foreshadow even greater reliance on military force and intimidation.

    America is now engaged in a transition that has never before been attempted. It has hollowed out its manufacturing sector (more than 3 million manufacturing jobs have been lost since Bush took office) looted its treasury, and plunged the country into irreversible debt. Its major corporations and banks have disconnected from the mainland and operate as sovereign islands protected by the US military and international trade law. They have no allegiance to America and are unaccountable to anyone except their own shareholders.

    Dollar-hegemony is critical to their ongoing success as it keeps the basic unit of exchange; paper money, in the control of fellow-elites at Federal Reserve. Absent that power, American plutocrats would be unable to perpetuate the system of trading debt (US dollars) for resources and manufactured goods. If Bush succeeds in his global resource war, then countries will be forced to use the dollar regardless of how much debt it has accumulated.

    The most effective strategy for bringing the dollar into balance with the other currencies is to "democratize" the system and allow the free exchange of goods and resources in one's own currency. This would eliminate the dependence on a reserve currency and make the United States accountable for its own prodigious debt. This, in turn, would force American leaders to revitalize the manufacturing sector as a way of restoring economic solvency.

    The dependence on a "reserve currency" inevitably creates winners and losers. It is an invitation to massive account imbalances as well as corruption and exploitation. Greater parity among the currencies should be encouraged as a way of strengthening democracies and invigorating markets. It promises to breathe new life into international trade by allowing other political models to flourish without fear of being subsumed into the capitalist prototype.

    The dominance of the greenback has created a global empire which is controlled by a small group of corporatists and autocrats who depend on bullying and brute force to maintain their supremacy. The only way to restore the republic is to topple the empire, dislodge the dollar from its lofty perch, and even the playing field with the other currencies.

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    Trade deficit up to $218.4B in 2nd qtr.

    AP Economics Writer
    Mon Sep 18, 2006

    WASHINGTON - America's trade deficit increased in the spring to the second-highest level in history, reflecting a big jump in payments for foreign oil and a deterioration in the country's investment position.

    The deficit in the U.S. current account rose to $218.4 billion in the April-June quarter, an increase of 2.4 percent over the first three months of the year, the Commerce Department reported Monday.
    The current account is the broadest measure of foreign trade. It covers not only trade in goods and services but also investment flows between countries. The deficit represents the amount the United States must borrow from foreigners to cover the shortfall between exports and imports.

    Democrats called the widening of the deficit further evidence that President Bush's free-trade policies have left American workers exposed to unfair trade competition and a steep loss of manufacturing jos.

    "Since President Bush took office, we have lost 3 million jobs and America's trade deficit in motor vehicles has climbed by approximately 20 percent," said Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, a frequent critic of Bush's trade policies.

    "The recent announcement by Ford Motor Co. of production cutbacks and plant closings will only exacerbate the situation," she said. "Still, the administration clings to the same failed policies."

    With just seven weeks left until the congressional elections, Democrats are hoping voter unhappiness with the rising trade deficit will help them win control of the House and Senate.

    For its part, the administration is resisting efforts to raise protectionist barriers such as a bill sponsored by Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., that would impose 27.5 percent tariffs on all Chinese imports in retaliation for China's currency system.

    U.S. manufacturers contend China is undervaluing its currency by as much as 40 percent to make Chinese goods cheaper than American products.

    Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who will visit China this week for talks with top officials, said Monday that the administration wanted to see China make progress on a number of economic reforms. But the former Goldman Sachs chief executive sought to lower expectations for any breakthrough during his first trip to China as a member of Bush's Cabinet.

    "I am not looking for immediate solutions or quick fixes to any particular economic issue," he told reporters in Singapore.

    The deficits through the first six months of this year put the country on track for a fifth consecutive annual deficit, surpassing last year's mark of $791.5 billion. The record high for a single quarter was a $223.1 billion imbalance in the October-December period last year.

    So far, foreigners have been happy to hold dollars in payment for American purchases of cars, televisions and foreign oil. But the concern is what would happen should foreigners at some point decide they want to hold less in dollar-denominated assets.

    A rush for the exits by foreigners could send U.S. stock prices and the value of the dollar plunging and American interest rates sharply higher.

    A separate report by Treasury on Monday showed that net foreign purchases of U.S. securities totaled $26.5 billion in June, the lowest amount since May 2005.

    For the second quarter, the current account deficit as a percentage of the overall economy stood at 6.6 percent, the same level as the first quarter. The total deficit of $218.4 billion was $5.2 billion higher than the $213.2 billion first quarter deficit.

    The deterioration was larger than analysts had been expecting. The deficit for goods rose by $2.6 billion, reflecting the higher oil prices, to $210.6 billion.

    The deficit on investment flows increased to $4.1 billion, up $1.6 billion from the first quarter. As recently as a year ago, the balance on investment income was in surplus. Analysts expect this deficit to grow larger in coming quarters, reflecting the rising ownership of U.S. assets by foreigners.

    The deficit on unilateral transfers, the category that includes foreign aid, increased by $900 million to $20.4 billion in the second quarter, while the surplus in services edged down slightly to $16.8 billion.

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    Report of GM-Ford merger talks sign of times, analysts say

    David N. Goodman
    Associated Press
    September 18, 2006

    DETROIT -- General Motors Corp.'s talks with Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co. on a possible alliance, and reports Ford Motor Co. may be pursuing a big deal with one or more of the three, are signs of what one analyst calls growing "coopetition" among automakers.
    GM and Ford declined comment Monday on an Automotive News story that their high-level executives discussed a merger or alliance. Ford also declined comment on last month's Wall Street Journal report that Ford proposed its own deal with Renault and Nissan.

    In July, GM, France-based Renault and Japan-based Nissan announced a 90-day review of a possible alliance among them.

    Auto executives talk frequently about "what-if scenarios" and possible deals large and small, said David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor.

    "These kind of discussions go on all the time," Cole said. "Collaborating ... is part of how they're doing things. ... We call this 'coopetition.'"

    These talks have yielded a growing number of joint efforts on everything from hybrid vehicles to better automatic transmissions, he said.

    GM and Ford have been slashing their work forces and closing plants in efforts to reverse multibillion-dollar losses in the face of tough competition from Asia-based automakers. On Friday, Ford announced deeper job cuts as part of its "Way Forward" restructuring plan.

    GM lost $2.9 billion, or $5.19 per share in the first half of 2006, while Ford lost $1.3 billion, or 70 cents a share.

    Both companies declined comment on a story in Automotive News on Monday, which quoted several people it said were familiar with discussions involving senior GM and Ford executives as saying they began in July and are not taking place now.

    "My job is to keep everybody focused on our Way Forward plan and accelerating our results," Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas, told The Associated Press on Monday. "If we discussed all the speculation that was out there, I think we'd probably spend a couple of days."

    GM spokesman Brian Akre said company officials "routinely discuss issues of mutual interest with other automakers." He said such talks are private and "in many cases do not lead anywhere."

    Cole said an outright GM-Ford merger is unlikely and said that the companies carefully weigh antitrust issues during the lower-level cooperation that now takes place on such issues as hybrid vehicles, production technology and components.

    "It would surprise me if there were a coming-together on the grand level," said Cole, but said Ford and GM very well could start more joint efforts similar to their current work to develop a six-speed automatic transmission

    Even if GM and Ford don't merge, some other automakers will as the industry further consolidates, Cole said.

    Ford's chronic labor cost problems and its shortage of interesting models give GM little reason to seek a close alignment, said analyst Charles Fleetham of Project Innovations in Farmington Hills.

    "I don't see it from a business standpoint," he said. "They have the same high health costs, high union costs, ineffective white collar work force that they want to get rid of."

    Ford shares fell 23 cents, or 2.9 percent, to $7.79 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange, while GM shares fell 11 cents to $31.55.

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    Media ownership study ordered destroyed


    The Federal Communications Commission ordered its staff to destroy all copies of a draft study that suggested greater concentration of media ownership would hurt local TV news coverage, a former lawyer at the agency says.

    The report, written in 2004, came to light during the Senate confirmation hearing for FCC Chairman Kevin Martin.

    Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. received a copy of the report "indirectly from someone within the FCC who believed the information should be made public," according to Boxer spokeswoman Natalie Ravitz.

    'Every last piece' destroyed

    Adam Candeub, now a law professor at Michigan State University, said senior managers at the agency ordered that "every last piece" of the report be destroyed. "The whole project was just stopped - end of discussion," he said. Candeub was a lawyer in the FCC's Media Bureau at the time the report was written and communicated frequently with its authors, he said.
    In a letter sent to Martin Wednesday, Boxer said she was "dismayed that this report, which was done at taxpayer expense more than two years ago, and which concluded that localism is beneficial to the public, was shoved in a drawer."

    Martin said he was not aware of the existence of the report, nor was his staff. His office indicated it had not received Boxer's letter as of midafternoon Thursday.

    Local ownership benefits

    In the letter, Boxer asked whether any other commissioners "past or present" knew of the report's existence and why it was never made public. She also asked whether it was "shelved because the outcome was not to the liking of some of the commissioners and/or any outside powerful interests?"

    The report, written by two economists in the FCC's Media Bureau, analyzed a database of 4,078 individual news stories broadcast in 1998. The broadcasts were obtained from Danilo Yanich, a professor and researcher at the University of Delaware, and were originally gathered by the Pew Foundation's Project for Excellence in Journalism.

    The analysis showed local ownership of television stations adds almost five and one-half minutes of total news to broadcasts and more than three minutes of "on-location" news. The conclusion is at odds with FCC arguments made when it voted in 2003 to increase the number of television stations a company could own in a single market. It was part of a broader decision liberalizing ownership rules.

    Community responsivenes

    At that time, the agency pointed to evidence that "commonly owned television stations are more likely to carry local news than other stations."

    When considering whether to loosen rules on media ownership, the agency is required to examine the impact on localism, competition and diversity. The FCC generally defines localism as the level of responsiveness of a station to the needs of its community.

    The 2003 action sparked a backlash among the public and within Congress. In June 2004, a federal appeals court rejected the agency's reasoning on most of the rules and ordered it to try again. The debate has since been reopened, and the FCC has scheduled a public hearing on the matter in Los Angeles on Oct. 3.

    The report was begun after then-Chairman Michael Powell ordered the creation of a task force to study localism in broadcasting in August of 2003. Powell stepped down from the commission and was replaced by Martin in March 2005. Powell did not return a call seeking comment.

    The authors of the report, Keith Brown and Peter Alexander, both declined to comment. Brown has left public service while Alexander is still at the FCC. Yanich confirmed the two men were the authors. Both have written extensively on media and telecommunications policy.

    Yanich said the report was "extremely well done. It should have helped to inform policy."

    Boxer's office said if she does not receive adequate answers to her questions, she will push for an investigation by the FCC inspector general.

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    Google ordered to remove news items or pay huge fine


    A Brussels court has ordered internet giant Google to pay 1 million euro a day if it does not remove all news articles and pictures from French and German language newspapers on its news site, Belgian media reported on Monday.

    "The judgment, dating back to September 5, made public only yesterday (Sunday), says that Google provides texts after the publishers have taken them off their own websites," Flemish newspaper De Morgen reported.

    The court considered this a breach of authors' rights, as well as Belgian law on databanks, the daily said.

    If the ruling is not published on Google's Belgian website, the company will have to pay another half a million euro per day.

    The suit against Google was filed by Belgian publishing group Copiepresse which represents various French and German language newspapers in the country.
    In De Morgen, director of the Flemish Daily Press Alex Fordyn complained that often the fact that journalists and publishers have to be paid for their research is forgotten by those who advocate news should be free for everyone.

    At the start of the conflict at the beginning of 2006, the Flemish Newspaper Association Reprocopy left news.google.be because it disagreed with the way the company operated.

    Google had been informed of the decision of the Belgian court by Sept. 8 and can still appeal the ruling.

    Comment: Sounds like google's cache of web pages is set to become even more useless than it already is.

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    IMF/World Bank annual meetings open

    www.chinaview.cn 2006-09-19 10:04:06

    SINGPAPRORE, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) -- The plenary meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank annual meetings opened in Singapore on Tuesday.

    More than 20,000 participants from 184 members attended the two-day meetings. Issues to be addressed at the meetings are the voting rights reform of the IMF and the governance and anti-corruption strategy.
    Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said at the opening ceremony that good governance is key to helping economies open up in the age of globalization and making life better for the population.

    "Overall, globalization represents the best hope to improve the lives of the world's population. It has created growth and wealth, and fostered trade and interdependence," Lee said.

    "Globalization is not without its downsides, but properly managed, it is a powerful force for the good. It must be part of the solution; it need not be part of the problem. With good governance and effective multilateral institutions, all countries can contain the risks and benefit from open markets and competition," he added.

    Rodrigo de Rato, managing director of the IMF, announced at the opening ceremony that the Governors have voted overwhelmingly in support of a resolution on reform of quotas and voice in the IMF.

    Rato said that these reforms are the first step in a process that will increase the representation of many emerging market countries to reflect their increased weight in the global economy.

    "Right away, they will increase the voting power of four countries, China, (South) Korea, Mexico, and Turkey, that are most clearly underrepresented," said Rato. "Equally important, Governors have agreed that we must strengthen the voice and representation of low-income countries that continue to borrow from the Fund but have only a limited share in Fund voting."

    Calling the governance reforms "tremendously important" for the future of the IMF, Rato said that they will enhance IMF's effectiveness and add legitimacy to all of the other reforms that it is implementing.

    Rato said that the year 2007 will be another year of solid and broad-based growth for the world economy, but warned of risks of high oil price, global imbalance and protectionism.

    World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz urged support to Africa at the opening ceremony, saying that Africa remains "the first of the Bank's priority."

    He said that the international community needs to make greater strides in resolving conflict, preventing disease, and strengthening governance to bring hope to the many millions more, particularly in Africa.

    The past 25 years have seen more than 400 million people worldwide escape extreme poverty, making this the most successful quarter-century in the history of the fight against poverty, he said.

    In his speech, Wolfowitz stressed that the Bank is committed to a "course of deeper engagement to strengthen governance and fight corruption" in its own work and in the countries with which it works.

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    Iran, France to sign $2.7b gas deal Wednesday

    Tehran Times Economic Desk September 18, 2006

    TEHRAN - Despite the U.S. sanctions and business restriction on Iran, the coming Wednesday is to witness the inking of a finance agreement between National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and French Societe General Bank for development plans in oil- and gas-rich southern Iran.
    The $2.7b figure is going to finance the development projects at phases 17 and 18 of the South Pars Oil and Gas Field and the capital return will be satisfied by the revenues coming from gas and condensate sales.

    Two drilling platforms equipped with water treatment units will bore 22 offshore development wells and two 32-inch pipelines are going to transfer the gas to onshore installations for refining and processing. Construction of flare stands and bridges, testing the wells and related services are among the works to be performed in these operations.

    Phases 17 and 18 are anticipated to offer 56 million cubic meters of gas, 400 tons of sulfur and 80,000 barrels of condensates per day while the ethane and liquid gas production should hit one million tons each per annum.

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    Russia tries to rein in foreign oil firms

    Terry Macalister and Michael Mainville in Moscow
    Tuesday September 19, 2006
    The Guardian

    Shell and BP were facing legal wrangles and upheaval in Russia last night, raising doubts about the involvement of foreign companies in the country's oil and gas sector. Government approval for Shell's $20bn Sakhalin project was withdrawn and state-owned Gazprom was reported to be trying to buy half of the TNK-BP joint venture.

    Russia's Natural Resources ministry said it had revoked the environmental approval for the major Sakhalin-2 scheme in the far east of Russia to "satisfy the arguments of the prosecutor's office" leaving the future of the scheme in doubt.
    The prosecutor general's office alleged at the weekend that permission to develop the second phase of the Sakhalin island gas project had been granted illegally, but Shell insisted last night that it had done nothing wrong.

    The growing pressure on Shell comes at a time when state-owned Gazprom has been trying to persuade the Anglo-Dutch oil company to sell it a 25% stake in Sakhalin-2 in return for some of its other Russian assets. The project has already proved difficult for Shell, with costs doubling, and mounting anger from environmentalists over potential damage to an endangered whale population.

    Some interpret the permit issue as the latest attempt by Moscow to wrest back control of oil and gas assets held in the private sector while Gazprom acts as a political arm of the Kremlin. There have also been local reports that ExxonMobil's Sakhalin-1 oil project could face a similar fate.

    Shell said it was continuing to work on Sakhalin, but admitted the removal of its environment permit might lead to more delays and further cost overruns.

    "Although there have been various environmental challenges on this project, these have been tackled and largely overcome ... We are confident there are no valid grounds to revoke the order 600 [environment permit]," said the company.

    Sakhalin-2 is one of two projects in the Russian far east run by western energy firms under production sharing agreements signed in the 1990s, when Russia lacked the resources to develop oil and gas projects on its own.

    The other is the ExxonMobil project, which is 20% owned by state-controlled oil company Rosneft. With the Russian economy now booming thanks to high oil prices, many government officials have called for a revision of the Sakhalin-2 deal to include Russian participation.

    "This is going to be interpreted by many as an attempt by Gazprom to enter the project," said Adam Landes, an oil and gas analyst at Renaissance Capital. "It seems to be a brutal way of renegotiating previous deals that were quite humiliating for Russia."

    At the same time, Gazprom, which is the biggest gas group in the world, was said by Russian newspapers to be in talks to buy the holding in the TNK-BP joint venture that is currently controlled by three local Russian investors.

    The partners in TNK, which has become a vital contributor to growing oil production at BP, are poised to receive the last of three $1.25bn instalments for selling part of the business to Britain's biggest company.

    The Alfa Group, Renova and Access Industries are locked in to the joint venture until the end of 2007 under the terms of the sale agreement, but are then free to sell out to whoever they wish.

    The Vedomosti business newspaper quoted Gazprom senior managers as saying they had held preliminary negotiations with the Russian TNK-BP investors. They are "not against selling their shares to Gazprom," one manager was quoted as saying. "It would be a good deal to develop our company's oil business,"added the unnamed source.

    BP said it was aware of the reports, but did not want to comment. Gazprom would also not comment on the BP issue, but told the Guardian that it had nothing to do with environmental permits being withdrawn from Shell at Sakhalin. "We have heard this [about the permits] but our talks with Shell [on the asset sale] are going well," said a Gazprom spokesman.

    Russia has taken repeated steps in recent years to consolidate state control over the energy sector, including the dismantling of Yukos, once Russia's largest oil company, and the imprisonment of its founder, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, on charges of tax evasion and fraud.


    Sakhalin-2 is the second stage of a huge oil and gas project in the far east of Russia. The island was formerly a penal colony for the tsars and was mentioned in the works of Chekhov. Along with Sakhalin-1, operated by ExxonMobil, the oil and gas schemes are the biggest direct foreign investments in Russia. Shell claims the Russian state stands to earn $50bn (Ł26bn) in tax and other benefits over 40 years. Already living standards in the Sakhalin region have risen by 500% since 2002 and driven unemployment down to a national record low of 1%, according to Shell.

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    It's All Gone "Wrong"

    Annan warns Iraq is 'on the brink'

    September 18, 2006

    UNITED NATIONS - UN Secretary General Kofi Annan warned Iraqi and US leaders that urgent action must be taken now to drag
    Iraq back from the brink of all-out civil war.

    Annan told a special meeting on the strife-torn nation at UN headquarters, attended by Iraq's President Jalal Talabani and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, that international efforts were needed to end the spiralling violence and reestablish confidence in the government.
    With scores of people being killed each day by suicide bombers and partisan militias, the UN chief said it was "heartbreaking" that "the everyday life of Iraqi people is dominated by the constant threat of sectarian violence and civil strife."

    Annan said Iraq, which was invaded by a US-led force in 2003, had made "important progress" in the past two years with two national elections, a constitutional referendum and a constitutional process.

    He said that if Iraqi leaders "can address the needs and common interests of all Iraqis, the promise of peace and prosperity is still within reach".

    "But if current patterns of alienation and violence persist much longer, there is a grave danger that the Iraqi state will break down, possibly in the midst of full-scale civil war," he said.

    US leaders have denied that there is a civil war in Iraq despite the scope of the violence.

    Annan said however action must be taken in Baghdad and internationally to "bring Iraq back from the brink".

    The UN chief called on Iraq's leaders to make stronger efforts to "defuse rising sectarian tensions" on top of a national reconciliation plan launched by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

    Annan backed an Arab League proposal to hold a national conference in Baghdad to discuss issues such as federalism and the sharing of revenues.

    "Many of Iraq's neighbours have legitimate concerns about instability inside that country. Iraq must remain sensitive to these apprehensions. The neighbours, for their part, must also be responsive to Iraqi security needs," he said.

    A meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia of interior ministers from Iraq and seven other Middle East countries brought a promise to step up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq.

    The six Arab states plus Iran and Turkey undertook to "put more effort towards taking necessary measures in guarding and controlling the borders and ports to combat smuggling and infiltration of terrorists from and into Iraq and prevent using forged travel documents."

    At the UN meeting, Iraq's president said that a national compact drawn up by the government in Baghdad would provide major change in Iraq over the next five years.

    Talabani said the government was determined to create "efficient and accountable security forces" and committed to "strengthening the rule of law and human rights protections".

    He said: "Our security plan is the plan of a democracy, not the plan of a tyrant."

    The Iraqi government was "reviewing legislation that controls the possession of weapons." Moves to disband and demobilize militia were also called "a priority" by the president.

    "The government recognizes that the infiltration of the security ministries by criminal elements and members of terrorist groups represents a major challenge," said Talabani.

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    IRAQ: U.S. Resorting to 'Collective Punishment'

    Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily
    RAMADI, Sep 18 (IPS)

    U.S. forces are taking to collective punishment of civilians in several cities across the al-Anabar province west of Baghdad, residents and officials say.
    "Ramadi, the capital of al-Anbar province, is still living with the daily terror of its people getting killed by snipers and its infrastructure being destroyed," Ahmad, a local doctor who withheld his last name for security purposes told IPS. "This city has been facing the worst of the American terror and destruction for more than two years now, and the world is silent."

    Destroying infrastructure and cutting water and electricity "for days and even weeks is routine reaction to the resistance," he said. "Guys of the resistance do not need water and electricity, it's the families that are being harmed, and their lives which are at stake."

    Students and professors at the University of al-Anbar told IPS that their campus is under frequent attack.

    "Nearly every week we face raids by the Americans or their Iraqi colleagues," a professor speaking on condition of anonymity told IPS. Students said that U.S. troops occupied their school last week..

    "We've been under great pressure from the Americans since the very first days of their occupation of Iraq," a student told IPS.

    Such raids are being reported all over Ramadi. "The infrastructure destruction is huge around the governorate building in downtown Ramadi," said a 24-year-old student who gave his name as Ali al-Ani. "And they are destroying the market too."

    IPS reported Sep. 5 that the U.S. military was bulldozing entire blocks of buildings near the governorate to dampen resistance attacks on government offices.

    Such U.S. action seems most severe in al-Anabar province, where resistance is strongest, and which has seen the highest U.S. casualties.

    The city of Hit 80km west of Ramadi was surrounded by U.S. troops for several days earlier this week. Several civilians were killed and at least five were detained by U.S. forces. Checkpoints are in place at each entrance to the city after the U.S. military lifted the cordon around it. This has stifled movement and damaged local businesses.

    "There was an attack on a U.S. convoy, and three vehicles were destroyed," a local tribal chief who gave his name as Nawaf told IPS. "It wasn't the civilians who did it, but they are the ones punished. These Americans have the bad habit of cutting all of the essential services after every attack. They said they came to liberate us, but look at the slow death they are giving us every day."

    In Haditha, a city of 75,000 on the banks of the Euphrates River in western al-Anbar, collective punishment is ongoing, residents say. This was the site of the massacre of 24 civilians by U.S. marines in November 2005.

    "The Americans continue to raid our houses and threaten us with more violence," a local tribal leader who gave his name as Abu Juma'a told IPS. "But if they think they will make us kneel by these criminal acts, they are wrong. If they increase the pressure, the resistance will increase the reaction. We see this pattern repeated so often now."

    Abu Juma'a added: "I pray that the Americans return to their senses before they lose everything in the Iraqi fire."

    In Fallujah, local police say residents have turned against them due to the collective punishment tactics used by U.S. forces.

    "The Americans started pushing us to fight the resistance despite our contracts that clearly assigned us the duties of civil protection against normal crimes such as theft and tribal quarrels," a police lieutenant told IPS. "Now 90 percent of the force has decided to quit rather than kill our brothers or get killed by them for the wishes of the Americans."

    At least one U.S. vehicle is reported destroyed every day on average in the face of mounting U.S. raids and a daily curfew. The scene is one of destruction of the city, not rebuilding.

    "Infrastructure rebuilding is just a joke that nobody laughs at," Fayiq al-Dilaimy, an engineer in Fallujah told IPS. He was on the rebuilding committee set up after the November 2004 U.S.-led operation which destroyed approximately 75 percent of the city..

    "People of this city could rebuild their city in six months if given a real chance. Now look at it and how sorrowful it looks under the boots of the 'liberators'."

    Many of the smaller towns have been badly hit. "Khaldiyah (near Fallujah) and the area around it have faced the worst collective punishments for over two years now," said a government official in Ramadi. "But of course most cities in al-Anbar are being constantly punished by the Americans."

    Samarra and Dhululiyah towns, both north of Baghdad, have also been facing collective punishment from the U.S. military, according to residents.

    "Curfews and concrete walls are permanent in both cities, which makes life impossible," Ali al-Bazi, a lawyer who lives in Dhululiyah and works in Samarra told IPS. "There are so many killings by American snipers. So many families have lost loved ones trying to visit relatives or even just stepping outside of their house."

    While Baghdad is not in al-Anbar province, occupation forces have used similar tactics there. In January 2005 IPS reported that the military used bulldozers to level palm groves, cut electricity, destroy a fuel station and block access roads in response to attacks from resistance fighters.

    A U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad did not comment on specific cases, but told IPS that the U.S. military "does its best to protect civilians from the terrorists."

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    Shooting Sgrena

    September 16 / 17, 2006

    Giuliani Sgrena was wounded by US soldiers not long after being freed from her guerrilla fighter captors in Iraq. This incident put her on the front pages of newspapers around the world. In addition, it put her in the hospital and her rescuer six feet under. Of course, no apologies were forthcoming from the US military or Embassy. Instead, a series of excuses and lies were issued, while any evidence pointing to US culpability was destroyed. The good news is that Ms. Sgrena survived to tell her story. As my daughter exclaimed after she read the book jacket of my copy of Sgrena's story: "Man, she really had an adventure! It sounds like the Americans wanted to get her." Indeed, the story within the pages of Friendly Fire is quite an adventure. In addition, the text, just published in an English translation by Haymarket Books of Chicago, USA, is a reflection on captivity, the motivation of her kidnappers, the meaning of her journalistic work, and the situation in occupied Iraq.
    Her gratitude to the forces that freed her is apparent throughout the book, as is her ambivalence about her captors. Although she never yields to their rationale for kidnapping her, she does acknowledge the tactic as one with some military and political value. Although she never seems to understand fully that all Westerners are potential hostages merely because of their nations of origin, Sgrena admits that her kidnapping was important in that it provided the Iraqi resistance with a forum to express their opposition to their nation's occupation. In addition, the response to the kidnapping in Italy provided Italians and other non-Iraqis opposed to the occupation a means to express their opposition while supporting the release of the hostages. This was best expressed in the slogan Free Iraq! Free Giuliani! that appeared in rallies across Italy. With this statement, any pro-occupation sentiment in the movement to free Sgrena was effectively sidelined.

    Like many other hostage tales, there are moments of true human interaction between the hostage and her captors. Interestingly enough, but not surprisingly, some of these moments occur during various soccer matches that are watched by the kidnappers. Although Sgrena is anything but a sports fan, her Italian nationality gives her credence if only because of one of the kidnappers obsession with Italian soccer. She describes her discussions of religion and non-belief with the mujaheedin holding her and their difficulty in understanding her relationship to her unmarried longtime partner. Unlike other hostage tales, especially the recent story by US journalist taken hostage Jill Carroll, Sgrena refuses to accept the rationale of the occupiers and insists thgoughout the text that it is the occupation that is the primary culprit in Iraq, not the resistance. The descriptions of the aforementioned conversations reminds the reader of the contradictory nature of the human condition--warriors able to hold a woman prisoner yet curious enought of this person from another culture to converse with her and debate, even though their commanders and clerics might not approve.

    As regards Sgrena's thoughts on Iraq, it is her contention that the fighters against the occupiers are primarily composed of two elements: the nationalist insurgency and the jihadists. Sgrena states that the jihadists want the US in Iraq because it gives them a front in their war on the infidels, while the insurgency wants the US and other occupation troops out so they can get on with their lives. As I write this review, the news broadcasts are reporting on a demonstration of hundreds of thousands against the US occupation of Iraq and the Israeli war on Lebanon in Baghdad. The primary component of this demonstration were Shia Iraqis that support Muqtada al-Sadr. According to the news report, US officials claim to be concerned that this massive show of strength by these Shia Iraqis could provoke attacks on them by members of the Sunni community in Iraq. While there may be some truth to this possibility, the fact that the US command is expressing concern is so transparent as to be laughable. After all, the US military and intelligence have certainly killed more of Sadr's supporters than their fellow Iraqis have. It is more likely that the US is concerned that the solidarity being expressed across religious lines and across the Arab world for the resistance of Hezbollah to Israel's onslaught will become the dominant current in Iraq. If that occurred, the resistance to the occupation would be nearly universal among Iraqis. That would spell the end of not only the occupation, but of the jihadists as well.

    Of course, the Pentagon and White House (with approval from Congress) remains convinced that the situation can be remedied in favor of Washington via military means. Indeed, the commander of US Central Command, General Abizaid, went on record in early August stating that he could "imagine" the US military "winning" Baghdad. As Sgrena's book clarifies (once again), this imaginary scenario is nothing more than a pipe dream for the US generals and a nightmare for the Iraqis. As the occupation and its consequent mayhem continue no one is certain what the next phase will look like. The civil strife between various religious trends is but one facet of the aforementioned mayhem. Underlying it all is the continuing dismal state of most Iraqis' economic lives and the lack of any apparent future of peace.

    Sgrena's understanding of this desperate situation and Washington's fundamental role in creating and maintaining it are the subject of much of her commentary in the book. It is interspersed with a narrative describing the physical realities of her captivity and her means of dealing with the boredom, fear, and hopelessness that are part of any imprisonment. Her journalistic abilities are quite apparent in these descriptions--one feels that they know the characteristics of the room she spent her captivity almost as well if they had seen a walk-through video of it. Her discussion of the emotions she experienced are interwoven into her story in such a way that they become like the darkness of her mask that the kidnappers insist she wear at times of their choosing. Or the daylight that we assume will always be. They exist but they do not overwhelm. In fact, that is how Sgrena tells her story. Perhaps it is her journalistic detachment or perhaps it is the only manner in which she could write it down. No matter what the reason may be, it works. Friendly Fire is more than the tale of one hostage's ordeal and it is more than just another tract on the US-created debacle that is Iraq. It is not a cry for revenge, but a tempered statement on a nation's shattered psyche and an individual attempt to share a perspective influenced by her unforeseen role in that nation's history.

    Ron Jacobs is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground, which is just republished by Verso. Jacobs' essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch's new collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. He can be reached at: rjacobs3625@charter.net

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    Hungary: Police clash with protesters over government lies

    Last Updated Tue, 19 Sep 2006 05:41:42 EDT
    The Associated Press

    Protesters furious over a leaked recording of the prime minister admitting the government had lied about the economy stormed the headquarters of Hungarian state television in Budapest Tuesday and held it for several hours before being driven out by police.
    About 150 people were hurt in overnight riots that Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany, called "the longest and darkest night" for the country since the end of communism in 1989.

    Several thousand police reinforcements were called to the capital from across the country. Police drove protesters out of the TV building at about 3 a.m., more than five hours after the unrest began.

    The injured included 102 police officers, one of whom was described on state television as being in satisfactory condition after an operation to remove a bone splinter from his skull.

    Gyurcsany, who said police had been taken by surprise, refused to resign, as protesters had demanded.

    The violence followed a mainly peaceful protest outside parliament by several thousand people that began late Sunday, when local media played a leaked recording made in May of Gyurcsany admitting to repeatedly lying to the country about the state of the Hungarian economy in order to win April elections.

    The Socialist prime minister has not denied making the statements. He said the government must restore order.

    "The street is not a solution, but instead causes conflict and crisis," the prime minister told MTI, the state news service, early Tuesday. "Our job is to resolve the conflict and prevent a crisis."

    Socialist members of parliament voted unanimously to support him and the government called for an emergency session of the cabinet for Tuesday morning.

    The tape was made at a closed-door meeting in late May, weeks after Gyurcsany's government became the first in post-communist Hungary to win re-election.

    It seemed to confirm the worst accusations levelled at him by the centre-right opposition during the campaign - that Hungary's state budget was on the verge of collapse and that Gyurcsany and his ministers were concealing the truth to secure victory.

    Adding spice to the scandal, Gyurcsany's comments were full of crude remarks and called into doubt the abilities of some of Hungary's most respected economic experts.

    "We screwed up. Not a little, a lot," Gyurcsany was heard saying. "No European country has done something as boneheaded as we have."

    The prime minister also told colleagues the government needed to end its duplicitous ways.

    "I almost died when for a year and a half we had to pretend we were governing. Instead, we lied morning, evening and night. I don't want to do this anymore," he told his fellow Socialists.

    The 45-year-old Gyurcsany, his party's golden boy since he was elected prime minister in late 2002, said the economy had been kept afloat only through "divine providence, the abundance of cash in the world economy and hundreds of tricks."

    Confronted with initial excerpts of the 25-minute recording, which Hungarian state radio posted on its website Sunday, Gyurcsany not only acknowledged their authenticity but seemed relieved they had been made public - leading to speculation that the leak came from sources close to him.

    "It deflates pent-up tensions regarding the reforms and ... can be used to support the government's position that they are urgent and inevitable," said political analyst Zoltan Kiszelly.

    Others said the leak was an attempt - which may have misfired - by Gyurcsany's Socialist rivals to block his aspirations to become party chairman.

    "In the long term, I think Gyurcsany's words will have a stabilizing, cathartic effect, both politically and economically," said political commentator Laszlo Seres. "At least to his own voters, Gyurcsany can argue that he shouldn't be punished for his sincerity - that he said these things to stop the lies."

    Gyurcsany appeared on two live television shows Sunday night, trying to turn the focus of the debate away from his government and into a wider discussion about the failings of Hungary's political elite since the 1990 end of communism.

    He also defended his foul language, saying it had been used in the context of a meeting of friends and colleagues and that he was proud of his "passionate speech."

    "The real issue in Hungarian politics today is not who lied and when, but who is able to put an end to this ... who can face up to the lies and half-truths of the past 16 years," Gyurcsany wrote in a Sunday night entry of his blog, introducing a lengthy transcript of his May speech.

    "The lies are the sins of the whole Hungarian political elite."

    But on Monday the political mood was against Gyurcsany. Opposition parties demanded his resignation, while President Laszlo Solyom chastised the prime minister for "knowingly" jeopardizing people's faith in democracy and asked Gyurcsany to publicly recognize his error.

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    Poland's President Urges Ukraine to Join NATO

    Created: 19.09.2006 14:19 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 14:20 MSK

    Poland's President Lech Kaczynski said it would be "good" for neighboring Ukraine to join the NATO alliance despite a recent decision by the Ukrainian prime minister to put accession talks on hold, Associated Press news agency reports.
    "Naturally, this disturbed me," Kaczynski said about the decision on Monday.

    "Our whole plan of stabilization of the area southeast of Poland was based on Ukraine's admission to NATO as soon as possible," he said in an interview with The Associated Press in New York ahead of this week's U.N. summit.

    He described NATO as an "exporter of peace and stabilization."

    Poland, a NATO member since 1999, has been advocating a quick entry of Ukraine.

    "There is no particular lack of stability there, nevertheless it would be good if it were in NATO," Kaczynski said.

    Last week, Ukraine's new prime minister, Viktor Yanukovych, told NATO that he was putting moves toward membership in the alliance on hold, but he said the former Soviet Republic still wanted to join the European Union.

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    War of Terror Marches On

    Somali president survives assassination, 5 bodyguards killed

    www.chinaview.cn 2006-09-19 03:20:19

    NAIROBI, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- Five presidential bodyguards were killed Monday and several others injured when a car bomb exploded outside Somalia's parliament in Baidoa. It was the latest in a series of assassination attempts against President Abdullahi Yusuf, Somali Foreign Minister Ismail Mohammud Hurreh said.

    However, Yusuf was not hurt in the remote-controlled bomb attack.
    "Five people were killed and three wounded in the president's convoy of three trucks as he was moving to his palace from the parliament building," Hurreh said.

    "The fighting between the presidential security force and the attackers later ensued and six of the group that carried out the attack were also killed and two captured," the minister said.

    "From this what is very clear is that there was a plan to assassinate the president carried out by an organized group. It was not only something against an individual, but a plan organized to attack transitional government officials," he said.

    The foreign minister said the president had addressed lawmakers in parliament where he asked them to approve a new government to replace the previous one he dissolved due to inefficiency.

    The minister said those who killed an Italian Catholic nun in northern Mogadishu on Sunday were behind Monday's attack in Baidoa, where the transitional federal government is based.

    "The assassination attempt today in Baidoa is associated with what happened in Mogadishu yesterday (Sunday) where the Catholic nun was killed in cold blood. Whoever was behind that attack is also behind this," he told reporters in Nairobi.

    "The event which took the president to the parliament was very important. The government was presenting its programs for the coming six months. It was a democratic process taking place and the attack was not only targeting the president but officials of the very best system we are trying to bring about," he added.

    He refused to speculate as to who was behind the blasts but suggested they were probably linked to the proposed peacekeeping mission.

    "I am not accusing anybody at this stage, because I don't want to speculate at this particular moment, but there were some people who were claiming to fight Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and Somalia is part of IGAD," he said.

    Analysts said the blasts come amid pleas from the transitional federal government (TFG) to the African Union (AU), to send peacekeepers to the country to protect the powerless administration.

    The minister appealed to the international community especially the United Nations to lift its arms embargo on his country to enable the UN-backed administration to gain a foothold in the lawless Horn of Africa nation.

    "We are appealing to the international community, particularly the UN, to lift its arms embargo to enable our security forces to operate legally. It's as a result of today's attack that we are asking the IGAD, the AU to come to Somalia and help TFG to operate in an environment which it can push through its programs," he said.

    A standing international arms embargo on the country further challenges the deployment of peacekeepers to the troubled Horn of Africa nation, as well as the fact that the AU cannot afford the multimillion dollar peacekeeping mission.

    But the Islamists have vowed to fight foreign troops if they are sent to Somalia to support Yusuf's government by the seven-member east IGAD.

    The AU Security Council recently approved plans to send a contingent of peacekeepers to Somalia by the end of the month, however, the Supreme Council of Islamic Courts, who have taken control of Mogadishu and large parts of southern Somalia, has vowed to fight any foreign force entering the country.

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    Rights groups say France targeting ethnic groups

    PARIS, Sept 17, 2006 (AFP)

    Rights groups have accused France of carrying out targeted arrests of foreign migrants to fill chartered deportation flights to China and Romania, in possible breach of European rights law.
    Police squads have deployed across the Paris subway system in recent months, systematically checking the identity of foreign-looking individuals, as part of a government drive to step up expulsions of illegal migrants.

    In one incident witnessed by AFP on September 2, officers singled out all Asian passengers, searching those unable to produce ID papers and bundling them off to a police van where a Chinese interpreter was at the ready.

    Why target Asians? "Because we already had enough blacks," replied one officer.

    Six days later, the first chartered deportation flight between France and China was set to leave Paris. It was finally postponed after China asked for more time to draw up the necessary paperwork.

    "They need to fill the planes to make them financially viable, so they don't look at each foreigner's case in detail," charged Jean-Pierre Alaux, a research director at the Gisti immigrant information and support group.

    The European Convention on Human Rights bans the "collective expulsion of aliens" - meaning any measure constraining foreigners, as a group, to leave a country, unless each individual case has been thoroughly examined.

    Belgium was convicted of breaching the convention in 2002, over the rounding-up and expulsion of a group of 74 Roma gypsies from Slovakia.

    According to Cimade, the only immigrant support group with access to French immigrant detention centres, "several massive and systematic arrests of Chinese were carried out in Paris in early September, to fill the centres".

    "There are regular targeted arrests: the authorities announce in advance there will be charters, the government flights are booked, then they detain people of the nationality in question," charged Annette Huraux, a legal advisor at Cimade.

    Meanwhile, the European Court of Human Rights is currently examining a case brought in protest at the expulsion of five Afghan nationals on a charter flight on December 20, according to Alaux.

    "At the Gare de l'Est (in Paris) police, accompanied by a Dari translator, were arresting only those of Afghan appearance - the blacks were amazed not to have their papers checked," he said.

    Since May, 480 Romanians have been deported from France aboard eight charter flights, according to interior ministry figures.

    The rights group La Voix des Roms charged that there has been "a growing number of round-ups targeting Roms, in blatant disregard of the European Convention of Human Rights."

    The Paris police department and the French interior ministry both refused to comment this week on the allegations regarding grouped deportations.

    French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy - a frontrunner for next year's presidential elections - has championed a tough line towards the country's estimated 200,000 to 400,000 illegal immigrants.

    The government has vowed to step up the pace of deportations, and has scrapped the automatic right to residency papers for migrants who have been 10 years in the country. The rhythm of expulsions has been steadily rising, from 15,000 in 2004 to 20,000 last year, and Sarkozy has set a national target of 25,000 for 2006.

    The authorities are, however, examining some 30,000 residency applications from illegal immigrant families with school-age children, following a major grassroots campaign to block their deportation.

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    FedEx Tests Northrop Grumman Anti-Missile System

    Brandon Hill
    September 18, 2006

    Flying the not so friendly skies

    FedEx is doing more than just delivering packages around the world at a breakneck pace; they're also going to put into service a counter terrorist missile system on its MD-10 freighters. FedEx will equip 11 of its MD-10 freighters over the next 18 months with Northrop Grumman's Guardian directed infrared countermeasures (DIRCM) technology.
    The move is a part of the Department of Homeland Security's $109 million feasibility study to see if the military-developed technology is cost-effective for commercial applications. The Guardian anti-missile system was developed to counter attacks from man-portable air defense systems (Manpads) which have resulted in the downing of over 40 airplanes and loss of over 400 lives since the 1970s. Aviation Week reports:
    Northrop Grumman believes it has exceeded the Homeland Security requirement that the counter-Manpads system cost no more than $1 million per airplane after 1,000 or more are installed. The company says the cost per available seat mile is 0.003 cents, or about 70 cents per passenger for a transcontinental flight. The total weight the pod adds to the aircraft is about 500 lb., about that of two passengers and their baggage, says Pledger.
    Northrop Grumman's Guardian system uses a multi-band laser to target an incoming missile and force it off course and away from the aircraft. The Guardian system has been certified for use in the Boeing MD-10, MD-11 and 747.

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    Europe strives to deliver 'hijack-proof' plane

    PARIS, Sept 17, 2006 (AFP)

    Leading European aerospace companies began working together on an airline security project in 2004 and are making progress with systems to help produce the first hijack-proof plane.

    The SAFEE project, which stands for Security of Aircraft in the Future European Environment, aims to create a series of technological innovations to prevent "a repeat of September 11", says project coordinator Daniel Gaultier.
    These include microphones and cameras to monitor passengers in the cabin, digital fingerprints and iris scans for access to the cockpit, and an avoidance system to prevent planes crashing into buildings.

    All are designed to make hijacking an airliner in mid-flight virtually impossible.

    Not on the list, however, is the oft-mentioned idea of piloting planes from the ground by remote control. Gaultier describes this as "futurism", noting that it presents "huge difficulties in regulation and in securing the signal".

    Instead, the 31 companies participating in SAFEE, launched in 2004 by the European Commission, are looking at more viable alternatives.

    Airbus, BAE Systems, Thales, Sagem and NLR have each taken charge of one of five main initiatives.

    In Hamburg, Germany in August, Airbus carried out the first tests on its "threat detection system", which warns the pilot of any suspicious behaviour by a passenger via a system of cameras and microphones. A full simulation is planned for January 2008.

    Thales, meanwhile, is working on an anti-collision system to be tested in June 2007, Gaultier said.

    Developing biometric fingerprinting to ensure that only crew members can enter the cockpit has been entrusted to Dutch firm NLR, which plans to test the system in August 2007 in Amsterdam.

    Gaultier's company, Sagem Defense Securite, part of the Safran group, is working on protecting data systems, in particular on communications between the cockpit and control tower.

    The total budget for SAFEE is EUR 36 million, 19 million of which have been put up by the European Commission.

    The five companies involved in the project aim to give a joint demonstration of their achievements in February 2008, "to show that it works", said Marco Brusati, head of project at the European Commission.

    After that, a new seven-year contract should be signed to bring the project to completion. According to Brusati, "there will be no products on the market before 2010. The whole package could be available on planes in operation from around 2015."

    Developing the new equipment poses legal and ethical as well as technological problems. You cannot film passengers on board planes or record their conversations except within a strict legal framework. But it is possible, says Gaultier, "provided you destroy the recordings at the end of the flight."

    The other stumbling block, Gaultier notes, is the "exorbitant" cost of fitting the new technology to existing planes.

    "Doubtless it would be better to think about incorporating them into the next generation of aircraft," he says.

    Comment: If they wish to avoid a repeat of 9/11, they are going to have to do something about that "futuristic" problem of remote control -- from the governments themselves!

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    For Your Health

    "I think in 10 years time we will ask ourselves what we were thinking giving these children amphetamines."

    BBC News

    Children with the behavioural condition ADHD are continuing to be prescribed drugs such as Ritalin, despite an ongoing investigation.

    BBC Scotland has learned a review of the medical guidelines used by doctors to diagnose and treat ADHD will not be available until March 2008.

    Parents groups and education experts have claimed children could be prescribed the medication needlessly.

    They have called for the review to be urgently accelerated.

    An assessment of doctors' procedures was launched in 2004 after mounting concern over a tenfold increase in Ritalin prescription rates.
    Last year, 46,000 individual prescriptions were recorded in Scotland.

    However, fears have been raised that children as young as four could be wrongly diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

    A leading education expert at Edinburgh University has warned that doctors are too keen to label children as having the condition without proper investigation into other possible causes.

    Dr Gwynedd Lloyd, head of Educational Studies at the university, has expressed concern that children were needlessly being given amphetamine-based medications such as Ritalin as a result.

    "I think in 10 years time we will say that ADHD was too simple an explanation for many children," she said.

    "We will ask ourselves what we were thinking giving these children amphetamines."

    Children with ADHD suffer from inattention, hyperactivity and social problems.

    Many are unable to attend mainstream school and have problems making relationships.

    But treatments for the condition, such as the drug Ritalin, pose the risk of serious side effects.

    Sleeping problems

    These range from loss of appetite to sleeping problems.

    The Investigation for BBC Radio Scotland has learned that the review of the medical guidelines for diagnosing and treating ADHD will not be available until 2008.

    Parents' groups have expressed anger that the results will not be published for a further two years.

    They have claimed the outdated guidelines mean they cannot rely on current medical advice and face a dilemma over whether to risk putting their children onto the drugs.

    Donna Miller's son Lee was prescribed Ritalin after he was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of five.

    Donna, who lives in Edinburgh, found her son's behaviour immediately worsened.

    Although a boisterous "typical boy" before starting on the drugs, Lee became aggressive and violent when taking the medication.

    "His behaviour totally changed. He was a handful before, but on that drug he was frightening," she said.

    "The final straw was when he attacked his brother Derek.

    "He was only five but he picked Derek up and physically threw him through a glass door."

    Donna took her son off Ritalin after six weeks due to concerns that he was a danger to the family.

    Dr Lloyd is concerned that other families face the risks of serious side effects.

    She has called for more rigorous investigation by doctors into all aspects of a child's life before they rush into a diagnosis of ADHD.

    However, Dr Dave Coghill, senior lecturer in child and adolescent psychiatry at Dundee University, said the medication was effective.

    'Develop normally'

    "By inhibiting impulsive behaviour in children with ADHD it allows them to socialize and develop normally," he said.

    "Despite the risks, the medication can work for some children."

    Anne Martin, who lives in Edinburgh with her son Kieran, believes that Ritalin saved her family.

    Kieran was diagnosed with ADHD when he started school, after teachers complained about his behaviour.

    Anne said her son was difficult and recalled him destroying the house and being impossible to control.

    Now 13, he has been taking the drug for eight years.

    "I don't know what I would have done without it," Anne said.

    "At one point I was ready to take Kieran to the social services because I couldn't cope anymore.

    "But once he started on his medication he was like a new boy."

    The opposite experiences of Donna and Anne demonstrate the dilemma parents now face.

    The drugs could dramatically improve life for one child or make a bad situation much worse for another.

    Until the medical guidelines are reviewed and reissued, parents claim they are having to make this difficult decision alone.

    The NHS told BBC Radio Scotland that the assessment would take four years to conduct.

    The initial stage - a scoping exercise to audit the services currently available for ADHD across Scotland - will be available in 2007.

    Cardiac problems

    The NHS claims there has not been a delay in the publication of the review.

    However, the calls to accelerate the audit have intensified after reports of potential new side effects.

    Last month the United States medicines watchdog, the Federal Drugs Agency, issued its most severe advisory warning against Ritalin after 25 people were found to have died from cardiac problems.

    Seven children are also thought to have died in the UK.

    A spokesman for the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the UK said they are aware of the new US warning and intend to review their own advice for the drug.

    There is currently no date for the results of the review.

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    AIDS no longer killing all patients, study finds

    Sep 18, 2006

    WASHINGTON - More than a quarter of New Yorkers infected with the AIDS virus are now dying of other causes, researchers said on Monday.

    An analysis of 68,669 New York City residents infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, found that of those who died between 1999 and 2004, 26.3 percent died of something other than HIV. That is a 32 percent increase from 1999, when just under 20 percent of HIV patients died of other causes.
    Cocktails of drugs that suppress the virus have been credited with allowing HIV patients to lead near-normal lives, and once- or twice-a-day dosing now makes them more manageable.

    Nonetheless, AIDS remains incurable and is always fatal in places where the drugs are not available -- notably much of Africa.

    Writing in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Judith Sackoff and colleagues at the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said they found that 31 percent of HIV patients died because of substance abuse, close to 24 percent died of cardiovascular disease and 20 percent died of cancer unrelated to the virus.

    "Physicians everywhere must remember that most of their HIV-infected patients will survive to develop the diseases that plague the rest of us," Dr. Judith Aberg of New York University wrote in a commentary.

    Another study published in the same journal found that nearly 10 percent of men interviewed in New York who identified themselves as heterosexual reported having sex with at least one man during the previous year.

    The survey of 4,193 men conducted by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene found that 70 percent of the men who had sex with other men were married.

    Many admitted they had not used a condom and had not been tested for HIV.

    "Doctors need to ask patients about specific sexual practices instead of relying on self-reported sexual orientation to assess risk for unsafe sexual practices and risk for sexually transmitted diseases," said Preeti Pathela, who led the study.

    "Public health prevention messages should target risky sexual activities, such as unprotected receptive anal sex, and should not be framed to appeal solely to gay-identified men."

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    McDonald's defers food labelling program until next year

    Last Updated: Monday, September 18, 2006 | 4:43 PM ET
    CBC News

    Officials with McDonald's Canada said Monday the fast-food company will delay posting nutrition information on its packaging until it can find a sustainable supply of trans-fat free cooking oil.

    McDonald's announced its plans to include nutrition information on its wrappers last October.

    The company said it plans to unveil the new packaging in Canada next year.

    Ron Christianson, a McDonald's spokesperson, said the restaurant's decision to revise its menu has had a direct impact on the deadline.

    Christianson said the company has been examining oil options since 2003 but has had a difficult time finding a sustainable supply of trans-fat free oil.

    "We can't make a change and then run out. We want to ensure that it's long-lasting and it's the right and best choice for our customers. We have not been able to locate that as of yet."

    Until the restaurant can pinpoint the oil source, it will delay creating the new packaging with the nutrition information.

    Trans fats, which raise the levels of low-density lipoprotein or "bad" cholesterol in the body, are created when liquid oils are turned into solids.

    Increasing risk of heart disease

    Health officials say consumption of trans fats significantly increases the risk of heart disease. While Health Canada has made significant strides in creating rigorous food labelling guidelines, critics often decry the lack of available information in restaurants.

    Members of Parliament today were scheduled to debate a private member's bill, introduced by Scarborough Southwest MP Tom Wappel, calling for an amendment to the Food and Drugs Act to include food labelling in restaurants.

    Under Canada's food labelling system, pre-packaged foods and drinks must list information on calories, fat, saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, fibre, sugar, protein, calcium, iron, vitamin A and C in a nutrition box. However, food producers such as restaurants and bakeries do not have to disclose any nutritional information.

    In June 2006, Health Canada and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada chaired a joint task force on the issue of trans fat. The task force noted that 22 per cent of the average trans-fat intake is provided by foods consumed away from home, usually in fast-food restaurants.

    However, the task force advised that restaurants would have a difficult time providing nutritional information given limited space on menus and menu boards.

    Despite the limitations, 26 major restaurant chains have voluntarily committed to providing nutrition information to consumers in pamphlets, tray liners and websites under guidelines established by the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association.

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    When Animals Attack

    Bin Laden recruits walruses for US terror Op (Just Kidding)

    We Say So News
    September 19, 2006

    (WSSN) - President Bush announced today that "9/11 mastermind" Osama Bin Laden has recruited un unlikely ally in the war on terror: walruses.

    Bush announced today at a press conference that the elusive al-Qaeda leader is alive and well, and planning more terror attacks in the US homeland.

    "Our best intelligence indimications are such that we know Bin Laden has been in communication with walruses in aquariums and theme parks that have marine stuff like little fishies," the Decider remarked.

    "We've foiled plans to blow up concession stands and restaurants in these locations. Al-Qaeda is so evil that they've trained walruses to use cell phones to remotely detonate explosives."

    But this wasn't just another load of BS from the Commander in Chief of the Fatherland - er, homeland: Bush revealed a secret spy photo captured by unnamed intelligence operatives at a marine park in an undisclosed location inside in the US:

    Terrorist Walrus
    Spy photo of terrorist walrus. Code name: Death's Head

    According to top Homeland Security officials, three walruses are now in custody. The suspects were apparently drugged, put in diapers, and loaded onto a CIA Gulfstream jet to be whisked away to an unknown location for "a nice relaxing vacation" where they will be "treated well and asked some questions".

    When asked where they were being held, one official responded, "Let's just say they won't need shoes where they're going..."

    When this reporter pointed out that in general, walruses don't wear shoes, the official paused, nervously scanned the audience, and then bolted from the room.

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    Hawks Attack More Than 100 People in Rio

    Associated Press
    Sep 18, 2006

    RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - Residents of crime-plagued Rio de Janeiro have a new kind of predator to worry about - hawks. A pair of hawks have attacked more than 100 residents of the upscale Ipanema beach district over the past year, scratching peoples heads and faces, doormen working at buildings in the area said Monday.

    "People leave the building carrying umbrellas to protect themselves from the attacks," said Luis Honorato, a doorman in a building near where the hawks have built a nest. "At first, they think that someone is throwing something, like a can, onto their heads from the floors above."

    Honorato said that one day he saw five attacks in 20 minutes.
    "Every time I leave the building I keep waving my hands over my head," said Mario Roxo, a 75-year-old chauffeur who had his head badly scratched by a hawk.

    The O Globo newspaper reported that one woman lost part of her scalp to a hawk and another man mistook an attack for a stray bullet.

    Rodgrigo Carvalho, a biologist with Brazil's environmental agency, said the hawks were just trying to defend their young.

    "This happens all the time in poor areas and people think it's funny, but when it happens in a rich neighborhoods they start calling them attacks," Carvalho said.

    He estimates as many as 1,000 hawks live in the city, flourishing because of a lack of predators and easy access to rats, pigeons and garbage.

    Residents have asked the fire department to remove the nest, but officials say they cannot until they get approval from Brazil's environmental protection agency.

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    New sharks found off Indonesia

    www.chinaview.cn 2006-09-19 07:23:34

    BEIJING, Sept. 19 -- Scientists said Monday they found two types of shark, exotic "flasher" fish and corals among 52 new species in seas off Indonesia, confirming the western Pacific as the richest marine habitat on earth.
    They urged more protection for seas around the Bird's Head peninsula at the western end of New Guinea island from threats including mining and dynamite fishing that can smash coral reefs.

    "We feel very confident that this is the epicentre of marine biodiversity" in the world, said Mark Erdmann, a U.S. scientist at Conservation International who led two surveys this year.

    The scientists found 24 new species of fish, including two types of epaulette shark, slim and spotty growing up to about 1.2 metres long. Among other finds were 20 new species of coral and eight previously unknown types of shrimp.

    "It's especially stunning to find sharks - these are higher level creatures, not bacteria or worms," Erdmann told Reuters. The sharks get their name from markings on their sides like epaulettes - decorations on the shoulders of military uniforms.

    The researchers also found new species of "flasher" wrasse fish. The males, which keep harems of several females, suddenly "flash" bright yellows, blues, pinks or other colours on their bodies, apparently as part of a sex ritual.

    Erdmann said the region, covering about 18,000 square kilometres, had a greater concentration of species than Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

    He said Indonesia's Fisheries Ministry wanted to increase the number of marine protected areas, currently covering only 11 per cent of the area around the peninsula.

    "We are very concerned about the potential impact of planned commercial fisheries expansion in the region," said Paulus Boli, a State University of Papua researcher.

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